Did you know that you can check one bag for free for transatlantic flights? This was a huge relief for me. I checked one bag and carried on another. I made sure my carry-on had a couple of days' worth of clothing and my toiletries, just in case my checked bag got on the wrong plane. Inside my checked bag I stashed an empty duffle bag. An empty bag--clearly I was planning on coming home with more than I brought.
|The London Eye and Westminster Abbey as viewed from St. Paul's Cathedral.|
That duffle bag went home just as it came over--stuffed into the bottom of my suitcase.
|Passing under the Tower Bridge.|
It's not that I didn't buy any souvenirs--I just didn't come home with a truckload of stuff. And really, even if money were no object, I probably wouldn't have gone completely overboard (though it is fun to dream about).
I wanted to bring home things that I would enjoy, things that I could only get in England, and/or things that I would use. I definitely wanted to go to a Cath Kidston store, and I wanted to go to Liberty, and I wanted to go to a bookstore. An oddly specific list, I know, but specificity is good!
We try to make a point to purchase a coffee mug (or two) and a Christmas tree ornament whenever we go on a trip. Sometimes the coffee mugs don't make it home in one piece, but we are willing to assume the risk. We each (safely) brought home a mug, and our Christmas ornament is hanging from a knob on one of our kitchen cabinets right now. Eventually I'll put it with the others.
I had a brief internal debate over whether to purchase a new purse from Cath Kidston, but since I had walked in there without a specific bag in mind, I decided that I needed to refrain from the impulse purchase. I did come out with some lovely tea towels--and they have been in the rotation since returning home.
Liberty...oh, Liberty. If only I had won the lottery. There is a yarn section, there is a huge fabric section--so much Tana Lawn fabric. It's all so gorgeous, and it's all so very expensive. I didn't see anything that I could live without, so I just treated this as a visual feast.
And the bookstore? A five-story Waterstone's. I love bookstores, and if I hadn't had a companion to consider, I might well have spent most of an afternoon in there. My goal here was to bring home at least one Harry Potter book. I bought the first one for the kids. I also purchased a mystery novel that I had read in college and is now out of print in the U.S., and I threw in an Agatha Christie for good measure. This was not the only time on the trip that I had to fight the urge to load up on books. The gift shop at the Globe Theatre was also full of interesting-looking books.
I have been taking great pleasure in drinking coffee from my London mug--it has a portion of the Underground map on it, and I love looking at all the stations that we went through. I am glad I decided not to load up the duffle bag with trinkets that would collect dust.