Shop London – where to go, what to get

A Beyond the Valley rep shows off the goods.
One of the best things to do in London is shop. While prices may be steep, as £10 currently equals $14.92 (as of writing, via Google), there are a number of unique districts and stores you simply won’t want to miss — and a number of bargains at any price. In this article, I’ll talk about a few of my personal favorites — feel free to add more of yours below!

Carnaby Street and Newburgh Quarter

Carnaby Street is a legendary Soho street which showcases cutting-edge fashion artists from all over London and around the world. The address itself basically means “one of the next big things.” Naturally, a street grows into an area, and I’d include the Newburgh Quarter as part of the experience — it’s right there, so you’re a fool to do one and not the other. There’s also amazing food on nearby Ganton Street and several big open-air courtyards in the vicinity for hanging out and watching the trendy people go by.

The best way to do Carnaby Street and the Newburgh Quarter is to window shop and go inside when you like what you see. I’d recommend a visit to The Great Frog, the jeweler who has designed bespoke pieces for everyone from Aerosmith to Metallica as well as the Harry Potter movies, the quirky and delightful (and very stylish) Beatrix Ong, who hand-draws Alice in Wonderland characters on the walls of her eclectic shop, the promising generation of designers at Beyond the Valley (above) where neck ruffles rule and the mind-bending photography shop Lomography. If you’re thinking about buying at Lomography, keep in mind that they have a New York store, and it might be best to wait until you’re home to order, currency-wise.

Shoreditch is a hot area in London for many reasons, but to me, there are two things you must see:
1. Robots. ‘Nuff said.
A robot at THUS, where chintz is cheap.
2. Laden. Laden is a carefully curated showroom for young designers. The Brick Lane store, founded by Barry and Adele Laden, makes a point of not just selling clothes, but nurturing the up-and-coming designers. It’s a trendy place to have your clothing sold; even celebrities come and dig through the racks like the rest of us. Anna Friel was recently spotted in one of the designer’s vintage-style dresses. My verdict was that some designers were better than others, but the store definitely held surprises at every turn. You’re certain to find new, unique pieces at Laden.

Camden Market

Camden is London’s own little Amsterdam, where everything goes. Known especially for its goth scene, the Camden Market is full of strange little themed shops with all tights, all leopard print, all this, all that. If you’ve watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer more than twice, get thee to Camden Market, where ye shall find thy broheim. There’s a burgeoning steam-punk influence, as well, and a dash of Harajuku — all for rock-bottom prices.
Everything animal print in Camden Market

Fortnum & Mason

Everybody talks about Harrods, but if you want to be a little cooler than that, consider Fortnum & Mason as your luxury food and gift shopping destination. Located right in the heart of Piccadilly Circus, Fortnum & Mason is a relatively small department store, but what they lack in quantity they make up for in quality. For example, it’s the only English-speaking store in the world (except for one other in Australia, which is far away) where you can purchase tights by Les Queues Des Sardines. If the style doesn’t get you, the history will; they’ve been there since 1707. Video here!

Portobello Market

Even if you’ve never been to the UK, you’ve probably head of Portobello Market. Well, there’s a reason for that. The reason is: it’s awesome. I spent a whole day just meandering down through the stalls, each one offering unusual things — a lot of it junk, much of it treasure. I ended up walking away with these two Antiques Roadshow candidates for £5 for the pair.

Even if they’re worth nothing, I couldn’t say no to the reproach on those faces. I also had a decidedly lovely lunch, including the most elegant-yet-true-to-its-roots serving of fish and ships I’ve ever had at Ground Floor, part of First Floor Bar & Restaurant, a cozy hideaway in the middle of the market madness.

Where in London do you like to shop?

This trip was paid for by VisitBritain, but the ideas and opinions expressed in the article above are 100% my own.

Skybus $20 promotion ended on the 5th and someone I know snagged a ticket

No, I’m not the one who got the promotional price. And here’s why. On January 2, just before I was heading out of town with my husband and kids for jam-packed excitement in Cincinnati with friends, I got an email from Skybus announcing $20 each way flights to a few locations–one to Newburgh, New York. Since packing for the trip at hand, instead of planning for a trip in the future, was a priority, I put the deal on hold.

Two days later some of these flights on the weekend were still available. I went as far as picking the flight and starting to put in credit card information, but I choked. Here’s why:

1. I waffled about bringing my son. Should I or shouldn’t I? On one hand it would be fun. On the other hand, a solo trip would be great, but then that would leave my husband with my son for the weekend which is no big deal, but is it fair? I already won’t give my husband the left hand window seat of an airplane if we are sitting together. Wouldn’t leaving him with our highly energetic son on a weekend when he needs to get grading done be pushing it?

2. The weather in February, when I was planning to go, is so unpredictable. I could get stuck at my dad’s unable to get out. Being stuck in Columbus would be no big deal. I’d just eat the cost of the ticket, but the idea of being stuck on top of a mountain in upstate New York was not a happy thought. I spent my adolescence feeling stuck up there. No thanks.

3. Then there were thoughts of Skybus’s winter holiday snafus with the planes not working. Again, I could get stuck not being able to leave Newburgh. Without anyone to call how would you know if there was a problem? If there was a problem, does that mean that you have to stay in Newburgh until the problem is fixed? Does the airline inform people when the flights are going if you give someone a phone number? They do through the internet, but my dad doesn’t have internet. Again, there was fear of being stuck on top of a mountain, possibly forever.

4. If I couldn’t get out that would mean I couldn’t do any of my jobs which would mean a lack of income. A cheap ticket becomes expensive.

So, I decided to sleep on my decision-making. As what happens every time I wait on decision-making with Skybus, the ticket prices went up on the weekend that was the most convenient for me to travel, therefore I have decided to wait for the next round of cheap tickets. Once a price goes above $100, unless I have a specific reason to go on a trip, there’s a lot of things $100 will pay for. Psychologically, there’s something about not getting the cheapest deal that gets in the way.

Now, who is getting the cheap tickets.? My dad. I called him about the deal when I found out it was not good for me, Getting out of Newburgh was still cheap for him. He’s coming to Columbus for roughly $56.00 round-trip. Who wouldn’t?

I just looked at Skybus ticket prices. The days that used to cost $20, now cost $35, but they are mostly during the week. If you fly to Newburgh on this afternoon’s flight, it will cost you $35. That’s not a bad deal in an emergency. If you wait until tomorrow, it will cost you $180.

Here’s friend of mine’s take on SkyBus. Tom Barlow ‘s post “SkyBus: How cheap is too cheap,” at WalletPop reflects some of my concerns.

Skybus Opens for New Routes: Move Quickly for the $10 Deals

I’m waiting for a Skybus route to upstate New York to open. Stewart Airport in Newburgh would be divine. Not yet, but there are four more routes to start December 5.

If you have any desire or need to head to Chattanooga, Gulfport-Biloxi/New Orleans Area, Milwaukee or Punta Gorda/Ft. Meyers, check out Skybus to see if its schedule and airport locations suits you. Starting December 17 there will be one more flight a day to Jacksonville/Daytona (actually St. Augustine.)

Keep in mind, when you do book a Skybus flight, make sure you have a way from the airport to where ever you are actually going. A friend of a friend of mine was thrilled to pieces over her cheap flight to Boston. She didn’t know that the airport Skybus considers the Boston area is actually about 50 miles away and in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The friend she is visiting in Boston does not have a car. At this moment, she has no idea how she is actually getting to Boston.

Last week I tried to find the route from that same airport into Logan International Airport for a friend of mine. He’s flying from Atlanta to Boston and then wants to come to Columbus. Figuring out the logistics of how to get from Logan to Pease Airport made me tired, so I quit. Sometimes it’s just worth paying the extra money to be able to get to exactly where you need to go–unless you are renting a car anyway. Then, I say, go for the bargain.