Ah, well, the start of another year. Happy New Year and all that...
Both Jacqueline and I worked over the holidays, and Alice has returned to school today, so life is very much back to normal.
Had a great day last Friday - I took a half-day, with Jacqueline and Alice meeting me up in London at lunchtime. After suitable nourishment at one of the restaurants I frequent, we walked down Piccadilly to Piccadilly Circus (past the wonderful window displays in Fortnum's). There followed a stop at Lillywhites, which tends to be quite good for clothes for Alice, and indeed we managed to pick up half a dozen things for her. My reservation with Lillywhites is that it does seem to be "scally" gear - track suits and the like - but they do carry some more subtle lines too.
The rest of the afternoon was spent basically just wandering up Regent Street. Jacqueline found the kipling, L'Occitane and Molton Brown boutiques, while for Alice the overriding highlight of the day was a visit to Hamleys, where she got to spend her christmas money.
When all was totted up, she had something like £120, a not-inconsiderable amount for a girl of her age. She was quite sensible in that she wandered around the floor (the "Girlie" floor, of course) working out what was available, how much money she'd have left etc. etc. So, by the second lap of the floor she was actually ready to pick stuff off shelves. In the event, the amount of stuff she'd picked would have been too much to carry, so we quite easily persuaded her to leave a doll on the shelf, and I would pick it up next week for her.
So we ended up with a Fur-real Friends cat, which has built-in sensors so that it detects when you're stroking it and purrs (Very freaky); a yappy Westie dog (the sooner it breaks the better) and a rainbow art kit (which actually looks very good). And we left a Baby Born doll on the shelf, ready for Dad to buy next week.
And with that, she was spent up. I have to say, it is mostly tat, and mostly a total waste of money, although I had obviously realised beforehand that this would be the case. For me, the value of the exercise was that Alice had had a large sum of money and had had to make decisions about what she spent it on. To have bought everything she'd said she wanted would have easily cost three times the sum of money she actually had. So hopefully it imparts a little "life-lesson" to her.
We rounded off the trip to Regent Street by a trip to the Apple store. The first time for all of us, and Jacqueline couldn't resist buying a sleek case for her iPod. A very classy shop, but by no means cheap.
Onward to a low-key pizza supper from one of the back-streets round by Soho Square, then a taxi ride to the main event - a production of Raymond Briggs' "The Snowman", at the Peacock Theatre. A wonderful experience and very much aimed at children. Lots of flying going on, lots of dancing too. Given that much of the dancing was performed by people in snowman suits, those guys must have been mega-fit. I'd highly recommend it, both this show and the West End experience in general - there is definitely that added "zing" about the theatre which makes you realise just how two-dimensional television actually is. Hopefully as Alice gets older we can visit more frequently.
Anyway, the plus point of a show for kids meant that it both started and ended early, and upon leaving the theatre we happened to walk down the road in the right direction and were able to flag a cab almost immediately. Back to Waterloo, past the bright lights of Somerset House, the South Bank and the Wheel, ready for the twenty-past-nine train back to Salisbury.
Of course, for me it had started off a normal day, being out of the house at a quarter-to-seven ready to go to the client's. Consequently, I was fit to drop. Alice, by contrast, spent the first fifteen minutes deboxing this toy cat, and was then a livewire all the way home. Absolutely getting by on adrenalin. In fairness to her, she was really, really looking forward to the visit to Hamleys.
Next day, Saturday, she had a further bonus, when I decided to see if we could get this Baby Born doll locally, since I didn't fancy hiking the thing back from London in the week. As luck would have it, we not only found one in the Southampton Argos, it was also £10 cheaper than it had been in Hamleys. So, Alice was able to get a little box of accessories for the doll also.
So much for Jacqueline suggesting she pay some of the money into her bank account!!
Sunday (New Year's Eve) was spent quietly, other than a visit to the supermarket. In the event both Alice and I stayed up to see the fireworks at midnight on TV, although Jacqueline pooped out at about 11:30pm. More of the same on New Year's Day, which was spent entirely indoors. Highlights of the two days were mainly clearing up some outstanding tasks such as scanning and filing all the letters I've received in the last three or four months, filling out the VAT return, pulling together some numbers for the accountant and last but not least, buying my Car Tax online (during which process I managed to crash their system twice - god knows how they can implement things so badly!). Phew......now I need to take things easy for a few days.....