(My mother and I next to the Boodles Christmas tree at The Savoy last week.)
Last year, I decided that Christmas was going to be all about treats. Of course, presents are lovely, but I do think it is good to take a break from the quotidian grind, and do something sparkly and special. And, of course, it could be argued that giving someone your time is the greatest gift of all.
Last year my mother and I did our inaugural treat day, with a trip to Jaeger, a Laurent-Perrier afternoon tea at Claridge’s and a performance of Wicked! It worked so well that the die was set, and this year we stuck to a similar theme.
We started off at a lovely salon in the heart of Georgian Spitalfields, just on the edge of the East End. The Drawing Room is a gem of a building, which makes a blow dry feel like an event, in its charming period rooms. It’s just a short walk from Liverpool Street, so it’s just as useful for bankers, as it is for Shoreditch hipsters.
There is also a salon doglet. Hello Poquito!
Lucky escape doglet: I thought my mama was going to pop him in her handbag.
My mother, sporting a perfectly blow dried bob.
Hair swooshing, we left and headed to Spitalfields Market, just around the corner, for a little light retail at Whistles. Two navy sweater dresses for me, this long one in the sale for dog walking, and a gorgeous cashmere one for weekend lunches (pretty much sold out but in S here and L here), and a tunic (my mother), and then it was time for lunch.
The initial plan was to walk to Brick Lane to eat curry, as my mother suffers from a lack of good Indian food in the countryside. Sadly her knee replacement earlier this year means that because we did shopping we didn’t have time for a slow walk. Not a problem, however, when a Market building packed full of restaurants was next door. We chose Canteen for its classic British menu, and finished with a lemon posset, shortbread and two spoons.
When we got up to leave, we realised that there was an extra guest hiding under the table next door to us: hello Rollo the sausage dog.
Then it was off to Liverpool Street station and the tube to Tottenham Court Road, where I surprised my mother with an unscheduled stop at James Smith & Son, London’s oldest umbrella makers, and shop, to choose her a beautiful handmade walking stick umbrella for Christmas.
Then it was time for the main event: matinee tickets for Guys & Dolls at The Savoy Theatre. I performed in the musical when I was sixteen at school, (I was chorus, Clare was a Hot Box Girl), and I still know all the words.
Afterwards, high on the show tunes, we headed into The Savoy next door to use the loo, and then decided to ditch our Covent Garden shopping plans, and headed instead to The Savoy’s Beaufort Bar for cocktails. Heaven is definitely to be found in a perfect gimlet.
Then a slow walk to The Delauney on the Aldwych. A lovely table, delicious food – a proper prawn cocktail, pierogi, spatzle…mmm
The Drawing Room: 41 Artillery Lane, London E1 7LP. Telephone: 020 7247 6083
Canteen: 2 Crispin Place, Spitalfields, London E1 6DW. Telephone: 0845 686 1122
James Smith & Sons Ltd: Hazelwood House, 53 New Oxford Street, London, WC1A 1BL. Telephone: 0207 836 4731
The Savoy and The Beaufort Bar: Strand, London WC2R 0EU. Telephone: 020 7836 4343
The Delauney: 5 Aldwych, London WC2B 4BB. Telephone:
Guys & Dolls is a Chichester Festival Theatre Production at The Savoy Theatre