Shopping the Gift List

Exquisite Tea Pot and Set, yours for only £5,000 at Fortnum & Mason.

DO you lust for a glass of whisky? A winter warmer? One for the road?

Then you may have considered bidding for a bottle of whisky at the recent auction held in London at Sotheby’s the auctioneers. A world record bid was achieved when The Macallan 60- year-old 1926 soared to an eye-watering £1,452,000.

This whisky some say is the ‘holy grail’ of whiskies was the star of more than 450 bottles of Scotch amassed by a private American collector over a 20-year period. All of the lots in the auction sold, no surprise there if you are a whisky drinker, though these collections are collected as investments or simple obsessions; not drunk. Seems a pity.

However, there are many shops in London and they are all in full seasonal swing right now. Of course New Bond Street, the home of Sotheby’s is one of the most significant of shopping streets in the world.

Rumour has it [these shops are very discreet] that one fabulous and frenetic shopping week saw £2 billion spent. The cast of brands and shops is iconic. Expensive? Of course not. Every piece of shopping is affordable though only to a select minority.

Nearby are more streets lined with tempting shops. Hordes of shoppers from across the planet enjoy the Christmas lights which are now blazing overhead in the early dusk as the throng threads their individual paths to their favoured shops. Many of the shops are specialists; think toys and Hamleys of Regent Street springs to mind.

An emporium for children or for adults that do not wish to grow up, most men fill that category, though I have seen some ladies swoon over the vast array of teddy bears. I do head for a particular shop each year and that shop is Fortnum & Mason of Piccadilly. Their windows are decked and decorated each year with tableau.

I will not spoil the surprise if you are heading to Piccadilly any time soon as you will see for yourself the crowds on the pavement jostling for a peek. Yes, there are other department stores however none is like Fortnum & Mason. Each is charismatic in its own unique way and draw hordes of loyal shoppers from around the world each year.

However for me the biscuits at Fortnum cannot be equalled, indeed I know a man who would do serious damage for a jar of  their lemon curd. Christmas just would not be the same with out a tin of Fortnum & Mason biscuits.

Of course Fortnum’s food hall is world famous and busy throughout the year; at Christmas their wicker hampers stuffed with exquisite delicacies are shipped to dearest friends and family through out the world.

Go beyond the food hall and you will find that the shop is spread over six floors with choice ideas and services , restaurants and even a wine bar. Specialist departments curated and devoted to babies and home entertainment as well as fragrances and the essentials for the man or woman in your life.

This shop being Fortnum’s tea is big; quite a proportion of the floor space is devoted to tea.Not only in the food halls but also elsewhere. In among the crockery I came across a vast selection of tea pots illustrating the Evolution of the Tea Pot as well as all the paraphernalia to do with tea. Inevitably when you have the most exquisite tea leaf to hand you clearly need an exquisite tea pot. Yours for a mere £5,000.

Nick Horne, London, England

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Nick Horne