For a while I’ve been contemplating introducing another feature to my blog as I seem to have a whole bunch of ideas and recommendations that I can’t fit in anywhere else. All these feel like the kind of suggestions that would make for a pleasant Saturday afternoon, so I’ve decided that’s what I’ll go with: at the start of each weekend, I’ll post five things that you could do later that day (or on any Saturday in the future!).
Sometimes they’ll be themed, as they are today; other times they’ll be more of a mix. Let me know if you try out any of these ideas or if you have suggestions of your own – contact me directly or use the hashtag #FiveThingsSaturday. Would love to see your responses!
If you follow my Instagram account, you’ll know that I’m a big fan of Liberty, the London department store (the back of my head even briefly appeared in a recent episode of the BBC’s The Apprentice that was filmed in the ladies’ accessories hall).
Department stores have a special place in my history geek heart, being a new form of public space that emerged in the nineteenth century and one of the few urban places where women were not only welcome but were in fact central to their culture. There were even moral panics about the heady effects that these palaces of dreams had on women’s nervous systems!
Not all of the original stores retain this magical aura but it is still palpable in Liberty. Whether you’ve never visited or you’re a regular through its doors, the 1875 Arts and Crafts store is joyful place to spend a few hours on a leisurely afternoon.
Here are my top five things to do there:
(1) Enter the shop via the front central doors on Great Marlborough Street where you can marvel at the always stunning floral concession, Nikki Tibbles Wild at Heart Florist. There’s often some jostling to get a decent snap of the lush, flower filled stands as it’s the kind of display that could define ‘Instagrammable’.
(2) Absorb the craftsmanship and architecture. From the front facade to the back staircase, it is beautiful. Like gasp worthy beautiful. Take the stairs on the right and let your hands run over the wooden banister and its carvings. Head up to the top floor and just absorb the view looking down the central atrium to the floors below (see picture at the top of the post). It’ll give you an insight into why department stores were the source of sensory overload back in the nineteenth century.
(3) Visit the haberdashery section. Wander around the outer edge and take in bolt after bolt of patterned fabric to which the store gave its name. Even if you’ve never cared to pick up a needle in your life, it’s like a colourful sweetshop rammed with delicious choices. And if you do feel inspired to take up a new project, don’t worry about asking the staff for advice – they are super knowledgeable and helpful.
(4) Get a piercing! The renowned New York jeweller Maria Tash has a corner of the ground floor where you can buy a range of gorgeous little glittery things that they’ll insert for you wherever you choose. Anytime of the day you’ll find small groups of women of varying ages gathered around the glass counters giggling and cooing over the array of choices.
I got three new piercings in my right ear back in November and it was a far more fun experience than getting the original pair done in a hairdressers upstairs in Nuneaton bus station.
(5) Have a facial: Californian skincare brand Skin Laundry has opened its first UK concession in the Liberty beauty hall. They offer fifteen minute laser-and-light facials as well as a skincare line to support this treatment. They are so convinced that you’ll love the effects that they offer every customer their first facial free!
I tested the treatment out last week. I can report that my face looked brighter and felt tauter afterwards although I’m not sure I’d pay £50 to have it done again, especially as it was quite painful – the laser felt like a series of small electric shocks. That said, it’s definitely worth trying out if you feel your skin could do with a boost!