Buy It In Blighty: British Souvenirs
If we ever moved back to the States, there would be a long list of things I would miss about daily life here. Beyond the relationships and meaningful things, I would also grieve the lack of access to some of my favorite things that are only found here.
Some are the fancy items that you find in specialty shops (like Floris Perfume... swoon), others are just practical items that are made better (Primark tights!), while the rest... well, they're just things I think make for great gifts to remember your time in Britain.
1. ANTIQUE SILVER: What kind of Notting Hill resident would I be if I didn't put this on the top of my list? Between my love for entertaining and my passion for a good bargain, I think it is so fun to scour the market stalls of Portobello Road on Saturday mornings for treasure. (Open every Saturday. Go before 11am to avoid the really terrible crowds.) I also find some great serving pieces and home items in the charity shops here- some of our favorite things have been £0.50 off the dusty shelf of an Oxfam store.
2. TIGHTS: I can't explain the different in the tights here vs the US. The quality, even among the cheap brands, is just so much better. And the price? SO MUCH CHEAPER. I get mine from Primark. I can get a couple of pairs for £2 each and wear them for months on end without snagging or runs. Marks and Spencer also has great tights for around £2.50 each. They are so much thicker-yet-stretchy than you find in the States. My family always requests that I buy them several pairs each year.
3. TEA: Tea in the States is so expensive compare to Britain... and even the basic store brands here are going to be as good (if not better) than most of the blends you'll find in the US. We like M&S Gold for a great everyday tea... I think it's around £5 for 80 bags. Yorkshire Gold, PG Tips, or Twinings are all good buys that you can find anywhere. (And I know there is Twinings in the States, but each of the teas are blended different for the US markets even though they are called the same.)
4. SMYTHSON: You can buy Smythson around the world, but there is something especially neat about going to their shop on Bond Street. You'll feel posh toting that little blue bag around Mayfair with you, and the goodies inside will become a keepsake for years to come. Whether it's stationery or a chic travel wallet, the look is timeless.
5. BRITISH MAGAZINES: When I would travel here before we moved over, I loved reading the newspapers and magazines in Britain. Something about them was so funny and different to me... It's definitely culturally enriching to read the vocabulary and social commentary within one.
6. LIBERTY LONDON: This department store is not only special to visit because of the gorgeous building that it is located in off Regent Street, but the famous floral prints that made it famous make for a great souvenir that is perfectly London. They have a variety of items available in an assortment of their most popular prints- trays, tea cups, home goods, aprons, etc. Or, of course, you can go to their fabric hall and have some yards cut of their famous prints to do something extra special with when you get home.
7. LEMON CURD: While Britain does make amazing jams, I think good lemon curd is really hard to find back in the US. It never seems to have the same pucker that UK curd has. (Which, in my opinion, is the best part.) Plus, it's ridiculously cheap here. You can buy a pretty jar at one of the fancy department stores like Harrods or Fortnum & Mason as a gift, or stock up for yourself at any grocery store.
8. TATLER: Again, another British magazine that is so awesomely British. Grab a copy for the train or plane... I have a feeling you'll have a hard time tossing it out even after it's been read and out of date. (I always do, at least.)
9. FLORIS LONDON: Floris is the oldest private perfumer in Britain. Their shop in Mayfair has mixed custom scents for the Royal household for generations, and their celebrity list is too long to count. You can either go in and buy one of their scents off the shelf, or pay to have a custom scent blended for you. (Fancy, right?)
10. COOKBOOKS: If people talk about bad food in Britain, I typically just assume they haven't actually been here in twenty years... or wouldn't be able to find good food where they live either. Great food is EVERYWHERE in Britain. There are some amazing chefs here with great work- Jamie Oliver, Yotam Ottolenghi, Nigella Lawson, Mary Berry... etc. I live just around the corner from Ottolenghi in Notting Hill, so I'm especially keen for the Jerusalem cookbook he created. (Plus, the UK cover is different than the US, so it makes for a fun souvenir.)
11. CATH KIDSTON: This British brand is a stop that I frequent when I need a gift for my nieces or nephews. With adorable prints and sweet items, I can always find a reasonably priced item that totally hits the spot. (Plus, they are a large brand here, so it is easy to find them dotted around town.)
So there you have it: those are some of my favorite things to enjoy or to share from England. What would you put on your list to pick up here during your stay?
*images original to Aspiring Kennedy