Autumn Shopping in London
As the seasonal changes of autumn draw in there are a few essential purchases every Londoner is encouraged to invest in. Autumn days can be bright, fresh and dry but occasionally we must suffer the gentle pitter-patter of rain as it falls on London's streets. An umbrella is highly recommended and even a pair of water-tight Wellington boots. Autumn is also the time to prepare for the winter ahead. Shops are filled with this year's winter apparel. A decent winter coat is a fine excuse for a shopping spree. Then there is the seasonal food which one must take the opportunity to sample while autumn is upon us. Game birds make for a mighty yummy roast. It's not often that grouse or partridge is readily available so we recommend that while they are in season you hit the local butcher and acquire some decidedly lovely fowl.
53 New Oxford Street, WC1A
Arguably one of the most famous umbrella shops in the world, this historic establishment is incredibly prestigious. Truly the home of the London umbrella, the shop has been on New Oxford Street since 1857. Famed for equipping sophisticated Victorian ladies and gents with smart, fashionable, very sturdy umbrellas the shop is still popular today in contemporary London society. Stepping into this appealing time warp does give you an indication of what the shopping experience might have been like before the dawning of today's faceless high street offerings. Its shop front represents an exquisite example of Victorian design and has remained miraculously unaltered in 140 years. Inside, many of the intricate fittings were designed and made by a skilled fitter kept in full employment.
54 St James's Street, SW1A
This rather exclusive establishment will happily arm London folk with a seriously upper-class, posh brolly should they be in need of one. An incredibly timeless store, nothing seems to change here. In addition to serving up some classy umbrellas it also sustains its business on providing excessively big hats for Ascot, tweed jackets and breeches for those city folk who like to head to the country to try their hand at blowing birds out of the sky during the shooting season, and, of course, the obligatory humungous (if slightly unnecessary) picnic hampers. Umbrella wise, well yes they do excel. They sell absolutely stunning, walking length umbrellas for gentleman with a choice of Malacca, hickory or cherry handles. Prices - which start at £175 (gulp) - mean you'll be positively praying for rain.
5 Ellis Street, SW1X
Sophisticated London ladies will be able to bag themselves a lovely umbrella in this wonderfully classy, feminine shop. No surprise, Gabriela Ligenza is the fashion designer behind the shop. She has a truly contemporary edge designed to bring the best out in women. Her forte is actually hats. Working to the principal that hats are like moving sculptures, she has designed these three-dimensional, incredibly flattering creations that when not being worn look a little plain but once on the head just look stunning.
12 Ship Tavern Passage, Leadenhall Market, Gracechurch Street, EC3V
For sensible, sturdy Wellingtons well-suited for hardy winter wear, Barbour specialities are the obvious choice. Since 1984, J. Barbour & Sons have produced Wellie boots perfectly suited to tramping across Hampstead Heath or weekend escapes to rural parts. They have a commitment to quality and durability and guarantee to adorn your feet with Wellies that will last for years.
All Barbour Wellies are made of rubber and are absolutely watertight. Another reason to go for Barbour as a brand is that they are big on comfort. Wellies can be notoriously hard on delicate feet but Barbour boots work hard to mould to the feet, reduce rubbing and basically be very foot friendly.
258 Kentish Town Road, NW5
This small company excels in doing a whole myriad of produce exceptionally well. As well as being a butchers and fishmongers the shop also sells some incredibly high quality poultry, game and more recently delicatessen items. There is such an exquisite choice so you will be able to pick up some fine lumps of meat to cook up an autumnal feast at home. The vast chillers are crammed with organic beef, duck, chicken, pheasants and succulent homemade sausages. They also serve some seasonally spicy hickory-smoked turkey and chicken. The turkey is particularly yummy – especially if you're warming up for the festive season. The fish is varied and of an exceptionally high standard. It lies stacked at the back, packed in ice and laid out in a colourful design. They do a flaky, smoked fish speciality, while the halibut and marlin are deliciously savoury. The deli features a broad range of cooked meats, pies and cheeses. Incidentally, the Cornish cheese is utterly divine.
140 Portobello Road, W11
It’s so refreshing to stumble across family establishments in these times of faceless corporations. This little gem is all about family. Brothers Philip and Hadyn Field and both their sons work in the shop, while even Mrs Field busies away making all the pies. The shop itself has been recently refurbished and has styled itself as an Edwardian butcher with good wholesome, old-fashioned values. It’s such a friendly place and the service is wonderfully personal.
The homemade sausages come in imaginative combinations such as apricot and garlic, merguez or wild boar and apple.
Autumn is the time to sample the fine game at this butcher. From English partridge, teal and woodcock to guinea fowl, grouse, mallard, pheasant, pigeon and even the odd peacock – the list is endless.
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110 Holland Park Avenue, W11
Another family establishment, David Lidgate is the fourth generation to run the family business. Incredibly, it was established by his great grandfather back in 1850. Regarded as one of the best butchers in London (attested by a series of awards proudly displayed on the wall) this is a fantastic place to pick up some delicious seasonal grub.
The meat is entirely organic and the animals all organically fed. A right royal business, among the raft of organic meats on offer you will find beef and lamb from Prince Charles’ farm at Highgrove and Aberdeen Angus beef from the late Queen Mother’s estate at Castle May. Shoppers can also choose from a mouth-watering selection of sausages, hams, pates and quiches – all made on the premises. The pies are also an autumn must-eat. Lidgate actually holds the title of ‘National Pie Champion’ and justifiably so, they are made daily with fresh vegetables, homemade butter-based pastry and good cuts of meat.
In autumn months you can order from a fine selection of game birds and if you are getting geared up for Christmas early why not bagsy a turkey. They are absolutely fantastic.
36-38 Great Castle Street, W1
The high street darling o]f the fashion pack, the ever increasing popularity of Topshop knows no bounds. They feature in our shopping articles on a regular basis but that is because the shop is just so darn good. Surprise surprise, they go into winter coats in a big way. Offering up a swathe of different designs, they just have so much choice.
122 Kensington Park Road, W11
Paul Smith is a reliable option for boys in search of a really decent, hard-wearing but equally stylish winter coat. It is fair that this designer still leads the fashion race in popular menswear. Launched in a tiny shop in Nottingham in 1970 he is now a global brand. The undisputed knight of immaculate tailoring with a twist, the coats are elegant and sophisticated. It’s nice to see this designer moving away from the normal blacks and dark browns. - they’ve some very trendy tan coloured goodies in this year. For boys wanting a trendy coat to wear with jeans that are equally as warm, Smith is doing a knee-length sheepskin coat and a very cool khaki ranch coat. These two are personal favourites. There’s definitely an element of cowboy to the autumn collection. Yee-ha.
9-10 Floral Street, Covent Garden, WC2E
Ted clothes are a zany collection of eccentric prints and soothing colours. Come winter they always churn out a number of first-rate coats. Although their designs do steadfastly follow fashion trends there is something so uniquely ‘Ted’ about all their items. Many of the ladies' pretty coat designs are simply embroidered in sharp shapes and graphics. Some even tend to be finished with distinctive frills, ruffles and sequins. Sophisticated, practical, stylish and exceptionally high-quality these coats are some of the most sought-after garments in the capital for modish young ladies.
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