Monday, 23 May 2011

Expat Living - Shopping

I had to go Bratislava about two weeks ago. Unfortunately I didn't get to see much of the city, but the brief glimpse I did see I really quite liked. It seemed quite a lively place. Living where we do, in a slow, backwater, where all the shops close at noon on a Saturday and the town literally empties of people, this was quite welcome to me. I like quiet when I'm in the countryside, but in a city it's just unnatural. I prefer somewhere with a bit of a buzz.  Anyway, one place I did visit in Bratislava was a massive mall, I can't remember the name now I'm afraid, but it was the one near Ikea.

People talk about the pull of the Golden Arches, but for me it is the lure of the Green Lettering. Marks and Spencer. I used to hardly ever shop there when I lived in the UK. Underwear yeah sure. And the occasional sandwich, (I do remember an especially nice cheese and celery sandwich). Now however, I can spend hours gliding through the shop, running my fingers through the racks of clothes. I still don't buy an awful lot of clothes here, but it's weird, I enter the shop and I relax.  It all feels very familiar, it feels like home! A new style of retail therapy perhaps. Even the customer service is more what I'm used to. Polite, fairly accommodating, but not over the top. And not rude for the sake of it, as I have otherwise grown used to here.

So now, whenever I visit a larger city here in central Europe, a visit to M&S (if they have one) is a must. And if the aforementioned store has a food section well even better. I stock up on English Breakfast tea bags, Ploughman's Pickle, wholemeal pasta (my local Tesco has stopped stocking this!) and tortilla chips! Also, if I'm feeling flush then naan bread, indian snacks, mango chutney and those chocolate biscuits that M&S do so well. You know the type..."more chocolate than biscuit type" thing. I think they might even use that as one of their tag lines. It all feels so decadant, buying food in M&S! Imagine. Something I would never have dreamed of doing while back in the UK. But living abroad is a strange thing. When you can't get hold of "staples" the idea of value for money seriously fluctuates!

Elsewhere in the store I love their toiletries, can't get enough of the shower gel and bubble bath. Also their 'South of France' range of hand wash and hand creams have the most glorious scents. They really do remind me of my Proven├žal holidays.

And every now and again they'll have a fab sale, and I'll get some expensive dress or skirt for a knock-down price. Then I really feel as if I'm back on the British High Street!

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