she enclosed the gift receipt

It’s the oddest thing, but on my recent birthday, I received bags of various descriptions from no fewer than 4 of the women in my immediate and extended family. Odder still, because I am fairly pernickety about sartorial matters, and nailing anyone’s taste is no easy undertaking (which is why vouchers, preferably from Selfridges or Liberty, are always welcomed).

In any case: whether I liked the bags or not, there were just too many of them. Only one, however, came with a gift receipt: it had been bought at Fenwick in Newcastle and so to the Bond Street store I headed.

Fenwick is wonderful. Just so lovely and peaceful and unfrazzled. I adore Selfridges but you can barely make a dent in it in the space of a whole day, and there’s just so much to be had, or even just cooed over, that it can be a little overwhelming. I’m sure I would miss any sales bargains on offer in the melting pot of all that’s on view.


Not so at Fenwick, where I tried on, in a leisurely fashion, a handful of designer items, all heavily marked down. And then I saw this Joseph sweater. So thick and cosy, with its cabling and blackberry stitch panel, made from a blend of wool and cashmere. And the colour! Vibrant yet deep, cheerful yet cold-weather appropriate. It was marked down from £385 to far, far less than that, leaving me with just £37 to pay on top of the value of the gift certificate from the returned bag.

That bag may just have turned out to be my best birthday present of all.