Christmas Shopping 2017: The new Bicester Village to the rescue

posted on: Wednesday, 29 November 2017

I feel as if I am about to reveal the methods behind a famous magic trick here with this post. Relatives, friends and colleagues, look away if you receive Christmas presents from me every year as I'm about to reveal how it is that I can do so with such designer gusto. Here we go. Dear all, I am a Bicester Village addict. No really, it's a condition I'm dealing with on a week to week basis. It wouldn't be strange at all to see me on a Tuesday afternoon strolling the newly expanded village, popping into Polo Ralph Lauren or slipping out of Stella McCartney. After all, the village is only 46 minutes, by train, from London and there are over 160 boutiques to keep one amused for hours on end. Now, as I'm coming clean about "the obsession," I thought I'd share my last day at Bicester, which took place just over a week ago. I spent eight hours shopping, people. Let me repeat that - 8 hours! By the time I boarded the train home, I had lost the ability to pick up my feet. I had so many bags, I had to send a friend home with a first round of purchases. I told you, I'm die hard.

Now, I'm sharing this little adventure in two ways. If you want to watch it all unfold, with my classic tomfoolery played out on video, there is a youtube record of the whole experience. I call it The Bicester Village Video. Original eh? Check it out. There are a few giggles involved there.

But, here and now, I'm going to walk you through the perfect day at Bicester, and how to make an eight hour stretch of power shopping feel like a walk in the park.

Let's start with the important things- fuel! You are going to need a caffeine high to propel you through the day. You have your shopping list ready. Your footwear is, hopefully, stable. Oh, and I'm also hoping you've signed up for Bicester Village's handsfree shopping so that you aren't saddled with bags as you walk to and fro between shops. OK, back to coffee. 

There's a new restaurant at the village called the Secret Garden. This is where I started my adventures, with said friend in tow. I knew I was going to need my energy so we grabbed almond milk lattes and chased them with more carbs and cakes than ever really necessary, but this felt like a day of indulgence. Plus, I knew I'd need the calories on the go!

After downing our coffee we were off. The general idea was to hit twenty shops and rest. May sound very strategic, but you need to go with a plan. The nice thing about Bicester Village is that there are plenty of places to rest your feet when you just need a second to regroup. The famous florist Nikki Tibbles has also come in and completely transformed the atmosphere of the village itself, making you feel as if you're regrouping in a winter wonderland. Oh, if only every shopping experience could be so rewarding.

Now, it must be said that I went to Bicester Village with the intention of buying for others. I do believe most of us are that well intentioned. The only problem is that it seemed for every present I was buying someone else, I was also filling my cart for myself. I couldn't help myself. I took a few fitting room selfies as proof of my restraint. Only four pieces bought for myself and about two dozen bags filled for other people. Hey, Santa needs to visit me this year too. I've worked very hard! Oh man, we get in all kinds of trouble when we start the "I deserve this" talk, don't we?

So, after we finished in Prada, it was time for another stop - this time to a bright pink truck for some hot chocolate overflowing with marshmallows. Remember, you need to feed the machine! Your body is doing some serious exercise here. Spoil it along the way. We grabbed our hot chocolates and sat ourselves in Santa's Sleigh for some R&R.

After spotting cowboy boots of dreams that only came in kids' sizes and a chandelier that was entirely swoon worthy, we had found that we had covered half the village. That's 80 stores under our belts. At this point a proper rest is required and this is where Bicester Village really does excel. The restaurants on offer are fantastic and always growing. One of the latest additions to the village is The Farmshop, offering beautiful food in the form of everything from fish and chips to beefy burgers. My sensible friend went for a salad, we shared some camembert cheese, and I went straight for the burger. Incidentally, we also thought we deserved bubbles for our hard work. 

A tea, coffee and cake later,  we were off to complete the rest of our trip. The sun had gone down and the lights in the village were starting to come up. This is magic hour for me. The village becomes a bit more quiet, the temperature outside drops a few degrees and everywhere you look someone is huddled over a hot chocolate, or taking out a recent coat purchase to protect themselves against the elements. But the twinkling lights, oh the twinkly lights. They help you get through the tail end of your shopping experience. As I walk into what must be my 100th store, I feel a sense of triumph. I have ticked off every single person on my Christmas shopping list and I've done it in one day. When you have a village that offers everything from homeware to children's wear, women's fashion to designer stationary, there really is no reason you can't shop for everyone in one go.

I made my way to to the train station, which is now conveniently just a hop, skip and a jump from the first store in the village, and found myself plopping down in my seat with a thud. In 46 minutes I'd be back in London. I one hour and five minutes, I'd be back sitting on my sofa, sifting through all the day's finds! All in a day's work. And to think people still go to Oxford Street to shop. Why?!

Fashion Foie Gras worked in collaboration with Bicester Village.