Cheap and Good; Good and Cheap

One of a miscellany of short observations from a trip to Scotland.


I look again. Yes, that’s what it says. £280.

In the last 24 hours I have slept, oh, about 4 hours max. My first meal of this day was duck gyoza and ginger lemonade, the restaurant’s hours for breakfast having passed. I am not at my sharpest, I admit it freely, and I find that I can’t quite figure out how much £280 is in Canadian dollars. Let’s see, with an exchange rate of 1.5875, that would be, umm, oh never mind. Too Much is what it would be, even at par. What the heck am I doing here?

What has brought me into Harrods’ Heathrow outlet is a need to kill some of our five-hour layover en route to Edinburgh. That and a colourful, gauzy top that winked at me as I ambled past the store’s side window en route to that tasty yet Deeply Wrong breaking of my fast. I can sit in the noisiest waiting area ever, of the largest airport ever — and I’m talking about just one of five terminals, and one of three wings of that terminal, to boot — waiting for my flight’s gate to be opened/announced, or I can wander about. I sit for a few minutes and then get up: OK, wandering it is. Anything will be better than this hubbub.

Leaving my carry-on with the Big Guy, I head out to scope out the entertainment on offer, which turns out to be snacking and shopping. My stomach hurts, but I don’t think I need to eat again just yet, so shopping it is.

A quick reconnaissance identifies the shopping options: a duet of extremes. Some shops shill low-end souvenirs: 3 FOR £10!!!, their signs shriek. Others quietly and confidently just announce their presence, with no need to mention anything so tacky as, you know, prices: Cartier, Dior, Dolce & Gabbana, Tiffany’s, Bulgari, Burberry, Chocolatier & Prunier, Smythsons, Harrods.

I take a deep breath and head into Harrods, as the store seeming least likely to cause a heart attack and most likely to offer something I might actually want, other, of course, than the chocolate. Right at the front, on the tables positioned to entice passers-by, a pretty scarf catches my eye. I wonder how much it is.

Turning it over exposes the price tag: £280. Yikes. But then another number catches my eye: £35. That would be the discount that this price represents over Harrods’ Knightsbridge location. Okey-dokey. Good to know.

I’ve come this far: I can’t stop now. I wander casually over to the gauzy tops that I had seen earlier and find that they are beach cover-ups on a season-end sale. Hurray! Discounted to move quickly, they’re only £285. Boo! And those simple shift dresses, hanging right beside them? They’re a steal at £620, not far off the cost of my airplane ticket, if I’ve done the conversion even close to correctly.

I can be bloody persistent, but I know when I’m done. Sporting my jeans and top from Eddie Bauer and clutching my $20 black cotton purse from Walmart, I decide to leave without anything from Harrods. I edge quietly out of the store, trying not to touch anything. That hubbub is starting to sound sort of good. And cheap. Thank goodness I’m heading to Scotland, where those two are the same thing.

Note:  My photos of Scotland (in two albums) are now publicly available on my Facebook page.

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4 Responses to Cheap and Good; Good and Cheap

  1. Carla says:

    Too true Isabel! I think the only thing that is remotely afforable at Harrod’s in Heathrow is tea……at least that’s what I bought…..and it was only affordable as a gift for my mother 🙂

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Carla – Well, a clue for me should have been that the father of Princess Diana’s last boyfriend owns Harrods. Moving in those circles, it’s not likely to be a bargain-hunter’s dream!

  2. Judith says:

    I regard Harrods and similar stores as a type of museum in which you could buy the exhibits if you want – which I never do. In this vein, Harrods Knightsbridge was not keen on my photographing strangely attractive crayon-colour kitchen appliances some years ago.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Judith – Interesting approach (the museum part). There are many beautiful things in the world – they don’t all need to be on my walls or in my closet. I’m not surprised that the (even) pricier Harrods frowned on your photography – some folks in Guatemala got all excited when I tried to photograph a wall-menu in a fast-food restaurant…

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