I am still sifting through old articles and came across my first blog post I had written on Travel. It was about a trip to the Ritz for my daughter’s 16th birthday. Because we had arrived early we had decided to go shopping in Oxford Street London.
Fast Fashion was in full swing and I was horrified watching my daughter and nieces as they got caught up in a circle of want and out of control consumerism.
By the time I had got to India, I had made a pledge to myself that I would be researching into slow fashion and organically grown cotton.
That is when we came up with the idea Daadi. Unfortunately because of Covid19 the project has been put on hold, however, we must not forget, some of these issues have not gone away.
Before my true adventure begins, I have a few family commitments to attend to. I cannot leave without organising my daughter 16th birthday and I want it to be something special that she can remember. It would be much too easy to just buy her more clothes or a new phone. I wanted to create a memory. I had mentioned having afternoon tea at the Ritz in London with some trepidation but was delighted when she said that the idea sounded like fun. I explained that she would appreciate the experience in years to come, A sixteenth birthday is a milestone event, I remember mine well but we can save that for another story.
My sister, my niece and three-year-old great niece, Daisy agreed to join us and I hoped it would be ok to take someone so young to the Ritz. It was fun getting ready to go somewhere grand. I had booked for us to have tea at 5.30 but we arrived early in all best dressed and in our finery. However, the Ritz is not somewhere where you can just wait in the bar for an hour and have a drink. Not with kids and not when the minimum spend is £20 per head.
My sister suggested shopping in Oxford Street. Megs eyes lit up, it was her birthday treat after all. Oxford Street was manic as usual. I had forgotten how much I hated it. It resembled a busy Xmas shopping experience, not a Monday afternoon in October. Pavements were full to the edge, quite nerve wracking when you think of recent terror attacks within busy shopping areas. They then thought it would be great to take Daisy to Hamleys. The most famous toy shop in the world. We should have known better, the memories of our parents taking us there to see the beautiful dolls and quality toys made us believe things could never change. Sadly, they have. Now it is just Toys R us on a much larger scale and twice as many people. Ok, so you can imagine the stress levels. Consumerism has become a plague and all my daughter wants is a fun look around the shops. I make a mental note that I must take her to Barcelona, where the shops are the same but there are less people.
Back to our original and more civilised plan, we hail a Taxi so we can pull up outside the sparkling Ritz where a uniformed doorman greeted us with a smile, we have brushed our hair, touched up our make-up and we can breathe at last. The doorman is charming as he flirts with little Daisy and makes her feel special. Time for a group photograph with the doorman and the entrance of the Ritz, this was to be one for the family album if we hadn’t realised my sister was clutching on to an H&M plastic shopping bag, lowering the tone slightly. By the time we get to sit down in the Palm Court though, I am feeling human again. The girls are smiling and the sense of a bygone era when things were nice and nicer and we didn’t need to rush or push to buy more stuff, waves over us like a magic cloud, they all took pleasure in the surroundings, mirrors reflected twinkling lights from chandeliers above our heads, grand floral displays of pink blooms stood proud on crisp white table cloths. The waiter poured tea from silver tea pots into real china cups. Cake stands gracefully display a selection of neatly cut sandwiches, cakes and scones stand proudly in the centre of the table. Everyone remarked about the experience. If only for two hours this will be something to relish and remember. As we left the Ritz, the doorman shouted to Daisy, come back and see us soon Daisy, I hope she will and I hope Megan will remember it as something special.
Tomorrow I will be leaving my winter clothes behind as I wave goodbye and really start my adventure on my own. I am travelling to Thailand, it is a long way. There are five months ahead of me. Five months of meeting people I have never met before. Am I scared, Of course.
My children have no concerns, I guess they just trust me to return.