Every August I spend a week or so in Oxfordshire visiting my in-laws, who live in a sweet little village six miles outside of Oxford. While we are there, we take long walks in the countryside, have lunch by the river and barbeques in the evening, spending time with our five year old nephew who we don't see enough of.
Sometimes, we go to the Covered Market in Oxford city centre, where we gush over the incredibly detailed cakes at The Cake Shop and buy fresh flowers before enjoying one of Ben's Cookies. We'll wander round the University grounds, taking photographs and Tweeting pictures of something that we find fascinating but that our followers probably think is terribly dull. We do lots of nice things when we are in Oxfordshire, but, as a serial shopper, one of the activities I enjoy most is my annual visit to Bicester Village.
Bicester Village is a designer outlet village in Bicester, Oxfordshire. Part of the collection of Chic Outlet Shopping® Villages, each Village is within reach of European cities such as Paris, Milan, Barcelona and Brussels, among others. Bicester Village has become so popular over the years that there is now a Shopping Express coach service that runs between London and Bicester for die-hard shoppers who are looking for labels for less. This is the best way to do Bicester Village - make a day of it by being dropped off at the Village doorstep for a few hour of shopping followed by lunch at Carluccio's. Once you've refuelled, shop some more before being collected at the end of a fun (and hopefully successful) day of retail therapy!
My first experience at Bicester Village was in 2006. My now mum-in-law took me round the shops in the Village, from Jigsaw to Ralph Lauren and Mulberry. It was in Mulberry that I fell in love with the It-bag of the moment, the Roxanne. I was obsessed. I didn't buy it (I couldn't afford it then, even at the discounted price) but I will always remember my first encounter with Mulberry. I was gutted to go home without the Roxanne, especially having had it snatched out of my hands by an equally obsessed woman who could afford it. Ever since that moment, I swore I would one day have a classic Mulberry leather bag all of my own, to cherish.
Fast forward six years and I have my Mulberry. In June 2010 I graduated from my part-time Masters degree at the University of Dundee and received some money from my Godparents to buy something special to mark the occasion. Two months later, on our annual Oxford trip, I found myself at the Mulberry outlet at Bicester Village, where I proudly purchased my chocolate Mulberry Bayswater - the Bicester Village price was a snip at only two thirds of the RRP. (If you plan to spend some serious cash on some serious labels, head to Bicester Village for designer bargains galore - you'll get more for your money).
Since investing in my Mulberry Bayswater, it's been true love ever since. That said, my love affair with Bicester Village continues; this summer, I purchased a soft-as-butter black DKNY hobo. Well, I needed a black handbag. Chocolate doesn't go with everything, does it?