Archive Page 2

Borders’ Going Out of Business Sale

Intrigued by the large sign at the corner of the Midtown Borders in Atlanta, I decided to pop in with the kids to scoop up some bargains from the chain’s going-out-of-business sale. After all, the sign said (up to) 40% off regular prices.

We were not the only ones with this plan. The shopping center was mobbed. After five laps around the parking lot, we finally procured a spot. We then dodged cars that were driving too fast for a parking lot (the prospect of a going-out-of-business sale induces people to speed, it seems) to make it into the store — where I saw the longest line I have ever witnessed in any bookstore — even at Barnes and Noble on Christmas Eve.

After a ten minute wait, we had to leave to store to accommodate my daughter’s bathroom request. Borders had closed its bathrooms to customers (once you’re going out of business, customer comforts are no longer priorities, I suppose), so we headed to Whole Foods.

Then we returned to the still massive line, waited — and waited. When we finally reached the front, we found that the books we planned to buy were only 10% off — not 40%, as the sign said.

Only magazines are 40% off, the cashier told the irate customer ahead of us. Of course, by the time we reached the register, we would have gladly paid double for the books, as long as we could leave the shop.

I do feel for Borders, and for the thousands of people who will lose their jobs when the store liquidates. But I wish I had earned a steeper discount after that chaotic shopping spree.

Cars 2 Collision of Words

I think I might in a small but distinguished minority — I liked Cars 2. One of the moms in my neighborhood said that she saw people walk out of the theatre in disgust. But what’s not to like about the animation, the cute cars and the catchy theme song?

And who doesn’t like Michael Caine?

We didn’t see the first one; maybe if we had, we would be disappointed by the second. But I am still awed by the intricate animation. I get a kick out of the celebrity voices. And of course, I love the British/American culture clash theme.

I even overlooked the frequent gunfire scenes. Maybe they were out of place in a kids’ movie, but at least no one died.

Free Speech, plus Starbucks

I’m glad to see that Kevin Spacey kept a coffee in hand while marching in London for journalists’ rights in Belarus…

Charleston: A Bit of Britain in the South

It’s a European enclave — plus palm trees. We drove to Charleston, South Carolina last weekend, and felt like the five hour car journey had brought us back to (a much warmer, sunnier version of) Britain.

We decided to go to Charleston after a German friend told us that it was the only city she had visited in the US that felt European: it’s got the history, the walkability, and the abundance of British flags.

The weather (gorgeous) and size (small) made the city fun to walk around. Even with a double stroller and a baby bjorn, we strolled from one end of town to the other, and along the waterfront.

The streets are clean, flanked by colorful houses and shops. And the people are so friendly: strangers say hello, give directions, hold doors open and say, “My, you’ve got your hands full!” when they see you walking with three kids.

Because the weather was so warm (temperatures were set to hit 78 degrees on Sunday), we didn’t visit any indoor attractions. But the opportunity to leave the car behind is a rare treat in the South.

Once we paid the $20 (daily!) valet parking charge at out hotel, we got to visit the outdoor sites on foot: we walked along the Battery, a waterfront park with cannons, surrounded by southern mansions.

And we strolled past art galleries, old churches, and an array of seafood restaurants. Because the weather was so beautiful, we didn’t visit any museums.

Having lived through lots of drizzly days in London, we learned to take advantage of warm weather when we can. You don’t always know when the next one will be (although this seems to be a misplaced fear in the South, where spring/summer days are almost invariably warm and sunny).

We even spent a morning at one of the wide, rustic beaches just outside of Charleston. On Sullivan’s Island, we collected shells, made sand castles, and dipped our toes into the (freezing) water. Our only regret was that we didn’t have more time.

Royal Wedding Dressing

I was pleased to hear that we’re not the only ones who go to Gieve and Hawkes – it looks like the Savile Row tailor will make Prince William’s wedding ensemble.

While I’ve never purchased military attire from the tony tailors, I have bought trousers for my husband when I’ve felt compelled to splurge (they are not cheap).

And the shop, which always seems to have about twenty assistants working the floor, no matter how few customers are there, will always hold a special place in our hearts.

Like Prince WIlliam, my husband went to Gieves and Hawkes to have his wedding suit made (which again, wasn’t cheap, but then, you only get married once — and not just because most people can’t afford two bespoke suits from Savile Row).

I was also impressed by how enterprising and helpful the staffers are. When I went in to buy a jumper (aka sweater) there one winter, my baby daughter started to cry. All of the assembled tailors and shop assistants looked alarmed. I asked if I could feed her in the store, since it was raining hard outside.

While this clearly wasn’t the type of request he was used to accommodating, one morning suit-clad employee told me in his incredibly plummy accent that he would be happy to direct me to a dressing room in the back of the store.

And as Prince William has probably discovered, that was one posh dressing room.

Fall Comes to Atlanta

It finally feels like fall here in Atlanta: the temperature has dropped to the high 80s, from the near-hundred degree days we’ve all grown accustomed to since May; school is back in session; and Starbucks has brought out its line of pumpkin treats (muffins, scone, bread and of course, my personal favorite, the pumpkin spice latte).

There are also leaves withering and falling from the trees, but that could just be because they’re fried from four months of baking in the sun.

It’s still hotter than most summer days in London ever were, so we still need to slather on sunscreen. This seems unnatural in September, but then, so did wearing long sleeves and scarves in London during August.

Susan Boyle Singing for the Pope

I’m glad I’m not the only one who likes Susan Boyle. I can’t think of anyone better suited to perform for the Pope during his first state visit to the UK next month.

I hadn’t realized that Susan Boyle was Catholic. And I wasn’t aware that the Vatican followed pop culture, enough to have taken note of the runner up from last year’s “Britain’s Got Talent” whose debut CD topped the charts last Christmas.

The news confirms my suspicion that I am one of the few people in my age group to appreciate the Scottish singing sensation. But it appears that I am in good company.