In the last fortnight, I've excelled myself in visits to Boots. What with the damp dregs of a cold and a twisted ankle to contend with, at every possible opportunity (every lunchtime) I've been in the branch near my office like a rat up a drainpipe. Even without Lemsip capsules (Max Strength, obviously) and neoprene foot supports to acquire, I usually make it in about three times a week.
It's partly because I like to keep my over-the-counter medicines topped up at all times, partly because I am obsessed with new cosmetics, but mainly because I could quite happily live in Boots. I find it very, very comforting in there. It has everything you need to make life better, whether that's tweezers to end mono-brow misery or ultra-whitening toothpaste. All those colours of hair dye! All those opportunities for reinvention.
One of my colleagues hates Boots like poison. He complains that it's all too white, he doesn't know where anything is and he can't move for people s-l-o-w-l-y reading the backs of bottles. Of course I think he's got it all wrong. That my future home he's talking about! But then, when I fall for a shop, I do tend to fall hard.
I went to groovy American clothes and homewares store Anthropologie on Regent Street for the first time recently and could barely tear myself away come closing time. No, I couldn't afford any of the clothes, but I consoled myself with a sparkly hair clip, revelled in the natural light and living wall (basically an indoor, vertical garden), snuffled the delicious-smelling soaps and worked out that if I did dodge the security guards, I could fashion myself a comfortable nest come bedtime in the textiles section.
But in at number one in the shops-where-I'd-live-if-they-let-me charts has to be Booths. I've only been to one branch, but this is a place that puts the super in supermarket. Booths, for those who have yet to experience it, is a chain of 28 stores across the North-west. It has a very good reputation on things like treating suppliers well and supporting the slow-food movement. It sells delicious things (my meringue was a triumph) and somehow, despite the fluro supermarket lighting, manages to be homely and welcoming.
It has to be said that Booths isn't cheap, but for a treat rather than every weekly shop, it's a winner. I'm not sure what I'd make my bed there out of (kitchen roll?) but it certainly makes me jealous of the BBC staff who have relocated to Salford as there's a Booths at MediaCityUK. They might not end up sleeping there, but they'd be near as dammit.