bazaar; Checkout Harrods

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Indy Lifestyle Online
What is it? A small Knightsbridge republic, Harrods' handsome Victorian buildings stretch over four acres of prime shopping turf. The store began life as a corner shop, but expanded rapidly, its posh moniker becoming a by-word for luxury. Now one of London's top tourist magnets, rarefied opulence is lost in a blizzard of green and gold gift merchandising.

Customers? In its heyday, Oscar Wilde and Lily Langtree ran tabs here. These days you're more likely to be buffeted by German and American tourists.

Services: Harrods promised a "cradle to grave" package with a nursery and undertaking service. The store still has a bank, pub, and interior design studio. And you can stash that troublesome fur in the store's subterranean vault.

What To Buy? If you've got the smackers, the sky's the limit: Bronze Egyptian torch holders, a snip at pounds 5,495, perfect for that Kubla Khan look. The beautifully tiled foodhall stocks 1,200 wines and 350 cheeses, as well as fashionable safari food like Kangaroo steak (pounds l9.80/kg) or Ostrich slicing sausage with pistachios (pounds 2/100g).

What Not To buy? Oysters for two at a tiny bar in the foodhall. At pounds 100 these standard platters aren't exactly a bargain and the pressing crowds are enough to give the most determined snob indigestion.

Good thing

Merlin's Lamp pounds 12.95

Rid your rooms of stale cigarette smoke or any other nasty smells with Green & Pleasant's stylish terracotta burner. Each conical lamp comes with a box of powdered Cade, a mystical substance which smells of juniper and rosemary and which, legend has it, Merlin used to ward off witches. Refill packs cost pounds 3.95.

Green & Pleasant (0181-563 2349 for mail order).

Mad thing

Rain Stick - from pounds 10.00

Total stress relief in a big stick. Rainsticks were originally intended as percussive ceremonial instruments and originated in South America. But the soothing, and frankly addictive sound of heavy rain they create has become a popular alternative to worry beads, nail biting and dog kicking as forms of stress relief. The dried cactus sticks come from Chile and exactly how they are made remains a mystery.

Tales from the Earth (0171 720 4990).