Next week, I am doing a U-turn and returning to the high street. I miss the sweaty changing-rooms, the irritating sales assistants, the traffic jams and the stress of ordinary shopping. I will not, however, be returning to the supermarket. My more mundane groceries will be delivered by London's Tele-Sales Supermarket and Bottom Line, the mail-order toilet roll service (27 environmentally friendly rolls delivered for pounds 10.99). I will also return, periodically, to my couch to contemplate the olive oils, ceps, prunes stuffed with almond cream and milk chocolate crepes dentelles from Morel Bros and Cobbet & Sons. And I will work my way through all the traditional smelly cheeses that are available through the post, kicking off with Jeroboam's Cheese Club, the Neal's Yard Dairy and Abergavenny Fine Foods.
I am not a meat-eater, but there is many a fattened carnivore who oohs and aahs over the humanely reared mail-order meat from Heal Farm in Devon. Campaigners for the survival of rare pig breeds, they rear the likes of Tamworths and Gloucester Old Spots which, curiously, they then make into sausages. They also supply other meats as well as dishes such as provencal beef (from pounds 9.85), and a trial pack of all their products (pounds 34). The Scottish Gourmet of Biggar in Scotland also comes highly recommended. This mail-order chef extraordinaire, one Bernard Alessi, will prepare entire dinner parties and all kinds of quality meat.
As for other mail-order delights, I never did get round to ordering a set of logo wheel valve caps for the rusting motor. But now that Richbrook is doing a set of four for pounds 9.95, instead of the usual pounds 12.95, I might order some as Christmas standbys for the distant male relatives for whom the giving of handkerchiefs or golf balls is getting embarrassing. For the same reason, some "men's baskets" from Basket Express might come in handy. I like the sound of the "Anyone for Tennis" basket (pounds 40-pounds 80) consisting of Floris toiletries and a bottle of Smirnoff.
As for mail-order clothes, I will occasionally take refuge from the street in some of the best mail-order catalogues. Old Town's Workwear by Post is full of goodies, such as the traditional cambric shirts (pounds 35) and farmyard-style "high rise" jeans (pounds 36). While planning my autumn wardrobe, I am also pondering next winter and snowboarding, but cannot decide on an appropriate outfit. Still, I have until September when the Snow + Rock catalogue appears. Meantime, I shall work my way through the APC catalogue, the Parisian mail-order store. Its short classic overcoat in black or beige (Fr1,900) is chic, and its quinquennial agenda notebook for the run-up to the year 2000 (Fr350) is a Must Have.
Tele-Sales Supermarket; Bottom Line 0891 400 200; Morel Bros and Cobbet & Sons 0171-384 3345; Jeroboam's Cheese Club 0171-823 5623; Neal's Yard Dairy 0171-379 7646; Abergavenny Fine Foods 01873 850001/880844; Heal Farm 01769 572077; Scottish Gourmet 01899 221268; Richbrook 0171-381 0777; Basket Express 0171-289 2636; Old Town 01603 628100; Snow + Rock 01932 569569; APC 44 39 87 93.Reuse content