Bicester Village for Babies

The very kind people at Bicester Village/Chic Outlets invited me along for another day of blogger shopping and lunch recently. You know how much I love this place so I needed no excuse to visit – and this time Elfie came too. The last time I went to Bicester I shopped soley for myself, stopping only to try on things and glug wine, so this time I wanted to go at the day from the perspective of a mother.

In attendance was the lovely Miggy who has just moved to Berlin (so follow her for the latest on bratwurst and trendiness), the gorgeous Mademoiselle Robot who I don’t think I’ve seen in real life since Fashion Week September ’09 and the super sleek and stylish Disney Rollergirl.

My journey to Bicester is always an easy one, a quick 40 minute drive through Buckingham. Parking is easy, plentiful and all within a five minute walk of the village. There are loads of disabled/buggy-friendly lifts down from the top level car parks and smooth pavements to walk along.

When I say it helps to be strategic here I’m not joking. There are over 130 boutiques which have up to 60% off, and much like any other bargain shopping there are many hidden gems so you’re going to need plenty of browsing time. I like to identify firstly my budget, any key pieces I want to look for (a special dress, work shoes, a winter coat, kitchen goods) and then the shops that are unmissable. You won’t be able to go into every single shop unless you spend all day here (I’ve tried). This time I knew I wanted to work my way round the baby boutiques as well as pop into Le Creuset and Bodum.

My resolve to focus my day on Elfie lasted about five minutes. I bought her a beautiful knitted Ralph Lauren dress (from £76 to £32) and then bought myself an Alice Temperley scarf. And then for me a cable knit jumper, breton stripe top and leather patch cardigan from Ralph Lauren (£70 for the three!). Followed by a Le Creuset teapot (£15, for country living) and some Molton Brown goodies. Elfie who?

Lunch again was at the lovely Busaba Eathai where E was a demi-terror who wanted to rampage round the restaurant making friends with strangers. Luckily all the naughty excitement of lunch time got the better of her and she had a nice two hour snooze, long enough for me to have another browse at everything I’d missed.

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The baby changing facilities are extremely clean and include lovely handwash  at the sinks, which might sound like a funny point to highlight but there are not enough luxury handcreams in changing rooms in this world. If you’re a less selfish mother than I am there are plenty of baby-friendly shops like Bonpoint, Cath Kidston, The White Company, Paul Smith and my personal favourite, Ralph Lauren. There are also outdoor play areas for the little ones and all the restaurants are very kid-friendly, Carluccio’s being our usual favourite when Elfie is in tow.

I am so excited that Cowshed, my favourite lifestyle product brand ever have just opened a store at Bicester, which means that basically everyone I know will be getting gorgeous skincare sets for Christmas.

Really, Bicester is a great day out for all the family and I say this as a child whose parents have been dragging her there since the age of 11 (I thought Pret was so cosmopolitan). Even if you’re not there to spend the people watching is incredible and if you haven’t seen someone hand over £12,000 in cash to a Burberry sales assistant then you haven’t lived. The train from London takes only 42 minutes and the ‘Shopping Express’ coach service is 1 hour 45 minutes. Elfie and I highly recommend it.

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