SA invited me to go shopping with her yesterday, and we had a brilliant time.
When it came to it I almost didn't want to, because we have suddenly come to crisis point with the paper that has been looming over us for months. But I'd stupidly left my phone at work so I couldn't call SA to cancel, and so showed up, and I'm glad I did.
We decided to play at being grand ladies and shop in the grand department store, NK. There are summer sales going on so there was at least some chance of finding really exciting clothes for an affordable price.
We started in Kriss, where I bought my wedding outfit with rav_hadassah last year. I like Kriss, they have clothes in pretty timeless styles, but with bright colours and interesting designs, and the quality and materials are very good. So yes, they are selling outfits at around the £2-300 mark, which is about ten times as much as I normally spend on clothes, but for that money you're getting things like pure silk dresses or suits so beautifully made they don't even look off-the-peg.
There were several things that I very much wanted, but I ended up buying the best jacket in the world, the one that I pined after last year but rejected as being too expensive, and there was one last example they were trying to get off their hands, and it was exactly my size. rav_hadassah knows the jacket I mean; it is white silk, with beautiful embroidered designs in a range of vibrant colours. This means that it will match pretty much anything I could think of wearing, (yes, even my unmatchable orange dress, which is why I bought it) and turn almost any decent outfit into elegant, classy party clothes. Reduced to 1000 :-, which is about £70. That's a lot of money to spend on one garment, but I promise you it looks like £700.
Encouraged by that initial success we wandered round various other boutiques, coveting stuff that's out of our budget and laughing at grotesque designer dresses gone wrong, and generally having a magnificently girly time. We both tried a few things on, but didn't find anything quite right. SA found a glorious turquoise dress, a modern variation on the classic shirtwaist design, but the last example was a size too small for her.
Then we fortified ourselves with tasty gelato from the awesome Italian gelato stand (SA commented that she'd never seen anyone take as much pleasure in icecream as I do), and moved on to an underwear hunt. I am desperately short of bras; my only two decent ones are getting old and worn, and having realized that I really need to make a point of trying on before I buy anything, bra shopping has become a major enterprise that I never have time for. I didn't actually find anything, sadly; I'm appallingly picky about bras, partly because my bust necessitates it and partly because I'm just picky. But it was very lovely having SA help me try stuff on, very friendly and not at all awkward.
SA is just the best companion for shopping. She positively enjoys it, but she doesn't get impatient when I'm dithery. And she was very good about giving me honest feedback about clothes, plenty of sincere compliments when something worked for me, but not embarrassed to point out when I'd picked something purple and shiny but made for a much thinner figure. We also have very similar figures, and instantly understood eachother about the experience of being short and curvy and eastern European in a land of tall, slim, blonde Swedes. (Apparently the median bust size in Sweden is an A cup; no wonder it's hard to find underwear here!)
We kept going until the shops closed, by which time we realized we were both exhausted and starving, so we went out for a meal. SA suggested Malaysia, but it was closed for the summer, so we ended up in an Indian restaurant nearby called Cumin club. That came pretty close to capturing perfectly the anglo-Indian thing that I was getting so nostalgic for, with tikka masala and even balti and all the other basic Indian dishes I would expect to see on the menu in Leicester or Birmingham. By Stockholm standards it's pretty cheap, with very generous portions. There's nothing wrong with the food, though it's nothing incredibly exciting either. We had a starter of tomato salad with ginger, garlic and chilli, simple, but tasty and refreshing.
There was talk about bookies too, because I did that thing I do of starting to read in the few minutes while SA went to the ladies'. So generally a very fun afternoon, if tiring. I am really happy that swe seem to have clicked so well, it's very nice to have that sort of friend here.
Made it to shul this morning, and caught one of Eva A's typically impressive sermons, and reminded people that I exist. My plan is to spend tomorrow and Monday finally wrangling this paper into submission format so we can send the thing before my colleague and I leave for vacation.