If you’re looking for a present for someone difficult to shop for and want something you can’t get anywhere else, then we offer you two destinations. The first is artist Cressida Bell’s studio, which is open this weekend on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. Granddaughter of Bloomsbury painter Vanessa Bell (who was Virginia’s Woolf’s sister), Cressida Bell is a decorative artist who makes wonderful things – scarves, ties, cushions, lamps, prints, posters, textiles – all printed with her distinctive and beautiful designs and artwork. We particularly love her greeting cards (we use her notelets for everything), cookery posters, and lampshades (as does the Duchess of Cornwall apparently, who was recently spotted buying one at Charleston – see here). The trip to Hackney is worth it anyway, just to get a peek inside Bell’s studio, which is fabulous. Plus there will be wine and mince pies on offer, and the other artists’ studios on Clarence Mews, next door, will be open too.
The Social Christmas Market is the essential antidote you need if you are shopping in or around Oxford Circus on any Saturday between now and Christmas. It happens, we know. So take note: upstairs in the the bar at The Social at 5 Little Portland Street, you’ll find a food, drinks and a warm welcome, as well as one-off things to buy from various sellers, including Andrews of Arcadia (‘Vintage Fishing Tackle for the Soul’), Caught by the River (great books, T-shirts, badges, bags and other things), The Empress of Arcadia (fab handmade jewelled accessories), Laura Coxeter (vegan choccies), and Tilley Printing (gorgeous letterpress printed work). Hot food will be by Felix and Pi, and there will be cocktails and winter ale on tap. How’s that for a perfect bolt hole.