The utterly inessential shopping list: Serenity for the stressed in the city, terrific tweed and a loafer to take you full speed ahead

Forget about the big things. You can keep the necessities. Don't tell us about the must-haves. Alexandra Fraser takes a look at a few little luxuries which, in a world too full of strife and woe, will help ease your way through life with a smile on your face.

The ultimate cure for insomnia

bamford spa 1

Deep in the heart of South Kensington nestles a peaceful gem: the new Bamford Haybarn London outpost, a retail haven-cum-spa, complete with treatment rooms and a gorgeous yoga studio. To launch the store opening they’ve created the B-Silent treatment, a combination of shiatsu, assisted stretching and traditional massage designed to relax busy Londoners after a hard day at work.

treatment room BAMFORD HAYBARN

This treatment is powerful enough to silence even the most loquacious Country Life columnist and is a must-experience for anyone who suffers from chronic stress, or just the gift of the gab.

Book the B-Silent treatment for £120 on the Bamford website, 

Recommended videos for you

Totally Tweed

Morris Richardson

Here at Country Life we feel that tweed is timeless (or at least very on brand), so we’re thrilled that Morris Richardson have partnered with Harris Tweed to produce a popular heritage style timepiece, with various interchangeable tweed straps ranging from understated to indisputably flashy.

Morris Richardson

With names like Burghley, Chatsworth and Highclere, we can see these watches telling keen riders it’s time to return home from a hack or gracing the wrists of the staunchest Downton Abbey fans.

All watches range from £189 to £199, to purchase visit the Morris Richardson website, 

From Port to Port

taylors tawny

You’re sitting on your new island, watching your Black Bay GMT tick over to 5pm and you’re a little chilly because, well, you’re on an uninhabited island in Scotland. Have no fear, I have just the thing for you.

Taylors Tawny Reserve

Taylor’s Historical Collection Reserve Tawny is a limited edition blend in a bottle that echoes its name, re-creating a shape used in the first half of the 18th century. At £46.99 from Selfridges, this port is a bargain (translation: it doesn’t cost £1,500). Pair it with Paxton’s Mimolette, one of their ‘try before you die’ cheeses, for a beautifully balanced treat.

Buy Taylor’s Historical Collection Reserve Tawny at Selfridges ( for £46.99. Browse Paxton and Whitfield’s excellent cheeses at

A driving loafer with some traction


As the musical sound of coughs and sneezes fills the office, I’m reminded that most homes do not have wall-to-wall carpet (especially not in the bathroom. Hopefully not in the bathroom). On that note, it’s wise to have something snuggly to slip your feet into after a hard day of being exposed to a plethora of other people’s germs.

But why settle for simply slippers? Hugs&Co. know that you can’t always buy the car of your dreams, but you can buy part of it and hide it under your feet. To that end they’ve produced the TS1 model, a British driving loafer with a sole made entirely from up cycled tyre material. One thing’s for sure, you won’t be slipping on a stray copy of Country Life in these bad boys (so much traction).

TS1 Model British Driving Loafer in slate grey by Hugs&Co. for £150, find at

The simple bear necessities

It’s October, I hear you say. We haven’t even had Halloween yet. No one has bought a Christmas tree. The Regents Street lights haven’t been turned on. What. Are. You. Doing.

Forgive me if I politely ignore all arguments to the contrary and inform you that this bear is the most essential inessential product I have ever come across.

Godiva Christmas Plush

Holding it with a grip unbecoming of a grown woman, I mused how it would be the perfect plush to sit on the sofa of a beautifully presented living room, proudly displaying its Godiva-embroidered foot and defying anyone to protest that it was not exactly where it was supposed to be. My permanent plus one, rather more romantically, remarked that it was the kind of toy a child would love forever.

godiva box

Whether you buy it for yourself (no shame) or for a little tyke who deserves some luxury this Christmas, I personally guarantee it will put a smile on the face of anyone lucky enough to touch it’s feather-soft fur. (It comes with four Godiva chocolates of your choice. Keep them).

The Godiva Plush Bear with 4-piece box goes on sale in November, keep up to date on their website,

It cost how much?!?!?!! (but this time in a good way)

Max McMurdo

Apologies for this disruption to your regularly scheduled viewing of pure luxury, but I’ve discovered something too wonderful not to share. The British Heart Foundation’s Makeover Challenge campaign tasked four leading interior design experts to produce an entire room for under £500 with items only bought from their stores, and the results are stunning.

Max McMurdo

Max McMurdo, an interior designer known for his upcycling skills, produced this ‘hunting lodge chic’ décor for just £425.97, with a gorgeous globe for just £49.99 and a quirky rug for under £25. If you’re looking to give your home a seasonal overhaul, maybe consider browsing through one of the BHF’s 180 home stores before you head to South Kensington.

For more information about the challenge, to see other designs or to find out how you can help the British Heart Foundation, please visit  

If you purchased our entire shopping list you would have spent £971.96 and be well on your way to giving a few disappointing Christmas presents. Don’t worry, your niece wont notice that her new notebook is office-branded.