Shop till you fly

Recently I was lucky enough to find myself ambling around Duty Free, passing time before boarding and trying to pump some extra blood around my body in the hope of preventing a bout of DVT. Having checked in early, my husband informed me that this time we were NOT to be the last people to board.

Over the years we do seem to have made something of a habit of leaving things till the last minute, and as a result finding ourselves running across terminals and creeping through the cabin with a red face – brought on by both the unexpected exercise and the embarrassment of being the last to arrive.

The most memorable of all was our trip to Venice – a surprise for my 30th birthday. Obviously the holiday wasn’t a surprise, but the destination was – right up until the point when our names were called out over the tannoy, as I sat on the loo. As an airline, Easy Jet aren’t the most accommodating at the best of times, and straggling passengers are not appreciated. We were severely reprimanded as we skulked on-board.

Our reoccurring lateness to board is normally caused either by a family member who refuses to say goodbye, or by the fact that we love Duty Free. A wonderful no-mans land between one country and the next, where you can browse amongst products that you would never normally encounter, and dabble with things that you could never hope to afford. A place where the bright shiny lights and colourful displays draw you in and leave you suddenly feeling compelled to buy something you don’t really need.

Yes, in Duty Free it seems there really are no laws to govern those impulsive and overwhelming urges to spend money, and none to control the common sense that normally keeps your wallet firmly zipped up and out of harms way. I don’t know if this short lived spending insanity is down to being trapped in a windowless environment with time on your hands, or because the powers that be pump something through the air ducts that momentarily addles your brain.

I suspect it may have something to do with the many hideously overpriced restaurants – the ones that offer up 4 day old pre-wrapped ciabattas and muffins, that if used in a sling shot, could easily bring down a plane. These sort of places undoubtedly make it cheaper to keep on walking in circles, than it is to sit and eat.

Anyway, this recent visit of mine went off as expected. After stocking up with the necessary water, Pringles, chocolate, 3 books and a stack of magazines to last the 5 hour flight, I thought I would keep us entertained by trying on at least 30 pairs of sunglasses. I say entertained, as most of them did make me look like a bug eyed bee. Of course we knew we wouldn’t actually be buying a pair, given that they each equated to a months car repayment, but the sales girl, bless her, saw a commission opportunity with every pair. So each time that I picked some up she would, without fail, say, “You want to try those?”.

Having worked out that the best pair for me were also the most pricey, we headed off in search of perfume. Buying perfume is of course compulsory when in Duty Free. All boarding cards do in fact state, in very, very small print, that no person is allowed to fly without first buying at least 50ml of something expensive and smelly.

Having already done the necessary perfume research beforehand, it was chosen, bought and paid for in quick succession. There was a slight ‘discussion’ with the sales assistant regarding the free toiletry bag and CK ONE perfume that was advertised to go along with every $100 spent, but apparently the wording on the ‘Get a FREE perfume’ sign was slightly ‘misleading’, and only the bag was on offer. Strange that, how the free incentive always seems to magically disappear at the 11th hour of purchase.

With my husband being left to buy the perfume, it was finally my time to browse. First to the nail varnishes, where a rather nice bright pink colour was selected, appreciated and then put back down. Too late. The shop assistant had already spotted my moment of weakness – made easy of course by the fact she was practically perched on my shoulder at the time. She scurried across to my husband to ask if he wanted to buy the said nail varnish. Being the lovely husband that he is, of course he said yes. So it was fetched, bagged and paid for before I could even open my mouth.  Give her her dues, this assistant certainly won points for stalking her prey and going in for the kill.

With my smell and nails in the bag,  I went off to prepare my skin for the 5 dehydrating hours ahead. This of course entailed much sampling of everything on offer, and moisturising myself to within an inch of my life. Or until I had become such a human oil slick that I could easily glide across the floor. 3 face creams, an eye-lift gel and a body shimmer powder later, I headed towards the brand that I would/could never buy – La Prairie. Can’t say I know much about the range, except that it features heavily in glossy magazines and has less chance of appearing by my toothbrush than an enormous pink elephant.

First there was the Skin Caviar Eye Lift. At just under $500 a tub, that seemed to be an awfully overpriced pot of pureed fish eggs. Still, it went on well and without even a whiff of fish. Then I rounded the corner, and found out that the caviar cream was actually reasonably priced, when compared to the Cellular Radiance Concentrate Pure Gold – at around $900 for 30 ml. Is it me, or does that seem a tad excessive for a face cream, even one that contains specks of gold?

Not wanting to dismiss what I didn’t know, I thought it only fair to give it a go. So I pumped out around $50 worth and rubbed it into my arm (my face by this stage was already well loaded up with caviar). Now I can’t say I spotted any gold specks, but I do know that my arm now had a faint whiff of what smelt to me like cat’s pee. Not just my imagination, my husband confirmed that I smelt disgusting.

Disappointed with the result, the offending $50’s worth was scrubbed off with a wet wipe and I walked away safe in the knowledge that Garnier and L’Oreal were quite good enough for me. To make myself feel better, I splashed out on an Elizabeth Arden 8 hour lip balm. With a built in sunscreen, it is an absolute necessary for Perth, so would have seemed a crime not to get one.

All shopped out and creamed up, there was barely enough time to neck a hot chocolate (the ratio of 70% froth to 30% liquid turned out to be a good thing) before setting off for the plane. By this time the final boarding sign was flashing and we were forced to move at a brisk trot. Once again my husband didn’t get his wish, and I didn’t even get a chance to duck into the toilet.

What’s a girl to do. After all, as the name itself implies, it is ones DUTY to make sure that you personally test everything that is laid out for you for FREE.

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