I love giving gifts but like most busy mothers, having the time to find the perfect present can be beyond me. That was until I discovered Coming up Roses in Balmoral. It has become one of a handful of local shops that has turned shopping with children in tow from my least favourite thing to do, to one that really is achievable and on a good day, dare I say, enjoyable.
I time my trip just right so I can take advantage of the perfect parking spot outside the door. Once inside, I allow my four year old to head straight to the children's mecca in the corner. She's under strict instruction to "look don't touch". Luckily for my bribery tactic, Coming up Roses has a delightful children's section and a good selection of cheap and cheerful little baubles that will bring out the magpie of any little girl. If she behaves well, nine times out of ten she scores a little trinket for good behaviour. The staff are very child friendly so as long as your little darling isn't being a menace this arrangement works well.
Whilst she's occupied, I take the opportunity to browse the huge range of products that can't fail to charm any lucky recipient. There are lots of 'cottagey/quaint' things that remind me of Nigella Lawson. For example, there are beautiful tea cloths, napkins, cakestands and cake making paraphernalia. I will admit to owning two of the oilcloth tablecloths myself and they are both practical and easy on the eye.
Then you have the 'vintagey/crafty' items that I love to look at but wouldn't dream of attempting. This is a firm winner for my mother-in-law however and on this trip I bought her a book full of projects to make (in the hope that we will be the happy beneficiaries. You see? It's the gift that keeps on giving.) I also bought her a very cute button making kit that makes the sort of fabric covered buttons that little girls love wearing on hairclips and hairbands - you see where this is going now don't you?
Whilst the shop is not a bookshop, it has lots of beautiful coffee table books full of glossy pictures that are bound to inspire any reader. It also stocks my favourite accessory brand Elk which makes fabulous beaded necklaces and bracelets. Fortunately, my friends know me well enough that it is their first port of call when buying me a present and every time it's a winner.
The list of products is endless. My particular favourites this trip were the very cute, retro style Mr Men mugs that I would venture are for grown ups rather than children, and the knitted princess dolls that my daughter instantly recognised as Snow White and Goldilocks (I'll be back for one of those soon when she's not with me.) If you're buying for a new baby you can't fail with the gorgeous soft toys you'll find here although we settled for the cutest, polka-dotted, frilly baby socks you have ever seen.
And the icing on the cake? They gift wrap it too, so all you need do is deliver your present in the confidence that you've done well whilst the process has been made so simple and painless that you'll never want to buy gifts any other way.