I was on a shoe-shopping mission.  Which was to say the main idea was for me to find shoes that fitted my bulky brace that I wear on my right leg, and looked nice.  If dress shops came up whilst we were searching, (... only 10-ish minutes on a side-search, truly)... my husband Murray never believes me, and heaves a sigh - well, here goes nothing.  It sometimes takes me years to find the appropriately fitting pair of shoes.

Sigh... the memories of shoe-shopping in Hong Kong back in 1986 long before my stroke (1995) ... yes, last century.  Having the choice of hundreds if not thousands of manufacturers clothes and shoes was beyond imagining.  Sexy stilettos, cute pumps or up-to-the-minute courts.  Shapes, multi-hued colours, the choice was endless.  If you'd still had trouble deciding, i.e. the cut of the shoe perhaps should have been more strappy or less strappy; the colours differed slightly from the ensemble back home but I really like the cut of the leather shoes... then as a bonus, the shopkeepers announced they could arrange custom-made leather footwear at a similar price to off the shelf,

And ready in three days... my eyes widened in surprise.. really?  We can guarantee it to your satisfaction otherwise your money back.  Ok, let's give it a go.  They showed us rolls and yet more rolls of fashion leather in multi-coloured hues. You picked the leather, and the design, or you could sketch your own. And voila! As was said on the brochure, it was ready in three days. What more could one want? It made you feel like royalty... ask, and it shall be given... and the prices were really reasonable.




In the UK around the time I had the stroke, there were large stores akin to huge department stores, but they were an outlet department store of thousands of named brands. This was my High Street must-visit for many years which stocked top end designer pieces for a fraction of their original cost. Many people think the endless rails of clothes are full of last season’s cast-offs, but that's the beauty of it.

This was TK Maxx in central London – the shopping style mecca, perhaps. Shoes, handbags, clothes for men, women, kids and toddlers, glassware & home wares, lingerie and more. They stocked fashion labels like Emporio Armani, Diesel, Paul Smith, Calvin Klein, Prada, Versace, Donna Karan, Marc Jacobs, Ralph Lauren, Dolce & Gabbana, and many more, along with many other less well-known brands. When you shop there, it's with patience, as you get lost in sections upon sections of your treasure hunt and endless of rails would-be bargains. Searching for the perfect ensemble amidst the fashion faux-pas.

It's true you have to trawl through the rails at TK Maxx, but it makes it all the more exciting when you do find something. The stores get deliveries throughout the week, so there's always new treasure to find. New decorating ideas for the new season at TK Maxx? Everything you need to create your dream room decor. Stylish highlight to any home, footstools and side tables style will add oodles of elegance to a lounge.

Shop for kids clothes, hooded transparent star print raincoat for the darling baby daughter, or perhaps four-piece formal boy's attire for the wedding party. Dress-up outfits, Fairy Princess, a Friendly Fireman, a cheeky Pirate and even encyclopaedia sets, book sets, toys for the youngest in the family.

Swimwear greats like well-established Jantzen, Speedo, French Connection to Gottex. Ivanka Trump, a label on the swimwear collection, elegant swimsuit comes with a gathered, pleated design, feature gold-tone details on the straps and a gold-tone zip down the side. Steal the spotlight in glittering cocktail and designer looks. Make a statement with embellishments, sequins, lace and leather.

Prince Harry, was spotted shopping for half an hour in the TK Maxx branch in Kensington High Street, Central London. The Duchess of Cambridge is also a fan of the fashion chain and has been spotted browsing in the same store on several occasions. Former model Jodie Kidd and actress Tamsin Egerton have shopped for bargains there, it has been reported.

Why? - perhaps the thrill of picking up a designer bargain seriously addictive. Whether you're dressing up for a party, going casual or formal, that sparkly clutch and a pair of sky-high designer heels could be a must. Best buys for me have been Donna Karan leather jacket, various labels luxury cashmere cardigans and jumpers, Pringle of Scotland purest cashmere socks for a fraction of the price. Aaahhh, those were the days.

In the North Island, NZ, there are at least three major outlet-shopping centres. I dare say there were more, but, at the moment these were the ones I knew of. Hamilton, the Base, which has Dress Smart among its wide-open shopping spaces; Otaki, known for its outlet shops but has specialty shops and a little something for everyone. The main highway at Otaki is a great place for shopping, with a number of big name brands and outlet stores located here. Bendon was one of the first companies to open an outlet in Otaki; many soon joined.

Dress-Smart in Onehunga is New Zealand's largest outlet shopping destination with over 100 stores.  Dressed smartly, or casually; ripped jeans that was up there as a fashion statement or Decjuba-esques silhouettes and more, there is something for everybody in the one-stop-shopping precinct. Fashion luxury brands, Oroton, David Lawrence, Royal Doulton… to Glasson and Wild Pair Clothing for trendy casuals, Overland and Mi Piaci for killer heels. Menswear, well-known sports brands such as Adidas, Nike and Puma to cosmetics, perfume...

We arrived at Onehunga just when the stores opened, on purpose. Even though there are plentiful car parks at Dress Smart, any later than just before midday on the weekends meant that perhaps you were out looking for car-spots when you could be otherwise shopping. There were a few must-do shoe stores that we had to visit at Dress Smart. There were eateries and cafes, it would be manic if we had come at 1pm.

We spent a fruitless morning searching for footwear there even though there were a lots of stuff to interest us, we had a mission that day. Another three shoe stores. The lady at one of the shoe places we'd visited said that more styles would be in store soon; give it another two weeks. Great...

We had lunch and more shopping at other retail stores and one-off outlet stores. The Kathmandu outlet store had some interesting offers. Also, the Icebreaker outlet store. Worn out - time to go, but there's always next week.