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My Little Shaving Tour

Not so long ago I returned to Moscow from my summer holiday in my home country of the UK and also Spain. It had been a while since I'd been to Britain or indeed Spain, and during my time in Moscow I'd only been able to sample the delights of Russian products, which had all been discovered in person while shopping. I'm sure most of you will identify with me when I say that, while ebay and the like are convenient and provide so many of us with the opportunity to try different creams, soaps, vintage razors and so on, I feel a little pang of excitement when I see something on a shelf in a shop and I say to myself 'Ooh, ooh, got to have it!' or 'Get it quick, I've seen people talking about this stuff!'. And if it's foreign or vintage or a bargain, all the better. That's why my family holiday to western Europe had the subtext of 'Find all the British and Spanish stuff I can find in shops.' Of course, no one else but me knew this. Shhhhh.

So my journey started at the beginning of July, a shave with Russian 'Svoboda' and Merkur 11c (have they really stopped making these?), and then on a plane to Manchester via London. Waited in Heathrow for the transfer to Manchester (a whopping 40 min flight I can tell you) excitedly anticipating seeing my parents - hadn't seen them in a year and a half - and spotted 'Boots' chemists. Well, that was it.......on the premise of buying a coke, I cunningly gave SWMBO the slip and 5 mins later I had a Boots shave dish and 3 shave sticks in my bag. No need to post photos of any of the stuff I acquired because you all know what it looks like.

Next, various trips here and there, visits to old friends and nights out in restaurants, clubs and pubs passed by (all very enjoyable and relaxing of course). These were interspersed with trips to shops and supermarkets with my mum and wife to buy groceries and so on. This in itself I loved due to the fact I'd been out of the country for 18 months and, as anyone who's lived abroad for a significant time will tell you, I wallowed in the general feel of returning to my native land - even if that was shopping at Morrison's or Superdrug or Asda (all stores in the UK, if you're not familiar). Wandering the aisles of shops in my homeland gave me a nice warm feeling inside and, yes you guessed it, a chance to pillage the shelves of shaving products. Er.....in a nutshell

4 x palmolive shave sticks
1 x Ingram shave cream
1 x KOS shave oil

Apart from the shave oil, I'd not tried any of this stuff before, and there was the Boots stuff too. By now my family had caught on and a lot of good-humoured eye-rolling took place, accompanied by 'What, more cream/oil/soap/shaving stuff?' and what have you. I think they think it's all a bit quirky somehow. Can't be a hobby, can it? Not a bad habit, is it? And to complain would be ridiculous considering how much they spend on creams, lotions etc..

I must mention at this point that I had a great big haul of stuff awaiting me on my return as I had been snapping up bargains on the Bay while I was in Russia. So there was a Hoffritz slant , an old Gillette open comb, an old Wilkinson razor, vintage cased 7 o'clock razor, 3 vintage travel shave kits and a 250ml bottle of shaving oil from a trusted supplier of therapeutic oils...............all waiting for me too. Trying all this was going to prove quite a task. I was starting to question if all this this gear was in fact necessary, and the answer was an astounding 'Yes, why wouldn't it be?'
As an aside, the Wilkinson razor has baffled me. I've not seen one like it anywhere else. Perhaps someone can help me with a little 'history', so to speak


Next stop Spain. I had hopes of at least one or two products here. I wasn't disappointed because my lazy days relaxing on the beaches of Majorca were punctuated by excursions and souvenir hunting. However, I had different souvenirs on my agenda. After much bewilderment at the absence of Spanish shaving products in shops, I found a couple of La Toja shaving sticks and a couple of LEA hiding away on a shelf in a nice perfumery. Interesting to note here that I did think that La Toja would be everywhere, but it wasn't. Much like in Russia, local products take a back seat. I went to a rather large Spanish supermarket - one of a chain, I think - and they had loads of BEA. I suspect that this is a standard, no-frills product that most chain stores stock in Spain. What could I do? I bought 2 of these and a Wilkinson sword Badger hair brush that I'd never seen before anywhere. Not bad at 6.50 Euros for the brush and 1 Euro each for the shaving sticks either. Again my family gave playful exclamations of 'What, more?!', but I had become immune to their comments. I was becoming hardcore.

Well, after 2 weeks of sea and sun it was back to Manchester, more doing this and the other and then off to London, where the Olympics were taking place. Great atmosphere, loved it. So did SWMBO. Could there be more? Surely I was all 'Shaved out'? There was nothing left to buy save the luxury English creams and soaps, and I wasn't interested in those. Oh no, all through my trip I wanted to find those 'Legends' of shaving. Those products that cost little, but did a lot. But no, there was more. There was Hugh Grant.

'What?!!' I hear you say. Is this some new kind of cream, soap or razor? Did you shave Hugh Grant? Did Hugh Grant shave you? (Ugh) No. There was my wife (who did not shave Hugh Grant, incidentally). You see, she likes Hugh Grant and his films. So where did we go? Notting Hill. Now, I'm not really into the film and I don't know much about the area, but I did know that it's got little shops and a market and Portobello road is famous for nik-nacks and second hand stuff. So we looked around and my 'shaving-fire' was re-ignited. Perhaps there'd be something here.......just perhaps. Ah, who was I kidding, some BB member must have pilfered everything already. Nothing of any shaving value could possibly go unnoticed in this metropolis of about 10 million.

But in one small shop, among other vintage vanity items, I saw this for £10.


Actually, I had almost walked away, my back was turned. But I took another glance as I wa doing so and there it was. Ten pounds, really? You've got to be kidding me. And that little pang of excitement came to me. A little thrill. Knowing that only I knew of this little treasure that meant so little to anyone else who had popped in and out of that shop. You could bid on something like this on Ebay, but it wasn't only you that was after it. There were a thousand eyes adding this item to their watch lists and waiting like a pack of wolves. So I asked the (very pretty but somewhat miserable and preoccupied) young lady behind the counter if I could have a look. I took it out of the apparently undamaged case, examined the mechanism click click, open close etc, all the time eyeing the girl and wondering if she'd have at least something to say to me (attraction does interfere with your primary motive to negotiate I find), and decided to buy it with any fuss. Truth be told I'd never wanted a TTO of any kind and I actually thought twice. Surely this was just shaving gluttony after everything I'd bought, but this was a bargain. The girl was cataloguing something, and I said without a smile in the coolest tone I could muster 'I'll take it'. 'Okay' she said, and for a moment I thought some twisted shaving-antique-morose thing passed between us, but really it hadn't and my wife called across and I was jerked out of my non-existent flirting with a girl too young for me anyway.

So I bought it, got it home and cleaned it up. I made the stupid mistake of rubbing most of what remained of the paint off the numbers, but hey I'm USING it, not putting it into storage. Anyway, I see it's possible to repaint the numbers anyway. And yes now I understand all the hoo ha about fatboys. It is an excellent razor. I suppose that was the crowning glory of my trip, and I quite like Hugh Grant now.

Well, that's the end of my story. I realise it's a bit long, I didn't mean it to be. I suppose I wrote it because it was something I wanted to share and this is the only place I can do it. After all, what is B+B here for if not for sharing our little guilty shaving pleasures and discoveries? I'm now back in Russia with as much stuff as I could haul back here with me. It's nice to have products from Russia, the UK and Spain all bought in stores, rather than over the internet. I have memories attached to each of them of a wonderful holiday, and every time I shave the memories come back, which makes shaving even more pleasurable.

The day I left Manchester for Moscow I missed a parcel sent from another B+B member in the US in exchange for Russian creams I had sent to him. Some of what he sent has been forwarded and yet to be received, some is still waiting for me in Manchester. It seems that the story hasn't quite ended yet.............
Well I really enjoyed reading your story with my morning cuppa, sounds like a great trip. I have not been in a flea market or at a car boot sale since I became interested/obsessed in shaving, so I look forward to my next opportunity.

About the WIlkinson razor, I did see one of those on the bay a while ago, if i remember correctly it is either a 1970 or a 1980, I think it looks great, quite unique in it's wilkinson little way.
As for the adjustable, WOW, that is GEM!!, and the way you described the scene I can picture it as if I was there myself.
All in all, sounds like a great trip, nice one :)
WOW! That was an impressive trip you had. I need to go to some antique shops tomorrow... Only to see if they have everything except razors.... Well, one couldnt hurt could it? :drool:
About the WIlkinson razor, I did see one of those on the bay a while ago, if i remember correctly it is either a 1970 or a 1980, I think it looks great, quite unique in it's wilkinson little way.
As for the adjustable, WOW, that is GEM!!, and the way you described the scene I can picture it as if I was there myself.
All in all, sounds like a great trip, nice one :)

Yeah, the Wilkinson shaves quite nicely. Not very robust though. The black plastic near the head is starting to crack already. I have the feeling that these weren't meant to last a lifetime. As for the second-hand shop and the razor, well I was lucky. Did enjoy the hunt - much better than browsing the internet....and you can go for a pint straight after :)
I need to go to some antique shops tomorrow... Only to see if they have everything except razors.... Well, one couldnt hurt could it? :drool:

No, not at all. After all, it's only one more, right? But really, I was very very surprised at finding anything worth buying. Good luck!
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