"I remember when you walked across my living room floor aged 7 1/2 months!"

This is the thing about shopping in a town, in the open, in the traditional manner - you end up bumping into people you know. Or, more accurately, people who know you, who know your history. Even in a city the size of Sheffield, then, it comes as no surprise to find myself discussing my own ability to walk, as if it were a skill I'd learned only yesterday. For added irony, I was just leaving a shoe shop at the time (new Doc Martens - dark blue).

Sheffield, then. It's been a while since I've been shopping in the city, and I'm pleasantly surprised. It seems cleaner than I remember it, and less cramped and crowded. It's looking good, and has certainly changed since I made regular weekend expeditions there in my early teenage days. If I notice changes over such a short time, then it must seem a world away from the Sheffield my mother was born in during the war years, and as we wander around indulging in some deserved retail therapy, she points out to me the places she worked and socialised in her youth. I, for my part, point out the pubs and clubs in which I celebrated my birthday a week previous...

I bought a GoreTex jacket! Also a new fleece, and the mother bought me an ice-axe. Hopefully this year's trip to Ullapool will see me slightly more prepare than last April. Now that I've discovered I quite enjoy munro-bagging, I don't mind spending a bit of cash on the equipment - an investment on those walking skills I mastered back when I was six months old!

After the city, we headed on to Meadowhall, ostensibly for further purchases, but it also gave me the opportunity to leer at the mall babes who seem to inhabit these places - why do the girls with good bodies and clothes to match gravitate towards shopping malls? What is it about indoor shopping that attracts the babes and the babe wannabes, in their knee-length boots, their Warehouse tops, their short skirts, their leather trousers..? Well, who cares, as long as they keep it up!

I've always secretly wished that I'd have a credit card transaction refused, just so I could look indignant and say "but that's impossible!" in the tone of voice reserved solely for use in this situation. Today it finally happened, and the end result was better than I could wish for. Tempted by discout offers I received with a recent store card invoice, I decided to buy some new clothes, mostly for work purposes. Credit Denied. Cool! So I did the "but that's impossible" thing, and phone calls were made. It seems the bank who run the store cards had not received paperwork regarding my account from the store. Not my fault then, but the bank wouldn't budge. I sat back and relaxed while the shop assistants became increasingly annoyed at the attitude of the bank. Thirty minutes later they gave in, agreeing to let me pay by VISA, and giving me a further 10% discount as compensation for my patience and inconvenience. Wow - I never dreamt that credit refusals could be so profitable.