I’VE been thinking about money quite a lot recently.

It’s probably because it’s that time of year with Christmas just around the corner and all the expense it brings.

And in our household, we like to get our summer holidays booked nice and early and of course they bring their costs as well.

Now I was under the impression we were still living in tough financial times, that money is tight, the economy is still in a mess, public spending cuts biting deep.

But is it only certain sections of our society that are struggling financially? I ask this after a couple of trips into Manchester recently.

Through no fault of my own, I had to meet some people in a rather swish, boutique hotel in the city centre at 6pm on a Thursday evening a couple of weeks ago. I was, somewhat naively expecting a nice quiet meeting.

What I walked into was a bustling, packed bar full of what I assume were office workers having an after-work drink.

But this didn’t seem to be the quick pint in the pub on the way home that I remember from my youth. No, this was all cocktails and champagne, and plenty of it. There was no sign of the recession in sight.

Yet again, my naivety shone through as my meeting went on a little longer than I had expected. I thought the hotel bar would start to clear as people started to make their way home. Not a bit of it. It just got busier and busier.

And all this on a ‘school night’. What must it be like on Friday, I wonder? Frankly, I have neither the inclination nor the disposable income to find out.

Perhaps it’s an age thing. Perhaps I’m just getting too old and this is what young people do with their money these days. Perhaps I need to get out more.

Anyway, I was in Manchester last week. Regular readers of this column will know that my annual Christmas shopping expedition comes at the end of November and that was what I was doing back in the city.

Now I fully realise that financial good sense often goes out of the window when the Christmas lights are twinkling and the season of goodwill to all men is upon us.

To some extent, I’m no exception.

Yes, I fully enjoyed my trip round the Christmas market. I didn’t really mind paying too much for my oversized bratwurst or my mug of gluhwein (yes, give it a German name and you can charge three times what it’s really worth).

I resisted the temptation to buy the Nordic mittens and the oversized heads of pink garlic but I did pick up a couple of Christmas gifts from the ‘unique’ jewellery stall.

All well and good.

Now I’m not easily shocked or surprised but something I saw in one of the city’s department stores truly appalled me.

Tell me again we are still in recession. Tell me again that money is tight. Then explain to me in what universe does designer label babywear fit into the great scheme of things?

By accident, I found myself in the babywear department of this posh department store and was literally left open mouthed at the sheer, unnecessary excess.

Now I remember the days when I had to buy clothes for my children and I also clearly remember just how quickly they grew out of them. If you buy clothes for a baby, the useful life is measured in months, yes months.

What, then, is the justification for a Hugo Boss jacket for an infant boy (3 to 6 months) costing more than £100 or an Armani dress for the a girl up to six months costing £105.

And what a bargain...a mere £98 is for a pretty pink Armani all-in-one for a 0 to 3 month girl.

Are there really people out there paying these prices? Who are they? What do they do for a living?

My gran used to have a phrase: More money than sense.

I think that’s probably as true today as it was back in the 1960s.

l One of my recent columns sparked something of a response from a Guardian reader who was upset that I don’t make financial donations to animal charities.

Just for the record, I do not support fox hunting in any way, shape or form and no, I am not a member of the Countryside Alliance. I never have been and I never will be.