Monday, 20 April 2015

A Sunny Cotswolds Outing and a Bit of a Shopping Frenzy.

This gorgeous weather has been hanging around hasn't it? Soo and I were long overdue a get together and we decided an outing was in order.
It was Soo who picked Cirencester from the list of possible options because I have never been any good at making a choice.
It's somewhere neither of us had been before and visiting in the glorious sunshine certainly showed it at it's very best.

The shops are an interesting mix of expensive boutiques, independent, charity, and just a smattering of high street chains.
Indeed many charity shops had 2 branches in what is not a huge town centre. The prices were higher than your average, but then this is an expensive/touristy area.

Cirencester also gave me a few firsts.

One of them being in all my years of chazza shopping, never did I think I would ever find myself singing along to The Sisters of Mercy whist rooting through the rails!!
There was also a woman in the Red Cross shop who was so damn rude we very childishly flicked v's at the shop when we drove past it later. Nothing like being a mature adult hehe.


We had been recommended 'Handmade By Bob' for lunch but it was packed and with a queue so we carried on shopping and stumbled across 'The Cotswold Artisan Coffee Shop' in the Bishops Walk arcade.
What a find! The ciabatta's were delicious, but the star of the show was the chocolate and salted caramel brownies, handmade by the lady who runs the shop with her husband.

Dear.

Lord.

Above.

I don't think I will ever be able to eat another brownie again, nothing could possibly compare to the sheer heaven of this chocolaty caramel filled delight.

I liked Cirencester, and what was really lovely to see was the sheer number of independent shops and things like good old fashioned greengrocers and butchers, this was most definitely not a high street in decline.

On the way home we decided to stop off at Bibury.
Tiny, very beautiful and overrun with tourists!

There was a wee antique shop run by an elderly couple who clearly just buy bits and pieces at jumble sales and flog them to tourists for a decent profit.
Mind when we went in the lady was having kittens at the fact a young German couple were looking at teapots for the girl to use for flower arranging and NOT drinking tea from!?!

So what did I buy on my lovely day out? A couple of floaty tops.

A starfish sunburst brooch.
A cheeky blue cat for a pound.
A lovely patent kelly bag that turned out to be real leather and came up beautifully after a good polish.
and a couple of sale necklaces in Dorothy Perkins £3 each that I couldn't resist.


Ok, ok I know you all really want to know about the shopping frenzy. I've been going a bit mad, I don't really know why but on the whole it's been bargains and I'm pretty darn pleased with my purchases.
There been the nautical


There's another striped top but that is in the wash.

The floral 


The bardot top
Elephants!

and finally this gorgeous waistcoat from Kinky Melon (aka Vix) which I am doing battle with Himself over.
The best bit? Not a single item cost more than £20 and most cost significantly less.




 



 

     


Monday, 13 April 2015

Profoundly Lovely Blog Party

So Mim of Crinoline Robot has nominated me to join this, like her I dip in and out of joining in after being nominated for these sort of question and answer type blog round ups.
She's suspecting me of having wisdom I suspect I may disappoint!

However here goes....

1. Tell me about something you love and why?
Gardening. It’s hard to describe really, but for me it is the thing that soothes the savage beast as they say. I feel my cares lift the minute I get amongst my flowerbeds, sometimes it’s only for the few hours I’m out there, but mostly I find things seem to somehow work themselves out in my head whilst I potter about thinking of nothing in particular. 

My first ever job was in a plant nursery where they worked me like a dog. I was completely exhausted at the end of each day but I loved every minute of it, well apart from the time I had an allergic reaction to the growth powder they put on the hyacinth bulbs to make them bloom in time for Christmas.
Oh and the other time when I had to remove a large dead rat from middle of the shop floor after someone nearly stepped on it.......
As it turned out I didn’t make my career in horticulture but it’s certainly a big joy in my life.  


2. What is one thing you do that makes you feel like "I could do this forever"?
Drinking tea!
Seriously now, I think I must say Reading, the sheer joy of losing myself in a good book cannot be beaten.
 It’s no surprise I ended up working in a library for so very  many years. I just wish I could find more time to indulge in this pleasure.
 
 
3. What do you love about yourself?
My sense of humour and my joie de vivre. As someone who has suffered from depression but found their way through, I think I find more delight in life now. I appreciate things more because once you have been in the very deepest dark, the bright beauty of the day is all the more beautiful.

If we are talking physical attributes I used to be damn proud of my behind. Sadly age, greed and laziness have all caught up with me and it, alas it’s no longer the firm peach it once was. So instead I’ll go with my eyes which I have always liked.
They are half green and half blue. Not one of each like David Bowie but top half green bottom half blue for each eye, it's unusual and I like their quirkiness.


4. What advice would you give to someone who doesn't believe he/she is beautiful?
Now that is a hard one because if someone is really in that place, whatever you say to them they probably won’t believe you anyway. 
It’s so much easier to look in the mirror and see the faults rather than the good things. I think my inclination would be to listen more than advise. Ask them why they feel that way.  
Having had so many self doubts myself it breaks my heart when I see someone beating themselves up or thinking they don’t deserve any better.

Be kind to yourself and to others. There are a great many people in this world who are superficial and shallow, to whom beauty is literally skin deep, but there are an equal number who see the beauty of the soul. 
My Nan always used to say “you get the face you deserve” The older I get the more I see there’s truth in that statement. Think about all the people who at first glance might be pretty but on closer inspection have sour faces or hard mouths because they are never satisfied with life.
Then think of the person who at first glance looks lined and weary, but then you see the twinkling eyes and the gorgeous smile and the goodness glowing out of them. Now there was a wise old bird, my Nan.


5. What is the best piece of advice you've ever received about confidence?
You know I wrack my brains and I genuinely can’t recall a single piece of advice on confidence.

The only thing that springs to mind is when I did a coaching session for speaking in public. Something I can now do if I have to, but something that I never have, and never will enjoy. The guy said if you do dry up just pause, take a breath and carry on because no one is sitting there waiting and willing you to fail. More likely they are actually sitting willing you to do well. 
On the whole that seems to be the case, though there was one girl in the front row of one presentation I did recently who looked so apoplectic with rage the whole time I was talking, I was thankful she was nowhere near any kind of implement with which to run amok. 
Most off putting.


6. If you were your own daughter/son, what important things would you tell yourself/them?
Sorry love, no matter how much you truly believe it WILL happen, you aren’t actually going to marry said actor/rockstar (delete as applicable) that you swoon over.
I know this because I am living proof, I myself was utterly convinced I was going to marry Jon Bon Jovi and as you can see this did not come to pass. 

Thank. The. Lord.


7. A verse, poem, sonnet, ancient-old proverb that inspires you to love yourself and others?
'All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.'


So there you have it and in my place I nominate Charley from LandGirl1980 because I would be interested to hear her thoughts.
 


Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Ma Nature's lyrical, with her yearly miracle.

How wonderful is it to have the sun in the sky? Not just that, but when you are sheltered from the breeze some real warmth to it too?

Bit too much stuff going on for me to be my usual Mad March Hare self but I'm not so far off. Talking of off, I am off work for a week, my first proper time off since Christmas and boy am I enjoying it!
This gorgeous weather has seem me out in the garden for days on end. I'm putting it down to the Pilates but I haven't had anywhere near my usual stiff aching agony after a 6 hour stint in the garden.

Mind the teacher did nearly kill me last session, I think she either had a bad day or thought we needed an extra tough session due to having a week off over Easter. I don't do too badly, but then just when I get cocky about my agility, she makes us do a move that everyone except me and the two ladies in their 70s can do with ease.
Bah.
Oh and the 'clique' have decided to go to the later class so there was actually a bit of friendly banter before we started this time round too.

Anyway time for some gratuitous garden shots
Magnolia in full bloom, it got hammered by a late frost last year poor thing so it's lovely to see it in full glory this year.
Primroses that suddenly appeared in the lawn. I bought a wild primrose plant last year which disappointingly didn't do much flowering but was clearly having a shedload of babies instead so I shall stop grumbling.

Reduced hyacinth bulbs from Wilkinsons last year in full flourish this year.

I went out with my friends Simon and Liz for dinner last week and Simon gave us both this as an Easter gift
I shall be planting them this week too.

So what else? Himself and I went to see 'Return to the Forbidden Planet'.
I was going to take myself to see it, as it's a musical I have always fancied seeing but somehow never got round to over the years. As no one seemed keen to come with me I thought I'd do the matinee on my own.

For once though Himself was listening to me (joking dearest) and bought me tickets for a Christmas present.
I hadn't realised we were in the front row which was unnerving at first as we didn't know how participatory it was!
Thankfully it wasn't at all so we could relax and enjoy. It was great fun, I thoroughly enjoyed it and what a talented cast. There were only about 10 of them and they all acted, sung and played a plethora of instruments. Not just guitars and drums either, but things like trumpets and saxophones. Brilliant.   

I found out there was an official Snoopy shop online, I'm sure I probably already knew that but had blanked it out due to things like exchange rates and import taxes. Only now it seems they have a U.K branch now *Gulp*
I was very restrained and only bought a t-shirt.
Meant for Halloween but I know I will wear it all year round,
and a cloth bag which was too cute to resist.

I have been doing a LOT of shopping lately. Some for me, some for presents, you know, stuff. I will share more another time

I have come to the conclusion the red bag I bought in January is just a bit too small so my work handbag hunt begins again.

I ordered one from Accessorize but annoyingly they don't have dimensions on their website, sort that out will you Monsoon? It arrived and turned out to be the size of a small country, I returned it today. *sigh*

As I was at the post office I decided it would be rude not to browse a few charity shops. I found not one, not two, but three bags!
One which will do for work, it has the required separate zipped compartments that I demand in a work bag and is neither too big or too small. It is from Hotter and cost me a magnificent £4.
The other two are both vintage evening bags and cost a bargainous £1.50 and £2.50 respectively.

Finally I ventured down to the house clearance place I have mentioned before. The place where they pile it high and then pile it even higher just because they can. It means you can get a cracking bargain, but also means that often you spot a potential bargain but can't actually get anywhere near it without risk of death or at the very least serious injury. 
It has to be seen to be believed and the stuff comes as is, so filthy dirty on the whole. Today I spotted a late 60s early 70s coffee pot in a box of other stuff. It looked like it might have been blue and white though it was hard to be sure. I gingerly picked it up and turned it over and saw 'TG Green'

"Aye, aye" thought I, I'll find out how much it is. 

The girl behind the till took it off me, looked it over and said "Probably £4, that stuff has just come from a house clearance" so I nonchalantly said I'd take it.
She dithered a bit, turning it and looking at the mark on the bottom a couple more times. I'm guessing something was telling her she should know the make, that she was trying to place it but just couldn't, lucky for me the recognition didn't kick in so I paid my £4 and left.

I should have done a before and after but I just wanted to stick that thing in some hot soapy water and scrub!
Et Voila
The pattern is Jersey Blue, it's from 1968 (the year of my birth, which seems a good omen) and whilst I was researching that, I found one for sale for £50. Not a bad return for £4.
 



 

 

Saturday, 28 March 2015

A Day or Two Off.

I've spent the last few weeks chasing my tail, I never quite seem to catch up. I've been suffering from that horrible feeling of being out of control, too much to do and not enough time, not being able to relax because you feel like you should be doing something.

You know the thing.

Weekends are usually my time for getting the bulk of the housework done, but I haven't had a proper weekend in some time now so those little jobs are piling up and becoming bigger.

I had to have some time of for the washing machine repair man to come round, so I decided to take a full day and see if I could catch up a little after he had been. One of those classic, no set time 'between 8am and 12 noon' visits that you feel trapped in your house.
Usually I can lose infinite amounts of time doing bugger all when I am at home, but the minute I HAVE to be in, the minutes drag and I pace about restlessly not being able to settle to anything.

Thankfully washing machine man arrived at 10.30 am, was in the house precisely 18 minutes and said about as many words as minutes he was in the house!

Now I am not one to stand over someone when they are trying to work or talk their ear off so they get nothing done.
 I'm friendly and polite, I show them to where they need to be, explain whats what and leave them to it.

This guy broke new ground in non people skills, he never cracked a smile, looked at me like I was an irritating imbecile and basically managed to make me feel uncomfortable in my own home.

Nice.

All in all I'm rather glad he only stayed such a short time and he did manage to fix the washing machine too (thank you God). The old girl lives to spin and churn another day.

I loaded her up and suddenly felt full of energy, I blitzed the bathroom, nipped into town for a few supplies and then spent a blissful afternoon getting the front garden ready for the year ahead. Yes there were other jobs on my 'to do' list that were more important, but I needed a bit of time in my garden.

I decided to take another day off this week with chores in mind. I very nearly just went off to browse the chazzas in town, (after a lovely lie in with a book and a mug of tea of course) but I managed to stay strong. I'm feeling very virtuous now I must say.

Himself and I had a night out at the local arts centre recently to see the comedian Richard Herring. Laughing your head off is definitely just what the doctor ordered. We had a great night.

The arts centre also sell crafts and browsing the cabinets in the interval I saw a cute hedgehog necklace. I nearly bought it, but we both agreed I wasn't likely to wear it, now if it were a brooch......

I took down the website address, had a browse when I got home and ended up buying two brooches!
If I have one wee criticism it's that they arrived in an ordinary paper envelope with absolutely no protective packaging at all! Other than that I love them both. Turns out I already have the black cat from the range which was a birthday gift from a friend.

There was the solar eclipse as well. Apparently the whichever science society of the University of Oxford it was decided to have the eclipse watching in front of my work. There will be 10 or 20 people they said, good job said our building manager as currently they are digging up the pavements and roads to build a continental style plaza (that is another story) However somehow it then got advertised on the internet and this happened
Just to clarify this is the main entrance of our school and not the pavement in front. It was nuts!

We had an open day so all our poor visitors were trying to battle their way into the school. I ended up directing people to the toilet rather than collecting visitors.
At least if you didn't have special glasses you could watch the eclipse in the smoked glass at the front of the building which was pretty cool. We got about 85-89% coverage in Oxford so it went very dark.


I finally started working on the green dress from the vintage fair. I spent bloody hours looking for buttons. I kept seeing lovely ones that were either stupid expensive or in America. Or vintage sets without enough, I needed 9. I ended up going down the novelty route with yellow apples.
Himself is not convinced, he says I should have gone with red apples hmm I'm not convinced they would have worked.
I haven't got round to putting darts in it yet, I might need my Ma for that, it's not so easy to pin a dress when you are in it and I wouldn't trust Himself with the task.

I also made the Peacocks dress I got trapped in when the zip broke into a scarf/shawl thing.
Going for the easy option is what I am all about these days!

I've had that spring urge to sort through and clear out. The wardrobe seemed to be a good place to start. I've been brutal with 3 or 4 frocks that have been on the 'not sure' pile for months now, they have already been dispatched to the charity bag.
One black and two blue frocks waiting to be worn for the should I stay or should I go decision......

Mum and I have been swapping magazines this week. Killing an hour or so between visiting times have meant we have both ended up buying a few. I had a moment of rage at 2 separate articles on 'fresh Spring make-up ideas' for ladies of a certain age.

Both articles said that once you are over 35 you must STOP wearing black eyeliner at once! It's terribly aging they declared, and only for the young. A dab of navy blue is what the more mature lady should use. A dab? a dab?? WTF? I mean what is a dab of eyeliner anyway?
Personally I love my black eyeliner and will continue to use it for as long as I chose too. So up yours spring makeup for ladies of a certain age.
Whilst we are on the subject of black. The magazines in question also said the other big no no is mascara in a jet black hue. Terribly aging and unflattering dear ladies, burgundy is the way forward they instructed.
Don't give me that, I was seduced by this back in the 90's when burgundy mascara was first an exciting new thing.
 Sucked in by the promises of how amazing it would make my eyelashes look and how my eye colour would pop, I rushed out and bought some, I was sorely mislead.
Believe me, it is definitely not the white knight in shining armour of mascara that these magazines like to make it out to be.
If your lashes are sparse and or pale, stick with the jet black is my advice.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

All That Glitters Is Not Gold.

So you know that gold jacket I bought last month?


I finally tried it on at the weekend and was gutted to find it didn't fit.

Being tall I know I have longer limbs than most, but apparently I have extraordinarily long, gorilla worthy arms. Compared to your average gold tuxedo wearing woman that is.

Bah.

The cut looked really cool on too, apart from the fact the sleeves were too short of course. With a heavy heart I stuck it on the Bay of E and it's now winging it's way to good old London town.

Hopefully to a lady with normal length arms who will do it the justice it deserves.

I also put on one of the Hell Bunny dresses I've had sitting around for a few months. Now as I know Hell Bunny fit me well I hadn't bothered trying this dress on when I bought it. It wasn't exactly a winter dress anyway (see below) so I just thought I'd save it for spring and wear it then.
Turns out it's not just the arms that are over-long.

It seems I also have a longer shoulder to boob section of  torso than the average woman too. Unlike the pictures above, the wide waistband did not sit flatteringly under my boobs giving them some much needed 'Oomph'.
Instead the band sat rather painfully, and decidedly UN-flatteringly right on top my boobs.

Bah.

Again.

The dress also went back onto the Bay of E from whence it came, and is now winging it's way to Leicestershire.
Hopefully to be thoroughly enjoyed by a lovely lady whose boobs are presumably in just the right place.
I'm a bit gutted as I loved the style of the dress but I suppose there has to be at least one Hell Bunny dress out there that doesn't fit me, right?

I also ended up selling the mad pheasant blouse I bought in a chazza last September.
This was down to a lack of boobage on my part really. It just looked like a shapeless sack without a good rack to fill it out.

I was feeling a bit on the low side after my hat trick of disasters it has to be said. I mean I know  every woman's body is different and buying good fitting clothes can be a minefield, but 3 in one week?

So you can imagine my trepidation when I also finally tried on my Cath Kidston burglar dress. 
Thankfully that fitted like a dream!

I wore it to work. Himself frowned as I left the house and carefully said something along the lines of 'Are you sure? isn't it a bit loud for work?' but I was just in a 'What the heck' kind of a mood that day and wore it anyway, and you know what?
No one in my office even batted an eyelid!

Clearly I wear loud clothes more than I realised. I did get a few compliments from other people as I moved round the building, so there you go.Oh and no I didn't think about taking a picture, but as I'm sure I'll get a load more wear out of it maybe another time.

The real straw that broke the camel's back at the end of last week was the washing machine breaking down. Of course it had to do it in the middle of a wash cycle and with a full drum of water.

Arggghhh.

I turned the air blue and panicked for a bit, then took a leaf out of any self respecting I.T support worker's book. 
I turned it off for 5 minutes then turned it back on again and forced the dial onto the spin cycle.It only bloody worked!
I was able to get the washing out without flooding the kitchen. It will all need re-washing but that's a small price to pay.

Tomorrow I have a day off work so a man can come round and look at it. From our point of view the best scenario will be him being able to fix it then and there or having to maybe order a part.

But...... it's 10 years old so the lady from the rental agency and I suspect it has just reached the end of it's lifetime and died.

This is bad because of not only trying to get hold of the landlady, who lives in Spain and never answers emails or calls from anyone to do with her rental properties, (she has 4 in this town) because it probably means she is being asked to spend money, and she will do anything to avoid spending money on her houses.

In some ways this is a good thing because it means our rent hasn't gone up for about 5 years, there's so much that needs to be done in the house they can't charge more!
On the other hand if something vital needs fixing, we have to go into many, many weeks of battle to get even the simplest job done. Like getting the only toilet in the house working again for example, I believe we had 3 weeks of flushing the loo with a bucket before that was done 

So with my Mystic Meg black bobbed wig on for a moment, I foresee many weeks of hand washing and borrowing friend's washing machines stretching ahead of me (there is no laundrette in town) Before we end up with the cheapest ever washing machine it's possible to buy being begrudgingly fitted in the kitchen.

Monday, 9 March 2015

Lou Lou’s Vintage Fair and a Film or Four.



It’s been a lot longer between posts than I planned. 

Life and all that. 

Things are ticking along, there have been highs and lows but you just keep on keeping on don’t you.

I started Pilates last week, that was interesting. The woman running the class went at a cracking pace with no pauses and only came round the room once to check all was well with our ‘alignment’. 

Some needed to hold a ball between their knees but mine was very good apparently. I mentally thought 'I should bloody well hope so too after all the money I’ve spent on the Alexander technique over the years!'  

Sadly the natives were far from friendly. When I arrived they had already set themselves up in the corner of the room.

 All 4 of us newbies came in and smiled and said ‘hello’ and were treated to the same sour faced once up and down followed by said faces being turned away. I just thought 'oh dear, whatever'.  

Maybe they will improve if you go regularly, but on the other hand would I want to chat with people who behave like that? 


Himself and I took advantage of the last few weeks of Orange Wednesday to see a few films. 

As a cheer her up, Himself, Nephew Number One, and I took Mum to see The Shaun the Sheep movie (Mum has always been a big fan of Shaun), it was bloody brilliant, absolutely hilarious and definitely the right feel good film to cheer anyone up.


We also saw Kingsman : The Secret Service (just the two of us for that, my Mum would have passed out at the language!)
How can you go wrong with Samuel L Jackson as a lisping evil genius and Colin Firth swearing like a trooper and kicking the crap out of people?
If you don’t mind a bit of violence and some seriously foul language, I highly recommend it, it’s an ace film. 


Big Hero 6 was our last Orange Wednesday outing. Another based on a comic book, and a mostly aimed at children film, but also highly entertaining.


Finally yesterday we went to a special preview of Suite Francaise because Himself writes a film blog and gets random freebies, so why not? 
I enjoyed it but it’s a pretty bleak film. The love story side of it was a bit mawkish and I was a bit disappointed that it fell back on using the standard template ‘evil nazi’ for all the Germans except the hero, but overall,and on the whole, it was good and there were some gorgeous frocks and hats!

So last Saturday Lou Lou’s Vintage Fair was in Reading, I was going to go but then in the end I didn’t. 
This Saturday just gone, it was in the Town Hall in Oxford, and this time I got my shit together and went.

I hooked up with Alex from work (the girl I visited the flea markets in Paris with) and we had a very thorough browse!

We got there on the nose of midday when it opened, which it seems was a good thing to do because by the time we left it was so busy it was bordering on unpleasant.
The Town Hall is a beautiful building and over the years I have been to various events there, from record fairs to work Christmas parties where I just might have been very, very drunk.
There was a great mix of stalls and an interesting variety of prices. 

A couple of the stalls were crazy expensive and others were very reasonable indeed. 
We both bought 2 dresses.

                                I particularly loved this one but it was too small and £95!

Alex got a couple of stunners, a fab pink 1960's one and a glittery 1970's number, though one of them needs Vix’s vodka/water spray treatment apparently. I'm happy to share that tip around.
  
I bought a couple of projects as seen below.


This dress was £15, I loved it's unusual side buttoning front and the spring like apple green. It took two cycles in the washing machine to get if smelling spring fresh however! 

The cotton washed up beautifully but sadly the once white buttons have discoloured badly. So project one is to give it some shape with a few darts at the waist and bust and choose some new buttons.

Next up this black patterned frock for £22. I was drawn to it and ended up going back twice and just having to buy it even though I fear it may be a tad too small.......

I love the ruffles, again to the side rather than the middle, (clearly I'm leaning to the left at the moment.)

A couple of the seams have come undone, and no it wasn't me trying it on and bursting out! I'll stitch it up and see.

I also bought this pendant and elephant brooch which I wore to work today.
After we had been round the whole hall once and then gone back again to look a second time, we retired to the other room for tea and cake.
I have to say the cakes were absolutely delicious and it was good to sit down and chat and not feel rushed.
I know it's a bit of a cliche now but I still love a bit of mismatched china, just give me a bloody great wedge of cake and don't be selling me cupcakes!

I shall leave you with my quote of the day, overheard whilst rummaging through a rack of clothes from a lady with the most cut glass, ringing, upper class accent I’ve heard in ages saying 

"Of course I do wear it, but it doesn’t half ride up my arse".