Saturday, 15 April 2017

Start Spreading the News

Two posts in less than a week what has got into me?

I hope everyone is having a fab Easter weekend, so far we met my Mum and Nephew Number One and his girlfriend at Dad's care home. Mum brought prosecco and smoked salmon (got to love my Mum) I brought crisps and cream cakes (I'm all class me) and a copy of 'Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them'.
My Dad is a huge Harry Potter fan and has been since day one of the books coming out so there was no way I was going to let him miss seeing this, sadly taking him out to the cinema is not an option, luckily the care home has a huge flat screen TV in their lounge. What you call putting the good into Good Friday.

Today we may go for another walk, if the weather behaves, not as long as last weekend if I have anything to do with it. Himself has decided I'm good for 10 miles and anything over I get cranky. I think that's a little unfair. Going straight from 0 to 13 miles is enough to make anyone grumpy, but I think it is more pertinent that more than 4 hours without a cup of tea is what makes me cranky!!
I have invested in a new flask to see if this helps......

Last week I needed a new watch battery so I headed to Debenhams in my lunchbreak. They have a watch mending concession in store which guarenttees the battery for 18 months so even though it's more expensive than the market it's worth it for a battery that lasts more than 6 months. Whilst I waited for the battery to be changed I browsed their Blue Cross sale. I bought some brooches, I'm not precious about only getting vintage when it comes to brooches.
 The pineapple, orange flower & parrot were a set. The girl who served me who was very young and very 'on trend' said "ooh when those came in I did wonder who on earth would buy them"  Me apparently!

I also spotted a biker boot size 6 in the sale I tried it on and it was a bit big but there was no size 5 and it was nothing thick socks wouldn't solve so I asked to try on the other boot. The girl took it from me with a deep sigh and walked off to the stock room at a pace that would have made even a funeral director tell her to speed up.
She was gone for about 10 minutes then shuffled back to announce she couldn't find the other boot so she would check the other stock room. Off she went through the store and as I watched her progress I swear to god I saw a tortoise overtake her.
I had enough time to collect my watch and contemplate life the universe and everything before she returned still with just one boot in hand. It wasn't in the other stock room either apparently she would check the first one again.
By this point various other ladies waiting for service had given up and left. She finally re-emerged still with just the one boot she definitely couldn't find it's partner. Could I wait for her supervisor to return? He would know where to look.
I asked when would he return, not a difficult question on the face of it but by her horrified reaction you would have thought I had asked for an in depth explanation of quantum physics on pain of death. In the end she guessed it might be another 40 minutes, I said sorry I couldn't wait and never mind, by this point I was already late getting back to work as it was.

As it happened I got my storecard bill through 2 days later so I popped in to pay it, I wondered if the boots were still there so walked past that department on my way out to check. They were and it was a different girl on the till thank the lord. I asked for the matching boot and she disappeared into the stock room and reappeared instantly with both in hand, they must have literally been just inside the door!
Anyway I bought them even though I'm not really meant to be spending money right now and I need another pair of boots like a hole in the head.
They have been a bit flattened at the top as you can see but nothing a boot shaper won't sort out.

On the subject of spending money when I shouldn't I had a flash sale thing through from Voodoo Vixen and just had to snap up this beauty for half price.
It's been on my wishlist for ages now, but I couldn't justify full price.

I also bought a pair of flared exercise trousers in the Sainsbury's 25% off clothing event. Now the clocks have changed Himself and I have been going to the park after work to use the exercise equipment there.
He goes every day, I have been going every other day. All part of the plan to get a bit fitter and healthier.
The only downside is it has been playing havoc on my wrists. I have had Carpel Tunnel Syndrome for years now, eventually I will have to have an operation but for the moment I manage it by, mostly ignoring it for as long as I can, and wearing wrist braces or Robocop Arms as Himself calls them, at night when I can't.
I really need to get myself some kind of wrist supports when I exercise because I don't want to give it up just because it kills my wrists.

I'd better finish up by explaining the title of the post. On Tuesday at th arse crack of dawn I am off to New York for work. I am excited because it's been over 25 years since I was last there and I will have a day each side of work to cram in some sightseeing.
I am also in complete denial about the fact I will be interviewing candidates for our Masters programme face to face Eeeeek. So far I've only done Skype interviews which I like, I can spread my shit out around me and have all sorts of prompts and guides that the cadidate can't see, face to face I won't be able to do that and I'll have to try and take notes as well as listen and ask the right questionsall at the same time, Good Grief.
Work has even provided me with a nifty little laptop and just handed it over like I'll know what to do with it hahahahahaha. (For those who don't know I am an utter technophobe.)
I haven't done anything yet in terms of packing etc so I really need to get my arse in gear.

See you on the other side, providing North Korea doesn't blow me up in the meantime.........

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Spring is in the Air.

Well haven’t we had ourselves some glorious weather this last couple of weeks? This weekend we had a rare free day so I suggested going for a walk. I thought a wander to a nearby village with a drink or two in the pub then a wander home would be just the ticket. Himself once persuaded of the idea had other plans, no mere 7 mile round trip for him oh no.

Kitted out with map, water and cookies we did indeed end up at a village pub sitting in the half shade of their garden I could have stayed there (drinking) all day, but soon enough we were on the move again and rather than back the way we came we were walking a slightly longer route back. Himself then confessing he wouldn’t be happy if we did less than 10 miles…..right.    
I should add here Himself has never been to Wittenham Clumps, the lovely group of trees on the hill you see in the distance in this picture.

The Clumps are a group of 3 hills and were an Iron Age fortification and burial mound, they are now a popular destination for hikers, dog walkers, kite flyers, picnickers etc. Well as Himself had never been there and as we were so close by *cough* he decided we should detour for a visit, at this point I was holding out pretty well so we did. 
I must admit it was gorgeous taking in the panoramic views and sun-burning my nose whilst watching some blokes crash land their model plane.

However The walk back home started to feel endless, trudging through field after field. According to the map we had to cross a road and walk behind a farm to find the footpath back so we entered the gate at the end of the farm driveway noting signs along the way that said ‘Caution Dogs Running Free’. There was no obvious footpath, the driveway ended and short of walking right up to the house we were a bit stumped. We backed up a bit and went into the filed alongside the house, maybe this was it? There was a small orchard with a gate at the end but also with barbed wire running across said gate so clearly no through route there! 
We decided to walk the boundary of the field to see if there was a gap anywhere, as we were doing this Himself said “looks like we’ve been spotted” and sure enough a dog the size of a small pony had galloped round the side of the house and was heading towards us like an exocet missile.

Now is a good time to explain I am not exactly a fan of big dogs, especially those moving at the speed this one was having been knocked off my feet and bitten by an Alsatian as a small child, I froze in sheer panic, visions of being torn to shreds filing my head. Even Himself, who is a dog fan was showing concern/alarm, when the dog skidded to a halt a few feet away from us and started to do that on the spot boundy thing excited, but thankfully friendly, dogs do. He ended up followed us all the way round the field stopping until you were a ways away from him them charging straight at you in frankly unnerving manner given his size. 
Thankfully once we had established there was no way out of the filed than through the main gate he was perfectly happy for us to shut that on him even though he could have jumped over it in a single bound!

Having given up on locating the footpath we ended up walking down the main road which did give us the opportunity to call in at Sainsbury’s for some wine & beer on the way home. Checking online later it would seem the elusive footpath no longer exists, our map is a few year’s old now. Turns out we did 13 miles, so much for my gentle and alcoholic afternoon perambulation.

Last week I was up and off early on Saturday to catch up with friend’s at The Living Rainforest near Newbury.
It’s a small but fascinating centre made up of a couple of greenhouses full of exotic flora and fauna. Where else would you get to see little fishies that swim as you would expect (obviously just to lull you into thinking they are ordinary little brown fish) then casually hop out of the water and walk about on their tails!?!
Or where else indeed would you peer up through the lush green canopy and see a sloth’s bum? It was too early for the butterflies to be out but I would definitely go back and not just to have those beautiful jewel like creatures flapping about your head as you walk.
I was fascinated by the fact that a lot of the mammoth jungle plants are ones that we grow as house plants in this country, clearly in their native environment they are giants.
I have both of these at home in wee flower pots of course. The cafĂ© was good too, so I would definitely recommend dropping by if you are nearby. Just don’t ask about the bird eating spider.

Monday I went to see Feeder with my brother and sister in law. I had completely forgotten they were due to play and that I had asked my brother to pick me up a ticket, so was somewhat flummoxed when he texted me “Are you going to come home or meet us at the O2?” Eh? Arrangements were made and a bloody good night was had by all.
I love Feeder and they have never done a bad gig, that I have been too anyway. We stood near the sound desk and got chatting to the lead singer’s parents who were watching. I loved the fact his Mum was singing her heart out and thoroughly into the band, why should getting old mean you shouldn’t enjoy a rock gig anymore? Alright give the mosh pit a miss but no need to stop going all together.

I was trying out some new aluminium earplugs from Himself which I really liked once I got used to them, my hearing is so bad from going to far too many very loud gigs in my youth that usually if I put ear plugs in I can’t actually hear anything at all! These weren’t cheap but I will definitely invest in a pair for myself until it gets to the point where I have to go around with an ear trumpet bellowing at everyone.

Himself and I also went to see Beauty and the Beast on that Friday, I really wasn’t sure but as it goes I really enjoyed it, except the ending which was just way too saccharin & schmaltzy for me. Bleurgh.
When I go to work on the Monday I had an email from someone called Gemma (who works for the university too, I had to Google her to figure out who she was! I had met her before.) asking me if I could pick up some flowers that had been delivered for her and she would meet me at the train station to collect them and give me a lift home. Not only did I not know who she was I was a little freaked that she knew I caught the train and where I lived. Anyway I realised she had sent me the email on the Friday and had meant that day but I had actually finished early, so I replied and explained why I hadn't responded on the Friday and said if the flowers were still there I was happy to pick them up for her.

Turns out she had collected them over the weekend but then in her reply she also said “didn’t I see you at the cinema on Friday, you were watching Beauty and the Beast” WTF??  I’m hoping this is the closest I get to having a stalker because it was a bit unnerving having someone know me but me not know them.

I seem to have had a bit of a lucky run with handbags of late, especially those of the classic British variety.

Two from Boots, one of which was unused and still had it's care card inside,
 and one Clarks no less.

I think it’s about time I had a sort through of the collection as space is not limitless and who knows what space I will have in the future. I might have some beauties looking for a new home very soon……

I’ll finish with another lucky Ebay score. I was looking at this Hell Bunny dress on their website as I had a discount code but they didn’t have my size and indeed haven’t for about 6 weeks though even though they assured me 5 weeks ago they were ‘restocking that week’ hmm
I was going to go for it in the blue check but then I spotted this one on Ebay and snagged it for £16 including postage and it’s only been worn once = result.

 I’m fully expecting a total desert lack of lovely things after all this good fortune.

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Looking With Fresh Eyes.

On Saturday I had to work, which is kind of a boo because who wants to have to get up early on a Saturday and trail into town when you could be catching up on much needed ZZZzzs.

On the other hand when 'having to work' includes a walking tour of Oxford on a gorgeous Spring day who can complain? About 4 times a year we have something called an Oxford Experience Weekend to try and encourage potential students to fall in love with Oxford and come to us instead of one of our rival establishments.

The Friday is all about the school and the programme and ends with a traditional Oxford college dinner, while the Saturday is all about the city of Oxford itself.
It's actually pretty tiring if I'm honest, you have to be 'on' the whole time, getting in after 11pm then up and off again the next morning.
Having said that I always enjoy the walking tour. We tried out 4 or 5 different companies and ended up going with one which gives tours lead by current students at Oxford. They are always different and always thoroughly entertaining.

As you can imagine I've done a few now, from the bitterly cold, can't feel fingers can't feel toes, if I stand still out here a moment longer I might just die. To the biblical downpour where at first you make a hopeless attempt to stay dry and end up helpless with laughter because you are soaked from top to toe and right down to your undercrackers so what else can you do but laugh.

Days like this Saturday however are the charm, and this time I promised myself I would remember my camera.

A gorgeous Spring day in a gorgeous city what more could you want?

It's so easy when you have lived somewhere for a long time to stop looking up

to stop looking around you.

You hurry to the bank and back in your lunch hour and barely look up from the pavement, or more likely have your eyes glued to your phone screen, (unless you are me and a touch screen technophobe!)

Sometimes I forget what a damn beautiful city I have the privilege to work in.

Friday, 10 March 2017

Three Frocks, Two Bags and One Garden.

Another couple of weeks have blurred by, eat much, sleep a little, work a lot. You know the drill.

The weather has had a couple of tantalizing almost Springlike days and my thoughts have turned to colourful frocks in pretty prints.
I spotted this dress by Eucalyptus on a couple of repro brand websites and dithered.

I loved it but was it just a tad too ACID green for me? and there was a pesky V neckline I am always so fatally attracted too, the price was painful for my pocket too. All of a sudden the fates forced my hand by sending me yet another sale email and finally it was under £30. So I took the plinge and ordered it from Weekend Doll.
Knowing me and my challenging torso, I sized up, I then got an email to say "sorry we are actually out of that size in green but would you like it in a lovely navy blue?" well no I wouldn't because it was the green that had had me trapped with it's siren call. I emailed back for a refund but happened to mention I had sized up due to fit concerns. Yuriko from Weekend Doll kindly measured the dress for me and said she was pretty sure I should be fine in my usual size so I took a punt.
I'm so glad I did because when it came it fitted like a dream even the cut of the cross over neckline looked fine - Huzzah!
I bloody love it and to me this dress just screams SPRING at the top of it's voice.

Apologies in advance but all three dresses are fresh from the wash but not yet fresh from the iron so very crumpled to say the least!

Next up I finally took the plunge with Lindy Bop as I had an online code. I have never bouight from them before, due to the many mixed reviews on fit from the vintage blogosphere.

To be brutally honest I'm not sure I will bother again. The delivery was super speedy I'll give then that, but for me I'm not so sold on the quality.

First up this sale dress
cats with umbrellas you say? well in the basket it went!
When I unpacked it the first thing I noticed was this fault in the fabric print
I checked the rest of the dress carefully and thankfully it was only this one patch so I tried it on and as it goes the misprint is at the side and not hugely noticeable, unfortunately I then found that one of the sleeves had been caught up in the seam of the armhole
Something I can easily unpick and restitch but both issues equal some pretty lax/crap quality control by the company!
Admittedly I could have returned the dress but it was in the sale and had a discount code and as neither issue is a deal breaker for me I couldn't be arsed. If the fabric had been faulty all over or right at the front of the dress it would have been a different story. I can't afford to keep an unwearable dress.

Next up I bought this owl print from the full price range.

I knew the waist would be an issue on my long torso so sized up with this. As suspected the waist sits right on my rib cage so it was a good job I did.
This dress is slightly too big, but my usual size would have been uncomfortably tight for sure.

 The only issue I had with this dress was it smelt hideously musty, nothing a wash couldn't cure but not pleasant in a brand new frock!
So yes, on the whole, don't think I'll be rushing back to Lindy Bop any time soon.  

What's that you say? Why yes I did mention bags as it happens. Feast your eyes on these beauties.
Still going through a red bag phase. It's all because I saw a stunning one when I was shopping in Burford before Christmas with Soo.
 I just couldn't justify getting at the time, and of course I haven't been able to get out of my head since!?! I have been hunting for it's double and not finding it but buying other ones instead! Oops.

How about this butter soft leather green goddess?
Yes she's seen life, she's a little battered around the edges but aren't we all? She also comes complete with matching gloves tucked inside (I know they look much darker here for some reason, but they really aren't!) unfortunately they are miles too big for me dammit.

So other than internet shopping like a woman possessed what else have I been doing? I've been out for dinner and to the cinema just for a change. Dinner was a long overdue catch up with Soo and Melissa and the cinema was for the last ever Wolverine film Logan
Great film, loved it, but boy is it bleak. Not one for those who are feeling low or worried about getting old that is for sure.

Also this week I got a gentle prod from work that we are almost halfway through our leave year and I have only taken 5 days off since October last year. So I threw caution to the wind and booked two days off (steady now!)
Usually I never have an issue using up all my leave and tend to have run out way before September comes, but after all the upheaval last year, and not having money to spare for trips away, and mostly not having a gorgeous garden to lose myself in I just don't see the point. Also work takes my mind off things, meaning I have become chained to my desk until there are signs of better days.

Anyway yesterday was an absolutely gorgeous day so I decided to do a bit of tidying up in the wilderness that is the garden at this house. I have been torn, because it is crying out for love but if we are only here a year and the owner potentially plans to build on most of it what is the point? But fresh air beckoned so I tooled up, went out
 and yes I may have got just a tiny bit carried away!

Lord only knows what the hell we will do with this mountain as we only have a fortnightly collection for our brown bin and this is about a year's worth of content.
This actually constitutes only a bit of the garden too, I wasn't kidding when I said it was overgrown. Ivy is rampant everywhere
those two humps at the back are not trees or shrubs but a shed completely covered in ivy, you can't even get in it!
I found two bird houses nailed to the fence, hidden under about a metre deep ivy growth
there is a fence under those roots somewhere...
the three plants I always have in my garden are rosemary, lavender and mock orange. Here I am thrilled to say are all three but this poor rosemary has literally become a tree where it has been strangled by the ivy and so forced to struggle up and up for some light.

On the plus side the lawn is awash with violets of all shades from deep purple to white which is very pretty.

So 6 months on in our temporary home and it's a bit weird. I finally feel settled here, it took this long but the house has won me round. It has made me realise just how much we were putting up with because we loved the location, and the cheap rent, and the huge garden of our old place.

To have a house where the heating works on demand, that has hot water and plenty of it at the turn of the tap and a toilet that flushes with ease. To have a house that doesn't smell bad, that isn't damp and full of mould, it's been a revelation if I'm honest.

Do I miss the old house? Nope, I do miss the quieter location and our wonderful neighbour but otherwise not at all.

Do I miss my garden? well that should tell you right there! yes I miss my beautiful garden with every ounce of my being and yes I still call it my garden. Even though of course it wasn't because it was a rented garden at a rented house. I guess I just have to hope the next place we find will combine the best bits of the last two, though the thought of starting the search again fills me with utter despair.

Friday, 24 February 2017

Walking Literary London

You may recall back in October Himself and I headed to London to 'Walk Haunted London' well this weekend we were back but this time armed with a book that shares it's title with this post.

I've had the book a few years now and we have done a couple of the other walks out of it, but this time we decided to go for the one that went from Regent's Park to Camden via Primrose Hill because we had both only ever been to one of the 3 (Camden) and even there never together.

I should be honest here and say the trip to London was actually to check out the new Lego store at Piccadilly Circus which I was intrigued to see after watching the show all about it's opening that was on at Christmas. Himself was not so keen but as it was a gorgeous day I convinced him we could swing by there, build a quick figure or two and then go for a lovely walk. It was fun to see the store with it's huge Lego Big Ben and other London landmarks but I don't think I'll hurry back.

Our walk started at Holy Trinity Church Marylebone  - birthplace of the Penguin paperback.
They started out in the crypt and had to be silent when services were taking place, according to the guide book staff were given a penny a day to use the toilets at the tube station over the road!

From here we headed to the gorgeous Regent's Park. I just had to take an arty shot of this amazing Art Deco hotel.
  I can't believe I've never been to Regent's Park before it's gorgeous! Mind you there is so much of London I still need to discover.
In this day and age of computers and playstations it was lovely to see so many families out enjoying the sun.
Did you know Regent's Park has London Zoo in the middle of it? I didn't.

We didn't go in, but it was fun being able to see into some of the enclosures.
Look who followed us all through the park. Very apt!

We circled the zoo and crossed the canal and road to head up Primrose Hill.
It seemed every tourist in London was up the hill taking shots of the London skyline so we grabbed a few shots and carried on with our walk.
We got hopelessly lost, retraced our way back and started again. This time we got it right and followed the walk past various once homes of various literary greats like Kingsley & Martin  Amis. Yeats, Keats and Sylvia Plath.
Finishing with a little dogleg that took in Alan Bennett's house at the time of The Lady in the Van. The guide was very good at not telling you the exact house, at the time it was written he still lived there. So whilst Himself resorted to Google I wandered down the street and fell in love with this lovely house, so very different to all it's neighbours. I just had to take a picture.
Turns out it was the house we were looking for, It pleased me a lot to know I chose the same house as Alan Bennett. I love Alan Bennett.

Now it is no secret that I like to drink tea, a lot. By this time it was about 4 in the afternoon and I had had one cup all day. Even I will admit I was on the very cranky side of cranky so the need for the cup that restores was getting urgent.
First cafe we saw was an old pet shop converted into a terribly chi-chi cafe.
This being Camden it cost just shy of 3 quid, (3 quid people!?!) for a cup of tea, not even a mug, but a cup. By the time Himself had had 2 sips of coffee I had inhaled my tea and was desperate for another but not at that price. This also being London I got the most ridiculously dramatic over reaction when I politely asked a guy if he could move his chair in so I could get to my seat. I just laughed. I wasn't about to let some silly pretentious prat spoil a lovely day out.

So what else? Busy, busy busy, work has been crazy. Himself and I had our annual cinema trip for Valentine's Day. As ever I chose the film and tested his love for me by making him go to the 30th anniversary screening of Dirty Dancing, a film he has never seen and I have seen more times than I can remember. I wasn't about to miss the chance to see it on the big screen again.

It has to be said the 30 years have not been kind. I hadn't realised just how dreadful the dialogue is but, oh well, the soundtrack is still outstanding and lets face it is is really about the dancing isn't it?

This week I also went to see Hidden Figures.
I loved it. What a fantastic film, though it does make you kind of sit back and think what you've done with your life. If you haven't seen it I highly recommend it.

I've been out to dinner with friends, nothing fancy, just mac and cheese with lots of wine and good conversation. Fun Times.

Also this week we went to see Nephew Number One's new band Rats Eat Rats play.
They were pretty good considering it's only their second gig, sadly the venue was pretty terrible and the line-up an eclectic mix to put in mildly. A young lad who clearly thought it was the 80's and he was auditioning for Kraftwerk, followed by a very earnest folk band and then the Nephew's Grunge Metal band!?!
Yup, still can't figure out what the promoter was aiming for there but the Nephew's band wisely decided to look on it as more practice.
Himself and I propped up the bar and shook our heads over the youth of today and the fact they couldn't even last in a mosh pit for more than one song, no stamina, not like in our day.

And for those of you with no interest in Metal and mosh pits here's the lovely latest addition to my collection......
I'm going through a bit of a red handbag phase.