Friday, 30 December 2011

Christmas? Make it Snappy.

So here I am the other side of Christmas and sadly not unscathed. As my dear (and very) pessimistic sister said 'On the whole 2011 has been a shit year for you, and it looks like it's planning to end that way too'
It all started innocently enough, I braved the horror of Tesco on Christmas Eve for a food shop and then spent three and a half  hours baking the 5 different cakey treats I had been asked to make for Boxing Day. I wore my rather splendid new Christmas jumper. The only time of year I would be seen in such an item!
We headed over to my parents where we ate and drank and watched tv. Christmas Morn we got up, ate and drank some more, opened a present or 3 and went for a walk before dinner. I had great fun trying out the adult exercise equipment in the park though I'm not sure Himself was convinced!
We got home and I helped plate up dinner, I pulled a cracker, put on a paper hat, took my first mouthful of dinner and thought that doesn't feel right, rooted very inelegantly in my mouth and retrieved one of my teeth!?! The teeth each side of my front two are both crowns due to them not growing properly when my adult teeth came through, one of these had snapped clean off, crown intact. I still can't quite believe it had to happen right at that moment, I mean of all days of the year for the stupid thing to break. The irony being I had only been to the dentist on the 22nd for a check-up, x-ray and hygienist visit and was given a clean bill of teeth health.

Lets just say I didn't exactly fancy my christmas dinner after that, and if nothing else it hurt whenever hot, cold or anything for that matter touched the spot where once a tooth had been.
I rang the emergency number on the surgery answer machine and left a message. They called me back the next day and arranged to see me 10am on the 28th. Three whole days.......

It's at times like these that I am grateful my mother likes to buy random bits of pottery for bless her she had a sudden brainwave and produced this 
Not exactly elegant but at least it meant I could drink without hitting the roof with every mouthful!! My brother and family arrived on Boxing Day with soup and straws, though I confess to being pretty miserable company I was very grateful.
It's also at times like this when not having a car is a problem. My emergency appointment was in to get there.....thankfully my parents stepped in again and offered to drive me there. Dear god but I hate going to the dentist, I was a nervous wreck.
Unlucky for me, the whole reson I had had the teeth capped in the first place meant that the underdeveloped root was too small to accomodate a peg which would have sorted the problem then and there and meant no further treatment, oh I could have wept.
The prognosis is not good. I am looking at either a bridge or an implant, both of which will mean extensive dental work and will cost upwards of £1000. Happy Christmas to me.
Anyway the lovely emergency dentist managed to drill in two fine metal wires and cement the cap onto them, it nearly didn't work but thankfully 2nd attempt and the cap stayed put. I left with strict instructions to be VERY careful and under no circumstances to bite into anything! Following these instructions the tooth should hold until my own dentist is open again in early January. Of course I have been too paranoid to eat much since other than soup, but at least I can drink tea again! On the bright side I had also planned to lose some weight in the new year so I have just started the diet early I guess.
Anyway after spending the last few days feeling sick with panic I have given myself a talking too. What is done is done and as Himself says it's nothing that can't be mended. Also on the plus side if I have an implant it will never, ever happen again!

As you can imagine I haven't really done much other than sleep and read these last few days. I have watched a little tv, it's been pretty crap Christmas viewing on the whole though I loved 'Downton' and 'Great Expectations'.
I certainly got enough new reading material for Christmas, as if there was the slightest chance I was running short!
I also got an assortment of Snoopy items :-)
Some lovely necklaces.....
Shopping bags.
 and a new jumper.
So really it's not all doom and gloom, far from it in fact.

I shall finish up with a picture from my garden, a sign of joy and hope in all the cold,wet, miserable mud.
New year, new beginings. The end of an eventful and not always happy year and the start of good things to come. x

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

My Bloggy Swap Gifts From Treasures From the Cherry Tree.

I thought I'd better find a moment to do my Bloggy swap post. I was partnered with Treasures from the Cherry Tree in the lovely Lakota's Faith Hope and Charity Swapping Christmas blog swap.

I have had my parcel for a few weeks now but decided to wait until Christmas to open it. In the end I opened my gifts on Christmas Eve before I headed off to my parents house, and what wonderful presents they were too!
The idea was 5 or so gifts with one handmade, one christmas themed and one from a charity shop. I have to say I feel quite guilty because I got far more than just 5 gifts and that was all that I had sent.....

Behold my lovely gifts. Christmas baubles, a sparkly butterfly, notelets, a gorgeous headscarf, a knitted ear warmer (much needed!) snowmen for my collection, a used teabag dish and a fab vintage Nestle cook book :-)
                                                             How ace is that?

                                          Look at my colour change snowman light!

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Is It Friday Yet?

I am quite excited about christmas coming but mostly I just want to be able to collapse in a heap, not have to get up early and not have to eat unless I absolutely have to! I feel like I have been eating non-stop for weeks now.
Last week's over indulging has continued in earnest this week too.
On Saturday Soo and I slip slide-ed over to Jenny's to exchange pressies. We got fed a delicious lunch followed by mince pies and much gossip, just what the doctor ordered.
Then it was home to glue myself to the Strictly final, yay for Harry.

Back to the food.
Monday I was round at my brother's house until fairly late so we grabbed fish and chips for tea.
Tuesday I was out with the girls in Oxford. We ate at Atomic Burger where I seriously feared I might burst after my Frankenstein burger, fries and banana milkshake :-)

 Wednesday I was determined to go and see 'Puss in Boots'. Himself wasn't convinced but he came anyway because he is good like that, and thankfully he really enjoyed it. I on the other hand loved it. I would urge anyone who has cats,or loves cats, and likes animation to see it.

In among all the things that I was meant to do but actually still haven't, I did manage to squeeze in a tiny visit to the charity shops.

I came away with a pair of trousers for work and this lovely purple shirt for £4, which was new with tags but smelt a bit funny so I chucked it into the wash assuming it was polyester. It came out in a remarkably screwed up ball and as I tried to straighten it out I noticed the label said 'pure silk' 'dry clean only'......oopps.
I gave it a press on a low heat and thankfully it seems to have survived the wash! I'm having a bit of a thing for pussy bow blouses at the moment and purple is a favourite colour, so I would have been gutted to have ruin it.
I also found this Oasis summer dress for £2.50.
                              Not sure if it's really me, but it seemed churlish to leave it.

Anyways I am off to bed. Last day at work tomorrow and I'm out again tomorrow night. Saturday I now have to make 5 different cakey treats for Boxing Day lunch before we head off to my Ma and Pa's. No rest for the wicked and all that!
I leave you with a picture of the tree. I admit I may have got a tad carried away when decorating it......
A very happy Christmas to one and all. x x G

Saturday, 17 December 2011

This Week it's all About the Boys and the Food.

I have finally found a little time in the manic schedule to drink tea and blog. In all honesty I *should* be writing christmas cards but I'm a bit carded out if truth be told and as I have been banished from upstairs because Himself is 'wrapping things' what better excuse do I need?

So last Saturday I was up at 6am (6am mind!) to head off to Torquay for Nephew Number Two's 2nd birthday. Thankfully we managed to not only catch the right train but also find a seat, it was freaking packed with people even at that hour! Unluckily for them, as we were going to miss our boiled egg breakfast I made egg sandwiches for the journey instead. They were delicious but 'fragrant' as only an egg sandwich can be! Anyway the journey passed without incident and we arrived in a sunny but freeze your bits off cold Torquay by 11am. It was the wee man's party at 3pm so we did some catching up first before heading out to party 2 year old style.
Much fun was had by child and adult alike in the ball pit, (sadly no photo's of that) but most exciting thing of the day by far turned out to be this plastic pan pipe that came in the childs goodie bag when we arrived, ain't that always the way?
Once the birthday boy had retired for the night, out came crisps, brownies and much wine and well I'm sure you can imagine the rest........ 
Lets just say we got home on Sunday just after 8pm only to discover not only had Himself forgotten his socks but also my bottle of Advocaat *weeps* (about the Advocaat not the socks obviously.)

Monday was going to be a day of action as we were both off work. I had plans, big plans, but somehow I couldn't get motivated. I was fiddlearsing around as my Dad would say when my sister in law rang up and said she could fit me in for a hair colour in the afternoon. As I was showing the kind of roots that make grown women cry I shot off down there as fast as my feet could fly.
I did sort of put the tree up but that was about it, I do have a lovely golden barnet though!

Tuesday was work, home, change and fly out of the door and on the train to Reading to see Ross Noble. As you may recall from previous blogs we are both huge fans of his and this was a chance to see him in a small venue. We were in the front row which is never a good thing as he does like to interact with his audience, ie: harrass latecomers and jest with the front row. Himself got into a slight difference of opinion with Ross about Star Wars, (never a good move on anyone's part as Himself is an unashamed geek of all things Star Wars.) I was refered to as the lady in a 'The Killing' jumper, and entered a lively discussion about whether one should buy the boxed set of Series One or not with the next comedian on stage. Oh I also managed to drop my freshly laundered scarf in my beer!?! It was a great night, but a late night and getting up the next morning was painful.

Wednesday was Christmas lunch day at work which everyone gets ridiculously excited about because it is free food and drink. It was a lovely dinner actually and much needed as I had to hang around in work until 6.40pm before I got a lift to Nephew Number One's end of term performance at college. Now those who know me know I am not one for swearing unless the situation/person calls for it but when asked what I thought of the evening my dazed response was 'Fuck me'. Himself's was 'Fuck me' followed by 'Never again' so you get the gist.

Sadly for the poor kids involved it was bloody awful, a complete shambles. There were 4 'bands' on that night the 3rd of which had Nephew Number One in it. These 4 were put together by the tutors, who basically told them : Who they were playing with and what instrument they were expected to play, then just left them to it!

The sound was appalling, seriously the man on the sound desk needing taking outside and lynching!! I felt so sorry for the poor kids, as not only could you hardly hear the guitars they also had to battle with screeching feedback!
On top of this they came off stage saying the volume on the monitor kept going up and down which meant they couldn't always hear themselves singing. Of course this meant even the ones with good voices were going in and out of tune as it happened. I would go on but I won't bore you with more details and to be fair there were also some kids who were just crap, even the best producer in the world wouldn't have helped them.
But all in all it did make for a painful listening experience.
There were a handful of kids who shone and I am proud to say Nephew Number One was one of them.

My brother is starting to question exactly what it is he will get out of this course though.
I must say I can't see the logic in giving a kid an instument they have never played before and making them get on stage and play it in front of an audience after only a few weeks practice, as far as I can see it's only ever going to make them feel like an idiot and crush their self esteem when they screw up. Oy.

Thursday was lunch in the canteen at work and Friday was my departmental Christmas lunch. God bless the button on my trousers is all I can say!
The diet January!

I shall leave you with a picture of the shopping Himself came back from Sainsburys with. I have to make the puddings for boxing day and sent him out with a detailed list and a very unsubtle hint about the 'It's a Wonderful Life' boxed set......
                                                              It worked! :-)

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Christmas. An Argument For it.

From reading many blog posts recently I come to the conclusion that Christmas in blogland is like Marmite, you either love it or or you hate it.

I gamely throw my Santa hat into the ring and declare I fall firmly into the ‘LOVE IT’ camp.

I get childishly excited by it all, and as a collector of snowmen it’s the perfect excuse to fill my house with their wintery wonderfulness. (ornaments rather than real snow obviously!)

I do understand the complaints about how commercial it has all become, I’d be the first to agree how sad this is, but I truly believe Christmas, like life, is what you make it.

This is easy for me to say I know, I don’t have children demanding the latest £300 must have item. (Even if I did I can assure you they would not be getting it! )

 I ADORE buying people presents. I think this stems partly from the fact I love shopping full stop. It doesn’t have to be just for me! I get even more of a buzz buying something I know someone else will be thrilled with. I make a point of listening to people and filing away likes, dislikes and yearnings. I also shop throughout the year, I learnt the hard way that if you see the perfect thing at the perfect price you must snap it up straight away or you’ll regret it.You leave it for a later day and suddenly it’s sold out and you are frantically hunting for a Plan B.
I have a shelf in my wardrobe for storing these items and I also have a list in my diary so I know what I already have and don’t double buy for people. Sad maybe, but it doesn’t half take a lot of the strain out of Christmas shopping.
If I don’t know what to get someone I ask them. I would much rather get something they really want, even if it is something practical or boring (in my eyes) than buy some random thing that will go : straight back to the shop/in a charity bag/passed on to someone else*
*delete as applicable.

Again I cannot but help agreeing about not understanding or buying into the food madness that seems to possess some people. I feel like going up to those stressed couples you see tearing wildly round the grocery store with 2 full to bursting shopping trolleys and bellowing ‘DON'T PANIC! Tesco is only shut for 2 DAYS!'.
I food shop on a Saturday, a week at a time. Other than the occasional pint of milk of loaf of bread I don’t buy again until the next Saturday.
I don’t shop any different for Christmas! Why on earth would you buy something you don’t even like just because of the time of year? I buy what we need for the week ahead, including for entertaining and that is all. Yes there may well be a few seasonal treats in there but that is because we both freaking love mince pies and this is the only time of year you get them!

I love sending Christmas cards and I love receiving them. I love catching up with friends and family who yes I really should make the effort to see more than once a year ‘because it’s Christmas’ but it’s as good a reason as any and it’s fantastic to catch up.
On the other hand I don’t feel obliged to go to the dreadful work Christmas parties. I have also got to a stage in my life where I don’t feel I must go to something when I can’t stand the person/persons involved.*
 *see previous post on friendship.

This way I feel I truly do get the best out of the festivities.

I may love shopping but I’m not madly materialistic. (Actually for those who have lost the meaning of Christmas in all the materialism I recommend reading Dickens - A Christmas Carol which put simply is about changing for the better, for life, and not just for Christmas.)

My favourite Christmas delights involve simple things like sitting downstairs first thing in the morning with a cup of tea and just the coloured tree lights for illumination, or throwing open the bedroom window on Christmas morning and breathing in the delicious fresh icy air, whilst listening to the church bells ringing in the day.
Going to a carol concert, singing very badly and not caring one bit, putting food out for the birds on a frosty morning and watching the colourful visitors it brings.There are so many joyful little things.

Admittedly I also love nothing better than quaffing numerous alcoholic beverages or watching Singing in the Rain for the millionth time whilst eating malteseers until my eyes bulge.
Lets face it Christmas is a damn fine excuse to roll out the cocktail shaker or to drink things I don’t at any other time of the year, just because! Advocaat anyone? hell yeah.

So yes at this time of year you will find me with a spring in my step and joy in my heart, festooning the house and decking my halls. I will watch all my favourite Christmas films culminating with the George C Scott version of A Christmas Carol.

                         To be watched on Christmas Eve with bottles of fizz as is our family tradition.

I accept there are those of you who may think like Scrooge, say ‘Christmas is a Humbug’ and can't wait for it to be over.

but I prefer to be his Nephew Fred, with a little bit of Tiny Tim thrown in.

So I say ‘Hurrah for Christmas’ and ‘God bless us everyone!’

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

It's Starting to Look a Lot Like Winter/Spring/Winter?

I have a post planned for which I was going to share this picture of my neighbour's glorious holly tree!
The birds haven't started stripping the berries yet, but now the first frosts are here it won't be long before there isn't a one left believe me. Obviously fierce spikes don't bother birds!
The reason for this quick post rather than the planned one, was this other tree I spotted from the train window as we came into Oxford station yesterday. Today I went for a lunchtime walk with my camera to take a closer look.
It is very beautiful but sad as well. This poor tree has been fooled by the ridiculously warm weather we have had lately into thinking it's spring and so has burst into bloom. 
Sad thing is the first lot of frost and well.........

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Marilyn, a Manic Monday and Old London Town.

Eeee what a week, a veritable roller coaster is all I can say. I am prostrated here on the sofa with tea and a Terry's chocolate orange feeling totally drained.
It all started last Friday when Himself's friend came to stay.
Much, MUCH wine was drunk and it all got very silly. I only wish I could share with you the video they made of their interpretation of The Proclaimers I was weeping with laughter when I saw it the next morning.

Monday it was an interview day at work and it was freaking mental. It started with the trains being screwed and 2 interviewers and 4 interviewees being stuck somewhere outside of the city. Lots of frantic rearranging and lots of headless chicken running ensued. Thank the lord I had the next day off work is all I can say.
I didn't get nearly as much done on Tuesday as I planned, I think I may have been a bit over ambitious with my plans actually. Anyway I did allow myself a visit to the charity shops in town as I had to go out to the post office and the bank anyway. I came back with a pair of trousers and a jumper for work, as well as this vintage skirt for a bargainous £2.99.
                          It needs a little tailoring to make it into the pencil skirt I see it as.

                      However my prize find was this gorgeous little two cup tea set for £4.50.

 Then it was home to wrap christmas presents. I mean really, it wasn't even freaking December at that point!!
I needed to wrap my friend's and her son's for the next day and thought I may as well do Himself's parents presents at the same time as he needed them for this weekend, then I just went with the flow and wrapped until I couldn't stand it any longer.....

Wednesday I headed off to London Town to meet my friend Jennifer who was over here from America visiting her in-laws. We had a lovely day, most of it spent shopping it must be said, we are both big fans of shopping!
I was extremely good and only bought two things for myself, a hat and bag, both on sale so that's not so bad is it? Is it?

 I did manage to drag Jennifer into Beyond Retro where I very nearly bought a gorgeous but extremely crumpled plaid wiggle dress for the very resonable price of £20. That was until I checked the label and saw it was 'dry clean only' always puts me right off if something is 'dry clean only' so I decided against it. I would have liked to have browsed more but Jennifer doesn't do second hand so we headed for Oxford Street.

I also had have a gift card for Liberty so we spent a considerable time in there hunting high and low for something I could either afford or actually wanted to put the cost of the voucher toward! Not easy at all, it's freaking expensive in there. Eventually I found this very pretty journal and a christmas mug.

 I have to say I was not impressed with the Oxford Street lights. Kind of weird star things and what's with the umbrellas? Not exactly a symbol of christmas. I did love the coloured lights on Debenhams though.

By about 7pm we were both wilting so Accessorize was our last port of call before battling with the masses on the underground. I loved the mirror with it's gorgeous frame made from brooches and hair clips, it's given me an idea for a future project!

I finally got home at 9pm absolutely knackered. I think I should have had Thursday off work too, partly because I was very tired but mostly because it was not a good day. My computer suddenly stopped working and when IT finally arrived it was to diagnos a 'start-up virus' which is about the worst you can get apparently. I was advised to change all the passwords to any sites I might have accessed whilst using it recently.
I spent the next hour logged onto another machine frantically changing passwords only for IT to call and say apparently someone else had the virus not me!?!
Turns out their IP address was one digit different to mine and that my IP address had been blocked by mistake. So I lost a whole morning of catching up on my work and also changed loads of passwords for no reason *sigh* Lets just say my working day did NOT improve after that.
I did have a lovely lunch with some girlfriends though and after work I went to see 'My Week With Marilyn' with my friend Simon which really turned the day around.
I absolutely loved it! Michelle Williams was amazing as Marilyn and Kenneth Branagh was superb as Olivier. I think I found it all the more poignant having been so recently to the exhibition at the American Museum in Bath and seen so many of her possessions. I would highly recommend the film.

Without going into details, Friday at work was just shit. I have to say I was thoroughly down when I got home, the last few days have really knocked my confidence, and made me doubt my ability to do the job. Sods law Himself is away this weekend so I couldn't even talk it through.
However I saw my brother today who gave me a good pep talk, and so, Monday is another day.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Boots? Christmas Shopping? Love a Duck!

Last Saturday I was up early and off into Oxford for some Christmas shopping with Soo. When we worked together we used walk into town pretty much every day in our lunch hour, so we are both missing each other's company, and the shops now we work in different places. A friend fix was in order! and so a Christmas shopping trip was duly arranged.
First stop was the wonderous 'Nosebag' for scones and tea and then we hit the shops. Strictly no buying for myself it was 'gifts only' all the way. We both did pretty good and got quite a few bits off our lists until town got so damn busy we couldn't bear it any more and decamped to the pub for a tuna melt and a large restoring glass of wine.
We did have one alarming experience in Past Times with a very fierce shop assistant....

To set the scene Soo and I were at the table of jewellery in the middle of the store and had just picked up a boxed necklace when the ‘Sales Manager’ pounced:
Sales Manager loudly ‘Did you know there are matching bracelets?’
We both jump
Me ‘sorry?’ Soo ‘yes I did thank you’
Sales Manager ‘Look here’s one isn’t it lovely’ she reaches between us and picks up the bracelet
Soo ‘yes it is, but I’m not interested thank you’
Sales Lady puts on the bracelet and puts her arm out between us ‘Look how sparkly it is, you should try it on’
Soo getting a bit emabarrassed ‘Yes it is pretty, but I don’t want the bracelet, only the necklace thank you’
Me ‘You aren’t really a bracelet person are you?’
Soo ‘Not really’
Me laughing ‘I can’t afford it anyway’ (I was buying the necklace for Soo for Christmas)
Sales Lady forcefully ‘But it’s so pretty, you should try it on, no really, TRY IT ON’ reaches forward and forces the bracelet onto Soo. ‘See, it’s lovely isn’t it? 
A startled Soo ‘ It is yes, but I really don’t want it’ pulls off bracelet and we both back away scared.

Sunday Himself and I went to see 'The Help'. It was really good and actually a lot funnier than I expected. I would recommend it. On Tuesday we were back at the cinema for 'Ghostbusters' in all it's cleaned up 80's glory. For all the times I have seen the film over the years this was the first time I have seen it on a big screen and it was ace! There were a lot of little things you just don't pick up on a smaller tv screen.
Talking of films they were filming 'Anna Karenina' at the railway centre for a few days last week. I took this picture from the bedroom window to try and show just how damn bright the lights were.
                                         Thankfully they switched off at about 9.30pm
I'm sorry to say I HAVE been naughty and spent money on myself. Bad, bad, bad.
The had 30% off all the boots and some of the shoes in Marks and Spencer and as I needed some more shoes for work I popped in for a look see. What I really wanted was some brown brogues as I love my purple ones from there so much, but sadly they didn't have any :-( 
Now in theory I should have come out empty handed but instead I heard the siren call of these little beauties.
                                   Well they are brown and they are very comfortable.

Of course me being me it didn't stop there. I then spotted these on Ebay and they had to be mine, and so they were for £18 including postage, oh yes. 
                                   Just as comfortable but definitely NOT workwear!

Thursday It was the annual street fair for the switching on of the christmas lights. It runs from 4.30pm to 9pm and usually we go much later, about 8pm, as I always used to work late on a Thursday. This time we were there about 6ish. It was ridiculously busy, to the point where you couldn't get near a lot of the stalls and if you tried to look anywhere except where you were going you kept walking into people! Not fun at all. However I did manage to get near enough to the local donkey sanctuary stall to win a tiny wee knitted duck with my amazing & marvelous skill *cough*  
                                                                 How cute?

Lastly Frock Friday! I finally got myself together enough to wear a frock on Friday, and not just any frock but my little birdy print tea dress.
It is a headless shot because it was 6.30am when I took the picture and quite frankly I scare myself at that hour of the day and I have no intention of scaring you poor people too!

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Friendship and what it means to me.

3 blogs in one week steady on! Sign of a bit too much time on my hands to ponder on things I think. 

This blog was inspired by 'A Thrifty Mrs' blog see here earlier this week. My first thought on reading it was 'wow you need to tell these people to fuck right off and find some real friends, because the behaviour you are describing is not the behaviour of what I would call a friend'.  Having read the post through again and the many replies to it, on the whole I was thoroughly depressed by the knowledge that there are so many people out there who don’t seem to have any friends.

I agree that there is a case for blaming the internet. It scares me to think that there is a whole generation of kids who are apparently growing up lacking any kinds of social skills because they no longer interact on a physical person to person level. I see my nephew who is 17 with 534 ‘friends’ on Facebook, a vast majority of whom he has never, ever met or spoken to, and probably never ever will.    

However the phrase ‘Facebook is Friendship Bullshit’ galls.

 It doesn’t have to be, and certainly isn’t for me! but then I don’t accept any old request or friend suggestion willy nilly on my account. I also have my account on the highest security settings I can.

For me it is a fantastic way of keeping in touch with the friends and family that I have who live overseas. I can share news and photos, and it is a great way to chat if we happen to coordinate ourselves around time zones!
For information I have 128 friends on Facebook and yes there are a handful of those who would go if I were having a cull, but only a handful. The rest are there because they really are friends. They are people I care about and so I am interested in knowing what they are doing. There are the mates I go out to the pub with, there are the girlfriends I go shopping with, there are the old friends I go out for the day with, there are the people I only hook up with a couple of times a year. There are also the dear friends who I might not see from one year to the next, but who are close to my heart. The kind of people I can be myself with and know we can pick up right where we left off no matter how much time has gone by.  

To digress for a moment, a lot of the replies to the above mentioned post were along the 'my husband is my best friend why do I need anyone else' line. personally I am cautious with the whole ‘my partner is my best friend’ thing. Yes Himself is the love of my life, and Yes he is the most important person in my life, but I don’t think of him as my best friend. That position is currently shared by Jenny and Soo, my oldest and dearest friends, who were both there long before him!
 In the same way I know in his life that honour belongs to the two Pauls, again both of whom were solid in his life long before I came along! 
I don't think it is healthy to devote your whole being to just one person and their happiness.

Now I am the first to point out that it has taken me all of my 43 years on this earth to get to this stage. I have had my fair share of frenemies, drama queens, emotional leeches and users over the years. Once upon a time I used to keep making the effort with these people, I'd keep bending over backwards for no return. I was worn down and miserable on far too many occasions. However I would say the qualities of my true friends, and the self belief and wisdom that comes with age got me to the point where enough was enough. I realised I was giving and giving for no return and being emotionally bled dry. So I made the conscious decision to cut these people out of my life and not look back. It was an incredibly freeing experience.

Ultimately I know there are many more wonderful people out there, and new friends to be made as I move on through life. People will leave my life but new ones will join it and I embrace that. I guess life has taught me thus far. That you have to be open to new experiences and go into them with an open heart.
On the flip side I will point firmly out, that there is a fine line between being open hearted and being a doormat!
You have to have open eyes as well as an open heart. When someone is not good for you, you should walk away, end of, no third/fourth/fifth chances.

Maybe as A Thrifty Mrs says for some people having no friends works. I just know for me it most definitely would not and my life would be a hollow, colourless thing without my friends.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

What does fashion mean to me?

Reading a couple of other blogs over the last few weeks has me pondering the above question. There is no denying I adore clothes, I have far too many and yet still spend far too much of my limited cash on them.
My heart sings whenever a new season’s collection comes on show and I excitedly decide what I like and what I don’t like. One of my favourite occupations when I have a spare moment is to look at pictures of celebrities in posh frocks from whatever event happens to be on. 
Now this is a habit I know I get from my Mother, who used to sit up into the early hours to watch the Oscars just so she could critique the frocks. When I still lived at home we would also pounce on the Oscars issue of’ Hello’ or ‘OK’ as soon as it was on the shelves to do exactly the same. I still look now (though online) and these days we discuss triumphs and disasters over the phone rather than in person.  I know for Mum this comes partly from the fact she is a seamstress by trade. She used to sit on the top floor of a department store altering, or making clothes from scratch for wealthy ladies who didn’t want to pay couture prices. Quite often it was with just a picture and no pattern, her forte was evening gowns. 
I gnash my teeth in envy of her skills which sadly I have not inherited!
Oh I can sew and make things, but I lack that extra ‘something’ that Mum has, the eye and flair to take a basic dress to another level. (If that weren’t enough she quite often knits by eye alone too, usually with spectacular results. there to I have to follow a pattern to the letter and the result can still be hit or miss!)

So yes the bliss of gazing upon a perfect evening gown is definitely something I’ve inherited from my Ma!

Yet whilst I follow fashion in the sense of what is in or out for the season/year. I don’t follow it in the sense of wearing the latest styles because they are ‘in’. I guess I have got to that stage in life where I know what suits me and that most definitely is not always what is ‘in’! I went through my teenage years slavishly following trends like most girls do. I then discovered a love of Rock music which was certainly bigger than my love of clothes at the time. I conformed to un-convention, the biker jacket, the leather mini, the ripped jeans all teamed with the gravity defying hair. I didn’t dare go out in anything that wasn’t my ‘uniform’ as my Dad called it, heaven forbid I be seen in anything even vaguely approaching fashion or un-rock chick attire!! 

And Yet during those years.....

Mum and I still looked at pretty frocks! still ooh-ed and ahh-ed. (Though she freely despaired over my appearance at the time!) This was also the time my passion for 1930’s and 40’s cinema took hold and with it one for the clothes of those eras. I started to experiment a bit, add vintage pieces to my look, and care less about what someone else might think if I went to a death metal gig in an full length evening gown. (yes I really DID do that, a teal velvet one no less!) I realised I could still be a rock fan whilst wearing a pinafore dress and vintage shirt. As you may imagine this is when my wardrobe started to expand at a frightening rate. Now I was no longer confining myself to a limited range of clothing, the shopping world was my oyster and the dreadful spending/wild shopping habits were developed that I still have today. No matter how hard I try to reign them in, they still burst out every now and then as is obvious from my explodingly full wardrobe.

Until recently my clothing/fashion mojo has been in deep hibernation. The combination of a job where jeans and t-shirts were the order of the day and a gaining of much weight had made me lazy and insecure about my appearance. Yet even at this time I was still avidly watching the fashion trends and getting a real joy out of helping various friends chose outfits. (Kind of think I missed a vocation there as a personal shopper!) Since the new job this is now changing and I am remembering the pleasure of steping out in a lovely outfit and experimenting a little.

So back to the question of ‘What does fashion mean to me?’

 I would say lots. 

I will say here and now I have never quite understood the whole fashion industry, it takes itself too seriously and often has its head stuck so far up its own arse it's ridiculous. Those who go weak at the knees each month at ‘Vogue’ and the like, are a complete mystery to me. Why on earth would you spend that much on a magazine when 250 of its 300 pages are adverts and there is barely an article in sight? That I don’t get.
Also given the option I would rather see a picture of a real person out and about in an outfit looking fabulous, rather than some painfully thin model artfully sprawled on a forest floor.  I will never NEVER get my head around paying £400 for a lime green vest because it is’ a key colour for that season’ and then discarding it as soon as the next trend arrives. I abhor sweat shops and slave labour and have stopped shopping in places that use these practices,  yet I think the cost of the high end fashion ranges is obscene too, (and do also query just how ethical some of those companies are!) 

and yet I do have a passion for clothes.

I love nothing better than browsing shops and my life would most definitely be a lot more empty and dull without fashion.

I hope I still get the same thrill from the latest trends when I’m old, infirm and in me bath chair!   

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Highs and Lows.

I have been trying to blog at least once a week but suddenly I find 2 have passed without a word from me. Both weeks were equally busy and there were highs and lows, and laughter and tears along the way.
I finally had some time off work, only 3 days, which if anything only made me realise how damned tired I really am and how much I desperately need a proper break. Sadly that's not going to happen until Christmas so it's head down and soldier on. I have had yet another cold which I can't seem to shake off, bah, I shall move on before this turns into a pity party for one!

First day off I took a trip into town for a leisurely trawl of the charity shops. For the first time in ages I didn't find one single thing, nothing, zip, zilch, nada. It does happen of course but I felt really flat having been all keyed up for a bargain or two. I ended up going to the real shops and buying a random load of things, all bar two of which I returned the next day! I should know better by now, NEVER shop if you are not in the right frame of mind!
Anyway some rather random photos of the 2 things I did keep, Little birdies and wee sausage dogs to warm the cockles of the heart.

The birds are a little tea dress and the dogs are a sleeveless top which whilst not exactly autumn attire I have already worn to work due to the unseasonally mild weather we have been having :-)

That night Himself and I went to see The Rocky Horror Show at the cinema. It's actually the first time I've seen it on a big screen so I was quite excited. We didn't dress up, though many did, it was pretty much sold out which made for a fun atmosphere. What I still can't get over how many people couldn't do the Time Warp!?! I mean, come on, the words of the song TELL you what to do. I can't dance, I don't know my left from right most of the time (see driving lesson George Harrison story), yet I can do it!! Anyway apart from that is was ace.

The next day I decided to tackle phase two of the great wardrobe tidy. The chest of drawers and the mahosive pile of clothes that is ever growing on the floor in front of it. I set to with a will and achieved much. A big bag went down to a charity shop and another more modest pile was listed on Ebay. Not sure how long the neat drawers and clear floor will last mind!
Last day off I went over to my parents house to help Mum sort jewellery for her next Age Concern sale. Once we finished we decided to go to the local garden centre to see their winter wonderland. It wasn't as good as in previous years if I'm honest but I still managed to find a couple of decorations for my tree!

Saturday was Bonfire Night. I'm afraid as the local display is at the back of our house I always cheat and watch from the comfort of the back bedroom window with a large glass of wine!
                                 After that it was back downstairs to watch Strictly!

I was dreading the week just gone if I'm honest. Monday was my friend's funeral. I decided to go into work before and after, working on the theory it would be good to be occupied with things to take my mind off it. The service was lovely. The priest actually used to work at the library before he was ordained and knew Vera well so that made for a warm and personal atmosphere. It seems strange to say about a funeral but it was mostly joyful, just like Vera herself actually. The church was packed with people which was lovely to see but I shall miss her.

Tuesday and Thursday I had training courses which I was dreading and I wasn't sure I was going to get all of my work done by Friday which was a deadline day what with having had so much time out of the office. Thankfully I survived the courses and managed to get done what I needed too. I got home on Friday and collapsed in a heap witha huge plate of fishfingers and chips and a large glass of wine, I think I earned it.

Finally I had opened a new tub of Anchor butter whilst cooking dinner the other week, and it had a code on it that you could enter on a website to maybe win a prize for their 125 anniversary. I was waiting for Himself so I thought what the heck and entered it. I then got an email to say I had won a prize, but they couldn't say what it would be as they are picked randomly from the gift range available. I was thrilled but suspected it would probably be a tea towel as that was the lightest/easiest item to mail out from what was on offer! How chuffed was I to receive the below??
                            You know me and egg cups! They got christened on sunday. :-)