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. :-)

Friday, 11 November 2011

Light Perpetual.

Today is about remembering all the men and women who died in conflict since the First World War. However I make no apologies for my leaning towards the R.A.F. more than any other service. Call it family history and my love of WW2 planes large and small. Below are two of my favourite poems and I share them with you for Armistice Day.

His place was laid
The messroom clock struck eight
The sun shone through the window on his chair
No one commented on his fate
Save for a headshake here and there
Only old George, who’d seen him die
Spinning against the autumn sky
Leaned forward and turned down his plate
And as he did, the sunlight fled
As if the sky he’d loved so
Mourned her dead.

Breakfast – Hannah M Hunt 1940

I have slipped the surly bonds of earth and danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth of sun-split clouds
and done a hundred things you have not dreamed of,
wheeled and soared and swung, high in sunlight silence.
Hov’ring there I’ve chased the shouting wind along and flung my eager craft through footless halls of air.  
Up, up the long delirious burning blue,
 I’ve topped the windswept heights with easy grace
Where never lark or even eagle flew
 And while with silent lifting mind I’ve trod
The high un-trespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand and touched the face of God.

High Flight – P.O Gillespie Magee Junior
Killed December 11 1941.