Sunday 26 November 2017

Nonstop November.

It has literally been a manic month, this is my first weekend in the house all month! It's been lovely I'm not complaining, well actually I am, I just wish my social life would spread itself out a bit instead of happening all at once, I'm knackered and the house is a right pit.

It all started on the 1st November when I went to see Monty Don in Reading with 2 friends from work. For those who don't know who he is he presents Gardener's World for the BBC.
As he fully admits himself the real star of the show is actually his dog Nigel (on the right in this picture) who gets more cards and fan mail than anyone else and therefore did get mentioned often! He talked about his life prior to becoming known as a television gardener and freely admits he is not a professional plantsman as you would expect, he was actually a travel writer who happened to love to garden. He's one of those fascinating and very entertaining people you could listen to all night, 2 hours was just not enough.
That Saturday I met Soo and we headed out on an adventure to Leamington Spa, somewhere neither of us had been before. It was an easy half an hour on the train from Oxford and we were both impressed, it was pouring with rain when we set out but thankfully it soon stopped. We both agreed it's somewhere we would go back too when the days are longer, by the time we had looked round the city centre shops it was already dark so we didn't do any of the sights or culture other than to step into the church. The windows were stunning.
The only other spa town I have been to is Bath so it was interesting to see one that is not quite as touristy and well maintained.
This derelict building for example was one containing a spring where visitors used to take the waters, I do hope it gets renovated it was sad to see the decay.

I have to say I was in absolute Art Deco heaven at the train station which has been lovingly restored, but as we cut it a bit fine to catch our train home I didn't get any pictures, definitely next time.

We did browse every charity shop we found and fittingly I came away with a set of 1930's tea plates and matching cake plate. There was also a teapot and a random 3 cups and 6 saucers which I didn't want. It was £5 for the lot so I asked if they could be split. The girl behind the till dithered and wasn't sure so said she would go and ask the manager. She came back and announced the manager was in the toilet but would be out soon!
A tad too much information....anyway the manager finally arrived and also dithered. It seems she was a relief manager and whilst she would say yes if it were her own store she wasn't sure she could say yes as it wasn't her store. By this point I was getting a bit fed up so I gave her the £5, took my plates, handed her the rest of the set, said "I donate these back to you" and left.
Here they are plus a scarf I bought in another shop. 
I know I'm not meant to be buying more stuff (especially crockery) when we are meant to be downsizing but they are just so cheery and once upon a time I'd have bought the lot, so that's a start isn't it??

The weather started to close in again which made for a dramatic picture as you can see.
I look forward to seeing Leamington in the spring, I gather there is a lovely park there.

It was my Dad's birthday on the 8th and we went to lunch at our local Prezzo because he decided he wanted to eat pizza. We had a lovely time with Nephew Number One being the only one missing as he couldn't get the day off work. We all headed back to the care home where they had made Dad a delicious cake, the every day food there can be a bit hit and miss but I must say the chef is bloody good at cakes. I definitely had no room for dinner that night.

Himself and I also headed into Oxford that Friday for a night out to catch up with friends from my time at the library, it had been too long. We tried The Castle which had recently reopened having been completely refurbished (it's now a Hook Norton pub.) It was busy and we ended up in a corner downstairs, all was going well until a guy started setting up an amp next to us, like literally right next to us...... one dreadful cover song in and we were all hysterical, a lot of beer had been drunk at that point it must be said, we decided it was time to leave which was probably a good thing. Anyway we had to be up the next day to head over to Mum's with my brother, it was my parent's 53rd wedding anniversary, one of those times when it's hard not to have Dad at home with her. 

The next day we took my Mum to see the new Paddington film as a bit of a cheer me up
we all loved it, Hugh Grant was fantastic and sent himself up mercilessly.

On Monday it was an interview day at work and then I headed straight out to met some more friends for an early dinner. My friend Simon needed to head off, but it turned out to be one of those occasions where we were so deep in conversation the next thing we knew 3 hours had flown by!

Saturday I was up early and off to Bath to meet Mim and Liza  As ever Mim whisked me to bits of Bath I'd never been to before, I don't know how she does it! I honestly thought I'd seen all there was to see. Due to one thing or another in the past it meant this was the first time I had met Liza and it was so lovely to finally meet her in person. I had such a great day out and rubbish blogger that I am I forgot my camera. My only purchase was this brooch for £5 from one of the maddest Vintage shops I have ever been in.
This picture really doesn't do it's iridescence justice.

Liza asked me if I had bought any handbags lately and as it happens I had. I will admit I spent more than I ordinarily would on this stunning chocolate brown Corde 
It is a richer darker brown than it's photographed and it was this unusual colour that sealed the deal for me. It's also in fabulous condition.

On the 22nd I had another day off work to take Mum to see Mamma Mia. 
This was actually her Christmas present from last year! We had lunch first then mooched around Debenhams and Oxford's only independent depatrtment store Boswell's. We spent a lot of time looking at the bling and I did buy a set of Christmas brooches in their week long(!?!) Black Friday sale.
The pink one on the end was a separate online purchase. Frankly that's about as much pink as I can handle in an outfit!

Lunch was funny as pretty much the rest of the restaurant were octogenarian ladies doing the lunchtime special before the matinee. The tables were in very close proximity to each other and the old duck next to me practically had her face in my dinner when it arrived, to the point I was this close to passing her the plate and saying "here have a taste you clearly want one!"
Mum and I hadn't gone for the lunchtime special so I'm guessing she was regretting her cheap & cheerful choice.
I really enjoyed the show, it was very different to the film. The Oxford mail reviewer also loved it but said of the performer playing Sky 'he was clearly hired for his six pack and not his singing ability'. Not a truer word was spoken, he was pretty dreadful in an otherwise great cast.     

I shall sign off with some lovely presents from Ann at Polyester Princess  and Mim. Ann sent me this lovely bag already taking pride of place on the bag wall.
as well as the golden elephant brooch on the left and the amazing elephant necklace
the silver elephant is from Mim. They both know me so well.

No plans for the last few days of November but December already has 3 dinners and a trip to Devon booked in........

Sunday 12 November 2017

October Purchases.

October had an interesting mix of purchases. I dipped my toe back into the Lindy Bop waters with mixed results.

First up the mad cat dress which I love and fits well, it actually is a little roomy, fantastic for those of us who like to eat huge plates of pasta whilst wearing it!

At the same time I purchased this tea party dress.
Labelled a size smaller and yet it is exactly the same fit, so yes it pays to read the sizing chart for each item as they vary wildly!

I also got this blouse because 'Hello' (look at the tile of my blog for why I had this at checkout faster than the speed of light.) First thing I did was remove the stupid black 'thing' at the neck. which was pointless and annoying when wearing said blouse.
if you want yet more proof of silly sizing at Lindy Bop this is two sizes smaller than the cat dress and yes it fits perfectly too!

I did therefore revisit when they sent me a 25% off code. I had had my eye on this dress
because I love the combination of blue and brown and you rarely see it. So I ordered it and the quality is just not as good sadly. Not as bad as the dresses that made me swear I'd never use Lindy Bop again but not far off. I first thing I had to do was stitch the button at the neck back on as it it hanging right off. The seams are all pulled giving small white streaks/runs as the back of the material is white. Also like one of the previous dresses it basically arrived screwed up in a bally rather than folded neatly in a bag. I come to the conclusion that when they get returns they must just send them straight back out again without checking or refolding them as the zip was open too. Hmmmm.

I also bought this green dress and bolero in the sale. They seem ok but again needed washing and pressing as they were very crumpled.
I just couldn't resist the green! Other than that there was one which I passed on because I will keep buying dresses with big V necks and then remembering they look terrible on me!

I forgot to mention I bought this fish brooch in Bath.
In fact he's the only think I have left from Bath. The two colourful dresses were too small because I'm a muppet and didn't bother to measure the waist size against the length of the torso even though I had a tape measure with me. They are winging their way to a new home even as I type......
The green dress was impossible after it's shrinking so that went in the last charity bag. Ah well, lesson learnt.

I have more brooches to share, bought as a job lot. 3 were missing stones and not my thing. These three were either missing pearls or had a loose stone and were my thing so have been fixed see below
Since I took this picture I also used some lilac nail polish to repaint the flowers on the bottom left brooch once the stone was in place and I'm very pleased with how it now looks.

There were a couple of others now I think about it which were perfect and went straight into brooch bowl. Which is overflowing I really need to either get another or store them differently!

Finally a wee blue bag for the princely sum of 50p plus postage. It's rather shabby but  a lovely shade of blue so I'll see how it looks after a good clean.
There you have the October purchases. You'd never think I'd cleared out the wardrobe just two months back, it's wedged full again! ooopps.

Saturday 4 November 2017

Tthere are no days so delightful as those of a fine October.

Well October went in a blur and November seems to be following suit, in fact whole year seems to have flown by at an alarming rate. It’s been a challenging month in certain ways, if I’m honest blogging has been pretty damn low on the agenda and I certainly owe a few phone calls and more than a few emails.

You may have seen from Mim and Vix I had the opportunity to meet with Mim and Emma and head over to see Vix in Bath a couple of week’s ago. It was a fab day out and lovely to catch up with them all after so many months. I didn’t go with the expectation of buying anything per se, I took some pennies just in case there might have been a handbag with my name on it. As it goes there wasn’t but I did buy three dresses! 

The two colourful ones were £10 each the purple one is handmade and as you can see is in rather an unflattering pose on the washing line because it smells of ‘old dress’ despite a wash, so it’s been out on the line airing. Actually it's been out for about two weeks now I come to think of it (mostly because it’s dark when I get up for work and dark when I get home so I keep forgetting it’s there!!) I’ll get it in this weekend and if it still needs it, will try what Vix suggested of sticking it in the wash with a scoop of Wilko’s equivalent of oxy-clean, I still need to buy some first mind.

The green dress is also handmade and smelt a bit fusty, like it had been in storage for ages, but I took a punt and washed it on a cool wash. It no longer smells but sadly bit did shrink (arse) however again as Vix suggested I soaked it with some conditioner, Aussie Miracle Moist, no less and it *seems* to have recovered enough to be wearable. I need to press it first though.  

As Mim mentioned I did indeed set her the challenge that if she wore her zombie dress I’d wear my mad Cheshire Cat one. That was a October purchase actually. I was home alone with a bottle of prosecco and nothing on the TV browsing the internet, fatal as I’m sure others will testify. 

It’s actually a Lindy Bop dress and yes I know I swore I would never buy from them again but as it goes it’s actually well made and a good fit. Anyone who knows me will contest I am a sucker for a novelty print so it was a no brainer that thankfully paid off.

I don’t have any pictures of us from the day because I arrived and knocked the Kinky Melon dummy flying which rather distracted me from the thought of finding my camera! I was just a tad mortified. 

Sadly the time with Emma was short because she had to head off early and even shorter with Vix because she was working. Mim and I had a good catch up though and she took us to a lovely tea/coffee shop in a bit of Bath I’ve not been to before as well as an ace cocktail bar when my train was cancelled and I suddenly had an hour to kill.
(photo nicked from Emma!)

As it goes the trains did put a real dampener on the day. Emma had a hideous journey to Bath and I had a crap one home.
The train I was due to catch was cancelled so they said they would get the next one to call additionally at my stop. They announced this various times so we all piled on, as you can imagine it was pretty full and I ended up standing in the middle of a carriage for the whole journey. We got to Swindon and apparently they told all the people there about the additional stop too so another surge of people loaded on, thankfully I had had the foresight to move nearer the end of the carriage before they did.
Sadly it seems in all of this the one person the forgot to tell about the additional stop was the actual train driver. He sailed straight through and didn’t stop until Reading!?!
Cue much swearing under the breath from me! Indeed there were so many irate people they made a special announcement at Reading and thankfully it was only a 20 minute wait for the next train back, (ironically the Bristol train which goes through Bath.) Again it was wedged full and standing, this time I didn’t get further than the vestibule. A rather flustered lady got in and said she was all of a dither because she had been on the train from Bath, the man next to her went ‘so was I’ and like an AA meeting we went round one by one the 15 people in the vestibule with each and every one of us going, so was I, so was I, me too, me as well. 

I was in complete grumpy old woman mode by the time I got in I vented my spleen at the GWR twitter account where I got in the most ridiculous twitter conversation with someone called Jordan who didn’t seem to know what planet he was on let alone what a train was. I come to the conclusion it’s actually a very clever ploy by GWR, to have your angry and frustrated customers answered by the most vacant of airheads so they will just give up and go away!   

October has meant the cinema. We saw Victoria and Abdul which was gently entertaining and I managed to catch the new Kingsman film just before it went off. I enjoyed it, not as good as the first but thoroughly entertaining never the less.  We also went to see the new Thor film on the release day. I bloody loved it, everything you want from a marvel film and more (including a moment with Chris Hemsworth in a tiny towel!?!)

I also squeezed in a dinner with Soo and Melissa. Soo met me at work and we popped into a little chi-chi boutique because she had spotted a top that would be perfect for her sister. As they are a similar size she decided to try it on and whist she did I pootled about looking at all the accessories and bits which were beautifully displayed about the shop.

Now the proprietor was nice enough, very friendly but just a tad too over eager to get us to buy, she seemed determined I should buy something too. To set the scene she and the majority of her stock were dinky, we are talking on the whole, the largest size of most ranges being a U.K size 12 and a petite one at that, so you know, pretty tiny. I’m not teeny tiny. I'm tall and a bit fat.........It was never going to end well. 

She chatted away as she frantically rummaged before triumphantly announcing I would look “just fabulous in this!” ‘This’ turned out to be a voluminous and completely shapeless dull green trouser and top set. I’m perplexed at how such a huge circus tent of an outfit was actually there at all when you consider the rest of the stock, clearly an ordering aberration at some point in time.
Anyway not withstanding that I could easily have fitted three of me in said outfit and as I say I’m by no means slim.
It was one of the few moments in my life where I was completely and utterly  lost for words, Soo stepped out of the changing room right at that moment and was also looking with the same mute surprise/horror/despair at the vision in green. She weakly said something like “oh, it’s trousers” which broke the spell and thankfully as she was wearing the top she was trying out, we quickly turned the conversation to that instead. She went back into the changing room and luckily my sense of humour got the better of me and I started to giggle and then to snort with laughter when I thought of the humongous green outfit.

I did think about it afterwards though, from the point of view of if I had been a shy and insecure kind of a person I might well have been devastated by what could have been perceived as a judgement on my size, because there were other things in the shop that would have fitted me much better and were also more my style and colour. There was a beautiful black top with Chinese style print of a crane in gold and white for example, also even if the trouser set would have been in my size,  the colour was hideous and would not have suited me and my colouring at all.  It reminded me of a recent story in the paper about some vicious little cats in a Topshop store who roared with laughter and then mocked a middle aged lady who asked for something in a bigger size. 
I could have left in tears, and now I wonder with hindsight whether I should have said something even if it was just the “Jesus that’s enormous! how fat does she think I am??” that went through my head out loud to try and make the scales sizeism fall from her eyes a little.

Anyway dinner was great and Soo got a perfect present for her sister so that’s all that matters.

The end of the month was our 20th Anniversary, that’s dating not wedding just to clarify, still no plans for any time soon on that front. We have got into the habit of going to London for our anniversary and this year was no exception. As it was 20 years we wanted to do something a bit special and with that in mind I got us tickets for Young Frankenstein at the Garrick starring Ross Noble as Himself is a big fan of his.
We went up for the whole day and visited The London Transport Museum to see their exhibition Poster Girls. I really wanted to see it and I knew it would appeal to Himself as a graphic designer. Of course we forgot until we got there that we were going to a museum, in the capital, at half term………it was rammed! 
Shrieking kids running everywhere is definitely my idea of hell so we didn’t spend too much time in the museum itself. Thankfully there weren’t many in the exhibition so we got to browse in relative silence. We tend to amble about at different paces and catch each other up at the end, we both agreed the early work up to the 1940’s were our favourites. 

It’s well worth a visit if you happen to be in the Covent Garden area. 
We mooched towards the theatre having dinner on the way at a lovely Italian we have eaten at before. (Definitely the food theme of the anniversary!) 
We both enjoyed the production especially from the point of view of the cast who were all amazing, the musical itself was not so good. To be fair it had it’s moments but on the whole it was just trying too hard to be big and clever and funny, it was all very 1970’s Benny Hill sexual innuendo and not in a good way, cringeworthy rather than funny if you know what I mean. 
Big shout out to Hadley Fraser the leading man though who was absolutely amazing, oh and also to Himself for buying me an ice cream in the interval without dying with shock horror at the price! There was a problem with the sound equipment after the interval which lead to Hadley Fraser and Ross Noble coming out in front of the safety curtain and ad libbing for a good 15 or 20 minutes which in some ways was actually the best bit of the night.

Himself had been very mysterious and asked whether I was doing anything at the weekend and when I said no said “keep it free” It turned out he had booked us dinner at our favourite restaurant in Bournemouth so I also had to pack an overnight bag! It was a lovely surprise (even though I hate surprises) and we had a great weekend. The only downside was the hotel he booked us into was pretty awful. The room wasn’t very clean, there were no towels and the whole toilet moved when I sat on it!! 
Thankfully the bed was clean and as he pointed out it was only for one night. We got changed and went for a mooch along the beach stopping for a drink at a bar on the beach side.
We had a delicious dinner, the proprietor of Valentino’s told me  “you are very colourful, your dress has a lot of colours” I preferred the comment from one of the little girl’s at the birthday party behind me that my dress was “amaaaaazing!”   

We went from the restaurant to Wetherspoons and drank lots of prosecco.
Yes 20 years down the line and he still makes me cry with laughter, especially when I'm trying to pose for a nice picture. 

Anyway let’s just say I was feeling quite 'tired and emotional' by the time we headed back to the hotel. I couldn’t face breakfast the next day which I’m quite glad about as it smelt pretty grim when we checked out. 
Instead we sat by the sea drinking tea (me) & coffee (him) watching the world go by until it was time to head to the station. On the walk there we stumbled across a Day of The Dead Parade which was amazing, such good fun to watch a real bonus addition to the trip.

Our actual anniversary date was Tuesday so we went for an Italian hat trick and ate at Gino’s in Oxford. Mostly because I didn't want to be at home for trick or treaters after being completely mobbed last year.(Bah Humbug)

So that was October, I have done some more October spending, quite a bit actually, so I'll share that in another post. November is going to be manic, I've already been out gadding twice and it's only the 4th!