Sunday 23 December 2018

A Final Round-up of the Year.

Well I don't quite know what happened but it's the end of December and I haven't blogged AGAIN.

November passed in a blur. It started with an emergency dentist appointment. I got up one morning and stood with my morning cup of tea watching the birds on the bird feeder mind in neutral and suddenly realised half a tooth was missing!
Thankfully my dentist was able to fit me in 2 days later and even luckier for me it was something he could sort then and there, so I didn't have to worry about trying to fit in extra appointments before heading to India.
I had an hour to kill before my appointment and ambled about an antique centre in the town which was where I found the sparkly brooch top right
The  elephant and poodle came from a girls day out with Soo and Melissa in Burford. It was a fab day out catching up over a delicious cream tea at the famous Huffkins Bakery, and mooching round any shop that took our fancy. Which in my case meant buying these cute snowmen in a charity shop for the princely sum of £2
This was followed by the whole family going out for a meal for my Dad's birthday and Mum and Dad's 53rd wedding anniversary.
Dad decided he wanted calamari and king prawn risotto, luckily we have a Prezzo within walking distance of Dad's care home that do both! 

I was due to fly out to India on 20th and had planned to pack at the weekend but then Himself got offered two free tickets to The Albert Hall for Star Wars in Concert with the London Symphony Orchestra. (He writes for a film/tv review website and the person who was supposed to go suddenly couldn't.)
I must admit I wasn't that bothered at first but as it goes we had a great time!

We wandered around Chelsea and then headed to pick up our tickets. We fully expected them to be rubbish tickets as they were press tickets, but we were downstairs in the stalls slap bang in the middle of the auditorium = result.
The performance was extraordinary, though I did keep watching the film rather than the orchestra. I hadn't realised that there are actually only two parts of the film with no music, so they basically just played for the whole duration.

The next week I was in India, on the outskirts of Mumbai to be precise. I got to spend three and a half days in a hotel. Bah.
As anticipated I barely had any spare time, certainly not enough to do any sight seeing, just the old hour or half hour here and there, so not long enough to get in and out of Mumbai. Double Bah.
My room had a nice view though. 

The night of our event there was also a book launch going on. I took to google and discovered the bloke is one of India's most famous cricketers. There were paparazzi snapping away like mad and me sitting there with my University of Oxford table cloth & banner!, So I just slowly leaned back behind a potted palm to get out of view.

We didn't even get the chance to eat anywhere other than the hotel. Hard going for me as they were extremely liberal with the chili and spices and I hate hot/spicy food.Even the pasta al pomodoro on the Italian night had so much unexpected chili in it it blew your head off!!
It got to the point that when there were some plain green beans on the buffet I was so excited I actually started singing "green beans, green beans" and jigging about a little bit until the lady next to me backed away.
Our driver to the airport was so sad we didn't get to see anything he did a slight detour so we did see the lovely Portuguese church and the most famous Bollywood studios which is something I guess. 

Once I was back home Himself and I had tickets to see Bowling for Soup in Reading. We had said we probably weren't going to bother seeing them again but as it was just down the road we went.
I've seen them better and I've seen them worse. 

That Saturday I went back to Stroud but this time with Soo to do some Christmas shopping. We had such a fun day out and this time the second vintage shop Strangeness and Charm which happened to be shut the last time I was there was open. On top of that the white bag I saw in their window was still there so I dived through the door and did a deal then and there on that and another very lovely 1960's blue number that needed a little fixing.

Aren't they fab? They have both been cleaned and as it turns out the blue one was dead easy to mend. I really should have done others that have been waiting longer but hey.

Oh I also bought myself a brooch
the rest was presents for other people I promise.

Himself and I have been to the cinema a few times too. We did The Crimes of Grindelwald and also Ralph Breaks the Internet, both of which I really enjoyed.

We squeezed in Mary Poppins this week too which I thoroughly enjoyed.

We also went to see one of those live theatre productions they screen at cinemas
Simon Callow doing A Christmas Carol reading, it was amazing.This was a recreation of one of Dickens own readings. I love the story anyway so it was great to hear this interpretation.

This is my third Christmas in this house and the first one I've actually felt vaguely festive. We don't actually have room to put our tree up anyway but I did suddenly think of the old table top tinsel tree that I couldn't bear to throw away. With some trepidation I went and rescued it from the shed fully expecting it to be thick with mould but it was absolutely fine. Huzzah.
I have actually put it up in our bedroom, resplendent with random decs and a string of £5 lights from Wilko.
 Oh I also made a snowman from a kit, he seems quite pleased with my efforts.

Sadly we also had a funeral this week. Our old neighbour died on the 30th November. He was 90 and happily had managed to stay independent at home despite having had a stroke, he died quietly in his sleep, you couldn't have asked for more really. He was a wonderful man, such a character, and we shall miss him terribly, Himself especially.
It was a lovely service and wake, literally someone from every house in our old street came so it ended up being like a street party really. He was so well known around the town that the bank manager and staff from various shops came too.You just don't get that any more. 

Well that's me. I don't know about you but I've done three Christmas meals already and will be at my brother's on the day having my fourth. Thankfully I get Christmas Eve off work for once meaning I get the whole week. woohoo.

Work's been a bit weird lately it seems there's lots of change ahead in 2019, I'm buckling up as I'm fully expecting a bumpy ride.

I shall leave you with the frock I have bought to wear on Christmas day.
oh and the pair of brogues I bought when I nipped into town for a few bits and pieces which obviously did not actually include brogues.


Saturday 17 November 2018

Said the Hatter with a sigh, it's always tea time. October - Part Two.

To pick up where I left off, thankfully I was feeling much more myself by the time I was due to head to London with Soo for an exhibition and my birthday gift Mad Hatter's afternoon tea.

I had to pre-book the afternoon tea as it was one of those experience things where you get a code and as it turned out the only time slot free on the day we chose was 1.30pm so we basically had an afternoon tea for lunch!
But I digress first we took ourselves to the Museum of London for 10am when it opened to give ourselves plenty of time to browse their exhibition London Nights.
An exhibition of photographs from the very first nighttime picture of London taken in 1896 to the present day. It was absolutely fantastic, I'm so glad I got to see it before it closed.
I loved that the pictures were not in a chronological order, but that they did group all the pictures of say Piccadilly Circus together so you could see it from the 1900's - 2000's and wonder at the changes in fashions or advertising as well as photography techniques.

We both loved the set of pictures taken from the roof of Brentwood shopping centre on a cold rainy night, where the photographer was on a level with the top deck of all the passing double decker buses and took amazing pictures of the unaware commuters travelling home at the end of their day. The steamed up rain spattered windows created incredible light effects, they were just fabulous. (No photography was allowed but if you google the exhibition name and click on images you'll see what I mean..)
There was a stunning picture taken this year of the London skyline but with a star filled night sky from the desert in Kazakhstan added to show what you should see in London if it wasn't for the light pollution.

We took a good couple of hours to thoroughly browse before ambling to St Paul's to catch the tube to Oxford Street and the Sanderson Hotel. This establishment is 5 star so we went to a glorious old hotel first (which wasn't The Sanderson) and got pointed across the road to this frankly very ugly concrete office block type building!

Once inside we were rather surprised to be guided through the bar and restaurant and out into the courtyard. To be fair it was a very pretty courtyard with a central fountain. To each side of this there was a marquee filled with prettily decorated tables and chairs, but it was the end of October and absolutely bloody freezing!
Now they did have heaters inside the roof of the marquees, but the roof was high and not all of the tables were inside the marquee.
We were sat at one table outside of the marquee where the blast of wind was positively arctic, we asked to move and were put at another table, just on the edge, so not quite as drafty but not under the heaters either. We were also give a blanket each. So yes I sat and ate afternoon tea at 1.30pm wearing my coat and wrapped in a blanket!
 The dress code was smart casual and there were various groups of people dressed to the nines also shrouded in coats and blankets, I felt sorry for the poor staff who were in shirt sleeves and clearly very cold as they stood hugging themselves in between serving.
The only time we were offered the option of sitting inside was when we have pretty much finished eating and had mentioned again how cold it was. It seems to me that this was just a cynical way to cram in extra people by still seating outside in the middle of the British winter.
I have to say it certainly tainted my enjoyment of my birthday treat as we basically shoveled down our food and left to find somewhere warm.
Such a shame because the food was gorgeous. A great twist on the classic afternoon tea and with quirky Alice in Wonderland touches and absolutely delicious scones and cakes. The service was great and I particularly liked that they asked if there was anything we didn't like and changed the selection accordingly.

Anyway from there we took ourselves to the fabulous crowd funded Sourced Market on Wigmore Street for a hot drink, somewhere I will definitely go to again.

The month finished with Halloween and a yummy Lebanese lunch out from work for Charlotte's 50th. Charlotte and I decided to take the afternoon off and check out the latest exhibition at The Ashmolean Museum called Spellbound.
With hindsight Halloween might not have been the best day to go to an exhibition on witchcraft! Let's just say there were some very strange people there...

Another fascinating exhibition that starts by testing how superstitious you are by asking you to enter by walking under a ladder!
The first part was material from the medieval era, it was interesting to see how much the very beginnings of medical science were steeped in ritual and magic. A whole section was about all the different items that had been found in walls, cellars and loft spaces that were meant to protect buildings (yes there was a mummified cat.) Some of the testimonials from witch trials were quite harrowing, though I wasn't so keen on the random modern art installations that were dotted among the old artifacts. Anyway I'd recommend it if you fancy something a little bit different. 

Halloween is also our anniversary so Himself came and met me and we went out for a drink and then dinner at Gino's in Oxford. As a sign we are clearly getting old neither of us fancied another drink after eating and I was back home drinking tea and watching Holby City on the i-player before 9pm!
As mentioned before we also have a tradition of going to the cinema for our anniversary and this year we went to see Widows.
I loved the TV series back in the day and was delighted this stuck closely to the original story, I thoroughly recommend it.

I'll finish up with my October purchases.

I'm late to the party with the Pretty Retro Hostess dress, somehow I could never justify buying it full price. I finally got it for £25 as it is a factory second, luckily for me the fault is almost invisible.

The second dress is from Collectif in my favourite style by them, as soon as i saw it in tartan check I had to have it. It was out of stock almost immediately and stayed that way for ages. It finally came back in right when I had a discount voucher so I didn't even think about it.

The two bags were online purchases, another Corde for my small collection and a 1920's mesh bag. It was very dirty and is a little damaged but it was a great price and I don't have one in my collection. It has cleaned up beautifully and is now on the project pile (for when I ever get some time) to see if I can fix the worst hole.
This bag was a sale purchase from New Look. I dived in there for something, I can't even remember what now, but came out with a pair of pumpkin print socks and this bag, neither of which was what I went in there for!

Finally brooches.
I have to say I am cheating because all but the Catfish are actually from November. The top right I bought when I had to have an emergency dentist visit and the bottom two on a girls day out with Soo and Melissa, but more of those anon when I do my November round up.
I've already been flat out busy with fun stuff and if that wasn't enough I'm off to Bhandra in Mumbai on Tuesday for work.
Another time where frustratingly I will only have a few hours to try and cram in some sightseeing so no chance to get into Mumbai itself and immerse myself in it's Art Deco loveliness, bah. 

Tuesday 13 November 2018

This Means Nothing To Me. October - Part One

Another month another missed blog post. October has been jam packed and it's taken me until now, mid-November to even have time to think about blogging.
I still can't quite decide whether to do one massive post or two smaller ones, I'll see how it evolves...

The month started with a trip to the cinema with Himself to see Venom starring Tom Hardy. I'm not in the swooning club when it comes to Tom Hardy, so this was all to do with the comic books and not the man. Sadly the film was a big old mess, such a shame.

We also liberated my Dad from his care home for the evening to meet the rest of the family and eat huge pizzas (and in Dad's case drink gin) to celebrate Nephew Number One turning 24. Where does the time go??
It seems like only yesterday I was dancing round the room singing along to You're Gorgeous by Babybird with him in my arms.

This was followed by a busy time at work shortlisting and interviewing potential students. This culminated in our in person interview day which happened to take place on the day when storm Callum was giving us a run for our money. I was leading a tour group through a door, in full flow about the wonderful facilities when the wind blew the skirt of my dress right up over my head. Being British I just pretended nothing had happened and swept through the door in full flow whilst batting my skirt back into place.
All I can say is thank the lord I was wearing leggings under my dress that day (due to my foot and calf being heavily strapped up with orange & black tape) ore those poor candidates would have been scared for life! Himself ever sympathetic just said "well you do keep wearing dresses with voluminous skirts"

The next weekend I was helping out a a recruitment event in Vienna. I arrived with a colleague Amy on the Friday evening, checked into the hotel, and then met up with another colleague who had done a fair the night before. The three of us jumped on the metro to the city centre to get dinner, where irony of bitter ironies, we talked over dinner about travelling for work and not getting sick in the places you would expect it. For example Amy having been pretty much all over the world had only ever been ill in Paris of all places. 

You know what is coming next don't you?

Yes of course I jinxed myself by saying I had been lucky and never got ill yet, then proceeded to have one of the worst bouts of food poisoning I have had in years.
As we had traveled light with just hand luggage I didn't have my usual huge washbag come pharmacy on me but mercifully for me Amy still had some of her Paris emergency medication with her which I gratefully accepted.
I genuinely do not know how I got through the day, sheer grim determination and bloody mindedness.
We had 4 free hours which we had planned to do some speed tourism in and I popped another pill and headed out into the fresh cold air because if nothing else the hot and airless hotel was making me feel worse.

Vienna was just beautiful, easy to get around on foot or on the metro and well worth another visit if I ever get the chance.
I will say very randomly the centre of the city seemed to have an extraordinary amount of shoe shops and it seems Amy is something of a shoe fanatic. As time was of the essence she did resist for as long as she could before pleading to go into a couple of shops. So yes I ended up trying on various pairs of boots as you do when in a vast shoe emporium and of course I fell in love with some

They really don't photograph well but the panel at the back is glittery!! *swoon* so yes they came home with me, I managed to force those babies into my hand luggage somehow!

We found the most delightful traditional Viennese cafe where I sipped tea and ate a plain potato fritter whilst Amy indulged in Vienna Schnitzel and Sacher Torte then it was back to the hotel where I spent another wretched night.

With me dosed up again we had just enough time to squeeze in a quick visit to a Klimt exhibition Amy was desperate to see before we had to head to the airport. Of course the flight was delayed and the coach took forever to get to Reading where I then had to wait for a train home. I was fit for nothing when I finally got home and just crawled into bed.
I was actually bad enough to have to take 2 days off work which pained me more than I can say as it broke my 6 years with no time off sick record. Now that seal broken I fully expect to be stricken with all sorts *sigh*

Thankfully I was feeling human enough to go and see Bohemian Rhapsody at the cinema by the end of the week.
Overall I enjoyed it. Certainly the last 20 minutes were mind blowing and pretty much saved the film which up until that point was more like one of those rather awful Channel 5 dead celebrity drama documentaries.
Of course the music was amazing (I have always loved a bit of Queen) and as I was explaining to the millennials and generation z-ers I work with, who are all far too young to know, that performance at Live Aid really was that seminal. Ask anyone about Live Aid and Queen is what they remember the most.

Ok I have just seen the time which means this will most definitely have to be part one.

Part two will follow soon.

Expect frocks, bags, brooches, a mad hatters tea party and witchcraft...

Thursday 27 September 2018

The End of Summer.

Somehow I haven't blogged for the best part of 2 months. Mostly because when I have had a moment, the last thing I have felt like doing is sitting down to write.
Things have been very stressy at work, very. Also I'm horribly aware the time to try and find somewhere new to live is looming ever closer and I'm freaking out just a wee bit about actually finding somewhere, let alone moving again. There's been family stuff too, so, yeah.

Oh and the prognosis of the doctor is I have achillies tendonitis in both feet so special exercises 3 times a day, anti-inflammatories, shoe inserts and no more Converse low tops *weeps*

Anyway it's not all worry and doom I have been doing fun stuff to and shopping of course!

August I had to participate in not one but two team building days at work (due to stuff going on at work we currently sit across two teams) The first was the quintessentially Oxford pastime of punting, followed by a picnic and then games in University Parks. We were allocated to punts to make us mix with people we didn't know, which I hate having to do. Thankfully everyone was so crap at punting it took us way too long to get back from the picnic and we were too late to play games - huzzah.

The second day out was a treasure hunt at Cotswold Wildlife Park which was also followed by a picnic lunch. This was much more fun as it was just the original team I started out in. My group came in second place, lunch was lovely and we got to amble around the park properly afterwards.

As you can see it was another one of those super hot days. I've never got to see the red pandas or the wolverine (top two pics) before so it was quite cool to see them, even if it was spark out in the heat!

August bank holiday was time for the annual trip to Stonor Park craft fair with my Mum. I enjoyed it much more this year, the variety was back, though there was still way too much expensive jewellery, and there was also a new talent tent of young designers which was very interesting.
I bought this tartan bag and quirky bird necklace.

Now for about 18 months my Mum has been bemoaning her wardrobe and saying she needed to sort it out but then has never got round to doing it (maybe this is where I get my procrastinating habit from!)
 So back at Mum's I tricked her into showing me something in her wardrobe and then made her sort through all her clothes as we were there with the doors open.
She ended with a huge pile for charity and I took another pile home with me to try on Ebay for her. Well the whole bloody lot only went and sold didn't it!!
I was cursing my offer to list it for her as I lugged bags of parcels into work on the train and then to the post office in my lunch hour. Anyway she now has a nice little wedge to spend on new things to fill the space we cleared.

September meant our annual getaway to Bournemouth.

The first day was grey and showery so we just ambled about ducking in the shops when it rained and taking a brief stroll along the beach when it stopped. The next day we had planned a walk from Corfe to Swanage along The Purbeck Ridgeway. We hadn't got a plan B so we had everything crossed the weather would clear up and thankfully it heeded our wishes and the next day was bright and sunny.

On the way to catch the bus we cut through the gardens and took time out to feed the squirrels. Himself thought this was hilarious as of course at home I curse at them and chase them whenever I see them, yet here I was feeding them by hand.
Basically I had bought 2 kilos of plums because they were only £2 without considering we were about to go on holiday and Himself doesn't eat them. I ate as many as I could but the squirrels got the rest
 We caught a bus to Swanage and then the steam train to Corfe.
Corfe itself was super busy with tourists so other than a toilet break we headed straight off.

The walk was not too strenuous and the scenery stunning, I have to say it does the soul good.

As it was just under 11 miles and I have a 10 mile tea limit by the time we got back to Swanage I was gasping.
Himself said we'll just walk back to the station and check the bus times then go for a drink, he wanted a pub not a cafe. So I threw a strop, refused point blank and in the 15 minutes it took him to get there and back I had found a cafe, ordered a pot of tea and basically inhaled the whole thing. Impressive even by my standards. I then insisted on an ice cream before finally agreeing to the pub.

The next day was meant to be rainy so my friend Alison and I had planned to go to a new Antique Centre in Longham whilst Himself was at the cinema. It was lovely to catch up again and the Antiques Centre was amazing! Really lovely items and fantastic prices I could have bought loads but I restrained myself to a brooch and 2 bags.
I fell in love with this cabinet
It was £85 and had I been travelling by car and not train I would have bought it there and then, it's EXACTLY what I want to display my handbags in. All I could do was sigh and take a picture.

So the next weekend Soo came over and we did the charity shops and would you believe it I found another cabinet!?!
This one was £35 and in my home town, Soo offered to collect it in her car so I bought it. I then spent the next couple of hours whilst we had lunch and finished looking round the shops having a complete panic about whether it was the right thing to do or not.
Anyway we picked up the car and with more hindrance than help from the 2 old chaps in the shop, loaded the cabinet in.

Until I get rid of the knackered old single mattress and take the bed frame apart in the little spare room it's got to live behind one of the doors in the conservatory shrouded in a sheet to stop the sun bleaching it.
So not a great picture at all but you get the gist. It needs a thorough clean, but has two glass shelves and is lined with a cream satin effect fabric with a bamboo pattern which I will most likely keep. I will confess it will now probably stay exactly where it is and in exactly the same state for the foreseeable future. There seems little point sorting the bedroom out and getting it all just so if we have to move very soon and I have to pack it all up again anyway.

Finally I also had a day out in Stroud with my friend's Liz and Simon.
I absolutely must go back, I was very aware there were shops I would have loved to go into but Simon most definitely would not. I did nip into the one open vintage shop whilst he and Liz  were in a book shop and bought a fab orange bag. The man who owns it was lovely, very chatty (but it turns out he thought he knew me so perhaps not usually so chatty!) but I literally flitted round as time was short.

We had the most delicious lunch in what the lady in the bookshop dismissed as "the old ladies cafe" frankly I'm not surprised all the old dears go there it was delicious and very cheap. 

Anyway that's it. I'll finish with a few purchases.

The white & black beaded bags in the top picture came from the antiques centre, the white one is not a genuine Corde but it's in lovely condition so a welcome addition to the collection. The little black one is a genuine 1920's purse not in perfect condition but only £4 so a must have because  for £4 who cares?
Just one or two brooches...
and finally a magpie frock, who could resist? not me.

Thursday 16 August 2018

July Purchases and the Last of my Birthday Treats.

So following my epic day out at Monkey World I got up early on the last Saturday of July to meet with Soo for another mystery day out with the only proviso I didn't need my walking boots!
She took the scenic route to our friend Jenny's house in the hope of throwing me off the scent (though as ever I did have to remind her the final turning)
Once there we got to ooh and ahh over Jenny's marvelous new kitchen and have a good catch up over a cup of tea before it was time to head out to yet another secret destination. This turned out to be the nearby town of Highworth where we browsed a few charity shops before Jenny announced she needed the toilet and we would just nip in here...
because it would be fine, no one would notice we were just in and out for the loo and besides she knew where they were.
Now I will admit I have been know to use a similar level of brazenness when I've been desperate,needs must and all that, but I've tended not to go for somewhere quite so smart looking. Anyway we trotted faithfully after her and made use of the facilities then instead of turning right towards the exit she swerved left and announced to a member of staff we had a table booked for afternoon tea. I will admit I was not expecting that and they got me good and proper!
Tea was delicious and it was so lovely to just be left to our own devices and not hurried along. Though they might have regretted that as there was much exclaiming and howling with laughter as often seems to be the case when we get together!

Jenny excelled herself by making me one of those photobooks with various pictures of us all from over the 30 plus years of our friendship. That had me completely gone, in pain and properly crying with laughter. Some of those hair, my clothes, but especially my hair, dear god what was I thinking.
What a wonderful way to wrap up the birthday month (see what I did there??)

Not that it's all over because on top of the Alice in Wonderland afternoon tea to take at some point in the next 6 months I have this wonderfully thoughtful gift from Soo
Two tickets for Kew Gardens which I'm ashamed to say I have never been too before what with me being such a keen gardener and all. My friends are the best.

So did I shop in July?? you bet I did! There were sales still going after all. As ever I was poised for the Collectif sale and as ever I bought a trio of dresses. Sadly they didn't have anything I liked in my favourite style so I ended up with 3 halterneck dresses.

The coconut print one is destined to be my annual Bournemouth night out frock.

I also bought a couple of dresses from Dolly and Dotty. This new academic year will see me doing more interviewing, more long haul but short stay travelling (boo) and more evening events, so with this in mind I bought these two dresses.

In fact I liked the black one so much when I got an email with a 50% off voucher last week I also bought it in green! (Not that I'm sure they will fit me any more right now after all the food and drink I've been putting away lately!!)

This is the shirt I spotted in the window of H& M when we were out with Dad which had me nipping off through the doors before anyone could stop me.
I also bought this one in the sale because you have to browse the sale rail,once you are in a shop right? As well as another blue one which is in the wash.
Finally I may have just stepped into Debenhams when their blue cross sale was on and being a magpie by name and nature may also just have homed in like an exocet missile to the jewellery counter.
Everything had 70% off = result.

Finally I wanted to share with you the after pictures of the bag I posted about last month that I bought on Ebay for restoration.

The green shoe cream and a bit of elbow grease worked wonders, and a great deal more elbow grease and carefully applied Bar Keepers Friend brought the metalwork back to it's former glory. Finally seven needles and one stabbed thumb later the handle is reattached, not my neatest work but that doesn't bother me I'm thrilled to bits with it.

I shall sign off with the lovely surprise that was waiting for me when I got back to work from the equally lovely Ann
Isn't it gorgeous? You can always rely on another handbag collector, especially one with an eye as good as Ann's, when it comes to spotting a beauty. I just don't know how she could bear to give it away!