Wednesday, 25 September 2013

It's not Vintage, it's just Old

Twice a year, my children's school collects old clothing for fundraising purposes, so I am currently mentally taking stock of what I may have that is suitable. 

While I love shopping, and I love following the vagaries of fashion, I am not one of these people that buys a huge amount of (throwaway) clothing. I would rather spend a little bit more on something that I truly, truly love and will then wear to death for years, than on something cheap that will maybe get worn once and then be consigned to the back of a wardrobe. When something catches my eye, I become near-obsessive, dreaming about how it would look on me and how I would wear it for weeks on end, until I finally give in and have to make a purchase, or it has sold out. 

(Currently, for example, I am irrationally lusting after the Somerset by Alice Temperley waistcoat at John Lewis, plus this faux snakeskin blouse from M&S:

Both PERFECT for the job I currently DO NOT HAVE, of course. I can't stop thinking about them and how I can justify them "for interview". It can, however, be guaranteed that, if when I do find a new job, I will discard these current obsessions and I will be lusting after jeans and trainers and won't be able to find a single thing that is office-worthy.)

But I digress. 

To recap; I have a lot of old clothes. I am not counting the 1960s skirt inherited from my mother, or the 1940s evening jacket that belonged to a great-aunt. I'm talking about clothes I bought from new with my own money. 

The only thing that's organised around here

A lot of clothes that I have possessed since before having children (quick recap; eldest child now 8 1/2), some clothes that I have had since before I got married (12 years), and even one or two items that I bought as a university student:
Exhibit A
The jumper above (affectionately known as the bumblebee) was a purchase from the Bath branch of Jigsaw in my second year - so around 1994. It set me back the massive sum of £50, which I can still not quite believe, and which probably meant I didn't eat for 3 weeks afterwards.

I have loved this jumper to death, and miraculously it actually still looks as good as new. Considering it is nearly 20 years old, that's pretty darn good value for money, and the 50 quid doesn't actually look like such a foolish outlay. I guess I'm also lucky that I'm still the same size that I pretty much always have been.

However, I fear it may be time for the demise of this old faithful. Last winter was the first year it did not get worn at all, and my new obsession with lots of layers probably means it will be similarly neglected this year. It therefore may well be time for it to meet the blue bin liner in the sky.

To help cheer me up on this solemn occasion, I need you all to tell me (or show me!?) your oldest item of clothing. Do you still love it, or is there another reason why you still keep it? Do you still wear it in earnest or does it only come out for fancy dress?

Monday, 23 September 2013

Day 1

So, this is it. Today is my first day of being unemployed. It's a strange feeling that I can only really liken to a birthday. I know things are different yet they don't really feel it yet. Having worked from home for so long, I don't have the obvious break of no longer going into a physical place of work, and as my workload has been steadily declining to zero since I was first notified it is not like I find myself with nothing to do overnight.

The temptation to see this as a "bit of a break" is great, but what I really need is the momentum and motivation to be productive in both my job search and in those tedious domestic admin tasks that fall by the wayside when you are working.

First step: make a list.

Friday, 6 September 2013

What Do You Buy The Woman Who Has Everything? (An Open Letter to My Husband.)

Dear Husband,

As if the whole whole redundancy thing wasn't enough to provoke the climax of my mid-life crisis, you're of course well aware that I'm going to be 21 40 in the not too distant future.

Now, we all know that 40 is the new black, and therefore there is only one way to reach this important milestone, and that is WITH STYLE.
I've always thought my tastes were simple and fairly well-known to you. It was therefore of some surprise to me when you declared that you weren't really sure what I might like for this important landmark event. Hence, I thought I would do you (and anyone else reading this that may be inclined to splash out on gifts for me or a similarly simple-tasted love one) a favour by giving you a few pointers.

Of course, what I really want for my birthday is probably slightly out of my reach:

Plus, I'll totally understand if you might have reservations with that one for obvious reasons.

Much as I know you'll definitely approve of my second choice of a little topless number, sadly I fear this may be slightly out of the budget this year...

Luxury, however, doesn't have to be massively expensive. A bottle of my favourite champagne always goes down a treat:

Louis Roederer

As would a pair of shoes of my own design from Upper Street Shoe:

(I'll be needing new ones for all those interviews I'll soon be having, after all).

When you get to a certain age, however, material possessions become less important than cherished memories. You know how much I love to travel, and there are still plenty of places I have not yet managed to experience:

Perhaps though, if time or money don't allow a trip further afield, how about somewhere more local with a GIN EXPERIENCE?

Or a romantic Bath Spa Twilight package?

Or perhaps you'd prefer London? Maybe with tea at Claridge's?


And maybe lastly, and somewhat seemingly randomly, you can't go wrong with a White Company mint diffuser. Let's face it - home is where the heart is, and it should at least smell nice.

The White Company

I'm always moaning about not being able to find waterproofs that look nice:


...and an old woman like me likes to keep warm at all times:

Lakeland heated throw to go with that electric blanket I've already got...
I refuse to ask for a steam cleaner though. Although I think I could probably do with one. We'll gloss over that though, shall we?

See? Easy.

Your 39 year old wife. x

Monday, 2 September 2013

I'm Not In Love

What makes you fall in love? No, not with someone else, but with a place? Is it the food? (or maybe the wine?) Is it the people, the scenery, the activities, the atmosphere? Are there destinations that draw you back again and again? Somewhere that you say "I'd love a place there someday"?

While I can say that there have been places I would would be happy to revisit time and again, I've always been adamantly opposed to the idea of a holiday home somewhere. There are just too many places on this earth that I want to visit without tying myself down to just one, year after year. There is therefore a certain irony to the fact that we're in the somewhat strange situation of having "inherited" (are paying for) someone else's dream holiday apartment just outside Paphos, in Cyprus. It has not been an easy relationship with the apartment up to now, and writing this I am very aware that I still sound bitter, ungrateful and deliberately obtuse on the subject (especially as I can't go into the whys and wherefores of how we came about it.). Still, we've just come back from our first proper two-week summer holiday in the millstone Cyprus, very much with the hope of making the most the hand we had been dealt, and enjoying our own place in the sun. But would we grow to really love it?

Cyprus has a fascinating history, dating back thousands of years, and the area around Paphos is rife with archaeological sights (including a UNESCO World Heritage site), none of which we had a chance to visit this time as it was simply too hot to do anything much other than visit the occasional beach and cool down in the pool! This was a huge disappointment for me, and it's therefore something I've definitely got on my to-do list for the next visit (already booked for next Easter, when temperatures will hopefully be a little more temperate).

I am definitely not a lover of the traditional pool/beach holiday. I'm pale and pasty with sensitive skin that reacts badly to heat and sunscreen. Much as I love reading, the thought of doing nothing all day doesn't vastly appeal, and I did find I missed the variety of a bit of culture. Speedo-spotting at the Water Park just wasn't quite the same really.
Needless to say, however, the children had a whale of a time swimming, diving and digging in the warm waters of both the pools at the apartment complex and the Mediterranean. And as we all know; Happy Children = Happy Parents, so that was a massive consolation..

That's not to say that we didn't get out and about a little bit. The scenery is somewhat dusty and barren in the immediate vicinity of Paphos, but a short drive further north and west to the stunning, relatively undeveloped Akamas peninsula was definitely a highlight.

...and I have to admit that the sunsets generally weren't half bad either:

As for the food and wine - I think it's fair to say these got the thumbs up all round too. Fresh seafood, copious amounts of Greek salad and various lamb and pork dishes kept both adults and kids happy. "More Kleftiko, mummy!"

So while I still may not be completely in love, somehow I think Cyprus and I could eventually become good friends....


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