Row of tshirts hanging on washing line

A t-shirt with a story

I still have the t-shirt I was wearing on the day my Dad died. I remember dressing in a mad panic after receiving the early morning unexpected phonecall that I needed to get to the hospital. Most probably I grabbed it from the floor (I’m an untidy person); fumbling as I got dressed, pulling on my jeans and trying to fasten my shoes. Every second was precious, I needed to jump in my car and get to my Dad before it was too late.

As it happened my Dad’s last day was a long one. I wore that t-shirt right through into the early hours of the morning, after he’d died and we’d left the hospital. In the rush I hadn’t showered or brought a change of clothes with me, but none of it seemed to matter.

That t-shirt sits in my wardrobe, and I see it every so often when I flick through my clothes. It’s survived a house move and multiple wardrobe culls but I haven’t worn it since that day. I guess I can’t bring myself to, but I also don’t want to part with it.

Last night

Last night, getting changed to potter in the garden and have barbecue food for dinner, my fingers skimmed over the t-shirt. On a whim I pulled it on with a pair of jeans. I’m not sure what I expected to feel, but I decided not to think it through too much. Instead I went out into the evening sun, tidied up some of the garden beds, drank wine and laughed with my husband.

close up of t-shirt with feathers

Now that t-shirt is more than just a distressing memory to me. It’s also a nice memory, of a Spring evening doing what I love. My Dad would have liked that.

Clothes, for me, are more than just clothes. They’re memories, thoughts, happiness, sadness, upset, drama. I closely associate clothes with emotions. If I”m wearing an outfit I don’t like it can ruin my whole day,.

But clothes, like feelings, can change. And last night I changed that t-shirt to a nicer thing. I think I’ll wear it more often.

Thanks, as always, for reading. x

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“I can’t believe you’re still wearing a bikini at 40!”

So said my husband as I tried on a multitude of options for our impending holiday and asked his opinion a couple of weeks ago. Not in a rude way (at least I hope it wasn’t!) More in an incredulous way. As though women of 40 don’t wear bikinis.

(Sidenote – the postman could have also chipped in to this conversation, because I was in the lounge modelling my new bikini. And the postman has to walk past both of our lounge windows to get to the front door. The husband told me to hide behind the sofa. Maybe he did mean his comment in a rude way after all.)

Here’s the thing – I don’t like swimsuits. I find them claustrophobic. They cling a lot. They don’t dry quickly enough when you’ve been in the pool or the sea. They make your skin feel clammy while they’re still damp. They’re a pain in the ass to pull up and down to go to the loo. They generally have too many straps and are too high at the front and back leaving tan marks where you don’t want them.

I like a tan on my stomach and my lower back. It freaks me out a little bit if my middle bit is completely white and my arm/face/shoulders/legs are brown (I don’t mind white bum and boobs, that’s the norm, unless you’re a nudist). And I like the feeling of the breeze on my stomach at the beach, or the cold sea as I ease myself in, or the first freezing hit of the pool when I jump in. And yes there’s a bit more of my stomach to experience those feelings than there used to be. And no I’m not as young and lithe as I once was (although nothing seems to be drooping so far!) But I still prefer a bikini.

Why is it that we’re so keen to put women in boxes when they reach a certain age? Shouldn’t wear short skirts, shouldn’t have long hair, should dress in classic neutral colours. I’ve been guilty of it myself in the past. I probably didn’t think I’d be wearing a bikini at 40, because that’s not what 40 year old women do, is it?

Well fucksticks to that. Neither my age or my “less slim” stomach is going to shame me into wearing something just because other people think I should. Whether that be the husband, the postman or the media.

This is not (misplaced) body confidence, by the way. I know I don’t look as good as I’d like to. But I refuse to be uncomfortable just to suit society.

Last time we were in Greece there were two Greek women on the beach. Both large ladies, both probably in their 60s, and both wearing a bikini. Not a skimpy tie sided, triangle top affair, admittedly. There was a decent amount of fabric and underwiring going on. But they were there and they were chilling and they were talking and sunbathing and swimming. I assume they were comfortable. I do notice a lot less body consciousness in non commercial Europe (hence the male budgie smuggler not being extinct!)

I’ve blogged about this subject before, 2 years ago, post holiday. I talked about the difference between my early 20s self in a bikini and my then late 30s one in one. And I stand by what I said then:

“My body looks how it does because of the life I lead. I enjoy life. I enjoy food. I enjoy drinking. I don’t enjoy exercise!”

Anyway, here are my two new bikinis, both from George at Asda. And I will be coming home from our late summer holiday with a tanned tum, so there!

Asda ombre blue bikini

Asda melon bikini with straps

What’s your approach to swimwear? Are you a cover up or stuff it kind of person?

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

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Is Harry Styles the next David Bowie?

So asked The Guardian a few days ago, referencing an article from the NME.

(for the uninitiated, Harry Styles is a member of boy band One Direction, who were put together by Simon Cowell on TV talent show X Factor)

The very short answer is, quite obviously, no.

We don’t need another David Bowie. He was one of a kind, a visionary, with an eclectic history, back catalogue and chameleon like appearance. He started out at a time when making it in the music industry meant slogging your guts out, writing your own songs and being original.

Harry Styles was thrust into the public eye along with 4 other good looking boys in a manufactured, made for TV group, singing songs written by other people, not playing an instrument and with his career shoehorned into the public eye by the very powerful Simon Cowell. That isn’t music legend calibre.

Not to take anything away from Harry Styles. In fact I think his new song is absolutely amazing, and was truly shocked when the husband played it to me and told me who it was. I think it has the makings of becoming an epic song for a long time to come. But it isn’t 100% his song. He’s co-written it. I’m sure it’s been very carefully put together and orchestrated by Harry’s management company with a view to distancing people from his boy band past and turning him into a credible and respected artist. And maybe it will work. Maybe he’ll become a hugely respected solo star. Who knows?

But the media need to stop trying to recreate and replace music legends who have been and gone. Let singers be an artist in their own right.

David Bowie was an immense artist, with a career spanning decades. He’s an artist that I’m proud to wear across my chest (and did so today!)

David Bowie tshirt flared jeans and clogs

Will I ever wear a Harry Styles tshirt? Doubtful!

Read the for and against arguments of the Bowie likeness from two different columnists for the Guardian.

What do you think?

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

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GIG REVIEW: The Counterfeit Stones

I have mixed feelings about tribute bands. On the one hand I think it’s pretty good that you can go and see a band who look and sound like a real band that you like, but in a cheaper and more accessible way (generally smaller venues and playing more regularly than the originals). On the other hand I’m like “but it’s not the real band and they’re just pretending”. Although that’s what actors do and obviously I’m ok with that.

A dichotomy, no?

What I don’t have mixed feelings about, is how great the Counterfeit Stones were when I saw them on Saturday night!

I’d never heard of them before, but the husband told me they’re classed as one of the best Rolling Stones bands out there and, according to their website, Mick Jagger classes them as “The Most famous Stones band in England” (apart from the originals, obvs!)

“The Counterfeit Stones have successfully toured the globe for nearly twenty years, and during that time have played shows with audience capacities of up to 60,000. Their many fans include Bill Clinton, Prince Edward, Lemmy, Mick Jagger, the Gallagher brothers, Jerry Hall and many many more.”

None too shabby!

Playing all the hits, the ticket was real value for money with two sets of around 45 minutes each. Front man Nick Dagger has the voice, the look and the mannerisms of Mick – he struts, he swaggers and he sounds ridiculously like Jagger himself. Close your eyes and you could be at a Stones gig. Each band member is very tight and plays immensely, which was obviously helped by the really great sound at the venue.

counterfeit-stones-at-the-robin-bilston

There’s a comedic element to their performance, with a bit of audience banter and not taking themselves too seriously, certainly enhanced by the terrible wigs worn by “Keith” and “Ronnie” but for a singalong, rousing fun night out, you can’t go wrong! If you like the Rolling Stones and you see these guys advertised at a venue near you, my advice would be to go and have a great time.

I wore my new red velvet paisley flares from Forever 21. Aren’t they great? They got a lot of love!

forever-21-paisley-velvet-flares

Read about the time I went to the Rolling Stones exhibition at the Saatchi gallery here.

What are your thoughts on tribute bands? Yay or nay?

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

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Its my birthday and I’ll cry if I want to…

its-my-birthday-and-ill-cry-if-i-want-to

Image from Etsy seller Sassy Baby Applique

A slight bastardisation of the Lesley Gore song lyrics, but as I’m not having a party it’s the most appropriate. And I have cried. On and off since Friday. It’s my first birthday without my Dad and I miss him. I miss his daft jokes where he pretended not to know the date or how old I was. I miss how he’d play me up and tell me I wasn’t allowed to open my presents early, even if I wasn’t going to see him on the day. And I miss him phoning me up, and the excitable tone of his voice when he used to say Happy Birthday to me.

I know it’s to be expected, with it being the first Birthday since he died, but I didn’t expect to feel this bereft. This is the worst I’ve felt since his funeral at the end of September.

I’ve had such a lovely weekend too, of live music and old friends and new friends and Christmas market and food and husband. But sometimes feeling happy can make you feel even more sad when it hits.

Anyway, not to be a complete misery guts I’ve busted out some season appropriate clothing – wearing my new velvet boots (present from me to me, via Primark) and my new sequin sleeve top (present from me to me, via Everything 5 Pounds) and I’m trying to have an ok day, even though I’m in the office. I’m also wearing red lippie because it’s fierce and my Dad’s watch so I have a little piece of him with me.

birthday-outfit

I’ve had lots of birthday messages from lots of lovely peeps and I have all my cards and pressies to open when I get home, and the lovely husband is taking me out to dinner.

You know what though? I’d give it all up for 10 more minutes with Dad.

Normal (more upbeat) service will resume soon. Thanks, as always, for reading. x

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And the bride wore…black…

I think I’ve mentioned on here that I was lucky enough to be asked by two of my amazing friends to be a bridesmaid at their wedding. Right from the off it was obvious that it wouldn’t be a conventional wedding, so I was totally unsurprised when the bride told me her dress would be black.

its-a-nice-day-for-a-black-wedding

I was also unsurprised at them selecting a gothic venue which would be a dramatic backdrop to a stunning day.

We had the most amazing time. The husband and I, along with some of the wedding party, stayed over on Saturday night, so were able to get a feel for the venue and the surroundings. Sunday, the day of the wedding, was just amazing from beginning to end. The venue, Ettington Park Hotel, has chapel ruins in the grounds which is where they hoped to marry. We’ve eagerly kept an eye on the weather forecast, hoping for the best but fearing the worst for the end of October. We needn’t have worried. It was a really mild day with a light element of mist that gave an atmospheric eeriness to proceedings. Everything went perfectly, from getting ready, through to the ceremony, through to pictures, the wedding breakfast and the party in the evening. I stumbled off to bed at 4.30am full of happiness, love and joy. It was an absolutely fantastic weekend.

I got to wear a beautiful dress, which was bought as a plain purple frock and then custom decorated with black lace.

purple-and-black-lace-bridesmaid-dress

The husband and I had strong shoe game; check out those purple suede boots! (he was one of the best men – there were three)

bridesmaid-sandals-and-best-man-purple-suede-boots

The timing, the day before Halloween, obviously lent itself to themed decorations which could, quite easily, have fallen into tacky territory. It was quite the opposite. Quirky, with little bits and bobs here and there, hand painted bottles and brightly painted pumpkins in little nooks and crannies, lots of black lace and floral decorations. Everywhere we looked there was something to marvel at, subtle spooky skeletons and bough after bough of ivy with 2 full size skeletons in bridal wear positioned in the hotel entrance.

The best thing I can do to give you an insight is to share some pics with you. Just visually stunning.

Photographs by myself, various guests and the amazing official photographer Sassy at Assassynation

Cake by Little Cherry Cake Company

Aside from the sheer beauty and fun of it all, it really was an honour and a privilege to see our dear friends get married. They’re so great together, so right for each other and so in love that not one person in the room could have questioned whether they were doing the right thing, and that’s really what it’s all about. Take away the beautiful outfits, the gorgeous backdrop and the brilliant party, and their relationship is the same now they’re married as it was before. They have a relationship built on laughter, not taking each other too seriously and mutual respect, as well as adoration, and a marriage certificate is just the icing on the cake for them. Being part of their day was such a beautiful thing and I was so touched and excited to be asked; I’ll treasure the memories of the day and their ongoing friendship forever.

Oh, and I’ll also treasure this, possibly the coolest wedding photograph ever!

purple-and-black-gothic-wedding-party-group-shotPhotograph by Sassy at Assassynation

I can’t think of anyone who’s getting married next year, and that makes me really sad. I love a good wedding!

Thanks, as always, for reading. x

 

 

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Packing for a (non) spring city break in France

When I booked our trip to Lyon, I had visions of wandering cobbled streets in maxi dresses and sandals and sitting at riverside cafes sipping cold wine.

The weather has other ideas.

Despite being May on Sunday, Lyon seems to be suffering with same crap weather affliction as the UK. I’ve trawled multiple forecast websites to find something more favourable, but all of them seem to be suggesting cool evenings and showers.

Arse.

In a confusing state of mind though, in the past two days it’s improved slightly, with the temperatures creeping upwards. Not one to miss any opportunity to make the most of the sunshine, this now means I have to pack for two types of weather, just in case. As I don’t have two lots of luggage allowance (damn you Flybe) I’m going to have to get creative.

Love trips hate packing

I’ve come up with a list of jeans, boots, maxi dresses, tops, maxi skirts, leggings, scarves, a hat, sunglasses, hi tops, sandals, a leather jacket and a denim jacket.

That’s pretty much every eventuality covered!

Now all I need to do is persuade the husband he doesn’t need a 50% share of the luggage space…

I’ll probably be sharing some pictures via Instagram whilst I’m away (free wifi dependant, obvs) so if you want to see what I’m seeing then give me a follow.

Thanks, as always, for reading ! x

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My weekend in pictures

Hey, how was everyone’s weekend? I had quite a busy one, with two Mother’s Day celebrations, and a night out for a friend’s birthday. As a result I’m rather jaded and tired today – roll on hometime!

On Saturday afternoon we went to a pub about half an hour drive from us, called the Warwickshire Lad, with my Mother in Law for lunch. She’s not big on Mother’s Day, and doesn’t like doing anything on the day itself, so Saturday afternoon was ideal. It seemed a few people had the same idea.

The pub is both traditional and contemporary inside; lots of wooden beams and a big original fireplace mix well with sunny windows and big mirrors for a really spacious and bright feel. The menu is a mix of good solid pub grub and gastropub specials.

I went for honey glazed duck breast with rum and blackcherry sauce and new potatoes. The duck was cooked perfectly, not too pink, a bit of crispiness to the skin and succulent and juicy meat. The sauce was subtle; no over riding flavour of either rum or cherry, but it was sweet and not too thick.

Duck with rum and blackcherry sauce

The husband went for Fillet Steak Boston,. which he was incredibly excited about (steak, scallops and whisky sauce; all box tickers for him) but unfortunately it didn’t quite deliver – the steak was medium to well done, rather than medium as requested, and the sauce lacked flavour. A bit disappointing for a £20 main course.

What wasn’t disappointing was my new most bargainous dress – just £6 from the New Look sale! It has bell sleeves, which I love, and a pleasingly swishy skirt. I matched it with tan suede boots and a tan fringed bag.

Looking forward to the weather being warmer and being able to bust this out with bare legs and sandals.

On Saturday night we went to a rock bar in town. I debuted my new Collection Lasting Colour lipstick, which actually isn’t new at all – I bought it months and months ago after seeing it on Holly’s blog (Closing Winter) but haven’t got round to wearing it.

Collection Aubergine Kiss lipstick

Aubergine Kiss lipstick

It’s called Aubergine Kiss and is much darker in real life – a deep black cherry which is very vampy and gothic.

I also wore my new tassel jacket, which is frickin’ awesome, and received many compliments (as well as a description of a gothic Big Bird from Sesame Street!). It was, believe it or not, from Tesco, and reduced to just £20.

F&F tassel jacket

There’s no way I couldn’t keep it. It’s actually the same fabric as my feathery skirt from H&M, but don’t worry, I won’t be wearing them together!

Sunday morning loomed too quickly and I was feeling somewhat delicate, but had to pull myself together to celebrate Mothers Day with my own Mom. She and my sister came over, I cooked baked lamb and potatoes (so much yum) and we drank lots of wine, took lots of selfies and laughed a lot.

A most enjoyable Sunday afternoon and evening.

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

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Fringe benefits

I love fringing. It’s so carefree. Obviously you have to be careful not to go too far – Texan cowboy or 80s throwback is not a good look! But in moderation, fringing is my friend.

My favourite way to incorporate it into an outfit is in a bag.

I think I’ve blogged about this bag before – in fact this is my 4th one; exactly the same! You can pick them up on ebay for £6 to £10 and they come in various colours. But I always come back to the black.

Fringed bag

It’s my go to bag for outside of work – it dresses down a fancy outfit for when you want to be a bit more casual but looks great with jeans too. It fits in so well with my current 70s/hippie obsession as well.

This bag is from Peacocks. There’s a dearth of the usual High Street shops in my most local town, so I regularly have a wander around Peacocks. Pricewise they’re probably on a par with Primark, maybe a little bit more expensive, but the quality is incomparable, and they often have some nice bits and pieces that you won’t see everyone wearing.

Peacocks fringed bag

Peacocks fringed bag close up

Their website isn’t particularly user friendly, but they do offer free delivery over £30 and free returns to stores (you have to pay if you want to return by post). They also do discounts fairly regularly too, like 20% across the store or £5 off if you spend £30, that kind of thing.

I like that this bag is a mix of leather and suede (both faux, obvs) with a chunky silver chain. It’s smaller than the other fringed bag and doesn’t hold as much, but sometimes that’s a good thing!

I got this waistcoat in the H&M sale, reduced from £29.99 to £9.

H&M fringed waistcoat

H&M fringed waistcoat back

It’s a thick twill fabric with silver embroidery and tassel fringes. You may have spotted it on my weekend post a few weeks back. I think I’ll be wearing this a lot.

Here’s some fringing inspiration.

Fringed v-back festival boho dress

Fringed suede skirt fringed clutch bag

Olive green fedora fringed jacket cut off denim shorts

Black fringed suede jacket black fedora skinny jeans

Fringed western suede beige ankle boots

Fringed tan suede bag with peacock feather trim

(images from pinterest)

Thanks, as always, for reading!

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Flare-enough

Flares are my new current favourite thing. Not only because they’re mega mega cool, and easy to wear. But also because they’re uber flattering (according to my husband, who I actually trust implicity when it comes to clothes). They’re slimming and leg lengthening and generally just great.

This Pinterest image was a source of inspiration to me right from the beginning of this summer. I know I can’t pull the look off exactly – I don’t have the waistline for a start! – but I was keen to do my own version. It just oozes cool.

Pinterest flares and hat

So here are the patterned flares I’ve gone for – the perfect skinny to knee and wide of flare legs. I want to wear them everyday. They’re pull on (like leggings) and very fitted to the knee, then flare out massively. Because they’re stretchy and don’t have a waistband or zip fastenings they need to be worn with a long top to avoid any camel toe issues. I’ve only had them two weeks and already worn them twice. They wash lovely, don’t need ironing and are a good length (essential for flares – nothing worse than ankle flappers). I’ve been wearing these with platform wedges.

Boohoo print flares

These are the same style but different colours. I wasn’t sure if they were a little bit bright, but toned down with a black top I think they’ll be fine. Because the evenings will be cool when we go to Italy in October they’ll be an ideal outfit, and brighter colours always work better on holiday than at home.

Boohoo aztec print flares

I just love the retro prints and I think they’ll work well into autumn with a sloppy off shoulder jumper, as long as I can match the right shoes to them.

Both are now on sale – just £6 and £7 respectively on the Boohoo website.

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