Friday, 22 November 2019

Catch Up

Apologies for my lack of posts lately. I don't really feel I've done much to merit a post.  Just the usual stuff, family life, work, gym, dance classes, vintage clothes shopping.

Work has been getting busier of late in the run up to Christmas.  I'm feeling quite tired already and there's still 4 weeks to go. I hope I last the course. Today, I'm on a day off and I am going to sort out my Christmas present list, go over what I've bought already and what I still need to buy, as all my spare cash in December will be concentrated on this. I'm definitely not going over the top this year, and although I've said this in previous years, I really do mean it this year.

We have booked a cottage up in Yorkshire for 4 days over Christmas, which we are looking forward to. I haven't told work, as no-one has made any effort to arrange the Christmas rota, despite my asking them to do so, so I will have to present them with a fait accompli, as we couldn't leave it any longer to book due to there being very little accommodation left available. I'm hoping it works out ok, fingers crossed.

This morning I've been sorting through my wardrobe, to include all the new vintage items I have bought in recent months.  I've pulled out the odd item from storage too, that I might actually wear again now. Dressing in vintage clothing does make deciding what to wear a little more difficult in the morning, and a longer process, as previously I had a kind of uniform of T-shirt, jeans and sweater that I threw on, but I do quite enjoy trying different combinations and the results.  I think I've now got quite enough vintage clothes to be going on with and need to get used to wearing everything and work out which combinations work well.  Here's a couple of my favourite recent purchases:

This fair isle knitted tank is one of my most recent purchases and is great. I'm looking forward to wearing it in the lead up to Christmas, as being red it is also quite festive.

I also love this floral print blouse that I bought on eBay, which is so pretty and will look great tucked into a pencil skirt. (Please excuse the creases) The flowers are not embroidered, just printed on, back and front, but it is really pretty just the same.

I did splash out this month and bought a new plain black pencil skirt from M&S. I probably spent over an hour trying on all the different ones they had in stock, so that I could get just the right fit and fabric. This is important when you are quite large, as you need more structure in a garment.

I settled for this one, which I really like and which will be perfect for work or more formal occasions. I haven't worn it yet, but am looking forward to doing so, probably for our Christmas meal at work. I think it will become a wardrobe staple in the coming months.

I also bought this lovely forest green beret from work. I haven't dared to wear it outside of the house yet, but am hoping to get up the courage.

Another favourite purchase was also from eBay, namely this embroidered white blouse.  It is so pretty. I have worn this one.

I've definitely become a bit more discerning over purchases on eBay in the last few weeks and have been having better results as a consequence and feeling much happier with the things I've bought. This is definite progress for me.

Besides clothing, I have also bought a couple of patterns recently to make a couple of skirts.  Here are the two I purchased:

I'm hoping to make the pencil skirt in this dark grey checked fabric that I had in my stash.

In other news, my dance classes have been going well and I'm still really enjoying them.  We started a new block of 5 lessons last week, which was fully booked. Several of the class members from the previous group couldn't actually get a place on it, which was a pity, and had to go on the waiting list, so it is a very popular class at the moment.  It was nice to meet more new people though. I'd like to continue for a couple more months before I move on to other classes or a higher level.

I'm still attending one Zumba class at the gym that I really enjoy, on a Monday. Our teacher, however, is currently pregnant, which is fantastic and exciting news, but it does mean that she will no longer be teaching when it gets near to her delivery date, so I'm considering cancelling my membership for a while when the time comes, dependent on who takes over the class and possibly focussing on other dance classes instead. I think I need to change things up a bit, as I've been going to the same classes now for over 10 years.  It is nice to meet up with friends who go too though, so I might still continue, but go on a Pay As You Go basis instead of having a membership.

Everything is quiet on the allotment front now, which is one less thing to worry about.  OH has practically dug the whole plot over and we just need to add some organic matter to enrich the soil for next year. The garden is very wet and doesn't really inspire me to get out there and finish the pruning or tidy up.  I need some dry cold weather for that.

Family wise we are good, LB has been very busy, as she has started a new part-time job waitressing and works most weekends.  She almost earns as much as I do for her two days, once tips have been taken into account. She's busy saving up to travel once she has finished her A levels in 18 months time. I'm very impressed at her efforts so far.

I'm working this weekend, so next week, I should be getting four or five consecutive days off. As a consequence, I'm intending to blitz the house and get the Christmas decorations up.  The whole house needs a good clean and I've been leaving it, knowing that I'll do a spruce up before getting the tree up, so it's the perfect time. We've been lighting the fire this week, as the weather has been colder and it should be even more cosy once the tree and other decorations go up.

I hope everything is going well for you all.  I'll try to post a bit more in the lead up to Christmas.

Sunday, 10 November 2019

A Return to Vintage

Apologies for being absent from this blog for a few weeks.  There have been a couple of reasons, but it was mainly because the Shop Manager was on leave and I was required to work extra hours. The other reason was that since starting to attend Jazz/Charleston dance classes, I've felt a resurgence of my love of all things vintage.  Probably 10 years or so ago, I regularly shopped and dressed in vintage fashion and I really enjoyed wearing some of the clothes, unlike how I feel when I've dressed in modern fashions in recent years.

It's a rare day when I go to work feeling happy with my appearance and feeling that I look good. Chatting to some new friends I've made through the dance class, we are considering attending a social dance event at some point, when we're feeling more confident in our dancing ability, and with that in mind, I've been seeking out some new vintage clothing, as the items I used to wear have long ago been donated.

The era that most fascinates me is the 1940's.  There's just something so glamourous about this era.  Women looked so feminine and also at times quite masculine.  I find it all so interesting and I now actually have an excuse to wear vintage fashion, when I'm dancing to the music of that era.

A few weekends ago, we went up to Yorkshire to visit family and whilst there LB and I went for a browse around some charity and vintage shops in the local town where we were staying.  We had a lot of fun and I came away with a whole host of new clothing items and accessories. 

To be honest, some of them I might not ever wear and were impulse purchases in my newly rekindled vintage enthusiasm, but a couple of items I have already worn and am enjoying wearing. Nothing was particularly expensive.  In fact one shop was an end of line clearance shop and everything was £1.  I ended up spending £10 in here, so if I don't wear some of the items, it's not a great loss, I'll just donate them.

I've also bought a few items online on eBay. To be honest, this method has been very hit and miss with regard to sizing and I'm starting to get much more discerning, as it's very difficult to know if things will fit, especially if they are vintage, and made when sizes were smaller.

Of the items I have bought so far, I've particularly enjoyed wearing these very cute granny style sheepskin boots, which are just so comfortable and warm.  They aren't exactly perfect for the wet weather we've been having lately, but on dry, cold days, they are just so snuggly.  I've already worn them multiple times since buying them. They are not 1940's, of course, probably more 50's or 60's or even later, but I'm not a purist and half the fun is using your own interpretation to get the look you want. I've created a whole new Pinterest board dedicated to Vintage Styling, found a few really good YouTube channels that focus on wearing vintage and I think that watching some old movies might be in order to get further inspiration. What torture!

I have also been trying out vintage hair styles using bobby pins, which has been fun and I've gone back to wearing red lipstick, which has very rarely seen the light of day for the past few years.

As a consequence of the above, I've also dug out my old collection of vintage jewellery.  I have heaps of vintage brooches, earrings, scarves and other items, which I'm starting to wear again, instead of leaving them to gather dust in the bottom of the wardrobe.

I'm just having fun, and that's what matters.  I'm trying to do it in a subtle grown up way, but who says that we should grow old gracefully. That's the last thing I intend to do.

Sunday, 13 October 2019

Birthday Girl

Well, it was my birthday this week.  I'm now the grand old age of 53 and trying NOT to grow old gracefully.

The day itself, I didn't do anything special, but at least I didn't have to work this year. I got some lovely, but very practical presents from OH.

To be honest, for my present, I asked him to pay for an order I had collated on Marshall's website, so it was a gardening themed gift.

The order included this Mulberry bush, which was a much better specimen than I was expecting, after reading some of the reviews on the site.  It may take a few years before it produces fruit, but I'm very excited to have it, as it is such an old English variety of tree. I will probably keep it in a pot, as I don't really have a suitable space in the garden for it at the moment.

Also on the order was a new garden fork.  I needed one as we currently don't have one at all, after the handle on our last one broke off completely. This one is designed especially for the older lady, as it is very lightweight, made of ash wood and aluminium. I bought it with the future in mind.  Who needs to lug around a heavy garden fork as they get older, especially when they don't need to. I'm excited to use it at some point.  I'll have to try to make sure I clean it properly though and look after it.

The rest of the order included some green manure seeds to possibly sow on the allotment this winter to add nutrients to the soil, a few packs of vegetable seeds and some shallot bulbs. Talking of the allotment, I received a voucher from the Allotment society this week too, which confirmed that we'd won Best Plot on our small site this year, which was a lovely added birthday gift, although not intended as one.

There was one other item on the Marshalls order, which we bought as a gift for a family member for Christmas. It's a green gage tree, but hasn't been delivered yet. I quite fancy one myself, but due to our garden being so small, there isn't room for many trees. Anyway, a bit of Xmas shopping was done too, which is all good.

I also received some flowers from OH and LB and the always appreciated chocolate and gin, so I consider myself a very lucky girl indeed.

We also went out for lunch on the day, to a local restaurant/café that we hadn't been to before, which was nice. I had to have a glass of Prosecco with my pizza, of course. Daytime drinking is allowed on your birthday as far as I'm concerned.

I think that from now on, I might ask for dance classes for Christmas and birthday gifts, as I am so enjoying my solo Jazz/Charleston class.  This week's class was the best yet. I really feel like I had a good workout as it was really quite tiring at times, but fabulous fun.  I've treated myself to another block of three Charleston classes, as next is the final class in this current block, and they will follow on until the next block of five classes starts in November.  It was definitely a good decision to take the plunge and I hope to continue indefinitely.

Wednesday, 9 October 2019

Things Get Better

Since my last post, I have to report that life has got a bit better. I was very angry and disappointed by what happened to our car, and we've been without it for almost a week. 

On Monday, I had to take my trolley bag on the bus to the gym and then fit all my grocery shopping into it, before getting back on the bus.  It really made me appreciate having had a car, but it also made me realise that doing the shopping with a trolley bag is very doable.  I only spent about £50, so it did cut my grocery bill this week, as it made me focus on only buying what was essential.

After ringing around garages and car parts companies, OH was expecting us to be without our car for at least a couple of weeks.  The police advise you not to put a Toyota part back in the car to prevent it being stolen again, but the insurance and Toyota dealerships won't replace it with anything else.

Our insurance excess was £350, so it was going to cost us quite a bit to go down the insurance route. There was also a possibility that they might write off the car if they couldn't get a part for it, which was ridiculous, so when I received a message from OH yesterday, to say the car was being repaired and would be back with us that evening, I was really surprised and delighted. 

After having a conversation with a Prius driving Uber driver on Monday night, on his way to the Velodrome, OH managed to source a local(ish) garage and got it fixed himself, without claiming on the insurance. Serendipity, if you ask me. It did cost nearly £600, but our car is back on the road and hopefully we won't lose our no claims. More importantly, we're hoping that the part won't get stolen again as a security plate has been added to the car and the new part isn't the Toyota one, which is being targeted.  I'm hoping it will now run as well as before and with no problems.

In other news, work went much better yesterday and I managed to get on top of a job that has been hanging over me for months, which felt very satisfying. It will make a difference to my work day going forward, as it will help to reduce my feeling of overwhelm most days and allow me a bit of freedom to concentrate on other areas of work in the stockroom and shop.

LB has now been cast in her college production of Chicago.  It's a supporting role, but she's very happy to have a part and is looking forward to starting rehearsals tonight.  She also went for a part-time job interview yesterday and thinks she might have got herself a new part-time job, which is good news.  I admire her get up and go.  The hours of her previous part-time job seem to have dwindled since the summer, so she's just gone out and got another. Good for her.

It feels like we've weathered the bump in the road, and things are picking up a bit. Touch wood.

Thank you to everyone who offered me moral support.  I really appreciate it.

Friday, 4 October 2019

A Disastrous Day

I should have known when writing yesterday's post that things had been going too well this last couple of weeks.  In contrast, yesterday was a disaster.  It started off well enough.  I took the dog out for a nice walk. However, on returning to our car in a car park a couple of miles away, the engine sounded very loud and there was a scraping sound underneath.

I think I knew immediately what had happened. Our catalytic converter had been stolen whilst I was on the dog walk.  We have a 7 year old Prius Hybrid and OH warned me that there had been a spate of cases where the catalytic converters had been taken out and sold for scrap by thieves, because of the high quality of the precious metals they contain, such as palladium, etc. We had well and truly fallen victim to the trend.

I wouldn't mind so much, but it happened in broad daylight, in a car park full of dog walkers coming and going, footballers coming and going, motorcycle training going on and a security camera right in front of the car.

I was gutted, as was OH.  He cycled over to meet me, whilst I rang the Met Police to report the crime. They recommend that you don't get a Toyota converter put back in, to try to prevent the same thing happening again.  New models have apparently had the design changed to make this much more difficult to do, but our car was an older model which made it easier to steal.

After all of the formalities of reporting the crime, we managed to struggle home with the car running between the electric mode and making very loud noises when running on the petrol engine. It was so annoying.

As I said when my bike got stolen a few months ago, it makes me so angry, that such parasitic people exist and live their negative and dishonest lives sucking the life out of others and leaving a trail of destruction and misery in their wake. I despair about the world we're living in at times like this, they contribute nothing and take everything and there seem to be more and more of them around these days.

So, we're currently without a car, which living in London, isn't too much of an issue, but we'll have to claim on the insurance to get it back on the road. I'll probably lose my no claims and we'll probably have to pay an excess to get the work done, as well as having inflated premiums in the future. It's only money, but it is hard earned, as opposed to stolen without a care from others. OH is in charge of sorting out the mess, poor guy. Hence, I'm feeling quite despondent about humanity today.

The ups and downs of everyday life. I realise that things could be a lot worse and I'm thankful that they are not, but it's still very frustrating and disappointing.

Thursday, 3 October 2019

A Good Couple of Weeks

It's been an eventful couple of weeks in an enjoyable kind of way. Work has been good, but busy due to my fellow Deputy being on leave for two weeks. We've still managed to do really well in terms of sales whilst he's been away, which is great. The stockroom is now under much better control, thanks to the help of our new interns and regular volunteers, so it feels a lot less overwhelming when I go in. I'm just hoping we can keep it that way in the run up to Christmas.

LB has been busy with auditions and call backs for a production of the musical Chicago at her new Sixth Form College.  She'll find out if she's got a part later this week, which is quite exciting.  I love going to see her in school productions and this one will be staged just before Christmas I think. She is good at what she does and is always very committed and works hard to make it look easy and natural.

At home, I've been trying to catch up on washing and ironing, but I'm still a long way off in the case of the ironing.  I've ordered my prescription of Thyroxine before Brexit kicks in, so I should be okay for a few months. I just have to pick it up today. I've done my monthly financial round ups and managed to stay within budget this month and not go overdrawn, so I'm back on track in time for the expense of Christmas.

I saw a Whats App message on our allotment chat last night that indicated that we may have won Best Plot on our site this year.  I haven't had official confirmation yet, but if we did, that's brilliant and I think I should get a garden centre voucher. (Our AGM was last night, but I couldn't attend due to my dance class and the results of the plot inspections were announced at the meeting.) I won't get my hopes up to high though as there are a few Ann, Anna, Annies on our site. I might have got it wrong.

I've changed over to my Autumn/Winter wardrobe and put away any summer clothes and shoes. I was glad I did when it turned out to be so cold yesterday.  I wore my thick woolly coat and gloves for the first time since much earlier in the year.

I've finished my work hours for this week, so I now have at least 3 days off  in a row, which is always a much needed treat when it falls like that.  I'm usually pretty tired the first day and then gradually gain momentum and get things done as the days progress.

I attended my Jazz dance class last night, which I really enjoyed.  The first two weeks were a bit slower as we got to grips with a completely new genre of dance, but things picked up this week and it was much more my sort of thing. I had a drink in the pub downstairs afterwards, with a couple of people who also attend, which was nice.  In the next two classes, I think we might be doing more Charleston based moves, which is exciting.  I'm not 100% sure though, as it will be a different teacher, so it will be up to her what she decides to teach. I will probably be continuing on with another block of these classes when this one finishes, as there will definitely be a Charleston focus for the first few weeks of the next block. I like the teacher we've had to date and the atmosphere in the class is slowly getting more relaxed, as we all get used to each other and start to chat to each other a little bit between routines.

Today, I've had a little lie in and have not got any major plans, other than to walk the dog, put on a wash, pick up my prescription, post my credit card payment, order some car park vouchers for the gym and hopefully do some ironing whilst catching up on the new series of The Apprentice, which I missed when I was out last night. Not too much pressure there. I might also pop out and buy a birthday present for my god daughter, but her birthday isn't until next week (same day as mine).

I hope you guys have had a good couple of weeks too.

Wednesday, 25 September 2019

Autumn Creeping In

When walking the dog the other day, I couldn't help but notice on my return, that the climbing plant that covers the front of our house and our neighbours' houses was slowly turning very autumnal. Here's a picture:

Here's another one from inside the house, the windows are framed by beautiful red leaves. We love it.

It's not going to stay this way for long though, as the neighbours (whose plant it is) informed us that they are going to cut it back very shortly. Shame, but it will mean less leaves blowing into the house and front garden, so I guess that's one benefit.

There's no denying that there's a nip in the air some mornings now when I'm out with the dog. As a gardener, I've loved the rain we've been having for the last two days.  It's much needed and it's reassuring to know that the water tables will be replenished. I think that in general we take water for granted in this country, as we don't often suffer from a shortage of the stuff. I love the sound of rain outside when I'm inside.  The dog's not so keen though.

I'm now looking forward to the cooler weather and can't wait to start getting wrapped up in scarves, etc. I'm an autumn baby, so it's my favourite time of year. Bring it on. I've started to store away my summer clothing to make room in the wardrobe and make deciding what to wear each day a little simpler. I might actually get around to catching up with the ironing, now it's a bit cooler too.

We're so lucky to have such definite changes in season, I love that about living in the UK. What do you think?