Friday, 7 February 2020

Normality Evades Me

So much for all my good intentions of getting back to normality this week.  More or less as soon as I wrote that, I came down with a head cold, which has prevented business as usual, because I haven't felt up to doing too much.

I still went to work on Tuesday and Wednesday, it was in fact Wednesday that the cold started.  As a consequence, taking two dance classes after work was hard.  I think that even my balance was affected by the cold, as when I tried to do a couple of moves, I felt very dizzy which I've never experienced before.

Wednesday night I didn't sleep well, on account of the cold and the churning over of the day's events, so on Thursday I was a bit of a zombie.  I still managed to get out of the house and go to the local mall to get my hair cut though.  It was long overdue.  I won't say how long. It felt better to get the ends tidied up and another item was ticked off the to do list.

I also bought myself a new sports bra whilst I was out, from M&S.  I was down to my last one and I wanted one that I could wear to go dancing in, that wasn't too high impact, but was still supportive. I'd seen a design I liked online, but wanted to try it on and when I did I decided to buy it.

The only other thing I bought was a new watch strap, which cost £10 to buy and get fitted. Mine was looking very tatty after just 6 weeks of wear, which was a bit disappointing.  I'm hoping the new one will last a little longer. I did a very small top up shop too, just bread and milk really.

Then I came home and had a snooze on the sofa for an hour before walking the dog later.

Today, after a much better night's sleep I woke up feeling a bit more energetic. I hung out some washing I'd done the night before, took the dog out and caught up on a bit of blog reading, which I haven't done for a while.

LB had a day off college, due to her teacher being sick, so OH treated us all to lunch out at a local café, which was nice. We don't do it very often, so when we do it's a nice treat.

The rest of the afternoon I spent pottering and getting LB to put my hair in rollers. Tonight is another social dancing night.  I booked it before the cold came on, so I may just do the class at the beginning of the night and then come home, or I may stay for an hour and watch everyone dancing. It is good to see it in the flesh so to speak and who knows, I may even get the chance to strut my stuff. I don't go with any expectations.  Even just doing the class keeps me practising. I'd like to take more classes, but I can't justify it financially at the moment

Despite spending money yesterday, I'm trying to curb spending as much as possible this month.  I've been very spendy over the last 8 weeks or so and I need to get back to a good place in relation to my finances, as I'm continually broke.

Next month, my gym membership ceases, as I have cancelled it and signed up Pay As You Go. That will save me at least £30 per month.  I only attend one class per week now and the teacher of that class is leaving to have a baby very soon, so I may not even keep going to that one in future. I am going to try to, as it is a good way to keep in touch with friends at the gym. I've been meaning to change my membership for years now and thankfully I've finally got around to it. Currently I'm paying £60 per month, so that will no longer be coming out of my account from 1st March, which will help.

Not eating meat as a family, has also had an effect on the food budget. I don't seem to spend as much money on food, which is a good thing. We have also been eating down the Brexit stash though, which probably isn't a good idea, as it is in the next few months, now we have left the EU, that we will start to feel a difference if there is going to be one. I'm going to keep an eye on stock levels in the supermarkets and watch out for any shortages of things over the next few weeks, which might indicate possible problems going forward. It will be an interesting exercise.

I'll keep you posted on any observations.

Tuesday, 4 February 2020

A Crazy Week

It's been a crazy week here. Lots of stuff going on, some good, some bad. After finishing work last Wednesday for the week, I spent Thursday at home.  I was really tired. Taking two Jazz Solo classes on a Wednesday night after a full day at work is tough.  I love it though and am going to continue indefinitely, I just need to build up my stamina.

On Friday I was feeling  much better and decided to get out of the house and visit one of my new favourite charity shops in another part of the borough. I hadn't been for a couple of weeks and they have an interesting range of things at very reasonable prices. I headed off and was enjoying myself looking around the shop, when all of a sudden a woman cried out that her purse had been stolen from the bag hung on her pram.

When I  heard this I wasn't completely surprised, as the first time I'd visited this particular shop, I'd had the feeling that someone had been trying to get into my bag.  Several times I felt people knock into me and get a little too close for comfort. I had a rucksack at the time and I noticed at one point whilst I was shopping that it was open and I'm usually very careful about closing my bag at all times. Anyway, nothing was missing from my bag, but the incident did inspire me to make a mental note and always be careful in that particular shop.

Anyway, the poor woman concerned was very distraught, as you can imagine. She had a young child in the pram and the thief had got away with quite a bit of cash and several cards. While the shop staff called the police to report the theft, the lady was trying to cancel her cards over the phone. I had to step in at one point, as the person on the other end of the phone was asking her lots of questions she didn't know the answer to, so I had to explain the situation so that they could ask her security questions she could answer without her card and bank details.

Eventually, she got some of the cards cancelled and I went with her to try to cancel another card at a nearby Building society. I know how it feels to have to do this and she was so shocked and unable to think rationally, that I think she just needed a guiding hand. I felt so bad for her, because she really never thought it could happen to her. These thieves are ruthless and know the easiest targets.

So, Friday got a bit crazy, but I eventually came home. OH had had to go off up North that morning to help his mum and dad, as his brother needed a break, so it was just me and LB this weekend.

On Saturday, I was booked into a Learn Lindy Hop in a Day workshop, which was part of my Xmas present from OH and I was really looking forward to it.  Unfortunately, however, the dog became ill overnight and was vomiting and really weak. I was in two minds whether to cancel, but as the dog settled down and went to sleep I decided to go, as it would be £40 lost if I didn't. LB was out at work and with OH away, it was a difficult decision.

I arrived a bit late and I was a bit distracted about the dog during the classes and worried about her, but the workshop was great.  I really enjoyed it and learnt so much.  There was one other person there that I knew from my solo class, so it was good to see a familiar face, but it went pretty well and I feel much more enthusiastic about partnering now.  I just need to keep practicing.

When I got home, the dog was still very unwell, so I had a quiet night in watching TV.  By bedtime, she'd started drinking water and not regurgitating it, which was progress, although she was still very weak. Needless to say, she slept on my bed that night, so that I could keep a close eye on her.

On Sunday, I was back at work, but I had to go in a bit later so that I didn't leave the dog alone for too long. Thankfully, by Sunday night, when OH returned, she was virtually back to normal and is now almost fully recovered. We think it was a virus that has been doing the rounds. Poor mite, it hit her very hard.

Today, I was back at work and arrived to an overflowing stock room once again. It took all day, but by the time I left, it was looking decidedly better. Just one more day to work this week (tomorrow) and then I'm done for the week. I want to get my hair cut this week, so I am looking forward to my days off. I'm hoping things will now calm down a little and get back to  some sort of normality, if there is such a thing.

I hope you've had a better week.

Sunday, 26 January 2020

Give and Take Time Again

It was Give and Take time again this weekend. I made sure I wasn't working on Sunday, as there was the first event of the year in our borough. For anyone who hasn't read any of my posts about these events, they are run by the council to try to prevent perfectly good items going into landfill.

Basically, you take along anything you no longer want and donate it and anyone attending can take away anything that has been donated for free, so I guess it's a kind of swap/free jumble sale.

I had a few bags to take that I'd gathered together over the last six months or so, mainly as a consequence of changing over to a vintage style wardrobe.  Most of the things I no longer want, I donate to a charity shop locally, but anything with a bit more wear or that I think they won't sell, but still has lots of life left in it, I donate to the Give and Take.

Here's a picture of the bags I took:

Three of the bags were filled with clothing and one bag was filled with bric a brac.

Today's event took place on an award winning housing development on the edge of a lake and next to a wildlife reserve, so it was quite scenic.  OH came with me as he had a cold and hadn't gone cycling for once. 

We dropped off the donations and then went for a walk around the area with the dog, before heading to a local café for lunch, all of which made it a nice trip out. I popped back into the event later, to have a look around and took just 2 or 3 items away, one of which I'd donated and changed my mind about!

Next stop, we dropped off another two bags of items at our local charity shop. I couldn't resist a quick look, but luckily there was nothing there that I wanted to buy.

The drop offs have cleared quite a bit of space in the spare bedroom, which was well overdue.  We just have to put the Christmas decorations back in the loft now to free up more space.  It took us over six months to get around to it last year.  Hopefully, it won't take us so long this time around.

Friday, 24 January 2020

A Vintage Thrifting Adventure

Yesterday, LB and I had an exciting thrifting adventure. Having gone back to work on Wednesday after my week off, followed by attending two jazz dance classes after work, I'd planned to have a very lazy day on Thursday pottering at home.

However, LB had the day off college and had decided to go thrifting in some of her usual haunts. When I heard this, I asked her if I could come along, partly because it was a good excuse for a mother/daughter outing, which we rarely do these days, and partly because she was intending to go to one of her usual haunts called East End Thrift Store, which I'd never been to. Whilst checking this out online, I came across another Vintage store called Mile End Vintage, which is close to where I go to the gym every week, and so we decided to go there, as I could park for free nearby and LB had never been there.

Now, the procedure for shopping in these particular type of vintage shops, is that you can fill a carrier bag (medium or large (and yes, I'm sorry, but it was plastic!)) with items and pay £10 or £20 respectively for the lot. I'd never actually been to one of these places before, so it felt like a bit of an adventure and I was curious to see how much you could get for £10 and whether there was actually anything worth buying. As I had just £10 in my purse and couldn't really afford to spend any more than that, I decided to limit myself to spending only this amount.

We headed over in the car and eventually found the shop, which was housed quite off the beaten track, in a unit under the railway arches. You could hear the trains rumbling overhead as you shopped, which was very atmospheric and added to the experience.  It was a bit cold in there though, especially when you were trying things on, but it didn't put me off.  To be honest I tried most things on over my t-shirt and jeans and they still fitted, plus I kept warm.

Most of the clothing was hung on rails, so it was a pretty easy shopping experience. I have to say that some of the items were damaged, some more badly than others, so you had to look closely at everything before putting it in your bag. Indeed, some of the items I did buy weren't perfect and needed buttons replacing or changing out, but for someone who can sew and make minor repairs and alterations, this didn't put me off, so long as the garment was basically in good wearable shape and fitted well.

Talking of fit, there was also a changing room in the shop, so you could try everything you were interested in on, which was a definite bonus. Now usually when I go thrifting or look for Volup or plus size vintage clothing on eBay and Etsy, finding things in my size is a bit of a problem, as vintage sizes were smaller and women were smaller too 40-80 years ago, but I actually found quite a lot of items that were big enough, which was a very nice surprise indeed.

We spent a good hour and a half picking things out, trying them on and each filling a bag. Here's my medium sized bag, packed with great finds:

and here are the items I bought laid out according to what they are.

Four spotted scarves, one full length slip in a nude/skin colour, three blouses, one chunky cardigan and three dresses. Quite an amazing haul really for just £10, I could hardly believe my luck. Everything needed a bit of TLC, mainly ironing, as they were pretty creased up, one dress in particular. The rest of the afternoon, I decided to work on them and make them a little more presentable. 

Here are my favourite items from the haul:

This dress is probably my favourite purchase.  It is made of a thick crepe like fabric and has been very well made with wide seam allowances for letting it out a bit more.  It was terribly creased and as you can see still is a bit.  I might try to take this to work and use the industrial steamer on it to get them out.  I added the red belt as it didn't have one, but it fits like a glove with a side zip to nip your waist in. I did a few repairs to it such as re-stitching underarm seams that had pulled away and sewing one of the buttons back on, but other than this, all it needed was a good iron. I think it's possibly from the 1950's, but can't be sure as there are no labels in it.

This was another great dress, a button through plaid dress with a white collar. Again I added the belt and I also changed out the black buttons, one of which was broken, for some dark green buttons I had in my stash.  There is green in the plaid. I love that this dress buttons right down through the skirt, making it great for dancing, as I can open a couple of buttons at the bottom to gain more room for movement.  It's probably from the 1980's and looks to be home made, by a very good seamstress, but I really like it.
Of the tops I bought, my favourite was this white/cream blouse:

I've paired it here with a circle skirt I bought from a CS last week, but I probably wouldn't wear it with this in reality. I loved the detail on the collar. So pretty.

It did have a few marks in various places, which I will try to wash out, but if they don't wash out, I'm not too bothered, as I'll just wear a sweater or cardigan over it.

I also liked this blue blouse with a geometric print on one side. It looked cute knotted rockabilly style, so had to come home with me. The neckline and sleeves are very flattering, so I like this one. (Apologies for the blurry photograph)

The chunky knit cardigan that I bought was very sweet and a lovely colour. I don't have many thick woollens that resemble vintage knitwear, but I thought that this had a feel of a 40's or 50's look.

I particularly like the buttons. One was missing and I was tempted to swap them out, but I liked these a lot, so just moved one up a place and left the bottom fastening without one.  This cardigan is quite modern, probably 1980's and fastens via poppers. If nothing else it will be good to wear around the house on very cold days.

The full length slip that I bought was also a great find.

This is a pretty style and these are always useful to have to wear under dresses. Finding them in my size can be difficult and you can pay quite a bit for them online. I currently have a black one, but having a pale coloured one might be useful in the summer with lighter coloured clothing.

My last few favourites were all scarves, and all spotted.  These will be great to add a bit of interest to vintage outfits. Once ironed, they looked so much better.

In all, we had a really successful vintage shopping trip. Each item ended up costing approximately 80p, which is crazy.  It felt very satisfying to give them all a bit of TLC and bring them back into circulation in my wardrobe. They may go on to last another 10 or 20 years which would be fabulous.

Monday, 20 January 2020

Dance Mad

I'm really enjoying my dancing at the moment.  In fact, so much so, that last Wednesday night when I went to my usual beginners class, I decided to stay on and do the next level class which followed on.

The fact that the friends I'd hung out with previously, had not enrolled this time around, made it easier, as there were no visits to the pub after class to distract me. 

I'd seen a video sent out by the teacher, to remind everyone in that next class what they'd learnt last week and I felt that maybe I could cope with the class, after three months of attending the beginners class, so I asked her if it would be ok if I  tried it and she was fine about it.

I have to admit, the second class was a whole new level of exertion, but I liked that about it.  It felt like I got a really good work out, both physically and mentally, and actually, I don't think I fared too badly and managed to have a good go at all of the more complex steps we were taught or that were revisited. As well as 20's Charleston, we learned some Josephine Baker moves and some Black Bottom moves. You can check this dance out on YouTube if you're interested.

It felt good to push myself on and try to progress a bit more, so I'm signing up for the rest of the block and doing two classes each week, at least for the next 3 weeks.

In addition, I've finally booked a Lindy Hop workshop, to learn how to dance with a partner, and will be doing that in a couple of weeks.  It's for a full afternoon. OH paid as part of my Xmas present, bless him. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, 15 January 2020

A Week Off

Today, has been the start of my first week off work since July last, when we went to Australia. I've desperately needed some time off for a while and felt like I was working on fumes, but with Christmas and other people going on leave, this has really been the first chance I've had to take any. Besides, I do have rather a lot of leave left to take, so I needed to make a start on it.

We had a really busy weekend this weekend, as it was LB's 17th birthday yesterday, and foolishly we agreed to her having a party in the house with some of her friends. Going to parties is a regular occurrence for her, so we were pretty chilled thinking that she would be sensible. What I completely forgot, was that you can't rely on other peoples' children to be the same and after having spent a very civilised evening at a jazz gig, we came home to chaos.

I was a bit disappointed, but I realise that there wasn't really anything LB could have done to prevent it, and we'd definitely been very naïve in agreeing to the party in the first place. Needless to say, there was a lot of cleaning up to do.  It felt like our home had been violated.  Thankfully, everything is now back to normal and there wasn't too much harm done as I'd removed anything precious from the main rooms, thank goodness, but I didn't enjoy the experience, so we won't be repeating it in a hurry.

Sunday, was a day of cleaning up and then just chilling and being grateful that the party was over and we could get back to normal. Monday was LB's actual birthday and I'd bought tickets for us to go to see the musical Waitress in the West End, which was a treat.

I was back at work on Tuesday, just for the day. I'd taken my week off so that I could work at least one day of each week to help get clothing into the shop, as I am the main person responsible for this, so I spent a very intense day yesterday, trying to get on top of a very large pile of donations that had come flooding in over the weekend. I did my best, which is all I could do and was very happy to come home last night in the knowledge that I didn't have to go back for 7 whole days.

So, today, day one, has been very chilled indeed.  I went on a two hour dog walk this morning, some of which was spent in the local RSPCA shop, as the dog is allowed in. I bought myself a book and DVD, which I watched later this afternoon whilst doing some ironing. Aside from a bit of washing, I haven't actually done anything today. I think I just needed a day to decompress from work.

There are lots of things I need to do this week, including a tax return (possibly), book appointments, repeat prescriptions, attend appointments, get my hair cut, plus get up to date on all washing and ironing and other domestic tasks.

I'm thinking of having a day out and about tomorrow, and I've got a dance class tonight. I was also hoping to attend a Lindy Hop dance workshop on Sunday, but unfortunately it's sold out. I'm on the waiting list, so I'll just have to wait and see if a space comes up.  If not, I'll book another one for a couple of weeks time.  It's part of my Xmas present from OH.

Anyway, I must dash as I need to eat before heading out to my dance class.  Hopefully, I'll have a bit more time to blog this week, so see you in the next one.

Friday, 10 January 2020

Back to Dance Classes

This week has heralded a return to the Jazz Solo/Charleston classes that I've been attending for the last 3 months. There was virtually a completely new crowd of attendees, apart from about 3 or 4 people that I recognised.  I always find it strange to have to get used to a whole group of new faces.

In honour of it being 2020, the next five week block is 20's Charleston again, which I don't mind, as I quite enjoy it. Some dance shoes came in the shop the other day and whilst pricing them I noticed that one pair was my size, so I'll be buying them next week and trying them out at next week's class. They have leather soles, which is useful for helping with the swivel in 20's Charleston.

I've missed dancing over the Christmas period.  It was good to have a break, but I enjoy going every week and learning new steps to add to my limited repertoire.

Tonight, I've been out dancing again at the monthly social dancing night.  It's only the second time I've attended, and this time I went alone, as my friend is taking a break from classes and didn't want to come.  I decided to go anyway, as I could always leave after the class, which constitutes the first hour of the night, if I wanted to.  In the end, I stayed for an hour or so and sat watching everyone dance.  A few people took pity on me and asked me to dance.  They were very kind and it was good experience to dance with different people.

I didn't dance any solo this time, mainly because the music didn't really lend itself, or maybe that's just an excuse. I didn't really even try this time around.

I have to admit that I'm not too good at Lindy Hop partnering.  I'm a bit stubborn I think and find it hard to follow the lead partner. In fact, a couple of men more or less told me so tonight.  They didn't seem too happy with me, well one in particular.  Not that it bothers me. I'm sure I'll get used to it with practice, but at the moment I feel like a fish out of water.  I will probably need to take some lessons to get better, which I'm considering as my next step.

Regardless, I felt quite proud of myself for going and just getting on with it. I'm not going to learn to dance with a partner just sat at home, watching dancers on YouTube. Thankfully, OH is supportive, he even offered to go with me, but not dance. I couldn't let him do that.  He'd hate it. He's just not interested. In any case, I don't really need him to go with me.  When you go on your own you take the opportunities that present themselves and that's a good thing I think.