Monday, 18 September 2017

September - Comfort in the Familiar

I know it's not quite over just yet but hey I'm always early for things so here's my monthly round up.

Firstly as predicted last post I did indeed go back to Henley on Thames and much sooner than even I had anticipated. Mum and I made plans and then they changed so we decided to just go to Henley instead. It was a gorgeous day and we haven't exactly had many of them lately!

Interestingly I had a completely different day out with Mum than I did with Soo, visiting (mostly) different shops, eating somewhere else and taking a leisurely boat trip on the river. It was also clearly the September day for a wedding as during our time in and around Henley we saw 5! From 2 traditional church ones to one on a restored paddle steamer, another in the grounds of  a temple style folly on a river island and finally the sumptuous white linen and sparkling crystal laid table set out in the middle of a field far from anywhere that left you wondering how the hell they got it all out there.

Another lovely day ambling about and this time I took the camera and snapped away to my heart's content. We sat in Costa and did a quiz from someone else's weekend papers and it seems I am a 'Questioner' who is 'pathologically incapable of making a decision' which made us both roar with laughter because never a truer word spoken!

I bought a new bath mat, a plant pot and this rather lovely brooch.

Talking of weddings Soo and I headed down part of the Thames Path this Saturday on our way to Binsey via The Perch (a lovely and famous Oxfordshire pub) as they were having a fete.
We actually didn't make it to the fete until 4pm as we decided to go for a pint or two in The Perch first and there was a wedding on in the grounds. As it goes we found ourselves with a splendid ringside seat and spent a blissful afternoon indulging in one of my favourite pastimes - people watching. That and giving a running commentary/vicious critique on the guests outfits! Let's just say hardly a one could accessorize and don't get me started on the ill advised and ill fitting underwear! So many lovely outfits ruined by a dodgy bra, or knickers or both.  What better way to spend a day?

We did a quick circuit of the fete which was pleasingly busy for a tiny village fete but not up to much despite that fact, so we ate a wedge of coffee and walnut cake and headed home.

September is of course the month of our annual trip to Bournemouth. As ever we had a fantastic time, if a slightly surreal one at times.

We arrived and checked into our hotel. I found a new one this year The Tudor Grange
Himself said we had to stay here because it looked like the location of a murder in an Agatha Christie novel. He's not wrong.
Built in 1927 but using many genuine parts rescued from an original Tudor house that had just been demolished in Berkshire it was everything that fills my heart with joy.
And yes if I was any kind of proper blogger, I would have had some fabulous shots taken of me reclining in a suitable period outfit in this stunning setting, but I'm not, and this holiday was all about hiking and relaxing anyway so blah.
The only thing that let it down was the shower which was, as Himself so aptly described it, like standing under a shower that was being hand pumped by a small asthmatic child in the middle of an attack. Looking at TripAdvisor reviews on our return this seems to be an on going issue but it wasn't a deal breaker and we will definitely stay there again.
Unlike other reviewers the lack of proper reception desk didn't bother us in the least, we had to ring the bell on our way out one evening when a bulb in our room blew and tripped the rest of the lights. On doing so a man instantly burst out of the door right next to us at the bottom of the stairs scaring the absolute bejesus out of us both!
Once we had recovered ourselves and explained he was perfectly charming and said he would replace the bulb and reset the fuse box right away. So we headed out for dinner with me sniggering away as we left. I then had to explain to Himself that the reason I was laughing was that the door at the bottom of the stairs that the helpful man had burst out of was in fact a toilet!
We concluded that as there was no reception to sit behind he must have taken to sitting in the toilet just in case he was required.

Anyway I digress. On our first day we headed into town  and within 10 minutes experienced a full on jumping out of the car, fist fight in the middle of the street, road rage incident which was a tad unnerving. We crossed the road, cut through a car park and randomly came across all these fabulous vintage cars.

How cool is that tax disc???

We were on our way to book a table for the next night at our favourite restaurant. It's a tiny family run Italian and when we got there the Father was entertaining 3 of his pals at a table littered with dishes of bread, butter and empty wine bottles. As we waited to confirm our table we got offered a glass of wine. I declined admitting I'm not a fan of red, but Himself on being asked if he liked red and answering in the affirmative found a glass thrust in his hand with a "try this one, we are doing a wine tasting" he gave his opinion and instantly had another bigger glass of a different red pushed at him. The next thing I knew the owner popped up from behind the bar confirmed our table and handing me a glass of white wine "seeing as I didn't like red."
We were told to "sit down sit down" and ended up staying for about an hour chatting and drinking wine. Turns out one of the guys Brian was a champion speedway rider back in the 50's and knew the speedway track at Oxford very well, it was fascinating to hear his stories but as they were having some kind of 5 year reunion we did drag ourselves away to leave them to their party. I did sit there at one point and think I've not even been here an hour yet and here I am necking wine with some complete strangers!

We mooched about the town reacquainting ourselves, seeing what was new and ending up eating chips on the beach until the wind and rain drove us back to the hotel.
The next day we had decided to go to Brownsea Island because we haven't been for quite a few years now and last time we didn't really get to see the red squirrels.
The forecast had been dire and sure enough we woke up to pouring rain. We debated over breakfast and in the end we thought we would take the chance and figured worst case scenario if we couldn't get there due to the weather we could always wander/do a pub crawl around Poole.

We headed into town and caught the bus to Poole, the rain was torrential for the whole journey so it wasn't looking good. Luckily by the time we reached the harbour it had pretty much stopped raining, there was a boat just about to leave so we thought sod it we'll take the chance and jumped on it.

Apart from a couple of brief showers the weather was spot on all day so I'm so glad we took the chance. Last time we visited we walked all the way around the perimeter of the island so this time we walked across the middle, sort of down one side and back up the other. We saw red squirrels which thrilled me beyond measure.
Trust me there is one in this picture!!

We saw so much bird life and some Sika deer.
Most fled but this one did not seem in the least bothered by us and as you can see just stood looking at us in a quizzical fashion.

It is so beautiful on the island, I love it there.


A fantastic way to recharge and unwind.

Saturday was a day of weather extremes, from this
to this
I missed the worst of it catching up with my friend Alison, thankfully we were inside gossiping when all hell broke loose outside. Thunder, lightning, hail and torrential rain! We ambled around Christchurch and I bought one of my few holiday purchases in a charity shop there, a Tara Starlet frock for £9.99
Bargain!
I also bought a crab tealight holder to match the fish one I bought earlier in the year.
Bournemouth, as ever it's been a joy, here's to next year.

Other September purchases.
A fab green Voodoo Vixen sundress new with tags from Ebay. I have been stalking it on their website all year but couldn't justify £60 for a sundress, pretty as it was.
I can't even remember how I came across this on Ebay I certainly wasn't looking for it specifically but £22 later it was mine.

Finally as mentioned in my last post I did get around to sorting out my wardrobe(s) I sold some stuff on Ebay, so treated myself to the above and these two Luxulite brooches with some of the money. The lime green one was on sale so I took a punt as I wasn't sure how bright it would be.
The autumnal one I just could not resist.

Monday, 28 August 2017

August Outings and a Suitable Hat for an Adventure.

August is going out on a high, I'm sitting here typing in 27 degrees, the first proper hot weather since that mental week way back in early June. It really has been a miserable summer weather-wise hasn't it?  but I'm ever hopeful this will hold out for another couple of weeks for our annual jaunt to Bournemouth.

So what have I been up too this month? As ever time seems to have galloped by and thankfully after last month's mad frenzy I haven't been spending none stop!

Sadly for my wardrobe but not for my pocket one of the Collectif dresses had to go back. This one in fact.
Whilst the others fitted perfectly this one was so small I couldn't even get it on let alone attempt to zip it up. It never ceases to amaze me how the same dress size can vary so dramatically within one company! At least reflect it on the size chart people, or maybe to be fair it was wrongly labelled.

My only clothing purchases this month have been a pair of leggings and a lovely olive green cardigan from M&S. I was actually looking for new plates at the time but they didn't have anything I liked.

Talking of the wardrobe as I never have the time to do a one in one out when I buy stuff I tend to have a day of taking everything out and sorting through it. With my main wardrobe I do find I keep putting the things I wear back in the middle so items get pushed to each side and forgotten about.

I'm still using up random leave at work and have been taking Thursdays and Fridays to make long weekends so one grey and miserable week I did my main wardrobe first and my second wardrobe a week later. I Ebayed and charity shopped a few things, in fact I'm quite proud of the fact my second wardrobe now shuts with ease and isn't rammed full to the point of danger. It tends to house my going out dresses or special occasion dresses so I don't go in there that often if I'm honest and here is confession time. I have become that person I read about and always smugly think 'well at least I'm not as bad as that'

I am thoroughly ashamed to say not only did I have a couple of dresses still with the price tag on. I actually had one still with the tag but absolutely no recollection of where or when I purchased it. I have never done that before and I feel pretty dreadful. Out of control purchasing well it's a slippery slope and not one I want to head down, been close once, never again.
Anyway here it is (in a crumpled heap) after being worn and it fits perfectly thankfully. The only downside is a side zip fastening with a very rough edge at the top that was bloody painful under my arm by the end of the day so I need to do something about that, hmmm I hate side zip fasteners.
The other thing I was cross with myself over was a dress hanging up with make-up all over the straps, usually I always check things before they go back in the cupboard and clean as appropriate, it's so much easier to do when a stain or mark is fresh. Hopefully it won't be too difficult to get out....
Anyway I've had a stern word with myself, the dresses that stayed live to fight another day and I have made some pennies on the ones that didn't, so all is good.

Soo and I got together for a day out, we decided to go to Henley on Thames. She's never been and apart from a flying visit a few years back for some emergency dental treatment over the Christmas break  it's been many a year since I was there.
We were so busy yapping as we left the house I forgot my camera. Oh well I thought never mind, until I got there and was reminded how damn beautiful the place is and then basically spent the whole day cursing myself every time a lovely photo op occurred, which was often!

I may go back with the Mater as she has expressed an interest in seeing the town again too so if I do I will take pictures galore. In the meantime I nicked a couple of the internets!
We basically just ambled about going into any shop that took our fancy as well as looking in the beautiful little church and walking alongside the river. We did note there are A LOT of estate agents in the town, I don't understand how it can support quite so many, so we looked in the windows of most of them and played money no object, because frankly you need to pretty much be a multi-millionaire to live here.
 
It was one of those days where the sky keeps letting rip with a sudden torrential downpour of either rain or hail and the first time it happened we dived into 'The Vintage Look' a quirky mix of antique and retro household items. I ended up spending my left over birthday money on this mad dog because it made me laugh every time I looked at it.
We googled the artist when I got home (as you do) and it turns out to actually be a thing, and I got it for a good price as it goes!

Another rain pit stop was in Tudor House Antiques, what a place!!!
On our visit instead of baskets in the windows upstairs there was a half shop dummy, bosoms pressed to the glass which was somewhat distracting!

You walk in and every single inch of space from floor to ceiling is rammed full! You have to turn sideways to get through some parts and upstairs having to literally bend myself double under the low beams whist tiptoeing on a narrow staircase where each tread was so piled with stuff on each side you could only just fit your foot in the gap between certainly added a frisson of danger to my visit.
It certainly led to a jokey camaraderie with the other customers as you tried to find a spot to squeeze into so they could ease past you, especially as you often keep bumping (literally) into the same person again and again as you go round.
The other mad thing about the place that Soo pointed out was there wasn't a speck of dust. All these shelves piled floor to ceiling and someone clearly kept them spotless. what a job!
Anyway despite all that it's a bloody amazing place and we had a fab time poking about to our hearts content. I also made my next random purchase of the day.

A vintage pith helmet, because, why not?
I'm not actually sure where or when I shall wear it but it fits perfectly and is in near perfect condition. I do have these mad moments of impulse and frankly have learnt to just go with them, I offered the guy £20 for it because that was all the cash I had on my person and he accepted so that was that.

I also had my annual trip to the Stonor Park Craft Fair with Mum this weekend. I went home with her after work of Friday and had a lovely dinner at The Red Lion  then we were up early for the craft fair the next day.
It wasn't as big or as busy as previous years but actually that made for a pleasant day because it was so much easier to get about. I bought a couple of things.
 I'm definitely going through more of  a nautical phase than usual right now!

An owl for the garden reduced to £20 and a Monkey Puzzle Tree reduced to £9. I have always wanted a Monkey Puzzle so even though I don't have my own garden to put it in (which I always maintained would be the prompt to finally buy one) I bought it anyway. You can grow them in pots and who knows what the future will bring? (better start playing the lottery....)

We also sat in the sun and listened to The Haywood Sisters
who we both thoroughly enjoyed.

Anyway today we are planning to go for a walk and enjoy the last glorious day of the bank holiday so I better get my arse in gear. I shall leave you with my only bag purchase this month and one that came from an actual retail shop no less, something that does not happen often!
Bought in New Look for £8 in their sale.

Friday, 4 August 2017

July. The Highs, The Lows, The Epic Purchases.

Well that was July, it certainly had it's moments and frankly I could have done without them, but as thankfully it wasn't all bad, I'm not going to think, about or talk about, the shit stuff.

The fact I am sick right now and displaying all the usual signs of being run down (let's just say my currently look is bubonic plague chic) means some TLC is due fast. When my body does this to me I have learnt to listen.

So on to good things. I had a great day out shopping with Soo and a lovely dinner out with friends, who surprised me with a belated birthday bottle of prosecco on the table when I arrived. My friends are the best.

I also finally managed to take some of my holiday time, I am seriously in danger of losing it as the academic leave year ends in September!?! I had squirreled 2 weeks away anticipating another house move but as we have put that off for a year I had those 2 weeks to play with.

I had great plans for my week off, great plans, I'm sure your guessing by now I didn't achieve them, AT ALL. Well maybe one or two.
I got one day out in the garden
I *finally* cleared the path right to the bottom of the garden, it's only taken a year. Now I just have to start moving sideways to the left.....
How gorgeous is this clematis that now has the room to flower and flourish?
Also how awesome is this spinning seagull Himself bought me in Penzance? He's been going great guns in the miserable weather we have had lately

It was my Mother's birthday so I took her out for lunch, it rained so we sat inside the lovely riverside pub we had chosen and I ate delicious macaroni cheese. I ate it again the next day as it goes, also with Mother but this time at a garden centre.
When I think on the fact I had decided to eat sensibly on my week off, I actually ended up pretty much eating my body weight in cheese.
But as it was my birthday the week before and, are you sitting down? I did not eat any cake!?!*&!%! I guess I was allowed to make up for it with much cheese.

Whilst I was out with Mum I bought some wine. Now to set the scene my Dad really knows a thing or two about wine. Not in a pretentious wine snob anything less than £20 a bottle is beneath me way. But he was good with wine and I don't think he ever bought a bad bottle. He tried to teach me but sadly it wasn't to be.

I still go out and buy wine because I like the look of the label or because it's on an offer. It's safe to say over the years I have bought MANY bad bottles.
No prizes for guessing what made me choose this bottle!
It was Himself who bothered to read the label
and then took great delight in pointing out the 'wine based drink' on the back, I opened it with a sinking heart. As it goes, well chilled, it wasn't that bad. I've had better and I've certainly had worse. Having said that I don't think I'll be buying it again.

I finally sorted my cds since moving a year ago. yes, yes they are alphabetical, come on now, I'm an ex-librarian for god's sake.
I made random discoveries like Nephew Number One *still* has all bar one of my Gary Numan cds and apparently I have 5 Placebo albums even though I have always assumed I don't really like them. Hmm.

I also finally took myself into Oxford outside of work hours and to the Ashmolean Museum to visit their Raphael exhibition.
I thoroughly enjoyed it, both from the point of view of the fabulous and fascinating exhibits themselves and the deep joy of wandering round people watching and shamelessly eavesdropping their conversations. Bliss.

It reminded me just how dreadfully long it is since I last sat and just sketched random things around me. I got a £5 voucher from Paperchase for my birthday so this week I used it to buy a lovely A5 sketch book (and a unicorn keyring with the left over!)

So here we are in August so I shall end this blog with my July purchases. It's going to take a while so sit back, put up you feet and marvel at my epic spending....

I shall begin with a couple of gifts to ease you in.
Birthday brooches
Birthday deer. Spotted by Himself in Penzance, I am beyond thrilled with this beautiful gift. Himself knows me well.

Ok so I did also buy some bits in the Accessorize sale (not pictured.) two nautical style scarves, a pearl bead choker and cherry print socks as I recall.

July was going ok, I had managed to resist various sales I was quite pleased with myself, then I got an email saying the Collectif sale had started........

The frock I have been stalking on their website was in said sale but dear readers I resisted! Oh yes, I held my nerve and sure enough I got an exclusive 'extra 30% off' email not long after. Well as you can imagine that frock hit the checkout faster than Usain Bolt out of the blocks. I still haven't got over missing out on the burgandy tartan one in January!
This is it
My holiday frock for Bournemouth, if I can hold out that long that is. As it goes it actually isn't stretch cotton like my other Dolores dresses but Jute?? I don't think I've worn jute since the sack race at infant school, but I'm game for such a delicious frock!
Oh and I may also have purchased another colourway at the same time, you know saves on postage and all that.
I wore it to work this week and I am seriously in love. having said that I do need to adjust the elastic in the sleeves because at the moment they are so tight I was losing the circulation in my armpits.

I ordered something from the Hell Bunny sale but they couldn't find it in stock so they refunded me and I bought this dress from another website sale instead. It's very red and orange and it makes me very happy.
I also bought a necklace and earring set which I repainted when it arrived
much nicer than the weird metallic paint effect it originally was. I thought that was it and my purchasing for July was done until I got ANOTHER exclusive Collectif email to say all sale items had an extra 50% off.
"Hmm" thought I "I'll just have another wee look, what harm could it possibly do?"


These may have arrived on Monday......


Just in case you think I'm neglecting my handbag purchasing skills, think again
£2.80 for this cute little 60's box bag.

Finally the best until last. To set the scene; I had to dive into town for some bits and pieces the other Sunday. On the way home I have to pass the British Heart Foundation shop and unlike most other charity shops it is open on a Sunday. This bag was directly in my eyeline through the open door. I literally burst in, snatched it up and galloped to the till, startling the bored looking hipster serving who clearly thought I was completely insane. Did I care? No way Jose! and especially not for £3.49

Behold this glorious, glorious piece of  1980's.
How magnificent?