Sunday, 4 December 2016


Anyone there?
Look, it's me.

I've moved house, and have braved my first photo session in my new garden.
The neighbours will soon get used to the curious sight of me flouncing about and posing in ridiculous frocks...

1970s Betty Barclay dress - Mooch vintage shop
Vintage Bally boots and 1960s pendant - my shop 

So what can I tell you about life at the moment?

It's good.
The period leading up to the move was difficult. I am not usually much of a crier, and have been known to despise those who weep at the drop of a hat (their hat, anyone's hat). But good lord, I have cried more than I thought was humanly possible in the last 6 months or so. There were points when emotional distress manifested itself so physically, I was simply floored by it. 
When I cleared out the Cupboard of Doom, that repository of a lifetime's clutter and so many memories, I had to keep stopping to sob and try and catch my breath. The jacket, full price and extravagant at the time, to which I treated myself after a relationship break-up; the Chinese parasol I had up in my room all through my university years and beyond, yellowed with cigarette smoke and a little ragged around the edges; the rug made by my dad as therapy when he recovered from a bout of rheumatic fever in his youth; the dress I bought when I visited my dearest friend Deborah in America 20 years ago.
Three tiny sleepsuits, the first items worn by Claudia, Owen and Nina when they were born.  

The Sex Shoes. 
Oh don't ask...
Dismantling a life; it's really fucking hard.
I packed it all away, and moved.
And now I am in the process of remaking.

I know things are only things... But they hold associations and memories, and I like to have them around me, displayed and cherished. 

 Your comments on my last post also triggered many tears. You can't know how much your kindness, concern and encouragement meant to me, thank you very, very much. 
The support of my friends has been both overwhelming and essential during this time of great change.
 So I am settling into a new rhythm. And finding I like it. 

The house is lovely, I feel comfortable, and the kids like it too.

I'm hoping that I'll get myself back into a blogging routine again, now that the sturm und drang of the last few months have abated. I've missed it, missed all of you.

And thanks again for your patience and support. You're fab!


Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Down to believing

Looking back, my last post seems elegiac. Unintentionally so, at the time, but there is an air of weary melancholy about it all the same, a sense of mourning and loss. 

I didn't know - then - that I would be absent for so long. Or that when I returned, life would have changed so much.

 I've composed this post repeatedly in my head. I didn't know how to write it, and still don't. So I'll try and keep it simple and brief.

Simon and I are in the process of separating. I'm moving out, the kids will live between both homes, and we'll do our very best to share their care and upbringing in a loving and decent fashion. (They seem to be doing OK, so far.)

On holiday in Crete in May

I confess to feeling daunted. 
I'm starting again, alone, from scratch, at 52. 

On my birthday in June.

The To Do list runs over several pages and keeps getting longer.
 The logistics of managing the schedules and possessions of three kids across two households will be a challenge.
 My impending poverty is alarming. Church mice will be offering to buy my drinks.

It's a little overwhelming. 

Love - that elusive joker - seems a world away.


I guess it comes down to believing.

Believing in the support of good friends, and the fact that I know that money doesn't buy what is truly worth having.

Believing in resilience, resourcefulness, and the possibility of new beginnings.

In my own judgement of my worth, and trusting the truth in my misshapen heart, scratches, scars and all.  

So I guess it comes down to believing, and whether we do or we don't.

And I think, I hope, that I do.


Sunday, 1 May 2016

She's not there

Day Off + Things To Do (x many) = Fuck It.

I went to the General Cemetery instead.

Bright sunshine...

blue skies...

acid greens...

and plenty of sun flare.

It's been a while since I visited, but this place always calls me back.

Trying to explain it to someone who has never been and doesn't share the Victorian Graveyard Love makes me sound like a freak. So be it. 

It felt a little different; much of the overgrowth has been cut back and some trees have been cropped.

Necessary, I know, as part of the ongoing renovation work, but part of me regrets the loss of the wilderness...

although there is enough left to enjoy. 

I went to enjoy the silence, only to find myself sharing the space on this occasion with more than the occasional dog walker. 

A gaggle of school girls with their teacher working on an art project; a chatty man with his over-friendly if delightful dog; a couple of young women sharing a fag on a bench as they rehashed the events of the night before and planned their future festival tent arrangements; and two drunk-ish men with a supply of cans. 

No matter - they all passed through and left me to myself. 

Having posted photos of the cemetery before ( here, here and here), I was interested to see if I could see something different this time.

There are some gravestones I hadn't spotted before. 

Ubique is the motto of the Royal Artillery Regiment; Army Pensioner George Myers had been at the battles of Sebastopol and Inkerman during the Crimean War.

The shield-shaped headstone is for Annie Paine, Adjutant of the Salvation Army, promoted to glory April 25th 1914. Interestingly, there is a second inscription underneath for Helen, beloved wife of Major Jonah Evans, who died a year after Annie. Sisters? Secret lesbian lovers? I'm hoping for the latter.

And if I have already photographed most of the graveyard, I can always tinker with effects.

I know how she feels; I feel like shaking my fist at that non-existent God too.

I had a brief scan over my recent blog posts and was struck by how dull they have been; a dirge of repeat complaints about how busy I am, and tired apologies for poor blogging form. I'm boring myself, never mind you.

1960-70s lurex maxi skirt - Ebay
1970s velvet jacket - Leicester vintage shop
Sunglasses - vintage market
Ankle boots - charity shopped

I need to just stop. I don't intend to stop blogging, it's too precious to me - the friends, the conversations, the connections, the inspiration and ideas, I need them all. And I need this outlet for whatever nonsense is circling around my brain too.

But I am keenly aware of my lack of presence in the blogging world, and I feel guilty, frustrated and disappointed.

I'm going to wait until I can do this properly again.

Please don't bother trying to find her - she's not there. 

Hopefully it won't be too long.
And I hope you'll wait for me.


Wednesday, 13 April 2016

All work and no play

I'm painfully aware that I am being a dreadful blogger at the moment.
After all, bloggers, by definition, actually get their arses in gear and blog, no? 

Me, I lurk in the shadows feeling overwhelmed by the number of posts I have failed to comment on, and wondering when the hell I can take some photos for a post of my own.

Going dotty? I just might be...

1970s dress - gift from Tania
1960s Admyra jacket - charity shopped
Boots - retail (sale) 
1970s Miss Mary of Sweden dress and denim jacket - charity shopped
So that's what I've been wearing for a couple of days at least. 

Not much else has been happening apart from work.

There is plenty of colour on the rails at the shop...

and party frocks from the 1970s or 80s, take your pick.

Dressing the mannequins is like playing with life-sized Barbies (and Ken).
We've got some great sewing patterns...

funky homewares...

and something for the kids too.

But you know, as much as I love the shop and passionately want it to be successful, I have decided I don't want to work full-time. 
I want my life back. I miss my family, my friends, my blog. I want to sleep through the night, go to charity shops which aren't mine, cook better meals, I even want to clean the house. I want to sew, take photos, and get out in the garden.
There is colour going on out there too, and I hadn't even noticed.
So, as soon as the charity can recruit a shop manager, I will revert back to my role as deputy and part-time hours. Until then, blogging may be patchy, but I'm looking forward to a time when I have something other than work to write about!

Linking to Patti's Visible Monday, despite feeling decidedly invisible at present.

Hope all is well with all of you.


Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Lead on to Leeds

A long weekend.
A change of scene, and a destination easily accessible from South Yorkshire and the North East were required.

Solution? The West Yorkshire city of Leeds.

Here's the gang, all set to explore.

Past and present.

There is much evidence of Leeds' industrial history. Its wealth was largely built on the wool and linen trade in the 17th and 18th centuries, and further industrialisation through the development of mills and the Leeds-Liverpool canal brought great prosperity. 

The city's current affluence owes much to the financial, legal and service sectors. 
There are imposing Victorian buildings wherever you look, built to represent the city's wealth and success. 
This is the Town Hall, complete with lions and a Henry Moore sculpture. It was opened in 1858 by Queen Victoria.
This used to be the central Post Office in Leeds, now a restaurant. 

The Leeds City Museum.

The Corn Exchange, opened in 1864, is a beautiful building inside and out.

The spectacular domed glass roof was designed to allow in as much light as possible so the corn merchants could clearly see the quality of the produce on offer.  

It is still a centre for trade, albeit no longer corn-based; it houses a selection of independent shops and cafes. 

The lavish Victorian arcades are testament to the fact that a love of shopping is not a modern phenomenon. 

The setting for the shops might be stunning, but the same can't always be said for the merchandise...

Kirkgate Market is the largest covered market in Europe, and home to the original stall where Marks and Spencer started trading in 1884.
And because we all love a bit of gruesome medical history, we also went to the Thackray Museum, housed in the old Leeds workhouse next to St James' Hospital.

It wasn't all about history though.
There was also fun with wigs...

and plenty of pit stops...

and a wander around Park Square, an elegant city-centre Georgian square which now also includes a peace tree planted by the majors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 2003.   

We love our weekends away with Sabena and Gary, and Leeds didn't disappoint.
Discussions about our next destination have already begun!