Thursday 30 May 2013

Washing the rocks below

We headed up to the North East coast on Tuesday, to meet up with my sister and her partner, and take charge of the kids again. 

Both halves of the party had had a wonderful time. 

The Victorian ironwork and glass canopies of Tynemouth's metro station never cease to delight me. They were restored a couple of years ago and look magnificent.

Ambling around this old-fashioned coastal town is always a joy.
Tynemouth Priory, with the statue of Lord Collingwood in the background, looking out to sea. 
He took command of the British fleet at the Battle of Trafalgar after Lord Nelson was fatally wounded.

I have never lived near the sea; I think I should do that before I reach my dotage.

Sadly, I will never achieve the glamour of the 1971 Miss Tyne-Tees entrants. 
I bet they were frozen!

This fabulous photo is on display in one of Tynemouth's many cafes.

The gang went out for a delicious Italian meal.

(No, Littlest isn't smoking a fag, it's a lollipop!)

Then back home to Sheffield, where the cats were delighted to see us, and an early night was had by all.

1970s dress - Ebay
Denim jacket, waistcoat, shoes, necklace, bangles and fishnets - charity shopped

The remains of the cherry blossom.

The kids and I are off to York tomorrow, meeting up with friends.

I might be able to squeeze in a browse in a charity shop or two before the kids start complaining...

I've tried to catch up on my blog reading today - a couple of days away means there are a lot of posts, so apologies if I've missed anyone!

Monday 27 May 2013

On the sunny side

My lovely sister whisked the kids away to Tynemouth on Saturday, so the last couple of days have been a child-free, sunshine-filled, treat-laden Festival of Goodness!

Saturday was spent wandering among secondhand book and record shops, charity shops, having coffees and drinks, followed by a meal at the delightful Thyme cafe.

I spent a few minutes berating myself for forgetting my camera. I had planned an anatomy-of-a-weekend-type post and kept seeing brilliant photo opportunities wherever we went. But that's no way to live, is it? So I abandoned my irritation, and just enjoyed the experience - yeah, an undocumented day, who knew they existed in a blogger's world?

That said, I did take my camera with me yesterday for a stroll around Sheffield city centre.

The sun had brought everyone out to play, it was very busy and lively.

The fountains in the Peace Gardens are a magnet for kids.

I love the Winter Gardens - I love the shape of the structure, the light, the water features, the plants, and the Bradwells banana and toffee ripple ice cream.

An artistic nod to Sheffield's industrial heritage as a centre for the cutlery trade, through the production of Sheffield plate and stainless steel.

On a beautiful sunny day, it's easy to love this city.

When I first came here, there was nowhere to sit outside and enjoy a drink and some food; now, plenty of people are very happy to grab the chance to do so. We never know when the weather will allow it again!

1970s maxi dress - Ebay
Cardigan, necklace, bangles and sunglasses - charity shopped
1970s denim wedges - Second to None.

Gotta have GPP (Gratuitous Pussy Pics)...

... and GGP (Gratuitous Garden Pics)! 

Predictable, moi?

Yesterday evening;
One of my favourite dresses.
Our favourite Thai restaurant.
My favourite starter.

Forgot to take any other photos - too busy eating!

There are charity shop finds to show you, but they will have to wait.

A lazy day is in order before we head up to the North East to have a laugh with my sis and her man, collect the kids, and return home on Wednesday.

Hope you had a great weekend too!


Thursday 23 May 2013

It's different for girls

With characteristic lack of foresight, I chose to wear a swirly whirly twirly dress yesterday, just as the wind was getting up and the chances of flashing my granny pants increased...

Well might I look a little sheepish.

I don't think I was too embarrassing, a bit of billowing about the nether portions never hurt anyone, did it?

This is another easy (breezy...) dress which I wear a lot. 

I usually pair it with a cardigan to pull in the silhouette, but this time I layered it over a blouse.

This photo demonstrates why I usually streamline the dress with something fitted over the top; it has rather an old-school maternity smock look about it. Not sure that's a look I want. You know, being as I'm not pregnant.

Equally, there is something slightly schoolgirlish about it too.
A soon-to-be-49 year old pregnant schoolgirl.



Funnily enough, the dress and the ruffles of the blouse underneath called to mind this photo - me in 1971, aged 7.

1970s Lerose maxi dress - Ebay
Sheer blouse - jumble sale
Denim jacket, sunglasses, shoes and bangles - charity shopped 
Pendant - gift from Vanessa

I was overjoyed to receive this 1960-70s Lord Python Sheffield-made stainless steel pendant, a gift from darling Vanessa of Two Squirrels Vintage. She found it in her jewellery collection and felt it should return to its city of origin, so she sent it back to live with me!

Thank you, Miss V - I love it!

Look, a breezy, over-exposed outtake.

Never mind the answer, my friends - the washing, my dress, my hair and the cherry blossom are blowing in the wind.

So while I am considering friendship, women, kindness, schoolgirls and childhood in this post, can I also bend your collective ear for a moment?

I don't write all that much about my kids on this blog. Sure, they do feature on it but really, it's supposed to be all about me round here. Oh, they pop up from time to time, passing references and photos, we do live together and hang out, and they're pretty much central to my life.

But I never had any interest in being a Mummy blogger.
Those teeth-achingly saccharine accounts of the achievements, cuteness and oh-so-hilarious doings of someone else's offspring... Nah, not for me. The stories and comments I share about my kids are more likely to be of the bloody hell, they're driving me bonkers, the little buggers variety.
I don't always find my children fascinating, so why should you?

But please bear with me while I tell you something about my Eldest.
Our personalities are very similar in many ways, hence we butt heads from time to time. We are both stubborn, pedantic, think we are always right, and like the last word.
But just recently, I have realised that for all our shared traits, we are also very different.

She's better than me.

She's less judgmental, more tolerant, more forgiving.
She doesn't bear grudges (I am an Olympic-standard grudge bearer.)
She's calmer in the face of the bad behaviour of others.
She doesn't make a fuss.

Dammit, she's a better grown-up than I am, and I am both astonished and proud. Really proud.

She's got chocolate cake mixture on her face here. Bloody hell, she even makes better chocolate muffins than I do.

Most of us know how mean girls can be - at 11, or any other age. How is it that girls/women can develop and sustain the most wonderfully supportive relationships, yet at other times treat each other with such unkindness?

Eldest has had a tricky time lately, due to a friend being mean to her. Mean, manipulative, controlling, unkind, and rude. These are not the characteristics of a friend in my book. But after a mum-to-mum conversation (I had to, the behaviour was too bad to overlook and leave unchallenged) and some discussion, she decided to forgive her friend, and carry on as normal. No judgment, no grudge, no payback, no fuss.

I couldn't do that. She's nicer than I am.

So I am contemplating what I can learn from my girl, and what we can tell each other about friendship. We'd both love to hear your thoughts and experiences, either from your own childhood/adolescence, or from a parent's perspective.

I'll stop now.
Thanks for listening.

My next post will be all about secondhand shopping and frocks, I promise!


Tuesday 21 May 2013

On the Therapeutic Benefits of Charity Shopping (and Blogging)

Oh, you delicious people have made me feel so much better!

Thank you for your supportive comments, and for sharing your tales of the unexpected twists and turns which life can take. I appreciate them, and you.

Having indulged in a whinge and a wallow, I shook myself and did the right thing - I went charity shopping.
 My darling friend Vix, always a voice of sound reason and good humour, reminded us in her current post that there are still vintage bargains to be found in the UK's charity shops.
She's right.

Three fabulous 1970s dresses - the first two are destined for Ebay, but the maxi with the splashy print is staying home with me. 

1960s vanity case; 1960s Warmco wool blanket; 1970s St. Michael top; and a large wicker basket. 

Those old St. Michael labels transport me back in time - I am pretty sure I had a top just like this when I was a teenager. 
Sadly, a 1970s size 14 doesn't fit me, but it's perfect for Eldest, she's perfectly happy for me to buy her clothes from charity shops. That's my girl!

I found this retro 1970s-style shirt dress last week - it's not vintage, but I liked the print and it was only £3.50.

And the denim jacket is definitely my Wardrobe Workhorse.  
Lynne is doing a series of posts on her excellent blog highlighting hard-working pieces which we wear to death. Once the weather is warm enough for me to ditch my winter coats, this is my go-to, goes-with-everything jacket.

Look - a grumpy-looking bird which isn't me, how refreshing...


Showing off my self-made tote bag - it's proving to be very useful, I can fit a whole heap of crap in there!

I think that's my smug I made a tote bag face. 

Denim jacket, shirt dress, cardigan, bangles, 1960s flower brooch, belt and tights - charity shopped
1960-70s steel pendant - Ebay
Shoes - jumble sale 

I'm linking up my charity shop finds with South Yorkshire escapee Max, feel free to join in. 

And thank you again for listening and letting me complain a little, and for getting it and being kind.
It means a lot. 

Sunday 19 May 2013

She could clean the house for hours, or rearrange the flowers

Is it just me who sometimes feels they have stumbled into a life they hadn't planned?

 Not all the time. 

Mostly I like it, and I recognise that being at home with the kids is a luxury many women - and men - long for but can't afford.


But... it's not what I expected to be doing.

I expected to continue my career, to use my education and professional training and skills.

I think these are now so rusty after years of disuse as to be non-existent.

I'm good at making a tit of myself though, that's a skill I still use regularly, to keep it sharp.

In case any of you UK gals are wondering, these photos were taken a couple of weeks ago. I haven't become so unhinged as to wear a winter coat on a warm sunny day.

Not yet anyway...

The original intention behind these pics was a jokey look - sexy neutrals! post, since my disdain for beige and camel and neutrals in general is common knowledge to most of you.

But the photos... oh dear, the photos gave me pause.

 I look sad. Not just in a Chronic Bitchface way, but properly downhearted, dispirited, tired and old.

So I shelved the idea.

1970s Alexon wool/faux fur coat, 1960s slip, sunglasses and faux pearls - charity shopped
Bangles - gift from my favourite freckleface Tania
Lurex fishnets - gift from darling skip-filling Vix
Shoes - retail, ancient

Just so you know, I am not meaning to denigrate the hard work and valuable contributions of stay-at-home mothers. 

It just isn't what I anticipated for myself, and now I seem a little stuck with a role in which I'm not sure I am either effective or satisfied. This is a view I hold about myself, no one else.

Don't mind me; in a couple of days I'll be whizzing round the charity shops, selling on Ebay, helping out at school, feeling more productive, and counting my blessings, of which there are many.

I credit blogging, a less provocative equivalent of Lucy Jordan's urge to run naked through the shady streets, screaming all the way, with helping me avoid her fate on the Paris rooftop. I adore this song, but had no idea when I first heard it in 1979, that I would come to identify with Lucy's story.

Funny how things turn out.

Oh good grief, give me slap or a shake in your comments, snap me out of this!

I don't feel at my most visible, but I'm taking my angst and my neutrals over to Patti's as usual. She may throw me out for being a misery but it's a risk I'm prepared to take!