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A Very English Affair

Friday, 29 April 2011

Good afternoon you lovely lot.

Whether you watched the Royal Wedding, ignored it and just said thank you for the extra Bank Holiday, or were a poor schmuck who was stuck in work, I hope you had a jolly nice day.

I'm firmly in the first camp. Nailing my colours firmly to the mast here: I am a staunch Royalist. I love tradition. I love pomp and ceremony, history and duty. I love frocks and hats. I love happiness. So what's not to love about a Royal Wedding? But if that's not your cup of tea then fair enough. Isn't this part of being a civilised and hopefully intelligent grown-up? You shouldn't feel the need to try and mock other people's thoughts and opinions in order to affirm your own sense of superiority and to be perfectly honest, I am more than a little fed up of the way some people have been reacting this week when they asked me if I was excited about the wedding and I replied yes.

Bah, mini moan over. I shall leave the fashion commentary to others but I must just say that I loved her dress. So elegant and so beautiful. I'm very pleased she went for sleeves too.

So what went on the Odd Socks household? We put on pretty frocks of course, quaffed Kir Royales during the ceremony and then had a mini tea party. I spent last night preparing for it like some kind of demented (and less boobalicious) Nigella. Apron on, hair up and I was ready to bake the night away.

This morning I started off with a very English breakfast of crumpets, plus lots of coffee. I thought the mug (my favourite) was kinda appropriate.

The tea party later in the day consisted of:

Tea, obviously. Pfft, who needs a matching tea set?

Well, we had to have some sort of nod to healthy/savoury stuff, even if my preference runs entirely to the sweet stuff. Chip sticks, homemade pizza slices, beef & tomato, cucumber and ham & tomato sandwiches, grated carrot and sultana, mixed baby salad leaves and some watercress. I even made my own bread!

Apple and blackberry crumbles, mini Party Rings, treacle tarts, fruit scones (damn you gluten-free flour, why do you make stupidly flat scones?!) and Victoria sponges. I feel like a veritable domestic goddess. The only thing I didn't make is the Party Rings. Even the raspberry jam in the Victoria sponges is my own work.

Full of alcohol, tea and cake, I then took myself out to the back garden to bask in the sunshine for an hour or two. What a lovely day it's been.

Let's Talk Books

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

I'm pleased to report that the March book buying ban went very well. I did read a lot of books over the past month or so, especially when I was on holiday, yet somehow the to-read pile hasn't gone down at all. If anything, it's bigger!



I'm blaming this slightly on the fact that I'm suffering from a common complaint. Despite having all those books next to my bed, I can often be found wailing "I've got nothing to reeeeeaaaaadddd!" The local library comes in handy when this mood strikes me but bless them, they don't have the greatest selection in the world. Or perhaps I'm losing my ability to pick out the good ones?

The last armload I took out was a truly mixed lot. It contained Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger and William Walker's First Year of Marriage by Matt Rudd and they are two of the worst books I've ever read. What was Audrey Nifenegger thinking with this one? I won't even bother reviewing it because it will make me want to set the book on fire. Just look at some of the things people have written on Amazon and ignore the 5 star reviews because they were clearly written by lunatics. The plot is frankly ridiculous. I can't believe it got through the whole editing and publishing process without someone pointing out that it made No Sense. As for the other one, well I honestly don't know how he ever got a book deal. I'm sure he's a competent enough writer (it is his day job after all) but the characterisation is horrendous and the viewpoint of the title character was really quite nauseating. I felt thoroughly depressed after it and it was meant to be funny. Doom.

However, in the same batch were The Importance Of Being Seven by Alexander McCall Smith (oh Bertie, what a joy you are), The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Six Other Stories by F. Scott Fitzgerald and The Unforgotten Coat by Frank Cottrell Boyce, all of which were really rather good. The latter in particular is absolutely wonderful. It's not on general release yet - this copy was available as part of World Book Week as the author is from Liverpool and does lots of work with local libraries. His books often bring a little tear to my eye but they also really make me chortle.

Also worthy of a mention was a recent holiday read, Nemesis by Lindsey Davis. It's the latest (20th) in a series of detective novels set in Ancient Rome and the surrounding Empire, so I wouldn't recommend you start with this one if you haven't read any of them before. Grab yourself a copy of The Silver Pigs and start there. Oh they're brilliant - she creates such a sense of time and place and they're so interesting and funny. Not to mention the food descriptions - yum! Don't be put off by the historical setting either. I always think that they've got a very modern air to them and they're not difficult reads.

If you do follow my recommendation then I envy you, I really do. I would love to discover Falco again for the first time - he's one of my very favourite literary characters. This book is quite noticeably darker than some of the other recent books from the series but that's not a bad thing.

The to-read pile won't be going down any time soon either. My recent birthday has meant that I now have another 24 books to add to it:

I've been watching lots of sci-fi films recently so am muchly looking forward to reading the Philip K. Dick stories. And I don't think I've ever mentioned it on here but I do love wrestling, so the Chris Jericho book is bound to be v. entertaining.

You can always count on Lee to buy brilliant presents. Aren't these two sets lovely? I really like the clashing covers on the Penguin set but the cover designs on the Harper ones are just beautiful.

These are going to be so useful. The sewing book is amazing; absolutely packed with hints and tutorials.

I think I should probably just give up on further efforts to reduce the pile and embrace the fact that my bedside table is entirely made up of books. Does anyone have any recommendations for me?

It's A Good Friday

Friday, 22 April 2011

Yes, I am in work today and I will be on Monday too, so you wouldn't expect me to be all jolly and happy with life. But I am! It was my choice to work- I'd rather take the time in lieu and have the extra couple of days holiday when it suits me later in the year. I have a fun weekend planned, full of meals out, birthday drinks with pals and a whole day spent lounging on the sofa watching one of my favourite sporting days of the whole year, the cross country from Badminton Horse Trials.

Adding to the general air of happiness are many things. I'm sporting a new frock:

Dress - Be Beau @ Matalan
Cardi - Matalan (at least 10 years old - ah they don't make them like that anymore)
Shoes - Dolcis, also about 10 years old
Lippy - Collection 2000 in, appropriately enough, Cherry Red

Work is looking really quite splendidly beautiful today. The sun is beaming down, the birds are all singing in fine fashion and it's just utterly lovely:

Coffee and an apple & cinnamon hot cross bun is always a good start to the day:

And I woke up this morning to find this next to me. How unbearably cute please?!

Hope you all have a wonderful Easter.

Back To The Brick Wall

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

What's this? Outfit posts two days in a row? Don't go getting used to it now.

I just couldn't resist my beloved brick wall any longer. Some cheeky monkey had put a giant ice cream bin in my usual posing spot so that had to get rather inelegantly hauled into a corner before I could take the photos. Not an easy feat in 4 inch heels!

Dress - Tesco, via Oxfam (£2.99!)
Cardi - Gap sale
Heels & ring - Dorothy Perkins
Pearls - BoBijou

I decided to bust out this new (to me) frock today as I had to notetake at an important meeting and wanted to look vaguely smart. I am most pleased that it fits - a size 12 in this sort of fitted style is not something I can usually squeeze myself into. It could have done with a bit of an iron judging by the wrinkles in the skirt in these pics but could I be bothered with that at 7am this morning? No, I could not.

I'm also v. chuffed with my new shoes. They were a birthday present to self as I made the somewhat shocking discovery that I didn't own any proper plain black heels. Would you believe it? I waited till they were on a 30% off offer though. I don't know why anyone buys stuff full-price in Dorothy Perkins as they are constantly having discount weekends and suchlike.

The newly chopped hair is looking a bit wayward here but I'm pleased with that too (aren't I disgustingly happy with myself today?). Proper before and after pictures can be seen in Kelly's Salon Surgery as she was kind enough to give me some advice about what to ask for on the dreaded trip to the salon.

Hello to all my new followers by the way! I need to have a look through my followers list very soon and check out all your blogs but please don't be shy - drop me a comment and say hello.

Attack of the Clashing Florals

Monday, 18 April 2011

I feel like I've been quite slack with the outfit posting recently. Must do better!

This is what I wore on Saturday for a day shopping in town and a haircut. Photos are taken pre-haircut, hence the giant mop.

I know my gaze is fixed to the floor in the first two and I have a bizarre scowl in the last one but honestly, I had no time to take any better photos! I was in such a rush to get out of the house and then ended up missing my train anyway, grrr.

Dress - vintage Sportscraft, revamped by moi as detailed in this post

Cardi - Tesco sale, purchased with a voucher won from lovely Em at Passion for Fashion

Belt & ring - Dorothy Perkins sale

Shoes - Schuh

Bag - made by the amazingly crafty Char

ps - there's going to be a North West bloggers meetup on 11th June in Manchester. If you want to come then get yourself over to the Google group set up for it. (Non-NW residents also welcome, obviously)

pps - the formatting in this post is driving me round the bend! Apologies if it's hard to read.

An Award

Thursday, 14 April 2011

The Kreativ Blogger award has been flashing around recently and a couple of people have been kind enough to tag me with it. Thank you very much to lovely Llara from Little Scribbler and equally lovely Elise at Foof and Faff and I hope I haven't missed anyone else who might have tagged me.

Supressing an inward shudder at the spelling of the award title, here goes! Ten facts about me coming right up:

1. I like awards but I am confused by where they appear from in the first place, and why so many of them are of the "list 10 things about yourself" variety. I am pondering creating my own award to dish out to fab people. If I do, it won't be a list and you can be damn sure I'll spell the title properly.

2. I hate people touching my hair. Seriously hate it. It's not that I'm worried about people messing it up (ha, it's a mess anyway!), I just loathe having my head and shoulders touched. I'm getting my hair cut on Saturday and I am dreading it.

3. And on a related note, I also hate ringing up and booking/ordering things. I bribed Ffion into pretending to be me and ringing up to book the hair appointment because I am such a huge wuss.

4. I like to sing Christmas carols out of season. I led a rousing rendition of Good King Wenceslas in the office yesterday.

5. I am so bored of vampires, werewolves and zombies turning up in everything at the moment. You aren't going to do any better than Angel and Spike so please stop trying.

6. I'd make a terrible chambermaid as I have no stamina when it comes to changing bedding. I often have to stop, have a rest and fire off a moany "I would rather sleep on the FLOOR than carry on changing these sheets" text to a friend. Clearly I need a man (or a maid) to do it for me.

7. The best sweets in the whole wide world (and yes, I am quite the connoisseur) are white Haribo jelly men.

8. My snuggle clothing of choice is my big red hoody.

9. And as that photo illustrates them, I shall inform you all that I love plucking my eyebrows. I find it super satisfying. It's a good job really, as they're bushy in the extreme and need tidying up all the time.

10. I think I'm getting posher in my old age. Either that or I've been watching too much Miranda. I actually said "Do bear with" to someone on the phone the other day. When I start trilling "Such fun" you know I'm in trouble.

I'm supposed to pass it onto ten bloggers but I think practically everyone has already been tagged with it, no? If you haven't, and you fancy a go then do feel free.

The Wanderer Returns

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

I'm back!

I took an absolutely ridiculous amount of photos whilst I was away but I don't want to bombard you with too many of them cos, well, I don't want to be the boring "look at my eleventymillion holiday snaps!" girl. But having said that, we did go to lots of lovely places and they deserve to be shown off a bit, so please prepare yourself for at least three million photos.

There are none of the cottage because it was a bit 80's-tastic inside. Not really a problem though as we were out doing things most of the time. And at least the outside was colourful.

I muchly coveted the cat shutters on the cottage down the road though.

So, last Sunday we went to the Shell Grotto in Margate. Such a brilliantly English little place! It's tucked away down a tiny side street and you wouldn't even know it was there, but once you're inside it's the most fascinating thing. They have no idea how old it is or who made it but there are over 4 million shells decorating the walls and it's amazingly intricate. My photos mostly suck though. Gargh.

And then to Richborough Roman Fort, the old gateway to England for Roman troops.

Monday was for frolicking at the seaside.
Tuesday was a good old National Trust day out. We managed to cram in three places - Bodiam Castle, Batemans (Rudyard Kipling's home) and Sissinghurst. All absolutely wonderful.

Mowgli topiary, I think.

As if to further prove that I am an Old Woman, I was quite excited to meet Aled Jones at Sissinghurst. He was doing some filming for Songs of Praise and we got roped in to be background extras. If you want to see if you can spot me on the telly then apparently it's on on 15th May.

Wednesday we went to Sandwich which was LOVELY. I don't appear to have taken any decent photos of buildings though, just lots of the wonderfully named roads they have there. And our afternoon tea, obviously.

Thursday was Canterbury which is also v. nice. I forgot my camera though, d'oh! The only photographic representation of the day is the board game (Touring England) we played that evening.

Friday was our day out at Dover Castle which was also utterly brilliant. The main castle is one of the best I think I've ever been to and I love all the new Henry II interpretation, but there's tons else to see and do there, including some fascinating wartime emergency hospital tunnels. Also, a nice American man came up to me and rather randomly announced "cute SHIRT!" Why don't English men say such things?

The colours have turned out a bit bizarre in this one. I was pretending to be a tomb decoration in the shadow cast by some stained glass, as you do...

White Cliffs and the ferry terminal.

Then on Saturday we came home via Ightham Mote which is very, very beautiful.

That's the only Grade 1 Listed dog kennel in England, don't you know?

T'was a glorious holiday. We were super lucky with the weather as well - only one day with a little bit of rain and most days were gorgeously sunny.

Would it bore you all if I did some separate posts about the National Trust places? I really did take a lot of photos of them, but I'm aware not everyone is as much of a history nerd as I am...