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Winter Coats

Friday, 28 September 2012

There are lots of things I love about this time of year. Coats are one of them.  I'm not alone in this.  A quick look through my blog roll is showing up all sorts of posts talking about autumn/winter clothing and coats seem to be top of the list for a lot of people. I love it. I can happily debate the merits of colour vs pattern, tweed vs fur, fitted vs casual, for ages. Pockets, buttons, collars, trim: they’re all much more fun on winter coats than they are on summer jackets.

I never used to be able to join in with these conversations. Roll back to 2009 and I had one boring black winter jacket that had lasted me about four years and I just couldn’t understand why people had or needed 47 coats. I mean, black goes with everything, right? One black coat should do nicely. Then I suddenly saw the light. I don’t know why or how it happened but now the understairs cupboard and hat stand in my room are overflowing with coats and jackets of all sizes, shapes and colours. Look! This isn’t even all of them, just the ones I’ve managed to take photos of.

L - Posh tweedy. R (top to bottom)- vintage via Vix's ebay shop, H&M via ebay, French Connection

L - vintage Aquascutum. R (top to bottom) - H&M via ebay, Kookai via car boot sale,

It may seem as if I’ve got most of the bases covered: I have tweed, smart, colourful, faux fur, leather, vintage and cosy coats already. There’s always room for one (or two) more in the coat cupboard though. As with most of my clothing purchases, I'm always in search of value for money when looking to add a coat to my collection. That doesn't have to mean stalking ebay and charity shops and totally ignoring the High St shops. I'm always happy to pay decent money for the perfect thing. Case in point, the tweedy coat in the first picture. I adore it and don't care how much it cost.

On my current wishlist are the perfect duffel coat (because I always did want to be Paddington Bear) and the perfect cape (because I can’t be a bear all the time and maybe I can pretend to be a tall, glam cape-wearer instead). I intend to hit the shops good and hard until I find them.

This looks like it could be a winner

This is cute and sparkly.  Love it.

Somebody hold my handbag for me.  I've got some serious trying on to do!


Lions, and Tigers, and Bears. Oh My!

Thursday, 27 September 2012

A lion.

And some (sleeping) tigers.

And a spectacled bear!

Oh my!

As you may be able to guess, I went to Chester Zoo at the weekend.  I'd never been to the zoo before that.  It wasn't that I had a deprived childhood or anything - it was lovely, just somewhat lacking in zoo visits and Disney films.  I've still only really ever seen The Little Mermaid and Robin Hood.

But at least I've been to the zoo now!  It was awesome. I went with my lovely friend Shell and young Jack. Poor Shell, she had two kids to put up with for the day. I spent most of the time there dashing around going "ohhhhhhmygodddddaGIRAFFE!!" and wondering if anyone would notice if I stole one of the bears.  She has a big car - we could totally have stowed it away in the boot.

Hi Shell!

Hi Jack!

Let the photo bombing commence:

I am now desperate for a pet giraffe.  Wonderful animals.

I was so tempted to steal him/her for Char.

I loved this orangutan. Totally reminded me of Ludo.

That's a Roulroul partridge and chick.

Look, proof I was actually there!

We're going to the aquarium next, and then the safari park.  And if I'm very good, I might get McDonalds on the way home.

Autumn Days

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

I wish my school uniform had been more fun. It was navy. Lots of navy - navy skirt, navy jumper, navy tie with white and yellow stripes. Oh and a sky blue shirt. The only plus points were a) they introduced blazers for the years below us and we didn't have to wear them and b) it was better than our hideous gym kit. Yellow Aertex shirt and bright blue gym skirt and gym knickers... *shudders*

Luckily I am old now and school was a long time ago.  Those gym knickers are no more, even if the memory of running laps round the track wearing just them and the Aertex shirt will live with me forever.  I am convinced my PE teacher was a sadist.  Why weren't we allowed to wear our skirts as well?  Why weren't we allowed to wear tracksuit bottoms?!

*thinks determinedly happy thoughts instead*

There's still something very fun about starting off autumn with lots of new pens and pencils and notebooks - I don't think I'll ever grow out of that habit. And I rather like dressing in a vaguely schoolish fashion every now and then.  Blouse, blazer, kilt, sensible shoes, cableknit tights: this outfit could be appropriate school wear.  It's clearly not - I'd love to see kids in stag print shirts with collar tips on them - but this is my take on it.  I'm not ironic enough to wear a boater and a Head Girl badge without looking like I'm living out some naughty fantasy.

Blouse - Dorothy Perkins sale
Kilt - Oasis via charity shop
Blazer- vintage Betty Barclay
Shoes - New Look

The distinct advantage this has over proper school uniform is that you don't have to get changed when you get home.  You can zoom straight into town and do fun stuff instead.  Like being invited along to La Tasca for a paella making masterclass and a chance to sample some of the food and wines on their new autumn/winter menu.  I took Ffion along with me and we had such a lovely evening. Honestly, work was horrendous yesterday - floods and alarms going off all the time and everything electronic deciding to break at once and endless rain - so it was a real treat to go out and socialise with lots of really nice people.

We even got to make our own Sangria - apparently I'm very good at pouring measures.  Considering I've never done bar work, I am quite pleased with this!

I was rather too busy eating the food to take many pictures of it (bad blogger alert) but ohhhhhh my god, the slow-cooked pork cheeks were divine.  And I could have eaten their Spanish egg and chips (or huevos cabreaos if you want me to get all Catalonian) until I actually exploded.  You should definitely try those two if you go along there for a meal soon.

That Freixenet Mia is one of the nicest white wines I've ever had.  It definitely comes with the Odd Socks seal of approval.

What I've Been Reading Recently

Saturday, 22 September 2012

I have a huge book collection. This will come as no surprise to you, I'm sure. But someone who reads as much and as quickly as I do would bankrupt themselves if they bought all the books they got through in a year. Living around the corner from a library is a complete godsend. The only slight problem is that I've read all the good books on the shelves there.

Um, mild exaggeration... I should say, I've read all the ones that immediately appeal to me.  I'm sure there are plenty of good books in there that I haven't picked up yet. It's time to widen my book horizons slightly and discover some of them.

So, in the spirit of trying something different, I picked up Immortal Rider and Archangel's Kiss from the paranormal section last time I visited. In the interests of clarity, I should probably explain that although I love romance books, I struggle with paranormal books. I especially don't like ones with vampires in (whether of the sparkly or bloody variety) and by the time I'd ruled those out, there wasn't much left to choose from. Immortal Rider is about one of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse and Archangel's Kiss is (unsurprisingly) about angels, so I thought they'd be more likely to interest me.

Yeah, they didn't. I gave them both a good shot but I think I've identified my main problem with paranormal romance as a genre: the authors seem to feel it's ok to feature a lot of really gory, unnecessary violence (which naturally never affects anyone long-term cos they're all immortal and can heal themselves in the blink of any eye) as long as they chuck in a few bonking scenes as well. Immortal Rider was a complete clusterfuck of Horsemen and Elders and vampires and fallen angels and hellhounds (like really Larissa, don't make your worldbuilding uncomplicated or anything) tearing each other to pieces when they weren't busy shagging each other instead. Archangel's Kiss is a much better book and it's an awful lot better written but even that wasn't enough to keep my attention this time. I picked it up and put it down about 6 times and just gave up in the end. I was paranormalled out after a book and a half: this is clearly not the genre for me.

I have no objection to violence in books when I'm expecting it, it's realistic and it's in character.

I'm a big fan of Stuart MacBride - his Logan McRae books are the most brilliant mixture of gritty police drama and dark Scottish humour.  He doesn't shy away from some very grim situations though.  Birthdays for the Dead is a standalone novel and although it still features a Scottish policeman, it's noticeably darker in tone than the novels set in Aberdeen. Kidnap, murder, lots of policeman and criminal types kicking the shit out of each other...don't read it if you like your books all fluffy and happy. If you're made of sterner stuff then give it a try - he's such a good author and this was a great read.

I've also been reading a book about blogging, which I think will need a post to itself as it was quite thought-provoking, although not always in a good way.

Oh, and having a massive glom of the Guards books by Terry Pratchett.  Sheer book heaven as far as I'm concerned.  I love Sam Vimes more and more with each book.

I'm currently working my way through the two books I need to read for the next Blogging Good Read post and trying very, very hard not to give into temptation and buy My Animals and Other Family by Clare Balding and The Mystery of Mercy Close by Marian Keyes.   I want them both so much but I'm trying really hard to be good and get the other two books read first.

Tweed & Corduroy

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Let me tell you about a little quirk of fate that I like to call Alex's Law. It goes like this: you get vouchers for a shop and immediately there is NOTHING in there that you want to buy.

(Subsection 1 of Alex's Law: you often get vouchers for shops that you don't venture into very often.)

I won some Next vouchers a year or two ago and despite the fact that everyone else in the world (and blogland) had just bought an amazing bag/shirt/pair of shoes from Next, there was absolutely nothing I wanted to buy when I stepped foot in there. I think I shopped on a bad day - it seemed to be all sensible workwear and I just don't do workwear.  I don't know how this happens to me but I must have bad shopping karma or something.  Bet there was tons of lovely stuff in there the week after.

I didn't wait that long.  I cannot be patient with vouchers.  I know full well that the sensible thing to do is leave them in your purse and spend them another day/month/year if nothing catches your eye at first, but I have to spend them STRAIGHT AWAY.  So after flouncing round the store moaning a lot, I bought this jacket in a fit of pique and then begrudged the thing for ages. Really begrudged it. Poor jacket.

(I know this is odd behaviour.  Subsection 2 of Alex's Law: vouchers make you act like a crazy lady.)

I wore it on Tuesday and, y'know what, I really love it.  Tweed with wooden buttons, a cord collar and elbow patches - it could practically have been designed to appeal to me.  I am going to wear it a lot this autumn.  Why did I hate it for so long? I refer you to subsection 2 above.  The craziness clearly took a long time to wear off...

I bought these beauties at Bestival.  So cute!

Jacket - Next
Tshirt & cardi - H&M
Jeans & scarf - Dorothy Perkins
Brogues - M&S Limited Collection
Earrings - Wolf and Moon

Raiding the Menswear Department

Monday, 17 September 2012

I haven't been into Primark for a while.  The Liverpool one is huge and it's not a particularly enjoyable place to shop.  Four huge floors of barely organised chaos, discarded clothes ankle deep around the rails, bored staff ... there are lots of places where I'd rather spend my money.  I keep seeing lovely Primark things on blogs but I can never work up the energy to battle through all the shoddy crap and go and find them for myself.

However, when I was in Leeds at the weekend I was taken to Primark by my pal Lee to provide opinions on jumpers.  I have good jumper opinions, even if I do say so myself.  He didn't buy anything in the end but I fell in love with this one and had to buy it.  Why be led by which department things are sold in?  If things are ace then I buy them: I don't care what the label says.

I'm almost breaking my own rule about shorts needing to be longer than the thigh bit on my defence, it's not that the shorts are that short, it's that the tights are very unstretchy.  I'm only 5'2, Primark, they shouldn't be hovering around my knees!

Jumper & tights - Primark
Shorts - Gap
Shoes - Dorothy Perkins
Rings - Dorothy Perkins (silver) and craft fair (quartz)

What I Wore At Bestival

Saturday, 15 September 2012

I must admit to largely failing to take proper outfit photos at Bestival. Partly because I was too busy frolicking around with my fellow bloggers and enjoying myself, partly because I was suffering from an extreme wardrobe crisis before I went and felt like an unstylish mess for most of the weekend.  It wasn't all bad though.  Look, closeups!

Wellies and glow sticks are always a winning combination.

As is double toile. God, I love this Threadless tshirt.

Char and I (aka Foxy and Badger) in our amazing Dorothy Perkins hats.

And don't forget the all important festival wristbands! They ran out as we arrived so we got blue glittery ones instead of the proper yellow ones.

Really though, Bestival is all about the fancy dress.  The theme this year was Wildlife and I knew I wanted to be a ladybird.  One slight problem: all ladybird fancy dress costumes are slutty.  Do a google image search and see for yourself.  So I made my own!

Et voila, one non-slutty ladybird.

Thanks Sarah for the photo!

It's very simple from the front, just a little black tshirt dress from H&M:

Then I got creative on the back with interfacing and hat fabric and netting and lots of glue and circles:

And I was very pleased to rediscover these earrings in my jewellery box.  I thought I'd lost them.

Yay for fancy dress!

It was such an amazing weekend.  Huge thanks again to Echo Falls for inviting me along and letting me bring Char - we both loved it!