Wednesday 20 March 2019

A new family member! Birthdays!

You know the Chinese saying/curse 'May you live in interesting times'? Well, the week of my birthday was one of those. I posted my blog a few days earlier than usual because of the Sunshine Award nominations, and on the day I posted I received a call from my second cousin in Ireland to say he had something to discuss with me. He had signed up for Ancestry DNA some months ago and had found a close match in the UK: he'd received a response and was able to tell the matchee she had a first cousin (me!) living less than 50 miles away from her.

Please meet Marian and her daughter Katherine:

Marian is my maternal aunt's eldest child born in 1953, out of wedlock, and adopted (the same as my brother Julian) and therefore my first cousin. She and her daughter came to see me last Friday. It was an emotional  meeting but it was so lovely to meet them both. I was able to show Marian pictures of her biological mum and of her extended family in the UK, Ireland, Chicago, Florida and Honolulu; where we have first cousins.  Marian had no idea her mother was Irish. She was pretty overwhelmed by the whole thing. I'm not surprised; I couldn't begin to imagine how I would feel in a similar situation.
So now I have 'new' cousin and best of all she lives in London so I can visit her easily and vice versa.

Last Thursday's outfit: I had planned to go walking but the day was horrible so I just added a top and cardigan to these leggings which I keep for walking as they're thick and warm...

I look like I just got off my horse!
Everything charity shopped except boots; present from daughter.
Checked leggings 49p; Barnardo's, Great Denham as was the cardigan by Next: 3.99. Can't remember where I got the checked top from...

All jewellery charity shopped. Photo taken at the top of the stairs for a change!

So, last Saturday was my birthday. I had a brilliant day.

Neck scarf 50p 3:16 charity shop; bag by Dune present from my daughter; headscarf: Primarni. All jewellery charity shopped.
This was where we started from; Sir John Soane's Museum. It was a bit of a disappointment. I thought it would be a more domestic interior but Sir John was an avid collector (purloiner?) of classical antiquities. I'm not very keen on all that  classical statuary, heads, and very old paintings so we whizzed through and out again. I'm a philistine, I know...

Everything charity shopped except jacket; another present from my daughter, and leggings; M&S retail. The dress was from 1.00 rail at the 3:16 charity shop and although the material is light it was quite warm. I love this dress because of the spots and the draping. Boots by Next; charity shopped in Salvation Army, Rushden for 5.00.

We went for a drink in Lincoln Inn Fields:

Me and the daughter

I decided we should go to the British Museum as a) I'd never been and b) It was supposedly nearby.

We never found it! We passed this demonstration outside India House on Aldwych. Then we carried on walking and crossed Waterloo bridge:

The plan then was to walk to Tate Modern, but we were all cold and a bit footsore so we hopped on a tube and went to Camden where the restaurant was for my birthday meal. I went for a rummage around the charity shops on Camden High Street; daughter went retail shopping and OH and brother went to the pub! We were all very happy with our choices and then met up at the restaurant along with brother Julian and nephew.

From L to R: brother Julian, nephew Daniel, me and daughter; brother Tony. OH took the photo.

We had a wonderful boozy dinner at The Mango Room in Camden eating Caribbean cuisine which we all love. I had sea bream and it was delicious. I'd definitely go back there again! It was a really good birthday. I got some lovely presents; books and CDs from my wish list; tights; perfume; cash from two of my brothers; flowers from grandson; Julian bought me a beautiful candle; and check me out, I found  an Armani skirt (below) in a Camden charity shop, Mind, and my daughter bought it for me as part of my birthday present!  What a very lucky and blessed woman I am.

On Sunday we spent the day with my son.

I wore my new skirt to the charity shop where I volunteer on Monday.

Flowers were from my cousin, Marian. Everything charity shopped except boots; Matalan retail and tights; e bay.

Such a pretty skirt! Made of wool with embroidered flowers by Armani bought in Mind  in Camden on Saturday. Green homemade jacket; Red Cross shop a few years ago; it would have been 1.99. Can't remember where I got the green ruched top from.

All jewellery charity shopped except earrings - donated by my daughter.

I have been visiting fewer charity shops since I started volunteering at Barnardo's. Last week I bought a few bits in Barnardo's on the Monday and went rummaging on Saturday in Camden where I bought a bangle for 1.50 and that was it! This week at Barnardo's I bought two summer tops for 3.00 each; and 2 scarves for 1.00 each. I will always look in the 3:16 shop every week  as I pass it on my way to town and I just never know what I'll find in there. Apart from nice clothes I've bought a lamp, several rugs and lots of household linen and bits and pieces from here over the years and lots of wonderful books. When my eldest grandson was small he always spent his pocket money on toys from here and I've bought both clothes and toys for all grandsons, too.

On Tuesday, I was at the food bank as usual and had errands to run in town even though it was lashing down and very windy. On my way back I popped into the 3:16 where they're doing a BOGOF (buy one get one free). I bought a pair of loose blue trousers and got for free a pair of Boden trousers that are loose and mid calf length. Now this is a length that I dislike on me and I'm still not sure about them, but I will wear them on the blog and see what you think. If I don't like them it won't matter; they were free and I can always re donate them!

This rather tiny church was just outside the town of Sandy set in a lovely cemetery.

On Wednesday I walked with the group having not walked at all with them the previous week. We walked 7 miles in Sandy around the RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) sanctuary. It was an extremely windy day; the remnants of Storm Gareth were felt. Unfortunately, the strong wind gave me a really painful earache and jaw ache for the rest of the day...

On Thursday I did the usual food shopping, did more errands in town and cooked a big dinner for us all as it was eldest grandson's 24th birthday the next day. He's off to South Africa for a holiday with his girlfriend, so this was the only chance he had to come down. He's been to South Africa before and had an amazing time. He feels a real affinity with the place but that's not surprising as his grandfather  (my ex-husband) was South African.

I bought the skirt in Oxfam on the sale rail for 2.99 when in I was in West Hampstead  the week before. The top is also charity shopped about four or five years ago but I can't remember where. Cardigan charity shopped at the independent charity shop in town for 3.00. Tights charity shopped. Shoes; Primarni sale.
I seem to have bought quite a few skirts lately; I may have to do a challenge and wear  a different one every day for a week.

All jewellery charity shopped.

We forgot to take photos of the birthday meal and like a lot of men I know grandson is not keen on having his photo taken; but I did remember to take a picture of the cake the daughter made for her birthday boy!


Friday's outfit. It wasn't a very good day for walking so I decided 'd go and spend my birthday money instead! Everything charity shopped. Boots, 1.00 euro in a Donegal charity shop; they're children's which is why they were so cheap. I thought I'd left these in the caravan so was surprised to find them in the wardrobe when I put my brand new retail green canvas Mary Jane's away I bought with my birthday money from Sainsburys. The leggings which I usually keep for walking were 49p from Barnardo's reduced rail. The tunic I can't remember where I bought it and the striped top is another 1.00 find somewhere - I've had it for years.

I bought this necklace for 1.99 from the Sue Ryder charity shop. Earrings are daughter donated and all other jewellery is charity shopped.

I spent some more of my birthday money on some charity shopped jewellery and I also bought myself a Magnolia tree. I had one a couple of years ago and asked OH to plant it for me. He planted it at the allotment! We gave the allotment up  eventually as OH didn't have the time to keep it up and I don't like gardening and we forgot about the magnolia tree. Now I have another one and it's already planted and in my garden. I hope I have more success with this than I have with the Wisteria which has only given us a single bloom in the 5 years we've had it! I also bought myself a new coat (below) for 6.00 in the Cancer Research shop in town. I still have a little bit of birthday money left so I'll probably spend that at Barnardo's on Monday...

I went to see my cousin Marian on Saturday. We had a lovely day just chatting and drinking tea. I had planned to go for a bit of a rummage whilst I was there but the time just flew by! I didn't want to stay late as I dislike driving in the dark; I find the glare of oncoming headlights makes it difficult for me to see even though I have anti-glare coating on my glasses!

Saturday's outfit.
Everything is charity shopped except the boots which were daughter donated. The black cord trousers are by M&S and were on the 1.00 rail at the Red Cross. Yellow shirt bought  in a Donegal charity shop for 3.00 euros. Can't remember where I bought the yellow kimono jacket from and it was only last year...

All jewellery charity shopped and the scarf is one I bought from Barnardo's at Great Denham last week for 1.00.

This is my new coat. It's an Italian label and is trimmed with black and some silver chain. It also has hook and eye fastenings along the front if you want to wear it done up. I put an old coat in the charity shop bag that I've not worn very much at all . See, I'm trying my best with the 'one-in one-out' thing!

I'm slowly reading 'The Corner', by the writers of the TV series 'The Wire'. It's an ethnographic study of a corner of two streets in West Baltimore in the 1990s where a lot of stuff goes on. The focus is on one specific family and their activities and relationship with the corner and all the people who come to it. It's quite a harrowing read (drug use and misuse. violence, guns  etc) so I dip in and out of it; I highly recommend it. In between dipping in and out of this book I'm reading my way through my birthday books and enjoying them immensely.

On Monday I volunteered at Barnardo's.  On Tuesday I was at the food bank and in both places I was very busy. It is a very rare occasion I get to sit down at either place!

I used up the rest of the  birthday money I had on Tuesday afternoon whilst out looking for a white sheet to turn into a Roman toga for the youngest grandson; I finally visited a charity shop that is in the grounds of a hospice not far from where I live. A fellow walker had reminded me about it on last week's walk. I bought myself some yellow trousers; an animal print kimono; a necklace, a brooch; a pair of earrings and three books. It's a lovely shop held in a shed in their tranquil grounds and I'll be coming back again.  It is very spacious and the goods are displayed in a really attractive manner. It's called a boutique and that's certainly the vibe you get when you walk in. They had several lovely necklaces so I hope next time I go back at least one is still there waiting for me!

Tuesday's outfit. Everything charity shopped.

Blue kimono, can't remember. Blue tunic by Tu; 1.00 rail Barnardo's, Ampthill. Blue leggings same place and same rail; blue boots, Red Cross :1.99.

All jewellery charity shopped except earrings; daughter donated.

I'm off to London again this weekend - that's three weekends in a row. It's OH's mum's 95th birthday so there's a family party to celebrate. I'm wondering what to wear...

Wednesday 6 March 2019

Nominations and other things

I have a new icon on my blog called the 'Sunshine blogger award' for which I was nominated by Penny of  'Frugal Fashion Shopper' see here. I must first say a very big thank you to Penny and how pleased and surprised I was at her nomination. If you go to Penny's blog, which is always a very good read, she explains the origins of the award and what is for:

'the Sunshine Blogger Award is given from bloggers to fellow bloggers who inspire creativity and positivity by bringing sunshine to the blogging community and to their readership alike. It is a way of encouraging one another as in saying ‘Hey, you are doing a great job and we can see it. Keep it up!!

  Penny is in her 70s, buys a lot of her clothes from charity shops, has an amazing hat collection and writes interestingly and informatively about ageing and other issues.  She has just started a a series of You Tube videos here of make up tutorials for older women.

I am so honoured to be nominated. Thank you, Penny!
 All I have to in return is to place the icon on my blog which I'm happy to do; mention and link back to the person who nominated me; answer that person's questions and nominate four more bloggers!

This is the skirt I bought on my Saturday Bedford charity shop rummage. 3.50 in the Independent charity shop. Top and jacket; which is by Roman were 1.00 rail finds. The jacket was bought in Wellingborough.

The skirt has covered my boots which were charity shopped in the Salvation Army  in Rushden; brown suede Chelsea boots by Next for 5.00. For warmth, I wore thick brown woollen tights underneath the skirt but I ended up being too warm! The weather has been unbelievable for this time of the year. We are living proof of climate change.

All jewellery  and scarf charity shopped. This scarf is a long but not so stretchy one; my ears were hurting where I had tied it too tightly...oh dear look at my double chin!

Going back to the nomination; here are the questions Penny asked and my replies:

  1. Why did you begin blogging?.  I began blogging in November 2015. Through Pinterest I had discovered blogs for older women -  what a revelation! I then realised that a lot of blogs, though both inspiring and full of very good advice, featured a lot of clothes and accessories that were beyond my budget. I’ve shopped in charity shops since the mid 1980s and knew you could find lovely things; especially clothes at prices most ordinary people could afford. I often got complimented on my outfits and my style and I thought I could share what I found in charity shops with other older women and encourage them to shop secondhand and look great, too. The other thing about writing a blog for me is it acts as a sort of diary/journal with photographs as a record of my life at a certain time. I’d never managed to keep writing a diary or journal before.
  2. Has your blog changed since you started it? I don’t think my blog has changed a huge amount since I first started it.  Like you, I wasn’t and am still not interested in selling anything and I won’t change that.  I never wanted to give anyone ‘style advice’ and I still don’t. I think I take more photos. I have added a ‘Books Read’ page as I am avid reader and reading is a very important part of my life. I also blog less frequently and have longer posts. 
  3. Blogging is time-consuming – what are the challenges you face in finding the time?Blogging is incredibly time consuming. As it’s a two way communication process it requires a lot of reading of other people’s blogs and commenting. I have had to limit the amount of blogs I follow and comment on because it was taking up so much time. It also takes a lot of time to produce the blog. The photography, the writing, the thinking about what to write; the comments etc. In order to manage the time required for blogging I write longer posts and blog fortnightly rather than weekly. I spend two days (a few hours each day) in the week where I read and comment on other people’s blogs. I try to stick to this but sometimes get tempted if I’m on my laptop and wander over to someone’s blog to see if they’ve posted anything new…When I’m away in Ireland I don’t have internet connection and can neither write my blog nor follow other blogs and I miss it!
  4. When do you write a post – the morning or the evening? I write my blog constantly. As soon as I’ve posted one post I start on another. Usually it starts with just a photo but that requires some context and content. I write almost every day and I write at any time of the day or evening: rarely after 9 pm though.
  5. What is your favourite topic?I don’t have a favourite topic but I suppose if I was to quantify the content of what I blog about it would be my charity shop finds and what I’ve been wearing.
  6. What’s the thing you love most about blogging? The thing I love most about blogging is the comments I receive. People are so generous, kind and supportive. I also love finding out about other people’s lives and the interesting things they get up to.
  7. What’s the thing you like least? The thing I like least about blogging is that I sometimes worry that people will get bored reading about the same things I get up to. I have actually asked people about this and the overwhelming response was - no, people like it!
  8. Where do you see yourself and your blog in five years time? I don’t know if I will still be blogging in five years time. I hope so, because I enjoy it. If I stopped getting comments I think that would stop me blogging. Until that happens, I’ll keep on!
I shall get to my nominations for the award shortly...

This lovely building is Houghton House nr Ampthill. We walked from Ampthill to Maulden in a big  7 mile loop last Wednesday and passed this on the way. I've brought the two younger grandsons here for a picnic in the past.

It's the shell of a 17th century ruined mansion with commanding views of the Bedfordshire countryside and thought to be origin of 'House Beautiful' in 'Pilgrim's Progress'; written by John Bunyan who was born and lived in Bedford, but is buried in Bunhill Fields in London.

There were 55 people on that walk and here are some of them going through a 'kissing gate'; so called because it only lets one person through at a time but you could stand either side of the gate and have a kiss! Just as well that we don't because it would take a heck of a long time get through the gates. That's a blackthorn tree in full blossom.

Bedfordshire views...

I went to the food bank on Tuesday morning as usual and wore
another monochrome outfit. I  managed to find a nice stretchy monochrome scarf for 50 p in the 3:16 charity shop but I bought it after I wore this outfit. Everything charity shopped except striped long sleeved t shirt ; Primarni.

Ruffled tunic 49p rail at Barnardo's, Great Denham. Trousers by F&F; can't remember. Boots: Oxfam 5.00.

All jewellery charity shopped.

Outer wear; long jacket by David Emmanuel; Red Cross shop some years ago. Scarf; Primarni retail.

The weather changed on Thursday to cooler, cloudier and rain and is still the same. I had set out to a walk on Thursday afternoon but it rained on and off for most of the afternoon so I didn't go. On Friday, I went to the hairdressers in the morning and did some errands then had a short 4 mile walk in the afternoon.   I also picked up  middle Grandson from school; youngest grandson was still off with his ear.  I give them a weekly treat on Friday after school - we go to a local sweet shop and they can spend a certain amount on sweets. I get to sample what they've chosen!

This was Friday's outfit:

I have to show you this photo. When I looked at the photos OH had taken I shocked to see a black smudge at the side of my nose -  me poking about with the the fire again. What's worse is that at the time neither me nor OH noticed and I always have a quick peek in the mirror to check before we start! It's the blind leading the blind sometimes when it comes to taking blog photos in our house...

Everything charity shopped. Tunic; Keech 1.00 rail; black shirt 1.00 rail somewhere and green trousers, too.

Off white Mary Jane's by Clarks. Bought in the Oxfam shop in Newport Pagnell last time I was there. They were 9.99 but hardly worn. I should have worn some sort of sock as they rubbed me.

All jewellery charity shopped.
Smudge free!

On Saturday, I went out to try and recce a slightly longer start to my next bus walk. I walked from Sharnbrook to Felmersham but in an extended loop. I met a couple whilst out walking and they walked part of the way with me to show me where to go. Very companionable. I walked 6.5 miles including through a farmyard where I was ankle deep in cow muck! It took ages to clean my boots when I got back and I had to wash my laces. It's alright; I don't actually mind the smell of cow muck at all but others do.

So, now I'll come to my nominations for the Sunshine Award. This was very hard and took quite a lot of thinking about but I finally came up with the following four:  all non advertising and all shop almost exclusively at charity/thrift shops. There's a range of countries represented here as well, Vix is in the UK; Ann in Belgium; Monica in Spain and Goody in the USA.

1) Vix of Vintage Vixen
2) Ann of  Polyester Princess
3) Monica of Mrs. Allnut
4) Goody of Eat the blog

The rules for this award are as follows:
  1. Thank the person who nominated you and include a link back to their blog.
  2. Answer the questions given by the person who nominated you.
  3. Nominate other blogs and give questions for them to answer.
  4. Notify your nominees through social media or by commenting on their blog. 5)List the rules and display a Sunshine Blogger Award in your post.
Sunday's outfit. Skirt 3:16 1.00 rail, top 1.00 rail somewhere; Next jacket years old and can't remember where. Tights charity shopped and Next boots bought in the Salvation Army, Rushden for 5.00.

All jewellery charity shopped. I bought the necklace in the week at Cancer Research for 2.50.

I'll have to ask my four nominees the questions I'd like to them to answer at the end of this blog although the most appropriate place to ask would have been above. I've noticed that any cutting and pasting on Blogger (or it may just be me) throw the formatting out; including the fonts and alignment.

I wore this to the charity shop on Monday. Everything charity shopped except the brogues; Primarni retail. Trousers are by F&F but can't remember where; patterned top by Next, can't remember. Cardigan  from charity shop in Golders Green 2.00; bought on my birthday trip to London two years ago.

All jewellery charity shopped.

Talking of London, I went there on Tuesday to give an old ex colleague a hand with a discussion group for her research project. We were based  in Brixton and when it was over we went to West Hampstead  where she lives and where I could hop on a train straight back to Bedford.

I didn't have much time to take photos; of course I had to visit a few charity shops! This is Coldharbour Lane in Brixton.

Lovely mural spotted down a side street near to the discussion group venue.

All bridges should be painted in such bright colours! Brixton Road.

I bought some boots from Topshop for 5.00 in Traid on Brixton Road and a pair of new bamboo chevron striped tights; 4.00. I haven't seen Traid in any town outside of London. There used to be an amazing one in Kilburn High Road near to where my mum used to live.

In West Hampstead I bought two skirts from a reduced rail in Oxfam. Both were by M&S which I didn't notice till I got them home. One skirt was blue suede knee length for 2.99 - I don't have any suede clothing other than two gilets; and the other is a  knee length black or navy - can't decide which - checked one; 2.49.

This is what I wore. Photo taken on my return home after a 12 hour day...

Dress by the White Stuff bought on Monday in my charity shop for 4.50. Jacket  by Fenn, Wright and Manson bought in Day Hospice charity shop in Kempston. Tights and OTK boots bought online.

All jewellery charity shopped.

The Rambler's Wednesday walk was too far for me to go this week but I was so shattered after my day in London on Tuesday that I didn't have much energy for walking anyway. I spent the day pottering about at home and went to the library later in the afternoon. I sorted out under my bed. I find under the bed a really useful storage space and at the moment I have two plastic crates of handbags; one plastic crate of walking clothes (they were taking up too much room in my wardrobes); two containers of tights - both coloured and patterned; two containers of scarves, one of which is mostly the shorter scarves you tie round your neck made of very fine materials; a lot of which were my mum's and one full of Pashmina scarves. I also have a bag full of cards from my family. Where I would put all this stuff if I didn't have space under my bed I hate to think! What do you keep under your bed? Do tell!

Everything charity shopped except brogues; as before. Jacket by Jigsaw; 1.00 rail; blue jumper from 1.00 rail Barnardo's in Ampthill; skirt by East can't remember.

All jewellery charity shopped.

Yes I'd been poking the fire again...

I'm off to London at the weekend for birthday celebrations and that will be in my next post. You may have noticed this post is earlier than usual but I wanted to get the nominations out there as fast as I could.

Now to those questions for my 4 nominees:

1) Why did you start blogging?
2) Has your blog changed since you started it?
3) Blogging is time consuming - what are the challenges you find in finding the time?
4) When do you write a post - in the morning or the evening?
5) What is your favourite topic?
6) What's the thing you love most about blogging?
7) What's the thing you like least?
8) Where do you see yourself and your blog  in five years time?

 I look forward to reading your replies!

Blogoversary and some other stuff

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