Thursday, 24 March 2016

World Book Day

There are three words guaranteed to strike terror into any parent. They are World Book Day.
I am not against the concept of World Book Day, I would be a disgrace to my profession if I were, and I’m all for encouraging children to read in whatever way possible. But do we really have to dress them up as their favourite book character?
For me the problem is, at least, threefold. Firstly there is the challenge of getting your child to decide their favourite character and then sticking to it – more difficult than you might think.
Secondly, remembering in time so I’m not trying to cobble together a passable costume the night before. And thirdly there is the fight in me between the pedant and the desire for an easy life. Darth Vadar is not strictly a book character, but we do have dressing up costume. Imagine my delight when my younger son was given a Gruffalo costume for his birthday. There’s no doubting the Gruffalo’s literary credentials.

Despite saying every year that next year I’m going to plan well in advance it never quite happens. This year I left it too late to order anything online, which the prudent part of me is against anyway, but I was successful in persuading younger son that the Gruffalo was most definitely his favourite book character. Elder son takes after me and loves reading so getting him to decide this year was easy too, it had to be Harry Potter. First hurdle jumped! And quite an easy costume too, just need specs, school tie, a robe and any child can look like Harry Potter – easy if you have any of these things. I did not.

A trip to a fancy dress shop yielded glasses but trawling round the charity shops did not magic up the rest of a costume, not even a Mrs Weasley style knitted jumper which was my back up plan. I had no choice; I was going to have to make it myself. Thanks to the internet, my sewing machine and old sheet I was able to run up a passable robe. My son was happy with a chopstick as a wand, but my old school scarf (seeing as I was not in Gryffindor) was just not cutting it, he wanted a school tie. So I spent a jolly evening sewing yellow ribbon stripes on to one of my husband’s ties.

I do not want to sound smug, but I was quite pleased with the result - a lipstick scar on his forehead any my son was unmistakeably Harry Potter (unlike the Sir Charlie Stinky Socks fiasco last year). And, here’s for the prudent bit, the whole costume cost me £3.39.

Any slight feelings of smugness I may have had did not last long. One of my sons won best boy in class. Was it the one in the bought, no effort costume or the one in the hastily sewn together and slightly too tight sheet/robe costume? Yes, you guessed it.

Friday, 26 February 2016

Caught stealing!

I mentioned in my last post that I had been over to the Cancer Research shop in St Neots. It’s a busy shop and always seems to have lots of volunteers buzzing around restocking the rails, sorting out donations and serving lots of customers. Its quite a big shop and quite chaotic but its worth a visit every now and then. I was hoping to find something on this visit as I had already scoured the high street and had been left wanting. I got a dress and a shrug so I was already feeling quietly smug when I found an amazing stash of jewellery, all new and in little bags. While I was leafing through this hoard, I felt that I was being watched. One of the assistants seemed to think I was up to no good! Now I’m no hoody wearing dodgy youth so I quickly sorted out what I wanted and headed to the changing rooms. I did check with the eagle eyed assistant if I could take the jewellery in with me and she blustered absolutely yes, whilst keeping a very close eye on me.... 
I bought quite a bit that day including the jewellery and three books for 75p each – hurrah! I trekked back with my spoils and got home feeling ace. It was therefore with dismay that I got home and emptied my bag only to find a pair of garish gold diamond (ish)earrings in the bottom of my bag. Not only were they awful, they were also stolen! I hadn’t paid for them, the eagle eyed woman was right to keep watch on this little tea leaf!  Oh my shame! They must have fallen into my bag whilst I was rummaging, honest Gov, I promise! I told a few of my friends who all thought it was very funny but I had to return them especially as my daughter overheard and thought I was a disgrace!

So a week or so later I set of on the walk of shame back to the Cancer Research shop to return my ill gotten gains. I must have looked like a proper nutter returning something to a charity shop which they hadn't missed and was only 49p. I did have a good look round the shop while I was there so it wasn't a completely wasted trip. My 7 year old daughter now looks at me with a look of shame and pity. A friend asked if I would have kept the earrings if they had been nicer, I still can't honestly answer that one. x

Friday, 5 February 2016

A dress for a Bar Mitzvah (or, any excuse for shopping…..)

I seem to have lost my shopping mojo recently, I’ve scoured the charity shops over the past few weeks and to be honest I’ve been a bit disappointed. I had these images of shops filled with unwanted Christmas gifts with the labels still on and loads of lovely new handbags – sadly not. I have managed to get a couple of tops, a lovely cream one with a bit of sparkle from H&M (for a night out which actually involved cocktails!) and a black shiny top with sparkly shoulders (for a 40th which included far too much red wine) so I can’t complain too much. Maybe I’m actually shopped out? Have I reached the point where I’ve got enough? No don’t be silly! I think it’s more to do with the fact I’m half a stone heavier than I want to be. This might be something to do with the nights out I’ve had and the subsequent carbohydrate feasts the next day but I won’t bore you with my weight loss journey (did I really just write that??)

Anyway, on a recent trip to the Cancer Research shop, I was just browsing when I came across a lovely little black floaty dress and it was in the sale, yes even charity shops have sales. Rather than thinking “I’ve got loads of black dresses” off I went to try it on. It’s a really nice shape and fairly flattering. And it came to me, my husband and I are off to a Bar Mitzvah soon and I had my excuse to buy it. It was only £2.75 so it’s a bit of a steal. I’ve never been to a Bar Mitzvah before so I have no idea whether my dress will be right. The last time I went to a Jewish do I was massively over dressed but I did kiss Gary Barlow! Lets hope this frock fits in a bit better and I get to kiss another superstar! Xx

Friday, 22 January 2016


Every week a bundle of the student newspaper arrives in the library where I work. I like to have a flick through it as it’s refreshing for something to arrive that I have a fighting chance of understanding. I’m usually dealing with physics journals. This week a particular article caught my eye as it was about charity shops – now, that’s something I understand.

I was pleased to see that the tips it gave were similar to ones that Ingrid and I talk about, that is: try things on, be adventurous, shoes are difficult. But there was one I did not agree with at all. Don’t look at the labels. Yes, look at the labels! How else are you going to find out the size? Charity shop volunteers don’t always get it right. You get to know which labels you like and suit you, I never buy Per Una. You also know what size you are in a particular shop because, as we all know, it varies.

But, most importantly, you shop in charity shops to get a bargain and to find clothes you could not normally afford. There’s not really much point in trawling round second hand shops just to buy clothes from Primark. You need to be rewarded with the biggest bargain possible. Which leads me on to tell you about my latest finds (yes, I would have told you anyway). I found a French Connection silk shirt dress for £1.99. Googled it and the exact same one was £110. It made me like it even more. I also bought a Superdry shirt for a pound. Funnily, it turns out it used to belong to Ingrid and she’d got it in a charity shop in the first place. How’s that for recycling!

When I looked back at the article I realised it actually said “don’t look at the labels, look at the piece” which I have to concede is a valid point. I’m sure both Ingrid and I are guilty of buying something just on the value of the label rather than anything else – I’ve still not worn those Jean Paul Gaultier shorts. It doesn’t matter how much of a bargain something is if you’ve got nothing else to go with it or don’t actually like it. And why not buy something with an Atmosphere label if you really like it.

One thing the article did teach me is that Cambridge is a treasure trove of charity shops and I can’t believe that I’ve not visited them before. Fancy a day out, Ingrid?

Friday, 15 January 2016

The post Christmas clear out

I recently read an article about the post Christmas clear out. I know I’ve sent some stuff to the charity shop to make way for new toys and clothes for the kids (obviously not for me as I still love to hoard). I’ve also been out and bought some new storage, which makes it look like I’m clearing out, but I’m just using the space more effectively…

So, according to this article, in that there London they are taking the clear out to a whole new level. The article showed a rather fancy looking tip / recycling centre where people were happily throwing TV’s, IPads, bikes into a skip, yes a skip! Now I’m sure they had their reasons, they’d got a new telly, a newer model IPad and the kids had new bikes but taking it to a recycling centre and throwing it in a SKIP?! Now I’m a bit confused, maybe this is the best way to get rid of things in the metropolis but something didn’t quite sit right with me.  The pictures of the overflowing skips were staggering, I’ve put a link to the article below, as I really couldn’t believe my eyes.

Having calmed myself down, I continued to read and I was relieved to find out that all of these items weren’t heading to landfill. They were to have a new life! Hurray! Thankfully the company that runs this tip, sorry recycling centre, (Western Riverside Waste Authority) have an amazing plan all of this unwanted waste. Some proper rubbish was sent down the river to landfill, plenty went to be recycled and thank goodness some went to charity shops.

What really caught my eye and put my faith back in human nature was a fab charity called  This is an online shop where some of the items that were surplus to requirements went to be given a new lease of life. A brilliant example of upcycling – love it! I particularly like the messenger bag made from seatbelts – I do need a new handbag honest.

So here is the article, have a read and decide for yourself. I’m relieved that many of the items found a new home.

PS, this is probably the only Daily Mail article I actually quite like……

Friday, 8 January 2016

I've come back into fashion!

It’s official – dungarees are back in fashion*. I’ve had my suspicions for a while as I’ve spotted a few people wearing them who didn’t look pregnant or under three years of age. They’ve even cropped up on the telly. The Great Pottery Throw Down and Tattoo Fixers have both had people wearing dungarees on them and if that doesn’t cover a wide cross section of society, I don’t know what does. But it was finally confirmed when I popped into New Look sale and saw dungarees to buy, not in the sale but new stock. This included a cord dungaree dress not at all dissimilar to the one I bought in Barnardos for £1.99.

“Brilliant” I thought, “I’ve come back into fashion, I can wear my dungaree dresses with pride, (yes, I have more than one) and may even dig out my denim ones from the loft”.  I was then aghast. Since when have I been worried about being fashionable? You can’t spend your life dressed in second hand clothes and be influenced by fashion, it’s just not possible. So why am I thinking about it now? It’s ok, I thought, I’m still a geek, I wear cords. But my cords are no longer flared but skinny. What has happened to me? 

It got me thinking about how influenced by fashion we all are. My dad would claim never to have followed fashion and wears socks and sandals yet even he wore flares in the seventies. We just can’t help it, it’s down to availability. Also, if you keep clothes as long as I do it’s inevitable that you will come in and out of fashion.
I also started to wonder whether someone in the fashion business reads this blog and I am not actually following trends but setting them. It can not be coincidence that I write about dungarees and then they appear in the shops. Can it? Please don’t burst my bubble.

So, fortunately I’m not a fashion victim, the problem now is that if I’ve come back into style I won’t be able to find dungarees in the charity shops for a couple of quid.

I did go up the loft to put the Christmas decorations away and found my dungarees. I’m wearing them now. Gosh, they’re comfy and my husband hasn’t commented on them so I can’t look that ridiculous either – oh hang on, Everton are on the telly, I could be sat here in my pants and he wouldn't notice…..

* I've a bit of a thing for dungarees, see earlier post -

Friday, 18 December 2015

What does one wear to go to a gig?

I may have mentioned that I love a bit of live music. I’m not exactly a muso but I do like going to a gig or two to have a bit of a sing and a bit of a dance. We have some lovely gig buddies who we go to see many different bands including the likes of Embrace, The Beach Boys and Noel Gallagher. They are the cool gigs, there are a few maybe not quite so cool like Steps, Hear’Say (cringe) and One Direction – it was the kids honest! For me, knowing what to wear for a gig is pretty tricky for a number of reasons.

1) I always need good footwear especially if I’m standing, I have to have something flat but being a bit on the short side, this can mean that I struggle to see. I’m happy to end the night with an elongated neck as I strain to see the stage but heels would be a nightmare for what I call my “gig jig”.
2) I need something I can leg it out to the car or the station so whether it’s from the Corn Exchange or the O2, I love an early dart to get out first – I’m such a nerd.

3) Jeans are a no brainer for a normal gig gig.

4) But then what top to wear? Well if it’s a bit of what I call a trendy gig like Take That (yes I know but that’s’ all I’ve got) I like something with a bit of a sparkle but if it’s a bit more folky like the mighty Bellowhead I like to be a bit more flowing (like the real ale!). I got a fab top from Scope which was ace when we went to Bellowhead.

5) I always look forward to a bit of Newmarket nights but it is a bit more posh. I love a frock and wedges so I don’t sink into the grass and look like a wobbling wino.

6) Coat or not? Like on big nights out in Oldham and Ashton in the early 90’s, coats just get in the way. At a push a denim to tie round my waist but otherwise no thank you.

So you can see this is something I massively overthink, its amazing I actually get out of the door to get to a gig after trying on everything I own.

God forbid if I ever went to a festival!!!