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Saturday, 22 July 2017

A maxi skirt that's a dress - it just doesn't know it yet!


ASOS maxi skirt in floral print with shirred waist (£35)

I have a serious new love, in the form of ASOS. I know! How late to that particular party am I? The guests have literally packed up, gone home and had a two week holiday in the time its taken me to cotton on. But better late than never. I should add that it's not just for my benefit. No sireee. I have tried to get my husband some new Birkenstocks for our summer holiday because frankly the 12 year old ones are worn out. And whilst people may well have tried to steal his crocs on the beach in Cornwall a few years ago (I kid you not. Have you ever heard of anything more ridiculous?) they didn't have them in his size.  Oddly the Carvela shoes I liked were available in my size. But I shall save that tale for another day. 

I am getting to the point, honestly, albeit via a de-tour to the moon and back. Whilst searching for maxi skirts, I came across these two beauties (above and below). I ordered the black one first, closely followed by the lighter version. 



ASOS maxi skirt with shirred waist in floral print (£35)

But guess what? They look absolutely ridiculous on me as a skirt. A shirred ("smocked" to those of us who grew up in the 70's) waistband does not flatter a tummy that's had three babies. True a longer line top might work but really no-one wants a skirt that makes them look as if they're about to have a fourth baby. Soon.

But hey presto, hoik them up under your armpits into an off-the-shoulder dress and they work a treat. They fit neatly over the bust and aren't too voluminous but there's enough room for anyone who wants to get themselves a little holiday baby belly. 

The black one that I ordered was a size 8 and the white one is a size 6 as that's all they had left. Both of them fit plus they're a nice fabric, they don't crease easily and they pack down small - which is good because our luggage amount will be limited. 

Photos will follow from a sunny isle sometime soon. Well actually no doubt it will rain when we get there because as a family, we have the capacity to make it rain anywhere we go. Who needs a rain dance? Just call the Goodrhams! 

Friday, 21 July 2017

A cheeky weekend purchase from Boden...


Rae ruffle sleeve T from Boden (£35)

Well if Boden send a £10 voucher through, it would be rude not to spend it wouldn't it? I love a bit of a frill sleeve and a few stripes - especially if they're navy and white - so I have high hopes for this little number.

It is absolutely throwing it down cats and dogs outside but it seems that a lot of people are getting ready to go away and the excitement is palpable. It's another week before we head off to the sun but this year I'm determined that we will be packed a good few days in advance (famous last words). I'm going to start squirrelling the clean clothes away rather than distributing them to the family. Sneaky huh?

And I may have just subscribed to the ASOS "next day delivery for a year" service. I fear that the floodgates may be about to open.....



Thursday, 20 July 2017

My favourite silk shirt - and when life throws you lemons....


Djungle print silk shirt & Other Stories (£69 down to £48)

I love a silk shirt. Not that I get to wear them often - but when I do, I love the feel of them. My other silk shirt was from Warehouse and it's ridiculously old now but this one I spotted when I was shopping in Other Stories in Leeds. Despite, or in spite, of its bold print and bright colours, I fell in love with it and bought it on the spot. Its first outing was to a pre-birthday, birthday party, with some friends a couple of Saturdays ago. We sat outside around a fire, drank rhubarb gin and ate cake in the warmth. It was perfect. Then life took a turn for the worse and I've since looked back at the photos of that night, wondering whether they were the last ones where I would be truly happy and free from worry.

Barely two days later I was in lots of pain firstly with pulled muscles in my neck, plus I'd got an infection and shortly after that, I found two lumps where really you don't want to find lumps. But this isn't really about that because all is fine, thankfully. What it is about though is how we deal (or don't deal) with the unknown. How we go to those darkest of places and how friends and family scoop us up and keep us going, promising that if sh*t is on its way, "we'll be in it together." 

But back to the shirt first. Can you see the lady drinking cocktails? That was me - well with my rhubarb gin! 

I've always known that I'm not good with uncertainty but no-one teaches you how to deal with potentially bad news, which may still be two weeks away. And there's no time for a quick hit of CBT during that time. And odd things happen - you become acutely aware of the word "died" or anything relating to it. Plus there are amusing things that happen. I couldn't get my neck sorted as I knew that it would be too painful to lie face down on the osteopath's table. Really I needed to put the bit of me that was sore, through where your head goes. But then I would have fallen off the table which would have been a great comedy moment. Then thoughts go around in your head. I kept thinking of a phrase that I'd seen on Instagram "When life gives you lemons, freeze them and throw them back." Well my freezer was full of lemons waiting to be lobbed at whatever was coming my way.

I also thought how lucky I've been in life so far and maybe it was time to take one for the team because statistics state that amongst my friendship group, one of us is going to find a lump somewhere that may not turn out to be good news.




[No doubt the youngest was asking for the first (and biggest) piece of cake. This is the cookies and cream party cake   The one that I made was half the size of the recipe!]

There were times that I wondered whether I would ever run again and whether the last long run that I had done barely a few days before would, literally, be my last. But then again, when a needle was inserted to drain the fluid off the lump, in my head I was running along the canal, counting herons. And whilst there are obviously other things more important than that, I'm keeping the children out of this or else we would all be in tears!

Two of my closest friends are committed Christians and both of them prayed that I would get an early appointment rather than have to wait for two weeks to be seen. And when that early appointment came, I did ask them both whether they had friends in high places. Equally I felt guilty for being so lucky as to get the appointment. It was a phone call at just the right time which resulted in me getting a cancellation so I didn't queue jump in one sense - but in another I felt that I had.

The Doctors and Nurses at the clinic were amazing and before too much time goes by, and before life returns to normal, I must thank them properly and let them know how much their compassion and positive outlook made a difference to me. What I experienced was the NHS at its absolute best. Oh and we have a lovely Doctor's receptionist too - I must take her some flowers and thank her because she swept me up on more than one occasion.

And the people around me who knew - particularly my wonderful husband - kept me going when really I didn't know what to do with myself. Now I feel a little beaten up and slightly emotional but I'm ready to run, which is a sign that all is well again.

Is there a point to all of this? Well I suppose that it's important for us to be aware that when we're least expecting it, life can suddenly throw us a curve ball - and it's amazing how quickly things can go downhill from there - so don't sweat the small stuff. I don't think that I handled my curve ball very well in some ways but others have reassured me that it's all perfectly normal.

I do think that it's important that we talk about these things and share them though, although of course everyone deals with things in different ways. But I like to think that if anyone came to me and they were in the same situation, I might be able to offer up some help, however small. So let's keep talking, and checking, and fund-raising and having positive thoughts. Luckily I didn't need to throw any frozen lemons and the freezer is full of peas for the sore neck - but if anyone ever needs a few frozen lemons lobbing, I've got a pretty mean throw.


Thursday, 13 July 2017

Revealing a brand new design from Air & Grace...

Earlier in the week I was in London and I took the opportunity to nip along to the Air & Grace studio in Brixton. For those of you who follow me on Instagram, or who read the blog regularly, you will know that I'm never far away from my shimmies which I absolutely adore. They have seriously revolutionised my life! True, I'm not wearing them in this shot - I decided that they were just too good for the streets of London.  

 

Michelle, who helps Claire in the studio, took this photograph whilst standing on a chair, which is why I look spectacularly small. But to be honest I would look spectacularly small standing next to Claire in any event, because she is beautifully tall.


The studio is serious shoe heaven! Everything apart from the espadrilles are made in Spain (the espadrilles are made in Portugal) subsequent to which they are shipped to the UK. Claire was fabulous, talking me through her designs for A/W '17 as well as for S/S '18. She showed me her sketches and fabric swatches, as well as the details such as tassels and pom poms and I had a good feel of the three layer memory foam insert that goes into each shoe. We talked about stockists and finances and all things relating to small businesses and it's amazing how hard Claire has worked to get where she is.

There are some fabulous designs coming our way ladies and without wishing my life away, I can't wait for the S/S '18 collection to arrive. Let's just say neon, metallics and even heels may feature.


You see the boxes in the white packaging on the right hand side of the photograph? Well these were all waiting to be sent out to lovely customers.


And ta-da! A new shoe! This is a new design of Claire's and it's called "Flutter". The Flutter comes in navy, white, grey and pink and is sleeker and has less padding around the ankle, compared to the Copeland  - which means that people now have a greater choice. It's not yet available but it shouldn't be too long now.


Claire's background is in shoes and she has worked for many well known High Street brands such as Office, Fit Flop and Aldo. Essentially Claire designs shoes that she loves and it just so happens that her customers love them too. Her attention to detail is amazing. She tweaks the eyelets, laces, colour of the soles, colour of the leather - everything in fact - until she gets it just how she likes it. And because she only ever wears her own shoes, she knows exactly what else is needed in the range to make it complete.

In particular I loved the shearling high tops for the winter but as yet the design isn't quite to Claire's discerning eye, so we will all have to wait for the big reveal. What I can say, however, is that they come in tan and khaki and I think that once anyone puts a pair on, they won't want to take them off again.



I currently have my eye on the Copeland trainers (£149)

Claire was due to make a day trip to Portugal the day after I saw her, to check on a trailer of shoes that had temporarily gone AWOL thanks to some friendly local bandits. Luckily it had turned up again but in true Claire style, she had to check that everything was just so. And it's that kind of commitment that has made Air & Grace so successful in such a short space of time. Claire, I take my hat (and my shoes) off to you!

Monday, 3 July 2017

The Topshop Floral Length Maxi Dress - fit for a ball or the beach



Topshop floral print maxi dress (£65)

I'm never very good at planning what I'm going to wear to an upcoming event. If it's a "big" do I work on the basis either that I have something that I can wear already, or that something will find me. However it works out, I don't stress too much and nor do I spend too much on something that I may not get a lot of wear out, preferring instead to keep the pennies for something that I will use and wear every day, such as a pair of trainers or my Air & Grace espadrilles 


I was in Topshop last week with a friend when this little number caught my eye. I think in my head I had a vague recollection of Kate Moss wearing a dress with a similar silhouette and on hunting the internet whilst writing this post, I think that this is what I had squirrelled away at the back of my brain....


Anyway, clearly the colour of the dress/lack of sleeves/print/neckline/person in the dress look nothing like the image above BUT it was a full length, satin, bias cut maxi so there are some similarities. Hmmm.

Along with the dress I wore some Karen Millen shoes that I've had for a few years now, a Liberty clutch that was a gift from a friend and these gold tribal drop ear-rings from Alice's Wonders (£5). My aim was to not look too formal and "ball like" and I love the spiky look to these ear-rings.

The dress was lovely and easy to wear - not tight, not short - just like a full length nightie really. And I plan on wearing it again - after I've had a couple of inches chopped off the bottom, so that I can wear it with a biker jacket and flats. For anyone vaguely tempted, I would give it a whirl. It's much more flattering than you might think on first glance. As for sizing, I felt that the 8 would have required a little too much by way of breathing in and I'm just not about that, so I'm wearing a 10.




Topshop  maxi dress £65)