Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Farewell 2008

As another year drifts to a close it is time to pause and reflect, to look backwards over the past twelve months and then turn and pass through the door to 2009. 2008 did not disappoint. I entered the year full of hope and optimism and by and large, this was the way of my year.

2008 was the year of commitment: M's brother married his beautiful wife in February and then in June M proposed to me. Our announcement was swiftly followed by that of two sets of university friends and one set of school friends and so 2009 seems set to be the year of the wedding (although I suspect that 2010 and beyond will be no different).

2009 will be a year of change for me personally as well as globally. First of all, it will be the first year since university when I have not smoked a cigarette. M and I managed to kick our penchant for a social cigarette with a drink or two six weeks ago. It will also be the year that, all being well, I qualify and become Mrs B. There will be some probable blog re-branding too, as Little Miss Rachel does not fit the life and times of a newly wed-to-be.

Globally there are great expectations from Mr Obama and from Mr Brown too, as he leads us through this period of recession. Personally speaking the drop in base rate and housing prices has brought nothing but cheers and I hope that we can all learn something about value and making do. A downwards looking economy coupled with being older and much more aware means that the world feels far far less certain than ever before.

In my mind's eye I see myself on the eve of 2000 with a boy I thought I loved (who knew at 17 that being in love and simply liking being loved could be mistaken for one and the same thing) preparing to take A-levels and leave home and start a new life at university and beyond, in a new century, yet somehow this NYE seems even more uncertain than that.

And so, as 2008 passes into 2009, M and I shall, for the first time since I have known him, spend the evening together, at home, quietly (with some decent champagne) rather than at a huge party and welcome in the new year in the way we hope to spend much more of the coming year. While for us there is much celebration to come in 2009 my thoughts are with others who do not or cannot share this.

And so, as 2008 passes into 2009, I shall pause a moment to remember Roderick and I shall think of my darling cousin and hope that she is able to find some comfort in the ending of her year and the start of a new one.

And so, dear readers, I know not what 2009 will bring to you but I hope that you have a peaceful and fitting end to 2008 and start to 2009 and I will see you next year.

(2006 and 2007 if you are interested)

Friday, December 19, 2008

A Short Walk In Wintertime*

"When you're weary, feeling small..." a short walk in winter time can soothe the soul.
Letting the weak winter afternoon sunshine wash over me, seeing the winter trees silhouetted against a dazzling blue sky...

...Looking up at ancient trees and becoming calmer, as I gaze at buildings built in the 17th century, where generations upon generations of lawyers before me have lived and worked. Following in tradition somehow makes things easier...

... Looking up and feeling sunlight against my face, that there is light amongst the darkness of winter and that summer and sunshine will come round again. That summer without winter would be nothing. That silhouettes like these are even more special as for 3/4 of the year you cannot see that roof line against the sky for it is usually obliterated by an abundance of foliage...

...Seeing the rich red colour of old brick and being reminded of other occasions when life was also hard, and remembering that those times too passed and receded. That seasons come and seasons go, as do bad times and dark days...

...Realising how many good things in life there are, if only you pause and look, much like the poem, one of my favourites ...

All images by me.
"What is this life if full of care
We have no time to stop and stare
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep, or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
No time to turn at beauty's glance
And watch her feet, how they can dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this, if full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
William Henry Davies

*With apologies to Libby Purves for misquoting her book title.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Christmas Preparations

The tree is up and decorated (white lights, teeny gold baubles, a few beautiful birds and reindeer), holly and berries have been foraged and arranged in vases, 4 dozen mince-pies have been made and almost half consumed already. The presents-in-jars have been made and are almost labelled. The extra presents have been bought. No Christmas cards have been written yet but we are not sending many this year. Pictures to follow when the camera lead arrives.

PS. Many thanks for all your kind words yesterday. They mean a lot. Things are looking up, I think.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Of words and candlelight

These are the darkest days of winter and some of my darkest days too. The darkness lifted temporarily as I attended a candle-lit carol concert yesterday evening. There, in the still church, my thoughts floated apart as I listened to the familiar Christmas readings, my mind taken back, as always, to school carol concerts and the pending excitement of Christmas at the most beautiful of words: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God". There, in the candle-lit church, I heard my voice soaring out, in harmony with the multitude of voices, lifting up to the rafters, surprising me, as we sung "silent night, holy night". There, in that quiet and candlelit church, as prayers were read, I thought I heard a whispered lullaby: "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it". My candle might not be shining so very brightly at the moment, but it has not gone out. These darkest days of winter will soon have passed, and soon too, I hope, will mine.

Monday, December 08, 2008

A little less conversation...

All photos from my personal collection

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Things to do on a Saturday afternoon

All images by me -more to follow


Tuesday, December 02, 2008

You know you have a cold when...

(in addition to other more usual symptoms) you...

  1. Don't notice that the hot water bottle you've made and are leaning on is leaking until you notice some minutes later that you're sat in a puddle of warm water.
  2. Make yourself a cup of tea and try and put the kettle back in the fridge.

Friday, November 28, 2008

International Buy Nothing Day

So, in the UK at least, the government wants us all to do more spending to help the economy and to try and convince us, VAT has been lowered as of next Monday. Whether or not this will actually be passed to the consumer will remain to be seen.

In the meantime, tomorrow is international BUY NOTHING DAY. We can all help our own economies and spend nothing. As all bills increase, now is the time to mend things, re-use things, offer your clutter on free-cycle and collect someone else's tat instead of buying yet more things.

Obviously some things we still have to buy, but, for tomorrow at least, perhaps try and only buy it if you actually need it.

Which is harder than it sounds but worth the effort I think. Let me know how you got on.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Things you need for a perfect night in...

Blankets by melin tregwynt
via The Cwtch

  • A hot shower with beautiful smelling shampoo, Cowshed toiletries, the largest bottle of Redken conditioner you've ever seen and enough time to leave the conditioner to work
  • Soft flannel pyjamas, Ugg boots, a cosy cardigan, a Cath Kidston blanket and a whole sofa to myself
  • Lemon meringue pie
  • Marks and Spencers mulled wine hot in a mug with slices of orange
  • iplayer and a weeks worth of It takes Two
  • A trashy novel (Notting Hell by Rachel Johnson if you wondered
  • An early night in our beautiful bed, the comfiest ever, with goose down pillows and duvet and white bedding
  • A cowshed candle
  • Peace and quiet and time to reflect on a very stressful week
However you are spending your night, I hope it is fun.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Baby P

A few years ago, I did some research into the Climbie Inquiry in preparation for a job interview. I found what I read disturbing but I hoped that the only positive thing to have come from that child's suffering would be that others would not have to live and die in such a fashion.

After reading the commentary I have always been left with a sense that on some occasions, social services really are damned if they do, damned if they don't. In fact, you only have to contrast two stories in the Times to see this first hand. The first was about a women with mental difficulties who has disappeared with her 5 children after social services expressed concerns and one commenter said this: "What kind of society is this that, time after time, rips families apart "for their own good". Now we're "out to get her". Couldn't some other solution be found while keeping the family together? This mother needs help, perhaps, but not by inflicting her with the loss of her beloved family". Yet the second article was about the death of Baby P and had people calling out for the resignation of the head of Haringey social services for failing to remove Baby P from his family.


"Death is too good for X, torture the b***h that killed baby P" was the name of the facebook group which popped up on my list of groups which friends of mine on facebook had joined. Only it didn't say X, it had a name.

I clicked on the link. There was a photo of the woman allegedly baby P's mother. Further down the page a name purported to be the step-father's name was mentioned. There was also a link to a News of the World investigation. And then a petition to be signed to give baby P's mother, step father and lodger the death sentence.

Further down there were almost 1000 posts on the wall and 29 topics of 'discussion' (I use the word loosely), mainly by women, with titles such as 'you evil sla*' and 'why is this women smiling' as well as more expected things and some titles which I cannot even bring myself to copy type even using stars.

This group shocked me.

I was going to write more but I am not sure what to write. I cannot believe someone would treat a baby like Baby P's mother and step-father and their lodger did, but I cannot also believe people could seriously post things on facebook without seeing the hypocrisy. I am not saying they are in the same league at all, actions vs words, but what is wrong with our society that people think it is appropriate to punish like with like?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Strictly Come ...

John & Kristina

One of my favourite treats comes on a Monday night. On Mondays M plays football and I usually head home after work, perhaps do a little clearing up or laundery and then settle down with a cup of tea and watch Strictly Come Dancing followed by the results show on iplayer.

As always the dancing is what draws me to the show, but there is something more than that which keeps me interested. After all I do not watch other types of professional dancing on the TV although I will watch shows such as Dancing on Ice. I even tuned into Children in Need on Friday to watch Tess (who I thought was actually very good). I am not particularly fond of Brucie, although he does physically remind me of my late great uncle and Tess has her moments and I do enjoy seeing what she is wearing each week and mostly wondering who on earth picked it for her.

To be honest, as well as some of the couples can dance, it is not them I enjoy watching so much. It is the amusement of watching people who are not born or trained in dance or music attempting to ballroom dance, improving week on week (even if the judges don't acknowledge this). It is certainly not the judges that I watch the show for - I think the show would be vastly improved without their constant bickering.

But there has to be something else and I think it may be the celebrity attitudes and their relationships with their partners. For example, I read that Rachel hopes to relaunch her career off the back of Strictly and it does seem that she takes everything very seriously (i.e. I find the crying after being in the dance off odd, not her wish to put in many hours) and is allegedly rather off putting to the others before she show doing breathing exercises. I am not sure that the world needs Rachel's career, pretty as she is she doesn't appear to be able to sing. I wouldn't vote for her and if she left next week I wouldn't miss her. Likewise, Lisa, who I find to be extremely irritating and cannot see how she possibly pursued a career as a model and television presenter (although the show has proved an interesting insight into reasons Mr Clooney might have used to end their relationship)

On the other hand, some of the celebrities who have no dance training or pop careers who had no dancing ability were less watchable. Perhaps it was their less than charasmatic relationships with the professional dancers, but I did not miss Jessie and Gary nor did I find their routines anything less than an embarrassment to watch. John on the other hand has no natural dancing ability but is still very endearing and I enjoy watching his performances. I think his partner, Kristina's, choreography is outstanding. Jodie is another who is less than able to dance but has improved no end and I have enjoyed her performances.

Camilla is my favourite of the professional partners, so it is no surprise that I have enjoyed watching her and Tom dance, although I cannot decide if his now wife is insane or too nice to have moved around their wedding, allowed Camilla on the mini-moon and generally had her life disrupted by what boils down to Saturday night family entertainment. It certainly doesn't endure me to him...

I have read though, over the last week or so, that the judges and some of the professional partners are saying that John should have gone as he is making a mockery of the people that work hard and can dance. Only last week Tess said, however, that John was putting in the third most hours a week out of all the couples. It is quotes like this 'This is supposed to be a dance contest. Please, please, people at home vote for the dancing' which make me want to vote for John. It is an entertainment show featuring dancing. He is doing both things even if he cannot dance brilliantly. The public are asked to vote to save "their favourite". It all seems a bit much for people to be calling for John to resign from the show. Why should he?

Friday, November 14, 2008

One quote, 2 ways

Now, I may have watched the X-Factor once or twice but in general I do not care who wins nor the news/entertainment stories which surround it. I was interested in this though, which I am sure I first noticed on the BBC but can find no mention of it anymore. Quite why last years winner cares which singer wins is beyond me, but it seems odd that she is quoted as saying something in two different ways... (and for the record, I am sure that I read the Heat version on the BBC on Monday although their article mentions nothing now)

“It was a real shocker this week,” says Leona Lewis. “I wasn't outraged, screaming at the TV and stuff, but I was surprised.” (Heat Magazine)

Leona Lewis, last year's winner expressed her surprise at the outcome saying: "I was outraged, screaming at the TV and stuff. I was surprised." (Daily Telegraph)

And Leona Lewis, last year's winner, and Lily Allen have expressed their surprise at the outcome, with Lewis saying: "I was outraged, screaming at the TV and stuff. I was surprised." (Press Association report).

Or maybe I shouldn't be surprised at all. I'm sure newspapers edit quotes to fit their stance. It would just usually, to my mind, be Heat that sensationalised something rather than the Telegraph.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Colour Boards

Image from here via here

Some pretty colours to cheer up a grey and rainy day. Or perhaps these are more appropriate.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Tagged: Bookworm Meme

I have been tagged by The Cwtch, so here goes:

First off is "The Bookworm". The rules are that you have to open the nearest book to page 56. Write out the fifth sentence as well as the following few sentences. It has to be the closest book, not your favourite, or the most intellectual!

Well, the nearest book to me at present is Andrew Marr's A History of Modern Britain and says:

"The Church of England saw one of the sharpest declines in membership in the decade from 1935 to the end of the war, losing half a million communicants, down to just under three million. (Another half million would be lost by 1970 and more than a million by 1990.) The Roman Catholics rose in numbers after the war, perhaps because of Polish, Irish and other European immigration, while the Presbyterians and the smaller churches also suffered decline. Though the first mosque in Britain had been built in Woking, Surrey as early as 1889, there were few Muslims or Hindus."

Two things struck me whilst writing out that passage; (1) how appropriate that on the 11th November that the quote should be about the decade following the war and (2) who knew Woking and Surrey were so liberal as to have built the first mosque, and as early as 1889. Speaking of remembrance day there is another post to come on that subject later today.

Second Tag ( I have changed this to four not six as I have run out of writing time):

Things I Value

  • Freedom: As it is Remembrance Day perhaps I should start with this one. Freedom is something I value in many senses: the ability to act and think freely and to not be dictated to by state or religion, not to be subordinate to anyone or anything, the freedom to vote, for freedom of speech, for equal opportunities. Every time we have an election I always make sure that I vote: wars were fought for our democratic freedom, wars are being fought now to free other countries to allow them democratic freedom and less than a century ago women were not allowed to vote. Indeed, it was not until 1928 that women were allowed to vote and stand for election in the UK. But freedom should not be confused with the ability to do what one likes, come what may. That is not something I value.
  • Life and limb and being healthy: I value the fact that I am alive, that I am intact and healthy. It may not sound much but it is not something that everyone can take for granted. I also value living in a country with free health care to ensure that everyone has the ability to seek medical help.
  • Love and support of my friends and family: I feel so incredibly lucky to have parents who are still together as well as four grandparents, supportive parents-in-law, sisters, a brother and sister-in-law, and soon to be top of this list, a wonderful husband-to-be.
  • Sunshine and Rain: Whilst we often moan about the weather in the UK and I am no exception (see yesterdays post) we are so very lucky to live in a country which has seasons, proper seasons, and generally speaking a weather system which is not too extreme, i.e. no real droughts, or flooding of biblical proportions, or winters where everyone is snowed in for days, weeks, months on end.

Things I Don't

  • Incompetence: I think this probably goes against what I have said above, but people being incompetent really drives me mad.
  • Selfishness: While I could probably do to heed this myself, I also find this extremely irritating.
  • People who don't stand their rounds: If you don't want to participate in the round buying, don't accept drinks from other people. Just buy your own, but don't force people to have to point out when it is your round.
  • Vendors who add an extra mark-up when they hear the word 'wedding': It either costs that much or it doesn't. Stop trying to extort people for extra. Thankfully I think the lack of funds available to pump into expensive weddings will make vendors realise that they are lucky for the custom at all...

And now I tag: Suzi/Echo, Potty Mummy, Catherine and Rachel. Enjoy!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Rain rain go away

Or perhaps one of these images by my favourite illustrator, David Downton, would cheer me up.
More images to come.
Image by David Downton available from Fashion Illustration Gallery if you are feeling generous!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

"It's a new dawn, a new day... and we're feeling good"

An historic day then, today (well, today in GMT times) as we learnt that Mr Obama has become the 44th President-Elect of the USA. I stayed up until I could keep my eyes open no longer, following the BBC, CNN and webchat on Iain Dale's diary. When Obama had taken over 100 of the electoral college votes to McCain's 34 I went to bed. I left the TV on though and woke, disorientated, a few hours later to hear Obama's acceptance speech. For the first time in a long time I feel ignited about politics, that people really did use their vote. For some reason I found the idea of ordinary Americans queuing for hours to cast their vote extraordinarily moving. Suddenly, it feels as if the world has caught up with itself. Where less than a century ago only male white citizens could vote we now have the most charismatic US (and dare I say it, world) President-Elect I have known in my lifetime. History was certainly made last night and I look forward to new, enlightened, changed times.

An historic day, today, in the UK as well. Bonfire Night, that oddest of British traditions, the celebration of a failure to blow up the houses of parliament by a one Mr Guy Fawkes (the ringleader of the execution of the plot rather than the ringleader itself) in 1605. 400 years later the celebrations are still marked by bonfires and fireworks and traditional food. An historic tradition that I don't think we are celebrating this year. In a time of belt-tightening it seems a little unsuitable to literally set fire to hard earned precious money.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

US Elections

20 years ago today I was a small girl of just 6 years old living in California because of her Daddy's job. We lived in a small town in Northern California, opposite the school which I attended. 20 years ago today my parents took me to the school where a polling station was set up, to see how the voting took place. Each person was given some pieces of paper and went to a small cubicle where they used a hole punch type device to make marks against the candidates. I didn't know much (i.e. anything) about politics but that trip to the polls, and the need to use my vote, stuck with me. In the diary which I kept of the whole trip, which turned out to be almost two years in the end, I have stuck in the spoilt voting card which the lovely people manning the polling station let me keep.

The next morning I woke up and went to school and knew that George Bush Senior had won. We all went out into the playground and spelt out 'Bush' in the playground as he flew over in his helicopter.

Today, tonight, I sit in my flat in London, watching the BBC and thinking back to that day in America, hoping that the people of America use their vote and make a better choice than they did that day when as a 6 year old, I learnt about using my vote.

Please Vote!

Rachel says it better than I can (as it is lunchtime and I am on a course)

"Dear American readers, If you are lucky enough to have a vote in the US elections, please use it. Even though the lines may be long, the system chaotic, the weather bad, your feet sore, the pollsters telling you that you don't need to, he'll win anyway...please vote. Thank you. Really, thank you. And I hope that you have a great day."

Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween Dinner Party

Ice hands in a blood punch


Window decorations

A candlelit dinner for 4 with a Tim Burton film theme and a menu of spiced pumpkin soup followed by devils on horseback accompanied by roast vegetables and baked potatoes, served with blood punch and lots of red wine
All images by me

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Snow - in October

image by me
A beastly day for weather; lashing rain, howling wind, freezing air, and then, snow. In October. A not insignificant blanket lay over the cars and walls and gardens in London last night. A tempting blanket, it seemed, for M, who promptly made snowballs and hurled them at trees, signs and when he thought he could get away with it, me.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Weekend in the Country

Image by White Wolf Photography via Etsy

Returned to London late last night after a somewhat adventure packed weekend in the country which included in no particular order: an 80th birthday party, flooding (both roads and the airing cupboard due to a broken hot water tank), driving 700 miles visiting many places including Yorkshire and Guildford, a dead cow, puppy training and lots and lots of cake. Oh, and purchasing some pumpkins for a farm shop (like the ones above) to make soup and Jack'o'lanterns for Halloween.


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Autumn In London

The back garden
Attending my cousin's boyfriend's funeral yesterday left me with a migraine that I could not shift. I lay in bed this morning (and then on the bathroom floor after I'd been sick) and thought just how much more awful it must be for my cousin. Seeing her crumple into the front of the pew as the coffin was brought into the church was one of the most heartbreaking things I have seen.

This afternoon I was forced to venture out of the flat to get some milk and realised what a gorgeous day it was...

trees on our road on my way to the shop

On my return to the house I decided to have a bash at Hannah's welsh cakes which she so beautifully wrote about the other day. I did what she said but mine didn't look quite up to her standard (!) as I am sure you can tell from the photos below. They tasted good though, despite being a little crumbly and not quite spicy enough.

Chilled and cubed butter ready to rub into a mixture of sifted flour, baking powder and mixed all spice

Ready to roll out after mixing the flour with currants and a beaten egg

The last one left to eat with a cup of tea in the sitting room


All images by me

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Simple Woman's DayBook

For Today... (from here)

Outside my Window...the roof tops of Lincoln's Inn with blue skies and some small clouds

I am I really up to student style partying with my sister later on today?

I am thankful for...being alive, having a job and a home, a wonderful fiance, great family, fab friends

From the chance to cook this week so I ate a Pret sandwich

I am suit, Boden jumper, boots and a cardigan (it's chilly in my office today, despite the sunshine)

I am reading...old favourite novels, Tatler and work documents

I am hoping...that my migraine disappears

I am related things

I am hearing...workman on the development nearby, taxis on Chancery Lane, a colleague dictating some letters,

Around the house...mostly laundry that still needs doing

One of my favorite things...a cup of tea and snuggling in bed

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week...the aforementioned student partying with my sister, trying out The Cwtch's welsh cake recipe, catching up on some sleep

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you... who says romance is dead: flowers which M brought to my office along with the Pret sandwich for me at lunchtime.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

All About Me...

So, I borrowed an idea from CeeCee: I answered the 12 questions about myself and then chose a corresponding photo from Flickr to go along with the answer.

1. What is your first name?
2. What is your favorite food?
3. What high school did you attend?
4. What is your favorite color?
5. Who is your celebrity crush?
6. Favorite drink?
7. Dream vacation?
8. Favorite dessert?
9. What do you want to be when you grow up?
10. What do you love most in life?
11. One word to describe you?
12. Your Flickr name?

Wanna play?: Type your answer to each of the above questions into Flickr's search. Using only the images that appear on the first page, choose your favorite and copy and paste each of the URL’s into the Mosaic Maker.

Can you guess my answers?

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Fantasy Interview

What is your favourite beauty product in your bathroom?

Ren moisturiser and a caffeine eye roller - without these I would not make it to work

What is your fallback outfit?

for work: Black Banana Republic dress, cardigan, black tights and boots. as smart as a suit but much more comfy
at home: jeans, boots, t-shirt and jumper or cardigan. classic outfit which you can wear anywhere

What is your one piece of beauty advice?

Drink more water. my now fiance told me this when we first met. I'm still working on following it 6 years later

Your biggest fashion faux pas?

At 26 I am too young to look back on my biggest fashion faux pas as I am still living through my 20s and everyone looks back with horror at their teenage years. Yet if you cannot experiment then, when can you? Ask me again in 10 years and no doubt I will say that outfit I wore to a party last week...

What aspect of beauty do you hate?

People who are deluded about their size. Some things work well on skinny people; some things work well on curvy people. Work out which you are and don't wear things that don't suit your size, no matter how on trend it is. There is always ways to wear trends that do not involve clothes.

How do you think people perceive you from the way you dress?

I would hope that they see what I really am: a 20 something experimenting with style but not yet settled on all the answers

If you could steal anyone's wardrobe - past or present, fictional or real - whose would it be and why?

I know who's actual wardrobe I would steal - my friend who has a gorgeous walk in cupboard area off her bedroom, Carrie style, except her bathroom is next to it, not through it. It makes everything in it look twice as desirable, even the topshop stuff which everyone has.

Clothes wise, well, no-one's entire wardrobe but bits and pieces from everywhere I think. Failing that, more time and money to build up my own.

If you could change one part of your body, which would it be?

I'm not so fond of my nose in profile but not to the extent I would do anything about it. I would like better hair.

What are your desert island staples?

Suncream, cozy clothing and a blanket & pillow, books, tweezers, toothbrush & toothpaste.

What is a day in the life of Little Miss Rachel?

I get up later than I would like (I think I need a new alarm clock) and rush around to get to work. I spend the day mostly at my desk and leave between 6 and 8 depending on my work load. I am trying out going to the gym before home but I usually either go straight out for drinks or straight home for supper. We have a lot of friends over for drinks and food, informal dinner parties, that sort of thing. Then e-mail checking and bed with a cup of tea and a book.

Rainbow Books

A long time ago, I wrote about rainbow coloured bookcases. So long ago, that it was before the blog had tags, and I can't find it again. I could find the photo though, on my computer, which was the original inspiration behind our bookcase.
Tonight, I was tidying up the flat before some friends come round for supper tomorrow night and was putting the books back in their piles in the wine crates which are both a book case and a way of blocking the door to nowhere, left behind when our flat was converted from a house, and decided to take a couple of photos.
Our books and bookcase doesn't have quite the same look about it as the top photo, but I am fond of our books none the less.

Top image - credit unknown

Bottom images - all by me

Thursday, September 25, 2008

London Fashion Weekend

When fashion week is over and the world's fashion press has moved away from London but the resulting photographs of next seasons trends have inspired you to do a little shopping, where better than a quick visit to London Fashion Weekend? Especially in this down sizing, down scaling economic climate there is nothing like a little 'investment' shopping of some designer pieces at not so designer prices that makes a twenty something feel like she is doing something about her money.
Essentially, London Fashion Weekend is a consumer heaven set up like a trade show with designers each having a stand in a purpose built marquee in the grounds of the National History Museum. Visitors book allocated time slots and then fill the carpeted aisles between the stands with posing and hair tossing and spending. To make it easier on the wallet and mind at each stand you are presented with a docket for your purchases. No money changes hands, you merely collect them all and pay at the tills at the end and go back round and collect your items. Tricks the brain, it does. "Do you really need an orange passport cover?" the rational part of my brain stated boldly, as I squatted inelegantly on the floor looking through a box of leather goods. "But I've always wanted one and Look. Here is a beautiful leather one. For £4. £4. Reduced from £29.99. It is A BARGAIN" shouted the other part, drowning out the other, "and look, I can hand it to the lady, who puts it in a bag, and gives me the docket and it's, well, it's almost free isn't it...". And everywhere across the weird tented two layer structure this mental argument is being played out in every stand.
Of course, it's not just about the shopping, or the posing. It isn't? No, there are sponsors who put on events, make-up lessons, blow dries, styling sessions, show off the latest in TVs, coffee machines, drinks and cocktails. There are goody bags to be bought and paraded. And a catwalk show to watch where the latest trends are shown and make-up and hair dressing tips handed out like favours at a wedding. One stand was showing a Miele washing machine in which they were washing roses to demonstrate the new cold wash short silk cycle - the wash was so gentle that the roses came out beautifully. It looked so incongruous though, delicate flowers in a machine that I stopped to take some photos.

Above: Roses which had just been washed in a washing machine.

In previous years I have attended the event on the Saturday or even Sunday. This year I decided to go on the Thursday night and managed to get there before the crowds. It was an altogether more pleasant experience. There was room to walk around, to try on clothes, to hesitate, to think, to return. I stopped and drank espresso, sat there on a high bar stool and watched the other visitors drifting past in ones, twos and the occasional child with her mother, clearly brought along straight after school. At the other end of the show I stopped to try and campari and orange juice. Upstairs I had my eyebrows threaded - and what a skill that is, although the first yank did bring a tear to my eye - and watched the catwalk show from a corner.
And then, suddenly, I was tired. Laden with the weekend bag that I purchased, for a mere £15, and the goody bag which included all sorts of interesting items including some kind of scary micro-dermabrasion device, the music was too repetitive and the place was too full of teenagers, so I beat a hasty retreat. Until next fashion week, that is.
Below (and top photo): Folk trend on the catwalk

Images by me


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Moment of Need

It was just as I reached the bus-stop this evening that another wave of stomach pains hit me. I sat down on the bench and breathed in and breathed out and stared at the floor, fixated on the slightly old vomit where someone else had been unlucky earlier in the weekend. The pains didn't subside and I started to wonder what I was going to do. My phone was in the bathroom at home; there was no-one at work; I had an appointment to get to. I was on my own. The thought of fainting into someone else's vomit was too much so I moved away from the bus stop and lent against the wall at the side of the pavement, staring at the floor and people's feet trotting past, going home, going out, going past all the while trying not to let my panic escalate. "Come on Rachel" I told myself, "breathe and get on the bus. Once you're home you can ring up, cancel the appointment and then lie down".

A hand reached out and took my arm. I looked up and a kind lady slightly older than me said "Let's get you to a cafe so you can sit down and I'll get you some water. Do you need me to call you a doctor?" and with that she walked me over the road and did exactly that. I declined the doctor but almost cried, well, actually, I cried a little bit, at her kindness. She lent me her phone and I cancelled my appointment and then called M who called me an Addison Lee car to come and rescue me. And she waited there, with me, in that cafe, until my taxi arrived and I gave her a lift to her office on the way. On the way, we talked. Two strangers, thrust together into a shared situation. She too was a lawyer who had followed a slightly different career path. She was qualified and successful. She told me that I would be too.

So many people tell me that they could never live in London; it's too dangerous and too impersonal, that no-one cares, that you could die and no-one would notice. Ok, so I once had my purse stolen on a bus but not today. Today I was in the city of London. I needed help and in my moment of need, someone helped me. And I am very grateful.

Sunday, September 21, 2008


Lying in the park earlier, propped against a picnic hamper on one of those plastic backed picnic rugs and the sun warming my face, I looked around my group of friends and though "some people don't have birthday parties this great yet this, for us, is just a normal weekend". A dinner party until 3am on Friday night, lounging and then dinner and a party on Saturday and a Sunday afternoon picnic and pub visit to round off the weekend; a large group of our closest friends and some of the last decent weather of the year. Perhaps I am not so old yet.

Friday, September 19, 2008

What's the Matter with Fabric?

Oh, I should be a headline writer... Or not. But last night I did get to taste a little of someone else's job: that of a music journalist. Now, you might have heard of a night club called Fabric. And you've no doubt heard of the 02 centre (otherwise known as the Dome). Well, Fabric has opened a sister super club at the 02 centre called Matter. Is the headline thing making sense now? Anyway, BestFriend's boyfriend got us 2 press passes to the press launch. So BestFriend and I dressed up and went out. On a school night.

Matter is like a cathedral for dance music lovers to worship their DJs. If God is a DJ he is surely to be found at Matter. That is, if he can find it. It is a long walk from the tube station along a bumpy track which did not have high-heels in mind. Inside however the sound pumps out of enormous speakers and soars to the very rafters of the club (well, VIP and VVIP area anyway). Lasers cut their way through the smoke machined air which hovers low over a sprung dance floor which makes the crowd lift as one as the beats lift you higher and higher. It also makes you, ahem, vibrate. Yes, all parts of you. The lights cast shadows over the lower areas illuminating auditorium style concrete benches, last night prettily occupied with posers, soon to be occupied with those dance music lovers which could be mistaken for refugees by the time the night is out. Look to the left and there is a bar which runs the whole length of the wall, grey, concrete, metal, the whole place is grey and clinical, and staffed by hundreds of Matter worker bees who fill drinks, collect glasses, keep control, signal to the smoking area. Look up, which you will, as you will wonder why it is so light for a night club and you will see higher seating areas and a strange walkway, which looks rather like the guitar track in Guitar hero, only upside down, and then right right at the top, a red tinged area, the VIP section. Find the stairs, if you can, being careful not to scratch your jewellery or silk dress against the rough metal railings or concrete edges, or to trip your satin shoe against a rough step (trainers are better footwear here by far) and enter the VIP area and you will find cosy seating instead of concrete benches and a birds eye view of the whole club, reinforcing your impression that once you are a VIP you are on top of the world and have the world's permission to look down on everyone else. Once you have grown bored of the unusual view of the sound booth and countless posing people - have you ever seen primping like that of a male band about to have their photo taken - you wind your way back down the steps (or take the lift if you are so inclined) and return to ground level and to cold clinical concrete. The bar area is full now, so you have to push past people gathering around strange alien tables, the noise so loud that it almost feels silent - you can see people's mouths moving but you cannot work out what they say - the blue UV lights casting a hospital like glow over everyone. Once past the crowds round the bar you head back up to the middle floor, in search of loos. Unisex ones or up the metal staircase to the girls only? It matters not, they are roughly the same. Cubicles round the edges, big metal rectangular troughs in the middle. Not as cool as the huge round metal ones at Fabric with their complicated foot pedal system which immediately singles out the newbies, but still trough like enough that the animal illusion is complete once pilled up people start washing in them, or more pleasantly, vomiting in them. The doors are kinder on the ear than the prison style clanking ones at Fabric; the loo paper however is of substandard quality. Thankfully the Dyson hand-dryers make up for it. Wander around, for that is what people seem to spend most of their time doing, a pointless continuous movement of people, until you have seen your fill, listened to your body weight in sound, carried yourself into oblivion on a tidal wave of intensifying beats which lift you up and up and up... Fabric is not a venue, it's a scene, someone once told me. Matter is more of a venue, I think, but time will tell.

Matter, The O2, Peninsula Square, London, SE10 ODY

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

What would I take from my desk?

The BBC asks: "if you loss your job today, what would you take from your desk?". In other words, what personal items do we have in and on our desks to make the long working days just a little bit more personal?

So here goes:

  • University mug
  • Mug given to me for my birthday
  • Coca-cola glass
  • 10 novels which I have finished reading at work and never made it home
  • Contact lens solution
  • Painkillers, spare tights, tampons etc
  • Files of work from law school
  • Law books which belong to me
  • hand cream
  • personal file (e.g. records of work/courses etc)
  • photo of M and I on holiday
  • fountain pen
  • umbrella
  • small pretty mirror given to me by BestFriend which sits on my computer
There are obviously a few other things I have at work too like mustard, orange squash etc but I think if I had to leave, right now, I wouldn't bother to save them. Likewise I would not make off with confidential client information, the contents of the stationery cupboard or any expensive but useful text books. And that's not just because by the time I loaded all of the things I do own into a box there would be no room for anything else...

The Times also had an interesting article about the wives of bankers/traders who gave up work to look after the children etc and now their husbands are out of work with limited options. Not many people feel sorry for them. Only last night I was discussing with M what conversations were happening in those households. One can only hope that if you'd made your fortune as a trader or banker you would have been clever enough to follow some sound financial advice, realised that you make a lot when the going is good but that it can all very easily be lost and so diversified portfolios and kept an emergency easy access account so that you could still pay the mortgage, school fees and household expenses until you found something else to do. Like become a maths teacher. There's a shortage of those.

Monday, September 15, 2008

50 Things Every British Girl Should Have...

... according to the Sunday Times... (blue text by them, purple added by me)

1 GOLD HOOP EARRINGS For days when you wanna look J.Lo glam. These shouldn’t be so big as to look like you haven’t got over the gypsy trend, nor so small as to make you look like a three-year-old on a council estate.

Seems I have failed already. No gold hoop earrings in this British girl's jewellery box. But seeing as I have only ever had one day when I wished to look J.Lo glam (and that was at a fancy dress party with the dress code Bling Bling) I suppose I am not missing out. My earring taste is a lot more subtle. Pearls, shells, that sort of thing.


2 A BERET For bad-hair days. It will take you straight to Kim Basinger in Batman. Just don’t obsess about the angle: they should be worn with nonchalance.

Gosh, not getting off to the best start am I? Berets to me are less Kim Basinger, more too old for CCF. Beanies or trilbies are my hat of choice these days.


3 A VINTAGE OSSIE CLARK DRESS Separates the women from the girls. Fabulously flattering at any age, from 18 to 80.

Doesn't so much separate the women from the girls as the haves and have-nots. Do you know how much a vintage ossie clark dress costs? Well, Shikasuki, my favourite vintage shop, sells them. I tried one on when wedding dress shopping. Thankfully it didn't fit - it was £750 for an ankle length crepe dress which made my (size 8-10) hips look fat. Beautiful, yes. Fabulously flattering, I think not.


4 EXPENSIVE BLACK LACE LINGERIE At least one set. For obvious reasons.

Finally, something I do own. Although it depends on your definition of 'expensive'. For obvious reasons.


5 A PAIR OF THERMAL SHORTS For when you want to wear a skirt without tights, but it’s a bit parky outside.

What? OK, who is writing this? This is England. If it's cold you wear tights. Even in August. Thermal shorts? Never even heard of them and I thought I knew about these things...


6 SILK STOCKINGS A rite of passage for every woman — and, subsequently, for her man. In slightly unusual shades — such as petrol or burgundy — they make an outfit. And in this country they can be worn for three-quarters of the year.

Exactly - so why the need for (5)? Mine actually happen to be burgundy (and are tights, but near enough).


7 A DECENT TRENCH COAT Some people are scared of trenches because they look fussy — they’re not. Everyone from Burberry to M&S does them, so there’s no excuse.

I think I need to go shopping... Actually, this is something which I have been trying to buy for a while but can never find anything I am satisfied with at a price which is agreeable. Although sister-in-law to be recommends the ones from Ted Baker.


8 A LEATHER JACKET It should be cropped and fitted nicely around your waist. Takes you from a gig to the supermarket via your mum’s and a first date. Enough said.

Aha. I have one of these. Very useful and actually a lot warmer than I thought it would be. Mine is dark bottle green as I thought it would be nice to own something that wasn't black and has a nipped in ruched waist.


9 A GOOD WALLET Because if a bag matters, so does your purse — and people see it all the time. Jimmy Choo’s, we feel, are particularly well thought-out.

It isn't Jimmy Choo but it is decent. Nice leather, size of a small clutch bag, holds everything. I love it. Makes me smile every time I use it. A decent investment at London Fashion Weekend several years ago.


10 A PAIR OF FALSIES (eyelashes, that is). Instant divadom.

Mine are so long that they are like wearing sun visors, only a mini pair for each eye. Best kept for festivals and the like as they are rather OTT. The smaller pair I had reached a sorry end on a fantastic Audrey Hepburn themed hen weekend in Bath...


11 A VINTAGE DRESS One that’s seen much better days — for being very trashy in.

That's more like it... yes, I have several of these, mostly from the aforementioned Shikasuki although a couple from my mother's wardrobe via the old dressing up box. My favourite is bright emerald/turquoise silk shift which is just trashed enough you don't mind wearing it but fab enough that it looks the part.


12 A PAIR OF MAD SUNGLASSES They should be too mad to go on a date in, but just mad enough to feel liberated.

Tick. In fact, I have such a small face that all sunglasses look slightly mad on me. My favourite pair is a pair of RayBan aviators which are enormous but still look cool...


13 A SHORT, BLACK BOB WIG Check out of you-ness and be Louise Brooks for the day.

Nope, can't say I have one of these? Does anyone? I rather prefer my own long-ish, blonde-ish hair thanks.


14 A STRING OF REAL PEARLS OR REAL PEARL EARRINGS Great for the complexion, as they diffuse light across your face.

Tick. Not much else to say about pearls is there?


15 A T-SHIRT DRESS One you’ve had since you were 22. Just throw it on and go.

Many of these - mostly from American Apparel who make the best ones. Just right for a summers night raving at Fabric.


16 A PAIR OF MEN’S BROGUES For looking playfully serious.

There are lots of these in our house but M wears them so well that I leave that look to him...


17 SOMETHING DELICATE AND ANCIENT It must be kept in acid-free tissue paper — anything made of Victorian lace, for example.

I think my turquoise 60s style hat fits this. In it's original hat box too.


18 DEREK ROSE FLANNEL PYJAMAS For spending Sundays and sickies in.

Sickies - what are those?! No derek rose pyjamas for me, I still wear my old teddy bears ones which I've had since my early teens when I am ill...


19 WHITE CORDS Less flash than white denim, more elegant than jeans. Wear with a navy pea coat, and you are Jackie O.

White trousers, yes, black cords, no. White cords are still too a little Elizabeth Hurley for me. Either that or Boden mummy...


20 A KHAKI PARKA Just like the one Kate Moss wore with those Westwood boots in 2000. Never goes out of style, always looks cool — whatever anyone says.

Yep, got one of those. Doesn't everyone? Good old 'primarni'...


21 GREEK SANDALS Ones that age beautifully and last for ever.

I suppose, technically, since mine are Massimo Dutti they are not Greek but they are in style and spirit. Plain enough to wear to work with a summer dress, fab enough that they go with anything. I barely take them off in summer yet already they are back in their box for next year.


22 BOLD STATEMENT HEELS Six inches? Toe cleavage? Huge platform? Orange PVC? Perfect. Shoes that get people talking. And never stop.

I don't actually tend to go in very much for plain shoes - so all mine are statement pieces one way or another. See wedding shoes for confirmation...


23 A BLACK CASHMERE ROLLNECK If you must wear basics, console yourself with luxury. Audrey Hepburnesque and great with jeans and minis.

Well, it's a black roll neck, at any rate. Goes with everything especially to work.


24 HAIRSPRAY (ELNETT) AND KIRBY GRIPS For dramatic evening up-dos.

Not much more to add to this, is there?


25 A CAMEO BROOCH These are practical, but always remarkable, and their colours don’t clash with outfits — unlike jewelled brooches.

Not a fan of brooches really. I prefer a statement necklace or scarf...


26 BOAT NECKS If you have a strong collarbone, show off this alternative erogenous zone.

Looks better on my skinny frame than some styles... I prefer mine in jersey rather than jumper material as I think they hang better. My favourite is by C & C California.


27 A WATCH Needn’t be expensive, but should either have a small face and a fabric or leather strap; or be chunky and sporty — aka the “boyfriend watch”.

I think some people are watch people and some people are not. I am NOT. I rarely wear one, mainly because I refuse to spend much money on one and consequently it is always broken. Has nothing to do with my inability to be on time...


28 JAPANESE DARK DENIM JEANS Very simple, narrow, but not skinny, wide or bootcut. Never, ever wash them.

Mine are actually Topshop but same overall affect. Haha. Looks good with a grey jumper.


29 A SLIGHTLY-TOO-SHORT LCD (little coloured dress). Black is okay, but purple (see Michelle Obama), red or jade are better.

The same one that falls under the vintage dress category above.


30 A COLOSSAL COCKTAIL RING For when you need instant cheer.

I have a red one from Shikasuki but these days I find my engagement ring does the same job...


31 DECENT WELLINGTON BOOTS Le Chameau, Argyll and Hunter all pass muster. Never be caught in a shiny novelty pair — you will be outed as a novice in an instant.

A novice what? Mine are dark purply-blue and are Hunters. I love them: the most comfortable boots I have ever worn. Essential for festivals (I wore mine the entire weekend at Camp Bestival despite a lack of rain or even mud) and good for Sunday afternoon walks in the country as well, as they are not so bright they will frighten cows.


32 LEATHER DRIVING GLOVES. For looking murderously chic. Get them from the high street — no point spending a fortune, as gloves are so easily lost.

Tick. Marks & Spencer's outlet village. When you wear a suit to work you don't want to be let down by orange cashmere ones...


33 A BRETON TOP Insouciant, witty, timeless, French, sexy.

I have a couple but am careful when to wear them as it is my Mother's signature style.


34 CASHMERE SOCKS It’s not a style thing, it’s a love thing: a love-yourself thing.

One of my favourite things about winter...


35 A SILK SQUARE It can serve as a belt, a neckscarf, a duster — and as a headscarf, is just perfect for autumn bike rides.

My favourite was my mother's. also looks good tied on a handbag or round the brim of a hat.


36 A HIDDEN TATTOO The element of surprise is essential.

Nope, none. Hidden or otherwise. I just can't imagine finding something I wanted written on my body for the rest of my life


37 RUBY SLIPPERS Just the one pair?

Mine are actually pink. And there are 2 pairs. One pair has silk flowers on. Never fails to cheer me up.


38 A GREY HOODIE Otherwise you’ll look like you were never a teenager.

It's not grey but does have the Rage Against the Machine logo on. A favourite teenage keepsake which I still wear. Takes people by surprise that a blonde 20 something almost lawyer still loves her heavy music!


39 A FAMILY HEIRLOOM Bracelet, brooch or diamond-set watch — to ignite conversation.

Sadly none as yet. Although that can also be seen as a good thing.


40 A SHAG-ME BRA To be seen peeking out from your top.

Hmmm. Not a fan of visible underwear. But yes, I do own a couple...


41 A PAIR OF GOLD LAME LEGGINGS Because you never know when you might be called upon to go dancing, and it’s hard to keep up with what the kids wear in clubs these days.

Nope. Never. I don't even own a pair of leggings. Boring...


42 A TINY DECADENT EVENING BAG It should only have space for a note and a credit card.

I have a gold sequined one from Granny.


43 SOMETHING FROM CHANEL Anything at all.

Not yet; I am working on it...


44 A PAIR OF FAKE SPECTACLES For last-minute librarian chic.

Who needs fake ones when you can have the real thing?


45 A FUR STOLE Fake works fine. Guaranteed to elicit attention when worn flung over shoulders with red lipstick.

No fur stole, fake or otherwise, much as I would like one. Maybe I will keep looking in the vintage shops as I could never buy one new.


46 A BROWN LEATHER TOTE These look better the more battered and bruised they get.

My work bag. A firm favourite.


47 A BIG, PATTERNED, WOOLLEN SCARF Something hippie-ish you can swathe yourself in come rain or shine. The best are bought on holiday and have bright and pretty colours. Will take a T-shirt and jeans to stylish and original levels.

I own many, many of these. I can't remember a holiday when I didn't return with a new one. My favourites though are limited to two: the red and gold silk knitted one with peacock feathers that my father brought back from China and a grey & red woven one that my sister found for me in Vietnam.


48 A TEA DRESS The greatest thing to come out of the 1940s — utterly wearable and endlessly flattering. Vintage numbers are always best.

I have one which is my wedding outfit standby. That worked better when I went to fewer weddings where the guests were a different set of friends each time.


49 A 100% SILK SLIP Like the one Rachel from Friends wore on her date with Joshua. Every girl needs one for night-time. A pain to wash, but totally worth it.

I don't remember that Rachel's one but I am a fan of mine, especially in summer.


50 SPANX Because, sigh, we all have days when we need them.

Not yet, thankfully...

35/50 (70%): I think I should stop shopping.

Friday, September 12, 2008

On feeling old

I had a telephone call last night which I answered just as I returned home from BestFriends house, at the respectable time of 10.30pm. It was Littler A, back at university and on a train heading towards London. At least I think she was on a train. It's what I think she said, but then it was hard to hear her over the din. She may have been in the monkey enclosure at the zoo, or the common room of a public school. There was definitely shrieking. "Rachi baby!" she giggled, "what clubs in London stay open all night on a Thursday?". I thought back to the days when I used to be able to party all night, on a whim. I thought back to the last club I had been to on a school night, Mamalanji, where I had danced til 4am and still made it to work. I thought of my sister's budget and reached for Time Out.

I have spoken before of my love of e-bay. Sometimes I look at shoes, sometimes clothes, handbags, things. Last week I bought a vintage embroidered tablecloth and 8 wicker place mats. The tablecloth arrived yesterday. Once I had finished organising Littler A's night out (having to terminate the call when I could no longer hear whether I was being listened to or not) I spread it over our table and thought "this is the difference between 26 and 21, between being a fiancee and being single. She dances all night. I try to beautify my flat and my table and practice being a housewife". All at once I felt contented but sadly nostalgic.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Sunshine and housewives

When is the last time I saw some sunshine? I need some sunshine in my life. Everything is so grey, even the jumpers I am wearing are grey. It is cold, chilly, too chilly for the second week of September. Where is the Indian summer that we were promised to compensate for the greyest August on record?

I am practising being a house wife. We picked blackberries at the weekend, two bagfuls. Thankfully we had Lily the dog with us. Dogs = plastic bags (unused). We brought home, well, back to the holiday cottage, two large food bags bursting with sweet smelling carefully picked purply-black ripe blackberries and I made them into blackberry goo. Perhaps it has a proper name but I do not know it. The blackberry goo is now in the freezer. Back in London I made applesauce. Two carrier bags of Shropshire garden apples. I cut and cored and peeled and persuaded M to help as well. We made a pressure cooker full of apple sauce. The apple sauce too is in the freezer, in small Tupperware boxes. Next weekend when friends come for Sunday lunch I shall make some pastry and fill it with home made apple and blackberry goo. And make custard to go with it. On Tuesday I made banana and ginger and chocolate muffins with some left over bananas, a bit of ginger and the ends of two packets of Green & Blacks dark chocolate. I went to open the cake-tin to put the cooled muffins in but it was already occupied by some white furry mould and what might have been the end of something else I made a few weeks ago. The muffins are now in a Tupperware jug. I think I need some more practice.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Autumn Weekends I

Image by M

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Back to School

If ever there was a weather to signify the start of a new school term than surely a chill to the air and torrential rain must be high up on the list. Despite sunshine yesterday small autumnal leaves drifted down onto me as I walked to the tube. Today I am going to have to move fast or I will look like a drowned rat by the time I walk out of my front gate.

Whilst I do love summer, and who doesn't, there is a small part of me excited by the change in the seasons, the nip in the air, the earthy smells and colours of autumn. For me, autumn rather spring will always be the backdrop of new beginnings: school, university, law school, my first proper job. It may have been 8 years since I went off to university but there is still that undercurrent that something has ended and something even more exciting is about to begin... would just be nice if it could remain as summer for one more week as we are off to the beach at the weekend for one last trip this season. After that, it can be as autumnal as it likes.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Summer Ends

London seems so grey in comparison to Brittany where the sea sparkled and the sky was the deepest of blues. The August bank holiday always seems to signify the end of summer and the weather this week hasn't dispelled this image. I know I have PMT at the moment which is no doubt not aiding the lift of my mood but I feel a little restless. In many ways September is a gorgeous and beautiful month but I can't help but wish we had got past the in-between stage and were properly in the boots, cardigans and autumnal colours phase rather than this grey one.

Spent much of the week sailing but when we weren't sailing I was reading: The Devil Wears Prada (again), The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton (which was surprising compelling), Wives & Sweethearts by Lilian Harry, School's Out by Sarah Tucker and then I am part of the way through Andrew Marr's The History of Modern Britain. Marr's book is interesting and explanatory and reads well. I will comment further when I have finished it. As for the others, they were holiday reading through-and-through.

Morton's The Forgotten Garden was the most interesting read as I was genuinely gripped by it at one point and the twists were enough that you weren't quite sure what was going to happen, although you did find out all the answers in the end. Satisfying, but somehow works that leave you guessing a little are more appealing in the long run. My little sister made surprisingly short work of The Secret History by Donna Tartt - she had asked me to bring her two books, so I chose that and Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood - which was perhaps not all that surprising since she has just returned from a year in an East Coast university, although I hope she did not identify too closely with all the material.

Perhaps when I can summons some more energy I shall post a review or two. For now though all my spare evening time is spent wedding organising. For further details if you are interested see here...

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Carte Postale

Dear Little Miss Rachel
Being the 21st century a little less of a postcard more of an electronic message and perhaps even a photo if I can manage it (which I can't as connection too slow). Currently somewhere in Brittany 'checking the weather forecast' otherwise known as an excuse to visit a bar for some bière and a little wifi action. Listening to a live french band and drinking something alcoholic. Weather has been a little off, it was blowing a gale for the first three days so no sailing rather holed up in port witnessing Petite Anglaises' comments about married french men being utter s***ts firsthand. And no we didn't go with them to le discothèque in Carnac despite their best efforts.
More sailing tomorrow, back to Angleterre sometime soon.
Au Revoir

Thursday, August 14, 2008

High Street Rage

I went shopping briefly after work yesterday; a quick 45 minute dash around some of the shops in Angel before my visit to the beauty salon and some pre-hols maintenance.

It is August. As far as I am aware the majority of British holiday makers take their vacances during the school holidays. So mid July - end August. Others without children perhaps start earlier, say Mid May onwards and the entire holiday period probably stretches until at least mid-September, perhaps later.

Being as I am going on a sailing holiday which I hope will contain at least a few hours of sunshine (although judging from the weather forecast we shall be lucky if we get a day without rain) I will need a bikini or two. I've grown a little since last summer and one of my bikinis no longer fits properly. I decided I could probably do with another one, so I started my search in Accessorize. They had a few bikinis on the sale rail - all size 16 and larger, mostly bottoms. A more thorough search of the shop revealed three styles on a rail at the back, again all 14-16s and no tops. A quick check with a sales assistant confirmed that indeed these were all the swimwear they had on sale.

"We've got the autumn stuff in now" she trilled.

"But it's August. I'm going on holiday. Don't you think people might actually want to buy summer/holiday items when they need them? (i.e. the month they go, not three months before) Not have to make do with the few sizes left in the sale".

"Well, they've been in the sale for a few weeks now, that's all we have left" she replied

So even if I had gone on holiday in July I still would have found the bikinis in the sale. And when I asked her to pass onto her manager that most people perhaps might like to be able to buy things in the season when they need them she responded "complain to customer services then". So I left.

A quick look round the other shops in the area confirmed the same thing: swimwear in the sale, if in the shop at all. No sizes on sale smaller than a 14 - no tops. I wonder if the shops order more bottoms than tops or whether there has been an odd run on people buying tops but not bottoms?

So I shall make do with last years too small bikini and the rest of the time I shall wear pants and shorts. If it is not p***ing with rain...

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Not feeling terribly inspired this week, I have to say. One of those weeks where work is a little dull and you feel rather tired all the time. This cross blogging is also a little strange as I am not sure where I should place this post. Perhaps I will be lazy and cut and paste it onto both...

We did manage to do some more to the flat this weekend though, in amongst some dinners and a birthday party. We have reorganised what we call the 'garden' room (i.e. it opens onto the garden and there is no other obvious use for it) so that it flows better and I have a space now to do wedding (and hopefully not wedding related) craft and diy projects. We have also done a lot of de-cluttering - we have got rid of another 2 bags full of old clothes on free cycle as well as a bread bin and we threw away another 2 boxes of paper recycling and some assorted odds and ends which were not in good enough repair to be passed on.

The bedroom looks more like a proper room too now. Previously we have had both the doors open but one of them blocked off by a chair. We eventually decided this weekend to just close the door and use the space for storage, placing the chair in front. I hadn't anticipated what a difference it would make but the room looks much larger now. We have also put all the books back in the sitting room, recycled a good proportion of our 'sentimental' wine bottle collection and put up a print on the wall as well as bringing in some candles and finding places for all the clothes. Where once someone commented "is that a bedroom, or the world's largest cupboard" on peering round the folding doors which separate the bedroom and sitting room, it is now clearly a bedroom, and a relaxing one too.

Our next task I think will have to be the bathroom. Sorting out all our clothes meant that there is a huge mound of laundry as you cannot put something in a drawer which is not clean. Sadly we have had a rainy weekend so I didn't manage to dry any washing outside and the dehumidifier has already pulled 2 and half litres of water out of the air (recycled straight into the watering can) so it might well have to be a trip to the laundrette at the top of the road. Alternate weeks of hot and then rainy weather have doubled or even tripled the mould growth on the ceiling above the shower, so we need to clean it all off and then paint it with some anti-mould paint. Once the washing has gone and the mould, I think it should feel emptier and lighter in there. Larger than our old Primrose Hill bathroom, but it is still definitely tiny.