My New New Dress

new dress.jpg I don’t think I told you about my new new dress.

Firstly, let me explain why it is my new new dress, and not just my new dress. The simple answer is, I shop at charity shops for my clothes. The only things I buy new are underwear and work shoes. So normally when I buy a new dress from a charity shop, it is not actually new.

Well…in return for something nice I did in the past few weeks, a lovely friend of mine wanted to buy me a gift. My friends know I don’t really like gifts – especially not fluff and tacky whats-its that I am going to donate to a charity shop the moment a decent amount of time has passed. If I am given edible gifts (chocolates etc) I usually find someone else to give them to. But if someone buys me a useful gift, an umbrella, linen spray, hand soap – these are all things that I will use and enjoy and be grateful for.

Well, my lovely friend told me she wanted to buy me something for my trip to Australia. I said I didn’t need anything. She asked “what about a new dress?” Well, I think the look on my face encouraged her. I did buy new lingerie, but there was no way I was going to be able to spend money on any other clothes for my trip.

wrap round dress.jpgWell…to cut to the chase, she grabbed her i-pad and started to show me dresses. I found one I really liked in the 70% sale from Phase Eight. So she bought it. It is lovely. It is such a comfortable dress (perfect for summer, not so much an Australian winter). The colours suit me so much. And…

…it reminds me of my favourite dress last summer. I found a black wrap-round dress in a charity shop. I don’t normally buy black, but I was starting a new job, and was told we have to wear black, so I was looking for black clothes. I loved that dress.

However, it came to a tragic demise. The weekend I was away with Goldfinch (Sandwiched In Between A Wedding Reception And A Murder Mystery Weekend) I packed it in my little suit case, and because it was a bit creased, I decided to run the iron over it on that Sunday morning. I turned the dial to the lowest heat setting. But that iron still burnt a whole through my dress 😦

I walked round Coventry all day with a hole in my dress. That was the one day Goldfinch and I had a sort of disagreement (it was all about Jack) and then I thought he was angry and ignoring me for the next couple of weeks (all because I had not read a text message properly when he told me he would be abroad and was not taking his phone), and I was so relieved when I realized he was not at all cross with me, and I had been really silly.

Oh the memories that come back with a dress. Anyway, no more black this year, a lighter, prettier colour for me. I hope at some stage, I come across some decent weather and I am able to wear it.

Melanie B Cee Has Nominated Me For The Liebster Award

Melanie B Cee the creator of sparksfromacombustiblemind has kindly nominated me for the Liebster Award as you can see in her post below:

https://sparksfromacombustiblemind.com/2018/11/05/liebster-award/

Rules

  • Acknowledge the blogger that gave it to you and display the award – Thank you Melanie!
  • Answer 8 questions that the blogger gave you
  • Give 8 random thoughts about yourself
  • Nominate 8 other bloggers and notify them of their nomination
  • Ask your nominees 8 questions

Melanie’s Questions

Do you like bubble gum?  As a flavor or as a sticky treat?  Or is it an annoyance?

I used to love bubble gum. When I was at primary school, it was so popular. We used to trade different bubble gum flavours. We used to blow huge bubbles with it. It was fun!

I have not had any bubble gum for years. But, I would hope there are some out there still finding it as much fun as we did as kiddos. The only thing I would be annoyed by is if someone does not dispose of it properly – ooooo-ey gross!

And I do find it odd when people are chewing gum during a professional or important event. I have seen a bride and groom chewing gum all the way through their wedding service.

I even saw a friend of mine performing on stage in front of an audience of thousands and she was chewing gum throughout her time up there on stage. It didn’t look great. She was told by the director to lose the gum if she expected to be on stage again.

What’s the best advice you ever got?

After I was the victim of a crime, I had some pretty bad injuries to recover from physically and emotionally. Several people helped me realize there was no rush to get better. Healing takes time. They said to me:

ONE DAY AT A TIME

Dress up or casual if invited out?

Dress up! I can be casual at home, on my own, any time I want to. I  wear casual clothes when I am cleaning or gardening. Going out is always a chance to dress up.

I love donning a posh frock. I am like a magpie to beautiful dresses and whenever I see one in a charity shop I tend to grab it for my collection.

Of course I want to take every chance to wear them.

What’s a time when you really stretched yourself; either physically or mentally?

There were eight months which were probably the most intense of all my working life. October 2012 – May 2013. They were tough! I was working in an infirmary caring for patients with terminal illness. I helped to train a team of volunteers.

We were caring for Abigail, a wonderful woman who was almost one hundred years of age and had been affected by Alzheimer’s disease for the previous ten years. She was a very special lady. The whole care team were absolutely devoted to her, but especially the most experienced of our carers (Penny – who everyone called “Matron”) I must write about both Abigail and Penny.

In October 2012 Abigail started to deteriorate rapidly. The number of patients had doubled in the past few weeks and I was having to train new carers to use equipment they had never seen before. We needed everyone to do extra hours to help with the round the clock support needed. I was with Abigail when she took her last breath.

Then my good friend Catrina came back from Africa with some puzzling symptoms. Less than two months later I was with Catrina as she was taking her last breaths.

The morning she died, my manager had received a call to say that not one of the eight male carers I had trained for the past three months was available to assist Arnold, a ninety year old gentleman with Parkinsons. So I had to go straight from Katrina to assist Arnold.

Penny, our most experienced carer had come down with a cold just after Abigail’s death, so she had not been involved with Catrina’s care. We were all concentrating on Catrina so much, none of us had stopped to think about how many days of work Penny had missed. Penny had been sending us text messages to encourage us, because she knew we were in a very demanding situation and that emotions were wrought.

When we lost Catrina, we finally realized something was seriously wrong with Penny. On the day of Catrina’s funeral, our manager had to carry Penny down the stairs from her bedroom and took her in his car straight to hospital. Three months later, we were all around Penny’s hospital bed while she was taking her last breaths. After two hours sleep I had to be be at work ready to help our other patients in the infirmary.

Aaaaaaaah! Those were some of the most demanding and heart-breaking months of my working life. I did feel I was stretched almost to breaking point. Just after we lost Penny, Jack moved into the flat I was living in and started to play strange games with me. Maybe if I had not been so exhausted emotionally I would have been able to cope better with Jack.

Do you have any trophies?

I won trophies as a child. I don’t have them with me. Swimming galas and maths contests mainly.

My sisters and I swam competitively for our local club and for the school of course. Most of the trophies would be for the club or school, they were not for us as individuals, even though we won our races. But I did have one special one – from the club, just because of the amount of swimming accomplishments that had stacked up.

How would you decorate your dream home?

I don’t really have a dream home…not yet anyway. Whilst I am on my own having somewhere small, easy to clean and safe!

If I could choose my own colours it would be blue and teal features on a background of one of the countless shades of magnolia. I will admit though – I am not very good at matching things. Our Mandy is great, she has wonderful taste in decor. Her whole house looks like a show-house.

I would need help from someone with a better sense of interior design than me to make sure I don’t overdo it with teal.

What are three things you’d take with you if you could only take three?

Take? Where am I going?

If it is an emergency, my grab-bag would be one of them because it is full of really useful things that would help in any emergency.

robe and slippersIf it’s an ordinary day, my hand-bag because it is full of really useful things that would help you to survive an “ordinary” in London. Everything from purse, keys, phone, umbrella, lip gloss, perfume atomiser, hair clip, nail file, pocket tissues..

If it’s to hospital, I would take the over-night bag I have packed with clean underwear, dressing gowns, slippers, a set of clothes for when I leave hospital, toiletries, a couple of books and a pen and notebook. I have been through the situation too many times of having to send friends or family to my home to gather some personal things for me, and frankly, it’s annoying having other people root through your underwear drawer!

Is the printed word really dead?

Does the printed word only include paper and exclude electronic word? This is rather interesting to me…having had a little involvement with printing in the past (a very little involvement).

I prefer a paper book in my hands rather than an electronic device, but there is no point being parochial about this. Or would you rather we were still reading from clay tablets or perhaps scrolls made of animal hides or papyrus?

For centuries people used scrolls…and then some clever chap had a brain wave and the codex was born. We are still using the codex two thousand years later!

For many centuries texts were painstakingly hand-written. The role of copyists was incredibly important to ensure that important information was copied meticulously. Copyists would count the letters to identify any errors. Rather humbling when I think about how many typos I find in my own writing. Others would detail in margins, where they felt copying errors may have occurred. It is an absolute miracle and a testament to the faithfulness of copyists, that in comparing hand-written texts copied over many centuries, there are so few differences.

But then boom – came the printing press and the modern world has never been the same. Information was able to spread faster than ever before!

The developments in printing presses are astonishing! I have toured a Man Roland Lithoman printing press several times and observed it in action, printing over one hundred thousand full colour magazines per hour! I have lots of friends who work in printing, and I have been able to tour various printing operations.

But the cost of paper and the concern for the environment has effected the printing industry. In addition…boom – came the internet!

During the past twenty years or so the development of electronic media has progressed phenomenally. Information can be broadcast via electronic means to a staggeringly huge audience in a thousand languages. There are some organisations who have embraced developments in technology and are publishing material in hundreds of languages simultaneously.

Now is not the time to be parochial! People in all parts of the earth have access to information as never before!

Eight Random Facts About Moi:

  • I know all the ins and outs of Twickenham Rugby Stadium like the back of my hand, having worked at various functions over the years
  • I know all the ins and outs of the Manchester Arena like the back of my hand, after working there as a steward and first-aider at events over the years
  • vegetarianI have been a vegetarian since I was six years of age
  • I have fallen off three buses in my life, once off the school bus when I was fourteen, ended up with a back-slab on for weeks and had to use crutches. And twice on packed London buses.
  • I have performed in front of an audience of 15,000 people
  • I used to open Robbie Williams’ fan mail
  • My primary school was burnt down to the ground when I was seven years of age
  • I once had to drive two of the most important men in the country across London in an emergency…I was so nervous I kept on crunching the gears because my clutch control was horrendous. They became quite concerned about my driving. I had to take deep breaths to calm myself down.

Eight Questions For My Nominees:

  1. HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN BLOGGING FOR?
  2. FANCY DRESS PARTIES – WHAT HAVE YOU DRESSED UP AS?
  3. WHICH SONGS WOULD YOU SING IN THE SHOWER WHEN YOU THINK NOBODY CAN HEAR?
  4. IS ANYONE ELSE IN YOUR FAMILY A BLOGGER OR VLOGGER?
  5. WHO OR WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO START A BLOG SITE?
  6. WHAT IS YOUR MOST EMBARRASSING MEMORY OR EXPERIENCE?
  7. DO YOUR FRIENDS KNOW ABOUT YOUR BLOG SITE?
  8. IF YOU COULD HAVE ONE PERFECT DAY – WHERE WOULD IT BE? WHO WOULD YOU BE WITH? WHAT WOULD YOU EAT?  (That is several questions rolled into one – but we would love to know what would make a perfect day to you.

My Eight Nominees

So now I am allowed no nominate eight other bloggers for the Liebster Award:

Stylish On A Shoestring

I have surprised myself by being able to answer all of the questions in Rory’s latest “Game-On” challenge.  Afterall, I have been shopping in charity shops since I was sixteen because as a volunteer, I did not have much spare cash for clothing.  I know nothing of what is supposed to be the fashion.  I just know what I like and what I think looks good.

Just in case you have not seen them before, these challenges are created by the marvellous A Guy Called Bloke and K9 Doodlepip! and in his post below, he lists all of the rules and explains the challenge:

Game On – Series 2 – Fashionista!

Daily Topic Subject – Fashionista!

Q1] How important is colour in your life?

In my life…oooh, well colour is gorgeous.  Goodness, imagine life without colour! Wouldn’t that be boring!

Q2] What is most favourite colour to wear?

Well, I like blues and greeny blues, teal I guess. Any colours at the cooler side of the rainbow.

I use navy as my base colour instead of black.  As I think black makes me look too pale and sickly.  I team various shades of blues and teals with either neutral items or tan leather or accessories.

I used to have something in every colour going, but ended up with too many clothes, most of which could not make a matching outfit.  I  have a very small wardrobe now, so I have a capsule wardrobe all based on my favourite colours.

Q3] Is there a colour that you wear that brings the best out in you and in others – in so far as compliments?

pink roseFrustratingly…people love me in pink.  It is because I am fair with golden hair and I turn pink very easily.  My rosy cheeks look amazing in a rosy pink top.  Not hot pink, not pale pink, but that rose kind of pink.

I always receive compliments whenever I wear that shade of pink.  So, I do have a bit of it in my wardrobe.  I have a couple of navy dresses with a bit of pink in the floral print and I team it with a little pink cardi.  It is something I would wear when I am feeling a bit low, as I know people will say I really suit that colour.

Q4] Are you a person who likes to overdress for the day or are you a follower of the credo, less is more?

In every day life, if I am out and about, meeting and greeting, socializing, and especially when I am wanting to look lovely for Goldfinch, I love wearing a dress, a beautiful dress, or a day-dress.  I just love feeling feminine.  Most of my dresses are knee-length or just below and they are “fit & flair” style as it suits me more than a straight cut dress.

If I am gardening or cleaning or decorating or digging trenches…or taking a dog for a walk, or jogging, or hiking up Cadair Idris, I am going to wear something appropriate for the occasion:

PQ5] What are five of your best items of clothing that you simply couldn’t be without? [and l don’t mean underwear/socks]

Oooooh…it depends on the season.

Now that the cold weather is ahead, I would not be without my 100% waterproof Gortex tan leather boots.  Someone gave me some money to go and buy some good winter boots because my old boots were springing leaks and I bought a pair in Clarks in the sale for about £70 and I love them.  three years later they are still in almost perfect condition despite how often I wear them in the wintertime.

Also in the winter I love my big thick navy coat.

My big woolly scarf which is navy and teal check.

I have a “go-to” dress when I am not sure what to wear.  It is a Phase Eight dress, navy with a panel of burgundy along the bottom of the skirt and two side panels in burgundy.  One of my friends calls it my “Star-Trek” dress. It is “fit &  flare” and it is incredibly flattering and easy to team up with most items in my wardrobe.  I found it in a charity shop and snapped it up and I love it.

In the summertime this year I realized how much I needed a pair of pretty, but solid sandals.  I found it really hard to find a pair I liked but then one day when I was desperate for more comfortable footwear I found a pair up in Manchester in “Office”.  I wrote all about them in this post:

Q6] Do you dress for the season, as in colour wise, or just throw on whatever is warm and practical?

I do dress for the weather.  I don’t really change my colours drastically…most of my clothes are blue or teal or navy.  I might wear more white in the summer.

PQ7] If you were going for an evening out and the dress code was ‘smart casual’ what is your ideal outfit and why?

If my friends tell me (and I often need their advice) that is more of a dressed-up jeans smart casual, I have some pretty tops and jackets that I can team up with jeans.

Left to my own interpretation, if I was told the dress code was smart casual…my first choice would probably be a dress, knowing me.  But a dress that was not too glamorous or opulent. A navy day-dress with a thin tan belt. I would probably wear it with smart but flat ballet pumps, which give a dress a more relaxed feel.

Q8] If you were having to attend an important meeting or appointment and the dress code was smart – what would your outfit be then?

If it was a business meeting or an interview…

…something more along these lines.

Q9] How many pairs of shoes do you own, and what is the breakdown [as in casual, smart, evening, leisure]

I feel rather embarrassed about this.  So recently, my sister Milly went up to my flat up in North London to retrieve some things that would be useful to me.  Only she brought back so much more than I expected, and for some reason she decided to bring my entire shoe collection.  Well, actually, I have a few pairs of footwear up at my parent’s home and at my sister’s homes.

The problem is…I am very good at finding bargains in charity shops after years of practice.  Most pairs of shoes I have bought for just £2 or £3.  I look after them because they are well-made shoes, and I have a friend who is a cobbler who has helped to keep my shoe collection looking polished!

I can’t face counting them, but I can tell it is at least fifty pairs (I should have a sort out and give some to charity shops, because I don’t need them all – especially not the stilettos!)

Q10] Do you have classic clothing, or classic items in your wardrobe that you have had for years and never go out of fashion if so name three?

I have a black pair of tailored trousers…

and a beige trench-coat…

and a pair of smart black heels…

that I guess could never really go out of fashion.

I feel like they are a kind of Audrey Hepburn look and can be worn by anyone of any age and make them look smart and stylish.

Q11] Are you into plain colours, wild colours or outlandish designs or a mixture and which do you favour more?

I don’t think I am into anything outlandish.  I think on the whole my dress sense is rather conservative.  I like to wear beautiful dresses, but on the whole I like to wear clothes that are modest, well-made, appropriate for the occasion. I don’t like to draw attention to myself, but I like to be well-presented and look as if I am making an effort.

PQ12] Do you have a favourite quote with regards fashion or design – if so what is it?

Nope!

I don’t think about fashion. I don’t talk about fashion. 90% of what I own I bought in charity shops.  It is only good quality footwear and underwear that I am willing to buy new!

But I found one quote which isn’t completely laughable to me.

Q13]  Knee high socks, ankle socks, shin socks or no socks?

If I am playing hockey…knee high socks.

If I am jogging…little ankle socks.

What are shin socks?  I don’t know what they are…are they like socks with shin-pads sewn into them?  If so, they would be great for hockey.

If I am wearing sandals…no socks.  If there is one crime against style it is socks with sandals – aaaaaagh!!!!!

Q14] Can you see the connection between colour and music and if so does it influence your dress code for the day in any way?

I don’t think my mind is wired to see the connection between colour and music other than they both make life rather exquisitely wonderful!  I think they both sensational gifts that make life anything but boring.

I don’t think music influences my dress code.  I love colours, but for practical reasons (lack of space), I stick to my capsule wardrobe of blues and teals and tan leather.

PQ15] If you are going out somewhere special and want to listen to some music to put you in the mood whilst getting dressed up, what do you listen to? [Provide link please]

I don’t normally dress to music.  I might put on some music to get me in the mood for going out, depending on where I am going.  I am trying to think of a song about dressing up before going out to somewhere special…this is the tune in my head (probably because I used the word “sensational” in my previous answer):

Q16] How often do you buy new clothing for the season or the year?

If something I already own and is very useful is wearing out, beyond repair, I start to pop into charity shops to see if I can find something similar to replace it. I do pop into charity shops from time to time, always on the look out for a bargain.

Q17] Remember tie-dye from the 70’s was it a thing you followed, bought into or worse, how do you feel about it now?

Well, I don’t believe I ever wore anything tie-dye. But that is probably because I am a child of the eighties.  I think I would have liked it, I liked bright colours and wore all sorts of colours as a child.

I don’t think I would wear it now though…I don’t like to dress in an entire rainbow of colour, I think I would feel too conspicuous.

I don’t have any strong feelings about tie-dye. For those that can pull off wearing the entire rainbow – good for you!

Q18] What is the brightest coloured item of clothing you have in your wardrobes/drawers?

raspberry cardiI have a raspberry Laura Ashley light cardi.  It is pretty.

I wear it with a Laura Ashley skirt which is beige but has a rose print on it.

Everything else in my wardrobe is navy, teal, blue, or neutral colours.

Q19] What is the most expensive item of clothing that you have in your wardrobe? How often do you actually wear it?

Well…I think the item that was the most expensive originally is a Windsmoor winter coat which I found in a charity shop with the labels on and snapped up for £20.  I feel as if it is one of my best bargains.

I guess the most money I have personally spent was the £75 for the Clarks boots I mentioned earlier in this post.

PQ20] Are you deleting any questions, if so which ones?

Not this time.

Q21] Is being ‘fashionable’ important to you, or is being comfortably attired  more so?

floral dress 2floral dress 1.jpgI don’t feel as if I am “fashionable”. I am not really aware of what is in fashion at any time.

However, I think I have a style.  I wear what is appropriate for the occasion – so practical clothes when I am doing practical tasks, and then when I am not getting my hands dirty, I wear dresses.  I have always liked beautiful dresses, right from childhood.

I loved running round playing football, climbing trees and riding my bike in shorts and a T-shirt…but I also loved pretty dresses.  I explained how my sense of style developed in this post:

I also had issues about the uniform – well it was grey…as some school uniforms are. I said to Mrs Richardson “Yes, I know all the other children have to wear a uniform, but what I don’t understand is, why do I have to wear a uniform?”  I didn’t see myself as one of them, but that I was being forced against my will to be at this school. Well….whatever I said to the teachers, I was allowed to attend school throughout the infants and wear my choice of clothes rather than the uniform. What did I wear?  I had so many pretty little girl dresses that had been given to my mum by my dad’s customers and friends. Quite an impressive wardrobe. I remember some of them vividly.  Although I also loved wearing shorts and T-shirts at home, I was too proud to wear shorts for school, I did want to be smart.  It sometimes strikes me as odd that although I was such a tomboy in so many ways – I always loved my dresses.”

girl dress.jpg

I developed that sense of “style” as a little girl and it has ever left me.  Although I have had a life-time of “hand-me-downs” and charity shop clothes, I have always chosen items that I feel comfortable and confidant in.  Hardly anyone would have any idea that I don’t buy my clothes first-hand.  Stylish on a shoestring!

Dream Dress… And The Moral Of The Story Is…

Screenshot_2018-04-13-19-48-11I heard a story a while ago about motives.  Forgive me for not remembering the exact words but I think you will agree it is an effective thought provoking tale.

It is about a man who loves his wife.  He knows she is a wonderful woman and is proud of her.  He does not doubt her loyalty to him.  He sees how beautifully she keeps the home and how much effort she puts in to keeping the whole family looking smart and remaining healthy.  He truly loves his wife.

He takes his wife out one day and as they  are walking along, she suddenly becomes distracted by something.  He turns around to see his wife is staring into a shop window with her nose pressed up against the glass.  Inside the window is a dress, a very beautiful dress that has caught her attention.  He remarkswindow shopping to his wife that it is a pretty dress.  She says “It is gorgeous!”  He asks his wife how much it costs, to which she responds, “Oh don’t worry, I am only looking,, it is too expensive really.  I just thought it was beautiful.”

After the day together, the man thinks about how his wife was gazing at the dress she thought was so beautiful.  He thinks about how much he loves his wife and how good she is to him and the family.  He decides he will buy her that dress she liked as a gift.  A surprise.  She will not be expecting it, their anniversary is three months away.  It will be a way just to show how much he loves and appreciates her.

So he goes back to the shop the next day and takes a closer look at the dress.  He discovers the price and is a little horrified at first and is inclined to think about looking for a dress that is much less expensive, but then he remembers he wants to show his giftwife how much he loves her.  He has even gone to the trouble of looking at the size of her  other dresses in her closet to make sure he will pick the correct size.  He buys the dress and he asks the store assistant to wrap it carefully in gift-paper and include a large bow.

He takes the gift home and sneaks it into the bedroom for his wife to find later.  That evening he is with her when she finds the box with her surprise inside.

She unfastens the bow and removes the lid from the box.  She takes the protective crepe paper that is around the dress.  She cannot believe her eyes.  It is that dress, the beautiful dress she saw in the window.  She is so thrilled. She embraces her husband.  He smiles like a cheshire cat as he observes her reaction. She tries the dress on.  Will it fit?  It fits!  It fits perfectly.  She twirls around and looks at the dress in the mirror.

Who is the best husband in the world???!!!

best husband

She is so ecstatic.  She embraces her husband again and thanks him with tears in her eyes.  She looks up at him and thanks him and asks him why he has given her such a beautiful gift now out of the blue?

Then… he opens his mouth and ruins everything:

“Well….you have been looking kind of tired and miserable lately.  And I know you have put weight on because you have been comfort eating.  You have been rather irritable with me and the kids.”

Ugh!

The dress comes off.  The dress is back in the box.  “Take it back!  Take it back!  I don’t want it.  You think I’m fat and miserable and I look tired.  You think I am irritable!  Take it back!”

____________________

 

Well, you may feel for the husband a little here.  But doesn’t this little story show that it’s not just the gift but the motive that counts.  It is very likely that when we give we do deep down have genuine motives.  But how does our gift come across?

The gift might not be a dress, it might be our time, our words, our listening ear, cooking a meal for someone or any kind of token.  But is there a question mark over why we are giving?  Is it begrudgingly given?  Do we feel it is a compulsory must to give something, but give little thought to the gift?  Or do we say or do something which spoils the gift and takes all the joy out of it?

Ever since I heard that story…I have tried to think things through a bit more when it comes to any giving…I don’t want to be in a rut of doing things by rote without putting my heart in to them.  I want the gift I give to send a message that is harmony with the rest of my thoughts towards the recipient.

Someone super wise was reported to say “There is more happiness in giving, than in receiving”.  That is a super lovely truth that I don’t ever want to lose sight of.

love heart