Monday, 18 January 2021

If I Could Turn Back Time

 Who knew appearing on live national radio could be so stressful?

According to my Fitbit my heart rate soared higher than it had done all week as I waited for Dermot O'Leary to introduce me on BBC Radio 2 to talk about my nightclub memories when I was a student at Bangor University in the late 80s.

Here's a video with an audio of the interview if you missed it.

The Octagon in Bangor was the biggest nightclub for miles.

In the 1980s despite being a city with a beautiful cathedral, Bangor was pretty much a backwater.

Tourists visited as a gateway to the Menai Bridge which took them to Anglesey and locals went about their business - it's claim to fame before The Octagon was more pubs on a High Street than any other in the country. 

And I can vouch for that as I got together with my husband on the Rag Week multi-leg pub crawl - but that is a story for another day.

Anyways, back to The Octagon. 

It was so of its time. 

And we are talking late 1980s.

It was opened by the glamour model Sam Fox who was big in the charts at the time with three Top Ten hits including "Touch Me (I Want Your Body). 

The waitresses wore stockings, suspenders and black tailcoats no doubt emulating the London vibe from Stringfellows.

I did say, it was of its time.

It had the biggest moving light rig in the country and was, I have to admit pretty spectacular.

I felt like I was on the set of Saturday Night Fever.

It offered a rare place for students and locals to mix, not always in a good way - a bit like the cocktails they sold.

And as I worked behind the bar I can vouch for their dodginess.

At the end of each shift my eyes would be smarting from the mix of cigarette smoke and dry ice and my clothes and hair would smell for days.

But it was fun.

My 21st birthday wearing my grandma's necklace and second-hand  ear-rings from Affleck's Palace in Manchester.

A year after we graduated a group of us who once lived  together returned to Bangor for one night only and The Octagon was top of our list of places to go after a curry and a mini pub crawl.

As we walked through the streets awash with unfamiliar faces we all felt a little uncomfortable with groups of giggling students crowding the Saturday night streets.

We didn't recognize any of them.

It was no longer our city.

But we weren't about to admit defeat.

We continued to the end of the High Street and reached The Octagon.

The music was pumping, the light rig was dazzling and the drinks were flowing.

But it didn't feel the same.

Then a song came on.

If I could Turn Back Time by Cher.

Reader, I wept.

I wore:

Boots - M & S

Pinafore and shirt - New Look

Friday, 15 January 2021

Green Day

Even though it was freezing today I felt my green dress shout 'pick me,' as I opened the wardrobe.
Today was a mixed bag - yoga, walk with a friend, zoom meeting with our financial adviser, work on my online course and a big clean-up.
I always start the base of my outfit with a yoga vest and leggings so I can get my yoga practice in.
I only do slow flow so I don't  get sweaty!

I love this dress as it has pockets and I love pocket . 

They are a real deal-breaker for me.

I am also trying to keep wearing heels inside - just so my legs don't forget how they work.

I tried the jumper over the dress but prefer it underneath.
Frankie was determined to get in on this little photo shoot looking nonchalantly into the near distance.

He is a born model.

When I do get a break I will be catching up with these two books.

I started both books before Christmas and I am determined to finish them both this weekend.

Both books are connected to places where I live/have lived.
Beryl Bainbridge's story is set in Liverpool and she grew up in our village.

Andrew O'Hagan's novel is a coming of age when a group of friends from Scotland visit Manchester which is where I grew up and I recognized the 1980s Manchester where it is set including the nightclubs I used to go to.

If you would like to hear my memories of my nightclub days I will be interviewed by Dermot O'Leary on BBC Radio 2 about 9.45am tomorrow (Saturday) morning.
All being well!

Today I wore:
Boots - Rag and Bone
Dress - Wallis
Jumper - French Connection
Leggings and Vest - Sweaty Betty

Thursday, 14 January 2021

In The Pink


When I was a child with white blonde hair and a pasty face I often looked washed out.

Except that was when my mum dressed me in pink.

It had nothing to do with gender and everything to do with bringing out the slight colour in my cheeks.

And it still works.

Not only on my face but on my mood.

By coincidence the Times ran a piece in their Wednesday style section about how colour lifts the mood - feelgood fashion they called it.

And how wonderful when your favourite cardi matches your favourite cookbook!

Another bonus was that this cardigan came from the M & S sale - in the kid's section!

When I wear pink I feel in the pink  - which according to my internet trawl of phrases - originated centuries ago and has emerged to mean the picture of health.

Although don't look at the urban dictionary - in the pink means something entirely different!!!!

Today I wore:
Boots, Jumper and cardigan - M & S
Leggings - Dorothy Perkins

Sunday, 10 January 2021

Thank You For The Days


I was going to blog about something completely different today until I read the comment from Lulu on my last post.

Lulu from Long Mizzle Garden commented on how her art teacher talked about the beauty of minimal lines and it reminded me of my old friend, Peter Grant.

Peter was the Showbusiness Editor at The Liverpool Echo where I was a features writer.
We sat opposite each other for about four years.

Apart from the times we were both writing, we spent most of our working day talking.
He was so helpful, a true mentor.
When I organised a ball to raise funds for Macmillan nurses after my friend died of cancer, his connections helped to make it a great success.
Peter was very generous with his advice and support.
We shared many views, apart from The Beatles.
He loved them. 
Me, not so much.
When he spoke to Paul McCartney on the phone I used to roll my eyes.
But we never fell out.
When I left The Echo he gave me this framed picture which he  drew using minimal lines.

I may not have been a fan of The Beatles, but I was a great admirer of John Lennon and this picture takes pride of place in my lounge.
I haven't seen Peter for many years.
We kept in touch for some time.
I have written about him here when his partner, (he affectionally called Tugboat Cath as she lived on a boat in The Albert Dock in Liverpool), won a writing competition.
And here when he opened a second hand bookshop and his old pal Ken Dodd performed the opening ceremony.
Ken Dodd was hilarious and called me Little Red Riding Hood all afternoon.

Maybe that is why the colour red always cheers me up.
Today is a grey day so I instantly sought out some item of red clothing.
It is Peter's birthday on January 12th.
I think I will surprise him and see if I can find him.
While we never agreed on our favourite sixties band, I would like to say to Peter in the words of my favourite sixties band:

Thank you for the days
Those endless days, those sacred days you gave me
I'm thinking of the days
I won't forget a single day believe me

Today I wore:

Boots and Jumper - M & S

Leggings - Dorothy Perkins

Top - Ganni

Thursday, 7 January 2021


According to the Cambridge dictionary, a copycat is 'someone who has few ideas of their own and does or says exactly the same as someone else!
So here I am copycatting this picture of the new Woman's Hour presenter, Emma Barnett.
As soon as I saw this photo in one of the Sunday papers I cut it out and pasted it into my inspiration notebook.

And I much prefer the definition of inspiration, 'the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.'

I have had the pleather skirt in my wardrobe for about five years and had never thought to wear it like this with the new to me ebay kimono top.

It is a perfect dressed up/dressed down look which I like.

I even cleaned the house from top to bottom in this outfit so it is very practical!

I love the detail on the back.

And when I finished cleaning I gave myself half an hour to read my new book.
I am onto my second book of the year after finishing Ann Cleeves' Raven Black which is set on Shetland.

My new book, Patchwork could have the subtitle: The Small Fabric of My Life as it is a memoir linked to the memories Claire Wilcox, (the senior curator of fashion at the Victoria and Albert Museum) has with clothing and fabric.
She says it is all about the gaps in the words and why the simple labels may say:

 "Maternity dress. Unfinished. Unworn" 

There is so much more to the story.

It reminds me of the time I was teaching creative writing at HMP Garth and we were looking at flash fiction.
I used the example of the six word short story which is attributed to Ernest Hemingway.

For sale: baby shoes, never worn.

But more than that, I love this book for the spare yet evocative style and expansive feelings she evokes.

This book was a Christmas present to me from my late father, Frank.

When dad died in 2010 I continued to buy myself a gift and pretend it was from him.

I have received pens, notebooks, watches, necklaces and books.

Things I know we would have both loved.

I shared dad's love of trees, running and reading.

My dad left school at 14 but he loved words.

Our favourite poem was Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night by Dylan Thomas.

I am proud to be a copycat.

I wore:

Skirt and Kimono Top: New Look

Jumper: French Connection

Boots - M & S


Sunday, 3 January 2021

Handbags and Gladrags


In a past life I would have chosen the word gladrags* to describe something to wear for an occasion.

In a post-Covid world, I view every day as an occasion.

When I first started blogging with workthatwardrobe in 2008 I was a busy mum with four youngish children and I had got into a rut of wearing school run clothes. 

I decided that for a year I wouldn't buy anything new and shop my wardrobe - a movement that is enjoying a resurgence on instagram and according to the Sunday Times today with Greta too!

It made me excited to get up and gave me permission to make mistakes - and there were many!

After stopping regular blogging around 2013/14 and re-training as a yoga teacher I spent most days in leggings and sportswear. 

I missed dressing up and thanks to Covid I had time to explore things that brought me joy such as writing and dressing up.

This dress has always made me feel glad.

It's about 6 years old and I wore it to work, with leggings when I taught yoga and a few years ago for a Christmas Eve party.

Today I wore it because I associate makes me feel glad.

And today was a day to feel glad.

I wore it with leggings so I could snatch a quick yoga session when time allowed.

And I styled it with the red scarf and hat set I got from the chazza before Christmas when I went shopping.

Yes, shopping is an occasion now.

It was the first Saturday of the New Year and a time to start shedding the Christmas layers and look forward to what 2021 offers.

After shopping I nipped into a local charity shop and found this navy leather bag.

It was just what I was looking for.

On closer inspection I noticed a familiar name, Chloe.

I thought it may be fake but it felt leather and had been worn in nicely for me.

I bought it and came home to see if it was real.

A few authenticity checks made me think it probably is real but maybe not.

The padlock was broken but it was too heavy anyway.

If its real, great. If it's not, great.

The charity shop is £12.95 richer and I have a great bung it all in bag in navy leather.

So the first Saturday of January was definitely a day for handbags and gladrags.

Happy New Year from me and Frankie.

*The word gladrags first appeared in print in 1896 along with birdsong, luminesce and tsunami!

Today I wore:
Boots - M & S
Leggings - Fabletics
Dress - Miss Selfridge
Coat - Tesco
Big Coat - Trespass
Hat and scarf - Calvin Klein from charity shop

Wednesday, 30 December 2020

And To Make An End Is To Make A Beginning


Thank you 2020 for all the moments of joy you brought.
Yes, it was a challenging year; but there was lots to celebrate.

January 1st was a beautiful day of blue skies which we enjoyed with a family walk on the beach.

The following day Paul and I travelled to Rydal Hall in Ambleside in the Lake District for two nights.
There were only two other couples staying there and it felt like we were Lord and Lady of the Manor.

January was also my mum's 77th birthday and we had a lovely meal at home - something that became very familiar in 2020.

February was a busy month.
I used to teach a monthly yoga workshop in a cozy church hall but this was the last time we would meet exploring partner work. 
I look forward to returning to those.

I was also invited as a guest into my old workplace, The Liverpool Echo, where I was interviewed for their Menopod podcast on the topic of careers changes in your fifties. It was great to catch up with my old colleagues, Sue Lee and Dawn Collinson. You can find out how to hear it here.

I scored a beautiful red suede skirt from a local charity shop which made my month and we were lucky enough to return to the Lake District for another weekend away which had been a  Christmas present from our children.

And Bud made many visits.

March arrived and while Joe, pictured left on the top left photo celebrated his birthday on the 8th with friends, poor Ben marked his birthday on the 30th with a game of Chess and an Indian takeaway.
I had to shift my school classes online and a school sent me this photo of their key worker children enjoying yoga in the hall via the big screen.
Lockdown aside we made the most of the warm weather with walks on the beach and time to spot this cheeky little mouse in the bird feeder.

April came along with the sun and I decided to plant some seeds for the first time in my life.
I was also asked to become The Liverpool Echo yoga teacher and taught a weekly live yoga class with people following afar afield as Canada, Australia and Africa.
As the farm where my husband worked was on lockdown we were on the rota to feed the animals and the farm was a beautiful haven of peace and tranquility and I filmed some yoga classes there too.
The ducklings were growing and with all this time we managed to spot the rare Tiger Beetle on our local beach.

Hooray for May  and the first of many barbecues in the glorious sunshine.
The strawberries and tomatoes were thriving and of course I filmed more yoga in the farm when I wasn't dressing up to feed the chickens.

In June lockdown eased and we were able to celebrate our daughter, Briony's birthday on the 12th and return for a barbecue the following day when her boyfriend of four years, Jordan, proposed.
We took Bud to the farm and I was delighted to see my very first courgette harvest.
Walks to the pond in the dunes revealed some lovely little froglets too.

Beach yoga returned in July and another chance for my four children to get together.
The sunflowers were blooming and Briony booked her wedding venue for July 2022.

August was the month we got away to the beautiful south of Wales.
We stayed with family in Swansea and met up with some old university friends in Pembrokeshire who we hadn't seen for 20 years.
The garden was blooming and it was warm enough for my workout to move outdoors.
It was also the last chance I had to get together with friends indoors before the lockdown returned.

It was back to school in September although I had to teach yoga in bubbles in the classroom instead of the hall at some schools. Luckily yoga is all about being flexible.
Some warm weather meant we enjoyed some lovely walks and a barbecue in the garden for my  husband and eldest son whose birthdays are a day apart.
I also got some fab pre-loved Alexander McQueen trainers from my sons who own Luxe Collective UK a brand which sells pre-loved designer womens' clothing and handbags.
The gladioli and calendula were still in full bloom too.

As the weather cooled in October it was time to bring the yoga back indoors and in front of the camera.
The leaves were turning and the wellies were needed for the farm work.
And Bud was back.

The garden was finally going to sleep in November and I tidied up the plants and planted some bulbs.
The weather was wet but there were lots of rainbows.
Bud came round for a sleepover and Frankie came to stay.

December and the days drew shorter, the nights longer and the Christmas quieter.
But there was lots to celebrate.
A game of scrabble on Christmas Day.
Bulbs pushing through.
And a granddaughter on the way.

We made it.

Thank you 2020 for the laughter, the love and the learning.

Here's to 2021 and everything it will bring.

I hope you managed to find moments of joy this year and wishing you all the best for the New Year ahead.

'For last year's words belong to last year's language.
And next year's words await another voice......'

'And to make an end is to make a beginning.'
TS Eliot

If I Could Turn Back Time

 Who knew appearing on live national radio could be so stressful? According to my Fitbit my heart rate soared higher than it had done all we...