Wednesday, 28 April 2010

What A Difference A Pair of Jeans Makes (And Seville Giveaway)


I have not lost any weight so how does this picture make me look at least half a stone lighter than last week?
The answer is my fantastic new Martha jeans from Top Shop.
I thought Gap Curvy Bootcut Jeans were my perfect jeans until my daughter persuaded me to try these straight-legged jeans.
I am impressed with my stylist.
I have almost finished the travel feature on Seville but as promised here is the giveaway.
I bought this fabulous Flamenco Shawl from a tiny shop in the Santa Cruz area of the city.
I have photographed the label as it shows the exact location of the shop.
If you'd like to take part in this giveaway simply leave a comment and I will assign you a number for the random selector.











If you write about the giveaway on your blog you will get two entries into the draw - just leave a comment to say you have blogged about the giveaway.
Closing Date is Thursday May 6th and the giveaway is open to worldwide entries.
Good Luck.

Today I wore
Jeans - Top Shop
Shirt and Bag - Marks and Spencer
Jacket - Oli

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Seville Weekend Wardrobe


Before I start writing the travel feature I thought I'd share my mini break wardrobe with you.
My husband organised the trip and as he likes to travel light he had not booked any checked-in luggage.
I had to use a carry-on bag for almost four days worth of outfits, two pairs of shoes, toiletries, make-up, hairdryer and chargers.
Each day would require two outfits and as we moved from temperatures of less than 10C in Liverpool to 32C in Seville it had to be a wardrobe of many layers.
While I wouldn't say I have got this mini break wardrobe down to a fine art yet I certainly enjoyed the learning process.
Next time I go on a city break there will be two pairs of flat shoes and one heeled pair instead of the two heels and the one pair of Fitflops I took this time.
I will only take one pair of jeans or trousers, one less dress and add a skirt.
If anyone has some top travelling light tips they would be gratefully received.
But of course this trip to the annual Sevilla Feria which celebrates fun, food and Flamenco was a great excuse to dress up.
So without further ado here's my wardrobe for the weekend.








Travel to Seville
Jeans - Top Shop
Wedges - River Island
Dress - Boutique in Ormskirk
Cardigan - Dorothy Perkins
Friday Evening (Drinks and a Meal)
Chinos - New Look
Wedges - as before
Vest - Isabella Oliver
Cardigan - as before
Saturday Morning (Sightseeing and Lunch)
Jeans - as before
Dress - TK Maxx
Saturday Evening (Meal and Flamenco Show)
Dress - Primark
Shoes - TK Maxx
Shawl - Bought in Seville
Sunday Morning (Sightseeing and Lunch)
Shoes - Fitflops
Dress - Joe Browns
Sunday Evening (Meal and Feria finale fireworks)
Shoes - Fitflops
Dress - American Apparel
Monday Morning (Travel Home)
Jeans - as before
Dress - as before
Fitflops - as before
cardigan - as before

Monday, 26 April 2010

Seville Update And Super Spanish Giveaway


I'm back.
Seville was everything I expected.
And more.
I will provide a full report by the end of the week but I will have to catch up with my other work first.
Here are some snapshots to give you a taste of things to come which will include a fabulous Flamenco shawl giveaway.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Adios Liverpool. Hola Seville!


I am on my way to sunnier climes.
By the time you read this I should be enjoying the Fiesta in Seville.
I know a few of you are waiting on news for flights for loved ones and I wish you all well.
I hope you all have a wonderful weekend and I will report back as soon as I return.

Today I wore:
Boots - Clarks
Skirt - Principles
Shirt - Gap
Wrap - Joe Brown
Necklace - Top Shop

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Check Mate


Nothing like two old friends to ease yourself into the day.
My denim skirt and check shirt.
A very busy day today working on radio scripts at the prison and an editorial meeting for the magazine.
I got home late but felt great as I had worked hard and the sun was still shining.
Fingers crossed Liverpool Airport looks as if it is operating again.

Today I wore:
Boots - Clarks
Skirt - Marks and Spencer
Shirt - New Look
Vest - Tesco

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

A Woman's Work Is Never Done


I spend 2-3 days working from home.
I love the quiet of the house - just me and the empty house and the dog.
I am a fairly well disciplined person and have little problem motivating myself to work but I do allow myself "Chore Breaks".
Today it was sunny but breezy - perfect for drying my family's endless washing.
One of my favourite scents in the whole world is in sun-dried sheets.
I can always guarantee happy dreams when I go to bed with the smell of Spring or Summer.
That aroma is right at the top of my list along with the scent of newborn babies and barbecues.

This skirt was a bargain find from my local British Heart Foundation (BHF)charity store.
It was £2.50 and comes from H & M.
It is a little on the short side for this time of year but will be perfect with flip flops in the summer.
I had a closet clearout a few weeks ago and sent most of my stuff to the BHF store - I was so thrilled to see many of the items hanging on the rails when I went in the other day.
Did anyone try The Secret texts yesterday?

I sent another one and first rumblings are that it will happen.
I'll keep you posted.
Today I wore:
Shoes - Clarks
Skirt - H & M
Body - Dorothy Perkins
Cardigan - Primark

Monday, 19 April 2010

Create Your Own Good News


Some of you may have read about the great things that happened to me after reading the book The Secret.
Yesterday I tried to harness this positive energy.
There were two clouds hanging over my head yesterday - the Volcanic Cloud and a cloud of a metaphorical nature which has been hanging over my daughter's head since last June.
I decided that I would send myself two text messages with the news I wanted to hear.
I sent myself the first message at 12.30pm yesterday.
Less than half an hour later my husband rang to tell me everything had been sorted out with my daughter and her ordeal was finally over.
Later in the day I texted myself another message to say the flight restrictions were over and we were off to Seville.
Again within half an hour I turned on the computer and the news headlines announced flights would resume within 24 hours.
I urge all of you to try it today.
Send one message to yourself with the news you want to hear and see what happens.
Go on.

Today I wore:
Boots - Clarks
Skirt - Marks and Spencer
Shirt - Dorothy Perkins
Belt - Primark
Cardigan - Asos

Sunday, 18 April 2010

When Will There Be Good News?


There is a dark cloud hovering above me at the moment.
And it isn't a rain cloud.
Of course it's the only cloud that anyone is talking about.
The Volcanic Cloud.
I have spent the weekend listening to every news bulletin.
I am due to fly to Seville on Friday for the Flameco Festival.
The trip is a birthday present from my husband.
I have been waiting years to see the festival.
But as I write there are still no flights in and out of the UK.
I feel a little sorry for myself but realise how much worse it is for all those families stranded and those who have spent years saving for special holidays and even weddings.
Instead I have been distracting myself by reading a lot.
I finished the Marian Keyes novel, The Brightest Star In The Sky (great book but the epilogue totally spoils it) and just started When Will There Be Good News by Kate Atkinson.
The Kate Atkinson book was a gift from Antonella and what a wonderful gift it is.
I haven't read any Kate Atkinson books for a while and can't figure out why because she is such a wonderful writer.
To console myself I decided to wear the white skirt I was saving for Seville.
In times of trouble a girl has always got her clothes.

I wore:
Boots - Clarks
Skirt - H & M
Top - Marks and Spencer
Cardigan - Dorothy Perkins
Necklace - Primark

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Fairytale Endings


When I was growing up Princess Di was the Grace Kelly of my age.
A relative "ugly duckling" plucked from what appeared to be relative obscurity and transformed into a fairytale princess.
What teenage girl could resist that fantasy?
As her career as an icon grew I kept a scrapbook of all the clothes she wore (that I loved).
My favourite look was always the chinos and chambray shirt she wore along with the flak jacket to raise the profile of landmine victims.
As I would only come up to Princess Di's waist I never felt I could emulate that long legged look.
Until I walked into New Look the other day and saw these chinos.
I never thought they would suit me but I bought them to try on in the privacy of my home.
Bloggers, I was shocked.
I could wear them with flats, with ankle boots, rolled up with sandals and skyscraper heels.
And all for the not so Princely sum of £20.
Who says you can't have a fairytale ending?

I wore:
Boots - Clarks
Chinos - New Look
Body - Dorothy Perkins
Cardigan - Tesco
Belt - Asda

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Loxy


If my imitation Alexa bag is Lexie; then this homage to the Mulberry Roxy bag is my Loxy bag.
I bought this bag from Oasis in 2005.
It has worn well except for a big black ink stain at the back.
I prefer to write with my Waterman fountain pen and that means I must carry lots of ink around with me.
Although I was a little upset when the ink leaked through I began to see it as creating character.
And now I love this imperfection - a bit like the Greek waiter's take on Shirley Valentine's stretch marks!

Today I wore:
Boots - Clarks
Jeans - Top Shop
Top - Asos
Jacket - French Connection
Bag - Oasis
Notebook - Moleskine
Pen - Waterman
Corsage - M & Co.

Preppy


I am loving the preppy look which is featured across the pages of this month's Marie Claire.
And when I did a wardrobe audit the other day I realised why - many of my clothes would fit into this style.
I love the denim blues, the creams, the whites, the crisp shirts, the stripes and the tans.
Not to mention my new Lexie satchel.
I am still not brave enough to bare my legs so these light tan boots do just the right job.

I wore:
Boots and Cardigan - Tesco
Skirt, shirt, bag and pendant - Marks and Spencer
Belt - Mexx

Hallelujah!


Have you seen those scenes in films where a mircale man places his hand on the sick and tells them to get up and walk?
Something similar happened to me - well to my son - today.
Two weeks ago we got a call to say that Joe, 15, had broken his arm on the ski trip with school.
He spent the rest of the holiday and the past week in a sling.
Today we got our appointment at the local Fracture Clinic.
"You have not broken you arm. Take the sling off. Move it. You wouldn't be able to do all that if you had broken your arm," said the consultant.
Although an appointment for a scan was made - just to be certain - Joe was back in tact.
It turns out that the space in the bone was a "growing space" (whatever that means) and not a fracture.
It is possible he has some soft tissue damage but that is all.
Joe is a keen and talented sportsman and the thought of being unable to take part in any contact sports had made him miserable.
For Joe today's news is a miracle.
For me I have an extra pair of hands to walk the dog - Hallelujah!

Today I wore:
Shoes - Clarks
Skirt - Principles
Vest - Gap
Necklace - Primark

Monday, 12 April 2010

Orange Blossom


Days like these are the best days of the year.
Warm spring days with the blossom just peeping out through the buds on the trees.
Today we had friends round for dinner and I cooked an Orange and Almond Cake - I call it my Orange Blossom Cake.
This is the second dress I bought in the Marks and Spencer sale.
Their petite range is just perfect for my shape and it is so hard to resist at sale time.

I wore:
Dress - Marks and Spencer
Shoes - Dune

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

When Lexie Met Martha



I don't normally include the jacket/coat/bag combo in my posts but now that the weather is warmer and I am not wearing my Parka all the time I may just change.
Here's the bag, necklace and the jeans I bought earlier this week.
In my dreams I sport the Mulberry Alexa satchel (which I got an email this week to tell me was in stock - yippee for those with £700 to spare) but this M & S bag is much more affordable.
I think I will call it my "Lexie" bag.
What I love about these "Martha" Top Shop jeans is that they are straight cut not skinnies (which usually make my short legs look like chipoloatas) yet they achieve the desired result.
I have worn them with heels, flats and later this week I'll tuck them into my ankle boots.
In the summer I will roll them up a little and wear them with strappy sandals.
I love the idea of christening my new clothes with names now I just need to think of a suitable name for my necklace.
Any ideas?
Finally, for those who thought yesterday's pic was taken after the gym - it wasn't.
I did honestly look like a fright.
That picture was taken (as most of my pictures are) first thing in the morning before I leave for work.

Today I wore:
Boots - Clarks
Jeans Top Shop
Shirt, Bag and Jacket (Marks and Spencer)
Necklace and Belt - Primark

Not Ready For My Close Up



Today I was back working in the prison and I had forgotten I was going to be filmed.
Last week we had an actor come into the prison to perform a series of monologues that my writing group had created.
When the filming was finished I was asked if I would present an introduction to the short film.
Not only had I forgotten this was being done.
I had also forgotten it was to be filmed after lunch.
And after I had been to the gym.
Although there is a staff shower in the prison gym, there is no hairdryer.
This meant a frizzy limp-haired mess.
Oh dear.

Today I wore:
Jeans - Top Shop
Dress - Ormskirk shop
Shoes - Clakrs
Cardigan - Dorothy Perkins

Dangerous Daughter





My daughter persuaded me to buy a new pair of jeans from Top Shop.
I think Top Shop jeans are on the pricey side at £40 a pair but they do a great petite range which are a perfect length for me.
I couldn't resist trying them out with my new striped top.
I don't think I had better go shopping with my daughter again as it cost me a small fortune - luckily I have an eye for a bargain as you can see below.

Monday, 5 April 2010

The Animal Instinct


You can't beat a bit of animal print and denim to cheer yourself up can you?
On lazy days I just love reaching out for my "comfort blankets."
I don't know what I will do when this skirt gives up the ghost.
I love it so much.
Today I went shopping with my soon to be 13-year-old daughter.
We bagged some great bargains - which I will reveal later this week - including a lovely white skirt reduced form £19.99 to £5.00 in H & M.
It will be perfect for my trip to Seville at the end of this month.

Today I wore:
Boots - Clarks
Skirt and shirt - Marks and Spencer

Breaking Bread


This Easter weekend I read a lovely interview with Raymond Blanc about his love of food.
There was, M. Blanc said, no crisis in the world that couldn't be made better by sharing a meal together.
The word "Companion", he added, is derived from the Latin words, Com (with) and panis (bread).
I love the idea that a problem shared with bread, is a problem halved.
And it gives me the chance to introduce my travelling companions on my recent press trip
They are from left to right, Dr Marilyn Glenville, one of the world's leading nutritional experts and author of several best-selling books; Lisa, a health and beauty writer for a new to be launched glossy magazine, Fleet Street legend, Rosie Boycott, me and Mateen who writes for Asian Woman magazine.
Here we are in the Viva Mayr dining room sharing our last supper of broth and bread together.
What I love about press trips is the random gathering of writers who would probably never ordinarily meet.
Although I enjoyed the company of all the women it was Marilyn who provided the extra source of comfort and a second opinion when I wasn't entirely convinced about the regime we were enduring.
Marilyn is such a great advert for her work. She was the only one of our party who did not suffer from headaches and withdrawal symptoms as her diet is so healthy anyway.
She also meade me realise just how vital nutrition is when a chance conversation in taxi on the way back to the airport may just save the life of one of our party.
As soon as I got back I ordered a copy of her book The Natural Health Bible For Women to use as a blueprint for my future health.
Who would you most like to break bread with?

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Normal Service Is Resumed


Things are back to normal at home.
After my trip to Austria two of my children went ski-ing with the school.
They are both back home but my 15-year-old son is sporting a very fetching sling after he fractured his arm.
Luckily it's his left arm so he will be fine for the forthcoming exams.
Life has been very quiet with just two children at home but happily normal service - with the usual mess, rows and endless loads of washing - has resumed.
Happy Days!
Today I wore:
Shoes - Clarks
Dress - Marks and Spencer

Friday, 2 April 2010

Guest Blogger Gets On His Bike





















Meet my husband - Paul.
Paul is training very hard for the Coast to Coast in May.
Although he is technically disabled due to a degenerative disc condition and can no longer run; he is able to cycle.
And he will be travelling the 150 miles from the West Coast of England to the East Coast of England in just three days to raise money for Isaac's House.
Isaac's House is a charity set up by another Paul who I will call Paul 2 to make things easier.
Back in 2002 when I was training for the New York marathon (to raise funds for Macmillan Nurses), Paul 2 was an inspiration.
Paul 2 is a talented athlete and runs the local Running Club.
Paul 2 made sure that every single runner - even those stragglers at the back (me!)- had someone to run with.
He would start at the front and then track back to ensure everyone was OK.
We ran together many times and I got to know Paul 2 well.
Although he loves children and has been married for more than 25 years he has never had children of his own.
It was obvioulsy a great sadness to him but he never dwelt on the fact and was always full of fun, organising charity races and the monthly pasta nights.
And if he couldn't become a dad himself it hasn't stopped him raising thousands of pounds for local children.
A few years ago the daughter of one of his clients (he is a gardener) was working in Africa and Paul 2 was inspired by her work helping children in Uganda who had been orphaned due to war or HIV.
When Paul 2 made his first visit to Africa he met a young boy called Isaac and he asked Isaac what he wished for most in all the world.
His reply: "A home."
Paul decided to make Isaac's wish come true and in the process help many others.
The result is Isaac's House and Paul 2 has become "dad" to many many children.
If you'd like to read more and find out how much my husband raises in the next few months visit Isaac's House website.
Happy Easter.

Today Paul wore cycling gear by Formby Cycles!

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Ben 10


My baby Ben is 10.
He has wanted to be Ben 10 for some time now.
He is the youngest of my four children and is a constant source of joy.
On my darkest days he has shown me the light with his innocent, unspoiled view of the world.
He has a kind heart and a heart-melting smile.
If I could keep my little man like this forever I would.
Happy Birthday Ben.