Saturday, 27 February 2010

My Spring Capsule Collection

And here it is:
My Capsule Collection
1. Black and Tan FCUK Dress
2. Black Cardigan
3. Chambray Skirt
4. Tan Boots
5. Gap Curvy Jeans
6. ASOS Striped Top
7. Joe Brown's Wrap Top
8. Boden Shirt
9. Black New Look Dress
10.Black Clarks Boots

1. Top Shop Necklace (A)
2. Heart Pendant (B)
3. Black Studded Belt(C)
4. Brown Belt (D)
5. Gingham Scarf(E)

Boden Mum Goes To Parent's Evening

My Boden attire is starting to become my school armour.
It was a difficult school meeting when I last consciously wore my Boden ensemble.
And I know why.
Boden mum is kind, attractive, enigmatic, intelligent, produces perfect children and is of course stylish.
Well - I can always pretend.
Have a great weekend.
Today I wore:
Boots - Whistles
Dress - Boden
Jacket - TK Maxx
Scarf - M & Co

Friday, 26 February 2010

Spring Is Out There

I had my first taste of Spring yesterday.
My car is in the garage and I had to walk a lot.
For the first time since September I was able to walk for more than 30 minutes OUTSIDE without a great big coat.
I just had a denim jacket.
As I walked I could see the buds on the trees.
I could hear the children playing outside in the school yards.
And best of all I could smell Spring.
You know - that gentle green warming of the earth.
It didn't last long.
Today it is raining.
It is cold.
The walk to school this morning was nowhere near as enjoyable but I know Spring is out there.
So close I can almost touch it.
And while I think of Spring I can't help plan ahead to summer.
I have been dreaming about floaty day dresses in vibrant colours.
I can't decide between these two from Boden.
What do you think?

Today I wore:
Boots - Tesco
Skirt - Principles
Vest - Zara
Cardigan - Dorothy Perkins
Scarf - East

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Spring Capsule Wardrobe Challenge Countdown

There are just four days to go until the Spring Capsule Wardrobe Challenge.
I have been thinking a lot about what I will wear between Monday and Friday next week.
I am so pleased that it looks like the biggest Capsule Wardrobe Challenge so far with more than 20 of you signed up.
But for anyone not too sure - there's still time.
For a rundown of the rules check out here.
And remember that for those of us in colder climes your are allowed a functional coat, weather-friendly shoes, warm hat, scarf and gloves which will not count as part of your ten items.
And for some more tips I would suggest having a look at the Capsule Round-Up of 2009 where you can see how other bloggers and Flickr fans worked their wardrobe.
As I completed my daily onlne news trawl this morning I noticed that the Daily Mail had an interesting article on stretching a wardrobe wiht some useful tips on layering.
Although I don't plan to use the shift dress I will be picking out a couple of dresses which suit my shape.
And before I sign off I would like to say thank you to everyone who left a comment or emailed me about my previous post.
I asked my husband to read your kinds words and he was overwhelmed.
Today I wore:
Boots - Tesco
Slip - Boden
Drress - FCUK

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

I've Won The Lottery!

No I haven't won THE lottery.
Much better than that.
The lottery of life has come up trumps.
At last.
Today I asked my husband how his day at work went.
"Brilliant," was his response.
This is the man who has spent the past five years fighting his employers - a large Government agency.
He has been victimised, discrimated against, bullied and ridiculed.
No, he didn't work for Gordon Brown but as a result of his treatment he has been off sick with depression, anxiety and panic attacks many, many times.
And I cannot begin to tell you the effect that has had on our home life.
On at least three occasions our marriage almost ended as the pressure he was under created a monster.
Many times I begged him to forget the case, leave the job or just get on with it.
None of that advice was particularly welcome or helpful.
Last year he took his employers to an Employment Tribunal (ET) and won.
Nobody has ever managed to take this organisation to an ET before, let alone win.
It took the organisation three months to respond with a letter (on Christmas Eve) that said, in a nutshell "you may have won but tough."
In a few days time his employers have to return to the ET panel for a Remedy Hearing in which they show what amends they have made.
And lo and behold on Friday evening (my birthday, as it happens), around 6pm, he got a call from a senior member of the orgnisation offering him a new post.
Today he went back to work and he has just called me from his new office.
In a new area.
And he loves it.
I have never, ever heard my husband use the world "brilliant" about his work before.
Not ever.
I don't need to win THE lottery because getting the man I married back, seeing the man I love happy can never top how I feel right now.

Today I wore:
Boots - Dorothy Perkins
Skirt and Shirt - Marks and Spencer
Wrap - Joe Browns

Monday, 22 February 2010

How To Write Your First Novel

Today was one of my favourite days of the year - the Writers In Prison Conference.
This year the February conference was in Leeds when all the scribes who like myself, lead a writing residency in a UK jail, meet up to share our experiences.
We are an ecelctic bunch as you can imagine.
There are a few of us journalists and then there are poets, playwrights, novelists, storytellers and screenwriters.
I have written about our group before.
And again here.
I work in a men's category B prison but some of the writers work with young offenders, vulnerable prisoners, maxium security and female offenders.
Our jails vary in size from just over a hundred to well over a thousand offenders.
There is always a workshop and this year it was a singing/songwriting workshop with Em Whitfield Brooks of Sing Up.
I must admit I was a little apprehensive.
While I love to write I am totally tone deaf.
I was thrown out of the school choir because I couldn't sing.
But it was a wonderful few hours.
We started with copying sounds and by the end we were belting out Ghanian rounds.
I haven't enjoyed myself so much for ages.
It was also good to meet up with my old pal Jane Bidder who writes novels under the pen name of Sophie King.
Jane has a new book out called "How To Write Your First Novel."
The book is a collection of everything she has learned as a bestselling author, divided into straight forward chapters with lots of exercises from finding the idea to getting published.
There is also plenty of useful advice from famous authors like Colin Dexter, Jilly Cooper and many more.
I read the book while I made the return journey and have to say it is one of the best "How To" books I have read.
As for the clothes.
I just love this black cardigan and the way it drapes.
I need to get another long cardigan and am thinking about this one.

Today I wore:
Boots - Clarks
Dress - Next
Cardigan - Tesco
Coat - Per Una

In The Navy

When I was 16 and a little bored of school my friend Tracey and I played truant.
It was the one and only day we ever skipped school but it was a day I will never forget.
Primarily because it was the coldest and hungriest day of my life.
We chose a day in January to stay on the bus and continue on to Manchester instead of go to school.
The ffatal law in our plan was that the only money we had was our bus fare home.
Our dinner tickets didn't work in Lewis's nor any other department store where we wandered trying to keep warm.
It was a long day.
We tried to eke out the day wandering around department stores until we ran out of shops.
With an hour to go before we could catch the bus home we ended up in the Navy recruitment office.
By this time I was delirious with cold and hunger.
The recruiting officer gave us a load of booklets and if he'd offered me a cheese sandwich I would have signed up.
Happily I didn't but for 60 minutes I began to imagine my life at sea.
Luckily the 38 bus drew up outside and we made our excuses.
Yesterday I realised what a lucky escape I had after a VIP tour of HMS Sutherland which was visiting Liverpool.
The manager of my daughter's football team is a member of the Royal Navy (he commutes between Liverpool and Portsmouth)and he arranged our trip.
Don't get me wrong the Navy staff were wonderful but when I saw the living quarters- triple bunks with hardly a breath between- I realised what a lucky escape I'd had.
But yesterday I learned a few new things:
1. A Stag ship means a predominantly male crew.
2. Split the mainbrace means an order to crack open the run.
3. The Dutch navy is the only one in the world that has unisex living quarters.
I was also told lots of technical stuff which went straight out of my head.
And I was so relieved I'd decided never to play truant again.

Sunday, 21 February 2010

More Snow

Thank you so much for all the wonderful birthday wishes.
I had a lovely day and last night we had a fantastic meal.
My husband loves to cook and we had Jamie Oliver's Fantastic Fish Pie followed by Raymond Blanc's Delice De Chocolate
This morning I am feeling a little delicate so have just come back from a walk with the dog.
In the snow.
Yes - the snow is back and flaking down as I speak.

Today I wore:
Boots - Clarks (Wellies for walking!)
Jeans - Gap
Jumper - Boden

Friday, 19 February 2010

It's My Birthday

Hooray - it's my birthday.
Despite the advancing years (I am 44 today) I still get excited about my birthday.
I have worn my current favourite day dress.
I have eaten my favourite breakfast (banana and Rachel's Coconut yogurt).
I am off to work shortly with little pink and yellow cakes for my writing group.
And tonight I will order an Indian takeaway to enjoy with my family.
Tomorrow we have friends coming round for dinner as it is our friend Kev's birthday on Sunday and the meal is a joint celebration.
I hope you all have a wonderful weekend.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Capsule Challenge Update & The Kindness Of Strangers

OK - so we have 21 yeses and two maybes so far for our Spring Capsule Wardrobe Challenge.
But there is still lots of time to prepare and I will be counting down with some tips from the last two challenges.
Bluerose, ShoeGal and Sheila have asked if we can relax the rules on outerwear as it will still be snowing in some parts of the globe during the challenge.
The answer - yes.
In addition to your ten items and five accessories you are permitted one functional coat, one pair of functional gloves or mittens, one functional hat, one functional scarf and one functional pair of snow boots or other essential footwear needed to get from A to B without your feet freezing off!
Totally Inspired has asked for some inspiration and or anyone else who needs some tips then look here for the rundown on last year's challenge and you will see a link to each participant and their choices.
But today back to my planned post.
Biba very kindly sent me a gift which arrived just affter Christmas.
It was beautifully packaged as you can see.
And what a wonderful gift for this time of year - an elegant purse to store tissues.
It is always in my bag and every time I reach for a tissue it reminds me of the kindess of strangers.I would have posted about this earlier but I lost the lovely pictures.
Thank You Biba.

Today I wore:
Jeans - Gap
Top - Zara
Cardigan - Tesco
Tissues - Biba!

Monday, 15 February 2010

Join The Annual Spring Capsule Wardrobe Contest

I have been feeling very blah this January/February.
My remedy?
A new Capsule Wardrobe Contest.
Last autumn 18 of you joined in the fun.
I promised to run one a season.
I apologise for the slightly longer delay but I am feeling full of the joys of Spring now - lots more energy.
I declare the week beginning March 1st 2010 the Annual Spring Capsule Wardrobe Contest.
If you are new to the blog you can read all about the last challenge here.
For a recap on the rules here we go:
Choose ten items of clothing from your wardrobe and mix and match them for five days between Monday March 1st and Friday March 5th.
You can have any combination of shoes, dresses, skirts, tops and jackets as long as it adds up to ten individual items.
You are also allowed five accessories which include jewellery, scarves, bag, belts etc.
Underwear and hosiery do not come under the ten items and five accessories!
If you are joining the challenge please blog about it and if you want to appear in my Capsule Wardrobe Challenge round-up the following week then please email your pics to

Saturday, 13 February 2010

The Seven Secrets Of Happiness

In times of trouble I like to escape in a good book.
My own writing can be therapeutic but to visit another person's world is often more inviting.
When I was feeling very down recently I noticed this book, The Seven Secrets of Happiness, on my local supermarket shelf.
I am very sorry Tony (my local independent bookseller) but needs must.
I started reading the book by Irish author Sharon Owens even before I unpacked the shopping.
It was beautifully written and scored with the musical prose of the Irish accent.
What is even better than discovering a new writer who has written five other novels is to find out she has a blog too so please visit the blog and give the book a try.
Today I wore:
Boots - Tesco
Skirt - Marks and Spencer
Top - Asos

A trip down memory lane

It may have been due to the delirium of my recent illnes but I have been having lots of strange dreams about the past.
This morning I woke up after a vivid dream in which I returned to my childhood home in Manchester only to discover my bolt-hole - the local library had been bulldozed.
When I was a child and needed some space (usually from my brother) I would slam the door of my tiny terraced home and retreat to Walkden Library.
It was a two minute walk away across Memorial Road.
My dad used to say "watch that road because if you get run down and break your legs don't come running to me."
It was his gentle way of telling me to be careful. I think.
There was a lily pond outside and in the summer my friends and I would step across the stones trying to avoid ending up ankle deep in muddy water.
During the summer holidays I would enter all the reading and writing competitions and once made the district library final of Scrabble.
I loved the library - the smell of the books and the way the sun would reflect into the largely glass building illuminating the dust motes.
Last year I met a writer who had worked there recently and she told me the devastating news that it was to be pulled down.
I had forgotten about that meeting until the dream last night and I woke up with such a sad feeling.
Yesterday when I wore this outfit it was for another trip down memory lane.
I took the children from the school were I am working back to my old workplace, The Liverpool Echo, for a guided tour.
My old colleague Chris Walker who is now the managing editor kindly agreed to put himself in the firing line for a barrage of brilliant questions.
I worked there first as a news reporter and later as a features writer between 1992 untill 2003 when I went freelance but there were still a lot of familiar faces to say hello to.
It was also my 21st wedding anniversary and in the evening we went to The Royal Court to see our old pal, Neil Caple (Marty from Brookside) take the lead role in Funny Money.
Neil is a great actor.
He has appeared in film, television, stage and is a former member of The Royal Shakespeare Company.
He is also very kind because now and again he comes to the prison and helps me present some drama workshops!

I wore:
Boots - Dorothy Perkins
T - shirt - French Connection
Skirt - TK Maxx
Cardigan - Tesco

The Small Fabric Last Year. London Fashion Week This Year (Almost!)

I apologise for the absence of posts but I have been struck by the nasty Novovirus - at least I think that is how you spell it.
I haven't managed to get dressed most days so there isn't really much to post.
But as I recover it gives me the chance to tell you about Susan Comer.
I wrote about Susan last year here.
Today she let me know that she is on her way to London for the off-schedule London Fashion Week next Friday at the A La Mode International Catwalk Show which you can read about here.
I was so impressed with Susan's unique wearable art that I commissioned her to transform two of my mother in law's vintage evening gowns into tippets.
I gave one to my mother in law for Christmas and the second one is for her birthday on Monday.
The Christmas Gift came with a small hand-made leather book which contained photographs of the process from ball gown to tippet and a little story.
I had tried to get the gowns repaired but they were beyond hope.
My mother in law will be 82 on Monday and I will be giving her the mint green tippet then.
While I may not be dressed for the ball you can get an idea of how fantastic this would look over an evening gown.
She has chosen to drape the bronze tippet over one of her living room chairs which looks very elegant indeed.
While she no longer attends the glamourous balls of her younger days she can still enjoy the memories woven into the folds of silk and satin.

Monday, 8 February 2010

Back To School

One of my multiple roles as a writer is as a Creative Practitioner with Creative Partnerships.
CP is part of the Government strategy to encourage children to learn in a creative way.
It aims to bring in professionals working in creative fields and help raise aspirations.
I have been working in a school in Liverpool with a group of delightful seven and eight-year-olds, helping them create a school magazine.
Today the children interviewed each other to produce some entertaining author profiles and on Thursday I am taking them on a tour of my old newspaper, The Liverpool Echo.
Who knows I may have inspired a future Kate Adie or Jeremy Paxman.

I wore:
Boots and cardigan - Tesco
Dress - Next

Saturday, 6 February 2010


Forgive my indulgence but I wanted to share one of my favourite family shots with you.
This photograph was taken in 1998 shortly, after my daughter's first birthday and two years before baby number four came along.
With three children under seven we didn't dare do airports preferring to stay closer to home.
This holiday was spent in the beautiful Pembrokeshire coast in Wales.
Our friends from university, Steve and Sandra, hosted our stay at their lovely cottage.
We spent our days beachcombing, body-surfing and taking trips in Steve's motorised dinghy while they would dive.
It was just perfect.
We haven't seen much of Steve and Sandra or their lovely daughters over the past few years so I was delighted to get a letter this weekend informing us of a new addition to their family - Daisy.
Daisy is a classic VW campervan which Sandra has refurbished to launch a holiday home hire business.
Sadly it only sleeps four so we won't be able to hire it out for our fmaily holiday just yet but I can't think of a better way to enjoy the Pembrokeshire countryside.
On second thoughts maybe my husband and I might just sneak in a weekend away on our own.
If you want to find out more take a look here.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Check Mate

I acquired this dress by default last Thursday.
I had been to Liverpool for a Train 2000 meeting and was on my way back to the train station.
As I walked along the crowded street a man came behind me.
"Hello," he said.
I made the fatal error of returning the greeting.
He then started asking my name and I just couldn't shake him off.
I looked to my right and saw the words "70% off" in the French Connection shop window.
It was a welcome relief and a double whammy.
I had escaped my stalker and spotted the sale I would have otherwise missed.
I came out with this bargain dress for just £25 - reduced from more than £60.
And a great big Brucie bonus was my stalker was nowhere to be seen.
Another great reason why shopping is really very good for you.
I wore:
French Connection dress
Cardigan - Tesco
Jeans - Gap
Boots - Clarks
Necklace - Next

Fantastic February

February will be fantastic because......
it is my 21st Wedding Anniversary
it is Valentine's Day
it is my birthday
and by the end of the month it will be spring.
I mentioned in my last post about the book The Secret.
Now I know it is hard for a lot of people to swallow.
It was hard for me too.
I was just as sceptical when one of the men in my prison writing group handed it to me a few weeks back.
While I was waiting for the men to complete a writing task I had given them I flipped open the book and started to read.
Last year threw a bucketload of lemons at me.
And during January I was still picking up the bitter skins.
I felt like I was constantly firefighting, always on the defensive and as a consequence not very pleasant to be around.
To be honest I didn't like the person I was becoming very much.
I liked the tone of The Secret and just for the positive thinking part I decided to read it and have a go.
Within days I smiled more, I became more thankful and I made a wish list.
Within a week several of these things came true.
Let me share one of those with you.
As instructed by the book I decided to create a Wish Board - I put lots of inspirational sayings, ideas, pictures of clothes (of course), the seaside, all the things that make me feel good.
But there was one thing missing.
A picture of a Flamenco dancer.
For several years now I have wanted to go to Seville during the Flamenco Festival Week in April.
I couldn't find a picture so went to the local travel agent to get a City Breaks brochure.
I came home and placed the book on the table.
"What's that for?," asked my husband.
"I just got it for a picture," I said explaining about the Wish Board.
My husband went white.
"Shall I tell you what I've got for your birthday," he said.
Now many may say this is a coincidence.
However, I never told him about the book or mentioned the word Seville in recent months to my husband.
He has known I have wanted to go to Seville for many years.
So why, within a week of creating my Wish Board did it happen?

Today's outfit was created to keep out the cold with two cardigans.
Jeans - Gap
Black Cardigan - Tesco
Pink Cardigan - Saltwater
Boots - Clarks
T- shirt - French Connection

Monday, 1 February 2010

Glad To be Back

I have had a lovely January.
But I have missed blogging.
The break has made me look at my blog use with fresh discipline and helped me make a few resolutions to stop it taking over all my time.
Instead of blogging every day - I will blog two to three times a week.
Some outfits are just not worth blogging.
Other than that it is business as usual.
Before I embark on my new regime I thought I would share a selection of January's better outfits.
I look forward to catching up with you all and revealing what happened after I started reading The Secret!

Breton Bull Dog

  Its spring on the farm and time to break out the Breton Top. Fresh and clean but with long sleeves to keep out the chill wind that blows a...