Thursday, 25 November 2021

Secondhand Stories: Footwear

 "They call me second-hand Rose......"

Fanny Brice may not have been inpressed when she sang this song in 1921, but fast forward 100 years and wearing second-hand clothes,  or to give the phrase its 21st century image makeover, - Pre-loved - is the way forward.

Many of us bloggers have been doing it for decades.

But isn't it great that us 50-somethings who still retain our grandparents' make-do and mend attitude are now ahead of the game.

Some of my second-hand buys from top left going clockwise: Boden, Clarks, Dorothy Perkins, Marks & Spencer

As a child I grew up wearing hand-me-down clothes and as a student, scoured the charity shops and Affleck's Palace in Manchester for something new to me to wear.

But now I'm ancient, I'm cool.

More of my second-hand buys from top left going clockwise: H & M,Sorel, Next, Top Shop

In fact, I like to think my two sons who run the thriving designer pre-loved business, Luxe Collective have their cool mum to thank for their inspiration!


They started buying pre-loved designer women's shoes when they noticed their sister buying second-hand Isabel Marant Bobby's on ebay.

But even if you buy second-hand clothes, shoes are often dismissed, especially if they have been worn before.

Often there are concerns that their feet are sharing sacred space with someone else's sweaty trotters or even worse, picking up some nasty fungal infections.

And if that's your concern, let me assure you that by taking simple hygiene steps you will be as safe as buying new shoes someone else has tried on in the shoe shop or sent back from an online sale!

In four decades of buying second-hand shoes and boots I have never picked up anything nasty. 

Now swimming pools - that's a different story!!!!

I am not going to rant on about my best buys here, if you want to see them I have posted a video on my Instagram account here.

Last of my second-hand buys from top left going clockwise: Jimmy Choo, Boden, Prada, Karen Milllen.

Instead, this blog is all about sharing tips.

So let's go.


When my shoes first arrive, I wipe them with a damp cloth and then brush if its suede or fake suede or similar.

If it's leather, I wipe with a damp cloth and anti-bac spray. I always wipe the soles with anti-bac spray.

Next, I spray inside with an disinfectant spray and leave to dry. I repeat this a few days later.

That's it!

Know Your size

I know that I am a true size 4.5 in Clarks but in other brands I need a 5. 

Where to look




Charity Shops (many do online shops and ebay shops)

If you are looking for designer then go to the experts: Luxe Collective.

Designer Shoes - tips from Ben Gallagher, CMO and founder of Luxe Collective


"You really need to keep an eye on the condition of items.

Some items look ruined but all they need is a littl TLC. A lot of the time it's nothing worse than a little dust that will come off with a baby wipe.

If something needs stitching then get a professional to do it.

Be  carefu about colours. Lighter colours that have been worn are harder to bring back to life due to marks/staining.

Blacks are your safest bet as they can be re-dyed."


"Lots to look out for. The main areas are: texture, smell, weight, colour/tones, fonts and codes.

If you don't have anything to compare them to then use a google search and compare as many as possible. 

Fake items often have a strong synthetic smell due to inferior quality materials being used. They are often very light and most of the time the colours are way off.

Fonts are super important too - any slight misprint/wonkiness of font is an instant giveaway."


"Designer brands can vary quite a lot and your usual size may not fit. We offer sizing advice."


"Be careful if you want a trending piece. Trending items are like hot stock market trades and will be more expensive, especially if they are sold out. 

But if you want to sell then would be a good time. 

If you really want an item, I would suggest checking out lots of sites to make sure you are not over-payiing.

If you take care of your designer footwear you can very often get back what you paid or more.

They can be a great investment."

Now don't forget to check out my Melbourne based blogging partner, Sarah London for her blog on the same topic.

Have a great week.

Jane X

Wearing some of my favourite pre-loved footwear this week

Thursday, 18 November 2021

The Lemon Table


I went 'home' to Manchester, the city of my birth yesterday.

We were invited to the press night of The Lemon Table, a dramatisation of Julian Barnes' collection of short stories of the same name, which was being performed at HOME, located in the city's Tony Wilson Place.

It was a fabulous trip down memory lane, as Tony Wilson aka Mr Manchester, was a figure that loomed large in my youth: from being dared to shout out "There's Tony Whats' On " (he used to have a magazine programme of the same name on Granada TV) when we saw him in the underground market when I was a kid, to 'dancing' the night away at his Hacienda when I matured into a teenager.

But I digress. We were HOME (a hub of contemporary theatre, art, music with a restraurant and bar) to see The Lemon Table and what a welcome return to live theatre it was.

Having been a Merseysider by marriage since 1989, my usual nights out at the theatre are in Liverpool, but I was amazed and overjoyed to discover that by leaving mid-afternoon it took just 45 minutes door to door to get to the car park next to HOME.

After a wander around the city centre and Christmas markets, we returned HOME for a meal on the first floor restaurant which was a delicious vegan feast for me (Smoky Aubergine followed by Setain Steaks) and some meaty abomination (which he loved) for my husband.

Some pre-theatre drinks in the bar and we were ready, thirsty for some live theatre. 

And it didn't disappoint.

Appearing through a swirl of misty dry ice, Scottish actor Ian McDiarmid took command of the sparse stage for the first part of the play, Vigilance, in which we gained an insight into the bitterness and regret that fuelled the grump of this grumpy old git who complained about his fellow theatre goers in unflinching detail. 

Spoiler alert. There was a liberal sprinkling of the laughter-triggering word 'cunt' which my teenage self would have loved even more than tonight's delighted audience.

But like  my smoked aubergine, this was merely a starter, an appetiser of the creative talent prepared by Julian Barnes and sublimely served up by Ian McDiarmid.

There was no interval. I had little time to digest the opening part before the main course was delivered in the form of McDiarmid's manifestation of the Finnish composer, Sibelius nearing the end of his life.

The title of this story flashed above, 'The Silence.'

The minimal movement of the first part stood in stark contrast to the actor's physical performace of the second which revealed a mastery of McDiarmid's craft. 

I was mesmerised by his physicality and movement across the simple set of one table which doubled up as a hill and the two chairs either side of the stage which mapped out the life of a tortured genius facing up to the end of his professional and personal life. 

I confess, I know little about classical music and symphonies but I have an insight into the human experience and like all good art, these words and this performance was offered up to me and I let it wash over me until I woke this morning with a clear sense of what it meant to me.

There are some fabulous lines, executed perfectly by McDiarmid.

"Music begins where words cease. What happens when music ceases? Silence. All other arts aspire to the condition of music. What does music aspire to? Silence."

But for me, it was the three-part symphony of the cranes that has stayed with me.

The nature loving Sibelius opens the symphony at the beginning of the performance meditating on the mystical misty Finnish landscape he has done all his life; talking of his longing to see the elusive cranes and all he sees is wild geese. 

"Geese would  be beautiful if cranes did not exist."

During the middle of the performance after we have learned a little of his life, his family and work (of which there has been an absence of anything new for 30 years),  he talks of dining alone at the Lemon Table and laments the loss of his friends.

In Chinese culture the symbol of death is a lemon and he meets his compatriots where it is obligatory to talk about death. His wife does not approve.

He returns to the ' birds of my youth', the cranes again , where this time he can hear them but not see them.

'Invisible, they were even more beautiful........

More revelations of a chaotic alcohol-fuelled later life heading south are revealed before a return to the hill where the cranes finally reveal themselves flying beneath the clouds.

He stands transfixed, watching.

One breaks from the flock and flies around him in a small circle before rejoining its flock on the long journey south.

He watches the sky until his eyes blur  and his ears can hear no more.

 And then silence as McDiarmid offers a single lemon to the audience.


2, Tony Wilson Place


M15 4FN

The Lemon Table details are here

Directed by Michael Grandage and Titas Halder

Set & costume: Frankie Bradshaw

Lighting Paule Constable

Sssociate Lighting: Ryan Day

Sound: Ella Washington

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