Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Dead leaves in Paris (Isn't it great?)

'Isn't it great' number 2 ticked off the list, read my first post on this lovely little book here!

So much is said for Paris in the springtime, but personally I think I have a soft spot for Paris in the summertime.

Promenading around the cobbled streets wearing pretty little dresses becomes essential in the gorgeous summer heat and the golden sunsets look even more glorious when silhouetting the Eiffel Tower or the Arc de Triomphe! 

But with all this delicious heat there has to be consequences... In this case it's the dead leaves. Prematurely crisping and saying goodbye to their friends as they fall to the floor, it's all quite sad to think about.

But then you get to charge through them, kicking and crunching, gathering them all together only to boot them all apart again, and it's not so sad anymore. It sounds quite violent but they're already dead so I don't feel too mean...

The best thing about Autumn is the dead leaves, falling like confetti, all shades of rusty orange and decaying brown. So to have both the warmth and brightness of summer that makes you glow combined with this Autumnal wonder, what a treat.

And the leaves grow green and luscious and then fall brown and defeated each year, it's the reality of life. So you might as well take this sad reminder of time and consequence and use it to feel like a little kid again, with not a thought in the world, just a head full of multicoloured leaves.

Isn't it great?!

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Charity and cheeriness (and lovely clothing)

“It is one of the beautiful compensations of this life that no one can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.”

I've expressed before my love of spending money to buy shiny, new things. See here.

 'Retail therapy' has become so cliched that it just makes me think of a blonde twig in an NYC sitcom shopping 'till she drops'. However, just the other day while visiting my grandma in the gorgeous town of Durham, I found myself looking after my two lively, little cousins. In a desperate attempt to keep them occupied, I walked them down to town and their pretty little faces lit up like blonde light-bulbs when I told them they had £10 each to spend on... Whatever they wanted!? 

Bubbles, toy kittens, glitter glue pens, masks and fairy wands, I was soon weighed down by bags full of pink glittery.. Stuff! And their excitement and happiness to have new things was inescapable! I love the way little kids will happily sing out loud to express their joy in the middle of Paperchase and literally jump for joy in The Works as I say yes to all their hearts' desires, even when it's simply a pink pen!

Then the bad part of my head kicks in. I reminisce on all the pink, glittery crap I once owned and cherished and thought I'd love forever. Where are they now? Land fills and dumps, forgotten about and just worthless chunks of plastic! I wonder if when I'm older I will look back on all the clothes and shoes and makeup I buy now and feel the same, if all this stuff which makes me so happy will one day be worthless?! 

My therapist would call this 'negative thinking' and 'looking through the metaphorical sunglasses of life' (therapy can be so confusing) but depression aside, there is some very realistic truths in these thoughts. The wastefulness of consumerism, the constant pursuit to have the best new gadget and most fashionable new dress... it's all so gross when you really think about it!

But never fear! I have the answer!

It comes in the form of a scratty, little shop, often found on the less glamorous high streets of small towns and the back alleys of big cities. You can identify them from their distinct odor of stale digestives and rotten carpets. I am talking, my friend, of... charity shops. 

Silky, patterned Warehouse dress
Like all things worth having in life, you must get over certain obstacles and defeat some monsters. Don't be deceived by the wall of old women in skin coloured stockings blocking the door, you will find that a simple magic phrase will help you enter... "excuse me". 

Tight denim Miss Selfridge dress
Coffee lace dress, no label, but still very sophisticated
Once in, it is important not to let yourself become overwhelmed by the multicoloured array of peoples cast-offs, all shoved unlovingly on tiny rails. The key here is in recognising that, although seemingly unorganised, there is actually a lovely system in place at charity shops, so hard to find elsewhere... they put the sizes of the clothed on little cubes on the hangers!!
A recent bargain, Jeff Banks white lace jacket

yes it's a size 18
No more rummaging your hand down between tightly packed jumpers, desperately searching for a tag only to find it's another size 6! No more violating dresses as the rag them off their hangers, manically searching for a size 10, only to find that some other girl who started at the other end got the last one!
Wallis patterned top, I wear this all the time

Flowery 'old lady' blouse, amazing on holiday tied up like a crop top
So yes, try to focus on searching for the little cubes with your size on, it's unbelievably easy, they are even colour coded... (a size 8 is purple, a size 10 is orange, a size 12 is green, just in case you wanted to know)

These heels were definitely unworn when I bought them, and look amazing with bare legs
Secondly, as you flick through the endless river of clothes that seem to weigh so much that your arm begins to ache, try to keep an eye on the label. I know lots of people don't believe in designer clothing, and think you're just paying ridiculous amounts for a label, but at the end of the day, it feels good to say you got a Chanel jumper for £4.99! They are often better well-made as well! Also, beware the dreaded Atmosphere label, this is pesky Primark in disguise. No way am I spending £2.99 on a secondhand Primark vest top.

Centigrade white rain mac, looks so posh and it perfect for our summer rain
it even has a removable hood
Thirdly, if in doubt, try it on! I know from my experience of making clothes with old patterns, a 1950's size 10 is not a modern day size 10! Maybe we are all just getting fatter, but whatever it is, sometimes with old clothes they are tiny! Yes it feels weird trying stuff on in a charity shop, the changing room are often just a corner of the room with a poorly positioned curtain, but it's worth it as you can not take something back to a charity shop if it doesn't fit, that's like stealing money from charity!

This one looks like something from a dress-up box
but makes me feel like a princess
If you're cynical about buying people's old clothes, just take a second to think about the popular craze for 'vintage' clothing nowadays. A vast majority of 'vintage' clothes, are actually just clothes scouted from humble charity shops and made to look cool with a snazzy clothes tag on them. Which i'm sure make the chosen clothes feel special, but is not good value for money!
These Next shoes were flawless when I bought them

the pattern is perfect for summer
Gorgeous Richards blouse with such beautiful detailing
Buying these clothes I have included pictures of genuinely made me happy (and every item was less than a fiver each). It's an achievement, rooting out the buried treasure, guarded by smoke-breathing, old dragons. It's good for the environment as they aren't in a landfill somewhere, and if everyone recycled their clothes and wore recycled clothes there would be no need for the manufacturing of them! (I'm not suggesting that though).

Miss Selfridge denim jacket, modeled by my lovely mannequin, looks good with my prom dress
Also, they give you them in old, recycled carrier bags instead of those big fancy card ones you get in posh shops and awkwardly hang on to for about a year because you're sure it will in handy.

It's also important to remember that these shops rely almost entirely on donations! We always hand our old clothes into our favourite charity shops, and it's nice to know that someone will appreciate as much as you did once upon a time!

And finally, your money is supporting a good cause. Your money is making someone else happier, along with your happiness. So help another, by helping yourself to some lovely and sometimes unique clothes!

I don't think retail therapy gets much better!

“It is one of the beautiful compensations of this life that no one can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.”

Saturday, 6 July 2013

We're all going on a cat hunt...

 Time flies. I constantly think about time and how it's running away from me and how, before I know it I will be old and full of regret of all the things I haven't done. 

This morning the sun was shining, this makes me happy. However, because I know sunny days should be happy days, I felt so much pressure to ensure that I have a happy day that I rushed around getting dizzy trying to work out what I should be doing. I concluded that if my dad gave me a lift to Garforth my day would get better. This was stupid as when has going to Garforth ever made anyone happier?

 Once there I freaked out and rang my dad again saying I needed to go home because then I would be happy. Before he even got to me I had rang up again telling him not to bother. Frustrated and confused he came anyway, sat me down and told me what I was going to do that afternoon, to make the most of the day I had already wasted so much of by being stuck in indecision. I was to go to York. He gave me the train fare, plus extra to bring Jack and told us to go to the river and have a good time. That was an order.

It was half 2 by the time we got there but instantly the gorgeous, historic railway station and the buzz of tourists filled me with excitement and a sense of purpose.

First thing first, I was adamant that we fed the ducks at the river as I had never done it.  We walked through the beautiful parks bursting with colour and scattered with happy, pink faces sunbathing and down past the shady, tall trees to the river bank.

the York eye

cute park

evil pigeon spying on us

pretty as a picture

pigeons plotting against us

daisies peeking through the graveyard gates

upside down tree

gangs of geese terrorising the riverbank

There was one duck...
lonely duck, Jerry
nasty goose closing in on him

We fed him anyway and suddenly all the greedy geese swooped in. Before we knew it we were literally being circled by aggressive geese, evilly eyeing my bread rolls up and approaching me at great speed with there heavy wings and thick beaks. To make matters worst, a load of scratty, flappy pigeons joined in, acting all brave and defiant standing behind the wall of strong geese and nicking the bits of bread the geese missed. Fearless birds are a very scary thing. I was walking backwards at great speed trying to escape while pelting bread as far away as possible hoping they'd chase it. People sat on the banks seemed to find the whole thing hilarious, but I knew they wouldn't laugh if I suddenly booted a goose in the face, our only option was to run.

What we needed was some cats...

Cue the greatest thing ever!! The Fabulous York Cat Trail!!!! We picked up the free leaflet in York Glass, home of the lucky York glass cats, these adorable little glass cats in various colours. I already have a lucky glass cat, of course, but if you don't I strongly urge you to get one, as soon as possible!!

The trail has a map and clues leading you to the various cats that have become a part of this historic town, sneaking up the buildings or stalking birds on the rooftops. Some of them are actually really challenging to find and we nearly gave up as we both got incredibly frustrated. But then I walked in to a shop and said, "I know this sounds odd but do you know where the cat is?" and as if I had simply asked what day it was the kind shop owners knew the answer and pointed it out. Here's some of the cute kitty critters to look out for..

this one isn't part of the trail, but an abandoned soft toy

We did the 'kitten trail' as we didn't have much time but are definitely returning to do the 'cat trail' soon. I can't be the only person that gets a thrill when you find something and can tick it off the list and move on to the next one?! It's a great way to see all the little nooks and crannies of this gorgeous town as well and because you have to look upwards to spot the cats you notice intricate carvings and detailed embellishment on the buildings that so often go unnoticed.

I got my dad this cute and perfectly appropriate card to thank him for everything.
'jump in puddles' being a metaphor for being absolutely crazy

Then went home for a BBQ with posh hot dogs...

and just smelly, hot dogs

Considering that this morning I felt like bashing my brains out on the wall because I was so confused with such conflicting feelings as to what counts as a good use of my time, today turned out to be an amazing and very happy day. Time does fly, but it is also important to remember that no matter how long it takes you to find something that makes you happy...

Better late than never.