Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Marks and Spencer Makeover!

I have never really been a fan of Marks and Spencer. The main reason is that some of the more distinctive styles and patterns seen to be sold in great numbers and I am afraid I will be standing next to someone with the same outfit - I know this is quite irrational as this could happen if I bought items from other stores.  Another reason is that I thought them a little old fashioned and "safe".

So last week I walked with my husband through M&S on our way to Sainsburys  - I was pleasantly surprised as the store had had a makeover and was arranged along the lines of a kind of John Lewis with segments dedicated to certain types of clothing and a shoe boutique. Presentation and shopping experience is much much better.  Also I noticed that they are trying harder on customer service - I was asked if I needed any help with my choice and staff generally were very polite and attentive.

What really caught my eye were the cashmere jumpers - good quality and although expensive were cheaper than others I dad seen in other stores and on line. They ranged from £70 -£75.  So I indulged and am very happy with them.  They are light and soft but still have some substance to them which I hope will mean they last longer.  Really worth a look !

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Half Full?

Watched Gyles Brandreth on TV talking about his new book

"My Seven Secrets of Happiness".

I found him particularly endearing - he has quite a jocular extrovert exterior but beneath the veneer lurks a very sensitive man who has been affected by life changing events. The result of this change helped him to reflect and examine what is important in life to achieve or at least aim to achieve happiness.
His seven secrets are......


Worth a read and worth a self health check!!  Certainly on my to read list!

Details at Extracted from The 7 Secrets Of Happiness: An Optimist’s Journey by Gyles Brandreth, published by Short Books on September 3 at £7.99.

The Age of Innocence

My 4 year old grand daughter's depiction of her family........  I am second from far right :)  ....sigh!!

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Love Your Eyes!!

Those of you have read my earlier blogs will know that in my early life I was involved with modelling with Lucie Clayton's agency. As part of our training we were taught the importance of skin care and particularly caring for the eyes.  We were told in no uncertain terms that you should treat your eyes, and particularly the area under the eyes, with enormous respect.  This area is so delicate and the skin should NEVER be dragged.  When cleansing gentle apply cream by patting gently and then remove with pads gently moving from the outer eye to inner......NEVER from inner to outer!!  

These words of wisdom have stuck with me ever since. The practice hasn't caused me any hardship and today, the lines under my eyes are quite minimal particularly when I compare to my peer group.  


If ever I see my family or friends, male or female rubbing their eyes with gusto ...(particularly when they are tired) I always annoyingly tell them not to do it and repeat my mantra!

I realise that the way we age is partly down to genetics but also down to us and the way we expose our faces and bodies to good and bad treatment and exposure to the elements.  We all develop our own beauty regimes and have our favourite creams and potions and serums and we hope we are delaying the creeping age process.

One thing I have always had are dark circles under my eyes.  I used to really be thankful for this condition when I was a little girl as often schoolteachers would think I wasn't very well and were extra nice.  As a woman however this became more of an annoyance......and yes I have heard all the solutions...get more sleep,  have a good diet, exercise more, leave a bedroom window open........and so on....

A more cosmetic approach however comes in the form of this little gem ...........

This is Estee Lauder's "Eye Illuminator" Idealist Cooling Eye Illuminator  - quite a mouthful I know!
It claims to reduce dark circles and puffiness and it certainly works for me.

It has a ceramic tip which is so cooling when applied - so much so it took me by surprise.  You don't need a great deal of product and again follow the same principle of  applying  gently with coverage from outer to inner.

This is not cheap at £40 (say it quick).........but I feel it is worth it and it does last for a long time.

If you buy on line - you also get free samples which softens the blow of the cost  (a little)!!

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Advice from the Dame!

Speaking after her Fashion Show at the German Gymnasium in North London yesterday, Dame Vivienne Westwood said:

'Buy less. Choose well. Make it last. Quality, not quantity. Everybody’s buying far too many clothes.
'I mean, I know I’m lucky, I can just take things and borrow them and I’m just okay, but I hate having too many clothes. And I think that poor people should be even more careful.

'It doesn’t mean therefore you have to just buy anything cheap. Instead of buying six things, buy one thing that you really like. Don’t keep buying just for the sake of it.
'I just think people should invest in the world. Don’t invest in fashion, but invest in the world.'

These contraversial  comments were widely reported in the press including the Daily Mail and on the surface seem quite harsh.

On reflection however the remarks may be quite sensible advice.  I remember in my teens that our family had a very limited amount of money to spend on clothes - there were so many other pressing and important priorities. My mother gave me some advice which have remained with me ever since my youth and ties in very well with Westwood's comments.

Mum said to buy one good quality item and use as a base to dress up or down with accessories.  In many respects this was her take on a "capsule wardrobe".  I followed what she said and bought a black jersey suit in the sale.  I chose the suit very carefully to flatter my figure or lack of....... 

At 5 ft 8'' and weighing less than 8 stones it was a challenge.  The suit however had a lined pencil skirt which hung beautifully as it had sufficient "body" with the two layers of material.  The peplum jacket nipped in the waist with a belt  and gave the impression of a curvy shape. I had 2/3 tops which reflected casual or more dressy.  It is surprising how versatile these few items came to be and stood me in good stead for quite a long time.

These days youngsters seem to place a lot of emphasis on buying from the  cheaper high street stores. This may seem like fun but I have heard people say some things you can only wear once or twice and then have to throw them away.

When you are young you could wear a bin liner and still look good!  You have youth on your side and don't have to waste money, and often money you don't have, on inferior goods.  It is surprising how creative you can be if you want to be.

Of course as you get older with perhaps more disposable income you can extend your wardrobe and indulge yourselves - and certainly I am guilty of that.  I am however always mindful of buying quality and shopping around for the best price. Old habits die hard!

Maybe the fashion designers should think a little more about this lucrative silver market.  It doesn't mean to say that clothes have to be "old"  but maybe think about the length of garments and also consider dresses with sleeves which are important considerations when looking to flatter this audience.

Being relatively tall I am often attracted to items only to find that they are far too short - such a shame!!

However I digress.........getting back to Dame Vivienne .....................she may sometimes court controversy but she may be worth a listen!

Monday, 16 September 2013

A Bargain!!!

Love my dress I bought from Jaeger on line - I think at £60  in the sale - its a classic and a bargain !!!


Sunday, 15 September 2013

Review of the Week!

It has been a very busy and eventful week.  My 4 year old grand daughter started "big school" on Tuesday - this was an emotional time for her parents.  She particularly wanted me to see her new school so I duly accompanied my daughter on Friday in the pouring rain following the long snake of parents delivering their offspring.  We were invited to stay for assembly.  My thoughts were how different things have become from even my children's time at school. There seems to be an overwhelming number of activities and clubs for kids these days - every interest catered for which can only help in building confidence and widening their skills and expertise. A surprise to me was that they don't make headmasters like they used to!  We were addressed by a Bradley Wiggins lookalike with a tight suit.  He reminded me of the "Small Faces" which sort of dates me...........

He certainly was enthusiastic and had a good rapport with the children and we came away feeling more comfortable with the fact that the atmosphere was a happy and seemingly productive one.

On Thursday my husband and I went to see "Confessions of Gordon Brown" 

Really recommend this Play which is on at Trafalgar House Studios  - fantastic performance from Ian Grieve. We hadn't been to the studios before and were surprised how small the venue - word of warning not to sit on front row!

Whatever your politics you can thoroughly enjoy - its more a message about leadership and good and bad traits. They have just reviewed the play on Sky News and the actor provided a snippet - his impersonation of William Hague is really impressive.

On the same day we popped in to the National Portrait Gallery and particularly loved the paintings by Jonathan Yeo.  His portraits of celebrities are so realistic and impressive with a twist. I never tire of looking around the gallery as there is always something new to see whilst still being able to enjoy those we have seen  before.  I sometimes think that we should charge at least one pound per head entry fee to help with the upkeep of our Galleries and Museums.  We are charged when we go to other countries and I don't think this small contribution in the UK would cause much hardship. Just a thought................

On Tuesday saw my close friend who completed her course of chemo this week before starting radiotherapy end of September. She is feeling good and thankful that she has finished with the chemo!

Wednesday had lunch with another friend who I don't manage to see so often as she is either in Geneva or Turkey - so we make the most of it when she passes through London.  So nice to have a girly lunch and to catch up - it is so important to keep in touch with friends  even if it is a challenge sometimes!

Looking forward to a quieter week and to spending more time in the gym to work off some of the lunches!!

Thursday, 12 September 2013

The Face You Deserve - update!

A while ago I mentioned using Nivea in one of my posts ..........."The Face You Deserve"

In an article today in the Daily Mail they compare the benefit of using the expensive Creme de la Mer and Nivea.

On balance they found that Nivea fared very well if not better in terms of hydration. Both creams were found to be very good but why pay a fortune for a cream if a much cheaper one delivers!

From previous post

Monday, 9 September 2013

Graduation Day!

These days it seems that graduation can apply to any age.  I was so surprised to learn that my 4 year old grand daughter had graduated from nursery a couple of weeks ago!  She looked really cute in her red mortar board and gown and it was yet another excuse for a celebration but a little curious.

The growing trend also of the graduation at 16 - the prom dress, the stretch limo, the big party.  The funny thing is how all these trends have snowballed in the last 3 or 4 years.

What I would like to know is what can we seniors do which would warrant a graduation ? Graduating from paid employment? Graduating from the rat race? Maybe it isn't such a bad idea :)

Friday, 6 September 2013

Formal Frocks!!

The worst part about coming back from holiday is the washing!

We are just about on top of this now but there are still some dry cleaning and repairs to do.

The most challenging and expensive thing for me is dealing with cleaning of evening gowns from the formal nights on board.  I am not complaining as dressing up is one of the most enjoyable parts of the night life.  So many passengers comment on the fact that everyone almost without exception "scrub up well" when dressed in their finery.

Assessing the cleaning problem!
There are so few opportunities to dress formally these days and so certainly we make the most of it. If sailing from Southampton on a return trip there's no problem regarding amount of clothing that can be taken - the difficulty arises on a fly cruise and weight restrictions.  My husband loves to see me enjoying myself with clothes but he does read the riot act when we are flying and I have to do my usual strop when asked to be sensible as to the quantity!

I just hate leaving out some items as we girls know,  sometimes you feel like wearing a certain dress and sometimes you don't!  Good to have many options..............hmmmm

My favourite black tie designer is Marchesa - so feminine and special but unforgiving if you put on an ounce.  Also like Anna Sui, D & G, Prada ........ this sounds expensive but with careful buying in sales and outlet sites you can accumulate a range of items which suit your shape and style and which you can use over and over again.  (This is the line my long suffering husband is never tired of hearing form me and he enjoys mocking me - but ladies it is so true - isn't it?)

It really is worth the effort and am looking forward to the next jaunt!!

Something quite remarkable happened as we left the dining room one night - a woman called after me and this was someone who I haven't seen for 27 years - our children went to junior school together and we shared school runs!  How random is that?

Thursday, 5 September 2013

and then on to Norway..................

After Iceland we sailed on to Norway and visited 3 ports of call - Alesund, Flam and Stravanger.

The most notable of the 3 was Flam which was a jewel - really pretty nestling deep in a tributary of the world's longest and deepest fjord.  It is surrounded by steep mountainsides, waterfalls and deep valleys.. I am afraid my snaps do not do it justice. Its definitely worth a visit for the breathtaking scenery.

Iceland and Norway were very expensive and can't say that there was a lot to buy and so purchases were few and far between.  My husband thought that this was a real bonus!!!  Grrr!

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Iceland Experience

My daughter went on holiday to Iceland a few years ago and really enjoyed it - she said it was something most people should do once as it was something completely different. So we embarked  on a cruise to Iceland and Norway in August and arrived back yesterday.

We went from Southampton to first port of call  Dublin before making our way to Reykavik.

On our tour in Reykavik and beyond the temperature dropped to 8 degrees with a biting wind which made it feel much colder. We travelled to the Thingvellir National Park - a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Park straddles the mid Atlantic ridge and its where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates meet.  These plates are constantly pulling the earth's crust in opposite directions which result in unusual and impressive landscape which seem to go on forever.

We saw the incredible Gullfoss Waterfall and the Geysir Strokkur which shots 75 foot high column of hot water  every few minutes

Thankfully we chose not to bathe in the Blue Lagoon that day given the really cold weather conditions but saved the Geothermal experience until we went to  Akureyri where it was a more comfortable 14 degrees. The pool at Myvatn was wonderful although the smell of sulphur could be overwhelming at times. 

Its quite surreal lazing in very warm water with your head in the cold air - just as my daughter  descrIbed. The mountainous surrounding area was covered with volcanic ash and the whole experience was quite surreal. We also took in another impressive waterfall - Godafoss - the Waterfall of the Gods which was particularly beautiful

The Icelanders are keen to share their stories about trolls, "hidden people" and elves - we were left with the feeling that maybe they believed that the stories were true!

 We agreed it is something everyone should do once we have enjoyed it but we won't be rushing back. Incredible natural phenomena but the landscape and temperatures are bleak and unforgiving. As one of our guides said Iceland doesn't have weather but examples of weather and you can sample them all in one day. The only one we didn't have was snow although we could see it around us on the roadside at times. 

Incredible place. Good to visit but not to live!

Monday, 2 September 2013


been quiet for 2 weeks.... been on holiday more to come but really exhausted tonight but will fill you in later..............

Iceland and Norway so
interesting but so cold!!!