Friday, 27 June 2014

Bargain Buys!

Retirement has meant that my husband and I can indulge our hobbies and shared interests to the full.  As many of you who follow my blog will know that politics feature very heavily in our lives and the older we get the more time we have to follow our favourite programmes, newspapers and bloggers.We do get some relief from this with our many visits to the theatre and also with our love of gardening.

One interest which is really really mine is my passion for clothes....I am sure its in my genes! My husband pretends to moan about the wardrobes bulging but he quite likes it really.

Recently my 5 year old granddaughter was watching me as I was putting away the ironing and asked me if these were all my clothes and I said yes and she lamented that my husband didn't have much space. Then very matter of factly said "I think you should stop buying"! We all had a laugh about this and I began thinking this was a conspiracy.

I have shared some of the designer sites with you but still look in the high street too.  Last week I was shopping with my daughter and called in Phase Eight.  This brand has always had a distinctive style and designs. As she chose an outfit I browsed throughout the sale items.  I found two great items which do not break the bank!

This  would you believe is  a tee shirt with appliqué.  It is easy to wear and looks good - real quality. For such an item it is not expensive in the first place at £69.  In the sale this is £34.50!! 

This dress is a little like a tee shirt dress - simply pull on - no zips, pretty design, well made and quite expensive looking! You can use for every day - originally priced at £79  now £59!

For us seniors price is right and also up to date and flattering.  When I was coaching people on business matters conversations strayed into fashion in leisure moments.  Many despaired at the lack of suitable clothing - I would argue that there are items out there but you do have to know yourself and what suits you - many of these inexpensive items can be dressed up as day wear and business wear depending on accessories.  Certainly this dress falls into this category. It is a matter of giving a little more thought to the combination of clothing items to give the best look.

Have fun shopping!!!

Thursday, 26 June 2014


I don't spend all of my spare time at the Theatre although just lately it seems so!

Yesterday we went to see Skylight at the Wyndham Theatre and it is described very well in this review.

The big names almost always guarantee a full audience and even at the matinee we attendedthis was the case. Although we enjoyed the play it did require a great deal of concentration.  I was often distracted by Bill Nighy walking erratically around the stage almost in a robotic fashion.  There was also the disconnect of the age difference between the actors. Bill Nighy looked much older than his 64 years and Carey Mulligan looks much younger than her 29 years making the likelihood of a liaison implausible.

However both injected a great deal of emotion into the doomed relationship and there were some very good lines which we all could relate to.............

Certainly worth seeing and we did discuss it endlessly over our meal on that basis alone it must have been good!

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Fatal Attraction!!

It seems to have been a particularly busy week, don't know why ....just life I suppose!

A highlight however was going to see Fatal Attraction at the Theatre Royal Haymarket. Many of us have seen the film version with Michael Douglas and Glenn Close which left a lasting impression on all of us.  This generated the familiar expression of "bunny boiler" - an incident which still makes me shudder.

The play promised to have a different twist at the end and we were really interested in this and also as to how this story would work on a stage. Natascha McElhone played the role of Alex Forest beautifully.  We were only 4 rows back in the stalls and we really felt part of it.  Natascha played the role of the femme fatale  who changed dramatically into the threatening character which strives to control and eventually destroy her lover.  

Mark Bazeley was convincing as the straying husband who loved his wife and yet couldn't resist a one night stand.  We watched as he started to appreciate the destructive nature of the relationship and then couldn't prevent its inevitable conclusion.

His wife was played by "Sex in the City" Kristin Davis - she was the epitome of sweetness and motherhood and apple pie and of course a complete contrast to the character of Alex.

By the end I think we and the people around us were nervous wrecks.  The whole situation was plausible and unstoppable and had a nasty ending which I won't share as you may want to see it.

It was even better than the film and as the man sitting next to me commented on leaving......"Should be compulsory viewing for all married men"

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

A Matter of Perspective!

Yesterday I went to see my cousin who lives in Sheffield.  Last week she suffered a stroke. This in itself is shocking and caused so much distress to all - most to her.  Thankfully she is doing well but she also was quite realistic about the need to make sure diet and exercise are the mantra.

Judy is a wonderful person who we all love. She has been a nurse for so many years. I remember being in awe of her - she is 7 years older - her starched uniform and trim waist, her excitement at going to work.  I can truly say she had a vocation.  She retired 10 yrs ago at 60 having worked full time as a sister in the NHS and then latterly as Matron of a care home.  She has always had good press as caring and practical. She has often lamented at the decline of standards.

In my book she is one of life's true saints - I truly hope she is motivated to continue to fight and keep well - we need more people like her!

Friday, 6 June 2014

Every Lidl bit helps!!

Now we have got the Newark Election out of the way, the discussions will resume.........usual topics on economy, cost of living and austerity.

None of us are immune to the impact of things which seem beyond our control.  However do we have any way of improving our positions?

Well we were very surprised to see just what you can do if you are prepared to change habits of a lifetime!

For years we have been going to Sainsburys to do our weekly shop.  Its convenient, staff are pleasant, the store is well laid out and roomy.  We also occasionally use other big name supermarkets.  Over the past few weeks we have noticed that our weekly shop on regular items has increased.  The total spend has been increasing steadily despite taking advantage of offers.  We reckoned we are now spending about £120 per week on average.
This seems to be too high considering what we have bought on staple items and not being extravagant.

The papers have been full of comments about smaller outfits such as Aldi and Lidl making inroads into the big names business. There has also been extensive marketing of Lidl and Aldi demonstrating what you can save.  So we decided to check out our local Lidl.

Certainly the shop is smaller, the aisles cramped and presentation of products is quite rudimentary. You do not get many alternatives or brand names for same product. There is good choice of meat, chicken, fruit and veg and freshly baked bread.

We have done our weekly shop here over the past 3 weeks and we have been pleasantly surprised.  The quality of the products has been excellent - there are only a few items which we couldn't obtain here..........and ............we have saved £50 per week!!!  Now this is certainly worth having!!

Okay the shopping experience may not be quite as pleasant but we have concluded that this is small cheese compared with the considerable savings.

I am only annoyed we didn't consider this alternative before!!

When we mention our little shopping project we have noticed that some people are quite snobbish about where they shop and say that you can't get the quality.......well you can  - and well more fool them!!

We can do something about our cost of living!!!

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Newark and Wolf Hall!

Well we are all on tenterhooks awaiting the outcome of the Newark election....well some of us are :)
While the wait goes on we are all subject to silly stories in the press today as the media struggle to find suitable copy to fill the void of speculation.

So I thought it would be useful to share our great experience of seeing Wolf Hall at the Aldwych yesterday. Here we had a strong parallel with present day politics. There was a bit of everything going on and this is what this is why this period of history is so compelling.

The story is well told - the courtship of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn whilst Katherine of Aragon was still Queen;  the meteoric rise of Thomas Cromwell  from humble beginnings  ................

Thomas Cromwell was played by the excellent Ben Miles. Such a challenging role in many many words and being on stage most of the time. Miles was very convincing as the intelligent "fixer" who manoeuvred himself into a position of strength, exercising practical solutions whilst being fully aware of his vulnerability in the political arena and also with a contrary monarch.
Miles' performance was equally good in "Bring Up the Bodies" which I have reported on previously. This book continues the tale of Henry and Anne Boleyn, his subsequent disenchantment and his  clinical disposal of his second wife whilst moving on to the next. 

We were delighted to have the author, Hilary Mantel,  in the audience and she must have been gratified at the rapturous applause this production received.

Politics in those days was far more brutal and the consequences of actions were quickly dealt with dispassionate executions.

However many of the human drivers apparent then are often seen today.......power, greed, control, protection, fear, compassion, beliefs, duty, honour.............all candidates today will be trying to convince the electorate of their worth and their principles and values and policies.

Nothing really changes. Motives and agendas are not always apparent as we seek to fulfil our dreams and ambitions.

So we await Newark decision and the political justifications which undoubtedly will follow.......

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Election Post Mortem!

Well its been quite a much has happened since the EU and local Council Elections. We are all exhausted I am sure with all the analysis and speculations around "what ifs".  The conclusion is .."who would be a politician?".

Yet many including me are fascinated with the intrigue and internal politics which is played out in the public forum. The characters are often larger than life and would quite happily slot into a Shakespearian play - which goes to show nothing really changes.

Now we have Newark on Thursday and after this hiatus we will all probably relax into the run up politics to the General Election which will be the backdrop to all the news items.

In the meantime enjoy the sunny weekend  - not sure if this was the heatwave that was predicted but it ends tomorrow so a little bit like politics enjoy the good times when you can......