ASOS – uh oh

Until yesterday I was an ASOS virgin. I’ve had a look, lots of times, but never actually bought anything. And now I’m hooked. There are all kinds of things I didn’t even know I wanted.

I started with a plain black “boyfriend” t-shirt. It’s long and slim with a perfect neckline and rolled short sleeves. I’ve been back online today and ordered it in Navy. It shall be at the centre of my uniform for the rest of the Summer and possibly beyond.

I’ve also fallen in love with a Sherlock Holmes-esque parka and a “chiffon” (read polyester) kimono jacket and a “Chanel” box jacket and I’ve even put a pair of peg leg trousers in my basket…..surely there’s a better name for them?

I’ve browsed through all the brogues and clicked on a pair of Chelsea boots more than once – could this be my biker boot upgrade? I’ve got my eye on a Fox print t-shirt, which I fear may be a little too young for me, and I’m considering yet another cape. I love capes.

All I need to do is click a few buttons and it might all be mine by Monday. It’s too easy. I better just have another look through and check I’ve not missed anything…..



Everyday Things Of Britain – Bottle Bank Neighbours : a cartoon by Zebedee Helm

Click here to see more marvelous cartoons and hilarious things

Cowpats : a cartoon by Zebedee Helm

We will be posting lots more brilliant cartoons from Zebedee Helm over the coming weeks.

They are all available to buy from his online shop.

Click here to be redirected immediately.

When it rains it pours

What on earth are we supposed to be wearing in this weather. How can any vaguely fashion conscious being worth their salt, be expected to dress seasonally when the weather has the mind of an Autumn day.

I had to go to London today. If I hadn’t had to go anywhere, the rain wouldn’t have bothered me or my choice of clothes. When in the comfort of the Shires, I don’t have to worry about not being able to get a taxi, or wet overcoats swooshing past me on the tube or buses splashing through enormous puddles or umbrellas taking my eye out. I just have to worry about how the dog’s going to go out and pee without dragging mud through the kitchen. It can rain all it likes, I don’t care but I do care when it falls on the days I make my trips to London. Not just because of the reasons above, but also because these are the days I make every effort to really try and look nice. To remember how I used to look and dress in the olden days. I save some (all) of my favourite clothes for these days and to have them rained on and accessorised with frizzy hair and wet shoes is frankly tiresome. The very worst bit was that because of the severe lack of taxis on this most wet of days, I had to rush all over the place on my own two soggy feet and didn’t have time to make my high street pilgrimage to Cos and Uniqlo (for the last Jil Sander collection) which is quite honestly, the only reason I bother coming. Thanks rain. Thanks a bunch.

So what did I wear today for the August rain? I wore black….layers and layers of black and all topped off with my two tone brogues. At least Gene would have been proud.

Too old for Mickey Mouse?

I’m wearing a Mickey Mouse t-shirt today. It’s a vintage one, I hasten to add. Bought at a flea market in Los Angeles. But despite always having a bit of a craving for such a t-shirt, I feel like a fraud. It doesn’t suit me and I think i might be trying to be part of a gang which doesn’t really want me.

I was at a party in LA just before I bought the t-shirt. It was a warehouse, arty sort of party in downtown LA where artists and beautiful people hung out with their hangers on. We were supposed to be there. We were invited in fact, but still felt just a little out of place. Anyway, whilst I was watching a leggy blonde hitting the life out of a Yo Gabba Gabba pinata, in walked a leggy brunette wearing black leggings, short biker boots, a mickey mouse t-shirt and a black blazer. She looked properly cool. It was just about everything I like all rolled in to one outfit.

So, in the following days I decided that I too wanted a Mickey Mouse t-shirt. Something I had steered clear of for many many years. I found one, in fact I found two, and I bought them both for the princely sum of $8.

Today is the first day I’ve ever worn my t-shirt. I’m wearing it over a long sleeve white cotton tee with my skinny blue jeans and my sheepskin slipper boots. I don’t think it works.


Absolutely Nothing To Eat : Fabulous figs

Until quite recently, figs were one of those foods I didn’t really know much about and had for some reason decided I didn’t like – having never actually tried them. I think my dislike was something I’d carried from childhood and had more to do with those horrid fig biscuits than the fruit itself. I didn’t like those one bit and I still don’t. At least I think I don’t.

Then, one hot Summer’s day in France, whilst taking a walk, I slipped on a carpet of squashed figs which were completely covering the road. I remember very clearly thinking how much I loved that smell and – being somewhat affected – it reminded me of my favourite scented candle. Anyway, in amongst that slightly materialistic association, it made me curious about figs and I’m pleased to say I’ve loved them ever since. The real ones, not the candles. I’m a bit over the candles.  Although I do know someone, a man, who wears a figgy scent and it does create the most delicious perfume.

So, we’ve been enjoying French figs for the past few years but had never found really good ones in England until we discovered our – almost – very own fig tree, right here in Oxfordshire. And now that we have more figs than we really know what to do with, there are all kinds of plans to make all manner of things. Neither candles nor perfumes, but maybe jams and chutneys – who knows. For now we’re happy just eating them greedily.

I think the most delicious way to enjoy figs is hot. You can bake them with all sorts. I like them wrapped in prosciutto and stuffed with a little bit of roquefort cheese.

All you need to do is score the figs in to quarters, but not all the way through. Just enough to open them up. Stuff your cheese inside and then wrap closed with a piece of thin prosciutto ham. Drizzle with a little bit of olive oil and put in the oven until the cheese has melted and the ham has crisped up slightly. About 10 minutes depending on how hot your oven is. Serve with some salad leaves and perhaps a little olive oil and good balsamic and that’s it.

Or you can score them as above, put a dollop of honey in the middle, wrap them in the prosciutto and cook them in the same way.

Or you can miss out the ham altogether and just go with the honey or the cheese. All very delicious indeed.

So that’s my post about figs. Really it was all an excuse to show this photograph which I think is just about the prettiest fig picture I’ve ever seen.

Photograph by David Loftus

Absolutely Nothing To Wear, See or Do : Wilderness and Festival Fashion

What to wear to a festival…..wasn’t something I thought really bothered me anymore, but apparently it does. It really has to be one of the most important fashion decisions of the entire Summer. A pair of Hunter boots, denim shorts and some Breton stripes, just doesn’t cut it any more (although it’s a pretty good staple to fall back on), but there are so many more guises to consider.

I’ve never been a huge fan of dress up, as in fancy dress. I like to think I have a pretty good sense of humour, but when it comes to that sort of clothing style humour, I am the most prudish and miserable of them all. I just can’t really do it, yet when I see others embracing it, I find myself harbouring just a teeny bit of fancy dress envy. The thing I love the most about festival dressing, is the way outfits evolve in a way that can only happen when you’ve been sleeping (or not) in a tent for 3 nights. What starts as a well considered, rather chic presentation can turn in to a mismatch of all sorts with hats and accessories joining in the fun – all of which have most likely been borrowed, stolen or acquired as the hours roll on. Festivals are all about sharing after all.

I can’t purport to having been to many festivals over the past few years. I used to be pretty good at it but have bowed out since the children. And then suddenly, the Wilderness festival arrived on our very doorstep. Quite literally. And it has reignited my love (and fear) all in one weekend. A small and perfectly formed offering, the Wilderness is a brand new festival from the clever people who brought us Secret Garden Party and I have a feeling this too might be quite a success. It was fun. Easy, simple, relaxed fun – both with and without the children.

So, back to what they were all wearing. My goodness, I’ve never seen a more diverse collection of people. There were the floor length gowns, gold lame and masks – for those attending the Saturday night masked ball – some of which were fabulous. There were hundreds of play suits of all colours, patterns, shapes and sizes. Lots of top hats and military uniforms which is always a favourite and many a skinny jean to be seen on all ages. There were also an inordinate amount of flat caps, cords and v-neck jumpers……this is Oxfordshire after all…..and all were having a jolly good time.

So next year – or perhaps even sooner – I’m going to plan my festival outfits down to the last thread. I’m going to throw caution to the wind and welcome my alter ego… never know, I might like her.


21 . 8 . 11 :

The Dark Is Rising by Mercury Rev has been happily ringing in my ears for the past week so I had to include it in to the post.

Without a doubt my musical highlight of the wonderful Wilderness.

I Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside : A nostalgic story by Micki Myers

If you’re anything like me, you’ll have spent many a summer holed up in a caravan parked on some grassy cliff with a plastic flamingo planted by the door. You will have entertained yourself by scrambling down a rocky path to a beach whose sand has been formed by the relentless pummeling of the North Atlantic since the last Ice Age. There, you spread your blanket, strip off your clothes down to your rather hopeful string bikini (biting your lip so as not to gasp when the bitter summer breeze sets fire to your skin), and huddle down as close to the sand as possible so that the wind hurries over, as opposed to onto, you. If you hold a cheap paperback to your face you can somewhat avoid the exfoliating effects of the hostile air but quickly become cross-eyed.

If you are very brave, you will give in to the wailing demands of your family to be a good sport and play some kind of beach game completely unsuited to beaches, like soccer with an inflatable ball that tears off at high speed, bouncing along the flat surface at the slightest nudge, then stand around drawing hearts in the sand with your toe while the nearest player runs off for a half-hour jaunt to fetch it.

If you are not simply brave but also very stupid, you will take your life into your hands and baptize yourself in the water’s salty depths. Very likely you will turn and crouch reflexively towards the shore as soon as that first prickly wavelet crashes against your calf, but you will force yourself to edge deeper since you are now committed to a full submersion in order to justify your holiday to the coast, because unless you actually go in the sea, it’s not a seaside, holiday, is it?

Once you emerge — a shrunken, demoralized shell of the person you once were — shivering and in desperate need of a reviving flagon of brandy and an electric blanket, you will gingerly step back to your towel, noticing for the first time how damn sharp sand can be on the soles of wet feet. Not soft at all.

Swimming (well, standing armpit-deep waving your arms about while you nonchalantly pretend you aren’t having a pee) raises an almighty appetite, so you ignore the fact that it’s a full hour before lunchtime, and crack open the cooler. Huddled in your towel, you tuck in to sandwiches you would find revolting at home but which eaten under these conditions seem to you the most perfect food on Earth. I’m talking sandwiches made with Shiphams pastes and liver paté, or egg salad made with the zesty tang of Heinz Salad Creme; none of those fancy delights that nowadays you can pick up anywhere in a little triangular box. Even when your teeth meet grit you think this is LIVING, the salty air and proximity of screeching gulls trying to snag a bite somehow making the experience more authentic and satisfying.

Instead of saving the rest of your tuck for tea (your body instinctively telling you to eat! Eat as much as you can before hypothermia sets in), you reach for the fat slices of fruit cake wrapped individually in wax paper, cut fresh from the slab made seven months ago by your grandma for Christmas. Of course by now, the rum it was soaked in has thoroughly penetrated every juicy morsel, rendering you ever so slightly tipsy with each bite. Fruit cake never seemed like such a good idea as now. What a waste only eating it in the dead of winter! Surely this fruity treat was devised to be a fortifying delivery system and/or lifesaving device?

Once it has been consumed, and every little crumb picked out of the terrycloth, the skies darken. You try to judge how long the rain will last — is it worth packing up and traipsing all the way back up the cliff? — but decide what the hell, you’re down here now, you’ll wait it out. 20 minutes later, starving, you attack the apple in the tuck box and try to do the Sudoku growing steadily transparent as the newsprint it’s on gets soggier.

What you’d give for a beer. What you’d give for a woolen jumper and scarf. What you’d give for a steaming hot parcel of cod and chips, all soaked through with vinegar. What you’d give to be back in the caravan. What you’d give for the sun to come out from behind those clouds once and for all — OK, fine, just long enough to put on dry clothes and make a dash for it. What you’d give to have one fat soggy chip in your mouth; you can taste it already. What you’d give to have gone to Majorca instead, what a fool you are. What you’d give, sitting at your desk in the hot city, to be back there now, because it was paradise and it was horrible and it tasted just exactly like August in England.

Absolutely Nothing To Write About : A term of endearment

Something has been bothering me for some time and it seems this is as good a place as any to share it.

What is the correct term of endearment to use when writing an email to a friend or wishing them a Happy Birthday on Facebook or sending a greeting via SMS? Or should they just be scrapped all together? There are all kinds of words being used in place of names, words such as Lovely and Honey and Darling and Beautiful and Gorgeous and Mate and Bro.  And that’s just the very start of it…..I’ve been called Poppet quite a bit recently, which I secretly rather like, and I’ve found myself using Sweetheart a little too often. Even as I’m writing the word, I have a weird feeling that some other, friendlier, more touchy feely person has momentarily taken over my hand and mind. Yet I still do it.

I remember – about 15 years ago – cringing when anyone called me Babe. It was just about the worst thing you could call a person, or maybe it was just me. And now, it’s thrown around (I do it too) left right and centre and no one bats an eyelid, including me! I actually don’t mind it and I like Baby even more. Very odd.

So will we ever go back to just using each others names or will it carry on being a bit of a competition of who can think of the most original and most endearing term. Maybe it’s something we’ll grow out of. Who knows. But what I do know is that it’s beginning to confuse me so I may just have to stick to one single greeting which can become mine. And I think my word shall be……Dangleberry. It’s got a nice ring to it and feels friendly without being overly gushing.

Wikipedia have a useful guide to Terms Of Endearment, I’m pleased to see it’s been bothering them too.

Absolutely Nothing To Wear : Shoes glorious shoes

I’m not feeling terribly fashionably inspired at the moment. I’m going through one of those phases where I dress in pretty much the same things day in day out and it’s getting a little bit boring. So, to try and reignite a bit of interest in my own wardrobe, I decided – under slight duress from my husband – to have a shoe sort out. Not a clear out, although that’s what he was hoping for, but a lovely, time wasting sort out, which basically amounts to looking at them all and putting them neatly back in their boxes.

I have quite a few pairs of shoes (60+) and since the children arrived and I welcomed countryside living, I don’t really wear any of them anymore but the thought of parting with a single pair is completely unthinkable. Why is that? I even have ones which don’t fit me properly – too big or too small – but I hold on to them with a just in case sort of attitude. Just in case my feet shrink? Ridiculous.

So, did my shoe sort out work as a source of inspiration? Yes it did. It inspired me to wear my red Celine wellington boots for our Sunday afternoon walk…..which are now covered in mud and suffered a minor scratch in the woods. Straight back in to the box they go.

I’m going to photograph a few said pairs when I get a minute on my own iPhone….my 3 year old uses it more than I do. I think some of them need to be shared in picture form, they deserve that much at least.

For now, I want these please YSL… wear on long walks with the children, obviously.