A weekend's outfit. Planned and realised. The skirt is an altered charity shop score, the jacket I've had since I was in year ten, the jumper is new, and the satchel (swapped from the backpack) was also a charity find at £2.
Treats. I got so spoiled this weekend and this delicious box with it's even more delicious contents was one of the many indulgences (others included coffee with Baileys, buttery crumpets, and white mice!) The dress was an early birthday present. Grandma sure knows how to love on you.
It's Halloween weekend, what are your plans? I'm not doing anything remotely spooky. I am, in fact, spending a rather pleasant weekend going to stay with my great grandma in Exeter, and also meeting a friend from my much-missed university days. I plan to scour Exeter's vintage shops, have some long, tea-fuelled chats with granny, and eat plenty of comfort food! Whilst I go and catch a train, I leave you with the links:
// I found this piece really powerful: I'm not 'vegan' anymore from the Happy Herbivore. It raises so many true points; my friend Cai and I are always talking about how the pressure of being totally 'saintly' often deters us from making greener lifestyle choices altogether - but whatever we can do is worth doing, so embrace imperfection!
Hello and welcome to the Friday Feature! This week we’re taking it academic-chic with a shout-out to the wonders of Winchester University (who, incidentally, have recently offered my very sensational grandmother a PhD placement – go Nana T!)
I was offered a choice of courses to showcase, but I decided to plump for English for one simple reason: it’s what I studied at university. Having a Bachelor of Arts with Honours feels pretty good, I can tell you, and English – whilst often criticised for its non-specific nature in terms of job prospects – is in my opinion one of the best options for your degree. Why, you ask? Well I don’t know about you, but I wasn’t that sure exactly what I wanted to be when I was seventeen and everyone was going UCAS crazy. I knew I liked words. I knew I was good at words. So I plumped for joint honours English Literature and Creative Writing.
Taking English as a joint subject, rather than limiting you, leaves you open to a whole world of careers and pathways after university – because, heads up people, when you throw that cap in the air at the end of your three years, life is only just beginning. I look at my English degree as a foundation upon which to go and build whatever career I choose – marketing, journalism, being an author, another stint in academia – the world is very much my oyster, and I don’t think you can say that if you get too specific too early on.
But, hang on a minute – why Winchester? I’ll tell you why. A truly beautiful campus with a wowing mix of new and old based in an historical city awash with cultural colourfulness! I can tell you: if Winchester had come under my radar when I was researching universities, it would have been a serious contender. They even offer international exchanges to the US, Germany or Poland – chłodny!
So don’t limit yourself and take a look at the English courses on offer with the University of Winchester - and let me know what you think!
So I introduced you to my beloved sailorette jacket the other day and - when Blair asked what it looked like on - I suddenly remembered this little day out I had with it earlier in the year that I never shared with you! It was springtime and Ellen, my sister Alice and I went day trippin' to Glastonbury (you might also remember this trip last year.)
Ellen rocked this adorbz vintage Laura Ashley onesie from Glasto's vintage haunt, Dolly Birds.
I wore: jacket and t-shirt, H&M; skirt, Zara; shoes, La Redoute; bag, Suzy Smith; scarf, Warehouse.
Cupcakes, cupcakes everywhere. A few snaps from my vintage fair cupcake pedalling experience! It really was fun (and delicious) and probably the first time I've ever been to a vintage fair and come out having made money rather than spent it all...
Experimenting with vintage hair-dos. I didn't actually get a snap of my get-up for the fair - a real shame because it rocked - but this is one happy accident from an evening's experimentation.
Graffiti on my walk home. It's this kind of thing that makes me love Bristol.
Autumn leaves. I find crunching through piles of fallen leaves muy, muy magical. I also love slipping into my cosy winter boots again; I've had them since I was about sixteen and recently had them re-heeled. That's some serious shoe dedication, kids.
Retro furnishings. I regretfully had to stop myself buying this original 1950's chair today as I have four chairs already and a tiny flat. So beautiful though - boo!
Hello Saluting starlets! Today I worked serving tea and cakes at a local vintage fair. Not only did I have a blast, I earnt a a bit of extra money and got to take home a nice stock of leftover cupcakes! Yummo. I'll share piccies tomorrow but for now, as I munch my rose icing cupcake and try not to get crumbs on the keyboard, the links:
“My aloneness catalyzed a deep commitment to working on my own personal development. With no romantic partner or relationship issues to distract me, I was able to focus intently on learning about who I really was, where I came from, where I’d been in my life, the choices I’d made, and the impact those choices had on my life... Aloneness itself became my greatest opportunity.”
Many of you will know that an important relationship ended for me earlier this year. It has meant an enormous mental, physical and emotional shift back to being single after nearly four years of being in a couple – a shift I’m only just getting into the groove of, more than six months on from the split. Here are a few of the profound truisms I’ve realised, changes I’ve made, and lessons I have to share from the experience of re-finding myself now that I’m by myself.
1. You are in a relationship with yourself, always.
To have and to hold. For richer, for poorer. For better, for worse. Get back to your ultimate commitment: your relationship with you. Because it is a commitment, and one that people give up on all the time. But you can decide not to. Take an oath to honour yourself again.
2. The power of one
Lots of things that are amazing exist as independent entities: like the earth. And yet, they are not independent – they hang in the beautiful balance of all things, just as you do. You are from the earth and out of the atmosphere and a piece in the puzzle of the planetary system. Delight in your part in all things, as well as your own autonomy.
3. Admit the pleasure of a relationship
Something that I touched on in my How to Get Over a Break-Up post is the ‘independent women’ fixation of modern female culture. But I loved being in a relationship, and I will love being in my next relationship, and I feel that to snap my fingers and say “who needs men?” would be sending the wrong message out to the universe. Yes, I’m enjoying my time as a single entity and, yes, I am supremely independent, but I’m also ready to sync up again in an even more powerful and important relationship. Don’t be afraid to admit to yourself that you like being in a relationship: it doesn’t make you weak, and it doesn’t have to mean your heart is broken every morning that you wake up alone; it is just honesty. Admit you’re open to it; trust that it’s down the road for you, and then focus on enjoying the interim rather than wishing it away.
4. Don’t let the temporary lack of a partner stop you being sexual
(Warning: it is a tad rude - in a good way - and also highly addictive.)
6. You have to treat yourself the way you wish to be treated
Not only does this enact a real sense of your own worthiness for this kind of treatment, it is good practice for spreading that love further afield. If you love yourself you have more love to give others. Love breeds, baby. Buy yourself a big bunch of flowers. If you think “nah, too expensive” – how can you expect a current or prospective beau to think any different? Pay yourself a compliment. If you think that’s cheesy, you can’t expect your next lover to think it worthwhile. You get me?
7. Write a song
..or paint a picture, or write a poem, or structure a dance, or stitch a quilt, or do a DJ mix – whatever your craft; use it as a medium to honour your ex and digest their loss, perhaps with a ‘moral’ or lesson that you want to take from the whole experience, whether you choose it to be a Beyonce-style shunning or a Damien Rice worshipping.
8. Be whole
You are not half of anything, and despite Sparksian culture to the contrary, 1 + 1 does not equal 1, it equals three: you, the other person, and the relationship. You may have lost the third portion, but the two of you have walked away as whole beings. Not acknowledging this may leave you drifting and with little to offer any new relationship. Work on being whole, rather than await your ‘other half’.
9. Enjoy ‘Alone’
Eyes closed. Head back. Breathe deep. You’re alone. A crisp stillness. There’s nothing like it, and yet, for some reason, it terrifies us. The silence. The absolute reliance on your own thoughts for stimulus. Only your own regime to direct you. We’ve forgotten how to enjoy being alone. Go out for a walk in some woodland and just listen to the ground crunch and the breeze whistle. Sit and have a cup of tea and just stare out of the window with your own thoughts. Indulge in your aloneness for a moment – and welcome the possibility that it might actually feel pretty good.
10. Learn to desire, and to be desired again
It isn’t always the most comfortable thing to feel desire or to be desired, especially if you’ve been used to that “radar” part of yourself being switched off whilst in a relationship. But the more we cringe at it, the less we invite it. There is a major obsession with over-sexualisation and objectification, mostly of women, in recent decades – a lot of which I can strongly get behind. I’m not asking you to get a boob job or wash your car in a bikini for the whole street to see; but it is okay to indulge in being desired. Be open to it – your own version of it – and don’t feel guilty for enjoying it. There is a new kind of electricity surrounding you when you are single; a different energy that you can now play with and send out in waves, sometimes completely unawares. Meet the eyes of strangers. Acknowledge a wolf-whistle with pride. Give a wink to the lovely person you see eyeing you on the train platform if you’re feeling particularly brave. Be aware that if you think you can’t, or shouldn’t; you can’t and shan’t. A little embarrassment is endearing – so don’t worry if you blush or feel silly, any onlooker will be pleased as punch just to be acknowledged. And, F.Y.I: the more you practice this in the everyday, the more confident you’ll feel when the time comes to get talking to your next potential lover.
11. Read Life Lessons by Leslie Garner. Seriously, lady knows her stuff.
12. Watch some early Sex and the City (before the writers sold out and paired them all off!)
13. Thrash around in a new group
"This is how it goes. You thrash around, then you meet people, and maybe you wind up becoming friends. You just don’t know where it goes. But I believe you’ve got to be out there thrashing around, creating ways for yourself."
- Kurt Markus
Sometimes the best way to find ourselves is within a group of other people: because we show different shades of ourselves in every new set of circumstances – and the more circumstances you place yourself in the more you’re likely to find a shade you like. New friends lead to potential new lovers, and at the very least teach us new things about ourselves. Join your transition town group, meet local couchsurfers, join a language course, a local choir, a yoga class etc. Think outside the box to meet the kind of people you might not meet already in your everyday life – a macrobiotic cooking class? Capoeira?
14. Makeover your bed
Your bed was potentially a place where you spent a great deal of time with your previous partner. Now you have it all to yourself again and it should reflect that. Buy new sheets, perhaps new pillows or a new feather duvet. What about making some scented lavender pouches to lie on each pillow? Don’t neglect to makeover the space around your bed, too. On your bedside table or tables place a nice coaster, a selection of good books, soft lamp lighting, and maybe fresh flowers. Make it an inviting place where you love to spend time, and where anyone you choose to invite along will want to spend time too! You might also want to rethink what you wear to bed; try wearing something comfortable and breathable but that makes you feel more glam than an old threadbare t-shirt, perhaps a vintage cotton nightdress? (Heck yes I rock one of those.)
15. Change your routine
Perhaps you had a routine with your old partner: TV dinners whilst watching nature documentaries? Weekend drives? You probably had a personal routine that fit around your lover too: certain things you wore that they liked etc. Now is your chance to install a new routine. Go out for dinner once a week with a friend, or, if you’re at home, sit up at the table, play some music and light a candle. Join a cycling or running group at the weekends. Re-think the way you dress day-to-day, maybe by adding more colour or allowing yourself to wear something a little more ‘risky’ – whatever that may mean to you! Change a few of your regular cosmetics or fragrance. Remember that the way they liked you might not now be the way that you like you.
16. Learn a lesson
Whatever the heck happens to us in life and in love, be it hellish or heavenly, is never worthless if we choose to take a lesson from it. I’m a better person for going through what I have with my past relationship – from the great beginnings to the sad endings. In the most cliché- but-true way possible, I’m a better person. I’ve grown from it. It nurtured me somehow, rather than taking anything from me. And if you look at your past relationship close enough – at the person you were at the beginning and the person you are now – you might just be able to see things in the same light.
17. Listen to this. Such a sad yet empowering song. If you cry it's okay - we love you for it.
Has anybody else learnt any important truths in the transition from couple-country to sizzling singledom? Share all...
Mittens. I don't know if I ever formally introduced you to my little sailor jacket, but it's one of my most prized possessions - I left it in a bar last weekend and was probably unnaturally distraught. Luckily I managed to get it back and the brief absence only made my heart grow fonder. It kind of rocks with my new red mittens, wouldn't you agree?
Purchasing, packing, and sendings little gifties. I finally got around to sending out the prizes won by the lucky partakers in Archive August. Only a month late. Doh.
Eating well. This week my new job started taking it's toll and by Wednesday I felt a fever coming on - successfully combatted with homemade lentil soup, smoothies and ridiculously early nights (read: 8.30pm).
Other things that happened: I overcame my fear of the laundrette; got a new landline and have since been receiving numerous calls for somebody called Kumar...; had a day off work due to a big leak at the office and spent it catching up on errands; took two skirts to be altered; scored another pair of free shoes soon to arrive and be Christened with blog photos; reignited my passion for greek salad (October shmocktober - I can eat summer foods if I want to!)
It's Saturday! And I have a new life plan... Which is bringing me much happiness. It includes career building + travel + general adventure. I'll share more soon, friends of the internet realm! Tonight I'm going for dancing and revelry in Bristol but, before I do, here's where the web has taken me this week...
I do quite a few features here on Charade, so I thought - why not make a feature of those features? And that's what I did. Let me introduce you to the Friday Feature, it may not happen every single week, but I hope that by making it part of the blog schedule, you'll know what to expect here, and when. Remember you can always read my disclaimer for info on this type of post.
Big hair has, well, always been pretty big in the fashion world: from the powdered wigs of Marie Antoinette's era, to the beehive of the swinging 60's. Though, for us mere mortals, big hair isn't always as easy to achieve as we might like! Stressing with rollers, and mousse and clonking yourself on the head with the hairdryer (you know you've done it...) - all in all a pretty miserable way to get ready for that big night out you had planned.
That's where Babyliss Big Hair comes in, an easy to use method for drying, volumising and adding shine - a triple whammy of hair-joy! You can happily use it on damp or nearly dry hair, and let the large rotating barrel work the wonders you require. Easy.
Here's what it looks like, a pretty serious piece of hair equipment set to revolutionize the way you dry and style:
With over 90 reviewers giving it an overall 8.4 out of 10 on Reevoo, I have to say I'm really rather tempted to give it a go... What do you think?
"...you'll gradually work out what it is that you actually want to do. I think one of your problems is that you could probably do lots of different things. You're actually very lucky. Take your time. Get a job and earn some money, but work out what your What If is. Everyone has a What If - the thing that if you never try it, you'll never forgive yourself. That is what you need to know."
An extract from the very excellent book, I Left My Tent in San Francisco by Emma Kennedy. Hilariously funny, topical for the recently graduated and worth a read, my friends!
New pillowcases. Well, actually not new - I got them for my last birthday but have only just got around to using them. Aren't they de-lish? I've also re-muddled my bedroom and it's working far better for me. I moved the bed to the opposite wall and removed the headboard as it was imposing on the room a little too much. Snaps coming soon!
Good food. I'm spending a little more on better quality food lately (I happen to live right across the road from an amazing organic supermarket, so going out of my way to shop at Tesco feels a little... icky.)
Wine when you need it most. Undoing all the good work of my organic diet have been a few soul-healing drinking sessions with old friends offering new perspectives.
Saying goodbye to beautiful friends over beautiful food. Ellen has moved to Edinburgh and Bristol WILL NOT be the same without her. Nuh-uh.
Remembering to outfit-snap for the first time in a long time. Yes that is a Heinz Tomato Ketchup bag acting as my laundry basket.