Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Can you see the real me, can you?

Amongst all the mayhem of two property renovations, I've been discarding more clothes and shoes recently, something I probably should've done years ago.  Why do we keep so much stuff, even creating more storage areas to store it all? Madness!

The task is made easier (slightly) by the fact that I no longer work in an office, I can wear what I like and what is comfy.  This has meant saying goodbye to some of my pretty jackets and gorgeous footwear, mainly heels in varying colours.  I'm still saying goodbye to the footwear, mostly fab ebay purchases, and oddly enough some have sold back on ebay for more than I paid for them in the first place, always a good thing!  

Anyway, paring down the wardrobe has made me think about what I really need to live with and what I can do without. Most of my gorgeous skirts have gone, they aren't practical on a day to day basis. Shorts, I had a pair for every day of the week and a spare, yet rarely spent more than a week a year wearing them.  I have managed to get it down to four pairs of varying lengths but could probably cut it down further (another trying on session needed methinks!).

I find so many bargains on an almost daily basis there is no need for me to hoard, if anything fell to pieces I could replace it with a charity shopped duplicate within a month I'm sure, even though I generally stick to the pound rails.  Many of the items I buy are near duplicates of things I already have as well, adding to the clutter.  Although OH has a pared down wardrobe and replaces when he needs to, I find that fashion complicates the issue for us ladies. Men's jeans, for instance, are always available in a classic cut, no low rise nonsense there!  When I find mid or high rise jeans, I want to buy them and keep them all.  I don't follow fashion, I know I feel comfy in a nice fitting top and jeans, and maybe a classic styled jacket, a scarf and a comfy pair of boots, that's me, the pared down version!

Pared down Claire:

 Fat Face grey leather boots (ebay and somewhere around the £35 mark), Aldi jeans £7.99, Laura Ashley grey needlecord jacket £1 (charity shop), cotton print scarf probably 25p or 50p and charity shopped, top BHS (free with cashback vouchers), handbag black leather and less than a tenner from TJ Hughes many moons ago. 

As a consequence of the great wardrobe clear out, there are no charity shop bargains to share with you this time.  However, on Good Friday OH and I drove over to Ragley Hall in Warwickshire, somewhere I've never been as an adult.

Ragley Hall is privately owned and lived in, it is not part of the National Trust or English Heritage but it is part of the Historic Houses Association, something we have just joined.

We absolutely loved our visit, the staff are all amazingly friendly, genuinely helpful and speak even if you just pass them on a footpath.  Seeing me taking a photo of OH in the grounds, one young lad approached and asked if we would like a photo of the two of us,
 yes please, we said!

He took a really nice photo of the two of us!

If you can just see on the first photo, the two people in front of Ragley Hall are near a peacock.  He was fairly comfortable around visitors, and casually sat down in a sunny spot when I approached him, and he posed for me.

He is an absolute beauty!

We decided, as the weather was glorious, that we would spend the day wandering around the grounds.  We walked around the house and off through the gardens.  The borders were waking from their Winter sleep, daffodils and hyacinths everywhere, espaliered plants in bud

We could glimpse the landscaped grounds from the gardens, with the sheep and lambs roaming

The view from the back terrace was stunning

Out of the fenced garden, we crossed the Capability Brown landscape, turned back and saw how impressive Ragley Hall looked from the back

Closer to the house

The woodland garden had a little coppice of silver birch, so pretty with the sun shining

  We sat on the banks of the lake for a while, enjoying the weather

After lunch, a trusty car picnic, we set off for the Grade 1 listed stable block, a large and impressive courtyard, completely enclosed, with a further courtyard off to house all the staff

To the left is a horse walking area, and to the right, you can see part of the amazing carriage collection

Part of the staff quarters

Around the gardens again, searching for the statues dotted about

Found two! 

It took a while to realise the dog wasn't moving and was, in fact, a statue.  The girl is looking over her shoulder at her reflection in a pond.

A couple more statues, with a couple of humans too! 

We can't wait to go back to Ragley Hall and go inside for a look at the state rooms.

Back at the rental, the wallpapering is done (phew!). This week we are painting all the woodwork upstairs, I am hoping to get carpet laid upstairs soon.

In the meantime I have some more clothing to sort through, the template is set at comfy casual and anything else can go out!


  1. Ragley looks really nice! Well done on getting rid of lots! I find this so hard!x

  2. We went to Alcester last summer on our ancestry hunt. Hubby's great great grandparents were from there listed on the census as servant and gardener. I said they could have possibly worked at Ragley Hall. And the best bit, twenty years on they were living right in Birmingham City centre !! Beggars belief but I suppose they went with the work . Such a lovely area

  3. I went on a course where there were peacocks and I saved toast to feed one from my ground floor window. After eating the toast he put up his tail and gave me a lovely display to say thank you.

    1. That's brave, Maureen, not sure of their temperament so didn't try to offer him any of our floating duck food!

  4. Hi Claire, I absolutely agree with your comments about after office clothes. I got rid of so much work wear when I retired (4 years now!). I live in jeans and comfy tops now. Love your blog, follow it regularly. Glad you're enjoying your new life. X

    1. Jane, how lovely to hear from you! Hope France is treating you well. Yep, it's a whole different wardrobe on the other side. Is it really 4 years?! xxx

  5. Ragley Hall looks like somewhere I would visit when in the UK. I love peacocks! We were staying in a B&B once, where they had peacocks and peahens with what we called "pea-babies", who were so cute. I would need to do a clear-out too, and I really do, once in a while, but still the clutter seems to accumulate. Oh well. xxx

    1. I find peacocks mesmerising, the colours are so beautiful. Lucky you, I would love to see peababies!! xxx

  6. I always feel like I;ve been on a holiday when you post about your day trips. thank you for that. I really want to do more documenting about out and about and interesting places, but I live in the midwestern US, so no great estates, but we have our own treasures I'm sure. Your wardrobe/look is clean and fresh, and comfy. I need to be brave and pair down further.

    1. Thank you, Sam, so pleased you enjoy the trips. wardrobe feeling lighter already! xxx

  7. I do love a peacock! I haven't been to Ragley Hall since junior school when i feel off a rope ladder and sprained my wrist, nothing changes, still as clumsy now!!
    Isn't it lovely to rid yourself of office clothes? I'll never wear another white blouse, pencils skirt or blazer as long as I live. xxx

    1. Vague recollections of Ragley as a teen here too, I remember the rope walks! They still have something similar. Yes, parting not such sweet sorrow in some cases xxx

  8. Well done for having a wardrobe rethink - there's no point holding on to stuff you don't need or wear much. Ragley Hall is rather lovely - the posh types of years gone by knew a thing or two about building pleasing houses with gorgeous landscaping, didn't they? And the colours on that peacock are just stunning! Xxx

    1. Clothes are for wearing aren't they? Silly for me to hang on if they can be worn elsewhere, got to keep those chazzas going! xxx


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