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!

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Even fairies wear boots

So, here I am, trying to get back in the habit of regular posting, not going according to plan so far!

Very busy still with a property renovation, high ceilings and uneven walls mean wallpaper with a bit of texture is a must but very hard work.  I've only ever assisted with wallpapering, but now mum is suffering with arthritic knees, I was the one who had to do the stairs ceiling, it was a feat of ladders balanced on planks balanced on ladders and don't look down!  The walls were even trickier, with the last piece on each side of the stairs measuring 14 feet to the point, eek!

However, it is now done, and I am both surprised and pleased with my new found skill.  Just one last room to paper this week and the painting begins.

Not too many bargains of late, this is due to my realising that I really do have to be ruthless and get rid of that 80% of my wardrobe that just sits there, gathering dust, when it needs to be out there, finding a new owner and being worn.

I did find this pair of gorgeous 1970's Vymura Whisperwood curtains in a charity shop, and promptly snapped them up for just £3.99


I do think it is so pretty, I found a different colourway online, the matching wallpaper actually, and all the fairies had flame red hair!

I've sold a few old bits and bobs on ebay recently, and treated myself to a mac, a lovely Seasalt one (my first Seasalt clothing purchase), it was £29 including postage and is in fantastic condition, the RRP is £120

Not wanting to put a dampener, literally, on summer, but I'm hoping for plenty of chances to wear this!

Next purchase was also an ebay treat, a brand new one.  Trying to get away from black bags, I've treated myself to this Owl print oilcloth cross body bag (sadly, I also purchased a matching purse!) it was just under £11 and there were plenty of colour options, this one is grey, bit blurry but it isn't in real life

Here it is in use

Last bargain is a supermarket clothing purchase.  I do have trouble finding jeans to fit me and I hate proper clothes shopping in real shops.  Can't remember the last time I used a changing room in a shop either, so I do create pretty much a perfect storm for badly fitting clothes and disappointing purchases, hence another reason for my many charity shop purchases!

Anyway, back to the latest bargain, which I haven't worn yet so no photo of me, just a screenshot.

Popped into Aldi for the weekly shop and saw these.  Thought I would take a chance and bought them.  Thankfully, they fit like a glove!  Really pleased as I have thrown out several pairs of ill fitting jeans recently.  They are not thick denim, and are very much jeggings quality, the sizing is very generous, I bought a size 10 but am a 12 usually.

On the subject of throwing things out, I've just cleared this little pile out this week

Several fake fur hats from Next sales about 20 years ago, lots of belts, several tops, and a denim waistcoat, plus the last of my ill fitting jeans.

We've been on a few day trips the past couple of weeks, the first this month was to Brockhampton Estate in Herefordshire.  I can't remember where we set out for, but we soon realised Brockhampton was nearby so called in.  

You may have seen it before on my blog HERE, so here's just a couple of photos

 Brockhampton is a 14th century moated house 

Each room downstairs is dressed in keeping with a different era from the property's history, the kitchen is the latest era, the 50's

I've got a Mason Cash bowl not too dissimilar to that, and a stone hot water bottle (or pig as they are sometimes called) and we have some old stone jars too. We use our large jar to store our washing up brushes in

We popped over to Kenilworth Castle on the 11th March, only someone (that's me) forgot to check opening times so we walked around the perimeter walls, something we have never done before. It was very misty

 By the time we had walked right round to the entrance, the mist was clearing.  Kenilworth must have been quite stunning in its heyday

 Him indoors, deep in thought, walking across the tiltyard

After the disappointment of Kenilworth, we headed towards home, and decided to spend the rest of the day at Baddesley Clinton.  It was brightening up so we wandered around the grounds

Feeding the ducks is almost compulsory, and we always have proper duck food to hand!
Beautiful Baddesley, I could easily live here

 Gorgeous views 

Plenty of daffodils around

 Plenty of sheep too, almost feels like Easter

Almond cake (gluten free, I have to find the recipe!) in the Baddesley cafe, now it really feels like Easter!

On the way home we pass this McLaren dealership, never noticed anyone in there before, but this time I can see they have customers.  Wonder who they are?  The area is home to the odd film star, rock star and footballer, hmm...