Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Feminism & Ageing

Let's face it when one ages, particularly women, you become almost invisible. Society is predicated on youth. Why even our Prime Ministers are getting younger. Gone are the days when old duffers took charge and rallied on regardless. The thought of an old person in charge of a country seems slightly repellent. But why is this the case? How did the fashion change in respect of clothes and views?

I find the ageing process almost out of my control these days with magazine proffering advice on what to wear and what to inject or what to fill. Phrases like '1661', 16 from the back 61 from the front leave me cold. As does that most hideous one 'mutton dressed as lamb'. Why - well these type of comments are aimed directly at women, not men. Women are encouraged to 'age gracefully'. Once you've mastered the fact you can hold your drink and not be seen as a sexual predator or a flirty or a slut then you've got to go all quiet and well dressed.

And being well dressed means well groomed and a specific size to boot. That is the problem there are too many rules, strictures and fashion edicts on what elicits good taste, style and gosh lets not forget the g word - glamour.

Being female and ageing is a potential minefield. On the one hand you are damned if you let yourself go and on the other if you try too hard. I cannot even begin to proffer an answer to this. Yet there is some food for thought.

Images - how women are portrayed in respect of fashion (otherwise the topic is too big!) The Guardian Weekend magazine does an 'All Ages' spread and on the whole (well when the lovely Priscilla Kwateng does it) it portrays a great fashion spread on, as it says on the tin, women of all ages. Granted the models are tall, slim and well put together but it shows differing ages wearing clothes. Equally some designers are branching out and using older women, larger women than a Eur 36 model. There is an attempt to mix things up however small the contribution.

Power - lets face it, who is in charge, Anna, Grace, Hillary, Jess, Lisa, Emmanuelle, to name a few. With their editorial clout the shift has to happen in respect of a more egalitarian view of women and ageing and fashion. I think they are embracing the shift, and the examples should filter through soon. All eyes are on Paris Vogue. What does this mean, well my hunch is that styling will be less about frission of the sexual sort and more situation based of the woman's everyday life. Women will be placed and contextualised against art, architecture and in situations that represent a shift in power. Less Marie Antoinette more Simone de Beauvoir.

Brands - Something has to give regarding mainstream clothes for older women. Please where is the place for, and the list sums up my view on consigning women to the grave before their time, Phase 8, Per Una in M&S, Kaliko, Fenn Wright Mason, and the blandness that is Artigiano. I could name countless middle of the road, blending in to the background examples of women's clothing companies. It is no wonder that the raptures of well cut clothes from Celine et al captured the imagination of women of all ages. It offers hope in cut, cloth and fashion. I don't expect to be buying much in Topshop at 70 but I will still pop in and browse. I grew up with Topshop.

Style - my only view on what people wear can be summed up by 'why can't people get dressed properly'. What I mean i,s pulling on a pair of jeans and a t-shirt doesn't count. Anyone can do that but can they make you look twice at them? I think as one gets older the duty to get noticed or admired should be the motivating force. What example are we setting if we forget to dress, to add details to be adventurous. It is easy to stop caring but I still want to do my hair, nails, add some makeup, pull together an outfit. I don't want to pass my latter age in a pair of slacks, a top and a gilet. I feel I owe it to young women everywhere to be more Miss Havisham than Margaret Thatcher. I'm not going to be prescriptive and say Jackie O, Audrey Hepburn or even Jane Birkin but I do think colour, cut and having fun will go a long way. That's Not My Age does a wonderful analysis of keeping stylish and enjoying it!

The bits! - Okay so you get wrinkles, you backside spreads or goes south a bit and maybe the veins on your legs are going to be more prominent but so what. This is the issue-why does ageing have to be 'corrected'. Men mature with age so they say, women just get old. Okay maybe a varicose vein isn't a great sight but it is an outcome of a life. Interestingly what has happened with the NHS is lots of nice services for women, like the removal of varicose veins has gone. Regardless of the pain the chances are pretty much nil. What does this say about the value of an older woman or any woman? The trends for enhancements gives women options but are they really worth it? Why is there such pressure for women to deny or stave off the ageing process?

As women we should question the effect of us morphing in to an acceptable look for an older women. Why is there such pressure to remain young and attractive. Who determines what attractive is?

I was very naughty as a few weekends ago I snapped an older woman with my Hipstamatic app on my iPhone on the train in to London, because it doesn't flash or make much of a noise!. I was captivated by how lovely she looked. The varying items she was wearing and how well they suited her. She was wearing lots of colours and she exuded glamour. Not show stopping glitzy glamour but the glamour of poise, an elegance of the mind, her age and her life. I felt dreadful being sneaky but I didn't want to seem patronising or intrude. She seemed to represent an example that we don't often see, an older woman in possession of herself. No short cuts, no attempts to be someone other than who she is at the age she is.

Will I succumb to botox or fillers or liposuction? Can I be brave and individual like Dame Vivienne Westwood.? Will I be bold and age disgracefully, not giving a fig for society and its views? Can I be a woman who along with other women are pioneering in attitude, dress and what they do as they become part of old age? What do you feel about ageing?

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Oh SuperScrimpers

In anticipation of tomorrows new series called SuperScrimpers on Channel 4 at 8:30pm, I bring you young Mr Waste Not Want Not himself, the petit garcon. His current project is growing his own herbs (legitimate ones of course). 247Social Media contacted the petit to find out if he would be interested in encouraging others in the world of fending for themselves, a sort of make do brand ambassador. All things considered being 5 years old is not merely about play. His current tasks include learning to read and chopping bananas and strawberries to make smoothies - under supervision of course. He learnt the hard way about onions making you cry when he chopped the spring onions for the salmon fishcakes.

The petit garcon wished to portray a balanced view of his life of forward planning on the making do front, with his love of cricket. This explains the appearence of two different bats in the photos. He was a bit disappointed that he was only sent mint to grow but is hopeful of his seed planting in his handy herb growing bag with feed.

Monday, 28 March 2011

What I wore on Saturday night

It is a hard week ahead of last minute work before I finish on Thursday. My mind is filled with a very long to do list so I've gone for an obvious post on what I wore! Saturday was birthday party invite central and I took the petit garcon to his on Saturday afternoon and got back home in time to change for mine on Saturday night (not my party but the one I was going too).

Just as I was going out of the door I ran back upstairs to take a quick photo of my outfit. I really love this skirt which is an Antik Batik buy from eBay.

Antik Batik sequin skirt eBay, Velvet jacket given to me by a client, black long sleeve tee Isabella Oliver 365, black tights John Lewis & black Pierre Hardy for Gap shoes (2008)

Saturday, 26 March 2011

High Street Pick of the Week - The 2011 Style File

No self respecting 30s or 70s girl would be without her palazzo pants. But what to wear with these super sassy trousers. Well, the sun has been shining so forward thinking is the order of the day. I'm still living my island of Mustique fantasy and am thinking day to night.

By day wear it poolside on its own and by night just add the palazzo pants.

Friday, 25 March 2011

Old red legs

Yesterday I was teaching and since I talk about colour and blather on about primary, secondary and complimentary colours as well as light reflection and refraction, I always make sure I wear a bit of colour. But, I'm having a complete graphic moment with my love of black and white and only want to wear a black or white palette. When I'm wearing neutrals I make sure I put colour elsewhere.

Earlier in the week I picked up a dress in Gap for £9.99 and decided to wear it yesterday with my red tights which I bought two years ago and wore a lot but then have left them alone. I've included a photo someone took of me in Feb 2010 at my MA showcase evening. I'm on the phone, it is tucked in between my right shoulder and ear and putting some things out, which explains my stance.

DVF dress, John Lewis red tights, Clarks purple suede shoes

Then here I am yesterday morning before going off to work. Please note the non Agent Provocateur mules in the background as pointed out to me by teawithonesugarplease on twitter!

Gap dress, John Lewis red tights & Zara shoes

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Elizabeth Taylor, one dress, one hell of a woman

It is hard to imagine Elizabeth Taylor as anything other than glamorous and living life to the full.
Her outstanding beauty and her acting ability made her a true Hollywood star. Her contribution to fashion and celebrity were two fold. I'm sharing two extracts from my writing on Elizabeth Taylor.

The first is about Elizabeth's wearing of a garment designed by Edith Head:

'The new market of the teenager was deemed a 1950s revolution and Edith Head had her first success with the sweetheart dress designed for Elizabeth Taylor in A Place in the Sun (1951). The real significance in terms of the costuming for the film is the dress Taylor wore in the pool room scene - a strapless boned bodice top with an enormous white tulle skirt over pale green satin and white violets covering the bust. Edith Head won the Oscar for best costume in the black and white film category and the dress captured the public imagination so much so that every prom had many an Elizabeth Taylor. In fact one could argue that this dress and Elizabeth Taylor has defined the look for proms and brides ever since 1951.'

The second is about how Taylor and Burton defined modern day celebrity:

'Ellis Cashmore would argue that with regard to celebrity and modern culture the earthquake that propelled the cult of celebrity into a new phase was an Italian photographer, Marcello Geppetti and his experimentation with a ‘new piece of technology: the zoom image of Taylor and Burton...Not just any old image either. Taylor lay on the deck of the yacht...Burton was craned across her body in an embrace that was unmistakably that of lovers’. (Cashmore 2006:19)

In 1962, the scandal of two married person with children, elicited outrage across the world and in particular from the Vatican. It was not so much the detail of the Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton affair, rather the loss of control by the Hollywood publicity machine, suddenly the demarcations between public and private life were gone.'

All that ground breaking stuff and her breath taking beauty means the death of Elizabeth Taylor is a big event and a very sad one too.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

The long & short of it

Skirts are having a moment. The cut and length of skirts are at a key point in fashion where all lengths and all shapes are an option (if anything the thigh high short skirt is looking a tad dated). Take the pleated skirts wars as personified by Whistles.

The short

The long

Which one would you choose and what length of skirt do you prefer?

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

The best dress

I love dresses. If funds permitted I would buy one for every day of the week. Indulgent, frivolous but true. Of course I would probably not be so extravagant if I bought this dress from Valentino as I might take on a Miss Havisham persona and wear it every day. At £2,500 it is in my dreams!

Even though I have no money I always go in to all the designer shops in Sloane Street, Bond Street, Mount St, the concessions in Harrods and Selfridges everywhere. I love to see how the garments are in reality. In truth I'm am often disappointed by the reality but Prada and Valentino never disappoint. However this year Valentino steals the show. The Valentino shop in Sloane Street is beautiful in respect of interior, layout but mainly the clothes. And the staff are always very nice and well mannered in there, something I suspect Valentino has insisted on.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Happenings, mentions & counting down...

Busy week and a bit a head for Mrs MDS as it is count down to the 31st of March when I'm officially not a stylist and become purely a writer. Having said that a few people are still twisting my arm for some projects! I worked on Saturday for the last time. My client laughed as I did a quick jump for joy, she is quite sad as I am her own personal creative director. I was relaxed and wore the eBay See By Chloe top - although in Prada it looked really tame next to the glory of the Muiccia stripe. And in Valentino I basically looked like a dress down tramp!

Tonight I will be donning my beauty and skincare hat after teaching styling all day as I hot foot it to The Greyhound for 7:30pm at Kew Green for an Arbonne meeting. A lovely lady called Aldis is coming over from America to talk about the new Essentials products and the business in general. Of course I'm excited because I need all the help I can get to motivate me and help me with my new venture, which is supporting my writing.

Also my stylist friend Isobel will be running a NHJ Taste of Style evening on Monday 11 April, which I've promised to mention for her as she will be joined by the lovely Katie Allum, a great makeup artist who is now blogging and you can see her tutorials on her blog What Katie Loves.

And finally I've got all my clothes to sort out. I need to re-order my wardrobe, put some things on ebay and the rest to charity. Once I've completed this task I will feel ready for finishing my current script by July.

Come to Kew if you want to join me in my clean and green products crusade, treat yourself to an style evening out in April and mainly enjoy every minute this week as not long now until the clocks spring forward.

PS I'm dreadfully aware of Libya at the moment and what with Japan, all I can say is I'm blogging as normal as to some extent life does go on, but I do so mindful of the world events. I don't think just because this is a fashion/style blog it negates me from being able to acknowledge or be anxious of others suffering.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

High Street Pick of the Week - The 2011 Style File

No self respecting Island of Mustique 1970s chick can be without her kaftan, think Princess Margaret, the groovy royal. I know, I should be all about the Jagger... Bianca but well lets say we give the royals a go after all it is their year.

Too often high street kaftans draw upon the boho chick look (think Kate & Sienna) but luckily East have captured the essence of the late 60s early 70s with a retro print kaftan retailing handily at near 1970s prices (well in comparison to the designer alternatives) for £29. It is a gorgeous print and will be in store soon. This is the stockist number to find out when 0208 877 6543

Beach boutique retro print kaftan £29

Friday, 18 March 2011

Film, Fashion & Consumption

Normally Friday is all about the fun factor, the weekend is upon us and our hair is being let down. However this Friday is about Film & Fashion and how they affect patterns of consumer culture.

Look at any fashion blog and read any interview with a designer and there will be a cinematic reference. Belle De jour, Breakfast at Tiffany's are the obvious ones, my personal favourite is L'eclisse. You will have your own!

Now I don't expect you all to be rushing out to dive headlong in to academic discourse on this subject matter but if you are a film or fashion student or you are looking for something more meaty and less about dictators or bankers wives than Vogue then Film, Fashion & Consumption (Intellect Press) is for you. Less pretty pictures more words, it will challenge your grey cells and absorb you in the trappings of cultural capital.

The journal is edited by Pamela Church Gibson from the London College of Fashion and the associate editors are Hollywood Catwalk author Tamar Jeffers McDonald and Central College St Martin's Alastair O'Neill.

Belle de jour (1967)

Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961)

L'eclisse (1962)

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Style inspiration for summer

The graphic boldness of black and white had been languishing in the style stakes of late but this summer expect to see more looks and outfits which pair black with white and vice versa!

One of the best examples of how to combine black on white was the costume Audrey Hepburn wore to Ascot in the film My Fair Lady (1964). Cecil Beaton designed the costumes and the Ascot outfit is stunning.

I've noticed a few designers being inspired by this creation with garments they've designed for the high street.
Principles by Ben De Lisi dress £35 (not in store yet)

I'm going to be mixing up the black and white when summer arrives - how about you?

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

The Make Do barometer is high

The recent high of walking away from a magpie shopping moment continues. Why I even dug out some khaki shorts I was giving to charity to dye them a coral colour so I can wear them this summer.

I was sent an email which I deleted by mistake which was an offer from a company for me and petit garcon to plant and grow herbs from seeds. How sweet was that and how annoying I pressed the delete button on my iphone when I was intending to press the home button.

The bread making continues, after 3 years we have graduated to a bread making machine and Mr MDS is in charge of its operation. He does very fancy pants things with it including adding seeds and setting the timer so we wake up to fresh bread. I like it when Mr MDS uses Doves Farm wholemeal flour, it produces the best wholesome bread, but he sneaks in a white loaf every now and again.

Another new money saving effort in these hard times comes in the form of alcoholic beverage. Not that I'm advocating drinking! However should you fancy a tipple then we recently tried Crabbie's alcoholic ginger beer and I have to say, not only is it cheaper than wine, less alcoholic (4% proof) but it is also refreshing. I couldn't imaging being able to drink alcoholic ginger beer in the manner in which I quaff white wine down so I'm thinking good for the hips too.

And the MDS purse strings are fairly blossoming with my spring summer bag purchase costing me £10.49 on eBay. It is a vintage (possible late 50s early 60s) woven handbag and is in a cheery turquoise blue . It also has the addition of a plastic wallet on a chain which is incredibly handy for my oyster card.

What with more sunshine I can almost smell the roses.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Bold eBay buy

The beauty of eBay is you can meander around and discover items you didn't mean to find and find a use for them! I still find there are plenty of good bargains to be had. Conversely when I'm selling it is a bit of a pain as things go for less than my greedy little mitts would want but I stick to the auction element of it on principal. I feel better if I sell honestly rather than setting a reserve or buy now price.

My recent eBay bargain was a See by Chloe top for £5.19. It is a size 16 but isn't that big and it doesn't matter as it will look fine loser and I can belt it as well. It was the perfect find completely by chance and I was taking a risk regarding the size. But I was drawn to the boldness of the stripes. It is perfect for this season with the influence of the big and bright Prada stripe bearing down on the high street. For £5.19 it is a cheap way to buy in to a trend that won't last!

What has been your best recent eBay purchase? Do you think eBay still provides bargains or is it getting overpriced in your experience?

Monday, 14 March 2011

Maxi, Midi, Mini - Boots that walk

Some of us are able to walk in high heels and some of us are stompers who can't. I fall in to the latter category. I can do taxi to table in high heels. I can do a party where no walking is required and I can dance like a mad thing in heels and then I drop. And I have to walk, walk to get train, tube, bus or just plain walk. Of course the trouble with flats is they prevent one from longer length garments and in London I do find floor grazing clothes an issue. It makes me feel ill if they are making contact with the pavement.

Boots for walking the streets of London town need to have enough of a heel to allow for a lean line of trouser, skirt or dress and be conducive to the stomp.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

People first

It is hard to blog about anything as the continued crisis of quakes, tsunami and the aftermath continues in Japan.

image: BBCi

We do all have to go about our daily lives but it doesn't take a minute to make a donation and forgo one fashion purchase or beauty product to help via the British Red Cross

Mr MDS woefully pointed out when told to make a donation that Japan wasn't a third world country. I stressed that everyone needed help in times of such magnitude! And it is true, none of us could anticipate such events. As BHB pointed out, no one is immune in the Pacific Ring of Fire.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

High Street Pick of the Week - The 2011 Style File

The devil is in the detail. When it comes to 30s and 70s style clothes the cut and fluidity of the garments requires good underwear. Those 40s and 50s fancy pants won't cut the mustard and as for the most modern of undies - nah!

All hail the dependable M&S with these light control high rise floral lace full briefs. Get them while you can as they are currently on sale in stores and have sold out on line.

Friday, 11 March 2011

The best things in life are free..

..Well, mainly don't cost much. Now allowing for some magnetic displacement due to barefoot walking plus the fact I have been bored witless by twitter and fashion #nyfw #lfw #mfw #pfw tweets (though I will except Hilary Alexander & Times Fashion from this, for good factual stuff and some hilarious, droll tweets) the following post is a shocker! Yes stop press Mrs MDS went out with a ton (£100 in proper English) and came back with ...a ton. The money in question was 'neutral' earned from ebay sales and I have had my eye on a few things so I wanted to buy.

After my Topshop pleated skirt debacle, nice skirt dreadful quality, I feel compelled to get the perfect pleated skirt to last me for ever. The Whistles midi one in taupe is enough of a maybe Chloe number for me to covert. However, it is sold out but hurrah I'm on a wait list. The last wait list I was on was the Anya Hindmarch 'I'm not a plastic bag' - gosh nostalgic times hey!

My old LCF chums and I met to have a bite to eat in our usual, Carluccio's St Christopher's Place. Why change from a winning formula, all though I did surprise by breaking away from my usual of ravioli or pasta con fungi. I never knew I had the ability to go off piste when ordering. All these things are amounting to change and are worrying me.

After we dispensed with retail, styling and things that have gone wrong on a commercial video shoot gossip we nipped in to Reiss on Barrett St as they had free champagne and 10% off evening. Lie down for this one....I didn't even lift a glass of champagne to my lips. Then I tried on my two items from Reiss on my summer clothes list and was over them the moment I had the satisfaction of the look staring back at me from the mirror. It was incredible, my magpie instincts have been cured. All I need to do is try the items on in the shop, admire for a moment and then hand then back. It is a genius cure for which there is no explanation other than all my efforts to truly make do over the last 5 years have finally culminated and the result is A++. I feel like I have graduated from something in to a secret club. A club where wisdom rules over fashion. It is as if I have Diana Veerland on my shoulders whispering things in my head like ' The only real elegance is in the mind; if you've got that, the rest really comes from it'. Or when she famously told Maria Helvin not to drink champagne as it would give her fat hips!

It was true I went home lighter, no champagne bubbles on my hips and no unnecessary bag and only my purse was still heavy with folding.

I'm sure it is due to following my hearts desire of writing and not struggling with a job I find easy and am good at but have no passion for (well, any more/currently). I've also had the joy of being able to pick up the petit garcon from school and spend time with him in a way I'd never have imagined. Because until now it has been rush, rush, rush in all areas. I actually got to make pancakes this year and they were delicious. I've also got the dog to look after again and seeing sunrises at 6am are a new factor. The dog wakes me up to take him out for a walk! I suppose some know it all would say it is all about getting your balance right in life, but you know I like the thought of finding your own rhythm as a better metaphor. Balance suggests order and superiority. I'd like to think I can go 'crazy', be hedonistic, have fun and not think of myself 'knowing' better than others as we all want things, spend money we shouldn't, do things we shouldn't and have regrets, that's life.

American pancake with blueberries & ice cream, the petit garcon is horrified by good old fashioned pancakes with lemon and sugar, I blame that Jamie Oliver!

And as I was on the train home I had the misfortune to read about one of the girls who I used to see at LCF who graduated when I did, she was an undergraduate, had died in tragic circumstances of the party sort when drugs and drink are involved after London Fashion Week and I thought actually Diana Veerland was a wise old bird, she is not a bad voice to have nagging me.

When I got home I opened my wardrobe and said 'hello friends' as I'm going to make the most of them and save my pennies for another day, even a rainy one.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Capsule wardrobe picks from Isabella Oliver

Here are my picks from the Isabella Oliver Spring collection!

Isabella Oliver Spring preview

This is the first of two videos starring yours truly from the Isabella Oliver spring preview back in a freezing November.

Here is a taster of the evening and later today I will share my capsule wardrobe choices.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

The Barefoot Muse

The word muse is much overrated and over used. However, the muse I'm talking of is inspiration based not specific to a person. I mentioned briefly my barefoot walking obsession yesterday and the fact I tried it on the weekend. Here is the photographic evidence after I'd climbed a hill and was walking along the ridge.

I do feel quite knackered at this point it was a very steep hill but my feet feel wonderful. Surprisingly my feet were not particularly cold from the experience of being barefoot and exposed to the elements. It was a cold day and the wind was particularly biting without sunshine. Yet, and forgive the glamour of the rolled up flared jeans, my feet didn't seem to notice the cold. I'm not sure how long it would have taken until they did but I got bored of carrying my wellies so I did put them back on.

My point, in respect of this post and being barefoot, is I feel fashion has long been based around the shoe. Or the shoe somehow completes a look. I don't think for one moment we could go barefoot all year round but I'm quite interested in exploring options for walking shoes that you can take off at opportune moments which give you the freedom to walk on the natural ground but can be put on for the man made bits.

Nike have of course developed the Nike Free to go in tandem to barefoot running and I would love to try them and see if they do give you the same sense of being barefoot but with protection.

If a fashion designer worked to create a collection based around being barefoot and free I would be very interested to see what their vision would be. Of course I'm not thinking tribal or hippy that would be predictable and dull. I can actually imagine myself walking barefoot in a Vivienne Westwood number with aran sweater and red lipstick!

Vivienne Westwood Gold Label trinket silk corset dress £2,290 at Net-A-Porter

I have a complete styling shoot in my head based around barefoot walking and might have to action it somehow!

Monday, 7 March 2011

Make Do Countryfile

The moment I left the house at 6:45am I reverted to me. I was a single gal and on a road trip. Normally any travel is en famille or for styling work. But on Saturday I had the car all to myself and I was on the way for a weekend in Somerset.

First stop on my adventure the Little Chef Popham. It is the first time I've set foot in one since my days of driving to Aberystwyth and stopping off at the Little Chef in Builth Wells. Of course I wouldn't be stopping off here if it weren't for Heston Blumenthal's intervention and redesign of the menu and interior. Handily the mirrored back wall provided me with a substitute wardrobe mirror in my bedroom!

I wore my French Connection flared jeans, a Dolce & Gabbana patterned silk shirt with my knitted poncho from an evening market stall in the Travesti area of Rome.

I settled down with my Guardian ordered a black coffee and orange juice and waited for the arrival of my bacon sarnie - my treat of the year. Although having not eaten one for years I can't say would be hurrying back to eat one again. The bacon was very good but the white bread was more sliced manufactured than proper bloomer. I had to ask for brown sauce as the offered condiments, probably according to Heston, were tomato ketchup or mayonnaise. I'm strictly a brown sauce girl or tommie k at a push.
The sleeve detail of the Dolce & Gabbana shirt ( a TK Maxx find years ago) I thought the red was very jolly inside as the decor was so light and airy. Normally the red clashed dreadfully with the dullness of the usual Little Chef offering.

It was a pleasant 40 minutes or so spent reading and having breakfast on my own and I would do it again. But I had to get back on the A303. I was driving along enjoying the views and the fact it was so much nicer driving on an A road than a motorway. I though that A roads were the new black of the road travelling season especially when I chanced upon Stonehenge. I was amazed. So much so I took a detour off my route to go to Stonehenge car park and take a peek through the fence. I'd actually never seen or been to Stonehenge before.

My view of Stonehenge, the first sight of it on the hill from the A303 travelling south was spectacular. It was actually freezing at 8:30am and I was amused greatly by the fact someone was playing bongos and chanting inside the circle. Apart from myself there were 4 others, 2 of whom were Polish men who live in Liverpool on route to Southhampton. I know this because I asked them to take a photo of me. The photograph was so bad after I showed my friends I deleted it. My eyes were closed and my cheeks were at their chipmunk best, I looked like a 12 year old Polish girl on a school trip!

When I finally got in to deepest darkest Somerset on the Dorset border I joyfully saw sheep. I couldn't stop on the A303 to take the jumping lambs so when I hit a lane I thought I'd nip out and snap a photo because it felt so spring like and I was at one with the countryside. Actually the sheep and her lamb looked very disdainfully at me and if they were speaking plain English I think the translation might of been 'go away'.

'Hasn't she gone yet!'

Upon arrival at The Queens Arms I dumped my bag in my room, nabbed the lovely Jelly Tots and settled down with the girls to catch up on all their tales. We set off at 11:30am for our planned hike across the hills to the next village. Our destination was another pub and at 1:40pm we arrived for lunch.

Outside the pub was an amazing well decorated retro looking large shed. Where a Mr Harold F. Miles provides three services of carpentry, decorating and funeral directing. Harold is your man if you want a well crafted nicely painted coffin. I was suitable impressed with his ability to turn his hand to a few tasks, I immediately felt quite comfortable with my forthcoming patchwork quilt of dabbling in things and realised 'doing things' is the new way rather than a fixed job spec. Of course the building on its own didn't look as good without a model in the frame so Claire happily obliged as my country model in a Bond girl-esque pose.

Some of us decided to do another walk back to the Queens Arms which started off nicely enough but culminated with a big hill climb.

The stylish stylist Isobel Kershaw does nothing by halves and 'just because I'm in the country it doesn't mean standards have to slip and I'll wear wellies ' so that explains the muddy high heeled boots she stomped around in for miles.

I actually decided to try the barefoot walking thing as we ascended the hill. I've been intrigued by it for ages after reading about a barefoot shepherdess in Cumbria. I took off my socks and wellies and did it. It was utterly amazing. Isobel has a photo of me doing it which I haven't got yet but I will return to this subject again.

The climb was steep and the views across Somerset were exhilarating.

More sheep! I'd forgotten how much I liked them. I remember getting put off liking sheep when there was that dreadful Shaun the Sheep phase.

The Queens Arms is happy to supply you with a whole pig should you be so inclined.

I will miss the real fire.

And the sight of a very thoughtful hospitality, particularly the Sunday morning help yourself to a Bloody Mary with fresh horseradish to grate in to it!