Thursday, 28 May 2015

#photoanhour day and a trip to Helensburgh


It was that time again on Saturday, Photo an Hour Day.  I sort of over-participated this time - we were off on a day trip to Helensburgh using our other set of free Scotrail tickets and I'd never been before so there were even more pictures taken than usual...  Let's start at the beginning though, with the above picture.  I was up at 8am and sort of half heartedly getting ready for the gym.  Here I am pre hair brushing.


9am I was on a treadmill, so the post gym trainer discarding session is pictured instead.

10am I was showered and ready for food.  My new Empire turned up!  Oh, another super hero issue.  Super.


11am and it was time to attempt a hairstyle, then attempt to photograph said hairstyle.  This was pretty much the best of the bunch... (I did two half plaits, tied them together, did that again then sort of twisted it and stuck in a couple of Spin Pins.  Plaits and Spin Pins are my go-to when I want to get that annoyingly thick hair to stay where it's supposed to.)



Noon - look who's here!  Tam got the train to mine, dumped his bag then we went back down for the Helensburgh train.  I love that I can get to the sea in less than an hour from the west end of Glasgow - I'm even wearing my new favourite dress ever to celebrate our seaside trip!  We had the whole carriage to ourselves most of the way, and I alternated between knitting and spotting fun things out the window.



1pm and we were strolling along the front at Helensburgh.  There were many charity shops to keep us occupied, and even an awesome wool shop, where I picked up a bunch of New Lanark yarn on sale and had a nice chat with the lady working there.  I may have also found some wool in the charity shop...  Three skeins of lace weight yarn for £2.99 was not to be ignored though!  There's no label on it though so I can't look up the exact wool content, but I'm sure it'll make a nice scarf anyway.

After the shopping we were ready for lunch, and when we spotted deep fried goats cheese on the menu at the local tapas place, La Barca, it was a no brainer.  I got myself a glass of sangria to really let the holiday feeling soak in, and we snacked on salty battered cod, crispy potatoes with tomato salsa, olive bread with oil and the aforementioned goats cheese.  It was bloody brilliant.  If the shopping hadn't done it, the food sure did - we'll be going back to Helensburgh soon.


What time are we at now?  I reckon it was about 3.30pm here, since we spotted these hilarious gates on the way to find a craft fair that finished at 4pm.  It wasn't up to much, but I did snag us some home baking on the way out.


Oh hi.  Just testing the effectiveness of that circle skirt.  It passed the twirling test.  (I didn't.  Apparently I now get motion sickness at any kind of sudden movement.)



4pm and we were wandering around this beautiful garden of remembrance.



We spotted these post boxes before getting the train back around 4.30pm.  Good to see Helensburgh has its priorities right about their status in the world.


6pm - Home!  And so tired!  Starting a day of adventure with a four mile run was maybe not my smartest idea this week.  Still, after a lie down with our books, we recovered somewhat.


7pm and the laptop is on.  The plan was to make dinner and watch some Netflix, but then we realised I was short a baking dish and my flatmate reminded us that Eurovision was on, so the plan got changed to ordering pizza and TV.  Tam gamely sat through Eurovision since I pointed out that his hatred for this was probably equal to mine for The Chase, and I do get made to watch that on occasion.  Forced compromise, the cornerstone of any good relationship.


8, 9 & 10pm - Pizza arrived!  Mine was ok, but there was nowhere to request half cheese online, so I made do with picking a lot of it off.  Then I got down to the serious task of tweeting all my opinions on Eurovision - I hated everyone until Serbia, then immediately afterwards I decided that actually, Norway was better.  Honestly though, even Graham Norton couldn't save it from being beyond dreadful this year (and I love him) so we called it a night after all the countries had performed.  Surprise surprise, I found out the next day that the favourite to win had in fact done so, and I was glad I chose sleep over TV.  At least I got in some good knitting time on Saturday...

Thanks to Jane and Louisa for hosting again!  Who else took part?  Leave me links below!

:)

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

80s dress, 60s bag

vintage bag grans heirloom 60s

vintage 80s black dress belt spot shoes

vintage 80s black dress belt

vintage bag grans trench coat tall

Last Wednesday, I took a random day off work.  I have a bunch of holidays to use up and I do enjoy pottering around on a week day when everyone else is at work.  And potter I did.  I wrote some blog posts, took some pictures, did some knitting, watched some movies and bought (and ate) some yummy cake.  I also went a wander to the Polish shop to buy Cheetos (pizza flavour crisps!) and was rumbled when the girl behind the counter said something to me and I eloquently replied 'eh...', to which she said 'hello!' and I apologised for being the ignorant Scot buying their delicious food.

Anyway, it was a lovely day and I totally didn't need the tights I was originally wearing, but I'm forever pessimistic about the temperature and stuck them on anyway.  Then wrenched them off as soon as I got in the door.  This season confuses me and my legs.  My little black dress is an 80s number from the charity shop a couple of months ago - I keep forgetting I have it but I always feel a bit disco-tastic when I put it on, never a bad thing!  It may not be as beautiful as some of my purchases but I can't be the floral queen all the time I guess...  The bag was my grans and I totally love it, although it's a bit small for everyday use, which is probably not a bad thing going by the state of my current handbag.  I think the story behind it is that my grandpa brought it back from somewhere he was stationed during his time in the Navy (maybe Singapore?) and my gran made me promise not to get rid of it.  Not much chance of that happening!

Who else has a priceless family heirloom waiting to be used?

trench coat - Topshop Tall via eBay
dress - charity shop
belt - charity shop
shoes - Old Navy
bag - inherited

:)

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

A boat trip to the Isle of May

puffin rock isle of may

I think I can sum up my feelings about the Isle of May in one sentence - one of the best places I've ever visited with one of the worst journeys I've ever experienced.  I still maintain it was worth it, because PUFFINS, but looking at the photos still makes me feel queasy all over again... (speaking of photos, prepare for an overload!)

seals popping out water

sheep hat shetland wool week isle of may boat
Tam's mum got her hat finished!
male eider duck isle of may

ancient old lighthouse isle of may

facing the wind blowing away isle of may

First things first - we got the May Princess boat from Anstruther to the Isle of May, and the journey took about an hour each way, with 2.5 hours on the island.  I chose to sit inside both times because in the battle of me versus the elements (wind being my number one enemy), I'm never gonna win.  Tam's aunt and uncle sat with me on the way out - Tam and his mum bravely took a seat outside, only to end up with soaked feet - and the crossing was pretty choppy, although I perked up when we pulled into the harbour and saw all those seals popping out of the water to get a look at the boat.  We played the squealing tourist role to perfection.

With our feet back on dry land, we ate our picnic, surveyed the map, and had the pleasure of catching various pairs of gulls, um, right in the middle of mating season.  So...yeah.  Fun.  After lunch it was off to find the puffins!  The boat docks around the back of the island next to the small visitor centre and toilets (the only facilities on the island)and we decided to walk to the north end first then circle back round to the south.  On the way we spotted the original lighthouse, dating from the 1600s, and next to that was a much more modern version, the location of my wind tunnel moves.  Seriously, lean forward as far as you dare and the wind will hold you up!

Further along the path we found them.  Puffins.  Puffins everywhere.  All the puffins!

staring puffins hanging out rocks isle of may

flying puffins isle of may

puffins cliff waves isle of may

party puffins cliff isle of may

pair of puffins cliff isle of may

puffins cliffs isle of may

My friend had loaned me her long distance lens again and it was invaluable for catching shots of all the birds.  Not so much on the action shots (it's really slow and temperamental with focusing), although I did get some great photos when they were perched on the cliff edges and outcropping.  Puffins nest in underground burrows, and the eider ducks had theirs at ground level, so we had to stick strictly to the paths when we were moving around.  This wasn't an issue since there were plenty of spots to crouch down or manoeuvre around to get a better look, but we did have to watch our feet when walking since the ducks like to nest on the sides of the paths.

Finally getting to see puffins in real life was so fantastic, an amazing feeling.  They're such graceful flyers but kinda funny looking up close.  In a ridiculously cute way of course.  And they got even cuter when Tam told me the baby puffins are called Pufflings.  Dead from cute overload.

sea isle of may looking out

eider duck nesting isle of may

rusted canisters isle of may

matching hats knitted sheep shetland wool week

flatlay animal bird skulls broken beach china teacup

guillemots birds isle of may sea

birds flying over the sea at isle of may

Eventually we left them to it and walked along to the other end of the island, going by a man made loch and the ranger houses.  I'd expected to see more puffins dotted around but each species of bird seemed to keep firmly to its own spot.  Down the other end were shags, guillemots, razorbills, kittiwakes and some more seals.  We even saw some baby shags in the nest, and a couple preening each other.  Now why can't I get Tam do my hair?

After a couple of hours on the island, it was back to the boat and out to sea again.  This time Tam sat inside with me while the others were on the upper outside deck.  When we left, I was mentally preparing myself for another wobbly journey but I just kept telling myself it would be over quickly.  Well, it wasn't.  It was also much worse than the outward trip, with the crew handing out sick bags and waves pouring over the boat.  On three occasions I thought I just might die, and all hopes I had of becoming a real life James Bond one day were dashed in the instant I realised I may throw up after all (I didn't. Just.)  Still, I made it to dry land again, and even managed a fish supper from our favourite chippy an hour later.  After spending the rest of the weekend feeling sick and dizzy though, I definitely can't claim 'I don't get seasick' any more...  Tam's mum, on the other hand, thought it was the best fun ever being up there as the waves rolled up, so we'll call her Jane Bond from now on.

On that note, I'll end by saying that, contrary to appearances, I would go back in a heartbeat.  PUFFINS.

isle of may boat may princess

 :)

Monday, 25 May 2015

A Tall Girl's Guide to Second Hand Shopping


If I had £1 for every time someone's said to me 'Ooh I'd love to be tall like you!' I'd be retired to the seaside by now.  Alas, life isn't quite that fair.  I used to be able to give a scathing response along the lines of 'Sure, until you had to buy clothes, because nothing ever fits right!'  Of course, that's hardly a valid argument nowadays - even though we're still nowhere near winning the fight over Petite and Plus on the high street, we CAN find clothes all over the internet that will fit just fine.  But what about those of us on a tight budget?  Or the ones who like to try before we buy?  Or even the ones looking for something that little bit different than whatever fashion tells us is in trend this season?  That's where the second hand stores come in.  It's still not as simple as having the run of the whole shop, but with a bit of imagination it can be just as satisfying as shopping anywhere else.  I've put together a few tips I use when I'm out shopping and they've served me well up til now.

1 - Shop the Menswear
If anyone's been reading my blog for any length of time, you'll know that menswear is a key part of my wardrobe.  I'd hazard a guess that around two thirds of my knits come from that section of the store, and with good reason.  Men's clothing gets added length.  Sleeves and body are designed for practical coverage.  Have you ever seen a men's sweater with short sleeves?  Me neither. (That's not a thing, is it?  Although I'm betting they likely exist out there in the world somewhere...)  Obviously, they're not cut to be fitted to us ladies, but I like a bit of over-sizing in my tops anyway, so I tend to look out for anything from a Medium up in base layers.  For coats and jackets, I'd aim for the smaller sizes for a more cosy fit.

It's not just top-half clothing that we can steal from the boys either.  Back when I was doing a physical job and had to wear black work trousers, I wore men's cargo trousers after reaching a dead end in my search for a long enough ladies version.  In terms of sizing, I just went up a waist size and bought the longest length (34' inside leg) and they fit fine.  In fact I still wear them for camping and the odd outdoor adventure.  

menswear sweaters secondhand shopping
some of my favourite menswear bargains
2 - Scan the bottom of the rails first
For the ladies that want to stick firmly to their side of the store however, my next tip is an extra useful one.  You see those long rows of jeans, skirts and dresses?  Don't look at coat hanger level - train your eyes further down to hem height.  I learned to do this when I was on the hunt for jeans in TK Maxx years ago (their longest ones always skimmed the floor) and when I worked in retail I'd arrange our stockrooms by garment length to keep things tidy.  Chances are, any long length trousers will be dragging on the floor or at least hanging longer than the others surrounding them.  There also seems to be a lot of mini dresses in the second hand stores I frequent which means this tip gets put to use often!  It really does speed up the search process.

The same rules apply for tops and coats and, if you're feeling extra vigilant, it can even be used for spotting the longest sleeves too.  As I said before, men's tops are my preferred style but I might have a quick browse through the tshirts if I have time - the odd long one sometimes appears!  I even have a couple of plus size ones too - when I say scan the rails, I mean ALL the rails, right up to the biggest garments.  Sometimes going up a couple of sizes can make all the difference.

3 - Try it on!
I'm about to really blow everyone's mind here with my most important piece of advice, so listen up!  If the option is there, TRY EVERYTHING ON.  That skirt that looks long enough on the hanger may not cover your butt when you're kneeling down, or that oversize coat could still have standard length sleeves.  This is especially useful where vintage clothing is concerned (mens and ladies) since sizing seems to change all the time, depending on brands and time periods etc.  Although I'm not too bad at judging my body shape, something could still fit oddly when it's actually being worn.  I've probably rejected about half the garments I'd planned to buy after being able to try them on, so it's worth taking the time to save money in the long run.  Second hand clothing may have a lower cost than new but if it doesn't work for you, it's still money wasted!

4 - Ask yourself 'Can it be altered?'
This is a fairly well worn rule of thrift shopping no matter what size you are, but it's a good one to keep in mind nonetheless.  Have you ever found an item with potential but something about it is slightly...off?  The sleeves are hitting you above the wrist but the waist fits perfectly?  The length makes your legs looks stumpy?  Consider if making a small alteration will make things just right.  I've often shortened midi and maxi length skirts if they fit well otherwise, and all the dresses below had adjustments done to the sleeves - some basic sewing skills are all that's required.  If it's a more complex item but you still can't leave it behind, consider if a tailor could transform it for you.  I'm a pretty competent sewist, but I don't think I'd feel comfortable messing around with a coat, for example, so I'd pass it on to someone with better skills.  Even the cost of alterations is usually still cheaper than buying a new item.

vintage dress floral secondhand shopping

5 - Accessorize it.
If all else fails, and clothing is just not to be found to fit those lovely long limbs, then head to the non clothing area of the store and go nuts.  Extra height means we can get away with extra big adornments - a wide brimmed hat, a huge tote bag, a loooong necklace, a chunky scarf - so go nuts.

The only thing I've never had much luck with in second hand stores is shoes, although I'd say my size 7s are a slightly odd one, in that they're bigger than average (if I was a 5 I'd have the run of every shoe in the shop, I swear) but not so big that they're the ones left at the end of every sale.  This is where being long in limb AND foot comes in handy - the bigger sizes are out there and they're waiting for the tall ladies to claim them!

6 - Luck.
That's right, my final tip involves...being lucky.  I'm really selling this, aren't I?  I'll stand by it though.  Sometimes (and by that I mean, once in a blue moon) something wonderful will happen, all the stars will align and you'll enter a store to find that a fellow tall girl has donated part of her wardrobe.  AND SHE WAS YOUR SIZE.  And all the searching will have been worth it.  I can say with certainty that the number of Tall specific items I've seen in charity shops is definitely in the single digits, and the number of times I've found something in my size was once, but it was glorious.  So hang in there!  (I briefly told the story of the glorious find here)


Did I cover everything, or is there a top tip that I missed?  I really enjoy writing useful posts like this and I thought it might be fun to make it into a little series, so if anyone wants to guest post for me and share another perspective of second hand shopping, feel free to email me or let me know in the comments.

:)

Friday, 22 May 2015

All the reds

red jeans long tall sally wool sweater EWM

red jeans long tall sally wool sweater EWM

Burgundy red loafers marks and spencer

Another day, another charity shop bargain.  And I guess I could add, another sweater.  I seem to have an uncontrollable addiction to buying knitwear recently.  Luckily, it's always knitwear season in Scotland so... it's totally justifiable.  This was Monday's outfit - I was asked to accompany my friend in giving some overseas students a tour of our offices, so I figured I'd step up my game a bit.  Or rather, taking it from 'just rolled out of bed' to 'I nearly ironed this outfit'.  It was still a tiny bit too cold for bare feet but I'm over wearing socks now.  It's May, dammit!

My sweater was a cool £1 from a charity shop we went to in Largs last week.  I also tried on a beautiful vintage men's duffel coat in another store but it was sadly too big.  I'm definitely keeping my eye out for another one now though...

wool sweater - EWM via charity shop
jeans - Long Tall Sally
loafers - M&S

:)
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