Saturday, 29 June 2013

The sun shined the silverware shone....

A lunch table with home grown roses, something I have dreamt of for years....

The debris from lunch ready to be a cold supper in the evening, with Mosimanns choccies...

Dogs relaxing 

FIFA playing (plus ca change!)

Friday, 28 June 2013

In-laws coming tomorrow so making sure everything is ship shape at the cottage...

I'm totally cheating as these were from the sales brochure, unfortunately it is now a good deal more lived in, but by tomorrow lunchtime will be spruced and preened to perfection!

Thursday, 27 June 2013

The only exercise you'll ever need....

If you want a flat tummy and round, pert bottom by August, this is the Brazilian babe's number one secret, nothing more exciting than walking lunges.
If done correctly, this exercise works inner and outer thighs, hips, gluts, ham strings, lower abs an upper back. And therein lies the rub, most people think that they are doing it, but with wrong technique are just going through the motions.
If you are a member of a gym and can go into a mirrored studio and practise the moves that is great. But what I really love about this exercise is that you can do it any time, any place, wearing pretty much anything. And as with everything in life, it is what you do every day that forms who you are, not the occasional splurge.
It's our number one rule, set deliverable goals. And this is (almost) as easy as putting one foot in front of the other.

1. Stand up straight, don't lock out your knees, roll your shoulder blades back so that you feel that they are sliding down your spine, this will raise your chest bone and make you pull in you stomach and raise your waist.
2. Feel the muscles in your legs and squeeze them around the length of your leg bones, pull in your bottom muscles as if you are holding in everything. Make sure your pelvis is tipped forward, this protects your lower back, if your bottom is sticking out, your pelvis isn't forward.
3. Raise your knee in a slow smooth movement, as you raise it, concentrate on staying as upright as possible so that all movement is initiated in the hip and upper thigh.  Don't compensate for the movement by letting your shoulders drop or leaning forward or you will engage none of the correct muscle groups.
4. Raise the knee to slightly higher than a right angle and place the foot in front of you about a full leg's length away from the other foot. Imagine two opposing forces one pulling all of the muscles in your body upwards by your chest (you are creating this by tightening everything as much as you can) and now there is a downward force from your shoulder blades and down, pushing your legs and feet and making you use you stomach muscles even more in order to maintain balance.  Allow the downward force to let your body lower and bend the back leg to a right angle so that the knee hovers an inch from the ground.  You must keep the upward force strong and even, do not compensate by letting your hip drop to one side, only the knee drops, everything else is perfectly upright and balanced.
5. Now bring the back leg up to slightly higher than the right angle and lunge forward. Make sure that your front knee is at a right angle, it must always be behind the front foot, otherwise you transfer the stress away from the thigh muscles and into the knees.
6. To start with do 10 walking lunges 5 times, build to 10 lunges 10 times and then 20 5 times and then 20 10 times. Keep going until you get to 50 10 times. By this point you will have buns of steel!

Each set of 10 should take about 30 seconds in total.

You can do this in hallway at home, at the park, in an office, you don't need kit, or to lie down, or to get sweaty but you MUST do it every day.

This is low impact and using your body weight only, so this exercise is fine for anyone except people with knee or hip problems or later stages of pregnancy.

Monday, 24 June 2013

Whose style is it does my bum look 40 in this or Ash Rural style or Fiona from Av 57?

I don't have any style and I'm not really that interested in clothes, although it seems other people are! What I wear changes almost beyond recognition each day and so of course where random bits have been left lying around and are thrown on together, the result is pretty disastrous.  I really like Does My Bum Look 40 in this? mainly because the words make me giggle, is it bad to say all of the retailer pics leave me a bit cold? Although I do love to see what Kat has been wearing.  I also like to read Ash's posts about properly wearable clothes, or Fiona who always looks like she enjoys every minute of her blogging.
Since I have no style and a totally random mismatch of clothes in my wardrobe the chances of wearing anything remotely coordinated for more than one day are pretty much nil.
This is why last week was quite an unusual occurrence, four days on the trot with clothes that could have come from one person, who stuck to a middle class mummy, slightly boho, White Company-ish style...err does this blogging thing have more influence than I would like to admit?
I know that I probably should brush my hair, accessorise or even just move the steamer and my washing that is drying from the background, but this blogging malarkey has to take up no time or it wouldn't happen.  That's how I know I'm not channelling the immaculate Tabitha from Bourbon and Pearls, for whom this is all a tad too laissez Faire.
I was going to chuck my 7 for All Mankind grey skinny, Kate Moss on a bad day, chav jeans, but they were 90 quid so I am trying to work out a way to wear them.  The raggedy sequin top is a brand called Tiara, and yes it was left out on a chair from a night out (I couldn't bear to pay drycleaning after a two hour wear so decided to wear the next day).  I quite like it under the purple cardi with the jeans and pinky daps.

 The next outfit is definitely going for the White Company look, sleeveless cardi 99p from Ebay (originally M & S), jeans inherited from overgrown teenage offspring and top from a label called Women like us, such a nice idea but not sure it has survived in these uncertain times.  The broiderie anglaise and leather bag was from a shop in the Caribbean and is simply an attempt to remember that it is meant to be Summer.

 Bit scuzzy, but basically same again with Miso top (99p Ebay) I did spend most of the previous day in gym kit honestly!

 The sun must have appeared if only for a moment (loose knit top Miso 99p- is Miso TK Maxx? why do I keep finding it on Ebay?). Michael Kors suede shorts from cricket sale and high necked Valentino vest.  Bag Karen Millen from Bicester (super cheap as I am not sure this boho type look is the average KM shopper's thing)

And there it is four days of a wardrobe of someone who is consistent. Is it better to have a signature look or keep people guessing as to whether you will turn up in a ball dress or a leather catsuit?

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Rediscovering Britain's Grandes Dames...

 Long before Claridges was a twinkle in the Maybourne's Group's eye or cheap flights meant that a ticket to Milan or Prague was the same price as a standard return to Manchester. The Imperial in Torquay was 'the' hotel in the UK.  With rooms starting from £400 (and up from there in the 80s!) We never actually stayed there, but as our big treat at the end of the Easter break would go either for lunch or dinner.

The position, south facing, perched on a cliff side is reminiscent of the big hotels in the South of France. It overlooks the Marina and although an oasis from the hustle and bustle of town is only 5 minutes on foot from the main shopping area.

balcony of room above the spa and harbour views

We went back recently and this time DID stay there, since the hotel now has offers that make it cheaper to stay there than be at home. £99 per night for two including dinner!

The ambiance is not what it was back in its hey day with celebrities arriving in white convertible Rolls or mooring on its private pontoon and coming in for lunch from their gin palace boats.  But everything is still there.  By that I mean the rooms are huge, the views amazing, indoor and outdoor pools, a spa, tennis courts, a snooker room, a nightclub, a bowling alley, great walks, you can keep busy all day and when the sun is out it still rivals any of its more pricey alternatives in the Med.

The movie star glamour of the place used to be second to none, thousands spent on flowers every week, one member of staff for every two guests, silver service bar b ques by the swimming pool during the day and obligatory black tie in the evening for the gala dinners, which happened every night. The dresses were something to behold, think Diana Ross mermaid style spangly evening dresses and you have an idea of quite how seriously the black tie dress code was taken.  Dinner was always followed by live entertainment in the ballroom and finally a spin in the nightclub to round it all off.

Glamour for 21st century

Agatha Christie wrote there and David Suchet of Poirot fame lives in the apartments attached to the hotel so all those British character actors that we know from years of Midsommer Murders and Agatha Christie adaptations were regular visitors, as well as the UK's wealthiest industrialists, bankers and business men.

It was a sort of virtuous circle where glamour begat glamour.  The more wonderful everything was, the more people dressed up to play their part. Just sitting in the lobby watching people arrive was an experience, women wrapped in white furs with bellboys wheeling in trolley after trolley of trunk style luggage and vanity cases full of jewels.

The crowd has undoubtedly changed since the jet setters can now get to the various different 'Caps' in the South of France with the regularity that the low fare operators offer where they are guaranteed the glamour AND the weather.

But if you can overlook a few tattoos and beer bellies, it's not a bad place to go for a cheap break.  The boating is good and reasonably priced, the shopping is not bad with stores like Hoopers (at its height it rivaled Harvey Nicks for its new discoveries and top end brands, it was the first store in the UK to stock Vera Wang bridalwear for example). And Maggie and Co next door, which is hanging on by the skin of its teeth and still stocking Armani, DVF, Dolce e Gabanna etc

On a fine day, everything looks beautiful, when it is raining it is only as bleak as anywhere else in the UK.  But ultimately it is the guests that create the atmosphere, if we all dressed up a bit, took afternoon tea, changed for dinner (didn't wear gym wear all day..still working on this). The glamour could come back just a little and it would transform these places to somewhere special again!

Friday, 21 June 2013

The ONLY fashion item you'll need this Summer...

It's raining again, this was about to hit the Ebay pile, it is a very old, unworn Sonia Rykiel mac. The quality is beautiful (much better than my Burberry I hate to say). I don't really get on with this flared shape in dresses as my thick waist, huge shoulder combo make for a bit of a Grayson Perry look. But in a coat with something skinny on the bottom it seems to work quite well.
I'm trying to 1. stop buying stuff just because I fancy it and it is cheap 2. Start wearing some of the beautiful quality clothes that are languishing in piles in wardrobes, suitcases and boxes.  Tomorrow is another full day of outside picnicking and clearly the forecast is for rain from 7am to 7pm , so yet again I'll be slapping on a tan and a smile and possibly a silk, halterneck Valentino number from about 1985....the trouble is now that my shoulders are as defined Arnold Schwarzennegger at his peak, it might just scare the natives...

Thursday, 20 June 2013

The ultimate closet...

It's starting to take shape, it is housed behind the green door.

There is a LOT of rubbish to sort through....

Chandeliers to be rewired....

Piles of junk that I am not even missing to be moved in ...  

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Style inspiration Thunderbirds Lady Penelope meets Rocky Horror

It was one of those freezing, slightly wet days and I was due to be spending 8 hours outside, picnicking and pretending the sun was out.  It's times like this that us Brits know how to man up, paint on a smile and damn well make the best of it. 
For good measure I slapped on some fake tan and determined to go bare legged. The beauty of this coat  is that it is WARM, but summertime cheerful  (size 16 and by a brand called Wardrobe, an Ebay find for £6.99!), the dress underneath was not even glimpsed all day, but it was an optimistic hope that may be the temperature would pick up (it didn't).
Initially I was quite pleased with my new shade of lippie (was persuaded to buy 2 in fact). But looking at pics, it is a little Rocky Horror.