Friday 24 February 2023

What's Your Dosha?

I've answered a few of your questions, so here's one for you. Are you familiar with Ayurveda, the natural system of medicine which originated in India more than 3,000 years ago? It is believed that the universe is made up of five elements, air, water, space, fire and earth which form three different doshas - the types of energy which circulate within our bodies with each being responsible for specific physiological functions. Before you dismiss this as new age nonsense, try out this QUIZ to identify yours (don't worry it's not a dodgy website, you don't need to provide an email address or sign up for anything). When Jon & I did it we found the results freakishly accurate.

Any excuse to share a travel photo! Taken in Jaisalmer, the desert frontier town in Rajasthan, Northern India, January 2020

My dosha is Vata (air and space). I've got boundless energy, a restless mind and I'm very impulsive. I struggle with routine. My skin is dry, I have difficulty gaining weight and a light sleeper, often woken by dreams of flying. My hands and feet are always cold and I'm at my happiest in a hot climate. Whereas Jon's dosha is Pitta (fire and water). His weight rarely changes and he develops muscle easily, he's a good decision maker, quick to learn and inclined to be a perfectionist. He has trouble falling asleep but when he does he sleeps deeply and it takes a long time for him to wake up. Missing meals makes him grumpy.

It is believed that you can balance the negative parts of your dosha by exercise and diet (HERE). Whilst we don't follow the advice to the letter it's good to know that my inability to sit still or Jon's insomnia, isn't because we're broken, we're just imbalanced - hence the need to regularly take a break from our routine to relax and reset. 

I'd love to know if your results were as accurate as ours.

And because I'm a verified airhead and easily distracted, I'm switching to a completely different subject. Here's Jacob out of hibernation and trundling around the lawn on Tuesday afternoon - Spring has sprung!

And green shoots mean that our Nepeta is growing back and the garden is a haven for stoned cats, off their tits on cat mint. Here's William Woolberforce....

Not particularly interested in the Dreamies but loving a bit of fuss and very chatty. He's an intact tom but he's obviously used to people and doesn't exactly look like he's starving so I'm not sure we can steal him. 

Beautiful Kitty from next door, totally out of it.

Just one day of charity shopping this week - but a good one despite it being the school holidays and everywhere being busy.

Clockwise from top left: Topshop leather bomber jacket; Stronghold, Los Angeles leather boots (currently on their website for $320); 1990s leather flying jacket; 1970s Italian military trench; 1970s David Stafford, London jumbo cord blazer; 1980s Daks all-wool jacket; Zara woven mini dress; Transmission leather waistcoat; Suede mini dress; 1970s suede blazer, tailored in Kowloon; 2 x 1980s wool jackets; Joe Browns embroidered jacket; Contemporary Biba fake snake belt; 1980s leisure shirt; 1960s gents mac; 1970s St Michael housecoat and a 1970s halterneck maxi dress.

And here are the keepers.....

Labelled by the charity shop as "Kid's toy" and priced at 50p, this V&A Museum owl brooch depicts the  consort of Athena, the Greek goddess of battle strategy and wisdom. With all my hair brooches are pretty much lost on me but I could always pin her on my hat.

Obsessed with all things suede, I couldn't resist this huge bag (£4), it's been on my arm ever since I bought it.

Unopened beauty products both priced at £1 -  Australian brand, Frank, caffeinated hair mask which retails at £14 and Gatineau, Paris exfoliating cream which sells for a staggering £50. I'm almost hoping its utter rubbish and I'll hate it, I wouldn't want to buy it regularly at that price.

More snake-y stuff. This amazing bag was made in Italy by Nardelli and originally retailed at £395 - I paid £4.

Two mid-century Atomic cat vases.

Like I need another pair of boots! These are unworn with the H&M price stickers still on the sole and at £3 too cheap to leave behind ...and that's why, my friends, that I'll never be an minimalist!

Inspired by the one Claire wore on our Cotswolds day out (Claire's post (HERE), I couldn't resist snaffling this peaked cap out of the charity shop £1 bucket, even if Jon thinks I look a bit gimp-ish in it.  

The 66-piece capsule wardrobe is going strong (and now down to 64 garments as I've since donated a blouse and a waistcoat to the Kinky Shed ).

Last Friday: Zara embroidered blouse and Dilli Grey needlecord maxi skirt worn with C.Doux brown suede boots and a River Island felted wool hat (both charity shopped) for a morning of charity shopping and an afternoon of photography and eBay listing. 

Saturday: Dilli Grey maxi dress and a Dilli Grey block printed jacket, Monsoon fedora, a vintage 1930s Liberty, London silk scarf and charity-shopped Timberland boots for a day in The Cotswolds with Claire, Gareth and Lord Jon.

Sunday: Vintage Anokhi blouse, vintage Kashmiri woolwork waistcoat, Fat Face jeans & Aldo fedora (both charity shopped) and snakeskin cowboy boots (Urban Outfitters, 2020, reduced from £95 to £12) for a trip to the clearance charity shop.

Monday: Topshop combats, turquoise necklace and Gap Indian cotton chambray blouse (all charity shopped), block printed waistcoat (Monsoon flash sale buy) for a morning of eBay listings, a root retouch and a blog catch-up.

Tuesday: Dilli Grey dress, retail-bought felt fedora (2018), Clarks Air Sole leather boots and Rawhide leather coat (both charity shopped) for swimming, breakfast in 'Spoons and an afternoon of mending & reading.

Wednesday: Vintage 1960s Louis Caring psych print maxi dress worn with The Jacksons suede boots & Reiss felted wool fedora (both via eBay) worn for a morning of Lidl & charity shopping followed by an afternoon of photography.

Thursday: Dilli Grey maxi skirt, Kharibu reversible block printed jacket, Monsoon fedora, M&S Heatgen polo neck (bought as a second from eBay) and a Medusa buckle belt (charity shop) for swimming, 'Spoons and an afternoon of chores.

Friday: Vintage Anokhi linen shirt worn with Levi's skinnies, River Island cap and Clarks suede boots (all charity shopped) for a morning spent sorting out the Kinky Shed and an afternoon of laundry and wardrobe sorting.

Thanks for the fantastic response to my skincare, make-up and fitness post (HERE), I loved reading your replies. If you haven't already, it's worth going back and  reading all the comments, there's some great tips. 

PS: Tess and Louise from The Midlands - thanks for the questions on time management and diet. I promise to do a post on both very soon. 

My lovely friend Betty (who celebrates her birthday today) mentioned that I'd neglected to mention my nails so here's my rather extensive collection of Barry M. Working in the catering trade meant painted fingernails were a no-no for years so I'm making up for all those miserable colourless decades now, it's rare you'll see me without my trademark Barry M nail paint, usually blue or green but as you can see, I've deviated in recent years and occasionally wear "normal" colours. I use Barry M's Basecoat, Topcoat and Strengthener underneath and over the top and remove it with Cutex. My nails are strong and grow quickly (which could be down to the Ginkgo), I've never had a professional manicure or pedicure and use clippers when they get too long, I'm hopeless with a nail file. 

Thanks for reading. We're off to rebalance our doshas, see you on the other side!

Tuesday 21 February 2023

More Reader Requests - Skincare, Beauty & Fitness

Hello! I'm back with replies to a couple more of your questions.

 Ratnamurti asked about my fitness regime. After a long hiatus, I got back into my swimming last year, unleashed my inner mermaid and now swim 1.10miles a week (and a lot more if I'm on a beach holiday!) I go to the local baths twice a week and swim forty lengths breast stroke on each visit, which I break up into four sets of ten with 10 x poolside pull-ups between each set. It takes me under 40 seconds to swim a length and my feet don't touch the floor the entire time I'm in the pool.

I wear proper swimsuits rather than fashion ones - this one by Arena came from M&M Direct (on clearance for £15) and I bought another Arena model from a charity shop for 50p. The Speedo silicone long hair cap was from a swimwear specialist on Ebay (HERE) and I'm happy to report it kept my hair dry on Tuesday morning's swim.

John William Waterhouse - Nymphs finding the Head of Orpheus (1900) SOURCE

On the days when I'm not swimming, I do a half-hour Wii Fit workout at 7am every morning and yesterday I celebrated my 4822nd anniversary! I warm up with ten minutes of step aerobics, using hand weights to tone my arms. The remaining twenty minutes is spent on muscle building exercises, varying the routine each time: jack-knives, lunges, press-ups and side stands, balance bridges, planks, waist twists, rowing squats and bicep curls.

After my left hip replacement in 2006, I was told that my right side would need replacing within five years - it's now been 17! My orthopaedic consultant puts my successful dodging of his knife down to regular exercise and maintaining a healthy weight ....and I don't need to tell you about the benefits of regular exercise on mental health, do I?  

My workout gear (mostly Nike, Puma and Beyonce's Ivy Park label) all came from charity shops, several with the store labels still attached. I can understand why you see so many women out and about in their gym gear, the decent quality stuff is so comfortable. I often keep mine on under my clothing.

I can honestly say that at 56 I feel fitter, stronger & more confident in my skin than I've ever felt. When I signed up for the NHS's Our Future Health programme I was told that I had the BMI and blood pressure of an elite athlete. If you're not already, get active, girls! 

John William Waterhouse, Marina in front of the Mirror, 1897(SOURCE)

I don't know about the rest of you but I'm sick of seeing beauty & skincare products targeted at us pre, peri and post menopausal women, it seems like a cynical attempt to play on our insecurities and cash in. Any company contacting me and asking that I peddle their anti-ageing shite gets told in no uncertain terms where they can get off. 

‘Lady Lilith’, Dante Gabriel Rossetti SOURCE

I was asked about my skincare and make-up routine by a reader who sadly didn't leave a name. There's nothing fancy or age specific to my skincare routine, I'm a plain old soap and water girl, the soap is usually brought back from our travels. I'm hoping the donkey milk soap turns me into Cleopatra (just not on her death bed!)

John Collier - The Death of Cleopatra (1890) SOURCE 

As usual, I'm linking to things I use and like, not because I'm getting anything back from the retailers.

I make my own facial oil using fractionated organic coconut oil as a carrier blended with rose and geranium essential oil using a 1% dilution (or 1oz of the carrier oil to 6 drops of the essential oil). I apply a couple of drops and massage into my face after washing. Amphora Aromatics are a fabulous Bristol-based company, you can buy direct from their website or via Superdrug Marketplace.

At night, I take my eye make-up and lipstick off with Nivea's Double Effect Waterproof eye make-up remover, wash with soap and water and apply a smear of Vaseline under my eyes.

Make-up wise it's similarly cheap and cheerful. I've been using Barry M since I was a schoolgirl and see no reason not to carry on doing so. I apply Barry M Bold black eyeliner beneath my lower lashes which I smudge with a eyeliner brush, follow that by Barry M or Revolution eyeshadow in whatever colour I feel like wearing, then some eyeliner dotted above my upper lashes (also smudged with the brush) followed by a couple of coats of Barry M's Feature Length Mascara. I use Maybelline's Brow Xtensions on my pathetically sparse eyebrows (hereditary rather than over-plucked). I love a creme blush - this one by Revolution is fab. 

Nothing comes to close to Maybelline's Superstay Matt Lip Ink, it lasts for hours and hours. I buy mine (new!) from eBay at a fraction of the retail price. I like Romantic (hot pink), Heroine (bright orange), Ruler (plum) and Pioneer (a cool-toned red). A few people find them drying, I think it depends on the colour - the red more so than the others.

Annie asked about foundation which I've only only ever worn when someone's done my make-up for me (and hated the feel of it on my skin) but as my skin's not as evenly toned as it used to be I apply a light dusting of Revolution's Banana Powder with a brush across the bridge of my nose, centre of my forehead and chin (these brushes are good), which brightens up my face and evens out the colour without it looking cakey and unnatural. 

The Hourglass (1905) Evelyn de Morgan (Source)

As I'm currently working my way through a hefty pile of Pre-Raphaelite literature, I thought I'd share some of the images - I'm particularly mesmerised by Evelyn de Morgan's Hour Glass, modelled by the then 61 year-old stunner Jane Morris (widow of William). With her pensive expression, greying hair and the dying rose at her feet I think de Morgan is trying to tell us older women to get a grip, not to waste time reflecting on our lost youth (or waste our money on age-specific beauty stuff) and to just get out there and frolick in the sunshine - just don't forget your factor 30!

See you soon.

Sunday 19 February 2023

Car Heaven in The Cotswolds (Plus Some Sewing & Shopping)


Yesterday Claire,Gareth, Jon and I escaped The Black Country for an afternoon in the glorious Cotswold village of Bourton-on-the-Water.

It seemed like most of the UK had the same idea and despite my photos making Bourton-on-the-Water look empty, it was bustling with tourists. With all the car parks full we parked a mile or so out of town and were forced to pop into The New Old Inn for a restorative beer.

Our destination was the Cotswold Motoring Museum, set within a former 17th Century watermill and housing a huge collection of memorabilia and motors spread over 7500ft².

The amount of stuff on display was truly astonishing and had us captivated for hours. 
Find out more HERE.

After getting distracted by a charity shop and an antiques emporium we wandered into the nearest pub only to find the lunch menu had finished so headed off thirty minutes up the road to Ye Olde Hobnails Inn, the 15th Century hostilery where we'd eaten after we'd run away to the circus last spring. (HERE)

After three ginormous portions of fish and chips and an equally large portion of pumpkin & chickpea curry for me, we exchanged gifts and made plans for another outing very soon. 

Thanks for our fantastic things, Claire and Gareth! Despite my lousy track record I promise to do my best to keep Cactus Cawood alive (named after everyone's favourite spiky detective from Happy Valley).

With all this galavanting, I've only just managed to put away this week's charity shop finds.....and there's rather a lot, the Kinky Shed's full!

Clockwise from top left: 1970s Handmade in Portugal suede shoes; Monsoon blouse; 1970s Llama wool shawl by Jacqmar; Zara Man military jacket (now in Jon's wardrobe); Susan Gravar (QVC) tapestry jacket; 1970s wool & mohair scarf woven in Grasmere; Wada, Indian pompom trim cape with £51.99 tags still attached; Moroccan pink leather babouches (now mine!); DKNY gents wool pea coat; Indian block printed cotton tunic; Indian sari fabric skirt; Boden linen top (still on their website reduced to £49 from £70, now in my summer suitcase); Karishma Couture beaded prom dress (new with tags, retailed at $495); "Made in Italy" linen and cotton tunic; Diesel "Moody Woody" clogs (TKMaxx tags still attached, retailed at $325 last summer).

Clockwise from top left: Clarks suede ankle boots; Vatpaiv, Hawaii shirt; Mexican woven hooded jerga; Muji alpaca wool cardi; Gypsy Soul maxi skirt; 1970s Scottish-made sheepskin jacket; White Stuff tiered maxi skirt; 1990s Ann Brooks UK-Made cashmere & wool belted jacket; Saks 5th Avenue purple patent mac;  West African waxed cotton sundress, "tailor-made in London"; Topshop embellished cotton tunic with £34.99 tags still attached (another one for my summer suitcase!); 1980s Hawick Knitwear lambswool sweater; Ugg sheepskin-lined clog boots (now in Liz's shoe cupboard); Amazing 1980s handknit jumper. 

And 'cos I know you like to see the contents, here's last week's Lidl £1.50 Waste Not box...another good one!

Frida Kahlo in New York, by Nickolas Muray, 1939. © Nickolas Muray Photo Archives

After following the V&A tutorial for the crochet folk collar a couple of weeks ago I was inspired to have a bash at making up their downloadable pattern for a Mexican-style Huipil, the traditional sleeveless tunic often worn by Frida Kahlo. 

Mexi Desi - made from an old velvet curtain and a shedload of Indian and Afghan trimmings from my stash.

Mexi Bouquet:  I spotted this 1940s/1950s embroidery linen in the 50p bucket in the charity shop this morning. It was too pretty to do more than cut out the neckline and sew it up. 

Thanks for the questions - my make-up, skincare and fitness regime coming up in my next post.

See you soon!