On Monday evening we met up with the gang for beers and Indian food, it was a belated celebration for Al as he & Liz had been sailing around the Ionian Islands on his actual birthday. Liz & I have know each other for more than half a century and have been friends since we were five years old so it's probably not all that surprising to discover that we both turned up wearing a yellow dress!
Last time this ochre linen chazza-shopped dress had an outing was in Corfu back in July. It's by Beaumont Organics and came with the original £270 store tag still attached, I paid £3. The python bag, made in Italy by Narducci once retailed at £395, another charity shop find, it cost me £3.50
As you can see by the bare arms, it was still deliciously warm on Monday evening.
Jon's batik shirt was a charity shop buy back in 2019, the shorts had faded over the years so he redyed them at the weekend. William's shiny coat is all his own.
Yesterday, after several failed attempts over the Summer, I finally managed a day out with my friend Nikki who'd just come back from a holiday in beautiful Crete. We met up at Birmingham's New Street Station and said hello to Ozzy, the star of last year's Commonwealth Games residing on the main concourse since 26th July. No longer raging or breathing fire, like he was when I visited him with Annie last Summer, he's still a sight to behold.
Nikki & I caught up over pots of chamomile and mint tea in Medicine, formerly the Victorian premises for The Royal Society of Birmingham Artists.
And with the only plan being no plan, wandered around the city centre and popped into a few shops.
In Urban Outfitters I snaffled this Indian block printed tunic from their sale rail for a tenner. Like most of the contents of my wardrobe(s), I didn't need it but I had to have it.
The parish church of St Martins in the Bull Ring
The iconic Selfridges department store.
The Bull Ring with the Rotunda in the background.
We walked across town and had a long & lazy lunch in our favourite hang-out, The Indian Brewery. Nikki's pretty midi dress is an old Dilli Grey purchase, her gilet is vintage Janet Wood for Monsoon.
This was the first time I'd worn my vintage Mexican maxi dress this year. It's such a vibrant shade of turquoise and always gets loads of love.
New to the Indian Brewery is their Pekok lager. Described as the most refreshing Indian lager beer in the world, it was certainly very quaffable. We had a couple.
Don't adjust your screens, I've got bare nails, a sight seldom seen since I quit the hospitality trade!
Although there's loads of reasonable priced vegetarian/vegan food on the menu, we always seem to order Chaart Attack and it never disappoints.
A rare moment of calm before the hoards of office workers descend for lunch.
We were so excited to catch up with owner, Marni, a fellow member of the Fabulous 50s Club. She's off to Sorrento next week, her third half-century celebratory birthday trip this year. A woman after my own heart!
All too soon it was time to head back to the station and catch our respective trains but with plans for a meet-up next month it won't be too long before we see each other again. Thanks for a fantastic day out, Nikki!
Today - like Tuesday - involved walking down to the swimming baths (in the rain) for our bi-weekly half-mile swim followed by breakfast in 'Spoons. This morning Jon had Eggs Benedict whilst I opted for a smashed avocado muffin with pico de gallo and a poached egg. We were so early that the shops hadn't opened and we were back home by 9.15am
I bet you've never seen anything quite like this vintage kaftan, I certainly haven't! Bearing the American/Canadian ILGWU label (International Ladies' Garment Workers Union), it was made for the Great Entertainers label and sold through Sears in the early 1970s. The print features Alphonse Mucha's celebrated illustration of Sarah Bernhardt (c. 1896) set against a background of reeds and insects. Trippy or what? I bought these clumpy pewter sandals from the Clarks' outlet earlier in the year & the strap broke a day shy of me owning them for six months. I emailed Clarks and quite unexpectedly got a 100% refund, that's what I call service. Our independent cobbler managed to repair them for me - free shoes, can't get better than that!
As you can see, my nails are no longer bare, I've treated myself to a gel manicure at True Beauty, my local salon. The colour, Neon Raspberry, is obnoxiously bright, the photos don't do the vibrant colour justice. As subtle as a brick, that's how my dear mum always described me.
I've spent the rest of today finalising my packing....
Stashed in my new-to-me wheelie bag (£7.95 via the clearance charity shop) are four cotton dresses, two bikinis, a crochet beach cover-up, a long sleeved cotton tunic, a pair of Levi's denim cut-offs, my trusty Greek supermarket swimming shoes, my Teva Universal midform trekking sandals, swimming goggles, a sarong, a foldable sun hat and two pairs of sunglasses. I'm taking the bare minimum of toiletries: Lush shampoo & conditioner bars, bamboo toothbrushes and toothpaste tabs, dental floss, a bar of soap, a handful of plasters, a couple of razors, a magnifying mirror, my Tangle Tamer hairbrush, waterproof eyeliner, a selection of hair bands & grips and a packet of makeup remover wipes. In Corfu we were plagued with mosquitos so I've bought a pack of THESE Deet-free insect repellent bracelets to try.
As we're cheapskates, we're travelling with carry-on bags only. The airline baggage allowance is 10 kg and bags are to measure no more than 56 x 45 x 25cm. My bag weighs 7kg and measures 54 x 34 x 22cm - there's room for more if I do decide to buy a souvenir.
We're also allowed a small personal item - like a handbag - which can be stowed beneath the seat in front. In ours, we've got six 100ml bottles of decanted sun cream (shared between us) plus a lipstick, mascara and some hair serum plus our eReaders, passports, prescription specs, wallets and mobile phones. I'll carry my jewellery and put it on when we've passed through departures to save setting off the alarms. As always, Jon will make sandwiches to take with us. I'm travelling in a long sleeved dress with my Teva platforms and my gold leather tote (which doubles up as a beach/shopping bag).
We've spent the last couple of Septembers on Rhodes but I couldn't find any reasonably priced flights so we're off to Santorini, an island neither of us have visited and, with the reputation of it being one of the most expensive tourist destinations in Greece, we'd never expected to go there either, but Jet2 had a flight advertised at such a great price that I couldn't refuse and I've found a bargain apartment on Booking.com - the owner is so lovely, she's even coming to pick us up at the airport.
This is what Lawrence Durrell wrote about Santorini in 1978...
It is hardly a matter of surprise that few, if any, descriptions of Santorini have been written; the reality is so astonishing that prose and poetry, however winged , will forever be forced to limp behind. Today this still applies, and will I believe, to be so for ever more. On this Cycladic jewel of the Aegean, the line between art and reality is severely blurred. For the purity of colour and simplicity of line is food for the soul and a photographer's and hedonist's dream. She leaves me breathless, my brain laden with indelibly etched images with a deep sense of peace and serenity... for here I have tasted the life of a lotus-eater and sat on the footsteps of heaven.
It sounds like paradise but will we come back bankrupt? I'll report back in October! And don't worry about William, he's got our friend Michelle and my brother Marcus attending to his every need.