Knitted jackets.

It’s hard to shop in Bury and Bolton.  Nothing to do with the stores or the towns themselves – in fact both have been greatly improved, though it is a little sad to see more and more empty store fronts.  Does everyone go to the Trafford Center these days?  Maybe we need help from Mary Portas?  Don’t get me started about Bury Market.  It used to be the destination for food – pies, vegetables, deli meats and of course black pudding.  Now it seems to specialize in tat.

Anyway back to why it’s hard to shop.  It is bloody freezing here (though sun was seen today).  It makes it impossible to imagine anywhere being too warm for a jacket, or furry boots for that matter.  instead of lusting after bright colored shorts and skirts I have been drawn to woolly knits, big coats and scarves.  I have to keep reminding myself that these items won’t get worn in Atlanta till Christmas – plus they’re not packing friendly.

On a couple of instances though I have managed to persuade myself that it may get worn through Spring – maybe even in the air conditioned office in the Summer.  Hence I may be found guilty of the following purchases.

There is a plethora of knitted biker jackets in the stores.  I love knits and I love biker jackets so guess what – I am like a bear to a honey pot when it comes to these gorgeous things.  The first I spotted was in M&S.  I was generally unimpressed again with M&S – they are trying to be all things to all people – but this cardigan was lovely and jumped right out at me from the racks.  So lovely I got both the cream and the black.  I had to go up a size, but the only review online also says it fits a bit small – especially the arms.

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Mum and I went in River Island yesterday.  I remember vividly when our Chelsea Girl in Bury became a River Island – so it makes me giggle that they are now proudly displaying their ‘year founded’ on the clothing labels – 1988 – seems like only yesterday when I am back here.  I probably haven’t been in one since if I’m honest – and I only went in yesterday for research purposes.  Well of course I saw something I needed.  Now I might not get as much wear out of this until Fall, but the color, the knit and the style made it too perfect to leave behind.  It is lovely and you might see me in it tomorrow if I remember to take photos when I go shopping with my sister.

River Island Jacket

 

Tips on TARDIS-like packing are warmly welcome.

 

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Circle of friends.

Number of trains (including tubes) : 12

Number of buses : 1

Miles walked : countless

Glasses of white wine drunk : too many

Curries eaten : 1

Kebabs eaten : 1

What an amazing weekend.  Not sure where to start – how about the beginning?  I traveled down to London on Friday, and if you follow me on Twitter or Instagram you will have seen me documenting my journey South.  The train is a fab way to see England again.

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After a quick tube ride to Liverpool St I wandered to my hotel in the FREEZING cold snow.  I stayed at the Crowne Plaza in Shoreditch – and yes I used to work for IHG so could be accused of being bias – but I have to say if you need a hotel in central London for a couple of nights it was perfect.  A great location for the City and the Central Line – not to mention being close to the great bars and restaurants of Spitalfields and Shoreditch.  I’ll definitely stay there again.

Friday night was perfect.  I met up with an old, good friend and we re-connected.  It has been 2 years since I saw her – too long in my book.  We had a few beers at the famous Golden Heart pub – where we use to drink in the late 90s, then headed to Brick Lane for a curry.

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Trousers – Zara sequin velvet trousers (sale bargains) // Sneakers – Converse one star // Top – Zara // Leather jacket – Zara // Scarf – H&M old

I was a bit worried about a sore head Saturday morning but I actually felt great – I think I was so excited to meet up with all my virtual blogging friends that a hangover didn’t even take hold.  I headed off to Bond St. nervous but oh so excited.  In fact I was so excited I think I said it aloud a few times to the bemusement of fellow travelers.  People don’t really talk to each other in London do they?  I forgot about that.  I was so excited to be on Oxford St again – it was brilliant.  Marlene, Sue and Avril and I recognized each other instantly.  All we could say was how ‘weird’ but fabulous it was to see each other in the flesh.  We then met up with Kat, Beth, Natalie, Fiona and Helen at the restaurant.  Everyone was pretty much just as we imagined each other.  We talked and talked, and drank and drank from 12 – 10pm – not bad hey?  I could have kept going as I had no children to get home to and only head back to the hotel.  Instead, quite sensibly I headed back to the hotel to Skype MM, with a kebab in hand – classy:)  It was amazing to meet everyone – I feel like I have a fantastic group of friends who are so supportive – thanks girls.  The photo is taken early in the day before chat degenerated:)

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Sunday was a lovely family day spent with my Brother-in-law and family.  He’d made a roast dinner for us and it was great to kick my shoes off and relax.  We headed to the park to blow away the cobwebs and had great fun playing football with my nephew and niece.  A great family day to end a great weekend.  I’m very happy to be back at Mum and Dad’s now and enjoy the rest of the week before heading home to my wee ones who I miss more than anything right now.

 

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Matalan and Primark finds.

To all of you in the US I can only best describe Matalan and Primark as stores similar to Target or Old Navy – cheap, on trend clothing – disposable fashion.  I remember Primark as a child and recently it has had somewhat of a revival.  Just as we in the States refer to Target as Targét (well at least in my neck of the woods) – Primark is often referred to as Primarni.

It takes some energy to sift the wheat from the chaff but all in all it is worth it.  Yesterday I scored 2 pairs of jeans.  I know their jeans are fab as I have a couple of their printed ones – the floral ones from last summer being the most worn.  Yesterday I got some gorgeous smoky blue/grey striped ankle skimmers (though they actually feel full length on me!), and a pair of cheapo boyfriend jeans – mainly because I couldn’t justify leaving them in the store at just 13 GBP each.  Their sizing is definitely a bit hit or miss as the skinnies are a UK 10 and I had to go to a 12 in the boyfriend jeans.  There’s a bit more distressing on the boyfriend jeans than I’d possibly like, but then if I use my very vivid imagination and pretend I’m not in freezing Bury, sun kissed knees peeking through the denim, in the Atlanta sun, might work well with them…

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I had to head across the street to Matalan – they are normally located in retail parks – as is the one in Bury.  I was skeptical as I wandered in but that quickly dissipated and I was overwhelmed with sheer joy!  Again sifting the wheat from the chaff was required – but more on a style basis than quality as everything seemed to be really well made considering the really low prices.  I ended up picking up a couple of jersey maxi skirts (couldn’t decide between the grey and the black), a pair of pewter silky trousers and some fabulous polo shirts with silky trim.  I sized up to a UK 14 on the shirts worried they may be too snug especially after a wash – plus the placement of the pockets made me a bit nervous – but the UK 14s are perfect – loose enough but not huge.  I am now smitten with Matalan.

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Heading back to the bus station I had a quick nosey in H&M.  Low and behold they had some fabulous looking boyfriend jeans – that were the right amount of faded, distress and are also described as ‘tapered leg’.  So off I went to try them on.  I took a 27″ and 28″ into the changing room – I always try the smallest size first so I can be a) elated when they fit or b) optimistic the larger size will work.  The 27s were perfect – and still oversize.  They really do fit like a men’s jean and even have a slightly lower crotch that some will love or some will hate – personally I love the fit.  I think these will be worn often this Spring.

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Don’t ask me how I am going to get all this home – I don’t know yet.

For my little shopping jaunt I wore a pair of my new shoes.  The Office Nighthawk boots in red – a cheap imitation of the Chloe Susanna boots.  I got them for 30 GBP in the sale and I love them.  They are great quality, lovely leather and incredibly comfortable – plus my gamble of buying a UK 6 paid off and they fit perfectly.  I wore them with Zara camo trousers and an H&M jumper layered over an H&M tank.  The scarf is an old Boden jersey scarf that I love.

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Now off to the Trafford Center – Mum and Dad are in the market for an iPad.

 

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I’m here!

Sorry for being AWOL for a couple of days.  I spent the weekend and President’s Day enjoying time with my family before jumping on a Transatlantic flight to Manchester on Monday evening.  After a pretty painless flight I’m safely ensconced at my Mum and Dad’s being fed endless supplies of bacon butties – fabulous!  It turns out my trip is perfect timing – not only do I get to enjoy time with my niece and nephews, tonight it is the Brit Awards, so I also get to catch up on some British pop culture.

I traveled over in what I consider to be the perfect travel attire – comfy, cotton trousers, sneakers and a cashmere jumper.  Easy for getting through security – no belts etc., and easy to relax and stay warm in on the flight.

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Trousers – James Perse fine cord surplus pant (similar here) // Sneakers – Converse // Jumper – Char jumper AllSaints (old – similar here)

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I arrived yesterday to two pairs of shoes and a leather jacket:)  All items that I’d asked my lovely Mum to order for me from stores over here.  More on the shoes later but suffice to say they are fabulous!  The jacket is the red leather jacket from Zara and using the current exchange rate, and what with sales tax in the US, it was quite a bit cheaper to buy it here.  It is stunning, beautifully made, fabulous quality and lovely soft leather – I was worried it might be a bit stiff.  The only thing I’d change is the size of the zipper pulls – not sure why Zara insist on using huge zips on all their jackets?

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So today I’m off for a brisk run over the moors to clear my jet lag and then off to Primark for an hour or so – all on my own:)  Before I report back here are some other highlights so far:)

A couple of cocktails on my own:)

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The perfect Boden travel tote.

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A mixed tape from MM for the journey:)

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My youngest nephew, Tom, wondering who on earth I am.

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Repurposing.

A fresh look at some old clothes is sometimes all it takes to create a new vision for them.  Thanks to Sue at SusieSoSo I have two new style crushes.

One of them is Sue.  She always wears her clothes so effortlessly and can make anything look chic – she has inherent cool and seems to know exactly what suits her and how to make a pair of chinos or a $5 sweatshirt look fabulous.  Check her blog out, if you haven’t already – you’ll see what I mean – oh and her sense of humor is pretty neat too.  Anyway we have a few ‘style traits’ in common – our love of boots, sneakers and jeans to name three, so Sue sent me the link to another blog that she loves – Tiffany Wendel Personal Styling.

Take a look – I defy you not to love what you see.  I have drooled over Tiffany’s photos over the past 3 days dissecting her closet and coveting her West Coast style.  Her photos show an incredible collection of clothes – but it’s the way she combines them that makes me weak at the knees.  Her photos of what she packs were just the inspiration I needed for my packing.  The way she wears sneakers is just so (sorry I’m getting repetitive) cool!  Gold sequin trousers with grungy sneakers – I love it!  Now that red leather jacket is something else.

Before I start to sound stalkerish – here’s my point.  I had a pair of boots and a jacket that didn’t sell on eBay.  Taking some cues from Tiffany I suddenly realized that maybe, just maybe I could make them look current again.  A pair of old, really old, white – heaven forbid – Nine West booties and a Loft suede bomber jacket, also really old.  You know what?  At least 5 people have commented on the boots today – positively.  Who’d have guessed!?  What do you think?

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Jeans – Hudson boot cut // Booties – Nine West (old) // T-shirt – Zara (old) // Jacket – Loft (old) // Sunglasses – Ray-ban aviators //

After a haircut this morning I nipped into Zara to see if the new collection had arrived…slowly it is but there was still some sale stock in.  On the off chance I had a quick look and there waiting for me was the most perfect looking black, velvet, sequined trousers for $20 – RESULT!  A cute long sleeved t-shirt made it into the bag too:)

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What’s in your closet that deserves a second chance?

 

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I’m trying to embrace it.

If you’re a new, more recent reader then I have to tell you I do not like Valentine’s day – as I discussed last year here.  Over here it has morphed into something not only lovers celebrate, but also something children are expected to take part in at school.  Last night we decorated shoe boxes that will hold all the candies they exchange in class today.  Uuurgh I just think it is such a marketing con.  MM and I have never exchanged cards in the twenty something years we’ve been together.  He tells me it’s Valentine’s Day every day in our house and I tend to agree.  If you need to set aside a day of the year to appreciate your loved one then there is something wrong.

Okay rant over.  I have tried to embrace it in my outfit for today – choosing the J.Crew heartbreaker jumper – and even my jewelry consists of Tiffany’s and pearls so I really am trying to get into the spirit of it!

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Shoes – Tory Burch navy Eddie flats // Trousers – Zara tweed harems // Jumper – J.Crew heartbreaker jumper // Jacket – Gap denim (old – similar here) // Pearl bracelets – random from Target // Silver bracelets – Tiffany & Co

I couldn’t help but notice how Spring like it felt this morning – shoots rising from the ground and blue skies above me.  Love it!

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How do you celebrate Valentine’s Day?

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Leather.

I am getting so excited about my trip ‘home’ next week.  Yes I’ll miss MM and the kids – but that is what Skype is for no?  I’m still in a packing quandary but I see light at the end of the tunnel – now if it was sunlight not the threat of snow that would make things 10x easier.  But hey ho it is England and nothing is more certain than the uncertainty of British weather.

I was picking up a few things for friends and family yesterday.  One of the most requested items funnily enough is nail polish.  OPI is half the price here.  Mum wants A-to-Zurich and Sue wants Nein Nein Nein.  I’ve been 50% successful – will keep looking Mum!  Now, if I rate shopping for myself, I was 100% successful and I got myself a new favorite polish.  I like nudes but some of them make my yellowy skin tone just looked so washed out when I haven’t had any sun.  I found this one – My Very First Knockwurst – it’s a lovely grey nude and as ever it goes on beautifully.  Still need to sort out my cuticles though – this darn weather plays havoc with my hands!

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It was a tad dreary this morning – and I wanted to wear a snuggly knit.  Also, I have decided that my AllSaints leather trousers need to be worn for everyday wear too – they were being saved for ‘best’ and therefore hardly worn.  They are actually really comfy and warm – I love them with sneakers and a jumper.  The Boden sparkle Skye jumper is perfect – and there are still quite a few of the regular versions in the clearance.  You might want to size down if between sizes though as the fit is loose.  I’m wearing it over a Forever21 color blocked top – mainly because it was close at hand this morning.  Of course the sneakers are the Ash Alex.  Sorry about the raindrops on film – not sure I had the right exposure considering how dark it was!

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It’s brightening up.

Enough so that I can venture out and take a photo under the bluer skies today.

Today it’s time for the Zara harem pants again worn with a Zara snakeprint blouse, Boden Limited Edition boyfriend cardigan (from a couple of seasons ago) and my Charcoal suede Newburys (sprayed with water repellent – never fear!).

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I’ve found SO many items of clothing that I want right now – it’s torture.  I’m trying to keep all my pennies for my UK trip, which is admittedly now less than a week away.  Thankfully I think Zara is a little cheaper there too so this will hopefully make it back with me – it’s cotton too so perfect for Spring here when it gets warmer.  I think it will look great with shorts, and those Bobbys that I want:)  Really DISLIKE the new Zara styling on the site by the way – could the models look more masculine or miserable?

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The Grammys.

Geez where’s my ark?  Half the time here we talk about surviving a drought, but after yesterday I think the reservoirs will be full again.  In fact we woke to flood warnings, trees down and power outages.  The rain is set to continue – good prep for England next week!

I watched some of the Grammys last night and enjoyed sharing a few thoughts over Twitter #Grammys.  Florence Welch and Adele looked amazing and represented England well.  Miranda Lambert looked like a train wreck and sounded worse.  Justin – I’m sorry I’m still trying to understand what all the fuss is about – yes you’re talented, but not my cup of tea.  Rihanna looked and sounded amazing though I still question her taste in men.  It makes me irate in fact.  Oh as did the gratuitous high five and back slapping for Jay-Z when his wife took the stage – is it just me or is it really derogatory to do that?  After my late night on Saturday I had to DVR the second half so will maybe be less critical when I watch that this evening.  Twitter is a great place to follow such events – like with the Golden Globes too – I wonder if the Sate of the Union tweets tomorrow night will be as funny?  Maybe not.

Adele in Valentino

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Florence in custom Givenchy 

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Miranda in a way too short sequin dress.

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Rihanna and Chris Brown – 4 years ago he beat her up.

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Today I opted for something a little less red carpet, and looking at it now I think I should have added a piece of color.  The tweed jacket is an old Boden favorite.  It’s worn over a J.Crew khaki long-sleeved tee, with an H&M long sleeve linen tee layered over it, with a khaki Zara scarf.  The jeans are Hudson Collin, the boots are Vince Camuto Autumn, and the glasses are Oliver People Wacks in tortoise shell/black.

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I made the mistake this morning of ‘browsing’ the net-a-porter.com site and look what they just got a shipment of here in the US – perfect with shorts in the summer here in Atlanta – mmmmm…

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So what were your thoughts on the Grammys?  Anyone raise your eyebrow?

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I’m a lucky girl…

…because I got another night out with MM last night!!  That’s two nights out this month already, and a couple of lunches – I should plan solo trips abroad more often!  I leave for Blighty in just over a week and to say I am excited is an understatement.  I’ve already started laying out my clothes in the bedroom to try and plan my capsule travel wardrobe.  Never fun – there’s always more I want to take.  I wish I was a good packer.  The UK weather also complicates matters as I need layers and I want to take suede boots – but that’s just madness for Bury in February no?  How do you pack?  Do you have it down to a fine art?  Tips please!  You’d think I’d be a pro by now but not so.

Yesterday I was begging for more warm weather – the sun shone but I think I was overly ambitious in my J.Crew shirt (some colors, including this neon rose, are in the sale) – it was still pretty chilly.  The scarf is an old H&M one and the jeans are Gap.  The flats are the VInce Camuto Fawna that I got in the sale.  I had to return the pink ones as the glitter came off after one wear – let’s hope these last a tad longer.

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So last night we headed to our favorite bar that overlooks the downtown skyline.  I ate oysters and drank prosecco – it was lovely.  I wore my Hudson Leeloo jeans that I got on sale at Zappos.com.  I LOVE them – so stretchy and comfy – the ‘bone’ color is perfect – not too white if you know what I mean – cream in fact!  The blouse is Zara as is the jacket, and the boots are the Nine West Buster that I got on sale. The clutch is and YSL Belle de Jour, a present from MM for our anniversary a couple of years ago:)  Oh and my nail polish is Chanel black satin – gorgeous color but doesn’t wear well, regardless of a great base coat and top coat.

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Okay back to the packing while the kids are at the park – wish me luck!

 

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