Tag Archives: England

My packing conundrum.

It never gets any easier.  Every time I go across the Atlantic and come back with a bag of full of unworn clothes I tell myself that next time I will be more clever with my packing, more ruthless, and more discerning with my picks.  I’ll create a packing strategy that I can turn to again and again.  But no, regardless of my strategy, it is always a challenge.  This time I thought that if I picked a color palette – two neutrals and two brights – it would be easy to just select items that create outfits using those colors.  It worked, sort of, but I guess I underestimated how many brown, navy, orange and pink items I have.  An added complication this time around is packing for two destinations with two potentially (hopefully not!) different climates – Bury and Northern Cyprus.

I have learned some things over the years:

1. The clothes need to be easy to pack and light – they need to be wrinkle free at my destination.

2. They need to be easy to wash and dry quickly.

3. Comfort is key – no tight waistbands indicating my increasing waist line while I’m away – I can repent at leisure on my return.

4.  Regardless of destination they need to be adaptable for different temperatures – cool in the heat, and suitable for layering in the cooler weather.

5.  I must be able to wear them casually, and then dress them up with a few trinkets, for beach to bar wear – or sofa to bar wear in Bury:)

I’m not asking too much surely?  As it turns out no.  I have discovered my clothing partner when it comes to travel clothes.  James Perse.

The iconic West Coast brand creates fabulous soft cotton tops, skirts and trousers that are cool in all senses of the word.  Low maintenance, well designed, quality clothing.  I became obsessed back in February when I traveled back to England in their fine cord surplus trousers – super comfy and stylish – I wore them with sneakers and rolled up with courts/pumps.  They are top of my list for this trip as again I can adapt them for day or night and wear them with sandals or flip flops.  Perfect for Bury Market, and respectable enough for visiting Mosques in N.Cyrpus.  Here’s how I wore them in February.  I also have a couple of James Perse t-shirt dresses that are so soft and stretchy – with great ruching that hide all those lady bumps.  They are comfortable enough for wearing in the house, and then I can add a statement necklace and some sandals and wear them to the Hare and Hounds.

Now at full price – the brand ain’t cheap, but hallelujah – just in time for my trip they’ve launched a James Perse Private Sample Sale!!  Many of the items are 50% off and my Husband has just stocked up on menswear this morning.  I’m procrastinating but have the following in my cart:

Heathered double V ringer dress – I just love this style of dress.  The skirt is ruched and double layered too.

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The stripe pencil skirt – similar in style to the skirt I’m wearing today – with ruching you can make it the length you want.  These are SO comfortable and can be easily dressed up or down.

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5 Pocket jersey pant – similar in style to the surplus trousers I have, these can easily be rolled up or worn long with sneakers.  I think these are the perfect holiday trouser.

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My favorite – the soft v multi layer t-shirt dress.  I have a capped sleeve black dress like this that I adore.  These dresses are so versatile – and I love the white.  I will wear this with my Newburys, Golden Goose, sandals and flip flops.  It is the perfect dress for every occasion and the white is perfect for summer to show off that golden tan!

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The parachute poplin sailing pants – my Husband bought the men’s version – I adore these in white.

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The cap sleeved casual tee – 100% cotton – t-shirts don’t get much better than this – I love the scoop neck with my bigger boobs – far more flattering than a crew neck.

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Sheer slub casual tee in bluebell – I am in love with this color – in fact anything blue right now – completely out of character for me!

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Today I am wearing a James Perse skirt, that I bought in their last sample sale, to try and demonstrate how versatile their clothes are.  Later today I can slip the jacket and boots off and just add flip flops for a comfy casual look at home.  I wish you could feel how soft this cotton is!

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 Skirt – James Perse // Jacket – Zara jersey blazer (old) // Boots – Sam Edelman Petty II (on sale) // T-shirt – Boden

Enjoy browsing but don’t wait too long to hit order – once news about these sales gets out stuff sells fast!  Oh and fyi – I’m a US 6/8 and my skirt, dresses and trousers are all James Perse size 2 – they have plenty of give in them.  One sweatshirt I have with a little less stretch is a size 3.

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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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The Holiday Blues.

It happens every year with varying degrees of intensity.  While everyone else is excitedly comparing costumes and planning Thanksgiving road trips I am pining for home.  But is it home anymore?  Let’s put it this way I wish I was in England with friends and family.  But do I still have friends in England?  I’ve been here for 12 years now and a lot has changed.  Lives move on.  What is it that I really miss?  Is it the familiarity and security of where I grew up?  Is it my family that has almost doubled in size since I left?  Would I really move back if the opportunity presented itself or is it just a fleeting moment of seeing it all through rose tinted spectacles?

Every year I go back to the UK for a couple of weeks and I have a fabulous time – then I’m ready to get back here.  So if I went back to England would I miss the US the same way?  Would it be fair to uproot the children?  Could I go back knowing my Husband has zero desire to go back?  What would we do for a living given our business is here?  I ask myself the same questions every year and feel more and more backed into a corner.  It’s the eternal conundrum.  The longer we stay here the more roots we have here, and the more I miss England.  Can I have my cake and eat it please?  I sometimes feel like I’m skating the surface of life, avoiding getting in too deep with friendships or communities – because that would just make moving back even tougher no?  Is it time to accept Atlanta as home and stop dipping my toe in and go skinny dipping exposing all to everyone?  Answers on a postcard please.

On a lighter note we went to Abattoir last night to celebrate MM’s birthday.  It all went well and fun was had up until the main course arrived.  I ordered hanger steak – yum – errr not so much – it was covered in a rich hollandaise sauce.  So in my very British manner what did I do?  I wittered on about it to MM instead of returning it to the Chef, after all I got what I ordered.  Next time I’ll go for the beet salad.

I did have a new outift to wear – the AllSaints Amei dress in petrol is fabulous – so comfy and easy to wear.  It has two ties inside it that you tie behind your neck so you can adjust the length of the drape at the front and wear it tunic length or longer.  It was chilly yesterday so I layered it over an H&M vest/dress in black.  After seeing Doesmybumlook40 in her Dorothy Perkins coated jeggings I discovered they do free shipping to the US and ordered a pair before there was a rush on them.  As she says they are fabulously comfortable and felt really dressy.  I wore the pony hair Nine West Haywire shoe boots, and then topped it all off with the Boden leather jacket from back in the sale and my Zara camo scarf.

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An homage to Aerosmith.

You’ll either love them or you’ll hate them.  For me they are a throw back to the late 70’s early 80’s when everyone was pouring a bottle of bleach in their bathtub with their skin tight jeans – well at least we were in Bury!  They are the tie dyed jeans from H&M and I think they are fun though not for the faint of heart.  It didn’t occur to me until I got to work that paired with my Ash Bowies I am actually resembling someone from an 80s hair band – without the big hair admittedly though I’m close to it thanks to the downpour I walked through to the office.  One of my friends at university used to wear something very similar, though his jeans were completely bleached and he wore Reebok white hi-tops with them – classy.  His jeans were so tight I often wonder if he ever had a family.  Keeping it simple with the loud jeans I opted for my white Express t-shirt and the lovely All Saints Boston cardigan that I got in the sale back in England in June.  Loving that I can start to get some knitwear out again.

Yesterday I wore my Zara snake print top from the sale, black Gap jeggings and my favorite Fryes of the moment – the Jenna short studded – they are so soft I love them.

Taking the children for a play date after school today so looking forward to their Mom’s reaction to my jeans:)

 

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Styling our Primark jeans!

Knowing that my blogging friends, Avril (SchoolGateStyle.com) and Beth (StyleGuile.blogspot.com), had also fallen under the trance of the Primark floral jeans this summer, we thought it would be fun for the three of us to collaborate and show you our interpretations of styling for these floral wonders!

As you know I really am new to the Aladdin’s Cave that is Primark as we don’t have them in the US, but I made a child free shopping trip there when I was back in Bury in June.  I love skinny jeans but I have to admit I was pretty terrified by the floral jean trend.  Any pattern for that matter, on jeans, just seemed wrong.  Talk about u-turns!  I nabbed these jeans at just 5 GBP (about $7.50!) and fell in love with them as soon as I wore them. For the price they are great quality and a fabulous fit, plus given all the colors in them they go with a variety of tops – though I definitely advise keeping the tops simple.  The jeans themselves have green, purple, pink, taupe and black in them and I have worn them with tops in all these colors.

Here’s how I styled them back in June in England, I love the casual look here – I wore an AllSaints tank and H&M taupe linen jumper which coordinated great with the jeans.

And here is how I wore them more recently with my pink Zara linen t-shirt from the sale:

For this post I decided to go for a slightly dressier look – though I love that it can easily be a fun, relaxed look without the jacket.  The jacket coordinates perfectly – it’s the Boden tipped blazer in blossom – currently in the sale at $88.80 though other colors are cheaper.  It is fabulous quality and one of my favorite Boden purchases this year.  Under the jacket I’m wearing a simple men’s Gap white t-shirt, with 2-3 year old H&M pink beads.  My Tory Burch musk Eddie flats are my favorite shoes for these jeans – nude and simple.

I absolutely love how Beth, Avril and I have all styled them differently – who would have known that statement floral jeans would be so versatile!

For more details on Beth and Avril’s outfits hop over to StyleGuile.blogspot.com and SchoolGateStyle.com for some inspiration!

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Damn the Zara sale!

It’s hot as Hades here in Atlanta and humid to boot – but after MM reminding me that I have a half to train for and them a full marathon in January I headed out for a run this morning.  Miserable? – Yep.  Imagine running in a steam room or a sauna.  I started thinking I’d do 8miles, then changed my mind to 6miles after heading out of the door, then after 2miles decided 4 would be just manageable.  Ah well as Nike say ‘you either ran today or you didn’t’ and I did.

It helped a little that I had some super cute Lululemon attire to wear.  Not sure what is going on with Lululemon at the moment – their Facebook page has been covered in complaints about colors bleeding and changing after wear – not good – especially at their price points.  Their response is a little fishy stating that it depends on the wearer’s pH – hmmm – Nike don’t seem to have this issue so seems fairly odd to blame imperfections on your paying customer.  We’ll see how it evolves.  I have one incidence of color bleed on my blurred blossom pace setter skirt where the flash pink waist band bled into the skirt at the back during a wash – not happy as I always wash sports gear on cold.  Having said that I adore the pace setter skirts and have yet to find anything more comfortable or flattering to run in.

Pre-run this morning – Lululemon pace setter skirt in seaside dot, run swiftly tank in black, Newtons and bed hair:

After sweating my t*ts off I had an hour to fill before picking Poppy up from tennis camp.  Foolishly I decided to head to Zara to ‘browse’ their sale racks.  I had palpitations the moment I walked in.  The racks were packed with huge mark downs on items that I hadn’t seen before as I only started shopping in Zara around May time.  Within 10mins my arms were laden with tops, pants and jackets to try…it was like the Krypton Factor, or It’s a Knockout for more hilarity – I kept looking at the time worried about leaving my daughter stranded with her tennis racket.  In the end I decided that jackets were not needed as I have bought quite a few, especially my favorite Zara jersey jackets.  Prioritizing I decided to try the tops – I wear jeans so often that having a great selection of tops to wear for casual and ‘going out’ is beneficial (nearly wrote essential – but they’re not really!).  Plus the tops were dirt cheap – the most I paid for one was $25 – the others were $15 or $10 – brilliant!

The first is this lovely black long sleeved tee with skinny arms and a zip up the back – the zip is a bit too yellowy gold right now but it should fade with wear.  It will look great with jeans or my leopard print crops.

Then I got this lovely off white top – it’s knitted at the front and has a longer silky back – great for a night out with the girls!

This pink long sleeved tee is gorgeous and so soft – I can imagine wearing it under a jacket for work or with shorts around the house.

Here’s my favorite purchase – I think it is some sort of animal print at the front – and it is silky with a matte/stretchy material at the back – again a little longer at the back.  It’ll look great with black jeans or under a black jacket.

Now I’m off to take Hugh for a haircut – this could be the day all his locks go – he has been asking for it short for a while and I’ve resisted as he has such gorgeous long hair but I’m getting so irritated with people mistaking him for a girl…you’d think no guys in the US ever had long hair – it only happens over here and I am completely befuddled by it as to me he is obviously ALL boy!

Today I wore my new H&M purchase – the bird print dress I got back in England for a bargain of 12.99 GBP – it’s lovely and stretchy and has a cute flirty skirt to it.  I’m wearing my pink Tory Burch Revas with it for a splash of color.

Happy weekend y’all!

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Donkeys, cows and sheep.

It was curry night last night.  I’m surprised there wasn’t a queue outside the front door it smelled so good.  Chicken madras with all the trimmings – yum.  My brother and his family joined us – apparently he pops round every so often when Mum is cooking his favorite or Dad has stock piled some beer – what a coincidence:)

I’ll mention it again but won’t go on I promise – the weather really hasn’t improved.  In fact before the calorific curry I went out for a run and I’m sure it took me twice as long as the wind was so strong.  Despite the weather we bundled up this morning to head for Bury Show.  It’s an agricultural show so it was a great opportunity to show Poppy and Hugh cows, horses, sheep, sheep dogs and a few real life farmers.  Once the falconry ‘expert’ retrieved his hawk we also saw a a few birds in flight – though the funniest part was watching him chase after said hawk while telling us how well trained his birds are.  It’s a wonder he wasn’t cursing over his mic.

Poppy met a member of the Bury constabulary and when he asked where she was from he proceeded to tell us he was off to the Jersey Shore for his holiday.  I asked him if he had seen the show and he replied “no but the Mrs has which is why she wants to go”.  Hmmm good luck with that mate.

Having fun in the garden with Space Hoppers.

Have you ever tried to explain sheep dog training to children?

Gorgeous Shire horses.

Sheep dogs and geese?

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The most expensive donkey ride ever – total scam!

With Nana and Grandad.

No real fashion stakes to talk about today – Patagonia Nano pullover was certainly needed and the obligatory green wellies – even cooler as they were the ones I had 20 years ago!

Massive cows – didn’t mention we are having roast beef tonight:)

Biggest load of bull – rarely meant literally.

Sunday afternoon now means sitting with my beloved, well missed, Sunday papers, savoring the smell of roast beef and waiting for the England game tonight!  Poppy and Hugh are ready in their official M&S t-shirts, though they are a little confused between the football and the Olympics as they keep telling me they are supporting Team USA too.  We’ll figure it out before August I’m sure:)

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Movie day.

So what do I pack for the UK next week?  Is it really that bad that I just need to take jumpers and jeans?:(  Am I being crazy if I pack shorts or a skirt?  Is it really going to be wellies and rain coats?  To be honest I don’t mind the rain too much – we had torrential down pours here yesterday and it was lovely – I miss it in an odd way.  But rain for 2 weeks in the UK will restrict my footwear choice – i.e. no suede, and also means my bags will be heavier with colder weather clothes – unfortunately rain in the UK does not equate to saunas and steam room heat and humidity like it does here…I’m slowly building a pile of possible items to take but I’m now getting to the stage where I am throwing things at the pile for the hell of it.  I need to keep reminding myself that I am not Victoria Beckham and will not be wining and dining every night in Bury’s finest establishments – therefore I do not need 3 pairs of ‘going out’ shoes, a pair of heeled boots, or a pair of strappy sandals.  I WILL be going out though and obviously if I am seeing people from my past i.e. school etc…then I need to look drop dead gorgeous, skinny and fabulous so maybe I do need some heels?:)  Shallow indeed;)

Yesterday afternoon I went shopping with Poppy for gifts for the nephews and nieces and my sister’s birthday gift.  I truly am creating a diva – while at the Jo Malone counter in Saks she was asking very relevant questions about certain scents and then had the audacity to ask for extra samples – I love her nerve!  We then had fun at the library doing much more sensible things for a 6 year old like signing up to the book club.  I LOVE libraries – even the smell of the old books appeals to my inner nerd…entering one takes me straight back to school – I really did like to study!

Today after her gymnastics camp I’ve promised to take her to watch the new Madagascar movie.  I’m quite relieved to have something to fill my afternoon given the demo of the bathroom is in full swing – the last place I want to be right now is home.  I’m looking forward to my popcorn:)

I was again very uninspired with what to wear – I think it’s because I feel overwhelmed with packing and wading through my clothes – it’s times like these I can really see the benefit of a capsule wardrobe.  Anyway I picked out my J.Crew skirt from a couple of years ago, Zara Union Jack tee (feeling a little patriotic with the imminent trip and England’s not too shabby performance yesterday in Euro 2012!), and then I opted for my Frye Sabrina’s in clay which I’d probably take to England were it not for the hassle of taking them on and off at airport security – and I don’t want to pack them as they will take up precious cargo space!  So sorry for the rubbish photo again – ’tis dark in the basement!

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