My ABBA party!

Yep, here we are, hubby and me having a little pre-drinks party in Nautilus cottage (see here) before we joined the revellers in our local pub for my ABBA party. We moved into this holiday cottage for the weekend as part of my 60th birthday celebrations and invited some of the family around to get us in the mood for the night ahead. 

One or two fuzzy shots are inevitable as the booze was flowing freely!

My niece Zoe (far right here) owns and runs the grocery store on the neighbouring island of Bryher and in addition to looking after her young son, also has a thriving cake making business. My dietary issues mean I can't eat cake and I was worried that I'd miss out on that particular birthday treat, but Zoe delivered this wonderful chocolate cake for everyone else to enjoy.

Zoe copied my pink patent brogues to perfection. They look too good to eat, don't they? Follow the link here to see more of Zoe's incredible cakes as well as seeing her adorable son Emilio. 

And this is Jamie downloading ABBA music at the last minute as plan A had gone awry. He did a fabulous job with only 30 minutes notice, helping with the playlist and putting the sound system in place at the pub in time for the party to start. 

Oh, just one last tweak!

So here they are, all the party goers in their various and splendid outfits -


All the shiny, happy people.

All that hair!

All those teeth!

Pucker up!

Ben was a previous gallery assistant of mine, but didn't look half as sexy then!

Have you lost something, Steve?

As the evening progressed, the boys became girls and...

... the girls became boys!

The family photos seemed to be lacking my favourite daughter every time!

Boys in green satin, boys in blue satin - it's not often you see that in our local pub!


My poor feet were aching after four hours of dancing in these heels.

Catching up with Polly... 

... and Heather.

And my other gallery helper, Max on the left. What an amazing wig!

Diggin' that man-love!

The smoke machine was working overtime, but that didn't stop them boogying. 

I'm so grateful to everyone who made my evening the success it was. I think about half of the adult island population came and weren't the outfits just fantastic! I'm already thinking that I need another birthday party like this next year - it's the perfect antidote to that post-Christmas slump. Another year, another theme... Any ideas?

I had lots of lovely gifts for my birthday and want to share them in another post. I also managed to fit in a couple of photo shoots while I was in Nautilus, so will feature some of that in my next post later on this week. I gave myself a few days away from work and the usual domestic routines as well as social media, but now I'm back home I need to get back on track. So to my fellow bloggers - I'll be round to see you soon. And to all my readers - thanks for your patience and I hope you thought my ABBA post was worth waiting for.

See you soon!
Anna x


Yay! This is 60!

Yes, here I am, jumping for joy as it's my 60th birthday today. I had no idea what 60 would look and feel like for me, but it's turned out fine. 

40 years ago I came to this beautiful little island for a summer job, as a chambermaid no less, a job that I'd never done before. Within two weeks I had met and fallen in love with my husband-to-be, changing my life completely. I was a college dropout, having given up on the oh-so-wonderful career path of high-flyer interpreter who had her sights set on working for the World Health Organisation in Brussels, earning big money to prove how terribly clever she was. 

Instead, at 18 experiencing my first time away from home, in damp digs with no friends, I crumbled with dreadful homesickness, pining for boyfriend and home resulting in me giving up on my dream without so much as a fight. My parents swallowed down their bitter disappointment. Two years later, and my resolve was no stronger when life as a bank teller left me downhearted and desperate for change. Overnight I upped sticks with my bank teller friend and we headed South. My story from there can be heard online here where I share my adventure with Johnnie Walker on his radio programme, Sounds of the 70's.

Escaping from the cold North of Scotland was like a rebirth giving me the chance to start afresh. Living on a tiny island, one mile by two, with no retail therapy, no cinema, one pub, one hotel and one grocery store may not sound like much of a life, but for me, it was ample. Maybe I'm just a small town girl an island girl at heart. I needed boundaries, needed life to be simple, and it was. Picnics on the beach, catching shrimps for tea, bobbing about in our little boat, Friday nights watching Steve row in the gig races, late night parties singing sea shanties with friends, family gatherings to welcome yet another new niece or nephew into the fold - yes this was indeed enough.

Seven years on and that once scatty chambermaid had become assistant housekeeper with a host of practical skills that she could apply to running a pristine home for her, now, husband. Four years later and Sasha was born, followed by Jamie a couple of years after that. All pretty ordinary stuff. And ordinary is just what I loved; the husband, the kids, the routine, the security.

And then at 40 I started working at the gallery once the children were both at school. I recall thinking "Life really does begin at 40" as it was a whole new world for me, being surrounded by the wealth of creativity - I was in my element! My grandfather and father were both amateur artists: this path was one I had thought I might follow too. As a teenager I had gained "O" level art at school and my teacher encouraged me to take it further, but no, I had bigger plans...

Now, 20 years on, I'm manager of the gallery and have found my niche in the world of fashion blogging, fulfilling my creative desires. If this all reads as a perfect fairy tale, then don't be fooled; as a family we've had our ups and downs, but that's normal isn't it? 

Outfit details - dungarees: Primark, denim shirt: H&M (pre-loved), jacket: H&M (pre-loved), shoes: TK Maxx, socks: gift, rings: Sainsbury's, necklace: Sasha's (borrowed), sunglasses: Quay Australia. (The photo shoot isn't from today - I had the foresight to do this in advance while the weather was good. Today is blowing a howling gale with winds of about 50mph!)

Saturday promises to be a big day as family and friends rally around to help me celebrate this significant birthday with an ABBA party. Hopefully all the fancy dress parcels will have been delivered in time, and the platform boots and wigs will be fit for purpose. My first attempt at buying a wig ended up being clown red rather than the auburn that I expected! The second one (blonde), made me look like one of the Witches of Eastwick. The third is very reminiscent of how my hair looked when I first arrived here in 1978. I hope to publish a post on Sunday or maybe Monday at the latest sharing some party outfits.

How very young we were!

Anna x


Oh, those summer days...

I don't know about you, but I'm so fed up with this stormy winter weather! Apart from the sheer impracticalities of trying to take photos in a howling gale, I really am not in the least bit inspired. 

These shots are from my boat trip yesterday, taken from inside the jet boat. I needed to get my hair cut and the only hairdresser is across the water on St Mary's. Rain and a howling gale aren't really conducive to getting dressed up in ones finery and wrapping up against the wet weather doesn't really give you many styling options does it?

So instead, I'm going to re-visit one of my favourite days from last summer. Why don't you join me?

It was mid-July and this was an after work picnic on Samson. I'd found this sundress by ASOS in a charity shop (for only £3.99) and knew it would come into its own at some stage. I was styling it up for an edition of Ping Post Post (see here), way back in the days when Samantha and Ann joined in the fun, and must admit I was rather pleased to have an excuse to prance around in this ruffled delight.

The tide was just beginning to flood across the warm sand making a lovely warm and cool sensation underfoot. The boat motoring past behind me is full of holiday-makers all returning to St Mary's after a day spent on the off-islands. By this time of day, the islands become our own again, and especially the uninhabited ones as it's only the smaller local boats that you might encounter. 

I love the freedom, the sense of joy that sunshine, sea and sand evoke in me - I bet you're the same too. The only new thing in the shot are the sandals which I bought from Primark. The dress, hat, bikini and gold bangles are all pre-loved, hurrah! 

It's so lovely to have these bits of frippery, silly bits of nonsense, to wear here throughout the summer time. My wardrobe, had I still lived in Scotland, would have been very different even in the summer months. According to my sister who lives in St Andrews, summer up there is only six weeks long, whereas I stretch my summer wardrobe from May to the end of September. I hadn't even owned a bikini until I came to live on the islands. As a child I can remember my mother taking photographs of us on the beach, always with the instruction to "Take your cardigans off!" hence revealing our knobbly bathing costumes, as well as our pallid, Scottish blue/grey skin which so rarely saw sunlight. 

I've probably said it before, but I'll say it again - I never take my life here for granted. I ended up on these beautiful shores quite by chance and will be sharing the story of how I arrived on the Isles of Scilly in my next post on Wednesday, which just so happens to be my 60th birthday.

As one way of mentally preparing for my 60th year, I've just read this wonderfully inspiring book. Age is most definitely relative according to the author, who does in fact view 60 as being middle aged, rather than old. As a teenager, 60 was indeed old to me; the age of my grandparents; the age of retirement; the age of tootling down to the park to feed the ducks; the age of sedentary hobbies and taking things easy; the age of aching bones and weariness. It most definitely wasn't the age to take up body building, or competitive rowing, or sprinting and breaking world records in so doing. Charles did all of this, but well beyond his 60th year. He even went back to work when he realised that he was going to stagnate without the mental stimulus, discipline and routine of a job. (Find his book on Amazon here.)

His book is a veritable reference library of how to age well; what to eat, the supplements to take to keep you at your peak; the exercise you need to incorporate to counter the inevitable loss of muscle mass as we transition from one decade to the next. He deals with the importance of the daily mental stimulus which is vital in the fight against Alzheimer's and Dementia. Charles is my kind of man; full of optimism, seeing age and every challenge it brings as an opportunity for something new and positive in his oh-so-busy life. No fireside napping for him, no. He sees his role as rule-breaker, a trail blazer; his journey is an opportunity to share his enthusiasm for a life that's joyful, age-defyingly-active and incredibly fulfilling. Charles has recently taken up public speaking by way of sharing his secrets of a well lived life. I, for one, would love to meet him.

After reading the book, I've come to realise that 60 maybe is the new 40. But joking aside, it seems to be a state of mind, this ageing thing. I've maybe managed to keep myself trim in time for my big birthday, but I can see I still have room for improvement. Weight bearing exercises are vital if I'm to keep from losing muscle, the framework for a healthy, battle-ready body. After decades of dieting and long term health issues (see my health page here) I know that I still have lots of work to do. Chasing the notion of being thin/slim has to be replaced with building a body that's robust enough to face winter virus attacks such as flu or the resulting dangers of bronchitis or pneumonia.

My sea swimming clearly isn't armour enough against all types of illness and my recovery from my recent dental treatment proved me to be less fit than I thought. Another health issue that affects women more than men in later life is osteoporosis, and to this end I'm already taking a calcium supplement as insurance, as I worry that the many years without dairy products in my diet may well have impacted on my bone density. Weight bearing exercise is the other part of that equation and already I've started walking (the easiest weight bearing exercise of all) during my lunchtimes. A healthy immune system is key at any age, so you won't be surprised to hear that I've just finished reading up on this too. But that's for another day.

I hope your weather isn't as wild as mine, but there again, you may be affected by snow or worse still, power cuts. Whatever the weather or challenges, thanks for dropping by and I hope you'll visit again soon.

Please join me on Wednesday for my birthday post!
Anna x

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