Casual styling for a leather maxi skirt

Hurrah for the weekend!

The sun is shining and it's almost the weekend! Yay! How has your week been? Mine seems to have flown by in the blink of an eye. By Friday I always like to review my week according to what I've achieved and this week seems to be sadly lacking in fanfare moments. Sticky little admin issues and sewing machine problems mean I've not got a lot to show for anther seven days. That's highlighted by the fact that my return to work is no longer a distant event, but will be a reality by the end of March. 

Today's outfit is another shopping my closet effort and one that I'm rather pleased with. The leather maxi skirt is pre-loved (The Chine Collection) and cost me £14 when I was on my shopping trip in London in Nov 2019. It's real leather and made up of lots of panels creating this lovely flared hemline.

It's the first time I've worn the skirt mainly due to the fact that I've had a bit of style block about it. A leather maxi skirt isn't all that easy to wear without it looking a bit over the top, but by adding these casual Converse boots it becomes much more wearable. 

The boots were a TK Maxx find from a few years ago. I've not worn them a lot, purely because I want to keep them looking fresh and clean - mad, eh? Anyway, here they are adding a funky edge to what could have been a bit of a white elephant.

The animal print sunglasses are by Radley London and again add a bit of edge to the overall look. 

A couple of cocktail rings add to the funk factor. The sweater is old, from H&M.

And so I'll shimmy off into the weekend where sewing, cooking and swimming will all be jockeying for position. Do you have much lined up for the next few days? The prospect of lock-down ending here in England certainly is helping to sharpen my focus on those things I want to get done before I'm whisked back to work. I hope you have a fruitful weekend too!

                                                                     Anna x


Faux leather February, our Style Not Age challenge

Hello again!

Yes, here we are on the last Monday of the month showcasing our monthly style challenge for you. Jacqui has come up with Faux leather February and in accordance we're all dancing to that tune. So let's see what the lady herself has to offer shall we?

Jacqui wears new faux leather culottes in chocolate brown with cream coat and boots for modern look. The sunflower pattern shirt is a spring inspired addition. See more on Mummabstylish

Emma's nod to the theme are the cute puff sleeves of her fitted top. The all black outfit is complimented by the orange check of the skirt and orange handbag. Catch up with her on the Style Splash blog. 

Hilda sports a faux leather bomber jacket with her flared jeans for a rock chick look. To see more of her casual weekend style see Over The Hilda

Gail's faux leather ensemble is a zingy combination of black and green, which reminds me of a post I did last year (see here). Her take on the challenge is classy with a stylish edge thanks to the fabulous pop of pink. See her back story on Is This Mutton.

My spin on faux leather had me delving deep into my wardrobe to find these pre-loved yet unworn leggings. The peplum top (also pre-loved and unworn) proved to be a cute pairing inspiring this awe-shucks pose. A peplum does that to me, encouraging me to forget my age and act out that cutesy alter ego. Cringe-worthy perhaps? Then cringe away!

The sheer floral top cost me all of £2.50 about 3 years ago and has been stashed away ever since. I can't bear to pass up a bargain, but only if the colourway is one that will work for me. The autumn colours are definitely ones that suit me and I knew that at some stage this would be a useful top. Now that I've worn it once I can see it will be diverse enough for another spin later.

I wanted to ramp up the retro vibe and choose this vintage necklace (a wonderful charity shop find from Feb 2020) to pair with my Quay Australia sunglasses. I was really pleased with how this came together.

My rings are in keeping with the pre-loved theme and you'll recognise my much worn patent leather boots from Topshop. 

I'll leave you with this final bit of flouncing around. I did actually have another version of faux leather in quite another vein which I'll share with you soon - a much more robust take I'd say... I do hope you've enjoyed this month's challenge and ask that you take a moment to read the back stories from my style buddies.

Wishing you a great week!

Anna x


Mustard and fuchsia - a sunny combination

Another spring like day, hurrah! I may be obsessed with the weather, but I think that comes from living on on island with no cars, therefore we're always steeped in the depths of what mother natures sends our way. This week has been mostly wet and windy, so this sunny day was all I needed to get dressed for a brisk walk around the island.

This mustard wool coat was a purchase from TK Maxx a couple of years ago and has been a firm favourite ever since. It's like a cuddly teddy bear and really has that snuggle factor. Worn over jeans it's a lovely casual look. The jeans are rather ancient - snow wash denim was maybe an 80's fashion - but were an amazing bargain at the time of purchase, only £1 in sale rail in charity shop in Exeter and are still going strong.

The view behind me is pretty stunning isn't it? The vista is looking down Tresco Channel out towards Cromwell's Castle and the big blue yonder. 

The handbag is another preloved purchase, this time from my shopping trip to London in 2019 - gosh that seems like so long ago now!

I was trying out my new tripod for these photos. It's a flexible tripod that takes phones or cameras. I was able to prop it up on uneven surfaces such as the granite wall and the grassy bank. I've since used it wrapped around my bicycle basket and even moulded around a rock when I was making a swimming video (see that here). 

I've not worn fuchsia with mustard before and must admit I rather like it. The cashmere polo neck sweater is from M&S. It's soft and fluffy and toasty warm so what more could you want? The buttery soft leather gloves are a great match. Jamie bought them for my Christmas. The sunglasses are by Quay Australia.

The jazzy little handbag is not only cute but roomy enough to hold my tiny new tripod so that's a bonus. My white patent leather boots are by Besson and were from TK Maxx. My Christmas wishlist was an absolute winner for me this year meaning that I had lots of lovely new things that I really, really wanted.

These photos explain my late posting today. Regulars will know that I normally post on a Friday, but I've been a bit obsessed with my sewing project and couldn't stop until I got this far. I have another chair to do next...

I'll be back again on Monday with our Style Not Age challenge so please do swing by for that.

                                                                                             Anna x


A hint of spring

Hello lovelies!

What a blooming relief to have a break in the weather! The past few weeks have been a dreadful mixture of bitter east winds and endless rain so yesterday's bright day was enough to inspire a 
spring-like outfit.

I felt in the mood for dancing too, but hey, why not?

I opted for an oyster pink base topped with pattern and brocade for this light hearted spring ensemble. The skirt (very old) is from F&F at Tesco, costing £5 in the sale. The cotton roll neck was a charity shop find, also £5. The satin jacket was a hand-me-down from my daughter, the brand is H&M. And the brocade boots are a few years old now, from ASOS.

Also from ASOS, these pretty two tone sunglasses are by Morgan and are in the sale here. The rose gold heart pendant is quite old and the resin rings were a gift from a friend.

It's such a cheery thing to dress for spring. I love the sense of hope this one day brought. I felt bright and optimistic as the day was full of promise. Just one single day can make all the difference!

A shake, a shimmy and a little flutter!

I hope that your start to the week was equally joyful. I'm heading off to the beach now and will be back to see your comments later. If you wish to leave me your thoughts on this on any other post I'd love to hear from you.

                                                              Have a super week!

                                                              Anna x


Why I Swim

Hi there!

I've noticed of late that I've got some new readers here and on my Instagram account and thought I'd like to share my wild swimming story with you. Why I Swim is a project currently being run by Swimferal and one I've added my voice to. Click on the link to find out more.

And this is where it all starts. Personally I find the call of the sea is so strong, but maybe that's simply because I live in an incredibly beautiful part of the world. Who wouldn't be drawn to the ocean when you see this?

Winter sea swimming is all about staying warm before and getting warm after your swim. I wear a full set of wet weather gear as it's so efficient at keeping the wind out as well as keeping the heat in. Underneath this is a fleece jacket and joggers, cashmere polo neck, heavy duty thermal long sleeved top plus the obligatory woolly hat and gloves and thick socks and fur lined boots. This is one time I'm happy to forego the glamour!

The swimsuit has no thermal properties however, so it's up to me to thrash about as fast as I can to keep warm. Ear plugs, swimming cap and goggles are essentials for me. 

This set of photos was taken in January when Fiona and I happened to hit upon a lovely still day that was worthy of a photo shoot. I've no idea what the sea temperature was, although I may have read somewhere that it was 8 degrees. I maybe need to buy myself a water thermometer. From water's edge to swimming I take as little time as possible. Not for me the strange ritual of wading slowly into the water followed by that chilly flicking and splashing of cold water onto the top half of the body. No, I walk purposefully into the sea up to waist depth and plunge right under as quickly as possible. During the winter months the wind chill factor is often colder than the actual sea temperature, so get in and get going!

The clear icy water has wonderful anti-inflammatory properties as well as being a boost to the immune system.  Which brings me on to the main reason I swim...

At the age of 18 I was diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease, Ulcerative Colitis to be precise. It has been a long term illness, one that has resulted in me being hospitalised on several occasions, being treated medically rather than surgically with not much success over the years. The disease can be hereditary and is also stress related which is ironic as having bowel disease itself is very stressful. If you can imagine living with a bad dose of food poisoning for prolonged periods of your life and the impact thereof, you might get the idea of what it's like to live with bowel disease. I've missed weddings of family and friends, Christenings too and other social occasions where being away from a loo was impossible for me to manage. (Question - why do Churches not have loos?) Travelling is out of the question during a flare-up and eventually your life revolves around a mental map of loos or more often just being at home if the stress is too much. The stigma of bowel disease makes it awkward to explain what looks like odd decisions or behaviour (suddenly leaving a gathering) as it's not an easy subject to weave casually into the conversation. Most people are pretty squeamish about this topic I've discovered.

And so it was, eight years ago that I suffered a particularly severe attack which laid me low and left me feeling beaten. After a week of crawling back and forth between sofa and bathroom I decided that I needed to take control of my health. The prescribed medication made my condition worse and the steroids that the doctors kept in reserve for acute flare-ups had previously sparked a series of manic episodes - no drug is without its side effects as I learnt to my cost. Things were as bad as they could get.

Sometimes you have to hit rock bottom before you can start to make your way back up again. This was no time for wallowing. It was time for me to take my own health in hand. I spent hours searching the web, looking for natural ways to get well and to boost the immune system. After lots and lots of reading and rejecting the wacko ideas and their wild promises, I came across a book that claimed to treat bowel disease through diet. Breaking the Vicious Cycle by Elaine Gottschall shares the details of her own experience; the Specific Carbohydrate Diet is what she created in response to her daughter's bowel disease. This was to be the first stage of my recovery. I followed the diet for a month and by that time was well enough to leave the house again.

The next stage was to rebuild my strength. The web came up trumps again suggesting Cold Water Therapy. The natural remedy of taking the waters has been used for centuries to bring about wellbeing for all sorts of illnesses. The cold water shocks the immune response galvanising the white cells into action. I didn't need much persuading. My initial swims were merely dips under the water and out again. Yes, it was shockingly cold! However as I was able to stay in longer and swim a little further every day it became more bearable. It was May so the water temperature wasn't too cold. As the summer progressed, so did my swimming. 

So, that was then and this is now and I've been well ever since. The combination of diet and swimming are what works for me. I can't say that this would work for everyone, but it's been like my own little miracle. My commitment to wild swimming comes from a driving need to be well. I don't drink alcohol, smoke or eat junk food. I've made a lifelong pledge to myself to do the right things in order to stay well. The joy of being able to travel (ah, the good old days), to swim for hours, to walk for miles - all without the worry of where the nearest loo is - it's a heady sense of freedom! Who would have thought that I could spend 6 hours in the sea as I swam around the entire island of Tresco? If someone had said that to me eight years ago I would have thought they were mad.

The icing on the cake has to be the wonderful afterglow that rushes through your system after cold water swimming. That sparkle, that buzz; it's probably the thing that all wild swimmers see as the elixir of life.  Swimming isn't just my hobby, it's part of who I am. Without my daily swim I'm a fraction of my whole self, running on low until I'm topped up again by the energy of the sea. I'm so grateful that my health journey led me to this place.

Two pieces of information about outdoor and wild swimming have emerged in the past year, both pertaining to good health. The first (seen on BBC TV) is that scientific research has shown that cold water swimming can play a part in delaying the onset of dementia. And the second (heard on Radio 2) is that the effects of cold water swimming i.e. the mobilising of white blood cells are similar to the effects the Covid19 vaccine has on the immune system. 

Eight years ago I was the only wild swimmer on the island, raising a few eyebrows as I beat a path to the beach regardless of season or weather. Nowadays the sport has taken off within the Isles of Scilly becoming a selling point for holidays and activity breaks. There's barely a week goes past without open water swimming making the news now that it has become a mainstream form of exercise. My post script to this has to be that my two sisters have both taken up sea swimming in the past 12 months too. Hurrah for the joys of wild swimming!

                                                                                                         Anna x

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