My 4th year of blogging - what a busy year that was!

My blogging year runs from May to May and this time last year I was oblivious to what an exciting time I was about to experience. Island life couldn't prepare me for the whirlwind of three fashion campaigns for JD Williams and a beauty campaign for Look Fabulous Forever and all that those would entail. This is the visual whistle stop tour  overindulgent reprise of the year - I do hope you enjoy it half as much as I have! (You may want to make a cuppa and draw up a chair, this could take some time. Be warned, it's MEGA, the biggest post of my entire blogging career!)

In a couple of months I would leave the peace and serenity of the islands and step into the world of advertising to learn about the life of a fashion model, and all at the grand old age of 60!

This shot is from a feature I ran in May last year called "Fix her crown" - see it here if you missed it. 

My year on Tresco wouldn't be complete without a swimming shot of my friend Kate who comes at least twice or three times a year. These chat swims are great therapy for both of us as we exchange news and hatch plans together.

On the eve of the JD Williams casting session in London, here I am on the way to spend the night with another friend, Ann who acted as styling adviser, guide and confidante in those early days when the project was still at the fledgling stage and I was having to keep it quiet.

And this is post-casting and golly how relaxed I remember feeling once it was all over. (I look perfectly at home sitting on the Iron Throne too, don't I?) The actual casting was pretty much an adrenalin-charged blur of me talking nineteen to the dozen and then dancing (not unprompted I hasten to add) - oooo how I cringe when I recall that bit - but I was on a hopeful high as Ann and I sat having a drink before going to the cinema that evening. Dare I think that I would be good enough to make the cut? 

Home again and I'm wearing some of my spoils from that London trip.

July came along with the news that yes I was in! Time for me to swap boats for planes as I flew to Manchester for the filming of the new "I AM" campaign, to be released in September. As I arrived in the city, so did the raging heatwave that transformed our summer and memories thereof. Manchester in 30 degrees took a bit of getting used to without a sea breeze to help cool me down. 

The air con had broken down in the hotel room which served as hair and make-up department. A temporary system was hastily set up and we none of us melted. I do remember that between walking from the hotel to the film location I wasn't allowed to wear the heavy yellow sweater for fear that I might faint in the heat. I was given a runner to carry said sweater over his arm which was quite a novelty for me. I had to rein in my natural impulse to insist that I was able to carry my own sweater. The lad (young enough to be my son) surely had more important things to do?

My contribution - I AM Rocking 60!

I had to capture this for posterity. Evidence that we were indeed models and not just dreaming!

Little did we know that we were to be named as the five stars of the I AM campaign. What we did know however, was that we all loved larking about in front of the camera and that as a group we gelled, we had fun together and were very at ease with each other. What a great move by JD Williams to choose ordinary women to spearhead this new advertising campaign as it would resonate with ordinary women too. We were all thrilled to be part of this great marketing idea.

I'll be honest with you, I could hardly recognise myself in these shots. Make-up for TV is much heavier than your everyday make-up, well it has to be to counter the bright lights, but the dramatic look was still a bit of a surprise to me. The slash of red lipstick and those heavily made up eyes looked like someone else, someone doing glamour big time!

The editing suite where the experts wave a magic wand over the proceedings.

The photo shoots and filming over these few days were spent in haze of hairspray and laughter with these fabulous new found friends. I was a bundle of nerves most of the time resulting in me spouting even more gibberish than usual. As a newbie to this whole new world it was pretty exciting I have to say. (A note to my 10 year old self - have patience my dear, you will indeed get the chance to be a model before your time is out. That 10 year old girl had longed to take part in a mother and daughter fashion show in our local town hall sponsored by Smith's, the fashion shop at the top of the hill on the high street. Oh how I yearned to be up on that catwalk!)

Home again and time for a picnic with Steve on Samson island when I got the chance to share all of the crazy anecdotes from my trip away. These two lives could not be any more different. Thank goodness Steve always grounds me, but he also encouraged this new venture in my 60th year when "Why not?" had become my stock answer to the many things that came my way.

Our monthly Style Not Age challenges continued with the ladies of the group all in on my secret filming which was yet to be released.

Another trip to London, this time to join fellow fashion blogger Laurie of Vanity and Me where we were being used in the beauty campaign for Look Fabulous Forever. Laurie is a professional blogger and the list of her brand collaborations is as long as my arm. Actually, maybe longer.

The brand was launching a new face cream for day and night. We were gifted samples of these and I still use the brand now. 

Back on the home front and summer at the gallery means one exhibition every 10 days which is a pretty swift turnaround. The opening night parties are the highlight for all of the hard working artists and a real pleasure for us to showcase their work. Oh, and also a grand excuse for even more dressing up! Here I am with Flynn O'Reilly and Ramie Leahy, both of whom will be having shows with us again this summer.

By September I was back in Manchester filming the JD Williams Christmas advert. Pinch me, I kept thinking, is this really happening? Sworn to silence yet again, I bubbled with inner excitement at the prospect of me in my party outfit being seen on TV at Christmas.

We filmed in Blackpool at this indoor location as well as in the sand dunes on the beach. I find the whole behind-the-scenes life fascinating and can understand the appeal in making these kind of adverts. Bringing all of the creative threads together along with the the drive to get the perfect shot takes such a lot of expertise. I have a great respect for this art form. 

Home again. The view from my garden is an ever changing picture. As always, I count my blessings.

"Life's a ball" was my chosen theme for the September Style Not Age challenge. Very fitting when you consider the time I was having.

My best friend Bo lives in Portugal, but every so often she comes to the islands with her husband for a flying visit. On one of the days we took them off in our boat to Nornour, one of the uninhabited Eastern Isles for a picnic. This is what you really mean by getting away from it all. Happy days with friends - what more can you ask?

The wedding of Kate and Andy Lawson was a long awaited and a very special island occasion. See my blog post about the day here

January brought another call from JD Williams to take part in their spring campaign. I couldn't quite believe it! But pack my bags I did and off I went for the most amazing trip of my life - to Cape Town no less. This shot was of my meet up at Newquay airport with Laura aka The St Ives Mermaid which was equally exciting for both of us. If you missed that post you can see it here

Paulina and I were the last men standing from the original five faces of the I AM campaign way back in the summer. We congratulated each other on our luck when we met up for the Wardrobe Fitting. 10 days later and we were flying off to South Africa. Another huge pinch me moment!

The whole Cape Town experience was something that I'll never forget and to be perfectly honest, I'm so pleased to be able to go back to view the posts from that trip as I may not have catalogued them so well if I hadn't been a blogger. I often wonder if being a blogger played a part in my being chosen for this collaboration with JD Williams. Would I have made the grade otherwise? At the outset on the casting day in London I spoke to Annie and she assured me that they were already looking for certain types. If we fitted the prerequisites then we'd be in, if not then it's thank you and goodbye. I'm so grateful to have been given the chance to see the life of a model from the inside, but I was always going to feel a fraud. Goodness me, I only have to look in the mirror to know I'm no beauty, but for some reason - maybe they were casting a 60 year old bird with a big nose and wrinkles? - whatever, I made the grade for those three campaigns and goodness I'm so blooming lucky to have had that!

Winter swimming plays a massive part in my mental well being, so I was pleased to get back in the groove when I returned from the sunny climes of South Africa. The S.A.D. that normally plagues my winters was much less prominent, probably thanks to the sunlight I was able to soak up in January. My birthday month is usually much more of a struggle.

Mother's day lunch at the Ruin Beach Cafe.

Living up to my blogging motto of "Let's bin the beige and have fun with colour".

It seems apt to finish off the year of blogging with this photo from the post "I make no apologies for being me". As ever, I have this driving need to explain myself and hope that if you don't know me you'll take a look at this post alone if none of the others. I'll leave you with this link to the Christmas advert from JD Williams. (Fingers crossed that it still works!) I so loved this one, and am delighted to have this as part of my 60th year and 4th year of blogging - blimey, what a year that was!

Anna x

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