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


It's my birthday!

Yes, today is my birthday. January is not the best of months to have a birthday, but hey, what can you do? I'm at work today, but as a nod to my birthday I decided on Sunday to have a walk to one of the local beaches, taking some time to enjoy the sunshine while I reflected on being a year older.

But before we go any further, I want to apologise to my regular readers for my sporadic posts of late. The irony of my position has been lack of inspiration - this from the woman who professes to having a desire to inspire others - very funny, I know! Yes, I may have lots of clothes to choose from, but good daylight for photo opportunities during the winter does really become a challenge for me over time. I was given a very useful bit of advice when I first started blogging, and that was to be consistent with my content. I've had to make a choice between regular posts of a mediocre standard or decent posts as and when they occur. I hope you understand and that this decision will keep you coming back.

Unbeknownst to me, I had lost the stone from my ring somewhere between leaving home and getting to the beach. It was only when I came to edit the photos that I noticed. It's only a costume piece, so of no monetary value, but it was a lovely sparkly blue stone that matched my jeans perfectly. Ho hum!

This is Toby who belongs to some friends of mine. He had been enjoying the sea, but was well behaved enough to sit nicely for his photo shoot.

And talking of the sea, this was how I started my day on Sunday (and every other day of the year).

The swim had been one of the coldest of the year so far. My skin was ruddy in response to the temperature, matching the pink and lilac hues of the clouds behind, which were bathed in the rosy glow of the rising sun. This truly is the best time of the day for me. The swim gives me with a wonderful rush of endorphins which set me up for the day ahead. 

Turning 59 feels like a dress rehearsal for 60, and that's not really as big a deal as I thought it might be. I know I'm not there yet, but I was delighted to hear on radio 4 that Barack Obama, at 55, is a young and vital man with so much to give. Heck, this moving of the goalposts has come in the nick of time for me! Instead of having to write a woe is me piece I can rejoice that I too, am still young. Have you noticed that there's a lot of this going on for my generation? 50 is the new 40, and now 55 is young! I'm feeling a bit like Benjamin Button.

But seriously, I have to admit that I'm very happy with my lot and know I have a great deal to be grateful for. I'm lucky to be in a strong marriage where we are equal partners and have different interests to bring into the mix. Lucky too, that my son lives here on the island and that my daughter visits often - my family means everything to me. I'm so lucky to work in a job that I enjoy which leads me to meet and work with so many interesting and talented people. I'm incredibly fortunate to live here on this tiny island where life is lived at a slow pace in the most beautiful of surroundings.

I'm grateful too, for good health, but that hasn't always been the case. Click here to read about the battle to find my own pathway to healthy eating and consequently a healthy body. And click here to read about sea swimming because without it I don't think I'd have the healthy immune system I benefit from now. 

And finally, the icing on the cake has to be my blog. Much as it's been a bit wobbly of late, I do love having an opportunity to share my outfits of the day with you. It's opened up an avenue for making new friendships and consolidating old ones. Blogging brings to mind one of my favourite quotes from Oscar Wilde. He said,  "Be yourself, everyone else is taken." That little prompt allows me the freedom to be me, without fear of judgement. That's not to say that some may, and probably do, judge me, but I have no time to waste worrying about that. And that brings me nicely onto the subject of time. I'm aware that you may like to have a routine of days to tune in for the next feature, and I understand that. I'm sure once Polly is back on board I'll become more reliable, but in the meantime, may I ask that you hang on in there. I can only promise to give you my best, and if it's not forthcoming, then you may have to wait a little longer. Likewise if you're one of my fellow bloggers, then do take this as an apology to you too. I've struggled to visit all of my favourite blogs in the dark months, but do hope to catch up with you all as I emerge from the winter blues.

And as it's my birthday, I have a request. One of my favourite features on the blog is "As suggested by..."  (last seen here) and I ask that you would consider sending me your ideas. Take a look through my posts over the months and let me know if there's something you'd like to see again. Pop them in an email if you don't want to publish a comment, but please do let me have some feedback - otherwise it's a bit like a one handed applause. 

Outfit details - gold sweater: H&M (purloined from my daughter), jeans: charity shopped, boots: ASOS, shirt: H&M, bag: charity shopped, sunglasses: Quay Australia, rings: charity shopped.

Linking with -
Catherine of Not Dressed As Lamb
Cherie of Style Nudge

I'll finish with some of the views that give me daily pleasure in my life on the Isles of Scilly.

Thanks for joining me!
Anna x

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