Charity shopping at Crisis in London

Hello from London!

I love that saying, "Every cloud has a silver lining". Last weekend my silver lining took the form of a visit to stay with my dear friend in London. Ben used to be a Gallery assistant of mine (about 10 years ago I think) and our friendship has continued over the years. He's now a mature student studying for a degree in Japanese at SOAS in London. Although he's only just started his course I have every faith in his ability to achieve his goal. When he worked with me he was an absolute power horse, with not just a huge capacity for work, but he had a real flair for selling. Bright as a button and utterly focussed, this guy was always gonna go far! I'd come away to the mainland to have minor surgery on the skin cancer on my back, but rather than the starkness of a trip for that alone, I decided to tag on his offer to stay and have a tour of his local charity shops.

I'd forgotten my Oyster card, but Ben told me I could just use my contactless card to get around on the tube. I loved that I could keep the card safely inside the palm of my glove as I swiped my way around the underground! How exciting these wee things are for an island lass.

My wonderful shaggy leather bag was a gift from Ben many months ago. He bought it in Stanley Market in Hong Kong on his last trip there. Coat is by Covent Garden, two piece is by Zara as are these most comfortable of boots. Handbag is by Carvella. 

But first, was breakfast. Of course. You can't go shopping without a decent breakfast and Duck and Waffle serve a pretty mean breakfast it has to be said.  

The view from this 40th floor restaurant isn't too shabby either.

Ben went for the house special, Duck Benedict whereas I opted for something more simple, but equally delicious. We toasted the day over a glass of Mimosa. For a moment I was worried that we'd peaked too early. 

But no, things were just about to get a whole lot better. Ben took me to his favourite curated charity shop, Crisis at the bottom of Stroud Green Road, Finsbury Park. The shop does away with that endless searching for a gem which can be so time consuming. Instead the staff pride themselves with sifting through the donations to steam and display designer wear along with more funky pieces that can command a good price. 

Coming from our tiny island community, one of the shocking truths about London for me is the amount of homeless people you see as you travel around the city. Ben told me that the number of deaths of the homeless is already over 140 this winter. It's a chilling thought that we're barely into winter and this figure is set to rise when the first cold snap hits. Crisis aims to help in the long term as well as over Christmas by bringing those in need off the streets into a caring community where they can not only eat and shower, but access all kinds of medical support and practical help too. My shopping was going to make a real difference to lots of lives. 

The haul!

When we returned to base Ben kindly modelled one of my most sparkly finds. This (H&M) cardigan will surely come into its own over the festive period.

The spree was mostly from the Crisis shop with a few other finds from the Cancer Research shop in Muswell Hill. Exhaustion soon set in, resulting in us beating an early retreat home. Ben cooked dinner while I had a soak in the bath, but not before I spread the loot out for us to admire. Not the best photo, I'm afraid, but you'll see more of these pieces over the next few weeks I'm sure.

All shopped out!

Truro was suitably festive by the time I arrived on Monday. I had time to do some Christmas shopping before going to the hospital for my appointment. In keeping with the island-girl-goes-shopping tradition, I packed up a box of presents, putting them in the post before coming home. Ben had sent a box of clothes home for me too. 

By Tuesday I had reduced my luggage to this amount. That day I had a frustrated trip to Land's End airport as the weather or rather cross-winds, put paid to my flight home. En masse we weary-from-going-nowhere travellers were sent away to return the next day. I took this opportunity to deposit my suitcase at the docks to be shipped home to me, hence avoiding excess baggage charges.

24 hours later and hurrah! Here she comes!

Farewell to the mainland! See you again next year.

Anna x


London and another bloggers meet up

Hello again! How's your week going? Memories of our London trip are fading fast so let's get some of the snaps out to show you what else we got up to. If you missed the first instalment of our break see here for the catch up.

The Barbican, and another post-breakfast photo shoot.

The Michael Kors jacket came in very useful as the weather was quite mild at the start of our week away. I did a bit of shopping on Oxford Street after my first bloggers meet up (see here) and found these trousers and matching top in Zara. The heavy embroidery transforms what is basically black velour lounge wear into a luxe item.

Most days we went sight seeing, saw a movie or went to the theatre and ate out. On Friday we went to the Tate Modern then walked across the Millennium Bridge to St Paul's. 

Studio interior by Matisse

Coffee by Bonnard

A new addition to the Rothko collection, but I missed the title.

Weeping Woman by Pablo Picasso

Autumnal Cannibalism by Salvador Dali

From the viewing tower at the Tate Modern

The dish of the day.

Steve showed me where the First Dates restaurant is. I'm a big fan of this programme which is a new discovery for me. Just after he took this shot we were milling about trying to find the nearest tube station when I noticed a couple of young ladies in a huddle chatting excitedly. Moments later one ushered the other off with a cry of "Good luck!" and then I noticed she was holding a clipboard and wearing a headset with microphone. Yes! They were filming, and this gorgeous girl who was sashaying across the square was on her way to her First Date. As the door opened I saw Fred standing at the lectern ready to greet her. How very exciting! I snatched a brief moment of this on my phone and loaded it onto my instagram here.

Next day I gave Steve a break from being blog photographer as I was meeting up with my second lot of blogging friends. We'd arranged to meet at the London Eye to get a bird's eye view of the Thames. 

Bloggers Gail (Is this mutton?), Anne Marie (Mutton Years Style), Jacqui (Mummabstylish) and I putting our best smiles on.

We managed to cram in such a lot that day - a trip on the Eye, then morning coffee followed by lunch and a stroll back along the Thames for a final photo shoot. And all the time we talked. We agreed that blogging is wonderful for adding another dimension to your life as well as being the perfect launch pad for building new friendships. We all have things we feel less than confident about within our blogs and that's where these meet ups come into their own. We covered all aspects of blogging, finding each others input invaluable. Gail is the techie amongst us giving us tips and advice on how to make improvements. We were in unison in urging her to share these nuggets of information on her blog for her readers to learn. All in all, it was a great experience and one I'd love to do again.

On our last night Steve chose to eat here as the final hurrah of his birthday celebrations. Red grouse was on the menu, a real treat for this gamekeeper who'd never before tasted this special bird. Served with all the trimmings, it was pretty much the highlight of our London jaunt for him. He finished the meal with a warm rice pudding and figs drizzled with heather honey, and swore he could hear the bagpipes playing in the distance.

And this was my choice of outfit for a trip down the local pub. I had no idea if I'd be over or under dressed, but this was what I felt comfortable in. As it happened, I was pretty much in line with the rest of the women there.

The London skyline twinkles and shines in the night as we pack up to go home. It was a lovely holiday, full of good times and happy memories. We'll be back!
Anna x


I'm off to London!

Hello and cheerio! I'm off to the big smoke today, so the blog may be a tad quiet for the next 10 days. What does an island girl pack for a week in London? Well, take a look at my attempt at a capsule wardrobe.

I'm going to wear my big winter coat as I have a boat and train journey ahead of me and this woolly bear of a coat will help to keep me cosy. I'll add a wrap as a scarf to double up as a pillow for a few zzzz's on the way too. I may wear some trainers for the trip as the boat can be slippery underfoot, but the boots are essential for stepping out in style on the streets of London. The glitter boots are new and the heel is a perfect height for comfort (I'll show you a bit more of them later).

I'm packing this new red dress as it's wrinkle free and will be versatile enough for any evening out to the theatre or dinner, or both! The pink is a skirt, the only one I've chosen. I'm taking one pair of jeans, one pair of leggings and two pairs of trousers.

I've had this Desigual sweater for a couple of years and yet have only worn it once and think the time has come for another outing. Two fluffy jumpers are going in as well as the fur gilet.

Then there's a white shirt, a black shirt, a floral shirt, a mesh jacket, a patterned roll neck and a new lace top, as well as my fabulous studded jacket.

My red dress is crying out for the red sock boots (as seen here), but I'm terribly worried that the fabric would get marked, wet or whatever in the general skirmishing that goes on when you descend into the depths of the London Underground. Steve sees every trip to London as a huge adventure, most of which involves walking for miles (to get the real feel of the place) or hopping on and off the tube when we're dashing to the theatre. Sitting in the back of a cab, stuck in traffic is not his idea of an authentic experience! Red boots therefore, may have to stay home, or perhaps I can fit them into my wee black leather backpack for changing in situ? Ho hum, we'll see!

And here's the glitter boots as promised. They're from Primark and so blooming comfortable too! 

Those of you who know me well, will probably be chuckling at my capsule wardrobe; who's she trying to kid, you'll be saying. Yes, yes, of course I'm going shopping, and yes, yes of course I'll be itching to wear it all immediately, but at least I've got a full compliment of clothes in case I can't find anything new!

Outfit details - jacket: H&M (old), trousers and boots: Primark, tee shirt: pre-loved, necklace: Du Barre, watch: Michael Kors, sunglasses: Quay Australia, ring: pre-loved.

So that just about wraps it up. I hope to be posting on instagram while I'm away (wi-fi permitting) so do check it out here. In the meantime, I'll leave you with a photo of the birthday boy - today, the 23rd, is his actual birthday despite the celebrating that has been going on over the past few weeks. 

Looking great for 60 isn't he?

Anna x

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