That island breeze blows again

This whole post was nearly hijacked by the amazing hair shots which followed on from the final snap shown. The onshore wind is generally a challenge, but coupled up with the morning sun and high tide today meaning Polly and I had fun trying to get some acceptable shots. Inevitably we have lots of photos where I'm chatting and laughing away which are great, but not always showcasing the clothes. Anyway this morning Polly was in her element with all the crazy, wild hair shots. I plan to do an entire post featuring hair, the windswept look, just to give you a laugh. Coming soon, I promise!

The blog is proving to be so good for me, exorcising all sorts of rules I seem to have inflicted upon myself in the name of perfection. Today I am proudly wearing a favourite pair of brogues that a quite old and therefore a bit scuffed. I want to keep the blog real, show my daily work outfits as they really are. I promise I don't go into my office and slip on another jacket or pair of shoes because they're more comfortable. This is it, every post is exactly what I wore to work. As I've said before I'm lucky that I have a job where I get to dress up every day. I know some bloggers have to fit their blogs around the day job and I admire their effort and commitment.

So finally a quick word about today's outfit. The top was a charity shop find, a snip at £4.25, but more importantly is the fact that it's by Barbara Hulanicki. Result! That just feels so good. Pairing it with these wide legged trousers helps to balance the whole look and I just love the mix of prints. And the brogues were the right colour to finish it all off, even though they are well worn.

Top: Barbara Hulanicki (charity shop). Trousers: TK Maxx. Shoes: Office. Bracelet: old. Pearl necklaces: charity shop. Sunglasses: Quay Australia.


From Samson to St Agnes

Samson to the left, Bryher to the right and in the middle a couple of crazy zealots!

A beautiful day for a training swim

Heading out to St Agnes

Feeling strong

Sharing the water with the Scillonian

Relax and breathe, relax and breathe

Feeling the effects of the swell now

In line with the Bishop Rock Lighthouse

Kate forges on to St Agnes

We made it!

And this is what seasickness and exhaustion looks like!

Kate Clement and I had arranged to have a long training swim on Sunday, but when Saturday morning came the conditions were too perfect to ignore: there was a light North wind, no sea chop and it was bright and sunny. We both rearranged our weekend work schedule and found ourselves a willing boatman (my son Jamie)  to drive the safety boat and decided that today we ought to crack the stretch of open water between Samson and St Agnes. At 3.3 miles this is the longest leg of the Scilly Swim Challenge 2015 which takes place in 4 weeks time on 5th September. Although Kate and I have both swum further along the shoreline we haven't done this crossing yet. Kate has recently spent a week in Turkey on a Swimtrek holiday so has a lot of swimming under her belt including one open water crossing similar to this so it's good that one of us has this experience to draw on.

As we slipped over the edge of the boat into the shallows of Samson we were both nervous and excited, in fact I think I was nervous and Kate was excited. I was acutely aware of how unprepared I was for not just the swim ahead of us, but also the 11 miles we will have to cover on the day. Kate is an amazing athlete who's taken part in quite a few local triathlons over the years as well as rowing in the ladies gig races including the World Championships where her crew have excelled. Kate's idea of fun is to complete a triathlon when she has a bit of spare time over the weekend! We are great friends and have swum together for years, but I just hope I don't hold her up today. The swim along Samson was in lovely clear shallow water and we were soon heading out through the long thongs of seaweed into the open water towards St Agnes. From being able to see the seabed we traversed into deeper water but thanks to the brilliant sunlight it was filtered with wonderful shafts of sunlight breaking into the depths. It was a dazzling sight and a distraction from the distance we still had to cover. Kate told me later that she had broken the swim down into parts, giving herself smaller goals to achieve before she acknowledged the next. I wasn't so mentally prepared, and found myself completely in the moment, relax and breathe, relax and breathe. As we progressed we hit the ocean's swell which meant we couldn't always see each other in the dips and rises. Kate was forging ahead as I expected, looking strong. I discovered I'm not as good a swimmer as I thought and managed to take on the odd gulp of seawater which meant a stop to cough and splutter. I know I was anxious and knew this was a make or break swim for me.

We were probably about half way across when tiredness and a coughing fit undermined me. I was aware that Kate was having to stop to wait for me and I didn't like holding her back. Perhaps I ought to get out, give up and let her get through this at her own speed? I didn't want to voice this though, as once spoken, I felt the reality would quickly follow. Kate was encouraging, Jamie checking that I was OK. I carried on trying to find the place mentally to strengthen my resolve. St Agnes did seem to be getting nearer, but the swell was a battle and the lifting and dropping motion was beginning to make me feel a bit rough. On stopping to cough again, Kate came to my rescue and lied to me, with the best possible of intentions. She told me the final part of the swim was only the same as one of our regular sessions, "Lovie" she said "it's only the same as New Grimbsy to Appletree left to go now." It was the carrot I needed to have dangled in front of me. I felt reassured that this was within my capabilities, not beyond my grasp after all. Kate forged ahead and I lovingly followed her. Out in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean she was my champion and I trusted that she would bring us home. The final swim became automatic, familiar and no longer in my head. My dear, dear friend had pulled me out of myself and my worries and brought me into the water where I just had to swim one stroke after the other. We reached St Agnes within 2 hours and were delighted to be hoisted on board by Jamie. As the photos show it was an extraordinary day, a beautiful crossing and I had no regrets at being dragged along by this amazing swimming buddy of mine. I'm so grateful to her for her encouragement as without her I would have surely given up.

Kate's swim had been an exciting and wonderful adventure where she swam past lolling Razorbills and chatted to Jamie en route, and I do hope that she will document it too. Her take on the same crossing would give quite a different perspective. But that's true of life - two people watching the same event will often describe it in completely different terms. I'm so pleased now to look back and have been able to complete the swim which without Kate's encouragement and Jamie's support I wouldn't have managed. I think that's what you call teamwork.


Summer here we come!

It's so lovely to shed the final layer of jacket or cardi and declare it to be at long last, summer! I'm very black and white in my gathering of clothes for the seasons, in that I really only want to acknowledge summer and winter. I never go shopping thinking "What shall I wear this spring/autumn?" For me, the two main seasons can be adapted to the two minor seasons just by the beauty of clever layering. 
And here we are in the brief, but beautiful season of summer with all it's opportunities for dresses and skirts, flowers and flounces. Today's frock was a recent purchase from Tesco which is always an exciting place for me to forage. While everyone around me is skimming about Tesco in Truro, their trolleys laden with the weekly shop, I head to the oasis of calm that is the clothes department. I usually seem to be the only one snooping around these racks which suits me fine. I love to find bargains within the bargains, the final reductions calling to me, helping me get even more for my money. This dress was in the sale and came in at a snip of a fiver. As I stand there dithering for a nano-second as to whether I need this, I think of when I'm back at home and will that five pounds be worth the mental struggle? Usually I weigh up how much food I would get for that sum. Then I consider how many times I'll wear the item, and compare the two. The outcome is usually in favour of the clothes, which is no surprise.

Dress: Tesco. Sandals: New Zealand. Handbag: charity shop. Pendant: charity shop. Green ring : Leju. Flower ring: Dorothy Perkins. Bracelet: old. Sunglasses: Quay Australia.


A touch of yellow

Another new outfit for me today. I think the culottes are making their first appearance along with the fab yellow sling backs. I came across these shoes last summer in Topshop and now wish I'd bought them in another colourway. The style is perfect for work, stylish yet being flat makes then functional too. I'm about to scour the Internet to see if there are any more out there this summer. The little barrel bag has been worth it's weight in gold as you'll see if you scroll through the past couple of month's posts. It again would be fab in another colour, so I maybe need to search that too.
The bomber jacket is by Zara, but I found it in a charity shop in Exeter last year. That was a bumper session where I came across a little corner of the city which is heavily populated with charity shops - oh joy! I had taken an empty suitcase away with me, confident that I would be lucky, and I was. Living on an island does help you become a speed shopper and a bit of an expert too as it's so difficult to return items when you're back home. I remember being away for my daughter Sasha's graduation, and we managed to divert my husband for an hour so that we could escape to the sales. We synchronised our watches as we headed off up Leamington Spa high street like commandos on a mission. The adrenaline was running as we zipped from shop to shop like finely tuned missiles, targets having been reconnoitred in advance so that no time was lost. Time up, and we staggered back to the hotel flushed with success, bargains ready to be stashed away for the journey home. She and I are indeed a shopping force to be reckoned with!

Jacket: Zara (charity shop). Culottes: Topshop. Blouse: charity shop. Shoes: Topshop. Handbag: NW3 (charity shop). Bangle: gift. Silver ring: charity shop. Ring with lemon stone: Martin James. Sunglasses: Quay Australia.

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