Brilliant brogues

My default setting for most of the winter is to reach for a pair of brogues and build an outfit around them, which is what happened here. I simply love these chunky pewter brogues which are an uber trendy version of golfing shoes. I thought the argyll tights were the perfect compliment for them too. Polly and I did this photo shoot last year and for some reason it never got out of my draft box, but here it is now.

Black as you may know, isn't one of my favourite colours and neither is grey, but I wanted to show that it's not so much the colours that matter as the individual pieces which stop this outfit from being boring/dull and turn it into something out of the ordinary. The ruffles on the leather bomber, the wet look skirt with its pleats, the pattern of the tights and yes the magnificent shiny brogues all come together to make a quirky, playful look. The last time I featured the skirt I was in an equally playful mood (see here). The jacket was a find in a Truro charity shop, skirt from TK Maxx, top from H&M, shoes are by Office (sold out but I really fancy these), tights are old, the handbag was a find in a charity shop when I was in Ireland a few years ago, rings too are charity shopped and my old faithful sunglasses are by Quay Australia.

I'm really happy to report that my draft box will soon be filling with new outfits taken by my dear assistant Polly who is back working with me as we re-open the gallery on Friday. I'm sure she will spark some great ideas for outfits as she always does.

And finally many thanks for the emails asking about my month at home and how it all went. I can report that I accomplished so many of the tasks - the filing system is fully functioning and a huge amount of paperwork was shredded/burnt as a result. The swimming challenge I set myself was a great success as you will have noted. The spring cleaning was also successful, but I fancy the brighter weather will reveal some corners that I may have missed. My sewing project is coming along very well, but you won't see the big reveal for some time yet. I'm re-upholstering my sofa with the help of my sewing tutor, Jane Hurd on St Mary's. As you would expect of me, I'm not making it easy on myself by combining lots of different colours and fabrics to create a funky makeover. It's a crazy undertaking for a novice, I know, but for me it's important to keep learning, keep improving on the baseline.

The clothes part of my life laundry is an ongoing project and will be for the rest of my life I think. I'm pleased to have cleared out three huge boxes of clothes to send off to the Salvation Army in Penzance. 

All of the clothes on the bed will be heading to eBay over the next few months to see if I can recoup some cash to fund my next round of buying. I know you'll understand this carousel of buying and selling as just part of my lifestyle, a strange hobby for some, but a real pleasure for me. The big pile of clothes on the floor were for trying on before I decided what to do with them. Many ended up on the eBay pile and some were given a reprieve and will be rehoused in my wardrobe as I discovered a new found love for them. 

Linking with
Catherine of Not Dressed As Lamb
Patti of Not Dead Yet Style

I thought I'd finish with a couple of contrasting shots both taken from my garden which overlooks the bay towards the island of Bryher.

The islands have been shrouded in fog since Tuesday.  We've been virtually cut off from mainland UK as we have no ferry service over the winter months and the small fixed wing aircraft that are our other link can't fly in fog. This shot was taken at tea time last night. Today, however the sky is blue and clear.

Anna x


International Women's Day

Yes, today is International Women's Day. I applaud every women who is marching, protesting, promoting, supporting, educating, influencing, empowering and attending an event to celebrate this important day. I also want to say to every single woman, that being a part of this huge sisterhood is a celebration in itself. If you can't take part in a large gathering today, then perhaps like me, you can visit the website here to learn more and find out about everything that's going on globally to mark the occasion and also to find out what you can do to forge a change for the better. If you're posting on instagram today then please add the hashtag #BeBoldForChange.

Some of you may recognise the beach and castle behind me from a previous post. It's Blockhouse Castle and the lovely sweep of beach below is one of my favourite bays to have my morning swim. I'm here on the low tide to showcase my pattern play outfit, and will cross the bay to show you more.

I've featured this jacket a couple of times before and I thought I'd use the colour to start a new story of autumn colours. The jacket is was in the Benetton sale a couple of years ago and is a lovely weighty woollen fabric that holds its shape beautifully. The wide legged trousers are from H&M, again not from the current season, but a bargain in their winter sale for £5. They're made from viscose and have a lovely drape to them, but best of all have pockets. And this beautiful gold and floral leather handbag is on loan from my daughter, although I may have forgotten to tell her that.

I'm wearing an old faithful too, in the shape of this fairisle cardigan (H&M) along with a ruffle blouse that I found in a charity shop. The nutmeg boots (from Office last year) are making another appearance this week, but that's because they seem to work with so many pieces in my winter wardrobe. I've added some matching rings and my string of genuine green pearls as well as my favourite sunglasses by Quay Australia.

In my last post (see here), I portrayed the highly dressed up, elegant version of myself which always has me holding back a giggle as that's not the real me. Today, sitting on this rock I felt an urge to be a tad more boisterous and this playful notion is just brewing here...

Hooray for International Women's Day!

There! I just had to get that out of my system.

These little chaps weren't in the least bit perturbed by my antics.

As I said, this is one of my favourite beaches for an early morning swim. The tide is high, the sun just coming up and I've had a swim across the bay and back before I head off to work.

Anna x


Summer flashback (all dressed up with nowhere to go)

I sit here writing while hailstones are bouncing off the garden by my window, hitting the daffodils as if there's a point to be made, "Spring isn't quite here yet!" maybe? A fierce gale is blowing outside and I'm sitting waiting, hoping that I'll get a call to say the annual beach-clean event this morning is being cancelled until kinder weather blesses our island shores. in the meantime I've decided to plunge deep into my draft box and bring out a lovely reminder of last summer. The all-dressed-up-and-nowhere-to-go look came about rather organically as I'll explain...

I found this elegant shift dress by Reiss in a charity shop in the early summer and thought it would be perfect for those days at work when I felt the urge to look smart. Dark blue and navy always make me look a bit pale (check out my peely-wally pins), but I'm trying to expand my repertoire of colours, so thought I'd give this a whirl. In an effort to bring some light to my complexion I've added my favourite chunky peals and that does seem to soften the dark dress. The beaded sandals (Monsoon) and clutch (Accessorize) were finds from the same thrifting session and a great ploy to lift the colour scheme too.

As the day was a bit breezy I decided I needed to add a jacket to the ensemble and this one seemed perfect. It's by Jaeger and was an absolute snip at £8.95 in a charity shop in Truro.

By the end of the day, just as Polly and I were cashing up, I remembered that I'd found a hat during one of my earlier shopping sprees. I mentioned that this might be a great finishing touch to this rather posh ensemble and here's how we finished the day -

Perhaps it can be seen as a trial run for some invitation yet to come? At least I know I've go this stashed away in readiness. My necklace was from Debenhams many moons ago, the rings are old, my watch is by Michael Kors and sunglasses are by Quay Australia.

The good news is that the Spring Beach Clean has been cancelled. And when you see the view from my kitchen window you'll understand why.

Linking with 
Laurie of Vanity And Me
Catherine of Not Dressed As Lamb

                                                 Anna x


Stretch, roll, Popeye...

What on earth? you're asking yourself. Well, this was my mantra for cracking a smooth freestyle stroke with bilateral breathing. OK, switch off now if you're bored of my swimming saga. And for those of you who remain, here's the location where I've spent my mornings for the past two weeks. 

Our local spa with indoor swimming pool has been my playground for the duration and it's been such a contrast to the sometimes wild, but always very cold, sea where I've swum all winter.

But let's rewind a bit to explain how why I suddenly changed tack and chose the soft option last month.

My new found passion for swimming freestyle was ignited by the top two books which I recently read. Previously, all my swimming has been using breast stroke, albeit a strong one, but I've been aware of the fact that it's the least energy efficient of all strokes and therefore I've been working harder than I really need to. Like the author of Leap In, Alexandra Heminsley, I've wanted to achieve the graceful, languid stroke that's performed by long distance swimmers. After first of all hearing her talk about the book on the radio, and then reading the story of how she moved from one to the other, I decided that it might just be within my grasp too, to improve my ragged breathless front crawl into something sleeker. The record breaking swim undertaken by Sean Conway in his book Hell and High Water was further inspiration for me. Longer swims now beckon me, although nothing quite as epic as his.

And so it was just a week into my month's staycation that I ordered Championship Swimming and at the same time I resurrected the Swim Smooth DVD that I've had for a couple of years without viewing. (When I say without viewing, what I actually mean is that at the first attempt I fell asleep after the first 10 minutes, I'm embarrassed to admit.) After successfully watching it all the way through it soon became apparent that I wouldn't be able to perform these drills in the sea for obvious reasons, the main one being the current temperature of about 9 degrees. I joined the spa for two weeks and the hard work began. Inspiration was in place, perspiration and dedication came next.

At 10 o'clock every morning I was to be found poolside with earplugs, goggles and cap in place. The book became my Bible with notes scrawled all over to remind me what I'd seen on the DVD. Swim Smooth proved to be transformational; the basic mechanics of the stroke are broken down into drills that are to be repeated until they become second nature. Hence, stretch, roll, Popeye, the three counts that make up the stroke. We all remember Popeye of course and that's the best way to suck in a good breath whilst lying on your side. In fact, I'm not sure why front crawl is named such, as the stroke is mostly performed rolling from one side to the other with the minimum of time being spent on your front. 

Yesterday I posted a snippet of my freestyle on Instagram which made me very proud indeed. I don't know when the stroke came together, but I do recall moments where, like a dance step that suddenly clicks, I felt the stretching roll become a steady rhythm that made time for the breath without gasp or panic - I was indeed swimming smoothly!

The spa offers all sorts of diversions apart from the pool - a sauna, jacuzzi, steam room in addition to a gym, relaxation room, shop and treatment rooms for massage and beauty treats. My own particular reward for an hour of swimming was to retreat to the steam room for 15 minutes of bliss. I will miss the soft option when I stand on the beach this morning facing the chill Atlantic ocean. Wish me luck!

Hell And High Water by Sean Conway see here.
Leap In by Alexandra Heminsley see here.
Swim Smooth DVD see here. 
Championship Swimming by Tracy McFarlane Mirande see here.
Island Leisure Spa see here.
Anna x

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