Clothes sale on the 16th June in aid of charity - can you come?

I've delayed posting my second London feature today to invite you instead to a charity event on Saturday, that's this Saturday, 16th June between 10am and 4pm in Brancaster Staithe Village Hall, Norfolk.

A good friend of mine, Kathryn Gigg, had invited me along too to help, but unfortunately my busy life has just overtaken the event. I have however donated many items of clothing to be sold on the day, including some fabulous designer pieces as well as brands like Phase Eight and Monsoon. There will be lots more besides, and I do urge you to treat yourself to a lovely day out where you can browse the rails to maybe find something special from the collections of day and evening wear.

The contents of these three boxes were my stockpile for some magical day when I'd have plenty of time to iron, photograph and upload them onto eBay. But I've at last realised that I'm too time challenged, and always will be if I carry on like this. Time is money they say and I just can't afford to give my valuable time over to such a labour intensive task for goodness knows what return. So instead, I've sent these off with Kate when she visited Tresco last month and they are being sorted as we speak ready for this huge charity event. 

If you are within striking distance of Brancaster Straithe on Saturday and fancy browsing through the boutique style rails then do please read on to find out more. The all day shopping opportunity which has been organised by Alex Ware of Spaciallyaware will also offer a French style cafe for your refreshment needs. The eaterie is being run by Alex's other business, Norfolk Concierge.

If you do manage to go along, please say Hi to Kate who will, I'm sure be playing a major role in making the day a happy and successful one.

This was a shot from an early morning dip on the island the last time she was across - she may be dressed a bit more soberly for the fundraiser, but I'm confident that you'll recognise her from that wonderful smile. Have a great day Kate, Alex and all the team of helpers. I wish you the best of luck!
Brancaster Staithe Village
in support of two worthwhile
causes, is presenting a clothes
sale with a difference. Inspired
by Parisian Chic – A Style Guide
by Innes de la Fressange, we will
seek to recreate the small shops
and boutiques in Paris where
French women find and buy their
simple, elegant clothes which they
regularly rework for a new look.

Anna x


My London mini break

A few days off-island and I've taken the train to London for a couple of nights to stay with a friend. The main event of the trip was a dental appointment on Friday, but when Ann suggested I come to visit her in Borough there was no good reason why not. I'm looking rather pleased with myself after not only successfully navigating the underground, but also having come away for almost a week with only this tiny suitcase. No shopping sprees planned therefore no holdalls or bags within a bag this time.

This is the view from the guest bedroom - what a wonderful profusion of green. Ann had told me there was a fox that visited sometimes, but I didn't realise it would be bold enough to snooze on her shed roof!

There was a fox cub too which is a bit more inquisitive, coming all the way up to the patio doors to peer in from time to time. Sod's law meant that I never had my camera to hand to capture that though.

A fifteen minute walk from Ann's home is the Fashion and Textile Museum, currently the venue for the Orla Kiely "A Life in Pattern" exhibition - what a treat for me! 

It's funny that you only have to see things once to know that you really, really need them.

What an absolute joy it was to see the master of pattern play at work like this. 

I'm not sure if it were the clothes or the handbags which were the most exciting aspect of the show. Although I do know that the handbags caused me to have the most longing. I didn't count them, but as you can see they spanned every colour of the rainbow. A genuine Orla Kiely handbag is now on my bucket/wish list.

After much deliberation, I decided that this was my number one handbag. If you come across this on eBay, do please let me know. I've already done a search there of the 129 OK bags on offer and nothing sparks joy as this one does. I'm not going to settle just for the sake of it, but will be keeping an eye out too on the Orla Kiely website to see if a new style appears that makes my heart do somersaults as this bag does.

These oversized frocks were the masterstroke of the whole show, suspended in huge space, halfway through the exhibition for maximum impact. The scale of them is difficult to comprehend until you see them like this...

I'm not really sure if my pattern play comes up to scratch in this environment. Getting dressed that morning I was happy with my outfit, but compared to all of this, I'm dwarfed by the competition and quite rightly so. Anyhow, just for the record I'm wearing an H&M jacket, trousers from TK Maxx by Carolina Bell, shoes from TK Maxx by Head Over Heels, cardi by Atmosphere, handbag by Superbia and necklace was a gift from Sasha.

The exhibition runs until the 23rd September and if you can get to it then I'd say "Do!" For details of opening times and prices see the Fashion and Textile Museum website here.

Ann and I did a bit more gadding about in London together which I'll share with you on Wednesday. In the meantime, I can report that I'm home again and that I've survived the trial of another tooth extraction with only a bit of facial swelling to show for it. The year of the teeth continues apace! 

Anna x


An early morning swim

Mornings like this make me so happy to be on my way for a swim. The sparkling sea is the ultimate temptation, don't you think? I was striding out with a couple of friends on this particular Sunday morning, promising them that we would enjoy the special experience of sea swimming together. "We won't go far or fast or deep." was my promise. My companions were Kay and Sue, two visitors I'd met twice over the past year. The first time, a year ago, we'd chatted about island life and I'd told them about my hobby. I offered to take them with me the next day for an early morning swim, but Sue wasn't up for it. Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago when Sue and Kay attended the opening night party at the gallery. They introduced themselves, reminding me that we'd talked about me helping a friend to brave the sea last year. Sue went on to say that I had inspired her to join her local swimming club and learn to swim - I'm sure she won't mind me telling you that she's 72, making this is a pretty bold undertaking.

The weather, the setting and the sea couldn't have been any more perfect. 

We had swum along the beach together and then I'd raced back to collect my camera to get these shots. The morning couldn't have been any more idyllic which added a wonderful sense of magic to the occasion. Let's hear Sue's account of her experience - 

"Never too old..........

It began when I met Anna last year during my stay on Tresco. Her enthusiasm for all year round swimming in the beautiful sea around the island inspired me to prepare myself for the challenge of joining her when I return the following year.

But being a non swimmer meant several months of swimming lessons at my local pool before I had gained the confidence and ability to join Anna this year for my first sea swim in the crystal waters of Old Grimsby bay.

I might add that Anna was not only the source of inspiration but also took my hand and walked beside me into the cold sea. It was truly exhilarating and I shall be eternally grateful."

Sue is on the left and Kay on the right.

And this from Kay -

` May 2017, in the gallery on Tresco chatting to Anna who kindly invited us to go swimming in the sea the next day, we gently declined…….it was freezing………
But it planted a seed!!!!

`May 2018 again chatting to Anna, the invitation was mentioned again, so I said Yes regardless of my friend's decision, who by the way, had learnt to swim properly during the year, but I knew we would regret this if we didn’t do it……….

` Morning came and we were ready for 8 am when Anna kindly collected us, so we all walked to the chosen beach in some anticipation.  It was a beautiful morning but still cool as it had been during our two week stay, and then there we were ready in our costumes, Anna having gently told us what we were going to do. …………so we all held hands and walked with calmness and confident step concentrating on our breathing until we were waist high and just let go…….and swam……. It wasn’t a shock even though the water was so so cold, but exhilarating, uplifting, exciting and most of all the feeling of how joyful it was to feel alive, the morning was so beautiful the sea so blue, the beach so white, the sunlight reflecting on the water and a voice calling out behind me ` I`m swimming`

My new swimming buddies are sporting that fabulous afterglow that says "I'm alive and I feel great!"

Well done ladies and particularly to you, Sue for overcoming this hurdle and turning yourself into a sea swimmer. Perhaps you too can be an inspiration to someone you meet and empower them to try something outside of their comfort zone. See you next year ladies and don't forget your cossies!

Anna x


You got my memo then?

This is Rachel, Bookings Manager for the island and friend of mine. She turned up in the gallery the other day and on seeing her I quipped "You got my memo then, about stripes as dress code?". This started a little flurry of shots of some of the other members of the office team who do in fact have stripes as their uniform.

Rachel joined by Carina ...

Carina and Nikki ...

Rachel with Ruth, the Office Manager.

Those of you who are regular visitors to the island may well recognise these ladies who help organise various elements of your stay, ensuring that everything goes smoothly.

Sasha and I got together after work to add a few more shots for the post. Polly had been poorly for a few days (she's much better now, thanks) and my draft box was getting a bit empty in her absence.

These are the striped culottes I mentioned recently; they're from Primark and I'm afraid I can't remember how much they cost. The striped body was from TK Maxx and I decided to go for stripes overload with the these mules, again from TK Maxx.

Standing, serving at the desk all day long while Polly was away called for some clever/sensible footwear that wouldn't cripple me by lunchtime, and these mules were ideal as they're a lovely broad fit. I have a grey pair and pink ones too which are also equally comfy.

The trousers are a synthetic material, a decent medium weight fabric that reminds me slightly of the crimpelene trousers my mother used to wear back in the day. They're pull on, with an elasticated waist and for that reason I decided to go up a size so that they'd give a sleeker, smoother fit. It's taken me a long time to get over being a slave to sizing; the buzz of fitting into a size 8 means nothing if it pinches and shows every seam of underwear. I know I can vary from anything between an 8 to a 14 depending on the brand or shop, so I take a few sizes into the changing room nowadays, ignoring the size label and relying on the fit as to what looks best. 

As a safety measure, I added this diamante Scottie dog brooch (preloved) to the stripey body as the crossover front isn't stitched together. The black and silver necklace is by Melissa James, the frilled silver and gold ring is by Emily Nixon and the other ring is preloved.

I feel I just have to mention the line of washing hanging in the garden behind me. This is mine and a source of comment from many visitors who see it as documenting how my family as it has grown; the baby grows and terry nappies heralding the birth of my first then second child and thereafter the size of clothes indicated how they were thriving through their school years into teens and beyond. And now that Sasha is home again we just seem to have a constant array of bright and colourful items to entertain the masses. Hanging my washing out is a pretty sociable affair, causing strangers to stop and comment on the weather and if things will dry today, or to say they like that my clothes prop is an oar, or the most frequent thing they say is that I have the best view ever from my washing line. I have a friend who is rather coy about hanging her undies on the line, but not me - I'm pretty sure we all wear these so what's the problem?

I had some technical problems on the blog recently which resulted in lots of comments sitting unpublished for a few days. Hopefully I've remedied this now and can look forward to continuing my dialogue with you once again. I'm heading off to the mainland this week for yet more dental treatment, so do give me a day's grace as I may be a bit worse for wear - I think I'm having an extraction which does fill my heart with dread. Once again, wish me luck!

In view of this, I'm scheduling a post for Wednesday in my absence which is a rather special feature about more friends, but this time swimming buddies. Marilee, I think you will love this one and for all of you, it's another opportunity to see the extensive and rather beautiful swimming pool I have access to every day thanks to Mother Nature. 

Anna x

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