Scarlet and cerise - my joyful colour therapy!

Happy Monday dear readers! How are you? Did you have a good weekend? Mine was a busy one, but a happy mixture of work and play. I had a good long swim with Fiona on Saturday when the weather was fine and then on Sunday she stepped in as blog photographer to do a mega shoot for various forthcoming features. Add to this some long-overdue housework, cooking for the freezer, catching up with laundry and a family meal on Sunday and I was flushed with success by the end of it.

This was Friday's work outfit, a joyful pick-me-up in scarlet and cerise. I'd had a blah day on Thursday which I blamed on a very dull outfit that set me of in the wrong frame of mind. It's not something you've seen and maybe won't see either! A navy flower sprigged dress is being charged guilty of dreary, drab and dullness on all three counts. I had tried my best to pep it up with red cowboy boots, red belt and red accessories which sounds great, but didn't really have the desired effect. 

Friday saw me utilise red in a much more successful manner when paired with a dazzling pink trench and handbag. The two tone dress (pre-loved) is by M&S and delivers colour therapy with a punch every time I wear it. During the winter months I pop a coloured long sleeved thermal top under it, add some tights and hey presto, it earns its place in both my seasonal wardrobes!

If I was channeling the 80's on my last post, then maybe this could be a throwback to the 60's? (Although the sock boots would probably have been knee high ones.) As you can gather, I'm not one to pay any attention to trends from this era or that - I'll throw pieces together regardless of what decade they hail from.

I'm rotating three very different bags for work at the moment and this cute little Candy bag by Furla always gets compliments. My pink rings are both charity shop pieces.

My red sock boots from H&M are still going strong. What will I do when they fall apart? Maybe I ought not to think about that until the time comes...

My white and black Quay Australia sunglasses tie in with the gingham checks of my Topshop trench. The rose gold heart pendant was a retail purchase in a little boutique in Truro a couple of years ago. 

They say laughter is the best medicine and I must admit it works for me. Well that, and some colour therapy. Keep on smiling everyone, and have a great week!

                                                                        Anna x


Where did autumn go?

Hi there! How's tricks? Life here on the island is finally slowing down to an easier pace and looking around me this week I've been wondering what on earth happened to autumn? We seemed to fast forward from balmy September into the depths of winter within the space of a couple of weeks. I've now packed away the last of my summer fripperies and am back in the land of woolly socks and winter coats again.

I was delighted to rediscover this oxblood Next leather coat during the seasonal clothes changeover. I bought it in the Truro Oxfam shop last year for £30 and think it's a blooming bargain at that price. The colour is an unusual one for me, but it has become a firm favourite already. Leather is wonderfully wind proof and therefore perfect for island life where we're subjected to wild winds for almost half of the year. Worn here at the weekend it's great for a casual look, but is also handy for a smart finish to my work wear too.

I like the simple straight lines of the jacket - no belt or flap pockets to create bulk - and love the fact that it doesn't have a back vent. Oh goodness, how drafty they can be, flapping open when the wind attacks you from behind!

Dressing down for the weekend is my time to be quirky and creative away from work. I've teamed the pre-loved fairisle vest (known as a tank top in my youth) with skinny jeans embellished with embroidered flowers, beads and pearls for this trend clashing look. The tan heavy brogues by John White have leather soles which sound out with every step - a great way to announce this style statement. Under the vest I'm wearing a skinny ribbed sweater to keep out the cold - this was from Primark.

The jeans were from TK Maxx a couple of years ago when ornate embroidered jeans were in fashion. Trends may come and go, but if I like something I'll wear it regardless. They have a bit of stretch which adds to the comfort value of them, another winning feature.

The floral leather belt is rather ancient which again adds appeal and character to the piece. The wool vest is by Ralph Lauren, a wonderful charity shop find. The scottie dog bracelet and matching necklace were a lovely set which I bought in Harrogate about 5 years ago. I have them wrapped up in one of my jewellery boxes where they lie forgotten for months on end, waiting to be found once again with renewed delight. Such joy for me in these simple pleasures!

The flower ring was charity shopped and the domed ring was from a street market in Cape Town. Sunglasses are by Quay Australia.

The classic leather brogues are from that era when I seemed to purchase them in almost every colour - cream, mint green, blue, black, brown, silver, gunmetal, pink, burgundy, two tone blue and bronze, two tone yellow and brown, flats and heels - and in leather, suede and patent leather too. These ones came from my beloved TK Maxx. Talking of which I'm on the final push now of my 12 month shopping ban. It's 8 months since I went shopping for clothes or shoes, although I did one online purchase in March. My autumn/winter clothes collection is a fraction of what I have for spring/summer, but that's probably because I really don't like this time of year. Perhaps if I made more of an effort to find interesting and colourful clothes for the darker months I might enjoy this season much more? Still, that won't be happening any time soon.

Thanks for swinging by today and if you're a new reader then why not introduce yourself in the comments box? It's always lovely to have your feedback. Fingers crossed we shall all have some nice weather this weekend so that we can get out for some fresh air and exercise. I'll be out and about taking photos for the blog, weather permitting, as well as catching up on some long overdue housework!

Have a super weekend!

Anna x


When the swimming is wild!

What a difference a couple of weeks makes! Two weeks ago I was skipping about on Ganilly sandbar, barefoot and shimmering in my sequinned mermaid coat in the September sunshine and now Storm Alex is blasting through the Isles of Scilly with a vengeance. This wintery backdrop is however, perfect for my latest fitness push.

White horses in the channel would normally have me turn my bike around and head off to the opposite side of the island in search of calmer waters out of the prevailing wind. But recently I've reviewed my fitness regime and have found myself lacking. I've been in this comfort zone for years now, smug in the knowledge that sea swimming without a wetsuit was a great form of exercise. But I wasn't really making much progress. (Yes, I do know that swimming around Tresco was an impressive achievement, but that was a one-off, not a daily push.)

If you're a long term follower of the blog then you'll know that I constantly strive to be the best me I can be. I'm driven by the inner childhood angst of not being good enough and nothing I've done in life seems to have eradicated that. Don't feel sorry for me - I don't feel sorry for myself, in fact I'm grateful to have this fuel to burn and propel me further onto better things. If I'd had an idyllic childhood I may not have ended up where I am now and that would be the tragedy!

Anyway, back to the swimming. As I said, I've recently decided to throw the gauntlet down to myself by searching out the windswept beach of the day. This came about when last weekend Fiona and I swam together and I found myself struggling and lacking stamina. It was a swim against the tide at one point and this defeated me at times, causing me to roll over and float on my back as I caught my breath. No biggie really, but I like to view myself as fairly fit and that's not how I felt. The following day I went back to the same beach and repeated the same swim on my own. My focus was sharp as was my intention, plus I had researched the tide and planned to swim the most challenging leg of the swim first, against the tide, when I was at my strongest, turning around and benefiting from the following tide on the way back. I cracked it and more importantly, it was a fresher day, the sea was more lively and somehow more energising. I was hooked!

These shots were from Saturday which was also my 39th wedding anniversary. Steve's gift was to accompany me and take these shots for the blog - generous soul he is! 

The first moment of immersion is the gasp point, but thereafter it's all about calming the breath and keeping moving as movement is what stops you getting cold. I concentrate my thoughts on counting the breath initially; up to 70 breaths and I'm no longer feeling aware of the temperature, but am looking at the scene ahead, deciding how far I'll swim today. Appletree Bay is the perfect length for a there and back swim. I'm not sure how long the beach is, but it's a comfortable swim. Pentle Bay is much longer and I'm more prone to getting chilled when I swim the whole way along and back.

This tow float is my latest bit of kit, designed to keep the wearer seen and safe. It's from the UK company Swim Secure.  It's small and virtually drag free and is also available in pink if you prefer. It's really important for me to feel safe in the water, especially because we have such a lot of boating traffic here on the islands. During the summer there are lots of visitors who hire boats for fun things like water skiing and do-nutting, both of which require the driver to be looking behind for a lot of the time. They'll often use the same lovely long stretch of beaches to do this as we sea swimmers will. Fiona and I will check the horizon for boats before we get in, but half way through a swim you can sometimes find your safety compromised when a speed boat turns up on a jolly. That's when a tow float like this comes into its own. As it's drag free it doesn't impact on my swim and in fact helps me relax into the flow of the moment, safe in the knowledge that I'm highly visible from afar. 

Swimming alone in the winter in choppy waters could also be a dangerous time, but I'm confident that the float is visible even when sometimes I'm not.

The Swim Secure message is simple - Be Safer Be Seen. Much as this might look like I'm out in deep water, I'm always within reach of the shore. There's no way I'd be doing anything risky nor would I want to put others at risk through my own stupidity. 

Cresting the waves sometimes had me lifted out of the water, crashing back down with a jolt. It's crazy, but somehow exhilarating too!

Flushed with success. This was indeed wild swimming! It was a brilliant way to start the day, especially on our anniversary.

Hot honey and lemon is the reward for my wild endeavours. The afterglow sets in and honestly I can't begin to describe the immense feeling of well-being that this gives me. Winter always brings with it the dreaded S.A.D. symptoms which plague me, but goodness knows how much worse these would be without my daily dose of this adrenaline rush.

I've written about the benefits of cold water swimming before, but I would like to revisit this topic as featured on the Swim Secure website. The seven points in its favour are -

  • An increased tolerance to stress
  • A boost to self esteem
  • The mindfulness effect
  • Decreased inflammation
  • Increased immunity
  • Radiant skin
  • Post swim high
See the full feature here. If you're dreading the long dark winter days ahead then you may want to consider winter swimming at your local lido or wild swimming with a group of like-minded friends. I can't recommend it enough - it's turned my life around.

And finally, here's a lovely shot of hubby and me on our honeymoon 39 years ago. My, my, look at how young we were!

 Have a great week everyone!

Anna x


Transitional dressing for autumn

Hello again! How are you? Is a local lock-down affecting you personally, be it physically or mentally? It's difficult not to let it get you down isn't it? On a different note, I'm missing having a work mate more than ever now. Just having someone to pass on those little daily niggles can make all the difference. Poor Steve really gets it in the neck some days, I can tell you!

Anyway, let's talk clothes shall we - it's my favourite subject after all! I managed to get most of my wardrobe changeover done last weekend (no photos of the bedlam - not inspiring in the least, I can tell you!) and will finish this weekend. I packed most of my summer clothes away, giving extra time to checking whether they would work as transitional outfits.  This much worn and much loved two piece (aka the old fashioned trouser suit to you and I) has survived the cut purely because I know it works so well with my other big passion, the sock boot. 

The white and black check of the Primark suit lends itself to a multitude of colour options to play with, and yes I do mean play. Dressing for me is fun, even on a work day. Using this look as a template, I could easily add pink to replace red and have yet another fun and colourful ensemble. If the weather holds out, I'll try to get that variation captured for you next time. Black is another obvious permutation as is white. I have ankle boots in both of these neutrals which look equally sharp. The only limitation for this suit will be when the temperature drops and it becomes too lightweight to be functional.

I have no regrets buying these H&M sock boots. They have been an asset to my wardrobe and seem to go with so many outfits, both dresses and trousers, giving an edge that normal boots don't deliver. My son Jamie bought me the pink version for my Christmas last year and I've worn them endlessly too. Hurrah for the sock boot I say!

The frilled linen top is by M&S, a pre-loved purchase from last year, but only showcased this summer for the first time. Rings are charity shops finds too. My black and silver necklace adds a sharp contemporary feel to the jewellery - this is by Melissa James, a brand I sell at the Gallery. And talking of sharp, I've changed up my usual Quay Australia sunglasses for a different, but equally cool pair of shades. I'm hoping that one of these days this brand will reward me with a discount code for my readers...

One look that I've not tried out yet is to wear this two piece as separates. I did try the jacket on today over a pink pleated skirt and black top, but felt it didn't really pop the way I had hoped. Perhaps that's a project for next summer.

According to the weather forecast we're about to be hit by high winds and endless rain for the next couple of days. Fingers crossed there will be a lull at some stage over the weekend otherwise I'm not sure what I'll have to show you in my next post! But before I leave you, I just would like to share some news...

Myself and my blogging friends, Jacqui of Mummabstylish, Hilda of Over The Hilda and Gail of Is This Mutton along with Josephine of Chic At Any Age have all been featured in the latest edition of Yours magazine!

I've not managed to get hold of a copy of the magazine yet as our local shop is no longer selling newspapers or mags, but Jacqui posted this snippet on her stories the other day -

The feature is about over 50's bloggers to follow for style inspiration - what a fabulous showcase for us all! Do rush out and buy a copy now x

                                                                                     Anna x

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