Black Flats for Autumn

Black Flats for Autumn

When it comes to shoes, I like to wear heels, but after a day hobbling round Plymouth’s cobbled streets yesterday I thought maybe I should embrace flats!

On my lunch break I popped into New Look to see what black ballet flats they had in store, that would be suitable for work. I love that the shoe section had its own separate area with a big ‘Shoe Heaven’ sign above it, and lo and behold, what a choice of shoes!

From their huge selection, these are my four top black flats for this autumn:


Costume and Cake: Mother’s Day at Killerton House

Costume and Cake: Mother’s Day at Killerton House

I had the most perfect Mother’s Day yesterday, beginning with my teenage son bringing me a cup of tea in bed – bliss! My daughter and her boyfriend then visited for the day and took me to Killerton House, a National Trust property, for a four-course Mother’s Day lunch. They stayed overnight so we had a fun-filled evening at home afterwards, and I went to bed a very happy (and over-stuffed, plus slightly tipsy) Mum.


Killerton House, Devon, Photograph © Copyright Derek Harper and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence


Killerton was built in 1778-9, and was home to generations of the Acland family. Architecturally the house is nothing very special – Pevsner called it a ‘plain 2-storey Georgian box’ – but it is set in 6,400 acres, and its wonderful garden, created by John Veitch, is a mecca for plant-lovers.

For me, the main attraction is its costume collection on the second floor. This had been closed on my previous visit, so I was delighted to see it yesterday. The current exhibition of historic dress is titled ‘Dressing up, Dressing Down’ and explores the numerous outfits that were required for different times of the day and occasions, from flower arranging at home in the morning, walking in the garden, afternoon visits, changing for dinner or a social event in the evening, and then again for bed.

Neither Pearl nor I thought we would have a problem with changing six or seven times a day, though I wasn’t too keen on the idea of being laced into this corset:



We happily tried on a number of replica costumes and hats available for visitors to dress up in, imagined the occasions we would wear them to, and picked handsome suitors from the eighteenth-century portraits of members of the Gentlemen’s Club that line the walls of the downstairs corridor. I must admit we were hard pressed to choose, and are happier with the men’s fashions of today and our current partners!


My lovely daughter and her boyfriend, and some dapper dudes (on the walls)


The women’s fashions were another story, and I would have loved to have worn this:



and to have walked in these shoes:



Downstairs we learnt all about beauty and medicine through the ages – including a very informative discussion about leeches! – and sampled hand-cream made from a historic recipe (hopefully not from the one that recommends collecting 50 snails and pounding them to a paste!).

Lunch was delicious, but the amount we ate put paid to any ideas of a long walk in the grounds afterwards – we were all ready to go home and lounge (if not snooze) on the sofas after puddings this size:



We soon perked up however and worked off some of the lunch by hula-hooping on the WiiFit, and then settled down to an evening of wine, snacks, Waking the Dead and dvds.

Thank you to my wonderful children for making my Mother’s day (and every day) so special. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, I am the luckiest mum in the world!

Back on track(s)

Back on track(s)

Forgive me readers for I have neglected you – it’s been nearly a week since my last blog post …

My only excuse is that I have been so busy, and travelling a lot on trains. I arrived home from London at around 2am this morning, and woke to this sight beside my bed this morning:

I think this says it all – a change of shoes, washbag, notebook and train tickets seem to have been my constant companions the last couple of weeks, that and train food/snacks:

Thankfully, I will now be staying put for the next couple of weeks, so am looking forward to keeping more regular hours and cooking some proper meals. And, of course, to writing some blog posts. I have some great books and products to review, and some more fab giveaways coming up, so lots to write about.

Finally, a note to Cross Country Trains, please can you wash the train windows, I love looking at the sea on the Exeter to Plymouth route – but not through windows as dirty as this:

Normal blogging service will resume tomorrow :)

My Last Magpie Monday

My Last Magpie Monday

I think this will be my last regular Magpie Monday post because it’s just costing me too much, in terms of time and money, for too little gain (sadly).

The problem is two-fold. First of all I don’t think there are many bargains to be had in Exeter charity shops, despite my careful rummaging. I also think they are rather over-priced, even tops with a Primark label have a £5 tag, which is probably a lot more than they cost new. Second, and the main problem, is that I’m just not much of a shopper and spender. I do not shop every week, and I tend only to buy things that I really need (or – in the case of shoes – want).

While I really love the push that Missielizzie’s Magpie Monday has given me to get bargain hunting in the charity shops, I get frustrated after marvelling at everyone else’s fab finds, and then finding nothing at all I want myself. Then, being in town, I end up buying new things that I wouldn’t have seen/known about if I’d stayed at home!

Today, the only thing I bought in a charity shop was this set of knives (£2.99), because we are low on everyday butter-your-toast kind of knives. But, I would never have thought ‘oh I must go and buy some more knives’ if I hadn’t been on a Magpie Monday mission.

I also saw this coffee set for £7.99, but then thought, ‘I have tons of coffee cups, both espresso and cappuccino, and only make cups of coffee individually with the espresso machine, when am I ever going to serve coffee in a pot like this?’ The answer, of course, ‘never’, so that stayed on the shelf.

And then I went and spent money I don’t have on what I really don’t need any more of – shoes (£45):

and a silky dress in a similar colour in the GAP sale (£9.99):

So all in all I spent the best part of one afternoon and £57.98. I do not think that is the idea of Magpie Monday? At least I will be all set for St Patrick’s Day!

Me and My Shadow