Monday, 25 March 2013

My Girl and 'Our Girl'

On the way to school last week we passed, as we often do, a group of very young looking soldiers out on a training run through our village.  There's an army barracks close by and the soldiers seem so young I suspect they are new recruits.  Occasionally we also pass a solitary soldier complete with heavy looking backpack, accompanied by an older looking sergeant type.  What's going on there?  Punishment or extra training for a failing recruit?

Anyway Fashion Girl said, as we carefully overtook them, that she didn't understand why anyone would volunteer to be a soldier with going to Afghanistan a probability.    She's often talked about what she'll do in the future and the fact that some of her friends in Year 9 have had to choose GCSE options recently has started her thinking about this in more detail.  Last year she wanted to go to RADA; more recently she's been considering a career in fashion design and if that doesn't work out she says may study Law.  Fair enough. Am wary of giving any advice as I remember resisting strongly my mother's chosen path for me when I was a teenager.  The thing is she knows she has choices and, as a bright girl at a good school, I suppose she has, even if some of them are a bit unrealistic.

After she made that comment I explained to her that those who do join up often do so because they haven't got many other options.  Not sure she grasped what I was saying.  So last night when she showed an interest in watching 'Our Girl', the drama about an 18 year old who joins the army, I agreed.  Ok there was a lot of swearing and a bit of sex but think I made the right decision in letting her watch it as I suppose it showed her a different kind of life to the rather sheltered one she leads.  The central character, Molly, played by an actress who's in Eastenders, leaves behind her job in a nail bar, unfaithful boyfriend and difficult home life and joins up.  It's tough but she succeeds in the end and is deployed to Afghanistan.  There's a scene where she witnesses some parents collecting their dead son's belongings from the base and another where she goes on a trip to see the the war graves in Northern France. And the ending was well done.  We hear her voice reading the letter she has been advised to write to her parents in case she dies and see them watching on TV a Union Jack draped coffin in Brize Norton.  But then there's a shot of the sergeant reading the letter and we realise she's still alive.

A good drama and it answered the question she asked me earlier in the week much better than I did.

Lacey Turner stars in Our Girl
Me and my girl watched 'Our Girl' last night

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Chocolate Brownies, Jenny Eclair and Log Fires

Sunday afternoon and planned Easter holiday gardening action postponed due to weather.  So have spent a large part of the weekend in front of the fire reading. Still on 'Skippy Dies' by Paul Murray, reread as it's my book club choice.  Not so good on a second read so a bit worried the others won't like it. I also picked up a book by Jenny Eclair (Life, Death and Vanilla Slices)  from the library yesterday which I'm reading at the same time.  It's the sort of book you can pick up and read with a cup of tea as it has nice short chapters.   About middle-aged woman with twenty-five years teaching experience and an English and French degree married to someone called Paul.  Isn't that me?  Except she has two teenage boys, and I have been a teacher now for 30 years. OMG as Fashion Girl might say.  Anyway a good read so far - black humour which always appeals to me.

But did get off the sofa and got in the mood for Easter by making some Chocolate Brownies this afternoon with Fashion Girl.  She is into baking after her success with a chocolate cake a couple of weeks ago in Home Ec. (or Food and Nutrition as it's offically called now).  We used a basic recipe but modified it leaving out the nuts which she doesn't like and adding chocolate drops and raspberries.  They are a bit singed around the edges as our oven burns everything but they taste delicious.  The raspberries cut through the sweetness and they are squidgy in the middle. 

Fashion posts on hold until I stop eating brownies and get off the sofa.  Won't fit into any of my clothes at this rate!

Monday, 18 March 2013

Lazing around in Lincoln and Windowshopping for Shoes

Busy week again so didn't get to blogging but wonderful lazy weekend away to get over it.  Drove across the Pennines via Woodhead pass to visit friends in Lincoln. Cold weekend but it was cosy in our friend's house, which is a cottage within in sight of the cathedral but wonderfully peaceful as it's tucked away behind a wooden gate on a busy road.  You go down some steps and there's his little garden and front door. The traffic can be glimpsed at eye level through a little window set high on one wall but you barely notice it as the walls are so thick.  

Love going to Lincoln because I like all the little independent shops by the cathedral.  Didn't venture far on Saturday afternoon but went for a walk on Sunday morning and did some window shopping to the sound of the cathedral bells before the sleet set in.  Spotted this wonderful shoe shop, Mercury Shoes, on the way down Steep Hill.  Unfortunately it was closed so I didn't get the chance to try anything on.  Quite like the look of these stripey shoe boots.  Fashion Girl thought they were dreadful though and perhaps they'd be difficult to wear with anything but jeans, but I'm determined to be more adventurous in my shoe choices this spring.

Also liked these animals in another window which are in fact jugs.  Lots of great little shops - just a pity they weren't open.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Sixties Fashion in 'Made in Dagenham'

Bit of a blogging break for me this week as work has been very busy and I have also been afflicted by a nasty streaming cold.  But back this morning and full of ideas for posts this week so watch this space.

Last night I watched a great film, 'Made in Dagenham' which had its first TV showing last night - never did get round to see it when it was on at the cinema.  Wonderful portrayal of 1960's Britain and I liked the way they showed the real women behind the story of the fight for equal pay for women in the closing credits.

One of the things I really enjoyed about the film was the fashion.  I was a child in the sixties and remember the clothes my mother wore then.  She had a white broderie anglais blouse just like the one worn by the main character Rita in a family meal time scene near the beginning of the film.  In fact I liked everything about that scene - the set was fabulous too: even the glasses used for the squash looked authentic.

I loved this blue suit Rita wore in the TUC conference scene.  The colour is very 1960s and so are the lace collar and sleeves.  In fact I remember my sister had a little crimplene suit in this colour which was her going to church outfit.  I had a matching one in pink.  What ever happened to crimplene?Made In Dagenham


The dress worn in all the film posters is Biba and the main character borrows it for her visit to meet Barbara Castle, played by Miranda Richardson.  I suspect this is not an entirely accurate version of real events but there is a wonderful exchange between Rita and Barbara Castle about fashion.  Barbara admires Rita's Biba dress, saying she saw it in a magazine, but admits that she herself is wearing an outfit from C&A! (Remember it?  Still there in Europe I think.)  I love the styling of the Biba dress with the inverted front pleat and the contrasting square white buttons.  I'm not so keen on the outfit Richardson wore though - too mother-of-the-bride.

This shot below shows the characters after their successful meeting and it shows just what a good job the costume designers did on this film.  Geraldine James, the older shop steward character, is wearing the kind of crossover print dress I remember my granny wearing in the sixties and the younger woman, whose name I have forgotten, is wearing a chain belt.  Had one of those too in the late sixties.

I think the decision to explore fashion as a minor theme in this film was a good one.  Showing an interest in what to wear and enjoying fashion doesn't stop women achieving success.   

Saturday, 2 March 2013

What are you wearing? My Middle-aged Man in Lycra raising money for the Alzheimer's Society

'What are you wearing?' said Fashion Girl to her dad as we headed out for a family mid-week meal out on Wednesday night.

Yes - you read that right.  13 year old expresses horror at what her father is wearing, not the other way round.  My husband is a bit of an eccentric when it comes to his clothing choices and on this occasion he had accessorised his sand coloured jacket with a yellow paisley-patterned scarf.  It had belonged to his father and is about 40 years old.  I thought it looked quite good actually and am tempted to borrow this scarf myself.

 Mr Inspired's wardrobe does contain some items I do seriously object to, however. The cardigan below was purchased online last year and was apparently a bargain, being reduced from £250 to around £70, he tells me.  From Henry Lloyd Jeans - is he a designer?  No idea.  It's a bit Starsky for those of you who recall Paul Michael Glaser in this role (See below).  The back view is even worse with large yacht motifs on it.  Fashion Girl and I are embarrassed when he wears this out and I feel need to apologise on his behalf to whoever we are with.  He, on the other hand, is without shame and is pleased with his purchase.

He likes sale bargains and is an online shopping addict.  Mostly this involves purchasing cycling related paraphenalia as he is one of the army of MAMILs, middle-aged men in lycra, who clog up country roads on their bikes every weekend. He regularly buys various bits of bike; gadgets to monitor his speed, distance, heart rate etc. and a range of garish and pricey lycra tops, shorts, waterproof jackets etc..  He spends more on cycling clothes than on the rest of his non-work wardrobe, and most evenings can be seen in a range of revolting t-shirts and tracksuit bottoms.

And so to the main point of this post.  I am very proud of my very own MAMIL, despite his wardrobe malfunctions.  A couple of years ago he cycled from London to Paris and raised over £1,000 for the Alzheimer's Society.  And now he is in training to do it again: London to Brussels in September.  It's going to be more of a challenge this time as he's recovering from a nasty car accident which happened last September and is still in pain with a back injury.  But he is determined and is out on his bike every weekend, gradually building up his fitness.

Made it to Paris!

Now I know it's asking a lot to expect people we have never met to sponsor him but just in case you would like to support this very worthy cause, here's the link to his Just Giving page.  Thanks!