Check out this beautiful, hand-made, Japanese silk face covering I just purchased from KatyBeesDesignStudio, on Etsy.
It’s so incredibly comfy to wear and comes fitted with a top metal strip and slot-in space for a removeable air filter, should you wish to have one. Even before I’d had chance to put it on, I felt like an utter princess from the packaging presentation.
As well as the face covering (delivered in a rainbow pager bag), she sent me an air filter in a drawstring bag and some cute trinkets in a little drawstring pouch. You know how I get over little trinket items. It really was the icing on the cake
Katy hasn’t sponsored me to write this post but it’s been a long two years and it’s been a while since I got excited over something as mundane as a face covering. I simply had to rave about it.
Can I just start with the most middle-class, Cotswold drama to have occured this year at Christmas. Mumma B, setting her prized oven mits on fire, by accidentally placing them over a Yankee candle.
The best bit? Mumma B’s first reaction to my panic was to assume the vegetables were boiling over. I don’t think it quite trumps the time I dropped the Michael Buble Christmas CD in a tray of turkey fat, but it’s a close second.
Letters, Books, Pigeons: Christmas 2021
I’m going to start as we mean to go on, with this:
You know what? The more times I watch it, the more times I think there is nothing in here the great George Michael and Andrew Ridgley of Wham! would take issue with.
From the soundtrack to the casual bit of inter breed dating, I only hope, and I truly mean this from the bottom of my heart, that George Michael was able to watch this before his death in 2016.
(And if you think any of this is tragic just remember, this wasn’t even the worst thing I came across. Nowhere near.)
I’m Dreaming of a White…Pigeon
When it comes to Christmas, everyone has a different interpretation for what festivities look like. Some people have robins in snow, in Swindon we’ve got pigeons bathing in overflowing waste drains.
Beggars can’t be choosers.
While I’m not one of those who puts up decorations super early, I am a fan of Christmas when it does come along. Anything to get me over the trauma of Halloween.
Genuinely can’t be trusted to watch a 12-rated spook film without freaking out at the slightest jump-scare. Years it took me to get over Disney’s The Haunted Mansion, years.
I put up my tree…
…and proceded to smash up my beloved retro starburst clock, by attempting to hang lights off it. The entire glass dial, smashed into a trillion bitty pieces.
Mazel Tov! (Oh, wait, that’s the wrong religion.)
It’s always nice when Jesus graces you with his presence when you’re out and about shopping, even if his eyeless sockets are a little bit menacing.
We buy all these presents, yet not one of them is for him? So humble.
And I’m not going to lie, arguably the gifting has already peaked this year. That happened recently when my family teamed up to buy me a whole set of matching Next kitchenware.
My goodness, it’s so beautiful.
Huh? Sorry, what were we talking about? Oh yeah, presents.
I mean, at the same birthday I also got given this:
Honestly, the embarassment of opening this in front of my family, alongside Next kitchenware. Not just that, reading the blurb out! Trust me, it gets worse. Deary me, my cheeks were not ready for that leavel of red. (Thanks Matt, mission accomplished!)
Now this, this is the sort of tat I can get into.
(But not buy.)
Hang on a second, I’m sure I’ve seen something like this before.
My goodness, talk about nerve!
That was on sale for £2 less in 2019!
It set me up to be in a right unimpressed British emoji-type mood when my younger sister pointed this sign-board out to me.
No, just no.
Ignoring all of the random shop items, this year my best purchase has to be, without a shadow of a doubt, my new fountain pen.
I bought the pen, then proceeded to Google how to make it work.
There’s definetely something ironic in using the internet to lookup the basics of how to use a pen.
One of my favourite things I like to do every year is write Christmas cards. This year, with so many of my colleagues based overseas that meant a bit more spent on stamps but heck, they’re worth it.
I’m still at the stage of life where I don’t have five million of them to write out, and/or pressing life matters that see every night booked up from 1st August, through to 15th January. I can treat myself to the odd night of pure card-writing, jotting out personalised notes to those nearest and dearest. It gives me a kind of buzz.
What can I say? Some people have alcohol, I have cards. We both have wrecked tounges.
Terrible Christmas Films (No, Really)
When I write cards, wrap presents etc, I tend to stick on one of those terribly wonderful Hallmark-type Christmas films on. Predictable and, I used to think, unoffensive. That was, until I saw this clip:
THEY DON’T EVEN EAT THE FOOD!!
What kind of dining-out date is this? Nu-huh, I’m sorry mate, you can stop juggling those oranges, because if I’m not getting a look-in on that Tupperware box, then you ain’t getting this.
(Close friends have also pointed out countless other things that make no sense in this montage, however I’m sticking firm on the lack-of-food being the absolute worst. Three words; girl, gotta, eat.)
On that note… *returns to phone to scroll through her tailored Facebook adverts*
Serves me right for being an insomniac. And, on the topic of sleep, a late night pop to the shops to buy some milk and I spot this:
“…Does it come with a receipt?”
Oh, hey! Almost forgot. It’s December now, so that means my diet is even more whacky than other months* (*let’s be honest, my diet is hardly enviable). Did someone invite me to go around all the coffee shops, drink gingerbread lattes and not eat anything until evening, when I have a three course meal?
(Not that I ever want to have a three course meal, even two courses is an extreme for me, but because it’s December suddenly that’s a thing. Gonna get me a sweet, sweet latte, bigger than my tiny wrist can hold.)
Anyway, yes, yes that’s me. And I will read a book in there and no, you will not have a hope of kicking me out until at least two hours have passed, and not a minute before.
Unrelated note, does anyone else get life this after getting heavily involved with an emotional book?
“Walking through the dark and cold drizzel of town, after a 2+ hour coffee shop reading session. So full of mixed emotions right now, I genuinely don’t know whether to cry or feel inspired. Just me, or does anyone else have to take a lie down when the book feel get this intense?”
Turns out, it’s just me.
“Ink not coming out of fountain pen” is a niche search entry, I’ll give you that. Maybe not quite as popular as Ariana Grande but heck, you’ve gotta keep these traditions alive.
You know what? Stuff it! I’m just gonna book myself on a professionally accredited course to learn about unicorn magic…
…and go watch the Swindon Wildcats play down the local rink.
In fairness, it was such a good game.
Wait, There’s More!
Before you go, remember that video I included at the start of this post? Well, guess what? The creator only went and made an improved version and/or (to be honest I’m not entirely sure which) sequeal a few years later! Yeah, I know!
Better still, the soundtrack features the musical stylings of Cascada, covering Wham!
Back when I was living in London I had the absolute pleasure of attending the Tate Modern’s critically appraised exhibition Picasso 1932: Love, Fame, Tragedy. It ran between 8th March – 9th September 2018.
I didn’t attend “1932…” until late on, days before it was due to close. Why? Because I’ll be honest, Picasso had never really been my bag. I appreciated his reputation and there’s no denying Guernica is a masterpiece of political demonstration, but otherwise I just saw the man as someone who took a lot of credit for not a lot.
Don’t shoot me.
In the end, it was a little voice inside my head that urged me to go, that I’d only regret it if I didn’t. (Also, because at the time I could get in for £5. Minor detail.)
I’m so very glad I went. For one, turns out the man is just as trigger happy on the paint brushes as I am on my blog. In one year he produced over 100 works of art (mostly of his mistress). Secondly, some of his work isn’t too shabby.
Don’t get me wrong, I still had questions. Most of my secondary school art projects were on par with Yellow Belt.
And yet God knows, you never saw my Art teacher praising me as the Second Coming. I took a snapshot and sent it to my Mum, she still insisted I keep the day job.
So what has all this got to do with socks? Well, sometime after the exhibition I was browsing the wonderful world of Far Eastern shopping when I came across some socks printed with the iconic painting The Dream.
I’ll spare you my cobble-dash description on this painting but yep, the way he painted the face is intentional (classic playboy Picasso). More information here.
Short story, shorter, I found a pair of socks online depicting this masterpiece (or, as the sellers called them, “style #3 sleeping lady”). Don’t ask how or why, it’ll be easier for us both. Neither did I enquire as to the copyright, given the same people were also selling “magic man” socks of Jesus.
12 million months later my socks arrived, looking something like this:
First observation – no way in hell were these made for a ladies foot-size 5 (EU 38). Definitely men’s socks. But still, the print detailing was alright and the image had been flipped. Without disclosing the price, (*cough* 99p), you get what you pay for.
I couldn’t wait to try them on.
Then I looked down…
Because the socks were bigger in size than expected, I’d had to pull them up higher, and because my calves are the size of tree trunks, the print was stretched-out even more.
Far from looking mellowed after a bit of artist lovin’, Marie looks genuinely pained from having her face stretched to that of a horse. And let’s not even go there with where that places Picasso’s perceived manhood.
I’m still gonna wear them though. I mean, Picasso socks! How cool is that?!
“The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there” – L.P. Hartley
A year ago today, I returned from a London city break and published my first post. I’d spent a year living in the UK capital, so for me it marked a refresh of the best bits of city-living, including art galleries, theatre performances and catching up with old friends.
Days after my return I was left encumbered, battling a mystery illness. Those following weeks I pressed on the best I could, putting it down as another one of those viruses which circulate in densely populated environments. A year later I’m no closer knowing what struck me down; we all have our theories.
Back then, my friends and I had whimsically noted the high-adoption of face coverings being worn by the predominantly Asian tourist base. We mused on the foreign illness that was gripping other continents, but to comprehend the possibility that our own country could already be rife with disease was a step too far. We were better than that, we were British. Instead, we continued to pack ourselves into dense sweats to watch live music, feasted in noisy restaurants and embraced fondly.
If only we’d known.
So, with perhaps a naively romanticised view of what were truly the last days of normality (late January 2020), here are all four parts of London Recalling.
Alice Bennett. A fabulous personality and brilliant writer but certainly someone who wouldn’t stoop to cheap and forced puns (less wordplay, more wordforce). She only writes on the most topical and important of subjects and lets the title of posts come to her rather than chase after them.
Oh who am I kidding? I saw this clip and felt the need to write something about my hair.
We’re half way through the year now and that, alongside my hair being due for a home-done touch up, I thought I’d give a new shade a go. After all YOLO is still a thing somewhere in this universe (right?) and if not, at work we have a new initiative called Have-A-Goness so I can always say my CEO told me to do it. There are millions of brunettes in the world so how can I make myself stand out in comparison? Do something crazy and impulsive, that’s what. I’m done with sitting in the corner so in line with this post I did a few months ago: I’m Ruddy Awesome I’ve decided that seeing as Patrick isn’t going to help me out anytime soon I need to start making myself more visible and recognised for my own talents. The colour of my hair is a quick win way to help towards that.
I know what you’re thinking, you’re thinking “what on Earth has happened to Alice? She’s off the mother-flipping chain.” Well London. London’s herds of people and a hefty quantity of exhaust fumes, that’s what.
Anyway I very recently applied a temporary dye to my hair (one which lasts so long before it entirely washes out) so I could see if longer term it was a colour I wanted to work on a more permanent basis.
This was my hair before…
This is it now…
So yeah, I’m a cross between a brunette, red head and a 50s dress up (I say that in a nice way). At the risk of sounding like a diva the second photo was taken in my ensuite (play your cards right boys and you too may end up staring blankly at this internal door). In natural light it is a lot redder. Muchos more.
To give you an idea of the scandal my hair has already caused, when I showed it to mumma Bennett the reaction was as follows:
“OH MY GOD!!”
“It’s red, isn’t it?”
*Covers eyes* “Oh my God, it’s so different! INDIA! INDIA! Come here!”
“What is it?”
“Your sister’s hair! Come look at it!”
“Jesus mum, the whole county will hear you. And stop laughing.”
“Oh wow, it is different. Not as bad as I thought though.”
“See, India is fine with it. Calm down mum.”
“It’s purple! What has your father said?”
“He didn’t notice.”
“He didn’t notice?! BEN! BEN!”
“For Christ’s sake mum.”
I’ve decided that while the principle of YOLO and Have-a-Goness are very valid ideas and mantras, if I do anything more scandalous than this I risk being taken out of the will (Patrick Swayze or no Patrick).
Despite Christmas day occurring on the same day, in the same month, every, single, year, the Western world seems to go into mental and commercial meltdown from about October onwards. I say October, when I was younger it was November and in ten years’ time it’ll be January. Wizzard’s ‘I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday’ will be an awful reality, playing out over a rusting tannoy as mothers fight in a Hunger Games/Battle Royale blood bath to obtain the last potato to dress up with cabbage leaves. Outside, gang warfare breaks out yet again due to a shortage of indigestion tablets and mulled wine. Oh, and Borris Johnson is ruler of the not-so-free world. What a terrible, terrible world.
Still, we’re nine years away from that escalation so in the meantime here are some of the wonderful purchases one can make in Britain if still in need of a last minute, high quality purchase to give to your dog, sorry, nephew.
A good place to start is to let your nearest and dearest know what you want. You can drop them hints here and there, or maybe leave them a note. Or, you could get it written across the front of a shop window:
(Just remember to keep the wording polite and British.)
If you know what the latest fashion trends are clothing is always a good option. Festive jumpers that state the obvious or depict animals from the homeless pet adverts never fail to lighten one’s mood:
Socks, too, remain a classic gift purchase. This season it’s all about food puns:
But be warned, spouts were so 2015. Sales of sprout-ware have subsequently seen a massive decline as people realise that vegetables in hats on socks is neither hilarious or witty. It’s weird.
Hang on, I’m sure I’ve seen this before…
Of course, if you’re of the grown up variety you could splash out on underwear:
Hmmmmm. Well even if you dispute the message, always, always make sure your pants match your jumper:
With more and more people turning to online retailers, the high street has over recent years seen a change in its pricing policy. For the thrifty buyer this can result in great shopping deals. Unless you want orange juice, in which case you can jog on.
Because the high street wants consumers to spend money in their stores, you’ll often find high levels of investment and intelligence factored into stock layout and price labels. This ensures you, the consumer, know exactly how much an item is at a glance.
Sometimes no amount of reductions can ever justify the product:
And please, for the love of God do not buy presents from pound shops, especially those who make out this is a reasonable gift to give someone:
There are very few giftware items that embody the term ‘crapware’ better than the above.
Be aware of the stores that take to magical allusions to convince you to buy a non-existent item. It’s an easy enough trap to fall into, in the below example you may need to take a second look to establish what’s missing:
Other stores may shrink the portion sizes:
Speaking of food, it’s always best to stock up on the non/less perishable items as and when you can. Failing that, stock up on products that cover all bases. After all, why pay more to buy cookies and milk separately when Father Christmas could munch on these instead:
A product with natural AND artificial flavourings? Well count me in!
And who needs a traditional Christmas lunch with all the meat and trimmings when you could buy yourself a massive tray of sushi? Not just any sushi mind, no, no, jelly sweet sushi!
And if that is even too much then look no further than your local bar or restaurant to cater to your feeding needs. National pub chains such as Wetherspoons pride themselves on a variety of Christmas dishes (just so long as it contains cranberry or turkey):
After all that shopping you’re probably ready for a sit down and coffee. By this point you’ll spent all your money on inappropriate underwear and Pop Tarts (if not, then hit the shops again). Drink of choice therefore? Americano with half a cereal bar you stashed away in your bag for this very moment.
As you look out of the window you start to see the shops around you close and the natural light fade to e replaced by an altogether different sort of luminosity. The town centre Christmas lights. Take a moment to marvel at the decorations, see how awe inspiring they are. More importantly, don’t make eye contact with the crazy lady:
Shopping done. If you’re not already like this…:
…Then it’s time to get your glad rags on and hit the town to celebrate. Don’t forget ladies, accessorise, accessorise, accessorise!
And let’s not forget the make up/dress choice. Jazz it up, spritz and glitz yourself so that you go from looking like this:
To looking like this:
(Cor, isn’t she a stunner?)
If make up/clothing fail you in this mission, ply yourself with merry liqueur to make you feel like the latter. Just remember though, it isn’t all about what the boys in the club think. In the immortal words of the great philosopher Justin of Bieber:
(And if other people can’t see that? Well, there’s a scatter cushion for that too:)
You’ll know if the night out is a good one for two reasons. a) your shoes will look like this:
And you will feel like this:
And hey presto! Christmas is sorted and now all you need to do is gear yourself up for the next big event, the Boxing Day/Winter Sales. Oh wait, you actually have to wrap up presents don’t you?
BONUS PICTURES: Life Choices – Christmas Shopping Special
(Disclaimer: all items in this post were taken on location, photographer did not alter or move items.)
With an upcoming holiday to Cyprus on the horizon, a compulsory holiday clothes shop was in order.
As a woman you would think this would be a straight forward enough task. My usual shopping pattern is enter shop, walk around, exit shop, walk to a shop at the far end of town, walk back to the other end of town, walk past Costa half a dozen times before deciding it’s quiet enough to go in, have coffee and read a my book for about an hour. (Intellectual box is ticked, however sophisticated attractive man coming up to me and saying “Hey there, reading Handmaid’s Tale I see. I personally preferred Atwood’s earlier dystopian work, but it’s better than 1984” box will remain unticked). After this I’ll then exit the coffee shop and then my retail habits begin all over again.
Even I don’t understand my walking pattern. Before Christmas I went to Bath and it got to the stage I was holding casual conversation with the big issue guy every time I walked past him in my wolf hat (which was about six times). I was his ‘wolfie’ and he was my ‘big issue man’.
Anyway, I was going clothes shopping which would normally be simple enough, however this Spring the shops seemed flooded with a lot of WTF (what the fudge) clothing. It’s like the High Street has become the embodiment of the human version of the super-hipster. While some things do look kinda cool if you’re into that thing (or ‘rocking that look’ as the hip kids say), other things are just all types of no.
At this stage I’m going to stop typing so much and post a selection of photos from the wonderfully awful camera on my Nokia Lumia 635 from recent shopping trips…
This long sleeved top in H&M:
…Because daddy/childhood issues is sooo in this season.
This bikini top in New Look that features an insect ladder at the back:
It’s either to ensure insects can climb to safety should they get stuck in the pool, or so they can slide down you as part of their insect pool parties. It’s a two in one.
This sheep skin, long sleeve outfit, perfect for pagan ceremonies:
You’ll by the hippiest hipster in this outfit. Darn you New Look for beating my organisation into stocking this! For an added hippy look, add flowers in your hair and skip down the main High Street. You’ll soon be pulling in the instagram followers and trending across Wiltshire.
Clothing that features puns:
Ok, I’ll admit this is a good pun or something I’d buy just to get this reaction from friends initially:
There were a few of these around town. This one was borderline:
Clearly all the good puns were taken though when H&M designed their Spring 2015 clothes range. They’re currently stocking this…
Little Mer-Kitty? What on Earthhh? On the upside it’s a conversation starter. (“Hey, where did you get that top and where is the nearest petrol canister and matches?”)
Clothing which features food:
For goodness sake High Street, I thought I’d covered this in my recent blog post from when I was in Cardiff (http://wp.me/p5kuli-2I). Having food on your clothing is just weird and it encourages either obesity or cannibalism!
Who decided that this year would be the year of the junk? (The type of food on the clothing is also unhealthy). Surely this clothing breaks EU regulations on food offering? I mean where is the salad skirt or the veggie vest?
This rebellious jewellery range:
The photo speaks for itself.
This cool cat:
Oh sorry, this photo shouldn’t be here. I forgot this post was about awful fashion choices…
This outfit that was designed for management:
You’ll never need a name tag again! Your team will entirely respect your decision and reasons for buying this outfit.
Finally, this long sleeved crop top that is still trying to ‘find itself’:
I mean is it a crop top or is it a long sleeved top? Is it French or is it English? It is probably best not to ask, the person who chooses to wear this top is probably just as confused.
The only products I did have time for were at Paperchase:
It’s tough cookies! Because they’re cookie cutters with tattoos that traditionally tough people had. Hah!
These photos came from a selection of outfits from a selection of shops. There were plenty more varying degrees of what I’d consider to be crimes against fashion, however shop assistants don’t tend to take too kindly to people who just photo products and don’t try anything on.
Overall, I have wasted a good deal of time recently gaping at hideous clothes when I should be buying my fifth dress that I really don’t need. I mean who is designed and signed these outfits off? Who is buying these clothes? Most importantly though, WHO SAT THERE AND TOLD THE HIGH STREET STORES THAT THIS IS FASHIONABLE??!!
I want to start a petition, tell the world to boycott some of these products, but then I really, really, hope that the world has an ounce of common sense to avoid awful fashion when they see it. I’m certain I’ll do another similar post to this again in the future. A mouse can’t halt a bull and I can’t halt the wrath of the fashion industry. Has anyone ever dared to tell the fashion world that perhaps they might occasionally get it wrong? Just because the emperor says something looks amazing it shouldn’t follow we accept it at face value. That said, since typing this I would love to see photos of super skinny models wearing clothing with cake designs. Two polar opposites, just like a sad clown. Now there’s something I’d like to see. Do that fashion industry and then we can talk.
Right, on the subject of fashion and being cool I’m off to eat dinner in a pair of jogging bottoms, an oversized university hoodie with my hair scrapped back into a pony tail. It doesn’t matter how fabulous I look this evening because I’ve got a box of chocolate fingers and a night in with this man…
Aka Poldark, aka Aiden Turner, aka the only person I’d ever wear a mer-kitty top for.