She wore a raspberry beret...

posted on: Wednesday, 24 June 2015

There's a local event brewing, a thing that needs to raise money for a worthy cause. There was talk of a ball or a banquet or some such evening that required dressing up and putting on a show. Then the voice of an underbelly of discord who suggested maybe we should just have an 80's disco? Of course I was sold. Anything 1980's is my bag. I opted out of a ball gown and into neon leg warmers. I have to say, as the 80's actually happened and I was their witness, neon leggings were never worn. However I certainly saw some on 'Top of the Pops'.

Every now and then I catch an 80's tune on the radio, I am always a sucker for Blondie who seemed cooler than cool as I grew up. Debbie Harry singing 'roll me in designer sheets, I can never get enough'. Little did I know that the adult life she hinted at does not consist of designer sheets, but instead of endless laundry of sheets, not of the designer kind. Oh the irony.

I decided this week that it is a travesty that I have never seen 'Annie Hall'. Does this make me culturally unaware? Is 'Annie Hall' a rite of passage?

Meanwhile the need for palm trees grows and I texted my husband to say that I wanted to wallpaper a wall of our downstairs loo with palm tree wallpaper. This is a recurring theme with me. Most of all I would like the quintessential paper named 'Martinique' like the one from in Beverley Hills Hotel, circa 1942. I can't work out whether it is good taste or bad taste. I am not sure I care. I just know that I want it. I wonder if what is really behind this is the feeling that my house should resemble the set for 'The Graduate'.

via here
I am utterly into 'The Affair'...I am literally waiting week to week for the next instalment.

Today was a hairdresser day. Three hours spent restoring my hair to the colour and condition it used to be naturally. Oh the irony again!! I am now an inadvertent blonde...

My sister in law is back! Hurrah for that. After eight months in Dubai she has returned for a month or so to escape the summer heat there. Happy about that. The other sister in law (also a Dubai-ite) will come in a week or so :-) Family is all.

I walked at the beach this morning and was struck by the way in which dog walkers greet each other. Before I owned a dog I had no idea of this sub-culture! It's so consistent and so sweet that I have become very fond of other dog owners.

And then there is shopping; fresh white converse and a necklace in the sales.

On the home front, we navigate the choppy waters of teenage relationships and ten year old boy fixations. She wants to be loved and he wants a new pair of trainers. Parenting is as challenging as ever. I stick to my tried and tested line, which is: reasonableness, gentle influence, truth and honesty. Even when it's awkward. Trying my hardest.

 I find myself looking at old ladies in the street and wondering what life they have lived and what they told their children. Did they think they were brave like me? I hope when I am an old lady someone asks me what I thought and felt at 40...

You got that James Dean day dream look in your eye...

posted on: Wednesday, 17 June 2015

I have many times lamented the fact that when living in rural Southern England, my sartorial choices are limited. There is always the mud and if not the mud then sand from the beach. There is always the changeable weather (typical Brit: weather-obsessed). There is always the lifestyle; dog walking, school run, pop to the shops, yoga etc. Oh the life I lead! Anecdotally, I realised yesterday that I have a fair amount of guilt about the life I lead. I feel inherently that I should be doing more, all the time. I decided this whilst reading my favourite John Updike book (best for writing inspiration) in the middle of the afternoon. Sigh. I then felt it again as I prepared healthy snacks for my unwell daughter, with all the time in the world. Again when I hung out seersucker bed linen on the washing line and then later when I brought it in, dry, it smelled like childhood. Even though I know these activities are good and real and often necessary, not least because I have made a conscious life/health choice to do them, I still get the guilts. Anyway, whilst leading my lovely life...I wear my usual muggles uniform.

Being away last week afforded the chance to properly dress up. I remembered how much I like dressing up. To my peril though, as I opted for the blue shoes whilst strolling from our hotel. It was uphill in Monaco and I suffered sore feet in return for my style choice. Some people lead a life where a blue shoes equivalent is required every day. How lovely. Maybe their feet are more hardy?!

And can we just touch on French style? I know there are a million homages to French style; what it is, how to get it. There is something so special about it. Not least because those wearing the clothes are healthy and beautiful and undone without being done. It's an elusive thing, clearly. As far as I could see there was no one, single thing, more like an overall effect. And the appropriate use of hats. Like when you see a girl on a bus, who has a flower in her hair and perfectly applied red lipstick. N'est-ce pas Simone?!

What it boils down to is that I am impressionable about style. I know what I like to wear and have an ever-present conflict between classic/elegant and boho/quirky which I am sure, as I age, will drive me to distraction. If I see something, just an image or a glimpse, I get mini-obsessions that last a few days where I HAVE to find that item. More often than not I don't buy it, even if I locate it. But the mystery and possibility of finding the perfect item and it being mine is almost too much to bear! I definitely have too much time on my hands... :-)

all images via prive de sommeil

Women, writing, wisdom...

posted on: Tuesday, 16 June 2015

One thing of note, last week when in Monaco, was that the women I met (the wives and girlfriends; although not always) were so open. Maybe there was something unusual about the prospect of a few days in a different place with people we'd never met before. People whose perception of me was unformed. Late at night I found myself in conversation with a variety of women, all picking through opinions and thoughts, dispensing wisdom when it was relevant but otherwise in listening mode. I met a few women who seemed very much like me, which is odd considering in my normal life, where I see women all the time, I very rarely meet anyone who is entirely on my wavelength. And I feel that it takes about five years to establish trust between two women over the age of 40. Certainly by 35, the veneer (which I have often written about) is up. Glued into place. This has led to me consider that my wavelength is one that not many of my contemporaries tune in to, although they're generally happy to have me in the background - like the unknown readers of this blog.

So, as ever I came away with observations. One was that of the women I met, all of whom had taken different paths in life; some with children, some without, some working, some not, all expressed 'is this how life is meant to be?' queries. No one asserted that they'd got it right. There was an inherent unsureness. Admittedly this is a small and privileged demographic of corporate wives or corporate climbers, but still.

Of course, this is relevant as I prepare to start my Masters in September, any and all human interaction becomes potential book material, to the extent that I eavesdropped on a conversation on the plane which was so candid and so public that by the time we landed I was taking notes! My friends have admitted that they are disconcerted about the idea of reading about themselves in something I have written. Everything has become fair game. I feel faintly bad about this; as if I am inadvertently plundering places I shouldn't for inspiration. But then I figure, that's the way it goes doesn't it?! Where does one draw the line?

So back to the women I met; where does this lack of confidence derive from? Why does no one have it all figured out? I've always been fascinated by the way women relate to each other and I am sure this is one the reasons I have blogged here for so many years. I look occasionally at my blog stats - where the visitor traffic comes from and how many followers etc. Over time it's become less and less important to me as the blog has become something I write for myself (can you tell?!) rather than crafting it for an audience. If the audience applaud, then great. But isn't it interesting that all this blog, or any blog has ever been is a series of observations about life, written mainly by women, mainly for women. I quite like that.

Meanwhile in the mind of this woman, this week:

Suitcase unpacking; dry cleaning of my party gown.
'This time last week' feelings.
One unwell teenage daughter, upstairs in bed. Sunny outside.
One piece of local news, affecting a peer of my daughter's, that was so awful and so tragic, I couldn't sleep after I heard.
One beach walk with friends, righting the wrongs.
A fairly hefty guilt about not having actually written much yet.
But much thought about what I might write.
Story of my life.
Fish tank issues.
One son who is so in the midst of being ten years old and heart-stoppingly handsome (there's a mother's love, I know) that when I talk to him, no matter what it's about, I smile.
One husband who is doing pretty well at work.
One half-done house that is constantly messy.
Not enough sleep.
A painful return to yoga after just one week off. Aching muscles.
A wild sale purchase that I am sure I shall get the wear from one day.

Happy Tuesday...

The scent of pine and jasmine...

posted on: Friday, 12 June 2015

I've been to Monaco since last week. My husband won an award with his work and so we were treated. I kept writing and re-writing in my head what I would tell you about my trip because it was just so lovely and special that I felt I must capture it moment by moment. Turns out it's harder than I thought. The reasons why it was so lovely are numerous and varied, but let's start with: was away from here!

I never think I want to escape my life until I escape my life and then look in through a different lens. Going to Monte Carlo on a luxurious break was a tonic of the best kind. It is the most glamorous place, so chic and so very beautiful. We stayed in a hotel suite high up above the bay, and slept with the doors open, listening to the waves. One day we took bikes and cycled through villa-lined residential roads (who actually lives there?!!), the sun beating down, the air smelling of pine and jasmine. We attended a cocktail party at the Villa Rothschild which sits atop a hill overlooking the Riviera bay. It was like something out of 'Tender is the Night' by F Scott Fitzgerald. We swam in the crystal clear Mediterranean. I wore white and it was appropriate! We drank way too much rosé. We watched fireworks at a gala dinner where the roof of the building we were in opened up, swished aside (yes, really!) and the night sky lit up. We listened to Euro-pop in a nightclub, drinking pink champagne, with sore toes from dancing for hours. And each morning a new fleet of super-yachts belonging to the super-rich had moored overnight. It was surreally, wonderfully fabulous. I know I am gushing now...

We had the most fun.

I completely fell in love with the place.

And now I am home. Rather hungover, literally and figuratively.

And so to the rest of my life. Honestly the contrast couldn't be greater! They are planting courgettes in the fields around my house so there have been tractors all day. Tonight my son has cricket practice so we go and have a beer and chat to the locals. The house is....well, the house is still what it was yesterday and the day before: undone. I have an incongruous French June tan as the weather here has been chilly. I now want summer more than ever!

It was lovely to come home to the children though and having a few days apart reminded me of all the good and lucky I have in my life. Nothing like a bit of perspective.

Oh and I hate to say it, but Victoria is no longer with us :-( another life lesson in nature and survival of the fittest! Victoria II is arriving over the weekend...