Thursday 22 November 2012

The road to nowhere

A brown and muddy lane such as the one outside our cottage does not have quite the same ring to it as the yellow brick road. It does not lead to Oz and there is no rainbow anywhere around. We have the dairy farmer, turned arable farmer and the wet weather to thank for the state of it. Turn left out of our drive and the lane will take you into one of the farmer’s fields where he has been growing vegetables. Turn right and right again and you will come to one of the main roads out of the village.

 A team of men have been harvesting the crops in the field, which we were told would be potatoes and leeks, on and off since September. One of the fields can be accessed from the main road. So apart from the mud on the road when that field was harvested it did not interfere with our lives. But for several weeks now husband has been washing our cars every weekend only for them to get covered in mud within 24 hours. However, for the last two weeks the crop that was grown in the field at the top of our lane has been harvested. It is a long hard day for the team of predominantly Polish workmen. Husband has seen them arriving for work as he leaves home at around 6.45 am and I have seen them leaving at around 4.15 pm. Tractors and heavy farm machinery have been trundling and at times thundering up and down the lane from as early as 7.00 am until well after dark. There are no street lights around here and it must be pitch black in the field. And it is not just a Monday to Friday operation. They have been working weekends too. One evening I came home to find a farm vehicle of some description in the lane lit up with about six headlamp type lights. It was like the scene from ET. Thankfully they have now finished and life has returned to normal. If it is ever normal here, but not before a bit of drama.

A week ago I heard something heavy on the main road around mid-night. The following morning husband found his route along the road was blocked by wide farm machinery so had to make a detour around the village before he could effectively set off for work, making him late. Access to  our village is via two main roads one to the east of the village and another to the west. Last week the western road was closed going south for road works, which were scheduled to take two weeks. Then another sign went up in the village announcing that the access road to the eastern road was going to be closed this week for road works, leaving only one route in and out or the village. A concerned resident contacted the powers that be to point out that  delays caused by these road works could be a problem if emergency vehicles needed access to the village. Suddenly the two week closure became one week and the one week closure became one day!

Thursday 8 November 2012

Clothes horse or fashion victim?

Seasons like fashions come and go. Two weeks ago, here in the UK, saw the end of British Summer Time, as we put our clocks back one hour. Winter does not officially start until after the shortest day on December 21. Consequently, it must now be Autumn. Our first really cold day of this Autumn/Winter was two days before the clocks went back.  So I was rather surprised that afternoon,  to receive an e-mail offering me a preview of the Spring collection from a mail order catalogue whose clothes I sometimes purchase. Especially as earlier in the day a copy of their Winter catalogue had come through the letterbox. I know that fashion always has to work a season or two ahead but I have never bought my clothes much in advance of the current season. Now I find that I have to buy clothes earlier than I used to or I am left with very little choice. My initial reaction to viewing next Spring’s clothes was that I was not going to look. However, I did sneak a peek and even worse I saw some things that I liked, but I shall not be buying any Spring clothes until next year. We have Winter to get through before we even begin to think about next Spring.

Since retiring I have found deciding what to wear to be a bit of a headache. When I was working I had a ‘uniform’ of blouses, jumpers, cardigans and trousers that I wore for work. Those clothes were not usually worn when I was not at work. At home I would invariably be gardening, decorating or doing housework which meant wearing old clothes, that did not matter if they got dirty. Looking at my wardrobe, a year ago, I probably had more old clothes than anything else. I soon realised that I needed to smarten myself up. I noticed that many of those in my flower arranging class dressed themselves better than I did. It was not that I did not know how, it was more that I had got out of the habit. I have always had an interest in fashion and the challenge now is to dress fashionably without looking like mutton dressed as lamb. When I was a student my dress sense could be quite Bohemian and I could get away with anything such as purple velvet loons, home made smocks and a multi-coloured waistcoat made from oddments of wool.  Those days are now long gone and even if the clothes fit, they are better on someone else.

Fashion today is a mine field. There are so many different styles and looks, whereas in years gone by there would only be one.  When we were on holiday in Bordeaux, a few weeks ago, I noticed the young French women  wearing anything from shorts with boots to  scarves with  flip flops. So how does the mature woman dress herself? I am not sure that I know the answer. However, I do know that I am not yet ready to embrace polyester blouses, crimplene trousers and elasticated waist bands. I try to avoid anything that is too tight, too thin, too short or too cheap. Even if it does fit, it will not look good for long. I do buy a few bits and pieces from Primark, but I would never buy anything overtly trendy from there. The chances of seeing the item walking around on another are too great.  My aim is to buy well made and fashionable clothes at a reasonable price. Recently I have started to buy some of my clothes via the Internet. This actually came about when I needed some clothes to take on holiday and did not have the time to go shopping. It is easier than I thought, but I have to say that returning items that are unsuitable is a hassle, but then so is returning unwanted clothes to a shop. I do not end up cold and wet, hot and bothered, or worn out from walking around endless shops. I can do it all from the comfort of my own home. I understand that the Duchess of Cambridge is a fan of Internet shopping, but I suspect that she has a more generous clothing allowance than I do. I like to see what is in the shops and I do not think that you can beat feeling the quality and seeing the width. I am sure that most women get a buzz from shopping and we all have that impulse buy in the wardrobe that we never wear.

Years ago I was colour analysed. The concept of colour analysis was developed in the US.  At that time the colour palette was divided into the four seasons. Winter and Summer for the cool colours. Autumn and Spring for the warm colours. The concept of colour analysis has been further refined and is now categorised slightly differently, but the original principals must still apply. The analysis is based on skin tone and hair and eye colour. As it happened I was already wearing the colours from the correct season, but it is another aspect of fashion that we need to be aware of when we go shopping for clothes, as the wrong colours can be as bad as clothes that do not fit or a style that does not suit.

Then there is the thorny issue of make up. I am amazed by the number of women who do not wear any. The woman who looks good bare faced, has not been born. I need a bit of help to feel human. Hair is another dilemma, which is as much in the lap of the gods, and your hairdresser, as anything. It is a matter of what you are given and you have to make the best of it. However, we owe it to ourselves to look our best at all times.

I believe that some of you know that I have been having problems with my laptop, especially after I have been blogging. I wrote this post a week ago. I had intended to put the finishing touches to it and publish it last Friday but my laptop had other ideas and would not to work. Husband kindly sorted out my laptop and in doing so lost most of my settings which meant that I was unable to access my blog. It has taken a bit of time to find it and complete the post. I wonder if the laptop is trying to tell me something, but for now I will soldier on and hope that things work as they should.