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Out shopping

I popped out to a local Antiques & Collectables fair in Hartley Wintney today.

Victoria Hall, Hartley Wintney

Victoria Hall, Hartley Wintney

Despite having far too much jewellery, I couldn’t resist this cute pair of silver earrings for £9.

Heart earrings

Heart earrings

I liked how the inner and outer hearts moved independently of each other.

I also bought yet another ring, despite having far too many already. I just thought it was unusual. In case it’s not totally obvious from the photo, the ring is formed from the word “Love”.

Love

Love

I then had a little wander round the shops, and snapped a nice little selfie in a full length mirror in a shop.

Shopping selfie

Shopping selfie

I’m wearing a dress by Atmosphere that I bought ages ago for £5, a jacket by Jane Norman (which you will have seen many times before), and a glass heart necklace that I bought on Friday for £2 in a charity shop (you can see it better in the pic at the top of the post). The bag is by Radley, and the shoes are by Rocket Dog.

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Lost and found

It was the Monthly Market at Farnham Maltings on Saturday, and as regular readers will know it’s something I like to go to regularly.

 

I started to put together a skirt & leggings type outfit, but it just wasn’t working, so in the end I went for jeans, boots, and a top. I chose a nice striped top by Phase 8 that I like, along with a Per Una cardigan and a jacket, and overall I think the outfit worked pretty well.

I wore one of my favourite necklaces – a 1920’s/1930’s oriental style necklace in gold or gilt silver (not sure which) with black enamel inlay and 24K gold engraving that I bought a couple of years back. I have a matching bracelet for it but since it lacks a chain I am always nervous about wearing it in case it comes undone and I lose it. But I decided to risk it.

Partway into the journey and I realised that I had lost the bracelet already. Oh no! But at least that meant that I had either lost it in the house or in the car, so there was a chance I would find it again.

I arrived at The Maltings just before midday, and started having a look around. It was quite busy!

I got talking to a seller who spotted my necklace and showed me two bracelets she had that were similar. They were gold, and very good quality, and so unblemished that they looked almost new. One was too small for me, and the other, which fitted me, was £45 which was far more than I wanted to pay. I told her that I had no doubt that it was a fair price but it was too much for me, and she asked what I would pay. I stressed that I wasn’t trying to beat her down to this price, but that I generally didn’t pay more than £25 for a bracelet. She looked rather shocked, but I went on to say that I’d spent under £30 on the necklace. She semi-seriously offered me that on the spot for it because she said it was worth far more, but I declined explaining that this was one of my favourite necklaces and I simply couldn’t part with it. After chatting a little more, I moved on.

Bracelet

Bracelet

Imagine my surprise when, in another part of the rabbit warren that is The Maltings, I found a seller with a very similar bracelet priced at £25. It fit, it had a chain, and it complimented my necklace. It also had more of a patina to it, which I liked. I don’t see this style for sale very often, so it was quite a surprise to see a total of three bracelets in this style for sale at one event.

I asked the seller if she had any movement on price, but she said she did not. So I just paid her the £25 asking price as I really wanted it and it was within budget. She even threw in a box for it, which was a nice bonus.

I also picked up a pair of tiny little silver heart stud earrings that will be ideal for work, for a very reasonable £4

Free parking

Free parking

After I had finished at The Maltings, I decided to go home via Fleet High Street, and parked up in the Council car park. I was pleasantly surprised to find that parking was free due to a “Small Business Saturday” initiative by Hart District Council. I think this is a great idea as I have long been of the opinion that one of the things contributing to the death of High Street shopping throughout the country is the cost of parking. Let’s hope that this initiative was a huge success and encourages it to become a regular thing.

My main reason for visiting the High Street was to call into Serendipity. If you’re not familiar with this shop, it’s a small unassuming shop front on the Fleet High Street that belies a large Tardis-like rabbit warren that seems to go on forever, culminating with Daisy’s Tea Room at the very back.

Drop your pants here

Drop your pants here

I didn’t find a huge amount there, but I was drawn to a cute & cheeky laundry sign. It was brand new and made in China, but at £12.50 I thought it was just about cheap enough to justify buying. I tried to get it for a tenner but unfortunately the ticket price was fixed. Oh well.

I didn’t find anything else I wanted there, so walked up the High Street popping into the various charity shops, but didn’t get anything other than a DVD. I did get a new scarlet matte lipstick by Maybelline in Superdrug though, which I think will look nice.

Drop your pants here

I ♥ my bedroom

When I got home, I hung the new sign on the mirror in my bedroom, which is above (but to one side of) my laundry basket. I think it fits in there quite well.

I then went looking for my bracelet. It wasn’t in the car, or on the driveway, and it wasn’t in my bedroom where I had put on my cardigan (I thought perhaps this is when it might have fallen off), and wasn’t any of the places in the house that I had been that morning.

I was scratching my head by this point, and then I remembered that I had transferred the contents of my old hand bag to my new Radley one. And there, inside my old handbag, was the bracelet; it must have fallen off whilst I was moving stuff across. So that was a relief.

Clearly I needed to put a chain onto the bracelet if I was to wear it again with confidence.

I’ve been collecting this style of jewellery ever since I bought the necklace, and now have the aforementioned necklace, the two bracelets, a broach, two pairs of clip-on earrings, and another necklace which is rather clunky and has some damage and which I have never worn.

The collection

The collection

As luck would have it, the broach has a small security chain on it with a spring clip at one end and a safety pin at the other. Since I don’t really wear broaches, the chain looked ideal for use on the bracelet.

I very carefully opened up the ring securing the chain to the safety pin, removed the safety pin, and then attached the ring to the bracelet. It was a very fiddly job and took me a while, especially closing the ring up again satisfactorily, but I got there in the end. I’m quite pleased with myself for achieving it, even though I say so myself.

Added security

Added security

Before I got my makeup off, I also managed a quick photo shoot in the outfit I was wearing. I chose the spare room for this, with me sitting in the window. I was quite pleased with how it turned out, although the end of the bed does rather distract from the picture. I could have digitally removed it, but I thought it was far funnier to leave it in and lampshade it with a knob gag. 😀

Insert knob gag here

Insert knob gag here

I’m wearing my new lipstick in this pic, but you can’t really see it very well.

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on December 4, 2017 in Arts and Crafts, Out & About, Photos, Shopping

 

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Shopping trip

Off out

Off out

Today I decided to get into girl mode and to pop into Camberley for a spot of shopping.

Looked great in the pic

Looked great in the pic

I wanted to pick up a few things, specifically a valance for my bed, and also perhaps something sexy for a photo shoot. I’d previously bought something on eBay for the purpose but it turned out to be a bit naff and also doesn’t fit (the strap across the back is non-adjustable and too tight, although perhaps I could replace it with ribbon).

First port of call was Primark. I figured that they would be the best place to get something cheap that would be good enough for a photo shoot. I wasn’t disappointed and got a really nice thong body (see later) for a very reasonable £12. I also found a really nice faux suede jacket. Due to the length of my arms and also the width across my shoulders, it’s usually quite hard to find a jacket that fits me, and I usually end up having to go several sizes too big. I picked out a size 18 (even though I am a 12-14) and it was actually too big. However, when I tried a size 16 it fit perfectly, so I was over the moon about that! At £25 it didn’t break the bank either.

I looked around for bedding, but couldn’t find that area despite venturing upstairs which is where the children’s section also is. It was so crowded and noisy with screaming kids that I didn’t last long before I had to get the hell out of there.

Biker (shabby) chick

Biker (shabby) chick

When I got to the checkout to pay, the checkout girl told me she absolutely loved my hair, that the colour was amazing, that it really suited me, and asked if it was my natural hair colour. I don’t know if she was a good actress, or genuine, and if she thought it really was my hair or realised it was a wig, but either way it absolutely made my day. 😀

I called into a few charity shops, but found poor pickings, and then into The Ark. I had changed into the new jacket by now and was itching to take a selfie, and found a nice full length mirror to take one.

Liquid eyeliner

Liquid eyeliner

Nothing much caught my eye, so I then moved on to Boots because I needed some new liquid eyeliner.

I ended up buying a Metallic Anthracite by Max Factor, and a Velvet Black also by Max Factor.

I’d been walking quite a bit by now, and wanted to go into House of Fraser (formerly Army & Navy) next, but needed a rest first, so called into the in-store Cafe Nero for a coffee and a caramel shortbread (mmmm). Whilst I was there I observed a slightly creepy looking bloke eyeing me, and when he got up and headed my way I thought “uh oh. Here we go”, but instead he went to a blonde lady seated near me. I didn’t hear what he said to her, although I can guess, but I overheard her reply “uh, thanks. That’s very kind”. I’m not sure which is worse, getting slightly creepy compliments, or not getting any. LOL.

Then to more shopping. Yay!

I was quite tempted by a lovely sequinned club dress, but frankly I know I will not have the opportunity to wear it so it was fairly easy to pass on it.

Sequinned club dress

Sequinned club dress

Vero Moda jumper

Vero Moda jumper

A little harder to resist was a gorgeous soft jumper by Vera Moda. I really deliberated on this, but in the end decided that I have far too many jumpers already and passed on it – but only just! I’m still not sure that I made the right decision though. If my bestie had been with me, she’d have probably tipped my indecision into a purchase – she’s good like that. 🙂

Gigi leather handbag

Gigi leather handbag

I also popped into TK Maxx and was briefly tempted by a Gigi leather handbag, reduced to £44.99 from an alleged RRP of £110. It smelt wonderful, and I liked the exterior design of it, but the interior was really lacking – just a vast open space with a small phone pocket and nothing else. I prefer my bags to have loads of compartments rather than just being a cluttered sack, so sadly I had to pass on that. Shame.

I still hadn’t got the valance for my bed yet (I hadn’t fancied paying House of Fraser prices), so I popped into Argos. I haven’t been there in years, and it was quite the nostalgia trip. There were still the multiple copies of the Laminated Book of Dreams, the little slips of paper, the tiny pens, the tills that you take your slip to. Oh, for sure, there are now touch screens that allow you to search for stuff, which is what I used to find a suitable valance, but you still have to write down the catalogue code and take it to the till (although there there were two automated tills, but one wasn’t working, and one was in use, and even then the systems aren’t linked and you have to type in the codes). So it was off to the till, old school, with my little slip of paper, where payment was made, and I had to wait for my order to be fetched. All very retro, and not in a good way.

One last selfie

One last selfie

So, with my mission accomplished, and my feet increasingly sore, it was just time for one last selfie, and then I was done and headed off home.

Not as racey as it looks

Not as racey as it looks

When I got home, I tried on the body that I bought in Primark and it was absolutely brilliant – it fits so well, is flattering, and looks more revealing than it is due to flesh colour modesty panels; I’m really looking forward to doing a photoshoot with it. Be sure to keep an eye on my Flickr!

So, I got what I set out to buy, spent frugally, and had a really nice day. I’m calling that a win.

 

 


Update:

Pics are now available on Flickr, but you will need a Flickr account to view them as they are marked as Moderate (this one) and Restricted (this one).
 

 

 
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Posted by on October 28, 2017 in Clothes, Diary, Out & About, Photos, Shopping

 

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Girls who do Maltings

One of the things that my various social media accounts often results in is contact with other t-girls, and one such girl is Siobhan Hapgood who regularly comments on my Facebook posts and who has become a friend as a result.

We’ve been meaning to meet up for a while, and Siobhan suggested that since the Monthly Market at Farnham Maltings was coming up and, since as a regular reader she knows I often visit that, maybe we should meet up for July’s, which sounded like a great idea to me, and so a plan was formed.

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Sunbury Antiques Market (31-Jan-2017)

Today I got up at a frankly ridiculous 5:30am, and left the house at just gone 6am heading for the Sunbury Antiques Market at Kempton Park Racecourse in Surrey and arrived at 6.40am.

Here are a few pics that I took with my phone.

 
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Posted by on January 31, 2017 in Home furnishing, Out & About, Photos, Shopping

 

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Royal Worcester – Moments For You

Today’s Antiques Fair purchase – this lovely Royal Worcester figurine of a lady

The seller had £35 on it and said he would let it go for £30, but I pointed out a long and almost invisible hairline crack in the glaze that runs down her entire length, and he said in that case I could have it for £20 and I thought that was fair, so bought it.

It has no age to it (it was produced in 2004), but I just love the shape and pose of her.

“Moments For You” by Royal Worcester

Update: The only minor disappointment is that, whilst doing a little research on the internet to find out more about the figure, I found it for sale on Amazon brand new for £19.99. Oh well.

 
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Posted by on January 15, 2017 in Arts and Crafts, Photos, Shopping

 

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Dear diary

Somewhat surprisingly, people actually read my blog (I know – it came as a surprise to me too) and people have been asking me what I’ve been up to, and how the job is going.

Business Casual

Business Casual

As I mentioned in my previous post, the job is predominantly based at my own home office, with most client interaction being via Skype (either voice-only conference call, or IM) and email. Up until last Friday, I hadn’t actually had any further in-person meetings, but on Friday we had a catch-up and progress meeting which I attended.

Based on previous meetings, I knew people dressed pretty casually so I chose a casual t-shirt dress by Atmosphere which had cost me the princely sum of £5 in Primark, plus the shoes and tights I mentioned buying from M&S in my previous post.

The meeting went very well, and people seemed happy with the progress I have made, my estimates for how much is to do on what I am doing, some design ideas I have, and also a roadmap for what I will work on next. It was all very encouraging.

As before, everyone was very accepting of my presented gender.

However, at one point I had the most bizarre thing happen – I’d just taken a sip of orange squash, put it down, and then a few moments later without any warning or feeling that it was about to happen, a really loud burp escaped from me. I could have died of embarrassment! I was absolutely mortified. I got teased a little bit in a good-natured (but not blokey banter) way, but was still so embarrassed. That really has never happened to me before – normally I can feel a burp coming and suppress it. What surprised me the most, though, was just how much more embarrassed I felt in girl mode about it than I might have in guy mode.

When I got home I did a small photo shoot for a schoolgirl outfit I have been working on for Flickr, but I’m not happy with any of the shots.

Butterflies and flowers

Butterflies and flowers

The next day – Saturday – it was the Monthly Market at Farnham Maltings, which I like to go to. I’ve mentioned it a few times in previous posts, and it’s an Antiques, Crafts and Collectables Fair. It’s a reasonable £1 to get in but the car park is not free and costs £1.20 for 1 hour and £1.40 for 2 hours (and more for longer obviously). I usually go for 2 hours as although I could whistle round in an hour, it’s not worth feeling rushed just for a saving of 20p.

I dressed casually in a nice butterfly top I recently got from eBay (in fact I like this one so much I now have 3 of them in different colours) and a skirt by Hollister. I wore flats in the end, rather than the wedges in the photo, as I knew my feet would get sore quickly in the wedges.

It was clear that a lot of sellers were on holiday, as the place felt very sparse compared with normal. I didn’t find much apart from a very cute silver pinky finger ring of two entwined open hearts, marked 925 silver, which the seller said was 1970’s. It wasn’t in the best of condition, but it fit me just right, and the seller wanted £10 for it. I decided that I already wear rings on both pinky fingers, so told him I’d leave it whereupon he said he’d take £8. I decided to walk away though.
I really regret doing that now. It occurs to me that I already have two rings that fit only my right ring finger, which I choose from as the mood takes me, and my pinky fingers should be no different. A missed opportunity there, because it was very cute. Never mind, maybe the seller will be there next month and still have it.

When I got home, I tried again on the schoolgirl outfit shoot, but still wasn’t happy with it.

The following Tuesday I got up super-early and made it over to the Sunbury Antiques Market at Kempton Park Racecourse, which you can read about on my public Facebook page.

Shabbytique

Shabbytique

The rest of the week was spent working from home, then on Sunday I went up to Maidenhead for the Shabbytique and eatonthehighstreet fair. I wore a pretty top by Per Una, which was one of my many eBay / Charity Shop bargains, some jeans by Autograph (also a M&S brand), and a pair of boots by DUO.

Bonus Selfie #1

Bonus Selfie #1

Bonus Selfie #2

Bonus Selfie #2

Steve Conway was singing, so it was really nice to catch up with him and his wife and was worth going just for that.

The fair itself was a little disappointing, with a mix of stalls selling crafts and the like, and an equal number of food stalls, all spread out over the length of the pedestrianised part of the High Street. It felt like slim pickings though.

However, I did manage to get the most adorable necklace from a lady who is retiring and selling her remaining stock off at half price. The necklace I bought was £10, reduced from £20, and features a Murano glass pendant with flecks of gold in it, and a Sterling silver chain. I thought it was beautiful.

After that I headed home. I didn’t feel like doing any further photo shoots and had a pretty quiet remainder to the day.

Murano glass necklace

Murano glass necklace

 

 

 

 

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A new chapter

As you may or may not know, I work on a freelance basis rather than being a permanent employee of a company, although often it is on a contract basis with just one client.

For the past 2+ years I have been having a fairly long distance daily commute to just such a client. Although it was good work, and I enjoyed working with a great team there, the commute did leave me fairly tired a lot of the time and also ate into my leisure time enormously.

Just over a month ago, they gave me a month’s notice that they wished to discontinue the arrangement, which is fine as it’s the nature of freelance work, and a flexible, dynamic working arrangement is all part of the service. More on that later.

It had been my intention to take a sabbatical after I finished there, but a week or so before my last day some new work pretty much fell on my lap. I was sought out by the owner of a small company to whom I had been recommended by two people independently – both former colleagues – and the owner of the company was keen to discuss how I could help them.

A meeting was arranged, discussions were had, and we established that I had exactly the skills and experience that they needed, including some business knowledge in their area, and was ideally placed to be able to help them. Furthermore, I pointed out that as a freelancer I represented a much lower financial risk and commitment compared to taking on an employee, especially as their requirements were for short-term assistance. Also discussed was the fact that their company does not have offices as such, and operates on a distributed basis, so I would be working from home with occasional meetings. And, even better, they are based quite near to me geographically so even the meetings would not be a huge problem for me.

The owner of the company is a trans woman and is also a campaigner for transgender issues, and since one of the people who recommended me had mentioned that I am genderfluid, I raised the subject of perhaps presenting as female for future meetings. She said she was more than happy for me to do this and that I could present however I felt comfortable, even if that might change from day-to-day. As you may recall from a previous post, this is a big departure for me as I have up until now presented exclusively as male professionally (although I confess that towards the end of my time with my previous client, I was mixing it up and wearing nail varnish to work every day).

We had a Perfect Storm, as far as I was concerned. Or, given that ‘Perfect Storm’ usually has negative connotations, I suppose I should say “a synergy of forces leading to a release of energy much greater than any of its individual contributors”, but that sounds incredibly wanky, so I will stick to ‘Perfect Storm’. But I digress. My point is that the timing was right, the location was right, my skills and experience couldn’t really have been a better match, and after some negotiation an agreement was reached for me to work with them for 4.5 days a week at a fee that was acceptable to both.

They were keen for me to commence sooner rather than later, so it ended up that I only had a week off between finishing with my previous client and starting with them.

Butterfly cowl dress by Purplish

Butterfly cowl dress by Purplish Fashion

So on Monday this week, I turned up for our 10am kick-off meeting in girl mode. I chose a nice Butterfly cowl dress by Purplish Fashion and my favourite black DUO boots, and wore my short wig as I thought that I might get less ‘hot & bothered’ with it. The owner and I signed the contracts, and then we were joined by two other members of staff and we got down to business, thrashing out technical details and talking about where I could contribute. Later, we all went out for lunch at a nearby pub, which was a good opportunity to get to know each other a little more, and then resumed before finishing mid-afternoon to go back to our respective home offices, having first spent time making sure my laptop was all set up to access their systems and that it all worked.

The next day was an all-hands meeting in the afternoon starting at 2pm, which gave me a great opportunity to meet everyone. It was also good to learn more about what the company did, and to see their roadmap for the immediate future as this gave me an idea of how what I would be working on fit into the bigger picture. Everyone accepted my chosen gender, and used feminine pronouns throughout, and never once got it wrong. Then from 5.30pm onwards it became a social. I felt so natural in girl mode, and much more at ease socially, and found it easy to chat to everyone which is not something I find so easy in guy mode. I also found I ended up talking to the other ladies rather than hovering on the edges of a group of guys, and felt a lot more comfortable with that and also very accepted.

'Marie' dress by Crew Clothing

‘Marie’ dress by Crew Clothing

For this meeting I wore a favourite dress by Crew Clothing which you will have read about before in a previous post.

I left around 7pm, then popped in to Maplin on the way home to pick up a “Collect In Store” purchase I had made a few days previously.

I’d ordered the item in a gender-neutral name, but unfortunately the billing details were in my guy name, and the assistant asked me if I could sign for it and what my relationship was to the purchaser. So I simply said “Actually, I am that person; I’m just presenting as female today” and he apologised and said that he would absolutely never have known and it never even occurred to him. Awesome – I’ll take that as a compliment thanks. 🙂

On the way home from there, I decided that I needed some more tights, some new undies, and some shoes. So I called into a big out-of-town Marks & Spencer’s near me. I was delighted to find that M&S now go up to a size 8 – in the past they only went up to 7½ – and this gave me a lot more choice.

Shoes by M&S

Shoes by M&S

Eventually I settled on some cute sling back shoes with a snake-skin effect block heel. And as a nice bonus, I qualified for a free pair of flip-flops too. Yay!

I also picked up a pack of tights and two 5-packs of the cutest cotton bikini briefs, but I draw the line at posting pictures of those. 🙂

Today (Wednesday) I was working from my home office and put in a really solid day’s work, took a little break every hour as prompted to by my Fitbit Alta, and walked the suggested 250+ steps each hour by using my treadmill in the next room. If anything, I think my life may actually become less sedentary due to the treadmill.

Right now I am feeling really happy and content. It’s a real change for me, especially presenting as female professionally, but I really couldn’t have asked for a safer and more accepting environment in which to do it.

 

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Go East, young woman

Growing up in the digital age, it’s funny to see how relationships can form in ways that in previous generations would be considered unconventional. To my parents’ generation, getting to know people on-line is rather strange and they consider that the friends thus made are not ‘real’ friends until you have met them face-to-face. My mum has pretty much said that to me word for word in the past. I disagree; it is merely a different way of meeting and getting to know a person and the technology is there to get to know someone very well indeed even before you have met face-to-face.

I have a friend called Claire who I have known for around 8 or 9 years. We originally met via Second Life and became good friends, and then decided to connect with each other via Facebook. We often talk, and we know lots about each other, including what each other looks like, because of Facebook. It’s just that, due to a distance of around 190 miles between us, we have never actually met face-to-face. We’ve long wanted to though.

Recently I changed my car for a VW Golf Mk7 diesel, which gives me around 60mpg and a range over over 550 miles, and is also pretty comfortable, so I found myself with the right kind of car to do a journey like that. As a result, we arranged to meet over the New Year whilst we were both on holiday. Claire is in a band and they were gigging on New Year’s Eve, so she suggested that we try to incorporate that which seemed like a good idea. She was unable to accommodate as she doesn’t have a spare room, but I was happy to book myself into a local hotel via Expedia.

Since we wanted to spend a day shopping together, the plan was hatched for me to spend two nights up there. The question was whether the shopping should be on the day of the gig (New Year’s Eve) or the day after (New Year’s Day). I decided that a morning driving would be less tiring than a day’s shopping, so elected to drive over on New Year’s Eve.

Ready to depart

Day 1: Ready to depart

I set off just gone midday, and Google Navigation estimated that it would take around 3hr30 to get to the hotel – the plan being to drive straight to the hotel, check in, freshen up, and then head over to Claire’s.

The journey was fairly uneventful but congested, and I finally made it to the hotel around the 4 hour mark at around 4.15pm.

I’d talked to Claire during the journey and she said we needed to leave her house by 5.20pm in order to get to the venue by 6pm as she needed to set up with the band, but that she only lived 5 mins from my hotel. Since we would be going straight there from hers, I needed to change into what I intended to wear in the evening, and also freshen up and re-do my makeup. I knew it was going to be tight on time and let her know this, especially as we were planning to eat at hers before heading out.

Would have been useful

Would have been useful

I found the hotel easily enough, checked in, and headed up to my room. I’d given myself the luxury of paying a small premium for a ‘deluxe’ room, so was a little disappointed with what I found. The floorspace was certainly there, and there was a king size bed as advertised, but there wasn’t a lot else. Two bedside cabinets, a small desk which was almost completely taken up with tea & coffee making stuff, a single chair at the desk, a wardrobe, a flat screen telly on the wall, and a full length mirror on the wall. That was it. No other chairs, no mirror at the desk, no chest of drawers, and not even a trestle to put my suitcase on. Plenty of floorspace for a suitcase trestle and for a comfy chair or small sofa though – the room certainly looked rather bare and empty.

Anyway, there was little time to dwell on this so I cracked on with getting ready. Despite having had a lot of laser hair removal, I still needed to take off some of my foundation, shave again, and then re-apply, and then apply more eyeliner, eye shadow and mascara for a more ‘evening’ look. Given the lack of mirror at the desk, I had to do my make-up in the en-suite bathroom. Then I changed into a dress which you’ll have seen on my Flickr before, my black DUO Aralia boots which you have seen before, a crocheted bolero jacket, and a Per Una cardigan that you have seen before. I’m afraid I can’t have a new outfit every single time I post a pic to Flickr! 🙂

I then headed out and got over to Claire’s at around 5pm.

Meeting her face-to-face wasn’t in the least bit weird. Far from it; we both felt like we had known each other for years which indeed we have, and it felt like the most natural thing in the world to finally be together in person. I also met her husband, Gary, who had apparently been a little timorous about meeting me, but he very quickly found that we had a lot in common so all was well there.

My dress, the previous time I wore it

My dress, the previous time I wore it

Since Claire and Gary only have the one car at the moment, we decided that it would make best sense to load Claire’s keyboards into my car and she & I head over to the venue, so that Gary could come down later. Of course, that meant that I was then unable to drink but it couldn’t really be avoided. With hindsight, if we’d thought of it sooner, I could have paid to add Claire to my insurance. But since neither of us thought of that (in fact I only thought of it days later whilst writing this), we quickly bolted down our dinner, loaded up and headed out, arriving at the venue just after 6pm.

I won’t lie – I was really rather bored for the first few hours as there was nothing for me to do and I wasn’t drinking. The venue (a pub) did have free Wi-Fi but the battery on my phone was going down alarmingly quickly and I had very stupidly forgotten to bring my Power Bank with me which would prove to be a massive oversight as a 10,000 mAh power supply would have kept my phone running all evening and kept me occupied. Especially if I had brought some headphones as well in order to maybe watch some telly.
Instead, I found myself twiddling my thumbs rather a lot and feeling a little self-conscious. Gary wasn’t due to come over until around 9.30pm which was when the band were due to start their first set. Claire did manage a little time with me, but between the setting up and the dressing up (the band do Glam Rock), I was on my own for an awful lot of the time. Claire’s friend Lou, who I had been really looking forward to seeing as we are friends on Facebook, wasn’t well and wasn’t planning on coming.

Partway through all this I realised that it would be a good idea to grab a table, and by then the pub was pretty full and I only managed to get one down the end far away from the band, and pretty much the last one available. Again, with hindsight, I should have grabbed one much, much sooner. Lesson learned there.

Finally Gary arrived, and then the band started. They were absolutely brilliant, but we couldn’t really hear them that well down our end and couldn’t see them. After a while Lou sent a message to say she was feeling quite a bit better and was coming down, so that was good and she arrived a little later and we managed to have a good chat whilst Gary went to watch the band and we held the table.

Claire. me and Lou

Claire. me and Lou

Claire joined us in the intermission between sets, but it was only a short break and then the band were playing again. Gary then held the table whilst Lou and I went up to watch the band for a while, and then we returned for a sit down. Then, a little later, we trusted our luck with the table by leaving our coats on the chairs, so we could all go up. Each time Lou and I went up, she quickly gathered an entourage of guys hanging on her every word and buying her drinks, as she’s very pretty and vivacious, and I kind of got pulled in too. I have to admit that I was somewhat out of my comfort zone here, but I did my best. Everyone treated me as female and nobody so much as used the wrong gender pronoun for me, which was really nice – it could have ruined the evening if someone had decided to be an arse (always the risk you take, sadly). I think the only comment that was even vaguely letting on was someone saying “Isn’t Joe a bloke’s name?” when I was introduced to them, and I replied that it was short for Joanne. To be honest, I prefer Joanne to Jo anyway so will probably introduce myself as such in future.

People were getting really drunk by now, and it was really crowded near the band. I was getting jostled quite badly. Normally this would have really annoyed me and I would have wanted to remove myself from the situation, but I seemed to cope pretty well plus I was enjoying the band too much. It was really weird being stone cold sober amongst so many drunk people though; quite an eye opener. Usually I would be just as drunk and therefore not notice!

The band were really, really good and although the 70’s isn’t my favourite musical era, I really enjoyed their set and they had a really great stage presence. We saw the New Year in, and they played for maybe 45 mins more, once the encores were done. Then we had the reverse of the earlier part of the evening – the band now had to get off all their Glam Rock makeup (or face paint as one male member insists on calling it), change, and then pack away all their instruments, lighting, sound equipment and the like. This was probably the most awkward part of the evening for me as Lou’s little group of men were now extremely drunk, everyone was able to hear each other speak, and I was being dragged into conversation. I’m a little socially awkward and uncomfortable in group conversation situations, so this was a little difficult for me especially as I was sober – I get much more chatty when drunk. It did make me laugh that everyone thought I was from London though, since anywhere over my neck of the woods is apparently London and they had never heard of where I was from even when I said “near Basingstoke” or even “near Reading”. When one guy who had a slightly better grasp of geography asked me where I was really from and I told him, he said “But that’s nowhere near London!” and I just laughed, rolled my eyes, and said “I know!!! That’s what I keep telling everyone!”. 😀

Aftershow pic

Aftershow pic

It seemed to take forever for the band to pack up, and in the end I helped Claire pack away – not only so we could leave a little quicker, but also to get out of the awkward conversations. We did have a bit of a laugh with the rest of the band members as we did though, and we also managed to grab some fun pics for the band’s Facebook page. Lou needed a lift home, so I split the 60:30 rear seats of my Golf and we easily got both of Claire’s keyboards into the car on their sides, plus all her stands and stuff, poured Lou into the single rear seat, and then we were on our way.

It was way past 2am by now. We dropped Lou off, then I dropped Claire off and helped unload her stuff, and then it was a short 5 min drive back to my hotel. I got in just after 3am which made for a very long evening!

When I got into my room it was absolutely freezing. It turned out that none of the hotel staff had thought to turn the thermostat on the radiator up from zero, likewise for the heated towel rail in the en-suite bathroom, and I had been in so much of a rush to get changed and ready in the brief time I’d been in my room earlier that I hadn’t noticed. So I was shivering somewhat as I changed into pyjamas and got my makeup off, but did remember to turn up the thermostats so it would be warm the next day. Or, rather, later that day.

Claire and I had arranged to meet up mid-morning and breakfast didn’t finish at my hotel until 11am, so I had planned to sleep in. Sadly a combination of body clock and hotel noise conspired against me, and I woke at 8:40am and dozed until just after 9am at which point I decided to get up. The room was nice and warm by now, so I had a long hot shower and then got dressed and got my makeup on, and headed down to breakfast.

Breakfast was a disappointment to say the least. It was buffet-style, with everything pre-cooked and sat under heat lamps. This included the toast, which had taken on the consistency of cardboard. The sausages were the cheapest type imaginable – the ones whose main ingredient appears to be high density foam. The scrambled egg was bland and tasteless, and the beans were very cheap too. At least the bacon was ok, and the mushrooms were actually very nice. I didn’t go up for seconds.

Day 2

Day 2

I got over to Claire’s just before 11am and we spent the rest of the morning just chatting, as she had nobody to look after the kids until 2pm and Gary was at work that day as he’s in retail and his shop was open on New Year’s Day. As it would turn out, it was possibly the only one that was. But more on that in a moment.

Around 2pm Gary’s dad came over to look after the kids, and Claire and I headed over to Norwich in her car – the plan being to shop for a few hours, grab a bite to eat, and then watch the new Star Wars film. We parked up in the car park near the Odeon, popped in to buy tickets for a later showing, and then realised that the shops were a good 10 mins walk away as the site just has the cinema and a load of restaurants. That walk turned into a hard uphill slog of more than 10 mins and I was pretty knackered by the time we got up there. Then we found that pretty much all the shops were closed – the large Next was open but that was about the only shop that was. After a while we decided to give up and walk back and, since we had come out of a different entrance and weren’t sure of the route back, we relied on Google Navigation to guide us. This was a big mistake as we were taken on a magical mystery tour of the residential parts of Norwich, separated from where we wanted to be by a river that we had to parallel for ages until we came to a footbridge. It was very hilly, and some of the hills were very steep, and my feet were really starting to hurt. I think we must have walked for around 20-25mins and were both thinking that if we’d been in a city where you were able to hail cabs, we’d have hailed one. I guess we could have used Uber but neither of us had the app and neither of us thought of it at the time either. You can see a bit of a pattern emerging here, I think. 🙂

Finally we made it back to the Odeon and it was clear that we didn’t have time to eat before the showing we had booked, and we both needed the loo. Now, at a risk of going into too much information here, I had to pretty much undress to go to the loo. First my jacket came off, then my skirt came down, then tights, then the padded shorts that I wear to hold my tummy in and to give my hips and bum some shape, then knickers. I was tired, cold, and clammy, and everything seemed to take forever to come off; especially the padded shorts as they are fairly tight. After I’d had a wee, I then needed to get it all back on again and I was starting to worry that Claire would be wondering what had happened to me, as indeed she was. As it turned out, she’d been in and out looking for me, not knowing if I was still in or had gone out, had sent a text, and was starting to wonder where on earth I was. She eventually found me brushing my hair, having just washed my hands, trying to look less windswept, and wondering how I was going to find her. So all was well that ended well.

The Star Wars film was really good. As a big Star Wars fan I thought that, like Tron: Legacy, it was cleverly both a remake of the original for those who had not seen it and a sequel for those that had. I enjoyed it. I also really liked that it had such a strong female lead in Rey, and that she was a girl who could really look after herself and didn’t need a man to hold her hand. Literally.
The big shock moment (no spoilers, but if you have seen the film you will know what I mean) was somewhat well telegraphed though – there was no real suspense for me as it was set up in dialogue just beforehand and I thought to myself “this is going to go one of two ways… oh, right. It went that way. Fair enough”. 🙂
Anyway, an all round enjoyable film and it’s great that we finally have a 4th Star Wars film – it’s been such a long wait since Return of the Jedi in 1983. 😉

After the film, we went to an American Bar & Grill next door and had a small steak and chips each – neither of us were that hungry and it was a nice light meal that was also not too bad for the waistline. Mind you, it was just as well we weren’t that hungry as the meal was a small steak (admittedly very nice and cooked to perfection), a small portion of chips, and a tiny little saucer of coleslaw – no vegetables, salad, or anything.

When we got home, Gary was home, his father had gone, and then shortly after that Lou popped round, so we had a nice evening just chatting, watching YouTube videos on the smart TV as conversation threw up things that we wanted to show each other – an eclectic mix of music, martial arts fights, car videos, and all sorts. It was a really nice evening. All too soon, though, it started to get late, and both Lou and I were tired, so we both left and I went back to the hotel to go to bed.

The jumper Claire & I both bought

The jumper Claire & I both bought

Next morning, breakfast was no better than the previous day so the less said about that the better. Then I packed up, checked out, and headed over to Claire’s.

We spent a while chatting then dropped her kids off at her mum’s and popped over to Lowestoft for some shopping (with actual open shops!) and also to meet up with another friend called Rebecca who I wanted to meet – a friend of Lou’s I’d friended on Facebook a while back.

Claire and I had a good bit of shopping, and I bought a nice dress in the sale at New Look and also a top, then eventually we ended up in Quiz, which is in Palmers Department Store. I immediately spotted a jumper I liked and which Claire decided she did too. We both ended up buying one. We also spotted a gorgeous jumper with a fur collar and a brown leather buckle detail which was so her. When she tried it on I only had two words to say – “Buy. It.” 🙂
I’d have loved one too but they didn’t have it in my size and also I wasn’t sure if it would work on my body shape, so the fact that it looked fab on Claire and that she bought it was very much the next best thing for me.

Claire, me, and Rebecca

Claire, me, and Rebecca

Rebecca then joined us and we headed upstairs to Palmers’ restaurant / coffee shop and had a light lunch and chatted. It was nice to meet her at last. Afterwards we grabbed an obligatory group selfie, and then Claire and I headed back to hers and spent some more time nattering. My voice was pretty hoarse by now, I can tell you.

All too soon, the light was going and the kids were dropped back, and I had the 190 mile journey to do, so very reluctantly I said I should be going and hit the road.

The journey back was rainy but uneventful – I just set the Cruise Control and pretty much went at my own pace the whole way back and I had no delays, hold-ups, or diversions. I did the journey without stopping once (my dad would be so proud of me – in that one respect anyway) in a little over 3 hours.

Day 3

Day 3

Once home, I took some photos of that day’s outfit, then gratefully stripped everything off. I say gratefully because, although it was wonderful being full-time for 3 days, my wig was starting to really irritate me and it was nice to just take it all off and chill out.

And that was my long weekend. It was absolutely brilliant to finally meet up with Claire, with Lou, and with Rebecca, and also to meet Claire’s husband Gary for the first time. I had such a great time, despite the little hiccups like Norwich being closed and the aching feet. It’s such a shame that Claire and I live so far apart because we both feel we would love to meet up regularly and I know it would also be good for me to get out more in girl mode and have regular girl interaction – many weekends I simply don’t bother because I have no reason to. Simply getting “dressed” for the sake of it is not sufficient reason for me, even though I know it is for some t-girls. However, meeting up for a coffee would be more than sufficient reason. Plus I love Claire’s company.

We’re already planning our next meeting – perhaps Claire, Lou and I will convene in London.

After all, I am from there apparently.

 

Trip data

415 mile round trip, and still 170 miles left in the tank!

 
 

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Farnham Maltings (August)

Heading out...

Heading out…

Yesterday I returned to Farnham Maltings for their monthly market. You might recall from a previous post that I went to the June one.

Given the slight confusion that buying earrings in guy mode caused a seller last time, I made the effort to go in girl mode this time. I wore the Dorothy Perkins dress that I wore in the photos I posted to Flickr a few weeks ago, which wasn’t ideal for photos as I like to have a different outfit in each pic I post to Flickr. But this was the dress I wanted to wear (it’s very comfortable, fits me really well, and is very flattering), so that’s what I wore. If that means I have 4 photos in a row in my Photostream with me in the same dress then so be it.

I got down to Farnham in good time, although the dual carriageway down near the station was rammed solid as usual. I must try to find an alternative route in future.

The first surprise on arriving was that the Pay & Display machines in the car park are now active on a Saturday and charge £1.30 for an hour, and £1.40 for two hours (rising to £5.40 for all day). I guess that even adding on the 50p admission fee for the Market, this is still not too terrible but is obviously a big jump from last time when parking was free.

The second surprise was that, unlike last time, the Courtyard, Great Hall, the area behind the Great Hall, and another room (whose name I forgot to note), were all closed off and without stalls. This meant that the Market was probably about half the size of June’s, which was rather a disappointment.

Art Nouveau earrings

Art Nouveau earrings

I had a good browse, and talked to several stall holders. I don’t know if it’s a case of me being more relaxed and talkative when in girl mode, or the way people (especially women) react to other women, but people seem a lot more friendly and chatty to me when I’m in girl mode. People even smile at me.

My first purchase was a lovely pair of earrings in an Art Nouveau style. The seller wanted £30 for them and wouldn’t budge on price, pointing out that the stones were topaz and amethyst. It was more than I wanted to pay for a pair of earrings; in fact I think it is the most I have ever paid for a pair of earrings. But I thought they were really special so I reluctantly agreed.

My second purchase was a figure of a lady, around 10″ in height. The age and provenance are unknown, and it feels like resin. It’s stamped Annie Rowe on the base of the casting, and on the underside of the plinth it says “The Leonardo Collection”.

Leonardo / Annie Rowe figurine

Leonardo / Annie Rowe figurine

The seller was asking £15 and reduced that to £13 when I asked if it was her best price.

Back home again

Back home again

Some research on google once I got home has suggested that, as I suspected, there isn’t much age on this and it is of this century. eBay suggests that I paid pretty much the going rate. So that’s fine.

Finally I was all done – there was nothing else that I desperately wanted so I left.

When I got home, I changed into my shorter wig as I was a bit hot and bothered, and when I looked in the mirror I liked the look it gave me, so I took another selfie.

I didn’t really do much for the rest of the day – just lounged around taking it easy and watching telly.

 

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