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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. ūüôā

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 7¬Ĺ – 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. ūüôā

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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Ruby Shoo

Recently, one of my colleagues wore the most GORGEOUS pairs of shoes to work. They were a pair of either black or dark Navy court shoes in a Mary Jane style, in material / fabric, with an ankle strap and a bow on the ankle, in a kind of vintage retro style.

Piper by Ruby Shoo

Click to enlarge

Initially I didn’t think it would be appropriate for me to talk to her about them in guy mode, but as luck would have it I bumped into her in the canteen mid-morning whilst we were both waiting to be served, and it was nice and quiet with nobody else in earshot, so I simply blurted out “OMG I love your shoes so much” and fortunately she was brilliantly positive and shot back “I know! Aren’t they fab!”. She wasn’t at all fazed by me wanting to chat about them, nor by me asking what make they were and where she bought them.

Turns out that they are by Ruby Shoo, who I must confess I have not heard of before, but from looking at their website I can see that they specialise in quirky fun shoes with a hint of vintage about them, and that is definitely my style.

When I had a moment, I started google image searching for “Ruby Shoe” (since that is what I had misheard) along with various attributes of the shoes my colleague was wearing, and I very quickly homed in on Piper in black by Ruby Shoo. It had to be the black because hers were plain with a floral bow, whilst the Navy blue version is polka dots all over. I surreptitiously checked her shoes a few times as I saw her around during the day to make sure I had correctly identified them, and I am absolutely sure I have.

Piper by Ruby Shoo

Click to enlarge

I’m a UK 8 for shoes, and initially was gutted to see that on Amazon they only go up to 6. But then I went onto the Ruby Shoo website direct and saw they actually go up to size 9 (unusually). Size 8 was out of stock but they did have a size 9, so I took a chance on that and ordered since they were the same price as on Amazon. Even better, I got a 15% discount for signing up to their newsletter so got them for ¬£37.50 including postage. That seemed quite reasonable to me.

Piper by Ruby Shoo

Click to enlarge

The very next day I got an email and text to say that the shoes had been despatched and would be delivered the day after and they indeed were.

They’re gorgeous and I love them, but unfortunately they are way too big and I really do need a size 8. Currently I am waiting for a reply from Customer Services as to when (or if) they will have size 8 back in stock and if I can exchange. I so hope they are not permanently sold out or I will be so upset!

 


 

Updates

[22-Oct-2015]
Ruby Shoo responded to my email (and also posted a nice reply to my Facebook post) saying that Piper has been an extremely popular choice this season and subsequently has completely sold out in size 8 and that they are not expecting any more stock of this style and colour. However, they did identify a stockist for me who did still have stock; a company called My Vintage. I went to their website and found that they did, but that they wanted ¬£40 + ¬£4.95 postage for them, which seemed excessive to me. I sent them a polite message asking if they would give me a discount code and received a prompt reply saying that they would not. However, I then found another stockist called Scorpio Shoes who not only had stock, but had free delivery, and even better had them in a sale, and they were reduced to ¬£31.20! So I’m over the moon about this, as you can imagine.
I just need to return the size 9 to Ruby Shoo for a refund and keep my fingers crossed on the size 8.

[27-Oct-2015]
The size 8 from Scorpio Shoes arrived today (actually yesterday, but I wasn’t able to pick them up until today). They fit absolutely perfectly and I love them!
I also received the refund from Ruby Shoo direct. I was a little disappointed that the refund was less postage, however they only deducted the price of postage in one direction rather than both directions, so that’s something.

 
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Posted by on October 21, 2015 in Clothes, Diary, Shoes

 

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Fashion Roundup

Not much to report on my recent purchases, but there are a couple of things I wanted to share.

DUO - Aralia

DUO – Aralia

First up is to say how brilliant the Customer Service is at DUO Boots. I bought their Neva boots, as I mentioned in an earlier post, but felt that I wasn’t totally happy with them. I won’t go into detail, but DUO couldn’t have been more helpful. Julie, the person I corresponded with, helped me choose a pair that had a narrower ankle fit, which turned out to be the Aralia boots I had almost gone for anyway, authorised a free return (usually ¬£3.99) and also applied a 10% discount to the price of the Aralia boots as a gesture of goodwill meaning my boots ended up costing me ¬£148.50 – I honestly couldn’t be happier with how they handled the whole thing and I will definitely be buying from them again.

The turnaround felt like forever (it was actually only a week), but the Aralias finally arrived with me last Saturday just as I was getting ready to go out. After a quick try on I decided they were definitely keepers so I wore them when I went out. They proved to be pretty comfortable even when walking around IKEA for an hour or two, but they did give me little warning twinges that these are not boots to go shopping in for hours on end. At least not without gel pads for the balls of the feet or maybe insoles. I will investigate that.

Rocket Dog - Satire

Rocket Dog – Satire

Another company that gave me a painless refund was Amazon. I ordered these absolutely gorgeous Rocket Dog ankle boots a couple of weeks ago. Since I’m on Amazon Prime they arrived the next day, I tried them on, and it was immediately clear they were way too small (and I don’t just mean a little, I mean like 2 sizes too small despite being clearly labelled as my size). So I went to my computer, called up the order, clicked the Return button, printed the pre-paid returns label, packed the boots up in the box & bag they came in, applied the label, and popped down to my local Collect+ dropoff shop which happens to be open until 10.30pm. By the time I got home, Amazon had credited me a full refund. Fantastic. Such a shame they didn’t fit though, because they are so cute.

Tulip heart necklace

Tulip heart necklace

Finally, I was at an Antique & Vintage Fair at Sandown Park Racecourse last Sunday, and this beautiful silver necklace caught my eye. The seller wanted ¬£15 for it and I managed to get that down to ¬£12, which I consider to be reasonable. I haven’t worn it yet, but I look forward to doing so soon. I’m going to be going to the big Antique and Collectors fair at Alexandra Palace this Sunday so I may wear it then.

 
 

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Balance restored

I wrote previously that I had spent ¬£50 on a pair of shoes I didn’t like, and completely undone all the savings I had made from bargain hunting. Well, balance is restored! I went into my local branch of Barratts today and they were more than happy to process a full refund on the shoes. Yay!

So by my reckoning, I now have £50 to spend on shoes. Woohoo! \o/

 
 

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Madam… madam… sir

Had a rather odd day today.

I needed to go up to London for a Voice Coaching session today, but there was an Art Deco & Art Nouveau fair in Woking this morning and my appointment was in the afternoon, so I detoured via Woking on my way up to London. It’s sort of on the way.

The fair was a little disappointing, although I think that was more down to my mood than anything, plus the realisation that I don’t think I am as “into” Art Deco as I initially thought I was. I didn’t stay long; after 45 mins I was done and back on the road to London.

Westfield Shopping Centre

Westfield Shopping Centre

I got into London in good time and, instead of parking up in Hammersmith as usual I decided to drive a little further to Shepherd’s Bush and park up at the Westfield Shopping Centre for a little shopping. Also it’s a flat ¬£5 for the whole day to park.

Whilst there I grabbed this sneaky selfie.

After a little shopping I hopped onto the Circle line to get myself round to the Voice Coach’s office. As we passed Notting Hill, there were announcements that stations were closed due to the Carnival and as we passed you could hear the music thumping and look down at how crowded and busy it was.
When I arrived, I was a good 25 mins early so I popped into a local wine bar and had a cheeky glass of white wine. £4.40 for a small glass is par for the course in London but still galled a little as it tasted little better than plonk you could buy for the same price per bottle. Still, it was nice enough.

So, suitably refreshed, 2pm came around and I went up to my Voice Coach’s office. Knocked on the door, and no answer. I checked my emails, checked my texts, sent a text to her checking the time was correct, then availed myself of the loo to freshen up, then checked back. Nothing. By now I guessed something was up, and also realised that my gmail account was no longer linked to my phone as I recently switched to 2-Factor authentication on that account, so laboriously started to reconnect it on a 2G+ data connection and finally, after 20 mins, had it. And there was an email sent at 12.30pm cancelling the appointment due to ill health. Crap. Or, rather, vomit apparently. Ewww.

So I decided to go to the Science Museum. Don’t ask me why, I just wanted to. Now, first mistake was to go to Baker Street (since it was close) and try to head West. Heaving. Absolutely packed with Carnvival-goers. There were police everywhere and the train that arrived as I did was stuck for ages trying to leave because it was unable to close its doors due to people messing around. I got on the next one but felt really uncomfortable with the pissed-up people on board, plus a group of guys near me were blowing up balloons from capsules and inhaling them. I’m guessing that was Nitrous Oxide (aka Laughing Gas)?
So at the next stop switched trains to a different line, not least because the train I was on wasn’t going to where I wanted to go. LOL.

Eventually I made it to South Kensington and started to walk the underpass to the Science Museum. Now, if you have never walked this route in heels my advice would be “don’t”. By the time I got there my feet really hurt. And after wandering round the Science Museum for about 40 mins they REALLY hurt, despite several rests at convenient seats. But I bravely carried on, and then went next door to the Natural History Museum. However, after about 20 mins of that I felt I wasn’t going to make it. Hobbling outside I jumped in a cab and asked to be taken back to Westfield. The helpful cabbie informed me that it was pretty busy due to the Carnival and we could be delayed. Yeah, ok, whatever; this seat seems pretty comfy right now.

We eventually got there, and I decided that shopping was very much in order but that shoes were a must. Unfortunately I couldn’t find anything I liked at a sensible price, but each step was getting more and more painful and I was getting more and more desperate. I was also taking more and more frequent breaks. Basically I was hobbling from one seating area to another at this point. I was in agony.

At some stage in this fog of pain, I swung near a shop and some girls in the doorway of one started to try to get my attention, calling “madam… madam… madam…. ” in that ‘can we just have a moment of your time to try and sell you something’ way that people do and then when I ignored them and swung away from them, switched to “sir”. Then laughed uproariously in an “OMFG!” way when I finally looked round (I did so in case they were trying to tell me I had dropped something). These were members of staff, remember! WTaF?
Sadly I didn’t note the shop and I was in too much pain to do much, otherwise I would have gone back to enquire what was so funny and whether a P45 was equally funny. Great way of winning customers, eh?

Finally I went into yet another shoe shop (I think it was Barratts) and told myself I was buying something no matter what. I found some Rocket Dog shoes I really liked but they didn’t have them in an 8, only a 7. There were also some Hush Puppies that I didn’t really like but were in an 8, so I got them to bring me the other one for those. I then went through pair after pair of shoes until I got sick of asking “do you have these in an 8?” and started asking “so what DO you have in an 8?”. Eventually, I though “f*ck it, I’ll get the Hush Puppies”. So took them to the till and they rang up ¬£50 which did not seem at all right as I had been looking at shoes in the ¬£30-¬£40 range. But that was the price. However I was close to tears now and couldn’t bear the thought of having to put my heels back on. So I just paid. So, basically, I paid more than I wanted to pay for a pair of shoes that I didn’t like. FML. That totally undoes the bargains of my last post too.
[Update: I managed to subsequently get a full refund on them at my local branch of Barratts a week later]

Still, at least I could now walk so I considered going to Yo! Sushi but realised I couldn’t really spend ¬£30 on sushi when I’d just overspent on these shoes. So I went to the food hall and had Singapore Noodles at Bamboo Basket for ¬£7.50

After that, and a little more shop wandering, it was now 7.30pm and I really had had enough. So I wandered back to the car and hit the road to come home.

 

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Bargains Galore

Regular readers will know that I love shopping, especially when I get a good bargain. Well, in the past week or two I’ve had a positive orgy of shopping resulting in a Smorgasbord of items arriving at my house.

Crew Clothing - Marie dress

Crew Clothing – Marie dress

First up is an adorable dress from Crew Clothing, which has a bit of a story behind it. I first became aware of this one when I saw a colleague at work wearing it. I don’t know her that well, but plucked up courage to ask her where it was from under the pretence of it being for ‘a friend who I just know would adore it’. She was more than happy to tell me, and to try to find the link for me and was really helpful. I don’t know whether or not she was convinced by my cover story, but she has played along with it ever since and hasn’t pried. Which is nice.
She had bought the dress in the sale for ¬£35 (reduced from ¬£65) but sadly they weren’t listing it. However, a bit of googling found the original page and the price had been reduced further to ¬£26. However, they didn’t have my size. Another online retailer was reselling it for ¬£45 but I didn’t fancy that price. So I set a watch on eBay and hoped for the best. A few came up but never in my size, but in the meantime I realised that I was getting into some size 14 dresses when trying them on, so when a size 14 of this dress came up on eBay as “brand new without tags” I bid, figuring that if it didn’t fit now I would slim down into it and at close of bidding managed to secure it for ¬£24 including postage, which I was pretty happy about. And what’s more, it fits perfectly. I’m so happy I’m beside myself, and I intend to wear it tomorrow (Bank Holiday Monday) to London for my next Voice therapy session. Needless to say I’ll be wearing a jacket and also tights, given how the weather has gone lately!
[Update: There is now a pic of me wearing this dress here!]

Friday On My Mind - Belle

Friday On My Mind – Belle

Whilst I was waiting for this dress to come up on eBay, I was keeping an eye on a similar dress from Friday On My Mind. I’d almost done a ‘Buy it Now’ on a brand new one at ¬£45, but had decided against it and then regretted it, so when another came up, I decided not to let it go. The seller described it as ‘Used but never won’. Unfortunately bidding got up to ¬£37 (inc postage) before the auction closed, which was a little more than I wanted to pay but it’s very cute.

F&F - Tulip dress

F&F – Tulip dress

Another dress I got on eBay, this time in ‘Used, but great condition’ is this tulip dress by F&F. I can’t say I’m that keen on it, to be honest. But at ¬£13.50 inc postage, it didn’t break the bank. I can always put it back on eBay if I find I don’t wear it.

Superdry - Vintage dress

Superdry – Vintage dress

Another bargain was a ‘last season’ offer from TK Maxx on this cute vintage dress from Superdry. I fell in love with it even though it was a Medium and I wasn’t sure that I have the figure for it. It was ¬£16.99 (RRP ¬£44.99) so I thought I had to give it a go. As it turns out, when I got it home, it actually fits (yay me!) but it’s very figure-hugging and I think I really want to get a flatter tummy before I can wear it out. Maybe next summer, since this one is almost over.

Tu top

Tu top

Next up is this top by Tu. It’s nothing special, but it was half price and was included in Sainsbury’s 25% Off sale. So it came to a grand total of ¬£5.25 which in my book is a total bargain. Tops like this are always useful for casual wear.

Body con skirts

Body con skirts

Finally on the clothing front are these two body con skirts I got on eBay. The tan one is H&M and cost ¬£4.45 inc postage, and the black one is Top Shop and cost ¬£5.35 inc postage. Neither have arrived yet so I can’t comment on condition but they look ok in the photos.

Duo - Neva

Duo – Neva

And, at last, the grand finale. I love knee length boots. Always have. However, I have very slim calves so it’s often hard to get boots that fit. My Doc Martens are fantastic but I don’t think I would have the nerve to wear them out in public, so I decided it was time to buy a pair of Duo Boots. If you’re not familiar with Duo, they sell boots in a variety of styles, sizes and calf sizes. So I was able to choose slim calves that fit perfectly.

Unboxing

Unboxing

These are Duo’s¬†Neva boot, which currently sell for ¬£180 (with free shipping). The only trouble is that now they have arrived, I have found the ankles to be very baggy and I’m seriously considering sending them back and trying a different style. Their Aralia boots looks like they may be a contender and are slightly cheaper at ¬£165. Only trouble is that I had been planning on wearing my Duo boots tomorrow, but if I’m going to send them back then I obviously can’t.

Well, I think that’s all of my recent purchases. It’s quite the little haul isn’t it!

 
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Posted by on August 25, 2013 in Clothes, Shoes, and Jewellery, Diary, Photos

 

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A great day

I had such a brilliant day today.

I had a nice lie-in, and a nice lazy bath before I got ready for my trip up to London for my first meeting with the Voice Coach. It took me longer to get there than I thought it would, and I was beginning to panic that I was going to be late, but as it turned out I rang the doorbell precisely at 4pm which was when my appointment was.

It went really well and I came away feeling very positive. The Coach told me what my friends already keep telling me; I don’t have an especially unfeminine voice. She thinks that I should respond pretty quickly to the training and thinks it’s going to be pretty easy for me. What great news! Also my goals and expectations aren’t that high either; I’m not looking to pass on the phone, just be “good enough” for being out & about, when shopping or meeting friends and the like. She thinks this is very achievable, so that’s good.

After that, I called in on a good friend who lives in London and we went out for a nice meal. We ate in a Brazilian restaurant (not something I’ve done before) and both ended up having what was, basically, chicken and chips. But it was very nice chicken and very nice chips. The waiter was rather yummy too. ha ha.

Then it was off home, driving across London in the cool of the evening and then onto the M3 for the journey home.

It was very, very hot in London today. I was concerned my make-up might slide (a friend warned me it might and to take powder with me) but actually my MAC makeup lasted all day without any signs of giving up, and didn’t even need touching up. I was wearing MAC’s liquid foundation with their translucent loose powder on top, and that really did the trick.

Only two downers on the day were my shoes rubbing the backs of my feet raw until they started bleeding (ewwww) and getting up to London so late that I didn’t have any time to go shopping. On my next visit I will make sure that neither of these things happen again!

 
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Posted by on July 13, 2013 in Diary, Out & About, Social

 

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Latest photos

So, moving on from my earlier post, I took these pics when I got home from Salsa.

Me! by Jo.Boyd

I’ve started doing my eyeliner slightly differently. I think it opens my eyes a little more and I’m really pleased with how it came out.

 

Per Una

The dress is the Per Una dress that I mentioned a few weeks ago, which I bought on eBay for £8.50. It fits me really well and I am over the moon with it. I love it when a bargain comes together!

 

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Salsa me up, baby!

I went to Salsa classes again tonight. And I was a little brave because the friend who goes with me was unexpectedly unable to go, so I went anyway!

This is the outfit I wore. The flat shoes made spins easier, although I actually hate flats and much prefer a little bit of a heel. It’s just the Bloch dance trainers that I got secondhand on eBay are too grippy on the surface where we do the Salsa classes.

You can’t really tell from the pic, but the skirt is really light and flares out really easily when you turn. It’s my new fave dance skirt. ūüôā

Salsa me up! by Jo.Boyd

 

Also, I learned three things at Salsa tonight:

  1. Salsa is *so* much easier with a strong male lead who knows what he’s doing (and almost impossible with a guy who is clueless) and it’s much easier with the music, with the guy leading you into the moves and you just going with the flow.
  2. I can do spins after all (kind of. Getting there anyway). Yay!
  3. Spins and turns are way more fun when you wear a skirt which flares out when you spin and turn.
    Weeeee! \o/

So I think I am definitely going to go back. At least for a while anyway.

 
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Posted by on April 22, 2013 in Diary, Out & About, Social

 

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In These Shoes? (2)

In These Shoes (2)

I completely failed to resist buying these when I was in Marks & Spencer last weekend.

Now I just need an opportunity to wear them.

 
 

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