Tag Archives: shopping

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!




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.

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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She’s the man – getting ‘read’ in public.

It’s been said[1] that trying to ‘pass’ as other than your birth gender is like playing a game where the moment someone becomes aware that you are succeeding, then you have just failed.

On Saturday I played just such a game, as I do every time I go out in public in girl mode.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I always feel like there is a fine line to be walked when going out shopping in girl mode. If you dress up too much then you will stick out like a sore thumb as many women don’t bother when just going shopping. Some appear to make no effort whatsoever, in fact. But at the other end of the extreme, if you emulate them and also dress down then you won’t have a hope of passing. You often have to over-feminise to compensate, which means paying particular attention to your makeup and wardrobe.

On Saturday, I didn’t heed my own advice and went out in jeans, unisex Merrell sandals, and a top. On reflection, although very comfortable, the sandals were a bad idea. I find that wearing a heel encourages me, and constantly reminds me, to walk in a feminine way. Flat shoes do not and you often forget. I also have bad posture in guy mode, and again heels encourage me into better posture as they affect the way you stand as well as the way you walk – in short, it’s much harder to slouch when you’re in heels.

Saturday's outfit

Saturday’s outfit

Anyway, that all said, into Camberley I went like this.

I parked up in the multi-storey car park and even in my little super-mini class car, I found the parking bay very tight indeed. I had to reposition several times so as to leave enough space for the driver of the car next to me to get in, whilst leaving enough space on my side to get out. It was very tight indeed. (There is a reason for me telling you this and I will come back to it later).

I was primarily shopping for a short sleeve office or school uniform type white blouse for an upcoming photo shoot. After trying BHS, Primark, several charity shops, and (earlier in the week) M&S, I found what I wanted in New Look. And best of all it was in the sale, reduced from £12.99 to £7. Bargain.

Obligatory selfie

Obligatory selfie

Things had been going well, and nobody had given me so much as a second glance (which is what usually happens) apart from one point where an older man accidentally bumped into me and said “oh, I’m so sorry my dear”. However, all that was about to change as I headed back to the car to leave.

I joined the queue to pay for my parking at the pay station. In front of me was a lady and her friend, and the lady was having trouble with the machine. On these ones there is no ticket – you have to type your car registration number in, and the lady had several failed attempts and her friend explained to everyone that it was a new car and her friend couldn’t remember the number. Or, rather, she thought she could but evidently couldn’t.

The lady started rummaged in her handbag saying she had it written down, but then half turned and said “Oh, I’ll let this gentleman… lady… go first”.

Oh dear.

I had hoped that I was doing an ok job of passing but clearly not. But it was said without rancour or making a big deal about it. It was all very matter-of-fact, and that’s probably the best way to handle a situation like this, I think. I know some people might have apologised or something, which would have ironically drawn far more attention to it and made things worse. So credit to her for this.

After I had paid and returned to the car, I was faced with the owner of the car parked next to mine, on the driver’s side. He had a small boy who was trying to let himself into the passenger side, and I just stood and watched, sure that I was about to witness a massive car park ding happen to my car. The father must have had the same idea and said to the boy “Wait. Let the man into… um… their car first”. The little boy, in keeping with a lot of kids that age adopted an “I can do it” stubborn determination and, to his credit, did get in without dinging my car. Amazingly.

So, again, it was just a little slip up and no big deal was made of it. Although it was also clear that I had failed to pass again. In fairness, the car park was dimly lit so it’s possible that the bloke didn’t notice my female top, makeup and, indeed, tits. After all, some blokes do wear their hair long. And he did have other things to think about – like the owner of a car his son showed every likelihood of damaging standing right there watching.

It has, however, made me ponder as to what are the key indicators to gender that these people were picking up on? In neither case was it my voice as I hadn’t spoken. It wasn’t necessarily height as although 5’8″ is reasonably tall for a woman, it’s not excessively so. It might be build. Or could have been the way I was standing – as I mentioned previously, flat shoes don’t encourage me to pay attention to my posture.

In both cases, the person didn’t make a big deal of it and for that I should be grateful. Although it would have been even nicer if they hadn’t noticed at all.


Posted by on September 2, 2015 in Diary, Out & About, Transgender


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Eastleigh – Charity Shop Central

If you are into clothes shopping in charity shops, then I can thoroughly recommend a visit to Eastleigh. And if you’re not, then try it – there are some ridiculous bargains on nearly-new (and sometimes actually new) clothes to be had.

There are a disproportionately large number of charity shops in Eastleigh, in the area North of the Swan Shopping Centre (on Market Street and High Street, to be precise), and they are all really large stores too. I guess the rents must be very reasonable or something.

I’ve only recently discovered Eastleigh, having had until now no reason to visit, but necessity brought me there recently and I’ve since been back twice by choice. The first time I visited, I parked in the multi-storey car park at the Swan Shopping Centre because I didn’t know any better, but it’s worth noting that the ‘Pay & Display’ on-street parking on Market Street (and possibly elsewhere, but not everywhere) lets you park for free for up to an hour from 3pm onwards. You park as normal, go to the machine, and press the green button to get a free ticket for an hour’s parking. Do check the machine first though, because not all roads do this. For example, Leigh Street (literally round the corner from Market Street) does not.

Another thing worth noting, if you do this, is that the closing times of the various charity shops vary quite markedly. Some stay open to as late as 5.30pm, but others close as early as 4pm, so it’s worth bearing this in mind and planning your visit accordingly. I’d suggest that arriving at 3pm and getting your ticket at 3.01pm would be the sweet-spot, otherwise if arriving later then prioritise the earlier-closing shops.

Without exception, I found the clothes in all the charity shops to be clean, pressed, in very good condition, ordered by size, and very cheap. Prices seem to range from £1.49 up to around £8.99 for normal day dresses, tops, skirts, etc., with prices averaging in the £3 ballpark and with it being exceptionally rare to see anything over £4.99. Some shops have higher prices than others, but overall they are all pretty cheap. Prices tend to end in either .49 or .99, although you’d be pretty tight if you didn’t put the penny straight back in the collecting tin by the till (if paying with cash, obviously).

I picked up a number of tops and dresses in my visits, from brands such as Store Twenty One, Tu, Marks & Spencer, H&M, Dorothy Perkins and Papaya. None were more than £4.99 and one was little as £1.49, with the next most expensive £2.49



Favourite pick was this gorgeous dress by Dorothy Perkins, modelled by the lovely.. um… me. 🙂
It’s a size 16, which is a size bigger than I usually go for, but it fits really well and I’m really happy with it.

Dorothy Perkins dress

Dorothy Perkins dress

The only poor choice I made was this white linen dress by H&M. It was sold as a size 14, but when I got it home and tried it on it was way too small, in both waist and chest (in fact it wouldn’t even go round my chest without any breast forms). When I looked at the actual label I could see it was a Eur 40 / USA 10, which depending on whose conversion chart you look at is a 12-14 (predominantly 12).
It didn’t cost much though so maybe I will re-donate it.

H&M linen dress

H&M linen dress

In every shop I visited, nobody batted an eyelid that I was buying ladies clothes in guy mode, and everyone was very friendly.

Anyway, I just thought it was worth sharing the knowledge.


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Bargain Hunting

I had the day off on Monday, so went to the IACF Antiques and Collectors fair at Newbury Racecourse. Or, more specifically, I took the day off so that I could visit it.

You may recall that the last time I went, back in April, there was terrible traffic congestion due to roadworks with three-way temporary traffic lights on the approach road that were causing absolute mayhem and gridlock. Fortunately, this time was much better and I breezed in without delay. However, I did note that the approach road that had been subject to the roadworks last time was in an appalling patchwork condition now and is evidently long overdue a proper re-surfacing. It’s a shame they couldn’t have done that at the time whilst they were causing traffic chaos.

That's an udder thing I almost bought

That’s an udder thing I almost bought

I’d no sooner got on-site when I saw a lovely antique cow milking machine thing, which of course I had to take a photo of and post a groan-worthy pun on Facebook. I apologise to those of you who follow me on Facebook. 🙂

I didn’t enquire how much it was – it looked expensive and I really don’t have anywhere in my house for it.

Framed postcards

Framed postcards

I mooooved (groan) on to the next seller and spied a framed collection of six advertising postcards from the early 20th Century. The frame wasn’t anything special and the postcards were of indeterminate age, but for £5 I didn’t think it mattered too much so I bought it.

After a while I noticed a camera crew, then my eye was drawn to two chaps in blue polo shirts with a BH logo who were being talked to by a third who appeared to be telling them about an item they were looking at. Then the penny dropped and I realised that I was witnessing an episode of Bargain Hunt being filmed.

The team were looking at a large fossil (you can see the expert picking it up in the photo) and debating whether to buy it or not. The seller was prepared to take £65 for it (I don’t know what the sticker price was) and they were undecided. Eventually they decided to leave it and to move on.

Blue Team 1

Blue Team 1

I talked to the seller afterwards, and he was enthusing about the piece.

“I’ve never seen a fossil on Bargain Hunt,” he said, “so it would have been good if they had bought it.”

“What about Tim Wonnacott?”, I replied.

I continued my browsing, and it was very quickly apparent that there were far more sellers this time than the one back in April. In fact, I overheard one seller saying to another that they had never seen it so big before, and that certainly seemed to be the case with the outdoor area stretching way further into the distance than before and also visibly much, much wider.

Also, and I don’t know if this was new or if I failed to spot it last time, there was an indoor area in the ground floor of the hall under the “Dubai Duty Free Grandstand” that was easily 2/3 of the size of a Sandown Park fair or roughly the size of the Epsom Downs Racecourse fair I went to back in April (which I didn’t ever blog about). The indoor area was selling the usual stuff you’d expect to find in one – jewellery, memorabilia, postcards, Militaria, pottery & ceramics, glassware, and the like.

Blue Team 2

Blue Team 2

Back outside, and I came across some more filming for Bargain Hunt. This time the contestants were two girls, also in blue Polo shirts (so it must be one of those “double header” episodes you sometimes see), and this time I recognised the expert; Mark Stacey. I didn’t see what the girls were buying, but I did get within earshot to hear the director telling the girls they needed to do a re-take and telling the girls what to say and how to react (“Could you maybe say ‘oh that’s so sweet’ and put your hand to your chest as you do?”). It was an interesting insight into the scripting process.



One seller had a large Beer sign that I thought was quite cool, but to be honest I couldn’t think where in my house I could possibly put it, so I passed.

About halfway down the outdoors area, on the hardcore past the asphalted area and before the grass area, was a burger van, a drinks van, and an ice cream van. I was quite hungry by now, so had a container of chips at a rather steep £3, and continued on down to the grass area which was easily several times larger than back in April. In fact it covered a huge area and was rather a lot of walking. The chips proved to be not that nice and pretty soon I wanted to bin them, but there were no bins anywhere. I ended up carrying the container around for almost an hour getting more and more annoyed until I finally returned to where the vans were and found one solitary overflowing bin and was finally able to ditch them. I think this was rather a poor showing by IACF and/or Newbury Racecourse. They really should have positioned some bins down there.

I hadn’t found anything much I wanted to buy. There was a length of thick heavy hemp rope that was exactly what I want for my nautically-themed cloakroom, but it was rather short and also one end was terminated in a metal hoop which I didn’t really like. Also the seller wanted £45 for it, which was more than I wanted to pay for something that wasn’t exactly what I wanted.



Another thing that caught my eye, again for the cloakroom, were some plastic lobsters. They had a certain kitsch appeal to them and I liked them. The seller wanted £10 each for them though, and I wasn’t sure I liked them enough to start haggling them down to about half that which is what I thought they were worth. So instead I passed.

As I headed back up to the Dubai hall, I finally saw Tim Wonnacott and he was preparing to do a piece to camera.

A nearby seller called to him “Are you still here then?”

“Of course I’m still here! Why wouldn’t I be?”, responded Tim, coming closer to the seller.

The seller replied that the teams are only meant to be here an hour and they had been there all day. Tim didn’t make a lot of comment to this, but instead showed the seller a disc-like object in his hand and was about to tell the seller about it, but was then called over to the camera as it was now set up.

It turned out the that object was the hand guard that is part of the construction of a Katana – the Japanese Samurai sword. I actually knew a little of this already as I have such a sword in Second Life that is made by someone who has a great passion and interest in their construction and models the individual parts that are analogous to the real life construction and then assembles these together into an accurate model of a Katana in Second Life, along with a scripted version on a floor mat that disassembles and reassembles so that you can see how the individual parts are put together. So I already knew this as a Tsuba. Tim took several takes to camera to explain this to the viewers, although didn’t use the Japanese name “Tsuba” and merely called it a ‘hand guard’. But he explained how it is slid down the blade to the hilt, in order to be fixed there, and also (rather unnecessarily, I thought) what a hand guard actually does.

Tim Wonnacott

Tim Wonnacott

I really wanted a picture of me and Tim together, but at this point I should confess to you that I was in guy mode. I had decided on this for several reasons, one being that I simply didn’t have the enthusiasm to go in girl mode. The other being that it was very hot day and the thought of being in a wig, and in makeup, and in impractical shoes, didn’t sound too appealing to me when I could be in jeans, t-shirt, sandals, and an Australian bush hat. In many ways I think I made the right decision, but I did wish at that moment that I had been in girl mode as I would have definitely have asked Tim for a photograph of him and me together otherwise. When he was free, of course – I wouldn’t have interrupted him when he was trying to film.

Crab and Lobster

Crab and Lobster

I’d been on-site quite a while by now, and was pretty hot and pretty tired, so I headed back to the entrance which took me past the seller with the fossil. It was still there and he said that, no, the Bargain Hunt team had not been back. I did notice next to it a ceramic crab and matching lobster. Although they were red, rather than the blue and white of my cloakroom, I thought they were a bit of fun and asked about them and how much they were. The seller said he thought they were Portuguese and that he’d do them for £12 for the pair, and on a whim I offered £10 which he accepted. I’m not entirely convinced I made a good purchase there, but we’ll see when I try them out in the cloakroom.

After that, I thought it was time to head home. Unlike last time, there were no queues to get out, and I wasn’t held up at all and made it home in good time.

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Posted by on June 30, 2015 in Diary, Out & About, Shopping


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Farnham Maltings

On Saturday I popped over to The Maltings in Farnham for their monthly Maltings Market. I’ve not been to one of these before, despite Farnham not being too far away for me. But a recent advert in a magazine mentioned that it has around 200 stalls of arts, crafts, jewellery, antiques, collectables and memorabilia, and that sounded like it was right up my street.

It was a quick and easy journey and after a bit of searching I managed to find a car parking space – the car park was pretty full.

There were some sellers with trestle tables out in the car park and immediately outside the Maltings, and I started to browse them when I suddenly realised that I had come out without my wallet.

A quick search on google revealed that there was a branch of my bank nearby within walking distance, so I walked over with a view to trying to get some cash.

So without my card or any identification, and armed only with the knowledge of my account number and sort code, PIN number, telephone banking password, internet banking password, inside leg measurement, and with my mobile phone in my possession (and whose number they have on file and could ring), I asked to withdraw money from my account. The cashier said that all she needed was my signature. Which, it turned out, they did not have on file, despite me banking with them for 25 years, because they had recently gone digital and hadn’t digitised their paper records. D’Oh.

All my passwords etc. were no good to them – all they would accept was my signature which they didn’t have on file. It was all rather Last Century and it initially looked like I was out of luck. Fortunately when the manager was called, she had the good sense to ask me various questions about my account activity which I was able to answer, including recent transactions, where my monthly salary payments came from, and eventually was satisfied I was who I said I was and authorised the cashier to let me withdraw the £50 I wanted.

The fact that I was in guy mode probably helped enormously in this case as it would have complicated matters enormously otherwise, as I would have had to explain why a woman with no identification was trying to access a bank account whose account holder had a male name. I think that if I had been in girl mode I simply wouldn’t have bothered and would just have gone home.

Anyway, I walked back to The Maltings and tried again.

Once I’d browsed the outside stalls, I headed inside and discovered that The Maltings is an absolute rabbit warren. It has several halls, on several levels, and also has a large courtyard and also several side rooms. All of these were full of stalls. Some were selling the usual Antiques and Collectors Fair stuff (and, indeed, there were some familiar faces from other fairs), some were local artists selling jewellery and art that they themselves had made, there was one stall with handmade leather goods, there was vintage clothing, new clothing, art, postcards, ephemera, cakes, jams, and all sorts. And being in many different rooms and halls meant that there was quite a bit of exploration and wondering if you had found everything. I loved it and will definitely go again.

Dragonfly earrings

Dragonfly earrings

One seller had some dragonfly drop earrings which I liked. She saw me looking at them and said that she makes them herself, and without really thinking I said that I love dragonflies and butterflies, and drew her attention to the little silver butterfly stud earring I was wearing.
“So, um, are these something you’d wear then?” she asked, slightly surprised. Rather than be embarrassed or flustered at the fact that I had said something out-of-gender, I simply smiled and replied “Well, not dressed like this. I’m disguised as a guy today. But when I’m dressed in girl mode then definitely”. She didn’t seem overly bothered by this, and merely asked if I had both ears pierced to which I said I did, and she just shrugged in a sort of “fair enough” kind of way and I bought them for £9.

Another seller was selling older stuff, and was playing 1930’s music on a period gramophone. It surprised me just how much volume it was managing to kick out, despite appearing to be purely mechanical.



Amongst the stuff he was selling was a necklace which caught my eye (pictured). It was unusual not just because of the shape and decoration, but because it was the same on both sides. Usually necklaces have a show side and a back side, so if they turn themselves round whilst you’re wearing them then they don’t display properly.

I asked the price, and he said £25 and that the chain alone was worth that. I asked if he’d take £20 and he said that he couldn’t budge at all on price. And he didn’t – I couldn’t get him to drop even a penny, which is quite unusual as you can usually get something off. But I decided to buy it anyway.

I had a good wander round all the stalls and whilst there was some nice stuff, there was nothing else I wanted to buy, and eventually I headed home.

I will definitely visit the Maltings Market again next month and this time I will make sure I don’t go out of the house without my purse or wallet (delete as appropriate).



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In search of Fanny

Welcome to Fanny's

On Saturday I decided to drive up to Reading to visit Fanny’s Antiques, which is an antiques and architectural salvage shop on the North side of the Reading ring road. It’s not the first time I have been there, but I haven’t been there recently.

"Full" English Breakfast??

“Full” English Breakfast??

Before I set off, though, I decided to grab some breakfast (or, rather, lunch) from a local café. My regular one was packed, so I went to a new one that I have not tried before.

I gave my order, and then sat down to wait for it at a table. And waited. And waited. And waited. One of the people on another table who had arrived before me started to complain that they had been waiting for 40 mins and were demanding to know when their order would arrive. In the end their order finally came out and mine came out not long after. My total wait time was probably similar to theirs, which is pretty unacceptable especially if you are not forewarned. What’s worse is that they didn’t seem that busy.

What I was finally given was the most pathetic “Full” (sic) English Breakfast I have ever had. Two coins of bacon (it would be too much to call them rashers), a single sausage, and a small fried egg, all spaced out on the plate with a large quantity of cheap baked beans filling the gaps and trying to disguise how shite it was, with some anaemic toast that was more bread than toast to go with it. They’d also put the packets of butter on top of the toast which meant they melted, and I didn’t so much spread them as pour the butter out of the foil packets.

As one of my Facebook friends put it when I posted the photo – “Did you already eat some of it, or is that a child’s potion?”.

Welcoming entrance

Welcoming entrance

I won’t be going there again.

I then hit the road for Reading and was soon at Fanny’s and parked up in the front entrance.

I really like Fanny’s as, not only does it have a lot of great stuff, but the building it is in is very interesting too. I think it must have been an abattoir or meat packing building at one point, because there are metal runners with big meat hooks on them throughout the ground floor of the building.

Warm interior

Warm interior

It’s a little run down with paint peeling off the walls and the ceiling is braced in places with Acrow props, but I think that’s half the charm.

There’s always quite an eclectic mix here – mainly furniture downstairs, with trinkets, lights, telephones, wall signs and other ephemera dotted around the place, and then upstairs there is a collection of vintage clothing, art, bric-a-brack, household items, more lights, books, and the like. And throughout the place various pictures, paintings and wall art. There is also a small outside area with various outdoor furniture, hanging baskets, wall baskets, metal signs, etc.

I was on the lookout for anything that caught my eye, but mainly I was looking for a chair for my dressing table and also a small dressing table mirror.

Stool? Chair? StoolChair?

Stool? Chair? StoolChair?

I was tempted by a square metal stool with back (does that make it a chair? Or maybe a StoolChair?) but ultimately decided against it, although I gave it serious thought and came back to it at least twice for another look.

Wooden chair

Wooden chair

Likewise I looked at a funky retro wooden chair, which was actually fairly boring when you took a closer look at it.

I think that’s half the appeal of the Shabby Chic look for sellers – take any old dilapidated, mismatched or out of fashion crap, duff it up a bit more, paint it in chalk-based paint, randomly rub some of it off again, sell it. Sorted.
Mind you, it’s equally good for buyers too because you don’t have to worry if you fix it a bit wonky or if it doesn’t quite match your other stuff. Anyway, I didn’t think the chair was special enough so left it.

Another thing that caught my eye was a coffee table made from a F1 tyre (from 1993), but it was a very poor example of one as it was literally just a tyre with a disc of glass on top. The side walls of the tyre were saggy and it looked a bit of a mess. I think that if I were to have something like this I would want the wheel as well as the tyre, in order to give it shape and impact. So, needless to say, I didn’t buy it.

F1 Tyre Table

F1 Tyre Table

Sadly I didn’t find anything at all that I wanted to buy in the end, even though I had a very thorough look, so I eventually moved on and briefly popped into The Range over the road, but didn’t buy anything there either. It was turning into a pretty unproductive day.

I thought I would pop into Reading itself for a little, and parked up on street parking near to the station as I wanted to visit the Collectors shop in the Harris Arcade and also the Comics & Vintage Toys store next door to it. The parking bay I parked in appeared to say on the sign that it was for the holders of Residents Permits or was Pay & Display for non-residents, so I bought a ticket from the machine and displayed it in my car.

Walking over to the Harris Arcade, I found both shops I wanted to visit closed but with the Comics & Vintage Toys shop with a sign saying “Back in 5 mins” and, sure enough, he was and opened up for me. I had a look around but nothing caught my eye, although I did have a nice chat with the guy about how the shop had appeared on an episode of Toy Hunter which airs on the Quest channel in the UK. Apparently they filmed for over 15 hours to film the short segment that appeared on the show. I realise that filming takes a while but I didn’t realise it was *that* long!

The shop next door, which stocks Collectables, Militaria, post cards, china, etc., was closed. What I didn’t realise at the time was that both shops are part of the Reading Collectors Centre. Had I known that, I would have asked the guy if he could have opened it for me, because it was one of the reasons I had visited. I will know next time.

I wandered around a bit longer and found a clothing shop that was selling an absolutely gorgeous skirt that I totally fell in love with. It was in a sort of light mocha colour (although also available in black and also white), knee length, very light and floaty / flarey, elasticated waist, and fully lined. It was £24.99 and I really wanted to buy it but ultimately thought it was a little expensive for what it was and denied myself. I really, really wanted it though.

Read carefully

Read carefully

Eventually I returned to the car to find a parking ticket on the windscreen. Arseflaps. Initially I was full of righteous indignation that I had a valid ticket, but when I looked more closely at the sign showing the parking restrictions, it became clear that I had not read it correctly. I had read “Residents Permits or Pay & Display”, but what it actually said was that this was the case between 10am and 4pm, and that outside these times it was Residents Permits only. I was still there after 4pm so I got a ticket. The fine is £50, or £25 if paid within 14 days, plus the £1.50 that I had already paid to park. It’s particularly galling that I denied myself the skirt that was £24.99 that I mentioned earlier, and then have to pay a £25 fine. I feel like I should drive back to Reading this weekend and buy the skirt as a matter of principle now. 🙂

On the way out of Reading I called into Costco and bought, amongst other things, a 1.75L bottle of pre-mixed Margarita and a large steak. So that was my evening sorted and, indeed, my hangover for Sunday. Needless to say I didn’t do a whole lot on Sunday and have nothing to report on that.

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Posted by on March 24, 2015 in Diary, Out & About, Photos, Shopping


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Black Friday

On Friday I had the day off and decided to go shopping to look for a party dress as I am going out with a friend in a couple of weeks for a night out and need one.

Stripe Sequin Dress by Next

‘Stripe Sequin Dress’ by Next

The first that caught my eye was in Next. I spied it on a wall poster and then spent ages trying to find it on the racks because it looked really good in the pics and I thought it was worth searching for. Eventually I found it on the other side of the shop. I hate that. As it happened, they didn’t have it in my size – there were only two left and one was way too small and the other too big. Also it was £75 which was a little more than I was planning to spend, so I mentally marked it as a “possible” and moved on.
It’s on their website listed as “Stripe Sequin Dress” but currently showing as sold out.

"Two-Tone Sequin Bodycon Dress" by Top Shop

‘Two-Tone Sequin Bodycon Dress’ by Top Shop

The next shop that I went into was Top Shop, and two dresses caught my eye. One was a simple black dress with silver woven into it that I really liked, but they didn’t have my size.

Then I saw this dress (pictured) and it absolutely wowed me. It’s listed on their website as “Two-Tone Sequin Bodycon Dress” and is sequinned all over, but the sequins are reversible. On one side they’re silver and on the other side they are a bronzey-gold. You stroke the dress to flip the sequins over, which means you can draw your own patterns and designs on it. Even better, it fit me perfectly when I tried it on.
My only reservations were the price (£68, and sadly not in the Black Friday sale) and the fact that it is a little shapeless and not especially flattering. However, the reversible sequins swung it for me and I bought it.
Now that I have it home, I’m not 100% sure I’m going to keep it due the aforementioned issue of it being a bit shapeless. I’ll need to try it on again and have a really good think about it and then decide. Maybe I will post a pic up of me wearing it for the purposes of critique and opinion.
If I do keep it and do wear it for my night out, then I’ll have to be careful that people don’t doodle on it, or draw a cock on my back! 😀

I then popped into Select Fashion. I like their stuff (as I have mentioned in the past) and can often pick up something nice in there for a reasonable price.
On this occasion, I saw a Snow Leopard Faux Fur Jacket that I rather fell in love with. At £34.99 it was a bit of an extravagance, but it should go with a party dress really well. Also, it turned out that it was eligible for 25% off due to Black Friday which means I ended up being charged £26.24 which softened the blow somewhat.

'Gold & Grey Mesh Flower Print Dress' by Quiz

‘Gold & Grey Mesh Flower Print Dress’ by Quiz

The next shop I went into was Quiz, and this is where I struck gold as far as a bargain was concerned.
I spotted a lovely dress that I was immediately drawn to as it had an Art Deco vibe to it (in my eyes anyway). I’ve since found it on their website where it’s described as “Gold and Grey Mesh Flower Print Dress”. I decided I should try it on, so did so and whilst I was in the changing room I took a pic of myself in it.

Selfie time!

Selfie time!

I was really happy with the look and the fit. The price was marked as £75 but it had been hand-amended underneath to £49.99 with Tippex and biro. I checked the other dresses to make sure they were the same, and they were. I also noticed a Black Friday sign saying “£20 off all original prices” but I wasn’t entirely sure what the final price was going to end up as it was unclear which price they’d be taking the £20 off.

After rather a long time queuing for the till, where it seemed they needed two people to operate one till, I got served and initially they wanted to take £20 off the un-discounted price of £75 and charge me £55, but I pointed out the £49.99 price. They were initially a little sceptical (I wasn’t offended – it’s possible somebody could carry around a bottle of Tippex and a biro), but when they saw all the dresses were similarly amended they honoured it. And then they took the £20 off that price as well, so I got it for £29.99 – barrrrrgain. That pretty much made my day I can tell you.
Looking on Quiz’s website shows that the on-line price is £59.99 so I definitely did well there.

By now my feet were starting to hurt and I was beginning to feel a bit “shopped out” so I stopped for a coffee, and then went looking for a handbag. However, I didn’t find anything I liked and my feet were really starting to complain by now so I decided to head home.



What I should have done when I got home is take proper pics of me in my new purchases, but I was quite tired by then and I didn’t feel like it.

However, I did take a pic of myself in the outfit that I had been “out & about” in, to go with the selfie I took in the car (which you will already have seen on Flickr).

I’m pleased with how this outfit turned out. The vest top (which is from New Look) is low enough to give the impression of cleavage, but not low enough that you can see the tops of my breastforms. It’s a close-run thing though. The short-sleeved cardigan offset it nicely too. Also it made it easy to try on dresses as I only needed to remove the cardigan, which is what I was aiming for when I put the outfit together. Mission Accomplished there, I feel.

So, all in all quite a productive shopping trip and I think I’m well on the way to getting an outfit together. I just need to decide on shoes, bag and accessories.

I’m hoping that I can get away with existing shoes. I have one pair of very elegant heels but they are agony to walk on within five minutes, so they’re instantly ruled out. The red ones from a previous pic might be contenders if matched with a red bag. I’m not sure if they are dressy enough but they’re certainly comfortable enough. Otherwise I have some black court shoes that have figured several times in these pics which might do the trick too.


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Staycation: Update 2

Continuing on from my previous post

On Wednesday, I headed down to Southsea via Lee-on-the-Solent. Or, rather, I set off, realised I had left my camera at home, turned round and went back, got it, and headed off again.

I had made arrangements to visit the Hovercraft Museum, which is located at HMS Daedalus. Officially the museum is closed at the moment, but if you contact them you can arrange to visit by appointment. So, arrangements having been made a few weeks ago, I turned up at the gate to be met by a Security Guard who told me that the museum was closed, and that I couldn’t come in. I explained that I had made an appointment and that they were expecting me. She seemed unconvinced, saying it was all fenced off and inaccessible, but I assured her that I was expected and she let me proceed to the Security Portacabin. There I had to park up, sign in, get a site pass permit to display in the windscreen of my car, and then told again that they had no knowledge of it being open. Fortunately I had a phone number for my contact, Warwick, at the museum. Thankfully he was just approaching the gate as I phoned him, said he could see me, and that I should follow him on-site to the museum. Security were happy with this, so I jumped in my car, put my permit on the dash, and followed him.



After we’d parked up, and I’d been introduced to his two awesome dogs, Warwick explained that the museum actually has its own public access direct to the road but that because the museum is officially closed right now, and their car park is a building site, visitors have to go through the palaver of coming onto HMS Daedalus itself with all the hassle of passes and security gates that I had gone through. He then told me that he would go round unlocking things, and I should feel free to wander around to my heart’s content, and to climb into (and onto) any hovercraft that were open, sit in the pilot’s chair, whatever I wanted, and to give him a shout if I needed anything. So I got my dSLR out of my car (the one I had gone back to get) and discovered that it had no memory card in it. Arseflaps. So I was left with the prospect of taking photos with only my phone, which has a notoriously poor camera. Normally this is not a problem for me as I usually carry a decent compact camera in my handbag. Sadly, though, I was in guy mode and handbag-less.

Under fire

Under fire

I was at the museum for a good 2 hours in the end, and had a lovely time looking over the hovercraft, sitting in pilots chairs and secretly making “WooooooOOOOOOOO ROARRRRRRRRRR” noises (in my head, ‘natch). They had all sorts there, from the tiniest one-man ones right up to the gargantuan SR.N4 passenger ferry hovercraft. They also had several Military ones, too. One even had bullet holes in the windscreen, which was a bit scary.

Old school

Old school

The museum had a bit of a run-down air to it; a feeling of faded glory. Not just for the sad fact that hovercraft represent a bygone age, and that in all of them the cockpits were decidedly old school 20th Century analogue, but also because the museum seemed underfunded and run down, and the hovercraft all looked rather forlorn and in a state of neglect and disrepair.

I talked to Warwick about this over a cup of tea, and he explained that the museum is run on a volunteer basis and they are in enforced shutdown at the moment as Daedalus are refurbishing the hangars and that the museum’s car park is currently fenced off and unavailable to them. What little income they have is spent on bare minimum running costs, such as rent, lighting, heating, essential maintenance, and the like.

SR.N6 Twin Prop

SR.N6 Twin Prop

He pointed out the SR.N6 Twin Prop and told me that 3 years ago it had been freshly painted, but that since then it had been sitting out in the salt-laden sea air and had deteriorated to its current state in just that short period of time.

I felt quite sad about this. So much of the innovation and wonder of the past is gone – decommissioned, mothballed or scrapped. The hovercraft, the ekranoplans, Concorde, the Space Shuttle, the SR-71 Blackbird, and the like. It seems that only a handful of people like Elon Musk still have the vision to drive forward into the Future; most people seem content in staying only in the Present. 😦

Anyway, we finished our tea and I said I’d like to make a donation. Warwick told me that the usual fee for a visit was £10 and if I could Gift Aid it then that would be even better. But I recalled that annual membership of the ‘Friends of the Hovercraft Museum’ was £25 and suggested I did that, with Gift Aid, as a way of supporting their work. I feel quite strongly that it is important that this museum survives, and that these examples of our cultural heritage of Great Britain’s former greatness as leaders in technology is preserved. I also felt that my donation might actually make a small difference. So we did that, and he joked that at least that meant I could come back again another time with a memory card in my dSLR and take my photos properly, since membership gives me free admittance . 🙂

After that, I thanked Warwick for his time and left him to lock up whilst I departed, handing my site pass back in to Security on the way out. I then drove round the bay to Southsea, with a view to finding the Antiques shops that had featured in Celebrity Antiques Road Trip.

I initially parked up on Marmion Road (free street parking – yay!), and popped into a few stores such as The Interior Trading Company and also Victoriana Furniture, but nothing caught my eye.

I ♥ this bracelet

I ♥ this bracelet

I did go into Fat Face though, and got this lovely bracelet which I immediately wore. Yes, in guy mode. But, so what?

What I really wanted to find was Parmiters Antiques, which I had seen on Celebrity Antiques Road Trip. I had checked their website for opening times before looking for them. My SatNav directed me to Albert Road and I parked up there (again, free on street parking – yay).
I quickly found them and they were closed. As were Langford Antiques. As were Tango Tea Collectables. This was rather a disappointment to say the least. It turns out that published opening times on websites mean “these are the times we’re open when we can be bothered to open”. The actual opening times are displayed on the shop window, on a small blackboard or whiteboard, which evidently is subject to change without notice.

I ended up walking pretty much the entire length of Albert Road and back, and did find a few interesting shops, but I didn’t buy anything. Still, it was good exercise.

I then drove round to Portsmouth Historic Dockyard‎, with a view to having a wander around the exhibits. I parked up in their multi-storey and walked round to the entrance. A sign on the gate said that the site itself was free, but all the exhibits had a charge. However,lightweight barriers forced you into a building where the payment desks were. Each exhibit (such as HMS Warrior, the Mary Rose, Royal Marines Museum, etc.) carried a price of around £14-£18, with an all-exhibit pass at £28. Unlike the Hovercraft Museum, where I felt that my money was going directly to support something that clearly desperately needed it, this felt like commercial Tourist-gouging, so I elected not to pay and left. Instead I wandered down to Gun Wharf Quays for a spot of shopping and a bite to eat (it was 3.30pm by now and I hadn’t had a thing to eat that day). I didn’t find anything, and by then I was getting rather tired, so I decided that it was probably time to head home.

I drove back cross-country though, to make things a little more interesting.

I didn’t do much in the evening, but did have a nice long soak in the bath because I knew I would be stiff from all the walking that day, and with a trip up to London the next day I would have more of the same, so a good soak in muscle-relaxing Radox would probably be an extremely good idea.

But I’ll cover that in my next post…



Oh how wonderful. I emailed Warwick to alert him to this post (and also to link him some awesome articles on Dark Roasted Blend about Ekranoplans and Hydrofoils as he is interested in them too).

He came back with a lovely email that was totally accepting of me being TG and saying I should model some of their Hoverlloyd and Seaspeed uniforms one day. I would be so up for that! And as I’m a size 14 I might have half a chance of fitting them too, especially as I’ve been a 12-14 in the past and heading back there too. 😀


Posted by on October 3, 2014 in Diary, Out & About, Photos, Shopping


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Tyred out

Tyred Out

“Tyred Out” on Flickr

I’ve had a bit of a roller coaster this weekend. On Friday I got home from work early, and I decided to get dressed and reshoot the Biker Girl look that I did a few years ago. A friend suggested that since I’d lost quite a bit of weight, it would be worth revisiting. Plus he loved my Doc Martens boots and wanted to see more of them. So of course I had to oblige.

I decided to do the shoot outdoors. The lighting proved to be quite difficult and when I came to look at the results of the shoot on my computer, I realised that things were rather washed out and, despite having quite a lot of eyeliner on, it looked like I was wearing no makeup. A professional photographer friend subsequently told me that this is very common on outdoor shoots and you really have to overdo the makeup to compensate. Or else correct things post-production, which is what I did. I mainly used the Dodge & Burn tool of GIMP to darken my brows, eyeliner, lips and pupils, and also adjusted the contrast quite a lot. I have to confess that I also rather cheekily gave myself a digital tummy tuck too. Sorry!

After that I cracked open a bottle of wine and then, as the night wore on, another, and in the end got really rather wrecked and spent time online with a friend in America and went to bed really rather late. Or maybe I should say early, for as Shakespeare’s Sir Toby Belch said: “To be up after midnight and to go to bed then, is early: so that to go to bed after midnight is to go to bed betimes.” [Twelfth Night, Act 2, Scene 3]
I think I crawled into bed just after 6am as the sun was coming up.

The less said about Saturday the better. I got up late, felt rather unwell for a lot of the day, watched a lot of telly, and went to bed early.

On Sunday (ie. today) I decided I would go for a drive and eat out for lunch. I ended up having a nice burger in an American diner, then stopped off at Basingstoke to visit Festival Place. I was in guy mode and I really need some new guy clothes, so I told myself NO GIRL CLOTHES and to concentrate on guy clothes. So I bought a gorgeous floral skater dress at Select Fashion in the sale for £8. ha ha. I’ll post up a pic another time.
I also completely failed to buy any guy clothes. *sighs*

Urban Decay at Debenhams

Urban Decay at Debenhams

I noticed that there is now a small Urban Decay outlet in Debenhams, which was exciting for me as I like their stuff. But since I was in guy mode and it was a very small concession and the staff were busy with a customer, I thought I wouldn’t browse. I’ll come back another time in girl mode.

And finally, I bought 3 Bluray Discs for £20 in HMV. I got “Ender’s Game” (with a groovy lenticular sleeve – I’m such a sucker for those), “A Clockwork Orange”, and “Kick Ass 2”. Should be a giggle. I will watch one tonight.

So that was my Sunday. I’m back to the grind of my long-distance commute tomorrow, which is really starting to wear me down so I have booked into a Spa hotel on Wednesday to break the week up and to see if that makes things a little more tolerable. We shall see.




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Fashion update

Baroque Print Skater Dress

‘Baroque Print Skater Dress’ by Tenki on Flickr

As I mentioned in a recent post, I recently bought the ‘Baroque Print Skater Dress’ by Tenki but had not taken a photo of me wearing it. I’ve now taken one, as you can see. I can’t say I’m totally happy with the way it sits on me, though; especially in the under-bust area. Definitely not a favourite, although it’s ok I guess. I think I’m not alone in this opinion because it has gathered below-average views, faves and comments on Flickr.

‘Smoky Floral Lace Skater Dress’ by Select Fashion on Flickr

Far more successful was this lovely Smokey Lace Skater Dress by Select Fashion that I bought during a recent shopping trip to Camberley. I love how it appears sheer yet has strategically placed modesty panels. It’s really comfortable and I absolutely adore it. I think the colour and design really suit me. Again, it seems I’m not alone there as the above-average views, faves and comments on Flickr reflect. Even better, it was only £14.99 – barrrrrgain!

Browns & Whites

‘Browns & Whites’ on Flickr

Another success, bought during the same shopping trip, was a really cute brown biker jacket that I bought in H&M. It’s meant to look like leather, but close up it’s not fooling anyone. But that’s hardly surprising as it was only £34.99 and you’d expect to pay 10 times that for proper leather. But I think it looks pretty cute (as do my Flickr followers, it seems). I paired it with a skirt and belt that I bought years ago, a top that has appeared in previous pics, and my favourite Timberland boots. To be honest, the boots are a little dark for this outfit, but never mind.

Moving on to New Look I bought a nice floral body in the sale, reduced to £7. You don’t tend to see them to buy that often (unless they are as a really expensive ‘shaping body’) – certainly Marks & Spencer haven’t stocked them for ages. That’s a pity because I find them really useful and they really flatten and shape the tummy far better than a camisole or vest do.

Short Sleeve Pointelle Knit Shrug

Short Sleeve Pointelle Knit Shrug

I also bought a cute little black Short Sleeve Pointelle Knit Shrug which was also reduced to £7. I bought it because I thought it could be versatile and useful for going out, especially as the weather cools into Autumn.

Topshop earrings

Topshop earrings

Yesterday I was out shopping in guy mode for some stuff, and visited Farnborough Gate because I needed to go to Halfords. Whilst there I popped into Boots to get a liquid eyeliner, and decided to try a liquid eyeliner pen. It looks for all the world like a felt tip pen. Perhaps I could have saved some money and used a Sharpie marker instead? Anyway, I’m planning to have a go with it this weekend (the eyeliner pen, not the Sharpie marker!) and will let you know how that goes.

Whilst at Farnborough Gate I also popped into Topshop, and saw these absolutely gorgeous earrings. I love how they have an Art Deco (or possibly Art Nouveau) vibe and the chains are really delicate. Also I really like how they have mirror symmetry – it really annoys me when asymmetric earrings don’t.


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