some people know how to do summer dressing

 

Okay, so some people don’t.

But in town today, I saw so many people who looked warm-weather fabulous. Some somewhat conservative in their style, others more flamboyant. But lots and lots of eye candy; lots of women – mostly women, actually – who made me smile, if not outwardly, then at least on the inside. Just that sense of low-level elation that you get from seeing something that pleaseth the eye.

Now, I’m definitely not laying any claim to being a summer dresser of fabuloso standards but I will say that I was mildly pleased with myself for remembering, and putting into place, one of my Summer Commandments. Which is:

“Always have, in your arsenal of strappy flat sandals, at least one pair with a closed back.”

The reason being, you see, that there is bound to be a day when your feet, notably your heels, just aren’t quite up to scratch. So what, you say? Who’s going to notice, you ask? I’ll tell you who. The person, or people, behind you on the Tube escalators, that’s who. Think of them. Have some consideration for your fellow passengers! It’s surely enough that they’ve had a hot sweaty ride on a crowded, airless Underground train. As they head eagerly, gratefully towards the World Outside, don’t bring ’em down with the sight of your greying, cracked heels.

My own feet are looking less than lovely at the moment: despite the fact that I have the Soap & Glory foot buffer, I just haven’t been using it, I’m afraid. Lots of long runs combined with a lot on my plate and hastily snatched grooming time (in short: husband away working for a month, at a time when the activities and arrangements of our three children seem suddenly to have exploded in pace and volume). But shod in these coral & metallic babies, who was to know??

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for the record - not my feet!

for the record – not my feet!

he questions fashion, not culture

Children can be mortifying sometimes; of course they can. The open stare, the theatrical point, the loudly voiced question. My daughter had me wishing for the nearest hole several years ago (she was only 2, bless her) when we passed through a supermarket checkout staffed by a rather facially hirsute lady. “Mummy, is that a lady or a man??” she demanded, teeny finger thrusting questioningly in the general direction of the assistant.

They’re better, more polite and more sensitive now that they’re older, of course. Even so, my heart embarked on the start of a little plummet at the airport as my 5 year old son, looking in the direction of a large group of Hasidic Jews, asked loudly: “Mummy, why do people wear stuff like that?”

I launched into a fairly bland explanation about different cultures and customs but was interrupted by “What culture wears pointy shoes?”

I was momentarily stopped in my tracks. “Huh?” I asked, glancing covertly at the shoes the black-robed group of men were wearing.

“There, that guy there,” my son said, with a (I have to say, very subtle) hand gesture towards a big-haired, skinny-jeans clad youth shod in winklepicker-esque shoes. “They look kind of stupid. And uncomfortable. I bet he can’t run fast in them.” He looked down complacently at his own shoes, newly purchased from Gently Elephant. “Not like I can in mine. I’m faster than Usain Bolt in these shoes.”

Curious about sartorial choice yet so accustomed to differences of race and culture that he barely bats an eyelid in their presence. That’s my Town Mouse.

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we had a moment of mutual recognition

A few years ago, my husband bought me a silver Alex Monroe dragonfly necklace for our wedding anniversary.

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Don’t get too excited: he’s a good husband, as husbands go, but present-buying is not his forte. I’d pretty much sent him the web link, with the information that, since it was our 4th wedding anniversary, his gift to me needed to be fruit or flowers. And then – winging it here, since I ate loads of fruit and filled the house with fresh flowers weekly anyway – also things that were attracted to fruit and flowers. Like dragonflies. Or, you know. This necklace.

So. I got the necklace and I adore it, rarely taking it off. I’ve since bought Alex Monroe pieces for other loved ones, too; I’m not selfish about keeping the exquisiteness all to myself. Although the dragonfly is mine, and mine alone 😉

Anyway. I had this nice thing on the train. The lady opposite me – she must have been in her 50s, at least – was wearing the gold bumblebee necklace. I looked at her, and her necklace; she looked at me, and mine. There was a spark of recognition, of “Aaah, you too, eh?”, of “Well done lovely lady, good taste, it looks fab on you.” It was a brief thing, before we returned to our copies of Stylist, our iPhones and our (my) general nosey gazing around at people, but it was an oddly warming, knowing, connective moment.

Never underestimate the power of a beautiful accessory.

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I have pterodactyl earrings

It’s Mother’s Day in several places in the world today; admittedly not in this one, but it is in the place where I’m from. So I get a second bite of the cookie, as it were.

First up, a chance to lounge in bed with a coffee and the Sunday papers, followed by the sounds of busy, important feet trotting up the stairs, and bright little faces chorusing “Happy Aussie Mother’s Day Mama!!”

There were lovely cards from local gift shop Emporia, where 1st birthday celebrations this weekend meant that there was cake and a 10% discount into the bargain. There was a huge Lego construction on which they’d collaborated, a kind of pseudo-cake, bright, multi-layered and completely carb-free. And there were pterodactyl earrings, which I adore.

I first spotted them when I was gift shopping at Magi Gifts in Brockley a month or so back. A local designer uses plastic toy animals and makes them into quirky (I hate that word, but you know what I mean) pieces: lugubrious bulldogs as pendants, lizards dangling down, in a friendly way, from your earlobes. I loved every piece of it and kept meaning to go back and ‘treat myself’ at some stage.

However, my lovely family took matters into their own hands and I am now sporting prehistoric winged beasts on my ears. It’s been a sweet day: nothing fancy, but the chance to go for a long, relaxed run this morning, followed by my favourite breakfast of sheep’s yoghurt, raspberries and fresh mint. We’ve planted bee and butterfly-attracting seeds in the garden, been for a bike ride and checked out the new gelateria, Oddono’s in East Dulwich (verdict: “Can we come here every day now that it’s summer, Mama?”)

I’m more than happy to go back (they do great coffee) but summer? Might be too early for such grandiose statements. Today I wore, in honour of the day, the Splendid tank top that my brood bought me from Net-a-Porter a few years ago for Mother’s Day (the English one). My photo doesn’t show the fabulousness of its colour well enough; this Outnet link is far better. I adore it but alas, unfriendly temperatures meant that it was soon concealed by a sweatshirt. But I wore my hair pulled up so that my earrings, at least, were on show.

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I packed away the winter coats and shoes

Enough’s enough, right? I don’t deny that we might have several a few more chilly days ahead but by Jove, I’ve had my wintry outers up to the wotsits.

So today, I pulled out the storage bags containing my summer stuff, packed away the coats and boots and rediscovered my last-season sandals. It’s sad but true to say that many of them bear more than a passing resemblance to footwear I’ve already, avidly, bought this season but I’m nothing if not consistent; it’s completely in character for me to wander into a store wearing, say, a grey sweater and to walk out clutching a bag containing an almost identical knit. The worst example ever of this was the day that I stood in Cos swooning over a navy wool dress with leather patch pockets before it gradually dawned on me that not only did I already own the dress in question: I was in fact wearing it at that very moment.

Anyway. The only thing that’s better than having summery shoes to wear is having the weather and the occasion for wearing them. Yesterday morning? Not so much: I did an MCC Promotions-organised 10km run on Peckham Rye with two other mums from school, where footwear of a functional, rather than fabulous, nature was the order of the day, especially since a gait assessment at Runners Need revealed my hideous overpronation. My trainers are practically platforms, yes, but running in heels has never felt so good.

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In the evening, however, we had dinner at The Begging Bowl with some of our friends, and it was bare legs, Sam Edelman Flynn sandals and fantastically flavoursome food. Today, my husband’s uncle and his partner took us out for lunch at Le Querce, for which I wore winged Ancient Greek sandals bought from Net-a-Porter last summer (along with a Zara dress in a good-to-be-alive shade of green)  The monkfish was amazing and the children seated at the next table were fairly hideous, which had an unhappy effect on noise levels and our ability to converse, but a brilliantly positive impact on how we, and the uncles, regarded the behaviour of our three. Now, I don’t know about other mothers out there, but to me this is pretty much the Holy Grail of a day out: eating delicious food, enjoying the company you’re with, feeling proud of your children and not feeling that every stitch you’re wearing has been chosen purely for matters of “I’m with the kids” practicality but also because you a) actually like them and b) the sun is shining after far, far too long of doing anything but that.

Would I be jinxing matters if I booked a pedi for next week, do you think?

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we car-booted it

I love a detox, I do. I love the feeling of shedding things: weight, toxins, sweat, habits, possessions, even people. If it’s baggage, if it doesn’t make you happy, if it doesn’t benefit your life: it can go.

Obviously this isn’t always achievable, especially when it comes to people. But where I can cull, I’ll cull.

Unfortunately, I’m also prone to acquisition, which is a habit I’m working hard to break in this, my 41st year. But it’s easy to overlook just how much you acquire when you’re ridding yourself of things in drib and drabs. It’s like weight, I guess: a week of big meals and excessive drinking here, the odd pound there .. you don’t just gain 2 stone overnight, do you? I can see why people talk about their weight ‘just creeping up.’ It’s the same for me and, well, mostly clothes and books. A few in, a few more in, a few out, a few more in.

When we had our loft conversion done at the end of last year, we gained a gorgeous bedroom with a fab view, yes. But we also lost a whole lotta storage space. Time indeed for a cull.

As I said, getting rid of things in random trips to charity shops, recycling bins, the tip and the post office (I just can’t face eBay anymore, personally) doesn’t give you a real sense of the enormity of your hoard. Seeing it all in one place at the one time, at a car boot sale, was an education, and actually a rather humbling one. I’m going to try to be far less acquisitive in future (although I know, yes yes I know, full well that I’ve said this before)

And – on a completely self-indulgent and not at all earnest nor humble note – it was also very gratifying to see the extent to which people swooped delightedly upon my cast-off clothes. Good grief, can you imagine – bad enough to be guilt-ridden about how much stuff you’ve bought over the last year or so – even worse to think that it was all tasteless crap that no one liked!

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It’s all Good

Nope, I haven’t been perusing the new Gwyneth Paltrow book. It’s just that today is good, Good Friday, to be exact.

Which means no school, and consequently no nagging this morning; kids loafing about in PJs eating fresh berries and pancakes (made with Dove’s Farm gluten free flour because, like Calgary Avansino in last weekend’s Sunday Times Style, in article that referenced – positively -Gywnnie’s approaches to feeding her family, I’m not fanatical about what my children eat but try to balance out inevitable gluttony – well, it’s Easter, isn’t it – with some less toxic choices) until their sparkling insides were so far at odds with the slatternliness of their exteriors that I had to chase them upstairs and into clean(ish) clothes.

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Next, there was the joy of opening yesterday’s post. Not a bill to be seen but instead, the my-wardrobe SS13 Style Guide and best of all, a lovely, heart-warming card from my friend Rachel with some adorable Mibo paper animals for my children to create.

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And the sun is shining! What an auspicious start to the holidays. I’m off out for a run to soak  it up while it lasts – admittedly, I am running to Ayres the Bakers to pick up Hot Cross Buns for our Easter lunch and egg hunt with friends this afternoon. But like I said, it’s Easter. Gluttony is inevitable. And for grain-free me? Would you believe that the lovely, thoughtful people at my local Budgens saved me the last Inspiral raw chocolate egg? I heart them.

Really better go for that run though….

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Not about to buy 2 for 1 supermarket Hot Cross Buns when Ayres are cranking out babies like these!

Not about to buy 2 for 1 supermarket Hot Cross Buns when Ayres are cranking out babies like these!