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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I started as I mean to go on

Monday is a bit of a special day, isn’t it. Well at least it is for me, although I accept that I tend to subscribe to the bad juju school of thought, where a falter means a fall, and setting the right pace from the get-go is the virtual guarantee of success.

So Mondays are important, as they have the power to shape my entire week. Going to bed and beating myself up for various shortcomings accumulated throughout the course of the day pretty much means that Tuesday will dawn with the black dog camped out on my shoulder. And so it continues. Vicious.

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This was my Monday. I was up early, and getting the children well-breakfasted and to school for their 8am gym club wasn’t stressy. I picked up some fruit & veg, and then dropped my youngest at nursery. I went for a run. I ran into a friend. I resisted any temptation of a food-related nature. I returned some ill-conceived purchases (that’s always a good feeling). I mooched around in the inspiring loveliness of the Liberty haberdashery department, and went to check out the new & other stories store (it’s amazing. Slightly disorganised, but it’s early days… and the stock more than compensates). I made calls that needed to be made, paid bills that needed to be paid. Ran into another two friends in town. Picked up the kids, did homework, read stories, fed them a decent home-cooked meal and got them to bed happy and not too far past what might be considered a reasonable time. The cleaner had been, the Nespresso order arrived (could’ve hugged the delivery man!) and my neighbour popped over. Texted my mum. Watched Broadchurch.

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It all sounds so terribly prosaic doesn’t it?!! But this was a Good Day. And my bet is that tomorrow will be too.

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he is so wonderfully consistent

There’s nothing ungenerous about my husband- in his attitudes to people, his open mindedness, his time and his money, he’s one of the most giving and kind people I’ve ever known. Which is all very well and good, but I’d say he could do with narrowing his focus a bit, because his attention to detail sure could use some work.

On a recent trip back from working abroad, he sought the help of a Duty Free sales assistant, telling her that his wife wanted ‘something to do with touching a pussy.’ By the time they’d established that it was Touche Éclat that he wanted (touch the cat, in his version of Franglais, you see, hence his confusion) the poor women was so flustered, or possibly offended, that they didn’t even bother to discuss the appropriate tone for my colouring and I ended up with the lightest shade: not ideal for my Asian skin.

Today, he’s returned from a week in Miami, bearing a Marc Jacobs bottle. “Well, I figured, you like his clothes, so maybe you’d like his perfume too,” he said. The box looked very blue; some, without meaning to be sexist or cliched, might even say masculine. I sprayed it on my wrist and took a whiff. “Thank you!” I exclaimed. “Thank you for my aftershave!” His response has been one of complete disbelief and incredulity; I’ve had to show him this page, complete with body-confidence-crushing picture from The Truth About Beauty,
to convince him.

He’s off to New Zealand tomorrow, so I’m looking forward to unwrapping a pair of men’s briefs or somesuch on his return. After all, he’s bound to go into a store and ask for a Y-front rather than a B-cup. He’s consistent, my husband , as well as kind and generous. I love that about him. And I’d far rather have a laugh than beauty products anyway.

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so many nice things happened

I don’t mean to sound trite, but truly it was a good day – lots of little things that combined and expanded to even more than the sum of their parts to make me beam. Everyone cooperating this morning and us getting to school, on time and stressless-ly. The sun coming out. Meeting my friend in Covent Garden. Puzzling over a levitating Yoda street performer. Having someone confide in me, in a way that made me feel not only touched and honoured, but also immensely proud of them. Having a lady tell me, flatteringly, that she was buying a pair of Gap shorts on the strength of having seen me try them on. Trying on lots more gorgeous things, and perhaps buying one or two of them. Seeing my friend try, and subsequently buy, a leather jacket in Massimo Dutti that was swoonsome enough on the hanger but instantly transformed to 10x that when she put it on. Having a virtual stranger think of me in relation to what sounds like a totally covetable role as a writer for Harrods.

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In the midst of these lovely days, I often feel a pang, a twinge of maternal guilt, about the fact that my children are off at school and nursery; that my relaxed days with them are now few and far between, and my role with them far more Chief Bossy Boots/ Nag than Chief of Fun & Entertainment. So how lovely was it to get to nursery and behold my youngest’s chubby hand laid trustingly on the knee of his teacher, his shining face looking eagerly into hers as she told them, with her usual energy and enthusiasm, what sounded like a completely bonkers version of Goldilocks. Rapt and totally engaged; how good is it to know that your child is so joyful and secure in the place where you leave him while you venture off and have some off-duty enjoyment of your own?

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I heard this song

My husband was home early today, giving me a chance to slope off to the Kings Road and to the Proud Gallery Chelsea, where there’s a small but perfect exhibition of Ossie Clark photos, timed to coincide with the launch of the Ossie Clark London label last month. Behind-the-scenes pictures of the designer at work and with friends and family, as well as  photos of models wearing his creations, inhabit the top floor, while images capturing the spirit of the Kings Road in the Swinging Sixties and beyond occupy the space downstairs. Were money no object, there were several photos I would have bought on the spot (although not, incidentally, the one I’ve included here)

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The same could be said of many of the covetable things I saw as I walked along the Kings Road back to Sloane Square (it’s nowhere near as vibrant these days as the exhibition photos portray it but ooh la there’s some nice stuff to be had). Luckily I’m in that scrooge-ish frame of mind that sets in at this time of year – too far over all of the winter stuff to be tempted by sales rails; still too chilly to be 100% convinced by Spring offerings.

I’ll never say no to a browse though and the reason, even besides the clothes, is the music: I just love hearing what stores are playing on their systems. One of my absolute favourite songs is inextricably linked, for me, to the first time I heard it: when I went to New Look to hunt down a pair of ankle boots recommended by Lucy from Suburban Style. Tonight, I heard for the first time a song, Suspended from Class, by Scottish band Camera Obscura, which I loved instantly (far more than the clothes in the store in question, which I can never quite understand the fuss over)

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Am I alone in having never heard this song before now? I think it’s set to join several of my playlists.

I saw my friend

I’ve been doing some life experiments lately. Would spending less time on social media mean that I would see/ talk to my friends more? Facebook is a habit that I developed through three or four back-to-back years of having tiny babies, spending lots of time at home, or up feeding late at night. It was a welcome outlet, a chance to banter and gossip, a chance to feel like I was still part of a bigger word. But with my three children now aged 6,5 and 3, I’ve taken a step back and wondered how much more fulfilled I might be doing those things in ‘real life’ rather than virtually.

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Take my friend Eve. I ‘met’ her on Mumsnet in 2009. We subsequently became Facebook friends and eventually, real life friends (we also collaborate, with some other Mumsnet friends, on a blog where we talk a lot about clothes). But so frequent and reliable was our interaction on Facebook that I became lazy: despite her living a 10-15 minute drive away, I’ve not seen her since last June, when she was heavily pregnant. So until today, I’d not even met her gorgeous (and I mean, utterly gorgeous) new bambina. But hearing about her, seeing photos of her, kind of lulled me into the false sense that I had.

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So. Today I am happy that I saw my friend. We met at Grind in Westfield Stratford, where the coffee is perfect (and oh my, the cakes look sensational). I cuddled La Bambina. We talked, and talked, and laughed, and talked. We wandered around favourite shops, tried things on, modelled them for each other, ventured our opinions, spotted things that we knew the other would love and suit. It was perfect. Facebook still has a place in my life, for sure – after all, lots of my friends are on the other side of the world – but hearing your friend’s laugh and seeing their baby smile and wave at you … well honestly, what could be better than that?

image from Grind website

image from Grind website

image from Grind website

image from Grind website