Monday, 21 May 2018

My husband John

Regular readers may have noticed my long absence and wondered why. I'm heart-broken to have to tell you that my beloved husband John died on 24 April after a short illness.


John and I enjoying a hike in the countryside near Jumilla
One reason that I'm sharing this with you is that I hope you will talk to the men in your life (whether it is your husband, partner, father, son or someone else) and ask them not to be brave and strong or to suffer in silence as so many men do. Tell them to share any pain that they feel, to be honest about nausea, weakness or any other symptoms that indicate they may be seriously ill. I will never know how many days it was until John told me he wasn't well, though I don't think it was that long as I could usually sense these things. All I do know is that, when he first mentioned his symptoms, I told him to tell his doctor when he went to renew his prescription for statins a couple of days later. On his return, I asked John what the doctor had said and what he had prescribed. Nothing!

I wasn't happy with this response so made another appointment for John and this time I accompanied him, having written down the many worrying symptoms in Spanish (we live in Spain and our doctor doesn't speak English), so that the doctor would be fully aware of the seriousness of the situation. I also emphasised that John had been ill for at least 10 days and that this was very unusual. This time our doctor prescribed three different medications and told John to come back the following week. Sadly, John never made that appointment. He collapsed on the Sunday, so I rang for an ambulance and he was rushed to hospital. John died a couple of days later.

I don't want anybody else to have to go through the pain that I've gone through, when my fit and healthy, seemingly indestructible husband died so suddenly. That's why I'm telling you this, in the hope that lessons can be learnt from my heart-breaking experience.

I would like to end on a more positive note though. I was fortunate to have spent over twenty six years with John, having met in London through the running club when we were both in our forties. We packed so much into those years, including travelling around the world twice. The first time was when John was best man at his friend's wedding in New Zealand and the second time was to compete at the Masters Track and Field championships in Australia. As well as sharing a love of travel, we had similar tastes in art and music and have been to many concerts in our local theatre since moving to Spain nearly ten years ago. We both enjoyed athletics (though John was a far superior athlete to me!) as well as watching other sports.

We adopted our dog Lisa not long after moving into our own apartment here in Jumilla, and I must say that she has been an enormous comfort to me. I also have so many precious memories of life with my kind, fun-to-be-with and loving husband. I am fortunate too in having so many lovely supportive friends here in Spain, as well as my wonderful family and many good  friends in the UK.

Finally, I am flying to London on Wednesday to see family and friends, but will be returning to Spain on 8 June. Lisa will be staying with a friend who lives in the countryside a few miles away and hopefully will enjoy her holiday there. Once I return home, I plan to resume blogging, as John always encouraged me in my writing.

¡Hasta luego!

Monday, 2 April 2018

Start with a scarf - month 4

My William Morris scarf

The scarf that I chose to base my capsule wardrobe on is the William Morris daffodil print shown above. My first three months' pieces were a mixture of neutrals and bright colours, so for month four I decided to add some lighter colours, including my second neutral of camel. It's still cold here in Spain, so I haven't been wearing any of my short-sleeved tops or lightweight trousers as you can see in this month's selection. They will definitely be appearing in May though!




A reminder that the posts in this series have been inspired by The Vivienne Files, who has chosen six different Hermès scarves to base her capsules around. Do take a look at her post for lots more ideas from her beautiful capsules. My budget is slightly less than Janice's!

Here I've created a collage of the pieces so far.


Looking at all the pieces above, I can see that the grey shoes don't really go with the camel trousers, the gold shoes aren't ideal with the navy trousers and the cobalt shoes aren't suitable for everyday wear.  Clearly I don't have the expertise that Janice does! However looking at the collage as a whole, I feel there are still lots of possibilities in this capsule - after all most of the tops and bottoms go with each other and you only wear one pair of shoes at a time!

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Start with a scarf - month 3 outfit

I am a keen follower of The Vivienne Files, particularly enjoying her series of posts that "Start with a Scarf" and build up a capsule wardrobe over 12 months. Below you can see the William Morris scarf that forms the basis of my own capsule wardrobe.
My William Morris scarf

I've just returned from a trip to London to celebrate Mothers Day with my three children. Apart from enjoying the opportunity to see my family and many friends, I also took advantage of the chance to go shopping in London. This month's capsule therefore consists of a navy Trucco cardigan that I bought in the airport, navy striped trousers and an off-white blouse from Uniqlo and a pair of grey suede Gabor shoes courtesy of John Lewis.  Together with my Daffodil print scarf to add a splash of colour, these form an outfit that is comfortable as well as stylish.


Below you can see the first two months' outfits, which will mix and match with my new purchases. 




I deliberately chose neutral colours this month as I think that will make my capsule wardrobe more flexible. The navy cardigan has already proved to be an asset in this cold weather, giving me an extra layer of warmth. Next month I may select a lighter neutral in the hope that the weather becomes more Spring like!

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Start with a Scarf - building a capsule wardrobe

I'm a great fan of Janice's The Vivienne Files and particularly love her series "Start with a Scarf" as well as her ideas for capsule wardrobes. At the beginning of the year Janice chooses six Hermès scarves and every month she builds an outfit around each scarf, so that by December she has twelve outfits in six capsule wardrobes based around the individual scarves.I thought it would be fun to try out this idea for myself and decided to invite you all to join me!

Where do you start? With a scarf, of course! Choose one that you love, with a mixture of colours that flatter you, and then build your wardrobe around it. I've jumped ahead a bit here as I have included two months' pieces in this post, as we're already well into February. I'm a fan of William Morris prints, so I've chosen a silk scarf in the Daffodil print as the basis of my capsule wardrobe. The print has some neutrals plus a gorgeous teal and green. The other bright colour in the scarf is pink, however I don't have much pink in my wardrobe, but the scarf goes well with red so that will be my other accent colour.

William Morris silk scarf


January's items
For January I picked a dark neutral, selecting a navy cardigan and pair of jeans from my wardrobe, then adding a red blouse to brighten it up, plus of course my scarf. To complete my first outfit I chose a pair of navy suede flat shoes and a simple pair of gold earrings.

Janice added a dress for February, possibly with Valentine's Day in mind, plus some accessories to go with it. Rather than a dress I decided to add a matching red top and skirt, which look like a dress but can be worn separately too.

The William Morris scarf is a new purchase, however the other pieces are in my existing wardrobe, as the idea is to see how you can mix and match the pieces that you already own. That's not to say that I won't make a couple of purchases over the next twelve months!


If I wear the top and skirt together for a smart occasion, I might add the following scarf, plus the pair of blue high heels and pearl earrings shown below. The blue Longchamp bag shown here is particularly useful in a travel capsule as it can be folded up and packed in my case.
I'm hoping to show you some different colour schemes in future posts, as a couple of my friends are planning to use Janice's ideas for their own wardrobes. My basic colouring is warm, soft and medium, but I do love pops of brighter colours such as red, so as well as my neutrals of navy, camel and brown I will be including teal, green and red. If you decide to try this idea with your own wardrobe, please let me know and do share your colour scheme.

Saturday, 3 February 2018

Capsule wardrobe - take two (part 2)




Now that I'm using the brighter colours from this palette, it is getting easier to create my daily outfits!

Outfit for day four
 I'm committing a fashion faux pas in the above outfit, as I'm wearing trainers! However, as we do a lot of walking on holiday, I would probably include a pair of trainers in my travel capsule. My excuse on day four was that we were walking our dog Lisa in the afternoon and going on rough tracks in the countryside.

Outfit for day five
On day five I wore a red top that I will wear with the matching skirt when I'm on holiday - if it's warm enough. As it's been cold this week I wore my top with the dark brown leggings instead.  The top is bright so it holds its own with these leggings. I wore a pendant to break up the red expanse and hopefully create that longer, slimmer look that I'm always looking for!

Outfit for day six
The combination of olive green top and dark red trousers was a bit dark, so I decided to add this cardigan. It is the one that I had used as a replacement during the previous challenge, when I discovered that my original cardigan was too long, so a bit of a cheat here! It looked better with this outfit than the green cardigan that I had picked for this capsule, so again it helps to test drive a potential travel capsule before going on holiday.

I had two tops to choose from for day seven: the weather decided it for me, as temperatures are plummeting, so I wore my thick Fatface jumper with a camisole underneath.
 

Outfit for day seven
This is another neutral outfit, though my necklace and gold trainers help to lighten the look.

I thought it might be interesting to look at the outfits for each colour palette and see which one worked best.

Outfits for colour palette 1

Outfits for colour palette 2
I'm being indecisive here, as I think there was a bit more variety in colour palette one, however I do love the reds in colour palette two. I might go for colour palette one for my trip to London and colour palette two for my holiday in Salamanca. Or maybe just mix and match them? What do you think? Which colour palette do you prefer and which individual outfits do you think flatter me the most?




Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Capsule wardrobe - take two




This is the colour palette for my second travel capsule, which includes my favourite accent colour - red. I thought this would be an easier challenge than my first one however, looking through my wardrobe, it became clear that wasn't the case. My bottoms were fine, as I  had a pair of brown trousers, some dark red trousers and my dark brown jeggings, but what about the tops to go with them?


The next three items were just asking to be included (my favourite red!), though I doubt if I'll be wearing the red skirt this week as the weather forecast isn't very promising, and the red blouse may not be warm enough either. I would probably include them in a travel capsule though, as they would be ideal if we were going out for dinner. My first choice bottoms to go with the first red top would be navy, so will it work with brown?


Looking at the forecast again, the dark red jumper. dark green jumper and orange-coral cross-over top shown below are all lovely and warm so are sure to get an outing. The red v-neck top may need to be worn with a cardigan or jacket.


Finally, an olive green cardigan and top plus another two warm jumpers. giving me plenty of options if it's as wet and cold as the local weatherman is predicting!


Outfit for day one
Having selected the different items for this week's capsule wardrobe challenge, the next step was to make it work. As soon as I put on the dark red jumper with the chocolate jeggings, I realised that the combination was a bit dark for me. My solution was to select a bright scarf with a touch of deep red in it, however I must admit that if I hadn't been doing this challenge I would have changed into a lighter top or bottoms.

Outfit for day two

I anticipated a similar problem with my outfit for day two, so tried a couple of scarves to give contrast to the dark green jumper and dark red trousers. My hair and eyes are dark so deep colours do suit me, however my skin is light, giving a high value contrast, so I also need something light and/or bright such as a scarf or necklace whenever I wear dark tops.

Outfit for day three

I felt that this outfit was far more flattering on me, with the bright top in a colour that suits me and isn't too dark. I could also have worn the top with the chocolate jeggings from day one. I didn't have to worry about finding a scarf to wear near my face, so chose a necklace that matches the colour of my top as well as my gold shoes.

After three days of this challenge,  it has become clear that outfits need to have the right balance and it's not enough to grab clothes randomly in your neutrals and accent colours. I think my first two outfits prove the point: the colours go well together, however overall the outfits are too dark on me. You need to think about combining them in ways that flatter you, with the right value and colour contrast. Accessories are a great way to help get the balance right. Let's hope that I can do better for the rest of the week!

Saturday, 27 January 2018

Capsule wardrobe - take one (part 2)


For the first three outfits of this week's challenge, I concentrated on the colours on the right. I didn't try to sneak in any other colours, but that all changed on day four!

I'm still wearing my navy jeans with a different navy striped jumper, however I succumbed to temptation, wearing one of my red necklaces with my red Fitbit and red Longchamp bag. All is revealed below!

Outfit for day four

I'm moving on to the colours on the left, with a dark green top on day five.

Outfit for day five
The waistcoat, trousers and gold trainers are the same as for day three, however I have chosen a different necklace, as the one I wore on day three is the wrong colour for this outfit.The red necklace shown above, as worn on day four, would also have worked (worth considering in a travel capsule where I don't want too many accessories).

Outfit for day six
I decided to wear this scarf with my lime top as it has stripes that blend with it, however looking at the photo I don't think it quite works, so I won't include it in my travel capsule for that reason. This is the beauty of trying things on and taking a photo of your outfit (or just looking in a mirror critically) before packing them for your holiday.

Outfit for day seven
Although it wasn't very warm on the last day of this challenge, I didn't need to wear a cardigan with this outfit as I had a camisole on underneath. No column of colour here, however I think the pendant helps to draw the eyes down to create a slimmer look. I could have worn the waistcoat too, although it's shorter than the top, as it would help the proportions of this outfit.

The crucial question: would this work as a travel capsule wardrobe? I think so, although I would have to take care that the camel trousers didn't get stained, as they're a lot lighter than my navy jeans!  However if all of these items fit easily into my carry-on, I would wear a third pair of bottoms for travelling. What do you think? Before I make my decision, I will wait until I see how the second colour palette works out next week.