Thursday 31 October 2013

October Happiness

Five things which have made me smile this month...
1. This dirty cheese foccacia from Wells Food Festival

Cheese foccacia

2. Carnival season hotting up, a procession each weekend, adding photos to my Carnival website and the countdown to Bridgwater this Saturday evening

Somerset and Wessex Carnival Photographs

3. Finding lots of new clothes with my friend M at Warminster's swishing event

Swishing in Warminster

4. Meeting lots of lovely bloggers at Pretty Nostalgic's Vintage Gathering

Pretty Nostalgic Vintage Gathering

5. Clearing out my freezer and rearranging it all neatly - ahh, it's the little things...

Freezer contents

 What little things have made you happy this month?

Wednesday 30 October 2013

Next Challenge - Blog Every Day in November

Back in May I took part in Rosalilium's Blog Every Day in May challenge and yay, lovely Elizabeth has decided to organise another month long blogging challenge.
Same name, same idea, different month - Blog Every Day in November has an array of different topics but as Elizabeth says over on her blog, feel free to interpret them any which way you want or even go freestyle and do your own thing.
Blog Every Day in November
Even though I've got quite a busy month (coursework and Carnivals), I've signed up; I'm definitely not the sort of person who turns away a good challenge!
Head on over to Rosalilium if you fancy joining in, there's a small form to fill out and a downloadable Google calendar of topics to inspire you.
Have fun!

The Midweek Hop - Boo!

The other half's guest post - three music videos on a theme...
(inspired by Desmond Carrington's 'The Music Goes Round')

'Wurlitzer 2300' 1959 Jukebox

This weeks theme is...Boo!
Inspired by Halloween tomorrow, obvs ;-)
1. Johnny Remember Me by John Leyton

A pop star singing about his dead girlfriend's ghostly messages on the wind - lovely!
'Johnny Remember Me' entered the chart on 3rd August 1961 reaching Number 1.

2. Monster Mash by Bobby 'Boris' Pickett and the Crypt-kickers

Some great facial expressions going on in this video!
'Monster Mash' entered the chart on 1st September 1973 reaching Number 3.

3. Don't Fear The Reaper by Blue Oyster Cult

A classic, 'nuff said.
'Don't Fear The Reaper' entered the chart on 20th May 1978 reaching Number 16.

Happy listening!

Swish Swish - Lovely New Clothes To Play With

At the swishing event in Warminster the other week I managed to collect a fair few items of clothing in return for the 10 things I donated. In total I brought home two tops, two dresses, two cardigans, a skirt, a swimsuit, a bag and a necklace. The necklace didn't photograph very well, sorry, hence no picture of that!
Swishing cardiganSwishing tops

Swishing dresses

Swishing skirt and swimsuit
Swishing bag
I've been using the bag for work ever since coming home from the swishing evening and my current fave item is the gorgeously autumnal halloween-coloured orange cardigan!

Tuesday 29 October 2013

Wells Food Festival and a Vintage Tea Party

It's a bit overdue but finally here's my post all about the first ever Wells Food Festival and the Vintage Tea Party myself and friends M and C ate too much cake at.
Wells isn't too far from where I live but it's one of those places that's too close so therefore you never actually take the time to wander round. We parked up near the cathedral and walked through Cathedral Green to get to the food festival and for once I spent a bit of time appreciating the outside of the cathedral (we were all far too skinflint to pay to look round inside though!). Interestingly the clock (which you can just see in the picture below) dates back to the late 1300's although lots of parts have been replaced numerous times over the years.
Wells Cathedral
Wells National Trust Gift Shop
After gazing at the cathedral we moved on to the stalls in the Market Place with the aim of sniffing out the free samples. It was really packed with people; everyone had to squeeze around each other to see what each stall was selling and taste different things. Between the three of us we tried a lot of samples: jam, chocolate, bread, fish, cheese (lots of cheese!), honey, pie, cake and probably a lot more. By the time we headed to the Vintage Tea Party my handbag contained hedgerow jam, apple crumble chocolate, two festive pies and lots of leaflets.
Wells Food Festival - Vegetables
Wells Food Festival - Pie Men
Wells Food Festival - Vegetables

Wells Food Festival - Stalls

Wells Food Festival - Lasange

Wells Food Festival - Stalls

Wells Food Festival - Pumpkins
But by far the most delicious thing we tasted was this foccacia oozing with hot cheese - from a stall which was making them right before our eyes. My friend C calls this sort of food 'dirty' which I think is a completely appropriate phrase.
Wells Food Festival - Cheese Foccacia
The Vintage Tea Party was hosted by rock-star-wife-turned-vintage-darling Pearl Lowe who lives locally and attended with husband Danny Goffey, from Britpop band Supergrass. Everything was laid out beautifully on gorgeous crockery with a huge selection of cakes to choose from. We ended up with a large table all to ourselves, so much so that we weren't sure if anyone was joining us and whether we should start or not!
Vintage Tea Party - Meringue and Ginger Cake
When we did start eating though, it was really good! First we had a really creamy lemon posset complete with a raspberry and a square of shortcake, then we moved onto the cheesecake. We weren't really sure what flavour the cheesecake was; it seemed to be a bit like toffee, a bit like banana, a bit like caramel and a bit like cinnamon and ginger. Whatever it was, it was very nice although we did all have to keep drinking copious cups of tea to wash down the huge amounts of sugar we must have been digesting.
Vintage Tea Party - Lemon Posset and Cheesecake
The most sugary treat though was the meringue, which was so good, but also so so sweet. The base was chocolate chip and was topped with meringue pieces, cream and red fruits (which of course, make it healthy...).
I had to eat my slice in two goes, stopping for some more gulps of tea halfway through.
Vintage Tea Party - Meringue Cake
There was also ginger cake, which I'm not a huge fan of, so we ended up with doggy bags filled with cake to take home. My ginger cake and another slice of meringue went to Andrew to make up for the day he spent decorating at home alone.
Hopefully Wells will run another Food Festival next year, I think it was a success all round from what I've read.
It was definitely a fab day but with far too much food eaten!
Hey ho though, it's only one day after all :-)

A Seemingly Impossible Task (#niawuk)

So yeah...infertility...that's a cool topic to post about, isn't it?
If you've been around since Rosalilium's Blog Every Day in May challenge (ta very much if you have!) you might have spotted my post all about bad advice - what not to say to people having trouble concieving. If you've found your way here since then (hello and thanks for reading!) then you might have seen on my About Me page, that it's likely we'll be having IVF at some point over the winter or new year.
Tenuously related...this was where we went to eat our lunch after our last fertility clinic appointment
I say 'we' but quite frankly, it's really me that'll have to have the majority of injections, drugs, procedures and the what not. Aside from all the moral support and encouragement (which is equally important I know), Andrew's part in all this involves a jar and what the fertility clinic tactfully call 'The Blue Room' (sorry if that's tmi...)
A very boring picture of a hospital waiting room...
Everyone on Facebook nowdays seems to post those memes about mothers, daughters and being pregnant - you know the ones...'share if you weren't a real woman until you became a mum!', 'share if your children are the most precious thing in the world!' and 'this week is National Daughters/Sons/Grandchildren Week, share if you love them to bits!' but I'll bet no-one on my Facebook newsfeed will share this:
National Infertility Awareness Week
This week is National Infertility Awareness Week (#niawuk) and there's events happening all over the country.
Did you know one in six couples in the UK will experience difficulties conceiving and interestingly (apart from pregnancy) infertility is the most common reason for a woman aged 20-45 to visit the GP?
We've got lots of friends with children and yeah, it is sometimes depressing knowing you're the 'one out of six' but you just have to get on with life, stay positive and keep trying.
 I know society can't help it but sometimes it would be nice if people remembered it's not always easy having children and facing a life of childlessness isn't actually something most people would choose. Top of us infertiles hate list at the moment is the current Johnsons Baby advert on TV with nauseating phrases such as "when a baby is born, so is a mother" - completing forgetting all the amazing mums who've adopted or had to use a surrogate. Next time you see the advert, watch it through the eyes of someone who can't have children naturally and you'll see what I mean...
I'm not going to go on about it; this isn't going to turn into an IVF blog but you know, it is a lifestyle blog and it will (unfortunately) be part of my life.

Monday 28 October 2013

This Weekend at the Duckpond

We have mostly been...

Meeting - lots of lovely bloggers at Pretty Nostalgic's Vintage Gathering event on Saturday at Kings Weston House in Bristol. It was a lovely day with a great bloggers networking hour in a yurt - more pictures to come during the week...

Pretty Nostalgic Gathering

Watching - Salisbury Carnival on Friday night and Warminster Carnival on Saturday night. That's the last of the smaller Carnivals over with before the big one in Bridgwater this Saturday night!

Warminster Carnival

Sorting - and tidying bits of the house, including organising a load of Christmas chocolates. I seem to have been commandeered into our office's Festive Games Organiser - so far on our timetable we've got Secret Santa, a Grand Christmas Quiz, Festive Pass the Parcel and a Christmas Coin Hunt!

Christmas Coins

Signing - up for Janet's Thrifty Christmas Gift Swap over at Words That Can Only Be Your Own and for Rosalilium's Blog Every Day in November challenge.
There's still time to sign up for either (or both!) or them if you fancy it.
What did you get up to at the weekend?

Friday 25 October 2013

Playing Dress Up Over The Years

Anyone off to a Halloween fancy dress party?
I'd absolutely love to go to Becky Bedbug's party on Thursday 31st October but sadly I can't get the time off work and it's too far away to get there and back in an evening. If anyone else fancies it though, I think she's got tickets left.
The instructions for the party say to dress up appropriately and looking around on Pinterest and other blogs, it seems that dressing up (American-style) is becoming a bigger and bigger thing for Halloween each year. Funnily enough, for all the years I've spent dressing up for Carnival processions, I've never actually been to a Halloween party (and have only been to a handful of fancy dress parties).
So although I could put together a half-decent fancy dress costume, I'd be a bit stuck for a Halloween costume. The nearest I could do would be a Vampiress outfit, which I wore for our Carnival club's entry in 2006. Although if I ever needed a Spanish, Aztec, Fishy, African, Flapper, Cheerleader or Roman Gladiator costume, I only have to raid my loft for an outfit!

Here's what I've worn over the years...
2004 - Devil's Nightmare
Our entry was based on church gargoyles with a huge (and heavy!) gargoyle headdress. My dress was strapless and covered with sequins - which took absolutely ages to sew on one by one!
Aliens Carnival Club - 2004 - Devils Nightmare
2005 - Sol Espanol
We went Spanish this year with all sorts of flamenco dresses. I loved this costume, the skirt was so swishy and our dance routine that year made it really easy to flap the skirt out at the crowd. I'd never fit into the outfit now though, I still have it in the loft and can't really believe how small the waist is!
One other thing I learned that year, I really don't look good with black hair!
Aliens Carnival Club - 2005 - Sol Espanol
2006 - Vampires Kiss
Based on vampires (with Jump by Girls Aloud as the music), my dress was made up of two parts: a floaty cropped top and a corset and skirt piece. Red is my favourite colour so I really liked this outfit and even though I didn't suit black hair the previous year, I loved my dip-dyed red and black wig. We also had heeled lace up boots and a very jumpy dance routine so after two hours of dancing each night, my feet were red raw!
Aliens Carnival Club - 2006 - Vampires Kiss

2007 - Mesheeca
This year was an entry all about Aztecs with incredibly short dresses, but luckily we all wear bikini shorts underneath so nobody saw anything. Usually we have a costume lady who makes everything but this year she only made the basic dress and we did all our own embellishment and decoration. It was quite good fun designing my own costume and we all got to wear furry boots - bonus!
Aliens Carnival Club - 2007 - Mesheeca
2008 - Mundo Parade
A world parade of nationalities, I was an African lady with a huge feathered headress - so big that it had to be made smaller after the first Carnival procession as I couldn't lift my arms over my head to do part of the dance routine!
Aliens Carnival Club - 2008 - Mundo Parade
2008 - Battleground (Beginning of the End)
I made a guest appearance on another Carnival club's entry the same year - a space themed float with a very clingy dress. I liked the outfit but I wish I'd worn some kind of support underwear to smooth everything out!
 Phoenix Carnival Club - 2008 - Battleground
2009 - Parade
I helped out a fellow Carnival club this year and wore a cheerleader/band person outfit complete with pom poms. My skirt was a kind of swishy 50's style skirt which swung out when we danced and learning how to use pom poms was certainly an experience!
Phoenix Carnival Club - 2009 - Parade

2010 - Rome 217 AD
Again, I made appearances on two different Carnival floats in the same year with the first being a Roman gladiator theme. This was one of my favourite dresses to wear, it was fairly simply but made you feel great wearing it. I think it shows in the picture as what you can't tell is that the night the photo was taken we had a torrential downpour; my dress was soaked through and my hair was plastered to my face!
Phoenix Carnival Club - 2010 - Rome 217 AD

2010 - The Deep
The second outfit of the year was a fishy themed entry. This is the outfit I disliked the most as it was made of horrible material which made you really hot the moment you started dancing. Plus I love wearing dresses and this was trousers and a top!
Aliens Carnival Club - 2010 - The Deep

2011 - Roaring 20's
A sparkly flapper dress for this years entry based on the 1920's. We danced to 'Anything Goes' and I had great fun posing for the crowd as part of the routine.
Phoenix Carnival Club - 2011 - Roaring 20's

And for the last couple of years, I haven't had a costume; instead I've taken a step back from performing to let some of the younger members of the Carnival club have a go.

Maybe next year though, I'll gain a new outfit!

Wednesday 23 October 2013

Swish, Swish - New Clothes for Old

Last Friday night me and my lovely friend M went to out very first ever swishing event (which is also another thing ticked off my '32 Before 32' list').


Swishing is essentially clothes swapping but with bunting and sometimes a few nibbles. We headed over to The Organ Inn in Warminster where the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust was hosting the event with help from Jen over at My Make Do and Mend Year. Entry was simply a donation plus at least one item of clothing. Me and M took 10 items each (and I don't know about M, but I could have taken about another 10 bags as well!) and we both managed to collect a fair few items between us to take home as well.


It was a really good night; a bit strange a first as we weren't sure if there was any sort of etiquette or organised method but after putting our clothes out for display, it was pretty obvious that you just had to get stuck in and have a good old rummage!
There ended up being lots and lots of clothes to look through with new items arriving all the time as people turned up for the event. Looking around, the table with the most items on was the trouser table - clearly proving the point that trousers are the most difficult thing to buy and get right.
Obviously lots of people had made mistakes!

It was good fun pulling out different things to look at, and one more than one occassion I found something I though M would like and she found things she knew I'd like.
There was a makeshift changing area at the back of the room (which was a bit surreal getting your bits out whilst surrounded by strange women) but being involved with performing on Carnival floats I've got changed in public car parks numerous times so I was pretty used to it :-)
I picked up two tops, two cardigans, a swimsuit, two dresses, a skirt, a bag and a necklace. I'll do another post at the weekend to show you what I took home - at the moment we're driving both to and from work almost in the dark so I'll wait til the weekend when we actually get some daylight to take photos!

Have you ever been to a swishing event?
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