Sunday, 31 July 2011

A spectacle of myself



For a long time now I have struggled with my eyesight, at school it became somewhat of a challenge copying notes down off of the whiteboard. I was forever looking over my friends shoulders, hoping that I wouldn't get caught.

It often got to the point where I would just scribble nonsense down in my Science book for the sake of it, because I simply could not read the text anymore, yet I was too afraid to admit it.

I got my first pair of glasses when I was fourteen, I resented wearing them and remember breaking them and hiding them at the back of my wardrobe.

From then on, I avoided going to the opticians like the plague, but was struggling with my sight more than ever. I guess I convinced myself I was okay, knowing all along life could be so much simpler if I could see properly, but I found a way to adapt.

Simple tasks were challenging, I would walk to a bus stop which I specifically knew only my bus would stop at. I would order the same meal at a food outlet, as it was impossible for me to read the menu from a distance.

This was my life for almost 5years, and even though it might seem unbelievable, it really was. I kept this all secret, from my family, my friends, my teachers, I just didn't want to have to face the fact that I needed to wear glasses.

The one person I couldn't hide the problem from was my boyfriend, as he got to know me, he got to know my insecurities. He did the unbelievable, and booked me an appointment at the opticians, and convinced me to go.

The result was as predicted: I needed to wear glasses. We chose some and it seemed like we had made progress.

Though my insecurities were so deeply installed, nothing could persuade me enough to have the courage to wear them freely.

I did begin wearing my glasses in the house with my boyfriend, but if anyone came over or I knew they were likely to call round, I would hide my glasses away, and instead spend the night squinting at the television. Wearing them outside in public was a complete and utter embarrassment for me. In some situations I found myself forced to wear them- in job interviews, at railway stations, but if I did, I would feel terribly embarrassed and anxious all of the time I had them on and feel relieved when I could take them off.

I knew that it had really got out of hand a long time ago, but I had finally begun to realise I couldn’t carry on living my life in such a negative and awkward way.

So last month, I had a new sight test, and selected a new pair of glasses. The plan was to choose a pair I feel 100% comfortable with and introduce them gradually into my everyday life.

When they arrived I began wearing them around the house again, but my confidence got the better of me, yet again.
I found myself refusing to wear them in any public situation.

We had hit the same brick wall. The same brick wall that has been at the centre of the problem for over 5years of my life.

It was then reluctantly I decided I was going to go back to the optician and ask about contact lenses. I was scared and nervous, and worried that this too would be a horrible and negative experience for me.

I knew it was going to be a matter of trial and error, and for that initial appointment it was. But I persevered and for the past fortnight I have been wearing contact lenses every single day. The daunting task that may have seemed the impossible has soon become part of my everyday routine. And the outcome from all of this is the fact I can see again.

This is such a personal issue of mine, and one that will seem so strange to so many people, but to me it has been one of my biggest problems. One I feared I never could resolve.

It really is not the fact I dislike glasses, it’s the fact I have such a low confidence about my own appearance. My boyfriend is a glasses wearer, many of my family wear glasses and as fashion foretells glasses are very popular these days. I just hope one day I do find the courage to wear glasses in public and feel confident in myself and my appearance.
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Sunday, 24 July 2011

Tears dry on their own



I am so saddened by the death of such a rare and unique talent that was and will forever be remembered as Amy Winehouse. Her maverick ways and wild fashion sense never failed to surprise me and likewise enchant. Like many of my favourite female artists, Winehouse was one of those I soon became fascinated with for over a long period of time, Back To Black was the permanent soundtrack to my life for so long and I filled my scrapbooks with all the images of her menacing beehives and polka dot dresses I could find.

My Dad painted me these paintings in 2007, knowing my love and admiration for Winehouse.
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Saturday, 16 July 2011

Forever the keepsake

A few months ago I inherited some costume jewellery from a relative. It was terribly sad at the time and I felt awful accepting it, like I was rifling through someone else’s possessions without permission.



It’s always a difficult thing sorting through belongings, but I would like to think one day my treasures will ultimately become someone else's.

Cameos have always lured me, I love the classic regal design and I am always on the hunt for something a little bit different. I have seen many a high street replica in recent years. Cameos come in many shapes and forms, something I find all the more intriguing.



Alongside the cameos I was also genuinely touched to receive these lockets, I always have loved the idea of a locket containing a photograph of a loved one or memory. I hope to cherish these and remember the person who these belonged to very fondly.



These two small brooches were almost thrown away, being dismissed as tat, but I felt it was only right that I found a home for them in my collection.



Though the initial sadness that this brought, it really has made me realise the true value of memories and keepsakes.
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Sunday, 10 July 2011

The ups and downs of a charity shop 'shopper'



When I was a little girl I was mortified to be seen going into a charity shop with my mother, I was scared to death that somebody would recognize me and I would ultimately be talk of the school come Monday morning. It goes without saying that people often look down on other people who are less fortunate in life. My mother on the other hand didn’t care; she loved finding a bargain and didn’t hide the fact that her M&S shoes were in fact from Barnardo’s. What she saved on clothes, she spent on treating us to a family holiday or birthday party.

I learnt the hard way; my mother’s persistence paid off and charity shopping was much the norm in our family. It for one meant I never went without; I was forever changing my style often as quick as my mood.



By the time I had left school I was pretty much addicted to shopping in charity shops. Friends would often be astonished when I told them how little I paid for something, but in all the whole concept of shopping second-hand was alien to them. One friend in fact made a snide remark once about being able to afford to shop in high street stores and spend £50 on one dress… But this didn’t bother me any more, I knew I could probably buy several dresses, a bag, a coat and a skirt and still have some change left over out of that amount. The variety of choice and thrill of finding a unique piece outweighed everything that Topshop were offering; the bottom line was that I was proud to be a 'charity shop shopper'.

Seven years on and it hasn’t changed for me. I love finding a bargain and I love discovering a piece of the past. I will devote a whole day to charity shopping with my mother, and one thing for sure is that we will never grow old of this past time.

The popularity and growth of the quintessential charity shop means what once was a niche alternative has fast become an overcrowded surge of the market. This therefore brings upon the issue of pricing. I still believe tucked away in a small village there is a charity shop full of eccentric and wonderful wares being sold for pittance, but it seems the boom for business has ultimately sent the tills crazy.

If a charity shop (for example my town’s British Heart Foundation) is fitted out to the standard of a regular shop, tills, lighting, organised racks, mannequins, sizing tags, then usually it will be run like a shop, there are overheads to think about.



If you think about the small charity shop tucked away in the village for a moment - you know the one that hasn’t had power since 1984 and clothes are thrown in boxes, on top of bric-a-brac and the lady behind the till volunteers every Monday afternoon whilst her husband plays bowls - then baby, you’ve just hit the jackpot.

Then there’s the relentless problem with stock; the one rule that only exists within a charity shop, is that unlike the high street, and unlike any other shop you will come across where they embrace the mass market, a charity shop only stocks ONE of each item - simple. It’s literally a case of finder’s keepers. That sought after vintage satchel will be gone in seconds, those cameo pendants in the window – yes there already reserved for somebody else. So we’ve established a few nuisances already, but please don’t get me wrong the rise of the charity shop can only mean one thing right? More money for our charities. Which hopefully should mean we’ve achieved the goal we set out on achieving in the first place? Hurray!

But for the selfish bargain hunter like me, it can only be a downward spiral of disappointment. However I have come to realise that we can’t live in a petty war of pricing. At the end of the day however much something is, if it’s got that thrill factor about it, then you will pay the price (within reason). Be it 99p, £2.99 or £7.99 etc.

Not only am I told by my boyfriend that we live in a turbulent economy and therefore it is only natural that prices do increase, you have to remember that nothing is free. Though the strong argument is that the stock donated was ‘free’, giving it away would surely defeat the object of trying to raise money in the first place. The people who donate to charity (including myself) are able to feel a sense of good that they are helping towards a deserving cause, so surely it is only right a sensible and fair price for the consumer and shop is reached.



However, the problems a lot of us are facing are staff. Yes they’ve got wise. It’s almost like they swallowed a fashion dictionary of brands and designers. But what really is causing all the trouble is the fact that they sometimes fail to take into account the actual condition of the garment. The elusive ‘brand’ of tag sends them into so much of a frenzy they completely bypass the sweat marks and missing button. So this is why you would see a run-of-the-mill Primark sweater priced at a somewhat unjustifiable £4.99.

So it’s a little na├»ve to think that you are going to drop on a designer one off (though you might, you never know), when stock has been rigorously checked and pilfered through before it even hits the shop floor. And the first customer is in. And then there’s another one, and then that woman you passed in the doorway, yes she’s got your designer frock in her carrier bag! Ouch…

It’s not possible to be at the charity shop all day long, everyday. Just like it’s not possible to buy every single scratch-card in the newsagents. It’s simply a matter of luck, chance and perseverance. I personally find this combination the most rewarding.

So, the above may be a pathetic attempt at providing an observation/study/opinion on the modest charity shop we all know and love, but taking all of the above into consideration… am I worried? Not in the least, as I well know what may be a popular place to shop now, will not be popular tomorrow.
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Monday, 4 July 2011

Tender Loving Care



I’ve been spending a lot of time in the garden recently, so this Care Bears book I stumbled upon the other day from 1983, sums up my current trend quite well. I have always loved the idea of an enchanting garden, filled with many a beautiful flower and of course a healthy vegetable patch to match.



If only I had a Tenderheart Bear to accompany me on my quest for creating my very own beautiful garden.


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