Last time on “Amber Over-Dresses in a Slightly Different Location”, Terry and I had checked into Dunkeld House Hotel and were all ready to start relaxing. The hotel gives you lots of different ways in which to do this: there’s a pool and spa, there are bars and a restaurant, you can go quad biking or off-road driving… that kind of thing.
For us, though, the main attraction of a country house hotel is, well, the country, and Dunkeld House has a LOT of that to offer. The hotel sits on the banks of the River Tay, and is surrounded by the famous Birnam Wood, which Shakespeare aficionados will know from its role in MacBeth. The estate is spread over 280 acres, and we wanted to explore at least a little bit of it while we had the chance, so I did a quick change, and we headed out.
My best advice to anyone planning on visiting Scotland: assume that it will be cold and wet, and pack accordingly. And, you know, it might NOT be cold and wet. We have a saying here that if you don’t like the weather, you just need to wait 15 minutes and it’ll change, so you never know, it might even be warm and dry. Let’s face it, though: the most likely scenario is that it’ll be cold and wet, which is why I may have forgotten to pack my toothbrush, but I DID remember to throw my Hunter boots in the car before we left. It was a rare moment of sense for me, and I have to admit, I felt quite smug as we left the hotel and even more smug when we ended up walking much further than we’d anticipated, reaching the nearby village of Dunkeld, turning back towards the hotel when we realised neither of us had brought any cash with us, and then getting almost halfway back when Terry all of a sudden discovered that his wallet had been in his jacket pocket the whole time. D’oh!
We still had some time to kill before dinner, and we were both feeling hungry by that point, so we headed back to the village AGAIN and had some lunch in a little beer garden with a gorgeous view, which I obviously didn’t bother to photograph, because did I mention we were in a beer garden? (I actually had coffee rather than beer, but still…)
By the time we got back to the hotel we’d done a LOT of walking in those woods, but we’d still only managed to see a tiny part of the estate. What we did see, however, we really loved: the woods at Dunkeld are seriously scenic (we walked by the river most of the time, which was nice and relaxing), and also seriously old. You get a real sense of history walking underneath the branches of the ancient trees, and, the grounds of the hotel are dotted with lots of cool little touches, like the fairytale glade and face-like grotto in the photos above. It was definitely one of the nicest woodland walks we’ve done, and, as an added bonus, all that walking helped us work up a good appetite for dinner, too. Which, coincidentally, will be the subject of tomorrow’s post…
[Trousers: H&M// Jacket: New Look (2011) // Sweater: H&M // Boots: Hunter c/o Sarenza]
[Disclosure: We stayed at Dunkeld House compliments of Hilton Hotels. All opinions are my own.]
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[Skirt: Tibi*// Shirt: George Kids // Scarf: Primark // Sunglasses: eBay // Shoes: Studio TMLS c/o Sarenza // Backdrop: Dunkeld House Hotel c/o Hilton Hotels]
This past weekend, Terry and I were lucky enough to be the guests of Hilton Hotels, at their beautiful Dunkeld House, in Perthshire. Which, OK, isn’t quite the “Highland Fling” of my title, but meh, close enough.
Perthshire is an area we’ve visited a few times in the last couple of years, and it’s a particularly beautiful part of the country, which is only about a 90 minute drive from home, so we were more than happy to be able to see a little bit more of the area. We’ve previously visited Glamis Castle and Blair Castle, but we’d never been to Dunkeld, and we were both instantly charmed by it: it’s one of those picture perfect little villages, from which you could remove the cars and other modern touches and feel like you were on the set of a period drama or something.
I could say the same of Dunkeld House itself, actually. It’s one of those old country houses, set on its own rambling estate, and the giant stone archway you drive under to get to it provides a good clue as to what you’re in for, which is basically a Downton Abbey-meets-Monarch of the Glen” kind of experience. Awesome, right?
Unfortunately, our visit was a fleeting one, so we didn’t have time to check out the pool and spa (This was probably just as well, because Terry couldn’t find his swimming trunks before we left, and it wasn’t exactly a “swim in your underwear” kind of joint…), but we did take full advantage of the opportunity to just relax and switch our heads off for a while. Well, Terry did. My head is almost ALWAYS switched off, as you know, but the fact is, we’ve had a kind of rough start to the year, for one reason and another, and the past few weeks have been particularly stressful, so the chance to just relax and not worry about anything for a while couldn’t have come at a better time. It took me around an hour to get used to the fact that I was actually allowed to use the towels in the bathroom, and to ruffle up the bedsheets if I wanted to (I was joking about the “basket of kittens” thing in my last post – well, sort of – but our house is currently being kept in a constant state of readiness for viewers, which means our bathroom towels are of the “just for show” variety, and when we want to actually dry ourselves, we just use an old rag or something…) (I’m joking, we don’t use the bathroom at all, for fear of messing it up. And we sleep in the car now.), but after that it was all good.
As soon as we checked in, I unpacked my overnight bag, so I could find out which essential items I’d forgotten THIS TIME. There were three missing items on this trip, namely:
1. My toothbrush
2. Its close friend and partner, the toothpaste
3. That top that was a pivotal part of the outfit I’d planned for Sunday, and the absence of which is the reason you will only be subjected to three sets of outfit photos rather than four from this trip. Because yes, I managed to change three times in less than 24 hours. You didn’t really expect any less from me, did you?
Once I’d established what I’d forgotten I called down to reception. “Hi!” I said, “It’s the over-dressed redhead who just checked in. You couldn’t send me up a couple of toothbrushes [Terry had forgotten his, too. We suck at packing, seriously.], some toothpaste, and also a black bardot style top, kinda 50s-inspired, would look great with a kicky little silk scarf? You know the kind of thing? Thanks!”
And you know, not five minutes later, someone was at the door with the two toothbrushes and toothpaste. They couldn’t help with the top, but that’s because I didn’t actually say that last bit, obviously. In fact, I didn’t say anything at all: I made Terry phone them instead. I don’t DO phones.
With that little bit of business out of the way, then, we were ready to start with the relaxin’. But that, my friends, is another story for another day, so you’re going to have to tune in later this week for the next thrilling instalment of What Amber Did That One Time She Went to Dunkeld. Assuming you can stand the suspense, obviously…
P.S. If you CAN stand the suspense and stick with me through another couple of posts, I promise to make it worth your while, by giving away a £100 Hilton Hotels voucher on Friday. Deal?
[Disclosure: We stayed at Dunkeld House compliments of Hilton Hotels. All opinions and random acts of stupidity are my own.]
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So, as some of you may know, the initial motivation behind us deciding to move house came last year when, after a 6-year absence, Nigel, the International Man of Mystery Next Door, turned up and announced that he was preparing to put his house up for sale.
We were worried. His house shares a wall with ours, and after years of having no neighbours, we were used to the peace and quiet, and didn’t really fancy having to share “our” space with The Others, who would obviously move in with their thumping baselines and their drum-kits and make our lives a misery. Even if that didn’t happen, and our new neighbours were model citizens, it was the push we needed to start thinking about moving, and it was the main catalyst which sent us down the path we’ve been on for the past few weeks, of preparing our house to sell and looking at others.
It was almost exactly a year ago that Nigel re-appeared and told us he’d be putting his house on the market soon. But he didn’t. Oh, he did a ton of work on it, but it didn’t go up for sale and then, last autumn, Nigel abruptly disappeared again: until last week, it had been six months since we’d last seen him. We relaxed a bit. He obviously wasn’t in any hurry to sell, and hopefully by the time he WAS ready to sell, we’d be long gone.
Our ’For Sale’ board went up on Monday.
Nigel’s went up today.
In retrospect, there was really no other possible way this could have panned out. Everyone I’ve told so far has said, “I can’t believe it… but then again, actually I can, because that’s just your luck, isn’t it?”
And yeah, it really is. On the one hand, we guess there’s a good chance that anyone who comes to see his house will decide to take a look at ours too, which will hopefully give us a bit of free advertising. Obviously that works both ways, though, and when there are two identical houses, both listed for exactly the same price, but once is empty and just “dressed” for sale, while the other is full of all our stuff (and, you know, US) I know which one I’d go for. Our house is probably going to be hard to sell anyway, (It’s very much a “first-time buyer” home, and with the economy the way it is, it’s quite difficult for new buyers to get mortgages right now) and given the lack of buyers for houses like ours anyway, we’d really rather not be having to compete with the house next door, and the International Man of Mystery within. (Or without, as the case may be…)
Basically, then, after 6+ years of living peacefully, side-by-side with our international mystery man, the time has come for us to go to war with him instead. From ancient grudge break to new mutiny, or, to put it another way: IT’S ON, people. We will fight him on the beaches. We will fight him on the suburban lawns. We will fight him in the driveways, and afterwards he will go and meticulously clear his up, and we’ll probably go and open a bottle of wine, because we’re like that. We are footsoldiers in a suburban war: there can be only one victor, and it kind of has to be us, because God knows, those shoes will have to live SOMEWHERE.
The current plan is that any time we see people coming to view the house next door, Terry will run outside and invite them to take a look at ours, too. I’ll be waiting with a tray of cupcakes, a basket of kittens, and a handful of hair-raising tales about all the bodies under the patio next door. “It’s said that those who step over the threshold never return!” I will cackle dramatically, in the manner of a wise old crone. “Would you like another cupcake?”
Now, who wants to bet that Nigel has only done this so that he can make an offer on the house we’re interested in? Anyone?
[P.S. To answer the question that always comes up when the subject of The House Next Door arises: no, we can't just buy Nigel's house, knock down the walls and turn it into a walk-in wardrobe. For once thing, it's not nearly large enough to be my closet, but for another, we can't afford to buy ANY house unless we sell this one first. The houses we've been looking at aren't in this area, but even if we did want to stay here, we'd still have to sell this house in order to buy N's, and then we'd be in exactly the same position, only we'd be living next door. So we'll just have to curse him, unfortunately: it's the only way...]
Butter London Cuticle Miracle Kit, £16
If you’ve read any of my previous nail-related posts here, you’ll probably know that my cuticles are the bane of my life. OK, that’s not totally true: The Others are the REAL bane of my life. My cuticles are almost as annoying, though. They are long. They are dry. They are ragged. They grow so quickly that I can push them back one day, and they’ll be threatening to take over my hands two days later. They’re the reason you’ll rarely see any of those “hands clutching a bottle of nail polish” shots on this blog, because my cuticles are such an embarrassment to me that I rarely ever WEAR nail polish, let alone take close-up photos of the stuff. I mean, perish the thought!
I did, however, post one such shot on Instagram last weekend, and if you’re looking for someone to blame for that, you can blame the folks at Butter London, whose Cuticle Miracle Kit allowed me to feel la little bit better about the state of my nails. Not so much better that I’m going to take up nail art or anything like that, of course, but enough that I didn’t feel the need to walk around with my nails curled into my palms, like I normally do, because yes, my cuticles are THAT bad, seriously.
Now, as you can see, this little kit cost me £16. This was kind of a big deal for me, because despite the fact that it was described as a “miracle”, I had very little faith at all that it would actually work. Well, nothing else has, so why would this be any different? I decided to press ahead with the purchase anyway, though, because honestly, I was desperate. I’d also read a number of reviews from people who absolutely RAVED about Melt Away, claiming that it really was an OMGMIRACLE. “You brush it on,” the reviews all said breathlessly, “and the next thing you know, the cuticles are gone, AS IF BY MAGIC!”
Look, I’m not proud of this, but I’m a complete and utter sucker for claims like that. You know all those weird products you see on infomercials, that you look at and think, “Who on earth buys this crap?” THIS GIRL, that’s who. And even although I don’t actually believe in any of the claims, there’s always a tiny little part of my tiny little brain which secretly thinks I’ll look like Keira Knightley if I just buy the right face cream. It’s a life of constant disappointment, seriously.
Anyway, I ordered the kit and started using it as soon as I’d freed it from its cardboard prison. First I tried the Melt Away Cuticle Eliminator, of “brush it on, wait for miracle to happen,” fame. The deal here is that you apply it to your cuticles, wait a couple of minutes, then gently push them back with an orange stick or similar, and POOF! Cuticles be gone!
Yeah, not so much.
This product DID work, but I’ll be honest: it took multiple applications – at least half a dozen, I’d say – for the cuticles to be “eliminated” (Which sounds so sinister, don’t you think?), and in the meantime they looked pretty rough. Rougher than usual, I mean. After each application, I’d diligently push them back, and sure enough, SOME of the cuticles would come away with the product itself, but not enough for me to fall to my knees and proclaim that a miracle had taken place. In other words, the cuticles didn’t so much MELT away as they grudgingly were FORCED away, muttering as they went about how this was SO UNFAIR and how they would NEVER FORGIVE ME. In defence of the product, however, I can’t stress enough that mine are not your average cuticles. They’re super-stubborn, and were in a really terrible state to begin with, so I would imagine that if you were a normal person, with nice, normal nails, you’d probably have much better luck with this.
After each application of Melt Away, I would follow up with a dose of the Handbag Holiday Cuticle Oil, which is basically the Good Twin to Melt Away‘s Evil Twin:
I have no idea what this has to do with handbags, or, indeed, holidays, because it’s actually a cuticle oil (Is it hard to think about holidays/handbags without thinking about cuticle oil? You tell me…), and a pretty good one at that. Once Melt Away has done the dirty work, and the cuticles are cowering in the corner, shaken and terrified, Handbag Holiday steps in to make reassuring noises and sooth them with a nice, nourishing oil treatment. I loved Handbag Holiday: it smells a bit like sun oil (Aaaah! All becomes clear!) and it leaves the cuticles looking smoother and healthier, which is exactly what it claims to do.
As for Melt Away : well, despite the fact that it took me quite a few applications to notice any real difference, the difference I DO notice at the end of that process is enough that I would probably re-purchase it once this bottle runs out. The good thing about that, however, is that I actually can’t imagine it ever actually running out: the photos on this post were taken after I’d used both of these products multiple times (And, in the case of Handbag Holiday, multiple times PER DAY), but as you can see, I’ve barely made a dent in them. So they’re expensive, yes, but I can’t see me having to purchase them all that often, which makes it easier for me to justify the cost. My cuticles are still far from perfect, but they’re MUCH better than they were before I started using this, and it’s definitely the best cuticle product I’ve tried (I speak here as the veteran of many, many failed attacks on my cuticles, with many different products), so I’m considering it a success, if not a bona fide miracle.
These two products are normally around £13 – £16 each, but if you buy them together as part of this kit, you effectively get two for (almost) the price of one: I got mine here.
[Trousers and scarf: H&M (2012) (this season's trousers here) // cardigan: Forever 21 (2011 - similar here) // Shoes: Christian Louboutin]
Don’t worry, I haven’t plumbed new depths in my quest for matchy-matchy accessories with this outfit – or not intentionally, anyway. It was my mum’s birthday last week, and the flowers and gift were for her: we stopped off to snap these photos on the way to see her, and seeing as I was already dressed like a daffodil, with my lemon top and mint pants, I figured a few more flowers wouldn’t hurt. Happy birthday, mum! Sorry for using your gifts as an accessory in my stupid blog photos! And also for dropping the flowers at least twice on the day I bought them, because, yes, I did that too.
See, a couple of weeks ago, I decided to get back into running again after a bit of a break. The store I bought the flowers from is fairly close to the house, so in my infinite wisdom I thought, why drive there when I could RUN instead? I would save fuel! And money! And the environment! And get in a bit of extra cardio into the bargain! What could possibly go wrong?
I realised the answer to that question shortly after purchasing the flowers, when I ran past the mirrored windows outside the shop, and caught sight of myself puffing along, all decked out in my running gear, and clutching a giant bunch of flowers in front of me, like some bizarre Olympic torch. “Wow, this has to be one of my strangest outfits yet!” I thought, as I paused to take in the sight before me. And then I dropped the flowers on the ground, for no real reason I can think of. And again a few minutes after that.
Luckily they made it home relatively unscathed, which is as much as you can hope for if you’re a flower in my care, really. And they may not have quite worked with my shabby running outfit, but at least they looked a little bit better with this one…
When it comes to products designed specifically for redheads, I tend to find that the US is a little better served than the UK is. All too often, I find myself getting excited about some fabulous-sounding product I’ve discovered… only to find that it can’t be shipped to me. (I like to imagine the brand in question sticking their middle fingers up at me when this happens…)
Normally I just try to forget about these products. I know I could find some of them on eBay or whatever, but most of them are shampoos and conditioners, and while I don’t always object to paying international shipping rates (and then waiting weeks to get my item) for something that’s a one-time purchase, say, I don’t much fancy having to trawl eBay and bid on auctions every week for products I use on a daily basis and frequently need to replace (or buying in bulk and feeling like I’d made a major investment). I typically get through a small bottle of conditioner a week, and the shipping (not to mention the time spent trawling…) would add up pretty quickly, so rather than getting attached to something that’s always going to be a hassle to buy, I generally just focus on the ones that ARE available here instead. I also whine a lot. But you knew that.
All of which is my typically long-winded way of building up to the fact that, hey you guys, I totally bought a fancy-pants conditioner from abroad! Because OF COURSE I DID.
This is Quantum ‘Riveting Reds’ Color Refreshing Conditioner, and, as you will have deduced from the US spelling, it’s an American product. I’ve known about this for a while now, but had never seen it on any UK websites, until last month, when it suddenly popped up on Amazon UK.
I was still a little reluctant: it was £11 including delivery, and I’m pretty cheap with stuff like this (In my defence, my beloved Superdrug Colour Effects is only £1.99 per bottle, so I don’t have much need to pay more than that…), but I don’t know, the Spring air must have gone to my head or something, because the next thing I knew, I was adding it to my basket and pressing “confirm”. I instantly regretted this move when I got a shipping confirmation a couple of days later letting me know I could expect my delivery on May 3rd, but luckily that turned out to be a filthy rotten lie, and it turned up about two days after that, in roughly the same timescale as most of the other websites I shop from. So that was a relief.
As you can see from the photo, this claims to “refresh and brighten all shades of red hair”. The main thing to note about it is that it’s NOT a dye: it’s a colour-depositing conditioner, designed to make hair that’s already red (whether naturally or chemically so) a little more vibrant, and to prevent colour-fade if your hair is dyed. If you don’t already have red hair, then this won’t miraculously turn you ginger, although if your hair is very light you might notice a reddish tinge to it. I also very much doubt that it would cover grey: the main “reddening” ingredient is henna, but there are no warnings against using it on chemically treated hair (In fact, one of the main selling points is that it will help prevent the notoriously difficult to maintain red chemical dyes from fading), so I’m assuming the amounts used are pretty small. With that said, it IS colour depositing, and that means it will deposit colour on everything it touches, so my advice is to treat it as if it WAS a permanent colour, and not allow it to touch anything you don’t want to turn red. It will dye your hands. It will dye your towels. It will dye the grout in your bathroom tiles. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
As this is a conditioner, you’ll no doubt be totally unsurprised to learn that you use it in exactly the same way you’d use any other conditioner. The directions tell you simply to “massage through hair evenly and rinse”. I use it in the shower, and normally leave it for 2-3 minutes to sink in, but you can obviously leave it for longer than that if you’re looking for a more intense colour.
The product comes out of the bottle roughly the colour of ketchup, which is why I tell you to keep it away from white towels etc. It’s a fairly thick consistency, which isn’t as easy to distribute as regular conditioners, but on the plus-side, because it’s thick, you don’t get much in the way of splash-back either, unless you tend to whip your head around a lot in the shower. I do that.
One word of warning: like Superdrug Colour Effects, this sucks as a conditioner, so if you’re hoping it will detangle and smooth your hair as well as refreshing the colour, well, I wouldn’t bank on it. After the first couple of applications, I decided to use it purely as a colour treatment: I use another conditioner afterwards, or I can’t get a comb through my hair without a struggle.
As a colour-treatment, however, it’s much better. I noticed a difference after my first application: my hair was brighter, redder and just a slightly more intense version of its natural colour. What I would say about this, though – and actually ALL products in this genre that I’ve tried – is that the difference is subtle enough that you shouldn’t be surprised if you’re the only one who notices. I’ve never had anyone ask if if changed my hair colour after using something like this for instance, because I just don’t think that one shade of red looks much different to another to the casual observer. People would obviously notice if I went from red to blonde or black, say, but a more intense version of my usual colour? Nah: it might look different to ME, but to anyone else, it’s no biggie.
It’s also a colour change that’s almost impossible to photograph. I figured this review really needed a before and after shot for comparison, but I’ll be totally honest: I completely forgot to take the “before” one, and when I looked back at some older photos for a comparison, I honestly couldn’t see a difference, even although I DO see one in real life. My hair, as I’ve mentioned before, can look COMPLETELY different depending on when and how it’s photographed, and a subtle change in colour just isn’t something that’s going to stand out in a photo. This is unfortunate for this review, but not so unfortunate in real life, because this is exactly what I’m looking for from this type of product. I don’t want to change my hair colour drastically, just to “boost” its natural shade, and I’d say this does that nicely. Just for reference, though, the photo at the top of the page was taken after three applications (the last of which was on the day the photo was taken) with a few washes in between where I didn’t use the conditioner. I didn’t notice any fading on the days I didn’t use it, so I’d say you could probably get away with using it two or three times per week if you want to save some money.
So, will I buy it again?
Probably not, to be honest. It’s not that I don’t like the product: I really do. It’s purely a matter of availability. This costs £11 per bottle when you factor in the shipping, and the 300ml bottle doesn’t go very far on my long hair, even if used sparingly, so I’ll be sticking with Superdrug for now, although if I can find it, I would definitely consider ordering some of the matching shampoo, which would last longer. If you’re in the US, thought, and have red hair, I’d recommend giving it a shot: you can find it at Sallys and Amazon.
Oh, look! It’s a strangely blurry photo of me in front of my shoe wall, in this month’s Company Magazine! You should all rush out to buy it (Or, you know, download the digital version for iPad, like I did, because I was too lazy to walk to the shop…) and then write letters to the editor demanding to see more from the redhead with all the SHOOZ. Because you know you want to.
This photo was used as part of a feature on fashion bloggers and their closets. As you can see from my (slightly paraphrased) quote, I declined to provide a photo of my ACTUAL closet, because, trust me, you do NOT want to see that mess. In fact, that walk-in wardrobe I mentioned is the main reason I want to move house right now, not even joking. Speaking of which, remember that house we liked? The one we totally weren’t getting our hopes up about, except we actually were, to the extent of driving past it every week and picking out furniture? THAT house?
Yeah, someone bought it.
Hey, remember that three-week long frenzy of activity, in which we frantically called our mortgage company, repainted the house and FINALLY got around to repairing the mess on the ceiling, caused by the Watergate incident (and which I’d always known we’d only fix if we were selling up), all with the aim of selling our house fast enough to hopefully be able to make an offer on The One?
Yeah, someone bought it on the very day we finally completed that process. OF COURSE they did.
We were gutted, naturally. On the plus side, though, at least I got to go around for a while going, “I TOLD you this would happen! I KNEW we wouldn’t get it! And I was right! Say I was right!” And everyone had to say I was right, because I totally WAS right. I’m hardly ever right about anything, so, at least I got something out of the whole thing. Apparently I’m on a bit of a roll right now, so if you have any predictions you want made, hit me with them! Magic Eightball Amber, she say outlook not so good…
Once I’d worn out everyone’s patience with my I WAS RIGHT proclamations, I plunged into a pit of despair from which I would emerge periodically to once again comb through the property listings and declare that it was no use, because we would NEVER find another house we liked even half as much as that one, and that what would likely happen now would be that someone would buy our house, but we would have nowhere to move to, so we would be forced to build a makeshift shelter out of old shoe boxes or something.
This went on for about three days, at the end of which we went to see another house, and…
We loved it. Uh-oh. Instantly I switched mode from “We will sell our house and have nowhere to go,” to “We will NEVER sell our house, and will be forced to live here forever, with my shoe collection gradually expanding to every room in the house, and my clothes one day exploding out of the closets and going running down the streets shouting, “WHY MUST SHE TREAT US LIKE THIS?”
So that’s where we’re at, basically. If we do sell this house, I guarantee we will do it on the very day the one we like is sold to someone else. And if we don’t manage to sell this house (Which is the most likely scenario according to my imaginary Magic Eightball), that other one will stick around forever. There will be other houses, though. At least that’s one thing we can take from the events of this week. And I have absolutely no doubt that I will obsess over them all, until finally we find the one that’s destined to be ours. Now, if you’ll all excuse me, I have some photos of walk-in closets to go and pin…
[H&M white flared skirt and sweater: both H&M // Belt: New Look // Shoes: Office c/o MyVoucherCodes.co.uk // Sunglasses: Gucci*]
First of all, I have to ask you to please excuse the state of my hair in these photos. One of the fun (by which I mean “not even remotely fun” ) things about living in Scotland is that even when it’s sunny and warm out, there’s almost always a stiff breeze, too. Where we live, it’s windy almost all the time, so no matter how carefully I style my hair, the second I step out of the door I may as well not have bothered. I refuse to complain about it (on this occasion, anyway), though, because YAY, SPRING! Do you SEE that blue sky, people? Seriously, it can be as windy as it wants, if it just stays sunny…
With that out of the way: remember my yellow H&M skirt, which I love beyond reason? This is its twin. This skirt did not come into my possession willingly, though. Oh no. In fact, buying this skirt felt a bit like one of those quests that knights of yore might have to undertake in order to win their lady, except in this case the “knight” was me and the “lady” was an H&M skirt. I KNOW, people. I know.
It should all have been so easy, too. I mean, I ordered the skirt the second it appeared on the H&M website. I wear the yellow one to death, and I thought the white one would be perfect for summer, so I didn’t even bother with my usual “waiting until it goes out of stock” trick. Nope, that skirt was in my basket within seconds of me laying eyes on it, and then, a few minutes later it was joined by a couple of other little basics, like, for instance, a pair of knickers. Well, they were there, I was placing an order anyway…
“This skirt will be my new favourite thing!” I told Rubin, who is the only person who will listen to me most of the time. “It’ll go with every single pair of shoes I own! AND every single top!” And then I sat back to await the arrival of my prechus skirt.
Well, I waited. And I waited. Then I waited a little more. Eventually it occurred to me that rather than doing all the waiting, I should maybe log into my H&M account and see if there was some kind of problem which was causing the delay. So I did. And there was. The problem was the knickers. You see, not long after I added them to my order they’d gone out of stock, and now H&M, in their infinite wisdom, had decided to put a hold on my order while they ran up some new ones.
The skirt, meanwhile, had sold out. I mean, OF COURSE it had.
“Well… that’s OK,” I said doubtfully. “I placed my order BEFORE it sold out, so obviously H&M will have reserved one for me.”
Yeah, dream on, Amber. A few days later my parcel arrived. It contained one pair of knickers, and… that was it. JUST the knickers. No skirt. “Sorry!” said the cheerful little note inside the parcel, “But you didn’t seriously think we’d make this easy on you, did you? Enjoy your new knickers! Also your endless search for that skirt you’ve based your entire summer wardrobe around!”
Well. At this point, a more sensible woman would have simply given up, and accepted that it just wasn’t meant to be between her and the skirt. I may be many things, however, but I am not a sensible woman, so instead, I decided to dedicate my life to refreshing the H&M website, in the hope that the skirt would come back into stock. And eventually it did… two sizes larger than the one I needed. Then one size larger than the one I needed. Then finally, FINALLY… someone returned one in my size, and my quest was over.
The lesson? It pays to be persistent. Also to be a little bit crazy.
My shoes, meanwhile, were a gift from the very kind people at MyVoucherCodes.co.uk , and I just couldn’t resist pairing them with a matching mint green sweater, even although I know my fashion blogger card will probably be revoked for such shameless matchy-matchiness. These are almost sold-out at Office, and I’d loved them from the moment I saw them, so I was very grateful to MyVoucherCodes for stepping in and saving me from ANOTHER endless quest: I just don’t think I could’ve gone through another one so soon.
Mind you, I DID get a pair knickers out of the whole “skirt” situation, so every cloud, people, every cloud…
[Disclosure: my shoes were chosen by me, but provided by MyVoucherCodes.co.uk, who are a great source of New Look voucher codes, Dorothy perkins promo codes and Asos discount codes, as well as minty green shoes. All opinions are my own.]
Trousers: Forever 21 (sold out but similar here) // Sweater: thrifted // shoes: Primark // Bag: vintage c/o my mum’s closet // Sunglasses: House of Harlow
There’s still some snow on the hills (And, OK, also on the dales, if we’re going to be completely honest, here…), but when the sun’s out it feels almost like Spring should, so I’m celebrating the best way I know how: by wearing polka dots, obviously.
As much as I love my dresses and skirts, when it comes to these transitional times of year, I always find myself abandoning them in favour of trousers. It’s still too cold for bare legs, you see, but I can definitely get away with bare ankles, and I’ll rather not have to resort to tights if I can possibly help it, so trousers it is.
I found these ones at Forever 21 back in the depths of the winter, when it WAS too cold for bare ankles: they didn’t look right to me with boots or socks, so they’re one of a few items I bought during the winter and have been patiently waiting to wear. Now that the weather’s started to warm up, though, I’ve been making up for lost time, and have worn them twice this week already, which means that this week is already TWICE as good as last week was. Thanks, April: I owe you one!
[Dress: Dorothy Perkins, 2010 // Shoes: New Look (ancient) // Sunglasses: House of Harlow]
There are currently 58 unpublished posts sitting in the drafts folder of this blog.
Some of them are posts I started but never finished, for one reason or another. Some are ones I started AND finished, but then thought better of actually publishing. A couple contain weird fragments of run-on sentences that make NO SENSE whatsoever, and which I’m just going to assume were written by a ghost in my laptop*. Or possibly by James Joyce. A few, however, contain outfit photos that I took, downloaded from the camera, edited… and then decided I absolutely hated, so didn’t post.
This post – or at least, the photos from it – falls into the latter category. We took these at the very end of last summer, on what was probably the last “bare legs” day of the season. (So around June, then.) When I got home that night, I decided I didn’t like them, so they’ve sat in my drafts folder for months now, until a couple of days ago when I rediscovered them. (Also when I got home that night I discovered a set of mysterious Marks of Death on the back of that dress, which no amount of cleaning/stain removing would vanquish. They are there to this day: I couldn’t quite bring myself to throw it away.) And now, well, I may not love the photos, but here we are, still struggling our way through a seemingly endless winter, and I would give just about anything to be able to go out in bare legs and peep toes and prance around a country road in a lightweight dress.
Unfortunately for me, there’s STILL snow on the ground, and it feels colder than it was in December or January, so there have been limited opportunities to take outfit photos, especially given that Terry and I have spent the last couple of weeks basically tearing the house apart and then putting it back together again, in an effort to get it ready to sell. (All of those little jobs we’ve been putting off for years? All done. I always knew we’d only ever get round to that stuff when we decided to sell. On the upside, though, if it DOESN’T sell at least we got all that work done, and it looks better than it has at any point in its history!) We had our first ever White Easter (that I can recall, anyway) this weekend, and although I did spend part of Good Friday getting my Spring/Summer clothes out of storage and trying to insert them into my crammed closet, the process was made a little bit more challenging than usual by the fact that I couldn’t actually pack much of the winter stuff away, on account of how I’m STILL FREAKING WEARING IT, GOD. So rather than yet another photo of THOSE Topshop boots in the snow, here’s a flashback to better days: and hopefully a taste of things to come.
Happy Easter, everyone! Hope you’re having a nice long weekend if you celebrate it, and a nicer-than-average Monday if you don’t.
* Speaking of ghosts, remember my mysterious Phantom Opera Singer? Well, the mystery is solved, people! And I’m embarrassed to admit that having been totally, 100% sure that it couldn’t possibly have come from my phone, absolutely NO WAY, never… yeah, it was totally coming from my phone: or rather, an app on my phone, which had somehow been set to some strange “occasional opera singer” setting I didn’t know existed. I was a little bit disappointed, to be completely honest.