12 go Speed Friending for the Lighthouse Union Autism Charity

What would it be like to have an important conversation at work or at a party and not be able to read the other person’s emotions?

How would you feel? Confused, anxious,? Apparently 55% of all communication is body language, 38% is the tone, and only 7% is spoken.

It is the non – verbal part of communication, like facial expressions, that someone with autism would struggle with. It is common stereotype that people with autism are robotic and without emotion, they do of course have emotions, they just see the world differently.

There are less than 7% of people with a learning disability and 15% with an Autistic spectrum disorder in employment. It is situations like gaining employment that often rely on “appropriate” interpretation of these subtle communication signals.

The Lighthouse Futures Trust is a truly wonderful charity that pushes for equal opportunities for people young people with Autism. They do this by focusing on their talents, strengths and interests and directly aligns employment experiences and opportunities to showcase this, giving them a real chance to have the full and rewarding career they deserve.

Lighthouse Union Autism Charity

The mini experiment: What’s it like to have Autism

A few weeks ago I joined a diverse group of bloggers in a mini social experiment. The “Speed Friending” event was hosted by The Lighthouse Futures Trust at their new shop and café. The aim was to find out how we would get on having a conversation in a mask that showed ourselves with absolutely no expression at all (Cue giggles all round at seeing our mugshots blown up, printed and ready).

Now, of course none of us can really ever know what it is like to have Autism. I wouldn’t event attempt to try and describe what it must really feel like, but this was a way of trying to understand a little more, raise awareness online, ask questions and start an open discussion.

The result

Ok so this was a lot harder than I expected, for one it was a reminder of the learnt communication skills we take for granted, really do make simple things like having a conversation, easy.I found myself looking into people’s eyes in a desperate bid to interpret response- were they interested in what I was saying? Were they looking away? I had no idea!

During, I accidentally found myself nodding intently to what the other person was saying, like an over enthusiastic puppy as if to overcompensate for the lack of expression. At one point I had to sit on my hands at one point, I had no idea I was so animated! We all agreed this “simple thing” it was pretty hard to do without emotion.

Bloggers in the charity shop
Planning our purchases
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Bake off eat your heart out

A brand new café and shopping experience  

Lighthouse Union Store Cookridge Leeds, itself is a natural evolution from what has started at the Lighthouse School. Warm, welcoming and with a treat selection that would make Mary Berry jealous, this new cafe, gift and charity shop makes for the perfect meeting spot. “From Prada to Primark” describes the clothes selection on their website and they weren’t wrong- there are some serious designer treasures to be found. True to form I bagged a few bargains on the evening, here’s me looking slightly optimistic for sunshine, a vintage yellow 90s frock!

Love thrift and charity shops? Check out my 7 top tips for getting the most from your bargain hunting.

90s yellow charity shop dress

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Come on Sunshine I am ready for you!
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Our boho wedding: Discovering the perfect venue

With mere months to go ‘til I get married, I thought it high time I started diarising some of the build up and share some of our finds with other Yorkshire Brides-to-be, (and those further afield).

Starting with our venue- we wanted a space where we could have the creative freedom to add our own personal touches and really make it our own. If we saw any treasures and decorations we liked we could save them, build on our inspiration as we go, work with local suppliers and bring everything together, into something hopefully really special on the day.

So in August last year we concluded a lengthy quest for our Yorkshire wedding venue by making a booking at Wharfedale Grange, a seasonal farm shop and venue set in the Lower Wharfedale valley, facing the North Park of Harewood House just between Leeds and Harrogate.

Create your own rustic Yorkshire wedding at Whafedale Grange

A recent wedding at Wharfedale
A recent wedding at Wharfedale. Source Wharfedale Grange Facebook

 

Rustic and rural, Wharfedale grange provides a stunning blank canvas for couples to bring their creative vision to life.  A farm since 1939, two generations later it is still a family run farm, but in 2013 they decided to hire out their field and car park for DIY weddings/events.

“The only limit is your imagination and budget” they say on the website. “Your wedding reception can be as modest and humble or as huge and extravagant as your sensibilities allow, but one thing’s for sure…it will be unique and totally individual!” and for us at least, so far so good!

After we booked the venue we hired two giant hat tipis from Totally Tipis in Barnsley. Tipis are ideal for a relaxed style of wedding we want and as you can see look stunning in the countryside setting. As the overall theme is quite boho, with ethnic touches scattered here and there, these giant tents are ideal. Jewel coloured patterned bunting, lanterns, home – made dream catchers and some cream veils drapes are just some of the things I have already gathered to turn our tipi into a twinkling tent of  love, laughter and memories!

Yet being left to your own devices at Wharfedale doesn’t mean they aren’t there to support and provide you with everything they can to make your day special.  Clare Thomas is the main contact who will give her support along the way. As well as being super friendly, Claire is awesome at flower arranging as you can see from some of the pictures. Isn’t the hanging foliage piece on above the top table fabulous?

It’s not only flowers and a field you get when you book with them, a cark park, walk-in fridges and a props to hire are all available.

Alternatively, just pop over to see them for a good old Yorkshire day trip out. Here’s a little more on what they do:

  • Asparagus & P.Y.O.fruit.
  • The Flowery Shed inc. The Potting Shed
  • Home grown Wild Flowers.
  • Festive Shed: Christmas trees, freshly made wreaths, bunched holly and mistletoe, fresh flowers, plants and centrepieces for your Christmas table, all in our up-cycled PYO shed alongside some of the most exclusive decorations available! One to bookmark for this Christmas
  • Wildflower meadow. Looking at the recent facebook post they have also posted 10 acres of wildflower meadow devoted to pick your own wildflowers that will be ready to pick in July!

I still have so much to do but fingers crossed its coming together. The invites went out in March so just waiting for the last few RSVPS. (Invites were from Jennifer Wren Designs available on Etsy- recommended!)

I will be posting how to make your own boho wedding decorations if you are having a DIY wedding including doily dream catcher and fabric garland in a few weeks as well as my trip to York based Glory Days vintage for the dress.

Photos courtesy of Wharfedale Grange Facebook page.

Flower feature

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Festival Outfit Ideas: 70s Boho Glam

When it comes to festival outfits, as much as I love the “classic festival look”, there is a risk that you can end up looking like everyone else. At festivals across the UK I expect we will see hordes of girls floating across the fields in a tied and tested uniform of denim shorts, hunter wellies and kimonos.   The other weekend we were lucky enough to go to Live at Leeds, a city festival in Yorkshire. Whilst it was sunny, it was quite chilly and therefore there wasn’t much call for denim shorts, yet, for me this presented the perfect opportunity to try a different style of festival look.
Just a bit on the festival itself, for anyone who is UK based- Live at Leeds ..well what a peach of a day! We started at midday at the O2 Academy, an intimate venue in the city to watch the Mystery Jets, who definitely delivered. They rocked out to a medley of bouncing hits like “Two Doors Down” which had us all singing along loudly, along with the new belter that is “Bubblegum.” Welcome back boys!. If like me you enjoy getting nostalgic and like to musically revisit your *ahem* slightly younger years once in a while, you can remind yourself of some classic indie anthems here
Following this, we made our way to watch Kudu Blue at Nation of Shopkeepers, who performed a rather wonderful version of Shaun Paul’s Breathe (Somebody just try and stop me trying to twerk.. No please why didn’t somebody stop me?)
Anyway enough of the music, what about the clothes you say! Here’s my top finds for doing 70’s glam at a festival.

1. Vintage sunglasses and boho jewellery

Looking for THE perfect festival jewellery, with a touch of bohemian grunge? Look no further that Shop Dixi. I wore this pretty silver Showdown Blue Opal choker which was kindly gifted along with my everyday turquoise earrings.  I love this brand sooo much, they do an awesome mandala ring which I have my beady eye on, as well as loads of pretty silver pieces with enough moonstone gems and silvery lengths for you to  layer up, like a foxy thing and dance around in til midnight.

As it was a sunny day we donned our sunnies for a cheeky sunglasses selfie. Derek “borrowed” the bloceyewear glasses I was gifted for the day  (Well they did  much better on him than me). They looked great with his retro fur collar leather jacket, and  were actually a very good substitute for his usual Ray Bans, In fact you could hardly tell them apart they are a fraction of the price! I opted for my trusty John Lennon style rounds as they suited this style of outfit. However when I need a new pair I will be snapping up these very retro look round Bloc Eyewear Paris glasses. Very retro!

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2. Electric Blue Velvet Dress- Grandma Eileens Vintage

Mixing fabrics Is my favourite part of retro styling. Velvet is warm for one, so totally appropriate for UK (we’re not in Coachella ya know!) But for me velvet, along with paisley and retro bold patterns epitomises 70s style but also adds a touch of luxe to any 70s glam outfit. I wore this electric blue vintage dress circa from the (now fallen) BHS. Perhaps if they dared to do styles like this in recent times they may have survived? Like M&S and their new retro Alexa collection, being innovated on the fashion front isn’t just about an effective online presence. Alas they insisted on sticking with old lady-play-it-safe shift dresses and nightwear. *Where will we buy cheap pyjamas from now* cries the nation.. Still pretty sad though it has gone… but then I do love a good old British institution.
I purchased this dress from the wonderful, fellow Yorkshire Blogger Laura, who runs GrandmaEileens vintage online. Now there are many vintage shops online but Laura’s stands out a mile- good value, great selection and a good bit of content thrown in for good measure!

3. Gold ankle boots – Irregular Choice

I wore some gold ankle boots from irregular choice purchased a few years ago. Gold boots really ramp up the 70s glam factor. Usually heels are a definite no go, the last thing you want to do is go wondering round a a field in 6 inch heels, but as we were in the city with the different music venues so close together, it didn’t matter so much. Besides no pain no gain right?

I’d love to know what festival looks you’re going for? And whatever festival you go to this year have a peachy time! Peace xx

 

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Live at Leeds: 3 classic indie bands you need to rediscover

Live at Leeds Festival 2016

Celebrating its 10-year anniversary, the award winning Live At Leeds is back on the 30th April and Derek and I are lucky enough to be heading along, as part of The Blogger Programme.

Having played host to the likes of Bastille, Bombay Bicycle Club, Rudimental and The Vaccines over the years, each year Live At Leeds provides a snapshot of everything that is cutting edge in music right now.

I am a BIG 60s and 70s music fan (The Stones, Fleetwood Mac.. Bluesy rock is my thing) However, I do really enjoy discovering new music acts too.

Over the years I have gone to many of the big festivals. Doing the hippy trail at Glastonbury, in something floaty and flowery, will be very different to this inner city fest. The bands performing here are set to take over a multitude of venues across the city; a far cry from the rolling fields of the established venues but we are really excited to see what it has to offer and how it compares!

Topping the bill is chart fave Jess Glynne, along with many more. Some I have heard of some are new but actually, I am most looking forward to getting re- aquainted with some indie acts from the early 2000s!

So fill your cup with cider, pull on your skinny jeans and get ready to jump up and down like you are 18 years old again. Here’s my top 3 indie bands to look out for if you are heading to Live at Leeds.

  1. Mystery Jets –The uplifting single Bubblegum is currently doing the rounds on the airwaves, but this lot are known for a host of classic anthems such as Two Doors Down. Bubblegum

 

  1. We Are Scientists –New York City-based indie rock band were big in the early 2000s then disappeared along with the rest in recent years, in what became known as “indie Armageddon”. It’s good to see them back doing the rounds. Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt was a particularly catchy tune back in the day! Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt

 

  1. Band of Skulls – Brining their signature brand of raucous rock to proceedings. The hit “The Devil Takes Care of His Own” is definitely worth a listen. The Devil Takes Care of His Own

PLUS: WIN TICKETS TO LIVE AT LEEDS FESTIVAL

The Blogger Programme is offering 10 chances to win a pair of tickets to Live at Leeds

To be in with a chance to win – just enter here! http://bit.ly/1YpAPmE

Competition closes 23/03/2016. (T & Cs can be found on the link)

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Top 4 Bordeaux Flea markets & thrift stores

What is Bordeaux known for? Wine? Culture? I recently came back from a 3 day break in Bordeaux, and was pleasantly surprised to discover it’s fast becoming a paradise for vintage lovers of a different kind.

Here’s a short guide to the best spots for vintage lovers and bargain hunters as well as some of the treasures I found along the way

  1. Flea Market St-Michael

One of the better flea markets, is in the St-Michel district; a cool, bohemian area with a lively student vibe.

The flea market was one of my highlights, but there is an element of car boot sale to it. Yet, instead of your local playing field, it’s situated around a gothic church in a picturesque market square, surrounded by brasseries, where chic French women sit, cig in hand and sunglasses poised.

Search and you will find those gems.  I managed to bag Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours for 8 Euros and four fringed vintage lace curtains for 6 Euros. They will make THE perfect finishing touch to the long window in our flat once washed, covering the modern metal blind a treat!

Where: Place Duburg
When: Every day, from 7 am to 4 pm, except Saturdays and Mondays

Bordeaux flea market

 

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  1. Le passage St-Michael

Next up is real Aladdin’s cave of treasures and bri- a – brac, housed in an old banana warehouse. Here, you can find anything from mirrors, dresses and old record players to 6ft framed music posters. Many vendors do shipping now so you don’t have to worry if you find something you like. I was rather taken by this fur stole… but could never bring myself to wear real fur, so the little fella stayed put and we settled for a rather more ethical 20s, painted mirror.

Where: 14 place Canteloup
When: Open daily, noon-6pm or later

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  1. Steack and Fripes 

Tucked  away down one of the side streets is this little gem. And just like the vintage shops in the UK, retro lovers can discover rows  upon rows of genuine 60s, 70s and 80s clothing, all at affordable prices. I found a floral shirt. It’s long enough to wear as a jacket and I think it clashed with my psychedelic print scarf fabulously.

Where: 62 Rue du Mirail, 33800 Bordeaux

 

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  1. Le Centre Ville 

Don’t be fooled by this shop front masquerading as a small newsagent -inside it’s something else. Upon setting inside you will feel like you are in vintage Narnia; turquoise and silver antique jewellery, coats, hats bags and scarves are stacked high and hanging low.  I found this amazing scarf. But be warned, unlike the markets this is not the place for bartering, the owner, was having none of my advances. But this peach was too good to pass so I parted with cash happily. Sometimes you just have to give in!

Where 26 rue du Parlement Sainte Catherine, Bordeaux

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The best of the rest

France is of course not short of good cafes. With its bamboo bar, and the most delicious chai lattes, Le Tchai Bar is ideal for when you want to escape for 20 minutes. As well as chai they serve a selection of hot drinks from around the world including Mexican hot milk and Lassi and yummy healthy snacks. Stick around long enough and you may be lucky to see some live music.

Where: 49 Rue du Mirail, 33000 Bordeaux

Photo courtesy of Tchai Bar Facebook, Jérôme Victoire

One of the best things about Bordeaux is still very heavily influenced by Moroccan and African culture. You can find bright colours and ethnic threads down many a street. We popped into Cabane Indigo  where they sold imported ethnic home-wears, I bought a couple of bracelets including some Mali bracelet  from made from recycled flip flops!

For more questions answered as you travel, get in touch with @visitbordeaux on twitter.

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Cabane Indigo
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Wapentake, Leeds: A review

Where would you go if you wanted a real taste of Yorkshire in Leeds? Visit the market or perhaps drive out to a farm shop? Leeds city centre eateries are diverse and plentiful. As our palettes get more experimental, more and more interesting placed pop up, from Indian street food to Thai, we have it all.  Yet, when it comes to locally sourced, comfort food we are somewhat limited.

Wapentake isn’t a new sushi bar, is Leeds new, deli, bakery and bar and  prides itself on being as Yorkshire as the whopping great yorkie puddings it serves.

“Wapentake” literally means – “A subdivision of certain Northern Counties” and according the writing next to the bar the word itself is “Derived from an assembly or meeting place, usually at a crossroads or river where literally ones presence or a vote was taken by a show of weapons”.

Ok, history lesson over. What makes Wapentake a must visit, is that it is big on supporting independent suppliers and brewers. The menu isn’t extensive but what they do serve is quality, tasty, local and superb value for money. There’s something rather satisfying about knowing your food is fresh and hasn’t travelled a long way to get to your plate and when it tastes good too- you’re onto a winner.

On our visit I opted for a spin on the classic, a juicy cheese burger accompanied by a rustic roll, chunky wedges and crisp side salad. Sunday lunches are on the menu too, perfect for those lazy Sundays when you don’t want to get out the roasting tray.  If you want something lighter you can try two yorkies and gravy, or something simple like pate or poached eggs on toast.

 

This pic is courtesy of Leeds Living

 

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The team even bake their own bread, we tried their own chilli loaf- highly recommended!

The decor is relaxed yet tasteful and artfully undone, slate grey, calming cream and olive greens give it a warm and homely feel, whilst quirky miss-matched touches, including a reading spot, have created a little vintage haven just off the high street.

For the musically gifted (or even the not so much) there is a piano just asking to be played on the first floor.. Just as long as the other diners don’t mind. I passed the opportunity by- I don’t think anyone wants to hear my rendition of three blind mice!

Derek and I often walk down Kirkgate on our way home from the centre, and were saddened hear about the fire a few months ago. But with Wapektake and Fred Aldos the craft store just round the corner perhaps this is the start for what is a long overdue regeneration of this part of Leeds. Here’s hoping.

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Address: 92 Kirkgate, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7DJ.

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How to keep your creative soul

Keith Richards Acrylic on Canvas

Keith Richards acrylic on canvas

Here is my finished painting of Keith Richards. There are few things that make me happier than splashing paint around on a giant canvas. With a paintbrush in hand I am restricted by nothing other than my imagination. I wanted Keith to have a head scarf and scarf and a turquoise background and that is what he has. (I have just finished a cosmic, Bob Marley; draped in tie dye colours  and surrounded by moons- up soon).

Keith’s wit and wisdom never fails to inspire me, he is man who has lived a life on the edge and blessed with a career that has allowed him a level of freedom of expression that us mere mortals could only dream of. I am a huge stones fan anyway- and adore the 60s and 70s, I mean- what a time have been alive!  I went to see them in concert in 2008 and feel so privileged I got the chance to do so. This is my tribute to the great man. A 5 foot canvas that takes pride of place in our font room. Well…why not?

Keith Richards Acrylic on Canvas Painting

Education and creativity

I  can’t get no satisfaction ‘Cause I try and I try and I try and I try

On finishing my paining,  I felt in a reflective mood.

In school we are told are all told we should be a certain way, become a certain someone. This could only be achieved by maintaining a focus on science and mathematics. And so, uninspired by my art class, and a teacher who did nothing to cultivate creative energies, I gave up  painting soon after my A levels.

It is a shame that subjects like art, drama and perhaps even music itself are seen as secondary to the academic subjects. By pursuing them students are restricting their career choices, and sadly this means many students end up in a career that doesn’t make the most of their natural abilities. This is part of a bigger debate, but If creativity is the key to education why don’t schools really embed it?  I am so pleased I have re- discovered my painting, but makes me sad I lost out on years of joy from it. For the record I am happy in my career choice and see painting as a hobby, but I often think – what if my education had squeezed the urge to create out of me for good?

Spend more time doing what you love

A painter’s got a canvas. The writer’s got reams of empty paper. A musician has silence.- Keith Richards

Regardless of whether you like to pick up a paintbrush or not, I am a firm believer that creativity lies in everyone and we should encourage ourselves in our own way to break free of our own creative ruts.

This may be by finding inspiration in everyday things, following fashion, starting a blog, crafting, writing or music, find an outlet where you can be you channel your thoughts and visions, without restriction. Because one day you might look back and wonder- I wish I had spend more time doing what I love.

 

 

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Winter Pom Pom Hat Competition

Merry Blogmas All! Win this Knitted Pom Pom Hat

This Christmas the pom pom has been described as “the sartorial equivalent of a Christmas bauble & the undisputed fashion smash of Christmas 2015”

Bargain retailers BonPrix have nailed the pom pom trend with this knitted winter hat.

Being a bit of a hat lover I jumped at the chance to add to my ever expanding collection, especially as the old fedora doesn’t really keep me that warm when it really gets cold. This is the first time I have worn anything from Bon Prix before and I was pleasantly surprised to find they have a stunning range of cosy knitted hats that are importantly great quality and affordable in price (Who in their right mind wants to pay over the odds for a woolly hat!)

Cara  Delevingne likes a pom pom – do you?

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You can win this little beauty by dropping a comment on this post that says why you want to win the hat.

Or -I will also be running it on Twitter all you have to do is RT to win, follow @BonPrixUK on Twitter and use the hashtag #bonprixadvent! Find the link here 

Ends Midnight 20th December

Want to buy one? Find them here

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Eastern Promise- Chinese Laundry Vintage comes to York

If Marianne Faithful and Mick Jagger lived in Yorkshire this would be where they would shop.

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Chinese Laundry is a brand new vintage shop in York city centre. Walking down the high street it was the shop front itself that caught my eye –by the looks of it; it is it’s in an old Tudor building.

I was on my way to what I like to call charity shop alley on Goodram Gate and I did a sharp double take… what’s this… a new shop.. This looks interesting,. and it was. Stepping inside, the interior was all low beams, glowing Chinese lanterns and psychedelic art.

Shoppers could browse the rails of colourful prints whilst listening to some rockin’ 70s music. Chinese Laundry I would say is one of the best small vintage shops I have seen in a while.

It has a fabulous selection of vintage clothing from fur coats, genuine pieces and vintage replica items from Pop boutique over in Leeds and all at very reasonable prices, perfect for retro and bargain hunters alike.

They have only been there since 27th November and talking to the owner they seem to be doing well so far. Perfect for a last minute Xmas party outfit with a difference. I got my jumpsuit (below) from there – I think it might just be my new favourite little black outfit!

Find Chinese Laundry at number 51 Goodramgate. Even if you don’t live in Yorkshire like their facebook page for some daily inspiration.

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Image courtesy of Chinese Laundry Facebook

 

Image courtesy of Chinese Laundry Faceboook
Image courtesy of Chinese Laundry Facebook

 

This is the only jumpsuit you will ever need

Forget the little black dress it’s all about the little black Jumpsuit. Google jumpsuits and up celebs looking like one of the following- A giant baby, A mechanic or, Ziggy Stardust (This one is not a bad thing may I add).

The jumpsuit/ playsuit can be bit of a style danger zone. It can easily be unflattering if you get it wrong yet, pick the right style and can be a fantastic alternative to a dress for the Christmas party season or daytime look.

The pinafore style is the most flattering and versatile of playsuit styles. Loose in design with, no volume in the wrong place you get with other styles which can be a nightmare if you are a bit bottom heavy like me! Can’t go wrong with this one.

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Autumn Style Inspiration from Grandma’s wardrobe

We are at the end of Autumn. It’s a time when the winter chill really starts to set in and the nights get darker. I love this time of year, the cold evenings are perfect for Hot choc with Baileys or whiskey,  the falling leaves tumbling like confetti in golden colours, Christmas lights and open fires, are glorious reminders that Christmas is just around the corner. Plus it’s a perfect excuse to get some cosy new winter clothes.

Aztec vintage camel coat

Out and about in Yorkshire visiting Castle Howard we were in the open countryside. Great, I thought, some fresh air away from the city. But it’s November and the UK, I should have known better. I set off sporting a vintage St Michael coat with some bright Aztec trousers (just because it’s dark doesn’t mean you have to wear black right?) It soon dawned on me as I pulled up in collar in a bid to keep warm in the cold, that this simple coat was not going to suffice. It’s time to bring out the big guns. Time to swap the camel for the sheep.

Everyone needs a warm sheepskin in the winter and mine came from the most unexpected of places. Imagine my joy when the original Queen of vintage,  my Grandma, donated this original 70s sheepskin the other month.

Now in her 90s this is a woman who still has a razor sharp wit, rocks a glittery nail polish and has a pink mobile phone (though she did answer it upside down last time I visited) clearly she knows a thing or two.

I thought the depths of her closet would only be home to some lavender skirts and reams of chiffon but it proved to be a real treasure trove. She even had this great crochet blanket that will have pride of place on our chesterfield sofa. I am a big fan of thrifting and recycling clothing so this was PERFECT, plus  it means I will always have a piece of her with me as I go along my travels.

So if you love granny chic, get some original. Next time you visit your nan, have a rummage in her wardrobe you never know what you might find.   There’s bound to be some vintage gems just waiting to be discovered;  bags, scarves,  blouses, floral fancies and possibly a sheepskin coat or two.

Look out for an outfit post coming soon.

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