A trip to the library

Today I took the little one for her first visit to the library. Actually, it was more for my benefit than hers as I wanted to use the computers to print something out. I could have done it at work I suppose, but there’s always that worry that the one time you jam the printer will be when you’re printing that non-work document.

I’m ashamed to say that this was my first visit to the library in what must be years. Every time I heard of another library closure I feel incredibly sad, yet I, like most of us, just don’t make enough use of them anymore. Continue reading

No time to be sick

Since when did taking a day off sick become an opportunity to get shit done? After spending most of the Easter weekend coughing uncontrollably and generally feeling a bit rubbish, I came home from work on Tuesday feeling exhausted, achy, and pretty damn ill. I can’t tell you how much I loved my partner, when, seeing I was struggling asked me to wash bottles for the little one then said I should take myself off to bed at 7pm. Feeling no better (worse), when I woke the next morning, I called in sick and stayed in bed until lunch time.

A day at home with my partner around is a rare thing in our house, so despite feeling rotten, my mind turned to all the odd jobs that we never get round to, because they require someone to watch the little on so they can get done. So, wrapped in my favourite blanket and setting up camp on the sofa, I sent my other half off to the tip to get rid of the pile of old flooring that has been sitting in out front garden for the last week or so after we (finally, after a year of winging about the state of it and it driving me nuts) got our living room floor replaced. Our floor may be lovely now, but the piles of rubbish outside our front door was dragging down the nice appearance of our street. That’s not to mention the old sofa and armchair hiding down the alley waiting for a council collection.

While my partner took the little on out to run some errands, I then used the peace and quiet to do a bit of research and purchase a new toilet (exciting stuff) ready for some work we’re having done in the bathroom next month, get a bit of tidying done, and write this blog post. Later that evening, feeling much better, I set to work painting our living room doors.

I’m sure there was a time when being sick meant staying in bed drinking cups of tea and feeling sorry myself, but these days it’s chance to do all of the stuff that I just can’t get round to/can’t be bothered to do when I’m fit and well. This ultimately also results in an overwhelming feeling of guilt that if I can get this done I should in fact be at work, but, I knew when I got up and attempted to shower that it just wasn’t worth trying to go in. I hate calling in sick, and generally have to be feeling at death’s door in order to do so.

I’ve only had one day of annual leave so far this year, and if this week has taught me anything, it’s that it’s worth booking the odd day off regularly, if nothing else just to do the odd bit of housework and generally get my shit together.

Back to work: mixed emotions

December seemed such a long way off when I began my maternity leave back in May, but come the new year, I’ll be heading back to work and back into the old routine.

Whilst I’m experiencing a mixed bag of emotions about the pending situation, I’m actually looking forward to returning to the office (a good thing since not going back simply isn’t an option due to finances and my own sanity). Whilst I’ve felt ready to go back for a month or more now, I can’t help but feel a little uneasy, guilty even, about going back to work. Continue reading

My life in clothes

For as long as I can remember, clothes have been somewhat of on obsession for me. I often wonder where this stems from, and why these Outer Layers have defined so much of my life.

Is it because growing up I was a bit of an outsider and clothes were a way of ‘fitting in’ to a particular social group? Maybe growing up in a family with little money contributed, as the clothes I so desired in order to fit in couldn’t be had. Or could it be rooted in being a younger sibling, stuck with hand-me-downs but desperate to express myself in something to call my own? It may be down to all, or none of these reasons, but many of my most vivid memories centre around particular fashion choices.

The earliest of these memories is of a Minnie Mouse outfit (navy blue skater skirt and a white t-shirt printed with Minnie) that I refused to take off other than to go to bed. I must have only been 2 or 3 at the time, and my mum has often reminded me how she had to wash and dry the outfit under the cover of darkness to avoid temper tantrums the following morning. To this day I haven’t parted with the outfit, and it currently resides in a dusty corner of my Mum’s loft. This attachment to a ‘particular ‘look’ is something that’s continued throughout my life.

I must have been about ten years old when I was first aware of being fashion conscious. This was the mid-nineties, when tracksuits were the height of fashion, and, as I’m sure is still the same today, branding was of the utmost importance. Kids would turn up to class in the latest Adidas tracksuits and trainers (I seem to remember Reebok classics being a popular choice), but alas, my family just couldn’t afford this designer gear. I was left wearing market stall knock-offs until pester power wore my Mum down (sorry Mum) and I was bought an Adidas tracksuit from the bargain bin. This hideous number consisted of a white top with black stripes, and electric blue bottoms with neon orange. The garish colour combo mattered not, as the obligatory three stripes were all present and correct. It baffles me to think now how a ridiculous combination like that was more acceptable because of its branding, when my attempts to wear nice but ‘unfashionable’ clothes, were met with mockery (a particularly hurtful comment from the best looking boy in class about a homemade skirt sticks in my mind).

Whilst my mismatched tracksuits was socially acceptable, they weren’t me, and this conflict definitely contributed to a general lack of confidence in anything I wore by the time I got to secondary school. Whilst I was relatively safe in my uniform during school hours, what I wore after 3:30pm was a great source of stress. By the age of fourteen I’d developed something of a style, and in my wardrobe hung a few outfits, mostly wide leg jeans and grunge t-shirts. I’d wear these at home, but the minute I had to leave the house I would change back into something ‘safe’ or even back into my school trousers out of fear of bumping into someone from school and being laughed at for wearing something a little different. I acknowledge that the problem here was my own confidence rather than the attitude of others, I bet no one cared what I wore, if they noticed me at all.

College brought it’s own challenges. There was a refreshing feeling that ‘anything goes’; the playground politics had disappeared and everyone had just grown up a bit, but which group to try and conform with? Grunge, skater, hippie, preppy, sporty, girly…? I must have experimented with them all and whichever I was into informed my buying choices. I’d walk into a shop and analyse every piece of clothing that I liked to determine if it fitted with the particular look I was going for: “Is it ‘grunge’ enough?” or, “does this say ‘hippy chick’ to you?” If the answer was no, it would go back on the shelf no matter how much I liked it. So, at the age of 18 I still wasn’t dressing for myself, but crying a ‘look’ for the benefit of whichever group I wanted to be part of.

At university I became interested in anything with a ‘vintage’ look, which to this day is more me. However, with my own income for the first time and the rise of discount clothes stores like Primark, my wardrobe became overloaded to the point that any style I had was lost in a jumble of cheap dresses, t-shirts, and knitwear. Oh so much knitwear. (I’m ashamed to admit that at one point I owned upwards of 65 jumpers and cardigans). My wardrobe is only just recovering from the onslaught of outfits during my university days.

It’s only now as a confident(ish) 29 year old that I wear what I feel comfortable in and reflects who I am. Clothes and fashion will always be a passion of mine and reflect my personality. I’m a firm believer that even if you’re someone who claims to have no interest in fashion, your choice of ‘outer layer’ will still be a reflection of who you are; it’s unavoidable.

I’ll still have a bad day if I wear an outfit that’s not right, but as I’ve got older my choices have become much more refined. More often than not, I can be found in a pair of dark skinny jeans, a Breton top, and a pair of scuffed up plimsolls, but, if I do want to wear something a little more ‘out there’, I will, with little regard for what anyone else thinks. I only wish I’d had that confidence when I was younger, but maybe it’s all part of a learning curve and a way of our younger selves figuring out who we really are.

 

 

 

 

 

In at the deep end

Learning

I’ve probably gone on about this a lot lately, but I’m currently at the start of the biggest learning curve I’ve ever encountered: motherhood.

Prior to the birth of my daughter in May, I’d held a baby precisely 3 times before, all of which had occurred before the age of 13. So was I ready to deal with a small person of my own? Mentally, yes, but in practice? Probably not. Continue reading