Sunday, November 14, 2021

Where It All Began

How's your week been? This week I have been mostly working and despairing at the news, particularly the summary of COP26 by one climate change professor on TV who described the assembled world leaders as "tinkering at the edges" and suggesting that we should be taking to the streets in our millions.  Was I alone in naively thinking that COP26 was the first of its kind? I mean obviously the number 26 is a bit of a giveaway, but why was has there been an apparent news blackout of this crucially important event in previous years? 

In the midst of this s*!tstorm, our esteemed leader saw fit to take a private jet from Glasgow back to London, whilst studiously ploughing through another kind of storm; this one created by the gathering clouds of sleaze currently permeating the UK government and Conservative Party in general. I read an interview with writer/actor Mark Gatiss recently in which he claimed he no longer watches the news. I can relate.  I'm conflicted by the desire to be kept informed and the abject horror at the relentless pile on of bad news. 

To distract myself this week, I've been considering my lifestyle and asking myself whether I'm doing enough. The short answer is no. None of us are, although I'm sure the majority of us are trying. 

To break it down, we recycle, try not to waste food, don't leave taps running and are trying to find ways to make our 1930s property more energy efficient (this is quite a big ask). 

Typical 1930s properties captured in a neighbouring street, Nikon D7500 50mm lens

We work from home, at least give consideration to the car journeys we take, rarely fly and I think I have perhaps bought no more than two items of new clothing this past year. Similarly, our home is furnished with an eclectic mix of second hand finds and antiques. Any new purchases have always been made with our hearts and have therefore stood the test of time. We're not consumerists; we don't redecorate annually or slavishly follow interior design trends. 

In addition, Gareth, a former product designer, has long detested plastic and I recall us wrestling with our consciences over the number of plastic toys our son was gifted throughout his childhood. We've since donated many to charity or retained them, to delay as far as possible their inevitable landfill demise. 

But fear not, I'm not about to start polishing my halo. We need to make improvements. We're driving around in a dirty diesel (bar the occasional and perfectly legal cooking oil refill)... 

Our car unsuccessfully trying shadow puppetry

...and there are times when the cold really starts to bite and the heating's on, that I think we would be no worse off if we had all the doors and windows open. The problem is in order to effectively insulate our house, we would need to carpet (eek!) everywhere. Apparently cavity wall insulation is not really an option for us and in any event, is not always 100% effective in older properties. We could clad the outside of the house or install solar panels but at what cost? We have a couple of open fires, but we're in a smokeless zone (not that anyone around here takes any notice of that) and much of the heat escapes through the chimney. 

But these are considerations for us to mull over during the bleak winter months, so to lighten the mood and to keep me on track in terms of buying pre-loved items of clothing, I thought I'd share with you a few of this week's charity shop finds. Yes, I braved a few this week in my vaccine weakened state, as cases of Covid in the UK do now seem to be declining. Hurray! 

First up this mohair vintage jumper from one time High Street staple, British Home Stores, which is in remarkable condition and cost me all of £3.95. I handed over my money and wrestled it into one of my "handy" tote bags, which, it turns out, wasn't so handy. I carried the bulging bag across town and when I met up with Gareth, he asked me why I was carrying a small dog in a shopping bag. 

The remainder of this week's purchases are all non vintage but caught my eye for various reasons. I tend to gravitate towards a certain colour every season. This seasons's colour, orange, is quite Autumn appropriate. Having bagged an orange polo neck jumper a couple of weeks ago, I spied it's fair weather sister garment, originally from Warehouse.  Here it is, teamed with a Zara denim jacket I bagged for a fiver. Forgive the double denim/make-up free sleep deprived horror show - I just happened to throw it on for a photo over my existing jeans.  I love the textured pattern and given that we seem to be experiencing a relatively mild winter so far, it should see some action. 

Inspired by Ann and her eye for a great print, Polyester Princess: True colours (, I was on the lookout for a snazzy (yes, I appear to have reached the age where "snazzy" is an acceptable adjective) printed blouse and this caught my eye. 

The label read Numph. The quality was good and whilst I couldn't think of anything in my wardrobe it would work with, I didn't let such a mere trifle stop me from making the purchase. I discovered later that Numph is a Danish label designed from hand drawn prints. According to the website, "Numph embraces our dreams, personalities and creativity: the whimsical and strinent, the feminine and cool". Sold! 

One item that is currently eluding me is a corduroy dress. I have a thing for corduroy. Last year, one of the few new items I bought was black corduroy dungarees. I found them so much warmer than denim and wore them repeatedly. I was recently outbid on a Justine Tabak corduroy dress so my quest continues. In the meantime, I decided to layer my new blouse over a white polo neck jumper to make the colours pop a little more and teamed it with my dungarees and a pair of recycled metal earrings. I think it works, although I always think there's an air of pre-school TV or Changing Rooms about dungarees. Still, I'm available should Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen's colleagues stage a walk out. 

On Saturday we decided to take a trip to the place that served as the catalyst for climate change, Coalbrookdale/Ironbridge. I selected a wide angle lens to best capture the gorge and the hill flanked multi layered buildings that make up Ironbridge, but sadly, as we rounded the windy approach to Coalbrookdale, I discovered that I had forgotten my memory card. The pain! So events were instead viewed and recorded through an iphone lens. 

Ironbridge is wonderful for an Autumn day out. The newly painted bridge, transitional Autumn foliage and orange tinged pewter skies made for some nice moody landscape shots.

Signs of the area's industrial heritage are everywhere. 

The Christmas shop was full to bursting. 

I would happily live here, being a fan of high ceilings and Georgian architecture.

Whilst I feel fortunate to live so close to a World Heritage Site, we are all now also sharing the guilt that maybe the Industrial Revolution wasn't the best plan in retrospect and the devastating flooding experienced here in recent years is testament to its impact upon our climate.

I love the steep steps and passageways that criss-cross this town.

Naturally we had to visit the town's only charity shop. We left empty handed but not before I'd captured the till area. What a clever idea!

I had more luck next door in the bookshop on The Square.

Having recently read a positive review of Candice Carty-Williams' debut novel Queenie by Sophie Dahl, this book was languishing on a books of interest list in the back of my mind...and there it was, sitting in a basket outside the second hand to Carl Chinn's Peaky Blinders; The Real Story. 

A couple more for the pile, which also includes this separate purchase "Violet Bent Backwards Over The Grass" by singer Lana Del Ray, who appears to have stolen one of my backburner ideas and created a photo book with poetry! 

Signs of the forthcoming Remembrance Sunday were everywhere, the town having been decorated with randomly placed giant poppies. 

So as I finish this blog post, we are experiencing a minute's silence to remember the fallen. I wonder what they would make of the current state of affairs...? I dread to think. 

Ironbridge featured on the local news recently given its role in the industrial revolution and ensuing global warming. The item ended on a hopeful note, with the town's delegates insisting that we humans are resourceful and adaptable and that perhaps one day, someone with a link to the town might become part of the solution. I'll finish with a photo I took a couple of years ago after a visit to a poppy field. In a sea of red, this solo white poppy stood proud. I saw it as a symbol of hope. 

Please feel free to leave a comment below with positive vibes, your latest read or news from your part of the world.  Take care all and see you soon!


  1. First of all, thank you for the shout out, and your snazzy print blouse gets my full approval. As does the BHS jumper!
    As for climate change and the small - and bigger - changes we can make, we can all probably do better. We too live in a 1930s house with poor insulation, and have replaced its roof and some of its windows. We're always thinking second hand first, and try to avoid waste as much as we can. The car's a bit of a problem too. Although not a Diesel, we are using it more now that I'm avoiding public transport due to Covid. I'm far from polishing my halo :-)
    Ah, Ironbridge! That's another trip down memory lane for me. Love the till in that charity shop which, for some reason, we seem to have missed. But as it was in June, it was full of real poppies surrounding the war memorial, which I found particularly poignant. xxx

  2. Hi Ann, The charity shop is quite small so easy to miss. I shall make it my mission to visit in June. How lovely to have real poppies growing around the memorial. xxx

  3. Hello Claire, I can understand Mark Gatiss switching off from the TV news; it is all a bit overwhelming at times. The new plastic toys especially vex me; they seem to come with more plastic packaging than the actual item :0 A few relatives buy second hand clothes, books and toys for the kids, which I much prefer, but there still seems to be a 'not new? - no good' mentality particularly when giving gifts.

    I am loving your moody 1930 houses photo. Ironbridge looks like a lovely place to have a potter about... and you still manage to get superb photos with your mobile! The corduroy dress and Danish blouse is a hit. Lulu xXx

  4. Hi Lulu, Yes, I'm not sure some folks will ever overcome the "must buy new" mentality. It did feel good to escape much of the news last week. I might have a few self-imposed breaks from time to time. xxx


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