30 July 2015

Be a Rebel

My love affair with dresses is well documented on this blog, but the other loves of my life which are not as well documented are shoes.

Shoes work perfectly to complete an outfit and indeed in many cases, can make it or break it.  I love using shoes and boots to edge out an outfit, such as chunky boots with a pretty floral dress or flat sandals to make an outfit more casual yet still chic.  

I thought that I would share with you today some of my favourite shoes from a brand I had recently come across called London Rebel.   I was introduced to London Rebel via the brilliant team at i.LEVEL Software which is a stock management solution company created by fashion experts. They have some amazing brands that they work with which cover shoes, clothes, jewellery, fashion and accessories.

I had a look at London Rebel via Asos and have picked out my favourites for you which cover every base from summery flat to elegant evening shoes.  Amazingly they are all priced at less than £40.00!








*This post is in collaboration with I Level Software however all views and choices are my own

29 July 2015

Swimwear Through the Decades

I was forwarded this infographic with regard to swimwear through the ages.  This is not a sponsored post, I just found the content interesting so thought that I would share it with you!












Something Different Wishlist Post

I don't know why but when I was doing a little window shopping today, everything that caught my eye was something that I would not ordinarily wear.

I especially love the steam punk style jacket and the dead red riding hood t-shirt.  I have added a floral skirt into the mix as I thought that you may think that an impostor had taken over the blog!



Something Different Wishlist Post



Hooded t shirt
violentdelights.co.uk


Trench coat
£71 - simplybe.com



Comic book
amazon.co.uk



Pendants necklace
£2.48 - nastydress.com

27 July 2015

Sandra Bland

I have talked about many different subjects on this blog over the years.  I have never been afraid to write about any subject, but one subject that I have not covered so far are issues of race.  As Leah has written on her blog, the truth is that I was scared.

I did not know enough, I was frightened of getting things wrong; saying the wrong thing.  I did not want to stay silent and many times my fingers would be hovering over the keyboard as time after time I read about another black life needlessly lost.  I was so concerned about saying the right thing that I said nothing at all.

But this lady has made me face my fears and speak to you today.  Sandra Bland.

Source

Sandra was pulled over for not indicating a lane change.  In Waller County where Sandra was pulled over, 29.1% of the drivers who were pulled for a traffic stop were black, despite black people only making up 26% of the county's population - source  Texas has a long, long history with racism,

Sandra was ordered out of her vehicle, threatened with a taser, had her head slammed to the ground; was arrested and three days later she was dead.  They claim that Sandra hung herself, but there are many questions surrounding this, one of the harrowing being that she may have already been dead when her mugshot was taken.

Why was the video footage edited?  Why was her mugshot not taken with the same background as every single other mugshot (the background being the same colour as the cell floor).  Why does it look like she is lying on the floor?  Why did the version of how she supposedly hung herself change?

There are so many questions and not many answers.

Check out the below links:


I have read story after story of unarmed black people being physically assaulted and killed by officers in the US.  Yet at the same time we see people like Dylann Roof who was arrested, given a bullet proof vest for his protection and given a Burger King.

Sandra Bland's name needs to be remembered.  She is not a statistic.  

Tips for Young Drivers

My niece is learning to drive at the moment.  Learning to drive these days is an expensive pastime, not only paying for the driving lessons after you pass, the cost of your car insurance and road tax.

There are some importance choices that you have to make when you choose to learn to drive and the first of those is choosing your driving instructor.  When I first decided to learn to drive, rather than getting recommendations, I choose someone from the Yellow Pages who had a cheap hourly rate.  Big mistake.

I was a very nervous driver in the beginning and for the first and second driving lesson; I did not even manage to proceed beyond driving on the car park.  What I needed was encouragement and patience.  What I got was ridicule and being told that there was little point in carrying on because I was wasting my money and his time.  He told me that I would never be able to do it.

That is a harsh thing to tell a seventeen year old that is nervous behind the wheel to begin with.  Whilst I was nervous, I was also determined so I decided to not listen to him, but instead fire him.  I got a new instructor; this time one who came highly recommended.  It may have taken me 18 months to pass my test, but I got there. 



The other importance choice that you have to make is selecting your car insurance provider.  There is no getting away from it; insurance for new drivers is expensive.  Thankfully though, if you do your research, you can find some great deals.

Companies like More Than have policies specifically with young drivers in mind that can assist with the cost of insurance by monitoring your driving by way of their Telematics Driving Style Score. 

When you buy their young driver policy they arrange to have a small Sm>rt Wheels Box fitted to your car which monitoring various aspects of your driving such as speed, smoothness and usage. Over the course of the year, you can earn back up to 10% of your premium by way of cashback.

By having the Sm>rtBox monitor your driving this will not only save you money but also encourage you not to take risks, speed or brake excessively because you know that the safer you drive, the more cashback you can get!


Do you have any stories from when you learned to drive? 

*Post written in collaboration with More Than however all opinions are my own

25 July 2015

Home Start St Albans City and District

I spoke to you a couple of months ago about a new monthly feature that I wanted to implement on my blog.  I have had so much joy from this blog and I want to, in my own small way, give back some of that joy by helping others.

My idea is to promote those smaller charities that you have not necessarily heard about before.  The large charities, although very important, get a lot of press and donations whilst the smaller ones, which need help just as much, can sometimes be unnoticed.

Today I want to feature Home Start - St Albans City and District.
Home Start support families in need who have children under the age of 5 by way of volunteer visits.  All of the volunteers at Home Start have parenting experience and they assist families who need practical help and assurance, breaks for parents as well as practical support with local services.

I spoke to Home Start and asked them to share a paragraph with us:

"Being a parent can be hard at the best of times, but imagine parenting when you have a mental or physical illness, a child with a disability, no family or friends there for support; or when you are living in poverty or debt.  This is the reality for many parents.

The weekly support provided by Home Start's fully trained volunteers has been described by families as a "lifeline".  Our early intervention reduces family breakdown and crisis and helps parents five their children a positive and settled start start in life."

You can hear some of the families' stories on the video below:


Home Start is a nationwide project but I wanted to promote the St Albans City and District Project in particular as I have learned that they have recently lost all of their Council funding and as a result they are in dire need of funds.  Home Start need to raise the sum of £40,000.00 over the next 5 months in order to continue with this much needed support for families.

Here is where you can donate to Home Start, either by a single or monthly donation


22 July 2015

A Glamping Good Time

I have recently seen in my Facebook timeline a couple of friends who have attended Beatherder.  I have always wanted to go to a festival but there is always one thing that stops me.  The camping.

I am not the "throw me in a sleeping bag in a cold tent and I'll still have fun" kind of woman.  I am the "enjoy a festival but then get me a warm hotel room and a big bed" kind of woman.  Up to now, it has been never the twain shall meet.

In the past few years however there has been a solution that has arisen.  Glamping.  Camping, but with a few necessary (ok not necessary but much appreciated) luxuries.  Be it in a tent or a camper van, adding a comfortable mattress or blow up bed, a few cushions, some throws and blankets (you can find some gorgeous ones here ) and maybe a cocktail shaker (or two!)would definately entice me into the great outdoors!

Glamping essentials

All life's essentials!!


At the moment my beautiful green flowery tent and blow up bed  have languished in the garage, unused and unloved.  Perhaps I can embrace glamping and get my festive on!



*Written in collaboration with the House of Fraser, but my thoughts as ever are my own


21 July 2015

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

The image that we see in the mirror is different for everyone.  For some, we see clearly what we look like, for others, the image is distorted.  The reflection looking back is viewed through a filter of society's expectations and with that, our perception of the way we look changes.



I have spoken about this previously in my post The Image in the Mirror 

What particularly interests me however is the way in which that society filter disappears when we look at our friends and the ones we love.  We do not judge them by the way that society judges us, we love them for who they are and we appreciate their own beauty.  We do not see the so called imperfections that we see in ourselves.

I was chatting the other day to a woman that I know well.  She was telling me about a brilliant night out she had been on with some friends.  She then proceeded to show me a photograph taken of her with her friends saying "Look how horrible and fat I look compared to them".

I looked at the photograph and saw a gorgeous, happy, smiling woman. 

A thought then occurred to me and I asked her to tell me what she would think if she and another person saw a photograph of me and that other person commented how fat I was and how horrible I looked.

Immediate anger crossed her face and she said something along the lines of "Just let them say something like that in front of me!"

This, right here, is the most complex issue that needs to be dealt with.  Thinking it completely unacceptable to insult me, a woman much fatter than her, yet it was perfectly acceptable for her to act that way towards herself.

This does not just happen between my friend and I, it happens everywhere.  Women judging themselves, picking apart their appearances and hating themselves for the way they look yet also simultaneously knowing that such hate is wholly wrong.  Two exact forms of hate, kept in a perfect balance, until you point it out.

Contrary to the popular belief, I think that people need to look in the mirror more, not less.  Get comfortable with the way you look.  Take that selfie, take a thousand of them.  Embrace that face that is uniquely yours and recognise the beauty within it. 

Look at your body, remember how far it has taken you, what it helps to you accomplish every single day.  Look at the things that you love about it.  Aside from your mind, it is the most precious thing you have and will be with you your whole life.

There are no wrong features and there is no wrong way to look.  Our uniqueness is beautiful.  The red freckle on the end of my nose that I used to hate and cover hastily with makeup is now loved.  It is distinctive to me and a part of me. 

Start that love affair.  



20 July 2015

Spa Days

Hello all!

Following on from my post about my visit to the Manchester Central Travelodge and the Manchester Cathedral, I wanted to share the rest of my visit to Manchester with you.

After visiting the Cathedral, a quick change and my first experience with a +LUSH Dragons Egg bath bomb, I was feeling rested and ready for a bit of pampering!

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I had an appointment booked with City Spa Escapes.  City Spa Escapes offers everything from manicures to facials, waxing, tanning and HD brows.  I had decided to go for the organic manicure and pedicure which uses 100% natural and organic products.  You can also add a nail buff or polish (not organic).

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My consultant on the day was Alicia who was lovely to talk to and very professional.  Both treatments took approximately an hour and a half in total and I emerged relaxed, pampered and painted with a beautiful red polish on my fingers and toes.


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City Spa Escapes is in a great location which is just five minutes walk from Spinningfields and on the same street as the Coronation Street Tour.  My visit there was completely relaxing and the treatments, both priced at £45.00 each, were exactly what I wished for.

After the spa visit I rounded up my day by meeting a friend for a meal and a cocktail (or two) as pictured below from The Alchemist.  All in all, a very lovely day!


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 photo IMG_20150629_210029_zpsnmavez7o.jpg


* My treatments at the spa were gifted to me but all opinions are my own.

15 July 2015

Thoughts of the Week - School Uniforms


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Today I am talking about school uniforms and the policies that schools have with regard to them.

When I was going to secondary school in the early nineties, the school rules with regard your appearance were simple.   For the girls you could either wear a knee length skirt or plain black formal trousers i.e. no leggings.  As long as the trousers were of the right material and your skirt was nearer your knees than your bottom, you were good to go.

When it came to non-uniform days, I don't recall anyone ever getting set home for inappropriate dress.  Shoulders and arms were bared on these days in the warmer months and no boys, or male teachers for that matter complained of being distracted by them.  No educations suffered as a result of a boy, or male teacher come to that, being able to see my knees.

Fast forward to 2015 and you would be forgiven for thinking that attitudes towards school uniform and female students had actually gone back in time.  Female students are treated as if they are term time Lolitas, there only to distract boys and entice teachers.

Let us put it in a plain and simple way. 

If you are sending a girl home because you can see some or all of her shoulders,
YOU are the problem, not her.

If you are sending a girl home because teachers/male students are distracted by her, the teacher and YOU are the problem, not her.

If you force a girl to wear a "shame suit" if her clothes violate the dress code, YOU are the one that should be ashamed.  Give her parents a letter giving them a time period to rectify situation.  DO NOT PUBLICALLY SHAME HER.

If you insist that girls have to wear non white t-shirts over their swimming costumes, YOU are the problem.

If you think a girl is "too young" to be wearing an outfit,

YOU ARE TOO OLD TO BE SEXUALISING HER FOR WEARING IT.

14 July 2015

The Disabled Overweight (And Why We’re Not Unicorns)

Today on the blog I have the lovely Hazel guest posting for me from Frocktopus.  Hazel is talking today about size shaming and the disabled overweight.  This is a fantastic read and I am so pleased that she agreed to post for me.



As much as I don’t want to believe it, unicorns don’t exist. The nine year old inside me is crying just typing that. I on the other hand do exist, and as much as we all like to feel a little like we’re special snowflakes, there are literally millions of people just like me on this planet - I’m overweight and I’m disabled.

I’m writing about these things for the ever fabulous curved opinion today because this blog is all about body positivity and Vicky has written some amazing posts about the plus sized movement, which sadly goes hand in hand with talking about size shaming.

Often I’m essentially excused from size shaming, not because I’m of average BMI (on my scale of awesome fictional characters from Flat Stanley to Jabba the Hutt I happily sit just shy of Vicar of Dibley) but because I’m disabled. A fact people seem to forget when vilifying under/overweight people.

“That’s me!” I shout.

“Not you, you’re exempt” they blush. “Besides I don’t think of you as fat”
some of the nicer friends say.

“Do one” I say, hitting the Facebook block button, passive aggressive as ever.

These are people that would, quite rightly, be in uproar if someone said “But you can’t help being black” or “But I don’t think of you as a woman.” These are not valid excuses people, if you’re going to make sweeping statements and presumptions about a subset or society, it’s a good idea to stop, look left and right then think, can these people be expected to live up to my ideals, and should they be expected to?

Shaming people on the basis that 'people can do stuff but they won’t' is presuming you know someone's situation better than they themselves (something I regularly try to check with my ‘Am I being a dick?' filter.) Not everyone is able to cook healthy food, eat healthy food and exercise regularly enough to be an ideal weight. 

If you’re thinking a group of people aren’t doing something they should, it’s probably a good idea to take into account the subsets of that group that sometimes cannot physically do those things, be it by poverty, carpophobia or disability.

Another often touted belief is 'It’s wrong to have an unhealthy role model'. This is not only saying large swathes of disabled people can’t have a role model, it’s saying large swathes of disabled people can’t BE a role model, which is discrimination by omission (a law/rule/belief that isn’t specifically aimed at a subset of people but accidentally persecutes them more than average, for example losing job security for taking long periods of time off work discriminates parents by omission.) 

It’s important for all people to have someone that can make them feel like they aren’t a freak and that they can accomplish something great, whether that’s being an Olympian or getting out of your PJs by noon (FYI I am in my PJs at 11am writing this, I bet Tess Holiday’s in a fucking power suit by this time of day). 

This attitude towards over/underweight disabled people is not only pretty discriminatory but I do not believe it’s about health. Size shaming often masquerades as concern for health but it’s only a small portion of apparent health people can see on the surface.

Whilst I’ve been told probably over a hundred times in my life that I’m overweight, I have never once had someone in the street yell "Oi, Your blood sugar is low”. There are many ways people can be healthy and unhealthy (for example I’m teetotal) but there is an inordinate emphasis on extremes of weight due to societies revulsion.

Phobia and revulsion are very closely linked psychologically, that’s why when you have blood taken you’re sometimes asked to lay down on a table, because if you’re scared you don't faint, if you do it’s due to revulsion, even though the mind computes them both as the same thing. and what is concern? Come on, you know where I’m going with this, fear for another person. 

So body shamers,  we know you care, it’s just we don’t need your compassion/revulsion. What we need is for you to stop and think “Is this discrimination by omission?" "Am I presuming people I know someone's situation more than they do?" Am I being a dick

12 July 2015

Manchester Central Travelodge Review

A couple of weeks ago I decided to take a two day trip to Manchester.  The plan was to do a little sightseeing, some shopping, catch up with a friend and have a few spa treatments.


I booked myself in the Manchester Central Travelodge on Blackfriars Street, Salford as it is in a prime location for everything you could want in a city break hotel.  There is parking available which is cheaper than the usual NCP parking but is also close to bus routes.

Only 5 minutes walk away from all the major shops, including everything from Primark to Michael Kors (all hail those amazing handbags) with lots of eatery places scattered around; the hotel is the perfect location for shopoholics.

Just around the corner from the hotel are the fantastic bars and restaurants in Deansgate and Spinningfields with an easy 5-10 minute stroll back to the hotel after some lovely food and a cocktail or two.   I would recommend The Botanist for cocktails and Gusto for gorgeous Italian fayre or GBK for the best burger in town.

For those looking for some culture too, the hotel is less than a 5 minute walk to Manchester Cathedral, 10 minutes to the Phones 4U Manchester Arena to see the latest musical performer and a 10-15 minutes stroll to the Opera House.

I was booked into one of the business floors at the Travelodge which offer a quiet and relaxing stay, especially with the fantastic new king size beds.  My room was compact but comfortable and had all the usual amenities.




Breakfast at the Travelodge has all the things that you could want including cereals, croissants, yogurts  and of course the hot breakfast together with an array of fruit juices, tea and coffee.  Diane, who was the lady on duty to assist customers was really lovely and helpful; being the perfect combination of chatty, without being intruding.  A plus when you are a sole traveller who wants to feel at ease, but also enjoy a peaceful breakfast.


I thought that I would share with you a few photographs that I snapped during my visit to Manchester Cathedral.  The architecture is simply breathtaking and is definately worth a visit.








I also visited a spa which I will be telling you about in a future blog post as well as as a cocktail bar or two!



*My hotel stay was gifted to me however all opinions are my own

8 July 2015

A Weight Loss Journey

Hello all!

Last week I put out a shout out on Facebook and Twitter asking for guest posts for my blog.  In particular what I was looking for were people's personal stories from people who either did not have a blog of their own or was not in their niche.  Something that they wished to share.

The beautiful Lindsay answered my call with this post which I share with you today.  I met Lindsay at +Betty Pamper's "Capturing the Curves" shoot and I can confirm that this lady is beautiful; both inside and out.

Here she is:

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The lovely Vicky has asked her readers to guest blog about something important to them. So here’s mine.

Firstly I’ll introduce myself. I’m Lindsay, a 30 something married mum from Norfolk. I have a beautiful daughter, amazing husband, a seemingly perfect life. But the truth is for most of my adult life I have hated my body. To the point its had a negative impact on relationships, work and even with my family. I have been on various diets since I was 17. I have lost weight a several times and gained the weight back every time. The last 16 months I lost 6 stone. I hit my “target” in March of this year. Going from a 22 to as 12. So you may think great, end of story?? Wrong.

You see the truth is I was not any happier with myself. In fact I actually hated my body even more. I analysed everything I ate. Felt guilty constantly. I all of a sudden hated parts of my body, like my tummy that I’d previously not even noticed to the point where I’m embarrassed to say I took laxatives. All this anguish, this hurt, this unhappiness to be thin. To be that certain “acceptable size” then my life would be perfect right? Well I can tell you it's utter bull.

I became very poorly, mentally and in the end, I had to seek medical help. You see the size we are truly has no impact on our happiness. Anyone who say it does is lying. I mean its not like you lose weight and suddenly become a different person. You still have to deal with the same crap everyday. You just deal with wearing a different dress size. That’s it!


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I remember back to Christmas 2013. Before I decided to lose weight. I was so happy. Enjoying some fizz, eating yummy Christmas food, excited about Christmas with my family. Then i took part in The Pampers and curves event in March 2014 and had a blast. But I still felt I needed to lose weight. Fast forward to spring this year, 6 stone lighter and I was miserable, insecure and stressed. My hair was thinning, my skin haggard and I had no energy. The health professionals said I was healthy. Was I hell!! I know for a fact I was healthier the year before!

So what’s the point of this post you wonder? Well I have come to the realisation that being thinner, being the ideal weight has not in anyway improved my life. I have discovered that it’s how we live our lives and who we live them with that makes us happy. I am not saying that if you want to lose weight you shouldn’t. Just don’t have any illusions that it will magic your life better. It won’t. I was happier fat!! Yup I said it!! Happier fat. When I wasn’t constantly battling with food, looking at myself in the mirror. Being quite frankly repulsive to myself.

If I can give any advice from my experience its don’t waste your life on diets. They just cause self hatred. I honestly believe there isn’t a single diet worth doing. They are all just trying to make money out of you. You actually losing weight and keeping it off is not there goal.

So I’m now going to really try to develop a more positive relationship with myself. I love all the plus size bloggers so I’m going to follow them. They are all so beautiful. I’m going to see myself that way. I am going to use my family and friends to seek happiness. Enjoy them.

It’s going to be a long journey. A difficult one I’m sure. But I need to, I want to change. I want to enjoy this amazing life I have. The size of my ass should not stop me from being happy. It’s ridiculous. A quote I remember from someone special to me.

Your body is merely a vessel to carry you about, 
you are amazing, you are beautiful, you are always enough

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Thanks for reading,

Lindsay  

7 July 2015

Life Through a Gif

Bit of a random post tonight.

Late to the party as always, I have fallen a little bit in love with the animated gif.  

More than one of these endless "50 questions" type quizzes that go around and that I have completed in the past, a gif can perfectly express who you are and what you are feeling.  They say a picture can tell a thousand words, so I am having a go with a gif series!

I decided to share a little story that takes me from before I started blogging to now.  If anyone else wants to join in with this, feel free!

Before I started blogging



How I felt wearing anything other than black


When I read my first plus size fashion blog 
and realised that fat people are allowed to be happy too


Accepting a compliment




The Exact Moment I realised that I was now happy in my own skin




What I do now when someone tries to put me down
(because no one does it like The Rock)




I  put a shout out on my Facebook page and Twitter recently asking for people to guest post and share their own stories and perspectives,  First one up tomorrow!

Vicky xx