23 December 2015

You Are Not Alone

Christmas.  A time of swapping presents, seeing family and having fun.  A time when everyone is supposed to be happy and jolly.  A time where complete strangers who never normally speak to you will say Merry Christmas.

One of the things about Christmas however is that expectation to be happy and jolly.  Problems do not stop just because Christmas starts and sadness does not disappear underneath a sprig of holly.  With 1 in 5 of us suffering from mental illness at some time during our lives, sometimes, we all need a little help.

This year I am using my last post of the year to join Kellie from Big Fashionista in posting telephone numbers for people who may be in need.  You are not alone.

Website www.mind.org.uk
Tel No   0300 123 3393

Website  www.samaritans.org
Tel No      116 123 

Alcoholics Anonymous
Website   www.alcoholics-anonymous.org.uk 
Tel No     0800 9177650 

Website    www.stonewall.org.uk
Info line 08000 50 20 20 
London Lesbian and Gay Switchboard
Tel No    0207 837 7324

Website   www.sane.org.uk
Tel No     0300 304 7000

Papyrus, Prevention of young suicide
Website  www.papyrus-uk.org 

National self-help body for the Transgender community
Beaumont Society
Website http://www.beaumontsociety.org.uk
Information Line 01582 412220

0800 1111

Depression Alliance
Website   www.depressionalliance.org

Website   www.refuge.org.uk
Tel No     0808 2000 247

Beating eating disorders
Website https://www.b-eat.co.uk 
Help line 0345 634 1414
Youth Line 0345 634 7650

Website  www.shelter.org.uk
Tel No    0808 800 4444

NHS Direct

No Panic
Website http://www.nopanic.org.uk 
Tel No  0844 967 4848
Youth helpline     01753 840393

22 December 2015

Fabulous Coats

When it comes to winter, I think of two things when it comes to clothes.  The first is warmth.

Cosy jumpers, decorative scarves; gloves to keep your hands warm and toasty socks in bed at night.  Surrounding yourself with these items during the winter months will ensure a warm and comfortable time.

When it comes to coats and jackets however, I like to add a little glamour and luxury.  There is no reason why you cannot be both warm and look glamorous.  So here are some of my favourite elegant and glamorous coats to see you through the next few months of the cold.

Best of all, all of the coats I have found are on sale!

Biba Luxe Leopard Faux Fur Coat

Alice & You Faux Fur Coat

Jane Norman Beige Bonded Fur Collar Jacket

Oasis - The Great Coat

Uttam Boutique Contrast Kimono Coat

14 December 2015

3 Things That Can Ruin Your Gap Year and How To Avoid Them

It usually takes time and effort to scrape together the funds for a gap year, and these adventures take plenty of planning too. So, the last thing you want when you finally set off on your globetrotting trip is for something to ruin your experiences. Here are three things that have the potential to spoil your fun, and some top tips to help ensure they don’t.

1) Sickness

When you’re away from home, it’s more important than ever to take care of your health. After all, if you get sick when you’re abroad, you might have to bring your adventures to an abrupt end. There are lots of potential health threats to watch out for too, from stomach bugs caused by poor hygiene to tropical diseases. Before you set off on your travels, it’s important to do some research to establish what risks you are likely to face. Depending on where you’re going, you might need to get vaccinations to protect you against diseases like hepatitis A and B, typhoid, yellow fever, tuberculosis, rabies and Japanese encephalitis. You may also require protection from malaria. There is no vaccination to guard against this disease, but you can take anti-malarial medicines. For example, you may be advised to take a course of Doxycycline malaria tablets. This treatment offers protection from one to two days after you start the course, so you’ll need to begin taking the tablets before you enter at-risk areas.

More generally, pay careful attention to food and water hygiene and make sure you don’t overexpose yourself to the sun. If you’re ever in doubt about health-related issues, you should be able to find reliable information and guidance online. 

2) Running out of money

Another sure fire way to spoil your trip is to run out of money. Budgeting for gap years is notoriously tricky, and you’ll have to be savvy if you’re going to make your money last. Firstly, be realistic when you’re working out how much cash you’ll need to fund your travels. Being overly optimistic about how far your money will stretch is a recipe for disaster further down the line. Meanwhile, try to pay for most of your major travel costs upfront so that you can ensure you won’t end up stranded in some far flung location.

Create a spending plan too, and keep a record of your expenses as you go. This will show you how quickly you are working through your resources and help you to identify where savings need to be made. Make sure you keep your money secure as well. For example, don’t carry large sums of cash around. It’s much better to use travellers’ cheques and prepaid cards. In addition, it’s useful to have an emergency fund that’s separate to your regular spending money and that you can use in the event of unexpected problems.

3) Missing home

Right now, the thought of getting away from everyday life at home might be one of your major motivations for hitting the road. However, when you’re thousands of miles away from family and friends, you may surprise yourself by how homesick you feel. It’s normal to miss the comforts of life back home from time to time, especially if things aren’t going to plan. To stop this getting in the way of having a good time, make an effort to keep in touch with loved ones by scheduling regular video chats and using email and social media. 

Your gap year could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to explore the world and expand your horizons, and by following advice like this, you can ensure you make the most of it.

*In collaboration with Lloyds Pharmacy

11 December 2015

Hello, It's Me

Hello little blog.  It's me.  I'm wondering if after all these months, you recognise me.

OK, so I am shameless stealing Adele lyrics here, but the question remains true.  But I have been here, posting, writing; and yet I haven't.  The me that loves to do fashion posts has been absent, the writer who loves to rant has been gone; the woman who pours her heart out through her blog has been MIA.

Victoria the ghost writer has made some appearances, but in general, my heart has been gone from this blog for many, many months.  Why is that?

Well, it has been a bloody hard and horrible year with not many highs.  A long hospital stay followed by the death of my step dad, the aftermath of that and me wondering how I could have lost both my dad and step dad before I'm even 40.  Drawing inward.

"They say time's supposed to heal ya, but I ain't done much healing"

I have to be careful with my heart.  I know how easily I can fall into sadness and when dark days can turn into dark periods.  Under times of stress I have to be especially careful. I have had to be strong, I could not fall under the spell of sadness.

I have not been unable to understand why my passion for writing has been gone.  I have not been able to understand why I have pulled away from friends, stepping in now and again but remaining distant.  I could not understand the need that roared inside me to ensure that I told my mum I loved her so often.  I could not understand why my joy for life seemed to be on mute.

After much soul searching and facing up to truths, I now understand.

I have been on pause.  You know when something huge is about to happen in front of you, you freeze, hold your breath, draw your body inward?  That has been me.  I have put myself on pause, thrown a safety net around myself and anchored in.  Because I have been scared of what comes next.

A Tyrannosaurus Rex cannot see you if you don't move and that is how I have been treating that fear.  Do nothing, and nothing bad will happen.

I have not been writing, although I have wanted to, because I write with my heart and my heart has had a cage around it, keeping it safe.  I have pulled away from my best friends because they know me so well and I wasn't ready to see my reflection in their eyes.  They know what I am like and because they are amazing, they have waited.  Knowing.

I have told my mum that I love her every single day not because I adore her, which I do, but because somewhere inside me was saying "What if she dies too".   Losing my dad when I was younger and losing my step dad this year has made me pull her so close, because my heart is in no state to deal with that kind of grief.

I am improving now.  I am writing again finally and the words are flowing freely through me again, like they always have before.  There comes a point where you have to take that jump and continue living again, fully; not on safety mode.

Most people would not press publish on this post.  It is deeply personal and a working through of how I have been feeling.  A "Dear Diary".  But I believe that it is important to document your feelings, remember how you felt and how you brought yourself through it,  It is a marker in my life that proves how strong you are,

Writing has always been therapeutic and I am finally ready to let it heal me.  My sparkle is coming back and I feel more like myself again.  Hello little blog of mine, I have missed you so much.

Tips to Protect Your Data

I remember when I was first introduced to emails and the internet, many years ago now.

This was a time when Ask Jeeves was your go to for information and I think my first internet search was "how to cook a chicken".  I remember emails being described to me as being "like a text message, but on the computer".

Roll forward to 2015 and our entire lives are on the internet.  We share our photographs, do our banking, talk about our lives, chat with friends.  We rely on virus software to keep our emails save and on websites to have adequate security to hold our passwords and bank accounts safe.

Keeping our identity safe has never been more important than now.  We had have photographs stolen and shared to the world from the ICloud,  hackers who infiltrate your business emails; doxxing by individuals who share your address online and on a larger scale, groups like Anonymous.

So what do we need to do to keep our identity and data secure?

Data Label recently commissioned a study into how to avoid online scams and you can find the infograph below.

10 December 2015

The Age Factor

Age and how you perceive it, is a funny thing.

I remember being 13 and thinking that I couldn't wait until I was 18 and I could do what I wanted. 18 was the epitome of cool to me then.

I remember turning 21 and feeling that I was "old" now.  25 was full of "shoulda, woulda, coulda" with what I should have done and be doing with my life.  Turning 30 filled me with dread.  40 was, and still is at my present age of 36, an unknown but daunting prospect.  But why is it a daunting prospect?  

What I have come to realise however over the past couple of years is that age does not matter.  

The only problem with whatever age you happen to be is the limitations that we and society as a whole place on us.  Our lives are governed by this invisible set of rules and regulations of what you have meant to achieve, be and look like at various stages in your life.

I remember being told when I was around 26 that I had better get a boyfriend soon because "You don't want to be left on the shelf".  A man said this to me in all seriousness; like I am nothing more than a thing to be bought, sold or discarded.

At 30 the kindly advice people went up a notch.  "You are getting older now, you need to get married and have children before you can't have any"  Apparently the fact that I have never wanted children nor have (yet) met the right man means nothing against the milestones and rules that we apparently have to obey.

At 40 you are told that you are "over the hill".  Well I don't know about you, but some of the most vibrant and fabulous people I know are in their 40s,

Fast forward a few decades and you are in the winter of your life.  Twin sets, purses, iron grey perms, slowing down.  Why?  You are old, not dead!  My mum is living proof that your 70s can be fun and fashionable.  You do not have to give up and change who you are just because you are a certain age.  Rock it!

Age: 36   Amount of Fucks Given: 0 

8 December 2015

Christmas Gifts

I like to start my Christmas shopping early, ideally in mid November before things get scarily busy in the shops.  I am a planner when it comes to gift buying and I always try to buy things for people that are treats, something a little different or something that they would not buy for themselves.  That is what a present is all about!

Here are a few of things that I have come across whilst present buying this year that I loved and took note of.  

Happy Jackson Earphone Case - £8.95 found here
Novelty Eye Mask - £3.99
Bath Glass Wine Holder - £6.95 
Memory One Line Per Day Diary - £11.95 

Picture Quote from Alice in Wonderland - £12.50 found here

These are all of the stocking filler type of price gifts which most of the women I know would to receive, but would not usually buy for themselves.

Surprise in the Post

Sometimes the most exciting things come through the post, the best of which are things that you never expected!

When it comes to the winter months I adore anything that is fur and soft to the touch.  Enter my new clutch bag from Helen Moore, which was a gift from 32Red

This a great piece to have to add to your winter clothing collection.  It can add a touch of luxury to an outfit and is just the right size to keep your "night out essentials".  Plus, who can resist a pom pom?

3 December 2015

Shoe Gift Guide with Jones Bootmakers

Ladies’ gift guide

Struggling to find the perfect present for the lady in your life? Jones Bootmaker has created a great ladies’ gift guide, showing you what to buy every type of fussy females. Read on to sort your Christmas shopping in one fell sweep!

The party princess

Does she crave the shine of the disco ball? Is she often spotted on the dancefloor? If so, make her Christmas and invest in her most essential item: a pair of party-ready shoes!

This season, it’s all about metallic court shoes. Offering the perfect level of shimmer for any disco diva, the heels are ideal for dancing the night away over the festive season. The JonesBootmaker Cerys court shoes are ideal, as they also nail this season’s must-have reptile-inspired trend.
 For an extra stocking filler, why not buy her a pair of cushioning insoles to keep her dancing for longer without the dreaded aches and pains?

The office style queen

Shopping for an office style queen? Take her from the boardroom to bar with a pair of our black patent tasselled loafers. Our JonesBootmaker Genara loafers, for example, tick all of the boxes for this season’s trends. Tassels? Yes. Fringing? Got it! Pointed? Yup! Is there anything these shoes can’t do?

The casual chick

If your recipient lives life at a million miles an hour, they’ll need a pair of footwear that can keep up with their lifestyle. Whether it’s maintaining their yummy mummy status during the school run or enjoying a lunch date with friends, a pair of casual-cool ankle boots make for an ideal gift — the Jones Bootmaker Orchid ankle boots are a perfect choice.

The functional female

You don’t have to wear sky-scraping stilettos to make it onto the best dressed list — flats are stylish too! Give her the gift of fashion and function this year and purchase a pair of stylish ballet pumps. These JonesBootmaker Gartree flats are an ideal choice, as they are comfortable and boast a high-shine finish — perfect for nailing this season’s hottest trend. They’ll complement almost any outfit too, making them a truly great investment. 

The laidback lady

Does your recipient prefer a night in to a night out? The couch to the cocktail bar? If so, we have the ideal present for her: a pair of slippers! An absolute staple Christmas gift, they’re perfect for those that like to hibernate during the colder months.

These Sheepskin Duchess slippers are an ideal choice. Their super-soft lining and trim make them perfect for keeping feet warm during the colder months. 

My Current Favourites