Tuesday, 31 March 2009

111 days to go

I love the print on this dress.
It is a lovely soft jersey material and I am sure I will make the most of it during the summer months.
Talking of the summer months I am so looking forward to our two weeks in Spain in August.
I get just as much pleasure looking forward to and planning for a holiday.
I bought Imogen's brilliant e-book called Travelling Light which is a wonderful read. It has lots of brilliant ideas for packing and I am already starting to make mental lists of my capsule wardrobe.
I went for two runs today. One at 7am for just 15 minutes with the dog and another 30-minute run with my friend Denise when we put the world to rights.
And I still managed to get lots of work done.
There is an Inspection at the prison today and my class will be observed so I had to make sure I had dotted all the i's and crossed all the t's.

I wore...
Shoes - Clarks
Jeans and cardigan - Gap
Dress - Dorothy Perkins

112 days to go: A double celebration

After the birthday party came the big day.
Ben was nine and Sam had his (fourth) driving test on the same day.
Happily, it was a day of celebration all round and we went out to toast the day at our local Italian restaurant with my parents.
After the meal the lights were turned down and the waitress brought out a cake for Ben as Happy Birthday played over the sound system and the rest of the restaurant applauded.
I had a lovely day too - enjoying some simple pleasures.
I had taken time off to take my dad to the dentist near Crosby and while he had his treatment I took the dog for a run along the beach.
It was a still day and there was a lovely fine drizzle and as it was high tide there were fantastic views of Antony Gormley's Another Place.
Just me and Enrique Iglesias (on my iPod) - bliss!

I wore...
Shoes - Clarks
Jeans - Gap
Shirt - Next
Caridgan - Marks and Spencer

Monday, 30 March 2009

114 and 113 days to go: Another Birthday Weekend

Yet another busy weekend.
On Saturday while the boys were at football I cycled into the village and enjoyed a coffee at Cafe Nero with my daughter.
I learned an amazing amount about her school life and the different groups girls belong to. The are emos, goths, chavs and pretty pink chavs.
From what I was told the definitions are apparently as follows:
Emos- wear big hair, bright clothes, skinny jeans and cut their arms (this from my 11-year-old, sadly).
Goths - wear black clothes, black make-up and black looks.
Chavs - wear tracksuits and pyjamas as their everyday attire.
Pretty Pink Chavs - as above but the colours and clothes are nicer and they like to wear make-up.
My daughter is happy to class herself as a chav - I am so proud.
I suppose out of the four it is possibly the best category.
"But can't you just be yourself?" I asked.
There was no reply just a disdainful look of pity from over the generation chasm.

On Saturday evening we went to our friends for dinner and remembered to come home early as we were about to lose an hour's sleep.

On Sunday I took my eldest son to Everton FC's football academy as he was refereeing a match while my husband took our other two boys to their matches.
We rushed back as it was my soon to be nine-year-old's birthday party.
I had booked the local sports hall and had 22 boys coming.
The only problem was the caretaker didn't turn up to unlock the hall and the numbers I had were all on voicemail.
It is times like this I really appreciate my husband who is a junior football coach.
Fortunately it was one of the nicest days of the year and we took the boys out on the school playing field.
I had prepared all the food beforehand so I got a tablecloth and laid it on the grass where we had a picnic.
I don't think the boys even noticed there was a problem and it is certainly a party I will remember.
And as it is now Monday - Happy Birthday Ben.

On Saturday I wore:
black skinny jeans - falmer
black boots,pink belt and blouse - dorothy perkins
caridgan - m and co

black skinny jeans - as before
blue top - birger
shoes - next

Sunday I wore:
top - george
jeans - pap
shoes - clarks
cardigan - Principles
scarf - Next
sunglasses - tesco
Ben's kit - Liverpool

Saturday, 28 March 2009

Jailbird - the final part

So what Is a Writer in residence?
If I had a pound for every time I’ve been asked that question I’d have enough money to fund such a post in every UK prison.
But as it stands there are just 20 of us scattered across the UK.
And less than 100 across the globe.
So what DO we do?
The short answer is we raise self esteem through writing.
From poets to playwrights and dramatists to journalists we share one thing - a passion for the written word.
We know its power to communicate, to be heard, to record, to inspire – both ourselves and others.
But if all this sounds a bit arty let me invite you to share a typical day.

It’s 8am I make my way to my office to finish the feedback I am preparing on a prisoner’s novel.
“When I write it takes me to a different world,” he says.
Next, the library where I lead the first of two weekly writing groups.
By 9.15am nine of my regular writers and a new member are here.
Today I bring in a copy of Saturday's Guradian and direct them to the Playlist section where readers send in their memories attached to song lyrics.
I encourage the group to try it out.
We carry out several writing exercises which are read out to the group.
It takes generosity and confidence to appraise another’s work honestly but the group have refined their skills in this area.
After a fair bit of laughing and singing we settle down to some serious work and Jenn, the librarian joins us.
I use lines from the song New York New York and include my memories of running the New York Marathon.
T writes about the last night at home with his wife before he was jailed linking it to a song by Genesis, Follow Me Follow You.
Jenn writes about her late grandfather who used to sing Lady In Red to her grandma when he came home late from the pub.
S arrives a little late but tells us about the song Crazy For You and a mad one night stand.
K surprises everyone with an atmospheric account of a late night drive home with a beautiful girl and the next time he hears the song he is in a sweatbox on his way to jail.
P has us all choked reciting one line from a Coldplay song played at his little brother’s funeral - "Lights go out - can't be saved."
All too soon the session is over and my new member tells me:
“I didn’t realize I had that in me.”
After the session I contact an author who is due to visit the prison soon.
Every month I invite a writer to talk about their work and past visits include poet, Jean Sprackland, novelist, Joolz Denby and childrens’ writer Joseph Delaney, who published his first book, The Spooks Apprentice, at the age of 58.
Last year Neil Caple, a former member of The Royal Shakespeare Company helped out with a four-week Drama course.
One of the prisoners on the course went on to win first prize in the Writing For Stage section of The 2008 Koestler Awards.
This man has never worked in his life and came to jail with no qualifications. Although he has since left this jail I have heard he recently started a BA (Hons) in Scriptwriting.
I spend lunchtime with the librarian and we discuss my plan to introduce “Stories Connect” into the prison.
The librarian helps me collate a carefully selected list of texts which examine a range of issues from violence to family life and drugs.
The fictional characters will help provide a vehicle for discussing choices and actions.
After lunch I visit the Therapeutic Community where I mentor prisoners working on The Link magazine, a publication produced here and distributed to every prison in the country.
The latest issue is almost finished and after making a few suggestions I leave to visit the Induction wing.
A young man has just arrived from a Young Offender's unit where he began working on his life story with the writer in residence there.
It is a harrowing story told with brutal honesty.
“Writing everything down helps me make sense of what’s in my head,” he says.
On the way back to my office I check how the multimedia unit is progressing.
A team of staff and prisoners will work together to produce a range of material from posters and books to short films and documentaries.
Finally, back at my office and on my desk is a letter sent by an ex-prisoner who worked with me some months ago.
So what does a writer in residence do? – I’ll let him have the last word.
“Your writing class was the best thing I have ever done in all my time in prison.
”I’ve noticed when I write I can address so many different things in so many different ways.
"I find the more I read and write the better I become.
" Thank You.”

If you would like to ask me any questions about my work please feel free to leave them in the comments box.

115 days to go: Jailbird Part Three - early days

Today a friend of mine Neil Caple came to speak to the prisoners.
Neil has many talents. He is an actor, director and writer.
He is an accomplished stage performer, a former member of the Royal Shakespeare Company and is an experienced film and television actor although he is probably most widely known as Marty Murray from the Channel Four soap, Brookside.
Neil is currently appearing at the Liverpool Everyman in Billy Wonderful but he is also working on writing a ten-part television series.
Yetsterday my writing group were on the edge of their seats as Neil shared some fascinating writing tips opening up a huge debate about drama.
The ideas were coming thick and fast you could almost see them buzzing around in the air.
Today went so smoothly that I almost forgot how hard it was in the beginning so before I reveal the final part of my Jailbird series with a Day In The Life I thought I would add another extract from my journal written just a few weeks into my residency.

Autumn 2007

I leave the TC to move to my own room on B-wing and begin to understand the concept of Gate Fever. I had been on the TC for four weeks and got used to the staff, the prisoners and the routine. Now I’m being cast adrift in the big, wide prison world.
The office is small, airless, dusty and filthy. I hear shouting and screaming, not unlike a zoo. This wing is not drug free. Emotions and frustrations seem to run a lot higher here.
A senior female officer has just been told to “Fuck Off, you fucking bitch”.
She stands there, totally blank and unconfrontational - the only way to deal with this type of situation. Across the hallway I hear steps are being taken to get this prisoner taken off the wing and down to the Seg (Segregation Unit). But as is the case in prison, unless there is a clear and present danger of death this takes a while. For the next hour the prisoner paces up and down the corridor like a caged animal. But I have a more urgent problem - I need the bathroom and the only way to get there is to walk past him.
I accept I am in a mad parallel universe where the call of nature shrieks loud and hard. After locking my door I walk directly across the corridor, past the prisoner and unlock the bathroom door. To my great relief I get to the loo and he has ignored me completely. I do not wear the prison officer’s uniform of black trousers and a white shirt so I don’t count. Thankfully.

As I return to my room I take a look at the main spurs and the cell layout surprises me. They remind me of the university halls of residence where I once lived. The smell of industrial disinfectant, the enforced banter to feel safety in numbers, the raging hormones and the loneliness of living so closely to strangers.

I decide to make a cup of tea in the kitchen five paces across the corridor. For this simple exercise I have to lock and unlock four doors twice.
After my cup of Dutch courage - strong black coffee, I force myself to wander around the prison and introduce myself to as many people as possible. Communication is not a strength of this regime. Confusion and rumour is the currency. There are eight wings and each wing is like a small village. Staff can work in different parts of the prison for years and never know the name of their compatriots on other wings.

I wander to the next wing and meet a friendly faced officer. She tells me she decided to become a prison officer because she was looking for a job with a good pension and the retail sector where she worked was becoming too aggressive!
She introduces me to B, a young man in his 30s sentenced for his part in a multimillion pound fraud. B is moving to the wing as he is planning to use his time in prison to study for an OU degree in sports science.
I write up a piece about him for the prison channel and then meet P, a senior wing officer. This is a driven man. He has written several plays, taught himself to play guitar and gets up at 5am every morning to practice.

I let myself off the wing and walk over to the Chaplaincy where I meet the RC chaplain - a small and slight man with a gentle, friendly manner he patiently puts aside his work and sits me down to guide me through the way prison works. As we talk a more rotund and robust character strides into the office. It’s the Anglican chaplain who tells me he originally wanted to be a War Chaplain but prison is the next best thing.
“I couldn’t do the Mothers Union meetings,” explains God’s Christian soldier.
Sixteen locks later I arrive on the wing and hide in my room to calm down.

Next the thing I have been dreading happens as I walk along the corridor I see three prisoners waiting, they want me to open a gate for them.
“Can you let us through Miss?”
Panic, what do I do?
Slips I remember.
“Got your slips?” I say my mouth dry and fingers shaking.
I check the time and where they are going.
I don’t want to hesitate too long in case they realise I am new and want to take advantage.”
“That looks fine. On your way,” I say. My heart thumping, bumpety bump as I wander down the corridor suddenly aware that my every move is observed on the not so hidden cameras monitored by security.
But the prisoners soon realize I am new as I head down the corridor and into a dead end and have to walk back.
Further along the corridor I see my friendly ram raider.
“You’re looking better today,” I say, genuinely pleased as I was concerned about him yesterday.

At lunchtime I meet a member of staff in the rest room. He tells me he is on the VP (Vulnerable Prisoners) unit. VPS are prisoners who "take the numbers" which means they voluntarily ask to be segregated for their own protection. These men are a mixture of sex offenders, owe debts to other prisoners, "grasses" or just those struggling to cope.
I explain to the officer what I do and he says some of the prisoners may want to have a go at writing as they have nothing else to do and can’t get out to mix with other prisoners.
I descend into the dungeons of the prison and am shown to a classroom across the corridor from the office. Six prisoners appear. Three look friendly, two look as though they are here to pass the time and the other one - well, if looks could kill!
I decide to abandon the workshop on poetry I had planned and instead take them on a guided travel writing exercise with 17 questions.
It worked well last time and the guys in the TC took themselves to all kinds of exotic places.
This time the places this group visit are different. They have all returned to a different time in their life. The sullen prisoner doesn’t want to share his work but the others do.
They are very good although I hope the story about the prisoner who bumped into his mum in Amsterdam and discovers she is a serial killer was fictitious.
That’s the thing about prison, you never can tell.
Of the 840 prisoners here more than half are serving life.

Jailbird - the concluding part: A Day In The Life of a Writer In Residence one year on

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Jailbird - Part Two

So what happened next?
As soon as I got back I applied for the job and a month later I found myself on a tour of the jail prior to an interview.
It was a lovely sunny June day outside and I wondered what I was doing as I allowed myself to be taken through the grey mechanical gates into a buffer zone before being led through a series of locked double doors.
Believe me I know why nerves jangle - it's the same echoing sound the barred gates make as they bang tightly shut behind you.
But I digress. I got the job.
I didn't meet any prisoners that day but the panel of four interviewers was scary enough.
Still it was another four months before I had to start work - plenty of time to get used to it.
The months flew by and as summer turned to autumn I attended an intense seven-day Induction Course where we were taught the Do's and Don'ts of prison life.
I met the other seven writers who would be starting at jails across the country. They included novelists, poets, dramatists and film-makers. I felt a fraud. These were real writers. What was I doing there?
I soon found out.
These are my diary entries from my first few days in prison.

Security Check – The day before I start

I arrive five minutes late due to a mix-up. As I approach I hear the phrase “fluffy stuff” and assume they are talking about me.
I walk into an airless cream room to see two officers from Security leading the group.
The session consists of various need to know edicts. It is a cold, clinical presentation. Even the ice breaker is cold in spirit.
We are told to make sure we report everything; be suspicious of everyone (it appears even colleagues are on that list) and don’t be fooled by the clever offenders who want to use us all for their own ends.
We are then given the cautionary tale of a female officer who was enticed over to the other side by a prisoner who she fell hook, line and sinker for. Then after a short toilet break (no drinks) we are shown an interesting array of home-made weapons. Lovely.
I learn how to minimize the chances of being taken as a hostage (make sure you sit by the door) and are generally scared witless. I start to think about novel plots. What happens to a prison officer when she loses everything? A short story at the very least. It ends. Time to fluff off.

Thursday October 5th: My first Day as Writer In Residence

After a sleepless night I arrive at the prison feeling a little anxious.
No, that's not right - downright terrified would be a better way to describe the flashes of ice cold electricity charging through my body.
I confess to my buddy (a 6ft 4in giant of a prison officer) that I am a bit nervous. Unfortunately he thinks I am nervous of the inmates but it is actually the prison staff I am most fearful of - especially after yesterday's talk.
My security check hasn't been done which means no keys of my own yet so I have to wait for an officer to open the gates every time I need to get off the wing.
I spend the whole of my first day on one wing - the TC (Therapeutic Community) where prisoners volunteer to undergo a year of therapy and drug testing.
I had emailed ahead that I wanted to do a one-off poetry workshop for National Poetry Day and Jane, a lovely prison officer manages to get an inmate to start a list. Of course there isn’t one name on the list but it is a start. There is a list.
Jane manages to drum up some support and I spend all morning on the wing chatting to inmates and get some interest - mostly I think due to the curiosity factor.
By 2pm there are seven men and me squashed into a tiny room. I don’t even have time to think about what they have done. They don’t appear threatening, just a bit rough and ready and very eager to please.
We start with some warm-up exercises and then one inmate mentions the Consequences Game which he enjoys.
We have a go.
A who was wearing B met C who was wearing D and they said E.
You know the one. But of course they include names of staff and other prisoners and most are naked or wearing gimp suits. Hilarity over, I confiscate the offending material and we move swiftly on.
But to my great surprise at the end of the session we have three collaborative poems on Dreams, two individual poems and one about Crack Cocaine.
But best of all was the response "When are you coming in again miss" "What are we doing next time? etc.
It all works out just as I imagine, not the detail, but the essence. Creative, inspiring and terrifying!!

Tomorrow: A Day in the Life of a Writer In Residence

116 days to go: Polka Dot Spring

It was windy and sunny today with a few showers which means the forecast was spot-on - just like my dress.
I took the brick red and the ochre of the polka dots from my dress and brought them out with the cardigan and belt.
The accents mean you notice the spots so much more now.
Or least I do!

I wore...
Shoes - Clarks
Dress - Miss Selfridge
Belt - Dorothy Perkins
Cardigan - Marks and Spencer
Tights - Tesco

Jailbird - Part One

So far I have tossed in little titbits about my work but I think the time has come to reveal a little more about my job.
Or the one that seems most intriguing!

I have been a journalist for the past 20 years.
I started out in 1989 on weekly local papers progressing on to a daily regional newspaper in 1992 and then taking the plunge into the national magazine market in 2003 when I became freelance.
I love to write but the fickle freelance world means that unless you are flavour of the month the work can dry up and for every ten pitches you make maybe one is successful.
Two years ago it got to the stage where I needed to look around for work that would utilise my skills, allow me to write and still pay the bills.
I obtained some freelance PR work for the wonderful women's enterprise agency, Train 2000, but that was not enough.
I was so downhearted I was thinking about getting a proper job (regional fundraiser for a charity) and had an interview lined up.
But I decided to allow myself one final indulgent fling.
I booked myself on a travel writing course with Dea Birkett in London.
Dea is a freelance travel writer and during the lunchbreak I asked how she continued to earn a living as a freelance writer.
"I can't live on my freelance writing alone," she said before adding "I work two days a week as a writer in residence at a university which gives me a steady income."
"Oh," was all I could say before taking my seat and deciding I was probably doing the right thing.
After all whoever saw a job advert for a writer in residence?
At 5pm that Saturday evening it was time to get the train back to Liverpool and I picked up The Guardian newspaper.
It was a two-hour journey so lots of reading time.
By the time I reached the Midlands I was up to the Jobs section when I saw something that made me stop and start to believe in Fairy Godmothers or Angels or whatever higher power that is out there.
The advert was posted by The Writers In Prison Network which is funded by the Arts Council, The Learning and Skills Council and The Prison Service.
To apply for the job you needed no previous experience of working in a prison but you had to be a professional writer.
I checked the vacancies.
There was just one slight problem.
The only vacancy within travelling distance of my home was a Lifer's Prison.
And it was a men's jail.

Find out how I got on in Part Two - Jailbird - a girl's year in a male jail.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

117 days to go:Windy Wednesday

The weather forecast was right; it was very windy as you can see by my hair.
I was working in the prison today.
In the morning I led a three hour writing workshop before working out in the prison gym.
In the afternoon I went to see how our Postcard Fiction project was progressing.
A few weeks ago we created collages from magazine images and scanned them into A6 size.
After that I challenged the group to create a piece of prose concise enough to fit on the back of the postcard.
It has taken a lot of work but they are almost finished.
Before I left I met the new magazine team.
Earlier this week a magazine we produce in the prison (which is circulated to every UK jail) was finally printed and it is time to start all over again wih a new team. I always enjoy the early days of a publication when the ideas are flying around - a bit like my hair!

I wore....
Boots, necklace and black top - Dorothy Perkins
Cardigan - Principles
Skirt - Marks and Spencer
Tights and belt - Tesco

Thursday's Wardrobe Weatherwatch: 8c and light rain.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

118 days to go: Schoolgirl Chic

I called this Schoolgirl Chic but it could quite easily be Old Lady chic.
I acquired this skirt from a charity shop.
It is an old lady style from Damart BUT I loved the colours and it is 100% wool. It's warm and doesn't cling even minus a slip.
I had it shortened but the first time I wore it in Liverpool I noticed a few schoolgirls wearing a similar skirt as part of their uniform.
I guess that's why I haven't worn it much.
It was cold and bright today with lots of howling wind so I added the scarf to keep warm.

I wore...
Skirt - Damart
Tights - Next
Shoes - Clarks
T-shirt - Primark
Cardigan - M and Co
Belt - Tesco
Scarf - eBay

Wardrobe Weatherwatch for Wednesday
Sunshine and Showers 8-9C

Monday, 23 March 2009

119 days to go: Winter's Back

It was cold today.
I went for a run.
When I set out the sun was shining.
During the next hour and 13 minutes I was rained on, hailed on and blown from one side of the road to another.
I love to run but I have to be honest I hated around 1 hour and 11 minutes of this run!
Time to get home and dig out some winter warmers....

..so I wore:
Boots and waistcoat - Dorothy Perkins
Polo neck - New Look
Skirt - Matalan

Sunday, 22 March 2009

120 days to go: Laid Back Mother's Day

Mother's Day.
Football, football, football for me.
I wore...
Gap Jeans
Joe Brown Dress
Primark top
Ugg boots
Principles Belt

Saturday, 21 March 2009

121 days to go: First up, best dressed

I have no idea whose top this is.
It could belong to my daughter or my son's girlfriend but as I was in a rush to get out to football I grabbed the first warm top I could lay my hands on.
Despite the forecast for a sunny day it was very cold here as the mist failed to lift.
I went for a six mile run this morning which makes 24 this week - I am happy if I run over 20 miles a week.
After football we took the dog to the beach.
I spent the afternoon curled up on the sofa with my latest book, Friday Nights by Joanna Trollope as my children were all out.
It was very strange having a Saturday afternoon with nothing to do.

I wore...
Ugg boots
Gap Jeans
Top - ?
t-shirt - Primark

Friday, 20 March 2009

122 days to go: Red and Blue Comfort Blanket

I have worn this outfit a number of times before but it is the one I always feel happy in - my curvy Gap Jeans and red Zara top.
Although the forecast was sunny and warm (for March) it was cold when I left the house at 6.46am to get the train into Manchester.
I didn't see much of the sun as I was attending a NUJ (National Union of Journalists) freelancer's course which was held in the basement of a rather snazzy building.
I met lots of lovely people and thanks to our tutor, Frankie, I have come away with lots of ideas for developing my business.

I wore...
Gap Jeans
Clarks Shoes
Marks and Spencer cream layer
Zara top

Thursday, 19 March 2009

123 days to go: Feeling Blue

You wouldn't believe how many items were tossed aside(and took ages to clear up) before I decided what to wear.
I am very slowly getting rid of the extra winter weight gain so nothing fits me like I want it to.
It was warm but I didn't want to expose my bare legs (urgh!) yet boots scream WINTER.
I feel restless.
I have been running a lot - 18 miles this week so far. But it's not enough.
As I was feeliing blue there was only colour to choose.
The only problem was which shade?

I wore...
Shoes - Clarks
Navy tights - John Lewis
Blue dress - Dorothy Perkins
Cardigan - Principles
Belt and Scarf - Tesco

124 days to go: Cross-dressing

Cross-dressing or should that be transition wear?
What to wear when its not quite Spring but no longer winter.
The weather experts are telling us to enjoy these unseasonably warm temperatures
(14C)as cooler weather will be back soon.
I opted for layers and this skirt which I have worn today in what I am calling SPRING but I also wore it in SUMMER, WINTER and AUTUMN.

I wore.....
Black boots - Dorothy Perkins
Skirt - TK Maxx
Cream layer - Marks and Spencer
Black t-shirt - Next
Scarf - East

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

125 days to go: Budding

Here's proof Spring is on the way - the buds on some of my fruit trees.
It was the final day of my Creativity In Education course where I met some really lovely people including the consultants who ran the course.
I wore....
Boots - Clarks
Tights and Cardigan - Marks and Spencer
Dress - George
Necklace - Top Shop

Monday, 16 March 2009

126 days to go: The First Day of Spring

OK so it may not officially be the first day of Spring but in my garden spring has sprung.
My fruit trees are bursting with buds, I dried two lots of washing outside, the earth smells warm and I felt the sun on my arms as I ran today.
I feel so full of the joys of spring - six months of light and warm (er) weather.
This winter has lasted far too long.
Is it a coincidence that I got a lot of work done today?
This evening I was leading a PR workshop and met five delightful women - two best friends who gave up their banking jobs to open a hat shop, a Polish woman who is already setting up her second business since arriving in the UK, a dynamic web designer and a creative agent.
I am sure you will be reading about them before too long.
Tomorrow I back in Liverpool for the final day of my Creativity In Education course so it will be on my bike to the station again.

I have noticed that some bloggers are still taking part in the One Skirt Three Ways Challenge so I will wait until the endof the week to report back.

Today I wore..
Dress - Next
Shoes - Clarks
Cardigan - Principles
Tights - Marks and Spencer

Sunday, 15 March 2009

128 and 127 days to go:Weekend Witters About Water

A weekend of football matches, shopping and cleaning which called for quick, easy and colourful.
On Saturday I wore my Gap Jeans with the blue dress, Ugg boots and red Primark t-shirt.
On Sunday I wore the same jeans with the same red Primark top, Zara blouse and boots with M and Co black cardigan.
We recently got rid of our second car to save some money and it has encouraged me to get on my bike. If the journey is two miles or under now I try and use my bike. I love cycling and don't mind at all unless it is raining.
I am not a great fan of water especially as the rain on Tuesday got into my camera which means some of the photos are a little hazy.
Come to think of it I hate flying over water, swimming (unless it is warm water or there is a warm sun around), and the thought of a cruise fills me with horror.
I don't even like drinking water much either.
The only water I enjoy is the hot stream of a shower in the morning or after a run.
Is there a water phobia?

Friday, 13 March 2009

129 days to go: Brick and grey

This cardigan looks orange - actually it is more a brick red.
I love red, it makes me feel cheerful and optimistic.
I was teaching in the prison today which went well and I spent lunchtime in the gym - a four mile run on the treadmill. It was the third run this week.
Normally I run 3 - 4 times a week but over the past few weeks work pressures has meant this has gone by the wayside.
I'm back on track (pardon the pun) now and feel so much better.
I need those endorphins.

I wore...
Shoes - Clarks
Tights - Next
Dress - Dorothy Perkins
Cardigan - Marks and Spencer
Necklace - Top Shop

130 days to go: Blue Floral

As this dress was the winner of last week's vote I decided to wear it again.
However, despite the bright sunshine it was still pretty cold so I spent most of the day wrapped up in a cardigan.
The warmer weather must be on its way soon.

I wore...
Dress - New Look
Tights - Asda
Cardigan - Dorothy Perkins

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

131 days to go: Rockabilly Red

I was working in the prison today and caused a right scene.
What I meant to say was our writing workshop was looking at the best way to write scenes.
We used Cinderella as an example and it was great fun. Honest!
After feeding my children I took my daughter to see Marley and Me.
It was wonderful. I cried. It brought back so many doggy memories.
And Jennifer Anniston played me, or at least a role similar to mine - she was a feature writer.

I wore:
Black boots - Dorothy Perkins
Skirt - ebay
Top and cardigan - M and Co.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

132 days to go: Greenday

I was feeling very spring-like today.
Another trip into Liverpool to attend the second day in my three-day course looking at Creativity In Education at the fabulous Bluecoat Buildings.
All went well and it was back home for Cubs, Football and Liverpool V Real Madrid (on the tv).

I wore...
Boots - Dorothy Perkins
Belt - M and S
Skirt - River Island
Shirt - Boden
Cardigan - New Look

Monday, 9 March 2009

133 days to go: That skirt again

I was impressed with Sheila stretching the three day challenge to five days so I went for my favourite skirt again today.
I spent all day slaving away at my computer before going for a run with my friend Denise.

I wore...
Shoes - Tops Shop (dyed red)
Skirt and belt - M and S
Top - Zara

134 days to go: Happy Birthday to my cheeky monkey

I remember Wednesday March 8th 1995 so clearly.
It was a wintry morning - cold and wet - and I wrapped up my three-year-old before dropping him off at playgroup.
I returned home to tidy up and have a rest before collecting my firstborn at lunchtime for an afternoon treat to the fabric shop.
We had lunch out and then I bought some blue material and a little gold bell before returning home to transform it into a Noddy hat.
I fed, bathed and put my son to bed - snuggling up under the duvet with him to read his favourite Noddy story.
One hour later - at 8.30pm - the familiar tightening pains came and my husband drove us to hospital.
Forty five minutes later Joseph Michael made his entrance at breakneck speed and he hasn't stopped since.
Here he is a few days later in 1995 and on Sunday after opening his birthday gift, an Ipod Touch.
Don't you just love his slippers!
Happy Birthday Joe.

I wore...
Shoes - Clarks (using Paypal credit from eBay)
Tights and skirt - M & S
Top - Next
Cardigan - Principles

And the winner is.....

...Friday's blue floral dress.
But it was a close-run thing with the pink ensemble and black and floral top coming joint second.
Thanks for everyone who voted.
There is still one week to go for anyone wishing to join the One Skirt Three Ways Challenge - after that I will be posting a round-up.

Just to keep you updated on my books:I finished A Vintage Affair yesterday and it was very good.
I have very eclectic tastes when it comes to reading. A Vintage Affair is a romantic comedy packed with an emotional punch. I would recommend it to anyone interested in the transforming power of clothes and/or vintage.
There are a couple of mildly annoying coincidences but nothing near as bad as Victoria Hislop's "Return" when the final twist was so unbelievable it spoiled the whole book for me.
If you want to know more about A Vintage Affair check out this video where the author talks about the book.
Can I also ask my fellow bloggers to spare a minute to check out the new blog I have set up for Train 2000 - the women's enterprise agency I work for. If you have any suggestions or comments please leave them on the blog which is here.
I hope you all have a great week.

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Weekly Vote

So which was your favourite this week?
Please cast your vote in the comments panel.

Saturday, 7 March 2009

135 days to go: Friday Night, Saturday Morning

I loved that earthy Albert Finney film, "Friday Night, Saturday Morning."
This post has nothing to do with the film except the days of the week!
My husband was away on Friday evening so I had a few friends round for a glass of wine and a catch-up.
On Saturday morning I was running children around from football pitch to football pitch, walking the dog and making bacon butties. Lots of them as we had an extra friend sleeping over.
Halfway though the day I followed Harvey's lead and snuggled up on the sofa.

Friday night I wore...
Next Dress and tights
Clarks Shoes

Saturday I wore
Ugg boots
Gap jeans
Dorothy Perkiins dress
Principles cardigan