Bath City Break – The Wanderer Returns

Well, naughty me, I’ve not blogged in two weeks!  Time just seems to have slipped away from me with a combination of work, a trip away with hubster, having various friends over for drinks/dinner/board games, celebrating 6 months of marriage and most joyously, the sun FINALLY putting in an appearance.  This winter has just dragged on and on and the appearance of Spring has made me feel much cheerier.  We have already had our first barbecue of the year last weekend and tonight we zoomed straight home from work so that we could spend some time sitting in the garden before the sun went down.

Our trip to Bath was a joint birthday present, mine is in a couple of weeks and hubby’s was in March, so we decided to go away in the middle of both – and before the accommodation prices go even higher as we move into Summer. 

Bath is notoriously really expensive to stay in, so we decided to stay at a guest house which included parking and breakfast.  All the rooms had en-suite facilities, so it was really like a hotel but just on a much smaller scale (some guest houses/B&B’s only have shared facilities, so you need to double-check this before you book).  As well as the accommodation being expensive, so is the parking – I’d say almost the same as parking in inner London in some streets – so we were really luck that we got the parking included too.

Our base was really well placed and we only seemed to be 10 minutes walk from anything that we wanted to see.  We did so much walking that by the second afternoon we were about fit to drop and had to go back to our room for a disco nap before we headed out for dinner that evening.

I’m started to get a bit more savvy with my packing as I get older.  In days gone by, I practically took my whole wardrobe with me so that I had loads of options to choose from, where-as now I try to stick to a ‘capsule’ wardrobe where everything can be interchanged or worn with a couple of outfits.  On this trip, I decided I was only taking my brown Duo riding boots and my black Duo suede boots (I have been known to take about 5 pairs of shoes for two days away!).  From that starting point I plotted my outfits.

Day One – daytime & evening

blue dress + boots - BathMulberry dress - Bath

Daytime: dress – Dorothy Perkins; cardigan – H&M; belt – Primark; tights – M&S, boots –  Duo; necklace – Accessorize; flushed face and messy hair – crazy Bath wind.

Evening: dress – Monsoon, belt – Debenhams; necklace – Next; boots – Duo

Day Two – daytime and evening

Bath - day 2 outfitBath - evening 2 outfit

Daytime: shirt – H&M; jeggings – Dorothy Perkins; scarf – Primark; boots – Duo (same as before)

Evening: shirt – Peacocks; jeans – Dorothy Perkins; scarf – Oasis; boots – Duo (same as before)

 The Roman Bath’s were really interesting, we spent a good 2 1/2 hours there and literally listened to every word on the audio tour which comes with the price of the ticket.  We paid a bit extra and got entrance into the Fashion Museum which is located in the Assembly Rooms.  I can also recommend Bath Abbey, which is only about £2.50 to spend as long there as you wish. 

We obviously went to look at the Circus and the Royal Crescent, but sadly the museum at No. 1 Royal Crescent wasn’t open as it is being renovated.  I also took a trip (on my own – couldn’t put hubby through it) to the Jane Austen exhibit, which I found really, really interesting.  All in all, it was a fantastic few days away.

Here’s a random selection of photos from the trip away.

Bath Abbey - ceilingBath Abbey - window pic

Inside Bath Abbey was beautiful.

Bath Abbey

A strange art installation at the Abbey

Roman Baths - outside Abbey viewRoman Baths - Sulis

 

Duo shopDream boot - Duo

Look what I found!!  I also spotted the next pair of Duo boots I NEED!

Jam cocktail - Bath

Cocktail’s were flowing – even from jam jars……

Slug ladies room - Bath

Quite possibly the most glamorous ladies toilets ever……..

 

 

Wedding Outfit and Duo Boots Update

I’ll start with my boots update.  You may recall that I wrote here about the zip pull breaking on my trusty, 4-year-old Ravenna black riding boots from Duo.  I got straight onto their customer service team to ask if there was anything that I could do about fixing them.  I got a reply back from then within 24 hours asking if I could take a photo of the problem as the extent of the break determined what they’d need to send me, but basically they said they could send me two full length zips and sliders, or for a fee I could send them back to Duo to be refurbished.  On sending the picture over they determined that all I needed was the pull, which they have since sent me, free of charge, along with a video on how to fit them at home.  Needless to say, I’m VERY impressed!

Ravenna Black leather ladies-boots 2498 small

 Hubby and I went to a wedding reception on Saturday evening, and it gave me the perfect chance to breakout my latest fall-back dress.  I brought this last autumn in Debenhams from their Duo range.  I was literally walking through the store to get to the other side of the shopping centre and it just caught my eye as I was on the escalator.  My friend had arranged a quite formal party evening as part of her Hen weekend so I was thrilled when I saw that it was reduced from £100 to £50.  You can imagine my elation when I got to the till and it was reduced again to £25!  Since the Hen weekend I’ve found another 3 occasions to wear it, so when it comes to cost-per-wear, this dress is currently coming in at £6.25 per wear – pretty amazing for formal wear!Steve Lamb wedding outfit

Each time I’ve worn it I’ve changed the accessories, for example instead of the black patent belt, shoes and clutch I’ve worn it with a patent red belt and shoes, a red bangle and nude tights.  I’ve been trawling ebay trying to pick up a pair of hot pink shoes and accessories to wear with it too.  As it was from last year, it’s not on sale anymore, however many companies still use the same block or pattern year-on-year and just change the fabric or cut of the neck etc, so a dress in exactly the same shape is currently discounted on their website.

 Debenhams dress

 Do you have a fall-back dress you just couldn’t live without?

Casual Weekend Outfit

We didn’t do a lot over the weekend, which was quite nice as the past few weeks have been quite busy.  Friday night was homemade pizza night, with plenty of wine flowing and dancing around the kitchen to Louis Prima!
pizza - mixing doughDough ballsPizza

On Saturday we woke up to snow and although it wasn’t really settling, it was coming down thick and fast meaning it was a tough choice to change from my snuggly pyjama’s and get dressed to go out.  Eventually we pulled our fingers out and went over to Wimbledon to return some purchases which didn’t work out.  As I was getting dressed tragedy struck when the zip slider from my favourite (and oldest) Duo black riding boots disintegrated in my hand as I was pulling them up over my jeggings.  I’ve emailed their customer service team to see if there is anything I can do to fix them, as I’ve always looked after them, re-heeling and re-soling regularly etc. and as they aren’t exactly cheap I’d like to get a few more years wear out of them yet!

In the end I wore my brown boots instead and pulled together a casual, Saturday outfit of my new favourite skinny jeans from Dorothy Perkins, a Breton top I’ve had for a few years from Esprit and an oversized floral scarf from Primark.  And because it was so cold I pulled on a navy waist-tie cardigan from H&M so that I could layer up and keep the chill at bay.

Mother's Day outfit

Whilst we were out we popped into Asda to pick up something for tea and I spotted this gorgeous underwear set for the amazing price of £6!  Even full price the set wasn’t expensive at £9.50.  The fabric is a gorgeous satin effect in a pale, nude pink with feather print in various shades of grey (50 shades perhaps……..?) Because it was supermarket purchase I tried it on a cup size up and it fitted perfectly.  I had taken a picture of myself in it, but I’m not brave enough to post it – so here are the PG versions 🙂

Asda set - top

Asda set - bottoms

Asda undies - with tags

I’ll report back on how it washes, but the fit is great and it feels really nice on.

We’re also in the process of booking our delayed honeymoon which we delayed as we didn’t have enough in the budget to do both last year, so we just went away for a few days to Edinburgh (which was amazing and a nice break after the craziness of planning the big day).  Anyway, we’re on the cusp of booking 5 days in New York and a week in Mexico to coincide with our 1st anniversary in October.  Once it’s fully booked I can get started on planning my holiday wardrobe!!!!!

Weekly round up: Date Night Outfits

I’ve had a very busy week this week with lots going on in the evenings and leaving no time to blog, so I’m going to make this a ’round-up’.

Last Friday Hubby and I were due to go for dinner with friends to an Iranian restaurant called Soltan in Putney.  Neither of us had eaten Iranian food before and we weren’t disappointed – it was incredible tasty, although I have no idea what it was that we had as our part-Iranian friend ordered for us.

I wore a cardigan/jacket which I’ve had for ages but haven’t worn as I couldn’t find a top to wear underneath it.  The jacket is from the Next January sales (about £12 I think), the vest was £4 from Primark and the jeans are my trusty New Look Inspire dark denims.  The jacket is a sort of boucle knit with pink and shimmering flecks going through it.  The look made me feel chic but also modern.

Iraninan with the Ghodse's

On Saturday morning I awoke to find that hubby had made us a lovely breakfast of boiled egg and soldiers – the perfect way to start the weekend!

Breakfast made for me

On Saturday night Hubby and I had a date night and I used it as an excuse to get dressed up.  I wore my black velvet Boden pencil skirt with an embellished cardigan from Monsoon which I’ve had for about 4 years and at the last-minute added my thick black patent leather belt to match my patent platform courts from New Look.

Boden pencil + Monsoon cardi

 

On Monday we went to Tony Roma’s in Kingston for Monday night endless ribs – mmmmmmm, yummy.

I wore what I’d been wearing to work all day as I didn’t have time to change.  I got this dress in the January sales from Monsoon and the shoes are my nude favourites from Marks and Spencer.

Work outfit - burgandy dress

The skinny on a weekend away

Hubby and I went had a weekend away last week, we had been given a stay in a country house as wedding gift and it was nearing its expiry.  We were only going to be gone for 24 hours but I was determined to only take the new small weekend bag I purchased a couple of weeks ago and wrote about here.  This meant some very thrifty packing, something which doesn’t come easy due to my ‘just in case’ nature.

Anyway, I decided that to maximise the space available I should wear the same jeans on Saturday and Sunday and just take an outfit for Saturday night and a change of top for Sunday.  Easy peasy!  Ho, ho ho……

I really wanted to wear my riding boots but that would mean I’d have to wear a skirt which isn’t ideal for keeping warm.  In everyday life I’m not a really big trouser/jeans wearer, much preferring the figure skimming/lump and bump hiding coverage of dresses and skirts.  I have two pairs of jeans and they are both New Look Inspire boot cut dark denims, I keep one for everyday type wear and the darker ones for evenings out.  When the evening pair start to look faded they get relegated to every day and I go and buy a new pair. 

The only other trousers I’ve ever worn are M&S linen trousers, of which I had 4 pairs – black, stone, white and navy.  In the summer months I would wear a pair each day to work with a flowing top and of course the obligatory arm covering cardigan.  Last autumn, hubby-to-be (as he was then) took me to task and told me that the linen trousers weren’t doing me any favours, made me look bigger than I am and really should be consigned to the charity bag. 

After getting over the initial shock and giving H2B’s comments some thought, I decided that I would try on a couple of trousers which were a bit more form-fitting and I was lucky enough to pick up a pair of navy chino’s and black cigarette style pants quite cheap in the sale from Dorothy Perkins, deciding that if they didn’t work out for me then I hadn’t blown a load of cash on them.  Needless to say I’ve never put the linen trousers back on since and last month I donated them to the charity bag. On my hen weekend I wore a pair of black skinny jeans, also from Dorothy Perkins, which was a total first for me but everyone was nothing but complimentary and the earth didn’t open up and suck me and my plentiful rump into it either.

Anyway, back to the point.  Since this mini-revelation I’ve been wanting to try the ‘jeans tucked into boots’ style, but haven’t really found any jeans where the fabric was thin/soft enough that they allow my boots to zip up.  However, the Thursday before we went away I found a perfect pair, again from Dorothy Perkins.   They were £15 full price and I also had a 25% off voucher – total bargain!!

Here’s a not that great picture of me trying them on at home:

 Jeans in boots 2 Jeans in boots

And here’s what they look like online.

 Indigo skinny jeans

All things considered, I was really happy with the look and it made me really think about all the ‘rules’ I impose on myself or pick up from well-meaning but totally rubbish magazine articles which dictate what you should or shouldn’t wear if you’re larger.

For our night out I packed another pair of skinny jeans (same black ones I wore on my hen night), with a nude vest I got in the sale at New Look and a black blazer I got in the January sales from Next.  It’s a sort of velour type fabric but it looks like pony skin – not an amazing description, but I LOVE it and have worn it out the last few times I’ve been out.  I finished the look off with my nude M&S Sledge fakies and a patent clutch bag, also from next.

Sat Night - Bish Stort

You can’t see them in this picture but I also had on an amazingly huge and sparkly pair of statement earrings from Accessorize which I’ve been wanting to wear for ages but felt that the outfits I was trying to wear them with wasn’t right, but they worked really well with this look.

Cold has stopped play – some work outfits from last week

I’ve been suffering from the really bad cold which is going around, which means that I have been living in my p-jays since Sunday, so with little to write about and no back log of saved ideas generated yet, I thought I’d give a round-up of a couple of outfits from the end of last week

 Thursday’s work outfit

 As I haven’t ironed for what seems like a millennium, by the end of last week I was struggling to pull suitable work outfits together.  The company I work for has a dress policy, but depending on the department you work for, depends on whether it is followed or not.  Sometime the policy isn’t even followed in the same department – it’s all very wishy-washy to be honest. 

I work as a PA to a Company Director and as I regularly have to meet and greet guests from reception I always like to ensure that I dress smartly Monday to Thursday, and that sometimes extends to “dress down Friday” if we have a VIP visitor coming in.  I generally stick to dresses and skirts for work which I can dress up or down with jackets and cardigans if I’m going out afterwards.  Dresses are my favourite though as I feel that they are so easy to just pull on and go!

Anyway, due to general malaise on the ironing front, I was only left with couple of ‘dress down Friday’ style skirts and a dress which needed the button sewing back on (I always plan to do stuff like sewing on buttons at the weekend, but then Monday rolls around and it’s still not done – note to self: must get better at planning my personal time!).  I was already running late and so struck with a mild panic I turned to my Tim Gunn mantra and decided to go with a dress-down Friday skirt and “make it work”.

  Work outfit - thurs

The sweater was another outlet bargain from LK Bennett in Portsmouth (£19 from £99 if I remember rightly).  It’s a gorgeous silk mix fine knit with ¾ length sleeves.  I put a navy Primark vest on underneath for modesty/warmth (air-con battle at work anyone??).  The skirt is from White Stuff and I’ve had it for a while.  I usually wear it with funky coloured tights and my Duo brown riding boots.  This time I added my purse friendly and amazingly comfortable caramel court shoes from Marks & Spencer.  These little beaut’s are a mere £19.50, they look exactly like the LK Bennett Sledge Court, as worn by every member of the Middleton family (even the dog; it’s true, I saw it on Mail Online…..) but most importantly I can testify that they are so comfortable that they can be worn for an 8 hour-long girls night which includes about 4 hours of dancing.

Friday’s Outfit

Dress down Friday saw me wearing my Boden dark denim A-line skirt, a multicoloured vest from Next with a Gap cardigan and my brown riding boots from Duo.  The belt was a bargain from Primark for about £3!  Normally, I would have worn this outfit with the vest pulled out over the waistband of my skirt – a hangover from always trying to cover my bum!  However, I decided to tuck it in and stick the belt on and I was really pleased with how it looked.  It’s amazing how my brain tells me to dress in a certain way in an effort to hide my lumps and bumps but in doing that I can often end up looking bigger than I really am.  The sartorial equivalent of putting your head in the sand…..

Friday work outfit

 

Here’s where you can buy the items or similar:

BLENHEIM SKIRT  Product Image Product Image

Everyday A-Line Skirt  Camara Tan Leather ladies-boots list 

 

 

A Girls Right To Boots

 

Being a woman of the curvy variety, I have the ubiquitous love of handbags, shoes and accessories – because no matter your size – they still fit! But mostly I’m a shoe girl. Even as a young girl I was hooked and used to weep when my feet grew and I could no longer wear favourites in my wardrobe. I vividly remember a black patent leather pair which I stubbornly squeezed my too large feet into for a day out, only to be in total agony within 30 minutes of leaving home.

In my previous post I talked about how I evolved from teenage fashion sloth into a clothing magpie (actually, there is a shocking amount of sparkle in my wardrobe, but that’s probably another blog all together….). A massive element of that transition, which I forgot to mention in that blog, was my discovery of stretchy suedette boots.

I got my first pair in the sale at Ravel for £15 in black microsuede. I took home my purchase, convinced that they’d be going straight back, and tried them on with a long skirt. Hang on, I thought, these might look nice with a shorter skirt. And so I dug out an old impulse purchase from the back of the wardrobe and slung the whole ensemble on.

The next day I went and brought every pair they had left in my size, which was another black, a brown and a navy pair. I literally wore all of those boots until the heels snapped in two!

Since then knee length boots have been my absolute wardrobe staple, and as you can see from a small selection in the picture below, I have a pair to go with every outfit…..

IMG_1634

In the past I’ve brought them from all sorts of shops, particularly the microsuede ones as they stretch to fit your calf.  In recent years my purchases have been limited to Evans and Duo almost exclusively.

I tend to only have minimal success with Evans, as my feet aren’t particularly wide, it’s just my big ol’ calves that cause the problems.  Some of the boots from Evans can tend to feel like my feet are swimming about in them.  Duo, however, are my absolute FAVOURITE. 

Duo make boots in all sorts of foot and calf sizes, catering for women with large or tiny calves.  They only have a couple of stores (or ‘fitting rooms’ as they call them), but their online service is second to none, and even if you go into store I don’t think you can take a pair home that day, they are always sent to you from the warehouse.  Anyway, back to the ‘fitting room’.  The one in Covent Garden is all done up like a plush boudoir.  It’s so busy that you have to take a ticket and queue up to see one of their fully trained fitters.  Every now and then I’ll just go into store and try on some of their new styles so I can get a feel for what fits well on me – just in case a style I like goes in the sale and I know without having to buy all different sizes exactly what fits. 

Once you’ve had your fitting and made your purchase, your sizes are kept on file (although if you’ve lost or put on weight this will obviously change).  In the past when I’ve not been able to get into store, I’ve phoned up the enormously helpful customer service team and they’ve gone through what boots I’ve purchased before and if the new ones I’m looking at would benefit from going up or down a couple of inches in calf size/foot size etc in relation to my previous purchases.  They also have classic styles which remain season after season, some of the detail might change but the shape and fit of the boot remains the same year in, year out.

If you look at their comments, Duo have customer all over the world who just come back time and time again because of the quality of the boots and the service.

I’ve added below a picture of my absolute favourite pair of Duo boots.  When I was a little girl, I remember watching my aunt get ready for a night out with her friends and she had this amazing pair of black suede long boots.  Even now if I close my eyes and think really hard I can still smell the perfume she put on mingled with the smell of the leather.  Since then I have always lusted after a pair of my own, but could never find ones that fitted my requirements.  They were either too flat or looked like hooker heels!  Then one day the pair in this picture turned up in Duo, in the Sale!  I think I paid about £60 for them, which if you could feel the leather, you would agree is a total bargain.  They are leather lined in the most beautiful, butter-like pale pink leather and there’s a slight platform at the front which makes them really comfy to wear for long periods.  The only downside to them is the fact they are suede coupled with the miserable British weather.  Despite the fact that I’ve treated them with a rain protector, I NEVER wear them if there is a slight chance of rain because I want them to last forever!

IMG_1638

I think they look amazing with anything I wear, and if I’m going out after work a change of boot into these really makes the whole outfit look classier.  If find myself trotting around like a show pony whenever I have them on, they do something to my whole, living being.  Aside from fuelling my inanimate object love affair, they also look really similar to ones I’ve seen Kate Middleton wearing, and she’s one classy chick!  Here’s a link to a similar pair Duo are currently selling, maybe they can become your favouritest boots in the whole wide world too. 

Laurel Black suede ladies-boots list

Anyway, I’d say have a look at Duo and see if they can make a big change in your wardrobe like they did in mine.  I’d also really love to hear if you have a boot specialist you use when buying boots for large calves.

Have a great weekend,

Kellie xx