5 Hosiery Styles To Brighten Up Winter

Winter. Time to dig out your jeans/leggings, socks & boots. Apart from when you want to wear that knitted dress or skirt, that is.  Then you can have a field day with the opaque tights on offer – every colour under the rainbow, from 60 denier to 600 denier; even polar fleeced opaques.  Sometimes, I get bored of plain opaques.  So here are 5 of my favourite hosiery styles that I enjoy wearing to brighten my winter days. Are your favourites here?

1. Wool Tights.

Wool tights are warm.  I currently have a love of wool tights in colours of grey and navy – from check pattern to cable and rib.  Wool tights look really good with knitted dresses and denim skirts.  I have picked up some really nice wool tights from NEXT – my tip is to pick up a few pairs during their seasonal sales – they are often half price.

2. Glittery Tights.

I picked up a pair of navy glitter tights from NEXT .. but other brands such as Golden Lady have glitter tights too.  Great for wearing at parties – especially with velvet/velveteen dresses/skirts.  Also great for wearing under ripped jeans.

3.  Lace and Fishnet.

Yay. The styles of the 70s and 80s are big news at the moment and that has filtered down into the hosiery department too.  Fishnets and lace tights are great for “after eight” social dates and parties.  Lacy tights can be worn during the day too – go on, be brave! 🙂

 

4.  Patterned Tights.

Patterned tights can be subtle or loud.  For loudness, Golden Lady has some black and white polka dot tights which really are not for the faint hearted. Me?  I have already mentioned that I’m going through a phase of loving tights in navy blue, so it would come as no surprise to you that I love my navy patterned tights.  Fashion rules used to dictate not to wear navy with black, but I like to rebel against that rule and often wear my navy patterned tights with my black work skirt.

5.  Tartan/Plaid Tights.

Always on trend whether you are in Scotland or not – tartan tights can look great.  Not the most subtle of hosiery – in the photo below I’ve paired my red tartan tights with a black dress and my punky black boots for a party look.  For non-brave days, they can be worn under ripped jeans.  I have a teal tartan pair too.  I got my tights from Essex’ee Legs – available in bright red & teal.

 

I hope the tights have given you some inspiration to brighten up winter.  Do you stick to the same black/nude, sheer/opaque mode?  Do you have any “loud and proud” hosiery? Do tell!

Linda x

All photographs are by Linda Hobden, apart from the first photo & the last tartan photo which is of me by Adam Hobden.

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Keeping Hydrated With ION8

If you feel inspired to participate in any sporting activity, it’s important to keep well hydrated, especially if you are:  sweating away in a poorly ventilated gym; lobbing a shuttlecock over the net in a sports hall; cycling up and down the hills and country lanes; hiking in the wilderness;  scoring goals on the football (soccer) pitch or netball/basketball hoops.  In fact, keeping well hydrated daily is a must, even if you are not particularly active.  Drinking water regularly as been shown to: increase energy, relieve tiredness, boost the body’s immune system, improves the skin, promotes weight loss (water has zero calories!), aids digestion, relieves cramps and headaches.  Schools in the UK encourage children to take in a water bottle to use and sip throughout the day to help them keep alert and use those brain cells.  Having 5 children and an active cycling mad husband, I have a drawer full of water bottles – not all are the same and when I was given by ION8 their water bottle to review, I was looking forward to seeing if the ION8 stands up to my family’s scrutiny!

My 12 year old son Jack was the perfect reviewer/critic. He has had  3 water bottles since the start of the school term. One was lost; one leaked badly due to the spout snapping off that he had to have a new rucksack; and one split.  He takes a water bottle to school and refills it throughout the day; the water bottle has to endure a bus journey there and back; and Jack doesn’t treat his bag with kid gloves either. So, the ION8 has a lot to live up to! This is what Jack expected:

1. NEEDS TO BE REUSABLE & ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY.

Jack drinks a lot of water during the day – it is important for him to be well hydrated as he does suffer from migraines and water helps to alleviate the headaches.  It is also cost effective according to Jack as it gives him more money  by refilling his water bottle to buy another chocolate muffin! Refilling bottled water bottles isn’t a good idea as tiny cracks often appear in the bottle after its initial use and these cracks can harbour germs such as the dreaded norovirus.  Reusable bottles have been designed for multiple usage.  The ION8 is reusable, is bpa free and is made of non toxic Tritan – a material that is highly resistant to odours, can be easily cleaned & is dishwasher safe.                                                                                               10/10

2. NEEDS TO BE STYLISH.

The ION8 is definitely stylish.  The product was winner of the Reddot Design Award 2017. I wasn’t sure until the water bottle arrived, what colour I would receive.  There are 14 different colours to choose from – I was hoping it wasn’t going to be pink as I have 4 boys and a daughter who doesn’t go a-bundle on pink – but as luck would have it, I received the black glossy onyx colour. This was the preferred choice.  Jack approved. I think the colour was the main deciding factor for him.  From my point of view the range of colours was a fabulous idea especially in families where each person can have their own water bottle identified by a different colour.  Like packs of toothbrushes in assorted colours….. I’m sure you’ve got the drift 🙂  Only downside to the design that Jack mentioned was that opening and shutting the lid, the click was loud especially when he was taking a quick swig of water during his lesson and the classroom was relatively quiet.                                                                                           9.5/10

3. NO LEAKS.

Having been through various water bottles that have leaked despite being upright for the majority of the time, this was a major consideration. Soggy schoolbooks are a no no. Soggy gym kit – not amusing. ION8 claim to be 100% leakproof 100% of the time. They also offer a lifetime guarantee.  The lid lock offers that peace of mind  as well as the inner seal (which can be replaced).  Most water bottles have just the spout at the top which opens and closes – where most leakage occurs – so the lid is a pretty good idea.    The ION8 has lasted 10 days with no leaking so far….                                                10/10

ION8 comes with a tough carry strap, but I did not test the strap. Another difference is that the spout is at the side and not in the centre like most water bottles.  Drinking out of the water bottle is like drinking out of a cup – you need only to tilt the bottle slightly.

The aperture on the ION8 spout is wide to allow a uninterrupted flow of water. Water bottles, including the ION8, do not have thermal properties, such as keeping a hot drink hot or a cold drink cold – but the ION8 is capable of holding cold beverages as low as  -10C as well as hot beverages up to 96C.

The company mission is to produce the simplest and safest BPA free, spill free, leak proof water bottles, hydration products and drinking vessels.  My son and I are very impressed with what we’ve seen so far.  As far as water bottles go, the ION8 is the bees knees and we’ve been converted! 🙂

ION8 is available to buy via Amazon UK, Amazon USA, Amazon DE (Germany); Amazon ES (Spain); Amazon IT (Italy); Amazon FR (France).

For further information: www.ion8.co.uk

Disclaimer:  ION8 sent me the ION8 water bottle to review.  All views are entirely my own (and Jack’s).

Linda x

All photographs are by Linda Hobden. 

 

 

 

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6 Tasty Treat Discoveries

Food glorious food! I couldn’t not start the New Year off without sharing with you some tasty food treats that I discovered over the holiday period.  Trying new foods is always a pleasure – visiting my local Indian restaurant I usually order Lamb Rogan Josh but this winter they had revamped the menu and I actually tried a delicious squid curry… it made a lovely change and one that I hope is still on the menu when I next visit.  Here are 6 other tasty treats that I discovered recently … some healthy, some not so healthy .. but all are thoroughly delicious and worth tasting …

1. Wilkin & Son Tiptree – The Chocolate Collection.

People who know me know that I love chocolate spread – so I was really thrilled to receive this chocolate spread selection. Wilkin & Son Tiptree is well known internationally for their fruit jams, and over the years have expanded into fruit curds and spreads too.  The company uses 60% Belgian chocolate, real double cream and natural flavourings – the box selection contains plain chocolate spread, chocolate orange (yum), chocolate mint, chocolate cherry (reminiscent of Black Forest Gateau), chocolate coffee, and salted chocolate using Maldon sea salt (my favourite!).  The Chocolate Collection is completely nut free – as Tiptree’s factory is a completely nut free zone.  I love spreading the chocolate spread onto hot toast, or inside a warm croissant – but the chocolate can be melted to be used as an ice cream dessert topping or stirred into milk to make hot chocolate.

2. Galaxy Ultimate Frothy Hot Chocolate

My 12 year old son is a big fan of hot chocolate and this instant hot chocolate – I made it with hot water and 4 heaped teaspoons but milk can be used instead – was a big hit with him.  It is so frothy and chocolatey that it resembles the hot chocolate you can buy at the big coffee establishments but you can make it yourself at the touch of the kettle button!

3. Yeo Valley 0% Creme Fraiche

Creme Fraiche is cream with friendly bacteria added to it – the French version of soured cream.  Strict European regulations ensure that Creme Fraiche only contains cream and friendly bacteria.  I like the 0% fat version – it is still thick & creamy – but you can get half fat and full fat versions. A lovely alternative to milk when topping granola & fresh berries for breakfast.  Can be used instead of normal cream with desserts.  I add Creme Fraiche to my mushroom sauce when making my turkey & mushroom stroganoff. Or for a party dip idea, mix Creme Fraiche with a tub of hummus & a chopped bunch of coriander. Garnish with carrot and celery sticks.

4. Muller Light Rhubarb Crumble And Custard Yogurt

This season’s limited edition flavour, inspired by the traditional British dessert, rhubarb crumble and custard.  I was unsure of trying this yogurt.  Since I was a child my dad had always loved rhubarb yogurt and, that was the only flavour we had in our fridge – it was a thin yogurt and it was not my favourite flavour.  To be honest, rhubarb crumble nor custard were not on my list of favourites either. However, I think tastes change as you get older – I quite like rhubarb crumble and custard now ! My  impressions: it was a lovely creamy yogurt despite being fat free; it had bits of rhubarb in it – always a plus with me; and the flavour was surprisingly pleasant!

5. Castello Pineapple Cheese

Made in the land of the hygge, Denmark, this soft cheese made with pineapple, papaya and almonds, is unbelievably delicious.  It is for spreading onto crackers as part of a general cheeseboard ….. BUT, I love this cheese most of all spread on a slice of wholemeal, seeded or GI toast topped with mashed banana! It is my ultimate quick lunchtime snack!

6. Butterkist Salted Caramel Popcorn

If I eat popcorn, I tend to go for the sweet version rather than the salted version.  As I am a fan of all things salted caramel, I bought a packet of this popcorn for nibbles on Boxing Day.  I opened the packet in the kitchen, had a taste… had another handful … well, there wasn’t much left to put out for nibbles in the end! Basically this popcorn is coated with salted caramel flavour toffee  – so it would appeal to those who would prefer the sweet version.  It isn’t really that salty.  Although it is a sweet snack, the popcorn is made from natural wholegrains, is a source of fibre, is gluten free, vegetarian friendly and 125kcal per 30g serving.

What tasty treats did you enjoy over the holidays? Do share your tastebud discoveries…

Linda x

All photographs are by Linda Hobden

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5 Fashion & Beauty Camping Case Essentials For The Newbie

Happy New Year!  Have you made any New Year Resolutions?  More importantly, are you sticking to them?! According to the Caravan, Camping & Motorhome Show 2018, everybody should put “Spend 24 Hours Outdoors” on their New Year Resolutions list.  Various researches from organisations such as The Camping and Caravanning Club and the World Health Organisation have revealed that camping is generally good for your your mental health; it makes people feel happier; it’s a great social leveller; it’s a great way to make new friends (especially for children); and children are more than likely to encounter new experiences eg kite flying, tree climbing, den making and cooking on a campfire.

Location, location, location …. there are many different types of campsites in the UK from the glamping spots; the really deserted one tent in a field spots; adapted farms that have become campsites in idyllic locations, with modern shower blocks & facilities such as a pool, shop, restaurant, launderette, bar;  and some which are part of a holiday village with full entertainment & other amenities. 

 

So, your children have persuaded you to buy a tent and book a camping holiday … put the tent up beforehand to practise and to check that it is in fact waterproof … (we’ve had to buy a new tent day 2 into our 14 day camping holiday when a torrential downpour overnight left our old tent uninhabitable!  Thank goodness our site had a launderette and I was able to use the dryers to dry our damp clothes & bedding!)

And here’s some tips to help you pack those all important fashion & beauty essentials:

1. FOOTWEAR.  Hiking/Walking Boots. To wear all the time when you are not in the tent.  I use my motorbike boots.  Camping fields can get extremely muddy, especially if it rains.  Make sure the boots are comfortable, sturdy & waterproof. For tent wear: slip on trainers, ballet shoes or flip flops. 

2.  ONESIE.  I’m cringing as I type this.  I rarely feel the cold but I must say, that even in  August, it was cold and damp at night in the tent.  I did wrap up under a  duvet but I couldn’t help but think that wearing a onesie would have been preferable at that moment in time.  I did visit a local store looking for a onesie but being August, and it was warm during the day, the shelves were full of swimming costumes not fleeces.

3. MAKE UP/BEAUTY PRODUCTS.  Being outdoors gives you a healthy glow.  Being on a campsite means that the shower facilities/lighting/mirrors are not really ideal to perform your normal make up and skincare morning and evening routines.  I would suggest packing shower gel, 2 in 1 shampoo, moisturiser, BB cream (to replace primer, toner & foundation), waterproof mascara, lip gloss and eye make up remover pads.

4. COMPACT MIRROR.  At night you should really take off make up but when camping, it is rather off putting to go to a dimly lit shower block armed with your torch to help you navigate your way.  Having a compact mirror means that you can take your make up off in your tent ( and apply your morning make up after your shower in privacy, if you wish).  I used my mirror to make sure I didn’t have too bad bed head hair in the morning as I travelled across the field to the shower block!

5. HAIR PRODUCTS.  Your brush. Ditch the straighteners, hairdryer, tongs, hairspray … go for the tousled look instead. 

With those essentials packed, you are ready to fully embrace the outdoor life with your family – we walked for miles, went shell collecting on the beach, visited the local swannery, did some kite flying, rope swinging… 

Are you going to add “24 Hours Outdoors” to your list this year? Are you a camping guru… or newbie?  Any camping stories you can share? Do tell …

Linda x

The Caravan, Camping and Motorhome Show 2018 takes place at Birmingham’s NEC from 20 to 25 February.  Prices are from £7 for adults; children under 15 go free. Tickets are on sale now – for more details check their website: www.ccmshow.co.uk

All photos are by Linda Hobden.

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6 Seasonal Drinks To Try

Party Season is in full swing and as we near the end of the year I decided to end my blog this year with a fun & frivolous post to toast the old year along with welcoming the New Year!  So here is my round up of 6 seasonal drinks to try this year – with a couple of non alcoholic alternatives too!

1. PROSECCO 

Prosecco is perhaps the most popular sparkling wine in the UK at the moment.  It is an Italian wine, having the subtle flavouring of white peaches,  is made in the Venetian region, from Glera grapes (aka Prosecco grapes) – occasionally other grapes are added.  The controlled designation of origin can be spumante, frizzante or tranquilla.

If you are an animal lover that would like to celebrate the season with your pet, then why not get your cat or dog a bottle of Pawsecco!  Yes, it is virtually prosecco for your pet! I say it is “virtually” prosecco – that is because it is not made with grapes, thus making it safe for dogs to drink.  And it is still rather than sparkling.  And it is non alcoholic.  However, for novelty value Pawsecco is definitely up near the top slot – not having tasted it, I cannot vouch whether it tastes of Prosecco  – nor, can I guarantee your cat or dog will join you in toasting in the New Year!

2.  GIN

Gin  – a  popular drink in the summertime – and in 2017, gin is one of, if not the top, spirit drink bought in the UK.  In bars up and down the UK,  gin tastings and gin based cocktails are very popular.  It is lower in calories than a glass of wine or a pint of beer – so for those who are looking for an alcohol drink that is a bit more accommodating when dieting, you can’t go wrong with gin.  In the 19th century, gin was drank as a straight drink.  Today, gin & tonic is the normal pairing.  I remember in years gone by, elderly relatives drinking gin with bitter lemon or with ginger ale.  Why not try mixing gin with your favourite fruit juice combinations, such as grapefruit & orange; or, cranberry & grape.

Alternatively, why not try Seedlip?  Seedlip is distilled in the same way as gin, is clear like gin and is best served with tonic water. However, Seedlip is alcohol free, sugar free, calorie free and sweetener free.  It is a great alternative for drivers, pregnant ladies, teetotallers & dieters.  It is made with spices, herbs and the predominant flavour is clove.  As a base for non alcoholic cocktails requiring a gin substitute – Seedlip is your friend.  It is expensive but it does make a refreshing change from cola/lemonade/lime & soda ….

3. SPARKLING PERRY

Babycham was the original party drink, launched in the UK in 1953. Invented by Francis Showering, a brewer in Shelton Mallet, in Somerset, England.  The sweet and not overly  alcoholic drink was particularly popular during the 1960s and 1970s.  I remember Babycham being served in a Martini/cocktail glass with a glacé cherry on a cocktail stick.  It felt very glamorous at the time!  With the 1970s/1980s vibe being very popular at the moment, Babycham is trying to make inroads into the party market again.

Currently dominating the British commercial perry market is Lambrini, a light & fruity perry made from the finest quality pears.  Lambrini is manufactured in Liverpool by Halewood International and was first created in 1994.  Like Babycham, it is low in alcohol and      low in cost.  It is the butt of many jokes – mainly because of its low cost – but it is a refreshing alternative to wine, and less likely to produce a hangover after a couple of glasses!

4. MULLED WINE

There are many recipes for mulled wine and many supermarkets stock bottles of ready made mulled wine. “Mulled” simply means heated & spiced.  We usually associate “mulled” with wine, but in fact many liquids can be mulled, including cider.  Traditional English Mulled Wine is made with brandy; in Ireland it is made with Irish whiskey; in the USA, with a touch of bourbon.

How about trying the Scandinavian version – known as glogg.  It is a cherry- scented mulled style wine, traditionally containing other fruit and almonds too.  In Sweden, glogg is an essential part of the lead up to Christmas with glogg parties held throughout Advent.  I found many recipes on Pinterest on how to make glogg – but I have found a ready made bottle by Marks & Spencer which does the trick admirably too.

For a family and driver friendly version of mulled wine,  replace the alcohol in the recipes with red grape juice instead.  It is just as delicious – although just as calorie laden, I’m afraid.

5. VODKA

Last Christmas I spotted in Asda supermarket, peppermint vodka.  This year, I spotted in the delectable chocolate shop, Hotel Chocolat,     an English vodka infused with salted caramel & cocoa.  The Salted Caramel Vodka is not too sweet and in each bottle floats a whole cocoa bean.  Only available in small bottles, and more expensive than the normal supermarket vodkas, however this vodka is a real treat for the vodka connoisseur and worth every penny.

I’ve not really got a low calorie alternative, but if you happen to visit a Hotel Chocolat store with a cafe attached, then try their speciality hot chocolates whilst savouring the aroma of chocolate in the air.  Get  punch drunk on chocolate fumes rather than alcohol.  Chocoholics heaven on earth indeed.

6. Irish Cream

Every Christmas bar needs a bottle of Baileys or an equivalent Irish Cream.  I prefer the original version with no ice… some prefer their Irish Cream with ice or dashed into their coffee. My daughter likes to experiment with the seasonal flavours on offer … last year salted caramel, this year spiced pumpkin flavour.

What will be your seasonal tipple this year?  Will you try something new or will you stick to your favourites?  Whatever you decide to do, I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Healthy & Prosperous New Year.

Linda x

All photographs are by Linda Hobden

 

 

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Destination Rocamadour

Set in a gorge above the River Alzou, a tributary of the River Dordogne, in the Lot Department of South West France, lies the small cliff top village of Rocamadour.  Rocamadour attracts pilgrims from all over the world and has done for centuries – famous pilgrims from history include Eleanor of Aquitaine, Henry II of England; Kings Louis IX, Louis XI & Charles IV of France. In summer, this little village in the middle of nowhere, is jammed packed with visitors.  Apart from its stunning location, Rocamadour is known for its Cite Religieuse complex of religious buildings, accessed via the Grand Escalier Staircase. The complex includes the Chapelle Notre Dame, with its Black Madonna statue and the Romanesque – Gothic Basilica of St Sauveur.

In August, Rocamadour’s campsites (of which there are many), are invaded also by music lovers – the Festival de Rocamadour include chamber music, orchestral music and soloists.

Interesting though the village is, for families with children, the prospect of climbing the steep stone stairways viewing ancient buildings in the August heat isn’t really appealing.  BUT, Rocamadour to me and my family isn’t really the village – we head to the north east corner of the village to a magical place we first discovered in 2006. This place is La Foret de Singes (Monkey Forest), a park where around 150 Barbary Macaques (aka Magots) live and roam free in a forest environment. 

The Barbary Macaques are an endangered species, originating from the Atlas Mountains of Morocco. The idea of the park is to provide the apes with natural living conditions as close to their native conditions as possible in order to preserve the species and once numbers increase and they are no longer endangered, they will be ultimately reintroduced into the Atlas Mountains. 

Raising public awareness about threats to the species is another aim.  Entering the park there are strict regulations for visitors – both for the safety of the visitor and the apes.  The park is well secured… there are gates to enter in and out of the forest itself .. but other than that, no other zoo like feature exists.  Regulations include not going too close the apes, especially the babies as the parents could consider the visitors as a threat; the young apes are prone to taking food out of people’s pockets/bags and hats off heads  – the young ones are braver and will approach you to take food off your outstretched hands.  You can get bags of popcorn at the entrance so you can feed the apes you come across as you follow the paths through the forest – and there are also set feeding time  areas where the rangers feed the apes whilst explaining (mostly in French) their work, the apes and the conservation aims.

Wandering through the forest, some places reminded me of scenes from Disney’s Lion King – I was expecting Simba the lion to appear on a rock and roar! 

The highlight of the day for us all was being able to feed the apes, although on our first trip my eldest son was very wary and was too scared to participate – but the others were a lot braver and enjoyed the experience.  Outside the gated area is a shop with the inevitable shelves lined with soft cuddly Barbary Apes; and a cafe where you can get a well deserved ice cream – or have a picnic indulging in freshly made baguettes with the local goats milk cheese, “Rocamadour”, which was awarded AOC status in 1996! 

As a family, we’ve always visited in the height of the season in August – the roads to get into Rocamadour are often congested but away from the centre, as you head to the forest the traffic is fairly light and the park itself, although busy, does not feel crowded even at lunchtime.  If you get a chance, just along the road is the Dinosaur Park – a cleverly laid out park winding down a hillside featuring some fabulous dinosaur statues – very pushchair/wheelchair friendly and wasn’t crowded whenever we’ve visited, either. 

The La Foret de Singes was opened in 1974  – it has other parklands in the “group” in Europe where you can experience the work of the Barbary Macaques conservation associations.  These are: La Montagne des Singes (France); Affenberg Salem  (Germany); Trentham Monkey Forest (England).

If you wish to visit the forest, it is open March – November. 

Linda x

All photographs are by Linda Hobden. 

 

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Back To The 80s

During the summer I received an invite from my friend Tracy inviting my husband and I to her 50th birthday party.  It was to be a “Back to the 80s” fancy dress party, to boot.  Normally, I’m not a big fan of dressing up but it sounded really fun to relive memories of being a teenager in the 1980s.  In 1981, I was 16 and pretty shy but by 1984 I had embraced the 1980s with fervour – I loved the big hair, the bright colours and the sexiness of the decade – and then by 1988, I swapped my blonde spiky big hair for a brunette perm and shiny tracksuits … (that part was a blip!) Make up was just as bright – and plenty of black eyeliner!  I needed to get some ideas on what to wear for the party. First of all I looked at Amazon – the fancy dress outfits were mainly leg warmers, leotards and from the Flashdance film era; with a splattering of early Madonna outfits. They were very nice but wasn’t what I had once worn, so I decided to look back at some old photos to see if I could recreate my old looks.

1981 – My old bus pass aged 16!  I was wearing a long black leather coat (my first purchase with my first wage packet!) and a black & gold glitter jumper.

1982 –  I used to wear a lot of red and matched my outfits with red lipstick, red earrings, red handbag & red shoes! My hair was in the style of Lady Diana.

1984 –  This was me aged 19 on a night out.  The shirt was one of my favourites.  I was wearing a faux black leather pencil knee length  skirt.

1989 – perm!  I kept this style until 1997 when I then had my hair cut short.

I remembered I used to love the strapless peplum dresses on a night out; my denim jacket used to take pride of place alongside my leather jacket; and if I was going to the local disco – my shiny black satin tight trousers with a yellow lace body and a yellow & black kimono style shirt; a winter’s date in the pub – fuchsia pink knitted dress with fishnets and high leg boots; or a rib knit purple maxi skirt with matching cardigan teamed with a fuchsia pink satin blouse…. 

In my wardrobe, I found my original denim jacket and a black string vest …. 

 

Looking in my Bon Prix catalogue, I realised that a lot of the 1980s style were making a comeback – I found white slouchy boots, sling back shoes…

I found stirrup pants (used to be known then as ski pants); jeans with piping down the sides (I used to have a khaki pair with red piping); fishnets (haven’t really faded from the fashion scene); tight satin disco trousers and black faux leather skirts. 

It was harder to recreate the make up but, not impossible.  Having a pale matt foundation was no problem but I had to forego the subtle contouring or hint of blush that I favour today – in the 1980s blush was loud and proud!  In 2017 I like a pale or nude lip gloss; me in 1984 favoured red or burgundy – it was really strange to wear such a bright colour.  Even more embarrassing was that I found at the bottom of my make up drawer my original Charlie red lipstick….

When it came to my husband – he said he used to wear a rock band t shirt and jeans… not much different to today’s attire.  He decided to join in the fun and become an iconic favourite of his in the 1980s – Axl Rose of Guns n Roses.  He managed to get hold of a kilt, wig and bandana from Amazon.

In the end I got my outfit: blonde rockers wig (from Amazon); denim jacket; 80s red/black/white strapless satin dress from Envy Boutique; black fishnet faux stockings; black slingback shoes from Bon Prix.

The party was a big success… there were Baywatch star lookalikes, early Madonnas, Flashdancers, and even Slash from Guns n Roses too. We drank pimped up prosecco but I somehow thought babycham would have been great if it was still around…. then guess what I found on my supermarket shelf the other day….

What would you wear to an 80s party?  Can you remember any favourite outfits from that era? Do share your stories … 

Linda x

For pinning

All photographs are by Linda Hobden 

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An Interview With Rufus Publications

If you are passionate about music, books and publishing, there is no career finer than the job that my guest, Mark Smith, does! Mark is a publisher with the independent publishing house, Rufus Publications, that specialises in creating and distributing high end coffee table books about bands and music.  Working directly with artistes and bands, the books and the photography bring to life some iconic concerts.  I’m thrilled to welcome Mark on the blog, to find out more…

Hi! I am Mark Smith, a 52 year old publisher from Newbury Berkshire. Married (30 years) with three sons, a daughter and a plethora of grandchildren based in the UK and South Africa.

Mark (left) & David Coverdale at his studio in Reno

Who or what inspired you to pursue a career in publishing?

I have worked for myself since I was 19. I ran a design and marketing company until 2007, stopping after having a small stroke (probably stress induced). I have always loved books, music and films so I decided to start a business that would encompass these passions in 2010.

Rufus Publications specialise in creating & distributing high end coffee table books about bands & music. What were the reasons why you decided to stick with bands & music?

Well, I’m starting with the music I know and love. The biggest surprise is how long it takes to pull a book together. I thought it would take 4 months but really it’s a year or more.

What has been the most popular publication so far?

AC/DC followed by Zeppelin and Deep Purple.

David Coverdale on stage – photo taken by Mark for the new Purple book)

What has been your favourite book to date?

We are just launching a Whitesnake book and we worked directly with David Coverdale and his producer MIchael McIntyre, following the band on an arena tour of the UK and taking many of the shots used in the book. This time we haven’t licensed other people’s work so we have more freedom. They have been fun and professional to work with and we got to visit the band’s studio in Reno. Good fun. We are also working with legendary guitarist Peter Green on a forthcoming title. He’s amazing to work with and it will be quite some book.

You have worked with bands in the past such as AC/DC and Deep Purple, however, if you were given the chance, who would you love to publish a book about?

We would love to do Metallica and perhaps some of the more obscure American blues artistes. We are also considering some classic film books.

A spread from the forthcoming Peter Green book

Most of your books are designed, printed & bound in the UK. Are they available to purchase outside the UK?

We ship anywhere in the world. We are passionate about UK production because we have lost so much to China and England used to be a major centre for book production.

I have seen AC/DC a couple of times, including the concert  where Axl Rose was the lead singer. My last concert was to see Paul Rodgers. What was the last music concert you went to?

The Iron Maidens and Bernie Marsden a few weeks ago and The Darkness next week.

A shot of Meatloaf and Dee Snider (Twisted Sister) confronting each other backstage at the Monsters of Rock in 1983 (from the forthcoming history of the festival). Photo by PG Brunelli

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

Jeans, t-shirts and converse boots.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ?

Amazon because I can’t buy music in Newbury but the internet has taken the fun out of the high street.

A classic guitar photographed in the Rufus Publications studio, from a forthcoming book on rare & unusual guitars belonging to Bernie Marsden. Photographed by the Rufus Team

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

A decent striped jacket, if I can find one that fits.

Boots or Shoes?

Boots. They’re chunkier!

Links to follow & discover Rufus Publications:

www.rufuspublications.com
www.facebook.com/rufuspublications

For pinning later

I do hope you enjoy seeing The Darkness next week – I saw them live in 2004! I really enjoy seeing bands that put on a show – like Metallica, Alice Cooper, Kiss, AC/DC, David Bowie and Whitesnake – to name a few that I’ve seen.  Dear readers, do you like seeing live bands? Any favourites? Do share your stories…

Linda x

All photographs (apart from the Pinterest photo) have been published with kind permission from Rufus Publications and the photographers have been credited in the article.

The Pinterest photo was taken by myself,  Linda Hobden, at a Status Quo concert held at Newmarket Race Course in July 2015

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An Interview With Little Bits Of Bling

Time for a bit of bling this week on the blog and I’m so pleased to welcome Allie of Little Bits of Bling.  I came across Allie and her wonderful Etsy shop via Twitter a while ago. I was mesmerised by her range of lockets and aromatherapy jewellery. As usual I wanted to know more about the jewellery and Allie agreed to spill the beans…

Hi, my name is Allie , I live in the South West with my hubby and son and I am the owner and designer at Little Bits of Bling.

What was behind your choice to concentrate on floating locket & aromatherapy jewellery?

I love how versatile the floating lockets are and the fact you can swap charms around really appealed to me, oh and I’m a bit of a magpie too, so the fact they were very sparkly helped! The aromatherapy lockets came later whilst looking for new floating lockets – I came across these and thought they would make a great addition whilst keeping the locket theme.

I love the “Locket Bracelet” and the “Oil Diffuser Stainless steel Incense Lockets”. To date, what has been your most popular jewellery item?

My most popular item is actually my photo charm. I can shrink down your photos and make them into a floating charm which people seem to love, especially pet owners, I’ve done more animals than humans!

What’s your most favourite item in your collection?

My favourite is the cuff bangle, I’m wearing that with Christmas charms in at the moment.

Each piece is so lovely, yet fragile – have you any tips on how best you can look after your floating locket jewellery pieces?

They do have a glass front, so for keyrings I do advise not to use with bunches of keys so as not to break the front. They can also show up fingerprints from opening and swapping charms so a quick wipe with a micro fibre cloth works great.

How do you go about ordering a floating locket? Can the lockets be personalised?

I have a website, www.littlebitsofbling.co.uk. They can be personalised as far as the charms you add to the locket, I currently have over 300 on the website, I can also personalise the backgrounds that sit behind the charms with words or a picture of your choice.

As Little Bits of Bling is based in England, are your pieces available to purchase worldwide?

Yes I offer international shipping on all of my lockets.

Have you always been interested in jewellery or did you hope to follow a different career path whilst growing up?

I never really had a career in mind when I left school so because of that I have had many different jobs. At the moment Little Bits of Bling is something I do between my day job and looking after my son. I have always had a love for the sparkly things in life so jewellery seemed the obvious choice.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

Oh I’m definitely a jeans and trainers kind of girl.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ?

I tend to stick to the high street and usually shop in Next, New Look and Matalan.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

A complete new outfit for my hubby’s Christmas party next month.

Boots or Shoes?

Oh trainers and my sketchers for sure, I love to be comfy and can’t really do heels!

 

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook etc so that readers can find out more about Little Bits Of Bling.

www.littlebitsofbling.co.uk
www.facebook.com/blinglittlebits
www.instagram.com/littlebitsofbling

Thank you Allie – your little bits of bling are truly delightful.  It is interesting to note that animal photos for the photo charms are more popular than the humans! Interesting but not surprising! My youngest son is always taking photos of our cats and he prints them off and proudly displays them in his room! I have a habit of always photographing mountains/scenery … dear readers, what do you tend to photograph most? Selfies? Bling? Family? Pets? I’d be interested to know so do drop me a comment …

Linda x

All photographs published with kind permission of Little Bits Of Bling.

 

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Introducing Boomer On The Ledge

You may have heard of the traditional American Christmas Elf on the Shelf – but I am going to introduce you to something even cuter – “Boomer On The Ledge”!  The book & toy “Boomer On The Ledge” was created by author Molly Stevens, whose blog “Shallow Reflections” just happens to be one of my favourites.  Having just been published this November,  I couldn’t wait to buy a copy of the book and I wasn’t disappointed – it was packed full of sketches that reflect Molly’s fun sense of humour!  I couldn’t wait to ask Molly about “Boomer” …. Hi Molly!

Hi! My name is Molly Stevens, and I live in central Maine. When I’m not writing, working or rummaging around in the middle of the night looking for a snack, I love to spend time with my husband, Patrick, and our son, daughter-in-law and two perfect grandsons. This is my first book.

What was the inspiration behind On Boomer The Ledge™ or BOTL™ (Humoroutcasts Press,2017)?

I watched my grandsons get excited about finding an elf posed each morning that monitors their behavior leading up to Christmas and thought my generation was missing something fun. I felt like we were invisible with no one watching us unless looking for signs of dementia. My mother left me a little vintage doll, and I started photographing it in different poses and it made me laugh. I brainstormed ideas with my husband, Patrick, and The Boomer on the Ledge concept was born. I waited for a year before I published it as a blog post, then decided I needed to expand it into a book with a new doll. I designed my vision of the doll, and worked with a fantastic seamstress, Brenda DeRoche, to make the doll come to life with a unique personality. The more we worked on the prototype, the more she looked like me, especially when I first get up in the morning.

Congratulations on being published – how does it feel to finally get your idea published and off the ground? What was your main highlight and what proved most frustrating?

Having this book published feels like giving birth, and this is not something I ever imagined at age sixty-four! The most frustrating part was meeting my deadlines while working fulltime.  Also, I shot the pictures during the height of summer, and in Maine, that means endless hours of bright sunlight. I used an umbrella, a blanket and even did a few photos in the bathroom with the shade pulled to improve the lighting. The highlight was selling the first book, hearing the buyer laugh and say, “Everyone will love it as much as I do!”

I certainly love the book and did have a giggle at some of the positions she got herself into – hard to pick favourites, but I did particularly like the “roasting pantyhose on an open fire” and “ drinking out of the dog bowl thinking it was gin” – so where did you draw your inspiration for the Boomer antics from?

Her antics come from my own life – balancing work and family, pursuing creative endeavors, trying to stay healthy, looking stylish while staying comfortable, planning for retirement, and some days not wanting to get out of bed.

Which Boomer On The Ledge antic is your personal favourite?

My favorite is cover photo, the doll hanging on the ledge, because this is symbolic of my life stage – hanging precariously between danger and adventure. When you are younger, it is a shock if an illness or injury strikes someone you know, but in your sixties, a disaster can be right around the corner. Conversely, I have found this age to be a fabulous time of self-discovery, creativity, and adventure.

What do you hope your readers get from this book?

I hope my readers can relate to the Boomer on the Ledge and have a lighthearted moment in a world that is often sad and scary. If I can give one person a moment of escape from this madness, I will have achieved my goal. I believe humor is the emollient that smoothes life’s rough patches and I want to show boomers how hilarious aging can be.

 

Growing up, did you always hope to have a career connected with writing or were your dreams directed elsewhere?

I dreamed of a career in the arts – music and literature were my favorite subjects. I grew up in a time when a teacher, nurse, or secretary were the most common career pathways for a girl. I chose a career in nursing and I have no regrets but I’m grateful my dream to be a writer ignited at sixty years old, and now I consider it my passion.

Where do you prefer to read – in bed, in a comfy chair, in a library surrounded by books or elsewhere? Do you prefer hardback, paperback or kindle? Favourite genre?

I do most of my reading in bed but if I can’t sleep I settle into my swivel rocking chair. I read a mixture of hardback/paperback and kindle books, usually several at a time, which can get confusing. I have read a lot of non-fiction the past few years, but am getting back into fiction, which is my first love. I enjoy variety and will read about anything as long as it is well written, having no tolerance for dull concepts and shoddy writing.

Where can people purchase Boomer On The Ledge? Is there worldwide availability?

Boomer on the Ledge book is available on Amazon worldwide. The Boomer on the Ledge doll is available in the United States, made to order and available on my website at www.shallowreflections.com, (sold only with the book).

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

I love skinny jeans and flowing tops that leave plenty of room for me to eat a plate of nachos without revealing any bulges.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

I like J. Jill clothing line for its style and comfort. Did I mention I like comfortable clothes?

What’s next on your clothes/shoe/accessory wish list?

I’m always cold and I want to take trip to mid-coast Maine to buy a warm, cozy alpaca sweater.

Boots or Shoes?

This time of year nothing but boots, short ones with my jeans, tall ones with my leggings/tops.

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can find out more about you and Boomer On The Ledge.

http://www.shallowreflections.com
https://www.facebook.com/shallowreflections/
https://www.facebook.com/BoomerOTL/
https://twitter.com/ShallRef
https://www.pinterest.com/mstevens1953/shallow-reflections/
https://plus.google.com/u/0/+MollyStevensPerham/posts
https://www.instagram.com/mstevens1983/

Good golly Miss Molly, I sure do love your sense of humour and the Boomer doll is so cute! So, dear readers, what mischievous poses would you put your Boomer doll in?  In honour of Molly, I would opt for Boomer to be immersed in a bowl of Nachos …. ! 

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Molly Stevens.

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