Friday, 30 October 2009

Heartfelt Thanks...

My year of not shopping taught me that nothing was more important than the love and support of my nearest and dearest, and this last week has again been proof of that.

So, I just want to use this blog entry to thank…

Liz – who despite being in agony before her spinal surgery, jumped into her shiny new Mercedes to chauffeur me over to visit Kevin on that first awful night when he was in Intensive Care. A well positioned pot hole on the way home took out two tyres and broke the axle and as we both contemplated squeezing into the high visibility vest she found in the boot, ready to sit out the long wait for the recovery truck, we did the only thing we could - laugh! Ironically the car has spent longer in Intensive Care than Kevin.

Alan, Chris, Matt, the two Marks, colleagues and friends too numerous to mention - who have been in touch every single day to offer support and assistance whenever needed. It’s always easy for people to say that, but each and every one of them truly mean it.

Susie – who arrived with soup, spaghetti sauce and sympathy. She filled my freezer with food and my eyes with tears in that one gesture. I will never forget her doing that, mainly because Kevin has been so impressed with her soup that anything I ever cook again will be deemed completely inferior.

Don’t get me wrong – shopping can be fabulous, but it’s never given me the warm feeling this lot have.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Credit (Card) Crunch

It's not every morning that Channel 5 call to ask if you're free to jump on a plane to London and talk on their evening bulletin feature on credit cards.

So, when they did just that yesterday morning, it was with a rather heavy heart that I had to politely decline their invitation. The fates were conspiring against me with a poorly partner (now at home), work waiting for me to appear at my desk and the fact that I’d probably have had to pay for the flights on my credit card.

While I’m delighted that the Government has finally decided to take a look at credit card companies and the way they operate, I’m slightly distressed that it’s taken a UK wide circulation of 63 million cards with a combined debt of 63 billion pounds to get their attention.

For millions of Britons it's a case of too little, too late.

I need to stress here that no-one forced me to take – then use – credit cards. In that respect, I am entirely responsible for my own actions (and stupidity) but perhaps if the regulations surrounding them had been a little stricter, I might have been prevented from piling it all on the plastic long before my debt reached a point where it was greater than my salary.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Jolly Joules

It's been quite a week here at the House of Hall, so I was thrilled by a gift of this jolly Joules scarf.It really brightened up my day and in the next few months will brighten up my winter wardrobe too.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Make Do & Mend

I used to think the expression ‘make do and mend’ only applied to material goods in times of recession, but it seems it can work just as well for the human heart.

Kevin’s skillful surgeon was able to repair his damaged valve - rather than replacing it - by pleating his own tissue to mimic the missing section.

It’s still going to be a long recovery for him, but we know we’ll get through it because we love each other - whole heartedly...

Friday, 16 October 2009

Buddha & The Beatles

Just two of the things that Kevin will be packing into his bag to take into hospital on Monday.

Not the real Beatles, obviously!

I doubt any hospital - no matter how lenient - would allow Paul McCartney to sit strumming on the end of your bed. And, as far as I’m aware, Ringo’s busy with voice-over work anyway.

After a four decade long denial that the band who set the Sixties screaming were any good, Kevin has relented and requested an i-pod packed with their tunes to accompany him on the long and winding road to recovery.

My job over the weekend is to load up his hospital listening and tuck a few surprises into his bag. I can write them here as he doesn’t read this blog - he already has enough to cope with putting up with me in real life!

These will include a card of the Eiffel Tower - I hope to treat him to a trip to Paris when he returns to health - and a tiny, bronze Buddha, bought for luck. Let’s be honest, when you’re facing open heart surgery, you can’t have too much luck. Or love...

And he’ll be getting plenty of both.

Monday, 12 October 2009

Money Maker

In just over two weeks, Mother is heading off on the trip of a lifetime (more on that later) and I wanted to give her something to take on her travels.

After much thought, cash seemed the best option; that way she can spend it on whatever she wants, whether that comes in the form of a keepsake or a night out with the friends she’s joining.

So, I set myself a target of raising £100 and have been frantically Ebay-ing over the last few weeks to achieve it.

Today I’m proud to announce that I’ve made £92.40 on items I wasn’t using and who now have happy new owners. I’m delighted!

Mother’s coming over to Glasgow tomorrow, so we can have lunch together before she jets off. All I have to do is add the last few pounds to the total, then tuck the whole lot inside the cover of the journal I’ve bought her to record her adventure and wish her ‘Bon Voyage’.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Wet or Dry?

Last night, when I was at work, I decided to indulge in a spot of extreme multi-tasking - with disasterous consequences!

My combination of phone answering and yoghurt pot opening left my lovely, black wool trousers from Boden looking as though they’d come under attack from a scatological seagull.

The problem is they’re dry clean only and the thought of having to trail to my favourite dry cleaners (one of the few I’ve found that doesn’t shrink / wreck / fade my clothes) and then wait a week to get them back, was too much for me.

So, I’ve taken matters into my own hands and my trousers are currently wallowing in cold water and Woolite, while I cross my fingers.

I’ve been down the road of handwashing dry clean only items before - when I stopped shopping for a year - and although it was only a few garments, they survived their swim and are still being worn.

I’ll keep you posted on whether these trousers remain the wide legged, high waisted beauties that Boden intended them to be, or whether they start a whole new life as a pair of mis-shapen, three quarter length Capri pants.

(Update - Sunday 11th: they've survived their soggy ordeal and look as good as new!)

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Sometimes It's Wrong To Resist

There are occassions when it's wrong to resist the seduction of shopping.

Admittedly these occassions are few and far between, but I’ve just experienced two of them; the birthday of a most fabulous friend and the birth of twins.

So, I’ve been on a mini spending splurge and it’s weird just how much more pleasure you get in shopping for others. By not focusing on yourself and all the little treats that you could be popping into your basket, you start to look really carefully for gifts that are special to that person.

And where better to start the search than Bumblebee in Glasgow...

Of course, that’s where the search also ended because it seems I can’t go in there without buying something.

This is the shop where I was so smitten with their Alessi cat feeder, that I bought it for Susie before she’d even got her cat! This is the shop that I step into and just wish it was mine. This is the shop where I swear they spray something into the air that makes you lose all sense of control over your credit card.

That’s how I ended up skipping back to the car with a bag containing two gorgeous baby blankets (you’re never too young for your first cuddle in cashmere) for Autumn and Rory, and a little something for Susie that will remain a secret for now (she reads this, so I don’t want to spoil it).

Bonnie Baby Cashmere

I can truly say that on this occassion I’d have been wrong to resist.

Friday, 2 October 2009

Reasons To Be Cheerful - Part I

During my year of not shopping, I realised that moping around and feeling sorry for myself was the last thing I should be doing; after all, no-one wants to be met with a sullen face and I was the one that brought all that debt on myself!

Instead, I made a point of seeking out little things that were not only free, but made me feel really happy, and it’s amazing just what you can find once you start looking. Although I’ve ditched the five pound a day rule for the foreseeable future, I’m still trying to control my desire to hit the shops and give my plastic a pounding. And, with everything that's going on at the moment, the thought of a quick ride on the retail roller-coaster is more than a little tempting.

So, to stop my shopping but still keep a smile on my face, I’m going to start listing my ‘Reasons To Be Cheerful’ and if anyone else wants to join in, I’d be delighted.

First up - Walking the dog on Autumn mornings.

The ones where the sun is bright and low, the leaves that have fallen are still crisp underfoot and there’s enough chill in the air to wrap up in a snuggly scarf and the lovely, new coat you’ve just bought to see you through the Winter.

If you’re really lucky you might even get to see a little chap like this in the undergrowth. Hobbs had startled him and he was just beginning to unroll again...