Sunday, 27 January 2013

Tailor Made

There's one item in my wardrobe that seems to be dictating my fashion choices lately, and that's my blazer. Trying to find a tweed blazer that isn't too expensive and isn't so "countryside" that you need a whippet and a flat cap to wear one is pretty difficult.

Originally, I had a blue blazer with very fine white pinstripes and a brassy/gold ancor button; only an £18 purchase from Primark, it surprised me by being my most complimented item of clothing at the time. A year or two later and over a stone lighter, I needed a replacement. I ended up obsessing over a £200 beauty from Jack Wills– not exactly within my price range. And when I had just-about convinced myself to save up the money to buy it, my Dad booked our holiday to Bangkok.

And what, you say, does this have to do with a tweed blazer?


Thailand is well known for having some of the best tailors and textiles in the world. Having been to Thailand before, my dad was pretty familiar with the process of getting something made, so after days of being mischievously deviated into unexpected tailors by ALL of our tuk tuk drivers and walking past tailor after tailor on our way out of our hotel, we were eventually persuaded by Buno (our private taxi driver for three-ish days) to use his "cousin" in Silom.

Buno's cousin was no more his cousin than Audrey Hepburn is mine. Nonetheless, we found styles that we liked and good materials resulting in two very happy customers and one bored sister who had to put up with several trips for extra fittings– sorry!

Luckily for me, dad paid for mine as a Christmas gift. So that's £300 saved on the JW jacket, plus £80 on the one from the tailors. Not bad, I say.

Now that Christmas has come and gone I can finally wear and accessorize my tweed wonder. Due to the lack of choice in tweed at Buno's cousins' I had to opt for a pattern with a pink stripe when I would have preffered red or burgundy. To my surprise, I think the pink has actually proved the better option.

Those black boots are my absolute favourites, the pandora I got for christmas (added the charms from another bracelet and got the airplane and butterflies brought back from a skiing trip by my mum and pappa). Can you guess how much that clutch was? £3. Primark. Never thought I'd go in there again but I'm glad I did. Found the scarf amongst the chaos in TK Maxx- finding something in there always feels rewarding because it takes so much effort to do it!


P.s. That's my cat, Quincy. She's mental.

Friday, 11 January 2013

J'habite en Angleterre

It has been overcast, dull and gloomy in Newcastle for what seems like an eon. I usually just get on with it, live with it, forget about it. But on Tuesday, my cousins who moved to Australia two years ago, came back to visit.

The nice thing is that they're not completely "Aussie-fied", they may have picked up the twang and developed a highly sought after skin condition known as "The Golden Effect" but they are surprisingly pro-England. I like that. Makes me feel like my patriotism isn't unjustified. 

However, it did not alter my hopes for a change of climate. 

I live fairly close to the beach and I try and frequent it as often as I can: the sea is pretty ambiguous to me. It acts as an end or a stop, by which I mean that when I go there I'm satisfied that unless I start swimming I can't go any further. So if something is at an end, it's becomes a nothingness, right? Well, imagine that in this situation it does. Having such a vast nothingness in front of me allows me to really think. Hard. And then a raindrop falls on my face.

Longsands, Tynemouth

Refreshing though raindrops may be, during periods of hard thinking they're not exactly helpful. I do like rain, for lots of reasons, but when you see the forecast is rain for two weeks with the chance of floods that "like" is preceded by a "dis" and those peaceful walks on the beach give you a head cold. 

Which brings me back to my Anglo-Australian cousins, who tried to bring the sun back with them only to have it hidden by the clouds. According to them it's 39 degrees in Brisbane right now. 39 degrees! The last time I felt heat like that I was in Egypt– nearly 5 years ago. My adventures in Europe usually don't exceed 32 degrees and as I mentioned in my last blog post, Thailand was rainy (our own fault– we went during rainy season). So this piece of information triggered the part of my brain that was handed down to me directly from my mother: I want to live somewhere hot.

Amalfi coast, Italy

Now of course, when the sun is at least kind-of out and I'm visiting some jolly old English village in Northumberland, I could not think of a better place on Earth to be. But that doesn't happen enough, which is starting to make that part of my brain get a little out of control. 

Eventually, I have come up with a plan. 

I'm going to travel (obviously). But now I'm starting to decide where to and why. First and foremost, I have two very close friends who have an obsession with Italy. I've been before a few times and fell in love with the place so have no objection in going back; I fancy living on a vineyard and picking grapes in the summer! Then I'm going to save up and repay the visit to the Anglo-Australians. Word is that there's a spare bed with my name on it and jobs paying twice as much as over here– an offer I am more than willing to take up for a few months. Either after I've finished my next college course or a degree at university, me and my Anglo-Australian cousin (and possibly her little brother) are going to travel as much of the world as we can together. Hopefully, when we're jet-setting around the globe, we'll also be doing voluntary and charity work to help wildlife, communities and the environment. 

Problem = Solved. 

It might never happen, but it feels good to have a plan.


Amalfi Coast, taken from beautiful town of Ravello
Tynemouth Beach 

Friday, 4 January 2013

Ladyboys, boxing & Buddha

Considering how long it's been since my last post, blogging obviously isn't my forte. I've never been good at keeping a diary either but I always find myself buying quirky journals that end up getting used once. But "New Year, New You" and all that jazz, right? Maybe. 

Before I start on all my could-be-wonderful New Year's resolutions I thought I'd play catch up on the last months of 2012, which I should have already written a blog on. *Slaps wrist*.

I went to Thailand: Bangkok, to be precise. Considering this was my first visit to Asia, I was amazed and spellbound by the Eastern culture and cuisine. After being introduced to the local lager, Chang and traditional Thai food I found it hard to imagine returning to my Western diet. The street food looked incredible – especially in China Town, where indoor dining looked unlikely and unnecessary.


If you've seen The Beach, you might know of Khaosan Road and Ko Phi Phi, the former is great for travellers looking for a fun night and the latter I am yet to experience. Khaosan is like a Mecca for all traveling to Bangkok; it's neon street signs, extra-loud music, cheap accommodation, tourist tat-shops, and lively clubs make it a mixing pot of nationalities and definitely a night to remember. My favourite spot on the street was an Irish pub, it stood directly across from an identical bar and they both have sound speakers big enough for a concert in Wembley, so you can imagine the music battles that happened every night – the other bar usually came out on top, but that's why I preferred the Irish pub: you could watch everyone across the street going mental without fear of your table being used as a dance floor. If you ever go to Khaosan make sure you venture into the upper levels, if you'r lucky like me you might stumble upon some live music and good air conditioning.

Yes, I went to a Ladyboy show. It wasn't very good. Our private taxi driver (only £40 per day! And we went all the way to Pattaya on one of the trips – that's like driving from Newcastle to Leeds) took us to Mambo, which I think is in the Silom district, and it was £15 each with a free drink. Afterwards it was like a cattle market trying to get pictures with them, which I might add, you had to pay for.

If you've been to, or ever go to a boxing match in Bangkok please tell me what it's like. At £40 a ticket I had to opt for a cheaper form of entertainment for the evening; a tuk tuk to Silom or Khaosan, a decent Thai meal and a couple of Chang usually cost no more than £10. I didn't get to do the trip up the river Kwai or visit the old capital, but trust me, one day I will.

Buddhism is something that has always intrigued me. War, science, money and other complicated creations mean that I don't believe in religion. I guess I do believe in God or spiritualism, or something, but I'd rather be free in choosing what I think is right rather than what a book or someone else tells me is right. I think there should be a reference/guide book full of morals and teachings from every religion called "The Route to Happiness and Equality" or something similar – a "guidebook" for "referencing" not a "rule book" for "abiding". But, back to Buddhism! Seeing monks as young as 10 and as old as 80 was truly endearing, and the dedication to worship over there is inspiring.


The Thais really do seem to take that attitude with them everywhere. Definitely the friendliest and happiest people I've ever met. If that's what Buddhism and Chang does to you, I want in! 

I think I'll leave Christmas/New Year for the next blog, this one has taken me long enough to write already. 

Happy New Year!