Category Archives: Everyday

One dress, One Hundred days

I’m not really one to do a funny challenge — life is challenging enough. But somehow this one from wool& inspired me: wear the same lovely merino wool dress every day, I mean EVERY DAY, for 100 consecutive days.

I suppose I’ve been thinking a lot about cutting consumption. I’ve been trying to grow veg and trying to get ever closer to being zero waste. That has taken time and thought and research and work, so I thought maybe it would be nice to save time by never thinking about what to wear. Tons of women have done it, and I liked reading what they wrote, so I’m writing this.

They talked about it contributing to a life change and new ethics of fashion in light of the many injustices and climate change. I rarely buy anything new for these reasons. But I also liked how they talked about it helping them think less about their appearance, worry less about what others thought, enjoy their jewelry and scarves and belts more, save money/buy less and many other cool things. On completion, Wool& promises to send you $100 (or €) towards a new dress that you can also wear day in and day out.

Me in the dress, standing on the peaks above Settle in the Yorkshire Dales

The dress felt lovely and smooth, even with my sensitive skin. It really did adjust to temperature, and I was cool or warm as needed. It totally wicked away moisture and didn’t smell. It did not require washing often and dried really quickly. I never had to iron it. It was great for hiking, and I have walked many many miles in it. It is maybe a little shorter than when I bought it (a longer one would have been nice), but overall looks good as new, which is actually quite amazing. I only had one major spill to be fair, and washed it out right away. But I’ve never had a dress that could do all that, and I loved it.

I learned some things. Like I should have got a black dress. Grey isn’t me so much, nor is this flowy style really and the way it layered for winter, so it felt odd for all that to be me for 100 days. But that itself was kind of cool. Like stepping outside myself a while. I now know I like wearing the same thing much of the time, and no one notices. I think it will make changing it up much more special. Of course, my partner already does all this and considers it nothing at all.

I gave them a try, but I don’t like belts.

It made packing for weekends away SO easy and I needed so much less. That alone was revolutionary. I still spent a little too much time thinking about what to wear over and under the dress and I didn’t feel quite the same degree of liberation some others did. But I felt a little. To be fair, while I really love good clothes, I never cared much what people thought much less about brands since leaving behind the mean girls of high school and junior high. I did really miss some of my clothes that just didn’t work with it. I also missed jeans, and wore them undereath quite a lot.

The photos made me realise I adore the woman who cuts my hair at Rupert Hayes.

It also felt a bit like cheating that I should be in lockdown for so long, that was unexpected. Stupid Covid. But I found I actually liked photographic evidence of my everyday, and started trying to capture the spirit of the day — magic zoom moments providing NEON training, evening chats with Mark, my mum and her cat, my nepew dressed as a squid. The bleak experience of lecturing into the online void. Our rare travels (and that time I was in a Ray Harryhausen scene!), films, the UCU strike, shining days out with friends, baking and the pizza from my favourite place, days sick with colds and that weird eye allergy when I looked like an old lady, finising at Salford and starting at the Soil Association (though I forgot to take a picture of that didn’t I) and of course holiday Covid…so much.

I will be nostalgic for this hundred days. I might continue the photo tradition. I keep putting the dress on out of habit for working from home, and I will definitely keep wearing it. Can’t wait for the new one, black, wrap dress with a bit of a plunge.

Another year of Bristol’s Cinema Rediscovered

I’ve no time to blog properly anymore, but this weekend was full of great films, though I am still sad I missed Notorious. Highlights were the wonder of the shorts from Moustapha Allasane — I loved the mocking of Westerns in Le Retour d’un aventurier (1966) but above all Kokoa (2001) because it is definitely funnier to animate frogs than humans. The great wrestling chameleon Hawawa (as pronounced, probably not as spelled) filled me with joy.

Second highlight was The Murder of Mr Devil (1970) directed by Yeti Ester Krumbachová. Hilarious and will probably stay with me forever.

But best of all…once again watching Mike Hodges’ films with Mike Hodges. This year is was Croupier and Black Rainbow. There was also food, wine (too much wine), and great conversation and oh what a lovely Saturday.

Everything was good, and there was so much I didn’t get to see that I would have like to.

Housing the masses, BulgarIa

It is hard staring up at these huge tower blocks to imagine what lives they hold within them. So many lives. Landscapes unlike anything I could have imagined growing up, in a great circle around the city and forming its boundary. There is more variation than I was expecting as I have read so much about the ubiquitous type. I love how staring at them you see just how individual they actually are with paint, balconies become rooms, curtains, plants, doorways…So many lives.

Pictures of home and housing in Old Plovdiv

I’ve been reading so much about housing and so much about home. And all of it so European. So different from these homes. These homes had a touch of Europe, but really felt like something quite a bit different. These steep cobbled streets and homes stepped and angled, most from the first few decades of the 1800s were so lovely.

I took a few too many pictures maybe, but the two interiors we saw were so gracious, so unexpected. The first the House-Museum Hindliyan / Къща-музей „Хиндлиян“, built between 1835-1840 by an Armenian merchant, decorated with paintings of cities from around Europe and Istanbul/Constantinople done over a period of 6 months by Chirpan craftsmen Moka and Mavrudi. The furniture is not the original furniture of course, but typical National Revival. It is the structure, the yard with its grapes, the store room by the high wall to enter, the feel of the rooms and the incredible bath with its hypocaust heating, the fountains and niches, the wondrous ceilings that feel so different.

The second house was the Georgiadi House, entered on whim. It was actually built for Georgi Kendinenoglou by Hadzhi Georgi in 1848, but he gave it as a dowry for his daughter upon her marriage to Georgiadi, a merchant from Thessaloniki. It is a wooden frame filled in with mud bricks. The wall niches I so love are called alafranga. The central rooms on the 1st and 2nd floor both have platforms but there is nothing about them at all anywhere written here.

Few seem to love knowing the form and function of rooms and the life that filled them quite like I do. A mystery for unraveling at some future time.

This house is no longer furnished, rather it full of pictures, artifacts, guns and flags and uniforms from the freedom struggle for independence from the Ottomans. The ivory handle of a cane carved like Napoleon belonging to Peyu Geogiev, grand master of the fur-dressers guild. A portrait of the only female participant of the horse detachment of Benkovski. A small cannon. Lots of lions. Print patterns traded in the 19th century. The revolver, dagger and gospel before which Vasil Levski’s revolutionary oath was sworn. A handbook of successful fights with the Turks.

This was also the first place I really got a sense of how cosmopolitan Plovdiv was, the many different cultures and peoples who resided and traded here. All long before independence.

Still, funny to read this from the letters of Octavia Hill, which I finished not long before we came here.

I was interested to land in Bulgaria. One wonders what these young nations are going to be, somewhat as one does about children. The country looked strange and very uninhabited ; but it was much more beautiful than I expected. We went by railway thro’ it to Rustchuk. (Octavia Hill, 432)*

It is from the period not long after that independence was won (another painting of General Gurko triumphantly entering the city was to be found here, looking very much like his entry into Veliko Tarnovo).

*Maurice, C. Edmund (ed) ([1913] 2010) Life of Octavia Hill As Told in Her Letters. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

real estate noir: MacDonald on The Florida Suburbs…

It was one of those Florida houses I find unsympathetic, all block tile, glass, terrazzo, aluminum. They have a surgical coldness. Each one seems to be merely some complex corridor arrangement, a going-through place, an entrance built to some place of a better warmth and privacy that was never constructed. When you pause in these rooms, you have the feeling you are waiting. You feel that a door will open and you will be summoned, and horrid things will happen to you before they let you go. You can not mark these houses with any homely flavor of living. When they are emptied after occupancy, they have the look of places where the blood has recently been washed away.

The yard was scrubby with dried weeds. (40)

MacDonald, John D. ([1964] 1992)The Deep Blue Goodbye. London: Orion.

Hats, tunnels and south manchester Walks

A biting cold, windy Saturday. We walked down through residential streets to Stockport to see the incredible hat museum. I have stared at Hat Museum written along the smoke stack from almost every train I have ridden to Manchester. I have thought everytime that I really did have to go. Finally we went, and to the old air raid shelters carved in Stockport’s red stand stone — how better to keep out of the weather?

I quite loved Stockport.

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Ibsen and Negotiating the Use of Candles

‘I should not like my dear sister to know, but I am reading the Plays of Ibsen, and I was finishing Hedda Gabler.’

Mrs Bradley nodded comprehendingly.

‘And of course, Ibsen being What he is, and the light in my room being Quite Invisible from my sister’s room, and our having agreed From the First to consider candles a Separate Item so that neither of us need make the burning of them an Affair of Conscience as, of course, we should be obliged to do if they came out of the housekeeping, I read on until past ten o’clock.’ (210)

An incredible passage about the ‘naughtiness’ of both reading late and Ibsen and the constraints on both that the economics of housekeeping can produce, if not carefully negotiated. Also, the wonderful use of capital letters.

Not until now do I realise how much luck it is to be born at a time when we do not have to negotiate the cost of a candle to read as late as we would like…

Mitchell, Gladys ([1935] 2014)The Devil At Saxon Well. London: Vintage Books.