GoFundMe – Get us to New Zealand

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This site has been lying dormant for some time, as I have been insanely busy.

The reasons why, and the reason why I’m posting now, are both intrinsically bound up in this GoFundMe page:

https://goo.gl/U1nrFy

Please click to read more for the details.

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Musical Therapy – P-E #Trump and Pre #Brexit

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This is Musical Therapy 101.

First, we take a moment to go ‘What The Fuck?’

Then we mourn.

Then? We get angry.

We get up. And get moving.

Then we Get Shit Done.

For anyone who needs a little musical shot-in-the-arm after recent events.

I respond to music with a visceral, almost physical reaction. These songs mirror my emotions over the last few days. Many of them are purloined from TV shows that you guys should watch, including The West Wing, The Newsroom and Sens8. They are all resonating like clear sounding bells right now.

It’s alright to feel sad. And angry. And let down. Many of us expected a different world to the one we find ourselves marooned in. On both sides of the pond, many of us feel rudderless, without direction, at the mercy of currents, appetites and desires that we do not share and are powerless to affect.

But we are NOT powerless.

We are stronger when we are united. Our voices are louder in a chant. And our feet can shake the earth when we march in step.

Our politicians might not be the ones we chose, but THEY STILL WORK FOR US.

They need reminding of this. Constantly. Consistently. They need holding to account. To be pushed and persuaded. To be told what we want, what we expect and what we request, nay DEMAND, that they do for us, as our employees.

They have a responsibility to listen to us, so we must not stop shouting.

We also have a responsibility to each other. We are in this together, so we need to weather the next four years and survive together. Even those of you who got the outcomes that you wanted should watch out for stormy seas and beware of the “I’m Alright Jack” mentality. We are entering into an unprecedented period of change, and therefore we need to hang on tight to each other. No activist left behind. No citizen left behind. We must ensure that no human being left behind.

We can look out for each other, as well as pressing our government to do what they can for us, as well as taking care of each other – emotionally, practically and socially, and politically.

Don’t forget this. Don’t ever let them make you feel powerless. It’s what we do next which counts.

I am going to take a few concrete actions, and I am looking for more to add to the list.

Starting in January, I will be making donations to Amnesty International and The Citizen’s Advice Bureau. Both sound, tried and tested, practically orientated charities with strong mandates to help protect people, regardless of race, creed, colour, nationality or gender.

I already offer as much tuition as I can, but I will be branching out into teaching IELTS and preparing people for the Life In The UK Citizenship Test.

I’m going to try to do at least one kind act for someone every week. I will try to perform these acts without hope-of-return or agenda, with no strings attached. The world needs to become a little kinder, so I am going to inject some kindness into it.

In the past I have given help to friends who are seeking jobs, looking for work, aiming to better themselves, wanting to pass exams, develop their skills and learn new things. Those offers remain on the table. If you need help with a CV, letter of application, interview preparation or upskilling yourself in an area of English, Maths or ICT, please ask.

I am lucky enough to be a car driver. If you need a lift to somewhere important – a medical appointment, job interview, study interview – please ask and if I can, I will help you. If I can help you to move house, or clear things out of your house, I will. All you have to do is ask.

If the big people won’t change this world for the better, it’s up to the little people to do what we can.

I know that we might be little, but we are mighty. We are legion; we are an army. And we can still change this world.

To change the world, we must BE the change

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The world is changed.
I feel it in the water.
I feel it in the earth.
I smell it in the air.
Much that once was is lost;
for none now live who remember it…

The Lord Of The Rings

So…

TRUMP BEATS CLINTON TO TAKE WHITE HOUSE

SOURCE: BBC NEWS WEBSITE, 9/11/16

This happened.

I wish I were more surprised. I didn’t think it would happen, but somehow I’m not shocked beyond comprehension that it did. We are in for a time of great change. That is the only phrase I can come up with right now to describe where we’re headed.

I’m not a fan of Trump. He has proved himself to be a philanderer, a sexual predator, a thin-skinnned narcissist, a compulsive liar, a terrible business man, a racist, a misogynist, a xenophone and a generally nasty piece of work. But, as of January 2017, he’s going to be President of the United States of America.

There’s been a lot of shock on my corner of Facebook. People saying that they don’t live in the world they thought they did, that the world has gone through an immense period of change. That they are beginning to realise how much of an echo chamber they live in. I sympathise, I do. I’ve been there. When the Conservative Party won the 2015 election here. When Brexit won in the Referendum. And now? Now this. President-Elect Donald Trump.

Our echo chamber isn’t going away. The only way that happens, that we break out and start to change things, is if we start speaking out and taking (even a little bit of) action. Even though that’s a scary thing to do.

I’m a teacher. Deep down I believe in education and its power to change the world. I know that there are some people who will not be able to accept the things that they are taught, because their cognitive dissonance is so overwhelming that they will go to massive lengths to avoid having their world view challenged, let alone shattered.

Putting out your view point on the internet, or in the world in general, is a difficult and dangerous thing to do when you come up against people like that. Because they find cognitive dissonance painful and they have no qualms or concerns about lashing out – verbally, emotionally, physically even – to make sure that their pain is averted and those who are opposed to their world view are silenced. At best, it’s exhausting. At worst, with the rise in tactics such as rape threats, doxing and stalking… Well, yeah, it is dangerous.

But the world we are being corralled into is dangerous too.

Dangerous for anyone who isn’t cis-male.
For people of any sexuality other than straight.
For people who are any form of trans*.
For people any religion other than Christianity.
For people of any race other than white.
For anyone who does not identify as a capitalist.
For anyone who questions the role of our armed forces on the world stage.
For anyone who isn’t thin/slim/toned in shape and size.
For anyone who is neuro-atypical.
For anyone who has any sort of disability.
For anyone who is struggling to get an education or find stable paid work.
For anyone who doesn’t meet the current conventional standards of Western beauty.

This world is already dangerous for us. And that’s why we’ve retreated to live in our echo chambers. Perhaps we should call them bunkers. Or vaults. They’re safe. But they’re stifling. And our supplies of jokes and humour won’t hold out forever.

So what can we do?

Well …  there are a lot of things we can do. But it might take a while for them to build up enough combined momentum to effect the change we want to see in the world.
Let’s start making a list. And please …  feel free to add to this in a constructive way.
  • Start blogging. Get your words out. Say what you feel. Keep talking. Get onto Tumblr, get onto WordPress. Words have power. Sara knows it. Emeli knows it. Say what you want to say, and let the words fall out. You’ve got the words to change a nation, and you’re biting your tongue.

 

  • If blogging’s not your thing, how about tweeting? Or just sharing something other than pictures of kittens and your dinner on the internet? Not that they aren’t cute and a nice source of feel good, and I do both from time to time – but maybe mix it up a bit with things that catch your interest and will make people around you think a little wider?

 

  • Start double sourcing what you share. Adopt the journalism standard. Don’t take one person’s or one organisation’s word for anything any more.

 

  • Stop sharing links to the tabloids who thrive on sensationalism and divisive behaviour – both the paper ones (Sun, Star, Express, Mail, etc) and the TV ones (Fox News particularly). If you’re angry with them, and want to call them out, screen shot them. Don’t give them the links, don’t give them the ad revenue.

 

  • Seen a meme that’s bullshit? Seen someone sharing something from a hate group? Is one of your friends list unwittingly promoting an organisation like Britain First? Start debunking them.There are plenty of sites that do the hard work for you. Snopes are one of the best, Hoax-Slayer are worth a look too. Call people out on the things that make you feel twisted up with cringe and sorrow, that you KNOW aren’t the case, that you can see are just manipulative bullshit. We have tried the ‘ignore it and see if it goes away’ approach. I think we can agree that this did not go according to anything even resembling the plan.

 

I’m not saying any of these are perfect. But they make me think and give me significant pause for thought. More welcome. I need to keep learning too.

  • Pick a side and chuck in your effort and, if you have any, your monies. I joined the Labour Party this year, because I have been more impressed with Corbyn than any other politician in the last 20 years, and it was worth my money to keep him up at the podium and on people’s watchlist.There are tonnes of charities, lobby groups, activists, political parties and organisations who are dedicated to changing bits of this world. Some of the less objectionable international ones include:

Our only option left is to be the change we want to see in the world. We were getting somewhere. We were! But we’re backsliding in spectacular fashion as a species and unless we manage to call a halt, we’re going to enter into a modern “dark ages”, where everything which fails to meet with a culturally specified ‘norm’ is hounded, hunted and hung out to die.

So be the change you want to see in your world. I promise to try to be in mine.

I promise to keep trying. Keep blogging. Keep sharing. Keep donating. Keep talking. Keep listening. Keep trying. Keep reading. Keep Changing. I have a long time left to live in this world. I’m not giving up on it yet.

 

CSSB: Floaty Over-Shirt

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This floaty over-shirt was just waiting for me in a charity shop in Preston, just before I went away on holiday with my husband. I picked it up, because I thought it might look smart for going out to dinner with a black spaghetti strap top underneath it. I am glad to say, I was right.

For our holiday, we went camping to Cornwall and the weather verged between black clouds and rain, and hot sultry hazy days. The only thing they all had in common was the humidity. So when it came time to go out for dinner, things had to be light and cool, even late at night.

We went to Tintagel, which was beautiful and filled with gorgeous pubs. This meant I wanted to dress nicely, because it was my holiday and I so rarely get to go on ‘dates’ with my husband, but also I didn’t want to OVER dress. Because, y’know, that’s embarrassing as all hell, when you stick out amongst the jeans and jerseys.

 

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BRAND: Marks and Spencers Autograph

PRICE: £1

This lovely floaty over-shirt allowed me to strike the right balance. The colours are gorgeous, just the right ones to suit me, red and rich plum colours, trimmed with black. There is a little tie just under the bosom, which gives the top a little shape without it being too close fitting. The long sleeves and the handkerchief hem is light and gives it a little bit more shape.


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I particularly love the sleeves on this top, they are light and have a nice bit of detailed pattern on them, but they aren’t too fixed in shape. This means that the underarms aren’t tightly fitted, which allows a little more freedom, and in hot weather allows a little more ventilation, and cuts down on that uncomfortable sweaty feeling!

I’ve had a few tops made out of this sort of synthetic material, and the tight fitting under the arms has been a big problem with some of them. This sort of thin material very rarely has elastic build into it, it’s often pretty rigid along the seams. This top with the short, loose sleeves has been more comfortable than the long sleeved ones I’ve had previously.

For £1, this was an absolutely bargain. Marks and Spencers are rarely a disappointment, and this has been a great choice. It’s strange to think that this might be sold for as much as £15-£20 … I’m not sure I would ever pay that much, but for £1 this was a nice little purchase.

CSSB: White Embroidered Shirt

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I have a variety of white tops in my wardrobe, but I do love this white embroidered shirt. I needed to put a few alterations in place to make this one wearable.

However, I think it came out pretty well:

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BRAND: M & Co

PRICE: £2.99

This top is lovely, and the button details down the front are a really nice elegant touch. However, despite it being a size 16, the cut was not… shall we say, *ample* enough for my bosoms. So the first time I wore it, a couple of buttons popped open and had to be discretely refastened.

Obviously I can’t risk this happening in a lesson, or a meeting. Or giving a presentation. Or meeting a student and their parents, heaven forbid! So I had to do something about it. Luckily I’m not a bad hand seemstress, and the top was of a big enough size to pull over my head like a t-shirt, so what I ended up doing was stitching it shut down the front, and leaving the buttons as decorative rather than functional features.

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You can hardly tell, can you? Luckily, the buttons aren’t the only details, the embroidery (white on white, which is really simple and classy) looks beautiful. A nice floral pattern, focused around the neckline, adds just a little more detail to the mix and makes it look a bit more feminine and delicate than a plain white shirt.

 

The material of this white embroidered shirt is lovely, beautifully soft cotton, which makes it really comfortable to wear. But the cut under the armpits is a little tight, which is a bit of a shame. If it wasn’t for that, I would definitely wear it more often. I tend to save this for meetings rather than for tutoring, as then I can change after the meeting, whereas I don’t often have time between tutoring sessions.

But for £2.99, it was definitely worth picking up. It goes nicely with black trousers and skirt, but also with any coloured outfits, my purple or pink coloured skirts work beautifully with this. Very versatile, great piece of have in the wardrobe.

CSSB: Kitten Heeled Black Shoes

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Following on from the little black dress, it’s time to look at the little black shoes.

I have a couple of pairs of black shoes, but I picked up these in January to go to a formal (black tie and party gown!) event with work, and I needed something I could walk in and wear for a whole evening. I found these at the Cancer Research Campaign shop, and they were just £1.99! I think they were clearing out their stock of party shoes, just after Christmas.

Finding these was a stroke of luck on many levels. One, I’m a size 6.5, and finding half sizes in second hand shops is a massive improbability at the best of times.

Second, they were practially new! The tread was unworn on both the heels and soles, and the print on the inlay was unworn. Second hand new shoes is one thing, second hand NEW shoes? That’s unheard of!

Third, just look at them…

 

Aren’t they just divine? Simple, elegant, not too over-blinged but with a narrow patent strap across the front to add a little extra detail. The toes are narrow, but rounded, so a little more gentle on the tootsies.
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Now, normally, I hate little narrow heels. But these were just so comfortable, that I had to give them a shot. The heel isn’t too high, there’s a low enough centre of gravity that I can still walk in them without crippling myself. Sure, it’s narrow, but it is still pretty sturdy for all that.

And last but not least, check out the brand:

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BRAND: Footglove (Marks and Spencers)

PRICE: £1.99

I adore footglove. I have more than one pair of this brand, they are simply divine. They have moulded soles, which fit to the shape of your feet, filling out the curve under the arch of your feet. These are, without doubt, among the most comfortable shoes I have ever worn.

I am seriously considering never buying another brand of high heels again. These are just so lovely. If I could change one thing about them, it would be that they have this velveteen exterior, which does take a bit of a battering sometimes, when I pack them or wear them for a long period of time.

Guess it’s just lucky that they’re black, so the scuffs don’t show!

 

 

CSSB: The Little Black Dress

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Ah yes, the Little Black Dress. The staple of any woman’s wardrobe, according to Marie Claire, Cosmo, etc. And yet, an item which has been sadly lacking from my wardrobe since I was about 18 years old. I had one, as a teenager, from New Look. It was made of jersey, very forgiving on a changing figure, and short enough that my legs looked almost as good as Posh Spice’s.

Until a couple of months ago, that is, when I happened across this little beauty in the ASDA sale…

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BRAND: GEORGE

PRICE: £4

£4! It would have been rude to leave it on the rail, I mean honestly.

I do love this dress, but it is a bugger to get into without a helping hand. The zip is down the back, right down to the bum. Elegant as hell, but it defies only having two hands. Luckily my husband is an old hand at zipping these things up, so provided I’m not away on business, this is very useful for work.

The thing I love more than anything about the little black dress, more than the slimming effect is the fact that it goes with ANYTHING.

Red cardigan and red shoes? Check.

The Black and Pink Pinstripe Jacket? Check.

Purple silk wrap and purple satin handbag? Check!

It is, quite simply, the most matchable item of clothing ever.

The slimming effect can’t be denied either, particularly since the material is stiff and the dress is built in panels, which does help to hold in the old tum a bit. With a pair of magic pants on underneath, this does make me look and feel a lot more trim than I actually feel these days.

However, the downside to that is that it’s not the most comfortable thing to wear. Ideal for a business meeting or conference with picky finger food buffets, not so good for a romantic three course meal out with the hubby. Gets a bit tight around the middle if you eat more than a cracker and three grapes.

But, for the occasional high impact attention grabbing impact that the little black dress can have, it’s worth it for professional meetings. Particularly with barely there black tights, black heeled shoes and pearls. Being 34 has it’s compensations. I can get away with that sort of classic look now without looking hopelessly pretentious, or like I should be featuring in a Girls In Pearls feature.

 

CSSB: Black and Pink Pinstriped Jacket

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Wow, I am on a role with jackets recently, and this black and pink pinstriped jacket is going to be a favourite for sometime to come. For starters, it matches exactly with the purple lace top I reviewed a few weeks ago!

I love the dash of colour in this one. The b

 

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BRAND: Marks and Spencers – Per Una

PRICE: £7.99

Just £7.99, when they can cost as much as £59 new in the store! The light doesn’t really do it justice in this photo, but the jacket is striped in the same shade of pink as the lining! How’s that for daring!

Marks and Spencers became a by-word for ‘frumpy’ a few years ago, but I absolutely adore every second hand piece I’ve picked up from their collections. I am developing a special liking for the Per Una brand especially, which always seems to be a touch more feminine than the standard Marks and Spencer label. This colour was just too perfect to ignore.

They’ve also done something really cool under the collar. Check this out:

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What a cutesy little print! Just hidden away from general view, but there all the same.

This jacket is so comfortable to wear. In the past, I’ve stuck to Dorothy Perkins for jackets, I bought 2-3 on their store card when I was teacher training so that I had things to wear for interviews, but they never quite sat right. They were tight around the shoulders, wrinkled around the bosom, and even though the fastening at the waist was trim, the general effect made me feel a bit like a sack of spuds.

Not so with this beautiful pinstriped jacket – this fits like a glove. The sleeves are the right length, the shoulders drape well and the clasp at the front makes my waist look absolutely tiny!

I really look forward to wearing this. As well as the purple top, this will go spectacularly with my black basic business dress, adding just that touch of colour while still being formal enough for a conference or regional/national meeting.

CSSB: Cream Linen Jacket

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Welcome back to CSSB and this week’s bargain is a brilliant one, a fantastic cream linen jacket from Marks and Spencers.

What makes this one particularly special is that it was bought in a charity shop, but it still had the original tags on!  I love finding bargains like this, things that people have given away without even wearing them once. It’s as good as finding them in the original shop, but you only pay a fraction of the price.

I love wearing jackets, but a linen jacket has been something I been looking for since forever. I have a lovely white dress with a red print flower pattern which would look great for business meetings if only I could pair it up with the right jacket and this one looks fabulous.

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BRAND: Marks and Spencers

PRICE: £4.99

(Original Tag Price: £35)

 

I love the cut of this jacket. The long lapels, the cluster of little buttons at the front and the curved edges at the bottom of the panels all make it look like a really elegant piece.  I love the lining too – understated but with a touch of personality with the discreet diamond pattern.

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As well as the white dress, I can see this becoming a really versatile piece alongside a pair of white linen-mix trousers that I picked up from Matalan last summer in their sale. They didn’t fit comfortably then, but one year on and a little weight lost and they sit beautifully on my hips. I look forward to trying these out together.

CSSB: Brown Leather Bag and Boots

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My last pair of brown leather boots died a death some time ago, and I’ve never found a brown leather bag that I liked, but both have now waltzed into my wardrobe and turned out to be a complete match. And the best part? They were a combined cost of £3! Thank you charity shops.

I’ve had the boots for a while. Turns out the best time to go shopping for boots in Charity Shops is in the middle of summer, as that’s when they clear out their winter shoe stocks for £1 per pair. I couldn’t believe it when I saw these in the box. I mean, look at them!

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I have no idea what brand these are, but for this sort of quality I don’t really care. The lining is beautiful and there’s barely a mark on them. The grips are in great condition and they fit like a glove.

I love wearing long boots with calf length skirts. It’s definitely one of my favourite looks – so elegant and swishy. So next on my list was a brown leather handbag to go with them.

I don’t DO small handbags. I carry a lot of stuff around with me. Purse, keys, phone, pencil case, notepad, medicines, spare carrier bags, diary, glasses case, makeup bag, hairbrush… I don’t travel light. Once I leave the house I am generally gone for several hours, sometimes to a mixture of jobs and appointments. So I need a decent size and well made beast of a bag to carry all my stuff.

So I was delighted to find this one in a local charity shop last week:

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Love that pattern with the mix of browns! Anything like this is great for me, as it will match more than one outfit. The dark brown matches the boots, but I can mix it up with shades of peach, tangerine, cream, beige… all sorts of goodies.

DSC_0004[1]The label on the bag is Dils of London (makers and stockists of Jazzy Bags) who are so big and important that you have to register just to see their catalogue and they don’t accept orders for less than £100.

And I had it for … £2.

Go on. Say it. I’m a jammy so-and-so.

So, next on my list of things to look for is a good quality dark brown winter/autumn coat (wool or wool mix) and a long (calf length) brown or tweed/check style skirt. Then I will be all kitted out for the end of summer.