* top / dress / trousers / blouse - insert as necessary!
And 5 reasons why I am blogging
You know that really stylish friend whose outfits you absolutely adore but don't feel like you can ask this question for fear of being a copycat? Or the one that you love to go shopping with as she will always point you in the right direction? Come on we all have them - I have two that I can think of off the top of my head! Well bloggers are an extension of that I think.
I started finding blogs when I stumbled across a few that caught my interest. They still remain my favourite bloggers today. Avril at A Life to Style, Donna at I Won't Wear Sludge Brown, Beth at Style Guile and Lizzy at What Lizzy Loves.
Then slowly I realised that sometimes I was that friend. I got asked to go shopping, to encourage friends to step out of their comfort zone, to choose a special occasion outfit. I learnt that I loved running around the shops choosing outfits for others. I also get asked a lot 'where did you get that top* from'?
So I tentatively dipped my toe into blogging. I asked my son to set up an easy to use website for me. I thought of a name - I was approaching 50 and I wanted to feel fabulous so that was easy. I started an Instagram account just for my blog and outfits. I was very shy but I decided to go for it.
Here are my top 5 reasons why I blog!
Donna at I Won't Wear Sludge Brown has recently published two excellent blog posts - she had got a bit disillusioned with the endless consumerism and perfect lives posted on Instagram and it had made her question her blogging future. But after sharing her concerns she had a lot of feedback - we love what you do, don't stop! So she wrote about her blogging plans going forward - and it is all about honesty and being real.
It came at a time when I have been planning my blogging future. I had decided I definitely wanted to do more with Fifty & Fab but I didn't want to be that annoying blogger that seems to appear in a perfect, different outfit every day. With amazing photos and an endless supply of new clothes. Wearing stiletto heels when really they are probably at home doing their housework or on the school run like the rest of us. I also don't want to be posting so many 'must have' new clothes that you end up becoming a shopaholic (if you aren't already, I am) and spending too much or you get fed up of me not keeping it real.
So when you see me on Instagram or posting a new blog about what I'm wearing, I can assure you that it is very real. I will have recycled a lot of what is already in my wardrobe and mixed it with one or two (or more) new season pieces. I will have done the housework and the school run.. I will have taken the dogs for a muddy walk or done a workout and rushed home to change. I will be stressing over what to cook for dinner and do I need to run into Waitrose?
And if you see something I am wearing that you love - then ask me for the details or take a look to see if I have posted a link to that item or something similar. Or look in your wardrobe and decide if you already have something similar you can wear differently?
I am really hoping to work with a few more brands in the future, I will tell you if a post is a gifted item or a sponsored post. I am especially keen to work with smaller brands - I have noticed from my recent networking just how many amazing women are out there setting up small but inspirational businesses. There are so many to share and tell you about. Which I am planning to do soon.
But most of all I want to INSPIRE YOU TO FEEL FABULOUS too. I hope you can look at me and my life and think I could do that, I could wear that, I could exercise a bit more. Or whatever it is that you love and will help you feel fabulous!
And because of this I decided to start my own hashtag on Instagram #beingfiftyandfab I'd love you to share what you are doing, what is making you feel fab that day or how you live a fabulous life! Post a photo on Instagram and tag it #beingfiftyandfab and I will share some of my favourite ones every month!
Social Media can be a tough place to be sometimes. Some days I look at my feed and think 'Really?' - is her life really that perfect? Does she never slow down? Etc! But it can also be a huge positive in our lives. I have met some really lovely women since I started and there is no doubt it has given my confidence a boost. This is an excellent Podcast from the lovely Gabrielle Treanor - all about the social media trap and how to handle it. Do listen!
Above: Donna from I Won't Wear Sludge Brown, Avril from A Life to Style, Beth from Style Guile and Lizzy from what Lizzy Loves
You might have seen some of my posts and stories on Instagram but a couple of weeks ago I was in Kent for a short weekend. For Christmas my sister had bought myself and my daughter a voucher each for the Call the Midwife Location Tour at Chatham Historic Dockyard (Brit Movie Tours). We love Call the Midwife!
When I looked into the dockyard I realised that there was an awful lot there that my husband would also love so we decided to make a weekend of it and all go. Then my mum and dad were keen to join us too - so that made five of us!
I booked a budget hotel in Chatham (The Charles Hotel) - I am not sure I can totally recommend it as breakfast was a bit of a disaster (seriously couldn't make it up) but in terms of location and comfort of rooms for the price it was perfect.
The tour we were booked on was at 1.30 pm so we left mid-morning and arrived about midday, we took a picnic with us but in fact the newly refurbished cafe at the dockyard is really fabulous so we bought a cup of tea and some cake and sat outside with our picnic. It was the start of the sunny weather. It wasn't overly warm but comfortable enough and bright and sunny.
I wore Boden navy jeans and a pink stripe breton from Baukjen and a scarf from Mint Velvet (all previous season - but I have linked similar). And of course my Vionic sneakers as they are just so super-comfortable I can't take them off now!
We met up with the tour guide and thoroughly enjoyed our tour of the locations for many of the Call the Midwife scenes that are familiar to us. I read the first Call The Midwife: A True Story Of The East End In The 1950s book well before they'd considered a TV series and loved it - I then read the rest of the books - Shadows of the Workhouse and . Farewell To The East End I also read her final book In the Midst of Life (about her work with the dying) and then more recently her sister wrote about their childhood in her own book The Midwife's Sister. I recommend all of them!
The tour guide had a set of photos so she was able to show us the location of many of the scenes. She told us lots of interesting facts about the filming. They have also set up a small museum with lots of the props, costumes, photos and furniture used in the series.
We loved it all and really enjoyed wandering around the old buildings. As part of the price of the tour you also get your entry to the dockyards included so it makes a super family day out. There are some historical navy vessels to look around, we went on the destroyer and the submarine. There is also a full working ropery that you can have a tour around.
This is the bench and the park used in the scene when Trixie told Christopher they couldn't be together.
On the Sunday we decided to leave Chatham and drive half way home to Chartwell House, Winston Churchill's private family home. We had been planning a visit there for a while and this was a perfect opportunity. The house is owned by the National Trust and as we have membership, our entry was free of charge. Entry to the house is by timed ticket which you can book in advance or get when you arrive, we had no problem getting a convenient slot. The gardens are beautiful to wander in and we went into Winston's art studio and saw some of his gardening projects before having lunch then heading into the house.
It wasn't quite so warm and sunny on the Sunday so I added a jumper from Jack Wills and thankfully my capsule wardrobe worked very well. I am a dreadful packer, I always take too much!
It was quite obvious why Winston Churchill and his family loved Chartwell so much. It felt very much like a family home and it wasn't too big, you could imagine a family living there and growing up. Winston could often be found doing jobs in the garden like building a wall or this beautiful playhouse for his youngest daughter.
My favourite room was the dining room (far right above) it has beautiful opening doors and views across the garden and the Kent countryside. The NT stewards in each room were so helpful and answered our questions and chatted to us, sharing lots of interesting facts. Even my 17 year old daughter enjoyed it and didn't get bored (I am lucky that both my children embrace a little bit of history)!
Every year there is a different exhibition at Chartwell and this year it was about Winston's wife, Clementine Churchill - Speaking for Herself. It was fascinating and if you have seen the recent film, Darkest Hour you will recognise some of the facts and history.
I love Kent of course, I was born in small village near Orpington and then lived in another village just outside Maidstone until I was 14. I still visit regularly to see my two best friends. This was a really fabulous weekend but both would make equally good day trips depending on where you live. I certainly recommend!
This week marks two years since I started The Body Coach Plan and blogged about my journey to getting leaner, fitter, healthier. My biggest achievement was going skiing and keeping up, not getting out of breath and just generally feeling better - read more about this here.
But where I am now?
It's not always easy. It has to be a lifestyle change but it also has to be sensible, balanced and flexible. I do eat the cake! But as long as I am being mindful of my eating habits then I can relax sometimes and join in with social occasions and rituals, like birthday cake.
I have managed to maintain a healthy weight and size 8-10 clothes and although I am not my smallest I have found a good balance that works for me.
I struggle more with keeping up with the work outs than I do with eating well. I've always been honest on my blog and admitted I don't really like exercise - well I don't like the time it takes which is silly really as once I get started it is only 45 minutes, I enjoy it at the time then it is done and I feel really pleased. But then add in shower and changing etc and I get frustrated as my to list is getting longer and I want to do other stuff (like work on my blog)!
When I was doing The Body Coach I was happy to get up early and get the workouts done but after suffering with a bout of insomnia and menopause problems last year I got out of the habit and have struggled to get back into it. So this is a work in progress to find a better plan - and I do have my 'home gym' all set up in the log cabin so it is pretty poor really.
Mind Body Principles with Floresco Fitness and Fat Loss Coaching
On Sunday I went up to Milton Keynes to attend this seminar that my friend Bev Thorogood was running. The focus was very much on the connection the mind has with our body and fat loss goals. And that fat loss does not have to be complicated, we don't need endless diets or plans that we start and finish, then revert back to old habits and start again .... and so the cycle goes on. We just need the 5 Principles of Fat Loss which Bev took us through - I wrote a bit about my views on this simple approach in a post a few weeks ago - take a look here.
I was a bit frustrated to be 'inside' on the last of day of the sunny weather - the seminar was held at Xscape (the indoor ski run) and I didn't see the sky all day. Incidentally why do people put their ski gear on and wrap up warm and ski inside when the sun is shining outside? Didn't make much sense to me!
As I knew I would be inside all day I wore jeans and a navy and white breton top from Baujken (Zoe Top £69 look out for discount codes though), I have one of these in pink too and I love it's loose fit and lightweight fabric. And of course my current favourite scarf from Sweet Bea.
Anyway, I digress! I really enjoyed the seminar and found it to be a good reminder of the basic principles as well as picking up some new tips and ideas especially how we self-sabotage our efforts with limiting beliefs. Find out more about Bev and the coaching she offers on her website at www.forescofitness.co.uk.
I will be working on my mindset with Bev's support to find a way forward to enable me to fit in a more structured exercise plan. I will update you every month in my regular Being Fifty & Fab post #beingfiftyandfab.
I'm off to Sri Lanka this summer for nearly 3 weeks. We will share a family holiday for a week then my daughter will be doing some volunteer work with Dogstar Foundation. I need cool, cotton, summer dresses. I don't like linen (I don't like how they crease)! Do pass on any ideas please ladies!
In the meantime here are a few I have found.
This one has been ordered, arrived and tried on and I can report I am very pleased with it, it is cotton, lose and flowing and pretty! Bonita Paisley Print Dress from Monsoon at £49.
Here is another possibility, I like the colour and the that it is midi length rather than maxi, this is the Josette Stitch Detail Dress at £59.
Moving onto Next now which is good value for dresses that don't get worn much (let's face it, it is rare the UK weather is hot enough)! Although this one is higher priced so I am hoping it is going to be amazing. I've ordered it and the one below but not picked them up yet. Blue Broiderie Dress from Next at £65.
I quite like a shorter dress when it is really hot and I can show off my tan. This one is the Blue Embroidered Dress from Next at £24 so a very good price.
This one isn't cotton but I do find the Boden jersey dresses comfortable and work very well in the UK. I bought this one with a good discount a few weeks ago. The full price is £90 so make sure you look out for a 20% offer. I am looking forward to wearing this and it will be one of the first dresses to be hanging in my wardrobe as the weather heats up (and just before publishing I wore it ... scroll down to see). Diana Jersey Dress from Boden at £90.
I tried this one from Hush and I so wanted it to fit! I really loved it. Okay so it's not cotton but for the UK weather it would be fine. But sadly it was too long in the body for me, the waist sat too low and I would have needed to lift the shoulders so it had to go back but if you are not as vertically challenged as me it might work and it is lovely. Windsor Dress from Hush at £89.
That's as far as I've got with my research. I've looked at Aspiga but they really are very expensive and I have looked at Coco Bay but not a lot in cotton - if you find anything I'd love to hear from you.
Don't forget to use my hashtag on Instagram #beingfiftyandfab I'd love to see what you are doing to feel and look fab!
PS My daughter passed her driving test today! First time, only two minors. Big excitement here.
Not Dressed As Lamb
Hi, I’m Michelle and my blog Fifty & Fab is all about my journey into and through my fifties. I share style tips, health and fitness inspiration, I talk about my holidays and days out and I tell you about my beauty regime and my lifestyle. I hope you might pick up a tip or two and get some inspiration!
Use my hashtag and tag me on Instagram #beingfiftyandfab @fifty_andfab
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I have a Just Giving page to raise funds for Dogstar Foundation and Yawajeewa Community Learning Centre in Sri Lanka - donations can be made here.