The weeks seem to be flying past at the moment so I thought it was time to take a mid-season pause and have a catch up with an autumn midlife lately. I’ve found random photos of various moments on our camera rolls so here’s what’s been going on in the background while I’ve been talking about travel and new season clothes.

Autumn midlife lately – empty nesting

Towards the end of September it was finally time for the youngest to go back to uni. He seems to have life very well balanced and with a good group of schoolmates and his girlfriend living close to us at home he’s as happy to be here as he is with his new uni gang in Leeds. However as autumn arrived term was beckoning and his friends were egging him on to return. They’d all been back for a while and when we arrived they were clearly ready for a year of hard study in their shared house!

Autumn midlife lately

The inaugural food shop had to be done and I realise that it looks as if it was just crisps, beer and cereal but the fruit and veg were in the JL bag. Mind you, I suspect a crisps, beer and cereal diet will rule for the rest of the term. I’d used the old trick of choosing clothes to lift my mood by dressing brightly in this season’s hot pink from my September edit. You can get 15% off both the blouse and the tailored wide leg indigo jeans which are beautifully cut with code MLC15.

Midlifechic and youngest son, Leeds

Blouse (true to size, 15% off with MLC15, gifted AW22); tailored indigo jeans (true to size, 15% off with MLC15, gifted AW22); Boden shoes past season

Before we knew it, it was time to say goodbye. Last year he was keen to spin the time out with one last family lunch, this time though he was eager to get back on with his life and his friends were metaphorically drumming their fingers inside, waiting for the fun to begin.

Midlifechic and youngest son, Leeds

Blouse (true to size, 15% off with MLC15, gifted AW22); tailored indigo jeans (true to size, 15% off with MLC15, gifted AW22); Boden shoes past season

His student house in Leeds looks out over Hyde Park so he has lovely views from his room. I needed a walk and a few moments of readjustment before we drove away…

Midlifechic autumn outfits

Blouse (true to size, 15% off with MLC15, gifted AW22); tailored indigo jeans (true to size, 15% off with MLC15, gifted AW22); Boden shoes past season

… his dad on the other hand was as eager to get back on with his life as the boy!

Autumn midlife lately

As we turned the corner, we were entertained by the sight of droves of students doing the Otley Run which is a 2.3 mile pub crawl along the Otley Road.

Autumn midlife lately

There are 15 pubs and a pint or two shots are consumed in each one – some survive the whole thing, others drop off along the way…

Autumn midlife lately

…and each group chooses their own fancy dress code – last time our boy was Peppa Pig. The pink face paint still hasn’t come out of his pillowcases after he crashed and burned at the end of it.

Autumn midlife lately

Before I move on from this boy I have a plea for help. With his languages degree he’s heading into his time abroad this year and is due to spend the summer term of 2023 in France and then the whole of next year (Oct 23 – July 24) in Spain. He has the option to be university based but he’d prefer to work. As is the way these days he has to organise any placement himself and so I wondered it by any chance any of you have any contacts in either country that might be willing to take on an eager young chap with a good work ethic. He’d particularly like to be an assistant in a school and he’d prefer to be rurally rather than city based but as his mum, I’ll point out that he won’t be picky and will work anywhere in France or Spain doing (almost) anything! If you know of anybody he could contact, I’d be so grateful because it’s hard to know where to start otherwise. Thank you in advance to anyone who might be able to point us in any direction whatsoever.

Autumn midlife lately – Newcastle weekending

And so, the following weekend we were free to leave home on Friday night after work and wake up in our Newcastle life. We’ve hardly spent any time there this summer because it’s been busy with Midlifechic guests but things are quietening down now. You may remember that it was Mal’s birthday weekend and so we spent the Saturday morning with his mum who, unfortunately, was having a bad day. At least we were there to make things a little easier though.

We’d promised the middle boy a lovely lunch…

Midlifechic Newcastle

Fred Perry X Bella Freud jumper SS20

…and having been back in his uni life since the end of August he was very open to some mum and dad time (and budget). He’s been struggling to find a student job so although we see him out and about on social media having plenty of fun with his friends, he claims to be starving – as you can see.

Autumn midlife lately

The birthday boy was happy to be in his favourite Geordie brewery for a lunchtime pint.

Mal, Midlifechic

I didn’t get an outfit shot so I’m trying to piece it together from Mal’s phone reel. Another goodbye before we drove away, my boys give such good hugs.

Fred Perry X Bella Freud jumper SS20; Jeans (I’m wearing a 28); Veja trainers (currently on special price offer)

We spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing in the apartment with the newspapers. One of the great things about spending a weekend over in Newcastle is that unlike when we’re at home, there are no nagging jobs to be done so we can just switch off. And of course there’s nowhere better than the UK’s party city to celebrate a birthday and so later we headed ‘oot on the toon…’

Midlifechic night out outfits for women over 50

Mango blouse (AW14); Barrel jeans (come up small, I’m wearing a 30); Hush boots AW19

… and for something different we tried the Secret Disco…

Autumn midlife lately

…where there was a friendly crowd and a real mix of ages (although I did keep a tight hold of my drinks). Of course you’re supposed to keep it secret but here are some peeps inside, just for you – there was even strange Peruvian headgear to try… (and it was even more sinister when he got it the right way round!)

It was more Mal’s sort of music than mine but that was how it should be for his birthday weekend.

We spent the next day taking the photos for the John Lewis post that you saw last week and then went on to Everyman to watch Ticket to Paradise with George Clooney and Julia Roberts – unusually we were both in the mood for a lighthearted romcom.

Autumn midlife lately

Boden blazer AW18; bespoke embroidered ‘allons danser’ breton (true to size); jeans (I’m wearing a 28); Veja trainers (currently on special price offer)

And we stopped off for a hearty bowl of pasta on the way.


bespoke embroidered ‘allons danser’ breton (true to size)

Autumn midlife lately – home life

I suppose it isn’t surprising that I caught a virus while we were there. I consistently tested negative for Covid but it felt exactly like it and I guess we’ve all been so insulated from common coughs and colds for the last two or three years that whatever we pick up is going to feel worse than usual. Anyway last week was just about work and rest until by the time we came to the weekend I had cabin fever and so we popped out for a coffee in the autumn sunshine. This dress is from this month’s edit, I’ve worn the lighter coloured version of it so much since I got it in the summer of 2020 that as soon as I saw it in a darker wash, I knew it would work hard in my autumn wardrobe.

Midlifechic autumn outfits

Soft denim dress (true to size, size down if you prefer a neat fit, 15% off with code MLC15, gifted AW22), Hobbs NW3 jacket (SS14); Boden boots (AW20)

And on the Sunday I had a little more energy so we walked to the next village for lunch. It was the first day I’d needed a big coat…

Midlifechic autumn outfits for women over 50

Whistles coat (AW19); Boyfriend jeans (I’m wearing a 28); Chelsea boots (true to size); Monsoon scarf (AW15)

… although it was soon warm enough to take it off.

Autumn midlife lately

Boyfriend jeans (I’m wearing a 28); Chelsea boots (true to size); Zip neck butterscotch top (true to size, 15% off with code MLC 15, gifted AW22)

Autumn midlife lately – work life

This week I’ve been nose to the grindstone, trying to catch up with everything – as you can imagine, the world of retail is in a bit of a panic and there’s a lot of pivoting going on when it comes to carefully planned marketing campaigns. We had a day of meetings deep in the retail manufacturing heartlands of Lancashire and Yorkshire. It’s full circle back to my bright blouse again, this time dressed up for work. It’s such lovely quality with the button detail down the front and gathered zip cuffs – it’s also available in classic white but this colour makes everyone smile on a dull day.

Midlifechic work outfits for women over 50

Pink blouse (15% off with MLC15, gifted AW22); Finery trousers (AW16); Boden blazer (AW18); Boden boots (AW20); Coach tote (SS19)

Some people have asked questions about which jackets to wear with wide trousers. I have a few that are cropped but I find a blazer works well too. The trend is to go for the full oversized look with a long, loose, boxy blazer but I’m adapting it to my body shape by wearing one that still has long lines but also a tailored fit which works better for me.

Autumn midlife lately

Pink blouse (15% off with MLC15, gifted AW22); Finery trousers (AW16); Boden blazer (AW18), Boden boots (AW20); Coach tote (SS19)

North West readers

Now there are a few readers living in the Lancashire / Cumbria area who I enjoy meeting up with for a coffee every now and then and others who’ve said they’d like to. Unfortunately I can’t take time out of work as often as I’d like and so it struck me that if we all met together at the same time, we could make it more regular. So if you live somewhere relatively near to Lancaster or Kendal and would like to meet up, can you give me a shout. And can you also tell me if you’d have time to help me organise something. The retail contract that we’ve been working on since January has just got even bigger so I have less free time than usual but I would love us to be able to chat more often. My email address is nikki[at] – replace the [at] with @. Let’s see if we can do something before Christmas – and my regular friends, you know who you are, I’m sorry to have spent most of this year down rabbit holes, I do want to see you again.

A sustainable, circular brand

And so that’s life more or less up to date. There are just a couple of other things I’d like to draw your attention to – firstly a little company that I think you’ll love. They’re based in a small Yorkshire town and sell nearly new cashmere at sensible prices. They were founded by midlifer Ali in 2014.

Autumn midlife lately

With a small team she focuses on rescuing discarded cashmere which is then reconditioned or repaired if necessary and sold through her shop. As you can imagine, every piece is different but they average at about £40 – £50 with some special styles costing a little more. There’s plenty of stock for women, men and children; you can shop by colour, style or size and every item is photographed on an appropriately sized woman from the local village so you can get a really good idea of how it would look on you.

We have a weekend away booked in Yorkshire at the end of the month so I’m hoping to pop into their shop in Masham and find out more. In the meantime it’s a great way of buying something sustainable and vintage that you know will be clean and in good condition. Plus of course it’s always pleasing to support a midlife woman who’s busy building something worthwhile. You can find everything here so go and have a browse – I hope you find a gem.

Autumn midlife lately

World Menopause Day

It’s World Menopause Day on Tuesday 18th October and while it’s great that so much awareness is being raised, it feels as if every brand is jumping on a bit of a bandwagon at the moment. For the last month I’ve had five or six emails a day asking me to write a World Menopause Day post about a cream, vitamin or CBD oil that promises to magically fix something or other to do with menopause, lots of them with offers of significant sums attached. So I’m preparing myself for an onslaught of such things on social media over the next few days.

I’m going to say what I always say about menopause, even though this year I’ve been surprised to find that at 55, I still haven’t hit it yet. When I had my Mirena removed in the spring my periods started again and after not having any since the youngest was born, I can say they’re not welcome. So I’m obviously still living in the limbo land of perimenopause. However, in my opinion menopause is as much the start of something new and exciting as the end of our fertile years. For most (but I know not all) women, the physical symptoms can be managed using HRT – and if you can achieve the right hormonal balance that helps with the emotional ones too.

The one topic that I feel isn’t discussed openly enough by the celebs who are doing such a good job of raising menopause awareness is GSM – genitourinary syndrome of menopause or what used to be called Vaginal Atrophy. I’ve talked about it before on here but it’s so important that I’m going to raise it again. It affects 70% of women to some degree or another but only 7% raise it with their doctors and ask for support. Symptoms begin with vulval discomfort – itching, dryness, burning and tearing and can move on to complete loss of the labia and clitoris. For most women it’s easily dealt with just by using topical oestrogen a couple of times a week – and the NHS has recognised it as such a big problem with progressively serious outcomes that from this month you can buy the oestrogen over the counter at a pharmacy without a prescription. It’s called Gina and you can find out more here.

Another common result of GSM can be stress incontinence, especially as you get older and it’s much better to pre-empt it by using topical oestrogen and doing pelvic floor exercises than waiting until you’ll eventually have to rely on incontinence pads. The problem of course is remembering to do them – I try to do them when I’m boiling the kettle or drying my hair but I almost always forget. However one good thing that I was sent by a PR agency this week is an Intimina KegelSmart device.

Autumn midlife lately

KegelSmart Device

It’s a new development in the world of FemTech and you use it for five minutes a day so I’m going to be doing it while I put my make-up on in the mornings. It registers the strength of your pelvic floor and sets an appropriate exercise level which it amends as you grow stronger. I haven’t had it long enough to be able to give you any honest feedback but I’m impressed by the concept and the user reviews. It promises not only to increase the strength of your pelvic floor but to add to sexual satisfaction too. I haven’t been paid to say any of this, I just thought that if you were to do one thing for yourself for World Menopause Day, thinking carefully about any GSM symptoms that might be appearing would be a good way of preventing future issues that may crop up.

Thoughts about Mental Health Day

It was World Mental Health Day on Monday this week as I’m sure you saw. Once again my feed was filled with it and of course it’s great that the people who are having a really tough time are more able to talk openly about it now but I sometimes wonder if it’s encouraging others to feel they have a clinical problem when in fact they’re just going through one of life’s rough patches. I’m probably not going to be popular for saying this because mental health is such a hot topic but when I think of the friends I know who are at the real coalface of life battling terminal diagnoses, it’s largely stoicism that keeps them going. Although of course they have bad days, on the whole they use the power of positivity to carry on and I hope very much that these ‘dig deep’ resources aren’t being lost to the generations below us. I worry that it’s perhaps becoming too easy to label a bit of a down time as a mental health episode and I do think it’s important to be able to recognise the difference.

I guess part of the problem is that everybody’s inner resources are feeling pretty drained after Covid… the Ukraine war… the political ups and downs(!)… and now the cost of living crisis all of which is amplified by the constant echo chamber of bad news that bellows out every day. It’s easy to get up, look at the headlines and believe that everything is bleak. Sometimes though something happens to remind you that you really should just concentrate on treasuring what you have. We were going about our usual Sunday morning chores last weekend when we had a call from the eldest to say that he and his girlfriend had been involved in an accident. He was quick to reassure us that he was ok but then he sent us these photos:

Autumn midlife lately Autumn midlife lately

They’d been driving to the supermarket when a van travelling at speed didn’t stop at a give-way and hit them hard. As the police said, if there had been a few seconds difference in the timing, the outcome would have been far worse. Instead he walked away with a dislocated shoulder, mild concussion and they both have whiplash. This week could have been a very different one for us and I don’t have enough words to express just how grateful I am that they’re both a bit shocked but otherwise ok. Life can just spin on a sixpence. My point is that even when the times we’re living through are tough, we have to focus on the good things and not allow ourselves to be dragged down by the bad.

Back to school

As I leave you, I’m heading into a weekend of joyful nostalgia. For the last few months, along with another old school friend I’ve been busy planning a school reunion. If you’re a long term reader you’ll know that I often talk about how much I loved my schooldays, it was such a happy time. I was one of a year of 99 girls at Lancaster Girls’ Grammar School and one of the good things was that we were divided into three forms that never changed. Even when we moved into O and A Level subject choices our home forms remained the same – and so being with the same people day in, day out from the age of 11 until we were 18 meant that we felt like family. Since we left we’ve had a reunion every ten years but last time we decided to add a five year one in which should have happened in May 2020. Of course that was cancelled but we’re going ahead with it on Saturday and my best schoolfriend Deb is coming over from the wilds of the west coast of Ireland to stay with us for the weekend.

A bit like Mal and me, she and I are chalk and cheese – I always seem to be drawn to mavericks who lure me away from my instinctive inner good girl and get me into all sorts of trouble! When I mentioned my dad sitting on the phone a couple of posts ago, it was Deb who’d be ringing as soon as I walked through the door, even though we’d been together all day, passing notes to each other in class.

Midlifechic school days

From the age of 13 until we were 18 we shared everything… but then we went our separate ways as I headed to university and she moved on to art college. It was ten years before we got together again but since then we’ve never lost touch and here we are heading to the 2015 reunion in the early days of the blog. We’re going to spend some time catching up on our own and then we’ll reunite with all of our other old friends, I feel as if it will recalibrate me. Teen friendships are very intense and every woman who will be there played an important part in making me the person I eventually became. Oh and I must say thank you to the many who are quiet supporters of this blog.

Midlifechic school friends

So as always I leave you with the reminder that whatever’s going on in the big bad world, it’s our friends and our family who sustain us. It’s they, not heating or money, who keep us warm and make us smile. As long as we have them and enough to get by, we’ll be reet (as we say around here). Happy Friday, I’ll bring you a seven years older picture next week.

Disclosure: ‘Autumn midlife lately – time for a catch-up’ is not a sponsored post

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