My goodness these weeks roll around quickly when the sun’s out don’t they? We have a lot going on on the domestic front at the moment and I’ll tell you more about that at the end so it’s a catch-up post today. I’m going to start with a run through of what I’ve been doing and wearing, move on to clothing to combat hot weather (I think you need it more desperately in the South than we do up here) and then finish with midlife lately.
What I’ve been doing and wearing
We spent a few days over in Newcastle last weekend – it’s tricky finding a slot at the moment because quite a few of you are sharing our Baltic Nest so we grabbed a few days while we could. We left a very warm and sunny NW after work, arriving in time to go out for something to eat. There’s always something happening on the quayside outside our apartment and this time it was the return of the Blaydon Races which have been adapted into a road running race from the original horse races that you’ll probably know from the famous song. And just in case you don’t, here it is – just as you hear it on a winter Saturday afternoon when the voices of the crowds at St James’s Park spill out across the city.
One of the very many things that I love about the people of the North East is the way they keep their folk music alive. They learn the old local ballads as children both at home and at school and so you often find people bursting into song and everyone around them joining in. We have such happy memories of my father-in-law singing away to our boys when they were little, making sure they knew their heritage. He always chose the folk songs that had been passed down from generation to generation and Mr MC happily sings the same songs now. North Easterners have such a strong sense of their regional identity and I find it really powerful.
Anyway here’s the build up to The Blaydon Race, everyone who runs is vying to be declared “First Geordie” and the atmosphere was electric. The big local ballads were blasting out from speakers along the river and as we crossed the bridge, the first bars of “I’m coming home Newcastle” rang out. Mr MC smiled because his mum had insisted his brother send it to him the week before – a clear hint that it was time for a visit!
I haven’t worn a blue denim jacket for years but it was much colder in Newcastle than forecast so this super cheap one was a quick emergency buy as we were driving in. And actually I’m really impressed with it – BCI cotton and a very good cut. It has two small but annoying patches of distressing but I’ll live with them (why do people think rips look good though? I’ll just never understand it). Anyway, other than that it’s a surprising recommendation from me.
One of the very lucky outcomes of the new way of working for me has been that three of my retail/agency clients have opted for permanent wfh contracts and based themselves in Newcastle. It means I can have meetings with them when I’m over there which is so much easier than having to go down to London. So, this was the Friday morning…
…and when I’d finished we went over to collect the starving student and Mum-in-Law to take them out for lunch at her favourite café. We had a lovely afternoon catching up with relatives that m-i-l hadn’t managed to see for a while. Annoyingly I only have this photo from that day’s BeReal – we were too busy chatting to take any more.
By the way you have discovered BeReal haven’t you? It’s the only social platform that I post on religiously every day. I’m only linked to my inner circle of the boys and their girlfriends because it pops up at random times of day or night, giving you just two minutes to take a photo of whatever you’re doing so you can’t curate your feed or how you look and I’m often in my PJs on the sofa. It’s the best way of getting a precious glimpse of your loved ones every day though. This is what you see – it takes a pure, unfiltered photo of whatever’s in front of you and adds a small one of you behind the camera at the same time. And it’s just a photo, you don’t have to write anything.
We’d planned to stay in that night but it was such a lovely evening that we felt compelled to go out and catch the sunset from a riverside bar. As luck would have it we came across a place with a good DJ playing so we ended with a spontaneous Friday night boogie. I’m so pleased that flares are making a comeback, they work much better for my body than skinny jeans ever did. These come in lots of different colours and I bought a 12S rather than regular so I that I can wear them with trainers and flats. If you wanted to wear them with heels you’d need the regular length.
One of Mr MC’s celebratory moments when we finally completed on our apartment last spring was buying tickets for a festival in Sunderland. During those dark days of lockdown it felt a bit like a mirage, a vision of something that would never come to pass but last weekend it finally did. We’re finding that festivals are becoming a real highlight of our summers. I’m not talking about the big weekenders like Glastonbury or Reading – going for days on end and overnighting in a muddy field isn’t my idea of fun. However the one-day events that end at 10.30pm are just brilliant and I really want to encourage you to try one if you haven’t already.
Why are they so great? Well I think one thing that lots of us really missed over lockdown was the joy of collective effervescence. I never knew how much I loved it until it was gone for so long. There’s nothing like being with a crowd of people who are all appreciating the same live event be it music, sport, theatre… Even if you’re surrounded by strangers, you’re bound together by the shared pleasure of seeing something unfurl right there in front of your eyes.
The other thing about festivals is that almost everybody arrives in their most positive frame of mind, determined to have a good time so you see the best side of humanity. Everyone is at their friendliest and you meet and chat to different people of all ages. Tickets can seem expensive but once you’re there you have a full day’s entertainment. I know people complain about the prices at the bar but you don’t need to drink – we find the music is enough of a high.
In terms of what to wear, the one thing I’ve noticed is that they’re becoming increasingly eccentric affairs. Pre-lockdown I just used to wear jeans, trainers and something like a slogan tee but when we went to our first post-lockdown festival last September, I felt very underdressed. So I’ve ramped things up a bit this year and it’s been fun – like anything, you feel more of a part of it if you join in. Saturday’s festival was a ‘Let’s Rock The 80s’ retro event with a fancy dress theme. Mr MC loves fancy dress but I’m not so keen – there’s something about the competitive element that I don’t like, I never feel as if I’ve done it well enough. And Let’s Rock was absolutely bonkers, people had really gone to town as you can see below. There was a full squad of Hi De Hi yellowcoats, lots of Ghostbusters, endless black leggings with fluoro tutus and leg warmers… you get the idea. We’d booked VIP tickets (largely for the decent toilets) and when we first arrived at the marquee it felt a bit like walking into a midlife crisis but we soon got into the swing of it.
Anyway this is what I wore and it felt fine – I’m not going to recommend the trousers though, they were an impulse sale buy but they’d pretty much fallen apart by the end of the day.
Arket top (SS19); Sequin flares bought in the sale
Mr MC was happy in his 80s world with his retro Walkman headphones, bumbag, stonewashed jeans, vintage sunglasses and you can’t see them here but he had the Nike Blazer trainers that Marty McFly wore in Back to The Future… it’s all in the detail!
Anyway it was a great day, there were loads of different 80s bands playing – Level 42 were my favourites, Bad Manners and Billy Ocean were great too. It would have been even better without the freezing cold wind that just didn’t stop blowing in from the sea – thank goodness for that denim jacket!
The following day we had a few jobs to do around the flat followed by a lazy Sunday lunch with the papers. These boyfriend jeans have a subtle stripe which was really hard to capture on camera and they’re made from stretchy cotton rather than denim so they’re really comfortable. I like to have a darker wash jean to wear but they can be difficult to pair with summer’s lighter colours however the ivory stripe on these softens the contrast with a lighter top. The blouse is organic cotton in ivory broderie anglaise which is hard to find but much kinder to most skintones than bright white…
…. here’s a closer shot of it. We’d found a new Italian restaurant to try, Portofino, we’ve walked past it lots of times because it looks nothing from the outside but inside it’s stunning and the food is really good. There are so many great restaurants in Newcastle that you could eat out every day for months.
Broderie blouse (15% off with MLC15, gifted SS22)
And so that was our weekend. While we’re on the subject of what to wear to a festival, I had hoped to write a whole post on it but as you know our last three day event was cancelled at the last minute (grrrr!) so I don’t have as many photos as I’d hoped. This is what I wore for the one before that where each day was a significant improvement on the last. You’ve already seen this picture of the first day (Richard Ashcroft) with endless layers…
This was the next day (Clean Bandit) – I’d planned to wear the loose jeans with a halterneck tee but it was still too chilly so I had to raid my running gear and cobble layers together at the last minute.
On the final day (Horse Meat Disco, Example and Kaiser Chiefs) it was baking hot – in fact as I type it’s still the hottest day we’ve had here so far this year.
So if you have your first festival since lockdown ahead and you’re wondering what to wear I’d say ramp it up a bit. If you just wear a t-shirt and jeans you might end up feeling a bit drab. A lot of the 20 and 30-somethings are wearing either full festival outfits or shorts/micro-minis with bikini tops. For that reason, the one thing I’d avoid at a music festival is a midi-dress/denim jacket combo because it will just look too middle aged by contrast – it would work well at a food or literary festival though.
My last word on festivals is don’t feel you’re too old. Too many of our friends dither over buying tickets because they worry about feeling out of place but that’s just letting ageism win – and increasingly I’m finding ageism coming from within our generation, not those below us. You’ll find so many younger people come over to chat and applaud you for being there, one summed it up when she said she wished her parents “still had a pulse.” You can enjoy the music in your own way from the edge, you don’t have to be in the mosh pit or crowdsurfing but actually look at how 67 year old ‘Billy’ hit the headlines at the weekend for crowdsurfing at The Killers concert. He’s now being hailed as ‘The Man’ note that people aren’t laughing at him, instead they’re saying things like “Billy’s living his best life. We should all be more like Billy.”
Clothing to combat hot weather
Moving on to hot weather – you have a full blown heatwave in the South and we’ve even been taking our cardis off in the North this week! Our friends at Uniqlo timed it perfectly when they got in touch to show me how they’ve expanded their AIRism collection. We talked about it here a few years ago when it was a much smaller range but as a reminder, it’s clothing made from breathable fabric that quickly releases heat and moisture.
I often wear the tops in summer, especially these with their built-in bras because they’re so much more comfortable in the heat than wearing a bra with a layer over the top. Tamara Abraham recently declared them to be life-changing in The Telegraph. In hot weather like this they are and they have a surprising amount of support. You can style them as a sweat-wicking layer under something like a linen shirt or just wear them on their own with skirts, shorts or trousers. There are two finishes, a smooth knit like this one (five colours available)…
…or a ribbed knit like this which can be good for covering any lumps and bumps. They’ve introduced a crop top this year which is what I’m wearing here, it’s great for high waisted jeans or trousers because there’s no bulk from tucking-in but you can buy it in a full length too.
Cropped cotton blend ribbed bra top (five colours available)
Now that the 90s look is having such a resurgence, I’ve been looking for simple, long-sleeved tees and they have those in the AIRism range too. This doesn’t have an inbuilt bra and as you can see, it’s made from the same silky fabric as the first sleeveless vest. It’s a top that you could wear all year round because its temperature control technology makes it great for layering.
The collection has expanded massively since the last time I looked at it. There are AIRism dresses like this one which comes in four different colours.
And great options for sport such as these leggings which have a pocket for your phone and UV protection too. There are six colours available and they’re a fraction of the price of Sweaty Betty. The hoodie that you can see here has UV protection too and comes in nine different colours, it strikes me that it would be really good for holidays but stock’s now getting low.
As well as outer layers there are lots of breathable underwear options too. These would be good for every day and particularly for sport – breathable seamless sports knickers for wearing under leggings are so hard to find. There are eight colour options.
These absorbent period pants would be a safeguard for anyone who’s in the spotty phase of perimenopause too, there are four colours on offer.
As soon as I saw these ‘pettipants’ I knew they’d be great for wearing under white linen trousers that don’t quite have enough opacity. If you suffer with chafing in the thigh area they’d help too. Along the same lines there are also bodyshaping smooth shorts which come in nude too here.
AIRism is now a big range and I can’t cover everything here so if you’re looking for simple, breathable clothing to combat hot weather, it’s worth having a browse through it all here – there’s a collection for men too.
Sales and offers
Boden 25% off all womenswear here, this weekend only with code WW25
Hush 10% off all tops with code TOPS10 until Sunday
We had a lovely weekend in Newcastle as you’ve seen but things took a turn for the worse on Monday morning when we went round to Mum-in-Law’s. I can’t go into too much detail here but after knocking on the door for a while there was no reply, even though we could hear Ted barking inside. Luckily the upstairs window was open and so Mr MC was able to get a ladder and climb in. We found her collapsed on the floor in the kitchen, she was very confused and so we don’t know what happened or how long she’d been there. Thankfully an ambulance came pretty quickly so we were able to get her into hospital. She’s still there and the doctors haven’t worked out what’s going on yet but everyone’s working hard to get her better.
We’re all finding it hard to fathom because she was on such good form on Friday when we took her out and on Saturday when she had a winning session at the bingo with her friend. I talk so much about the benefits of growing older on here but of course there are the inevitable downsides too. Mum-in-law’s message would reinforce mine though, more than ever she’d be telling everyone to absolutely live their life while they can. Nobody loves a party more than she does and given the chance, she’d be the first one out there crowdsurfing. So I’m going to leave you with that thought today – please don’t waste time in midlife thinking you’re too old to do things… because the day will come when you actually are.
Depending on how things pan out my posting schedule may be a bit erratic over the next few weeks but I know you’ll understand, in the meantime –