Hello and Happy Friday everyone. With the last few posts focusing on Christmas gifts it feels like a while since we’ve had a catch-up so today I bring you an assortment of outfit pictures with a bit of chat in between. It’s a funny old time again isn’t it? Just a week ago we went to our first Christmas party, marvelling at how normal everything felt and then within a few days there’s a new named variant and we’re all back to having to remember a face mask every time we go out. But I’ll chat about that as we go along… so let’s go through a few winter outfits as we build up to Christmas.
Winter outfits as we build up to Christmas
This was a while ago when the boys seemed to have formed a plan to take turns in coming home for the weekend to ease our transition towards the empty nest. Of course it could also be because they’ve discovered our new habit of going out for Sunday lunch and are enthusiastic participants – this weekend was the middle one’s shift and we were heading to a lovely place that some of you might know, The Highwayman in Nether Burrow. It’s been such a strange autumn with very warm weather and the leaves still on the trees until about ten days ago. I wouldn’t be going out bare legged now but my midi-dresses are working well on the layering front.
And here’s the arrival of the cold snap. This was a couple of days after the laser surgery on the failed valves in my legs and so I was doing my compulsory daily walk – another Sunday but lunch à deux this time (with Ted hoping for titbits).
A quick snap en route to a meeting. I was outside the church where my mum and dad were married in a wartime wedding, 76 years ago. In the little market town of Kirkby Stephen local children used to tie the gates that you can see behind me while a wedding was going on, refusing to release the bride and groom into their new lives unless they threw a few coins over the top. As a local lad my dad was ready of course and told me he’d always looked forward to the day when he was the groom rather than the the young boy on the other side. So it was a happy/sad feeling being there, knowing that I was standing on a spot that played a part in my own history.
Looking at this I realise I should have stood further up by the main church doors to get the same shot as my mum and dad…
… but it makes me shiver to see the key bridal party in the same place – all of them gone now apart from my wonderful Auntie Enid, the young bridesmaid. I never met my paternal grandmother on the left who must have moved her head just as this photo was taken but a few weeks after this she surprised everyone by quietly delivering her seventh child!
Here we were arriving in sunny Preston to get ready for the Christmas party I mentioned last Friday. It was a work event, a law firm who long ago decided to get their celebrations in before anyone else… just in case. How we all laughed when the CEO mentioned that in his speech, little knowing that just days later Omicron would be making its presence felt. This is what I’d been wearing for work – we were running late and I didn’t get a photo of my party outfit but I wore my blue velvet jumpsuit from Finery that you’ve seen lots of times over the years.
IdLF @ Uniqlo coat (sold out AW21); Hope matching scarf & jumper (gifted AW19); IdLF @ Uniqlo cord trousers (sold out AW21); Boden suede boots circa 2004
We had a good time, relaxing in the knowledge that we’d booked a hotel nearby and so when everyone else from our neck of the woods departed to get the last train north, we stayed on for the DJ’s final tracks. As we left we realised that the weather had taken a turn for the worse. The rain was pouring and the wind was blowing… and as we walked along the street we found small huddles of people we knew sheltering in doorways. The last train had been cancelled because further up the line Storm Arwen had hit hard and they were trying to work out how to get home. We gave them our number, imagining the floor of our room sheltering sleeping solicitors for the night but didn’t hear anything more from them. Other than that it was a quiet night in Preston and so we assumed that the storm had been something and nothing.
The next morning we were just sitting down to a leisurely breakfast when our phones started pinging with messages. The boys had seen coverage of our village on social and people were texting to tell us that all of the furniture from our deck was in the canal. Even more worryingly, I spotted a grainy photo on Facebook that had been taken in the middle of the night showing a huge tree that had fallen out of the churchyard and it looked perilously close to where I’d left my beloved car.
Mr MC’s car was packed ready for us to head straight from Preston to Newcastle but we obviously needed to make a detour home on our way north. My car was ok but poor Mr MC spent a frozen half hour in the canal returning the furniture to dry land. The loss of the ancient wych elm is going to make a difference to our landscape… but at least when it’s dried out it will keep everyone warm as the logs have been swiftly shared around everyone who has an open fire.
It took a long time to get to Newcastle; there was snow and ice as we travelled across the Pennines and in the aftermath of the storm, road after road was closed.
But here we are in our other home again. And I’d been told that once we’d completed our journey I could, at last, remove my surgical stockings which was such a relief. This mini-skirt is back in stock now by the way.
We had a relaxed Sunday, popping into The Baltic for a bit of a creative lift (before the new face mask requirement was announced I should add).
And so our days went on there, mixing work with my compulsory walking regime and it was harder without the stockings on – the bruising was really coming through and everything felt very sore. My goodness Newcastle was cold – it was as if we’d gone straight from a balmy autumn into mid-winter. The NE climate is so different to my native west coast – drier and windier – so you really feel it.
Mr MC finds my need to wrap up endlessly entertaining and was still wearing t-shirts of course – although he did nod to the sub-zero temperatures by adding a light summer jacket.
The middle one was grumbling about his student digs again. Somehow they’d managed to jam the window in the bathroom wide open… and the radiator in his bedroom didn’t work very well… and the seal on his skylight let the draught in. It’s exactly the student life that his dad and I remember but we went over with a tool box and an electric heater to restore his Gen-Z wellbeing.
There was a random day of warmth which enabled me to debut this ecovero dress from my November edit at last. It felt like a nod to Christmas on the first day of December and it was easy and comfortable to wear. 15% off with code MLC15 and 25% off if you’re a teacher, NHS or other keyworker.
Dress (gifted AW21); Boden boots (AW20)
It’s great being able to just stroll out to the shops and do some Christmas shopping.
When we were at Selfridges a big part of Mr MC’s job was the annual Christmas window scheme – we respected Gordon Selfridge’s original vision that the windows should be a beautiful Christmas gift to the city and not feature a single piece of merchandise. That’s no longer the case sadly but in Newcastle, Fenwick’s follow the same ideal and there are always queues of people waiting patiently to immerse themselves in a Christmas story. This year it features Shaun the Sheep and I could only get one quick picture over someone’s shoulder so I’m glad it’s the one with the Toon Army hat!
Fenwick’s is a lovely store with an eclectic mix of brands, you never know what you’ll find in there and the Food Hall is stunning.
On our last day it turned bitterly cold again. Another choice from my monthly edit arrived just at the right time and I put it straight on. My goodness this coat is something else and it’s now in the sale. Warm, waterproof, versatile thanks to its detachable lining and with the luxury touch of the softest teddy bear fur in the pockets. I didn’t believe that Uniqlo could be beaten for outdoor winter wear but with the extra details and the durability that has been worked into this, I think they’ve lost their crown.
I notice that reviews complain about the hood and the fact that the fur comes down too low over your eyes but surely if it was raining you’d take the fur off (it detaches with poppers)? I think it’s been designed this way so that without the fur you have a hood that’s deep enough to shield your hair and face. I love the fishtail at the back, more protective and more flattering than a straight hem. Oh and the warmer green can be kinder to a lot of midlife pigments than khaki.
All in all it was a quieter visit than we’d planned. My legs were more uncomfortable than I’d expected and so we didn’t go out in the evening as much as we usually do. We’d hoped to be able to pick Mum-in-Law up so she could join us for meals and a chat but once again she didn’t feel up to leaving the house. A scan last week found scarring on her lungs, she’s facing urgent investigations over the next few days and so we all have everything crossed. At least with having the flat nearby we can pop in and out to see her, she seems to tire quickly at the moment so short bursts of company are best.
We got home to an SOS from the middle boy – if you have a student in Newcastle you’ll know that Jesmond is totally without power after some poor person skidded off the icy road in their car and into the substation. His house was cold again but actually I think his main concern was life without broadband. Oh and not one of the seven of them had thought to use a match when the ignition on their hob wouldn’t work so they were all scratching their heads over how to cook the food from the shop they’d just done! Anyway at least he can use the apartment and have an easier commute to his job at the Baltic Gallery restaurant just ten steps away.
So that’s been the last couple of weeks for us and my winter outfits as we build up to Christmas. Now I’m trying to get into the swing of the season but it’s taking a bit more effort than usual without the boys’ joy around me. For almost thirty years I’ve worked on a sliding scale of Christmas – after all in retail it begins in January with an analysis of the season that’s just finished and ends in July when you do the press shows, giving you time to get back into the mood for it landing in store. For me now it goes on all year. With my marketing head on I’m involved in the Jan – July strategy and then as a blogger I find myself starting with the July press shows and carrying on until now – it’s lucky that I’ve always been a lover of anything festive!
This weekend we’re going to decorate the house and we’ll buy the trees but we won’t put them up. And tonight we’re having another set of jabs… for the special 20th wedding anniversary trip that’s already been delayed once… and now looks to be in jeopardy again. It’ll be annoying if we have a weekend of side-effects for nothing – but that, thankfully, is a first world problem. A couple of the parties that we had in the diary have been cancelled as Omicron uncertainty looms – but actually I don’t mind too much.
Christmas, as always, is what you make it. It seems as though it might be a different one again this year so the best thing we can do is savour each day of December and whatever light it holds. When the above photo of my close ancestors was taken they’d endured six years of wartime and loss. The future was still so uncertain for them and I can imagine that they’d reached a point where it felt as though there would never be a return to ‘normal’. And yet I can stand in the same spot now with my twenty-first century perspective and feel as though I can almost reach through time to reassure them that there were lots of good days ahead for them, just around the corner. There’s something about that, along with our ability to survive and surpass history’s difficult periods, that gives me comfort. So this weekend even if you just have a glass of sherry and a mince pie… make a moment. Because all will be well in the end.
Disclosure: ‘Winter outfits as we build up to Christmas’ is not a sponsored post
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