So here we are with my final post of the year, wishing you a cosy Christmas. I don’t know about you but we’re limping towards it. We both came back from our week of work travel full of cold and I’m running on a single cylinder so I’m signing off earlier than planned. Before I go though, let’s have one last catch-up. I confess photos haven’t been on my mind so I’ve had to scrabble about to put this together but I’ve managed to get some from different people’s camera rolls. I’m just hoping they’re so raw that you’ll be able to feel you’re really with me!
Wishing you a cosy Christmas -Newcastle
The John Lewis event
So this is Mal’s BeReal as we were arriving at the John Lewis store last Thursday night, it meant the boys and their girls could be with us in spirit. If you don’t have BeReal here’s a nudge for you, it’s the only social media platform that I truly love because it’s so uncurated, you just get a daily snapshot of a moment in the lives of the people you like best.
As you’ll see this coat was a blessing last week, especially as we’d had to pack light for the train journeys ahead. It’s been so warm in the very cold weather we’ve been having and it now has 40% off in the sale if you’re quick.
Coat (now 40% off, gifted Aw22); Hush boots (past season); Jigsaw clutch (past season)
You can see what I mean when I say I didn’t get any proper outfit shots – I was trying to find bubble bath here. Why is it so hard to buy? There was the usual Molton Brown and L’Occitaine but I was hoping to find something a bit different. Even the luxury counters such as Chanel didn’t have any. They all just seem to do bath oils but I like to wash my hair in the bath.
Anyway John Lewis had asked me to choose something that they had in stock to wear for the event. The brief was ‘sparkly’ and so although I haven’t been buying sequins this year, I pulled out this gold skirt which has recycled sequins on it – it’s just gone into the sale at half price today. I feel that you can justify a sequinned piece if you know you’ll get good wear out of it and this is light and floaty so I thought it would be lovely in summer too; it would pack really well without creasing so it’s an all year round ‘dress up’ staple.
So that it didn’t look too overdressed, I teamed it with a cashmere jumper with a flattering boat neck cut. It comes in lots of different colours and this deep red is unusual for me but it was the shade that worked best with the rose gold of the skirt. The boots you’ve seen lots of times before, I need to connect with Hush and get them to make more, they bring so many outfits to life. The clutch is an old one, I almost went for a tonal rose gold but decided the whole thing just needed a bit of contrast.
Cashmere boat neck jumper; gold recycled sequin skirt (more stock here and it’s also available in navy); Hush boots (past season); Jigsaw clutch (past season)
And here’s an ‘action shot’ of my talk. We had six different outfit ideas for various Christmas occasions and I covered as many style tricks as I could think of so that people could go away with new ideas.
Cashmere boat neck jumper; gold recycled sequin skirt(more stock here and it’s also available in navy); Hush boots (past season)
As well as looks for women we had menswear too and here are my two noble volunteers ready for their big moment. You all know how rare it is that we get Mal in a suit with proper shoes – I wish we’d managed to get a few more photos. It was such a good cut – the stylists added short trousers which is a very Newcastle look, I think I’d have gone for full length. It’s another piece that’s just gone into the sale today with a big discount – I’m very tempted to buy it for him but I wonder how often he’d wear it…
Mal’s suit jacket, trousers; brogues; The boy’s shacket; chinos; scarf; trainers; beanie
It was a nice surprise when I looked out across the audience and spotted the boy’s housemates standing at the back – we’ve grown really fond of them and they’d come along in support.
And here’s a quick video excerpt from one of the shows, just to give you a feel for the night. It’s the first time I’ve done anything like this since lockdown so it wasn’t easy at first but I got into the swing of it. Thank you once again and again to the readers who came along in such horrible weather, I hope you gathered how grateful I was.
We stopped off at a good Italian we know (Pani’s) on the way back but I was still running on adrenaline so couldn’t stomach much – I really enjoyed that glass of wine though!
Cashmere boat neck jumper; Earrings
This was the following morning, winter weather at its best even though it was the sort of bone-aching, city cold that I’ve only ever experienced in New York. We’d decided to give ourselves the day off because we had Christmas shopping to do…
Reversible coat (now 40% off, gifted AW22); ribbed knit jumper; Me+Em jeans (past season); Adidas trainers
…but first we stopped off for a hearty breakfast – my appetite was back! By the time we got back to the flat with our bags and boxes there was nothing more I wanted than to curl up on the sofa with a good film but…
Ribbed knit jumper
Newcastle Friday night
… we’d promised to go out and so we kept our word. I know, sequins again but I’ve had this blouse for a while, it’s one of those that’s repeated every year though so it comes back into stock each Christmas. I love the way it ruches at the front.
Sequin shirt – past season but still available; Me+Em jeans (past season)
I’m delving through camera rolls again here and nobody got a shot of my full outfit but I had my blue metallic boots on with the Me+Em wide leg jeans.
Sequin shirt – past season but still available
On the Saturday we headed out for a walk, everything was still crisp and even.
Reversible coat (now 40% off in the sale, gifted AW22); cashmere beanie
Neither of us can think of anything we want for Christmas so we’d decided to go to the Biscuit Factory and buy a couple of pieces of art – one of our rooms has been looking very bare since we redecorated in the summer and decided not to put the old prints back up. Typically though, we couldn’t find anything we liked enough so we walked back empty handed.
Reversible coat (now 40% off in the sale, gifted AW22); Boden cashmere jumper (past season); Jeans; Trainers
Wishing you a cosy Christmas – London
The next morning we headed down to London for a meeting the next day. We had a real culture shock travelling from a bitterly cold Newcastle where the girls had given in to light coats but were still wearing strappy sandals with bare feet(!)… to a much more clement afternoon in London, where people had seemingly dressed for a Polar expedition with endless layers topped off with puffa coats and hats and scarves and skiboots!
Reversible coat (now 40% off in the sale, gifted AW22); Boden cashmere jumper (past season); Jeans; Boden boots (past season)
I wasn’t laughing the next morning though when we woke up to snow. It didn’t really matter because I’d booked a hotel on Dean Street in Soho right opposite the Groucho Club where our meeting was due to take place but … as I was luxuriating in a bath, forty minutes before it was due to start, Mal had a message to say that it had moved. It was now going to be held at the other side of Mayfair – and I only had suede or metallic boots with me.
So I had five minutes to dry off and get dressed so that I could slip and slide my way along grey, slushy pavements as fast as my gold kitten heels would carry me! The trees looked pretty though.
And here’s a photo a few hours later when we picked our bags up from the hotel and I already knew I was going down with something. I’d felt a bit of an idiot in my gold boots until the eldest reframed it as my best Sarah Jessica Parker moment… I wanted to wear the coat cream side out but slush was being sprayed up by the cars as we walked so I didn’t risk it.
Reversible coat (now 40% off in the sale, gifted AW22); Dress; Hush boots (past season)
The next morning and we were finally back home again (after another excruciating Avanti journey – grrr) with one last big meeting ahead so I was powering through and only (more) sequins would do. I’ve had this skirt for years now and I still enjoy wearing it.
Duffy cashmere jumper (past season); Anthropologie sequin skirt (past season); suede boots (sold out)
It feels like it’s been another crazy week but I’m pleased to say that our final negotiations have resulted in a compromise that everyone seems happy with. Mal is committing more time to his new retail contract than I am to mine which gives me the opportunity to keep all of my balls in the air. Now all I need to do is keep everything going to a standard that I’m happy with – and therein lies my challenge because I’m pretty hard on myself where standards are concerned. But, as the middle son would say, that’s a ‘future me problem’, for now I’m just ready to log off for a while and not think beyond anything other than relaxing with the right people.
Wishing you a cosy Christmas – the Twixmas walk
And so that’s the final instalment of 2022. I don’t have enough perspective to summarise it yet but like all years, it’s had its ups and downs. We’ll peruse it when we go out on our Twixmas walk which is when we have our big end of year conversation and on that note, I’ve been reading some research by the Gottman Institute on relationships. They’re American so things can get a little schmaltzy (sorry US friends but as Brits, it makes us wriggle) however, the essence is really useful.
They talk about creating love maps. By ‘love map’ they mean an intimate knowledge of your partner’s inner world – their hopes and dreams, fears, beliefs and desires. To create your love map you have to ask questions and then keep on updating them.
They suggest that
most conflict in a relationship is not ultimately about personality, or about whose turn it is to do the dishes, or about how much money we have (or don’t have) in the bank. It’s about dreams, values, meaning, history. Yet as time goes on, we stop asking each other about these big things and instead ask only the little questions: ‘Have you taken the bins out?’ ‘Has the dog been to the vet?’
Dreams change. Bucket lists evolve. Any relationship is a process of meeting each other, again and again, over the years. To understand your partner, it’s important to keep those ‘love maps’ updated.
So I thought their love map updating exercise might be a good one for our Twixmas walk this year and I’m going to share it with you in case it’s helpful for setting your year off on the right track too.
It involves asking fundamental questions, the sort that you probably talked about for hours early on in your relationship but may not have discussed for a long time. Here are some reframed with a midlife perspective to get the conversation going, they might be enough in themselves just to kindle a reconnection or you may think of others:
- What are some of the unfulfilled things in your life?
- What legacy do you want our children to take from your side of the family?
- How have you changed in the past year?
- What are some of your life dreams right now?
If it gets a bit heavy they suggest adding some more creative, fun ones in:
- If you could change into any animal for 24 hours, which one would you choose and why?
- What superpower would you choose and how would you use it?
- If you could design the perfect house for us, what would it look like?
- If you could wake up tomorrow with three new skills, what would you pick?
I think it’s interesting stuff, a little more expansive than the usual relationship advice. I’m realising more than ever now that the relationship with our significant other is more valuable and more important than ever at this stage in our lives. The more we invest in it, the stronger it grows and I find it fascinating discovering more in the person I think I know so well. So I hope we – and you – find the time to do this over Christmas break, it could mean that January starts off feeling a bit brighter than it usually does. You can find out more about creating an initial love map here.
Wishing you a cosy Christmas – 2022 over and out
So all that is left for me to do is say thank you to you for spending another year with me – or for joining if you’re a new reader. Thank you for your time, the coffees you send and your thoughtful comments. Blogs have become the unicorn of the social world now that everyone who used to write them seems to have moved over to Instagram or TikTok. It’s a shame because I think so much is lost in the marshmallow of attention grabbing images and soundbites… but that’s where the money is these days and so those who post to create income naturally follow it.
It’s heartening to know that there are still people who like to read something a bit longer – you’re the reason that I’ve made the career decisions I have recently. At this stage in our lives some things matter more than money and writing this blog brings me friendship, pleasure and quite often sanity. It was important to me not to let it be pushed out of my life. So I look forward to spending another year with you and hopefully we’ll have more chances to meet in person too – don’t forget that we have a reader meet-up planned in Lancaster on a Friday lunchtime, 27th January. It’s just a short hop from the Lakes if you fancy planning a weekend around it and popping in on the way… just a thought, give me a shout if you’d like me to add you on.
So I’ll leave by wishing you a cosy Christmas. I hope it turns out to be everything you want it to be but I know some of you are going through a tough time at the moment. By the time we reach midlife I think all of us have had some disappointing Christmases along with one or two truly terrible ones. Life’s downs always feel worse at this time of year when the constant cheeriness jars and the glitz and glam just feels tawdry. If that’s you, know that you will get through this and at some point a future Christmas will feel all the brighter when you set it against the shadow of 2022. In midlife we learn that we’re stronger and more resilient than we realise but sometimes we just have to keep breathing deeply to carry on. I’m so proud of the community we have here and the way people rally around each other in the comments so the last thing I’ll say is remember that you have an untapped group of friends here if you reach out.
Happy Christmas everyone, may you find many small moments of joy – and I’ll see you in 2023.
Disclosure: Wishing you a cosy Christmas is not a sponsored post
New sales just starting
Boden here, especially worth looking at cashmere, boots, coats
Hush here, worth looking at partywear and chunky knitwear
Baukjen here, especially worth looking at eco-jersey and investment leather / shearling pieces
John Lewis here, early days but worth looking at beauty gift sets, coats and suiting (men’s and women’s)
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Thoughtful Christmas Gifts For Women 2022
Early Christmas Moments – savouring November
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AW22 everyday edits – Boden review
Autumn midlife lately – time for a catch-up
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