Today the weather in the UK is mostly cold and foggy with the temperature down to -3C. What a contrast to the 28-30C I’ve been experiencing for the last 15 days.

The Caribbean was great: the colours, the flowers, the sun and the warmth, the beauty of those islands.  Yet despite visiting 11 islands I have some mixed feelings.   For a start, you only scratch the surface because there are thousands of islands in the Caribbean with 28 countries encapsulating a myriad cultures and numerous languages all of which bear witness to an often ugly history of slavery and expropriation of wealth.  So, I kind of loved this holiday and didn’t.  The best part of  the cruise though, was seeing my old friend Olivia who I got to know at the Maudsley nursing school nearly 50 years ago!  When we met it was as though we’d seen each other only last week instead of 17 years ago.  The trip was worth it just for that meeting.

And.  I think I’ve got cruising out of my system, folks.  Yes, I won’t be going on a cruise for a few years.  Why? Well, I think it’s miraculous to sleep on a bed that isn’t vibrating and in a room that is silent rather than with a constant racket of engines and stabilisers roaring away.  Because very unusually for this time of the year, the sea was not a millpond. Try eating your lunch with 5-metre waves reaching up nearly to the windows of the restaurant.  Consequently, I’ve put on precisely 1lb in weight because I ate well some of the time, sparingly at others (when it was rough seas – which was quite a lot of the time) and then by the end of the 2-weeks nothing much at all as I cannot face meal after meal after meal.

Hopefully I’m not sounding too negative because it was so good to be away during the cold weather.  However, I realise I’m not your typical cruiser.  Typical cruisers are people who do up to 5 or more cruises a year.  Four hundred out of the 900 passengers on this cruise were staying on for their 3rd consecutive cruise, as in, their 6th week on the ship.  If I stayed that long I’d be chewing the carpet for i) fibre.  They use vegetables purely as decoration.  And ii) the lack of intellectual stimulation on a cruise; no internet; wifi; news; television; box sets; films; newspapers; radio4; podcasts; art galleries.  Well there was one ‘newspaper’ – a four-page A4 size daily, Daily Mail.  What!  Really? I’ll be complaining about that as there’s an assumption there that passengers read only one type of newspaper – no, they don’t!

Here are a few pics.  Remember all my clothes are either from charity shops, the very cheapest end of the High Street, or the local Caribbean market.

And yes, that headline. I had a flare-up of my eye condition so couldn’t wear contacts or eye makeup for virtually the entire 15 days away.  Obvs, you don’t wear contacts when swimming but in the evening?  Nope, couldn’t put a thing on my eyes!  And I hated that. Funnily enough both Catherine of Atypical 60 and Tricia Cusden of LookFabulousForever have written blog posts on women and makeup, with Catherine deriding the fake no-makeup look and Tricia saying we do need makeup as we age.  And yes, I really, really do agree with that.  I think I’ll start a hashtag along the lines of #oldladiesneedloadsofmakeup  Speaking for myself, not only do I not look good wearing glasses (and I think you can see the evidence below at the end of this post) I do not look myself! Which for decades has been a person wearing eye-liner and mascara, which I will continue to wear until I’m 99 and beyond! End of rant.


OK, this pic is taken in Tobago on a very hot day and shows you exactly what not to wear: a tight T-shirt and heavy red linen pants. This combo is a complete no-no.  We didn’t see much of Tobago just the market. But in this market I bought what you should wear!



This skirt was a lovely flappy cotton delight to wear and I wore it nearly every day.  Yes, don’t take loads of unsuitable T-shirts and shorts (which I did) instead buy the gear when on holiday and put money directly into peoples’ pockets.

Here’s another look at the skirt in a beautiful tropical garden in St. Vincent.  The black T-shirt was a bit of a mistake as was the white shirt – too hot.

And here it is again in Tortola, British Virgin Islands, where we visited a tiny museum that told us a great deal about the history of the island’s origins, which was both fascinating and somewhat disconcerting – the vileness of slavery is beyond belief.  How, you ask yourself and of course, it was all about commerce and profit.

Parts of some of these islands are awfully flat – the sign pointed to a nearby hill.

Here I am blending in with the flowers in Antigua.  This was another dress bought from a market along with the ubiquitous flowery shirt – it was cool to wear.

But I did wear a pair of shorts!

Here are my legs exposed to the world and that T-shirt again which was surprisingly cool as it was loose.  This would be about a week ago – what a contrast in temperatures between the UK and  the Caribbean!

And here is Mr Frugalfashionshopper and me looking like a couple of old dears sitting on a wall above a couple of the many harbours of Antigua.  The internal S-shaped harbour is known as ‘Safe Harbour’ as for centuries it’s sheltered ships during hurricanes.

I’ve taken the glasses off, but not a good look as my eyelids were playing up that day. However, ignoring that, look at the wonderful colours of that dress bought locally plus the shirt, all worn in the glorious island of Antigua.  And I wore that hat every day.  However, as it had been stuffed in the overhead locker coming over and then rained upon (nearly every day) it was so out of shape it wasn’t brought back but went straight into the bin at Barbados airport.  But not bad for a 5-year-old hat that cost all of £3 at Peacock’s.

By the way, we were taken to part of the island where you could just about see Eric Clapton’s house and were told of his philanthropic life in Antigua, which includes the setting up and maintenance of a state-of-the-art drug rehabilitation centre all free to Antiguan residents.  After quite a long description of this from our guide someone said, ‘who is Eric Clapton’?  O.M.G people, where have you been!

The highlight of my trip was seeing my friend Olivia in St. Lucia.  I hadn’t seen her in 17 years.  We were nurses in the same set at the Maudsley and Bethlem Royal Hospital and met over 48 years ago – feels faint and needs to sit down!!!  Honestly you’d think I’d get some better photos of the two of us – but instead there are lots of action shots of us talking and chewing the fat.  We had such a short time together but no matter, we met and that was all we needed to do.

That’s Olivia with Joyce to the left of her and me to the right looking suitably goofy.  But a good time was had by all.  I’ll have to go back and see her for longer!

Now here’s the evidence that wearing contacts is best for me. See the pic below.


Nice dress and all that, but… now compare.

Yes, it’s one of those cruise portraits taken on the last but one day when my eyes had improved, but I know which look I prefer.

I’m a happy bunny looking like that.  As you can see my hair is up in a French pleat and I’m getting whiter. Still a way to go but into my 70s and 80s I intend to be a wild, wild white-haired woman.

OK, back to normal from now on with posts to come on issues such as de-cluttering and down-sizing as well as the joys of makeup and charity shop clothes.

Until then, with love to you all

Penny, the frugalfashionshopper

PS. And sharing with Catherine of #iwillwearwhatilike and Judith and her #hatattack January session.




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20 thoughts on “I’m back! And wearing eye makeup again

  • 24th January 2017 at 8:35 am

    Do so agree re cruises! We went off in high spirits and anticipation last year and came back vowing never to do it again – well, I did, other half not sure. No way of getting some peace and quiet (not helped by the 70s music blasted out of all but three of the speakers around the ship inc the open decks (the 3 were the minute library,( always full), the theatre and spa area (expensive)) Fruit available was hard, veg not inspiring. And, as you say, meal after meal and not much else – no intellectual stimulation and yes, we had a 4 page Mail too! They obviously have the monopoly. I am obviously not a cruise person either!!

    • 24th January 2017 at 10:45 am

      Hi Lin and thanks so much for your comment. Yes, I think that some people are almost addicted to cruising. I’ve definitely got cruising out of my system. Tbh, the pleasure from the cruise didn’t quite match the amount of money spent! And we’re not vegetarians but since we’ve been back I’ve cooked 3 veggie meals in a row, and then the 4th meal included some meat but practically a whole cabbage – what bliss! I’m now searching for the online feedback questionnaire (which is difficult to find and if I find it difficult….) as I have a few things to say! The staff were wonderful though. But in future I quite fancy just pottering around France.

  • 24th January 2017 at 2:44 pm

    I’ve never been on a cruise and have only thought about one to Scandinavia where I don’t think the heat would be an issue!

    Sorry to hear about your eye problem flaring up. I think you look rather nice in your glasses and you bought some lovely cheerful clothing on your trip. How lovely it must have been to meet up with your old friend!

    • 25th January 2017 at 9:28 am

      Hi Veronica, actually a 7-day cruise to the Norwegian fjords is an ideal way to start cruising and really the only way to see a fjord. I have totally loved seeing Norway from a cruise ship. And as the fjords are so deep even the larger ships can go deep into the fjords which is amazing. But for your first time choose a smallish ship – the larger cruise ships are a bit intimidating I think.

      As for the glasses – they’re Ok to wear occasionally and at night just before going to bed, but not for evening wear and that’s what I didn’t like. And it was so good to see my friend!

  • 24th January 2017 at 4:11 pm

    This is from someone who loves cruising, particularly the Carribean, and thinks it’s the perfect holiday. I also love the Daily Mail! We must be on different wave lengths! I have though, worn contact lenses for 40+years and share your horror of glasses. I have had 3 ulcers in my eyes over the years and that, as well as being very painful, looks awful and means no lenses for about a month. Like you, hate glasses and don’t feel that I look like me. I must say that if I were you, I’d shop before you go, and ditch the charity shop buys – they’re there for a reason. We have wonderful shops with a great selection of clothes, splash the cash and look and feel better. As I say though, different wave lengths…….

    • 25th January 2017 at 9:55 am

      Oh yes, commiserations re: the ulcers on your eyes, which is far more serious than my eyelid condition (Blepharitis) which doesn’t affect the actual eye. It just looks nasty and has to settle down before putting in the contacts once more – and it always flares up after a virus, which is just pants!!!!

      Well, re: the clothes. Having not been to the Caribbean for 17 years I had forgotten how hot it would be so actually took the wrong kind of day clothes (again!) with far too many T-shirts and shorts, when actually a flowing, flapping frock or skirt was what one should wear.

      And maybe I need to write another post about how the entire blog was started because I have zilch in my pension money box (and Mr Frugalfashionshopper is in the same boat with his private pension) so the State pension is for both of us our biggest pension. Consequently High Street prices are out of the question. However, I seem to have a knack of finding the most amazing bargains in charity shops. I mean I have two Karen Millen dresses both bought for just over £10. The point I like to make is never drop your standards – most of my charity shop dresses are Monsoon and Per Una, are hardly worn and cost mostly under £5! So charity shops are absolutely the place to shop for me for both price and quality. Yes, I will write that post – thanks for reminding me that I need to remind others of the joys of charity shop shopping!

      And see that bit about the State pension – actually we can’t afford cruises really so that’s why we’ll potter round France in future and at least the roads and beds won’t rock so much. Because we had very high seas with everyone saying how unusually rough it was. They were the roughest seas I’ve encountered for the longest period (Force 8 for 3 days) not nice.

  • 24th January 2017 at 6:05 pm

    Interesting post and glad you got to visit so many islands and catch up with your old friend – mine lives on Tortola, which l visited in 1989 but wouldn’t call flat as it has a big hill in the middle (think it may be volcanic). I guess some must be atolls, hence the flatness, though l’m sure a geographer could correct me! Love the bright flowy skirts and tops and dont disc ke the glasses, maybe the frames are too dark and heavy if you are going lighter in hair etc – also great of u have an eye problem as they tend to obscure eye makeup anyway unless you trowel it on. Maybe a smaller, more bespoke cruise ship or company would have more choice on the music, entertainment and news front, though l like not hearing the (always depressing) news! I’d catch up on my reading lol

    • 25th January 2017 at 10:21 am

      Hi Alison
      Yes, that sign-post was pointing towards the hill. I though Road Town lovely and the museum was excellent. I can see people love cruising from island to island but hopping from one island to the next is not for me. Next time I aim to go to one island (Cuba) for 2 weeks and find out more about the people, the history and social background. I also aim to go to St.Lucia one more time for longer – will try not to leave it too long, in probably 5 years time.

      Re: the glasses – yes, they were too heavy for evening wear and that’s my objection to them. Funnily enough I need to get a new pair (they’re over 5 years old and my prescription has moved on) and I’ll get a lighter frame.

  • 24th January 2017 at 11:21 pm

    Hi Penny
    i am guessing you went to the Caribean with Fred Olsen? Couldn’t agree more about the lack of veg and NEVER being able to get a wifi signal. We’ve got the cruise bug out of our system too.
    We are away right now in Vietnam and Cambodia having a great time. We’ve really seen some sights! Weather is very hot so it will be a shock getting back to the freezing fog of good old London. Then, like you, we are moving house just a couple of days after we get back!!!!!!
    Keep blogging and I love your hair btw and also I think you good in your specs too.
    X x

    • 25th January 2017 at 10:26 am

      Yes, you’re right!! Have you been? It’s a good cruise line and their staff are lovely and on the whole the food is great but in the evening the lack of veg was very evident. And really I am not a cruiser. Pottering around France later this year will be so much more relaxing. And then further afield next year. Vietnam – wow – definitely on my bucket list.

      Getting some new specs with a lighter frame – then maybe they’ll be OK for the occasional outing!

  • 25th January 2017 at 12:29 am

    Hi Penny!

    Thank you for adding me to this wonderful and entertaining post! I have to say, you got great legs girlfriend! Get those shorts and short skirts out–you need to show those legs off! And that bright dress–the purple with the yellow. OMG> You were meant for those colors!
    I’ve never been on a cruise. Bonaparte refuses to go on one. He doesn’t want to be out on the water with hundreds of folks he doesn’t know. That wouldn’t bother me, but what would bother me is not being in control of where I’m going. It’s weird. I would love, however, to do a river cruise!!
    Loving the pics of you and Mr. Frugal! You guys are so adorable!!!

    • 25th January 2017 at 10:33 am

      One of my friends did a Viking river cruise late in 2016 near that area in that eastern European area – I think Dracula’s castle came into it. She said that the passengers were predominantly American. Look them up. I’ve had enough of holidays that are constantly on the move (bed and bedroom included!!!!!).

      And I will get those legs out!

      Just off to make a comment on your blog on those weird Inauguration dresses – oh my word! xxxx

  • 25th January 2017 at 10:42 am

    Welcome back, Penny! I think you look great in your locally bought items.

    Perhaps I should apply your suggestion of buying local clothes when we’re in France… We have being toying with the idea of trying a cruise in the future but two words in your blog have completely changed my mind and here I’m going to offend some people but the only paper the Daily Fail – OMG. Enough said.

    Eric Clapton has been my hero forever. He has a home in a village near ours. I have spotted him occasionally walking along the High Street and when he played in a local, celebrity cricket match, I totally embarrassed my family by asking him to sign my son’s cricket bat – which he did.

    You do absolutely have a knack for finding amazing bargains in charity shops; one I’m trying to emulate with varying success. I think I need to be more patient!

    • 26th January 2017 at 9:57 am

      Oh wow, I wondered if Eric Clapton lived in Antigua all year round and concluded he couldn’t because what would you do after a while? And now I know for sure! Respect for him, though, for what he’s done on the island – he’s truly given back.

      And I’ve just emailed Fred Olson re: The Daily Mail. I filled in their survey but wanted to make sure that they knew that if they want to attract a younger post-war baby-boomer type of passenger they shouldn’t provide such a partisan dystopian newspaper. I really objected to seeing it lying there every day. I’m pleased to say I met others who felt the same way but we were definitely in the minority!

      Re: cruising – if you want to try it go for a 7-day cruise to Norway, which is really the only way to see the fjords. I met like minded people on Saga (expensive) and Cruise & Maritime (much cheaper). We’re giving cruising a 5-year break but not saying never. In future I’m so looking forward to pottering around France!

  • 25th January 2017 at 9:09 pm

    You gave your super functional and fashionable straw hat a superb last vacation before blessing it and passing it on to someone who needs it! It looks like you had such a fascinating trip and a wonderful visit with a dear friend. Thank you for sharing your adventure with Hat Attack!

  • 26th January 2017 at 1:35 pm

    I’m with Jenny as I like the Daily Mail too! Perhaps she and I would have objected had it not been available! I might not agree with all its content all of the time but I think that perhaps we should be grateful for its strong exposures of wrong-doings – and very often getting it put right. Without a press that includes the DM, I frankly dread the depths to which those who run our lives would drop. If they can get away with it, they will! Long live watchdogs, I say!
    Er, your daily newspaper is…? Just interested?
    As for your taking the wrong clothes on your cruise, oh boy, do I sympathise! I do that all the time, wherever the destination. Will I ever learn? I doubt it – I’m older than you and you know what they say about new tricks and old dogs! Maybe we should do what Benny Hill used to do: he took only what he was wearing and then went shopping for everything, even underwear, on arrival. THEN left everything behind when he came home. Okay, you’d need a capsule wardrobe to see you through to the first stop but think of the shopping fun to be had then! (Think of that lovely long dress with the pockets you found in France last year.)
    The only possible problem would be leaving it all behind. Ha! If you’re anything like me, you’d want to bring everything home ( that French dress again!), but, no problem because you’d just have to buy a beautiful big carry bag. Sorted!
    I’m sorry your cruise fell a tad short of expectations but seeing your friend hopefully compensated. And as you have France to look forward to perhaps you could persuade me of its pleasures. I love pottering (and frugal shopping!) so I’m partway there I suppose but apart from Paris, I’ve shied away from exploring farther afield – just a wee bit wary.
    Anyway, enjoy when the time comes.
    Best wishes.

    • 27th January 2017 at 8:56 am

      Hi Zepherine, actually the cruise was lovely apart from a few minor things like the rough seas. I mean they were unusually (as people kept saying) very rough with Force 8 winds and 5-metre waves (for 3 days) with the restaurant bouncing around on the 4th deck and waves reaching up nearly to the windows. It was actually worse than the North Sea, but of course, we’d gone out of the Caribbean and into the Atlantic during those days. (Mind you other cruisers said it was nothing compared to the Bay of Biscay!) So it wasn’t all that relaxing! Then the long haul charter flight back – hmm. And so it goes, yes, there were all these minor little things which added up to actually I could have a more relaxed and chilled holiday nearer these shores!!!!

      As for the Daily Mail. Well, I’ve been on 5 cruises with 4 cruise lines and this is the first time I’ve encountered a specific UK newspaper (the others were Saga, Cruise & Maritime and HAL) and all these had neutral Uk news and the headline was something like Ships News or whatever. So I was totally surprised and somewhat shocked that Fred chose such a partisan paper. I mean it may be a popular newspaper enjoyed by many, but by no means, all. We met others on board who felt the same. I read the Guardian and other in-depth research-based news and articles on social media, and I especially love the London Review of Books. In essence, I like a really long read, but absolutely don’t expect to see any of that material on board – why should I, that would be selfish?! So, equally why have the Daily Mail? It doesn’t make sense to alienate passengers, which is what we felt, along with the others we met who felt the same way as us. I’ve filled in the feedback form and emailed my thoughts directly to Fred – that yes, because we are all different allow for that in the onboard news material as other cruise lines do. I do hope I don’t sound strident, Zepherine but I was so surprised at Fred’s lack of business sense, really.

      • 27th January 2017 at 12:48 pm

        Hello, Penny, it’s me again! Hope you don’t mind a riposte…
        I take your point about having just the one newspaper on board; fair enough. I/we’ve mostly done Atlantic crossings where daily issues of Ship’s News comprise snippets of info on latest national and international topics and it’s all very neutral, as you say. Our one Caribbean cruise, with Norwegian Cruise Line, didn’t have a newspaper of any sort if I remember correctly, so our Christmas that year was angst free! I’m wondering if having a daily paper on board was a new departure for Fred and the DM won the contract? Please tell when you know! And no, of course you didn’t sound strident! Dinna be daft!
        Your cruising weather sounds ‘orrible. So sorry. No wonder you’re so looking forward to France. I remember bouncing down a passageway one time and found I couldn’t stay in the library at the far end more than a few minutes because of the rocking. Going on deck was forbidden for five out of the seven days’ crossing! Not nice.
        As for your flight back: again, my sympathies. Air travel is a nightmare these days for so many reasons. My pet hate is having to wear socks when I don’t want to in order to avoid walking across that dreadful stretch of carpet when going through Security sans shoes. Not that I’d wish veruccas et al on anyone but I’m almost longing for the day a passenger sues an airport for picking up something nasty from that surely germ-ridden stretch of floor covering.
        Okay, rant over. Hey, the sun’s shining! It’s a lovely day! Enjoy!

        PS Just had a wicked thought: I’ll buy the Guardian tomorrow (Saturday) if you’ll buy the Daily Mail and then we do a bit of comparing and contrasting! Deal?

  • 26th January 2017 at 3:55 pm

    I loved your report and pics. The colourful dress and shirt in Antigua, along with the glamorous shots at the end of the cruise (both great with and without glasses) are my favourites. I think that’s a lovely idea to buy gear when you’re on holiday and pout it straight into their pockets. I bet you’re pleased now you only put on a pound….must be so difficult not to eat too much on a cruise!
    Glad your eyes are better. I occasionally have the same problem – it’s difficult to find proper hypo allergenic makeup nowadays.


    • 27th January 2017 at 8:28 am

      Thanks so much Gail, yes it was a great holiday and I’ve brought that lovely skirt back and will wear it again. Btw, it’s actually my eyelids that play up. It’s blepharitis, so the eyes aren’t affected and I just have to get rid of it before I can wear my usual eye makeup – it’s a nuisance in the winter.

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