Hi everyone

Where has this month gone? I cannot believe I’m doing an end of the month post again!  But I am! Anyway that was our summer gone, actually I’m exaggerating a little as we still have some quite warm weather but there’s a lot of rain about with thunderstorms and flash flooding in some parts of the UK. During the hot weather in the middle the month I managed to get out most of my dresses and wear them at least once and that’s quite a record as I am usually such a skirts and top person, but it’s been too darn hot for clothes that touch the waist. And btw, I do feel for all the people who are suffering around the world from extreme weather events because, really, how trite of me to being crowing about wearing dresses when actually it is time to acknowledge that this world is going through a warming-up that is just not normal. I’ll stop there as if I continue I shall end up shouting about politicians who only think 4 or 5 years ahead, so I might write more about this on My Other Blog.

Anyway here is a charity shop dress I wore during our week-long heatwave.

It looks a rather plain cotton dress and, possibly, slightly boring, but on the hottest days it skimmed my waist and was exactly what I needed to wear.

It’s label is Boden (a good make) and it cost £7.

This and  that

Yes, it does feel as though this month flashed past and I don’t think I did all that much. We visited friends for lunch dates plus we saw a relative who lives some distance away from us. Bridget is one of my two remaining aunts (aged 95) and it was great to connect once again with her and my cousin Rachel, but there was quite a lot of driving.  If we were living in ‘normal times’ I’d make much more effort to go by public transport. I wonder how we can change from our dependence on the car?  I mean, we also visited an old friend who lives an hour away and it would be impossible to visit any other way. And yesterday I visited a friend and I could have gone by bus but what with you know what, I didn’t, and actually you can have a laugh here as the day started with torrential rain and then became warmer so I set off wearing jeans and a loose top with a sunhat and sun creme in the car, just in case it was warm and sunny, but I also took a raincoat, and extra layers because I had no idea on arrival what the weather would be, and that’s the UK for you, it can turn in a minute from one season to another!

In the event I needed those extra layers as it was incredibly windy.  We had lunch in a great little bistro by the river and the wind!  Honestly we thought at one point the tables were going to get lift-off!

But still (sorry I’m back to climate change) we have to change our ways. Fossil fuels are, if not exactly killing us off now they will. I mean look outside the UK at the floods in Germany and the fires in the Americas. If it carries on like this my two gorgeous grandchildren won’t have much of a life. What do you think on this?  As I said, it’ll be the subject of my next piece on My Other Blog but it’s always interesting to hear of other’s views especially from those outside the UK.

Other events are that Mr F got delivery of his new Mac which is his present to himself for moving out of his office. It is a beautiful artefact and you can get a glimpse of it here. It’s a lovely yellow colour as are parts of the mouse and the keyboard and all of the leads – the box it came in was a work of art in itself!

And here is how we’ve arranged the other side of the room with an Ikea reading chair bought for a song from  Facebook Marketplace.

It was quite a bargain at £25.

Next month we plan to go to Lewes again and stay in my daughter’s empty house and just potter around the town centre and chill in my daughter’s garden. I feel safer there than in Brighton which has a high number of cases and it also goes some way to make up for the thwarted plans we had to go to London (for the Tate and V&A) and Manchester (for the Grayson Perry Art Exhibition).  In comparison to last month I won’t say all that much about the pandemic, but I still think the UK is in a dire situation and that reducing all restrictions including mask wearing is mad. However, it is good to see people in shops still wearing their masks. Before we visit our family we test ourselves with the Lateral Flow kits that one can get from the chemist, as do our kids and our 15-yr-old grandson – everyone has been negative so far, thank goodness.

What I watched and read

This month our television watching has been dominated by sport: the Tour de France (what a joy that was to watch); Wimbledon; the Grand Prix and now the Olympics, which I only watch in the morning during our breakfast. I am always slightly conflicted by the Olympics as I enjoy watching some of the events but it does seem awfully extravagant and rather trickier this year with a pandemic going on.

We finished watching two series, both of which I highly recommend. The first was the third season of The Kominsky Method (Netflix) starring Michael Douglas ably abetted in the first two seasons by Alan Arkin when it was very much about two slightly cantankerous old, in every sense of the word, friends. But the third season without Arkin was OK and continued to be a light-hearted portrayal of ageing and friendship and a great show-case for Michael Douglas who went up in my estimation after watching the series as he did not seem to mind making fun out of his own ageing.  And Sweet Tooth (Netflix) also ended. It does sound bonkers to have as the hero a young boy with antlers growing out of his head, but it really is the sweetest thing to watch.

As we don’t watch any television in real time, we somehow found ourselves left with watching two rather grim thrillers, Beck and Baptiste, both to be found on BBC iPlayer. We got into that awful, ‘we must continue to watch this to find out whodunit’. I mean both are brilliantly acted with Baptiste having Fiona Shaw in it, who I greatly admire, but apart from feeling I had to find out who… and what…it was a relief to come to the end of both!  So, whilst thinking what on earth can we watch now, we suddenly thought of unsubscribing from one platform (Nowtv which was getting rather expensive) and subscribing to Disney no less!  And why? It’s all because of the wonderful Tom Hiddleston! Yes, two nights ago we watched two episodes of Loki. Oh wow, I shall enjoy this series!  It’s well written and, of course, set in the Marvel universe, which we are very familiar with, and then on top of that you have an earlier version of Loki (that’s essential to know as he died in the second to last Marvel film) played by the wonderful (yes I am a little breathless) Tom Hiddleston.  Btw, Mr F also enjoyed watching this!

We have also been watching the gloriously funny Motherland (BBCiPlayer) and are halfway through the enchanting Secrets of the Museum (BBCiPlayer) which is all about the treasures of the Victoria & Albert museum and how they are conserved.  There is nothing so soothing (after watching a particularly hairy episode of Baptiste) to see a conservator painstakingly retouching an ancient watercolour or tenderly brushing a tiny teddy-bear called Little Tommy Tittlemouse.  It is the best thing to watch ever.

Because we’re in the summer with the lighter evenings we only watched three films of which one was rubbish (I know, but often I don’t feel like watching anything serious and we think let’s try that and … nope, too silly for words) but two films are worth mentioning. Because I’d written a post on My Other Blog about Afghanistan a cousin recommended two films set in that country.  One was excellent and the other OK. The excellent one was the satirical War Machine (Netflix) starring Brad Pitt as General McMahon. It won’t please everyone, because it sure played on the idea that the US army was being led by idiots. But as I said in my post on Afghanistan, those ‘surges’ and the pleading for more men to finish the fight never works. However, this general’s downfall came about because he allowed a journalist to follow him and the resulting article in Rolling Stone was just too revealing of his negative views of the then President and Vice-President. And this actually happened to one of the US generals (with another name) so the whole film was loosely based on actual events, as was the second film Sole Survivor (Netflix) starring Mark Wahlberg where a unit became cut off and yes, there was one survivor.  It was well acted and hard to watch but just not quite as good as War Machine because how can you depict a war like that?  I prefer a more insightful and thought-provoking type of war film that makes you think of the wider context and the futility of war.  Anyone seen ‘Come and See’?  I rest my case with that one.

I’ve read or am halfway through several books. First is The Secret Countess by Eva Ibbotson which is delightful but not quite my cup-of-tea kind of book as it was just too sweet and lovely.  It’s all about a penniless Russian countess who has fled the revolution and finds herself working as a maid in a great house.   With a young Earl in the picture, and despite him being engaged the inevitable happens and after many slips and twists it all ends happily ever after. Actually do read it – it’s sweet, but for me it was like eating too much candy.  To counter this I read Nomadland by Jessica Bruder which I thoroughly enjoyed as I met up again with the characters in the film. I do respect those houseless rather than homeless Americans that feature in the books and I learnt a lot about their plight and their resilience. I have started to read Humankind by Rutger Bregman, which is, as the blurb says, a hopeful history.  It is an optimistic look at many different events which is a different take to so much of what I read, and I’m rather enjoying it. I am also half way through A Country Road, A Tree by Jo Baker which was a Tricia Cusden recommendation. Honestly I can’t quite get into it. I keep thinking where is this going. Not enjoying it.

I see the Booker Prize long list has been released and that The Great Circle, by Maggie Shipstead, which I wrote about in my last review is one of the books listed.  It is perhaps my best read of the year so far and I thoroughly recommend it.

Finally, just to up-date you on the selling of the clothes that I usually take to charity shops.  Thank you so much for all your comments on selling items on eBay and other platforms. I decided I wouldn’t go through the aggro of advertising and then packing everything up etc etc. but I have found a very good dress agency and I have had some successful sales there.  Perhaps not as much profit but a much easier process. Thanks again for your helpful comments.

That’s all for now

With love, Penny, the Frugalfashionshopper 




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24 thoughts on “Random thoughts and July review

  • 29th July 2021 at 5:03 pm

    Hello again Penny. Yes it is hard to think we are at the end of yet another month that has flashed by. We had a day out to Portsmouth – our home town – and went to the Castle and the D Day Museum. They now have a landing craft outside which is very well ‘done out’ with audio and visual displays. The best thing is the Overlord Embroidery that was commissioned in the late 60’s, following the format of the Bayeaux tapestry. It is a truly wonderful piece of work comprising applique and hand stitching. It took 25 people 5 years to complete – well worth a visit. We’ve enjoyed Baptiste and an Australian series – Before We Die? Motherland was wonderful again & love the Secret Museum. We got fed up with watching the other night so put some music on instead, Wanderer by Joel Grainger. He is a classically trained violinist and uses electronic looping to create wonderful immersive, flowing music. Had a few tears – music does that to me – and felt a lot better! You don’t mention music in your blogs so I don’t think it’s very important to you. I’m reading a lot of thrillers to pass the time and sop me thinking about other things I’d rather not. I think I’ve already mentioned a few new-to-me authors I’ve discovered over the last 18 months. I’m back at the library picking things up almost at random now, some good and some less so. I’ve found Alain de Botton on you tube, very interesting talks and ideas. I’m going to read his book ‘The Consolations of Philosophy’. Him Indoors was 70 today and we had an outside lunch with 2 of our 3 children and their families which was great. One set not seen since last summer. Hoping our Baltic cruise may now go ahead at end of August, which will be wonderful. Can’t wait to cruise again!

    • 30th July 2021 at 7:53 am

      Portsmouth sounds an interesting place to visit and I shall put it on my list of places in the UK to visit maybe next year when hopefully there won’t be so many cases. I long to get to France though. I’ll be interested in your experience of cruising Lynda, fingers crossed you can go. I’m on the verge of pushing my 2022 cruise on a year as really I’m hoping for cruising to be more like ‘the before times’ when you could go off on your own. I do not want to go when you have to wear masks in the communal areas (I mean I agree with that, but it’s not what I want on a cruise) nor do I want the in-house tours as I did love getting off the ship and doing my own thing. So keep me posted on that.

      Oh Lynda, I must seem such a philistine re: music but my culture comes through my eyes rather than my ears! It’s all visual. I’ve just watched the episode in the 3rd series of Motherland when the two people you never thought would…. did!!!! Brilliant!

  • 29th July 2021 at 5:06 pm

    Motherland is brilliant! And indeed the month flew by. In my head it starts to come in that we can’t go to the UK in September. Gosh, need I tell you how much that hurts. That chair is very cozy, a lovely reading corner that is. I hope we do get some summer weather in August. Have a good evening Penny.

    • 30th July 2021 at 7:57 am

      Motherland is soooo good! Watching the 3rd series now and loving it. The chair is very, very comfortable.

      Yes, don’t come to the UK this year it isn’t a safe place at all. It is so sad you can’t come here Nancy, maybe next year. It’ll be so good to see you – have a lovely weekend x

  • 29th July 2021 at 5:09 pm

    I really enjoyed Nomadland . Those poor folk having such a hard time in such a rich country but there was no bitterness or envy . Extraordinary. I’m currently reading Hadley Freeman’s memoir of her Jewish family “House of Glass” & enjoying it . You might like it . I agree about the mask wearing but everyone round here seems to be sticking with their masks & ignoring Boris .

    • 30th July 2021 at 8:03 am

      The film is wonderful and very well done and I can see from the book that the amazing Chloe Zhao who wrote and directed the film stuck quite closely to the book and brought in the real people who featured in the book. So it was great to read the book and meet the characters once again.

      I’m totally with you on Hadley Freeman’s House of Glass, I too enjoyed it and thought it very well written.

      I don’t go into supermarkets much at all, but all the small independent shops in Kemptown are asking people to wear masks and everyone is, which is nice and quite a relief. People in the UK are mostly sensible and know it’s necessary.

      Thanks Wendy – have a good weekend 🙂

  • 29th July 2021 at 5:40 pm

    Hello, Penny! Yes, I enjoy watching Tom Hiddleston, too. I watched a talk show video where he was a featured guest and found him to be quite smart. My older son, a Marvel fan, pointed him out to me years ago.
    Nice to read about your seeing family and friends! We visited some old friends last week and, now believe we came away with a few of their “friends”, if you get my drift. Both my husband and I are Moderna vaccinated and have been extremely cautious because of his respiratory and cardiac issues. These friends did have CoVid early this year. The husband was hospitalized and the wife was asymptomatic. They are now fine. We went to lunch and I mentioned putting on the mask which the wife joked about…that put us on alert. The next day, my husband felt poorly. He ended up three days in bed. We did a CoVid test and it was negative. So thankful! We were in phone contact with his doctor who now thinks that it was another virus-like flu.
    Deep sigh here. We never discussed vaccines with them. We felt like it was rude to ask them as a condition of visiting them. I have discussed this with other friends and we do agree that there is a new “etiquette” that may arise regarding the non-vaccinated. I am now going to be more forthcoming in saying “I/We am/are vaccinated.” and seeing where the conversation goes from there. Frustrating!
    I’m not much of a TV watcher. Probably spend too much time on the internet! I do read but prefer non-fiction. Reading about early American history is my favorite. An incredible group of white men in the same place and time who founded this country. So inspiring and confounding at the same time! Human nature at its best and worst! HA!
    Stay well, Penny! Look forward to your Other Blog on climate change.
    Charlene H

    • 30th July 2021 at 8:48 am

      Loki is a very good series and as for Tom Hiddleston… actually it’s his actorly voice I like as much as anything.

      It’s interesting the differences in attitudes between our countries – all friends and acquaintances, my age, are double vaccinated, it just goes without saying, but because we can still catch it and because of our rise in Delta cases I have thought I ought to say to friends do you want us to take a Lateral Flow test before we meet. We did a test before we met 95-yr-old Bridget as it’s a matter of courtesy more than anything else. The thing is a flippant conversation might be occurring amongst the really young, but my 15-yr-old grandson would love a vaccine and my 40-yr-old kids and their partners are all double vaccinated and take tests twice a week. We read about the crazies and the vaccine hesitant in the papers but I know no-one without a vaccine. Actually we’re all wondering when we’ll get a booster shot – yes another one!!!

      A few years back I took a course on American History and the course leader (an American living in the UK) introduced us to Howard Zinn’s book A People’s History of the United States. Oh my, what a book, what a history – very very interesting, Charlene. A great read!

    • 30th July 2021 at 10:24 am

      P.S. I should have said, so sorry you got ill and glad to hear you got better and it wasn’t Covid 🙂

  • 29th July 2021 at 6:40 pm

    I just love how you’ve arranged your space. It’s amazing how one area can look so different with a couple of tweaks here and there. AND wouldn’t you know, we have a yellow chair in our living room too?? I think it’s such a bright and happy color (although it does show the black cat hair easily, haha for us)
    BTW, I don’t think your dress is boring at all. It’s a nice bright color and you’ve added a wonderful hat and sneakers to make it feel modern and fun!!

    • 30th July 2021 at 10:35 am

      Hi Jodie and thank you re: the rearranged sitting-room. Yes, yellow is such a happy colour and the chair, which is very comfortable, positively glows in the early evening when the sun comes in through the window.

      And thank you for your comment about the dress – it was perfect to wear during the heatwave. The hat can be packed in a suitcase – now I just need a vacation in a suitably hot country to go to! Maybe next year – have a lovely weekend 🙂

  • 29th July 2021 at 7:33 pm

    I’m currently binge watching The West Wing (again). I haven’t watched it since pre-Trump and it absolutely re-inforces the horror/s of his Presidency.
    I met up with a chum last week, it was the first time we have physically seen each other in months, both of us have asthma/other conditions, so whilst not strictly shielding, we have both been very careful since March last year. We went to see the first half of The Scottish Diaspora Tapestry at Verdant Works, a local museum devoted to the Jute trade (one of Dundee’s 3 Js). It’s amazing how early and how far, some brave souls travelled. E.g. Russia in the mid 14th century. We’re looking forward to seeing the second half.
    Also last week, my nephew from Stoke-on-Trent was up in Dundee on a golf club holiday. We all went out for a meal to an excellent tapas restaurant and I threw caution to the wind and hugged him, more than once. He’s double vaccinated as is my daughter and I, and my g’son has had his first. Plus, we’re all doing regular quick tests. I reasoned that if we were all sitting around a table indoors whilst eating, then I might as well go the whole hog.
    Mask wearing up here is definitely falling back a bit, especially on buses unfortunately. Figures have dropped considerably however, thankfully. Dundee/Tayside is no longer even the worst affected area in Scotland, let alone Europe.
    Good to hear you’ve sold some clothes, and yes, doing it via an agency is much less hassle than eBay, etc.

    • 30th July 2021 at 10:29 am

      I tried the West Wing and couldn’t get into it but we do love Veep, that is so funny as well as being very astute.

      We are mixing mostly with doubly vaccinated people but still being very cautious, and I feel it would be quite dangerous to sit and eat indoors anywhere in Brighton where cases are really high. Masks still seem to be worn though, especially on buses, but I’ve given up on those. I was looking forward to more normal times but those are still far away.

      Yes, I’ll be going to the dress agency this afternoon – fingers crossed I’ve sold two dresses! Thanks Jacqui, have a lovely weekend 🙂

  • 30th July 2021 at 7:11 am

    I wanted to comment on your dress I love the colour combination. I have withdrawal symptoms after the end of the TdF we are not fans of the Olympics (only cycling :). As for your comments on global warming I am sick at the news about our gracious Queen and the Scottish parliament. I won’t say any more at risk of giving offence, ha ha. There is a great Steve Bell cartoon about it in the Guardian. It truly is one law for them.

    Enjoy your change of scene.

    • 30th July 2021 at 8:37 am

      Thanks re: the dress it was great to wear in the hot weather – raining now! Same here re: the TdF, so we watched as much of the Olympics cycling as we could. Thereafter not so much interested, tbh, it seems that there’s almost a hysterical hype about the Olympics, which I don’t like.

      Honestly what were the Queen’s advisers thinking?! It’s disgraceful and so short-sighted of them – always, always, there’s this short-term thinking. I’m sure the Queen believes that climate change is happening but then it appears, not on my land, not when it touches our behaviours and boundaries. And we’re all guilty of that – take cars…

      I will enjoy Lewes – it’s nice town to potter around in – thanks Flora 🙂

    • 2nd August 2021 at 7:23 am

      Thank you so much and it’s great to meet you 🙂

  • 30th July 2021 at 4:55 pm

    I love your new Ikea chair: what a great find and a perfect compliment to your husband’s new mac =)
    Our weather has actually been mild for our part of the US, we have mostly stayed in the upper 80s (around 31C) instead of our usual mid 90s (35C). We still stay indoors a lot though because the humidity and bugs are no fun. Very grateful for the AC!

    • 2nd August 2021 at 7:32 am

      Yes, I wonder whether here in the UK we’ll use more AC in our homes. Most of our housing stock is designed to keep the heat in rather than keep it away. Maybe before we get AC which is very wasteful of electricity we ought to be putting outside shutters and building houses with smaller windows. It’s a culture change, like for instance, when we see the sun we Brits rush outside and bare our flesh, unlike you and the Europeans who have a midday siesta! But I do wonder how it will be for my grandchildren aged 15 and 9 months when they get to my age.

      That chair was such a bargain and so very us – I was lucky to find it!

  • 1st August 2021 at 11:04 pm

    Yes Penny, it certainly is hard to believe that it is August already. for the past week my daughter and her husband and I have been away to a small island off the coast of Virginia. We have been going for many years. Usually there are all sorts of activities associated with the roundup and auction of the ponies which roam the outer barrier island. A number of years ago we bought one of these ponies which we board at a stable and she is a delight. she is very smart and personable. mostly my daughter rides her but I do get on her. So things were much more relaxed this year, as they were last year. We did go to the beach quite a bit. the water was usually too cold and rough for me to really swim but one day it was warmer and calmer so I managed to get in. anyway, with the easing of restrictions it did make it easier to find places to eat dinner. We also took a nature cruise in the surrounding waters. I got home yesterday evening. so settling back to regular life. earlier in the month I got a bit of redecorating done, mostly just repainting and sprucing up, but I had been putting it off and am happy with the result. I do like your dress, perfect for warm weather and quite a bargain too. I have a few pieces from Boden, some I have had a number of years but they have held up well. I probably would have more except they no longer send me a catalog to tempt me.
    One thing regarding climate change and the damage we have done to the planet. On the island where I vacation, Chincoteague Island, there used to be so many beautiful wild ducks, in the evening you would see them swim across the channel to rest for the night on a nearby marshy strip. It was not uncommon for a mother duck and her ducklings to stop traffic on main street so they could cross. I just loved seeing them. and now in the week I was there I saw one pair of mallards at the hotel and another one at the park. perhaps saying I am heartbroken is just too strong, but I do miss them terribly.
    Anyway, enjoy the remaining weeks of Summer Penny, love as always from New York,

    • 2nd August 2021 at 7:44 am

      The description of your vacation sounds idyllic and I am so glad you got away. We also are going away as much as possible, not anywhere abroad or particularly exotic but just away in the UK and especially staying in Lewes in my daughter’s empty house which is where I am now. It has a large garden and I am so enjoying being outside in the fresh air, seeing the flowers and the wildness of the garden, deliberately so as they are near eco-warriors and have many ideas about saving the planet, so the grass grows and the plants are not cut back all that much to encourage the butterflies and moths more than anything.

      I will enjoy the summer, although, ha, ha, here in the UK we had one very hot week in July when the kids were still at school and now school’s out and it’s almost September weather with lots of rain and clouds scudding across the sky – it’s never dull though as you never know from one minute to the next when the rain is coming!

      Keep safe and well in New York Darby and thanks as ever for your great comments of your life across the pond 🙂

  • 1st August 2021 at 11:12 pm

    I am very glad the Olympics are taking place even though I watch very little but for the sake of the athletes who have trained so hard for the Games I think it is the right decision. They are already a year late. Sporting events do provide great pleasure for many (not me as I said) and I am optimistic enough to hope that the Olympics might inspire young people to take more exercise of any kind.

    • 2nd August 2021 at 7:26 am

      I agree with you that the Olympics is a great way to enthuse the young to take up sport – that’s a really good outcome. I feel for Japan though and it is a shame there’s no audience which is why I loved watching the cycling road races – you got an inkling of how it should be with crowds cheering the participants on.

      Thanks so much for your comment 🙂

    • 2nd August 2021 at 10:47 am

      Sadly elite sport does not inspire many people to take up sport or exercise. It’s just so far away from general experience or aspiration. It was hoped that one of the benefits from all the money that was spent on the 2012 Olympics would be an improvement in activity levels but that has not happened in a sustained way. Of course every year Wimbledon encourages people to dust off their tennis racquets for a week or so but nothing sustained comes of it. One of the problems is that we sold off school sports fields decades ago & walking as a means to get around day by day has declined as streets have become unsafe & polluted by vehicles. We have an epidemic of obesity having ‘normalised’ being overweight & highly processed food makes up most of the diet of many. If you have not seen Chris van Tulleken’s experiment eating this food, I recommend it!

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