Hello again everyone

Apologies for the lack of a blog post last week and this late review, again!  But life just got in  the way and the days passed in a flash. Anyway, how did your October go? We’ve been house-sitting in Lewes while my daughter was away, and had a lovely time entertaining family and indeed friends, and doing this and that.

Anyway, rather than do the usual format I though I’d start off with some good news.. Now you might think I’d be focusing in on the Cop26’s two potential successes what with the agreement to end deforestation (that’s good) and the cutting of methane by 30% (yes, do) but I can’t quite get rid of some cynicism as the whole event seems to be predicated on first world countries (and mainly men) grudgingly agreeing to do things (good) but decades on (not so good). What about right now?  And what about stopping all fossil fuel mining? Oh, maybe one day, perhaps. And why have the G20 in Rome and then the very next day Cop26 in Glasgow?  I mean what about all those flights?

So I’ll stop right there. And instead, just share with you a lovely snippet about a living plant instillation being created for bees at the Eden Project in Cornwall.  Hurrah, good on the Eden Project as bees need our support. There were no photos of this in the article as the plants are not ready but it should be in bloom by late Spring 2022, and there will be variations of this instillation planted in London and Berlin. And furthermore there will be a website soon allowing people to use the artist’s logarithm to design their own version of her work. The artist, Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg, who created this hopes we can recreate her installation in whatever space you have from community gardens to window-boxes. I love that idea and will aim to bring you a good new item like this for every end of the month review 😊

And it’s been a good month for us because while we’ve had face-to-face contact with our family for months (as we were ‘bubbling’ with them) during the month of October we increased the number of face-to-face contacts with friends and what’s more, with everyone triple vaccinated we have even entertained a couple of friends indoors for lunch in our own flat and at my daughter’s house, and for both of these it was a first for nearly two years. I must say it does make life so much more worthwhile to live in a more normal way engaging with your friends and family in person rather than on Zoom or WhatsApp, as I think, and indeed many health studies concur, connecting with people is so important for one’s mental health and general well-being.

And yet I still don’t do large indoor gatherings; not restaurants, not public transport or pubs, cinemas, theatres, large stores or anything really where there are going to be a lot of people.  As far as I am concerned it doesn’t feel safe to do this.

And why doesn’t it feel safe? Because the UK is still riven with Covid and the numbers are not going down. I totally admit that I have an underlying anxiety about this pandemic and that yes, we have to learn to live with Covid, and go about life as normally as we can, I agree with that, but I still think the government is grossly inept and mendacious to not legislate for some sensible restrictions. I mean, could we not be mandated to wear masks on public transport, in shops and other indoor places? And what about ventilation being installed in schools? But no, there’s nothing other than us relying on the vaccine programme which is, btw, lagging behind other European countries and even the States where they are now vaccinating 5-yr-olds. Instead we are all supposed to ignore the increasing numbers of cases and the people who are hospitalised and their consequent deaths and live as though it’s all over. Well, it isn’t and I think it’s crackers. Enough said, but see this YouTube session with Professor Tim Spector and draw your own conclusions.

Films, tv, and books

As far as cultural activities I’m still not doing as much as I used to in the way of going to art exhibitions and exhibitions generally. I was always very much stimulated by anything I could ‘look at’ so instead I rely on good films and documentaries, plus books. And talking about good documentaries, we watched a simply outstanding one on BBC iPlayer, Four Hours at the Capitol, which is also on HBO, so hopefully readers of this blog based in the States can see this doc. Oh.My Word! This is good. It interviews many participants of that fateful day when a mob tried and succeeded in getting into the Capitol to disrupt the verifying of the vote, including those who to this day do not see anything particularly wrong in what they did. Fascinating, but parts of this doc are truly horrifying – I mean that word – it is horrifying to see the battle to get into the ‘tunnel’. At the end of the documentary I was equally glad I’d watched it and then again really upset at the context. Because, this, people, was real life. I can take any amount of violence in films when it is constructed balletically and is obviously unreal (e.g.the John Wick series).  But this? This happened. And it was quite frightening to see and realise how people think and behave in these circumstances.  Honestly, it’s a sobering must-watch.

Anyway, the next day I said to Mr F, in contrast to yesterday I have to watch something insanely silly, so we watched Fast & Furious 9 (Amazon) which is absolutely stupidly ridiculous and also great fun. Because it was so silly, it only gets 3*! However, we also watched three excellent films: one I think will not suit everyone, It was Aliens (Amazon) which is the second in the Alien series of films and perhaps the best as its director was James Cameron.  I really enjoyed it so 4* from me. Then two that will be suitable for all to see, first is an excellent indie First Cow (Amazon) with Toby Jones, which is kind of a cowboy but not. Now anything with Toby Jones in it is usually good and this really was. Quite quirky and beautifully shot, so, again 4* from me.

And finally, The Father (Amazon) starring Anthony Hopkins. This is a wonderful film and, I think, the film of the year for me. It’s subject matter is dementia, and we avoided it for some time, but really there is no need as Hopkins is superb in it and the whole film gives us a picture of dementia from the sufferer’s point of view, so furniture shifts, people mysteriously change their whole appearance, and for a moment you are as bewildered as the character played by Hopkins.  I do warn you, you will cry at the end of the film. I rarely cry watching a film, but this one…. yes.  I don’t however, regret seeing it one iota, and I thought about it for a long time afterwards.  A true must-watch and 5*+++ from me.


We’re watching a lot of rather ridiculous stuff on television starting with Midnight Mass (Netflix) which is extremely well-acted but also rather gory and gothic. It’s about a little idyllic island off the coast of America with lovely people on it plus a lovely Catholic priest and uh, oh, there’s a vampire twist to the story. Enough said!  Equally silly is Squid Game (Netflix) which is a South Korean series depicting a rather nasty reality show that has one proviso, when the organisers want to eliminate you, you really are eliminated. It is quite shockingly over-the-top but rather addictive so we continue to watch it. We’re also watching Bordertown (Netflix) which is a Finnish crime noir – it’s OK. We have 4 more episodes of Schitts Creek (Netflix) to watch and I shall be devastated to lose my contact with the outrageous Rose family.  We’ve been watching it for over a year rationing ourselves carefully to make the entire experience last – they are the go-to watch if I want something sweet and heart-warming. Oh how I shall miss them.

Finally, television at its best is to be found through watching Who Do You Think You Are on BBC iPlayer. So far we’ve had the young stand-up comedian Josh Widdicombe and Dame Judy Dench. Widdicome was found to be related to Henry VIII, no less, and one of Dame Judy’s ancestors floated around Elsinore, I mean you could not make either of these up – what a great watch!


I seem to have not read many books this month but I make up for that by really appreciating the two that I have. I finished Frankie and Stankie by Barbara Trapido and loved every word of it. I say that because I often speed read and, tbh, I think I skip over some sentences while I do it, but not this book. And similarly, I am now reading every single word of John Le Carre’s A Perfect Spy. Oh wow, that man is a genius, his prose, the layers upon layers within this book about a man with a father and a son. Not saying anything at all about the plot (but see title) as it might give it all away. But for me, I savour every word in this book and I’m taking my time over it. I’m also dipping into Dr William Li’s Eat to Beat Disease which is excellent, although I could sum it all up  in three words by saying – eat more plants!

Charity shop shopping

My shopping through October in my local charity shop has been very successful and to remind you

Now why do I buy so many coats? Well, it’s quite breezy where I live!  And it can get quite cold so it’s nice to ring the changes and wear coats according to your mood as well as the weather. See some pix taken by Mr F yesterday

They were all taken at three in the afternoon.

Look closer at this one below – looks like some brave souls are trying to swim!

That’s all for now but I trust you are all OK and that October treated you well.

With love, Penny, the Frugalfashionshopper







19 thoughts on “The late October review – 2021

  • 4th November 2021 at 9:27 am

    Whilst I agrre with your analysis regarding the UK Government’s woefully inappropriate response to the ongoing pandemic Penny, I’m glad that in Scotland the very sensible measures of keeping social distance and wearing masks in indoor public spaces are still mandatory. We live close to Scotland and as soon as we cross the border we feel the difference in attitude. I’m not saying everyone abides by the rules (visiting UK Prime Minister for instance) but more do than don’t. Whilst people can argue that masks make no difference, to support their dislike of wearing them no doubt, it does serve as a visual reminder to continue with all the other measures too. I really don’t understand, is it really so much to ask to put a mask on?

    • 4th November 2021 at 2:17 pm

      Oh Pamela, you’re so right to point this out as of course Scotland and Wales have First Ministers and are much the better for it. Sturgeon always seems so sensible and lucid as you understand every word she says. Yes, the lack of mask-wearing and particularly the slower uptake of the vaccine which is not catching up with those who’ve had their vaccines 6-month explains the rise in cases. Prof Spector explains the latter very well.

      Fancy sitting maskless next to the 95yr-old David Attenborough – what a heffalump of a leader Johnson is.

    • 4th November 2021 at 5:15 pm

      While I read this with interest I have to ask you the questions I ask myself. Covid, unequivocally, is now an epidemic of the unvaccinated. So if the vaccines work, why do we need masks? If you can’t go to church, to a funeral, eat in a restaurant, shop in a grocery or department store, and on and on, is that really what you consider living? Things to ponder. I do wear a mask when requested to do so but I really don’t think it does much to protect anyone.

      • 5th November 2021 at 9:59 am

        Hi Katji and thank you for your comment which I think is interesting and worthy of a good long reply. Basically my stance is that the government is not giving people the information they need.

        First of all, I get most of my information from the scientist Professor Tim Spector of King’s College London who is the founder of the Zoe Covid study which has had up to 5 million participants who participate through an app on one’s iPhone. Mr F and I, we participate and log our (non-existent) symptoms onto this app. This study therefore gets symptoms logged in real time and is the foremost provider of information about Covid in the UK, which I have to say the government mostly ignores. Professor Spector isn’t always a harbinger of doom though as the study has just announced today (5th Nov) that just maybe this current wave has peaked as there seems to be a plateauing of Covid amongst the teens who were driving this current wave, but the picture is mixed as Covid is increasing in the over-65s.

        So why do I and why does Professor Spector want everyone to wear masks. Well of course, we can all catch Covid and pass it on, even though we are vaccinated, and yes, one’s symptoms will probably be reduced but even so there is a risk that the vulnerable and over 70s (that includes me) might be hospitalised and die, so no thanks, to that! But the worst aspect of the government’s behaviour is that they have ignored the evidence that the Delta symptoms have changed to
        1. Headache
        2. Runny nose
        3. Sneezing
        4. Sore throat
        5. Cough
        6. Loss of smell

        Fever is even further down the list, but as the general population doesn’t really know about this there will be many Covid cases walking around thinking they’ve got a cold, not knowing they’re infecting everyone. (And btw, see the many very interesting Zoe Covid study YouTubes of which one is the difference between a cold and Covid)

        Also as well as the government not changing its advice, it does not give out PCR tests to anyone other than those who have the classic symptoms. Meanwhile the Zoe Covid study does give out free PCR tests to those who have the new symptoms and their case numbers are far nearer to the 100,000 a day that we have been warned is when the government might act.

        And why wear a mask? There is enough evidence out there to say that the medical (blue) masks prevent those who have Covid from giving it to others, so you wear a mask to stop giving it to other people and I wear a mask to prevent giving it to you. And one also wears a mask because there will be many who are totally asymptomatic, who breathe over one and all, so just a simple mandatory policy of ‘wear a mask’ OK, mainly indoors which so many other countries around the world are doing, is actually the kindest thing to do to your population.

        So there you have it. Oh and by the way, the government has changed the way you get the still free lateral flow tests, you can’t just get them from your chemist, instead you have to log in to a website and get a code. It’s fiddly and I’m very tech savvy and managed it but both Mr F and I thought it would put a lot of people off getting the tests. You rather wonder why?!

        Altogether I think the government is behaving in a near criminal way, I mean forget the old including me at 75, children are dying, and the government is doing nothing to stop this country going down the herd immunity route, which in actuality means a lot of people are dying – it’ll be more than 50,000 a year – which could be reduced if we just did what so many other countries do and did – and that is make mask wearing compulsory. End of!

  • 4th November 2021 at 9:50 am

    How brave are those swimmers! We have to wear masks again as of Saturday. Our numbers are rising again, I think we should have no restrictions at all anymore and just live. There is so much anger among people, also about non vaccinated people. And everything is getting so worse. I also was thinking about the trips to Glasgow. What a stupidity. Abs of course the Netherlands have to be the bravest boys in the classroom. Pffff.

    • 4th November 2021 at 3:02 pm

      It is sad about the anger but it is difficult to understand why people don’t want to get a vaccine, I mean, why ever not? Because yes, like you I want to live a life that’s ordinary and normal and vaccines are the way to get there. In the meantime our awful leader is totally useless and his lack of gumption on making mask-wearing mandatory (because he doesn’t like to be the bringer of bad news) is just making cases get higher and higher. Ooof, I shall stop there but that’s why I love the fashion blogging world and that includes people like you!!! Have a lovely weekend 😊

  • 4th November 2021 at 10:44 am

    thanks for this blog Penny. I am as usual beyond angry with our government – this latest thing about the MP found guilty of ‘egregious’ flouting of parliamentary standards is to be given leave to appeal by an immediate change of the law. This is equally egregious in a supposed democracy ; but enough of that……! October has been a good month as we went to a concert for the first time & have not caught Covid despite booster being not until next week. Fab evening celebrating Trafalgar Day, lots of singing and mock abuse of the ‘Frenchies’. I know some people would say that such events are anachronistic & support British Imperialism in the 19th century but I think it’s about the people, their bravery & comradeship. I know that some of the crew were ‘pressed men’ & the conditions were harsh, but that was the life of most people at that time.
    For films I’m looking forward to getting back to the cinema again. We always went in the afternoons and pre-covid there might be up to 15 people there. After the booster has had a couple of weeks to ‘work’ I’m ready to go again. I’ve been reading ‘ A Different Class’ by Joanne Harris. It’s set in a northern fee-paying Grammar School, very good & I’m looking forward to reading the sequel. if you did not hear it you might be interested in the interview with academic Kathleen Stock on Woman’s Hour yesterday. The abuse she has suffered for her views is truly horrifying : I’ve got her book ‘Material Girls’ but not read it yet. On TV we’ve been enjoying ‘Alma’s Not Normal’ crude but so funny. Not for the sensitive – and one episode crossed the line for me – but also highlighting social problems and hypocrisy. Just started ‘The Outlaws’, very promising. Best news of all for me is that daughter arrives today for the weekend, not seen her for very nearly 2 years. Thank goodness for video calls in the meantime!

    • 4th November 2021 at 2:29 pm

      I listened to the interview on Women’s Hour and am appalled, as no-one wants any transphobia whatsoever, that has to be stamped upon, but to shut down thinking and debate and discussion and academic critiques of subjects is beyond awful. Shame on my old university and Kathleen Stock’s union for not supporting her better and standing up for her.

      As for Johnson and this government ha, ha, ha, ha, have you seen that Johnson is going hastily into reverse gear on last night’s vote and shame on those Tories that voted to support the changing of the standards committee. Thank goodness Labour said it would not participate.

      Honestly that man – you just wonder if his behaviour can get any worse and then he surpasses himself: falling asleep at the Cop26, not wearing a mask whilst sitting next to 95-yr-old David Attenborough. And then taking a flight back home to have dinner with someone (saying no more on that) and then the 3-line whip for that vote last night. And then the hasty retreat and reversal from said vote. OMG can it get any worse? And the answer has to be – yes!!!!!!

      I think we will attempt an afternoon visit to the cinema. As for sensitivities you’d just have to attend Lewes Bonfire night to see the really tweely green and right-on town of Lewes turn feral with their marches through the streets with burning crosses and the burning of effigies of any politician of any description or country who attracts their ire. It is a pretty full-on experience! So I’ll try Alma’s Not Normal. Thanks as ever Lynda. Have a good weekend 😊

  • 4th November 2021 at 10:47 am

    Penny have you seen the Alan Cumming prog Sky about Brighton. (Urban secrets) It’s understandable why you like living there.

    • 5th November 2021 at 12:13 pm

      No I haven’t, sounds interesting – I’ll look although I think we cancelled our sub. But Brighton is great and I love living here especially in Kemptown. Thanks Maureen 😊

  • 4th November 2021 at 2:07 pm

    Thank you for your information Penny. I agree with you wholeheartedly. You couldn’t make it up.
    Keep shopping and sharing your lovely finds, it brings cheer to a dull day.

    • 5th November 2021 at 12:14 pm

      Thank you Monica for those kind words 😊

  • 4th November 2021 at 9:43 pm

    Hi Penny. I think it’s great when your life is so busy in a very pleasant way that there is not time to blog. good for you, lovely you are spending time with friends and family. here in New York covid cases are declining and life is becoming more normal. I have friends who still will not go onto indoor public places and we try to have have dinner weekly outdoors.
    we have to move the time earlier and layer up. actually it has been fairly warm here during October but the last two days were quite chilly. My family and I did get together Sunday, except for my granddaughter who is away at college. My son in law was in a play at a local theater company and we went out for lunch before the performance. the play was a staged version of The Shawshank Redemption” an acclaimed motion picture of several years ago. I was apparently the only one who had never seen it. Quite a professional effort. This is now the second live theater performance I have seen recently. And as I have said in the past I have been to a concert and eaten indoors. All require masks and in some cases proof of vaccination. And, I have booked my booster. We just finished local elections. Most of the candidates I voted for were successful. However, I was surprised and saddened to see several of the ballot proposals designed to make voting easier and more fair were defeated. I am certainly glad that the US is taking part in this climate summit with Biden but I think I am a pessimist and fear it’s all too little too late. I certainly voted for Joe Biden and believe he is an honorable and decent man but so far frustrated that so many of his ideas have not been able to be implemented. I have had it with the stupidity and selfishness of the anti vaxers.
    I have read a number of books that I have enjoyed. Anxious People by Fredrik Backman, Monogamy by Sue Miller, Circe, by Madeline Miller and currently reading Louise Penny’s latest in Det. Armand Gamache series The Madness of Crowds. I also saw the film The Father a while ago and thought it was excellent.
    I enjoyed those views of the beach at Brighton, chilly looking but beautiful.
    Be well Penny, Darby

    • 7th November 2021 at 9:52 am

      Good to hear your cases are going down. It might just have peaked in the UK but not in the south east where I live where cases are still increasing, which is sobering. However, having had our booster we must have peak antibodies so we’ve booked to go to the cinema in Lewes – hurrah! – where cases are lower and masks are compulsory.

      I remember the Shawshank Redemption well – how good to have a son-in-law as an actor! I’ve been aware of various US elections including the recent Republican gain and I hear people are frustrated that Biden seems to be doing nothing and yet I believe that a massive infrastructure bill has just been passed and I hope that this will get things going. Good luck to him as he is an honourable man which is more than one can say about our leader who’s behaviour is appalling as is his leadership. He overstepped the mark this past week but is still 1 point ahead in the polls!!!

      Have a good week and you stay well too Darby 😊

      • 7th November 2021 at 1:00 pm

        that bill finally passed late on Friday night.

  • 5th November 2021 at 6:27 pm

    I fully expected an announcement from Boris last week to say we would have to wear masks in shops, public transport and other venues where people are in close contact – but nothing!

    Great roundup, Penny. I’ve not yet watched anything on Netflix and I like the sound of the Finnish noir…’ Frankie and Stanki’ is a great book. I like Barbara Trapido’s books a lot.

    • 7th November 2021 at 10:02 am

      I think things will have to be beyond dire before Boris does anything. I shall try some more of Trapido’s books – Frankie and Stankie was just so good.

      Have a lovely week, Veronica, stay well 😊

  • 6th November 2021 at 5:52 pm

    Thanks for this update Penny. You cover a lot of ground so I’ll start with the clothes: I particularly like the grey full-length coat; – it’s the sort of coat that can ‘take you anywhere’, as my mother would say. Thanks also for the atmospheric pics of ‘the front’. Yes, very brave swimmers.

    I agree with you on mask wearing and despair at our appalling government – on all fronts/issues and the non-existent opposition.

    I’ve not ventured far lately so have been bingeing on The West Wing (again) – all 7 seasons and I’m now enjoying The Good Fight (a follow on from The Good Wife) with the excellent Christine Baranski (I like binge watching). I also enjoyed the Who Do You Think You Are episodes with Josh Widdicombe and Judy Dench. For reading I’m just finishing The Book of Tresspass, crossing the lines that divide us – a very interesting book about our vastly unknown country that we are banned from setting foot on because 92% on the land and 97% of our waterways is privately owned. It is a love of the countryside, and a beautifully written and impressively researched story of enclosure, eploitation and dispossession. And for fiction I’ve just finished a lovely little book, Gatsby at Trinity – an imagined time of Scott Fitzgerald’s protagonist up at Oxford.

    Stay well. Mary x
    PS Please can you add me to you mailing list to get notice of your blogs?

    • 7th November 2021 at 10:16 am

      Hi Mary, and thanks for your comment. That black and grey flecked coat is a Toast coat no less, so was just such an amazing bargain. I’ve heard about the book you’re reading from a friend and I think is it today in the Observer landowners who have grouse estates should be paying a green levy – as they should because of the damage they cause to the environment. I wonder whether that would ever happen as of course the people who own those estates have enormous wealth and power. It won’t while this government is in charge, or not in charge what with its chaotic hold on so many issues, but still 1 point ahead in the polls!

      And thank you for wanting to get the email. That’s out of my control. To get on the list enter your email into the slot on the side of the post if reading on a PC or at the end if reading on a phone. Bloggers are blocked from adding or doing anything with their follower lists as unscrupulous bloggers would be adding names all the time. If by any chance you have done that and not received any emails let me know. I can let WordPress HQ know about it, but still can’t do anything!!! One of the little quirks of the blogging world 🙃

      Have a good week, Mary and you stay well too x

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