Hello everyone

It’s October – wow! With the Autumn season well and truly established the weather has turned in the UK and it’s wet and windy once again, consequently our winter duvet is back on our bed and yesterday I even wore a vest. And, oh bother, with the change in the season, would you believe it, my blepharitis has returned!  Furthermore, the end of the year approaches and my son has already contacted me about arrangements for Christmas!

But for us September was a blast – we saw more friends for tea and cake and went away to Dungeness, which was a great success and we aim to replicate the joy of sharing a holiday with our adult children next year and the next for as long as we can.

However, for the nation, September has been quite an eventful month, and remember this is my take on September so skip the next few paragraphs and go straight to the films and books if you don’t want to read about the woes of the UK!

OK, the UK has had a shedload of shortages including building supplies, turkeys for Christmas and carbon dioxide of all things, and critically for consumers, some foods in the supermarkets, and that latter shortage is due to the scarcity of HGV drivers more than anything else, with that particular shortage bringing about the latest shortage, which is petrol. Apparently that shortage is now almost over apart from the south of England but we got 100 drivers from the army from Monday, oh, and some drivers are being recruited from the EU with our government grudgingly allowing them to stay until February (it was get out by Christmas). Today (October 5th) I hear that 5000 visas are available with only 127 applying so far. The nerve of it all, not helped by the fact our Prime Minister is about as useful as a fireman applying a small bucket of water to a forest fire. so there was some panic buying which didn’t help.

Who could have foreseen any of this……..I mean if only there was some way that workers could freely come over to the UK when there are shortages, a kind of system whereby UK labour supply could go to Europe when needed and then in turn UK manufacturers could use EU workers when necessary, in one Single European Market……..oh. Actually I don’t lay the blame completely on our unfortunate leaving of the EU as the just-in-time supply chain had been disrupted by the Covid shutdowns across the world, and then with countries around the world cranking up their economies supply lines are faltering, but even so one cannot escape the fact that EU drivers left the UK because of Brexit and that the supply lines are not quite as affected in Europe as in the UK, I could go on about the scarcity of fruit and vegetable pickers with crops ruined, but I’ll say no more!

However, I tell you why I am particularly incensed by Johnson. He has taken no notice of the findings from the Zoe Covid study, which has found different signs and symptoms for the Delta variant of Covid. This study, which you may or may not have heard about, has been developed by the health science company Zoe and its findings are shared with and analysed by King’s College London and Zoe research teams. I see from the blurb describing the research that the study is endorsed by the Welsh government and the Scottish government but no mention of the English/British government, hmmm.  Mr F and me, we are one of nearly 5 million contributors who log symptoms daily into the Zoe app (and of course, we log that we have no symptoms) and because of the number of contributors and the daily logging the study is able to pinpoint changes in Covid symptoms in real time. I expect you know that the classic symptoms of a continuing cough, high fever and loss of taste and smell are no longer the main symptoms of the predominant Delta variant, which is what most people have nowadays.

Instead if you have been vaccinated the first 5 symptoms of the Delta variant are:

  • Runny nose
  • headache
  • sneezing
  • sore throat
  • loss of smell

If you have not been vaccinated, the first 5 symptoms are:

  • Headache
  • runny nose
  • sore throat
  • fever
  • persistent cough

Check all of this out on the Zoe website for the difference between a cold and Covid – it’s a good read. There are also many webinars to be found on YouTube. The leading professor, Tim Spector, believes that because the three classic symptoms are still being promulgated from the main informants as the only symptoms, there are many people unaware that they need to take a test and isolate because their runny nose is actually Covid. Of course, this is tricky now that the cold and flu season has begun with many Brits having horrible colds. Mr F currently has a nasty cold but two lateral flow tests were negative, but to not broadcast to all that the Covid symptoms have changed is, I think, outrageous. End of rant of the day, but I hope you understand my view that this is serious, and is why I am beyond annoyed at our great leader – who apparently took a holiday during the start of the petrol  shortages. On that I rest my case on his usefulness.

After I’d written this I turned on the television and watched the London Marathon. What a life-enhancing experience it was to watch the thousands of lovely people taking part and hearing about some of the reasons they were doing the run. It must have been amazing to actually run in it, the atmosphere was electric and the crowds so enthusiastic. People are mostly so very kind and good-hearted, it was great to see this because at times I have to be reminded of that.


We haven’t watched as many films this month partly due to our holiday in Dungeness, and partly because most films are now going into the cinema first. I’m waiting for several to hit Netflix and Amazon and/or to come down in price.  The three we watched were good but won’t suit everyone. The first was A Quiet Place Part II (Amazon) which takes up the action exactly where the first film ended. I’ll say no more as it’s science fiction/horror and as I said won’t be liked by those of you who don’t like violence. Equally with the second film we saw, which was an indie set in Wales. Called The Toll (Amazon) it is not the 2020 Canadian science fiction film, instead it’s all about a toll-booth operator in rural Pembrokshire who has a murky past, which naturally catches up with him. This is the blackest of black comedies and we actually quite enjoyed it. And finally we watched the Bob Odenkirk film Nobody (Amazon) which has echoes of Michael Douglas’ Falling Down along with overtones of John Wick and a History of Violence, so you can guess what kind of film it was, but seriously Bob Odenkirk, in my view, can do no wrong and we thought it had an excellent well-crafted storyline. All three films get 4* from me as they were all enjoyable but none were outstanding.


We’ve finished watching Vigil (BBC iPlayer) and thought it very good. Also finished watching North Water (BBC iPlayer) which was cold and brutal but quite watchable.  There’s an unrecognisable Colin Farrell in it – wow, he’s quite the character actor! Started watching another Norwegian series, Post Mortem: No-one Dies in Skarnes (Netflix). Anything Norwegian seems good to me! Also finished the delightful series about the V&A museum, Secrets of the Museum (BBC iPlayer) do watch it if you can.


I read a few books in September: the first two were charity shop buys that went straight back to the charity shop as I didn’t enjoy them. The first was Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld.  It’s the reimagining of Hillary Clinton’s life and I read it to the end but thought it rather cruel. The second I got half way through and couldn’t finish. This was Machines Like Me by Ian McEwan, which I thought too clever by half.  It’s about humanoid robots that are so near human they are bought as companions. As they get powered up each day they think through who they are and what it means to be a human. I found McEwan’s philosophising about the meaning of life using the robot as a medium to be more than tedious – no thanks.

I downloaded the book recommended by Gail of Is This Mutton, Love in Five Acts by Daniela Krien a tale of five interconnected lives. Loved it. Very well written – thank you Gail!  On holiday in Dungeness, I skimmed through several books but read in its entirety one of Alice Munro’s books of short stories, Runaway. Oh my word, what a writer she is. No-one can write a short story like her and along with her distinctive touch I see, no I feel, she has a sliver of ice in her heart as the stories are truly devastating to read, but you read them and know you’re in the presence of greatness.

Another good book found in Dungeness was Frankie and Stankie by Barbara Trapido. Another amazing writer. I haven’t come across her before but just wow!  This is set in South Africa in the time of apartheid and it’s a tale told by a young girl in almost a stream of consciousness. I was so taken by it that, because I was only half way through the book when we left the cottage, I had to order a copy myself, and I have it now waiting for me to read. Furthermore, Trapido has this amazing technique of informing and telling you a lot about apartheid, but it doesn’t come over as ‘telling’ which is what you must never do when writing you have to imply and ‘show’. But this telling is amazingly Ok as it’s coming from this young girl growing up in South Africa. I can’t praise it enough. However, I am currently reading a book that has Dungeness as part of the plot, it’s Jacqueline Winspear’s Messenger of Truth and is, I think, one of many books about the main character Maisie Dobbs – finding it a bit stodgy tbh. It’s a bit of a contrast to Frankie and Stankie!


Here’s the dress I bought from a charity shop in Rye.

It’s lovely and fits beautifully and has a thin leather belt, plus an underskirt that makes the skirt part stick out. I bought it on a very hot day but brr, it’s too cold to put on now!

Here instead is a vintage tweed suit I bought a few weeks back in Lewes.

Rather looking forward to wearing this when out and about.

I love the jacket and think it’ll go rather well with black jeans.

Btw, I don’t sit around in the flat wearing a straight skirt. Here’s my go-to skirt for everyday indoor wear. I bought from Emmaus for £4 quite a long time ago

That’s all for now,

With love, Penny, the Frugalfashionshopper







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25 thoughts on “The (late) September review – 2021

  • 5th October 2021 at 8:29 am

    Quick political comment – EU drivers have better pay and conditions outside the UK but there are still not enough of them in many countries. Failure to recognise an ageing workforce in need of new workers is part of the problem too. We have taken these essential workers for granted and failed to invest in better training, pay and recognition of skills and value to society. See also health & care workers, shop & hospitality staff. I am always incensed by Johnson his performance on Marr on Sunday (and I use that word descriptively) was another opportunity to feel soiled by the knowledge that he is our PM.
    Autumn is truly here now, lovely and sunny this morning but heavy rain in the night. I’m looking forward to seeing the glorious leaf colours at out local gardens soon. I’ve found a new author Louise Candlish who writes stylish thrillers. I understand that one of her titles ‘Our House’ is going to be dramatised for TV. I’ve also just read the latest ‘ book by Sarah Moss (not Mosse) which is a slim but beautifully written novella called ‘Summerwater’. My book group is reading ‘The Dark Circle’ by Linda Grant for our next meeting.
    The suit looks stylish on you. I’ve still got a lovely tweedy one but I doubt I’ll wear it again, it’s probably too small now. The winter clothes are out now & I’m trying to stop myself buying any more. The one in one out policy is not always adhered to! My choir is back together and I will be able to do Circle dancing again so I’m trying to be positive although I don’t always feel it!

    • 5th October 2021 at 11:38 am

      I’m totally in agreement with you on the lack of investment for these workers and it was remiss of me to not say that because I absolutely don’t entirely blame Brexit for this shortage of HGV drivers. I used to live in Newhaven and there was an HGV lorry park by the station before you turned in to the port. And where there showers, were there any facilities to get something to eat, where there even toilets? No there weren’t – it’s just awful the way we treated these drivers. So we are now reaping the loss of both the EU drivers and the early retirement of UK lorry drivers and there are just not enough of these workers now to prevent shortages for so many things. So I am totally with you that we don’t value our low-paid frontline workers or pay them enough. Things will have to change but I hope they don’t go down the route of lifting restrictions on their hours or shortening their essential training.

      And yes, Linda Grant is a very good writer. I’m hoping to join a choir at some point but want to be sure that Covid precautions are taken. Thanks so much for your interesting comment, Lynda, much appreciated

  • 5th October 2021 at 11:05 am

    Dear Penny,
    I just wanted to tell you how much I love this email, and to say I love the charity shop clothes you are wearing on this email! Wonderful, thank you for sharing.
    Best wishes

    • 5th October 2021 at 1:30 pm

      Thank you so much Lynn, it’s great to get your feedback 😀

  • 5th October 2021 at 11:51 am

    Hello, Penny! I’m reading and writing you while on holiday in Northern California. We’ve actually been absent from our home for five days. It’s been quite a much needed break for us. We are with family, chatting up a storm, eating good food, and experiencing quite a heat wave. Meanwhile, in Southern California, Los Angeles experienced a thunderstorm! This is not normal!
    I hear you about employment, supply lines, and political leadership. I could just throttle certain members of Congress plus kick out some others in certain states of our country. Yet, I find solace in a smaller perspective…my family, my neighborhood, my church where I find civility despite different political leanings.
    When we return home, I’m hoping to continue our social outings. Just read (New York Times) that there is a 35% downturn in Delta CoVid cases in the country. Analysts are observing to see the causes. Seasonality? Vaccines?
    Part of the beauty of this holiday is no constant streaming of the news. We are staying with a family member who is quite the opposite of the political spectrum from us. Out of family good will, we are all staying away from comment on the current Washington DC drama. That and a lot of wine helps!!
    Don’t you love it when your adult children take the initiative to organize family time!? We do and feel utterly loved and blessed! Saw a FB meme that read, “Spending time with your adult children is like reliving the best parts of your life.” Husband and I are a bit more forward-looking/thinking than that but it’s a sweet sentiment, nonetheless.
    Your fashion looks continue to inspire me. Sister and I might hit the shops today!
    Continue to take care…Charlene H

    • 5th October 2021 at 2:23 pm

      Isn’t it wonderful being with family? Lovely to hear of your time with yours.

      There are some politicians in both our countries who really shouldn’t be holding public office! Good, though, to hear about the downturn in your Covid cases. We still have high numbers, higher than the rest of Europe! Yes, when we were on holiday it was great to not stream or hear much news at all – quite a relief!

      The vintage tweed suit was quite find and the jacket will be so very useful for years to come. Thank you so much for your comment Charlene – always interesting to hear of life in the States. Take care 😊

  • 5th October 2021 at 1:59 pm

    I always find it fascinating to read about your political issues and get the real story from someone who lives it. We just had an election, pure stupidity spending money on something that changed nothing….. waaayy too many billions of dollars. Only 33% of the country voted for him and yet, here we are again. Can you believe that he went on vacation with his family on the very day that we have a new Truth and Reconciliation day to pay tribute to the many lost children and stolen identies of the indigenous people here in our country. He was invited to attend with many groups, and yet chose to jet across the country and spend the day at the beach. Each province also has a separate leader (ha!) and ours seems to be two steps behind with Covid issues and things are going in the wrong direction. Sorry, enough of this but just letting you know that you are not alone in your frustration.
    I love the skirt that you show for at home wear, and I swear I have one almost like that. We have the wet and windy and chilly temperatures again this week, so I am sorting out the summer things to put away and get out the warm sweaters and jackets. Some have gone on to have a new life with someone else. Always enjoy hearing your news.

    • 6th October 2021 at 10:48 am

      I heard about your election and not much change there I believe. We have until 2024 and who knows if we can get the Tories out? Johnson is still ahead in the polls which is awful! But unfortunately we have a very weak opposition.

      Because I sit and write a lot the straight skirts are not suitable for home wear. I need to get out and about more but it is hard what with our cases still being so high. Also it’s the cold season and we’ve both got a cold now – boo!

      Thanks so much for reading the blog, Diane, I also enjoy hearing your news.

  • 5th October 2021 at 3:40 pm

    I read the Frankie & Stankie book years ago & loved it so much that it has survived many a cull . I agree about our lump of a PM & have just spent an enjoyable lunch with three old workmates tearing him to shreds . It doesn’t change anything but good to get it off our chests !

    • 6th October 2021 at 8:42 am

      Oh that’s a good description Wendy, and yes, it’s good to say as we feel especially about Johnson but it doesn’t seem to make much difference as they’re still ahead in the polls. I’ve just begun to watch the Blair Brown documentary on iPlayer and I just don’t think we have that heavyweight intellectual and moral calibre in politicians now, more’s the pity!

      Frankie & Stankie will stay on my shelves for ever!

  • 5th October 2021 at 4:03 pm

    Love the tweed suit and, of course, it will look great as separates too – I can imagine the jacket with black jeans, trousers or leggings – great find and checks very on trend at the moment. My husband and I do the Zoe COVID study everyday too and Tim Spector has mentioned time and time again hasn’t he that the government are ignoring the change in symptoms which are most common when fully vaccinated. Funnily enough, my daughter studied for her psychology PhD with Tim’s daughter at University College London – small world!
    Like you I cringed watching Boris’s performance on the Andrew Marr Show. He is supposedly a very bright man but he has no public speaking skills as far as I can see. Thank goodness you cheer us up with your blog. Thank you Penny and for the book and film recommendations. Lynda x

    • 6th October 2021 at 8:49 am

      The jacket is going to be such a staple of my wardrobe for years to come!

      Yesterday after my blog went live, I had a conversation with a friend and they said they heard from a senior Covid researcher that the government is not advertising the new symptoms because they don’t have sufficient PCR tests for all the people getting Covid – the moral dereliction of this government is beyond words, how could they, but they do…

      So good to meet another Zoe participant – we regularly listen to Tim Spector’s YouTube sessions which we think very good as he’s so obviously a trustworthy source of information.

      Glad you like the book and film recommendations – thank you for your kind words.

  • 5th October 2021 at 11:33 pm

    Hi Penny, always great to see a massage from you in my inbox, with your news and views of what is happening in your part of the world. I read it today before I was off to volunteer at the shelter for the morning dog walks. Two of my regulars had been adopted since yesterday but a new small dog was brought in, found wandering by the police and I was given another large dog to walk, so I am kept busy, getting my walking in and doing some good. I am sure the I am a sight, a gray haired little grandmother walking a 70 pound pit bull.
    After that it was home for a quick change and off to my lecture series, which has now restarted for the Fall. Things are starting to open up here, and covid cases are dropping, at least where I live. A local symphony has resumed it’s performances, though one must wear a mask, including the orchestra, and it is every other row seating, and proof of vaccination. last Friday I checked on line to see if it was going to have a season and saw that the first concert would be the following day. so off I went. Also the local theater group will be back in two weeks and I will attend with my daughter and her husband. Nice finds at the charity shops. I especially like the suit, I know I get a lot of wear from a suit jacket I purchased years ago, I wear it mostly with jeans now and actually do not even have the skirt anymore but the jacket I will have forever. The political situation in this country never fails to frustrate and anger me but at this point there isn’t much to be done except for voting next month, which is for the local candidates. I have been doing a fair amount of reading, The Girl From Berlin, by Ronald Balson was quite good, moving from Nazi Germany and modern day Tuscany. I also really liked The Murmmer of Bees by Sofia Segovia, a Mexican author set against the background of the flu epidemic of 1918 and the Mexican civil was, up to modern times, a Family saga, very moving and well written. my daughter passed on her copy of Kazuo Ishiguro’s Klara and the Sun. this was apparently a recent best seller about artificial intelligence or robots. It was OK but unless you are a fan I do not think I would recommend it.
    Finally, just before I sat down to write this I opened my mail and there was a catalog from I think a fashion brand in the UK called Poetry. the clothing is oversized, nice but not for my petite frame but what struck me was that the whole layout was photographed in Dungeness! It even showed a few of the buildings which you had talked about in your recent blog. Anyway, that it for now. Sending love from New York, Darby

    • 6th October 2021 at 11:13 am

      Oh Darby, what a lovely thing to do. To cheer myself up I watch videos from The Dodo on Facebook about dog rescues and often they’re pit bulls which is interesting as that breed of dog doesn’t have a good press in the UK and actually one type of pit bull is banned here. They all seem so lovely on The Dodo videos but there are some awful people that encourage this type of dog to become vicious and with their jaws…. hence the banning. But back to you, what a great thing to do to walk these dogs.

      Also good to hear of your cultural activities – I must venture out and do more. Overall cases in Brighton are beginning to drop which is heartening, but around the country cases are still rising and this is because there are huge numbers of school children getting Covid. The vaccinations for 12-15 yr-olds are slow in getting done and consequently many many children are off school and ill. Overall our vaccinations rates which were once the highest in Europe are lower now than all the neighbouring countries in Europe. Not exactly sure why, but Professor Time Spector speculates (!) that this is because the UK doesn’t have a policy for vaccination passports (Johnson is too much of a libertarian). Elsewhere in Europe vaccination rates are high because people need a vaccination passport to participate in anything cultural or food related and so on. The European countries also still have stringent rules and regs about mask wearing which is considered the norm and not controversial. Here anything goes it seems including a high rate of Covid cases.

      And as soon as I read that Poetry had used Dungeness as a backdrop I ordered the catalogue! I did look and yes, I can see Prospect Cottage in the distance. Actually while you’re in Dungeness, you can see discreet notices saying any commercial shoots need permissions and licences before they can do anything. Not surprised as the unique landscape is very photogenic.

      Lovely to hear of your news Darby – take care x

  • 6th October 2021 at 9:29 am

    Always look forward to your take on all things political in the UK . I had seen news footage of fuel problems on the news here but didn’t realise how many other things are affected.
    Glad you had a good September with family and friends.
    I do like your tweed suit and can see the pieces worn separately .
    Hope your husband is recovering well. Many thanks for the information on different Covid symptoms , haven’t seen that mentioned down here at all.
    All the best Penny.

    • 6th October 2021 at 10:55 am

      Oh yes, the driver shortage is hitting so many aspects of our lives. But I should have said it is also about HGV drivers retiring and the lack of take-up amongst the young to become HGV drivers not helped by their low wages and poor facilities for them whilst driving in the UK.

      That tweed suit is going to be a staple of my wardrobe and the jacket fits so well with the shoulders being just right. So many vintage and charity shop jackets of this type have the extreme padded shoulders which I usually reject. Still hoping to resume the lifestyle where I wear edgy skirts – love your blog with all the items you wear 😀

  • 6th October 2021 at 2:16 pm

    Thank you Penny for such useful information.
    I love your clothes, I once had a skirt like that, I can’t understand why I haven’t still got it!!
    My bletheritis has also resurfaced, actually it’s quite uncomfortable at the moment. I love a bit of eye makeup but can’t really wear it Until it improves.
    Also penny your hair looks great, it’s got a warmth about it.
    I’ve stopped highlighting mine but there are times I think I’m tempted
    to have a few highlights, but I don’t think I can go back to the time it takes and the expense.
    All the best

    • 7th October 2021 at 11:26 am

      Thanks Viven and oh my word that blepharitis is something isn’t it! I have sent away for another eye mask to put in the microwave which doesn’t improve the bags under my eyes one bit!

      Thanks re: the suit and the hair. I think it was a great find that suit and I’ll wear both the skirt and jacket for a long time to come. The hair’s warmth comes from giving up those hair products for grey/white hair which I found dulled the hair colour rather than giving it a more silvery look. You’re supposed to avoid a brassy look but the warmth comes from the remnants of my red hair coming through. I say bring on the brassy!

      Thanks again and all the best to you x

  • 6th October 2021 at 11:19 pm

    Long time lurker, first time response: Your description of the scarcity of products brought back a memory. In the 80’s my husband had a Fulbright lectureship in Trinidad. As a woman, I wasn’t allowed to drive, so walked to the nearest grocery, the HiLo. Each day I would carry a canvass bag roughly the size of a small carryon and a ‘blue’ (100 TT) to the HiLo. What I would cook for my family was largely dependent on how many of the ingredients were available. For example, spaghetti hung in the balance of pasta, sauce, onions and meat availability. Often some were on the shelf, but a key ingredient missing. This was a daily occurrence and one I’d forgotten until now. Shortages also appear in the US, although not to the extent in the UK.
    Hang in there. (Hopefully) This too shall pass.
    You look great, by the way, Looks like your COVID weight has disappeared. Wish mine would!

    • 7th October 2021 at 11:32 am

      Oh lovely to meet you and thanks so much for commenting. I love that phrase, this too will pass. Yes, actually we’ve become so dependent on the just-in time supply chain that if it goes off kilter we’re all flummoxed. I’m old enough to remember when everything was seasonal and you had cabbages in the winter and lettuce in the summer and never saw them out of their particular seasons, I mean strawberries in the winter? Never! We are all so spoilt!

      Covid weight went but I have put on a bit once more with the cold that we’ve just had which necessitated eating well when we felt a bit ill, it’s the biscuits that are my downfall! Thanks again and take care 😀

  • 7th October 2021 at 10:56 am

    Nice review Penny, you have been busy. The weather has been awful hasn’t it! Just don’t know what to wear half the time.
    The suit is very classy, you found a good bargain there. Thanks for joining the #linkup Jacqui xx

    • 7th October 2021 at 11:34 am

      Thank you so much Jacqui, and yes, that suit was a great find. I shall wear that jacket for ever! It’s a pleasure to join your linkie – thanks for hosting 😀

  • 7th October 2021 at 3:26 pm

    There are shortages here too and prices in the states for food are going up. I think it is partly due to the lack of drivers and is influenced by other factors as well. I am buying things when I see them on sale since we have a nice size freezer. Who knew that first world countries would have to worry about food or certain home supplies. Thanks for sharing those facts about the Delta variant. Might take the time to read that article you mentioned. Nice charity finds: I like that you will be able to split the tweed suit and make quite a few outfits with the pieces.

  • 15th October 2021 at 2:28 am

    Thanks for a great explanation- I’m always reading up as well, as this whole pandemic is so confusing..
    As for the fashion- my friend you are always looking so stylish! I adore that vintage tweed suit! Have a lovely weekend! Thanks so much for linking up:)

  • 17th October 2021 at 8:39 am

    Thanks Penny. The suit is clearly a bargain, and it has options: the skirt would work well with your leather jacket and the jacket with you skinny jeans – for your favoured ‘edgy’ look. Go well. Mary

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