Sunday, 27 October 2013

Ain't no mountain high enough

I do hope everyone has had a nice, relaxing (or at least productive) weekend. I have spent the last weekend of October doing something a little different- climbing Mount Snowdon in Wales. Yes, all three and a half thousand feet of it!

Mr Freakum Dress and I travelled up there on Friday with a group of other climbers to fund raise for the RSPCA North West Middlesex (yes, VERY specific location). I first agreed to take part because I wanted to raise money and help out; they do some great work and deserve all the support we can give them, but I also wanted to prove something to myself by climbing that mountain....mainly that I could reach the summit without the aid of an oxygen tank/air ambulance. Repping it for the fatties! 

We set off at around 9:45am after a hearty breakfast at the hotel. I have to admit that I was feeling apprehensive on the drive to the mountain. I'm not completely immobile, but I'm NOT fit and I thought I might have bitten off more than I could chew. However, by that point it was too late, so I put on my walking boots and got on with it. Here I am looking fresh and naive:

The start of the climb was nice and easy going. Our guide told us to take it easy and actually enjoy looking at our surroundings, which was easy to do because it was so beautiful. However, what he neglected to tell us was 'enjoy it now because soon you're going to wish you'd never signed up for this hell fest'. The path became incredibly steep, narrow and....well, there was no path to be honest, it was just rocks. The relief I felt when we got to the top of 'the hard bit' and looked down is like nothing I've ever felt before! That said, it soon turned to pain as I realised we were still an hour from the top. Good view though:

The wind was terrible. I'm a big girl and I actually had to hold on to the side to stop myself being blown over several times! It was also incredibly misty so you couldn't really see very much. It was at around the 2 1/2 hour mark that I hit the wall and thought to myself 'I can't do this any more'. My legs were on fire, the wind and rain was battering my face and I was just absolutely exhausted. The only thing that kept me going was our guide, Mick. He just spent the full 5 1/2 hours shouting encouragement and telling us we could do it- I need him to stand next to my desk and motivate me every day!

I actually think the final 20 minutes to the summit are the hardest. Not only are you tired because you've been going for nearly 3 hours, but the final path has been carved into a sort of staircase and it took every ounce of energy I had to lift my legs up to climb it. I kept stopping every few steps just to take a break while Mick shouted 'IT'S JUST AROUND THE CORNER' at me and I glared back.

And then....there it was. The summit. Not that I could see anything of course because the weather was so bad, but the sense of achievement and relief was enormous! It was probably a good thing I couldn't see anything because I probably would have been absolutely petrified!

It took us around 2 1/2 hours to get back down again. While it's easier to descend than climb, it feels like a struggle because you're so tired by that point, both physically and mentally. By the end I just marched forward like a robot, trying not to think or even speak, desperate to get it over and done with.

And here I am, the next evening, aching all over, knees absolutely killing. And I'm thinking...what should I climb next? Ben Nevis? Everest? 

I'm the next Ranulph Fiennes. 

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Mama Cass

It was a Sunday morning, Mr Freakum Dress was still in bed, hungover, and I decided to pop on The Mamas and The Papas for some California Dreamin'. I love The Mamas and the Papas. Their songs have the ability to make me both happy and sad and the voice of Mama Cass is just amazing.

My mum always used to call me Mama Cass- you know, because I had long hair and was fat and all fat people look the same? When I had a bob she said I looked like Dawn French- all fat people with bobs look like Dawn French (sigh). I'm making her sound like a monster, but she's just a skinny. Anyway, back to the Cass.

I was reading about Mama Cass recently. I'm not going to lie, it was a depressing read. In her short life she was hounded by everyone about her weight, and then even after her death. It really made me sad and I thought about how fat (or overweight) stereotypes really haven't changed. Below are a few that stood out to me:

1. Being fat is something to be ashamed of: Mama Cass always told the same story about how she first came to be in The Mamas and the Papas; that she was outside one day and some copper piping fell on her head, knocking her out and giving her concussion. When she woke up she could sing three tones higher and it was at that point that she was asked to join The Mamas and The Papas. While no one has proved that this was a lie, others said that the real reason she hadn't been asked to join previously was because she was too overweight. Fat is something to hide away, deep in the closet. 

2. Being fat is a part of your identity: When most people think of Mama Cass they usually think of two things; she had a wonderful voice and she was a big woman. When did being overweight become part of someone's identity? When did someone's weight or size define anything about their personality? And when did everyone decide that it was something they could comment on? I wait with baited breath for the day someone writes an article about Adele without mentioning her weight. 

3. Being fat makes you sad: People talk about Mama Cass being depressed and a rumoured drug addict (apparently she used heroin before her infamously bad gig in Las Vegas), but no one ever thinks 'oh actually maybe the weight itself wasn't the cause, maybe it was the media and public constantly fat shaming that led to her feeling sad and insecure'. 

3. Being fat is funny: Mama Cass died in her sleep of heart failure at the age of 32, leaving behind a 7 year old daughter. So far so unfunny. Of course the public assumed that her weight had led to her heart attack- surely you're a ticking time bomb being that overweight? In fact, Cass had been on a crash diet in the months leading up to her death (she had crash dieted many times over the years), fasting 4 days a week which had severely weakened her heart. The story that Cass died choking on a ham sandwich still persists. Even in death her weight defined the world's perception of who she was.

I'm sorry if this has been a depressing post- I feel depressed writing it, frankly. I also know I'm preaching to the converted here, but if you have ever judged someone who is overweight before just stop and think again. They are a mother, a father, a sister, a brother, a friend, a professional. They are a human being. Don't let a physical trait form part of someone's identity.

So this is for Mama Cass: mother who tried, beautiful singer, huge personality and gone too soon.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Wam Bam Thank You Mam

I suppose this post is a little bit more personal than usual because it's about my BFF! We are absolute chalk and cheese, but we both have a love of Sophie Ellis Bextor that can never be tamed. NEVER. 

His birthday is today so we went out last night to celebrate. He fancied doing something a little different this year, so we went to Wam Bam Club, a burlesque club in Piccadilly. I have to say, I wasn't sure what it was going to be like, but the show was fantastic. All of the performers were amazing, from the dancing to the acrobatics to Tina Turner Tea Lady (a highlight for me was 'Golden Pie'). The only downside was how incredibly expensive the bar was. When we arrived two of our friends had already purchased drinks: two Jack Daniels and Cokes that came to.....£24. By the end of the night I'd convinced myself that £8.50 for a small glass of wine was actually a bargain! 

I decided to wear my ASOS Curve dress. It's something a little different from me, mainly because it shows off my arms which I'm quite self conscious about. However, it made me feel really good and I liked standing out in the bright pattern. I wore it with my faboosh Joanna Hope ankle boots from Marisota which I love. Admittedly by the end of the night my feet were dying, but then I had been standing up and dancing for about four hours! 

Dress: ASOS Curve bodycon dress in tribal print
Necklace: Gold chain from H&M- old, but they have some great jewellery in at the mo. 
Boots: Joanna Hope 'trouser shoes'

My sister wore a gorgeous H&M red jersey dress. Honestly it was so nice that people came up to ask her where she got it from! I can't find a photo of it online, but I think I'm going to go out and get one for myself so watch this space! 

Friday, 18 October 2013

You're my Wonderwall

You're my Wonderwall? What does that even mean?! Anyway, if I was singing it to A|wear right now I'd be saying 'you're my coat of dreamssssss'. Because it is. And I love it. And I'm never taking it off.

I was so excited about this coat: look how pretty it is! There's faux fur (detachable), there's purple, there's little strings, there's gold zips, there's a cat hat....oh, wait. The cat hat doesn't actually come with the coat, but I added it to my basket so that I could get free delivery (and, er, a cat hat).

God I look tired in these photos- they were taken at about 7am so excuse the raisin eyes.

Now, I bought this coat for £45 and I see it's back up to £60 so I'm really pleased that I managed to grab a bargain. I also got it in an 18 and it actually fits over my bum so I am also pleased about that! The hood is enormous though- better not attempt to drive anywhere with hood up in case I veer off into a tree.

If I have one criticism of A|wear, it's that it doesn't have a plus size line and the main collection only goes up to an 18 (and not always). A|wear, don't make us fatties browse the jewellery and accessories sections! We need beautiful dresses too! 

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

On ambition

am·bi·tion [am-bish-uhn]  Show IPA
an earnest desire for some type of achievement or distinction,as power, honour, fame, or wealth, and the willingness to strive for its attainment: Too much ambition caused him to be disliked by his colleagues.
the objectstate, or result desired or sought after: The crown was his ambition.
desire for work or activity; energy: I awoke feeling tired and utterly lacking in ambition.
verb (used with object)
to seek after earnestly; aspire to.

Ambition is a strange concept. I have, for a long time, judged myself and others on their lack of ambition or success, only to realise that ambition and success are relative. 

For a long time I subscribed to the belief that success could only come if I followed the path that had been laid out for me by society: school, GCSEs, A Levels, University, my degree would mean I would instantly get a well paid job, marriage, children, death. On reading, that sentence is infinitely depressing. Of course, I have friends that have gone down that route and who am I to judge them? It is, however, not for me.

Another fact I have come to realise is that ambitions do not have to be life long. They do not have to be things we can not hope to achieve; in fact, quite the opposite. Ambitions should be realistic and we should put plans in place to achieve them, just as we set objectives in our working lives. This was always my problem; I had so many ambitions, so many goals and each year would come round and I'd think 'what happened?' I'm pretty sure what happened is that I sat on my arse doing absolutely nothing and expected things to happen on their own. Of course luck plays a part, there are always going to be 'right place right time' moments, but I am a true believer that we make our own destiny.

What I have learned, however, is that I like to be surrounded by ambitious people. I like my friends to be doing well and better than me, as I find it motivating and them interesting. I like to read the blogs of people within my profession who are pushing boundaries and putting themselves out there. I love the new world of plus size blogging that I have discovered and currently find that a huge inspiration, not just for outfits, but for confidence, body positivity (yes I'm sure that's a word) and general support. 

So, some ambitions that I set myself this year:

1. To not let work take over my life and see my friends more. So far, this has been difficult. I had a promotion at work and, frankly, it has taken over my life. However, I have been much more active in contacting my friends and going out, even if it's just for coffee.

2. Learn a language. This has been on my To Do list forever. I never took a language GCSE and it's one of my biggest regrets. This weekend I will be attending The Language Show at Olympia to get a better idea of which language I'm suited to and would be better for me work/life wise.

3. To work for myself. Another ambition which has been on my list for most of my life. It has always been a dream to work for myself and this year I finally took the plunge. Granny Flat Candles is now in operation and we'll be selling at our first Christmas market in November :)

4. To get fitter. This one is a little bit vague. I wasn't expecting to run marathons, but I would like to play rugby again and I'm disappointed that I haven't pushed myself to do that. However, in 2 weeks time I will be climbing Mount Snowdon for charity, which I expect to kill me, but it's not worth it unless it's a challenge eh?

Oh, and one more thing, if you don't succeed IT'S OKAY. The worst thing of all is never to try. 

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Well the weather outside is frightful...

Actually in London it's okay today and yesterday was beautiful! Still, I can't ignore the fact that it's nearly coat weather and I'm stuck with my boring Dotty P's black coat (good for work, bad for, well, anything else). 

I always find coat buying such a pain- I know what I want and what I like, but inevitably they don't come in my size or they just look terrible. I have the pear shaped problem- if it fits over my bum then it's definitely going to be huge at the top- if it fits everywhere else it flares out over my bum like I'm hiding another person under there. Frankly, I feel anxious about the thought of going out coat shopping!

I just received an email from A-Wear. I like A-Wear a lot, though they only go up to a size 18 and not all of their collection does. However, I popped on for a look and saw a couple of coats which I love love love and just might take a chance on.

1. This little beauty. Look, if I want to walk around pimping it out then I will (see Pat Butcher). Also, it's reduced to £45!

2.  This metallic parka. I have always wanted a parka and never been able to find the right one (also, as I said above, the shape isn't great for me). I love the faux fur and I love the contrasting colours. Also another bargain at £45!

I'm going to give it a go- at least if they don't fit then I can report back! What do you think- parka or Snoop Doggy Dogg?

Monday, 7 October 2013

I'm with the band

I used to wear band t shirts every day- what happened? I remember ripping up a Take That t shirt when I was at college and putting safety pins in it- what was I thinking?! Who knew they were going to make a come back?! They're still there, tucked away in my drawers, but now they're reserved for bed times only.

Last Thursday I went to see one of my heroes: Barry Gibb. The Bee Gees are my absolute number one super favourite desert island disc band in the world (my musical taste is a bit all over the place) and he didn't disappoint. Hit after hit after hit- it was an emotional rollercoaster!  

So let's at least TRY to make this clothes related, yeah? I bought a t shirt! I bought a skinny tee and got in a medium. Okay, stop laughing. I decided to buy a medium so it would 'show off my curves' (I'd had a few glasses of wine by this point and was feeling bad ass).

I'm not going to lie, it's a little tight, but no one- NO ONE- will stop me wearing this t shirt!

We went for a lovely walk along the canal yesterday, so I thought it was a good time to pop it on. Arty shot unintentional.