This has been a Jekyll and Hyde year: crazy months of blithe PAYE, thoughtless spending. (How quickly those memories fade!)
Then there have been the recent few months spent wrangling over redundancy payments and spending as little as possible. Frankly, hearing the news about high street fashion sales, I feel pretty responsible. Small wonder ASOS has just announced a profit warning. Watch out Paul Smith& Zara. Alert the media, Top Shop, & Other Stories. It’s all me. I was a one woman retail boosting, spending machine but now that’s come to a halt. (I daresay only a temporary one).
Other people are noticing the difference too. Our postman is transformed. He fairly skips up up the steps, now he’s no longer carting around my ten sacks of online shopping. To be honest, even I was concerned at the level of my own ordering. The march of parcels into the house became relentless, like those buckets of water conjured up by Mickey Mouse in Fantasia. In this case magicked up by boredom and white wine.
That’s not to say that I didn’t buy some wonderful things. Here are some of my favourites, worth every penny. I’d buy them again tomorrow. Some of them, as you can see, I do.
Lotta of Stockholm Clogs
Ten Points, Frida sling back clogs, £79.50 BUY HERE
What can I say? I don’t think you can ever take the girl out of the 70’s. Every atom in me relaxes when I pull on a pair of bell-bottom flares and the same goes when I slip on a pair of clogs. I can feel my toes uncurling, like a blissed out orang utan’s.
This pair have been great Summer companions (mine are in tan) and I’m still wearing them with woolly socks into the colder seasons. I like them because they’re not too high, yet they give you height; they’re traditional but not boring and, most of all, they are not Swedish Hasbeens, which have become very expensive.
Malibran Sottoriva unfiltered prosecco, Buon Vino, £16.50 BUY HERE
This hipster juice was discovered on my way to see a cool friend. Felt like a marriage made in heaven. Like her, it is sophisticated, unexpected and bone dry. The unfiltered prosecco looks (and smells) a bit like cider, but is utterly delicious – a great contrast to supermarket proseccos, which taste to me like pear drops (I much prefer Cava).
Maison 54, Petulant Natural, £16, Borough Wine BUY HERE
The other is this naturally sparkling, unfiltered French fizz from Borough Wines. Everyone I give it to likes it and it’s not even that alcoholic, which, with my friends, is especially surprising. Perhaps it’s because it isn’t supposed to give you a hangover, so you can fill your boots, hic.
I’m a recent convert to Aldi because until recently I didn’t have one close by. My sister, however, lives within a stone’s throw of a magnificent specimen and she introduced me to their standard rum and raisin chocolate and it’s more addictive than squeezing spots (which if you eat as much of this stuff as I’m doing, you’ll have plenty of) but hard to find in London. (I have a feeling that rum and raisin may be quite a Northern thing). Mind you the fruit and nut is not a bad substitute.
For those with a more refined palate, may I recommend the Aldi upmarket Moser Roth chocolate range (£1.29) which comes as a selection of mini bars. Perfect, I’ve found, for a dog walk, mid-afternoon.
Trinny London BFF
Trinny London, BFF cream, £35, BUY NOW
Oh Trinny. My love for you continues undimmed. I love your enthusiasm and your bonkers style – after all we Muttons all have our own version of a bonkers style. And I’m patient about your constant selling of your cosmetics – after all, a girl gotta eat.
Regarding your cosmetics, dear Trinster, this is my star product: glory, skin-smoothing, light, SPF – a great daily base. But I also love the highlighter cream, Starlight.
The Hy’Ou Jade ‘Tool”
Hy’ou jade face tool, £38, BUY HERE
This crazy thing has been smoothing the Mutton face and (apparently) doing sterling work draining the lymphatic system therein, like a jade sink plunger. I like using it and I do believe it has made my face tighter and more sculpted.
Don’t get me wrong. I know there’s only so much four inches of curved jade can do. It isn’t a scalpel. But in the long – sometimes exhausting – game of age damage limitation, this rather delicate tool is my current favourite ally.
L’Oreal Unlimited Mascara
L’Oreal Unlimited, Superdrug £10.99 BUY HERE
It took a lot to dislodge me from my loyalty to L’Oreal Telescopic mascara. If you like a thick, fluttery, frankly, fake-looking lash, like I do, then this is your new best friend. Ignore the clearly ridiculous bendy brush nonsense, the juice is great. I apply heavy amounts to the parts of my lashes nearest the eye for total full on effect.
Neogen Bio Peel pads
Neogen Bio-Peel Pads, £12.99, BUY HERE
I’ve blogged about these before. I use these every other morning and on those mornings my skin is much more radiant, if slightly sticky (don’t worry that wears off). They are a recipe for great skin in a little cotton pad. There are several varieties – lemon, green tea, red wine – and I honestly can’t tell you I’ve noticed any difference. I tend to buy the one that’s on offer.
Victoria Health, £20, BUY HERE
This year I started taking these skin, hair, you-name-it supplements from Victoria Health. Call me gullible but I think they have made a big difference to my skin (I can’t speak for my hair since it’s basically just bleach). My dear friend WB who is also taking them thinks the same and she looks, frankly, about thirty. I daren’t be without them now, just in case they are my picture in the attic.
Nike Air Flywire Trainers
Nike Thea, black and white £57.99, Zalando, on sale BUY HERE
It’s rare that I find a pair of trainers that I can wear with absolutely everything. I found it with my beautiful, sadly now unavailable, Nike Thea Joli in pewter, which were the most shoe-like trainers I’ve ever owned.
At the opposite end of the spectrum are my Nike Air Flywire trainers which look as if they should be in a Marathon. The ones above are the closest I can find to my own which are on my feet right now. They have proved to be good friends. I can wear them with a skirt or a dress or with jeans and they are as happy in the gym as on a walk round town.
I bought them from the Nike shop in Kings Cross, which runs on a strange semi-outlet deal, for £50.
Zara black ankle boots
Another sale buy – this time in Zara in Leeds, for £12.99. A boring choice you might think, especially for someone with such a comprehensive collection of this decade’s ankle boots, in later years my heirs will have to stop the V&A acquiring them for the Nation.
These were the first boots I found high enough to cope with cropped trousers. These are perfect for avoiding the boot, sock, unshaved calf, trouser hem combo which usually plagues me.
A lesson here, dear readers: always check Zara stores at the end of the sales for random sizes of shoes and oddities like this. I have almost always been pleasantly rewarded for my patience.
I’d love to hear about your own best buys of the year. However random they seem, if they’ve brought you pleasure, please do share.