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Betsy Loves, Celebrity, Fashion

The return of the opaques

I went out for a few drinks with Danners this Saturday and I was so pleasantly surprised by the number of girls eschewing bare legs for some opaque black tights. I love a good pair of opaques, especially when you don’t have the best legs (dammit!) – you can almost rock a miniskirt or shorts as well as the girl with beautiful smooth legs up to her armpits.

They give every outfit an oomph of class so you can wear that new leather skirt to the office (just as long as you don’t pair it with those thigh high boots you’ve got…), and you can restyle your favourite summer dress for winter when you throw on a pair of opaques underneath and a chunky cardie on the top.

Don’t go for anything less than 60 denier; I’m more of a 100 denier girl myself. And, while, in a dream world, we’d all be walking round with our legs encased in ludicrously expensive tights from Wolford, if you’re as clumsy as I am, then a multi-pack from Primark will do the job; just avoid any shine like the plague!

Oh, and if it’s good enough for Olivia Palermo and La Moss, then it’s good enough for me.

These are some of my favourite opaque looks.

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Blackdog-DV
Fitness, Health

Black dog days

Depression is a bitch. I know from personal experience; years of it!

I remember waking up and it feeling like an elephant was sitting on my chest; that I couldn’t breathe. I remember being constantly overwhelmed by emotion, whether that was snappy irritation, irrational anger or heartbreaking tears. I remember sitting on my bedroom floor, with Momma P sitting next to me, as I sobbed my heart out over, well, not much really. Great big racking sobs that shook my whole body as I struggled to breathe and left me feeling physically exhausted. I remember coming home and just wanting to go to bed. I remember not leaving bed all day. I remember calling Momma P on the way to work and crying until I reached the tube. I remember calling my family doctor while she listened in silence to my tears.

I’ve suffered from depression at several periods in my life. The first time, I was a young teen and had just suffered from my first break up. It all sounds terribly over-dramatic and self-indulgent, but I’ve always been very emotional, and I genuinely thought my heart was broken. Within a few months, I wouldn’t say I was ticketty boo but things were looking up, and I stopped taking (with the help and advice of a doctor) the antidepressants.

When my second break up happened, several years later, I’m sorry to say I struggled again. In both periods of depression, I’d also dabbled with self-harm (specifically cutting); I say ‘dabbled’ because I strongly suspect, with hindsight, that I was only doing it because I’d read that’s what teenage girls did. I mean, if you’re really truly utterly going to cut yourself with intent, I dare say you don’t go down to the kitchen, boil the kettle, and sterilise the knife you plan to use. It wasn’t a great period in my life, and I’m 100% ashamed of it, although, arguably, there is nothing to be ashamed about mental health issues.

Anyway, I, with the help of friends and family (invaluable help!), I arrived at university antidepressant-free and had the time of my life for the next three years and met some amazing people who I love dearly.

Then, I graduated, and went to London to work for GMTV. And it was awful. To be honest, I think I realised from the very first day I walked through the door that I’d made a terrible mistake. The hours were ridiculously long (75 hour weeks, anyone?), and every three weeks I had a week of night shifts to contend with. It messed with my mind big style! London can be a very lonely city, and I suffered in the worst way.

I eventually got the help I needed, quit the job, and moved back up to Yorkshire. But I was back on the antidepressants, seeing a counsellor, and back living at home feeling like a failure. It was a tough time. The counselling really really helped, and I can’t recommend that enough. I was entitled to about six free counselling sessions through the NHS, but if I ever had some proper disposable income, I’d definitely ‘treat’ myself to weekly therapy for the rest of my life.

It’s been four years since I came back from London, and this has undoubtedly been the hardest bout of depression to battle, but I think I’m just about getting there. I made the decision about two months ago, that it was time to wean myself off the antidepressants again as I was feeling the happiest and most settled I have ever felt in my life. I’m really lucky to have the full support of Mr T and Momma P, not to mention all the other lovely people in my life, and I’ve always been open about it at work, so they’re pretty cool too.

The last few weeks haven’t been a breeze, but I am now completely off the antidepressants. I’ve found that swimming is absolutely invaluable – if I swim a mile each morning before work, it sets me up for the day; it calms me, it stimulates the all-important endorphins, and it’s also really good to combat all the ice cream I eat…

I’m also trying to be patient and kind to myself (how ‘bleurgh’ does that sound? Sorry!). I’m trying to take deep breaths before I erupt, and to take some time for myself if I’m feeling weepy. I’m not going to lie, I’m terrified that I’m turning back into a moody teenager, and that Mr T will finally realise what a horrendous mistake he’s made. It’s also really disconcerting having to deal with emotions and responses that I genuinely thought I’d sorted years ago!

Earlier this year, I took Headspace up on their offer of a free trial of their 10 day guided meditation online course, and I actually really enjoyed it, and found it very useful. Obviously, being an idiot, I didn’t renew the subscription when I had to pay, despite the fact that it costs from as little as £3.99 a month! When I was having a little stress with/at/to Momma P the other day, my phone suddenly pinged, and there was an email from Headspace offering a subscription deal. It was serendipitous and I’m now signed up for a year.

Erm, what else? I’m actually trying to take more care with the food I eat, because I know I feel better when I eat well. That being said, when I opened a healthy eating book the other day and saw they recommended you use Himalayan pink salt, I threw it across the room. I mean, honestly! I guess I’m just focusing on meat, fish, fruit and veg, and trying to limit/moderate everything else. I’m such a flaky individual, who knows how long this good intention will last?!

But I have to try. This isn’t the same as going on a diet because you want to look good in a bridesmaid dress or a bikini; to be honest, it’s not even about physical health, although that’s definitely a good side effect; what it comes down to is that if I don’t look after myself properly – exercise regularly (that’s swimming for me), eat reasonably healthily, get enough sleep and learn to be calmer with myself – I am seriously jeopardising my mental health, and the last thing I want to do is either end up on an ambulance gurney (been there, done that), or down a dark alley one night with a broken beer bottle in one hand (been there, done that), or with people I love and care about crying over me (been there, done that).

I want to live my life to its fullest. I want to love Mr T to the best of my abilities. I want to make a success of my career. I want to have kids (even though I pretend I don’t), and I want to be the best possible mother to those kids. I want to wake up every day (or at least most of them) feeling positive and powerful. And now, finally, I think I know how to achieve that. It’s not infallible. There will be blips and bumps in the road, but life will continue with me in it.

If you suffer from depression, I can’t stress enough how important it is to seek help. The NHS has great facilities and whether you opt for drugs or counselling (or both), or go down a completely alternative route, you will feel better eventually, and I do know that ignoring the problem won’t make it go away. And remember, one in four of us (I reckon it’s a much larger number actually) suffer from mental health issues at some point in our lives. You are not alone. And finally, when the black dog days are behind you, you’ll begin to see why life really is worth living.

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Fashion

Pop a sock

I’ve been having terrible trouble with my feet recently. Almost every pair of shoes I own are rubbing or pinching or squeezing or generally just hurting in some way. It’s very frustrating, and there are only so many blister plasters one can layer on.

So, I decided to take a leaf out of Hannah Rochelle of En Brogue‘s book, and buy myself some jazzy socks. Yes, that’s right, I’m about to rock the visible socks and shoes trend…

I went on to Pinterest to do some serious research, and I’ve got to admit it, I was pretty inspired. Armed with these pictures, I’m going to venture into the world of socks. Whether I’m successful or not remains to be seen! In an effort to avoid looking sartorially inelegant, I’ve opted for two pairs of glittery socks – black and charcoal – and one pair of white frilly ones (all from Topshop). I’m really hoping that my sneaking suspicion that you have to have long lean legs to make this look work (I’m talking about you, Alexa Chung) is proved wrong.

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Food, History, Photography, Travel

Caves, Coldstones Cut and Colton Abbey (well, Bolton Abbey really…)

A while ago Momma and Mr P won some free tickets to the caves at Stump Cross, but as they’d already been, they offered them to me and Mr T. They also mentioned that there was a big sculpture just nearby that was worth a look too (The Coldstones Cut), and while we were over that way, I thought we’d try to make it to Bolton Abbey and maybe even treat ourselves to something tasty at The Devonshire Arms while we were at it.

Off we toddled this Saturday and we had a great day. The caverns are definitely worth a visit (and it’s not pricey either). It has a little cafe with plenty of homemade cakes (Mr T scoffed the biggest cheese scone) and a gift shop; both of which seem as if time has forgotten them, but they are terribly charming. After a hot chocolate and flapjack for me, and the ginormous scone and a cuppa for Mr T, we were ready to don our hard hats and descend into the depths…

Descending into the depths

Descending into the depths

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He looked so serious! (And also really cute in his jumper printed with brass instruments…)

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Does anyone else think this looks like a boob? I had to take a photo. Obviously.

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I made the erroneous assumption that this would feel really slimy, but Mr T just pointed out it was the mineral deposits. Didn’t I feel silly?!…

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Sorry this is a bit blurry, but I loved the way it looked so much!

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A ‘fairy’ palace created by the owners. This little kitsch addition might give you some idea of how quaint and adorable the whole attraction is!

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No idea who this chap is. It’s not Harrison Ford*

*Star Wars reference

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It wasn’t very clear so the views weren’t as amazing as they should have been, but the sculpture was still fairly impressive, and it’s free, so no complaints from us

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Really odd single yellow lines

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See?! How cool is the jumper?

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Finally managed to wear in my Gazelles. Yessssss

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Only 49km from York :)

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Still looking a bit grey, but it’s such lovely countryside. We saw two brides pottering (well, gliding) around with husbands and photographers in tow.

Bolton Abbey, here we go!

Bolton Abbey, here we go!

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There’s something about old stone coffins that fascinate me. I promise I’m not crazy morbid.

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Getting stuck behind a horde of American tourists

Getting stuck behind a horde of American tourists

Another feet shot

Another feet shot

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Awwwww

Awwwww

And now for some refreshment so we popped over to The Devonshire Arms where I had that incredible Afternoon Tea a few weeks ago

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Betsy Loves, Fashion

Boots, boots and more boots

Even though we’re enjoying a late resurgence in summer heat, I’m still resolutely looking towards my sartorial winter wardrobe, and that includes boots. Boots in many colours, and styles. I can’t get enough of them.

These are my fave picks.

Topshop Age Chelsea Boots

Topshop Age Chelsea Boots

 

 

Topshop Cacoon Knee High Boots

Topshop Cacoon Knee High Boots

Clarks Phenia Desert Boots

Clarks Phenia Desert Boots

Clarks Lindley Charm Boots

Clarks Lindley Charm Boots

Clarks Minster Lance Biker Boots

Clarks Minster Lance Biker Boots

Carvela for Kurt Geiger Shuffle Peep Toe Boots

Carvela for Kurt Geiger Shuffle Peep Toe Boots

Office Courtney Western Boots

Office Courtney Western Boots

Boden Boho Boots

Boden Boho Boots

Dr Martens Black Wave Boots

Dr Martens Black Wave Boots

 

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Betsy Loves, Fashion

Never step on Mr T’s shoes

For aaaaaaages, I’ve been hankered after a pair of Superga’s pristine white canvas tennis shoes. They’re completely lush with a chunky white sole. Plus, they’re wide (unlike Converse).

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So why don’t I have a pair? Because, in a moment of madness, I once made the mistake of standing on the toes of Mr T’s brand new white Vans. With hindsight, I can see it was a fairly idiotic move, especially as he was inordinately proud of them. But at school, no one wore box fresh shoes. It was a rite of passage to mucky up the toes. Apparently it wasn’t at his. And he did warn me he’d be mad.

Still. I was a bit surprised he got mad. He sulked for the whole day. And steadfastly promised to ‘ruin’, a.k.a. stand on any white shoes I ever bought.

Hence the lack of Supergas.

But now, Adidas Stan Smiths are making a comeback. Woohoo! At first, I toyed with the idea of the Superstars, but the flatform didn’t do it for me. So then, back to the Stans. What’s not to love about plain white trainers? And most importantly, they’re leather. So if Mr T takes his revenge, I can wipe them clean. Mwahahahahaha.

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However, the classic Stans have a green tab at the heel, while you can also get navy; and I’m more of a navy kind of girl. Mr T thinks they look chavvy, but I bet he’s just jealous because I’ve found a loophole in his cunning plan.

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So, the question is, do I go for green (and be classic), or navy (and be rebellious…lols)?

And if you need proof that these are the coolest shoes this season, sneak a peek below.

Phoebe Philo stan smiths

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Betsy Loves

Dracula in ballet?

As soon as I was sent a press release from Northern Ballet about their new production – Dracula – I KNEW I had to get my hands on some tickets.

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I absolutely adore the ballet. I think it’s incredibly beautiful, and Northern Ballet is one of the best companies, in my opinion. They seem to have a very loyal stable of dancers who I am excited to see year after year. Over the last few years, I’ve been treated to The NutcrackerCleopatra and Cinderella, to name a few (I was devastated to miss The Great Gatsby); and each performance has blown my tiny little mind. For real.

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This is another hobby that Momma P and I ‘cultivate’ together – a Christmas ballet has become a tradition, and this year, I’m very much looking forward to Northern Ballet’s Peter Pan, but for now, let’s stay with Dracula.

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The blurb reads: A creature who should inspire repulsion in every living thing but who has seduced countless generations, Bram Stoker’s legendary vampire lives on in this extraordinary ballet. The dark tale of the immortal Count is played out through Northern Ballet’s unique blend of sensuous dancing, gripping theatre and gothic sets and costumes.

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I mean, wowsers! Eeeeeek.

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Californian Martha Leebolt and Liverpudlian Pippa Moore are two of their Premier Dancers, who I’ve really enjoyed watching over the years, and last night was no exception; while NB is simply spoiled for choice in male dancers. One of Momma P’s and my favourites is Hiraonao Takahashi, but last night we were blown away by Kevin Poeung, who played Reinfield. He has an incredible style of dancing that is very individual. He was mesmerising and stole the stage every single time he was on it. He’s due to play Peter in Peter Pan, so I’m even keener to get tickets for that! Also, special shout out to the dancers who played Dracula’s wives!

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You can’t talk about Northern Ballet without mentioning David Nixon. He’s the Artistic Director, and has basically turned this company into the powerhouse you see today. His talent is behind every single plie and arabesque, but to be honest, we’ve never seen a bad performance, and even if you don’t manage to score tickets to this (it’s only at the West Yorkshire Playhouse until September 13th), there are lots more you can catch.

Elves and the Shoemaker, and Three Little Pigs are both a great introduction for kids; they’re still touring The Great Gatsby, and Cinderella; Peter Pan is this year’s Xmas offering, while we can expect Romeo and Juliet and Wuthering Heights next year. I can’t wait!

(And no; I didn’t get free tickets to write this! Promise)

http://northernballet.com

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