Monthly Archives:

September 2021


SWB on dopamine dressing

September: there’s a month which just wallops you up the face, am I right? The glow I felt after my summer break is disappearing as fast as my tan: there’s too much to remember: seesaw passwords, football training, drop offs and pick-ups and the constant missives from the school requesting money. Then you have to be making a nutritious dinner of an evening: can’t be sending the weans to school half starved; I don’t think Tayto prawn cocktail sandwiches constitute brain food, more’s the pity. There’s not enough wine in the world like, is there? No wonder Sober-October has taken off: as we drink their way through September to cope, before copping on if we don’t slam on the brakes we’ll have our livers pure pickled by Christmas.  

In an effort to cling to the shreds of sanity I have left I’ve decided to try a couple of things to boost the endorphins. 

 I’ve donned the trainers again to get running: no more pulling on the pjs at 7pm and taking to the sofa. Well, not on a Tuesday anyway as down I go to Ormeau Park. It has been a blast: meeting friends from the running club and drinking in the last rays of sun before it sinks below the hills. I’d go as far as to call it uplifting. Last week, it actually made me think of The Retiro Gardens in Madrid. ‘What Kool-Aid has she been drinking?,’ you may ask yourself, but no kidding, in that golden hour before sunset, a continental buzz prevailed. Buskers singing ‘Brown Eyed Girl’; families dining alfresco on picnic benches, couples playing badminton on the grass and dog walkers stepping out with French Bulldogs and chi-chi Chihuahuas.  Aside from a fella shouting ‘For f**k’s sake Rocky, get over here’ as I nearly went flying over his Yorkshire terrier, it was a joy. And, the delight that was me this morning when onto the scales I hopped and discovered I had lost four kg. My joy was great: I’ve now a slight chance of fitting into pre-lockdown jeans, reversing the damage of all those pineapple creams and caramel squares. 


Colour. Yes, I am injecting colour into my life, via clothes and accessories and nail polish. I know, you come to this blog for the really important stuff, don’t you? But seriously, the news is shite. Every day brings a bit more gloom, and yes, me wearing a bright blue jumper isn’t going to change that. But yet. Maybe if we dress for the world we want rather than the one we have, things might improve. I operate on a different frequency when I feel good and I’m not trogging about in my sweats. Dopamine-dressing they were calling it on Monday’s You and Yours on Radio 4. Well, I’m rarely one  to be on the zeitgeist, but in the summer I started embracing shades which sang, rather than murmured, and it’s cheered me. Fashion houses are churning out the colours  to boost the nation’s spirits. Conscious that many have munched their way of a depression, they’ve also introduced softer waistbands and loose-fitting tops, to ease our way back to the office.  Might I recommend Robell trousers, if you’re looking to spruce up your autumn wardrobe. They are perfect for a gal like me who’s had two C-sections as although they have a structured look, they are much kinder to your mid-drift.  I picked up my last super comfy pair in Magowan’s in Ballynahinch. Cerise pink and fabulous (and only £21 because they were last season’s.)  

I get it. These small teaks aren’t going to change the world, but neither is plummeting into despair. If the world is heading to hell in a handcart, well then, let’d do it fabulously, darling.



SWB gets Déjà Vu, in Second Hand September

Scarves by Moschino; Louboutins in bubble gum pink, brogues by Paul Smith. Yes, you are on the SWB site and yes, I know I never mention labels. Usually I’m Mrs Kill-The-Craic, Mrs Reduce-Reuse-Recycle, sack cloth and ashes and all: that’s me.

But today it was all change: wait til you hear.  Didn’t I take myself over to Déjà Vu on the Lisburn Road, where I spent a cracker of an hour chatting to owner and style guru Ruth Seaby. Jeez Louise: by the end of it I was nearly asking for a job, such a lovely time was had. She knew most of the customers by name, and when they came in it was all, ‘would you keep an eye out for…’ and Ruth was right back with, ‘if anything comes in that’s black and a size ten I’ll be straight on the blower.’ It was ever so convivial.

This end of the Lisburn Road a glitz and glam fest. Déjà Vu is tucked neatly between a coffee shop and Sumo-cat Sushi, just down from a pretty blow dry bar, (La La Salon, if you don’t mind, it’s very Rodeo Drive, baby) and a funky little brow bar next to that. Now, I don’t give two hoots about brows and lashes, but if it makes you happy, knock yourself out. This year’s been shite, so who am I to say what you do with your face?

But back to the clothes. Déjà Vu is where to come if you’re looking something swanky and different, but minus the designer price tag. Yes, I’m quite aware I’ve pinched TK Maxx’s marketing slogan, but this is an entirely different experience because here, you get the benefit of Ruth’s expertise. The shorts I bought in Galway (remember the three euro ones from Oxfam?) were a bit loose, (how the hell that happened I don’t know) and she had found me a blue Guess belt and shown me how to do the French tuck; (try saying that after a few mojitos) within a few minutes of my entering the shop.

This is the perfect place if you’re looking for a couple of unique items to spruce up your wardrobe and I got lucky.  I was mid-chat with Ruth when I squealed: ‘Is that a Diane Von Furstenburg?’ and indeed it was, a stripy dress in the trademark wrap over style that flatters the tum of a 42 year old who’s had two caesarean sections. Unbelievably, it was in my size, and I was even more chuffed than I was last week when the child’s PCR result came negative and I could send her back to school.  I’ve always fancied a Furstenburg piece, but wouldn’t fork out for a new one and couldn’t be bothered with the hassle of doing E-bay. Here I was able to try and buy, with no pesky packaging or trips to the post office. Hurrah, says I.

Here’s how it works should you have any items to sell. Ruth takes clothes which are in season and in pristine condition and keeps them a few weeks to see if they goes, and if not, you can come and retrieve them. Should they, you get fifty percent of the sale prize. Sounds fair to me.

So there you go, a #secondhandseptember win for me, (two actually, if you count the belt). If you like your more exclusive brands, then keep this place in mind, as it takes browsing to a new level. There are clothes to suit everyone: Ruth told me that increasingly she sees students coming in, on the look-out for quality items that they will re-wear again and again. ‘Far more savvy than our generation,’ she says. ‘These girls do it better.’ I think she’s doing pretty well herself, is our Ruth.







Why it pays to be a bit crap

So, I was just thinking: sometimes it pays to be a bit crap. Let me elaborate. Since coming home from my hols I was hit with a couple of deadlines and was thus a bit harried. Being harried meant I was tired and slower to rouse myself of a morning, and I tell you, this system is working a treat. Today, when I came down the stairs bleary-eyed at five to eight, the kitchen was a scene of great industry. Both children were hard at it, grating cheese, buttering crackers and filling water bottles. I watched as they carefully rinsed and dried their lunchboxes. Later, I saw that they had carefully decanted the Jacobs Cream Crackers into a Chinese takeaway box, to keep them fresh and crunchy.

There is a life lesson here: to be a lazier parent. Now, I’m not suggesting that we all go full on ‘Where the Crawdads Sing’, abandoning our youngsters in a shack on a marsh where they have to catch a fish if they want any dinner. I’ll draw the line there, but a bit of self-sufficiency wouldn’t go amiss.

Learning by consequence, that’s what the child experts are calling it. Case of point is when one of mine refused to wrestle herself into a wetsuit at the beach and was pure foundered, while all the others splashed about on their boogie boards. Next time she put it on her. The pair of them used to hate wearing wellies, so when we’d head to park on a wet winter’s day, their feet would be sodden. But wet toes meant that there was no stopping for hot choc in Kaffe-O as a treat on the way home. That didn’t please them.

Since I’m tired listening to myself now, I’ve decided to stop nagging, and let them be the victims of their own foibles.

You know yourself how exhausting it is, especially now.  Before we leave the house it’s all: ‘Do we have masks? Have we got poop bags for the dog? Where’s the car keys, and flip, did I put my phone in my bag?’ Cue much sighing and friction as the minutes pass by. It’s A LOT.

When we were down south in August, we also needed our  Vaccination Cards if we wanted to dine inside. Sometimes it took us three goes to get out of the hotel room. In the end, I decided that if I wanted any class of a holiday, the children had to step up and be responsible for their stuff.

Here’s another example of how being crap can be effective. I was listening to a podcast which featured a fellow who despite being smart, was chronically disorganised. We’ll call him Mike. Mike attended a networking event where he met an entrepreneur he’d always admired. They had a chat and the guy handed him his card and told him to give a ring. Mike was all delighted and pocketed the card and took it home, determined to ring the chap the next day. Except, you’ve guessed it, he promptly lost it. He pulled his apartment upside down and inside out hunting for said card*, but to no avail. He felt like a prize clampet.

Anyway, a month or so later and doesn’t he find the card, I can’t remember where, but it was somewhere daft, like in his medicine cabinet or something. So, he rings the businessman who doesn’t sound in the least bit irked that it took him so long to get back in touch. In fact, he actually sounds impressed, because it came across as though Mike wasn’t through-other at all, just busy; in demand, like he didn’t really need the contact.

I thought that story was quite interesting, but maybe it’s because I’d just love it if my mediocrity could be merrily glossed over, so instead of looking useless, I’d appear poised,  confident, a together sort of a person.

*Of course, this would NEVER happen to us because we’d all be well ahead of the game and would have taken a photo of the card on our phones and saved it. Immediately. (As if. I’d probably lose the fecking phone as well.)

That’s what I’m leaving you with today. Permission, should you need it, to be a bit rubbish. Turns out, it really pays.