Saturday, August 07, 2010

My hips don't lie (but I wish they would)

Is it time for a nineties revival already? What is the deal with fashion reviving an era that only ended TEN YEARS AGO? At this rate, we'll have to start wearing fashion from last week with a side order of irony in order to be current.

I couldn't quite get on board with the eighties retro look - I lived it the first time around, kids, and despite what you may have been led to believe, it was not remotely pretty, at least not in my outer-suburban town. It was less off the shoulder sweat tops with leggings in muted greys, and more high-waisted turquoise tracksuit with lace stripes that your mum sewed on.

Nineties flashbacks though, those I can appreciate. Ahh, the nineties - grunge was god, girls could embrace their tomboyishness, everyone recycled (fashion and rubbish), shoes were stompy rather than... stripper-ish. Customising was big. It was actually uncool to wear designer labels, and if your wardrobe was mostly gleaned from op shops then you were far cooler than the preppy kids with money.

Oh how times change.

Ever since I started noticing the nineties stuff in the shops, I have been feverishly obsessed with tracking down the perfect pair of ankle boots before I leave London. An update of the black elastic-sided combat boots I wore in the nineties, generally with a long skirt (these were unsexy post-AIDS times, remember). I have a very clear picture in my head of what my new boots should look like: tan leather of good quality, lace-up with hooks at the top, possibly but not necessarily brogue style, round or almond toed with a flat or low heel. In a size 9. Yup, that's one bigger than they make them for women (generally). GREAT. Wish me luck, y'all.

As well as the last minute perfect-shoe-finding panic, I'm having to contend with a little wardrobe dilemma in the shape of a smidge of extra weight. Alright, more like a dollop. Make that a sack. I have been taking medication which, while it is a godsend for helping me cope with my anxiety and sleeplessness, is notorious for making you stack on the pounds. I have put on somewhere between 10-12 kilos since I started taking it, and although I'm still in the healthy weight range for my height, I have put on enough padding around my middle that I don't fit into most of my pants anymore and the sight of my new profile in the mirror makes me... well, kind of anxious.

Full disclosure: I am well aware of the body issues that most girls suffer from a young age, and I feel very lucky to have never had to worry about my size or weight up to this point. Don't think I got off lightly - I just skipped straight to obsessing instead about my terrible teeth, huge chin and complete lack of cleavage.

This new figure has, however, given me a new insight into the life of the vast majority of privileged western women in that I find myself:

1. Dressing strategically rather than haphazardly
2. Painfully aware of how many calories are in that cupcake with frosting staring at me from the bakery counter
3. Obsessing about my size and weighing myself daily (I can't believe I am displaying this classic neurotic woman behaviour, and yet I am unable to stop).

I'm reluctantly coming to terms with my new fuller shape, even though I'm a little nervous that I'll never lose it now that it's there. But I'm learning to live with it. Thank god for loose dresses and leggings. Hopefully by next Winter - a good year away as I'm skipping a season by moving back to Oz in Spring - things will be back to normal, in every respect.

With any luck I'll be wearing those tan ankle boots while riding my pashley around Melbourne, looking like a right nineties-loving librarian.

Friday, August 06, 2010

I'm cheating on MelbourneDreaming...

...with One Happy Moment Every Day, my new(ish) blog chronicling the little crumbs of raspberry flavoured joy in the economy-sized bran of everyday life.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Bikes, bikes, everywhere!

London has been taken over by hire-bikes! I first spotted a bank of shiny new bikes sitting along Southwark Street behind the Tate a few weeks ago, and was so entranced by the spectacle that I stopped to take a closer look.

It turns out that this is another of Boris' initiatives to get Londoners on their bikes: 6,000 brand new hire-bikes located at 400 stations throughout the capital. You sign up to the scheme online, pay an access fee (which starts at £1 for 24 hours) plus a usage charge - which is nada for the first half hour and pretty reasonable thereafter - and off you go! You can return the bike to any docking station, and if the one nearest to you happens to be full, you can request an extra 15 minutes to find another one close by. They are dotted all over London - I have noticed at least 5 on my way to work - so it shouldn't be too arduous to pick up or return a bike no matter where you are.

The bikes themselves look to be built for comfort and practicality rather than speed. The low bar, enclosed chain, fat tires, wide seat and wire basket on the front make them quite girl-friendly, but their no-nonsense sturdiness and dark blue colour makes them look more like a unisex work bike.

To some this scheme may seem wildly optimistic - I was a little wary myself, thinking that most of the people who want to cycle in London probably already do so; knowing that a similar scheme in Paris has been marred by thefts and vandalism; not to mention how the bikes will cope with being left outdoors through the London Winter - but in fact, I've seen lots of people using them out and about (a mix of men and women, usually in business attire) and it is very cheering to see these smart new bikes being used as they were intended. I haven't seen any cases of vandalism yet (apart from - shock horror! - a box of fried chicken left in the basket of a parked bike), but it's inevitable that some will fall victim to the rougher elements of London. I sincerely hope those tyres are slash-proof, especially the ones stationed just off the Elephant & Castle roundabout.

Despite my concern for the innocence of these lovely and thus-far pristine bikes, I truly hope that they become an iconic symbol of London, similar to the red buses or black cabs. There is something very British about cycling; it implies a free spirit and somewhat eccentric outlook to sail along on a contraption that has changed very little since it's invention in the 19th Century amidst the roar of trucks, cars, cabs and buses. And anything that introduces more people to the many pleasures of getting in the saddle is a very fine thing indeed.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

The power of one

Sure, it's lonely sometimes; especially when you are single in a world that seems to be cluttered with couples and families. But being alone can also be great: calming, productive, peaceful, happy. This lovely little video reminds me of all the great things about spending time in my own company (something I've been doing a lot of lately).
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