Friday, 25 August 2017


Both Anne and I have spent just about all of our working lives in offices.  Even if most of those years have been spent working in one company, we have both moved offices several times due to expansion, contraction or just plain finances!

So with that in mind, we have both worked in brand new purpose-built air-conditioned offices, old country houses, 60s and 70s style buildings, old terraced houses, and even converted churches.

How do you survive when the weather turns hot outside and the heat is magnified inside the building?

It’s Anne C here and I have probably moved offices more times than I care to remember, even though I worked for one company for almost 27 years, before taking up freelance and short-term contract work 13 years ago.

Temperatures vary such a lot in the UK yet we are always caught out by the weather!  So here’s our advice for surviving at work when the heat is on, but the air-con isn’t!

The secret for me is layering – and that also works when the thermostat dips too.  If you swelter on the tube or Underground, then find the air-conditioning blasting away in your office, layering means you can take off your jacket or cardigan as you travel, and put it on as you get to work. The problem for me in the UK is that even if the sun isn't shining, it is often very warm in the office!  It was always the bane of our lives that we could never control the temperature at work - the office was kept at an ambient temperature, but in large buildings if the weather changed, the heating/cooling system was not quick enough to adapt!

Anne C is pictured in the Sensational Baby Boomer office, (actually we both write and produce the blog from our respective homes now) and is wearing a crisp white shirt from the Shirt Company, which is no longer available, but they do a fantastic range of women's shirts which are cool and feminine.  She has teamed it with cotton jeans from M&S, similar ones here.

And here's a throwback picture taken from a previous job where the aid conditioning was fierce, and meant she wore longer sleeves, even in summer.  However, the dress, by James Lakeland (similar ones here), had a cotton stretch top and taffeta/cotton balloon skirt, so still cool even though it is black.

Cotton, silk, linen and natural fabrics are best suited to hot weather.  And we can also include the guys here too (I don't think we've mentioned them before!)  – you don’t have to wear woollen suits during the hot summer months, a crisp shirt and a pair of chinos work well. Check out Bonobos for all they have to offer. 

Meanwhile, Anne H is  wearing a silk shirt from Jigsaw and has layered with a natural short-sleeved COS cardigan which she can take off if the air conditioning fails to work properly! She is also wearing jeans from 7 for all Mankind for this shot.

Anne H is looking cool but corporate and smart in these white cotton chinos and dark grey silk T shirt top.  Sandals, as long as they are smart also work well in the office,  just make sure your toes are painted ladies!

Women do have much more choice – they can either wear trousers, skirts or dresses.  Personally, I prefer trousers, but steer away from skinny jeans and tight clothing when the weather is hot – nothing looks worse than sweat stains under the arms.  M&S always have great tailored trousers which come in different cuts so they don’t stick to your legs!

We love linen, although it does tend to crease, so whether this is a good idea for work depends on what you do for a living.  Working in a corporate environment means always wearing smart clothing – often in dark colours, but if you work in a creative environment, the dress code tends to be a little more relaxed.  We have worked in both so it’s fun to see what is accepted in one environment, which would be frowned upon in another.

In this outfit Anne H has upped the smartness and wears tailored linen blend trousers with a matching cotton top.  She chooses very plain, simple pieces of silver jewellery that aren't heavy and uncomfortable in the heat but just add a more polished finish.  For this look she has opted for toning grey court shoes.

It is also worth mentioning that I find  very heavy or fussy jewellery annoying at work – particularly bracelets which clank against a computer keyboard or laptop, and make my hands feel sweaty.  Large necklaces also seem to stick to my chest when it’s close or clammy, so for me it’s just a watch, stud earrings and a wedding ring.

Summer dresses are acceptable for women in most establishments, though the styles may vary depending on the formality of the business.  I have always avoided clingy, man-made fabrics for work, as they don’t always wear well for everyday use.

Most offices these days also have a water cooler, and keeping hydrated is so important when the weather is hot, though I do struggle to drink a couple of litres a day.

Anne C is also showing off her new Jimmy Choo reading glasses for the first time - with sparkly Swarovski crystal sides - fortunately only needed for close up work!

It’s also important to get out into the sun at lunchtime -15 minutes of sunshine without sun cream is recommended to ensure Vitamin D absorption, but remember to put on sun screen after that, even in the northern hemisphere, since most of us are vitamin deficient, which can affect our weary bones!

Friday, 18 August 2017


I just had to share this beautiful sunset over our friends' pool - just to remind myself as it pours with rain outside my window,  that it was, and still is, sunny somewhere in Europe. 
And now for some more of my favourite holiday outfits with clothes that have probably featured before on this blog.  I purchased this longline top from Zara a couple of years ago and loved it so much that I got the other colourway as well.  It would be so easy to copy if you were a seamstress as it is such a basic shape.  It might be too long at the back for a lot of people but perfect for me being 5ft 8in. Versatile as well,  as it makes a great beach cover up but then dresses up so well for the evening. 
Seen here at our favourite cocktail bar in Tropea - Max's Bar - I have accessorised with a pretty pearl necklace that was a gift from the Far East and a fabulous Mojito.
I have got my trusty Zara linen trousers on here and a white cami top from M & S to protect my modesty. The sandals were the ones purchased from Rome and the handbag is from Kate Spade.  
This top is one that I bought this year from Cos and as ever is my favoured design with drop back and simple tunic cut.  The black linen trousers are from Zara and the black wedges are from M & S from last year. The necklace was a gift from Phase 8 who can always be relied on for long length necklaces. 
Back to some oldies from the wardrobe - another Cos top with a silk drop back and jersey front in dark navy teamed with white cotton trousers with turn ups from the YaYa brand sold through idependent retailers.  The necklace is from Mint Velvet and the sunglasses are Chloe and purchased in Tropea a year ago. Please excuse the not so attractive FitBit bracelet, but a girl has to keep up with her step count.  
And here is that Zara top again in the other colourway.  Teamed with black linen jeans from Armani that I bought in Tropea over five years ago. The sandals are from Next and on their last legs and the bracelet was also a Tropea find.  
Again I have worn an M & S cami top underneath to keep the eye on the over top which is also in black.

Closing with some evening shots of Tropea with the sun setting over Stromboli.  
Such a pretty view and a destination worth a visit.  It even got a write up in the Sunday Times travel guide recently as one of the Med's top tips - Calabria, Italy's secret south.


Friday, 11 August 2017


Anne H here following up on my July holiday to Tropea.  I have featured Tropea itself on a number of blog posts (here, here and here) and thought that this time I would focus on the clothes I wore on holiday, split over two posts featuring daytime and evening looks.  One of the key things with me is that I reintroduce the same clothes year after year.  I don't know about anyone else who lives in the cloudy and often wet UK, but my summer holiday wardrobe is completely different from my usual outfits and really only gets used a couple of weeks each year. Hence, I tend to only buy the odd new item each year.  

The outfit above is a rerun of last years - the blue longline shirt is from Zara and a really useful addition to any wardrobe as it can be worn as a cover up or, as here, over trousers. The linen trousers are also Zara and the sandals were purchased this year when on holiday in Rome.

If I was looking for a shirt like this now I would go for this one from Zara  because I really like the structure, or this flowing shirt from Mango.  

I did actually buy these trousers this year when in Rye.  They have a fab elasticated waist and a loose unstructured style that I love for holiday but never wear when I am home in the UK.  They are by a brand called d.e.c.k by decollage and seem to be stocked mostly by independent retailers. The top is another from Zara and is a really cool swing design with lots of pleats.  Both items are man made fabrics but still cool to wear on a hot summer days. The sandals are from Next and I have had them for ages - sadly they are due for the bin now as the metalwork is coming away.  

The top below was purchased earlier this year - so much for me saying I don't buy much summer clothing, clearly a lie!  It is from a brand called Aspiga and is a really light cotton and comfortable to wear, again as a cover up or over trousers.  This one is available on their site in the sale and also comes in white. They are brilliant site for summer beach wear including some beautiful sandals, so well worth a look.  

Relieved to say that I have had the cotton turn up trousers for a number of years and they have a bit more structure to them than the linen ones so make an outfit look a bit smarter. They are by a brand called YaYa, again stocked by independents, but I think these cotton blend M & S trousers are pretty good too.

The next outfit is also a re-run, being a white top from River Island and black linen trousers from Zara.  I like this pair from Next as they are long enough for me. I tend to favour full length trousers over cropped or capri and like a flowing shape for summer wear.  For a similar top I would go for this one from Fat Face via John Lewis as it has a similar length and feel to it. 

When we were in Rome a couple of years ago I bought this simple cotton top from Muji in both blue and white.  It is not somewhere you might naturally think to go for clothing, but they have a great range of simple classic designs in natural materials. 

The trousers are the YaYa ones previously featured, but wait for it some more new shoes! These are my favourite, most comfortable and the third pair that I have owned, so almost a re-run.  They are Varca and are made in Menorca.  I first came across them in Majorca when my daughter was little and I bought a pair for her and quickly realised that they were a very clever design - a sling back that does not come off your foot... perfect for a child or adult. Then I discovered them in the UK years later for adults so I got buying and never regretted it.  I go for the flat version and they are so so easy to wear, I can walk for miles in them. 

Back with some true oldies - this H & M sleeveless top is an old favourite and a lovely slate grey. It washes like a rag and is a really flattering cut and length.  I have again teamed it with Zara linen trousers and those Roman sandals.   I try to get maximum wear out of what I have taken by teaming different tops for day and evening with the same trousers - as you will see on the post next week. 

And just to share some sunshine from our days in Tropea. Which I am missing so so much now.  Got the heating on and a cardigan.  Yep, truly home in Blighty.  


Friday, 4 August 2017


Back to Anne H this week - as both Anne C and I have been in separate countries for pretty much the last two months!  I am continuing my trips round the UK, this time spending a week in Kent to attend a friend's son's wedding and then taking in some of the sights of the beautiful "garden of England" county. Above is the outfit I wore to the wedding which was held in Princess Diana's old school West Heath, a fabulous venue for such a special day. I am wearing a dress purchased from Fenn Wright Manson - the Montpellier design - and which is now in the sale at £118. The shoes are from Carvela Kurt Geiger and I teamed them with a clutch and pashmina from Simply Devine in Tadcaster. 


On our first foray into the tourist hotspots of Kent, we visited Hever Castle on a beautiful sunny day. I am a great lover of country houses and have always had a particular interest in the Tudor period, so the chance to visit Anne Boleyn's family home was not to be missed.

It is a visit I cannot recommend enough, from the fabulous cafe to the gardens, and of course the house itself, there is so much to see and enjoy. The history and ownership of the house spanning more than 700 years is amazing and includes not just the Boleyns but Anne of Cleves as well.

The American William Waldorf Astor purchased the property in the early 1900s and was responsible for refurbishing the house and the creation of the gardens, including the beautiful 38 acre lake which was built by 800 men in under 2 years ....just a mind boggling feat. The Italian Garden was created to house Astor's amazing collection of Italian sculptures and overall he allegedly spent £10 million on the house and gardens (£1 billion in today's money!). The lake and gardens alone were reputed to have had £1 million spent on them (£110 million today). Hard to imagine that anyone could invest those sort of funds these days, but he must have been thrilled with the final result.

The walled rose garden was particularly beautiful and now reaching its full maturity.  The first flowering will have been in June but the colours are still amazing and the sheer number of plants staggering. I wouldn't want to dead head this lot!

There are beautiful walks and different gardens throughout the estate and even mazes - a yew and a water one.


I also made my first ever visit to the Wimbledon tournament with tickets for court Number 1 for the quarter finals of the women's tennis. It was a great day out and only marred by the weather - one of the few days of rain in the whole of the 2017 tournament. So sadly there was minimal tennis, although we saw one full match and three-quarters of the second including watching the overall winner Garbine Muguruza play.   


We made our way to Penshurst, which is less than six miles from where we were staying in Tonbridge, to eat at The Bottle House Inn and restaurant where we had a brilliant meal. I was particularly taken by the pub sign which was really imaginative and has been designed by the son of the owner and handmade by Adam Aaronson Glass Studio.  

The Inn itself reflects the style of building often found in Kent with red roof and white clapper board cladding, cosy interiors and a really friendly and helpful staff to boot.

Having enjoyed a hearty meal we headed down into Penshurst to wander round the pretty churchyard and village which had established itself around Penshurst Place - the ancestral home of the Sidney family. Sadly the house itself was closed as it was evening time but the local hotel The Leicester Arms was open so we popped in for a coffee before heading back.  


On our final full day in Kent we ventured by train to Rye which is located in East Sussex. This pretty town with cobbled streets and medieval black and white buildings reminded me of York and in particular the Shambles. In medieval times it was an important Cinque Port and indeed was surrounded by the sea although now the harbour is some 2 miles from the town itself.

The parish church of St Mary's dominates the town and includes some beautiful stained glass windows and is well worth a visit. 

Voted one of the prettiest streets is Mermaid Street which is home to The Mermaid Inn,  notorious for its links to smugglers who are said to still haunt the premises.  The cellars of the inn date back to the 12th century although much of the current building was primarily from the 16th century, so lots of low ceilings and beams abound in this fantastic building.

It has been a delight to see yet another corner of our beautiful United Kingdom and I look forward to venturing to some more new destinations in the coming months.  If you could guarantee sun in the summer months, there really would be no point in venturing further afield!

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