Kevin Smith's Blog

Day 73 - clobber

Thursday, 11 November 2010

I've been thinking about my age lots recently. I blame this on several things including my impending 30th birthday, the fact I've realised (for the first time ever) that I'm old enough to be the father of some of this year's X Factor contestants, my fast-receding hairline and, most significantly, clothes.

The thing is, I've always considered myself to have a reasonably good collection of clobber - a nice mix of classics, vintage hand-me-downs and one or two bits and bobs that are 'of the moment'. I've always been very proud of my shoe collection, too and I still wear some brogues I bought when I was 17. Yes, I've been a fashion victim over the years (skinny trousers that were just a bit too skinny, various laughable hair cuts and colours, day-glow stripy jumpers - the list goes on) but, on the whole, I think I got it just right.

Now, all of a sudden and almost overnight, everything's changed. Everything in my wardrobe seems to look a bit dull and I haven't got the slightest idea what to buy to bring it up to date. And I don't know what I should be wearing that's appropriate to my age, but still half fashionable. Take jeans, for example - my trusty Levi 501s (I consider these a classic) have developed an enormous hole in the crutch and I'm in desperate need of a new pair. I've been surveying the 'jean trends' of the moment and it seems that if I want to be up to date I should buy a pair that gather at the bottom (you know the ones I mean). The trouble is, I think they look a bit dodgy on blokes and Gemma has already told me, in no uncertain terms, that I couldn't pull them off and they'd look  ridiculous on me. She's probably right and besides, I have no idea what I'd wear them with to complete the look. It's seems pristine white plimsolls are the thing, although I've only got scruffy Converse.

Shopping's also a trouble. Gemma and me popped into town on Saturday and we both felt really out of place in River Island, Topman/shop and loads of other high-street stores. It didn't help that we were dragging Ida and her buggy around whilst complaining about the loud music and avoiding oh-so-beautiful shoppers all searching for this autumn's must-have items. We ended up in M&S. It was better in there because it was quieter and there was a lift (I'm guessing for OAPs as much as buggys) although the clothes just weren't up to scratch for someone who wants to keep 'on trend'.

And I need to think about this on a professional level, too. I've started to be photographed for magazines quite a bit since going freelance (gardening content, not glamorous front covers for GQ etc) and I need to get the look just right. Who can forget the stick Toby Buckland (the lead presenter of Gardeners' World) got for his knee-high leather boots and pricey Belstaff jacket? For the record, I thought he totally rocked the look, which I guess means I could be doomed.

Oh, what to do. I'll just end up wearing jeans and a t-shirt every day at this rate.

Until next time...

Ooh, our choir studio recording was a right hoot. Here we all are in action (apart from me as I was obviously taking the picture) along with the ever-glamorous Tracey and the Malteser cake she created as a inter-track snack. Sorry about the slightly crap pictures - the studio light and iPhone camera didn't get along.

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Day 68 - he returns

Saturday, 06 November 2010

It's been precisely 19 days since I last blogged which is, I'm ashamed to say, pretty poor form. I've got a smattering of feeble excuses:

  • We were on holiday last week and I had to write a blog for the BBC gardening website (I get paid for that one so it has to take priority). Take a look and leave a comment if you fancy.
  • The house is still upside down after the radiator fiasco and I've been busy getting it up to scratch.
  • I attempted to make a Christmas cake while the radiator was being replaced. It was a success, although I'm still finding dried fruit in interesting places.
  • We got a puppy on Friday. We took the puppy back on Monday. I won't ever blog about this as it was extremely upsetting.
Anyway, I'm here now and it seems there's a bit of catching up to do. After my last blog Stacy asked me to write about Maddie May's Christening and Henri requested more info on Gemma's vintage dress and my container shoot. So, let's deal with these first...

Maddie May (Gemma's cousin's baby) was Christened on 17 October. It was a lovely service, Maddie and her parents (Stacy and Andy) looked great and there was a nice knees up in the pub afterward. Gemma, Ida and me managed to dress in matching clothes by TOTAL accident (promise), which caused quite a bit of laughter from the rest of the family. Here we all are:

My autumn container shoot for BBC Gardeners' World magazine was a great success. Sarah Cuttle did a brill job of the photographs and we managed to shoot loads before the light faded. It was really nice to make the most of the garden, too and I was pleasantly surprised by how good it looked in photographs. I'm afraid I can't really say any more. Gardeners' World own the copyright to the pictures (so I can't show you any of the containers) and I suspect they want to keep the material secret until publication next autumn. Don't worry though, I'll be sure to tell you when the projects are in print. You'll have to buy a copy of the magazine then. Here's Sarah's camera in my garden to prove she was there and it's not all an elaborate tale:

Okay, last but not least, Gemma's vintage dress. As many of you may know it's my 21st birthday at the beginning of December and I'm having a spectacularly extravagant dinner and dance to celebrate. There's been all sorts of excitable dress buying from my female friends and, I must say, I'm thrilled with the effort they're all making. Gemma, being the first lady of the night, wants to make an impression although has very specific criteria for her frock:
  • Long sleeves
  • Empire line
  • Makes the most of her er assets
Have you spotted any dresses with these specifications recently? I doubt it. In the end we looked to an entirely different decade to find something to fit the bill and, would you believe it, the 1970s came up trumps. We're keeping the source of the frock an absolute secret and there's not a chance I'm going to post a picture of it - you'll have to wait until December for that.

Okay, that's the requests dealt with. What else have I got to tell you about this week? Not much, I'm afraid. Ida and me have both had colds of epic proportions, I decorated my office, bought a second-hand filing cabinet, titivated in the garden and made some sloe gin. I've had a little breather from work, which has been lovely as I know I've got some really big projects just 'round the corner. Here's the gin:

I'm feeling a bit guilty about not writing more about the garden although, if I'm honest, I haven't been outside much recently. I've planted my bulbs, the borders are neat and tidy, all my tender stuff is away for the winter (although I don't know why I bothered because it's been scorchio here the last couple of days) and there's not much else to do. I'll soon be onto full-on Christmas-project mode, so expect endless tales of holly, ivy and craft shortly.

Sorry if this is a bit of a dull post. I need another good domestic disaster to spice things up a bit.

Until next time...

Ooh, it's our choir's studio recording tomorrow! Gemma and me are very excited and I'll paste a link of us singing our little hearts out sometime soon.

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Kevin Smith | Garden Media Writer and Editor

On 31 August 2010 I quit my full-time job as the Commissioning Editor at Gardeners' World Magazine to be a stay-at-home dad  and to try and scratch a living as a freelance garden journalist. It's often said that a 'life change' is good, but can I cut it with the yummy mummys? Will I manage to get a single shred of work done? Will Ida (she's the gorgeous little girl who's the cause of all this) like gardening as much as me? Who knows, we're going to find out...