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I first fell in love with vintage shops when I spent a summer in the Kensington Market area of Toronto, where every alley is an Aladdin’s cave of treasures, dresses, bags & shoes, all pre-loved and with past adventures seeping from every stitch. I have an overactive imagination, so I love to imagine who has previously had their head turned by the item I’m buying and where it was worn and what happened to the person wearing it. Then I try to imagine under what circumstances they surrendered the item up to be sold on (… sold on to me!). I still love a lurk around a vintage store, but for me it is something that needs a lazy afternoon dedicated to it. Rummaging through racks and heaps of items is not something that can be rushed, and the best gems always seem to be the most well hidden.  For this reason most of my shopping is done online (I should have shares in ASOS basically) because I barely have time to be surgically separated from my laptop during the week and the thought of clicking my mouse a couple of times Vs queuing up in a sticky Oxford St shop always wins.

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For this reason I did a little yelp of joy when one of the lovely ladies behind Brag Vintage emailed me about their new online Vintage shop. Pre-loved goods? Check! Easy online order? Check! It’s the best of both worlds. Brag Vintage are based in Sheffield, and having lived there for a year when I was 18 I have fond memories of weekly trips to The Forum to spend my ever expanding overdraft on trinkets. After a meandering trip through the various sections of the Brag Vintage website (handily split into men/women and then into categories such as coats/jackets, tops, dresses etc) I took the plunge on a faux fur Stella jacket. I know it’s totally inappropriate for the recent spate of 30degree+ weather we are having, but summer is the BEST time to stock up on winter warmers as they are half the price of what they’ll be in a few months. Plus faux fur jackets are my achilles heel. This is the fifth in my collection, I love how versatile they are – making great practical picks as they are so snug and warm, but they are also smart enough for do’s such as parties, weddings etc.

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I took my new find out for a spin in the early morning dew which is about as autumnal as it gets in London at the moment. I trotted around Golders Hill Park, which is a little-known section of Hampstead Heath and totally worth a visit. Not only is it a beautiful park, with some wild heath-forest sections to get lost in, but they have a menagerie of animals to visit including deer, donkeys and (randomly) capybara! Forgive the poses (especially the one I like to refer to as tree-flasher!) a natural fashion blogger I am not, but I did have fun prancing about as Nick played at being David Bailey. “Now look happy”! “Now look mysterious”! And hopefully you can see what a beauty this is and also in what fantastic condition it arrived in. I’d highly recommend a browse of Brag, I am already being tempted by their endless collection of gorgeous Levi cut-offs in every colour. Nothing beats the smell of memories and must that hits you when you walk into a vintage store, but this is definitely the very next best thing.

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Today I was lazily browsing my inbox when I spotted a boring looking wordpress admin email creeping around under nice messages from friends and Amazon. I’m glad I opened it because it was a massively overdue reminder to cough up the $ to own my little slice of the internet, my likeaskeletonkey domain. Having paid up, it was a harsh reminder that perhaps I should add something a little shiny and new over here and get my moneys worth!

I guess I have never really settled myself on what my blog is exactly. It started off as a fashion blog until I got camera shy. Then it turned into a higgeldypiggely list of film & bookworm reviews. Then it just turned into a mix of all of these things with a few rants about Yorkshire Tea, Grandparents & Kindles vs Books chucked in. Funnily enough, my most viewed post EVER is this little nugget about The Tragic Demise of the Point Horror as it still racks up a good 100 hits a week; maybe I should accept my niche? The one thing I haven’t ever done is get particularly personal on here, despite the fact every element of my life has changed unrecognisably since I started writing here and now. So forgive me for skirting over the gory details but I do have to get a little bit personal to get past the last month… and onto writing about cheeseburgers and ghost stories and big collars again.

In mid September London had a day of fake-summer. I trotted into town and got my hair done, happily reuniting myself with my fringezille before Autumn crept in. I came home, and my boyfriend took this photograph of me in his garden, and at the time I had no idea I’d look back after a month of  lost-life and think it was the last time I was truly happy and healthy. The following Monday I went to the doctors for a standard check-up, and made an off-the-cuff comment about some pain that had been niggling me, which I followed up with but I’ve googled it and I know its absolutely normal and nothing to worry about. It turns out, it was something to worry about after all. I had a week of blood tests, other tests and aLOT of people using the C word that no one ever wants to be told is what they are beetling around looking for in your previously pretty healthy body. Fortunately it wasn’t that, but I was eventually diagnosed with a cyst that had been quietly growing inside me for long enough to be the size of a satsuma, caused by endometriosis.

And then it ruptured (make a promise to me right now, NEVER google ruptured cyst however curious you may be, as I can never unsee the horror) causing internal bleeding and me to be unable to do anything for 3 weeks except stay as still & horizontal as possible until my surgery date. I’d never had surgery or anaesthetic before, in fact all my knowledge of that area came purely from the boardgame Operation (I honestly occasionally ponder whether humans actually have a breadbox?) so it was pretty scary. The operation itself went smoothly, but everything else didn’t. From lost notes, to lost scans, to general confusion, to crumbling falling down hospitals, to low blood pressure, to blood clots, I collected quite a lot of harrowing medical memories… but all that matters really is that I’m feeling healthier now than I have for years, which makes them all worthwhile.

I think the reason I wanted to record something about this here, is that I have learnt a huge lesson which I think it’s important enough to share on the internet. Listen to your BODY. If I’m honest I had known something wasn’t quite right for ages, and if I hadn’t had a very thorough doctor it’s unlikely I’d have been diagnosed yet. Spending 6 weeks incapable of going into work, socialising, and my only trips out being to the hospital… it’s made me have such a new perspective on what is important in life and your health is something that you should be prepared to do anything to protect. My body may now be a little franken-girl-y but I’m determined to appreciate it every day and be far more attentive to any questionable goings-on in future.

I also need to use the most public place I can to thank my world-greatest boyfriend (who deserves an entire blog post in itself), parents, family and amazing friends; who barely gave me opportunity to feel glum as they ensured I was constantly bombarded with reassurance, cards, love and best wishes. Oh and even a homemade pork pie!

I had my operation in St Bart’s hospital, which it the oldest hospital in London. It was founded in 1123 and is also the oldest hospital in the whole of the United Kingdom to still exist on it’s original site, having survived the Great Fire of London and the Blitz. St Bart’s also has a museum, which I’m very much looking forward to visiting in order to spend time in the grounds as a curious guest and not a squirming-in-pain patient. A final fact that heartened me to the hospital is that Bart’s is  the location for the first ever meeting of Sherlock Holmes & Dr Watson in A Study in Scarlet. Given it’s rich historical and cultural offerings, I can’t resist sharing my own personal addition! Following my surgery, I was taking my sweet time recovering from the whole ordeal, so was admitted to a cardiac ward overnight. The ward was in one of the oldest sections of the hospital with vast windows, church bell chimes every hour and trees tapping the walls with bony autumn fingers. I’d already slept for 5 hours when I woke up at midnight and could tell the anaesthetic had mostly left my system as I could now easily snaffle two shortbreads and a cup of sugary tea, that the nurse stealth-snuck to my bed whilst the rest of the ward slept. When I fell back to ‘sleep’ I had the most paranormal experience of my entire life!

For the rest of the night various medical staff came to visit me in my bed, it felt relentless. Constantly checking my pulse, temperature, tucking me in, bringing blankets, and most frequently – gathering at the end of my bed and staring at me, occasionally whispering to each other. But these were no ordinary modern-day doctors and nurses. They were all dressed in old fashioned medical dress from various eras. I wouldn’t bet that I had the imagination or knowledge to invent these in my (at the time) drug-addled mind, and there were so many different faces and uniforms and hats and even the equipment had transformed into archaic looking items. Make of it what you will, but I was so relieved for my night in the past to be over once the sun came up. I’m looking forward to scouring the portraits that cover the museum walls and seeing if I recognise any familiar faces…

During my time in my ‘bedroom prison’ I did sneak out occasionally to breathe in a bit of Autumn, and to be honest I probably saw more than if I’d been crouched over my desk in the office. Safe to say I can’t wait to get back out there and into the world again, and enjoy what November has to offer (and hopefully blog a little more about it), as October 2012 will forever be written off as rubbishtober.                                                            .



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Dear Deer

Last weekend I went to say hello to the deer who live in Richmond Park.

Now I have sampled all London parks and have strong feelings on the winners and losers. One of the top winners is Richmond Park because it is so rough and wild feeling in places. Also because of the roaming deer which turn an afternoon stroll into a sort-of safari adventure!

Just watch out for the yknow-what under foot.

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