Fashion: Yves Saint Laurent – Style is Eternal

  
I rarely leave London to see an exhibition, as there’s always so much on here in the big smoke and I often miss things I want to see that are just on my doorstep. However, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see the new YSL exhibition with a friend. It meant travelling up to Darlington to visit The Bowes Museum, where this stunning new exhibition is being hosted.
  
The exhibition focuses on the timeless style of one of the most skilled fashion designers in history and walking around the various rooms it was easy to imagine all the garments being worn by women today. YSL was truly a designer who worked to make sure that his clothes would fit in with his customers’ lifestyles and I now understand the reason for the name of the exhibition. 

I loved the “Masculin-Feminin” part of the exhibition – such beautiful structure and tailoring.   

    

I hadn’t realised before how much YSL was inspired by artists, just look at the Mondrian dress and the Picasso cut-out skirts.   

  
    
    

Everyone loves a pineapple this year! 

 The Bowes Museum will be hosting the exhibition until 25th October and it’s certainly worth a visit.  

  

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Spa visit: The Garage at Greta Bridge, Darlington

An unusual name for such a pretty, little spa, but apparently this used to be a stopping point for classic cars. It in no way resembles a garage now, other than the constant stream of clients stopping by for treatments.
  My friend and I each had an MOT facial, which was one of the best facials I’ve ever had. My therapist put me to sleep when massaging my face and I left feeling calm and with glowing, healthy-looking skin! We then had Deluxe Pedicures and my feet were primped, pampered and painted a gorgeous red with Jessica nail polish.   The rest of the afternoon was spent using the incredible and numerous facilities available in the rest of the spa. We indulged ourselves with a break in the salt relaxation room, the hot jacuzzi tub, the warm tub (like a warm bath), we had power showers with jets and then cleared out our airways in the dry sauna.    

 
There was also a cold plunge pool, an outdoor jacuzzi, a steam room and a cold bucket shower (like someone tipping a bucket of cold water over your head) that we didn’t have the time (or, in my case regarding the latter, the inclination) to try.  
 One of my favourite features was the outdoor relaxation garden that housed the outdoor jacuzzi and the sauna. We were fortunate enough to visit on a warm day, so I think we saw it in the best possible way with all the flowers blooming and sheep grazing in the field beyond.   

  This was, without a doubt, the best English spa I’ve ever been to. Beautiful, clean and well laid out facilities, professional and thoughtful staff, stunning local scenery and reasonably priced treatments. I’m already planning a return visit!    

     

Musings: Daydreaming in Paphos

  
As I’ve unwound from city life over the last fortnight, I’ve found myself growing ever mindful. I know that “mindful” is a trendy buzz word at the moment and oh so “lifestyle”, but there’s a lot to be said for just doing it your own way. 

  
My way is simply taking the time to stop and listen. I’ve had plenty of time over the last couple of weeks in Paphos to take a pause and hear myself. My body has been saying it wants a rest, it just wants to lounge in the sun by the pool, so that my bones can soak up the vitamin D. My mind doesn’t want to concentrate too much, it just wants to let my brain daydream and occasionally read. My ears don’t want the music to be too loud, they just want to listen to the water lapping in the pool, the chirping of the crickets, the cries of the peacocks and the dogs gently panting as they half-heartedly pounce on the lizards. 

 
As a result of taking this time to be mindful, I find myself more able to focus on the present, and on myself, and really see and feel what is happening now. It means that I’m enjoying what I experience to a much greater extent. It’s heavenly spending big chunks of time looking out at the sea, staring at the clouds drift over the mountains, watching the sun set in the evening, and generally being at peace with nature. I spent half an hour yesterday watching the tiny lizards scurry about their business; that’s the kind of time I don’t give myself at home. There’s the key though, it’s my choice what I do after work. So, one of my resolutions for when I go back home, and especially when I’m back at school, is to give myself the gift of time, just to daydream and watch the world go by.    
 

What I’m grateful for: Summer Holidays 2015

I’ve kept a gratitude tin for a few years, with little slips of paper that I write on to record what I’m grateful for, but I’ve found it to be too messy and disorganised for my taste. I love the idea of reminding oneself regularly about all the things there are to be grateful for in life. I think I take so many things for granted or I’m rushing about with work and I don’t stop to think about what’s gone well or what I have to be thankful for; I want to pay attention more often. 

So, I’ve decided to ditch the tin and every term (I struggle to move away from an academic calendar!) I will write a gratitude blog to acknowledge the gifts I am given. Some of it will be the deep and meaningful stuff and some of it will be the things that have simply added a bit of sparkle to my life.

In no particular order, this summer, I’m grateful for:

L for booking us this lovely holiday booked in Cyprus. We have our own balcony and pool, with beautiful views and peace and quiet, and that’s all I wanted this summer. One week in and I feel my mind, body and soul starting to recuperate from what’s been an incredibly challenging year. I can feel my creative juices flowing again, which makes me so happy! Thank you, L!
  
The parents who wrote me such thoughtful thank you notes at the end of the school year and acknowledged the hard work put in by me and my team. It felt so nice to be appreciated. 

The progress that all my children and staff have made at school this year. I’m so very proud of their many achievements! I love my school. 

  

My printing teacher and the friends I made on my evening art course last term. They all really helped me to get my confidence back and start to believe that my art is pretty ok. I can’t wait to go back again in September!

  

My little watercolour box of paints that I use when I go away. It gives me so much pleasure. I’m still a beginner painter, but I do love to dabble with the colours.

  
All the beautiful flowers I’ve received in the last few months that people have so kindly given me. 

  
My family for taking L into the fold. My uncle and aunt threw him such a sweet birthday tea when we went to visit them last month.

  
Getting an “Outstanding” grade from Ofsted in my first school inspection as a headteacher. It was one of my career goals and it’s a great acknowledgment of all the hard work everyone in school has put in over the last couple of years. 

The new additions to my jewellery box. I’m a bit of a magpie. 

  
The friendships I already have and the new ones that have slowly been developing this year. I’ve never been one for being an “insta-friend”, I like to take my time to get to know people. I love that I have friends who I don’t get to see very often, but when I do, it’s like we were chatting only yesterday.

  
Thank you for taking the time to read this blog! xx

  

Learning: flower arranging with Midas Touch Crafts

I’m increasingly fond of giving “experiences” as gifts and today I took my mum to a flower arranging course for a belated birthday present. The course was run by a bubbly woman, Naz, at Midas Touch Crafts. Naz runs the workshops with her own mum and all their profits are donated to Cancer Research, which I thought was an added bonus when choosing the course.

At the beginning of the session, Naz talked to us about how to cut flowers correctly, the type of equipment that we could use and gave us handy tips to use on the course and later at home. I really liked her approach to the craft, particularly when she said that “poor, sad, little flowers can become something special”, which I have now experienced for myself.

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The objective of the session was for us to come away with two floral arrangements: a hand held posy and a table arrangement. I did wonder how I would manage this, as I haven’t done any flower arranging since I was a Girl Guide, some 20 odd years ago, but Naz’s enthusiasm was infectious and being a novice didn’t matter at all on this course.

Our first attempt was the table arrangement and Naz gave us step by step instructions to build it up from a plain oasis. I watched with surprise as my flower arrangement slowly grew into something I was pleased with!

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Our second flower arrangement was the posy and I found this one a bit trickier. It was harder because we had to hold the arrangement in our hand and build it stem by stem, as opposed to the first arrangement that was built on the sturdy foundation of the oasis. This was our time to get creative and, although we only had three types of flowers, the room ended up being filled with a huge variety of bouquets and lots of happy crafters.

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I’m so pleased that I booked this course; Mum and I both learnt new skills, we definitely challenged ourselves, and we came away with beautiful floral arrangements! The courses at Midas Touch Crafts can be found here and are well worth a look at.

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