St Laurence's cemetery Hawkhurst

Now spring is here James and I are going out exploring every weekend and I'm taking lots of photos. I've debated whether to post the scenery photos I take with their corresponding fashion photos but have decided to post them on a standalone basis. I'm happiest with a camera in hand and there's no sense taking photos for them to just sit on my hard drive, is there?! I've got such a backlog of photos (both fashion and scenery) to share, but I'm trying to space out the frequency of my posts so I can enjoy life a bit more. The trouble is if I'm not working I tend to feel a bit lost, but I'm working on relaxing more. ;)

This set is from St Laurence's church in Hawkhurst, Kent, about a half hour drive away from us. 
Now, why the appeal with churches and cemeteries? I'm mostly drawn to the outer reaches of churches, although churches themselves do bring me peace on the rare occasions I enter them. I've been exploring cemeteries since I was a child. I've never feared the dead (apart from one time I must share at some point. It's a pretty epic ghost story!) So why the obsession? Cemeteries are free to enter, they usually have lots of lovely trees, plants and flowers to look at, and they tend to be mostly devoid of the living. For a nature-loving empath introvert like me it's a dream come true. I'm also a massive history nerd, and spotting a grave from the 1700s gives me a thrill, as does seeing a skull and crossbones on a grave. I love the way the oldest graves are smothered in moss and lichen and I can barely make the words out. I'm the biggest nerd ever. I feel at peace in places that have existed for hundreds of years. It brings out a historic romance, wondering who walked these places before me.
This last photo was taken through a tiny gap in a grille. The stairs lead to some kind of crypt room, long since unused. I wonder what led to it being abandoned? Perhaps that's what I love about history the most - unanswered questions.

If you want to see more from Hawkhurst, check out my post from 2014. It's good to see I didn't take photos of the same things this year as at the first visit. ;) We first visited at the end of April 2014, and it's amazing how much more in bloom everything was in the April visit as opposed to this mid-March one. One day I might actually make it inside!

St Laurence Church

The Moor
TN18 4NT

Thanks for reading.
Leah xoxo

Modcloth dress - Beetlejuice plus spring flowers

I hope you all had a great Easter? I did. My mum and step dad stayed with us for 3 days and we had some nice walks/outings. I took a few days off blogging and feel refreshed and raring to go again. The weather was mostly good, although we got drenched to the skin on Sunday. We all looked a right state, and my step dad hair-dried his crotch when we got in. Hahaha!

Back to this outfit, I bought this dress from Modcloth a few months ago when they did their last Stylish Surprise, which is where they send you an item of clothing at random for a much lower price than retail. It's a great way for them to shift end of line items, and a great bargain for the buyer too. Alas, this dress is no longer for sale on the website, although make me an offer if you want it. ;) I like it, but I'm also having a major re-evaluation of my personal style in favour of block colours rather than patterns, so I could part with it.
I'm wearing a 4X, and this dress has pockets. *angels sing* I think of this dress as being Beetlejuice + spring flowers, and that means double happiness for me as I love them both.

The dress is fully lined with cotton which is a good thing for hot days, but I'm used to things lined with cheap slinky materials which glide over my body (even if they do make me sweat a bit). The dress has a tendency to get a little twisted over my chest - my back is very wide and I have F cup boobs so perhaps this is inevitable with a non-slip lining. It's well made, as all the Modcloth dresses I've tried have been.

I'm wearing:
Biker, past season New Look Inspire
Dress, past season Modcloth
Shoes, current Primark stock

I think these shoes were £3, and they're so comfortable!
Thanks for reading,
Leah xoxo

Neutrals are always a winner

...especially if they make your rack look this good! And I have a soft spot for acid wash. I blame it on living through the 80s. Don't tell anyone I'm that old. It's our secret. ;)
Unfortunately most things in this post are old, but I hope you enjoy the mishmash of the rockin' top half of the outfit and the most comfortable shoes in the world.
My God, these trainers. They're like walking on marshmallows. You're going to see them with everything. You have to try some on somewhere. Just do it - trust me. Your life will change, especially if you have pain conditions. I'm evangelical about them.
I'm wearing:
Stole, eBay
Bag, present from my mum & step dad
Necklace, blog sale
Biker, past season New Look Inspire
Dress, past season ASOS Curve
Leggings, Very (twin pack, one long one short)
Skechers Go Walk 3, QVC

I was worried the Skechers wouldn't fit, or they would be too narrow. They were a tight fit at first but a few hours of wearing them around the house with thick socks on made them give (with no blisters caused!) and now they're literally the most comfortable footwear I've ever worn. I want them in 15 colours. I can walk and do yoga in them, and they're so light. They've got insoles which is like a yoga mat material (they call it goga mat, I think) and memory foam cushioning to stop them rubbing your heels. I'm going to shut up now, but try them on if you get a chance. I bought them for my holiday in May with a view to walking more than usual, and I'm so glad I did.

What are you passionate about right now? What's floating your boat?!
Leah xoxo

ENDED - £30 House of Fraser voucher

***31.03.16. The giveaway is over and the winner is Gillian from Eyeliner Flicks, who has been informed.***

The lovely folks at House of Fraser are going to give one of YOU lovely people a £30 voucher.

What would you spend it on? I always fancy a new handbag at this time of year. I like big bags and I cannot lie! If I can't chuck the kitchen sink in it it's no good to me.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck! The voucher can be used online or in store.
Leah xoxo

Harness your power feat. Vixen Curves

I discovered Vixen Curves on Instagram and have been following them for a while. At first I didn't realise the harnesses they make are plus size but once I did I went over to their website and pre-ordered a couple. This one is called the Vixen. It and it took 2-3 weeks to come, which is no biggie for me. I often buy from abroad so I'm used to a long wait before my goodies arrive - patience is a virtue, as they say. ;) Vixen Curves are in the UK but it's worth a wait for an item from a small business. They're also totally body positive and their Instagram account is great.
Jacket, past season New Look Inspire
Bag, Plus North 2014
Harness, Vixen Curves
Vest, eBay
Leggings, Yours Clothing
Shoes, Primark

Here's what it looks like on a mannequin:
Photo credit: Vixen Curves
As you can see there's a strap around the neck and another strap goes around the back, round about where my fastens. It's got loads of stretch in it and I'd say it'd fit a size 32 easily.
I have another harness to show you some other time - this one may look better over clothes. I'll have a play with it and show you that soon! You know it's funny because years ago I would've wanted to wear something a little alternative like this, but I wouldn't have had the confidence. Now I wear what I want when I want. It's very liberating! One of the best things about getting older for me is not caring what other people think about me. At this rate I'll be a very interesting OAP! I wouldn't go back to being a teenager for anything! ;)

Thanks for reading.
Leah xoxo

Plus 40 Fabulous March - Achievements

I grew up very poor but was lucky enough to go to a grammar school, which at least gave me some sense of achievement at that young age. There was a mix of children from ordinary families like mine, and at the other end of the spectrum from very wealthy families who lived in the villages away from the town our school was in. Their futures may have been mapped out - 6th form education, daddy buying their first car, uni, satisfying well paid work followed by marrying a banker, popping out Olivia and Timothy, and living in a charming little pile in the countryside. There was never really any question of me staying on to 6th form education as I was desperate to get away from the stigma of being poor. I went to work. I would expect with the background I'd had that some of my teachers - maybe even some of my fellow schoolmates - may have thought I'd be knocked up by 16 and living the rest of my life in a council house amounting to not a lot.

What is my biggest achievement? I'm not dead. It's a funny thing to say, but I'm still alive. Falling down a concrete flight of stairs and sustaining back injuries (which plague me to this day) as a small child didn't kill me. Getting run over by a Ford Transit van as a teenager didn't kill me. Don't you know who I am, fool?! I rode rollercoasters 3 days later. In my early 20s in a work place accident I was impaled on a 6 inch bolt in my knee and that didn't kill me, although the pain, loss of mobility and depression nearly did. Depression hasn't killed me. Living a 'smaller' life because of Fibromyalgia and ME (and asthma, aaand hypothyroidism) although a challenge, hasn't killed me. Numerous hard times from childhood onwards haven't killed me. Letting go of many of my dreams because of my new Fibro/ME reality hasn't killed me. Having 2 ectopic pregnancies hasn't killed me, although the last one had a fucking good try.
From this, to that - 3 days in hospital on oxygen, an 8 inch scar from emergency open surgery and one fallopian tube removed
I found out James wasn't ready to lose me to another ectopic pregnancy, so he had a vasectomy and that didn't kill me either. Not being able to be a mum hasn't killed me. Personal and professional struggles haven't killed me. My health hasn't killed me (yet - winks at my haters).

The thing is, when you're young and shit happens you have no context for it. You don't know you're tough. You don't know you can get through anything, no matter how bad. That only happens when you've endured a lot. 


Am I brave enough?
Am I strong enough?
To follow the desire
That burns from within
To push away my fear
To stand where I'm afraid
I am through with this
'Cause I am more than this
I promise to myself
Alone and no one else
My flame is rising higher

I am the fire
I am burning brighter
Roaring like a storm
And I am the one I've been waiting for
Screaming like a siren
Alive and burning brighter
I am the fire

I've been sacrificed
My hearts been cauterized
Hanging on to hope
Shackled by the ghost
Of what I once believed
That I could never be
What's right in front of me?

I am the fire
I am burning brighter
Roaring like a storm
And I am the one I've been waiting for
Screaming like a siren
Alive and burning brighter
I am the fire

I don't believe I'll fall from grace
Won't let the past decide my fate
Leave forgiveness in my wake
Take the love that I've embraced

I promise to myself, me and no one else
I am more than this
I am the fire

I am the fire
I am burning brighter
Roaring like a storm
And I am the one I've been waited for
Screaming like a siren
Alive and burning brighter
I am the fire
I am the fire
I am the fire
I am the fire
I am the fire

I LOVE that song!

My biggest achievement is I'm still here, able to give two middle fingers to life and say 'What have you got for me now, beeyatch?!' It might not seem much to some, but it's a lot to me.

Bonus mention to this blog, without which I'd have gone batshit years ago. Also maintaining good self esteem in a world desperate to eradicate fat bodies is a pretty good achievement too. ;)

The other achievers this month are:

Nikki :

Thanks for reading,
Leah xoxo

Breaking rules - horizontal stripes & maternity wear feat. Yours Clothing & George at Asda

Lord no, I'm not pregnant. That'd be rather alarming to James since he had a vasectomy a couple of years ago! ;) I don't take any notice of rules like 'maternity clothes are only for pregnant people' or 'fat girls can't wear horizontal stripes'. What a crock! Try to stop me. :) Wear what you want.
I'm wearing a maternity dress from George at Asda - which is a steal at £8 - and maternity leggings from Yours Clothing. I love them because of the high waist and the lace at the bottom of the legs.

These photos were taken by the beach a few miles away from us. We're lucky to have lots of beaches near us, which always help sweep the cobwebs away on a dreary mood/energy day.
I'm wearing:
Sunglasses, Primark similar here
Faux fur stole, similar here
Duster jacket, past season New Look Inspire
Belt, past season ASOS Curve
Bag, past season Peacocks
Stripe maternity dress, George at Asda (size 24)
Bump It Up maternity cropped black leggings (size 26/28)
Sketcher Go Walk 3, QVC

This outfit was so comfortable, perfect for a walk. It was bloody freezing this day though - it was about 0 with windchill and I was only wearing a thin coat - brrrr! Walking faster to warm up was a pleasure!

Leah xoxo

Black and grey like my favourite tattoos

James had a couple of extra days off last week so we were able to visit a couple of places. I've been having wanderlust recently but I haven't known where I wanted to go, well not on our budget anyway! So we went for a long drive in the countryside then wound up at a place we've been a few times now, the site of Old St Helen's Church in Hastings. Basically the materials from this church were pillaged to build a new church in a different site, so this church was left as a ruin. It's usually quiet here so a great location for photos, and it's pretty picturesque too. If you're a fan of gravestones (as I am) Hastings cemetery is 5 minutes away. You can see a previous visit to the cemetery here. They have lots of gorgeous gravestones.
Everything is old in this post, apart from the sunglasses which are current Primark stock. I love them!

I'm wearing:
Cherry hair clip, Feb Glitterati box
Biker, past season New Look
Dress, past season Scarlett & Jo
Leggings, past season ASOS Curve
Boots, past season New Look wide fit
Bag, past season Peacocks
Now the weather is slightly better we'll be going to lots of nice places. Our calendar is always so busy in the spring and summer months. I need to get my diary out to make sure I don't double book anything, eep! One big thing on the calendar is mine and James's holiday with Mookie and Mike, which is in May. We're going to southern Spain and I can't wait.

Leah xoxo

Leopard love with Lady V London

Mookie gave me this dress from Lady V London and it's an absolute belter. I really rate Lady V and Georgina Cox's line Lady Voluptuous. I'm kinda edging away from the retro thing and onto more 'me' styles, but when I want to feel VA VA VOOM in an instant this will do the job any day with a Y in it!
Baldie undercut!
There's no denying some clothes are better designed than others and this style of dress is incredibly flattering on me. Of course no fat person owes the world flattering clothes and nor should we, but if you want to feel a bit extra special, well cut styles can be a little ego boost. This dress has no sleeves and isn't available any more. Mookie had the dress taken up a couple of inches as she's a couple of inches shorter than me and the dress would've been a little too long on her. I like this line for taking into account the taller girl though.

I'm wearing:

Headband, local store
Sunglasses, past Primark
Shrug, past season Simply Be
Dress, past season Lady V London
Black lace cropped leggings, Yours Clothing
Shoes, past Matalan

I'm wearing the dress in a 26-28 and the leggings are also in a 26-28. These are those maternity leggings again and unlike the grey ones, these ones are true to size. No I'm not with child, I just hate the line waist length leggings cause in photos. I love highwaisted things. They appeal to the granny in me. :)

Leah xoxo

How to clean your oven with vagina devil magic

I shit you not, I'm talking about oven cleaning today. I don't even know who I am any more! Did you know you could clean your oven with vagina devil magic? Neither did I until I saw this video:

Those who hate cleaning their oven will love this trick. Gleaming shine and barely lifting a finger.
Posted by Cleverly on Friday, 11 March 2016

Ok, so it's bicarbonate of soda and white vinegar, but it's essentially the same thing as vagina devil magic, right? I mean I feel this kind of knowledge should be passed from mother to daughter in some sacred ritual around a fire in a clearing somewhere as a menacing moon hangs overhead. Sooooo, I tried doing this as my oven was the pits. I hadn't been able to see through the door since about 2012, despite scrubbing away at the muck of the oven regularly with wire wool and getting nowhere.

Well, strike me roan, Ails* if it didn't bloody work!

Excuse the grim photo of my 'before' oven - streaked brown with grime on the door, coated in a paste made from bicarbonate of soda, white vinegar and water - and behold the sparkly after, not perfect, but a lot better and with zero elbow grease! Amazing.

I did do the door twice as it was particularly bad, and there's a way to go before it's perfect, but I'm happy, There are some rough patches at the bottom of the oven where I'd previously used wire wool and tried to scrub 200 feet below sea level to get the oven clean, but nah, it just ruined the finish. All in all, I'm pretty chuffed with myself and my newly clean-ish oven.

Go forth, share this knowledge with your sisters from other misters, and if you are hanging around a campfire under the light of the moon, don't forget your marshmallows.

I can't believe I just blogged about ovens. WHO AM I?!

Leah xoxo

*A vintage Alf Stewart from Home and Away mention there. ;) A notable mention goes to to 'Strike me 'andsome!'

When I got slut shamed

When I came back off my mini hiatus from the blog I knew I needed to come back with something with a bit of oomph to lift my spirits. You see, I'd been in the depths of depression and felt like I'd lost my lust for life and everything in it. I didn't want to put makeup on, I didn't want to get dressed, I didn't want to do anything. So when I felt the lifeblood returning, I knew I had to post some outfit photos I'd been sitting on for a month or so, in which I'm wearing a sheer cropped jumper and some wet look leggings that had gone see through under my bright softbox lights. I knew I had to give myself a big kick up the arse, what way better to do that than post unapologetic photos where hardly any part of my body is hidden?! Baptism by fire, if you will.

Then I got slut shamed, and this is much more than about me. It ties into the Kim Kardashian situation of late, and way beyond that to a belief system in which women are punished for daring to enjoy the same freedoms as men. 

EVERY time I put a slightly revealing photo on Instagram I KNOW I'm going to get shit for it. It happens every time, whether I'm in my underwear, wearing revealing clothing or sometimes for daring to exist at all. It's either concern trolls or - at the other end of the spectrum - sleazebags, but either way I never get to JUST BE in my body. So, before I even uploaded a photo of this outfit to Instagram I knew there'd be a warm shit sandwich awaiting me in some way. What I wasn't expecting was to be slut shamed by another fat woman.

Wow. Just wow. Telling another woman she isn't 'classy' because of her clothing choices on ONE DAY? And we all know what she infers by 'classy' too. She's inferring I'm a slut. WOW. How brave of this woman to hide behind her private profile so I couldn't offer her some fashion 'advice' in return. How brave of her to try to shame another fat woman. Normally I'd ream someone who left such a comment on my Instagram account (as many of you will have seen in the past) but perhaps because she'd inferred I was a low class bitch I held back with the expletives.

This woman's behaviour ties into a bigger problem, whereby women are judged on their actions - what they wear, how much skin they reveal, and who they choose to have sex with (or not). I'm really not a fan of the Kardashians at all - I object to them on the grounds that they're famous for being famous. I've never watched any of their shows and my lack of interest in them is because they're so talked about. What bothers me about the Kardashians is the depth of feeling I've seen on social media from other women about Kim's recent nude selfie. (I don't think I've seen a single man mention it). Yes she did a naked selfie. Yes she did a naked magazine cover. Yes she came to fame from a sex tape (which confounds me because I'm an old lady slightly out of sorts with the image-obsessed ways of the youth, not because she got naked). Yes she certainly loves and thrives off the limelight - that's the understatement of the year.

All of this makes her many things - a shrewd businesswoman, vain, narcissistic, someone who's profited off her sexuality, someone who may appear to be vapid at a glance. NONE OF THESE THINGS MAKE HER A SLUT. You can disapprove of her in many ways just as long as you aren't inferring she's a lesser being for being naked or being a sexual being. So she's not reading Plato for shiggles (that's shits and giggles, I just made that up) or creating world peace, but she's also not cutting the heads off babies (as far as I'm aware). I hate talking about the woman at all as she gets waaaaaaaay too much press already, but it ties into this whole bullshit-ty situation.

Being hooked on attention, or vain, or shallow or self-obsessed or any other questionable personality trait doesn't make her a slut. It makes her a bit of a plonker, but not a slut. A 'slut' is a patriarchal invention to keep women in their place. What is a slut? Someone who enjoys sex? Someone who enjoys sex but not with the one who desires them? Someone who is sexually active? OH NO, STONE THE WITCH.

Jesus Christ on a unicycle, this is 2016. You can boff who you like, with as many partners as you like, as many times as you like as long as it's consensual. As long as you practice safe sex there's nothing wrong with it (unless you're cheating, naughty!), in fact go at it like a barn door in a force 9 gale. There is no such thing as a slut. I Googled slut and the definition that came up was 'A woman who has many sexual partners.' What do we call a man who has many sexual partners? A stud? Lucky?! Why the double standard? Well we know why, don't we girls? Because a certain type of man really dislikes it when women behave with the freedom of men. And the really sad thing is a lot of women fall into slut-shaming behaviour as they can't see how harmful this crap is to all women. And it doesn't just harm women, because men are taught to consume and dispose of women, that they have to shag around to be a real man, and that if women do the same then they're sluts. It damages us all.

Let's get this clear - who a woman sleeps with, how many people she sleeps with or how often she gets her freak on - does not make her a slut. A woman is no more of a slut in a bikini than she is in head to toe clothing. A woman is most definitely not a slut if you desire her and she doesn't want to have sex with you. There's no such thing as a slut. These are words to try to make people feel less than, and I refuse to let some stick-in-the-mud woman make me feel bad about myself. You shouldn't either. Let's bin words like slut and whore and see them for the crock of shit they are.

Leah xoxo