Tag Archives: books I love

Stories from The Odyssey

The Odyssey - Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

Back in the day I was a total charity shop/vintage lover bandit. I adored a good old rummage through the myriad shops in Rochester and had some fantastic vintage hauls indeed. 

My tastes have changed somewhat in the intervening years, and to be perfectly honest I got a little tired of seeing the same-old-same-old. As soon as my purse allowed, I stopped shopping there quite so much, moving much more to online shopping. 

I was recently reminded of the joys of ‘thrifting’, when last week I was compelled to visit our local Oxfam after lunch with Mr H. I stumbled across this lovely version of classic Greek myth The Odyssey. I happen to be teaching it to my class at the moment, but there is also something I’ve found personally quite fascinating about Greek Mythology, so I snapped up this lovely copy, for a mere £2.49. 

It’s now sitting on my bedside table, waiting for me to jump aboard and join in with its adventures. Roll on these Autumn evenings and early nights I say!

Living Brave :: 3 Weeks In

As I mentioned in my post on COURAGEworks, I’m currently in the middle of a course on vulnerability, created by the wonderful Brené Brown.

You may not be as into self-helpy stuff as I am, but if you are at all interested, do read on. I’m usually turned off by things that claim to have the secret to ‘changing your life’ or ‘unlock wealth’, but I am very pleased to report that this course promises neither.

This class is about “being brave, and showing up in our own lives”. It’s about recognising that vulnerability is the root of all human connection, creativity and joy in our  lives. It’s crazy when you think about it.

I’ve always been an open person, in fact I think this blog is testament to that fact. There ain’t much I ain’t willing to share, to be honest, but something that’s rung true for me in the last lesson or so, is that being such an open book isn’t always being wholehearted and vulnerable. I’m learning so far to think whether the people have earned the right to hear my story, and what is my intention in sharing parts of myself.  Maybe it’s time to hold back a little.

This certainly isn’t a way of saying I’m no longer posting here – in fact it’s the opposite. There’s nothing here that I’m embarrassed about or wouldn’t want people to see. But in my personal and professional lives, I’m going to *try* and remember the truth of being wholehearted and vulnerable, and live those values as best I can.

So, in short, the course is great. It’s thrown up a few questions for me that I haven’t yet answered, and that is exactly what I hoped it would do!


Wedding Roundup – Hair, Makeup & Getting Ready

Lo and behold! I’m still alive! I have finally recovered from the spiritual shock of a new year of full time teaching, and so now I have managed to pull together the inner strength to start regularly posting again. It is now time for full-on wedding posts.

Because this is my blog, I get to focus on…well…me…so I’m going to kick of my series of wedding roundups with the morning when the bridal party got ready.

Before we get stuck into all the photos, of which there are many. I want to remind you of a little company called We Heart Pictures. I introduced you to Hector and Charlie last year, and in all honesty, I cannot think of anyone who would have done a better job with our photos. We are so unbelievably happy. You’ll see why:

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It took me a little while to decide, but I eventually budgeted to have my makeup and hair done by the wonderful team at Lipstick & Curls. I am not going to lie, it was a big expense, but I thought for quite a long time about it before I committed. In the end, I decided it was worth it, as they’re a brand I know and trust, and there may not have been another occasion for which I could justify using them!

My stylist was Hannah, who was hilarious, patient and talented. If you’re lucky enough to meet her in the future, you’re in for a real treat. She was joined on the day by Anneka, who did the hair and makeup for my bridal party.

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That morning, my Mama presented me with my “something blue”. It was a little blue box, from a tiny jewellery company called Tiffany & Co. You might have heard of them? The delicate heart bracelet you can see was my gift. I’ve taken to wearing it every day now.

My lovely sister and best friend N bought the whole group (even my bridesman S!) our robes as a surprise present. The soft cream jersey was actually quite comforting on the day, and the delicate embroidery on the sleeve was a lovely bridal detail. I’ve always loved the look of a bridal party wearing matching robes, so their thoughtful surprise made me give a squeal of delight!

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I truly loved having everyone get ready with me. It was exciting, but also a strangely calm morning. I had a stellar bunch of brides-people around me, proffering croissants and fresh coffee in my general direction whenever they had the chance. What more could a bride ask for?

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These photos also make me look at my house in a new light. The week before the wedding we had some plastering done (big mistake – don’t do it to yourself) and I had been feeling thoroughly fed up with the whole place. Seeing it look so charming in these photos, however, has won it a place in my good books once again.

Wedding 0033 Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha Wedding 0032 Hello Sam Goodbye SamanthaDoesn’t my Mama have the most wonderful smile?

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Getting ready is evidently a very serious business. I had very serious eyebrows, and I loved every bit of them.

Even though we started before 9, we were all of a sudden running a little bit late! With a 10 minute walk into town ahead of us, it wasn’t long before I had to hop into my dress quick smart, with Hannah strategically arranging my hair clips and veil at the very last minute.

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The big event awaited us!

Six Nice Things

My wedding is getting closer and closer and instead of freaking out, I’ve decided to enjoy myself. These are some nice things that have happened to me this week:

My New Bag - Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha My New Books - Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha Beach Hut in Whitstable - Friday in Whitstable - Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha Friday in Whitstable - Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha My New Sewing Machine - Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha Sam Quilt Feet at Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

  1. A new leather bag, from Sainsbury’s no less! Gen-yoo-ine leather too! Note the scrabble keyring, it’s pretty nifty.
  2. I’ve been on a bit of a Virginia Woolf binge since seeing Woolf Works at the Royal Opera House. Mind. Blowing. I’ve got here a biography of the lady (how divine is that portrait!), Mrs Dalloway and some further short stories. Bliss.
  3. Beach huts are just absolutely gorgeous. This one made me smile.
  4. Sunshine on the Whitstable beach today, before the weather did that singularly English thing of turning freezing cold and then pissing it down. Ah, Britain.
  5. My new love of life. A friend was selling her wonderful computerised machine for a great price and so I snapped it up. It’s a beaut.
  6. Piecing out my wedding quilt. I am not a meticulous person in the strict sense of the word, so it’s coming out slightly wobbly, but hey, it gives it a certain charm, non?

What’s been making your heart sing recently?

I’ve Always Depended on the Kindness of Friends

Blurry, but in an artistic way. Right?

A very nice thing happened to me the weekend before last. My friend Natalie gave me that there book. Just Kids, by Patti Smith is an amazing memoir of her time and adventures with Robert Mapplethorpe. I haven’t finished reading it yet, but will report back with an in depth review in the not too distant future.

Anyone who has met me will know that a book is my ideal gift (it keeps on giving), and I was struck that Nat had so easily given me the gift of friendship as well, disguised as a book.

Thanks Nat. I’m glad to know you.

Moscow, Paris….Rochester

A spot of Saturday opportunity shopping never goes astray. I’ve inherited the gene from ma mere, although I’m certain she’ll attest to the fact that I simply loathed op-shopping growing up. It was the smell, and the endless racks of creepy early 90’s lingerie that I couldn’t imagine anyone wanting EVER. I still shudder at the thought.
But I can think of at least three experiences where I pointed and laughed at items that would now be hugely desirable and uber-cool-retro-vintage. I pointed and laughed and walked the hell away. I wasn’t ready for that jelly. Oh how times have changed. I give you, my latest spoils:
Heaven is Russian literature and French lessons on vinyl! I haven’t read Anna Karenina before, but I’ll be proud to while away the bus journey holding this sumptuous edition. Look at it! Doesn’t it whisper sweet literary nothings in thine ears?
I definitely pranced home holding these beauties in my hot little hands. I had visions of perfecting my shamefully rusty French, or at the very least getting a number of satisfactorily vintage sayings under one’s precisely pinned hat. There was the slight fear that it would be another well-intentioned purchase that sits, unhappy and neglected (although absurdly attractively) atop one’s bookcase, but non. This time was to be different, amis, this time I would rise to the occasion and LEARN something, dammit.
Everything was right with the world…..UNTIL…quelle horreur mes amis! QUELLE. The records are 78s. I have as 33/45 player so the distinguished chap on the recording sounds like he’s taking the piss “FRrrrraaaaaaaaaaaaancaiseeeeeeeer”. Quel dommage, but not to worry, I’m sure there’s beaucoup de 78 players lurking in the shops of Kent. There must be, dammit, or I really have recommitted the mortal sin of buying something romantically useless. This I cannot abide.
But not to worry, amis, this is just one more reason to continue on the charity shop prowl, non?

The Reality Blues

Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha Rochester

I’m back online after what feels like an age without a computer – mine has given up the ghost following an unfortunate incident with Dettol and someone-who-shall-not-be-named. Luckily we were able to back up the data, but essentially my motherboard is corroded to oblivion and beyond and so has essentially made it’s way to Macbook heaven. Sighburger.

Oh well. So I’m on a borrowed laptop and getting used to weird touchpads! So I’ve spent the last couple of hours catching up on blog love. What this has resulted in is a serious case of blog/life envy. That horrid beast.

It’s part pain part pleasure – I love blogs like I loved magazines. I adore looking and reading beautiful things, but when the article ends somehow I feel my life isn’t quite up to scratch. What am I doing wrong? Why am I working a job that doesn’t pay as well as hers? Why does my house look more charity-shop-cheap than retro-vintage-stylin’? Why why WHY? It seems violently unfair.

So I go a little deeper. Of course people blog the best bits of their life – I’m guilty of it too! I want to be seen as having a marvellous charmed life, and to the most part I do. I write for an amazing magazine, I make things, I dress up old-style and I love and have someone who loves me. But the other part exists too. The part where I can’t be bothered to brush my teeth, or my iron is covered in black crap and my skin is thowing a mutiny in a prime position just to spite me. Life isn’t perfect, and neither am I. This blog isn’t perfect, but I’m hoping it reflects a part of me and my life.

Earlier in the year I read How To Be A Woman by Caitlin Moran. I was ready not to get caught up in the hype, but in honesty I found it incredibly moving and reassuring. I’d forgotten that being a woman means being so many different things, but being accountable to yourself has to be right up the top. It was a real celebration of feminism, and something I would proudly recommend. In a way it gave me permission (horrible as that seems!) to actually be a real, three-dimensional person and let people see my flaws. It’s horrendous pretending to be perfect and you always fail.

My life is really amazing. At the moment it feels like six lives, and I admit that I am struggling to keep them all under the one roof. A really important life of mine has become incredibly demanding recently and I feel a bit as if I’m drowning under the weight of my own expectations. I hate not feeling in control, or at the very least competent and I’m not feeling that way now. So I need to readjust my priorities and focus a little more on that life right now. Change is coming, and this too shall pass.

So this is my mission statement to you: on this blog, you’re going to see the excellent bits of my life. You’re going to see the funs things I do, and the great experiences I have. But you’re also (probably) going to hear about it when things don’t quite go so right, or when I embarrass myself or even when I fail, look ugly, or god-forbid look fat. Because sometimes I do all of those things, but I also manage to have a fucking good time. Isn’t that what it’s all about in the end?

She of the the creative nature (in a vague and general way)

She of the the creative nature (in a vague and general way)
scuse the blurry pictures – haste!
Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha Felt Journal
For the first time since 1878 I actually remembered to get something for my sister’s birthday. Hoh! – not only did I get something, I made her a gift. Hoh! indeed!
This felt baby was a labour of love, and inspired by the second-to-most-recent copy of Mollie Makes Magazine. I saw the picture of the old fashioned camera and was hooked. The idea wormed it’s way into me and I had to do it. I envisaged it, and then proceeded to make it (questionable syntax be damned).
I think it looks effing great. I was so proud of it. It was something that I would buy (god forbid), and I sent it off to Australia with pride.
And Royal Mail lost it.
It never arrived. Some bastard somewhere has got this beautiful journal that I slaved over for my big sis. I waited and waited for it to arrive, but I eventually had to text her a picture of what she had been deprived of. I could feel her grief radiate through the internet (grief, or disinterest – sometimes it’s hard to tell) and her wails of sorrow hurt the very fibres of my soul.
So obviously I have to make another one for her, one even bigger and better than before. But I think it’s only fair that the world know how great it was. I was so proud *sob*.
There are several things to be said about being creative – and creative in a way that doesn’t mean wearing eccentric scarves – creative in a way where you create things that weren’t there before. It’s thrillifying and satisfying and empowering.

We’re going to include these babies in the bunted! catalogue very soon, and I’ve been doodling like a woman possessed creating designs for future covers. It’s excellent fun. Buy one from me immediately. Ta.

On Green Dolphin Street

Luckily for me, and not to mention your goodselves, I realised I couldn’t legitimately call myself a blogger if I didn’t use Instagram. So I recently scurried off to er, my phone and downloaded that lovely app. Just for you my sweets – is a badly taken, yet effortlessly cool picture of a bloody good book

It’s not a secret to those who have heard me speak about books in the last while (well, the last ‘ever’ really) that Sebastian Faulks is my favourite author. It all started with a Cate Blanchett film about WWII France, and I was hooked.

On Green Dolphin Street is a novel about an English couple, Charlie and Mary Van der Linden, living in quite-recently-post-McCarthy Washington. Charlie is an entertaining alcoholic diplomat slowly sinking into the void, and Mary is his inimitable wife. Their life seems lovely, if slightly fraying around the edges, yet both their worlds seem to change irrevocably after the arrival of journalist Frank Renzo.

I don’t want to give too much away, although I’m not sure I can help it – but if there is one thing that Faulks can write about, it’s passion. I find myself consistently groaning with the sheer weight of emotion in his books, and it would be almost too much to bear if it wasn’t so utterly lovely, so delicious and so life-affirming.

Most of my experience of Faulks has been through his French Trilogy of Birdsong, The Girl at the Lion D’Or and Charlotte Gray (that’s the Cate one!) and I thought it was the French aspect that made me swoon each time. I’m a raging Francophile, and I always associated the lingering romanticism of France with Faulks’ writing. But this time, the setting couldn’t be further away from that, and it goes to show – me at least – that the boy has style.

I think this book, perhaps more so than the French books Faulks has written, will inspire deep chats with chums. It was challenging without being didactic or overly sentimental. I highly recommend a read.