A little arthritis inspiration for a cold day

I found this little piece about arthritis on Buzzfeed, and I really enjoyed reading it on the way to work while my own joints were complaining about the cold. I don’t often read up on arthritis, as I find it too easy to wallow, but this is rather inspirational (and for people who know people with arthritis too).

Here’s the link if you prefer to copy and paste into your browser:





TFI Black Friday

Black Friday is almost here again, the day when prices are slashed and you’re wondering how you could live without a 24-pack of Sharpies now they have 75% off. Thus I think you have to be careful not to go mental and buy everything that seems like a bargain, or else you can end up spending a lot of money.

So, I’m only going to be tempted by things I have had my eye on anyway (at least that’s the plan). I have had my eye very much on these loafers from Rogue shoes (a company I’ve admired before):

Rogue loafers in Cosmic Black: £165

They’re so pretty! I love the metallic splashes and the chunky heel. I’ve never been a big fan of loafers, I prefer to lace up, but these are so lovely, I can imagine wearing these to work, and with jeans at the weekend. They are also perfect party shoes! I love them.

However, there is a problem… they also come in red:

Rogues loafers in Cosmic Red: £165

Which to choose?! The black would go with more things, but the red is awesome (I love red shoes) and maybe I don’t need to buy more black shoes. They also come in a gold and mint green colourway, which is nice but green doesn’t really go with my wardrobe.

They are also quite expensive (but not poor value — I love my Rogue shoes, and they are worth every penny), but thanks to Black Friday you can get 20% off full price styles with the code: BLACKFRIDAY, saving £33! Woo! Suddenly, they are within the realms of ownable!

Incidentally, while we are covering bargains, these are not eligible for the Black Friday discount but are already a total bargain in the sale:

Pomme gris: £99 (reduced from £185)

I love the pompoms, they are super cute! These would also make excellent party shoes for the festive season!

There will be lots of Black Friday deals on, I know Converse are doing a 20% off tomorrow with the code THANKS20, but if there’s anything else I find particularly interesting I will try to blog it.



Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow (part 1)

As you may have gathered, I spend a lot of time looking at (or as I like to call it, because it makes it seem less weird, researching) shoes. First of all, I like doing it — I find it relaxing; second, I’ve made too many bad shoe choices in the past, so putting the effort in beforehand does save me joint pain later.

So my current obsession is snow boots. My snow boots are great but truly wrecked; I’ve had them for years, and I’ve patched them up with Sugru, but now I think they are beyond saving.

Merrell snow boots: totally ancient. My daughter’s choice of winter footwear in the background (M&S wellies: £14, they go up to a size 6!)

I wear snow boots for walking the dog in the winter, and yes it does seem like overkill to wear snow boots in the UK when it rarely dips below freezing, but arthritic joints do not like the cold or, something the UK has perfected, the damp. Frankly, there can be no overkill when it comes to boots in winter.

My main snow boot criteria are warmth and waterproofness (now a word) — there must be absolutely no water getting in whatsoever, yet still not be restrictive of my movement. A bonus criterion is making me look like Leia on the ice planet Hoth, but this has yet to happen:

Heeled snow boots! That princess’ll go far

So, I’m currently researching, comparing and contrasting boots. I like Merrell footwear, but recently people have been going mad for Sorel. Then, I got an email from Clarks telling me about their winter Trigenic range. TRIGENIC SNOWBOOTS KLAXON!!!. There are two styles, the more walking boot style:

Clarks Tri Arc GTX: £100

and the more snow boot style:

Clarks Tri Aspen GTX: £110

The GTX, as you’re probably aware, stands for Gore-tex, meaning that these boots are totally waterproof. Clarks also have non-Gore-tex winter boots, like the Tri Attract, which are nice and slightly cheaper, but as I said above Waterproofness is key for me.

So of course I set off for Clarks as soon as I could. My local branch only had the Tri Arc, but I figured I could get a good feel for whether the boots would suit my needs.

Nice-looking boot, better in real-life than on the website

First up, the wool lining is super cosy, I don’t think anyone would complain about getting cold feet, and the boot looks good. Being in the trigenic range, they have the wonderful, arthritis-friendly flexing sole that is lightweight and springy. One downside of walking boots are their weight, which can add to the pain, and these shoes have gotten rid of that aspect while still maintaining sturdiness and warmth. These boots would be a great addition to the winter wardrobe of arthritis sufferers.

The more I look at them the more I like them

However (there’s always a however) I wasn’t 100% sold on these. The soles are sturdy, but they are not full-on snow boot level of grip that I get from the Merrells in the top picture, and I wonder how much of a battering these could take. If you mostly walk on grass or track I think these would be fine, but I want something that will cope with flint and cragginess, so I didn’t want to buy them until I had tried on some full-on snow boots. That may be a mistake, because I don’t think these are going to sit around for long.

So if you’re tempted and looking for warm boots, I would get in there and order some, but hopefully I can conclude my research before they all sell out!

It’s beginning to look a lot like Skint-mas

Christmas is coming, and my bank balance isn’t getting fat. This time of year is always expensive, and not just because of Christmas — I have a lot of family birthdays around now, but also people need to invest in winter clothes at this time of year. Maybe a new coat, maybe some more jumpers or warm boots. Winter things are thicker, larger, woollier, and as such I always find myself trying to be a little more frugal.

My old pair of brogues are wearing out, and I although I want to save up for a really lovely pair of Grenson shoes, I feel they may fall apart before that happens.

LUST! Grenson Martha: £205

So, I wanted to set myself a pre-Christmas shoe challenge: could I find a decent pair of leather shoes that I could wear to work, non-sale (so other people could easily find their size), for under £50? Well, I think I have.

OK, so these guys are no Marthas, but the ASOS Mai leather brogues are an attractive shoe and a total steal at £35:

ASOS Mai: £35

They also come in black, grey and my other favourite, tan:

ASOS Mai: £35

Although these are more expensive, I am also very taken with these loafers, the burgundy is a lovely colour:

ASOS Manning: £50

I also really like these loafers from M&S, they are almost verging on boring school-shoes, but the orange rim around the comfortable-looking sole saves them:

M&S loafers: £45

I usually get my brogues from Clarks, but these year I have not been that impressed with the selection. I talked about these gold ones a few months ago, and I was expecting more brogues to come out so I could do a feature, but that just hasn’t happened… the gold ones get an honourable mention, as they definitely could be partied in, but the rest of them are just a bit boring. At £60, they would certainly make me think twice at this time of year:

Clarks Hamble Oak gold: £60

So, I final shout out to some trainers, because I can’t help myself. I try to look at smart shoes, but get drawn by the dark, casual, not-giving-a-**** side. These are leopard, leather and really nice, and probably my favourite out of all of the shoes here:

M&S leather lace-up trainers: £49.50

Hopefully, that can tide everyone over until pay-day!

Let’s talk about socks

As the weather in the UK has suddenly turned a little wintery, this seemed like a good time to talk about something that makes me happy: socks.

Although I lament the passing of summer, I do look forward to the sort of weather that requires an extra layer between the elements and my joints. Socks are a necessity, but they’re also one of the areas that you can get away with some colour and design, even if you have to be suited and sartorially muted for your work dress codes. Channel 4 news presenter Jon Snow is a good example of this. He always looks professional, yet has an amazing sock collection.

Jon Snow: so good they named a Game of Thrones character after him

So, for interesting design my go-to shop is the Swedish company Happy Socks. They are really hard-wearing, my current pairs got worn all the time last winter and they’re still going strong (no toe holes thank you). This is a pity actually, because they always have lots of new designs that I want. Recently they have been doing some collaborations, and I particularly like the Iris Apfel-designed pairs, and these in particular (size 36–40, if anyone is stuck for a Christmas present for me):

Happy Socks Iris Apfel Birds: £10

Iris Apfel is a bit of a legend in my eyes, and although I don’t always readily identify with her look in itself, I love her attitude of dressing how you want, for yourself.

Iris Apfel: legend

Happy socks aren’t all about the eye-popping  bright colours. They also do variations of their brighter colours in muted tones, for people who can’t or don’t like to do colour. The designs are still sharp, however, so they still a good choice for the greyphiles in your life:

Happy Socks Optic: £9

For serious cosiness, I look no further than Catherine Tough for her lambswool socks. Championing hygge before the hipsters got hold of it, these socks are perfect for curling up and snuggling.

Mmmm, schnuggles

The wool socks, which are made in Portugal from Italian wool, come in knee-high or ankle lengths; they are very soft (not itchy at all), and the really nice designs make excellent gifts.

Catherine Tough wool flamingo socks: £20

As they are wool, you do have to look after them a little or they will shrink (I wash mine on the wool cycle in the washing machine), but there really is nothing better on a cold day. She also does a range of silky-soft bamboo socks. Bamboo is lovely, and better for the environment than cotton, but I find it not as hard-wearing so although these are lovely socks, I can’t justify the price:

Catherine Tough pink and grey stripe bamboo: £15

Finally, in winter, I need to be serious about keeping my feet warm or else the misery of a cold arthritic joint permeates my life, and this is never truer than walking my dog, where the dampness of the UK’s famously inclement weather can get through the toughest of layers. I take my walking socks seriously, and I tend to favour Bridgedale:

Put your shoes on woman, I have things to sniff!

These socks are designed for walking so they keep you warm, but they also wick moisture for when you get going. They’re also very supportive and never rub. I prefer the merino fusion for general walking in cooler weather:

Bridgedale merino hiker: reduced from £17 to £8.50

If it’s very cold, I also have pairs of mountaineering socks. It may seem like overkill, but my feet value toastiness. The thickness of these socks means you can’t wear them with your usual shoes, but I always size up in my snow boots (and I will talk about these later) to accommodate thicker socks:

Bridgedale mountain ski socks: £22

£22 is a lot of money to pay for a pair of socks, but I have Bridgedale winter socks that are 14 years old, and they are still going strong. The average marriage in the UK lasts 11 years 6 months, so there we go, better value than a spouse and less likely to complain about your smelly feet.