Shock! Horror! Second-Hand Tales goes first-hand shopping!!

 

shopping bags

I have a confession to make…. I actually went first-hand shopping! This is something which probably happens a couple of times a year for me. Last year I bought a gorgeous black jumpsuit with my Christmas money and I have not regretted it once.

But the reason for my first-hand shopping this time is because I have a new grown up job!!  At the beginning of this month I started working (part-time) as Heritage Publicity Officer for The Roman Baths, Fashion Museum Bath & Victoria Art Gallery!!! I cannot tell you how exciting this is! It has been a long time in the waiting (I originally applied for a similar job a couple of years ago but needed to update my skills. There then followed 22 months of fruitless job applications and interviews, digital marketing courses and voluntary work placements).

Of course a new job means a slightly updated (and smarter) wardrobe. Hence I dipped my toes into the relatively unknown territory of First-Hand Shopping. My knowledge of shopping in Bath is shaped by the location of second-hand shops. I make a beeline for Walcot Street,George Street, Westgate St, the charity shops on Argyle St/Pulteney Bridge and the Dorothy House shop opposite M&S.

But High Street store shopping means following a completely different route – and not one that I am very familiar with. I wrote this post here about how I am only familiar with High Street labels if I have bought them second-hand.

Anyway I had a list of very sensible items of clothing that I needed to buy for my new job and really struggled to find any of them! In the end I picked up these two tops and a pair of black ankle boots (all in the sale as I still like a bargain!)

black polo neck and white lace blous

The black polo neck is from Apricot and a wardrobe ‘classic’. I had to be very disciplined when shopping this time and only purchase wardrobe staples. I also had a sensible white shirt on my shopping list but couldn’t find one I liked anywhere. Instead I opted for the white high collar blouse from Marks & Spencer. Funnily enough one of my first jobs in post is to publicise the Fashion Museum’s ‘Lace in Fashion’ exhibition so the lace detail on the blouse makes it very apt!

The black boots had been on my list for a while and, having failed to find any second-hand, I was fortunate enough to be able to purchase them from Debenhams for just £15.

But that was the extent of my excursion! Having undertaken my First-Hand Shopping expedition I just realised that:

1. When you get to your forties (and I suspect even earlier) you realise that most clothes shops look the same.

2. Second-hand shops aren’t always cheaper (esp when compared to some High Street stores) but the clothes on their racks tend to be longer lasting and even better quality.

3. Second-hand shopping allows you to dress individually.

4. I just prefer second-hand/charity shops, and in cities such as Bath there isn’t always that much to choose between the look and contents of these stores as compared to High Street stores.

5. As long as your clothes are clean and smart you really can dress second-hand for work.

What about you? Do you wear second-hand for work? Do you think it depends on what type of work you do?

 

Thrifty Finds

This week’s Thrifty Finds

 

This Week's Thrifty Finds via secondhandtales.wordpress.comLast Tuesday I celebrated my birthday and on Saturday we had a trip to London to scour the vintage shops on Brick Lane. Still, I was very restrained when it came to second hand shopping and thrifty finds:

1.I celebrated my birthday with a trip to browse the Bath Christmas Market and lunch with my husband. We also visited some of our favourite charity shops and picked up two great Christmas gifts for our kids: The first series of ‘The Walking Dead’ graphic novel for my eldest who is a HUGE fan and a Harry Potter board game for our middle daughter who is currently devouring the books!

2. While in the charity shop my husband also picked up this great B52s album for £3

Secondhand vinyl B52s

3. I did a little more Christmas shopping later in the week and got some gifts using my Boots Advantage points which I had saved all year for. I basically got three toiletry gift sets for free, plus two large boxes of Celebration chocolates and some little Malteser chocolates.

4. I defrosted some of the baking from the previous weekend to give as gifts.

5. On Saturday we had a day in London, and my husband and I went to Brick Lane to browse the great vintage shops and markets there. We visited the cavernous Brick Lane Market and other vintage stores such as Beyond Retro and Hunky Dory. Despite a lot of browsing I only bought one thing: a £1 purple shawl to wear to a friend’s birthday party (the theme is wear something purple)

£1 purple shawl

How is your Christmas shopping going? Have you purchased any #thriftyfinds for gifts?

You can also share your Thrifty Finds on my facebook page, or use #thriftyfinds on Twitter or instagram

Autumnal Colours and a new-look Charity Shop in Bath

Autumnal colours, the second-hand way via secondhandtales.wordpress.com

Yesterday I took myself into Bath: my nearest city and favourite haunt for second-hand goodies. [Note to self: I must update my second-hand shopping in Bath post here, which is now two years old]

I was delighted to see that the Save the Children shop on Walcot Street had received a very impressive update.

Save the Children charity shop, Bath (before the revamp)

Save the Children charity shop, Bath (before the revamp)

The interior was awash with stripped floorboards, wooden crates and clean white spaces. I had the distinct feeling I had walked inside a Fat Face or White Stuff store. Some of their (donated) clothing was even hanging from the beautifully curated rails. Every item was on a wooden hanger and the colour coordination was a feast for the eyes. I felt instantly drawn to the blacks and silvers, with thoughts of dressing for Christmas parties on the cheap.

The shop floor was spacious and the clothing on display was cleverly selected to show a range of high-end stores and good quality high street designs, with just enough on the rails to allow you to browse comfortably.

I spotted a couple of White Stuff skirts but was disappointed that they didn’t fit. At £7 each I didn’t think they were overpriced too. In fact my one final purchase at the store, a Top Shop jumper, only cost me £4.

(second-hand) burnt orange Top Shop jumper, bought from Save the Children charity shop in Bath via secondhandtales.wordpress.com

I happened to stumble upon the Save the Children shop’s opening day and the store seemed constantly busy. When I popped along later in the afternoon to see if I could persuade the White Stuff skirt to fit me, it had gone. The lady in front of me spend £120, although I’m not sure how as the clothing was reasonably priced.

The burnt orange jumper has become an instant favourite and autumnal colours must have been on my mind. I picked up this burgundy M&S top from The Shaw Trust shop on George St for a bargain £2.50.

second-hand burgundy top

I did also pick up two pairs of new tights, in matching orange and plum, but I’m very pleased my second-hand purchases only came to £6.50 (The Flower Fairy book was picked up at the bookstall at our village May Fair here)

charity shop labels via secondhandtales.wordpress.com

I was really impressed with the new-look Save the Children shop, as I know they have struggled in the past to stay open and are still in need of volunteers. I can’t even begin to stress what an important charity this is (working with children in Syria and refugees in the Mediterranean: see here). Their new store now ranks them among the other vintage-style charity shop boutiques that have opened up in Bath (Dorothy House; Julian House’s vintage section), but also marks a divide between those charity shops that can afford the refits and the rest…..

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PS I’ve been thinking of running a regular slot on this blog to share our ‘Thrifty Finds’. Not just second-hand purchases, but also making use of things we already have (food, fabric scraps,old clothes), and when we choose not to buy. Lovely readers, what are your thoughts?

Second-hand vinyl: bagging a bargain with The Police

bagging a vinyl bargain at Dorothy House shop, Bath via secondhandtales.wordpress.com

Last Monday I found myself with a little spare time in Bath. For me, this means time to browse the charity shops, searching for second-hand goodies. Even if I’m not in the mood to search for clothes, there are always books and records to flick through.

As vinyl has become more popular, many of the second-hand shops in Bath have started to dedicate some of their space to used records. As well as the Oxfam Book and Record shop there is the Dorothy House book, furniture and vinyl store on Broad Street. I’m a great fan of the Dorothy House shops which support this local hospice charity. They have really upped their game in the charity shopping stakes, opening their vintage store and coffee house, ’76’, in Bath last year (see my post here). If you’re on instagram check them out dorothyhouseshops : they post lots of pictures of their second-hand goodies.

What I love about their book and record shop is the retro listening booth:

retro listening booth: Dorothy House Shop, Bath via secondhandtales.wordpress.com

And they have some bargain price records on sale too. As it was a Monday I picked up this classic The Police album for just £2!

The Police: Synchronicity album (second-hand)

Released in 1983, ‘Synchronicity’ won three Grammys and was named Rolling Stone’s ‘album of the year’. It features ‘Every Breath You Take’ (the creepy stalking song that people think is really romantic), ‘King of Pain’ and ‘Wrapped Around Your Finger’.

In 1983 I was obsessed with Duran Duran and thought that The Police was an old band. I didn’t pay much attention to them and have to admit that, in my eyes, Sting’s later solo stuff has rather tarnished their reputation. But listening to this album I realise just how good they were. A while ago I was given a second-hand copy of their 1981 album, ‘Ghost in the Machine’, which, unfortunately, was too scratched to listen to. Having picked up ‘Synchronicity’, though, I think I’m going to add this earlier album to my wish list too.

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Some retail (charity) therapy and a denim bargain!

Last week I found myself with some unexpected spare time in Bath. Whenever I have time to myself and I’m in town I find myself wandering around the charity shops (see here for my guide to secondhand shopping in Bath).

I don’t always expect to buy something in these stores but I love to browse. Although charity shopping is a fraction of the cost of High Street stores (except perhaps Primark and H&M) I am still careful about what I buy. Having flirted with Project 333 for a while I am still strict about what clothes I wear and buy. The danger of charity shops is that you can end up with an armful of clothes that you are a) never going to realistically wear and b) never going to realistically fit into!

I don’t have much on my mental shopping list at the moment but I have wanted to pick up a shirt dress. I have somehow got into denim this year and, while still transforming old jeans into a skirt (nearly there) have been thinking about a denim dress. I recently spotted this one in Fat Face for £45:

 

Fat Face Denim Dress

On my trip to Bath I had wondered about popping into Fat Face to see if it was reduced in the sale but, lo and behold, the British Heart Foundation shop on Green Street came up trumps. I picked up this brilliant Dorothy Perkins denim dress for just £5!

£5 denim dress

Needless to say it has now become a wardrobe staple and can be worn with lots of layers, leggings, jumpers and shirts. It is also hard wearing and even came on a camping trip last weekend.

It has also sparked my interest in denim and I have added a denim jacket and denim dungarees to my mental shopping list. Whether I can pick them up for a bargain fiver each will remain to be seen…

In the meantime the inspirational Samantha from the Fake Fabulous blog has this post here about wearing denim to work.

Charity shop haul

Last week I went to Bath, searching for a few summer pieces for my latest attempt at Project 333. Because I’m still trying to stick to the 33 items in my wardrobe I find I have to be more specific when shopping and go with an actual shopping list. However as I buy second-hand this can be frustrating as each charity shop has very different stock.

This season’s list went something like this:

– blue long sleeved t-shirt

– White long sleeved t-shirt (to replace an old one)

– blue pinafore dress

– grey or black t-shirt

the chances of finding all of these in my size and at a good price were pretty slim. Yet the charity shop gods were shining down on me because I managed to buy this lot:

Charity shop haulOkay so the khaki shirt wasn’t on the list but it will fit very well with other items in my wardrobe and I’m in need of a lightweight summer shirt (£4.99 from Oxfam).  The other three items were all on my list: blue long sleeved top (£4 from Dorothy House); grey t-shirt (£1.99 from Oxfam) and this absolute gem:

Charity shop haul: dress from The White Company

 

This blue linen pinafore originally came from The White Company but I picked it up from Oxfam. It cost £10.99 which is quite pricey for second-hand but, considering a brand new dress would retail for £90 from The White Company, it’s still a bargain. It’s also v comfy, fits well and is very versatile (something I need my clothes to be when restricting myself to 33 items). There was also a matching grey pinafore on sale but I decided I only needed one. It would have been greedy to buy a second one and I wanted someone else to share in the delight of finding a beautiful dress at a bargain price.

 

Christmas Markets and Black Friday: the Christmas shopping frenzy has begun

Yesterday saw the start of our annual Christmas Market in Bath. The market has been running for well over ten years and now has 180 stalls comprised of local businesses and craftspeople.

The market has grown incredibly over the past few years and now German-style chalets seem to take over most of the side streets around Bath’s Abbey and central squares.

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I like the fact that it is a showcase for local businesses and charities (including the local hospital appeal, homeless charities and hospice charities). I also started working yesterday at my friend’s shop which is located in the heart of the market and which will benefit greatly from the shopping event.

However as I wondered around yesterday I couldn’t help thinking how,  before the market, is over on 14th December it will become an overcrowded, fraught place. While it is a showcase for local artisans and small businesses I did ask myself how many Christmas baubles a person really needs to buy.

But the busy-ness of Bath Christmas Market is nothing in comparison to the madness of Black Friday which is happening today. Imported from the US this takes place on the day after Thanksgiving when retailers reduce their prices to kick start Christmas shopping. In the States most people take Friday off as Thursday is a public holiday and I guess there is more of a ‘tradition’ to the event. Over the last couple of years Black Friday has become more of an event in the UK with large retailers reducing items and people marking this by having punch ups on the shop floor.

I guess because I’m still in a de-cluttering, minimalist phase I feel rather ambivalent towards Christmas shopping this year. I have a sneaky feeling that if I’m not careful all the clutter I am clearing from our house will reappear next month. So far I have stuck to my small budget and am buying a combination of new, and second-hand, presents. I would also like to try my hand at some handmade gifts as well.

However I have to confess that some of my purchases have taken place in larger stores (including Primark – my first trip into Bath’s latest shop) and online through Amazon. I know not all of these are ethical so feel slightly hypocritical. But, no matter what, I’m determined to stay away from all shops and online retailers today.

Instead I will save my pennies for some local Christmas Fairs and Small Business Saturday on 6 December. I’ll also be following the Money Advice Service’s Have a Savvy Christmas programme with advice on budgeting for the festive season. And with that in mind I will also be following Buy Nothing Day tomorrow (29th) which is easy as I’ll be at work (although I will be encouraging people to buy coffee and cake at our Arts Centre cafe).

the-more-you-consume-the-less-you-live

 

Do you sell or give away unwanted items?

I guess this question is sort of the reverse of what this blog is about. That is I have been trying to chronicle my love of all things that are acquired second-hand. This can be from charity shops, jumble sales, or online sites such as Freecycle or Freegle.

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A beautiful pile of clothes recently given to us by a friend

But when people are generous enough to donate their unwanted items to these outlets does it go against ‘second-hand etiquette’ to sell these things at a later date?

I previously posted here about my failed attempts at online selling, through both Ebay (selling a maternity dress for 99p) and local facebook sites.   The inspirational Annie from Kinder by the Day  recently blogged about Random Acts of Kindness that are free to do. One of them was letting people get a bargain on Ebay, which is a refreshing alternative to the drive to make a profit from selling on this site.

With three daughters I am the lucky recipient of bags of clothes from friends. Those items that are not needed are passed onto others, given to charity shops or donated through clothing banks. A friend recently gave us some beautiful clothes from Joules and Monsoon. Because I know she is a very generous person, and to save the embarassment of a conversation about giving her some money for them, I texted her later to say I’d made a small donation to Save the Children as a roundabout way of saying thank you.

Yet as I write I am also attempting to sell some good quality  clothes that were given as gifts, and the girls have now outgrown. As it didn’t cost me anything to buy these clothes is it right that I try to make money from selling them? I am also going against my previous promises and planning to keep any money I make.

Yet a recent trip to Bath showed that charity shops in the city are looking for stock, and they are not the only ones (see here). With easy access to online selling sites and so many of us strapped for cash is it right that we overlook these outlets when getting rid of unwanted items? Or should we all be doing our bit to complete the circle and make sure that when we purchase from them we also donate?

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Second-Hand Shopping in Bath (Part Two)

As promised – a while ago – here is the (shorter) Part Two of shopping in Bath.

This week, now that the children are back at school, I took myself off to Bath. I shouldn’t have bought anything but I seemed to come home with a couple of new (to me) purchases.

The first item I bought was from the Dorothy House shop on Argyle Street (previously posted about here).  A few months ago I bought a gorgeous burgundy sleeveless dress from this shop and then proceeded to shrink it as I hadn’t read the label! Well I encountered another burgundy coloured pinafore dress (originally from Next) and found myself buying it. This time I’m going to check the label!

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On this tour of Bath I headed towards Milsom Street (Bath’s central shopping street, north of the new Southgate Shopping Centre and home of Jollys department store and a few more upmarket boutiques). At the top of Milsom Street it joins George Street. On the left hand side of this street are two charity shop gems.

The first is the Shaw Trust shop. This charity helps people with disabilities enter the world of work. It has  shops throughout England and Wales and even has its own ebay shop. It also has a small range of garden shops (my nearest one is in Trowbridge where I’ve picked up plants at good prices). The Shaw Trust shop in Bath used to have a vintage rail, long before other local charity shops created their own vintage areas. In the past I have picked up very reasonably priced trousers by Donna Karan and Ralph Lauren from here. Alas, the vintage rail is no longer here and I’m not so sure that the wealthy of Bath are donating to this store as much. In fact the window display highlighted the need for donations: a theme that was echoed in many of the other charity shops I visited, as well as vacancies for volunteer help.

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On this week’s visit to the shop I had one of those Shopping Moments where a) you see something that screams to you ‘buy me’, b) you try it on, it fits perfectly and – despite the price and all sense – you buy it. In this case, even though I wasn’t looking for one, I came home with a brand new orange swing coat (originally from Sainsburys Tu range). Even the thought of wearing it with the new burgundy pinafore makes me smile…

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After I’d given myself a good talking to about not buying stuff I don’t need  (even if it is second-hand) I popped next door to the Oxfam Boutique,  located on the corner of George Street and Gay Street. This Oxfam store transformed into a Boutique a few years ago, showcasing high-end, good quality clothing and, at one time, one-off recycled designs created by local fashion students. There are Oxfam Boutiques in half a dozen locations around the country and it seems to fit in perfectly with Bath. The interior of the shop, with its ample space and Georgian features, make browsing a pleasant experience. I have yet to find something that I really like – or can afford – here but it’s always worth a look.

One more high end second-hand shop in Bath that is worth mentioning is downhill from Gay Street.  Just off Queen Square and down the quaint cobbled street that is Queen Street is Scarlet Vintage. This second-hand clothing shop buys and sells some beautiful clothes. The prices are out of my range but it is a gorgeous shop and in such a lovely setting.

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Back on the main shopping route is Westgate Street, home to the last two charity shops I want to mention. The Cancer Research Shop has a good selection of clothing, some bric a brac and a small book and record section. Having recently acquired a record player I’m on the lookout for second-hand vinyl.

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Across the road is the PDSA shop, a smaller charity shop that is worth stopping by.

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The one shop that I havent featured in the second part of this store is the only charity shop that is located close by the new Southgate shopping Centre in Bath. The Oxfam Book Shop is a treasure trove of second hand books, including rare editions, and vinyl. As I begin my search for second-hand LPs I am sure I will be posting more on this shop and similar ones in Bath in the future.

Apologies if there are any other second-hand city-centre shops that I have missed. If you do get the chance to explore other areas of Bath I would highly recommend Widcombe (just south of the river and a short walk from the Railway Station: there are a couple of second-hand clothing shops here), Larkhall (a thriving area to the east of the city with some great independent stores and the Mercy in Action charity shop) and Moorland Road/Oldfield Park to the south (home to a couple of charity shops).

Well that has exhausted the shoe leather – hope this guide (and the first part) are of interest but do let me know if there are any other gems I have missed.

Second-Hand Shopping in Bath (Part One)

Bath is great for shopping (even Jane Austen thought so) but I prefer the second-hand sort, rather than department stores and overpriced boutiques. As it’s my nearest shopping centre I tend to visit quite a lot and so hope this will be the first of a couple of posts on charity shopping in Bath city centre, and beyond.  I recently took a morning off from being a mum and travelled into Bath to explore Walcot Street, Broad Street and Pulteney Bridge/Argyle Street.

Walcot Street is know as the arty bit of Bath and there are lots of independent and artistic shops along the road (as well as some good cafes for a coffee stop, such as Sam’s Kitchen and Made by Ben and not forgetting to stop for a pint at the wonderful Bell Inn).

At the bottom of the road, just beyond Waitrose, is Save the Children which had a very colourful window display:

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Be warned that Walcot Street (like much of Bath) is on a hill but there are plenty of second-hand shops to keep you distracted. Further along is the Julian House shop:

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Julian House is the local homeless charity and it operates two shops in Bath. I really like the Walcot Street one as it has lots of clothes (including a vintage rail) and a large book department.  The other charity shop along Walcot Street is run by the Bath Women’s Refuge. It has been on Walcot Street for quite a few years (certainly the 15 years I’ve lived in and around the city) and is literally piled high with clothes, children’s books and toys and dvds. It is rather a fight to discover things amongst the rails and piles but can offer some great finds:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Although it’s a climb right to the top of the road, Jack & Danny’s is the original Walcot Street vintage shop, well worth the visit. Inside is a treasure trove of men and women’s clothing. You may have to work your way through the racks but there is something for every occasion. Many years ago I picked up an early 1970s halter neck dress for a 60s/70s summer party.

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At the other end of the street (and on the level) is another vintage clothing store. The Yellow Shop also sells a range of new labels. A bit farther along from the Yellow Shop is the small Saturday Market which sells some second-hand clothing (not pictured).

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Running parallel to Walcot Street is the shorter Broad Street which is really worth a visit. As well as being home to Rossiters Department Store,  Cath Kidston and a few high end boutiques it has a couple of second-hand shops. At the moment my favourite shop in Bath is this Dorothy House shop. It has a real vintage feel to it and appears to be aimed at people who are looking specifically for vintage, or designer, clothing. Back in the summer I bought a wonderful playsuit here which became my favourite holiday outfit. While the clothes can be pricier than regular charity shops they are still real bargains compared to the rest of the High Street.

Further along Broad Street is the Black and White Shop. This operates as a dress agency and is packed with some beautiful clothing, accessories and shoes. I recently picked up a slinky evening dress for a friend’s cocktail party for £24.

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Almost opposite the Black and White shop is Broad Street car park and if you cut through this you find yourself in a small alleyway that houses Bath’s original vintage store: Vintage to Vogue.  Before vintage was a buzzword this shop was selling clothes from bygone eras. About ten years ago I picked up a beautiful matching dress and coat in a delicate duck egg colour. This has been my staple outfit for nearly every wedding and christening since.

The other area I tend to browse in is located in an area just off the bottom of Walcot Street, past Waitrose. While Pulteney Bridge is one of only two bridges in the world that has shops located on it (the other being the Ponte Vecchio in Florence), it is also home to two great charity shops. Well the actual address is Argyle Street and they are just off the other end of Pulteney Bridge. This Dorothy House branch sells more traditional charity shop clothing than the one on Broad Street. I picked up a great red dress from Warehouse earlier this year then proceeded to shrink it (see here).

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A couple of shops further along is Oxfam which, again, is of the more traditional style Oxfam shop. (There is also an Oxfam Boutique in Bath city centre which I will blog about in Part Two). I have picked up some bargains in this Oxfam shop and here I think is the reason why Bath is so good for charity shopping: it is an affluent city (although not in every part) and people donate good quality, high-end clothing. While some charity shops have caught onto this and now charge quite expensive prices these are still cheaper than the High Street price. Plus the clothing tends to last for a long time (unless you shrink/iron holes in it!)

While I feel uncomfortable taking ‘selfies’ I did end up buying the blue dress and have had quite a few complements when I’ve worn it out. The Laura Ashley dress was tried on just because I could but, in no way, shape of form, did it suit me!

I hope to have another child-free day soon and explore some more of Bath’s second-hand hotspots so watch this space….