The 5:2 DIET.

You don't have to live on juices on the 5:2 regime.

You don't have to live on juices on the 5:2 regime.

As a nutritionist I have always been a keen fan of fasting. So when the 5:2 diet hit the headlines a couple of years ago, I happily embraced this form of intermittent fasting for the sake of my health as well as my waistline!  I prefer to call it a version of fasting rather than a 'diet', we all know they don't work, in the long run, for weight loss.  But this one does and the health benefits go way beyond losing a few pounds.

'EAT, FAST & LIVE LONGER' - THE SCIENCE.

When I was training, we were encouraged to fast once a week to give the body a chance to rest and mend itself.  There wasn't much science attached to it in those days but, thanks to the research that's being carried out in the U.S. by experts such as Professor Valter Longo, Professor in Gerontology and Biological Science at the USC, and Director of its Longevity Institute, there is growing evidence that calorie restriction can help you:

Live longer
Live healthier
Improve your brain function
Lose weight

Professor Longo's tests published in the journal Cell Metabolism in June 2015, found that old mice placed on cycles of a four-day, low-calorie diet reduced visceral belly fat, lived longer, and had increased numbers of young stem cells in several organs, including the brain, where neural regeneration was boosted, as was memory. 

In humans, he refers to intermittent fasting as a chance for your body to get to work mending itself, much like a car service, instead of driving non-stop with your foot on the accelerator! (Those of you in the UK can hear more from him on the BBC TV Programme 'Eat, Fast & Live Longer.)

There is obviously a lot more research to be carried out on humans but I can tell you that after my first year of the 5:2 diet, my cholesterol levels reduced two points, my belly fat disappeared, my immunity strengthened, my energy levels improved and so did my memory!

Here's how.

An egg-white omelette is allowed on a 'fast' day.

An egg-white omelette is allowed on a 'fast' day.

WHAT IS THE 5:2 DIET

The simple premise is that for five days a week you eat what you like, including puddings, alcohol and treats.  Then for two NON-consecutive days a week you restrict yourself to just 500 calories a day, if you're a woman, and 600 calories a day, if you're a man. 

Dr. Michael Mosley, introduced the UK to the 5:2 plan as an easier version of Professor Longo's 4 day fast, in an article for the Telegraph, and the BBC Horizon TV programme, 'Eat,Fast, & Live Longer.'  After he followed the plan for five weeks, he had lost 14 lbs in weight, his body fat had reduced by 8%, and his blood sugar and cholesterol had dropped to normal levels after he had been deemed border-line diabetic. That was enough for many thousands of us to follow suite, including my own doctor!

The sheer joy of eating what you like for five days a week, and fasting for two, has made this a very do-able health regime. 

I try to eat healthily in between the 'fasting' days on the 5:2 diet, at least during the week!

I try to eat healthily in between the 'fasting' days on the 5:2 diet, at least during the week!

TOP TIPS FOR EASY FASTING.

Anyone who is on medication or suffering from health issues such as diabetes should seek medical advice before embarking on any form of fasting.

Buy or download a calorie counter app.

Download some low-calorie, but healthy recipes. You don't have to live on smoothies & juices for the whole day. There are plenty of recipes on my blog.

Chose two days to fast when you haven't got a lot to do, either physically or socially.  Mondays and Wednesdays are the best for me as I usually have a quiet day working at home broken up by a Pilates class and a gentle dog walk.

If you have never fasted before, start slowly by extending the time between your supper and your first meal the next day.  If you eat at 7.00 pm and have breakfast at 11.00 a.m the next day you will have accomplished a 16 hour fast without even trying!

The when and how you eat your 500/600 calories a day is up to you. Experiment. Some prefer a proper breakfast, such as egg on toast and then use up the rest of their calories at supper time, eating nothing in between.  Others need to eat three times a day, and will have low calorie snacks such as a crisp bread with low calorie cream cheese and steamed veggies in the evening. 

Drink plenty of water and hot drinks throughout the day.  A glass of room temperature water usually stops my hunger pains in its tracks.  A cup of miso soup is only 25 calories so is also a great filler. But water is the very best if you want to avoid those detoxing headaches.

THE WAY I DO THE 5:2 DIET

I eat a healthy but not calorie restricted meal the night before my fast day by 7.00 pm latest. Something like baked salmon and greens keeps me full for the evening and avoids those bed-time hunger pangs.

The next morning, I have black coffee and plenty of water till 11.00 a.m. and then have my daily smoothie. If you like all your health in one glass this recipe will help keep you going for hours and it's 250 calories max.

Between 3-4 pm. I have a snack, such as a banana or a boiled egg, at 80 calories.

Then by 7.00 pm I eat my other 150-200 calories in the form of loads of vegetables, either on their own or with a small piece of grilled chicken, fish, tofu or an egg white omelette. Or go for an even better detox...........

Fruit & Veg for the best detox days on the 5:2 diet.

Fruit & Veg for the best detox days on the 5:2 diet.

Make your fast day plant-based meals only.  The only thing I don't like about the 5:2 diet book & the many articles written, is the emphasis on protein based meals. Make it a fruit & veg day and you can eat far more & give your body a huge health boost.! My very low calorie recipe for ratatouille is a good example of health in a bowl.

That's it! In 24 hours you will have survived a pretty painless fast by spending eight of those hours asleep whilst, hopefully, giving your body a chance to carry out those essential internal repairs that intermittent fasting encourages.

Let me know if you do intermittent fasting, or the 5:2 diet.  I would love to hear about your experiences. 

 

 

Five days in SANTORINI.

 I've wanted to get to this beautiful little Greek island most of my life and was lucky enough to spend five days there in August. This awesome view was taken from the villa my brother booked with the Chromata Hotel, in Imerovigli.  Probably one of the most beautiful spots on the island, overlooking the Caldera, and one of the hilliest!    

TOP TIP: for heavens sake take proper walking shoes or trainers!  I stupidly only took Fit Flops (oh the joy of carry on luggage!) and ended up with very dodgy knees and a sore hip!

I had the granny annexe upstairs and was greeted by this view every morning, before walking up and down the many steps to enjoy yet another fabulous view with the most delicious breakfast at the hotel. Egg white omelette, olives & feta was my favourite............

Breakfast set me up for a day of wandering around photographing the stunning blue & white buildings everywhere on Santorini. Imerovigli was certainly my favourite area but the stunning village of Oia is also worth a visit because it's got loads of lovely little boutiques and restaurants and pretty little cobbled white lanes.

TOP TIP: Don't arrive at Oia around sunset as the tiny streets are grid locked with passengers from the half a dozen cruise ships that visit every day and the roads are jammed with coaches! Have a lovely dinner after the sunset so you can get back to your hotel once the rush hour's over. Or stay there!

Fira is the nearest town to Imerovigli. It's a lovely town with great walks to the harbour, lots of shops for souvenir shopping and restaurants: some fancy and some not so fancy.  My brothers' favourite local 'fast' food was the "giros": delicious grilled chicken in warm pita bread. However, although we were only 3 kilometres away, getting a cab back to Imerovigli was a complete 'mare. There are only 36 taxis on the entire island!

TOP TIP: book a hotel with a shuttle or taxi service or hire a scooter. We often waited for 20 minutes to get back. But it was August!

My handsome brother, by another mother, and his beautiful girlfriend. Selfie taken in Oia, which we loved, apart from the crowds!

I got them both to play photographer so I could get a few photos of my favourite beach clothes. Very happy with my new Olympus PEN, great quality and no Photoshop required!

I found this perfect beach dress in Bali a few years ago in Sol & Luna, in Seminyak. My vintage sunglasses were a gift from a friend and are original 50s frames, the shell necklace was found in Byron Bay, the little black bag is from India and my sandals are by Fit Flop

We spent a fabulous afternoon at the black sand beach Perivolos, where more fashion shots were taken done by my bro Karim, handsome hunk that he is!  The light was fantastic as we were there for the golden hour.

TOP TIP: The cabana below cost 90 Euros and we only arrived at 4.00 pm!  Fine-ish if there are four of you to split the cost and you do get a free glass of fizz. But how expensive is that! Chose carefully along the beach, there are cheaper beds available to hire. 

My skirt was from Zara two summers ago, the tee is ancient, but a favourite, from Intissimi & the headscarf is a vintage piece of material from Elif Kose in Rottingdean. The gorgeous necklace is from a little shop in Budva, Montenegro. Can't wait to go back and buy another next month! 

And as for the food.......my favourite meal has to be the one we had at La Maison, in Imerovigli.  If you're into haute cuisine with stunning views, this is a must.  It's one of the top restaurants on the island and wasn't as expensive as you'd think.

My starter was the local equivalent of humous, called Santorini fava (as in fava beans).  It's not as nice as humous in most of the local restaurants but at La Maison it was one of the nicest starters I have ever eaten!  It was served with octopus, orange and cured lemon.

My main course was a local fish dish is called shi dum served with red pepper, olive mousse, lime & olive oil.

Pudding was raspberry, vanilla bean crumble, lemon verbena, honey & jasmine ice cream. I am dribbling just writing this.  It was one of the best meals I have ever had and certainly the prettiest!  The price was about 50 Euros each with an enormous glass of wine. Not bad, especially compared to the price of the beach beds!

TOP TIP: go early if you don't want to book.

After all that fab food, shopping and walking at least 10 thousand steps a day, up and down the hills, my body needed a rest and I was lucky enough to find a great spa right next door to our villa at the Pegasus Suites & Spa. it wasn't cheap at 75 Euros, thanks to our weak pound at the time, but was one of the best Aromatherapy massages I have ever had! Well worth a visit.

Of course, one of the main attractions of Santorini, apart from the blue and white buildings, the food, the little boutiques & the scenery, are the sunsets. They're world famous, hence the many cruise ships, Oia is the favourite view point but the crowds, in August, were ridiculous.  If you're staying in Imergolivili you don't even have to move.  We were blessed to have awesome skies to stare at from our villa every night. 

TOP TIP: take a jacket, it can be cool & windy at night, even in August.

Santorini is well worth a visit and everything you want it to be....... but try to go out of season, with deep pockets and sturdy shoes!

Being a MOD for the day!

The Mods meeting in Brighton, August Bank Holiday Weekend, 2016. 

The Mods meeting in Brighton, August Bank Holiday Weekend, 2016. 

Every August Bank Holiday weekend in Brighton, thousands of parka wearing, scooter riding men & women come to town for Modculture.  For those too young to remember, the Mods & Rockers of the 60's used to meet up (and sometimes fight) here on the South Coast: the former on scooters & the latter on motor bikes. (If you want to know more about that era a great movie to watch is Quadrophenia). 

Nowadays, it's just a great excuse for Mods, of all ages, to party to swinging 60's music, show off their Lambrettas & Vespas, and get back into 60's fashion. The Bikers have different weekends to show off their vroom vroom machines and I may get to one of their meet ups one of these days as I also own a leather biker jacket,. Any excuse to dress up! 

I have always loved Mod fashion: (fashion-wise, way back then, you were either a Mod or a Rocker): Mary Quant for her sharp hair cut & mini-dresses in the 60s, and Oasis for their Parkas and mod look in the 90's. So I didn't need an excuse to get into the only 60's dress I own adding huge earrings and my favourite retro sunglasses to complete the look.

My dress was found somewhere an age ago in a charity shop, the brogues were gifted to me by a friend and come from Office, & my vintage sunnies came from Trash in Byron Bay.  

I was quite pleased that the weather turned as it gave me the opportunity to wear my favourite Parka!

Wearing my parka for Modculture, held in Brighton every August Bank Holiday weekend.

Wearing my parka for Modculture, held in Brighton every August Bank Holiday weekend.

I appear to be becoming a bit of a petrol head in my old age!  Just loved the scooters, the lights, the chrome and my little jaunt back to the 60's.  I think I would quite like a boyfriend with a scooter and lots of chrome!

I took my newly acquired Olympus PEN 5 camera to capture most of these shots. It was nearly an absolute joy to use (the 7 is more user-friendly) as it's light & small and really great for getting shots of the very friendly Mods I met on a grey and not so sunny Sunday afternoon. They're really rockin' the Mod look.

I had a great time and will make sure to go for much longer next year. I hope you enjoyed my share of nostalgia and please let me know if you like Mod fashion and if you have any 60's outfits hidden away that you dig out for the odd party or event!

A lovely day out in Rye, East Sussex.

 Cobbled streets, ancient buildings & great little shops, it's a town steeped in history with something interesting round every corner.  On one of the hottest days of the years we had a very long lunch & walked in the shade the entire time! 

Rye Castle, otherwise known as Ypres Tower & a couple of typical local buildings.  This was a great opportunity to try out my new Olympus PEN, as well as using my i-phone. Am very pleased with the latter, although the settings are a 'mare to work out in sunlight! But it's depth of field (bokeh) is awesome on the flower shots.

There were some interesting doors in Rye, ancient & not so ancient.........

And, of course, the day would not have been complete without an impromptu fashion shoot with the PEN! My bezza Dalia is a natural: both as a photographer & as a model. Not bad for ladies over 60 are we, and I got to wear my favourite Hoss Intropia summer dress in the UK, in August.....most unusual!

Dalia's dress is from Hobbs, her sunglasses by Vera Wang, her handbag from TK Max, & her sandals are from Kurt Geiger

My vintage sunglasses are from Fabulous Fanny's in NYC, bag from Elif Kose in Rottingdean, & sandals by FitFlop.

A great day out and if you've never visited Rye, make sure it's on your 'must visit' list.  You'll love it. I found some great buttons & bows, for photography, in the local market so went home a very happy bunny, letting the train take the strain!

Update on Suzi's Smoothie for fast days.

Here's a quick update on my last video & blog on how to make my daily health smoothie.  This is a great replacement for meals on fast days, if you're following the 5:2 diet, and will keep you going for hours. And it is full of huge health benefits.  If you're an intermittent faster, or want to be, I do it the easy way: a light meal the night before by 7.00 pm latest, the smoothie as late as possible the next morning (around 11.00 a.m.) a very light low calorie snack, such as a banana or boiled egg, at tea time and then a light meal, such as loads of veg and a small portion of protein, in the evening at 7.00 pm.  That's 500 calories in 24 hours and you've done a 16 hour pure fast without even trying. Two days a week, too easy!

Here's how: 

Super smoothie ingredients for top skin & top health.  Great for a fast day too.

Super smoothie ingredients for top skin & top health.  Great for a fast day too.

A handful of Swiss chard, spinach & red, orange or yellow pepper & blueberries (forgot them for the video!) These fruit & veg, rich in anti-oxidants,  have been proven to help with weight loss and are the top foods for beautiful skin. 

A teaspoon of spirulina: great for energy, a teaspoon of cinnamon: sorts out blood sugar levels and can help with high cholesterol, a teaspoon of turmeric: all round natural anti-inflammatory & anti oxidant, and a teaspoon of chia seeds.  

The most important part of my smoothie - a tablespoon of extra virgin, raw coconut oil keeps me going for hours & helps with weight loss.

The most important part of my smoothie - a tablespoon of extra virgin, raw coconut oil keeps me going for hours & helps with weight loss.

A tablespoon of golden flaxseeds: a natural form of phytooestrogens & good for healthy bowels, a tablespoon of coconut oil: the healthy fat that helps you lose weight & will keep you full for hours, a tablespoon of goji berries: nicknamed the "happy" berry, they're packed full of anti-oxidants, and a tablespoon of a raw, protein powder. 

I then add a raw egg (be careful if you are elderly or pregnant or at all concerned etc.) and a big glug of kefir: great for the digestion & high in natural bacteria, vitamins & minerals. Too many benefits to mention! I am dairy intolerant but have had no problems with kefir as it's so similar to live yoghurt, which you could also use.

The most complete protein meal on the planet!

The most complete protein meal on the planet!

That little lot comes to no more than 250-300 calories (leaving 250 cals for loads of veg & protein) and will keep you full for hours.  Let me know if you try it and how you get on. And please do share any other top tips you have for health & fasting.

Here's the video. Enjoy, and please give me the thumbs up & subscribe on You Tube, when you have time.. Thank you!

Edible insects. Is this our future? I've been trying cricket flour in a health bar.

I have never been squeamish about trying unusual foods.  I was eating snails in garlic butter (l'escargots) in France at the age of 4, strange child!  But when I came across a brand new protein, health bar, that was not only wheat-free, dairy-free, but made from cricket flour, I got really excited about it.

Crobar health bars made with cricket flour.

Crobar health bars made with cricket flour.

What could be better for the environment than getting into foods made from insects? After all, we're pretty adventurous when it comes to trying fried ants, crickets & other creepy crawlies in those night markets in countries like Thailand.  I even tried a bit of a fried tarantula in Cambodia! It tasted just like chicken.

Trying fried tarantula in Cambodia! 

Trying fried tarantula in Cambodia! 

The founder of Gathrfoods & Crobar, Christine Spliid, had her light bulb moment when she was also travelling around South East Asia and noticed how many people eat insects as part of their daily diet, not just in night markets. (By the way, we have a digestive enzyme in our guts which is specifically for breaking down insects, so we've obviously been eating them for thousands of years!)

Christine Spliid, the brains behind Crobar, a health bar made with cricket flour.

Christine Spliid, the brains behind Crobar, a health bar made with cricket flour.

Christine, a Danish thirty two year old runner with a passion for health, realised that a third of the worlds population eat insects and that we should all be thinking about eating them for environmental reasons. Farming insects is sustainable, ethical and takes up hardly any land or feed. In fact, for every pound of meat produced a cow needs over a thousand pounds of feed, compared to insects that require only around a hundred pounds of feed.  Huge difference.

She got to work introducing the health bar to the UK, adding healthful foods such as dates, cashews, goji berries, chia seeds and, of course, cricket flour, and the Crobar was born.  

What surprised Christine, and myself, is how many people in the UK, including vegetarians, are happy to add insects to their diet as an alternative source of protein.  I found the bars delicious so went out and about in Brighton to see how they went down with the locals.

CROBAR FACTS

ISN'T IT CRUEL?

The crickets are raised in a ‘free range’ indoor environment in Canada. They are given ample space to move through the ‘cricket condo’ set up and have access to feed and fresh water.

Once ready to harvest toward the end of their lifecycle (about 6 weeks), the crickets are cooled and then frozen which essentially mimics the natural process of hibernation (diapause) in nature.

WHAT DO THEY TASTE LIKE?

The feed of the crickets is really important to ensure a great flavour. Crobar use organic roasted cricket flour from crickets that have been fed a diet of organic nuts, seeds and fruits, so the flavour is reminiscent of hazelnuts and buckwheat.

ALLERGIES?

Crickets are arthopods, just like shrimps, and some people who are allergic to shrimps have also shown allergic reactions to insects. Until more studies are done, it is safest to not consume insects if you know you are allergic to shellfish/ crustaceans.

WHY CRICKETS?

Crickets in particular contain large levels of protein as well as vital micronutrients. It could be argued that they are also easier to introduce to people compared to insects with less attractive sounding names or associations. But crickets are just the starting point, there are more than 2000 edible insects available, so many other insects will be introduced once people have gotten used to the idea of eating insects.

WHY NOT USE WHEY PROTEIN?

Crickets are completely natural, whereas whey is the by- product of cheese making and industrially processed. Crickets also contain all essential amino acids, have an almost perfect omega 3 & 6 ratio, contain high levels of vitamin B12 as well as iron.

WHERE ARE THEY FARMED?

Crobar source the cricket flour from Entomofarms, a large and reputable cricket farmer in Canada. They are completely transparent regarding the farming and processing methods of their cricket flour, which they believe is extremely important when introducing people to a new protein source like insects. There is no question that quality and safety has to come first. The crickets are being fed an organic diet of vegetables and seeds, and are farmed and killed humanely.

So I hope that's put your mind at rest and you'll give them a try as a great alternative to the usual protein bars on sale. They are perfect as a healthy, wheat-free & dairy-free snack and as a high protein energy boost after working out.  Many experts & environmentalists think the planet will run out of meat one day, so let's get into eating insects! It could be the most sustainable superfood on the planet.

Let me know if you have eaten insects and how you feel about this growing, healthy trend.  I would love to hear your views and comments, as always. Meanwhile, I look forward to trying the cricket flour out at home and will keep you posted!

KEY LIME PIE IN A GLASS - AND IT'S HEALTHY, SLIMMING, WHEAT-FREE & DAIRY FREE!

Dairy-free key lime pie in a glass! So good for you, so delicious!

Dairy-free key lime pie in a glass! So good for you, so delicious!

OMG This Nutribullet recipe is soooo tasty, I cannot believe it's also good for you and will give your skin, body & brain a great, big beautiful boost.  And it's easy!  Ingredients below.  Put them into the Nutribullet or blender in that order, whizz up and drink: job done! 

2 Tablespoons of Spinach

2 Tablespoons of lime juice

1 frozen banana

1/2 a teaspoon of vanilla essence

1 date

1 Tablespoon of Coconut oil

1 1/2 US cups of Almond milk

HAVE A LOOK ROUND MY COTTAGE BY THE SEA

I love having a snoop around friends' houses.  So here's a little video showing you my home and all the things I have done to make it as stylish as I can on a budget.  Much like my fashion choices, I choose some real bargains but spend more money on 'accessories', like art and vases. It's been a work in progress converting a two up, two down into a bit of a Tardis with great sea views. It's taken six years but I am really happy in my home now!  Hope you like.

You can find more ideas on how I furnished The Garden Room and a great idea for hiding yourclothes on the links. 

Let me know your great interior ideas and see you soon.

Saffron: if you suffer from depression, this is the spice for you.

Spices: Chinese five spices, saffron and turmeric. 

Spices: Chinese five spices, saffron and turmeric. 

All spices are good for your health, they've been used for their medicinal properties for thousands of years.  My favourites are turmeric & cinnamon, which I add to my daily smoothie. But now there's a new kid is on the block, for me, that I couldn't wait to share.  What I didn't know, till very recently, is the amazing health benefits of saffron: probably the most expensive spice in the world! (It comes from a small purple crocus and the flower's stigmas have to be collected by hand - very labour intensive.)

Saffron,  possibly the most expensive spice in the world!

Saffron,  possibly the most expensive spice in the world!

Historically, saffron has been used as a traditional medicine by herbalists for reducing fevers, cramps and as an aphrodisiac!  More recently, research shows that saffron has also been found to have anti-carcinogenic properties, is a fantastic anti-oxidant, reduces inflammation in the body, and can improve eye health by slowing down macular degeneration. 

But most exciting of all, it's been proven in scientific studies, announced on Channel 4 programmeSuperfoods,  that 10-20 strands a day, or 30 milligrams, can raise serotonin levels enough to have an excellent effect on depression. (here's a link to one of the many papers on this)  In a 6 week trial in the UK, patients were found to have a very similar improvement in their mood as those on a prescribed anti-depression. So all great news. 

Apart from adding a few strands to your cooking, the easiest and most beneficial way of trying it out on yourself is by making a couple of glasses of saffron tea a day........

If you have any health conditions, or are pregnant, don't use a supplement form of this spice without checking with your doctor first.  A few strands of saffron in a cup of tea is very different from a pill manufactured in a laboratory, natural or other wise. And if you are on any medication or at all concerned, it's always wise to check with a health practioner before making any major dietary changes.

Saffron tea, lifts your mood better than an ordinary cup of tea.

Saffron tea, lifts your mood better than an ordinary cup of tea.

EASY SAFFRON TEA

3 to 4 strands of saffron
A little honey
Water

Put the saffron in a cup or glass with a little warm water and leave for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, pour boiling water over it and add a little honey to taste.

Saffron tea can taste a little bitter so add a teaspoon of honey to sweeten it. 

Saffron tea can taste a little bitter so add a teaspoon of honey to sweeten it. 

If you're travelling abroad this summer, especially Asia, Morocco and Turkey you will find it cheaper in the local spice markets than in stores in the West. But be careful of poor imitations.

As ever, please add any comments about this beautiful spice.  Have you tried it? Has it helped you or anyone you know? Meanwhile, I will be trying it out as soon as I have bought some more to see if it has any impact on my sex drive or mood!  I will report back.

See you soon,

HOW TO HAVE HEALTHY HAIR AT ANY AGE.

Originally, this post was about how to have healthy hair using nutrition and supplements.  However, since the start of 2016, I have been growing my red/orange colour out to go naturally and fashionably grey.  It's a very long & pricey process involving bleaching my hair to an inch of its life but I am glad to report that thanks to Olaplex, a good hairdresser, and my healthy diet, it has remained thick and healthy!

If you have a red or orange permanent tint, going grey involves going to the hairdresser every 3 months and a lot of bleaching.  But the transition is going very well and I should be grey by Xmas!

If you have a red or orange permanent tint, going grey involves going to the hairdresser every 3 months and a lot of bleaching.  But the transition is going very well and I should be grey by Xmas!

The good news is I have far fewer trips to the hair dresser to cover my roots and I think this in between stage is so much more flattering to my ageing skin tone. The bad news is that you need the patience of a saint and a hefty bank balance! But I should be there in a few months and it will all have been worthwhile in the end. Watch this space.  Meanwhile, here are my tips for having healthier hair.

Here I am with the great Trevor Sorbie in the days of bright red hair!

Here I am with the great Trevor Sorbie in the days of bright red hair!

Part of the reason my hair's so thick at Well Over Fifty (over 60 actually!) is my genes. I am half Bulgarian, and from what I've seen in my mother's country, they all seem to have thick hair, and strong nails & teeth. The foods I grew up eating, and still do, certainly helped as well. Think Mediterranean diet.  Also, because of it's thickness & unruliness, I have never washed my hair more than once a week! Most hairdressers have agreed with me over the years, less is more, and washing it less frequently can help keep your hair from thinning.

My orange phase.  It was great at the time.

My orange phase.  It was great at the time.

But the main reason women's hair thins as we get older is falling oestrogen levels. Dull, coarse & greying hair is the so-called natural process of ageing. Bummer! Oestrogen-rich foods are listed below. Another reason for thinning hair could be due to a sluggish thyroid, which needs iodine to help it function properly. (If you are on any medication for your thyroid, please check with your doctor first, before incorporating any of these suggestions into your diet) 

IODINE-RICH FOODS

Add kelp, or other sea vegetables to your meals or take in supplement form. Spirulina & wheatgrass are also the best for encouraging hair-growth as is nettle tea. In fact, one top tip I found is to use nettle teabags rubbed into your scalp to stimulate hair growth.  Nettles contain huge amounts of vitamin C, which helps hair growth, as well as natural silicone, which helps protect and strengthen the hair shaft. (Please let me know if you try this weird one and have any success!) A list of the best foods & supplements are below.

I had such success taking spirulina that my hair began growing too fast.  That's why I started wearing my trade mark head scarves.  They hide my roots so I don't have to get my colour/color done so often! 

Here are a few of my dietary suggestions & why.  Let me know how you get on, and good luck!

HAIR HELPERS. MY TOP TEN TIPS.

Vitamin C: all berries, oranges, lemons or a supplement Think orange, yellow & red fruit & veg.

Cucumber: rich in silicon & sulphur for strong skin, nails & hair

Nettle tea or fresh nettles from your garden!

Essential Fatty Acids: Omega 3 in the form of: flaxseed oil, flaxseeds (a natural form of plant oestrogens), oily fish such as salmon, or a fish oil supplement, & chia seeds.

Avocados & avocado oil: a power house of hair nutrients!

Argan oil: great for hair and skin because of the high Vitamin E content.

Green powders such as wheatgrass & spirulina.

Sea vegetables such as kelp & nori.

Green veg: such as kale, spinach & swiss chard: for all the essential minerals, such as calcium & magnesium.

Eggs: high in lecithin and all the amino acids needed to help your cells grow stronger.

And finally, there are many supplements around especially made for hair, skin & nails.  I am a big fan of Vitabiotics, because they are very well researched, so give one of theirs a go. 

Let me know if you're going naturally grey and how you are doing if you are.  Can't wait to show you my proper grey hair when it's ready!

BIKINI: TO WEAR OR NOT TO WEAR.......

It's finally bikini weather in the UK but us women of a certain age are not always happy in a two piece, and, apart from the occasional fab picture of a celebrity like Helen Mirren wearing one, it seems to be frowned upon in the press for women over 50 to be sporting a bikini.  Women in Brazil aren't like that, all ages are strutting their stuff on Ipanema Beach not giving a jot in the skimpiest of outfits!  And they look great!  But for the rest of us the thought of baring a midriff, let alone less than perfect thighs and upper arms, fills us with dread!  

No photoshop used. This is the first bikini I have bought in a decade. Big bottoms & great style.

No photoshop used. This is the first bikini I have bought in a decade. Big bottoms & great style.

However, I have updated this blog since last year and bought a fabulous bikini in Australia with nice big bottoms.  The top is so gorgeous it doubles up with khaki shorts for power walks along the beach in Byron Bay. No wonder my arms are ruined! Not sure I would wear it in the UK but certainly would in Europe as women there aren't so age conscious either. 

Here I am, in my mid-60s, sporting a bikini!  It's not been photo shopped so you can see my bingo wings and flab in all it's reality! Well blogs are supposed to be honest & sharing!

Here I am, in my mid-60s, sporting a bikini!  It's not been photo shopped so you can see my bingo wings and flab in all it's reality! Well blogs are supposed to be honest & sharing!

However if you don't want a two piece and, If you are like me and have short legs, a swimsuit doesn't cut it either.  I find them deeply unflattering, on my body.  But there is a great happy medium (thank you Mary Lambert For introducing me to them) that I am happy and confident wearing: the TANKINI!  A cross between a swimsuit and a bikini!  I love them. The top is often ruched so covers up a multitude of sins, and it can be worn with shorts or a skirt (great for minimal holiday packing), the bottoms aren't bikini brief and are cut more flatteringly than most swimsuits and best of all you can still brown your tum whilst lying down in the sun by just hoisting the top up!  (Safe hours only if you value your skin , avoid sunbathing between 11-3) Voila, a bikini and a swimsuit but more flattering!

My little green number above was bought from Boden years ago and is still my favourite. There are loads on-line, here's just one example of their many tankinis shown below. The red designer one was bought last year and was a bit pricier. It's by Profile, an American Brand, but it gets so many complements it was so worth it.  Loving the 50's retro straps on the tap.

Boden tankini

Boden tankini

There are tankinis all over the high street this year and you can get a great variety, really cheaply, from shops like  M & Co   The one below is just £16, and there are loads of great looking styles on-line or in the shop.

M & Co tankini

M & Co tankini

Finally, if you live near a pebbly beach, these sea shoes are a must! They're one of my best buys ever and there are loads of similar really cheap ones on-line. See below.

How cool are these Beco babies, and really cheap.  They would look great with a black or black and white tankini!

So you're now ready to hit that beach looking fabulous and feeling confident and comfortable.  I'm wearing my tankini and sea shoes today as it's a swimming/beach day and unusually hot for the UK. Have a great summer, see you soon!

Suzi x

I like your style - UK folk.

I love going out and about taking photos of anyone over 45 who is looking stylish, individual & just plain interesting.  So here are a few of the folk I've enjoyed photographing in London, Brighton & Chichester.  A couple of them are under 45 but wearing vintage, my favourite style.  But everyone else is over 45, over 50 and some are over 60!  What I love about them is that they all have their own individual style, wear lots of colour and aren't afraid of looking different or eccentric.

None of them look like mutton dressed as lamb, I'm sure you'll agree, and they certainly don't look old & drab.

Enjoy and please send me a photo if you'd like to be featured!

HOW TO SURVIVE A FESTIVAL AT ANY AGE

Dressed as a ladybug a few years ago at Latitude Festival.  Note the black thermal leggings & top!

Dressed as a ladybug a few years ago at Latitude Festival.  Note the black thermal leggings & top!

I love a Festival!  They're not everyone's cup of tea, but many thousands of us all over the world, including us oldies, obviously feel the same way as I do because we now have 900 festivals in the UK alone this year to chose from, despite our crazy climate.  For us baby boomers, who grew up dancing in a field, followed by crawling into a cold tent at night, it means getting back to our hippie roots for four hedonistic days & nights of utter freedom, in a kind of temporary bubble of happy, like-minded people being, doing and wearing whatever we like.... and I for one don't want to stop, not till I am dragging my zimmer frame through 3 inches of mud!

I like the whole camping, back to nature vibe as, for me, it just isn't the same going as a day visitor and then sitting in a traffic jam for hours trying to leave. However, at this age, I need more comfort than torture, and unless I am lucky enough to stay in a camper van these are my top tips on how to survive a a Festival without packing the kitchen sink and doing your back in carting all that stuff across miles of fields from the car!

Last year we went back to Latitude Festival, a big favourite of mine as it's a bit more grown up than many others, more oldies ageing disgracefully, and offers so much to do; from big name headliners to swimming in the lake or watching Ballet, there are simply not enough hours in the day!  But, most importantly, they have a Glamping field, this year run by Pink Moon.  There you can rent a ready erected tent complete with mattress and even a camping chair, pus the field has its own toilets, showers & a cafe.  And it doesn't cost much more than one night in a good hotel. Best bit of all is not having to grapple with a pop up tent, which will not pop down whatever you do, after four days of walking miles, dancing and late nights.  Worth every penny if you're 50+.  Any age, come to think of it!  

With accommodation sorted, I can now turn my thoughts to Festival Fashion and the essentials to make life a bit easier.

The one top tip I would pass on is to stick to a colour scheme to keep packing to a minimum and only take clothes you don't mind ruining|  This year, I'm going for khaki and orange (apparently orange is the new black, so I will be bang on trend!).  Khaki shorts & vest with a green and orange kimono and green wellies should do the trick during the day and whatever outfit I wear at night, I'll wear thermals underneath!   I am even taking my Parka, as it will keep me warm and it will work with everything else.  Toe nails and finger nails have been painted orange - tick!

Some of the Festival outfits I have worn in the past: Saturday night is dressing up night, but I am never without those thermals and a warm cardi and coat!

Comfort is also the name of the game when it comes to clothes, so I never take onesies or tight jeans.  Always loose clothes, not too long, and easy to lift up or pull down in the main toilets, which are never pleasant especially in the dark!  Sheepee urinals are gaining popularity at Festivals.  I love them 'cause they have far shorter queues, but you do have to pee like a bloke standing up so another reason to not wear tight pants! Practise at home if you've never used one.

For day time, if it's mud free, I wear very comfortable sandals for walking miles, because you do walk miles....and miles.. The Fit Flops above have probably walked round the world several times I have had them so long. I also wear a small back pack which will contain a sarong or old pashmina to lie on or to wear, a pac a mac, sunnies, sun cream, tissues, camera & water.   

When it comes to the bigger back pack, or suitcase, these are the other essentials to help make my life almost comfortable:

Packing essentials for me: 

A highlighter!: Latitude Festival has an enormous programme, It's good to sit every morning and highlight what we want to see that day or you end up missing the best act in the world because you're the wrong end of the site.

A comfortable small pillow. Along with my sleeping bag, these are not items the Glamping fields provide, unless you're in an expensive five star, fully furnished Yurt. Must try one one day.....maybe when I'm older!

A thermos flask that keeps water hot for 24 hours!  I will fill up at the cafe last thing at night so we can have coffee or tea bags first thing! This is a new buy this year and it works amazingly well. Very impressed.

Ear plugs, essential to block out the loud snoring from the next tent, let alone the music!

Minimal beauty routine in miniature sizes.  It's really difficult to find things at night even with a..........

Head torch & black out mask.  The mornings can be hideous too......the sun comes up, it gets boiling hot and you wake up needing to throw all your thermals off as soon as poss!  The mask helps for siestas and snoozes.

And, most important of all, Travel Johns!  The best thing ever for anyone who gets up in the night needing a pee. These are hygienic, non-smelly disposable urinals which turn solid once used so you can throw away in the morning!  Best thing since sliced bread.

A few other must haves for this year that I'm trying for the first time are; a tankini (see my blog on this great alternative to a swimsuit/bikini) to go swimming in the lovely lake and it doubles up as a top to go with my khaki shorts; wet wipes that remove make up & hopefully clean me....surely if they're good enough for your face they're good enough for other parts of your anatomy - energy bars for those middle of the night munchies, and of course I mustn't forget a hat....and my plethora of head scarves! 

 

 

 

 

 

If you're also going to a Festival, have a really great time & I hope my tips & the list below will help.  All that remains for me is to pack some Vitamin C and a positive attitude! I'll blog after Latitude, so see you then.

Suzi x

MY PACKING ESSENTIALS FOR A FESTIVAL.

Sleeping bag, water bottle, disposable urinal, small towel, thermos flask, coffee & tea bags, mug, minimal skin care & make up, sunscreen, hat, swimmies, comfy shoes, wellies, tissues, loo paper, party but comfy clothes, pacamac, Parka, thermals, portable camping seat, head torch, insect repellant,ear plugs, eye mask, hat, sox, gloves, energy bars, a highlighter, vitamin C, lip balm & plenty of cash.

MY THREE FAVOURITE SUMMER DRESSES.

I've had a video made called 'Suzi's Wardrobe'.  Click on the photo below. Thought you'd find it a bit of an insight into what I am about style-wise & how I hang on to some stuff for decades just updating the old with new accessories to get a vintage & retro look without spending much money.  Hope it inspires you!  

Also take a look at how I get into my 'wardrobe' right at the beginning of the video.  The sliding doors were driving me mad 'cause I always wanted something in another part of the cupboard. Slide open....slide shut.....slide open another door......slide shut! You know the sort of thing.  So my top tip to share with you is what I did.  I bought a roller blind for the entire length of the cupboard! It's easier, cost about a third of sliding doors and looks amazing. 

Photographs and details of the outfits follow on after the video.  Enjoy. And, as usual, would love to hear from you. Harriet Jackman shot and edited this video for me.  Clever girl!

So here are some of the outfits that Harriet Jackman filmed so beautifully, in still form.  Casual, dressy, & vintage. The first outfit is a very cheap dress that I found in a market in Brighton many years ago, made by Nomads.  It is one of my favourite summer dresses because it's got lining, so is a bit warmer, and I always get compliments when I wear it because of the colours.  It's one of my 'lucky' dresses & I wear it for casual days out when the weather's behaving.

This one was photographed for me by my cousin Becka Archer. Thank you. No one comes to this house and gets away with just lunch!

I've dressed this up with a bangle, bought from a market for £2, a vintage looking silk headscarf, found for a fiver in Montenegro, vintage sunglasses from Fabulous Fanny's in NYC, a beautiful cashmere cardi from Boden (they often have a sale on), and my sparkly, but very comfortable,FitFlop sandals. Matching toe nails were a happy co-incidence! 

The next dress is a wonderful vintage, original 50s dress that a dear friend gifted me. So there is little I can tell you about it except to say I love it and it looks great with a pop of colour, hence the little orange bag. I would wear this for a smarter, day time event, like a vintage fair or a tea party. Don't you just love those 50s buttons on the front? Again, the tinted specs, frames only, were found very reasonably at Fabulous Fanny's in NYC.  That was a lucky find.

And finally, my one purchase this summer: a smart, lined black and white dress for outings like Goodwood Races, where I was as warm as toast this year, because it's lined! The dress is byJames Lakeland & I bought in Indigo, in a sale!

 You know how much I love colour but black and white looks very classy for the odd summer event, especially dressed up with a hat. You can see the dressed up version on my post aboutThree Friday Nights at Goodwood.

This is the dressed down version:  vintage sunglasses, gifted to me years ago, a monochrome head scarf from the high street, a big silver bangle from, believe it or not, the shop at the National Portrait Gallery & my lovely little silver sneakers found at yet another market in Australia! Look whose photo bombing one of the shots.

So hope you enjoyed my three favourite dresses for summer: the cheap, the vintage & the designer.  As usual, I would love to hear what you're wearing during this very changeable summer and how you're coping with our four seasons in one day!

See you next time. 

BAKED SALMON & SALSA VERDE.

I try to eat Omega-3 rich, oily fish like salmon as often as possible.  Omega 3 is an essential fatty acid that supports every single cell in our bodies so eating oily fish at least 3-4 times a week will keep skin plumped and your brain, heart and joints healthy.  (There's more info plus a list of the best oily fish to eat in my post on how to have happy hormones

Here's one of my favourite, quick and easy, recipes for a non-meat day. Let me know if you like it!

Baked salmon, salsa verde, rocket/arugula and avocado.  A really easy, healthy non-meat meal.

Baked salmon, salsa verde, rocket/arugula and avocado.  A really easy, healthy non-meat meal.

The salmon bit is easy.  Pre-heat oven to: 400F, 200C & 180 for fan assisted ovens & 6 for gas.  Wipe the salmon steaks with kitchen towel, pop in a piece of foil with plenty of room for air to move around so it doesn't dry out, like a little tent. Pop onto each piece of salmon a slice of lemon, pepper, and pesto if you don't like the salsa verde recipe. After 15 to 20 minutes it should be cooked to perfection. Meanwhile you can get the salad ready & prepare the salsa verde.

Home made salsa verde. It's a sharp, tangy sauce that goes well with fish and meat.

Home made salsa verde. It's a sharp, tangy sauce that goes well with fish and meat.

INGREDIENTS FOR SALSA VERDE FOR TWO OR MORE.

One peeled clove of garlic, 2 tablespoons of capers, 3 gherkins, 3 anchovies, 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard, 4 tablespoons of olive oil, 1-2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar, a small handful of flat-leaf parsley & one of basil, and seasoning.  You shouldn't need salt unless you hate anchovies. This recipe is also awesome with lamb, if you eat lamb. Just add fresh mint. 

I put all these ingredients into my mini electric blender and it turns out just right.  Many thanks toJamie Oliver for the recipe. 

If you want a really healthy & summery meal, add rocket/arugala and avocado and any other salad you like. Spinach would be good too. I have also taken to adding a little parmesan to a rocket or spinach salad. It's really tasty. There's another healthy recipe, using these nutritious greens for aCaesar salad here.

Love a bit of fresh parmesan over salad. Gives it a nice bite.  Try and get rennet-free if you're vegetarian or vegan.

Love a bit of fresh parmesan over salad. Gives it a nice bite.  Try and get rennet-free if you're vegetarian or vegan.

Hope you enjoy this light, healthy meal.  Your comments are always very welcome.

Summer fashion, for fairs, festivals & fun.

You probably know by now that I love a music festival, and any other summer outdoor event. I haven't booked my usual 5 day camping festival this year at Latitude, but I have been to a couple of day long festivals and, because we haven't had a real hot summer yet, what to wear has proved even more difficult than normal.

Here are a couple of ideas of what I would normally wear for a long day out going into evening......and what I actually ended up wearing because of the iffy weather.  I haven't gone to many places in the UK without packing leggings, if I am wearing a summer dress (rare this year!), a cardi & a parka! 

This is what I wanted to wear for the amazing BSTHyde Park festival with Massive Attackheadlining recently.  The top is at least a decade old, from Whistles, & the trousers were found inH&M in a sale last year for just £10!  They have a sale on now. These are the sort of clothes that are comfy, cool and a lovely clash of colour and print. And I don't mind getting mud on cheap or old clothes!

Photos by Harriet Jackman.

I dressed up the above party outfit with a retro scarf found in a market, vintage sunglasses, a 50s belt from Vivien of Holloway, and a bangle from a charity shop. Sadly, I haven't had a chance to wear this bright, summer look yet!

This is what I actually wore to Hyde Park, stopping off for a lovely long lunch at the Botanist in Sloane Square, London with my gorgeous god daughter Emma. I was meeting her new husband that day, so needed to make an impression and be ready for a muddy park!  So another vintage headscarf, tinted vintage specs, & retro shirt found in a market in Australia for £8 and new leggings (£95) from Hope Fashion. I was also wearing a vest under the shirt and my out of shot parka was very useful when the showers came & the temperature dropped! My shoes were the most expensive item from Lanvin, long story, but they were also the most comfortable while looking smart enough for Sloane Square!

Despite the short, sharp showers, it was a fantastic day and evening and, in the end, the clothes I chose were perfect to take me from lunch in a smart restaurant to a festival where bright, happy clothes are a bit of a must, as long as they're comfortable!

Lovely double rainbow at the BSTHydePark Festival after light rain.

Lovely double rainbow at the BSTHydePark Festival after light rain.

I would love to hear what you are wearing this summer to get round fluctuating temperatures and rain showers? Not easy trying to look like a fashionista in this weather is it?

Thinking out of the box - my latest space saving idea

I have always had this gorgeous retro, shabby chic cupboard in my spare room.  Now I have a new guest room, I have changed my 2nd bedroom into a dressing room.  The cupboard became just somewhere to hide things, like Christmas decorations! So I thought out of the box, and changed it into a shoe cupboard. Getting dressed has certainly got faster. Hope you like.

I bought all the items long before blogging days, so am afraid I haven't a clue where they all came from, other than I would have bought them in Brighton!

Let me know what other space saving tips you can pass on.  I always love to hear tips about de-cluttering, and storage solutions for the home.

A ten quid vintage skirt dressed up to brighten up a dull day!

You know by now how much I love up-cycling, digging around for vintage or retro pieces and generally just "dressing up!".

This is the ridiculously cheap skirt I found in Trash, Byron Bay.  I couldn't resist it because of the colours. Here's how I tarted it up with accessories so I could wear it for smart or casual. And here's the best bit - no one else will have one like it - which is why I am such a huge fan of searching out vintage pieces.

See below for details. Photos by Harriet Jackman.

Vintage sunglasses frames from Fabulous Fanny's in NYC. Big scarf tied round my head came fromElif Kose in Rottingdean and was in her sample bin! The vintage shirt was another bargain fromTrash in Byron Bay. The belt's from Vivien of Holloway for £15.  The cashmere cardigan from Bodenis my only big purchase (there are some great ones on sale now for £62.50) but it goes with everything so gets a lot of wear. The sandals are a couple of years old and came from FitFlop.  And finally, the bangle was found in a great vintage shop in Chichester for a couple of quid. I really must start making notes of where I go rummaging!

Total cost of my "new" outfit: well under £200 and everything mixes and matches with at least four other looks. I could have spent that on just the skirt!

Happy shopping, it needn't cost a fortune for a whole new look!

MY FIRST BLOGGERS CONFERENCE: BLOGTACULAR, LONDON 2016.

The entrance to the conference.  The venue chosen by Blogtacular for the conference was excellent: etc.venues near St. Paul's.

The entrance to the conference.  The venue chosen by Blogtacular for the conference was excellent: etc.venues near St. Paul's.

What a fantastic and worthwhile couple of days that was! I wasn't sure I would get much out of it as I am not a crafter & was probably the oldest woman there!  But quite the reverse. I met so many wonderful women, learned so much, ate great food and on Friday night, at West Elm, certainly drank more than enough wine........

The evening drinks was held at the beautiful modern furniture & accessories shop West Elm. 

The evening drinks was held at the beautiful modern furniture & accessories shop West Elm

Sadly, I didn't get many photos I was taking in so much & didn't even get my DSLR out!  But I did learn how to use Snapchat (see above) thanks to the lovely Lucy.   (My Snapchat handle is: Suzi G Alternative Ageing)  Lucy also stood in as hand model for our video editing workshop run by the brilliant film maker & photographers Xanthe Berkeley. (You can see my very short effort at the end of this blog)  Learning those two skills alone just thrilled me! Thank you both of you.

Apart from my personal highlights, it goes without saying that the whole Blogtacular conference: the speakers, the organisers, the workshops, the catering. and the friendly atmosphere made it a hugely informative and helpful event. I'm sure you all agree. 

Photos below supplied by Mollie Makes, thank you!

Most important of all were the wonderful bloggers I met over the two days.  I wish I had photographed more of you but at least you can see a few of the colourful outfits & hair that I snapped. Ladies, I Like Your Style!

But wasn't all work & blogging talk.  I did manage to re-connect with London by spending Friday afternoon and night there. 

I stayed at the Grange Hotel, St. Paul's for FREE thanks to all the points I've saved on my Amex. And because my room wasn't ready at 3.45, they upgraded me to an Executive Room!  Couldn't believe the view out of my window let alone the one from their roof terrace. 

I even managed to get in a quick photo walk of my own across the Millennium Bridge to Tate Modern.

Great view of the London skyline from the Millennium Bridge. How many landmarks can you name?

Great view of the London skyline from the Millennium Bridge. How many landmarks can you name?

I didn't have a lot of time before the party at West Elm, but managed to get to the 4th floor of Tate Modern and have a little look round. Loving that tree sculpture on the ground floor. 

 And, if you haven't seen it already, here's a very short Instagram video of the beautiful flowers provided by Grace and Bloom that we filmed for our edit course.

Blogtacular you were Spectacular.  Kat and Co. you so deserve this bouquet! Thank you.

HOW TO LOOK STYLISH & FABULOUS - ON A BUDGET.

My Pucci dress found at a vintage fair in Brighton.  So thrilled with my bargain of the year! The frames for my tinted spectacles were found in Fabulous Fanny's in NYC. Photography by A Beautiful Weirdo 

My Pucci dress found at a vintage fair in Brighton.  So thrilled with my bargain of the year! The frames for my tinted spectacles were found in Fabulous Fanny's in NYC. Photography by A Beautiful Weirdo 

Up-cycling is the name of my game! I find amazing pieces at vintage fairs, charity shops, clothes swaps and second hand shops. The dress I am wearing above is Pucci and I haggled it down to £90. That dress would have cost me many hundreds of pounds, possibly over a thousand, to buy retail and I really do feel like a million dollars wearing it to a special event.

Don't be afraid of colour - black is draining and ageing (especially near your face) - and wear what suits your shape and style. Cover the bits that make you feel less confident and you will feel and look absolutely fabulous.

HAIR

The first stage of letting my hair grow out to natural, on trend, grey hair! Photography by A Beautiful Weirdo.

The first stage of letting my hair grow out to natural, on trend, grey hair! Photography by A Beautiful Weirdo.

Your crowning glory is one of the few areas you should spend a bit of money on. After 30 years of dyeing my hair red or orange and trekking into the hairdresser every six weeks for root touch-ups, I have decided to go naturally and fashionably grey! That'll save a fortune.

However, a good cut and regular conditioning are essential, especially after 40, whether you dye your hair or have gone natural. Save money by finding a model evening at the best salons that will cost you nothing but your time. Look out for special offers and consider a mobile hairdresser who will come to your home. They don't have the overheads a local salon will have.

The sunglasses are from Trash in Byron Bay and the top from H & M. 

SHOES

Lovely comfy but quite stylish Ecco sandals. I can walk for miles in these! Photography by A Beautiful Weirdo.

Lovely comfy but quite stylish Ecco sandals. I can walk for miles in these! Photography by A Beautiful Weirdo.

The one area that you shouldn't scrimp on. An Italian friend of mine (you can see her in myGoodwood blog) came up with the best quote ever: "You should never buy cheap shoes or a cheap bed because you are either on one or the other!"  Comfort is essential for me but comfort & style rarely come cheap. But that doesn't mean you have to over spend.  I bought the most comfortable and fashionable ankle boots from Kurt Geiger - in the summer.  They were half price.  Shop around, online and in the stores, at sale time, and you'll find a bargain that's both comfortable and stylish. 

HEADWEAR

My sunnies were from Trash in Byron Bay and the turban is from Fullana. Photography by A Beautiful Weirdo. 

My sunnies were from Trash in Byron Bay and the turban is from Fullana. Photography by A Beautiful Weirdo. 

DRESS YOUR HAIR!

Turbans, headscarves and hats can all turn any old outfit lurking at the back of your wardrobe into a "wow" outfit.  And they're cheap as chips, especially if you look in markets, charity shops and on-line.  I have also found head scarves a real bonus for covering my roots while I am growing my hair back to natural, so they save money on root touch-ups as well!

BELTS

The black & white trousers, in the above photo, were bought in Bali years ago, the belt & sunnies were loaned by the photographer & stylist from A Beautiful Weirdo, & the little silver sneakers were found in a market in Australia.

In the above photo, my dress is ancient & bought from Boden, the belt is from Vivienne of Holloway, the leather jacket, also old, is from Zara & the sunglasses are from Trash in Byron Bay.  You can see more of this outfit in my bog on how to jazz up an old dress & love it again!

ADD A BELT

If you have an hour glass figure, try an elasticated 50s belt cinched at the waist. It can make such a difference to an old dress and add an accent of colour to your outfit. And they're really cheap, especially online.. Belts don't suit everyone, but experiment with them on different parts of your body. The silver one round my monochrome outfit above was added by Charlotte of A Beautiful Weirdo,. I would never have thought of that.

BAGS

Loving my Fred Perry bag.  So useful for travelling and looks really cool. Photography by A Beautiful Weirdo. 

Loving my Fred Perry bag.  So useful for travelling and looks really cool. Photography by A Beautiful Weirdo

I don't spend a lot on handbags.  I really don't see the point.  But the right one can really bring an outfit alive.  Major retailers like Debenhams & TK Maxx do great bags that don't cost an arm and a leg. You can also find amazing pre-worn designer bags on e-Bay and, again, by rooting around markets and fairs for vintage bags.

BANGLES & BOOTY

I love bangles to liven up an outfit. I found these over the years, cheap as chips, apart from the solid silver one. 

I love bangles to liven up an outfit. I found these over the years, cheap as chips, apart from the solid silver one. 

I like an arm full of bangles and hunting for cheap, unusual ones has become a bit of a passion of mine – especially whilst travelling. Look in antique shops, charity shops and market stalls for bakelite or resin. They often come in unusual colours, look better than plastic, and shouldn't cost you more than a couple of quid.

Chunky necklaces or earrings will also add that je ne sais quoi to your look, but not together! I have found some gorgeous and cheap ones on my travels.

The vibrant silk scarf was bought in Montenegro for a song. The vintage sunglasses are from Trash in Byron Bay & the necklace was loaned by my wonderful stylist & Photographer Charlotte, A Beautiful Weirdo. 

The vibrant silk scarf was bought in Montenegro for a song. The vintage sunglasses are from Trash in Byron Bay & the necklace was loaned by my wonderful stylist & Photographer Charlotte, A Beautiful Weirdo. 

SPECTACLES & SUNGLASSES

I dig around every vintage shop and fair I can find for interesting frames. I bought the pair of black vintage frames I am wearing with the Pucci dress in New York at Fabulous Fanny's.  They cost a third of the price they would have been at my local optician.  After I've found some awesome frames I then find the best deal I can to have prescription lenses fitted:  on-line, abroad, or even a local independent who you can bargain with! I got a £70 discount for having two pairs done at the same time. 

NAILS & MAKE UP

Pretty nails complete an interesting outfit. Loving this gellux green this summer. 

Pretty nails complete an interesting outfit. Loving this gellux green this summer. 

Good make up and nails finishes off that groomed look. Find a relative, or a local girl who works from home, to save money. And make-up wise: less is more!  Next time you need a new eyeliner, go to one of the major retailers and get a free make over. It will save you money in the long run and help you find the best look for your skin tone.

My final top tip is to have a brutal look in a full-length mirror before you go clothes shopping, declutter your clothes, or go out. If you look in the mirror and don't LOVE the way you look, then it's a 'no'. You need to feel like a million dollars in order to look it!

(This blog was originally published on Gransnet)

Let me know how you get on, I would love to hear about your bargains!