Wednesday, 19 February 2020

The Trials and Tribulations of Train Travel.     

Train travel is such a bore, but sadly necessary when you don't drive. I will begin by admitting that half my issues are because I always pack too much and end up with a huge suitcase, a massive holdall, a handbag and a bag for the essentials which don't fit in my handbag, (book, flask, water bottle, and snacks).

It would help to have lifts that are better placed and easier to use, lifts in every station, more helpful staff and wider train compartments. Have you ever tried to manoeuvre down a packed train aisle with a huge suitcase? Unless it is a posh case with sideways wheels, which mine is not, then you cannot possibly wheel it down the aisle of the train compartment. You have to lump it along sideways in a dragging motion that only Quasimodo would be proud of. This is not easy, it hurts your back and it most definitely puts you in a foul mood. Meanwhile you also have to try not to decapitate the seated passengers with your holdall, which is precariously slung over your shoulder, and try not to get your handbag caught on anything, all while keeping that flask of coffee upright in your essentials bag. (You need that coffee and no one wants soggy snacks and a bag full of coffee and sodden tissues.)

You really need to sit down before the train pulls away and you really want to be seated before the influx of people at the next station. What you really need is a seat near or beside your case and definitely where you can see it. They announce on the train tannoy system not to leave your case unattended but all the case racks are up one end of the carriage. If all the seats are taken at that end of the carriage then you either leave your case unattended or stand by it, thus blocking the aisle. National Rail, (or whatever they are called these days), you cannot have it all ways. Maybe have case spaces throughout the carriages. To be honest the luggage racks are never big enough and there is always someone who has filled it up with rucksacks, holdalls, shopping and unidentified wrapped objects. If there is a space on the lower section my suitcase handle will go on strike and refuse to lower. If there is a space on the top section I have to lift a ton weight of clothes and presents onto a rack far higher than I can lift.

If you finally get a good seat near the cases and there is a space for your luggage, you feel ridiculously happy and grateful. It does seem ridiculous to have such an over-inflated sense of gratitude for something which, quite frankly, should not be a rarity. Considering you have probably had to sell your soul to the devil to pay for the train fare, you should at least get some average comforts for your money.

This brings me on to reserving seats. You have no idea when you book them whether they are near the luggage racks, toilets or on the roof of the train clinging on for dear life. When the train arrives I am just relieved I am on the correct platform at the right time, working out which coach I am supposed to be in is too complicated. Yes, they have the coach numbers on the outside but if you are too far up or down the platform you get on and wander hoping you are in the right direction. Along with finding the right carriage and reserved seat you often have to be in a certain part of the train. Newsflash! I have no sense of direction so telling me to be in a specific, yet unlabelled, part of a moving vehicle while lugging a huge case, is insurmountable.

Other passengers can be the biggest pain when you are travelling. If the gods of trains, travel and trauma are on your side you will get a seat with quiet and boring passengers. That is the best you can hope for. If, like me, you are unlucky you will get one of the following types of people as your fellow travellers.

Firstly you get the smelly passenger, my least favourite kind. Now whether it is a dirty smell, a body odour, stinky food, unwashed clothes, lingering cigarette smoke or a noxious combination, I don't want to smell any of them. I have a strong sense of smell so please keep away from me because it will only result in me wrinkling up my nose in a really obvious way until you feel distinctly uncomfortable.

The next type of annoying passenger is the space hog. Whether it is the bag on the seat on a crowded train, putting their rubbish on the other seat, using the seat opposite as a foot rest, or generally spreading out over several seats, it is not acceptable. Equally if you wish to slurp your drink loudly, crunch crisps in a manner that Dobbin the horse would be proud of or chew that vile smelling sandwich so that the people in the next carriage can hear, then just don’t do it on a train where other people have to suffer.

Why is there always a loud party of people who take up half the carriage and embrace the smelly person, smelly food, space hogging, crisp crunching traits of all the worst passengers put together? They should have their own horrific carriage. The shouting over each other, children running around and total takeover of the carriage makes the journey unbearable. I don’t want to hear your life story, the achievements of your odious offspring or how Uncle Mike chased the barmaid when you all went to Spain.

The group of women with their tales of “she said, he said” bore me totally. I don't care; I am just uninterested so pipe down. I am equally indifferent to what is being discussed on the phone by the know it all, the social justice warrior or the person breaking every type of GDPR rule by discussing inappropriate or classified business details on the train.

Sometimes you get into a conversation with someone fabulous on the train and I never mind talking to someone interesting. However, if you get stuck talking to someone you really don't want to converse with you can hope they are getting off at the next station because you are trapped. Once verbal contact has been made, there is no going back.

Changing trains is a delight that I am sure is filmed by the station staff for maximum laughs. I am sure they have award ceremonies for the member of staff who films the most stressed, fed up or angry passenger. Inevitably you will find there is not enough time to get from the train which has pulled in on the furthest platform to your connection six platforms, five flights of stairs and a broken lift away. Alternatively there will be a fifty minute wait for the next train on a station with no coffee machine, dodgy toilets and a clientele that look like they have escaped from a zombie movie.

Even on the stations there are several types of passengers. First you have the lemmings who mill about with no care for time or space taken up as they try to decide where they should be. I am sure the station staff love the great unprepared as they try to work out if they should have got off at this station or not. You also get the confident, seasoned traveller who strides around the station totally at ease with luggage and coats, balancing coffee and a pastry while talking on the phone and looking amazing of course.

I have seen some odd people on various stations over the years. Going to London on the same day as a rugby match I was most impressed to see a man in a full leprechaun costume, including beard and pointy shoes. On the same day I also saw a dancing Pikachu and someone in a sumo wrestler costume. It clearly takes all sorts. A man painted blue and wearing a Smurf costume certainly made me laugh on the station the way to work once, I just hope his colleagues had also embraced Children In Need and dressed up too or that could have been an awkward day at the office.

For me train travel is always going to be something that I have to endure but I do like to see different places and the strange and wonderful people who are also travelling. I must say I have been surprised by some unexpectedly helpful people and some downright rude and nasty people. It most definitely takes all sorts to fill a train carriage.

Outside Bristol station a few years ago. The suitcase of evil is out of sight. 

Sunday, 16 June 2019

The Evolution of my Organised Wardrobe

I have always been organised, it’s just the way I am. Sometimes people are just programmed to be neat freaks in the way that others are untidy. I have always liked order and control. Years ago before organising became a “thing” and experts like Marie Kondo and Mrs Hinch worked their magic online and in books, I was keeping my house clutter free, tidy and organised.

An example of this is that for as long as I can remember I have opened my post, removed any stamps for charity, put the envelope in recycling and dealt with the contents. I cannot imagine a pile of post and envelopes and junk mail piled up waiting to be sorted, it just creates another job and stresses me. 

Since I downsized to a flat from a house four years ago I have been trying to make the big fitted wardrobe work. I have tried lots of different ways of organising it and finally I have come up with a way which works for me.

Functionality is very important in any space and I need to be able to access my clothes easily so a practical layout is essential. A format which makes choosing an outfit easy is my main concern when getting ready and I also don’t want clothes to get ruined.

The most important rule of my wardrobe is that NOTHING goes in that is not washed. If I have worn it it cannot go back in before being washed. The second rule is that I must always put things back in their place. Not doing so results in an extra job another day.

Behind my bedroom door I have a rack to hang jackets or clothes that I may wear again. (usually cardigans.) All my shoes and bags are neatly in boxes under my bed. Hats and gloves are in my two hat boxes on display and belts in the drawer of the little table in my room.

I do have two very high up shelves at the top in my wardrobe where I store closed boxes of things like a few old nostalgic things and Xmas decorations. These are in boxes so I can cope with them in my wardrobe. Yes, I know it’s weird but I like a clean wardrobe.

My hanging clothes are all colour co-ordinated as I base my outfit each day, on the colour I feel like wearing. One side of the wardrobe has red, burgundy, orange, yellow, blue. The other side has purple, grey, white, neutral, black and black patterned. All other patterned clothes are hung in the section of their most prominent colour.


There are folded sections for vest tops, nightwear, jumpers, jumper dresses, scarves, leggings and jeans. All my underwear is in little drawers at the side or baskets. I also have folded sections for bedding as my airing cupboard has no shelves.


On one side there is built in shelving where my underwear boxes and bedding go and on the other side I have added a small rail just for coats and jackets. The main rail is long but has a slight dip in the centre so I push the clothes away from the centre where possible.

I bought a fabulous set of plastic cubes that you put together yourself which are perfect for my folded clothes and light enough to go in the bottom of my wardrobe. (There are pipes under the floorboards and I have no idea how much weight I can put on them.) The clip together cubes are by Songmics on Amazon. I can put them in any configuration I choose and take them apart and re-assemble if I change my mind.

Yes, it does take slightly longer to put all my clothes away neatly, but it is quicker in the long run. I can assemble an outfit really quickly and stay within my co-ordination safe zone. I won’t apologise for my love of co-ordination…. That’s how I am.

The wardrobe doors slide and, to be honest, it would be so much easier if they opened out, but as I rent I shall just be grateful to have such a big wardrobe.

As mentioned my shoes and bags go in my under bed boxes and I also keep them tidy for easy access I have a box of shoes and sandals, a box of boots and a box of trainers and plimsolls. For bags I have one box with little purses, make up cases etc. I have another one with shopping type bags. The next one has small handbags and the last has medium handbags with two larger ones sitting on top. 


Hat boxes and drawers with belts
My wardrobe organisation has evolved and I am sure it will evolve further. I am thinking of making the scarf cubes into cubes that open at the top instead of the front, this may or may not work but will be worth trying. Bob the mannequin stands beside my wardrobe and is a brilliant place to put my outfit for the next day.

Apologies for the photos, the colour  on some of them is not the best. I shall try harder in future. 🙊

Sunday, 21 April 2019

Filofaxes...Downscaling and Selling My Collection.

Like a row of books on a bookcase, a row of Filofaxes can be a thing of beauty. However, I have decided that collecting Filofaxes is not going to work. My collection grew to 75 Filofaxes and other ring bound planners through gifts and lots of secondhand purchasing in charity shops. I love to use them but do find that collecting them is too much, ironically, for my organised, minimalist side. I love the beauty of each one but I am just not a natural collector. I am keeping my favourite planners and the ones that I have received as gifts.

Since I decided to scale down the number of planners that I own, I have given away quite a few. Some have gone to friends and family and I have also given some, complete with dividers and paper, to a domestic violence charity. I do hope the women who receive them can use them to help plan the rebuilding of their lives.

I have decided to sell the other planners that I don’t want so I have put up pictures on here of what I am selling. Any planners left after a month will go to the charity shop.

  • ALL prices listed are inclusive of postage in the UK. (by Hermes delivery, signed for);
  • I am only selling in the UK as it is more complicated to sell abroad;
  • I will be very honest about flaws in the planners, they came to me secondhand so are not all perfect;
  • For sizes I have listed as A5, personal, pocket and mini, the sizes used by Filofax;  
  • If you want further pictures of a product or more details please email me;
  • All emails will be answered as soon as I can, but I cannot answer when I am at work;
  • Planners will be sold on a first come, first served basis;
  • I will not accept returns and all payments must be made by PayPal;
  • If you want more than one planner I will look at a slight price reduction;
  • I have various random inserts and dividers in A5, personal, pocket and mini. I can add these to any planner order with a small extra cost for increased postage. The inserts or dividers are free. Please email if you want to know what I have;
  • I also have Filofax catalogues for sale, please email for details. ( £6 each including postage.) 

A5 Planners

Personal Planners

Pocket Planners

Mini Planners


M2 Filofax 
Unbranded personal calculator

Unbranded off size planner

For further information on the featured planners and how to buy  them, please email me on: 

Saturday, 6 April 2019

The Start of my 2019 book journey……. January and February

January and February have been good months for reading. I started the year having books that were either birthday presents, Christmas presents or bought with vouchers. In February I had another foot operation so had extra reading time while I sat with my foot up.

I started the year reading A Fear of Flying by Erica Jong. This was a present and it looked really interesting. The main character, Isadora, is married to a psychoanalyst but is clearly discontent with her world. She goes off on her own across Europe while trying to decide whether to stay with her husband or a man she is having a fling with. The book explores sexuality and feminism in a really interesting way but I did find the main character really annoying and selfish. She whines a lot and frequently mentions what she considers are the issues with being Jewish and a feminist. She is what I would describe as an “I want” woman; her needs MUST come before others. I have never been a feminist so this was a good book to read as I like to look at things from a different perspective. I really wanted to love this book because the person who gave it to me as a present really liked it; sadly it just wasn't for me and it put me off radical feminists even more. ★★

The Librarian by Sally Vickers was a fabulous read. It is set in 1950’s Britain, based around a library in a market town and has some fantastic characters. It really highlights small town prejudices but also shows that children are much more accepting than adults. I loved the mix of characters and working out what makes them tick, but particularly loved the relationship between the characters and books. Their attitudes to reading and books in general was fascinating. Definitely worth reading. ★★★★

I am always happy to read a book by Mike Gayle and The Man I Think I know did not disappoint. This book shows the depth of male bonding, the way you can change your life for the better and how helping someone else can be very rewarding. I loved the James Dewitt character who only really wants his normal life back and the equally likable Danny Allen who has almost given up on life or making an effort. A series of unlikely events means that the characters cross paths many years after attending the same school. James needs help and, as it turns out, Danny is rather good at being helpful. Their journey is funny, poignant and heartwarming while touching on the important issues in life. Mike Gayle’s insightful look at life should be in your to read pile right now. ★★★★★

My next book is beautiful inside and out. Whiskey in a Teacup by Reese Witherspoon is a totally fabulous look at little slices of the American South. This mixture of nostalgia, recipes, decor, fashion, accessories and advice comes with a twinkle and a smile from actress, mother, businesswoman and prolific reader, Reese Witherspoon. I read this from cover to cover and would recommend it to any woman who is interested in that vintage mixed with contemporary lifestyle and that mix of femininity with a dash of feisty that all woman need and I aspire to. Reese Witherspoon shows us how growing up in the South inspired and shaped her life. I will be dipping in and out of this book because it’s just that sort of book. Another definite recommendation from me. ★★★★

Another brilliant present I got at Christmas was my first read in February. The Killing by David Hewson is an engrossing read. A clever, twisting plot and brilliant characters makes this book the sort of book you do not want to put down. Throwing politics into a rape and murder case brings up many potential suspects. There are secrets being covered up, family members unsure of their own relatives and a tenacious police detective determined to break the case before she moves on to a new job. This story is about the breaking point of Detective Sarah Lund and how far she will go; about the murder of a nineteen year old girl and about the corruption in politics and how far people will go for power. Another five star recommendation from me. ★★★★★ 

The Golden Thread by Kassia St Clair is a really interesting look at fabric through history. Though not as aesthetically pleasing as The Secret Lives of Colour, The Golden Thread gives you so many fascinating facts about fabric, how it was made, where it fitted in historically and how it changed history. This book makes you think about the fabric we use in our everyday lives and what it represents. Definitely a good read for people interested in the fine detail of history or fabric in general. I would recommend this book but Secret Lives of Colour by Kassia St Clair is still my favourite so far. ★★★★★

Dress Memory by Lorelei Vashti is a wonderful book about a decade in a woman’s life through the dresses that meant the most to her. It tells the fabulous story of Lorelei’s twenties and connects her memories to each dress that is evocative of that time. Lorelei has a fabulous collection of vintage dresses that go with her through life as a student, band member, editor and writer in various countries and during her romantic and platonic relationships. This book highlights the highs and lows of a young woman’s life but most of all, it shows that life is for living and you should live it in style. I would recommend this one too. ★★★★★

The other books I read in January and February 2019 are:

Lance by Vladimir Nabokov ★★
Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks ★★★★★
Obsidian Butterfly by Laurel K Hamilton ★★★★
Keep You Close by Lucy Whitehouse ★★★★
Frog Music by Emma Donoghue ★★★
The Girl Who Wasn’t There by Ferdinand Von Schirach ★★★★★
Capital by John Lancaster ★★★★★

I am now adding a star ★★★★★ rating to the books I have read. 5 stars is the top number of stars.

Saturday, 16 March 2019

Coming Soon on Orangecoffee69 

  • My January and February reads……..what I have enjoyed reading so far this year.

  • My Filofax de-clutter …………..including my Filofax sale. Lots of planners at brilliant, low prices.

  • Small handbags…….. how I changed to carrying a small bag and what I now carry with me everyday.