Southern Yacht

My little take on plus size fashion, life, travel and smurfs

Tuesday, 17 September 2019

Townhill Park House and Gardens open day

Townhill Park House and Gardens

There's a little hidden oasis in the middle of Southampton. I've walked past it, driven past it and even flown over it but until this weekend, I'd never set foot in it. What am I talking about? Townhill Park House and Gardens. Now part of The Gregg School, the gardens are only open to the public four days a year and the house one day a year.

The house has an interesting history. Formerly the home of Lord & Lady Swaythling, it has entertained royalty, been a convalescent home for British and American Soldiers during WWII, a home for underprivileged children, a base for marine cadets and since 1994, has been the home of The Gregg School.

Townhill Park House and Gardens

On Sunday 15th as part of the Heritage Open Days, the house was open for guided tours. As you toured the house, students from the school were on hand to tell you about the history. It might just be me, but I was quite amused at the thought of present day students learning algebra in the former Lady Swaythling's bedroom!

There was also a classic car display plus entertainment from Uke Box Gory (a ukulele band) and bell ringing from the Bishops Bells. I even got a chance to get hands on and try a bit of bell ringing for myself. It's safe to say that I gave an interesting performance...!

Classic cars at Townhill Park House and Gardens

Uke Box Glory at Townhill Park House and Gardens

Finally, we went for a lovely stroll around the grounds. The gardens are designed by Gertrude Jekyll, one of England's finest garden designers. I was amazed to learn though that she never actually visited in person. All of her designs were done from plans.

Townhill Park House and Gardens

Townhill Park House and Gardens

Townhill Park House and Gardens

Townhill Park House and Gardens

Townhill Park House and Gardens

Townhill Park House and Gardens

It's so hard to believe all of this is so close to me yet I've never seen it before. In previous years, I've always been away on holiday or working on previous open days. This time though it was perfect timing with the best weather. I'm already looking forward to going back in March to see the daffodil displays.

Townhill Park House and Gardens

Thanks for reading



Sunday, 11 August 2019

50 things I've learnt

Hello 50

It seems like 2019 is the year for turning 50. I can now say I'm a 50+ blogger (gulp) but I do have good company.

The Moon Landings, Sesame Street, The Hungry Caterpillar and even Primark are just some of the things that have also reached the big 5 0 this year. Not forgetting The Stonewall Riots, The Beatle's Abbey Road, Woodstock, and David Bowie's Space Oddity as well.

The moon landings, Abbey Road, Woodstock. Just some of the things that happened in 1969

It seems then that 1969 was the year to be born. So you'd think I'd have a few words of wisdom to share upon reaching this milestone...

Well - no, not really. But I do have a few do's and don't, 50 of them in fact. They're in no particular order and some are very tongue in cheek, but hopefully one or two might make you think:

  • Replace FOMO with JOYMO
  • Get a pension
  • Learn to understand ISAs etc
  • Learn to budget & save money for a rainy day – there’ll be a monsoon one day and it’s good to be prepared
  • Know where the stopcock and fusebox is
  • Change your passwords regularly
  • Do the things that scare you
  • Keep your CV up to date
  • List all the skills you have, you’d be surprised at what you can do and how skills are transferable
  • Say hello to all the dogs and cats you meet on your travels
  • Go to the dentist
  • Go the dr
  • Learn how to check the oil, tyre pressure etc in your car
  • Find a friendly garage - they'll save you a fortune
  • Cook!
  • Don’t save things for best
  • Tackle grumpy people with smiles
  • Please and thank you will go a long way
  • Watch/read the news
  • Learn about politics, if nothing else it will be handy for the pub quiz
  • Vote
  • Learn to say no
  • Don’t waste time comparing
  • Remember those who ask after you & cheer you on
  • Know your self-worth and don't take any nonsense from anybody

(You're half-way through - keep going!)
You're halfway there - well done!

  • Travel
  • Learn a language – even if it’s only a few phrases it’s often appreciated
  • Learn to drive
  • Learn to swim (confession - I can't swim)
  • Exercise - you don't have to be a gym bunny, just a walk around the block is better than nothing
  • Buy all the bath bombs
  • Use those damn bath bombs
  • Don’t think you’re too old
  • Wear what you like and find your style
  • Learn when to fight and when to let go
  • Carry a notebook
  • Take a pen for said notebook!
  • Carry wet wipes
  • Carry tissues (public toilets – say no more)
  • Carry power packs (and the right cables) 
  • Drink more water
  • Eat more fruit and veg
  • Don’t feel guilty if you ate all the chocolate
  • Explore where you live, you'll be amazed at what's on your doorstep
  • Learn to read/understand timetables
  • Understand the buses (I know, they confuse the hell out of me)
  • Ignore labels – so you’re a 16 in one shop and a 20 in another, unless you’re planning on wearing your clothes inside out – it really doesn’t matter
  • Friends can be family
  • Chances are – what’s important now won’t be important in a year/5 years down the line
  • Nothing lasts forever – that includes the good and the bad times. So make the most of every moment
And never forget:

Eleanor Roosevelt quote

Thanks for reading



Friday, 19 July 2019

My blog is 5 years old

I can't quite believe it - but my little blog is now 5 years old! And what better way to celebrate than by buying a ridiculously over sized balloon from Amazon and prancing around the garden (btw - buying a balloon when it's windy outside... not a great idea)

What started as a hobby all those years ago has now become such a huge part of my life.

It all started with me googling ways to remove gel nail varnish (a long and disastrous story for another day). I stumbled across so many blogs with hints and tips and consequently spent a lovely evening falling into a rabbit hole of blogs, twitter and instagram.

One though really caught my eye, Leah wrote about plus size fashion amongst other things and wow! Being plus size myself, it was amazing to see such a confident blogger wearing exactly what she liked and looking great. So for the next 6 months or so I stalked her blog and found as many other plus size bloggers as I could to follow.

In the back of my head, I kept thinking, I'd like to write about that, I could talk about this. So one day I just did. I'm sure like most bloggers, my early posts and photos were, shall we say, interesting? But you know what, I've kept them all live because at the time I loved them. And all of those early wonky photo blog posts help make the blog I have today.

And so, because there's nothing I like better than a list, here's the top 5 highlights of my blog.

Number 1 - Remember I mentioned Leah and other plus size bloggers? Meeting them in real life, becoming friends with them and working together makes this whole blogging thing real and worthwhile.

Some of the many lovely people I've met over the last 5 years

Number 2 - walking the catwalk at Style XL in 2015. This was such a scary and exciting day but so glad I did it, even if I did have a severe case of resting bitch face in most of the photos (tbh, I was concentrating on not falling off the stage).

Wearing Voodoo Vixen at Style XL 2015

Number 3 - sharing opportunities with family and friends. One highlight that comes to mind is being able to take my other half on a day out on the Watercress Line last year. A day riding steam trains? He was in his element.

War on The Line - a day out on the Watercress Line

Number 4 - confidence. Not just with going to events (years of working in the Civil Service and endless meetings and conferences helped sort that) but confidence with clothes and personal style. Generally just being me - a plus size, 50+ person finding her own style.

Finding my confidence as a plus size blogger

Number 5 - numbers. This seems an odd one. I know in the grand scheme of things, I'm a very little fish in a very big pond. But seeing viewing numbers and interactions rise over the years makes me think that maybe, just maybe, I'm doing ok.

On holiday in Devon

To everybody that has read my ramblings online - a very big thank you. Here's to the next 5 years!

Thanks for reading



Friday, 12 July 2019

Daily Goal Setter Planner - my review

Daily Goal Setter Planner from Mål Paper

Do you ever find you need a helping hand to focus on the positive rather than dwell on the negative, maybe the whole process of setting and prioritising goals is feeling like a bit of an overwhelming task? If you're like me and the answer is yes (and even more so since returning from holiday!) then the lovely people at Mål Paper have the answer.

They kindly offered to send me a copy of their Daily Goal Planner to review. First impressions on receiving the planner was just how professional it looks. I opted for the black finish as I wanted something smart enough to use on the go and at meetings while still being small enough to fit into a tote bag along with a laptop. It also has a sturdy back pocket perfect for keeping receipts in or any important keepsakes.

The planner is split into monthly, weekly and daily pages with a rating score on each page. The daily pages have a section to note down great things that happened that day. This is such a good idea - it's all too easy to focus on the negatives in life and this really helps you to focus on the positives whether they're big or small. You could have finally got that long awaited promotion or simply had lunch with a friend, either way, they're all positive things in your day.

Daily Goal Setter Planner from Mål Paper

At the front of the planner is a very helpful section on getting started. We all have dreams and ambitions but sometimes they feel a bit overwhelming and unreachable. By breaking them down into realistic and achievable goals - it helps you declutter your mind to reach those goals.

It talks you through setting effective goals:

  • Identify the goal
  • Identify it's importance/value
  • Write it down
  • Review your goals

Are your goals SMART:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Timely

Daily Goal Setter Planner from Mål Paper

There's also a section on routines, helping you to rate your tasks using the ABCDE method which prioritises tasks from A (must be completed) to E (no consequence if task isn't completed that day). Also suggested daily, weekly and monthly routines so that you can get into the habit of practising daily gratitude and daily affirmations. All of which helps to create a positive mindset.

Daily Goal Setter Planner from Mål Paper

One feature I particularly like is that the pages are undated. There's no pressure to make an entry every day and if you forget, go on holiday or are ill, you don't start again with blank pages making you feel bad about what you missed! 

Daily Goal Setter Planner from Mål Paper

The planner is available in black, grey or pink from Mål Paper for £20.95. Perfect if you want help to focus on a more positive outlook and realise your dreams.

Daily Goal Setter Planner from Mål Paper

Thanks for reading


(Planner was gifted for the purpose of this review)

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