Friday, 22 July 2011

Roxie Reviews: 'Odette' by Jerrard Tickell

Odette Samson (or one of her other countless names used throughout her life) is possibly the most famous allied woman in history. Her work as an SOE spy during 1942 and her mixture of French patronage (and eternal grace granted to so many French women) and English bravery in the face of the atrocities implicated by the Germans awarded her George Cross at the end of the war.

The book 'Odette' by Jerrard Tickell was first published in 1949, and was written with the aid of the great woman herself. This has allowed her 'character' to be unbelievably true to life with the anecdotes conveying the exact feelings and emotions felt by Odette during her war. The French have a strong characteristic of being incredibly loyal to their country and people, and even though adopting England as her home, Odette has an overwhelming connection to her homeland and it's freedom. Even at the end of the book when she is saved by the Americans from the horror of Ravensbrück she keeps her gentle manners by telling the SS soldiers that accompanied her to run (most likely for their lives) - this is an overall theme through the book that just because the soldiers were German does not necessarily make them Nazi, and they were just following orders from the evil above. Her sense of forgiveness is amazing.

The majority of the book is set in France or within her three imprisonments, with very little being set in England or her life before her SOE work; I can only guess that being having being written in 1949 a lot of the work done in Baker Street was still top secret information. The chapters set in France were very fast paced and I did find them quite confusing to follow (probably not helped by my lack of French speaking skills and a few pieces of information being in French) but the speed only reflected the dangerous excitement experienced by Odette and her comrades. At this point in the novel (is that the genre? Is it a biography? 'Faction' before Capote's 'In Cold Blood'?) Raoul - or Peter Churchill, who became Odette's second husband in 1947 - was my favourite character as he was that 'hero' figure, reminding me of a gallant knight from a Medieval folktale mixed with a bit of James Bond's suave style. However when Odette was imprisoned in the Parisian jail of Fresnes she met a German priest (who was an active soldier stationed at the prison) named Father Paul Heinerz; Father Paul was Odette's humane rock in Fresnes (which was unusual as Odette didn't believe in God, although she occasionally prayed in desperate times) and characterised that war didn't mean your enemy was evil and it affected all walks of life - he was German under the boot of the Third Reich.

So, overall I thoroughly enjoyed this book thanks to the extraordinary real-life story aided by great writing. As a Hamsphire girl I had always had an interest in the county's association with the spy networks across occupied Europe but I had never actively sort out any research on it, but I definitely will now! 'Odette' is the perfect book for anyone with an interest in World War Two, great women through history or who just loves a great adventure.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Roxie Reviews: Nicky Clarke Classic Blow Dry Styler

If anyone follows my Twitter they will know that I got very excited at my new 'toy' last week. I had nothing but praises for the Nicky Clarke Classic Blow Dry Styler (£13.27 from Boots) initially but after a few uses my opinion has changed slightly. I went for this styler because of the different attachments and because Nicky Clarke is a name regularly trusted so I thought I would be okay with the appliance.

The air dryer combines the brush and the hair dryer used for round brushing ones hair with two of its attachments (one for shorter hair - the thinner one - and one for longer hair to create volume), straightening hair with another attachment, and the last attachment can be used to tong the hair into curls. I never really straighten or tong my hair so the last two attachments didn't really interest me that much but as a time saver for traditional round brushing, the first two attracted my attention.
"Create salon styles quickly and easily with my 500W blow dry air styler. The four different attachments mean you can create numerous styles from smooth sleek locks to voluptuous bouncy curls whatever you hair type." - Nicky Clarke

(L-R) Volumising Brush, Curling Brush, Curling Tong, Straightening Brush

The Pros:

  • It saves so much time round brushing wise. It usually took me about 45 minutes to round brush my shoulder length hair using a hair brush and a normal hair dryer, but with the Nicky Clarke Classic Blow Dry Styler it took it down to 30 minutes with styling.
  • It has two speed settings and one cool setting to set the style.
  • The appliance is very light to handle so it doesn't make your arms ache as you style your hair.
  • The curling brush works wonder on shorter hair styles to create flicks and volume. I did a Jackie Kennedy inspired style on my mum's hair with the appliance and was highly impressed with the ease of the usage and staying power of the style.
  • It can cut out a step in creating a style; it creates volume and curl that usually would need heated rollers to obtain - so your hair is subjected to only one dose of heat rather than two.
The Cons:

  • After two uses the fastest speed setting no longer worked, thus taking the heat and speed of drying levels way up. Not impressive at all! This is the main reason I am taking this model back and having it replaced! After it broke not only had the speed depleated but the heat had also reduced severely.
  • The curling tong doesn't heat up to nearly as hot as most curling tongs and does not produce the same curl as a result.
  • The straightening vented brush tugged too much on my hair and felt as though it was stretching each strand. I wouldn't use this attachment anyway so this didn't bother me too much.
  • The appliance over heats very easily, especially when using the tong and the straightening brush - I think this is the main reason for one of my speed settings breaking.
  • Maybe it was because I used this attachment after the speed setting breakage, but I found the volumising brush did very little in terms of drying my hair and certainly didn't produce the volume I was promised.
The Verdict:


As I said, I was initially very excited by this product, but I became more and more unimpressed with this appliance. I'm hoping I just got a duff model, because I am going to replace it as I think it has great potentional. The styles it can create (especially with the curling brush) are wonderful so I would probably only use this attachment whilst avoiding the straightening and curling tong ones. I can't give any recommendation until I have replaced my model and tried it out, but fear not! I shall report back on that and let you all know if it's worth it.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Glorious Goodies!

I've been a busy girl this week buying lots of new clothes and shoes - with the aid of dad's credit card, obviously - as my wardrobe needed quite a revamp! It might look like a lot of things but all were purchased in the sale, except a couple of things that were soo cheap anyway, so, technically, I saved lots of the parents money which should just be spent on more things!

So, first off there are a few unphotographed items for this blog. I didn't think you really needed to see photos of my underwear...
In the Debenhams sale I got two sets of underwear and one lonesome bra.

  • Gossard 'Wild Flowers' Plunge Bra £29.00 £14.50 now £8.70
  • Gossard 'Wild Flowers' Thong £12.00 now £2.70
  • Ted Baker 'Bows Silk' Plunge Bra £24.50 £12.25 now £7.35
  • Ted Baker 'Bows Silk' Thong £12.50 £6.25 now £3.75
  • Gorgeous (By Debenhams) 'Verity' Balcony Bra £24.00 £12.00 now £7.20
What I loved about my undies haul was there was so much choice, which for a girl with a large bust, is very rare for me!

The other unphotoed items were two pairs of New Look skinny jeans; one with a 32" leg and one with a 36" leg which is perfect for freaks like me! Both these pairs were £9.99 each so I'm not expecting much from them, but I've been wearing the 32" ones for a couple of days now and the shape is still holding up.

Now for some lovely photos...

£25.00 now £12.50 - Hepwright's Vintage Fashion

The photo doesn't really do this vintage jumper from Hepwright's justice!  It's a muted orange-red and hand knitted - as far as I can tell anyway - so it should be nice and snugly warm for those cold northern winters! Their sale is still on in their boutique in Bedford Place, Southampton, with everything on white hangers up to half price!

£55.00 now £15.00 - Long Tall Sally

I don't usually shop in Long Tall Sally - a shop specialising in tall women's clothing - because a lot of it is for the maturer woman, focusing especially on office wear. However, I saw that they were having a sale in their Winchester store so I decided to take a look. I found this grey (anyone that knows me, knows I do love grey tops!) cardigan with flat studs on the shoulders; the front doesn't do up but I never bother with doing cardies up anyway, and instead hangs like a waterfall. I'm thinking I could possibly pin the waterfalling material up to make a thick top too...

£15.99 now £7.00 - Blue Inc.

Going back to my rockabilly roots I got this simple gingham tie blouse in the Blue Inc. sale and cannot wait to wear it with my Freddies of Pinewood jeans at the Hayride! The weekender is just eleven days away and I can feel my excitement bubbling away!

£28.00 £14.00 now £8.40 - Red Herring

This tea dress is a little shorter than I would usually prefer but in this 'hot' (who am I kidding?) summer a shorter skirt is nice. I love the flowery pattern and the on-trend lacy collar, and teamed with a white or tanned belt (it has little hooks which suggests it was supposed to have a belt with it but for that price I can hardly complain!) it makes for the perfect summer dress.

£19.99 now £9.99 - New Look

New Look tends to be my saviour for shoes as they stock a wide range of shoes in sizes eight and nine that don't resemble something an arthritic granny wears. This pair of vintage inspired pumps are replacing my very worn out pair from Primark, but they are causing me the most crippling blisters at the moment as I wear them in!

£24.99 now £9.99 - New Look

These are definitely more of a winter shoe - even though I wore them today to Winchester! - and are still suitably vintage in my opinion. They remind me of the sort of shoe worn in the cold North American winters in the late 1940s and early 1950s that were warm but had a glimpse of glamour too. The chunky heel means they are secure under foot and don't lead to achy feet an hour into wearing them.

£3.00 £1.50 now £0.90 a pair - Debenhams

How could I have refused these socks? With one pair saying 'I <3 Sailors' and another reading 'Aye Aye Captain!' and covered in stripes, they were everything I've ever wanted in a pair of socks!

And that's it! That's my super saving haul of new clothes! And the total saving came to...

Drum roll please!


Sunday, 10 July 2011

How Did You Do Your Fringe?

Imelda May works this style the best and has brought it to the mainstream

It's a question I get asked whenever I wear my fringe/bangs rolled up so I thought I'd show ya'll my interpretation on how to achieve this look. It can be done on any length of hair as long as the piece of hair to be rolled reaches around your eyeline - so a long blunt fringe, a side fringe or just a long piece of hair from the front of your face would work.

First up is how to create the look from wet; I find this look is a lot kinder on my hair but doesn't have the staying power of the style created from dry hair (I usually have to re-roll it the next day and add some more spray).

The style on dry hair is just as quick to create and takes about two minutes once you've got the hang of the technique. Like I said above it is quite harsh on the hair so I wouldn't recommend doing it too often - plus its a pain to brush out when you want to restyle your hair! Because it has so much back combing the style's staying power is a lot longer and generally can stay in until you want to take it out.

I hope those explanations were easy enough to follow, but if you have any questions just leave me a question below or on my Youtube channel =)

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Hats Off To Winchester!

Yesterday, Saturday 2nd July, I happened to be in Winchester for the annual picnic for the Southampton branch of Young Archaeologists Club; it also happened to be the annual Winchester Hat Fair, and the two together made for a lovely day in the sun!

Now in it's 36th year the three day festival celebrates street art in all shapes and sizes. I caught a few shows between picnicking and touring Winchester but the crowds made it very hard to get a good look!

The festival is family friendly so most of the shows had a comedic sense to them...

...Whilst others had a mission to save the world by turning their kitchen into a moving, musical instrument!

The festival spread across the entire town, but the main focus was in the Cathedral grounds. You couldn't walk down a narrow medieval road without bumping into a show, whether it be juggling by the Pentice on the Highstreet or a tango in the backstreets. The performers came from all over the world and showcased a wide range of talents, such as the French slapstick performers...

...Or just your dad being pulled up onto centre stage for some dance lessons!

Even inpromptu performances sprang up as friends came together over a pint of cider and a guitar session in the heat of an English summer, some in the most gentlemanly way possibly - pipe and all!

The weather really aided this event but if the sun shines next year I will be certainly packing a picnic (maybe a bottle of Pimms?) and heading to Winchester to enjoy the show!