It’s been a busy, inspiring, incredible year, full of people and events that have filled me with joy. Being part of this community enriches me every day, but this is the first year where I have seen that repeatedly and glaringly show itself to be true in loud, fun, brilliant ways that fail to allow me to forget that. A year like this deserves documentation, especially since lots of my favourite parts of it weren’t even covered here on the blog, so this, my dear readers, is my year in summary.
January 1st – I launched #LovingMeIn2015, a hashtag and self-love philosophy to make 2015 the year of self-love, body positivity, growth and self-acceptance for myself and others. I wanted people to be kinder to themselves this year, in ways big and small.
January 13th – Since I shy away from wearing wiggles out of self-consciousness of the weight I carry on my stomach, I set myself the #Wigglechallenge of wearing a wiggle dress twice a month as part of my own personal #LovingMeIn2015 journey to continue to love and accept my body no matter it’s weight or size.
#JennyJanuary was a roaring success!
January 12th- 18th – I began and hosted Jenny January, a week long social media event in which Pinup Girl Clothing Jenny skirt and dress owners wore as many of their Jenny pieces as they owned during that week and interacted with one another using the #JennyJanuary tag on Instagram. With features on the Pinup Girl Clothing Instagram account and over 300 entries, Insta-meeting dozens of fabulous new women and learning about some Jenny fun from old favourites, the event was a success.
January 22nd – I went to watch the Dirty Dancing stage show with two of my best friend’s for my friend Laura’s 29th birthday. These girls have literally been my friends for life, as we met at nursery aged 2, so going out to celebrate one of our birthdays (and happening to wear my new PUG yellow Harley dress) is always a highlight, as we make an effort to celebrate each of our birthdays properly.
London Edge with Sophie, Amber, MissGingerTulips, and Alice
January 24th – A weekend of fun in Brighton with 8 out of 10 of my fellow British Belles to attend the In Retrospect magazine launch. We ate a lunch at JB’s Diner on the sea front (during which I ate far too much to be comfortable in my Jenny dress,) met some darlings at the magazine launch, and sat up until 3am drinking hot chocolates and eating cookies and hot cross buns. The morning brought a dozen self-timer pics together in my kitchen and twice as many selfies before we had to reluctant part ways, each returning to our far-distant homes.
February 1st – Attended London Edge for the first time, and the Voodoo Vixen sponsored after party, with fellow British Belles Sophie, Amber and Alice.
March 5th – I received an invite to model for Deadly is the Female, fabulous Somerset-based and online UK purveyor of all things fine, fabulous and retro.
March 17-18th – I spent two days in London, meeting my new pinup friend Giselle for the first time and introducing her to my darling British Belles wifey Sophie. We shopped, ate cake in Selfridges, gossiped, compared favourite lipsticks and grabbed burgers, and eventually Giselle and I retired to her apartment to watch bad American reality shows in bed together.
Modelling for Deadly Is The Female
March 28th – My friend Steph got married. I didn’t actually get to see that, since despite my ardent planning Brighton traffic thwarted me on that day, leaving me only just finding a parking space across town as the ceremony was starting. Buuuut, after a little sniffle and a frantic phone call to my mother (does anyone else still find that is their first instinct upon disaster, even when your mum absolutely cannot help??) I made it to the reception venue in a timely manner and was able to enjoy the rest of their special day with them.
April 12th – I spent the weekend in Frome, Somerset, modelling for Deadly is the Female. I wrote an entire blog post detailing my very Deadly weekend in full, but the short version is that the entire Deadly team are adorable, fun, hard-working, and were so very kind to me for the entirety of my stay that I came away feeling very squishy and warm hearted, even if I did also come away with a rotten cold–which was, obviously, not their fault.
Modelling for Voodoo Vixen
May – This is my birthday month and I basically treat it as such. I celebrated over the course of weeks; shopping and lunch with one of my sisters and two of my niblings; my best friends and I went out for a gut-busting buffet, laughing throughout the whole evening; I had dinners scattered across the month with individual friends; my family and I had a big family lunch together; and Giselle came down from London for the weekend to celebrate with me shopping and eating in Brighton, taking pictures together in our best PUG in the woods, eating cake in bed while we watched Scandal and chatted shit.
June 9th – I went up to London to model for Voodoo Vixen’s Spring/Summer 15 lookbook. There’s a full blog post about this day, but in summary once more the Voodoo Vixen team are full of laughter and team spirit, and I had the best time working with them. Plus, I finished off the day at Ed’s Easy Diner in Victoria station grabbing something to eat with my friends Giselle and Sophie before I got the train home southbound.
Pinup Picnic in the Park
June 27th – My British Belles buddies and I hosted The Pinup Picnic in the Park, a fabulously vintage day out in London’s Hyde Park at which we picnicked, mingled with fresh-to-pinup lovelies and vintage pros, watched our sponsor Audrey Star’s Boutique crown the Best Dressed and were thrilled to raise over £1000 in a charity raffle for Macmillan Cancer Support. I didn’t get to speak to nearly as many (or for as long to) people as I had hoped, but I was so happy to have come away at the end of the day knowing I had made two firm new friends in Laura and Kayla. It’s best if we overlook the fact that I tore my dress that day and have yet to replace the zip.
Michelle, Me, Laura & Georgina
July 21st – London-bound I was again, this time full of nerves and excitement to meet Laura Bynes, founder, CEO and head designer of Pinup Girl Clothing, my favourite vintage style clothing brand. Laura was in London for a week with her daughters and had asked to meet me, alongside babe Georgina Horne (FullerFigureFullerBust) and viral sensation Michelle Thomas, who had recently found sudden fame for being the recipient of a text message full of body shaming vileness from a Tinder date. We met at the Fumoir bar in Claridges and ate amazing olives (“Oh my God, seriously, why are these so good?” “I know! They’re amazing!” “We need more. Can’t stop eating them.”) while we talked about feminism, body shaming and body positivity, how Laura began PUG, dealing with toxic people, dating, and a bit of blogging. Glancing at my phone and realising I would miss my train home if I didn’t leave soon (I mean, I guess I can just be stranded in London for the night, it’s not that big a deal, right? I thought surreally,) the evening was cut short in a flurry of hugs and I really want to stay but seriously, I live two hours away and if I miss it I’m screwed and a mad scramble to get a group photo together before we had to leave.
Modelling for In Retrospect
July 30th – I joined the In Retrospect Magazine crew at the Tunbridge Wells Spa Valley Railway to model for their Autumn photo-story. It’s another modelling job about which I wrote a dedicated blog post, but once more, the summary: We shot in gorgeous dresses at two vintage railway stations, Natasha of Pretty Me Vintage does the most amazing hair, and I had a blast with my fake gun.
Vintage Life Magazine Feature
August 1st – Hello London for Sophie’s 21st birthday weekend with fellow British Belles Alice and Olive. Sophie is my angel face pinup bestie, dear wifey, and it was so lovely not only to celebrate with her at her Old Hollywood glamour birthday party but to get to meet her family and friends.
September – Issue 58 of Vintage Life Magazine was released, including an interview I had given in Spring with fellow blogger and vintage magazine contributor Blaire Amy. My friends freaked out about seeing me in print in a magazine and my mum took a copy in to work to show all the co-workers, because there’s nothing like maternal pride to make you feel awkwardly embarrassed. The issue can still be ordered online if you want a physical copy, but now the interview is available to be read online should you wish.
Deadly Is The Female ad in Vintage Life Magazine
September – The autumn issue of In Retrospect also came out, featuring the film noir-murder mystery photo story I shot with them a couple months earlier at the vintage railway stations. It was so weird seeing the pictures for the first time in print but so much fun, marking another occasion when my friends and family got a bit gushy and cute with me about seeing their little Amy in a magazine.
Potter Pinups on Tour
September 12-13th – I headed back to Frome for a secret Deadly is the Female photoshoot which would become their November and December full page adverts in Vintage Life Magazine, as well as seasonal promotional images for their website. On the Saturday, Team Deadly photographer Gayle and her sister, Deadly H&MUA Lauren were kind enough to shoot me for some upcoming blog posts, trotting around Frome together looking for fun places to shoot, and on the Sunday the full Deadly team shot on location in a gorgeous local house for the magazine advert images. As it always is with the Deadly ladies, it was a wonderful weekend full of kindness, laughter and everybody working hard.
September 26th – Potter Pinups on Tour! Back at the Pinup Picnic I met Kayla and Laura, who I was thrilled to learn were total Potterheads like Sophie and I, so we all Potter-bounded to the WB Studio Tours London for a day of Potterlicious fun together as our first post-picnic meet up, followed by an evening eating Mexican, because we have our priorities straight. I went as pinup Hermione, because hello. If you’ve never been to the tour and want to see a full diary of the joy, a blog post detailing the day can be found here.
September 30th – My niece Leni was born. I already had 5 niblings, but this was my brother’s first born.
Sarah and I, up to our usual
October 22nd – November 6th – My trip to America! This trip was a couple years in the making, the chance to attend the wedding of my friend Chee and an excuse to take a detour to Texas to stay with my pinup bestie, the Belle to my Brit, Sarah Forshaw. I had the best time, meeting friends I had known for years (Chee, the bride, has been my friend for 12 years, yet we’d never had the chance to meet!) and enjoying all my favourite things about the states that we just don’t have at home. A full blog post about my time is still in the making, but the trip is everything I hoped it would be and I had a blast.
November 14th – My friend Juliette turned 30. This is mostly significant because, while she didn’t want to celebrate in a big way, it marked the start of us all turning 30, since Juliette, Laura, Menna and I all met at playgroup, and, consequently, are all in the same school year. My 30th is next May, which I am mildly freaked out about, but Ju went first and that always makes it a bit less scary.
Mini Christmas with Sophie, Kayla & Lulu!
November 23rd – The 12 year anniversary of my dad’s passing from cancer. I don’t make a ‘big deal’ out of it, so to speak, particularly on social media, but I think it’s useful to acknowledge it aloud to normalise it, as often people who haven’t experienced death feel awkward and helpless about it because they consider it something not to be talked about, whereas those who have experienced a loss find it comforting to be reminded that other people have gone through something similar to them. Every year my siblings, mother and I all raise a glass on his anniversary to honour our dad, even if we’re not all together, and this year I happened to be seeing my best friend’s that night, so I wore a dress covered in poppies–the flower that reminds me most of him–and went to see them with a smile.
December 5th/6th – Mini Christmas! I and my Potter Pinup pals, Sophie, Kayla and Laura, all wanted to see each other before Christmas, so we arranged Mini Christmas, a weekend together in London staying at a hotel, visiting Winter Wonderland, shopping a bit and eating quite a lot. We wintered, we wondered; we wandered and giggled and hugged; we learned Kayla has a scary phone voice; we learned the Churros stall is definitely not as nearby as you thought you remembered it being; and we saw the protest against the Syrian bombings at Marble Arch, saw the women and children lined up around the outside of it wearing white for peace and passing out white roses; I hugged one of those women, tried not to cry, and we all walked away feeling very touched and very sad that on this weekend so near Christmas, all any of us at that arch really wanted was for everyone to be safe, knowing we could do nothing much about that.
Christmas – This year I spent Christmas day alone due to some logistics of how we as a family, so big and so many, were most able to celebrate. We all gathered together on Boxing Day instead, all 15 of us, and in the run up to Christmas friends and family and co-workers alike all expressed a worry that I would be alone on Christmas day, that that was such a shame and so sad. It didn’t bother me, I told them, because I was going to get a Christmas day, it would just be one day later, as it is every other year: Christmas Day itself would feel like Christmas Eve to me, with Boxing Day becoming the real Christmas Day, and it did. We all 15 gathered and laughed and talked much too loudly, ate and exchanged presents and passed around my baby niece and watched my other young niece, Neenee, flounce about, arms spread, in the Elsa from Frozen princess costume I had bought her, doing her best 2-year-old garbled impression of singing Let It Go, even though the only words she’s able to say are ‘leddy goooo!’ We had the same perfect Christmas we have every year, and though I’m posting this before New Years will come to pass, we’ll all be together New Year’s Day too, as is our tradition. We’ll eat Chinese food then, as always, and probably talk so loudly my mum might tell us to shush a bit, before she promptly falls asleep after we’ve all eaten lunch.
My family, my friends, the love they bring me and they support they give me is the thread that weaves through the tapestry of this incredible year I’ve had, and I thank them and you for sharing it with me, for encouraging me and supporting me and making so much of what has happened possible. I’m rich in kindness, gifted from all of you, and I so appreciate every ounce of it. Thank you for the part you’ve played in my year; I hope yours has been just as wonderful, but even more so, I hope 2016 is your best year yet. Happy New Year, you little darlings! Let’s kick it’s arse.