It's nearly the end of August, and summer is almost over. Really fine weather is forecast for next week, and it may last, but I think it will inevitably fizzle out by the time I set off, caravan in tow, for the West Country less than four weeks from now. England in the autumn is a lovely thing to experience: but morning mists, crisp clear days, mellow sunshine, red berries, and rust-coloured leaves are always rather the exception. I expect a damp, sun-starved time once I get to North Devon.
Which poses a problem: what to wear? The weather might be hot and dry, and I need to take along a few things to cope with that. But almost certainly it will be cool, wet and windy; and two-thirds of the clothing and footwear I should take along must be the kind that will keep me cosy and comfortable when out and about.
In the past three or four years I've combated dull cool weather with a combination of denim jeggings, top, boots, and showerproof jacket. That's fine, it works. But it gets a bit boring, because you can't vary it much. And it looks best if you have a slim build.
But ever since recovering from my surgery in March 2011, I've had a constant weight-gain problem that has made body-hugging clothing something to be avoided. The top part of my body, and my legs, are fine; but the middle section has stubbornly remained way too chubby, and I bulge badly if I wear tight things like jeggings. Not a good look at all.
Gradual (and sustainable) weight control will address this, but in the meantime I recognise that either I must put on an extra layer to disguise the bulges, or wear something different entirely, something that will flatter my billowy curves rather than make them look ludicrous. This is why I have been wearing skirts and dresses much, much more since late spring. They cover and conceal, but also change my overall shape in a good way. And they are very comfortable to wear. One or two people - neighbours - have gone out of their way to say nice things to me about my skirt experiments. That's been very encouraging. So I'm a convert.
Of course, many women, especially younger or smaller women, do not wear skirts. They wear skinny jeans and leggings of some sort. And they look great in such attire. I envy them. I too could reasonably wear the same stuff not so long ago, and the day may come when I can do the same thing again, but meanwhile I feel that I am too much of a blob to get away with it.
So 2014 has for me become the Year of the Long Skirt. And this autumn and winter I want to experiment a lot more with skirts, especially the country sort that look appropriate out of doors in foul weather, the kind that will repel cold winds. Plus a range of boots to match. It sounds very tweedy, doesn't it? Positively County. And yet, smart country clothing has a lot of appeal. I may even have another foray into jackets and scarves. I could aim for this look, riding crop and all (well, something like it!):
To kit myself out will need money. I can't raid the shops just now, to buy a lot of new things, because I haven't got the cash to spare. But the State Pension looms! Entitlement is only 72 days away, and the first pension payment, a distant 100 days ahead yesterday, has today come significantly closer - at least psychologically speaking - with just 99 days to go. One friend suggested recently that I could regard it as money in the bank already. I refused to. It's not there yet. But it will be, before Christmas, and then the long Financial Winter that began after the sale of the Cottage in 2011 will finally be over.
But I must at this point, now, 99 days before the money really is in the bank, take myself in hand, and make certain that my willpower is up to handling this new source of income. Otherwise I can see myself having an ongoing orgy of new boots and posh new clothing, and I will not stick to my carefully-worked-out plan to save two-thirds of this pension for other, more essential things.
So I'm hoping it will be a mild autumn, and that I can manage with what I have at the moment, which is mostly lightweight summer stuff.
It need not be a period of frustration. I like visiting charity shops, for instance, to see what they've got. It's often a great way to spend an afternoon. In Sussex, places like Chichester, Worthing and Eastbourne stand out as excellent places to see lots of charity shops full of nearly-new clothes. But some other places are also worth a look. About ten years ago, I remember Uckfield having no less than 22 charity shops, surely some kind of record for a small Sussex town. Some posh items in them, too.
Hmmm. Maybe Uckfield, then, this afternoon? Or Horsham...?