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Sunday, 21 August 2022

Fairy doors and other encounters

A long time ago, long enough that I've forgotten where I wrote about it, when I first started going out and exploring the outside world as Susie back around 2016/17, one of my walks led me down a side path off the canal towards one of the neighbouring villages. Almost the first thing I noticed when not keeping a wary eye for other people on the path was that a number of the trees along the path were adorned with tiny wooden doors and houses. There was even a sign hanging in one showing "This Way to Fairyland ->".

(I've grown a lot more confident about meeting other people when I'm out and now it's something I look forward to, otherwise walks can feel a bit lonely. This morning I lost count after exchanging about a dozen 'good mornings' and stopping to fuss several friendly dogs. I wonder if it's the walks I now I look forward to more, or the small social interactions as Susie, as a sort of validation/reassurance that I'm not seen as the terrible ogre the Tory right wing would like you to believe.)

The Fairyland sign is no longer there as far as I could tell when, on a whim, I decided to explore that path again this morning. But the little fairy doors and houses are still in the trees. In fact there seem to be more than I remember. Some of the additions, like the little wooden boat floating in the creek, were even more surreal.

Wiki has an entry for Fairy Door, and it seems to be something that started around 2015/2015 both in the US and in part of the UK (though it also warns of the harm that can be done nailing or gluing things on trees).  But it's an odd little form of rural art, or whimsy, a bit like the trend for decorating street furniture in towns (knitted hats on post-boxes, or scarves for lampposts). It's also rather charming.



Saturday, 9 July 2022

Drop till you shop

Another early morning walk down to the canal towpath and back through the nature reserve whereupon nature's own call suddenly made itself felt. (Perhaps that second cup of coffee was a mistake before going out for a long walk.) Luckily Sainsbury's was just across the road, which also provided an opportunity for a bit of retail therapy. I'm really on the look for a pair of light blue skinny jeans, but all they had were darker colours. I may try the village later.

Or perhaps I need a poodle skirt and lots of petticoats to go with the trainers and bobby sox look. (this perhaps?)*

Am I overdoing the 'mumsy' look a bit here?

[ *warning. You can get lost in this site and lose whole mornings.]

Thursday, 23 June 2022

Halfway: Going up or coming down?

Three posts in as many days. what is she thinking?

She's thinking that she's having the time of her life and rather wishes this could just go on forever,  but I'm just over the halfway point where I'm counting the days left before Susie has to go back in her box.

Decided to go the other way up the canal path this time and come back into town by bus. Forgot that my bus pass is only valid after 9am, so ended up with a longer walk back than I anticipated.

Wednesday, 22 June 2022

Park Life

In which our heroine ventures - a bit - further afield...

'confidence is a preference' says Tony Daniels at the start of Blur's Park Life.

Having tried all the local parks, I thought I'd try one a bit further, although it's really only a short hop and skip of a bus ride. 

Actually I've been here before on an exploratory visit a couple of years before lockdown, so I knew there were generously sized gender-neutral loos that I could change in, and back for the trip home. 

I wasn't confident then or now to try the whole trip there and back as Susie, but maybe that's still to come. 

Glorious day, although perhaps leaving it to the middle of the afternoon wasn't the best choice. Or forgetting to pack a bottle of water along with the myriad other things I needed to remember for the change bag (skirt, check; flats, check; wig, check; forms, check; wipes, check; keys, check; camera, check; keys, check again). It's these days you really envy women who can just pull on a pair of shorts, sandals and a loose top and be out in 5 minutes without having to bag half the contents of the bathroom.

(Although I did see one girl, years ago, empty what looked like the entire Boots cosmetics counter out of her bag onto the bus seat beside her and give a full makeup demonstration to anyone watching. I wouldn't have been brave enough to put anything near my eyes on a bus hurtling down a country road full of potholes. Astonishing, she looked immaculate when she got off at the station.)


meanwhile, some other park life... (I was examined briefly for food and then summarily dismissed.)

Tuesday, 21 June 2022

Another Green World

Well, perhaps not a world, but maybe a small island, or more likely another recreation park.

Google maps showed that there was another block of green out at the top of the village, although until now I had never found it despite the fact that I must have passed it several times, so this morning (it being a day for Susie, after what feels an long time, although it's probably 'only' been five weeks) I decided to go and find it.

behind the green door.
Whenever I see a door in a wall like this I am reminded of stories where someone comes across a mysterious door that they'd never noticed before in a wall  and whether they go through it or pass it by their lives change forever. Probably the most famous is H. G. Wells' story 'The Door in the Wall'. but fantasy is full of these doors to other worlds. Though I suspect this one is just to someone's back garden, but what a neat thing to have your garden open out onto a park.

And not just a park, but a nice bit of wild space with trees and interweaving paths off to one side which make this feel more out the way than it actually is, given it's enclosed on thee sides by residential roads. 
(When you go to the end of one of those roads, though, and cross over onto the footpath, the fields beyond run into the distance, with the top of the spire of St Mary's Church off to one side. 
I remember standing here early one morning years ago watching a family of deer playing.)

Today was an opportunity to give the sparkly silver trainers I mentioned at the end of my last post a first outing.

time for a nice sit down after all that exploring.
One of the exits from the park came out in the middle of a rather familiar looking road, almost opposite the house where a couple of our friends live. Since they don't know about Susie, I decided not to chance it and found another exit that would take me out a  different way.

In other news, yesterday afternoon's Teams call from work was the first time that the rest of the company Pride Network committee got to meet Susie, although they've know about her since I came out and shared a photo of Susie on Trans Day of Visibility.  blog post: Differently Wired

Saturday, 14 May 2022

Back to the Bridge

Same place, same bridge, and almost the same outfit - not quite almost eight montha on.

Last time I was here I had just got a long floaty skirt. This time it's a different one, which I thought also deserved a first outing. 

I like this place. It's peaceful and quiet - or is at the moment, until they start building a huge football stadium right in the middle of it. And I do like this rickety old wooden bridge.

It started misty earlier in the morning, but had cleared up by the time I'd done a bottle bank run and a quick detour though Sainsburys where I tried on a pair of trainers (too tight for comfort, even in 8 - but see later). Sainsburys now seems to have a far more expansive cosmetics counter than I remember.
Then across to the the nature reserve and a slightly circuitous route to the canal bridge (OK, I got slightly lost and ended up going in a complete circle) and a walk back along the towpath.
In all it turned out I'd been out just shy of a couple of hours by the time I got back which is, shamefully, probably the longest I've walked in a over a fortnight.

This was new - the  'Jubilee Grove'. 
Not so sure about the poem though. It seems to be the sort of thing people write when they're tying to be deliberately poetic. But then, I'm a Modernist. What would I know?

The cows were new too, in a fenced off area to one side of the path, all wearing fetching yellow numbered earrings.  

A couple more views along the towpath on the way back. Almost nobody about at that time except a pair of ducks and couple of people steering a narrowboat under a bridge.

I've seen this pair of trainers in the charity shop for a few weeks now and so far  resisted, but this morning the allure of a pair of girly trainers in sparkly silver proved harder to resist, although I probably need to be careful that they don't shed glitter all over the carpet that could prove hard to explain. (Harder than why the closet is filled with skirts and dresses, none of which are in L's size?)

Time was..

Sunday, 17 April 2022

A Good Friday indeed

 Another day, another hairstyle.
A cheapish brunette bob wig I've had for years, but I quite like the way looks in this photo.

The last afternoon (Friday) of a four day break spent almost entirely as Susie while I have the place to myself. In the words of the late John Le Mesurier, 'It's all been rather lovely'.
L returns in a couple of hours so time to clean up and tidy  away any evidence of Susie presence and put her back in the box until next time she can come out to play. (Perhaps I should have been named Looby Lou, although that reference may be lost on anyone not old enough to draw their pension.) How can a single girl leave so much mess in her wake?

I may have taken visibility a bit further than I intended in the morning when decided the day was too nice to stay indoors and went down the village to see if any of the shops were open. However, being a bank holiday, and an Easter one at that, I rather forgot that a lot of other people might be out and about, including several I know in non-Susie life. Two of them were taking part in a Good Friday service outside the church and I'm not entirely sure whether I got one of those 'where have I seen you before?' looks from one of them as I passed. 
Maybe it was that that also made me oversensitive as to what two girls were privately giggling about in one of the charity shops, given that I was the only other customer at the time. Who knows, and really, who cares?

Thursday, 14 April 2022

Over the fields and far away

You know those dreams where you are walking towards something in the distance but no matter how long you go on walking it never gets any closer? For a long while this morning, the spire of St Mary's church felt a lot like that.

I was in two minds about going out the moment I stepped outside the door. It was colder and mistier than I expected and I almost retreated back inside for a coffee. But I'm glad I didn't. It turned into a nice walk, though the camera had some problems finding a focus point in some misty distance shots. I even found a new footpath route, although I think it was one I might have explored before except only from the other direction. Although it wasn't filled with horses back then.
And the coffee was just as welcome when I finally got back.

I also twigged the reason why people are advised not put their new food waste bins out for collection the night before, as I carefully negotiated the contents of one overturned bin scattered across the pavement and into the road. Apparently foxes have learned to unlock them already. Which is more than we have.

I have now encountered the same delivery lady three mornings in a row on three different streets to the point where we now wave and exchange greetings. I've no idea what she's delivering to various houses, except the house selection seems quite specific. Perhaps I should ask if we cross paths again another morning. It might be Avon products. That might be interesting.

Tuesday, 29 March 2022

Differently Wired

Yes, it's been a long time since the last post. Sorry about that. More about that a bit later.

Meanwhile, in deference to this Thursday's Transgender Day of Visibility on 31 March, I have finally taken a step that I've been thinking about doing for a long time since I became a member of my company's Pride Network committee, and finally came out to my fellow committee members as bi-gender/gender fluid by sharing a version of the picture below on a Teams chat. 

The opportunity came after the end of one our our Pride Network virtual coffee mornings (I prefer real coffee) in which we flagged upcoming event days for the month to the members including TDoV and fielded a bit of discussion about the different descriptions and pronouns within the trans spectrum. (Well-meaning and supportive cis allies have a fear of 'getting it wrong' and being called out/cancelled after reading too many scare stories on social and redtop media. It's such a shame when it really boils down to 'don't ask a trans colleague  or friend something you'd consider intrusive or rude to ask anyone else'.)

Anyway, when we talked afterwards about how the meeting had gone, I got the opportunity that it had never been quite the right moment for before to introduce them to  Susie. (Though I've still to actually tell them her name.)  It's something that had been nagging at me for a while as a feeling of mild imposter syndrome, being a member of a Pride Network intended to encourage to feel safe about being out and open at work and yet not feeling ready to do so myself. It's still only the committee - five other people - so far. Whether and when I extend that wider is another matter, and frankly I don't see how that would make much difference to how I work.

Back to that long gap between posts: 
Can you forget about your transness? 

I don’t think you can stop being trans, or forget that you are trans/bi-gender/fluid/NB or how you think about about yourself.

But it seems that the importance, and the need or even desire to express that part of yourself can wax and wane. 

It’s been  while. Nothing drastic, but between the cold, the weather, various health problems (more L’s than mine, though that's little consolation) and current affairs, the opportunities or indeed enthusiasm for expressing as Susie have drifted into the background. There were even a couple of days when I did have the opportunity of a day to myself, and in the past, in better weather, I would have looked forward to all week as an opportunity to spend the day as Susie and even get out for a couple of hours for a walk. Instead I found that I really couldn’t summon any enthusiasm (or, to be honest, any real desire) for the prospect, or for the hassle of getting changed, and instead spent the day working, reading and picking over the one of the never ending rotation of jigsaw puzzles that have been a constant fixture on the dining room table since lockdown.

These things come and go. It’s hard to think that this is a permanent state of affairs or the ‘new normal’. More, perhaps, a timely and needed respite from the constant background insistence of Susie’s presence that will almost certainly return at some point, when we will have re-engage with that delicate negotiation between desire, need and opportunity. 

[Minor update. In fact, the combination of opportunity, weather and desire have come together on a couple of days in the last month when I decided it would be nice to spend the day, or part of it, as Susie again. I was also working remotely on one of those days, and thought it would be a nice idea to do it in a smart office outfit rather than the usual shabby and shapeless jumper.]

This next bit has lain dormant in my draft box for a while now. Perhaps now is as good a time as any to revive it.

I have been circling back to something I wrote around around the end of last year, in Domestic Bliss?  where I mentioned my reaction to being told in jest that I would make someone a good housewife. (I hoped it was in jest and not a veiled proposal, because the person who said it at the time was hardly a match for George Clooney - nor even, to be honest, for Osgood Fielding III.)

Anyway, it set me to thinking back to other times when my reaction to a comment made me realise that I was wired differently to other boys around me, and I wondered if anyone else had similar memories and might like to share them.

The earliest one I can remember was when I probably 7 or 8 when we were staying at a cousin’s house. For some reason a shared joke (probably rude) between the two of us had set us both off giggling and when this continued through the evening and into dinner the head of the house finally lost patience and exploded that if we continued to behave like silly schoolgirls then perhaps we should be dressed like that and sent to school that way the next day. We shut up, embarrassed and abashed, and the meal continued in silence. Looking back now, I know that the threat almost certainly wouldn’t or couldn’t have been carried out, but at the time it awoke a feeling that must have been dormant for some while: a mixture of fear, shame but also the thrill that it would - could - actually happen. Although not enough to want to test it. Indeed, I’m not even sure even now whether the overriding part of that thrill was the desire to dress or be dressed as a girl or the prospect of humiliation.

The image in my head
What was more likely (still weirdly cute, though)

I have to acknowledge that in my private moments that uneasy mixture still remains part of me. Some childhood things never completely go away, although the thrill still get from seeing a box of proper metal Meccano with it brass gears and screws or my abiding love for Milne’s Winnie The Pooh are perhaps a bit more defensible even in my dotage. There have been several other occasions in the intervening years, perhaps for a later post, but that first memory still feels somehow formative.

Monday, 17 January 2022


 Saturday was the first time I had an opportunity for Susie time since (counts on fingers) probably the end of last September.

Unfortunately it was a all little bit... meh.

To be fair, it was a something of a last minute opportunity when L checked the weekend weather report and decided that she should chance having another day out on the Saturday. She was also getting a bit stir crazy not having a day out for herself since last year. 

But really, it turned out to be too cold, both outdoors and in, to really enjoy the time as Susie.

The first indication was when I stepped outside for a walk first thing in the morning. I knew it was likely to be cold, but a couple of yards up the road proved the pavements were a lot more icy and treacherous than I expected, despite  wearing a rather more sensible pair of thick soled hiking boots than my normal flats. That curtailed any plans to go for an extended walk in my usual nature reserve or canal path routes. The thought of taking a fall and not being able to get home easily, or worse being stranded while dressed en-femme was off-putting, to say the the least.

Luckily the main roads proved more tractable, so I had to settle for a briefer walk down to the village high street and a stop to get some cash out of the ATM. I had intended to drop into Tesco on the way back, but then discovered I'd forgotten to pack my normal mask and the only one I had with me completely fogged my glasses after two breaths, making it completely impossible to see where I was going. So scratch that as well.

Back home, since we only turn on the heating in the evening when we settle down to eat and watch TV, it was too cold indoors to do much more than stay bundled up in jeans and several layers of woollies and a coat and settle down to read or watch the snooker on TV. Practical but hardly pretty, and to be honest not that far away that it felt much different (apart from the more obvious bulge on my chest) from my normal male outfit of several layers of baggy sweaters for warmth. 

So, all in all a bit meh. It did make me wonder what I was doing, or whether it was even worth all the hassle of getting ready and then having to undo it all later on. 

I suspect Susie is more of a warm weather girl. Or Spring and Autumn at least, apart the height of mid summer, when, like the Wicked Witch of the West, her face is likely to melt and look like a sad panda painted by Salvador Dali or Francis Bacon.

Saturday, 15 January 2022

Adventures in portraiture

 While looking up something on Google, I came across a reference to thee work of  Yasumasa Morimura, who Wikipedia describes as a contemporary Japanese ‘performance and appropriation artist’. (I didn’t know that was a thing. “Appropriation artist” sounds more like a euphemism for someone involved in stealing.) And may be, in a way, it is. Morimura’s art consists of transforming himself, using props, costumes, makeup and lighting into facsimiles of iconic and famous artworks and photographs.  

as Monroe
 as Girl with a Peal Earring
as Greta Garbo
You can find a whole lot more of these with a Google image search.

There’s actually a whole internet meme for this which seems to have sprung up in the boredom of lockdown, where people dress up and pose to recreate famous paintings, which you can find here here, and hereand even album covers. People can be wonderfully creative sometimes.

Many of these are inspired, and a couple of my favourites are shown below.
Lady with an Ermine
Psyche raiding the fridge/entering Cupid's garden

Anyway, it seemed far too good an idea not to  steal, and already armed with FaceApp (which is a bit of a cheat, I admit), another app called DeepArt Effects and GIMP, I thought I'd have a go myself. At least it would provide some distraction until the next time Susie has a change to come out of lockdown.

(One of the things I've always wanted to do was a double portrait, cis-me and Susie side by side, perhaps on the sofa or some other domestic setting. Sadly, I didn't get to that, and I'm not sure I'm ready to have my undisguised picture up on this blog, so this may have wait until later)

My choices were a little left field from Vermeer, da Vinci and Waterhouse (although I've wanted to be The Lady of  Shallot  since I saw the real painting in the Tate)
Not sure this one works as well as I hoped or intended. The alignment, contrast and matching of colour and lighting (one of the really tricky parts) is a still somewhat off. I'm sure there must be another app for this, but this was best I could do manually.

This one was a little more fun after I'd pulled some strange faces in front of the camera. Perhaps I shouldn't have sucked my cheeks in quite so much. You can compare it to Gil Elvgren's original below.
Shame I couldn't take this one all the way to the outfit (or that d├ęcolletage, or even the legs for that matter) but it might be fun to try sometime.

And who doesn't want to be Uma Thurman sometimes?
Shall I throw this open as a challenge? Why not? I don't know if you can include images in Blogger comments (I suspect not), but if you want to have a go and share the results, I'd like to see them. 
Have fun


Friday, 14 January 2022

Monsoon Sale

While I probably shouldn't be encouraging this in these cash-strapped and financial uncertain times, someone over on my Facebook page mentioned that Moonsoon currently have a sale on. Dresses, coats and tops at half price and in many cases significantly less.

Happy hunting