The Big Ones…

Hi again, lovely followers!


What has happened this week then? Well, it’s been busy for me…

Still getting my head around our risk assessment to make our large and eclectic studio “covid secure”. We think we will probably open for limited appointments in late June or early July. Since part of our unique selling point (USP) is our hands-on, close contact, very personal fitting and design process, we don’t feel it’s acceptable to open in a rush on the 15th  June – clients are advised not to try garments on and contact time must be limited which does not fit in with our philosophy.

We are looking at opening when it is deemed safe for nail technicians and hairdressers to open, as our business is similar in terms of the physical relationship we have with our customers. We will have all the safety procedures in place as regards sanitising, restricted guests,  quarantining gowns for 72 hours and so on. It’s been a real struggle to work out because it is so alien to the way we normally deliver our service. However, we are looking forward to tackling the challenge with our brides and utilising video calling and so on to allow them to share the experience with their loved ones whilst keeping everyone safe.

Also, I’m still chasing the local authority and my MP for help with a grant,  so scintillating stuff… But by no means the most interesting or important events of the week…

This week saw me turn 50 yesterday and my daughter is 16 today!

So my main challenge this week was to juggle all my business tasks – admin, the trials mentioned above, make my weekly  new designs as part of my lockdown challenge – and…

…get my head around the fact that my long-planned 50th birthday party was not happening and working out how I could make my daughter’s birthday special too!

A couple of weeks ago, it was my son’s 13th birthday. This was easy as, to be honest, if he had been asked what his perfect birthday was he would have said “bacon sandwiches, presents, hugs from Mum, Dad and Rhianna, cake, wearing my onesie all day, chatting with my friends on the computer and not having to go anywhere or do anything. “

SO THANK YOU LOCKDOWN,  you actually provided a silver lining for one 13 year old!🤣

It would also have been the birthday of my younger sister, Fleur Lombard QGM, on Wednesday,  the day before my birthday (this used to annoy me when I was young, that her birthday was first). She was killed at work in 1996 (she was a firefighter) when she was 21, so she has remained ever 21 in everyone’s hearts.

Me and Fleur

I wonder what she would have been like age 46. Would I have nephews  or nieces? I miss her so much. Last year she had a train named after her, and my parents, my children and I travelled to Bristol to see it named. We then went to Cornwall for a few days to visit her resting place.  This year I just had to make do with a socially-distanced hello to my parents, with no hugs 😢😢😢

I can’t begin to say how hard that was. But the sun was out and we got to say hello and they were able to see me – luckily we only live 20 mins apart and I’ve been doing their shopping anyway, so no 250 mile trips needed🤔. That reminds me – I do need to chase Specsavers for my new glasses. And did you know Chris and I got married at Barnard Castle before it was cool…

Me and Chris at the castle, 2009

So I managed to get through Rowan’s and Fleur’s birthdays as their needs were few!

However, my daughter and I are cut from very different cloth. We are both Gemini (yes, that is as fraught with emotion and battles as you would expect!) We LOVE to party, see our friends, get dressed up and go places.

So this pandemic posed a particular problem.  How do we do it? The obvious answer is you can’t ( well unless you are a government advisor who can go where you want if it’s your mam’s or your wife’s birthday – don’t get me started). So I was a bit gloomy for a while, pondering how rubbish this was. Then I had a brain wave. I would just ask a few local friends to drive by, or walk by, and I booked 45 min slots, bring your own drink and cup. I placed a chair several metres away from mine in my garden (the upgraded lockdown project from the previous week’s blog) .

I love (like, passionately) the beach, so Chris (the husband) and I dragged the kids to the beach first thing yesterday morning and, boy, was it glorious. We parked on a quiet lane and walked down, only saw another family in the distance, collected shells and sea glass and it was perfect.

My family on the beach near Hartlepool

We returned home after our walk and I went into my garden to await my first drive by. I was not disappointed! I had planned that my friends could drive down the back lane and park the car right on the edge of the garden, but Jacqui, my first guest, was thwarted by a scaffolding lorry so she called me and I told her that she would have to park on the main road and walk through the alley and yard to me. I got on with arranging the shells and sea glass from the beach . Suddenly I heard singing and I turned around and there she was singing “happy birthday”. I was so shocked – she had come dressed up! I always have fancy dress balls or masquerade parties for my big ones, 30th, 40th and had planned the same for my 50th.

So there I am, in my shorts and cami top, and Jacqui is wearing a forest green silk off-the-shoulder 1991 bridesmaid dress and a peacock fabric wrap. I stood there gobsmacked for a nanosecond before I felt such overwhelming happiness that I have people who love me so much that they will do crazy things like this.  It totally set the tone for the day! She had even made me a 50th card by recycling some of her own cards from her 50th.

Here she is, one of my  most eccentric friends x (We recently had a conversion where we were discussing that she was eccentric; afterwards she asked a work colleague if she was and got the response, “Of course you are, you are weird as f@@k)” 🤣 and I love her so much.

I cannot leave out the beautiful, amazing Marie,  my Assistant Manager, sidekick, keeper of my books and sanity.  My “bouncer off of ideas-er “. I miss working side by side with this trusted colleague and friend so much.

Marie, ideas mistress

I won’t spam you with the rest of the day’s attendees, who were all equally delightful in their own ways. I felt like a total queen on my throne (AKA garden bench) receiving guests. It was totally amazing. And all the other friends who could not travel or be fitted in, I cannot wait to see you all over the next year – I’m 50 for another 364 days after all…

So today my daughter Rhianna (our daughter, darling husband) is 16. We have a typical feisty relationship: 2 strong willed Geminis; what would you expect? But I could not be more proud of her, especially the way she has survived during lockdown, when (like me) she is sociable and needs her friends, so she has struggled with it like me.

Rhianna , photo by Corrina Atkinson,  check out this blog for the whole team and all the other gowns and girls on the beach, it’s one of my favourites.

And before I forget! Here are my weekly lockdown designs:  a starry top and a matching veil. Slightly easier project than previous weeks, as I was time-restricted since I had so much to do… Must be getting slow in my old age 🤣🤣🤣.

So, until next week, I’ll love you and love you again. Am I older and wiser? Well definitely the former – not sure about the latter…


I also want to quickly thank my wonderful husband who proof reads and corrects my blogs every week, and built my website, and is pretty much very useful. Love him loads. He has been a rock (as always) during this lockdown.  He might or might not add a little word or two here about me. He wrote me a wonderful card, but it’s as long as this blog or I would share it with you. Suffice to say he is awesome.

Chris adds: “Greater love hath no husband than this, that a husband spend 30 minutes of his day editing his wife’s blog.” Love you, Bex!