Recessionista…

I have two loves in life: bargains (I am Scottish after all; thrifty is practically my middle name) and fashion. With chips and cheese coming in a close third: what’s the saying about cheap as chips…?

I should mention, though, when talking about cheapness, under no circumstances do I advocate sweatshops, shoddy designer rip-offs or five-finger discounts.

The cheap chic collections that hit the floors in the likes of Primark are fantastic, but browsing can often feel like a modern day equivalent to the hunter/gatherers of eons ago. Except these days us Ladies have to be hunters, gatherers and warriors. In fact, the last time I was in the Oxford St store a woman actually wielded a hanger like a weapon at me! I had half a mind to use my gold lame headband as a slingshot.

Anyway, I digress. Shopping for a bargain can be an ordeal. That is, until the Internet came along. Now, you can do it all from the comfort of your sofa, with nothing as dangerous as a packet of Jaffa Cakes by your side. For a while, I think shoppers were deterred by not being able to try things on but most online stores have sorted out their return policies and there’s always the benefit that you never have to wait in line. Ever.

What’s hard is finding the right places to go; there’s nothing as organised as the high street online. So here are a few of my favourite, bargainous sites…

www.boohoo.com I wasn’t a big fan of Boohoo, however, their website is now more user friendly so it’s woohoo rather than boohoo. They have a continuous clearance section, which really highlights how cheap they are.  A word of warning though, think about the material: cheap lace can be scratchy and satin can look cheap (really, I think that goes for most sites though.)

www.my987wardrobe.com Ah the joy of keeping things simple. Does exactly what it

Love this military cardi from http://www.my987wardrobe.com

says on the… er, URL. You won’t pay more than a tenner for anything, each item is priced (yup, you guessed it) £9.87. They’ve got some lovely on-trend stuff, and dare I say it, could it be cheaper than the big P?

www.theoutnet.com The Outnet is the sister outlet site to the posh and fabulously expensive Net-a-porter.com. The founder Natalie Massenet calls it Chic-onomics (love that phrase!). It is, of course, still a little pricey but if you’re after some designer clobber it’s by far the recessionista’s place to go to.

http://marketplace.asos.com ASOS Marketplace is the new addition to the already awesome webesphere that is ASOS. Come November you’ill be able trade you own clothes through a virtual marketplace on ASOS. A little like a car boot sale, but more modern and without all the dodgy ornaments. Whether it’s recycling your wardrobe, starting your own fashion boutique (for the catwalk stars of the future) or shopping for bargains, this is a site that I am super excited about!

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Come Dive With Me

It’s nearly 10 years since I first took the plunge into the blue, and I’ve barely looked back, mainly because it’s a particularly hard thing to do in a scuba mask.

I’ve seen 6ft turtles come out of nowhere on night dives, breathed deeply when I’ve come face to face with a kipping shark, got narced (as a result of breathing a higher concentration of Nitrogen and feeling loopy) and spent the long months out of the water longing to get my kit off and dive in.

Oh yes, and I’ve suffered plenty of gags about muff diving. Hiwalrious.

The reason I love diving so much is it’s the closest I’ll get to being a spaceman, legally. Less is known about parts of our oceans than the cosmos, it really is another world. Plus, you get to wear some crazy gear. It’s hard to rock a wetsuit. I’ve even done my PADI Rescue Diver course, which amongst other things I learnt I probably shouldn’t rescue anyone – I’m only little after all. Funnily enough, I’m much better at telling people what to do. But don’t worry I’m a fantastic diver and people have often said how much they love diving with me because I’m incredibly calm. So tighten up your mask, slip on your fins and go on, come dive with me.

Over the Top

It’s a gorgeous, sunny Monday, so what better way to start the week than going for a wee walk… down the side of a 100ft building! I kid you not, today I abseiled down the side of Kensington Roof Gardens all in the name of charity (Elizabeth Finn Care).

I arrive; sign a few disclaimers, always a little disconcerting when you’re about to do something dangerous. Then my group gets suited and booted, well helmeted & harnessed and after a brief explanation we’re ready to go. Are we? I’m pretty sure I need to wee.

We get to the ledge and the view is incredible. They try to keep us from looking, worried perhaps that the enormity, or rather height, of what we’re about to do might put us off. There’s a rickety stepladder leading down to the platform. Personally, I consider this more terrifying than the abseil itself; I don’t trust them when painting, let alone on the edge of a 100ft drop. I get down but now any bravado I had has well and truly left the building, from the roof.

Going over the top is the worst part by a mile, because that’s about as far away from the ground as you feel. Then suddenly, I’m away… hanging slightly precariously above Kensington High Street. I’m literally bouncing of the wall when I realize that this is probably the most personal space I’ve had in ages (well, I do live in London). It is an amazing yet terrifically terrifying experience, and before I can see how far I’ve come, I touch down in front of Marks and Spencer’s. Which is handy really, as I’ve run out of milk.

So, there we go: Abseiling – tick! And at least today, this Cat landed on her feet.

I’m Running off to Join the Circus [Space]

After discovering, in a fairly wild and mischievous way, earlier this year that I had apenchant for Aerial Hoop (before your naughty minds go any further, it’s a circus art, nothing sordid) I’ve reignited a childhood dream to run off and join the circus. So, this week I’ve signed myself up for an induction at the appropriately named Circus Space: (check it: http://www.thecircusspace.co.uk) it’s like a big-tent nestled into a warehouse in the back of Hoxton. So far, so cool.

When I arrive, we’re sat down and given the health and safety t’s & c’s. Which, thankfully, for all those that were worried, included a note about thin straps and boobs popping out. I feel smug, I’ve got 3 layers on AND a bra. We then move in to one of the awesome sweeping spaces alarming called the Generating Chamber. Feels more SyFy than children’s party. First we warm up; the particularly hot guy leading it gets us to do some skipping, arm swinging & hopping. Ah, now it’s a bit more children’s party. So much for clowning around though, I quickly find myself panting and I must be grimacing as the hot boy grins at me and suggests I smile. I blush instead.

Afterwards, we’re split into two groups. Half for ropes, the other traipeze and the plan is to swap half-way through. In my foursome are two lovely, bubbly girls and a boy; we’ll call him Paul. Seeing as that’s his name it would be odd to call him anything else. Paul is clearly a dancer; he has that walk that looks like someone’s stuck a rod between his bum cheeks, marrionettish. He’s obviously fit and in a group full of girls reckons he’ll be a bit of a dab hand at this circus malarkey. It’s true what they say though, pride comes before a fall off the traipeze.

We learn quickly: Circus is hard and it hurts. A lot. I also notice that one girl might have been particularly nervous about the whole exercise as she swings above our heads and make a mental note never to wear light grey. The lady teaching us is fairly kooky and she seems to take great delight in our inexperience. I like her though and she knows her stuff. After we’ve all had a chance to flail about on the traipeze and tie ourselves in knots on the ropes we’re told we are good enough to sign up for the Circus Arts course. Hurray, I’m in.

Now all I need is a spangly leotard and a ringmaster boyfriend.

I do not look like a ‘dare devil’…

I do not look like a ‘dare devil’. This has often worked in my favour; angelic looks can get you far in life (well, at least a drink at the bar). However, I’ve decided it’s about time I showed the world… I’m Cat Cubie, I’m Scottish and I’m made of girders.

(And of course, Irn Bru if you want to sponser me, I’d be delighted)

When I was little, my parents were never precious with me; I learnt the hard way. Each year, we would go sailing on the west coast of Scotland, and each year we would be chucked off the boat (actually, we probably dived, but chucked is so much more dramatic). Then my father would say in his deep, resonant (faintly Sean Connery) tone ‘if you can’t swim to shore, you can’t come on the holiday’. Harsh. Maybe, but I always made it.

I think it’s probably a fairly good lesson for life too, and why I tend to always chuck myself in. Head first..