It's all about Suffolk: Lesley Dolphin

Lesley ponders the joys, or otherwise, of clothes shopping

Why I dread clothes shopping  

Where did the idea come from that women love a bit of retail therapy? I have got a couple of posh do’s to go to this summer and am dreading having to fight my way around the shops to find something to wear. I’m not the only woman to hate clothes shopping either. Mark and I went on holiday to Florida with our friends last year and when it rained for the first three days of our visit we ended up at the Factory Outlet shopping malls – not for us women though... it was the men who hit the designer shops!

It is so easy to buy clothes if you are a man because, once you know your collar size for your shirts, and your waist and leg measurements for your trousers, you can go into any shop and just buy what you fancy – in Mark’s case a wardrobe full of shirts. It’s a completely different kettle of fish for women because each item of clothing is cut and sized differently.

A size 14 in one label can be a size 12 in another which means I often have to take two of everything I like the look of into the changing rooms. There was a time when I would refuse to buy a size 14 so these days it is definitely a point in favour of the garment if I can still fit into it as a size 12!

Then the battle of the changing rooms is enough to put anyone off a shopping spree. From the queuing to get into one of those cramped cubicles, to the counting of the number of items you want to take in: "Sorry madam you are only allowed six items... which would you like to leave with me?" That means that later on there’ll be an embarrassing moment when you have to peer out from behind the curtain, in a semi-naked state, to call the attendant for the remaining garments. Then there are the mirrors which are just like the ones I used to see at the fairground – the ones that made me look very fat and highlighted every cellulite dimple!

One of our do’s this summer is to a garden party so it will be pretty simple for Mark to sort out his outfit – either a dark lounge suit or a morning suit. For me though it is going to be so much more complicated. Should I wear a dress or two-piece, short or long, sleeves or not, coat or jacket, killer heels or sensible, big handbag or clutch bag...... etc, etc? I feel exhausted just thinking about it – and I haven’t even dared to consider the hat that I gather I have to wear!

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Later on there’ll be an embarrassing moment when you have to peer out from behind the curtain, in a semi-naked state, to call the attendant for the remaining garments.

All readers of this magazine will be well aware of the local food revolution that seems to be in full swing in Suffolk. The EADT Suffolk Food and Drink Awards have grown since they were first featured here in 2006 but recently I was invited to a particularly exciting business breakfast. Although there are farm shops, farmers markets and food festivals in Suffolk, I don’t think it is particularly easy to buy local food on a regular basis, especially if you live in town and work a full week. Now that could change with a new initiative launched by the East of England Co-operative. They have spent two years sourcing local foods to be sold in their stores across the east. We can already buy local potatoes and ‘Taste of Anglia’ products but from this summer keep your eyes open for their ‘locally sourced’ brands – anything from meat to asparagus. I can’t wait.

Are you a morning person or a night owl? Once upon a time I think I would have said I was a late night person – probably when I was a partying student. These days though, the hours we keep are really more determined by my husband’s work. As you will read elsewhere in this magazine Mark has been presenting the Breakfast Show for BBC Radio Suffolk for the last 11 years.

Our alarm clock goes off at around 3.30am, Monday to Friday, and he has to be in work by 4am. I have to admit I don’t leap out of bed to make him a cup of tea before he goes, and some mornings I don’t even hear him leave.

Over the years we have learnt to live around Mark’s work pattern without letting it totally take over our life and I really admire how he copes, I get very crabby when I don’t get enough sleep! He gets home from work at lunchtime and then goes to bed for the afternoon, I usually take him a cup of tea when I get home at around 5.30. That means that we can at least spend the evenings together and sometimes even get out to the theatre and other events.

Mind you by the time we get to Sunday – Mark’s only day off at the moment – he is shattered and could give any teenager a run for their money in the ‘sleeping in’ stakes. I often slip out of the house to go to the gym and get back before he stirs. I do know he finds the early mornings much easier to cope with in the summer when it’s light and the birds are singing, rather than having to scrape the windscreen and fight the icy roads in the dark winter months - but read what he has to say in the feature starting on page 60.

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