Paula's Place

Paula's Place

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Holiday ~ looking forward 5

Fifth and last, last because it is only tomorrow that I leave!   I am sitting here at my desk writing this post at quarter past three in the morning as I woke up half an hour back, and couldn't get back to sleep.   I hope that after a little bit of writing and a cup of tea I will be able to.

I'm not sure what woke me up, but as soon as I was awake I was aware of an itch right across my back and shoulders, sure enough as far as I can tell with a mirror I am covered with hives, I have to conclude that this is some sort of reaction to the yesterday's waxing.   Whether the waxing itself or the cream put on afterwards doesn't really matter, the fact of the matter is that my back itches and I'm finding it very difficult not to scratch.   I have taken an antihistamine in the hope that it will help, otherwise I can think of nothing other than relying on self control ~ not generally one of my strong points!

I am pretty much packed and just need to add my toiletries and makeup and although I suspect that I am taking far too many clothes, I am surprised to find that my case is well within the weight limit.   I have y passport, my tickets, my E.U. health card so pretty much all set apart from picking up some Euros tomorrow.   I expect that throughout the rest of Thursday I will be constantly thinking of things I have forgotten, so I plan to carry a little note book with me and jot down things as they occur to me.

I am a little worried that I'm looking forward this break too much and am setting myself up for disappointment, I have had a look at the weather forecasts for the week, and to say the least they are a little mixed with even a couple of thunderstorms thrown in, still if the worst comes to the worst there is a nice bar downstairs!

Monday, 27 October 2014


First just want to say "Jack Bruce RIP" what a great bass player and singer, Cream were so important and influential, to me and to many of my generation.   I'm not sure whether he inspired e to play the Bass, or intimidated me with his virtuosity.

I have only been away for a one day after another very busy one, why do I have so much stuff to catch up with, more will follow.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

All a Bit of a Pain

I'd hate to think that it had anything to do with the previous night, but on Monday morning I woke up with a bit of a stiff back.   Rather uncomfortable but not too debilitating, I wasn't too worried as I already had an appointment with my osteopath on Tuesday evening.   Tuesday morning came round, as it has a habit of doing, and my back felt worse, despite my pummelling by the osteopath on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday I was still suffering.   I have managed to work each day, but suspect that I may not have been helping the situation.

So today I checked the forecast and saw that rain was expected all day, so I put on a sweater dress and made my way over to Wallington to be tortured by electrolysis and decided to spend the rest of the day resting my back and trying to get some of my admin a little bit more up to date.   But what happens, no rain! so I end up still out cutting grass in the afternoon, which of course does absolutely nothing to help my back.

What I need is a nice restful weekend, what I'm going to get is a gig in deepest darkest Surrey followed by a drive from London to Cardiff.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Something New

I have mentioned a few times recently that there are increasingly less things that I can do for the first time, and I seem to have been ticking quite a few of those remaining ones off the list.

Well on Monday another first passed.   I had been pottering around at home, a bit of housework, a bit of admin, started writing a report that I have been putting off, when I suddenly realised I would have to get my skates on, go out to work and do some gardening.   When it came to getting changed I just couldn't bring myself to put Paula back in a box and butch up.   Instead I just put on my working trousers and shirt and went straight to the customers.   Because of the nature of my work there is very little in dress terms that is not gender neutral, I usually have some ear studs in and often sport some nail polish, but this was the first occasion when I left my make up on and my boobs in place.

I should say that I have no wish to inflict heart failure on any of my customers, but on Monday I was making the first call on this customer since taking on her garden, I had been over  to meet her a couple of weeks earlier and on that initial meeting had been wearing a skirt as I was on my way home from another (non work related) meeting.

I was not surprised by my customers lack of surprise, however I was pleasantly surprised by how comfortable I was working while wearing a bra.   I had always rather expected this to be an added encumbrance that would just make life a little more complicated, however I was perfectly comfortable and nothing got the way.   A first but by no means a last.

Monday, 20 October 2014

What a Weekend

Weekends are meant to be a time of rest, relaxation and recovery, setting us up for the trials and effort of the working week, unfortunately for me all too often my weekends are so packed full of activity that come Monday morning I a worn out and need a rest!

This was one of those weekends, every bit of it was good and positive (even if no in all cases for the right reasons)   Yesterday was the autumn LGSO concert, it was a great triumph and I think everyone involved, audience helpers and orchestra enjoyed it,   I may write more about the weekend later, but now I just wanted to mention what was really a small aside.

I have written about T-Dar before, I have also often observed that there are more of us out there than most people realise.   Yesterday in between the rehearsal and the concert some of us popped into one of the few pubs in the City that opens on a Sunday lunchtime, after ordering our lunch I walked back to our table past a couple sitting on their own.   The girl looked up as I passed and a look of acknowledgement and companionship was exchanged.   I have to say she looked fabulous and I am quite sure that no one else would even have suspected, indeed I'm not entirely sure what triggered my own recognition.   I also know that even a few months ago I would not have noticed.

But, (I know I shouldn't start with a preposition, but there you go), but, what really struck me was the look, in the past when I have thought I spotted a sister she has always averted her eyes, scuttled off fearfully not wanting to be outed, but this girl was clearly so happy about who and what she is that there was no fear, no hiding and was quite happy to acknowledge a sister.   All this with no words, just a simple fleeting look.   I'm not sure that as a bloke I would have even noticed the look.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Turning Green

Just for a change I having a very busy weekend, I had a lovely time on Friday evening having dinner and catching up with an old friend, although I have only seen her once or twice in the twenty to thirty years we just picked up where we left off all those years ago.   We had an evening of chat and some more serious conversation, which was all helped along with copious quantities of wine.   Fortunately it had already been arranged that I would make use of her spare room over night so it wasn't actually until after lunch that I left.

Getting outside to the van I was a little confused by a pool of liquid in the footwell until I realised that a large tub of green wood stain had spit in the back and had run everywhere!  

Today I have the Autumn concert with the LGSO and will have to go and get changed and sort myself out to be in town on time before long.  I still have all the joy, effort, glamour and challenge of an afternoon rehearsal and evening concert to go and already I have had an exceptional weekend, one little high light was getting home yesterday afternoon and meeting one of my neighbours.

I had only come out to her a couple of weeks ago, but she is totally accepting, indeed she almost seems happy to have a neighbour to chat to about "girlie" things, we discussed my upcoming holiday and the preparation for it, she encouraged me to get my legs and chest waxed, I'm just not sure that I am up to the pain, she also recommended a nail colour, then dashed upstairs and came back with a bottle of the recommended colour for me.   Little gifts like this mean so much, it makes me feel as though I am being inducted into the feminine communion, or as Cyrsti would say I am feeling very welcomed to the Girls end of the Sandbox.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Trick? Treat?

As October blooms into fruition many cross dressers find themselves fixating on the opportunities that are offered by the final day of the month.   The whole fancy dress Halloween thing is a lot bigger in America than it is over here, I'm not entirely sure where the traditions come from (although I suspect Ireland has a lot to answer for) but it is clearly a very big deal on the other side of the pond.

Looking on the good old interweb there is all sorts of stuff on how to spend money at this time of year, there is also an almost inexhaustible supply of Christian, reaction, advice and response to Halloween, some seeing it as a bit of harmless fun, others a direct link with the Occult, and then just about everything in between.   I don't think I am going to add much other than to say that it is something I am personally uncomfortable about, and a large part of that discomfort comes from my Christian beliefs.

Being both a Christian and English I choose not celebrate Halloween, but being trans I do understand the attraction of a free pass to go out in public cross dressed, without worrying what others may think, so I do find myself slightly conflicted.   There were occasions when I have been tempted to make the most of this opportunity myself and don a (fem) fancy dress costume for the day, so I fully understand the temptation, and for those who view this day simply as a cultural celebration of Autumn who will enjoy dressing up and expressing a side of themselves that they feel they cannot any other day of the year ~ I do hope you enjoy it.

Now that I no longer feel as though I am in costume when I go out, I rather fancy the idea of doing fancy dress, I would love to dress up as a pantomime leading boy, or something even more outrageous like Jessica Rabbit, but now that I can I don't have the chance.   It is now several years since I last went to a fancy dress party and on that occasion I went as Roger Rabbit, I suspect that I would now be a bit more adventurous.

However tempted (or not) I might be to join in with the Halloween dressing up extravaganza, that is the day when I will be flying out to Malta, and even though I have yet to decide what I will be wearing, it will not be fancy dress, just me quite possibly in a dress.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Quote of the Day

Gratuitous picture of Jessica Rabbit
It's not often that you will find me quoting the Chief Economist of the Bank of England on this blog, but listening to the radio this morning I heard him talking about the economy and use the phrase "writhing in both agony and ecstasy" and I just couldn't help but think "I used to know a girl like that"

I have just got home from having my hair done for the first time for a good few months, it had got very shaggy and just a bit scruffy, indeed I was beginning to emulate the typical mad scientist, hopefully not an evil mad scientist (BWAHAHAHA) but it had got well past being a good look.   I am very happy with the result, just not quite so much with the cost, a reminder why I don't do this very often.   I want to look my best this evening as I am going out to dinner with an old friend.   An old friend who has not yet met Paula so I don't want to frighten her, especially since she has been going through a pretty rough time recently.

I am looking forward to catching up and spending some time with her, at one time we used to see a lot of each other, then drifted apart, married, had families and now both find ourselves on our own again, time for gin and sympathy. I should stress that this is not the girl I referred to in the first paragraph!

Pearls Girls and Monty Bodkin

Ever since I had my ears pierced just over a year ago I have been in the habit of wearing some sort earring pretty much all of the time.   Most of the time it will be a simple stud of some sort.   In truth I have altogether far too many studs, sparkly ones, pearls of all colours, simple metal spheres, hearts and flowers.   It is one of the ways that I assert my femininity even when the situation will not allow me to be more obvious.

Yesterday I was wearing a pair of (cold water cultured)  pearl studs which, even though very cheap and cheerful, I rather like, when I got home and got changed I found that one of them was missing, I was disappointed but not bereft.   I put the remaining stud to one side and the matter out of my mind.

This morning it took me a while to get started, I am finding that is happening more and more, I hope that my holiday will help, but I am finding it very difficult to work up the enthusiasm to get started on anything these days. Anyway I did eventually manage to get my act together and made a sandwich and a flask of tea, put on my work wear and went to put on my shoes to leave home, but found something in one of my shoes.   Assuming that as so often happens it was a bit of stone I just shook the shoe out over the path, only to find that my pearl stud fell out.   How it got from my ear into my shoe I will never understand, but I am very pleased to have it back.

I should stress that these are not "proper" pearls, they are way beyond my pay scale, but fresh water ones, from chinese muscles rather than South Sea oysters, and as for Monty, well there may be more about him later........................

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Holiday ~ Looking Forward 4

Well it's getting closer only a couple of weeks now and I'll be flying away to warmer climes.   Unfortunately it will only be for a week, but it is only now that it is really beginning to dawn on me that this will be the longest continous time I will have spent "en femme".   I have had a couple of weekends, and indeed on my last trip to France I spent a few days but this will be something of a test as I will be spending at least seven complete days and nights as the women I believe I am.

Regardless of any trepidation or excitement I may be feeling about this, it does mean a bit more planing is required than any previous weeks away.   Not only does my packing list look very different to previous years, my preparation will have to be a little different.   Like any other girl I want to look my best while I am away, in my case of course this doesn't just mean planning my outfits and getting my makeup right, it also means sorting out hair removal, trying maintain my nails and thinking about my hair.

Having worn my new swimming costume the other night, I now feel quite secure about it's security, but I did realise that I was displaying parts of my body that are not normally on display, and that I can't reach with a razor!   Dealing with this will involve spending money, planning, and pain!   I'm not very good with pain, but I am finding that as long as I know the outcome is worthwhile then I can just about bear it, what makes it worse is paying somebody else to inflict the pain.   I know a lot of ladies have their legs waxed, so far I have only got as far as eyebrows, and that hurt, so I am simply not prepared for how my back will feel!

I am also considering trying a chemical option to shaving for my chest, but am reluctant in case I have a reaction and then feel even more nervous about donning my swimming costume. Decisions, decisions.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

The Customer's Always Right

It is held to be one of the few generally agreed maxims of business that the Customer is Always Right, sometimes I'm not so sure.   I have two customers in particular who when it comes to gardens I can't help disagreeing with.

One gives every appearance of being a keen gardener, yet she will insist on pruning at the wrong time of year, not dead heading, and then ripping up plants because they stop flowering early.   With the amount of time she spends in her garden I can see that it would be so much better (more flowers, more veg, less weeds) if only she would be prepared to take advise.   This is not simply a reflection of a gardening style, more an attitude to life, she is both impatient and always convinced that she is right.    I can't remember who first coined the phrase, but "I wish I knew as much about anything as she knows about everything".   I always find it a little stressful working in this garden as I know that I will be asked to do something that I think either should not be done, or not done at that time.

So why do I do it, one of the advantages of being self employed is that I get to choose my customers, I have a basic rule that I do not work for people I don't like, and only do work that I find satisfying.   Well I look after this garden because the husband is a good friend, and something of a business guru to me.   He signs the cheques and I know that my help makes his life a lot easier.

The other is a different situation altogether, she is a lovely woman and I have grown quite fond of her, yet over the last few months her Mother has been staying with her and between them they are just ripping up all the plants.   The garden looks increasingly like and field of composted bark with a bit of grass in the middle.   Roses have been ripped up, peonies molested, and phloxes f*%$ed.   I begin to despair of making this garden a thing of beauty; yet maybe Mum will find somewhere of her own soon and will stop venting her anger on the garden, then maybe I can start putting in some "pretty" again.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Mists and Mellow fruitfullness

Looking around at some of the other Blogs I follow I can't help but see the way different people greet the changing season.   Rugby has been played since the beginning of September, Cricket is well over and the Grand Prix seem to go on all year round, so it's not the sport that is changing.   The days are getting shorter, cooler and wetter.  It is quite noticeable working outdoors that it's cooler and it is now quite often dark when I get home from work; autumn is undeniably here.

For many girls this is no bad thing, indeed a lot enjoy the change as it allows a different wardrobe to come out.   For those who may have an issue with body and leg hair, pullovers and thick tights can be a whole fresh area freedom.

This morning I had to search through my drawers to dig out a thick roll neck sweater before going to work, this was a not very lady like outfit as I teamed the pullover with paint spattered jeans and steel toecapped work books, I fear my bright pink nail polish might have been a little incongruous, but the nice guys at the composting site never mention it.  Personally when not working I find that I am wearing jeans and boots (not the steel toe capped type) most of the time, often with fine knit sweaters.   For me it is interesting that this is pretty much what I was wearing last October, the line between my fem presentation and my male one is increasing fine as far as the clothes go, yet I suspect few would have any ground for confusing them.

I am learning that it is not so much the clothes that make the difference, it's the accessories, the makeup, and most of all the attitude.   Of course this doesn't mean that I have abandoned my girlie girlie dresses, this weekend I will be going out to dinner on Friday and playing at the LGSO concert on Sunday, so that will be at least two occasions for a bit of glamour.

Monday, 13 October 2014

It's not the mileage it's the years

Yesterday I wrote a bit about my experience on Friday night with the TAGS swimming group, and sort of suggested that there was no down side.   Now of course that can never be true, after all ever silver lining has cloud, and the down side made itself clear on Saturday morning.

As Friday had been a bit rushed I didn't eat until I got home after the swimming, by then it must have been not far off eleven at night, with a quick supper and a glass of wine after all that exercise it was inevitable that I should fall asleep on the sofa, wake up at around one in the morning, before actually getting to bed.   Then waking up on Saturday morning feeling stiff with muscles I had forgotten I still had aching.   If Saturday had been a nice quite day pottering around at home this would have been fine and I could have basked in a self-righteous glow.   As it was I had a full and physically arduous day’s work planed, one pear tree and a sycamore to cut down and a bay and a yew to prune.

By the end of the day’s work I felt every one of my years, which is more or less where I came in with yesterday’s post, the reason why I keep thinking about my age is that I was so pleased on Friday evening to be the eldest there, all too often I find myself in situations where not only don’t I raise the average age but quite often I am either around the average or even one of the younger ones.   At over 55 this just isn't right!

One of the many things I like about playing with the LGSO is that I am very much one of the old ones.   Not only is the general standard of musicianship really high there are a lot of quite young players, in my section the second oldest thing is my trombone.   I think the other three players are all in their twenties, a mark both my trombone and I passed many years ago.   It is good for me to be with these younger guys, they keep me on my toes, and in touch with things I might otherwise miss out on, I like to think that it’s good for them to have a least one foggie around as well.

We will be playing our next concert on Sunday at our usual venue of St. Sepulchre’s without Aldgate, we will be playing a great selection of great music, Mendelssohn’s Fingal’s Cave, Brahms’s Second Symphony and the Elgar Cello Concerto played by the very talented, very young and obscenely good looking Jamal Aliyev.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

In the Swim

For anyone my age, regardless of gender, gender identification, or indeed anything else much, there are increasingly few new experiences to be had. Almost by definition the more things we do the fewer things there are left to do for the first time.   I can no longer travel abroad for the first time; I first played at the Albert Hall around 40 years ago; and the boat for most sports left a long time ago.   Yet it is still a joy when I do experience something new, and it is even better if the company is good.
On Friday evening I enjoyed one of those wonderful occasions.  I went swimming.   Now I have been swimming before, indeed at one point I was quite an enthusiastic swimmer.   My technique was never exemplary, neither was I particularly fast, indeed I only remember winning one final in a school inter-house butterfly race (and that was because all the other competitors got disqualified for breaking their stroke).   What was new on Friday was that I could go swimming as myself.

The wonderful TAGS have organised a regular Friday night swim for trans people.   We have exclusive use of a pool that is not open to public view, separate changing facilities and fully briefed and sympathetic staff.   This means that there is none of the trauma of deciding which changing facilities to use, or the worry of adverse reactions from “civilians” once the decision has been made.   We can swim freely and enjoy ourselves without having to worry if people are inspecting us or wondering about that strange scar on the bloke’s chest, or why we have chosen to wear that particular style of costume.

As well as the freedom and joy of getting in the water again I was able to give my new costume a through “road test” which I am pleased to be able to report it passed.   I also made some new friends, who I hope to meet again (and again, and again), all in all a very good evening.

Friday, 10 October 2014

I'm Back!

Marazion Beach
To all of you who may have been worrying about me, ~ thank you.   I have been away for a few days visiting friends in Cornwall, as well as seeing some wonderful sights and enjoying the company of my friends I also had an opportunity to think a little and get a good solid lump of common sense and some spiritual wisdom.

My bad news is still bad news as far as I am concerned, but maybe I can now see a way whereby it needn't be totally bad, not an absolute end but maybe a fresh beginning.   Beyond that, since it's not just about me I have decided that for the time being at least not to discuss it any further here.

The view from my bedroom window
In the mean time, I had a wonderful time in Cornwall, I stayed in my friends holiday let cottage, which is perfect in every way, enjoying the best of having my own cottage yet still staying with friends.   As I say the cottage itself is perfect, they have done an excellent job with the decor and the fittings I am sure that any family staying there for a holiday will have a wonderful time.   St Michael's Mount is within walking distance, and is only not in view from the cottage windows because of the cottage on the other side of the Road.   We visited Penzance and the Mount, pottered in the garden, visited a local hostelry and had dinner out, yet in some ways the high light might have been eating pasties on the beach at Marazion.

The only downside was that it was such a short break, I do hope to get down there and visit again, but it will need to be "Off Season" as I am sure that they will have the cottage let out all the rest of the year.

I now have to get through the next few weeks before my next break in Malta!

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Bad News

Today I have had some bad news, it has quite thrown me, and in consequence I just don't feel like writing much here.   At the moment I don't know how to respond to the news, and I don't expect to be writing about it here, or indeed anywhere else.

In the mean time I am going to be away from logging for a couple of days, so if after reading this you don't see anything from me don't worry, I will be OK, I will be in a better place, (Cornwall actually).

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Being Manly

Over the last couple of days Jim Toomey has started to develop a fresh theme on "manlyness" I find that many people have different ideas of what constitutes being a man.   We often get our idea of what a man is from our fathers, I was very fortunate in my father, he wasn't just a man he was a gentle man.   Sure he shared the faults of many men of his generation, he was casually sexist and racist, yet he was always polite, and considerate.   He was a provider, and competitive sportsman who knew that winning was only worthwhile if it was done fairly and with respect for your opponent.   He taught us through his example that bullying, drunkenness, yobishness were not manly,  rather they were signs of weakness

I want my daughter to understand what a man is, so it is largely up to me to show her, this is of course rather difficult for me now I understand myself to be a woman.   That having been said I have had a lot of practise, so I continue to try to show her that being a real man is not about farting and belching, it's about being considerate and polite; it's not about getting into fights, but stopping them happening; it's not about self promotion but consideration of others.   I am aware that I have often failed to sufficiently display these qualities.

My daughter still needs her father, and the times I spend with my daughter are often the highlights of my week.   I have started to think of these times as "Daughter Dates" and I hope she thinks of them as "Dad Dates" it is a shame that it is only through the breakdown of our marriage that we were forced into this situation, but I find that I am getting to know my daughter better, understanding what she wants, what she likes, her ambitions and fears through these times.   I hope she is getting to know and understand me better as well.   We were forced into this situation, but I would recommend "Daughter Dates" to all my friends who are fathers, don't leave it till it's too late, take your daughter out (without your wife!) show her what it means to be a man, then she will grow up a better woman, and be able to judge the boys she meets against a better measure.

Twice I have been in serious relationships with women, one I wanted to marry the other I did, on both occasions when the relationship broke down it became clear that my partners idea of what sort of a man I was were totally different to my own self image.   Could it be that by becoming a woman, I may also be becoming a better man?