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JULY/AUGUST - HEAT
It
looked warm and sunny out this morning, and I had had the fan on all night as I slept, so I got dressed in last year's silver thong sandals, my thinnest black skinny trousers and a plain, loose, white tee shirt and had a light chicken salad and some chilled water for lunch in my best efforts to remain refreshed and unruffled. Then I left the flat and stepped out on the street and boom! Right into the blast of someone's hot air-dryer. Or so it seemed. But no! Alas, I was mistaken, it was just the lovely end-of-June air blowing a gentle breeze across my face. Or rather, the lovely end-of-June 40º gale blowing its way into the City from the lovely and cool Sahara desert. Running late, as always, I could barely move through the soup-like air to cross the bridge but the plus-side was that my wavy hair was poker-straight by the time I staggered into the office to be greeted by puzzled glances at my otherwise dishevelled appearance. And immediately broke into a sweat. Or, as I am a lady, began to glow, as my grandmother would have me say.

I have an utter love/hate relationship with Summer. Some days I think it's my favourite season, I love the idea of throwing on a pretty dress and some sandals and not having to worry about a jacket all day - though the A/C at The Bank where I work can be pretty brutal. I love the balmy nights for the cocktails on the terrace outdoors, sleeping with the windows open and waking to the hustle and bustle of El Carmen coming to life on the streets below. I love the fact everyone's in a better mood and the old cliché of love being in the air as we say goodbye to Spring.

The clothes in fashion for the hot months are gorgeous. I have my eye on two MAXI dresses - maxi is the new mini I'll have you know - two flowery, floor-length creations. One green and tropical from H&M, the other girly and pretty from Blanco, both are ultra-cool, layered chiffon with spaghetti straps, perfect for work-to-eveningwear once the gold chains and trinkety bangles are piled on and some wedges added to the ensemble.

I enjoy having more hours of daylight to get things done and for some reason feel the need to sleep less this time of year, when I am usually craving my z's and could nod off absolutely anywhere. And I am most happiest in all-out beach bum mode - my iPod shuffle, a good book and a skimpy bikini will keep me entertained and in total bliss for hours on end of a sunny Sunday. Not forgetting the all-important sun-tan lotion, of course. Lolita's second beach visit the other day ended with her face down on her bed back at the flat and me literally shovelling on the after-sun as she winced when I touched the burning red skin on her shoulders. Silly girl!

When I can't bear July and August is when, like this morning, it is too hot to even think. When walking down a street without melting means literally fighting off one's fellow pedestrians for the shaded strip of pavement and the heat creates a hazy mirage across the surface of the tarmac. When not even an ice-pop - it has become my new tradition to grab a 20 cent "flash" on my way to The Bank every day from my corner shop, I am trying to emulate the ice-cream van in my head and it's the closest I can get for under a euro - will stop the feeling your insides are boiling under your skin. I am just not one of those enviable folk who heat up glamourously and exclaim how unbearable it all is while their skin stays matte, hair frizz-free and appearance immaculate. Red faces run in my mother's family and it is absolutely mortifying to be told you look hot all the time, especially when you are doing all in your power to remain calm and collected.

The worst bit is saying goodbye to all my friends as they jet off all over the country/Europe/the world for their well-earned vacations and it looks like all I will be doing til September is work, work, work. But then the plus side is I always have somewhere to go at the weekends when the muggy City just sizzles under the Summer sun. As I said, I adore the beach... Sorry, where did you say you summered again?

FIB
I'll say it every year til I'm blue in the teeth. After reading yet again about the disastrous Glastonbury weather, I can't imagine wanting to festival anywhere else but Benicassim. Plus it's 40minutes up the coast. Simply cannot wait for Amy Winehouse, Armand Van Helden or the Artic Monkeys, but we are looking forward to the rest of the alphabet too. Four-day passes sold out already? Are we surprised?
SUPER-HIGH PONYTAILS

The best hair-do to beat the heat and looks surprisingly chic the messier the chignon and the bigger the beehive. For the ultimate 2007 look team with white ray-ban Wayfarer and a neon logo tee. Ravin'.
SUMMER RAIN
Love the smell, love the way the earth feels like it NEEDED it, love the way the world feels refreshed and cooled down. For about fifteen minutes.
VISIBLE PLASTERS UNDER SANDALS
In Sfera the other day, I heard a woman bitch to her husband that somebody had left their skirt behind. Obviously I was dying to see who the poor girl was, and was unsurprised to find a stunning, leggy brunette in a microscopic safari-style romper suit and sky-high white patent wedges. A closer look, however, revealed her feet nearly bandaged up completely under the sling-back straps. What a shame.

JUNE - Punctual
Punctuality. Now there's a word that never figured in our vocabulary as children. I have no memories of Getting There Early. To anything. Dinner at seven? Oh, okay we'll see you at eight then. The ceremony starts at two? Well, I'm sure we'll catch the end. Having no respect for the time is a truly un-British trait, but then my family never was stereotypically British. Or stereotypically anything for that matter. We probably fit the stereotype of not fitting a stereotype. In any case, my disregard for punctuality, however hard I try for it not to, extends to all aspects of my life. My sister, who I live with, and I, try so, so hard not to be late to anything but if ever there was a habit that died hard... The thing is it's always a rush at the last minute. Even if you've had all day to get ready! I missed a department meeting at The Bank the other day where I am told the main topic on the agenda was, yep, you guessed it. Punctuality.

As the lovely editor of this page will be less than delighted to tell you, I am never on time with my Woman deadlines either, but from what I've heard I'm not the worst culprit in this area so I can breathe a little easier there.

Luckily, work aside, I happen to be living in the best City in the world for people who don't own (or look at if they do) a watch. I am, by nature, apart from being the worst timekeeper, one of the most laid-back people you'll ever meet, which doesn't help when trying to shake off said terrible habit I've been nurturing since a child, but does make me less worried about friends not keeping to plans, changing them at the last minute, or completely forgetting we've arranged to meet at all. Some are polite enough to phone when you've already been waiting fifteen minutes or even text on their way. On their way out the door when I, having left my house at the last minute anyway, have already been standing on the street/sitting in a cafe/walking round a square, all my own, looking like a complete and utter Ms Billy No-Mates. That is, if I'm not the one doing the standing up myself.

The good thing about having time to spare is that you can pop into the nearest shop and spend a little on your credit card. Actually, that's a white lie, I don't allow myself to have a credit card, especially not this time of year when all the floaty dresses, tiny skirts, and tailored linen fill the shelves. I am desperate for an occasion to wear a strappy white, empire line frock with teensy tiny flowers all over, which was, in my defense, an absolute bargain and will Summer-up my black patent Winter stiletto pumps. This was an acquirement to my wardrobe added just a few days too late to have worn to the opening of the spectacular new nights at the L'Umbracle at the City of Arts and Sciences. The space has been transformed into a luscious chill-out heaven with torches, huge cushions to lounge on, a dancefloor, sexy lilac lighting and intimate four-poster beds scattered amongst the greenery. Come to think of it, even if I had had The Dress by then, I wouldn't have been able to wear it as I had to run there straight from The Bank, having done several hours over-time what with my lovely colleague being off sick these few weeks and the workload being all on me. Fashion magazines are always full of office-to-drink wardrobe tips, but in practice one never carries the chandelier earrings, high heels, hairspray or beaded clutch needed for such transformations. In a desperate attempt to sex-up my work attire, I smudged in my eyeliner, undid one more button on my shirt, let down my hair and rolled up my skinny black trousers to reveal a bit more leg, but still felt underdressed next to Miss R.'s LBD and pearls and L's floaty black chiffon and silver sandals. I guess it's the punctual kind of gal who carries emergency cocktail getup in her car and sparkly hairpins in her briefcase. But then that, as I am beginning to find out, will never be me.

Gimme gimme gimme!
· Adam Brody -
All those O.C. fans out there who felt naughty lusting over the young and geeky Seth Cohen will be pleased to hear Mr Brody has well and truly grown up. Catch him in In the Land Of Women opposite Meg Ryan this Summer and fall in love all over again.
· Watches -
a relevant accessory for me this particular month, the watch is huge this Season and is one of the few pieces, when chosen carefully, that can be worn with every outfit. I'm craving the Chanel white perspex timepiece with the diamond bezel. Bling bling. Oh and I think it would look great with a tan.
· Inexpensive black kohl -
Mercadona's (yep, the supermarket!) eyeliner in 01 negro is the best on the block and cheap as chips. With the amount I go through it needs to be!

Say No, No No!
· Bellbottoms.
Just as we were getting used to the skinny jean, slimfit trousers and straightlegged pants, HUGE kickflares are everywhere! I can't help but find them outdated and unfashionable. (Though you might want to ask me again in a month's time...).
· The nasty girl in my video shop.
She didn't like me from the moment I signed up - the British are cold, she stated bluntly - and now claims I owe €79 on a film I know for a fact I took back several weeks ago. Next time in there, I'm demanding to see the manager.
· Unpredictable weather.
We know it's all due to global warming but that is exactly what makes this awful yet brilliant weather so much worse. How are we supposed to know whether to pack an umbrella or leave the cardie behind any more? And if I'm late anyway, how am I supposed to remember to grab something for all weather options?

 

MAY - Surprise Party
There is one thing in life I am completely certain will never happen to me - I will never be held a surprise birthday party. I know this because I am the one who does the organising of my own celebrations and wouldn't ever want to risk ending up with nothing happening whatsoever. My dear friend Miss R. was off to Cuba for her Easter holidays (alright for some!) and declared two weeks before as we all sat down for dinner that she would very much like a surprise party for her birthday. Oh, and could she know which day it would be in advance so she could look pretty. At the time we laughed, but then L. and I thought it could be quite fun, so set about making it happen. We tried for the weekend after but everyone was too busy, so we left it until she got back from her galavanting, by which time - obviously she had done too much sunbathing and overdosed on the mojitos- she had completely forgotten she had even mentioned it and it really was a Sorpresa! Unfortunately, the turn-out was poor and rather disappointing, so we insisted on taking her out on the town the day after. R. had seen a new bar had opened on the Avda. de Francia which was apparently "always packed", but as she tends to exaggerate things, (and then says, "well, maybe that's not QUITE how it happened" afterwards) we had to see it to believe it so trundled down there that Saturday night. The place was, indeed, extremely busy with extremely smart, well-groomed people. Lots of America's Cup-type-people were lounging on sofas, hanging out at the bar and spilling out the doors. The smartest cars we'd ever seen were parked up on the pavement and double banked three streets away. Maybe R. has finally learned to tell it like it is! We found a handy spot round the back right outside the door and pulled up. The whole of the rear of the bar was glass and we could see the hip crowd inside laughing and dancing and being merry, as if they were in the background of a bar scene in a movie. We were about to get out the car when I realised that the top half of my new, strapless Little Black Dress, had worked its way down to my waist, and I was, in fact, sitting in my bra. Which could explain some of the looks we'd had at the previous five sets of traffic lights. I screamed, absolutely mortified, the girls burst into hysterics and we frantically searched for something to hold it up where it belonged. I twisted round to let R. pin me in with some safety pins she just happened to have in the glove-box and we got out the car, my dignity (just) intact. The fish-bowl effect of the back of the bar obviously worked both ways, and we were conscious of everyone inside watching as we strode, determined, up to the back door, only to be sent round the front by the security guard. If it had been for me, after the LBD debacle and the humiliation of being sent to the other door, I would have gone straight home to bed with the duvet pulled right up over my head, never to come out again, but the others were braver than I, and we made our way, red-faced to the other door. Inside, by a miracle, we found a corner table from which to people-watch, and perched on the couch with the strongest Absolut and lemons we had ever tasted, in glasses the size of buckets. Being sat down, we soon realised we were at eye-level with the bottoms of a group of over-50s women, which was not the best place to be, but they soon moved to the side to make room for some China Team sailors. Much better. Then, as I was pointing out the young Jeff Goldblum-lookalike in the corner, he caught us looking. Third uncomfortable incident of the evening! He sauntered over and we discovered he was Italian, and named Francesco, not Jeff. Shame. With a wink, he invited us to stay in his huge apartment in Rome next time we were over and introduced us to his charming Italian chums, before we politely made our excuses and left to meet the rest of the gang. Not without getting my heel caught in the door-frame on the way out, of course. It was just not my night.

Gimme gimme gimme!
· Unexpected visits from long-lost friends! My oldest friend in the world is popping over for the weekend mid-May, and I could not be more excited.

· Shorts! Back in for the Summer, we cannot think of a classier way to show a bit of leg. You could even do a Paris Hilton and go underwear-free, and no-one need know.

· Sunshine! Love the May bank holiday coming up - fingers crossed for some more sun. (Must get brown legs to do shorts!)

Say No, no, no!
· Sore throats. It's that time of year again when it's in and out of AirCon/Sun/Rain etc. all the time and I am constantly at the Doc's. Must get me some vitamins!

· Planning Summer hols. Now? But it was only Christmas, like, last week! Give me a break.

· Not enough celebrity packed events in the City! We want Chloë Sevigny back again!

APRIL - Wardrobes and tidiness
I would love to fling open the doors to my wardrobe and find everything completely in order, my clothes hanging in colour-coded sections and by season, shoes neatly in matching boxes with polaroid snaps of the pair within tacked to the front. Actually, if we're really talking fantasy storage space, my ultimate boudoir would connect to a proper American dream-closet complete with full-length mirrors to see myself from every angle, ambient lighting as in H&M changing rooms that give you cold-light-of-day but also candlelit-dinner, and nothing stowed away in drawer nor shelf besides knickers, so that I would never forget a single item of clothing I owned for it being stuffed at the back and could go for as many different looks in one week as Lindsay Lohan in a month. 

The harsh reality is rather gruesome. Apparently, according to Lolita, the electrician who came round this week to finally sort out our plug sockets so we would no longer have to trip over cables that cross the entire flat, compared my bedroom to a marketplace. And we are quite sure he didn't mean Notting Hill or Brick Lane. My predicament now is that I had a lot of my things in store, which have had to come out, so now there are boxes stacked in the corner under a table, piles of magazines stacked on every available surface, and clothes, bags and shoes coming out of my ears. I am currently sleeping like a soldier on one side of the bed and tend to shove whatever is in my way onto the ever-growing pile of general rubbish on the other side. Thank goodness my snuggly Zara Home duvet is 220x240cm otherwise I do not know what I would do to keep my tootsies warm of a chilly Spring night. (What about a man? I hear you ask. He would keep you warm! Ah yes, but where would I put my things? More to the point, where I put him?!). And the clothes I have not flung over the desk chair, dumped on the pouf or pushed off the bed just do not fit in my, let's face it, truly enormous wardrobe. It has 6 doors that I cannot close, such is the overflow of its contents. I have been switching about the same few garments for the past few weeks and especially over Fallas to cunningly make it seem like I haven't really not got access to anything else. 

Now don't get me wrong, I don't want to come off as a slob! Though I am known to be quite lazy, the hard fact is I just have too many clothes. For a long time I thought I wanted to work in fashion, but then I realised, looking around at my possessions, that I would much rather just be fashionable. I am realising now that the first step towards my goal, and I'm not saying that I'm not there already, I just need a little push to be trendy all the time, is definitely organisation, and this I have to get around to before Thursday. The electrician is coming back to finish the job, in case you were wondering. And Lolita says he's quite dishy...

Gimme gimme gimme!
· Zoe Kravitz - When having truly rock-chic parents - Lenny Kravitz and Lisa Bonet - is just too passé, you have to start making your own brand of cool. 18 year-old Zoe Kravitz is just that, and her stunning pictures in this month's US Elle prove she is certainly one to watch.

Unique necklaces - the pendant is THE accessory this Spring/Summer. Whether it be a shiny cream ball on a gold string, your mother's hand-blown glass medallion, or the bright-red heart on a white-perspex chain I've been coveting for months, hang it round your neck and hang it low. 

Nit en Vela - In Paris last year I was lucky enough to play witness to the night of light, and now we're having one here. The whole City will be illuminated on the for a truly romantic and special evening out.

Say no, no, no!
"I-Nearly-Boughts" - perhaps the most frustrating form of purchase, mainly because you haven't made the purchase at all. I am talking in particular about the bright blue vintage sunglasses I Nearly Bought for €15 at the Piazza Campo de'Fiori Market in Rome. But that's another story.

Friends-who-bring-friends to your home - I read an article not long ago about dinner party etiquette and nearly laughed out loud when I read about guests who bring their own guests without warning, yet had to bite my own tongue when I had the same thing done to me one day in Fallas, when one particular amigo showed up with two workmates who didn't even introduce themselves and proceeded to lounge all over the sofa languidly whilst sticking their tongues down each others' throats. Perhaps it was a good thing my bed wasn't clear after all!

 

MARCH Fallas

For one day at the beginning of February it felt like it may just be Spring. It was, in fact, perfect Fallas weather. I even took off my jacket on my way to work! (Which, incidentally, is going really well, thanks for asking!) But it turned out to be one of Mother Nature's cruel tricks and the temptation to buy out all the Spring/Summer collections in all the shops and skip about in the sun in minidresses and strappy sandals arm-in-arm with Lolita Devine, my muse this month, faded fast. In truth, it's probably a good thing, considering the state both our bank balances are in! The cold weather came back in a flash, the clouds rolled in and we were gloomy again.

And gloomier still when we went out the Saturday before my birthday to pop to Colón (for window-shopping, of course!) and were completely blanked on the street. Not only did the being ignored in public surprise us - hello, we looked especially lovely as we strolled along in our oversize sunglasses, huge coffees in hand, despite the pounding headaches after the night before's debauchery. No, it was the fact that two of our respective exes were now Big Buddies and they were doing the blanking together! We gaped at each other in amazement. Whaaaat?! How dared they stare right through us in that manner. Oh, they had definitely seen us and we looked ridiculous now, standing stock-still in the middle of la Calle de la Paz, as the two boys carried on nonchalantly up the road, looking we had to admit, better than ever! But then so did we, so one-all there then. Feeling a bit faint, we ducked into Enjabonarte for a smelling-salts-bring-you-round-pick-me-up type experience and emerged with a bath bomb each. And we don't even have a bath, so you can imagine how distracted we were.

Lolita by this point could not stop talking, and was so furious there was practically smoke pouring out of her ears. She left me jogging to keep up with her, as she ranted on about how good it was we had moved on, because they were obviously not over us or they would have said hello, and they had been forced to become friends to wallow in their unhappiness together, and did you see how fat X had got, and how could he think - oooh, look at those shoes! My flatmate and dear friend Lolita Devine is my muse for several reasons this merry month of March. One, she is easily diverted from her woes of the moment and doesn't like to think about these things for too long. Therefore, she is a good influence on me, because without her I would still be analysing the whole blanking situation right down to Y's new haircut (never would have thought he had the bone structure for such a closely shaven 'do...).

Two, she has impeccable style. We discussed the merits of the 80s revival and wondering how to get it down and not look like we were in fancy dress. It was nearly Carnival after all, we didn't want to look like we had got the wrong day. Then Ms. Devine mixed her usual black with a bright neon palette looking as elegant as Grace Jones and nothing like an extra from one of her videos. No easy feat. And Three, she accidentally-on-purpose left her puff-sleeved charcoal minidress hanging in her wardrobe when she went away. I love her! She is just the perfect housemate this month. Let's just hope I'm still as sweet on her after Fallas has rolled around and back.

She does like to play hostess, and she has a cheeky friend that loves to try on all my shoes...

Gimme gimme gimme!

· Mix it up - there is nothing better than a prim white frilly blouse paired with a black patent waist-cinching belt to cause high impact in the workplace. Believe me I know.

· Fallas is around the corner! My favourite time of year, you can practically taste the excitement in the Valencian air! Not to mention all the Italians who insist on descending on the city...

· IVAM is 18! The City's modern art museum is an adult now, and doing all sorts of fun things to celebrate. And most for free!

Say no, no, no!

· Missing my girls - they've been away for nearly a month now but our weekends are just not the same without Miss C. Miss R. and I are quite at a loss as what to do with ourselves without her-must get out and rescue her from the Belgians asap!

· Hair straighteners breaking a week before pay-day! And Lolita and I have just re-trimmed our fringes - such bad timing these things!

New Year, New Look

I have been blonde (and a rather dizzy blonde at that) for as long as anyone can remember. Blondes have more fun has always been my motto; Blondie, Brigitte Bardot, Kirsten Dunst, Kate Moss, my idols! But something came over me at the beginning of 2007 - it was time for a serious change. No New Year's Resolutions I would never see through, but a new look for a new age. Oh yes, (cue drum roll) I was going brunette. And it would be DIY - I know my hairdressers too well to trust with them with this, I'd probably walk out of there with an electric blue crew-cut, they could talk me into anything! And so I found myself marching into El Corte Ingles, with La Mamá in tow, to choose a colour, and practically fell over running home to get it on before I changed my mind. As soon as the brush touched my locks I wanted out, wanted to be a blonde again! But Mothers always know best, and she convinced me to persevere, removing the towel to reveal a warm, chestnutty brown. Of course, the next morning I woke up (and extra early for my new job - more about that later) and nearly fell over when I saw my reflection. I'm not a great morning person anyway, the me I see in the mirror is not usually the prettiest sight, so imagine my shock when I saw Morticia Addams staring out at me!? Okay, it's not that dark, but it was 7 am, alright? I am never usually up before 9. But! My telephone operator job has borne fruit - I have been plucked from the floor to join a more international department within the same bank. Sounds posh? Well, I am finally getting a bonus for using my native English, processing imports for Spanish companies from overseas - fascinating to see who's bringing in the Extra Virgin Olive Oil, from ooh - say, Tunisia?! Not naming names, naturalment!

Back to the hair, I have a new recurring nightmare about washing it and huge clumps turning blonde/green/orange... quite disturbing, to be honest, I wake up terrified of looking in the mirror again! I think I've finally got used to the idea my tresses are no longer golden though, the builders round the corner catcalling MORENAAA at me on my way to work have helped with that.

The Girls were the true test - none of them knew I was even considering going for El Cambio - Miss R. did refuse to talk to me for about an hour, but she agreed with Miss C. after a while that my new colour bring out my eyes. We fancied a wok-type dinner so met up for dinner at AQUA for their Chinese upstairs. As C. and our other dear friend and fellow Ibiza-worshipper K. are leaving us for Belgian shores ever so soon, we have to make the most of her until she goes, sniff, sniff. C. brought me along some shoes she had very kindly fought an angry-looking redhead for in the January sales. When one has large feet, one must do what one can to covet a good pair in one's size, so I sent all my friends on a mission to grab me anything in black in mine. Though my tootsies (in a 41) could hardly be considered big compared to Paris Hilton's size 43's! Poor C. was in the queue for one hour and a half in Zara on January 7th, sales fever has been absolutely crazy this year! Blanco - 50% off from day one - was like a madhouse, I have never seen so much frantic grabbing and manic purchasing in my life! Sadly no gold leather imitation-Birkins in sight, though. The high heeled patent pumps C. managed to find me amongst the insanity that is reduced priced goods after Christmas are ideal, and perfectly match the Zara dress I tried on last September, couldn't afford and have regretted not buying ever since, but found down to €9.99 on a bargain rail! Yay!

Miss R. and I are secretly planning C. and K.'s going away party, but there is a bit of conflict at the moment with some other friends who want to have an intimate dinner Just Us Girls when we would rather go all out and invite everyone they know to a big bash and get totally trashed and remember Old Times. Our hush-hush scheming is keeping our minds off the fact we won't have them here with us from the beginning of February until at least June. If we stopped to think what we are going to do without them the wailing and crying could probably be heard all the way in Flanders.

After our Chinese meal the other night (pudding was ice-pops and jelly, sooo oriental) we popped into Cafe Madrid for some after dinner drinks where we met a friendly House Music DJ. "What's your artistic name?" I asked, and he said, Guess, it's a Disney character. Donald Duck? Close! He said, "it's Mickey Mouse, but instead of Mouse, it's Housse, with two S's, like Mouse!" I was stunned. Miss R. saw the danger I was in of laughing in his face and said, she's bilingual! To which he laughed, "Oh, no explanations needed there, then!" Poor Mickey Housse. We wondered silently how he expected to actually get anywhere with such a name, and took his sampler CDs graciously, putting them on for a bit of a boogie in the car on the way home, agreeing we'd have to pop into Nikanna of a Wednesday to see him in action.

My Birthday is The Event of the social calendar for February - I had such a huge bash last year that everyone is highly expectant of me this time round, pressure pressure! Something low-key is definitely on the cards, especially with my girlies not here, so I will probably join forces with my good friend HC - we share most friends so it  will be easy to work out the guest list - he and I are both of the opinion it's about time we got down to the beach to check out the new Le Club, we've all heard it's amazing but have we been? It's just a shame our new DJ friend won't be at the decks.

 

Gimme gimme gimme!
· A 50s silhouette
all the cinched waists and peep-toe high-heels are perfect for disguising the sins we've committed over the Christmas in the naughty nibbles department. Make like Lily Allen and pile on the chav-chains to update the look for February.

· New year, new men?
It's time to say adios to 2006's love disasters and embrace new opportunities. Starting with a rather sexy young pilot I've been seeing. Cross your fingers for me, people, he hasn't seen me brunette yet!

· II Valencian Fashion Week, 29 jan - 2 feb
After Montesinos' controversial departure from not only Pasarela de Valencia but PIV (Valencian's Pret-à-Porter association), it will be up to ex-fellow members Hannibal Laguna, Tocuna, Alex Vidal and more to give us a taste of what's hot and what's not for the coming season. But who will we be sitting next to in the front row, darling?

Say no, no, no!
· Warm winter
I heard this morning that the temperatures will be dropping drastically soon. Let's hope so, we see enough tourists' knobbly knees in Summer thank you very much!

· The ultra petite raven-haired girl in the mortgages department
she always looks too good for work, I wonder if she has another secret job to go to. Is she a stylist? A super fashionable writer comme moi? (Please note tongue in cheek here). High heels every day, amazing shirts, skinny jeans that wouldn't look out of place on Nicole Richie, hairdresser-perfect quiffs - I hate her!

· The not-so-petite woman in human resources intent on wearing head-to-toe block colours every day.
Bright blue, scarlet - even yellow this morning! She's just too bright for the unflattering fluorescent lighting!

 

Christmas

In my childhood, way back when I was a mini-Anita, I had a favourite book of poems. Aside from my treasured E.H. Shephard-illustrated A. A. Milne books - ruined now by the wrath of Disney upon my beloved Winnie the Pooh, while poor Christopher Robin doesn't even warrant a mention! - I had a little book of verse called Tiny Tim, and The Bestest Poem was all about shoes. (My poor parents should have seen the obsession of a lifetime take root all those years ago!) The little girl in the story went shoe-shopping with her mother and gazed in awe at all the lovely shoes on display, only to be bought an ugly, sensible, brown pair at the end of the trip. And boy, could I identify with this poor little girl. I have always had big feet, and as a child, at our local Clark's, I had to have them measured, length- and width-ways, which was the bane of my life every year when September rolled around and we had to buy new back to school footwear. Of course, my feet were just too big for the lovely T-bar Mary-Janes (my favourite shoe style of all time) and I usually got lumped with - horror of all horrors - boy's shoes! What kind of a mother would do that to her daughter? I asked myself, agonized at the thought of having to wear the same shoes as the boys in my class, but now am so thankful to my parents for making me wear shoes that fit because my feet have grown nice and bunion free and are quite pretty, really.

Naturally, now I am more than old enough to buy my own shoes, I hardly ever buy shoes that fit properly - a subconscious rebellion after all those years of clodhoppers? - and judge a new purchase purely on their Oh-My-God factor and on how envious my glrifriends will be when they see them. The holiday season is always dangerous time for my credit card in the shoe department - all those parties and special occasions to get kitted out for all merit new shoes! And I fear this year is going to be especially hard. Shiny shoes were never more IN with all the plush patent slingbacks and platforms everywhere - the brighter the better as jewel colours reign, emerald, sapphire, and my personal party best, ruby red. One of the events this party season I will be tottering around at, like everyone else on the planet, I imagine, will be on the 31st December, como no. We absolutely have to make up for last year when we had a bit of an, erm, experience, which was kind of compensated for by another sort-of-party, in pajamas and with singstar microphone in hand, on the 1st, but that's another story. 

So where to go this year?

The Port of Valencia beckons, as with the America's Cup creeping closer and closer the whole area becomes more and more developed and all the more stunning. Mar de Bamboo in the Veles e Vents building right in the Port itself is rumoured to hold an amazing New Year's Eve celebration, and I personally can't think of a better place to clink champagne flutes with my girls and look forward across the water to a new year. The lifelong dilemma of who to kiss as the bells chime in 2007 is bound to rear its ugly head, as it will do all Christmas, probably, what with strategically hung mistletoe leering at me tauntingly from every doorway. 

Right now, I am doing no kissing whatsoever as I have a severe bout of Tonsillitis! For the first time in my life, I might add. I have been to the doctor's and have my "baja" - just as I was getting into my new job I'm off for a while, typical! - which was more than an ordeal in itself, but, luckily, as yet no mention of having them chopped off.

Phew.

Must get back into good health for the coming weeks, lots of shopping to do, for one. No, I'm not thinking about my shoe collection again, but of presents for all my loved ones. The best place on earth this time of year is Ikea, full to bursting with fun and seriously inexpensive gift ideas for all the family. Fingers crossed we'll squeeze a trip up to Madrid or Barcelona before Santa Claus is due a visit, and if not, well, everyone will have to make do with the kind of presents I lovingly gave when I was at Tiny Tim age, painted flowerpots, home-made tree decorations and hand-knitted stockings galore.

Merry Christmas and I will see you in the New Year!

Yes, Please! 
* Water!
More people put on weight over the festive season than any other time of year. I just made that statistic up but it may as well be true, so I recommend drinking lots of water to flush out all the nasty post-party toxins and reduce water retention and bloated tummies. 

* "You look like a Freixenet bubble" 
A truly Spanish phenomenon, closely tied to the huge deal that the new Freixenet advert is every year, you couldn't drop this line in any other country but here. There is a heavenly minidress in Zara in oversize gold sequins that would make looking like a bubble a good thing!

 

Less, Please! 
* Birthdays during the holiday season.
Okay, so technically you can't help when you were born, but surely there are enough expenses to worry about right now than someone's birthday who isn't baby Jesus. 

* New Year's Resolutions.
This year I have decided not to make any, as in the past, when I have, the very fact that I've written a list of things to do seems to give me incentive not to keep to any of them. Bizarre, but true, reverse psychology. 

* No time for Starbuck's!
The coffee house with industrial size rations of beverages a la carte has been in Valencia for months now, and I've been all but twice! Must make like Sienna Miller and the Olsen Twins (P.S. Have you seen Ash as a brunette? Fab!) and make time for coffee time as I Christmas shop!

 

November 2006
Work

My new job, apart from it all being very exciting having a routine and all that, is, in reality, becoming increasingly more dull with each day that passes. The very attractive interest rates we offer are gradually losing their appeal, there is less and less to actually do and more often than not I find myself with my mouse permanently on the "refresh" button in the hope some fascinatingly entertaining task will magic itself into my inbox. The bright side is that in my free time I get to write my column (every spare minute helps in actually getting it in on time for once. Deadline? What's that?) and also have a perfectly viable excuse to do something really fun - people watch. My group sits in what can only be described as The Corridor, and is the only way to the toilets and the coffee and snack machines. 75% of the male population of the workplace certainly bat for the other side, but that leaves a nice 25% for my wandering eye to wander over at will in a moment of tediousness maximus. Of course, most of this 25% are married and/or over 40, but that means a few, okay, one, could be a suitable bachelor for me to date. And one in particular. But - Mission One: Establish Eye Contact, is barely accomplished at this point. Being the only potential hottie in the office we will have to overlook the earring (an ear RING - if it were a Justin Timberlake-style single diamond-esque jewel it just might have added to the allure of said man) and the ugly trainers and concentrate on the stud behind the non-stud (ah yes, I also have time to think of hilarious (sic) puns). He (no name yet, but watch this space) tends to walk past my desk every day at around 5.30pm - probably a coffee break but as this is always the busiest time of my afternoon, I have yet to establish casual conversation around the water-cooler so have to resort to other means of attracting Man. I adjust my headset so not to squash my bouffant, laugh noisily at whatever my poor unsuspecting client of that particular call is saying and sit up straight for probably the only time throughout the duration of my shift. Mission Two would probably be to say hello as he passes but I guess I'll get there in the end, first things first!

The other bright side to my job has just been considerably dimmed - my only proper friend has been moved to an earlier slot and now I have no one to mess around with on the low! Luckily our one-saturday-in-threes are always together, and there's even less work to do on the weekends so we get to make up in chats and giggles for what we missed during the week, which is far more preferable to actually working of a Saturday morning. 8am to 2pm - bleurgh.

When last Friday Misses R. and C. very kindly came and picked me up and the end of the day - it must be love! - they were indignant at how nice I looked for work - almost not letting me get in the car! Obviously one can't help looking gorgeous every day if one is as such, but they could hardly complain about me - R.'s new scarlet lipstick-monochrome-and-denim look and C.'s SO now Led Zeppelin Tee, skinny jeans and converse combo were more than chic enough for a burger-king-and-cinema evening out. We saw Yo Soy La Juani, sneaking our dinner into the movie and much to our embarrassment plonking ourselves right in front of a friend we hadn't seen for too long and five of his friends. As if it's not bad enough eating in front of other people anyway they have to catch us out with our Whoppers and Cokes that had leaked everywhere on the journey in. "I didn't know you could bring burgers in here!" said Friend 1. Err... you can't (cue immediate sliding down even further into our seats to hide our crimson faces. Our guilty pleasure was upstaged, however, by someone lighting up a spliff during the film!? At least we weren't topic of conversation no.1 the whole evening. C. got a bit emotional near the end but didn't quite make it all the way to tears, distracted by my and R.'s giggles and cries of Viva La Juani! during the movie, and I have to agree with her on how frustrating it is when one is trying to get into something and all the other people you are watching it with are mucking about. There are times when you just need a cry, like she did. (Boy troubles. Damn those boys. Always making us upset!) Your body needs you to let it all out, whatever it is. Come to think of it though, I don't think poor C. was the only person we annoyed that Friday evening - the woman in front turned around about five times to glare in an overly evil way for a few laughs in the ABC Park. I think we were disturbing her smoke...

Yes, Please!

· Tartan!
Memories of my childhood come flowing back as I spy bright red plaid on the shelves and racks on the high street. Try not to go for a skirt - too schoolgirl-fancy-dress (see October!); checked tights with denim miniskirts and slouchy black suede ankle boots would look amazing for a Sunday afternoon date and Bershka (usually Chola Central) has a fab winter coat coming in for those chilly days out.

· Halloween!
At time of press, our outfits are top secret, but as by the time you read this All Hallow's Eve will be yesterday's news, I can safely say what they are going to be. After experimenting with a navy blue and red striped headscarf in Ibiza one afternoon having popped open babycham for all, it was unanimous amongst the girls when I tied the scarf around my neck that I was born to be an air stewardess. Or at least dress up as one on the 31st October! As we also really wanted to be Barbies (not blonde enough already without a wig, apparently) we will be Air Hostess Barbie. Times Four. So if you see us tottering around the streets of El Carmen indicating where the exits are - apologies!

· Biscuit Club, Calle Cuba
A new electro house club is on the scene with the coolest name ever - we got down there to check it out and are now hoping that the rest of the City do too - the music was amazing but it was a strange and sparse crowd on the dancefloor. Come on, people, spread the word!

Less, Please!

· Metallic eyeshadow in pastel colours
it looks horrible with a tan, so how could it look good without?! Scrub it off. Now.

· Saturday suffering
hanging out at PJs house of a Friday drinking his exquisite homemade Caipiroskas by the gallon seemed a good idea at the time, but when we got up to go home we realised we were all really rather wasted. And getting up on Saturday was all the more difficult. Damn it.

· Missing a good party
unfortunately, October's one-Saturday-in-three I had to work at my new job, happened to be the day after a 24-7valencia official do so Anita Darling couldn't make it... Damn it! And I do love a good shindig.

Days out, fiestas and more in Valencia
the towns and villages of Valencia
Shop till you drop in Valencia
On being a woman in Valencia
Raunchy and rude Valencia
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Anita Darling and Lolita Devine in Valencia
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Latest Anita - HEAT

Punctual

Surprise Party

Wardrobes and Tidiness

Fallas

New Year, New Look

Christmas

Work - November 06

Money - October 06

Having it Large - September 06

Summer! - July/August 06

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Shorter Versions of these articles first appeared in
24/7valencia Magazine. Available 10 times a year throughout the city

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