Monday, 18 October 2021

First time in full makeup for years

 I set the weekend aside for girl time and I'd like your honest thoughts about my looks. 

In some respects every day for me involves girl time because it's a promise I made to myself almost a quarter of a century ago (Those biggest resolutions) but this time I'd decided to set time aside to look my best, try a new look and make a photo record of how I appear now that I've passed the half-way point in my weight loss programme.

I've lost nearly 2½ stone (15 kg) this year so here's what I looked like in 2020 (left) compared to now.You can click on the pics to enlarge them.

You can see how much my face has changed shape in the last year. My tum needs to follow, although that's improving. 


But I'm surpassing my targets in terms of weight loss.

For the first time in many years I tried full makeup: blusher, eye liner, eye shadow, mascara and brow tint. I also painted the nails I'd carefully prepared over the last two weeks in a bright red to match my lipstick. The reason it's been years since I last wore eye makeup is that my skin and eyes are very sensitive and can react strongly to substances applied to them. I was wondering if I could remember how it's done!

I usually wear glasses so here are photos showing my eye makeup without and with glasses. 

What do you think? Feel free to be honest if you think I've goofed.

This summer I bought a sun hat. I love it as it's soft and covers my head and face on bright sunny days. But then I'm not usually wearing a wig and I'm not at all sure it suits me with my usual wig style, almost like it's perched on top slightly comedically. All opinions accepted.

I also tried out a new young rocky / gothy style with new hair that I will ask your opinion on next time. But the one thing I got from my weekend, after years of illness, moving, Covid and so forth, was a new zest for looking my best. There is no joy greater than being the women you were born to be and for the first time in ages I felt exhilaration that only a day fully en femme can bring. I'm looking forward to next time, which will be soon!

A dip in the archives

A brief record of my yoyo weight ...

I was very skinny till 1994 (and then I discovered food!)

2004 - 13 stone

2008 - 10 stone

2011 - 11 stone

2016 - 12
½ stone


2020 - 14½ stone

Now (2021) - 12 stone

I'm aiming to get back to 10 stone which is my ideal healthy weight. Wish me luck.

Sue x

Thursday, 14 October 2021

How (not) to get a head

 A few days ago a shop I regularly go to was newly stocked with Hallowe'en stuff including cheap nasty wigs, but one was in a long black style I've been thinking about recently so I paid my €6.99 for cheapo static-crackling nylon goodness thinking that it would give me a rough preview of the style without first going to a specialist for a fitting. It also reminded me of the days, long before I ever got out or went to a dressing service, when the joke shop wig (in totally the wrong style, shape, size, material and authenticity) somehow helped improve an already dubious appearance. Still, one does what one can with what is available and I know many of my trans friends have been there, too.

But now a problem on my scalp I've had all my life has flared up again quite badly. I had small-scale surgery back in 2008 that resolved the immediate problem but didn't cure the issue. I hope it will sort itself out without my needing medical intervention again. In short, I'm not sure wearing a rough wig is such a great idea just at present. What with the eczema that killed my trans life in public a few years ago, I'm more than annoyed at this other health problem affecting my look. Still, I hope my normal good-quality wig will still be donnable this weekend when I hope to glam up a bit. Fingers crossed. More news as it happens.


Getting ahead on TV

I'm happy to report that the BBC's Good Morning news programme in the UK last Sunday interviewed transwoman Chrissie Chevasutt about her book and about being trans, and also Jenny Anne Bishop, a well-known trans activist. Media profiling like this always helps.

I'm delighted to hear that a children's drama series in Australia, First Day, starring young trans actress Evie Macdonald, has won an International Kids Emmy Award. This is great news as it shows trans subjects can make best-quality viewing.

Every time the trans profile is raised by well-regarded reporting or quality fiction, it can only be to the benefit of the trans community.


A dip in the archives

My last dip in the archives looked back ten years, this time I'm going back to October three years ago which was, believe it or not, the very last time I got out in public as Sue. This was a couple of weeks before I was due to move abroad but was then hit by a bicycle that put me on crutches. By the time I had recovered enough to regain reasonable mobility, Covid was on the loose. I seem to have had little luck these last few years! Anyway, here's the link to the last fun evening with friends Gina and Jo:

An evening with Jo and Gina

Sue x

Monday, 11 October 2021

Oh, horrors! No handbag!

 Are you desperate to get out to parties and meet-ups as a girl like you used to? I bet you are, and so am I. Things seems to be gradually getting back to the routine, but with plenty of restrictions still. 

I've decided that next weekend will be a dedicated Sue weekend when I make an effort with my hair, makeup and so forth and really enjoy my girl time. And as I've been preparing my nails to look their best, a few days to myself with lovely varnish on them will make me very happy. I also expect to be at the half-way point in my weigh-loss programme so it will be good to take some selfies for the record.

I am very tempted to go out shopping, too, maybe sit at an outside café table and watch the world go by like I used to do. With Covid lockdowns and restrictions since February last year, it's been all but impossible.

But then I remembered the other problem with going out right now. I've only got a tiny number of items to wear here, as much as I was able to carry in suitcases from Britain. Originally I had planned to bring a vanload of stuff - from furniture to clothes - from my storage unit in London to my new home in Italy but Covid put paid to that. I have no coat (not essential yet as it's still mild) but, worst thing of all, I have a packing case full of handbags and purses in storage abroad but not a single one here. Girls, you cannot - must not - go out without a handbag. It's the law! No, it's not the law, it's just that a bag is essential, as is a purse for money and cards, or you just don't belong in a town like this! And you don't look or feel right. And women's clothes have no pockets!

The irony is is that the last time I travelled from Britain to Italy (two years ago!) I was about to pack a handbag and then thought, no, the suitcase is bursting as it is so I'll take one next time. Of course, there was no next time. Fortunately I do have a shoulder bag that I use in male mode even though it's for women (funny that!) so for my first trip I may use that. That first trip that will necessarily involve buying a bag!

My all-purpose, "unisex" shoulder bag

Or else I will just have to treat myself to a new bag now. There are some lovely - if very expensive - handbags in the smart shops ... this is Italy, after all, home of quality leather goods.


Bulgari shop window in Milan. If you have to ask the price, you shouldn't be shopping there!

There are some cheap knock-off bags from street vendors (usually with names like Louis Vuittom or Balenciaca!). Not recommended!

I'll see if I can find a middle-of-the-road bag from a reputable outlet, though. Something decent but not stupidly expensive or just fashionable for one season only. But I do want a genuine leather purse as it will be smart and hard-wearing. My cerise-pink real leather purse did good service in England for ten years. Pursie, I miss you!

My favourite pink purse saving me from washing dishes for the rest of the evening. Matches the colour of the font in my blog but, oh dear, clashes with the red top and nails. Oops!

Let's see what I can find ...


A dip in the archives

In the absence of my photo archive (also still stuck in storage in England), I've been finding old photos in odd places. Even odder is that a set that my friend Emma took in London exactly ten years ago on a trip to London in October 2011 somehow never made it into my blog before (although the Hell Bunny dress I bought did - priorities, eh!). Her blog (More Earth than Sea) makes no mention if this trip either. I guess by this stage we'd become so used to going out eating and shopping as girls that it was just another relaxed, fun day out. It's wonderful to come across them again and reminisce on them.

I seem to remember Emma came just for the day, travelling into London by train. To piece it together from the photos, it looks like we started by enjoying London's best coffee at Vergnano's in the Charing Cross Road.

Those look suspiciously like my feet in the background!

Lunch was cheap but cheerful at Bistro One in Beak Street in the Carnaby area of Soho.

And then we went to Camden Lock ...

... where the huge markets that now occupy the vast old stables had recently been decorated with dozens of bronze statues of horses.

As I recall, we were looking for burlesque and party wear (hence the Hell Bunny Fatal Dress that I wore that Hallowe'en).


Shopping is thirsty work and we found this lively bar above the market (worst loos in London, though!). 


Emma looks fantastic here, in my opinion. Time for selfies, too!

And then we went back to Central London for dinner at one of our favourite venues, Salieri in the Strand.

Wow! We certainly used to pack a lot in in those days!

Sue x

Thursday, 7 October 2021

Preparing nails for varnishing

 Thanks for comments here and on Facebook on my previous post on 'passing'. A lot of views and experience shared and I will follow up on passing, blending in and public acceptance soon.

This week, though, I have been getting my finger and toenails ready for the glamfest that is autumn. Summer is my favourite season but outdoor activities and lazy days don't lend themselves so well to careful care for one's nails. So I am now, day by day, improving the look of my hands and feet by carefully clipping, filing, smoothing and evening out my nails ready for a good varnishing when they are all even, uniform and smooth. 

I could go to a nail bar but I find that, for the time and expense, I might as well do it myself. OK, I know the beauty salon is also a place for a good girly chat whilst having the treatment, but maybe I like to be in control!

So here are some top tips for top tips. Often one has so little time before a night out that one does one's best with the time available. Some stick-on nails will do! But the nails that nature gave you are best, in my view, if you can get them right. I find a week or two's preparation is advisable for growth and to reduce unevenness, chips, hangnails, excess cuticle and so on, if you can devote the attention. I also think investing in good quality tools is so worth it despite the price that may seem shocking at first. But 10 pounds/dollars/euros for a file/scissors/tweezers that will last for years pays back in the long run. Here are some of mine:

From bottom to right we have straightforward nail clippers and scissors, a top-quality indestructible file (indispensable!), best-quality tweezers, plastic cuticle stick, steel cuticle nipper, steel cuticle pusher (also good for scraping off tough varnish), fine smoothing and buffering stick (for the top of the nail). The file and tweezers were about £10 each but so worth it.

Whilst there's a lot of stuff described for cuticles, you need to go easy on them, just remove loose or excess skin. The practice of removing or pushing back the cuticles that cover the base of your nails is unhealthy as they are there to stop dirt and germs getting into the new nail growth. When I first wore false nails, the beauticians pushed my cuticles right in to make the nails sit better, but this is unwise. Yes, you might tear the cuticle on removal of false nails, but that's better than losing the cuticle altogether.

If you've never tried a buffer block to smooth and shine your natural nail, I recommend it. One I had worked so well I hardly needed varnish! A four-sided block with faces from rough to smooth and a bit of time dedicated to the task can give amazing, beautiful results and is not expensive.

The pretty little 3-item nail set at the top (from Pylones) is lovely but not best quality so it's an item for keeping in a handbag in case of nail breakage when out. The matchbook of nail files (top right) is also for the bag and is great as you can just tear off a file as and when needed and dispose of it when done.

The nail varnish on the left is a clear base coat, a main coat and a sparkly top coat in this instance. I think I'll give my toes a sparkle this year. 

I usually wear just base coat on an everyday basis. It gives a delicate sheen and protects nails better from chips and breaks.

I generally use cotton buds with nail varnish remover as they're more accurate (the remover doesn't go all up my fingers which is the problem with cotton balls or tissue) and they hold a lot of liquid. 

When I'm ready to paint I'll post a photo! I don't think it'll be anything really fancy but I came across these amazing transgender flag nails on Lin's blog (, which is a feast of amazing nail designs and well worth perusing.

A dip in the archives

Not related to the above, I was watching early silent-era comedies (Buster Keaton, Fatty Arbuckle, Mabel Normand, etc.) and I came across Julian Eltinge, a very popular female impersonator of the early twentieth century, now almost forgotten. 


Julian Eltinge (stage name just the ungendered "Eltinge") in The Fascinating Widow (1910)

There were many men specialising in such theatrical roles at the time and a reasonable guess is that many were actually trans, needing an outlet for their femininity. Eltinge's uncanny ability to play a female role elegantly and straight, in contrast to the often trashy performances of his peers, and his constant choice of such roles, whilst putting on a gruffly masculine façade when not en femme, makes me suspect that he was trans. The assumption by his biographers (below) is that he was gay. (I do grow tired of this constant assumption and illogical equation of crossdressing with homosexuality). We cannot be sure, though, and who can blame him for being silent on this point in the more judgmental age that he lived in, when so many of us still live in stealth of some kind even in this more accepting era. 

At my school, which was for boys only, there was a need for boys to play female roles whenever a play or musical was put on, and the same boys tended to take on feminine roles in several different shows over the years. Like Eltinge, they would put on a masculine mien when in class or outside (one joined the army), but seemed to slip comfortably into their feminine role when on stage. Yes, I wanted to be one of them but my family wouldn't have worn it. Eltinge's father beat him when he heard he had been playing female roles as a youngster. I suspected I'd have had similar grief. 

There are potted biographies of him and more photos on these sites: Los Angeles Public Library (link here), Wikipedia (link here), The Legacy Project (link here). There are a few film clips on YouTube and this documentary sample:

An interesting person from an elegant age.

Sue x

Monday, 4 October 2021


 A lot is written about 'passing', when we trans people feel we need to appear as much as possible like an unequivocal example of our gender. This is partly for our own reassurance and satisfaction but also to avoid awkward conversations or threats when perceived as different or untypical by others. Some thoughts on this from other bloggers include:- 

Hannah's take: Pride and passing 

Lynn's: To pass or not to pass 

and Clare's: Passing, or masking?

As well as fellow MtF bloggers above, I have provided links to articles on this subject in my regular dip in the archives below. 

I thought I'd write a few notes on the subject, too. Inevitably, my need to pass or not is personal and differs from that of other trans people. Furthermore, my feelings about passing have varied over the years and may well vary again. Here, then, are my current take and past experience.

When I first started going out I thought - bizarrely - that my wig, makeup, clothes, walk and mannerisms were good enough not to make me too noticed, that I was just another woman in the street. There were clues that I was taken for a woman, and clues that I wasn't. I think I have taken the hints on board and improved over the years, not least to realise that accepting the limitations of what you can do with what you have got leads to greater calmness and confidence, and that in turn leads to greater acceptance by others, which largely achieves one main aim of passing.

I have one terrific advantage - or an advantage from this point of view - in that I am petite. I am just five foot four (163 cm) tall, I take UK size 5½ shoes (European 38, US 7½), I don't have wide shoulders but I do have hips. From a distance and from behind, I pass as the woman I want to be treated as. Many TGirls complain of being taller and wider than the average woman so being smaller and curvier than the average MtF trans person is, I guess, my 'passing privilege'. The boot's on the other foot in male mode, though. In public in London, for instance, I would be stopped far more for help or directions as Sue than when I was in male mode. Some people would then be puzzled when my voice and face didn't quite match the image they developed from behind or sidelong. The fact that I am approached more as Sue than as my male alter ego also tells us that people make assumptions about women: other women see little physical or sexual threat from a woman; conversely, I suspect that not a few men asked for directions, help, a light, just to strike up a conversation that might perhaps lead somewhere. Either way, it's quite affirming.

Is it a compliment when someone reads you and says something encouraging? A train guard (one of us, though having to be in his male uniform at the time) said I really passed. Which obviously means I didn't or he wouldn't have spotted me! (Whether you as a TGirl should go up to another TGirl and let her know, however nicely, that you've spotted her is a question of etiquette that is hard to answer.) The tourist who told me at a station that it was great that I could get out and be who I wanted to be, I took in the way that was intended but, in a different way, it doesn't help confidence to know you've been read so easily. Lastly, it's a bit creepy when random men in the street compliment you or ask to accompany you to your hotel or hang around outside the door of the venue you are in just in case you'd like to spend the evening with them. Is that good? I guess it depends on how you like to interact. Many TGirls love male attention but it's not for me. It was most likely my being trans rather than a woman that was the particular attraction for those particular men, so I see it as a negative.

I vividly recall the first time I went out of my own front door for a day out (here) and my season ticket with 'M' as the sex on it was queried by the entry guard at Kew Gardens! Unusual compliment? Did I really pass? Or was it just official rigour in ensuring I hadn't stolen someone else's ticket? Hard to tell, but I've chuckled ever since that the one thing I had to do on my first walk from home was convince someone that I was legally male.

Of course the occasional catcall or yell of "look! that's a bloke!" doesn't help one's confidence. The man in the queue at a bank's outdoor ATM in Manchester asking, seemingly genuinely, if Jo and I were men didn't elicit a response from us as it seemed so ignorant and inappropriate. A more respectful approach and we'd have told him about the big transgender celebration going on that weekend. An education opportunity lost? Maybe, but his approach was, instinctively, so wrong. The man in a bar who insisted on asking again and again what my 'real' name was could hardly be as trans supportive as he claimed to be. As for the drunk loser who stared at me and my friends and kept yelling, "you're not fooling anyone", this leads to an important point: passing is not about fooling people or being in disguise but about acceptance as the gender we present as. Another point is that the more TGirls there are together, the less likely they are to pass as a group.

So I don't pass fully for female (as if there were a clear standard of femaleness!) and this can draw attention. None of it, even compliments by other women, is quite what I want. I'd rather blend in, not be noticed, so I can go about my day. I confess I'd like to pass better, not so as to disguise who I am or deny I am trans or be vain but just to feel and really be taken for the woman I am. How many people feel they have to transition for precisely that reason? All the bloggers I have linked to above agree that it shouldn't be necessary to pass but the reality is that humans are a social animal with highly complex, hierarchical societies, and like any social animal you have to conform to certain standards and practices or be ostracised, which can have serious repercussions. Ostracism from family, friends, society is not now the death sentence it used to be when human society was more tribal, yet tribalism is still a force even if not called that: what team do you support? what's your nationality? your age group? your socioeconomic status? your sex? I want to be part of the woman tribe so I wear the tribal badge (my clothes and hairstyle) but people see that badge as a bit rusty and with some of the patterns of the male tribe still on it. If I don't wear the badge and wear it well I get lumped in with the male tribe. It's only certain civilizations around the Pacific rim and East Asia that have ever really made room in their societies for trans people. Western societies are quite severe and have a gender binary and so you'd best be clearly one thing or the other. Not to mention conforming with the soul-crushing beauty and image standards that all women are held to.

It's a burden having to be extra careful with your appearance, especially in an era that's actually less formal in appearance than previous epochs, all so as to ensure that others are more likely to accept and recognise you for the gender you really are. A more relaxed society would help, but that's not something we've seen in the last few years. The extent to which some trans people go to pass, with surgery of many kinds, hormones, etc., is partly a response to this societal burden, though we must acknowledge that surgery is often related to a more personal need to reduce dysphoria and dysmorphia. I confess that looking my best is good for my own peace of mind, too, when I look in the mirror. But how much have I spent on clothes, wigs and makeup over the years, on dressing services and makeovers to help me understand my look and appearance, on unisex spectacle frames that are more costly than gendered ones, to make me accepted by society as a trans woman? As for trans women who go further and pay for laser hair removal, facial feminisation or plastic surgery, tracheal shaves, etc., how much more are they burdened by this?

It's easy to say that passing doesn't matter, it's not something to worry about, you won't pass so don't let it bother you, yet the joy when one is accepted as one's true gender is very special. I have never felt happier than when being addressed as female by shop assistants, officials, staff or public, whether it's a polite "Madam" or a cheery "thanks, love". For my part, I find it hard to be of ambiguous gender that leaves people guessing; to me, my femininity is defining and I am sad when, for instance, a scarring illness left me having to make the best of it by being somewhat androgynous instead. Androgyny is not 'me', though it may well be 'you'. So I try my best with my feminine look, succeeding in passing at a distance but not close up. But the deficits in my appearance I make up for with a smile, being really friendly and giving the appearance of confidence even if I am actually nervous, showing I have the right to be where I am, and that usually gets over the last hurdles to acceptance.

Passing, or just being accepted?


I wish it were otherwise but the reality is that people have notions set by their society and there are usually clear parameters within those societies as to what a woman or man is. Blurring the outlines helps and I think that little by little we are slowly getting to a place where poeple are just people and the legal pigeonholes we are put into, like sex, age, marital status, etc., are becoming less socially significant. But sexual dimorphism in humans, although not as obvious as in other animals, such as birds or spiders, can never result in equity and trans people are inevitably edged out of positions in the system nature has arrived at. Trans people will always have this extra burden of effort to match our reality with the demands of society and nature. I just hope for and work towards a point where being trans arouses no special attention from people.

Photo: Richard Bartz

A dip in the archives

 I said a lot is written about passing and it's a big topic with lots of implications and ramifications so here, discussing aspects of this subject in more detail, are some selected articles and blogs that may be of further interest:-

General: Teen Health Source: What is passing? with further resources

On the costs of passing: Vox: The Assimilationist, or: On the unexpected cost of passing as a trans woman by Emily VanDerWerff

On awkward compliments: Literary Hub: But you don't look trans: a tale of microaggression by Veronica Esposito

Passing privilege: What does "passing" mean within the transgender community 

Passing suggests cis people are more valuable than trans: Trans Hub: Passing

The need to pass leaves you held back and vulnerable to exploitation: Refinery 29: As a trans woman I understand the pressure to pass, but it's holding us back by Jacqueline Kilikita

From a transman perspective: Be You Network: The politics of passing by Dean Moncel

There's even a Wikipedia article about it: Passing (gender)

Always remember: you are valid, you are beautiful, you don't have to prove anything to anyone.


Sue x

Friday, 1 October 2021

It's not just about the clothes

 So I had an elderly relative to stay this week and it was nice to have company but, as I mentioned in my last post, I put away all my feminine things to avoid complicated conversations ... at least I thought I had! I realised bit by bit that a sparkly notebook was in full view on a shelf, my dress patterns book, too, and this week's copy of Elle was still among the magazines. I'd even left some panties in the ironing basket. Oops! Fortunately, none of this seems to have been noticed. But the rather bare home that resulted from my girly sweep-up did arouse comment.

It's annoying to feel the need to avoid the conversation. But it also annoys me that so many people mistake us trans girls for people obsessed with clothes, whereas I am surrounded by 'feminine' things of all kinds, from flowers to chick lit, because they are what I like. These days we tend to refer to trans people less and less as transsexuals or transvestites as these terms don't fit the bill. There's nothing sexual about being transsexual and, as for being a transvestite, that term just focuses on our clothes (from Latin vestire, "to dress"). Going with other Latin-based languages like French or Italian, travestir or travestire simply mean "to disguise" (whether you're an undercover agent or going to a fancy dress party), and also gives us less than flattering English terms like travesty. I want to be treated like a woman and the most obvious indicator to others is to look like one, of course, but, in addition to that, I don't have men's obsessions with things like souped-up cars, football, war, statistics and competitiveness but have always sought pretty things and warm-hearted people. Just as a for instance, I still write this blog in cerise-coloured font because that's the colour that was fashionable in 2010 when I first started going out. It's unequivocally feminine by today's standards. I like it, so there! Being trans to me is not just about how I dress but about living surrounded by things that I genuinely like and that reflect my real self rather than what society expects from someone legally male.

Now to put everything back and then polish my nails.

A dip in the archives

I have had this tiny artwork by Louisa Ann Walsh for many years. It's a box as wide and long as a matchbox but somewhat taller, with a crowd of tiny clay faces within and a message on pink paper. 


"Congratulations you are the new god of this civilization in a box. Treat them with care and keep them safe, in return they will listen to all your dreams, hopes and secrets."

Although at first sight it might seem gender-neutral, any male who ever saw it has always looked at me in a way that said "whatever", whereas all my female friends think it's sweet and cute, as do I. To me this is just one of my feminine homemaking items, albeit a tiny one.

Sue x

Monday, 27 September 2021

Those hidey holes again

 Tomorrow I am having a relative come to stay for a few days. Although good from the point of view of getting back to normality, I have had to put away my feminine things. Although politically in favour of LGBT matters, I wouldn't expect him to understand what it actually is to be trans. If fact, a couple of years ago I was out with him and we were passed by a very pretty trans woman. "It's one of those transsexuals," he said, "She's actually a man, you know." Sigh! "Shall I 'educate' him a bit?" I thought. Best just bite my lip and carry on. 

So the shoes in the spare room, my chick lit, my girly notebooks, my pretty ornaments and similar have been put in a special container I bought for just this purpose. It was only a few weeks ago that I wrote about creating hiding places as a child (Hiding the stash from the goons) and this is something of a throwback to those times. 

It's not that I am fearful of being known as trans, it's just that trying to explain trans life to people who have difficulty understanding can be really, really exhausting and can end badly (see Good and bad allies). So, back to operating my "need to know" policy on outing myself.


Weight loss progress

I was very excited at the end of July after setting myself the challenge to lose another half stone (3.2 kg) that month and achieved it (Health benefits). But then I had two periods away from home so I had less control over food, and it became very hot in August so that ice-cream became an essential food or I would have died! And you wouldn't want that, now would you? So I've been on a weight loss plateau for the last two months. Last week I decided to get a grip, lost nearly 3 pounds and am now just shy of the half-way point in my weight loss programme. I haven't taken any photos for ages so when I achieve that point I will smarten up, put my face on properly and take some full-lengh pics as a record.

You can see from this photo from two years ago how plump I had become, and that was before Covid lockdowns forced us all to stay at home and be lazy.



Three spectacular thunderstorms yesterday with torrential rain mark the end of a fortnight of beautiful weather and the opening of the autumn storm season. I'm hoping we don't have a repeat of the destructive Storm Alex there was last year (Humanity rises to the challenge). Fingers crossed.


A dip in the archives

 I've lived in my new home in Italy for two years to the day. Originally planned as a temporary home, I think I will actually stay now for the foreseeable future. Here are posts from one and two years ago which have pretty photos of the region of Liguria where I now live.

Looking for a new home

Lying low 

Sue x

Thursday, 23 September 2021

Day Trips in the Vax Era

 Yesterday was a beautiful day and I decided to take a day trip to try to get used to the idea of shopping, travelling and eating out again - it seems like a lifetime ago that this was last possible. Armed with my post-vax Green Pass and my face mask, I went to Ventimiglia, the town on the Italian border with France.

I confess I felt odd doing something that once was so normal but has been difficult or even forbidden since early last year. Like I was treading new ground. You may feel the same about the strange way life is going on (or not) where you are.

Ventimiglia is a curious place. It's part ancient settlement (and I mean ancient: humans have lived in caves here for maybe half a million years), part border crossing with a large community of refugees and of migrants from former French colonies all trying to get to France, and part market town with a lively atmosphere. This year they've completed a  circular harbour

as well as erected a statue to the most famous Ventimiglian, the Black Corsair, "Lord of Ventimiglia", who is actually a fictional character from the works of Emilio Salgari, prolific Victorian writer of swashbuckling yarns that so influenced Hollywood. I can tell you that his novels are exhausting reading, being relentless adventure and action!

The old city is interesting with its steep, winding streets, city walls and gates, faded stucco and unusual churches. A very creepy experience was this church, the Oratory of the Black Confraternity, which is dedicated to funerals. The only light filters in through a single window, there is no seating, just a black and white (mainly black) floor and decoration in jet-black and bone-white marble. Skull motifs are everywhere, in the lace of the altar cloth, in the skull-and-crossbones reliefs on the base of the black altar columns, in the altar rail. Even the spindly coats of arms seem skeletal. The dead, crucified Christ has been taken down from the cross and is laid on a shimmering silk cloth in front of the altar. 


This is the one photo I took before getting out of this place. Zoinks, Scoob! Sure is creepy!

Back in the sunshine here's one more picture just to illustrate how the old town sits on a rocky crag overlooking the sea with heavy masonry shoring it up.

I ate a good lunch in a decent little restaurant where the locals eat (NB always go where the locals go and avoid the tourist traps).

I didn't have time to visit the Roman remains such as the theatre, the Balzi Rossi caves where cavemen lived or the Hanbury botanic gardens, but there'll be other occasions for those.

It was good to do things that were once normal again.

Where shall I go next week, I wonder?

A dip in the archives

Last time I wrote about the Nottingham Invasion that has just celebrated 100 outings since it began. I have just come across this official photo from the Oceana nightclub there, which I remember them taking on my first trip to Nottingham but then forgot about.

And also this lovely group shot in the Queen of Clubs on my third trip.

It's always fun to come across these old reminders of days out and about.

Sue x

Monday, 20 September 2021

Good trans news

 The weather continues to be beautiful and two good pieces of news have reached me from my old home in Britain: the "Nottingham Invasion" event celebrated its hundredth outing last week, and a court of appeal ruling overturns a recent judgment so that puberty blockers are again available to trans children.

See my dip in the archives below for news on the Nottingham Invasion.

For the court ruling, you could do worse than read Claire Flourish's well-written assessment here: Doctors can give medical treatment to trans children

As for me, I feel that now that the summer season is winding down, the outdoor pool has just closed till next year and I am vaccinated in a country that is being very cautious with Covid, it's time to start doing the tourist thing again. I live in a very picturesque region with a lot of history. Photos in due course!

Very September scenes: morning glories and misty mountains

A dip in the archives

So the Nottingham Invasion made it to 100 outings last Friday night. The event started nearly ten years ago to encourage TGirls to go out en masse to regular nightclubs, bars and venues not specifically dedicated to the LGBT community. I went a few times in 2012-14 and these posts are among the most popular on my blog. I even had a comment from a Nottingham carpet supplier after my thoughts on the carpet in Oceana!

Nottingham Invasion

Nottingham Invaded Again 

Nottingham: My Third Invasion

Nottingham: The Only Place to Invade!

In the Revolution bar, Nottingham, 2014 with Rachael and Rachel

Yes, that's the Nottingham, England, where Robin Hood outwitted the Sheriff, where King Charles I raised his standard, and where the Trip to Jerusalem is claimed to be the oldest pub in England. The city is worth a visit in its own right: Nottingham tourism

The only joke I know about Nottingham: 

    Robin Hood and his Merrie Men broke into a music store last night.

    They made off with the lute.

Sue x

Thursday, 16 September 2021

Switching to autumn fashion and greater self-expression

 At midnight last night a short but spectacular thunderstorm marked the end of three months of sunny, dry weather and the beginning of the more unsettled weather that characterises autumn. I rushed out to get the washing in as rain drummed down and lightning flashed all around, crackling every few seconds. It felt exhilirating in many ways, but sad too as summer is ending and it's my favourite season.

Though not for looking feminine! A short, pretty dress and strappy sandals are lovely but hair and makeup don't crave hot days, as I pointed out earlier this summer

So although I am sad when the weather gets cooler and wetter, the nights draw in and the desire to be outdoors diminishes, the one satisfaction is getting to be more feminine, which for a TGirl is a big plus. The choice in the wardrobe increases, the full range of shoes and boots becomes available, attractive coats and scarves are needed, and there's every excuse for donning a smart pair of tights and giving those legs an even hue. More inspiration and less perspiration, you might say.

Next week is Milan Fashion Week, one of the highlights of the season. And my online check of what will trend in this autumn's styles reveals ... brown, camel and purple in masculine cuts, according to one pundit; bold, bright colours - fiery red, lemon yellow and electric blue - for dresses and coats, insists another; leather jackets and white trousers, opines a third.

Frankly, with that range of unhelpfully contrasting hints, you'd be best creating your own fashion! As I've said before, women's clothes are so much nicer so that one of the plus points of being a trans woman is the happiness and satisfaction that comes from choosing and wearing the clothes that you like best, the ones that say most clearly to you and the rest of the world, "Look! I am a woman." I find autumn is the season that gives me the fullest range of clothing to express who I am.

So, thank you, lovely summer that's left me tanned and healthy, and welcome to pretty, feminine autumn.


Autumn food

 Thanks to Covid restrictions over the last 18 months I really haven't been able to travel far from home. But the hedgerows in the steep lane behind home has been offering free food such as passionfruit, pears and olives. 


Orange passionfruits peeping from a tangle of leaves and beautiful passionflowers.

The little snails that were aestivating in summer's heat a few weeks ago have now slithered down from their eyrie and are getting on (slowly) with their snaily lives. Last weekend saw the annual snail festival up in the hills at Molini di Triora, where vast numbers of edible snails are cooked up in huge pans for the visitors (There are also food and craft stalls and other entertainments, it's not all about snails!) This weekend there's a major international cheese festival over the mountains at Bra. Bra is famous for its own cheese and for the unfortunately named Bra sausage. What the town's position on underwires and bandeaux is, I can't say.

If the thunderstorm is followed by a couple of days of sun I reckon this weekend will be perfect for hunting mushrooms, which I love. Family holidays in the Alps when I was little often involved scrambling around tumbledown woodland to find something tasty. The best were always parasol mushrooms, up to a foot tall and 6-10 inches across, with an aroma like hazelnut. The caps are best when battered and fried, with a crisp salad.

Till I get out there, I've been making mushroom stew with polenta (Italian cornmeal), using porcini (we used to call them penny buns because the caps look like glazed buns). Only shop-bought, but still delicious. 

Homemade porcini stew with polenta. Perfect autumn food.


Have a nice autumn, season of lovely clothes and hearty food.

A dip in the archives

The above is all very different from my last autumn in London three years ago. But that was beautiful in a different way.

Link: Autumn things


Sue x