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

Monday, 13 September 2021

Relief, and looking to the future

 Last week I succeeded in two important things that make life less worrisome: I've finished my course of vaccination and I've got new citizenship. I also managed to eat out for the first time in 18 months.

The vaccination and the Green Pass that results from it give me protection, obviously, but also give me access to services that are not available to the unvaccinated in Europe, such as long-distance travel, and entry to restaurants, cinemas, museums and so forth. 

The Italian citizenship returns me to the status of EU citizen which is essential for my work and life generally. My revulsion at Britain's new-found race hate and the rise in right-wing violence there, the increase in corruption and cronyism, the surveillance culture, the incompetence disguised as patriotism, and the hate I have witnessed and been subjected to, all persuaded me to leave. I need a home with robust civil protections and since Italy could give me that, here I am. 

So, looking to the future, I am enjoying the beautiful weather, swimming and exercising every day, and living quietly. The food is lovely, but I am watching my weight and gently getting slimmer so I will be able to slip into those more slender items soon. I have new makeup to enjoy as well. I will be getting a new, more valuable passport, a health card and a voting card in due course and then, when Covid is over, life should get back to normal but in a different place with a different lifestyle. I am going to start putting out feelers to find other TGirls in the area. I also hope to post photos of the beautiful places I can now visit. I've been though over five years of total chaos since the fateful day the balcony collapsed and whilst it's essential not to tempt fate, I do feel the worst is behind me and there's a new more constructive future ahead.  

A dip in the archives

I'm currently living on the coast and the sun and sea air have done my health no end of good. Here's a seaside tale from September 2013 when I visited Stella at her new home in Brighton, England. That was a really enjoyable weekend before work started up in earnest.

Link: A break at the seaside


High above the beach on the Brighton Wheel, an attraction open in the years 2011-16

Sue x

Saturday, 11 September 2021

Stealth and safety

 Tribute has to be paid to US aircrew, passengers, emergency services and ordinary people who dealt with the chaos of the terrorist attacks twenty years ago, and to those who died. Today is one of those essential anniversaries as its repercussions have dominated international affairs ever since and will do so for a while yet. The human capacity for not wanting to share with and understand others is limitless ... so that's the world we've got.

This year I've been posting here on Monday mornings and Thursday afternoons but this week I've been away, staying with a relative who, although politically pro-LGBT, on a personal and emotional level would be unsuitable for including in my circle of those who know I am trans. So I have been in male disguise this week and wasn't easily able to use the Sue account on my laptop. But I am home now. Inevitably, the first thing I did on getting back last night was to ditch the horrible male attire and put on my favourite dress. Aah, relief!

At least my trip was a big success. More on that next time. In the meantime, stay safe from harm in all its forms.

A dip in the archives

I have my new full European Green Pass to allow me to travel on planes and long-distance trains in these Covid times. How different the world is now. Travelling safely used to be like this ...

Let's hope those times return soon.

Sue x

Monday, 6 September 2021

Dysphoria bites hard

 I have gone to the big city for the week, a long way from the coastal town where I have been living quietly since Covid erupted. This is to do various administrative things which can only be done in my official name and so I am in unmistakeable male mode - a rare thing these days.

Today, on seeing crowds of women in the streets and on transport going about their lives, the gender dysphoria struck me more fiercely than it has done in a very long time. This is all wrong, I thought, I am all wrong, I am one of them and not the man they require me to be. I actually felt a bit ill.

Dysphoria can crop up any time and varies in strength but I guess the power of the feeling today was caused by the sudden contrast after 18 months away from the crowds, and the claustrophobia of being forced to be male. Ouch! It hurt.

A dip in the archives

Desperate to be as feminine as possible now. Like ...

Sue x

Thursday, 2 September 2021

Hiding the stash from the goons

 A recent post by Lynn got me musing on a significant challenge in my life growing up as a young trans girl, which was hiding my stash of girl clothes. 

With three females in my family it was easy enough at first to borrow stuff from any of the many cupboards and drawers that were bursting with clothes. But then I started to buy and acquire my own. And these took some hiding.

But being brought up in a family with two grandfathers who had fought in World War Two and a father who'd been posted as a serviceman to some unusual places to monitor Soviet missile tests, and with the Cold War still going on and history lessons at school being mainly about wars, there was a lot of war literature that I was expected to read. The thing that fascinated me most about what is actually a macabre subject was the ingenious ways that prisoners of war hid contraband in order to escape. False wall panels and ceilings, secret pockets and hollow boot heels, board game pieces that double as rubber stamps or pill boxes, mattresses stuffed with civilian clothes ... all hidden from all but the fiercest searches of the camp guards. "Goon in the block!" comes the cry from the stooge on lookout and, within a split second, that session making maps of the border turns into a paper dolly cutting class as Oberleutnant Stumpf marches in with his band of vacant-faced goons. "Verdammt! You Eenglish pig-dogs hav foiled me again. But next time it's ze cooler for you all!" You get the drift.

All the ingenuity in the memoirs of those bored, inactive men was put to good use in my quest to hide my girl kit. I had false panels under desk drawers and in cupboards. Not always effective - a heart-stopping day was when several items were found behind a water heater. That made me up my game. The best hiding places were where prying females were less likely to look, such as inside the boxes for model kits and under the trays for board game pieces. Monopoly and Scrabble were not so good as they interested all the family and could be used at any time, but under wargame trays was much safer still. Imagine Escape from Colditz (in suspenders), Risk (conquer the world with cotton knickers), Tank Battle (with spare powder puffs)... Who knows what General Patton would have said on discovering that his campaign game was hiding a stash of fully-fashioned stockings! 

Waddington's classic Monopoly, London edition. So much more than just a game! Under that plastic tray lies a world of femininity!


I developed a liking for Chinese boxes; you know, the ones that are impossible to open unless you know the trick. Jewellery or lipsticks can be kept inside. And a belated thank you to the teddy bear with dungarees who wore my panties underneath and never said a word to anyone. Thanks, pal. That chair cushion my mother had made and stuffed with old tights ... now that's a good idea! 

You get the picture. What a palaver, though. Knowing that dressing as a girl was 'wrong' so having to resort to stealth like a prisoner. I dare say there are many other trans kids developing their own ingenuity. Here's to a day when being young and trans is seen as a normal path in life and not a prison.

A dip in the archives

Well, all that wartime nostalgia (!) suggest a tribute to the many LGBT individuals who found relief in dressing for shows for the troops. Some would have been gay men dragging up simply as a contrast to the machismo of war, but some were transwomen desperate for an outlet for their femininity. 

It's a niche subject but here are three short but interesting articles online.

A US perspective from the National WW2 Museum in New Orleans: GIs as dolls.

A German perspective: Soldier Studies


And from the point of view of prisoners and World War 1: P.O.W. pin-ups

It doesn't matter where you're from or when you live or who they expect you to fight, the need to be gender flexible is universal. 

Sue x