Monday, 28 July 2014

Life in a Fishbowl


Remember my quest for varifocals? After searching online for several weeks, I decided to try some brick-and-mortar shops for glasses.

I started at the big high street shops: Boots, Day Lewis. Day Lewis had a few pairs of interesting glasses by a Danish maker, Prodesign. But I was not ready to commit that much money to something that didn't entirely jump out at me.

I found Kirk Originals online, and saw that they were stocked at McClintock in Covent Garden. (Do a google image search for Kirk Originals to see why they caught my eye). I also wanted to visit Spex in the City in Covent Garden, since one of my friends has bought gorgeous glasses there in the past. Slightly closer to home in SW London, I found Bromptons Opticians in Clapham.

McClintock has a beautiful selection of glasses - and they had Kirk Originals on sale! - but something told me to keep looking. Gillian of Spex in the City suggested an amazing pair of glasses that she said had taken her seven months to source from France, but even they weren't quite right. Then I found Lafont frames at Bromptons. Skip to the end: I am now the proud owner/wearer of a pair of Lafont Greta glasses with Hoya varifocal lenses and Transitions tinting in the sunlight. I was also glad to support a local, independent business with excellent service, who helped me find frames and lenses that work for me.

It takes a bit of time to get used to varifocals - when I walked out of Bromptons, I felt like I was in a fishbowl. Everything is ever-so-slightly distorted at the edges. But after a week of wearing them, I know which part of the lens to use for different tasks, and it is so nice not having to take them on and off. I suppose the real test was taking them off to cook dinner the other night: I felt disoriented and noticed that my eyes were working hard to focus.

I have already received some nice compliments ('they really suit you!') but the best reaction was from Junior: 'Mummy! Your glasses have lights on! Where is the switch?' Indeed, Junior. Indeed.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

3 months

At the beginning of June, we started settling into our new routine as a Family of Four. S was still not working, which made it easier to split childcare duties while enjoying some quality time together.

Junior and Juniorette got along just fine.






We celebrated Father's Day with matching t-shirts from Twisted Twee.





And then the grandparents came back! I had a ticket to Britmums Live (more on that in a different blog post), and they kindly agreed to come help with Junior and Juniorette.

Wearing my "tiara" (Frankenstein bolts from Halloween) for Emma Freud's keynote



And so it begins: a lifetime of trying to get a decent photo of all of us

Aside from grandparent visits, we had plenty of normal days: nursery for Junior in the morning, followed by naps and lazy video watching. Trips to various parks. Playing in the garden.




Finally, on a last-minute whim, we took the train up to Wakefield to visit S's family and friends in Ossett. Juniorette got to wiggle on the carpet and look cute...




...while Junior took over the local playground and commanded everyone to test out the equipment.






May the odds ever be in our favour for future train journeys: we were lucky both ways to get a table with four empty seats (though we had only paid for two). Traveling with two small children is a challenge, but Junior and Juniorette enjoyed the ride. We should do this more often.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Let's see...

Last year I turned 40. Within three months, I went from having perfect vision to wearing reading glasses.


I confess, between loving accessories and being a geek, I was inwardly excited to gain four-eye status at last. I found a pair of black and green glasses that weren't too big for my face, and fit my style well. I mostly wore them at work. On other days, I didn't tend to read enough that some minor blurring on my iPhone was problematic.

However, I started having headaches at work by November. The constant on/off and looking up and down from my computer was putting a strain on my eyes. The optician recommended office glasses - like varifocals, but with more space devoted to the reading part rather than the distance part. Since I was about to start maternity leave and doubted how much time I would need to wear them for reading, I decided that I would wait.

What I had not considered was that taking glasses on and off all day with a curious toddler and a grabby baby is far from ideal. I read enough that I increasingly need them, but it's impractical to keep changing them when my hands are busy with Junior and Juniorette. I don't like to wear them on top of my head (it stretches them out), and using a chain around my neck is just asking for trouble. And I've noticed that my distance vision is starting to suffer as well.

So, it's varifocal time. I was sad to learn, though, that my current glasses are not suitable for varifocals since they do not have enough lens area. My latest obsession, therefore, is online glasses shopping.

I had heard of from Their bargain glasses start at £6 (six pounds!) so even if you're unsure about ordering glasses online, there is little financial risk involved depending on the style you choose. I have not ordered any just yet, but I have a tab open in my web browser so that I can keep going back to it.

Next, I went to S has ordered two pairs from them and they are good quality and value, especially since his prescription tends to be expensive. They offer a free home trial, and I was keen to try some different styles before committing to any new frames.

Likewise, I was thrilled to find Not only do they offer free home trials, but their look/feel is retro-hipster-tastic. Their frames come in four colours, so I ordered four styles in each of the colours. Ordering a home trial is easy, and cubitts uses for shipping and returns, so you get delivery and returns information by email.

My box from Cubitts was beautifully presented:



The frames have the styles printed onto the arms so you know which ones you are trying. I ordered the Woburn, Marchmont, Wicklow, and Calthorpe frames in amber, dark turtle, light turtle, and black, respectively.

top to bottom, left to right: Woburn, Marchmont, Wicklow, Calthorpe

Sadly, I'm not retro-hipster-tastic enough to pull them off. The Marchmonts made me look like Harry Potter, and the others were just too big. The Woburns were the best, but I didn't like the colour - I think I'd have to have black frames.

My home trial box from Glasses Direct was far less fancy:



But the glasses were more interesting. I chose Scout Marilyn in purple, London Retro Eliza in black, Prague in red, and Mojito Neon in blue.

top to bottom, left to right: Marilyn, Eliza, Prague, Mojito

I liked the Marilyn and Eliza frames best. Too bad the Eliza doesn't come in colours other than black or tortoise; I'd love a brighter, bling-ier pair. The Marilyn frames were fine, but I think I can do better. The Prague and Mojito frames were too narrow - similar size to my current ones - so I'm wary of making them into varifocals now that I have been cautioned against that.

So for now I have returned all eight frames and I am going to order another home trial from Glasses Direct. In the meantime, I am still wearing my reading glasses and taking them on and off. Stay tuned for the continuing story...

Note: I was not asked to review any of these sites, but since at least one other blogger is currently contemplating varifocals, I thought I'd share my experience so far.