Wednesday, 1 April 2015

The rain falls hard on a humdrum town

It has become a family tradition to meet up with my sister Sabena and her partner Gary for a city break at the end of March; this year's destination was Manchester
The weather was distinctly Mancunian, but it would be foolish to go to the UK's North West at this time of year and not expect grey skies and rain.

We were certainly windswept in Salford, visiting the Imperial War Museum North and the Lowry.

Claudia's nearly as tall as her auntie these days.

Another beautiful visitor; I've never seen a swan diving like that before, its feet were enormous.

I lived in Salford between 1989 and 1992, just as the Quays began to be developed but before MediaCity existed. 
I didn't care for much for Manchester at the time; I found the city a hard place, edgy and intimidating, and it never felt like home. 

Revisiting it after many years (and since it's a mere hour away on the train, I really don't know why I haven't been back more often), I can appreciate the grandeur and vibrancy of the city centre.

The Town Hall is a magnificent example of Victorian Gothic.

Albert Square is named for Prince Albert, who has a memorial there...
while his missus is in Piccadilly Gardens...

crowned by pigeons and smelling of wee, poor old love. (Some things don't change, Piccadilly Gardens is still a bit rough.)

Hands up who can do an impression of Gladstone?

There are interesting architectural sights galore...

reminders of the city's political past...

and lovely public art works to admire.

The Central Library is gorgeous...

and so is the majestic Midland Hotel...

where we couldn't afford to stay, but we did manage to have a coffee and pretend to be guests for the purposes of photo-taking!

That's a commemorative plaque in the background showing Henry Royce and Charles Rolls, who were introduced to each other in the Midland Hotel in 1904. 

We all adore spending time with Beanie and The Bloob!

1970s cotton maxi skirt - vintage fair
Denim jacket, top and scarf  - charity shopped
Boots - retail

I'd better leave the rest of our Manchester adventures for another post, and get going with a massive blog reading/commenting catch-up...

  I'm horribly behind!

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Knock Knock, Who's There?

Hmm, who could I have been meeting today in Chesterfield for a browse around the weekly flea market?

Vix and Tania, of course!

There we are, posing in the Ladies after a boozy lunch in Wetherspoons while a very kind woman took photos of us. She didn't seem to think there was anything odd about that at all, and neither did we.

It was a grey start to the day; earlier in the morning, the poor market traders had set up their stalls in high winds and snow.

But friends bring their own sunshine, don't they?

Vix and Tan perused the boxes on Joseph's stall, while Joanne tried on (and bought) a Gudrun Sjoden wool waistcoat. 

Is anyone bothered about the future of Top Gear or One Direction? 
No, thought not...

There is always an eclectic mix of merchandise to be found on the market.

Ballot boxes and brooches...


1950s hand-painted eggs...

annuals from the Fifties to the Eighties...

vintage games and toys...

and the biggest packet of fags in the world.

We weren't the only Seventies-clad chicks at the market today...

but I think Tania and Vix might have been the only women trying on 1970s matching maxi skirts in the loo.


And what do you know, six hours flew by in a blur of chat, browsing, laughs and gossip, and then they were gone.

But see what I mean about good friends bringing the sun?

And lovely presents from Vix too; 1970s fabric, pattern and pendant. Thanks, love!

Not much beats a day with good pals, does it? 

Tomorrow, the family and I are heading to Manchester for a long weekend, so I'll catch up with you all on our return. 
Have fun out there!


Sunday, 22 March 2015

Swan Song

It's that time of year again; our annual school jumble sale was held on Saturday, and another fine event it was too.

It wouldn't be the same if we didn't dress up in vintage housecoats, pinnies and scarves, bright colours, and maybe a wig or two.

Here I am with my buddies Trace, Karen and Joanne, and Claudia too, who is a junior member of the Jumble Sisterhood. She always helps, and likes to listen to the traditional debrief held round at Karen's house afterwards, which gets louder, sillier and more scurrilous as the prosecco goes down...

We call it the PJP; Post-Jumble Piss-Up, best part of the day!

Claudia wants you to know she's not wild about Harry.

1970s Indian cotton wrap maxi skirt, shoes, necklace and bangles - charity shopped
Vest and sequin top - jumble sale

We made £1,130, and we're delighted with that.

It may well be the last jumble we organise, so it was good to go out on a high. I've been helping to plan and run fund-raising events at school for the last five years, and I think I've reached my limit.

Time to move on and leave the new members of the PTA to do things their way. 

I did buy some bits and bobs at the jumble sale, various clothes for the kids, and these for me;

1960-70s Nimbus design fabric by Osman textiles
mad-eyed Dutch souvenir dolls 
1960s pink wool blanket
1960s tapestry and vinyl shopper
1970s Sadler pot

After a full-on day yesterday, it was good to do very little today. Reading in the bath in the afternoon is one of life's small pleasures. 

So is linking up with Patti for Visible Monday - come and join us!

I hope your weekend has been successful, whatever you've been doing.


Wednesday, 18 March 2015

I was an impossible case

What do you remember about being thirteen?

Claudia's 13th birthday has prompted me to try and remember what it was like when I was her age; I have to admit, it's all a bit hazy. Who was I then?

A glance at the UK's Number 1 songs of that year was helpful in jogging my memory.


The year God Save the Queen by the Sex Pistols was banned by the BBC and allegedly (maybe apocryphally) kept off the No. 1 spot, for fear of offending the Royal Family in the year of the Queen's Silver Jubilee.

You wouldn't know it was the year of punk, the songs that made the top of the UK charts were pop through and through. Abba and David Soul reigned, Elvis died, and I Feel Love sounded like a trance-y soundtrack to some sci-fi porn film.

There were strikes, the Yorkshire Ripper murders, Red Rum and Virginia Wade won, Marc Bolan died, the National Front and anti-Nazi protesters clashed, and Rumours and Star Wars were released.

1970s maxi dress - The Queen's Drawers via local vintage shop
Wrap cardigan - gift from Tania
Ankle boots - Ebay
Beret and bangles - charity shopped

Claudia invited some friends out for dinner to celebrate her birthday.

Off we go!

They're a cool bunch of kids. Don't believe everything you hear about teenagers, some of them are just fine - polite, funny, and sweet.

They're nothing like the 13 year old me. They aren't awkward or ill-at-ease in their own skin; they have style and confidence, and a sense of belonging. I'm really glad about that, and wish it hadn't taken me so long to find those things for myself.

I don't have any photos of me from 1977. If there are any, they'll be lurking in a drawer at my mum's, which is probably the best place for them. I remember a centre parting and limp side-flicks, checked shirts, skinny fit t-shirts, flared jeans, and wedge shoes. A humdrum uniform, accessorised by shyness, social ineptitude and poor self-esteem.

I had an endlessly supportive and encouraging mum who repeatedly told me that I was unique, and uniquely great. I just thought she had to say that because she was my mum, so it didn't count. I wish I had believed her, and I hope Claudia believes me when I tell her what's great about her. I found being thirteen really tricky; she seems to be approaching her teens with an enviable insouciance.

Good for her.

Oh Charlie!

Claudia made her own birthday cake, with the help of one of her friends - it was delicious.

So what was it like for you, being 13?
And share your memories of 1977, if you have any!