Monday 31 March 2014

We are family

Despite being a relatively small family, it is a rare occurrence that we are all together.

Our little clan gathered in Buckinghamshire at the weekend to celebrate my mum's 90th birthday

Friday; the journey.

 No, of course they weren't really asleep, they were far too excited.

The weather was beautiful, the kids took Bobbin the dog for a walk, and Boston the cat strolled around the garden with us.

Don't worry, that's a toy pheasant in Bobbin's mouth, although we did see a couple of real ones strutting through the garden too.

Belinda (my eldest sister) and Alan's house is beautiful, the kids consider it a holiday to go and stay there.

Nice views, no?

Sabena (middle sis) and me, snapped by Nina (Littlest).

The candles on the birthday cake were a potential fire risk...

but the smoke eventually cleared!

She does like butter.

1960s California maxi dress - vintage shop
Necklace and bangles - charity shopped
Boots - retail

Old Amersham is a very pretty little town nearby, where we went out for Sunday lunch.

Many of the buildings are made from the local flint.

The white cottages were the homes of some of the Lollards who were burned at the stake in 1521 for their religious non-conformism. There is a memorial to them up on a hill just outside the town. The burning took place there so that the flames and smoke would be visible to many in the surrounding area, and the daughter of one of the martyrs was made to light the fire.

Atrocious cruelty in the name of faith is nothing new, is it?

The River Misbourne often dries up, but the exceptionally wet winter means it is flowing beautifully at the moment.

Ruth Ellis, the last woman to be hanged in this country in 1955, was reburied somewhere in the extended churchyard of St Mary's in the early 1970s, although her grave is unmarked since her son destroyed the headstone in 1982. He went on to commit suicide.  No happy endings anywhere in that tragic story.

 The rounded stone graves (body stones) are an unusual feature and may have been designed as a deterrent to 19th century grave robbers. There is cast iron version too.

Hmmm... there a lot of death in this post, isn't there?

You could be forgiven for feeling it is a little inappropriate...

However, my mother adores churches and graveyards, and local history, and Old Amersham is a town she knows well. She told me about the Lollards' houses, Ruth Ellis' grave, and she recalled going for a picnic up at the Martyrs' Memorial after it was erected in 1931; she also went to grammar school here, so all of this is very much up her street!

This building, Badminton Court, used to be a brewery before becoming a factory producing and packing Goya perfumes and cosmetics from 1946 to 1985.

Those you who grew up in the UK in the 1970s probably remember Aqua Manda, I certainly do; apparently the fragrance has recently been relaunched.


Birthday Girl.

My mum cuts through all the crap that's talked about age.

She lives alone, drives her car, maintains her home and garden (she has just planted the plum tree I bought for her birthday), has plenty of friends and interests, goes out more than I do, and is completely independent. She's lucky to be healthy, it's true, but her curiosity about the world and the interest she takes in life and the people around her help to keep her that way, I'm sure.

While some people whine about getting old (when they are merely in their 40s or 50s), I want to point to my mum and say, look, she's 90 and she's not moaning; now bloody well get on with it!

The boys in their white shirts (Alan, Owen and Gary);
the girls looking gorgeous (Mum, Claudia, Nina and Samara);
and some fabulous food at Gilbey's restaurant.

My lovely niece, Samara. Supermodel.

I thought I should add a photo (pinched from her Facebook page) of my other beautiful niece, Leala, who couldn't be there (having had a better offer of a trip to St. Lucia - I know, tough choice, but she had to go!)

(Clockwise, from the left)
Me, Alan, Belinda, Samara, Simon, Sabena, Gary, Owen, Rhonie, Nina, Claudia.

I got all my sisters with me. 

The restaurant asked us all to sign the personalised menu sheet and then laminated it for Mum; we're laughing because Gary said it looked as though she was showing off a swimming certificate.

So that was my weekend.

How was yours?
I'm going to catch up with all of you now and find out the gossip!


Friday 28 March 2014

Cheekbones like geometry and eyes like sin

Yes, well, in reality I have neither...

But I do have a new-to-me faux fur jacket, although I was rather hoping the weather would improve sufficiently for the furs to be packed away.

Never mind;  I'm happy with my find, and the shorter length works well for those days when a full length coat is too much, but a denim jacket not enough.

Edited to add; I'll link my beret to Judith's Hat Attack; she's probably sick to death of my beret collection, but at least I'm consistent!

Lloyd Cole was great last night.

He's obviously a man who lets his music do the talking, but his reticent, self-deprecating style is appealing nonetheless, while the songs are as melodic and wonderful, and his lyrics as Baby-strewn and clever as ever.

He's a local lad, born in Buxton, just down the road from here in Derbyshire. 

Ahh, lovely Lloyd.

So speaking of clever; the Ladies Purse aren't. We did shockingly, possibly our lowest score ever at the quiz on Wednesday night, but oh we did laugh.

I won a panettone (don't ask), while Trace went home with this;

and Joanne was obviously delighted with this;

Who wouldn't be?

1960s dress - Second to None
Faux fur jacket and tights - charity shopped
Boots - retail
Beret - gift
1960-70s steel pendant and 1950s umbrella - flea market

Right - just a quick post today, as I need to pack for our weekend away, and make some sandwiches for the train.

We are going down to Buckinghamshire to stay at my eldest sister's, and all the family are convening for lunch on Sunday to celebrate both Mothers Day and my mum's 90th birthday.

See you when I get back!


Tuesday 25 March 2014

Mix and match

I seem to have spent the last couple of days being highly ineffectual.

You know, faffing about; doing a little bit of one thing, then a little bit of another, but not finishing anything or doing any of it very well...

I'm all distracted and pathetic and pre-menstrual. 
And moany, clearly.

But all is not lost; my quiz team, the Ladies Purse, are convening tomorrow night to display their intellectual brilliance. Or their dismal ignorance, it could go either way.
And I am going to see Lloyd Cole on Thursday, so I am very excited about that.  

Do you know Goody who writes Eat The Blog?
She's funny.
And she observed here that some strange magic happens sometimes, and one's bosom looks bigger in certain photos.

Like here;
jacket on, boobs barely noticeable;
jacket off, knockers ahoy.
 Now you see 'em, now you don't.

Knockers is Goody's word. It makes me laugh, because I am foolish and have the sense of humour of a Carry On film. 
I can practically hear the Benny Hill music playing, can't you?

I'm enjoying all the textures going on here, and the little opal pendant which I found for a couple of quid in a charity shop. I was only looking at the chain actually, I need to replace one which broke, but I like opals so I'll keep the necklace as it is. 

1950s Scottish tweed jacket, 1970s tank top, sunglasses, necklace and bangles - charity shopped
1970s maxi skirt - vintage/collectables shop in Matlock
1950-60s tapestry bag - vintage shop in Birmingham
Blouse - jumble sale
Boots - retail (ancient)
I am also happy to muddle up my vintage styles and decades; I'm no purist, and if a 1970s tank top and maxi call out to be paired with a 1950s jacket, who am I to argue?

Just don't shop me to the vintage police.

 Thank you for all your very sweet comments on my last post. Gawd knows I don't want to be a Mummy Blogger, and you are kind to put up with the kiddy pics.

Claudia liked her birthday card, but is determined not to listen to any of my words of wisdom regarding personal style...

I've got Nina (Littlest) at home tomorrow because of the teachers' strike, and she is angling to do something special, mainly so she can rub her older siblings' noses in the fact that they have to go to school as usual.

I predict that cake will be involved, and yet more faffing about.

What does the rest of the week have in store for you?


Sunday 23 March 2014

Tall enough to reach for the stars

Eldest is 12 today. 
Let's call her Claudia on the blog from now on, shall we?
After all, she's practically a grown up, and refers to her younger siblings as the kids.  
Twelve going on twenty...
So this is what I was doing in March 2002;
We've been perusing the photo albums (actual shiny photos, pre-digital, sorted chronologically and put in albums, just like in the olden days), which caused much hilarity.

Seldom Seen (I should call him Owen really, but Seldom Seen suits him so well) pointed at a photo of me in 2004 and said but you look so young, Mum. Then he poked me in the face and asked what happened?

Ten years and three kids, mate, that's what happened.

I don't have very clear memories of being 12, do you?
It was 1976, which was a famously hot summer here in the UK. I think I got my first bra, listened to Abba, wore brushed cotton flared jeans with a cropped tie-front cheesecloth shirt off the market, and longed to be a teenager. Or a grown up. Or someone other than me.
I reckon this dress might be from around the same time, it has a mid/late 1970s look to it.

1970s West German-made chiffon dress - vintage kilo sale
Boots - Ebay
Bangles, purple flower on the waistband, and feather headband - charity shopped
1930s-style marcasite necklace (I suppose it might actually be 1930s) - street market
Black flower on waistband - gift from Sarah

 I have the uncanny knack of selecting my floatiest dresses to wear on the windiest of days.

 We went out for a coffee en famille this afternoon, and the chiffon swirled and twirled around in the most glorious fashion.
 The kids took some pics of me, vying for the top spot of Best Photographer.
Who captured the Essence of Me, I wonder?

I'm so classy. 
And so grown up.

That's better.

 So happy birthday to Claudia; a fabulous big sister...

and the kind of bright and beautiful girl I longed to be all those years ago in 1976.

Linking up with Patti and the ladies for Visible Monday.


Friday 21 March 2014

If you feel like loving me, if you've got the notion

Another beautifully sunny day today. 
Rain showers and hail storms notwithstanding.

Look at my new frock, a 1970s homemade beauty in floral lurex.
£3 from a flea market stall yesterday.

Do you see the sinister face in the clouds top right? 
Do you think it's God? 
He's wearing shades, and is that a 'tache? It seems God appreciates the style of the Seventies. 

I adore the handkerchief sleeves, the sparkle in the fabric, and the silver braid on the sleeves and waist. And the dress fits as though it was made for me.
I hope whoever made it in the 1970s (and made it very nicely too) wore it a lot and received compliments on her skills and the finished article.
A couple of people said how much they liked my dress today as I was out and about in the sunshine. 
I must have been having a good day; I was singing along to the song on the radio in a charity shop, and a man complimented me on that too. I don't claim to be the best singer in the world, but I can hold a tune and usually know the words, so that's something.
(I Second That Emotion by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, if you're wondering.) 
Oh, and if you google 1970s lurex, you'll see lots of pics of Vix and Desiree and me.
Just saying... It makes me laugh when I pop up on an internet search!

A wander along Abbeydale Road after a coffee in Bragazzi's with Simon was extremely pleasant.

St. Vincent's is a funny charity shop. They moved from tiny premises, where the stock and the pricing were always completely ramshackle (the price on the sticker was usually ignored at the till by some bonkers old biddy who declared it ridiculous and halved it. Which was fine by me.)
When they moved to a larger shop, I was rather sad and imagined it would become a more professional operation, all colour co-ordinated clothing rails and laminate flooring, accompanied by inflated prices.

I'm pleased to report it's just as messy and random as ever, only with space for more stuff.

Today's finds;
Striped cotton fabric (for tote bags or cushion covers, when I get round to it) - 50p
1960-70s engine-turned dragon pendant - £1
1960s petticoat - £1.50
1970s tank top - £2
1960s chiffon scarf - 50p

That little lot cost less than the coffees...

I can't resist taking photos of the beautiful Abbeydale Picture House, so elegant against the blue sky, and even our grubby little stretch of the River Sheaf looks lovely. 
The resident ducks are happy on it anyway.

1970s homemade dress and 1950s tapestry bag - flea market
Denim jacket, tights, necklace and bangles - charity shopped
Boots - retail (sale) 
Sunglasses - vintage shop

Minnie.  Minna de Beau-beau. Min Ball. Miniver.

Charlie. Charlie Bubble. Bubble Boy. Charlestonwick.

No one gets away with just one name in this household. 
I am variously Big M, Ma Muffin, Big M-da, and The Monkleton.
Occasionally Curtise and Mum.
When I was little, my big sisters called me Hunc. After Hunca Munca.
She wasn't really the role model I had in mind, but it proved a scarily accurate prediction of my future...

Have a great weekend, my dears!