Thursday 30 October 2014

Hit the north

Never mind mists and mellow fruitfulness, autumn brings half term; season of lie-ins, and a trip to the north east.

And velvet maxis, some small compensation for the nights drawing in.

Here's Uncle Gary (the old ham) laden with luggage and my children, heading for Newcastle last Saturday.

By the next day, Nina ended up in A&E (for antibiotics - yet another skin infection) and Owen had managed to fall in the lake in Leazes Park.


But look - all is well, despite the Biggest Bandage in the World, and a dousing.

And breathing in the sea air at Tynemouth Long Sands is always therapeutic.

The Grand Hotel, built in 1872 by the Duke of Northumberland as a summer residence. 

Famous guests include Laurel and Hardy, who stayed here when they were playing at the Theatre Royal in Newcastle. 
Stan Laurel spent some of his youth in the local area and attended school in Tynemouth.

The ruins of Tynemouth Castle and Priory. 

The decorative Victorian ironwork at the metro station has been refurbished, and looks wonderful.

How funny that my girls look more like my sister than me.  

The kids love spending time with Sabena and Gary.

And I am quite happy to admit that I appreciate having a couple of days without them!

 It's nearly time for Hat Attack over at Judith's, and I am ready and waiting.

1970s Dereta velvet maxi skirt and ankle boots - Ebay
1970s sheer blouse, bangles, necklace and hat - charity shopped
1950s tapestry bag - vintage shop in Birmingham
Belt - retail (sale)

Tomorrow, we'll be avoiding the trick or treaters as usual by going out, because we're arsey like that.

See you all soon!

Thursday 23 October 2014

She wore a raspberry beret

 ...the kind you find in a secondhand store.

And I did indeed find this slightly knackered old angora beret in a charity shop. 
50p? Oh, go on then.

Don't let the sunshine fool you - these October mornings are chilly.

1960s Arnel dress - Second to None (bought on a bloggers' day out to Walsall in 2013)
Denim jacket, tights, beret, bag, necklace and bangles - charity shopped
Boots - retail

How funny, I always assumed this dress was homemade, but I have just found a label lurking under the armpit. It's one of my favourite long sleeved frocks for cooler weather.

Now; look what lovely Yvonne sent in the post, as part of her All Hallows Read spooky book giveaway.

How kind of you to send a few extra goodies too; thanks, Yvonne!

It's been a bits'n'bobs sort of week. Featuring some jewellery, which is always good.

I'm sticking to my Spend Wisely pledge; during my perusal of the charity shops this week, I spent little, but found two vintage necklaces, a modern-but-cool ring, and a brooch which caught my eye because of the iridescent peacock blue background. Only £1 a piece.

I was curious about the brooch, because the fastening is quite unusual, and I could see there was something stamped on the back; without a magnifying glass, I couldn't make out what it said until I got it home.

Turns out it says Made in England, a patent number, and the setting is sterling silver. A bit of research revealed that this is an Art Deco butterfly wing brooch, made by Shipton and Co of Birmingham, awarded the patent for this kind of design in 1923. (The firm is still in business today.)

The Morpho butterfly wings were imported from South America; brooches, rings, pendants and compacts were produced with the wings providing the distinctive colour for the background, while a reverse painted image on glass was attached to the front. The best examples are set in silver. There are all sorts of designs, often tropical scenes, but also crinoline ladies, birds, flowers and fairies. 

I didn't know any of this until today; I just liked the colour and sheen! But I love learning about design, and I'm happy to have found a little piece of silver Deco jewellery for a quid.

 What else has been happening? 

I did my first full day at St Luke's, which was great. It's curiously satisfying to see items I selected from the stock room to fill the rails being snapped up immediately, and things which have only just been donated selling on the same day.

I managed to ring up a £1 sale on the till as £100, but we'll gloss over that... The manager laughed and said not to worry when I 'fessed up. Oops - Must Do Better, and concentrate.

And I've been to see my lovely hairdresser today, and talked her into a photo;

 Where the chat and the laughs are as good as the cut and colour.

Half term next week, and the kids are off to stay with my sis and her man for a long weekend before I go up to the north east to join them.

And while they're away? Well, the grown-up mice might play!

Have a great weekend, everyone.


Sunday 19 October 2014

I met some gin-soaked bar room queens in Walsall

It is a truth universally acknowledged that when vintage-loving bloggers meet up, there is much chatting, laughing and shopping.

And yesterday was no exception.

Walsall's vintage Aladdin's cave, Second to None, full to bursting with amazing stock at great prices, and a lot of happy shoppers.

Serious rummaging went on, fuelled by cans of gin and tonic and vodka and orange, thoughtfully supplied by Hostess with the Mostest, Vix.

There's Tania and her friend Vanessa with Vix, Em and Annie in the top pic, and Gisela checking out the handbags.

Trying on and posing for photos is all part of the fun.

 Vix is a supermodel, of course, whether she's wearing a 1970s pimp-tastic vinyl and faux fur maxi coat, a Dollyrockers frock, or a 1960s suede jerkin over a bikini. 

And look at the amazing print on the dress Em is wearing.

Tania tried a 1960s floral housecoat and an early 1980s C&A jumpsuit (anyone else thinking Anneka Rice in Treasure Hunt?)

Emma rocked the faux fur and a 1970s shirt with a fantastic print.

Annie was taken with the late 1960s/early 70s Indian cotton maxi with the fantastic sleeves, and Fiona also went the hippy route with a beautiful Indian block printed wraparound skirt.

What did they buy? Hmm, you'll have to wait till the lovely ladies do their own posts and show you!

Lunch in a Wetherspoons pub is de rigeur - cheap, cheerful, and boozy. One of Walsall's Wetherspoons is in St Matthew's Hall, built in 1830 as a library. Isn't it a beautiful building?

Bloggers hit the streets!

That's Em in the beautiful green coat; Fi wearing a fantastic tartan maxi skirt, and Gisela in a fab frock and denim jacket. Tan is rocking her curtain couture dress, Vanessa's jeans show off her amazing legs, Lyndsey is working the vintage dress and Converse combo brilliantly, and Vix is doing some excellent pattern mixing. 

Don't they look great?

Walsall's stunning Victorian shopping arcade. 

The trimmings stall on the market got a lot of love.

Look at Tan's little face - ooooh! Fi and Em have matching buns. I refer to their hair, not their bottoms. 

The boxes of braids, pom poms and sequins could be a visual metaphor my blogging friends - colourful, fun, sparkling and beautiful. Cheap, too.

Vix reliving her past - teenagers arranged to meet their dates at Walsall's famous 1970s concrete hippo!

Gray's Herbal Tablets - the working man's friend for cold nights and mornings. 

Anyone need any hair? Vix asked, as she took us for a browse in the Asian beauty shop.

So after a final drink, we went our separate ways after another excellent day out.  Thank you, darlings, for your wonderful company.

And what did I buy?

This delectable 1970s cape-sleeved maxi...

but titter ye not, it's by Frederick Howard, not Frankie. 

And this 1960s beauty, for when I come over all Regency lady.

Surprising, I know, but I do occasionally have an Elizabeth Bennet moment. It's happened before, you can read about it here if you like.

1960s David Butler maxi dress - Second to None
1970s wool hat - flea market
Bangles, necklace and shoes - charity shopped

I can't recommend meeting up with fellow bloggers highly enough - it's a joy.

And if you can't do it in person, then a virtual get together over at Patti's Visible Monday is the next best thing - see you there! 


Wednesday 15 October 2014

Lost and found

Oops, sorry about that - I didn't intend to go awol for a week, but the computer slowed to a standstill and has only just been fixed.

And truthfully, I was pretty downhearted about the loss of Minnie.

But as luck would have it, after an absence of 10 days, a neighbour called round yesterday saying he thought she was hiding in his house. And when we rattled the box of cat biscuits and called her, she came running down his stairs, a bit thinner but apparently none the worse for her unscheduled stay with him. 
The neighbour has been having work done on his house, and she must have sneaked in when the workmen weren't looking, and decided to camp out. Bizarre.

Thanks to everyone who expressed their concern and encouraged me to stay optimistic. It's not a trait I possess in abundance, but on this occasion, I am very relieved that my usual doom-laden predictions proved false.

Three samey outfits from last week, and three samey poses. So predictable.

1970s Lerose maxi dress - Ebay
Jacket, cardigan, shoes, bangles and pendant - charity shopped
1960s carpet bag - gift

1970s handmade lurex dress - flea market
Tights and bangles - charity shopped
Boots - retail
1970s blouse - Ebay
1970s skirt (made by me from a 1970s dress)
Tan leather bag and belt, jacket and bangles - charity shopped
Don't worry, I appreciate it's hard to comment on multiple outfits, so please don't feel under any obligation. I kept taking photos even though I couldn't upload them to the computer, and now I feel I should use them. It's my thrifty nature to make use of what I've got.
It's been a wet old week, and I've felt rather like a soggy rag myself, until today.

Yes, today I am in good spirits, and have done my first shift at the local hospice charity shop. I really enjoyed myself, everyone was very friendly, and I am slightly regretting my offer to work in the new shop due to open soon in the city centre. I think I may want to stay where I am, but we shall see. 

Look - it's like a scene from Fame.

Last Saturday, we went to a party to celebrate my friend Alison's 50th birthday. She hired the Lantern, a beautiful little theatre in the nearby leafy suburb of Nether Edge, and various friends performed on the stage. 
Here are Claudia (standing, left) and Nina (sitting, right) and friends about to dance to Bad by Michael Jackson (choreographed by Claudia). They opened the show.
I wish I'd had the balls to get up and sing, but alas, I only do that under the influence of an excess of wine when there's karaoke on offer.

Would you join me? What shall we sing?

So here's to fresh starts and happy endings, finding what we've lost, and belting out River Deep, Mountain High after one glass of prosecco too many. 
You know you want to!


Tuesday 7 October 2014

On books, business, and a broken heart

An unplugged weekend was good, although I subsequently had a lot of catching up to do; all your blog posts, plus Strictly, X Factor and Downton, phew! 

But I'm up to date now, and it was great to spend lots of time with my nose in a book instead of being in front of a screen (although truthfully I find pleasure in both activities.)

Books are wonderful things, I am steadfastly a paper-based reader, and our house is overflowing with them. I understand the appeal (and space-saving virtues) of a Kindle, but nothing beats the tactile experience of a book. 

You can't write an inscription on a Kindle, can you? 

 I rarely buy my books new or full price; this little selection were either bought from charity shops (St Vincent's sell paperbacks for 50p each, Barnardo's have an offer of four for £1.49), and a couple were picked up for free from a box left outside a house on the way to school. 

In the light of my ongoing wardrobe review, this dress has presented me with a dilemma.

Angela Holmes' designs for her Droopy and Browns label, launched in 1971, are increasingly sought after and command high prices on Ebay. I found this dress in a charity shop (of course); although it represents something of a departure from Holmes' typically flamboyant and feminine styles in colourful printed cotton or velvet, I don't doubt it would sell well if I put it on Ebay.

I don't wear it often, yet whenever I do, I fall in love with it all over again; with its sheer, floaty, angel sleeve-y disco-tastic goodness. With its pockets. With its matching tie belt, still in place.

So just this once, I'll let my heart rule my business head. 

I'm keeping it!

1970s Droopy and Browns dress, velvet jacket, bangles and ankle boots - charity shopped
Necklace - vintage market
Brooch - car boot
Tights - retail (sale)

This 1970s lurex knit dress didn't make the cut; it's nice enough on me, but not fantastic, so off to Ebay she goes. 

The tan leather bucket bag, however, is staying. For now, at least.

We're in a bit of a state of anxiety here at the moment; our Minnie is missing, we haven't seen her for over 48 hours. The neighbours haven't spotted her either.

We're all hoping like mad that she reappears safe and sound, and I'll do a leaflet drop along the road tomorrow asking everyone to check their outbuildings, but I have a very bad feeling... She's never, ever strayed far before. 

We miss her very much.