Thursday 29 January 2015

Hazy shade of winter

We're having a snow day today; the kids' schools are both closed, and although that has scuppered my plans for the day, it's actually rather useful to have some enforced time at home. 

I'm finding that working an extra day in the charity shop has blown my blogging schedule (not that I ever really had one) and I need to find a new rhythm.

My hazy shades of winter this week match the garden; green, black and white.

Windsmoor faux fur coat - vintage fair
1970s Berkertex dress and boots - Ebay
Wrap cardigan - gift from Tania
Necklace and bangles - charity shopped
1950s dress - gift from Vix
Coat, cardigan and 1920-30s brooch - charity shopped
Boots (NEW!) - retail (half price)

New boots; get me. The lace-up boots on the left are on their last legs (ha!), and my poor feet can't manage a walk to work and standing up all day in heels any more.
So I've been looking for a pair of knee-high black leather boots for ages; plain, no buckles, studs, flaps or fringes, low-heeled, long enough not to appear mid-calf length on me, and within my price range. The charity shop gods have failed me, Ebay prices have escalated too high for secondhand boots without the possibility of return if they don't fit, so I rather reluctantly bought new.
For £50, I have exactly what I wanted. I feel hugely self-indulgent, but pleased too.

Although naturally, secondhand shopping remains my One True Love.

1950-60s (I'm guessing) Austrian-made rainbow glass necklace - £3
1970s Pierre Cardin silk scarf with hand-rolled edges - £1
1970s navy leather bag - £4
In addition to writing a blog post, it has also been good to be at home today to get this little lot washed, ironed and ready for Ebay;
1960-70s dresses, plus a 1960s wool skirt suit. 
The couple who have been donating all the vintage stock to our charity shop hadn't been in since Christmas, but turned up yesterday. Sadly, the task of sorting out their relative's house has defeated them, and they have employed a house clearance firm to take the rest, so these are their final donations.  I'm a bit gutted, but can sympathise completely with how overwhelming they found the job, and our local hospice has done very well out of the treasures they gave us.

And I have loved sorting through them.

So many dresses...Good labels too, Wolsey and Wetherall are classic British heritage brands, and along with the Carnegie, Cresta and Susan Small frocks, they would have been expensive items in their day.

 I'm Ebaying these on behalf of St Luke's, but rest assured I left plenty more on the rails for the discerning charity shopper looking for vintage - 1950-70s coats, dresses and suits galore.

Before the snow.

So bear with me, while I get to grips with what amounts to a part-time job, albeit one which is unpaid. (I'm not complaining - I love it!) 
And I'll catch up with you all as soon as I've photographed and measured all those frocks...


Friday 23 January 2015

Special knowledge holds true, bears believing

We had a dusting of snow this week.

I cross our local river, the Sheaf, on my walk to work on Wednesdays.

Like many urban rivers, it's home to the occasional shopping trolley and bike, plus the usual detritus of takeaway cartons and beer cans. But despite that, it's healthy enough to support four pairs of mallards, several moorhens, a community of rats, brown trout, and a visiting heron.

The snow didn't last long, but the treacherous conditions did cause this awful scene, just up the road from us. There is an incredibly steep hill just opposite this house, and the driver was unable to stop at the junction across the road. Thankfully, no one was hurt.


 So here's a question for you all.

How far do you trust first impressions?

Our immediate responses to people and situations are based on our ability to assimilate information quickly and relate it to our experience (and our belief systems) thereby coming to a view, a conclusion about that person/situation. I don't know if that's quite the same as instinct, but I suppose it's what we mean by the phrase gut reaction.

For me, there is a fine line between trusting those initial instinctual responses, and making unfair snap judgments. I am well aware of our tendency to attend to information which supports our existing opinions and beliefs, and ignore or dismiss anything which does not.

Yet, when I think about it, I can cite many examples of that first reaction proving correct.

A man came in the shop on Wednesday. I immediately bristled; I didn't trust him, but I sternly told myself that he was a stranger and had done nothing to warrant my suspicions.

He stole something.

I still can't articulate what it was about him that made me feel suspicious, but I just knew he was dodgy. And I talked myself out of being more vigilant, because I didn't want to be judgmental. Yet isn't it true that we make judgments all the time? Don't we have to, in order to make decisions and negotiate relationships and life, to survive?

What about you? Do you go with your gut?

Faux fur jacket, sequin beret, flower, and knit/sequin top - charity shopped
1970s pussy-bow blouse - gift
1970s Brettles lurex skirt and boots - Ebay
Leather gloves - retail (sale)
Jess - Sheffield Cat Shelter

 When I first set eyes on Jess, I fell in love. She was just one of a large litter of kittens, all as cute as anything, but she was the one for me. She still is. I just knew. 

Something I didn't know, but have learned this week, is what happens to unclaimed lost property recovered from trains which terminate in this city. It is donated to charity, and on Tuesday our shop received several bags full of the belongings which rail travellers failed to retrieve.

Bags, hats, scarves, gloves, books, umbrellas. Lots of umbrellas.
Sports kits.
Dry cleaning.
A pair of trousers.
A pair of knickers.

Hmm... Is there an equivalent to the Mile High Club for rail travel? 

But who leaves their Burberry trench coat on the train and doesn't move heaven and earth to get it back? Or their Barbour jacket? Someone with more money than sense, I suppose.

Endlessly fascinating with all their quirks and foibles, aren't they?

Hope you have a fabulous weekend. If you're intending to have sex on a train, can I suggest you take your underwear home with you? I just instinctively know that's the right thing to do.


Monday 19 January 2015


As complicated as life can be at times, I find that there is pleasure to be had in small, simple things.

The past weekend was testament to that.

1970s print frock + cardigan + boots. 
So simple.
A Friday night out with the girls - delicious home-cooked food, wonderful company, plenty of booze and even more laughs. Photo-free, undocumented, delightful.

Saturday: a Big Lie-In, followed by a visit to a cafe with Nina. 
One-to-one time, and chocolate Malteser cake - perfect.
Walking home as the light faded, we watched a heron fly along the course of the river, its silhouette like Concord.

1970s DL Barron dress (part of a set), cardigan, bangles, necklace and flower - charity shopped
An evening chilling on the sofa accompanied by my girls, cats, trashy TV, and a takeaway - bliss.

1970s wool coat, sweater, belt, beret and bangles - charity shopped
1970s dress - vintage shop
Carpet bag - gift
Sunday - pootling with the cats.
 Jess - our very own Narcissus.

 Charlie - looking angelic, but stalking Jess. At his peril.
Time to read.

And today, a little gift from my blogging friend Mrs B...

another Tufty hanky, 47 years after I was given the last one. How lovely is that?

See? Small, simple things.


Thursday 15 January 2015

Knits to go nuts about

Cold, wet, gale-force winds - ah, the joys of January in the UK. 
I'm repeating myself with the white faux fur and tapestry bag, I know, but at least I get lots of use out of my favourite pieces. You know how people calculate the cost per wear for their clothes? Mine must be minimal for almost everything in my wardrobe - if not, it gets sold on. 

That skirt was one of my more expensive buys (£16, I think) but I wear it to death.

This little vintage Donbros sweater has a Knockers Ahoy effect, and the cold conditions meant that I had nipples like chapel hat pegs when I removed my coat to take photos.

Too much information? Oh well. (If you're looking for them - and now of course you are - you won't see them because I Picmonkey-ed them out of the picture! Didn't want to have anyone's eye out.)
I was all ready to list the sweater on Ebay, but I decided to keep it. My friend Jo says it's not me at all since I don't wear jumpers, and I should therefore sell it to her, but now she's worried that it will have Boob Bumps in it. 

Donbros (Donaldson Brothers) knitwear factory opened in 1937 in Alloa, Scotland.

I read somewhere online that the factory closed in 1963; however, it seems it was amalgamated with other knitwear companies in the Sixties, and continued manufacturing into the 1970s, producing groovy pieces like these.

I think my little jumper is late 1950s/early 1960s. The gold stitching matches the lurex in my tweed skirt rather pleasingly.

1970s faux fur, 1950-60s sweater, 1960s tapestry bag, scarf and paisley bangle - charity shopped
1970s Tricosa maxi skirt - antique/collectables shop, Matlock
Gloves and boots - retail (sale)
Beret - prize
Striped bangle - gift from Fiona
As always, I enjoyed my two days volunteering in the charity shops this week. The manager of the city centre branch is keen to develop a vintage section, and naturally I am very keen to help her.

Still, much as I can appreciate a well-maintained, reasonably priced vintage rail in a chazza, nothing beats the thrill of stumbling across vintage treasure among the secondhand chain store offerings.

1980s Frank Usher sequin, bead and silk prom dress (already for sale here)
1970s S Modell angel sleeve maxi
1960-70s silver lurex dolly dress (sadly the label has been removed)

I'm hoping for a relaxing weekend, and if the slates stay put on the roof in these high winds, I'll consider it a bonus!


Sunday 11 January 2015

Black and white and red all over

I love colour - you all know that. 

But I can appreciate the drama of monochrome too, so Saturday saw me wearing nothing but black and white. Oh and a splash of silver.

1970s white faux fur coat, Wallis dress, lurex leggings, vintage silver gloves, 1960s tapestry bag, and sequin beret - charity shopped
Boots - retail (sale, ancient)

Off we go to town...

on a girls' shopping trip...

 to H&M...

Claudia had a gift card (Christmas present) burning a hole in her pocket.
She's on a black and white kick too. She really wanted a bright blue jumper, but there wasn't one to be found in H&M. Lots of black, white, grey, some mustard and red, but the Fashion Powers That Be seem to have decreed that blue is not in
I was decidedly unimpressed by the clothes (and may have expressed that view loudly enough to be shushed by my offspring), but Claudia enjoyed getting to choose something from a proper shop, just for a change. 
Nina and I entertained ourselves while we waited outside the changing room.
Mirror mirror, on the wall...

The purchases - striped top, patterned jeans (half price), pack of socks, and a floral hairband.

(I'm not linking, cos I do not love.)
Clothing bought, we headed off for lunch...
and I had to explain why this made me laugh quite so much.

Who's he? asked my girls... 

Chip off the black'n'white block.
But today...
I thought it was time to add some colour, and try out this rather flamboyant new-to-me 1970s blouse, a gift from Marie of The Queen's Drawers (linking cos I do love.)

1970s pussy-bow blouse - gift from Marie
Jumpsuit, ankle boots, beret and belt - charity shopped
Vintage faux fur collar - gift from Sarah Misfit
This outfit comes in at under a tenner. Including shoes.
And I like that a whole lot more than shopping on the high street.

I'll be joining Visible Monday over at Patti's as usual. 

Nothing says visible like a vintage lipstick-red pussy-bow, sequins and some faux fur!
PS. Guess what? I found my purple glove, a little grubby and utterly sodden, lying on the pavement just up the road.  I am ridiculously pleased!

Thursday 8 January 2015

Personality Soap

Well, if we are starting the year as we mean to go on, I'm in for a busy time in 2015.
And I will be wearing a lot of green.
I enjoyed my day at the new charity shop on Tuesday - not quite as much as being in my shop, but it was fine.

And because it would be rude not to make a purchase, I bought this;

a 1960s metal waste bin, thereby ensuring that I continue to amuse my fellow volunteers with my apparently odd tastes. 

1950s wool jacket - charity shopped
Dress - made by me from a 1950s curtain and a 1960s pattern
1950s carpet bag - flea market
Boots - retail (sale)
Scarf - hand-me-down
Gloves - gift
(I've lost one of those purple leather gloves today, and I'm really cross with myself.) 

1970s dress - vintage kilo sale
1960s vinyl/tapestry bag, 1920-30s brooch, coat, cardigan and scarf - charity shopped

Yesterday proved another vintage-filled day at St Luke's. 
I put a lot of stock out in the shop, but cherry-picked a few items to put on Ebay, where I think I can get more money for them.

Top line - 1960s .
Bottom line - 1970s.

The 1970s DL Barron circle print dress with matching tie top is a keeper, but the rest are up for grabs. I would have adored to keep the 1960s Welsh tapestry coat, but sadly it's too small for me.
(As always, email me or mention in your comment if you're interested in any item.)

Favourite label of the day?

Well, this one made me chuckle...

but this label transported me back to my childhood in an instant. 
I'm sure other UK readers of a certain age will remember the Ladybird brand, sold in independent shops and in branches of Woolworths. I had some lovely Ladybird dresses in the late 1960s/early 1970s.

A 1950-60s Ladybird wool cot blanket.

The cats will love it - throw a blanket over my knee, and this is the result;
a lap full of tabbies.

But the funniest label of all was definitely this one;

hmm, I might like to recommend this for a few folk in my acquaintance...

But I couldn't possibly name names!