Monday 27 July 2015

Just another manic Monday

Phew, this working for a living malarkey is wearing me out, messing with my blogging routine, and curtailing my social life!

But I'm not moaning, honest; I'm lucky to have a job I like, within walking distance, working with some really lovely people.

I will never cease to be amazed by the donations which come through our door, from the sublime to the ridiculous.

I love the fact that you just never know what a bag will contain; washed-out Primark, ancient undies, half-used toiletries, and knackered saucepans? 

Or how do you fancy a 1970s Made in Wales Laura Ashley maxi dress, a 1970s Marimekko-inspired dress by Finnish label Kaisu Heikkila Oy, a 1940-50s ostrich feather stole, a box full of 1960-70s costume jewellery, or a 1950s leather collar case complete with bow ties, cuff links, and a pipe?
Charity shops are the great leveller - it's all there, the good, the bad, the downright ugly.
1970s handmade angel sleeve maxi dress - Ebay
1960s Admyra jacket and shoes - charity shopped 

The colours of this outfit are somewhat autumnal, but then they match the weather.
Patchwork leather bag and bangles - charity shopped
Brooch - gift from Tania
 I'm trying really hard to resist the lure of some of the great stock we have in the shop. I chatted happily about vintage glassware with the customer who snapped up some cool 1960s glasses, and I gladly told the woman who bought a fabulous 1970s metal tray that she had great taste. 
I get huge satisfaction from selling items which I love (and which are often about to be consigned to the bin before I intervene with a squeaky Ooh, can I just have a look at that?)
Here are a few bits which made it home with me after all; a funky 1960s vinyl shopping bag, a funny little turquoise hornbill brooch (judging by the fastening, it might be quite old), and a Bakelite darning mushroom, which I bought purely because it reminds me of my dad. He always darned his own socks. 

Yesterday, despite the incessant rain, Simon, Uncle Gary and the kids went to watch a pre-season friendly match between Sheffield United and Newcastle. Afterwards, we went to Amigos to warm up with some spicy Mexican food.

Guess who had been to a birthday sleepover the night before? 
Oh the miraculous restorative powers of a chocolate milkshake and a balloon... 

I have a day off tomorrow, and boy, am I looking forward to the lie-in!


Monday 20 July 2015

Young fools, drama queens and great friends

Those who have read this blog for a while might remember a post from last year about meeting up in London with my old university friends.

We made plans to reconvene in Sheffield this year, since it is the 30th anniversary of our graduation.

The eagle-eyed among you will notice a change; Alex couldn't come this time, but Jane travelled over from France to join us. 

It all started here, the University of Sheffield's Theatre Workshop.

Andrew, Jane, me, Martin and Clare.

None of us have been back in this space for 30 years. It contains a lot of memories.

Martin, Jane, Clare, Alex, Annabel (where are you?) and Martin in the workshop in 1984.

And top row, middle, there's Sue, our lovely friend who is no longer with us. We missed her.

(That's me, bottom right.)

Oh the masks we wore; hopefully, we realise we no longer need them. 

It was a strange and fascinating experience, wandering around this place where we spent so much time all those years ago. Parts of it, I barely remembered (although it has changed, of course) while other areas brought back strong memories which packed a visceral punch.

There were no mannequins back in our day, and no prop store either, but of course there was a lighting tower...

look, there are Alex and Martin up on top of it.

I must give credit to a lovely man called Rob, who is the theatre and productions manager at the university. I emailed him to ask if there was any way we could have a nosy round, and he was kind enough to agree to this strange request, not only meeting us on a Saturday but spending lots of time showing us round, and taking us into the Drama Studio as well.

We really did appreciate it. 

This former Baptist church was converted into a Drama Studio in 1970; evidence of its ecclesiastical past is evident inside as well as out. 

Five characters in search of their history...

which appears to have made them thoughtful and amused in equal measure.

We had a wander around the university campus;

we had our lectures in the Arts Tower, which was sadly closed so we were unable to revisit the famous paternoster lift, but the Octagon Centre was open as it was being set up for graduation ceremonies. 

That's where this photo was taken in 1985.

We strolled through the Botanical Gardens, much improved since the 1980s...

as are we. We toasted absent friends...

and ended up at Thyme Cafe for a delicious meal.

1985; the miners' strike ended and Eastenders began, the wreck of the Titanic was located, the disaster at Heysel stadium led to English football clubs being banned from Europe, 17 year old Boris Becker won Wimbledon, riots occurred in London, Birmingham and Liverpool, and Live Aid was a phenomenon.

We got into the groove, walked on sunshine, danced in the street, didn't need another hero, ran up that hill, built this city on rock and roll, had a view to a kill, and knew a good heart was hard to find.

We left the safety of university, its protective routine and the friends we had made there, and went our separate ways.

It's good to know that we can come back together and find genuine warmth, great humour, and valued friendship all over again after 30 years.

Rerum Cognoscere Causas; to know the causes of things.

There is always more to discover about life and each other; where to next year, gang?


Wednesday 15 July 2015

One post, three decades

Dresses might be my True Loves when it comes to clothes, but I do like to ring the changes now and again.

 And I can't be tied down to one era's style either - look at me, all over the place from the 1960s to the 80s. 
I'm just a decade whore.

1960s C&A jacket, wide-legged trousers and 1960-70s crochet bag - charity shopped
Sandals - retail (sale)
Bangle - gift from Fiona
Necklace - gift from Vix 

I didn't know what to wear with this mad 1960s striped jacket until I spotted these pink flares in a charity shop. 

I'm channeling Brian Jones. 


1970s-style jumpsuit, fringed floral jacket, 1960s Prova leather bag, 1960-70s steel pendant, sandals, bangle and belt - 
all charity shopped

I'm slightly embarrassed to admit I had all but forgotten this jumpsuit. The fringed jacket is a new acquisition, and the two seemed destined to be together, in a Stevie Nicks goes to Studio 54 sort of way.

A little bit Halston...

and a little bit hippy.

 1980s C&A silk culotte dress - Ebay
Bangles - charity shopped
Sandals - retail (sale)
Jess - on the prowl in the sunshine

I placed a Ebay bid for this 1980s silk culotte dress on a total whim, and when I won the auction (for a mere 99p), I wasn't really expecting much. 

Imagine my surprise - I really like it, and it's been perfect for some rather warm working days of carrying and sorting bags of donations and using the steamer. 

It's very nearly the end of term, and also the end of Owen's time at primary school. He assures me he isn't going to cry on Friday, and I can't think that I will either (unlike many parents). 

It's time for him to move on, and he's more than ready.

Here he is, complete with genuine 1940s gas mask box, playing an evacuee in the Y6 performance of Archibald's War. He may look miserable, but that's because he's acting, dahling.

Don't let the gorgeous blooms fool you - the garden is in dire need of watering, but I'm knackered and off to bed.

Night night! 

Thursday 9 July 2015

Oh what a circus

If I ever tried to run away and join a circus, I suspect I would be sent home. I'm wary of heights, can't catch, have dismal balance, and prefer my comedy verbal rather than physical. 
Life is proving to be a challenging lesson in juggling at the moment, and I freely confess that it is a struggle. Unfortunately, the ball I'm dropping most frequently is blogging. 

It's tedious to keep repeating the same apology, so I'll just say that if I don't comment on all your posts, or I'm slow to do so, it isn't for lack of interest and involvement. I'm really busy with an irregular work schedule, attending end of term events with the kids, and trying to squash domestic and leisure activities into the remaining hours. If anything has to give, it's likely to be blogging, although hopefully this will be a temporary state of affairs. 
Do bear with me, please - I miss you all, and am in slight mourning for my previous freedom...

Last weekend, we traveled down south to stay with my sister Belinda and celebrate her 60th birthday with a trip to Giffords Circus.

Nell and Toti Gifford produce wonderfully warm and entertaining circus shows every summer; we've been before (the post is here) and were very happy to have the chance to see this year's production, Moon Songs
That's big sister Belinda in the white trousers (bottom left); the supermodel in the pink dress is my niece Leala (Nina is besotted with her!)

Me and my big girl; brother-in-law Alan in the floral shirt with Mum, and glamorous elder niece Samara. 

We saw the circus in Oxford - that's Keble College in the background. 

It's a show full of traditional circus skills, performed with skill and good humour, accompanied by live music from the fantastic band. This year, all the songs were moon-related.

Extreme hula-hooping...

amazing flexibility and strength...
juggling, dancing acrobatics, and a bear riding a horse. Of course.

These spectacular hats were designed by Philip Treacy.

As the sun set, we went for dinner in the Circus Sauce tent.

There were even fireworks in the distance to enjoy.
The kids really appreciate staying with Belinda and Alan, not least because of the pool and the pets.

While I can't imagine living anywhere other than an urban setting, I do like the space and green of the garden and its beautiful woodland setting.

The kids do too.

Owen only has a week left at primary school. If they took SATs in face-pulling, he'd get a level 6.

Time with Grandma.

And then back to work and school. 
It's all go!