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.

Friday, 3 October 2014

Practically perfect

A busy week has come and gone.

I can tick off another solid week of Ebay sales, parents' evenings for two out of three kids, a night out with friends in the pub, and my yearly blood tests (the fasting kind - never does a cup of tea taste as good as the one I can finally enjoy after those bloods are safely in the vacutainers.)

Oh, and an interview to be a volunteer in a charity shop, but I'll tell you about that when I start. 

Looking blue, but not feeling it at all.

I was having a small tidy up around the house (a rare occurrence), and chuckling to myself at the state of my very disordered and not-at-all blogworthy home, in comparison with the oh-so-stylish and beautifully presented houses of many bloggers I know. 

I don't really have the art of display; my treasured objects are just slung on shelves, gathering dust as often as not, and the rest of the family don't even notice them.

But shall I show you a few of the bits and bobs around the place?

That's my old teddy bear giving you the side-eye. She (yes, she) is called Sally, she's about the same age as me, and she and the cat collection, the OBDs, and Mary Poppins and her giant bottle all jostle for space on the crammed bookshelves. 

Em gave me the tall and elegant blue cat on the right; my mate Jo gave me Mary Poppins, because she says Mary reminds her of me. Practically perfect in every way, obviously. Or maybe it's because the Mary of  P. L. Travers' books is rather strict and waspish... 
(I think Mary keeps her rum punch in that bottle.)

This 1950s piggy bank has somehow ended up with me; I used it as a child, but it's older than me, it must have belonged to my eldest sister originally.

It has no opening underneath, so to retrieve your pennies, you either have to break it, or hold it upside down, insert a knife in the slit on the top and jiggle it about in the hopes that a coin or two will fall out. 

Does anyone else remember doing that as a kid?

Another childhood treasure - look, you can see I wrote my name on it (Curtis - no "e").

It was a gift from my aunt and uncle, and the wooden box and cubes have a very particular smell; just opening it up transports me back in time to the 1960s. Olfactory memories are the most powerful and evocative, I find.

I adored those illustrations as a child, and still do.

Beate, they make me think of you and your gorgeous home.
That's my Uncle Robin and Auntie Leni on the left, who gave me the Goldilocks picture cubes. Leni (Helen) was German, I wonder if that's why she was drawn to those pictures? My uncle called her Lenchen, she was very stylish. 

There's my Grandma and Grandad on the right, and my cousin Charles, middle sister Sabena, and me.
It was 1966, and we were at a cousin's wedding. 
Same year - me (aged 2), Sabena (6) and Belinda (11). Sab's flashing her boobs, and Belinda's unimpressed. And there's my dad lurking in the background. Families, eh...

Although I don't really think of myself as a collector (hmm, a wardrobe bursting with vintage dresses might tell a different story), perhaps this shelf of pomanders is starting to resemble a collection!

Fiona kindly gave me the one shaped like a birdcage after I admired it on her blog, and Claudia gave me the small pink one in the middle.

Jacket, t-shirt, sandals, belt, sunglasses and bangles - charity shopped
1970s Debroyal maxi skirt - vintage fair
Miracle pendant - car boot

This weekend will be a quiet one, I think, although we are out for tea tonight as a Friday treat.

And the sun is still shining, we're having a beautiful autumn, so like Baby Bear's porridge, chair and bed, everything feels just right!

Have a great weekend, folks.

Linking to Patti's Visible Monday gathering as usual. 

Monday, 29 September 2014

These moments given are a gift from time

Back in March, when the tickets for Kate Bush's live shows went on sale, my friend Claire and I were both poised online to try and buy some. We agreed that in the unlikely event that one of us was successful, we'd let the other have a ticket.

The tickets sold out in a 15 minute frenzy, leaving many, many fans disappointed, and I am still amazed that I was one of the lucky ones. 

So on Saturday, off we went to London for the gig of a lifetime. 

But first;

we spent a couple of happy hours strolling around the Victoria and Albert Museum.

The cafe is a delightfully grand space.

It appears I only took photos of ceilings and lights... Oh well. 

Art is not a mirror to reflect the world. Rather it is a hammer with which to shape it. 

A meal; then on to the Apollo in Hammersmith for Before The Dawn.

Kate Bush is an artist I had never expected to see perform live, since she famously toured just once before, in 1979. 

I am so, so delighted to have seen this concert; there are countless reviews available online, but I thought I would link to this one by Tracy Thorn, since Claire spotted her in the audience on Saturday night. (I didn't; typically, I was at the bar when she walked past.)

So did Before The Dawn live up to the hype? 

Completely; it was wonderful, the best live performance I have ever seen. 

Bush's voice is beautiful. The quality of musicianship, the imaginative staging, the story telling, the powerful and passionate music, all these elements guarantee that those who were there will never forget the experience. This was never going to be a Greatest Hits kind of gig; here is an artist who has always taken creative risks, and continues to do so.

Next day, we got back to Kings Cross/St Pancras in plenty of time before our train home, and sat in the sunshine enjoying the redevelopments in the area. 

Regent's Canal.

I'm still trying to discover my One Thing.

Railway architecture, both Victorian and modern. I love it. 

I thought I should throw a frock in the mix - it's expected!

1970s Mackerness cotton maxi dress - Ebay
Denim jacket (sorry, I know it gets boring), shoes, necklace and bangles - charity shopped
Carpet bag - gift
Charlie - hand-me-down

So it's back to earth now; back to the routine, the day-to-day, the drill.


Some moments that I've had, some moments of pleasure.

Thanks, Kate.