Saturday, 14 September 2019

Hey! Ho! Let's Go - Packing For Greece

The harbour, Corfu Town - June 2017

They say that time flies when you're having fun and that's certainly been the case since I last published a blog post. The weather's been glorious and, other than several forays to the charity shops and a crazy all-dayer in 'Spoons on Monday, I've mostly spent the past week in a bikini, pottering around the garden, basking in the late summer sunshine and unplugging from the World Wide Web. There has been a bit of other stuff to attend to as well though, in a few days time we're off to Greece and, in my world, packing is serious business.

The toiletries - Once a day sun screen for body and face plus after sun; fully recyclable bamboo toothbrushes*, biodegradable cornstarch dental floss in a refillable canister* and Truthpaste*; Lush* solid shampoo, conditioner and facial moisturiser; His 'n' hers razors; Tangle Teezer hairbrush; Travel soap* (which can also be used as deodorant, laundry and shaving), Konjac sponge; Biodegradable wet wipes; Nadarra* lip balm. 

First Aid stuff - bamboo plasters, anti-histamine cream and painkillers

*Linking 'cos I love - all products bought with my own hard-earned cash!

I'm treating myself to eyelash extensions so this is all the makeup I'm taking: Sleek creme blush, Barry M lip colour, nail paint & black waterproof eyeliner, tweezers, Lush's Sikkim Girls solid perfume and a pencil sharpener. I've also packed hairbands and hair screws.

My (mostly vintage) travel gear: India Imports block printed halterneck maxi dress, Spinney cheesecloth maxi dress with cape sleeves, Dollyrockers maxi dress, Indian hooded kaftan, Anokhi block printed sundress, Mexican cotton maxi dress, gingham midi skirt and 2 x white cotton off-the-shoulder tops (I'll travel in one of these with the India Imports of Rhode Island block printed maxi skirt). 

My Mexican straw hat that I got from a trade-of with our lovely neighbours at End of the Road, sunglasses, Birkenstocks, Clarks' cushioned Artisan sandals (75% off in their clearance sale earlier this year) and Lotta from Stockholm "highwood" clogs plus a vintage straw basket (which I'll use for hand luggage), 1970s Greek souvenir bag and Moroccan raffia clutch bag (all the bags are charity shop finds). 

Vintage chazza shopped crochet shawl for chilly nights, a couple of bikinis and a sarong. I've just got my jewellery to pop in at the last minute.

 Jon's (mostly secondhand) travel wardrobe: Black linen trousers which he's travelling in (along with a vintage denim shirt, not pictured), stripy short sleeved cotton shirt, Diesel linen shirt, 1950s leisure shirt, 3 x tailored shorts, Cotton Cottage Indian block printed shirt, striped granddad shirt and Ted Baker ribbed cotton shirt.

Turkish cotton sarong, 2 x swim shorts, 3 x tee shirts, 2 x sandals, 1 x desert boots (he's since swapped this pair for a navy pair), vintage army rucksack, cotton cap and sunglasses. Also taking but not pictured, a leather belt, another hat and a second pair of sunnies.

Also taking but not pictured - E readers, torch, mosquito plug-in, beach blanket, travel kettle and enamel cups, travel plug, chargers, camera, travel guide and map, Indian army knife, MP3 player and padlocks.

Paleokastritsa - June, 2017

So where are we going? We're returning to Corfu, the island I fell in love with after reading Gerald Durrell's My Family and other Animals as an eleven-year old schoolgirl which we visited for the first time in 2017 (see HERE). As you know, we're not bucket list travellers, if we find a place we love we're happy to return. We travel for ourselves, not to impress anyone.

Taken on the climb up to Paleokastritsa Monastery, June 2017

Gradually the magic of the island settled over us as gently and clingingly as pollen. Each day had a tranquility, a timelessness, about it so that you wished it would never end. But then the dark skin of night would peel off and there would be a fresh day waiting for us, glossy and colourful as a child's transfer and with the same tinge of unreality. - Gerald Durrell on Corfu, My Family and Other Animals

Remote mountain village, North Corfu - June 2017

Halfway up the slope, guarded by a group of tall, slim, cypress-trees, nestled a small strawberry-pink villa, like some exotic fruit lying in the greenery. The cypress-trees undulated gently in the breeze, as if they were busily painting the sky a still brighter blue for our arrival.The villa was small and square, standing in its tiny garden with an air of pink-faced determination. Its shutters had been faded by the sun to a delicate creamy-green, cracked and bubbled in places. The warm air was thick with the scent of a hundred dying flowers, and full of the gentle, soothing whisper and murmur of insects. - Gerald Durrell, My Family and Other Animals 

The White House, Lawrence Durrell's Corfu home, June 2017

Other countries may offer you discoveries in manners or lore or landscape; Greece offers you something harder—the discovery of yourself.  ― Lawrence Durrell, Prospero's Cell

Kerkyra, June 2017

The air of the islands, she believed, was different than the air of other regions of the world. It engulfed her now, carrying with it flavors of sun-drenched soil and foam-flecked sea, aromas of virgin woods and naked rocks, its tang of citrus trees and its fizz of foreign wine-misted lips. It carried in its pockets the sounds of children's laughter, the clatter of drunken brawls, the mandolin music thrumming sensually from decades-old cassette tapes in the colorful souvenir shops where old ladies and young women waved at passersby. It came from near and far, rebounding off the blue-white flag strapped to ferry masts rearing above the sparkling waters, glinting in the brown-eyed winks and twirled moustaches of the locals.”― Angela Panayotopulos, The Wake Up

Village square, Magoulades - Corfu, 2017

On a summer night, I have sat on the balcony drinking Ouzo, watching the ghosts of Greek Heroes sailing past, listening to the rustle of their sail cloths and the gentle lapping of their oars.   - Phil Simkin

Sunset over Paleokastritsa , June 2017

There's still a few days till we leave and in the meantime,  I've got an exciting day out with a friend planned for tomorrow. Hopefully I'll pop back and report on our adventures before we go.

See you soon!

Friday, 6 September 2019

Chasing The Monsoon

We're into the final month of #Slow Fashion Season and I've been shopping but, never fear, I've been sticking to the rules. My latest wardrobe additions may bear the labels of a well-known British high street fashion chain but they're 100% vintage, hand-embroidered and hand-finished. They sure don't make things like they used to!

Most of you will be familiar with Monsoon. Together with sister company, Accessorize, the group operates over 800 branches in sixty countries. Although there's never been a shop in Walsall, contemporary Monsoon clothing regularly pops up in the chazzas but while these clothes look pretty from a distance, close up their fabric choices and designs just don't do it for me....but this wasn't always the way.

Peter Simon lays the first stone of the Sewa Embroidery Centre (2013) SOURCE

Monsoon founder Peter Simon was the archetypal hippy, born in Sri Lanka in 1949 after a boarding school education he swapped his strict British upbringing to go and live on a nudist colony in Ibiza. In the late 1960s he and then girlfriend, Kate, travelled the overland trail from London to Rajasthan via Turkey, Iran and Afghanistan in an orange Volkswagen campervan where he fell in love with the vibrant colours and native block-printed textiles he found on his Asian adventures.

Portabello Road circa 1973 SOURCE

With all things ethnic being the in thing in Swinging London, Simon used his travels to bring kaftans, cheesecloth shirts, skirts and block printed kurtas to the masses via his stall on London's Portabello Road market.

Former Monsoon shoppers - Queen Sofia of Spain and Salimah Aga Khan

Simon opened the first Monsoon store in London's affluent Knightsbridge in 1974, a far cry from his humble market trader beginnings. His office was above the shop and the sales assistants were instructed to let him know if anyone interesting came in. One day it was the Queen of Spain, in a mighty Roller, he says, Another, the Begum Khan [wife of the Aga Khan]. I’d go down and say hello. I was always interested in what people were buying. 

The original Monsoon store SOURCE

On another occasion he met the actress Jane Seymour
She’d just shot the Bond film "Live and Let Die" with Roger Moore, but it hadn’t been released, so she was at a bit of a loose end. We chatted and I just said, ‘Come to Udaipur.’ I was going on a sourcing mission and wanted to photograph some of the clothes that I knew she would look great in — and she did.  Following the shoot Seymour and Simon became a couple, dating for a number of years.

Jane Seymour in a hand-printed Monsoon dress in Rajasthan in 1974 (Sam Faulkner) SOURCE
What a beautiful model!

Jane Seymour modelling for Monsoon in Rajasthan, in 1974 SOURCE
Monsoon's bestseller in 1974 was a hand embroidered, high-waisted Afghan-style dress designed by Janet Wood, a British designer who had previously worked as Thea Porter's personal assistant. She had joined Peter on his travels in the early 1970s in order to create more westernised versions of the clothes he was selling using locally produced fabrics. Despite the popularity of these dresses, very few survived and, on the rare occasion that they do pop up for sale, they command high prices (there's one currently listed on Etsy for £215).

 After years of searching I'd almost given up hope of ever finding an affordable Janet Wood designed dress of my own so imagine my joy when I found one listed online for a fraction of the going rate.

And if that wasn't exciting enough, less than 24 hours later I found the matching waistcoat in a vintage shop....

They're like buses, wait long enough and two will always arrive together!

Whilst I'm not a Monsoon shopper their ethical credentials seem better than many of their high street competitors. Their fashion recycling initiative Clothes for Life awards vouchers to customers who donate their unwanted Monsoon clothes back to the store. All the profits from these clothes, which are either resold or donated, go to Newlife, a charity dedicated to changing the lives of disabled and terminally ill children across the UK. (Source). Monsoon also endeavour to remain committed to their original bohemian roots, supporting ethical design and handicrafts. Through the Monsoon Accessorize Trust they claim to have helped improve the lives of disadvantaged women and children in Asia since 1994. (Source)

Jane Seymour modelling for Monsoon in the early 1970s SOURCE

Now....if I could just find this dress.....

Linking to SpyGirl's Fall into #Secondhand September 'cos pre-loved really is the only way to shop.

PS If you're wondering about my blog title, it comes from the classic travel book by Alexander Frater.

Wednesday, 4 September 2019

The Season Finale - End Of The Road, 2019

Last Wednesday, after a 12 hour pit stop, we climbed back into the van and headed down south to set up for End Of The Road. Half dead after the six days we'd spent at Towersey we admitted defeat at 7.30 pm, ate a bowl of pasta and collapsed into bed. Traditionally we spend Thursday morning exploring the beautiful Victorian walled gardens of Larmer Tree but, as we were way behind schedule, we had to crack on so we'd be ready for when the public came on site at 5pm. We were rewarded by the wonderfully exotic sight of several of Larmer Tree's resident macaws flying overhead as well as being sporadically serenaded by the cries from the many pet peacocks.

Phew....all done!!

Jeni, a friend from Birmingham, totally rocked this 70s accordion plated kaftan, snaffled from the Kinky rails.
From the moment we opened we were inundated with customers old and new. After the main stage had closed and our final visitor of the night, one of the musicians from headliners Spiritualized* rushed in to buy another of our amazing deadstock 1970s jackets that his fellow band member had bought earlier in the evening, we'd already sold more vintage clothes than we had the entire time we'd been at Towersey.

*Here's a link to my favourite Spiritualized track, Come Together.

Looking seriously bad ass in this 1990s-does-the-1970s fake fur maxi coat

Three of our colourful regulars modelling some of our vintage gloves
Friday, the second day of trading and our third day living in a field in Wiltshire...

Jon's 1960s leisure shirt always gets loads of love - I bought it for him from Moseley Vintage Fair last year

Friday's outfit - my Young Innocent maxi dress accessorised with bare feet and mahoosive sunglasses

This marabou trimmed velvet maxi from our rails fitted Mel like it was made for her!

Jen, one of our Indietracks regulars, found a few vintage pieces to add to her collection and very kindly sent several of her artist friends our way.

Keeping warm in style - the grey vintage fake fur was one of ours

Another regular - loving the 1980s psychedelic linen shirt she'd bought from us on Thursday night

Always brilliant festival outfits from this lot! The cord & denim fake fur trimmed coat was a Kinky purchase the night before

Saturday, the third day of trading....

By the time Saturday afternoon rolled around we realised that neither of us had ventured further than the traders' portaloos since arriving on site at 11am on Wednesday, not that we're complaining - our pitch is right opposite the main stage so we could watch incredible acts like Spiritualised, Michael Kiwanuka, Courtney Barnet and Bodega between customers.

More happy customers!

Looking fabulous in our 1970s hand embroidered blouse

Rocking a deadstock yellow windcheater

Dorothy, eat your heart out!

Sophie looked these 1960s Italian-made fake fur apres-ski boots so much that she left her Docs in our van and walked out in them

On Saturday night we made the executive decision to close early (10pm) and go out for a few hours. What a joy it was - we danced at the forest disco, giggled at people playing ping-pong in the woods, laughed at 1980s power ballads being annihilated in the Karaoke bar, marvelled at the incredible art installations, chatted to customers and were overwhelmed by how many people were out in clothes they'd bought from us over the years.

 This gorgeous girl (and her equally gorgeous brother) are regular visitors to our stall. 

As you can probably tell from my bizarre outfit, End of the Road is bastard freezing at night time. In addition to my sheepskin hat, alpaca wrist warmers, thermal leggings, Doc Martens and Afghan waistcoat I'm wearing a vintage 1950s padded silk cheong-san I nicked borrowed from the shop rails (it's like going out in a duvet).

By Sunday morning we'd sold so much of our stock that five of our rails were empty and the shop was looking a bit bare so we had a major rejig before opening at 10am. 

It's not a new hat, I swapped it for some vintage gear with our fabulous trader neighbours (and it was fairly traded in Mexico)

Festival fashion, Kinky style - out and about in a 1970s Phool skirt & waistcaot set and a 1960s St Michael Young Miss micro mini

Another Kinky buy - a 1960s suede jerkin and Moroccan leather belt

This 1970s cotton prairie dress by Shelana was one of two vintage dresses off to live in Cornwall

Finally my amazing chiffon dress has found her forever home!

Bassist John-Michael from the incredible Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs left the shop in this footie top - if you like Black Sabbath you seriously need to check them out HERE
Traditionally Sunday can be a slow trading day for us but not at End of the Road. While several people were disappointed that the items they'd fallen for on Thursday night had since sold, a lot more found clothes they'd missed on our jam-packed rails the first time round. By 11pm, when Metronomy finished their headline set, we rolled down the shop front for the final time and realised that we'd sold over half of all our stock.

And that was that, the festival season of 2019 was done and dusted. From trading at Glastonbury for the first time to smashing all records at End of the Road; dealing with the hottest temperatures ever recorded to unseasonably cold weather, gale force winds and biblical amounts of rain; dancing into the night to world famous acts in our festival finery to being evacuated in our nightclothes in the early hours of the morning and selling vintage clothes to everyone from pre-teenage first timers to lifelong enthusiasts, it's been an absolute blast but my personal highlight has to be....

Meeting the National Treasure that is Jarvis Cocker! My life is complete (though I'm not sure he'd say the same after having to listen to mine and my friend Heidi's over excited ramblings!)

See you soon!