Sunday, 17 June 2018

It's Vintage, Darling




Yesterday, after what felt like an eternity away from the vintage selling scene, we got to take Kinky Melon's Retro Boutique back on the road trading with the fabulous Pop Up Vintage Fairs in Walthamstow in East London.




Jon was a very good boy. He wore his lumbar support belt and used the new sack truck - with my assistance - to transport the stock from van to venue. He did try and spend a large part of the day sitting down and taking it easy but we had a lot of visitors so most of the time was spent on our feet assisting customers and taking payments - not that we're complaining - after three weeks of inactivity we needed to sell, sell, sell and we did just that. What a day!


Clockwise from top left: Hand-finished Alpaca coat; 1970s gauzy cotton halterneck maxi; 1960s chiffon maxi; West African waxed cotton handmade coat; 1960s lame evening dress by Global; 1980s Jake, London midi dress
With Jon back on his feet we'd spent a couple of days out stock hunting. Here's some of this week's finds (there was a bit of menswear, too but it's already gone!)

Clockwise from top right: 1980s Origin midi dress; 1970s chiffon maxi; Vintage Mexican dress; 1950s day dress (now sold!); 1970s gauzy cotton maxi; 1980s Indonesian-made panda print dress

Clockwise from top left: 1970s psych print duster coat (now in my wardrobe); 1970s shirred bodice maxi; 1970s nylon maxi; 1960s hand beaded shift dress; 1980s sun dress by Vivienne Smith; 1960s hand beaded gown

Possibly my favourite find has to be this slinky 1970s number by Frank Usher. It was filthy when I found it but despite the dry cleaning only instructions on the label I chucked it in the washing machine and it came out a treat.


I was thrilled to find these distinctly non-vintage see thru' boots in a chazza for £2 - I'd wanted a pair ever since I saw a girl wearing them at the mud fest that was Glasto 2016. Like I always say, if you wait long enough the thing you want will always turn up in a charity shop. I'm hoping that none of this year's festivals will be muddy enough to warrant needing them but at least I've got them if they are.


Today's outfit is another of last week's finds. Again, this Topshop playsuit ain't vintage but at £1.50 (found on the children's rail) I had to have it. It's been trying to rain for most of the day, there's no sign of any sun but it's quite warm and so it was perfect attire for unpacking the van and putting all the stock back in the Kinky shed in an orderly fashion.

The rest of the day is going to be spent in front of the telly glued to the football - as is the case every four years I'm utterly obsessed with the World Cup. The wall chart is up and the flag is flying high in the garden. I'm even more excited this year as, back in my corporate past, I met Gareth Southgate on several occasions and can confirm that he's the nicest & most considerate famous person I ever worked with. Come on, England!!!! (Before tomorrow's big match Jon and I are off to meet some blogging friends, you'll have to tune into my next post to find out more.)

WEARING: Vintage raw silk 1960s maxi by California (a present from Curtise)

Thanks to all the lovely people who made yesterday so fab from the several blog readers I met for the first time, the customers, long-time virtual (and real life) pals, Maxine & Elliot, the organisers and all of our fellow vintage traders. Vintage world, we've missed you!

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Gonna Get Myself (Dis)Connected

WEARING: Secondhand denim waistcoat, vintage native American choker, me-made skirt made from a 1960s jumble sale curtain, synthetic hair feather extension part of a 20 piece kit (50p from the car boot sale)

I love the internet, I really do. After nearly ten years of writing my blog I've met some wonderful people - bloggers whose posts I devour avidly and non-bloggers who I chat to on social media or with whom we exchange emails. Many of these women have become real life friends. There's people I "talk" to daily on Facebook about doll's houses, festival trading and charity shop finds and others on Instagram who continually inspire me with their fabulous vintage outfits or the incredible things they've made but sometimes it all becomes a little overwhelming. Hours can be lost catching up with comments & liking photos and, much as I bang on about how a day without dressing up is a day wasted, hours sat on your arse following other people's antics, no matter how enjoyable, can also be a bit of a waste of time - by absorbing ourselves too deeply in lives that aren't ours we're in danger of losing our identities, to start craving the shoes they're wearing, to copy their lifestyle or to dress in a similar way -  there's nothing like disconnecting from the world wide web for a couple of days every so often and spending some quality time in your own little world to remind yourself of who really you are, even if it is a misfit.


And that's exactly what I did.  I switched off the PC in the dining room on Saturday afternoon (smart phone free, it's my only way of accessing the internet) and got stuff done. We'd cancelled Vintage Village as we didn't think a three hour round trip to Stockport would do his recovering back any favours so I spent Saturday morning sorting out the stockroom in anticipation for trading in London (HERE) this coming Saturday instead. Stock sorted I decided it was finally safe to get the rest of my summer stuff down from the suitcase on top of the wardrobe and have a general wardrobe sort out - which I did. 


By the afternoon the promised sunshine had finally broken through the clouds and I chucked on a bikini, grabbed a Scandi thriller and my crochet and spent the rest of the day working on our camping blanket (and my tan). The evening was spent watching a Croatian thriller series (Rest In Peace) and new BBC Welsh noir, Hidden and - with the exception of the white wine and soda I had in 'Spoons with Lyndsey last week - we had our first alcoholic drink in a fortnight.

WEARING: Topshop bikini (which I fell in love with on their website but it was £45 and I couldn't justify the expense) only to find one in my size with the tags still attached from the car boot sale six months later for £1.

Sunday was glorious and it was bikinis at dawn (well, 9am) for an entire day of crochet, reading and yet more crochet. 

WEARING: Vintage gingham maxi by Uninhibited (charity shop), vintage sunglasses from a car boot sale and a stack of second-hand plastic jewellery

Yesterday we thought we'd ease Jon back into work gently. We drove a couple of miles to one of our regular haunts and sauntered around the charity shops in the gorgeous sunshine with me carrying the bulk of our buys.


Although the charity shops were a bit thin on the ground for vintage (a couple of 1960s gents' three button blazers, a full length alpaca coat, a handmade West African waxed cotton parka, a child's Mexican embroidered dress, a Tootal scarf & a handful of fringed granny lampshades) we did well with finding other things - lots of brand new Ecover products donated by a shop that had recently gone into liquidation, some brand new thermal leggings for £1 (festival essentials which will replace my raggedy other pair), an unworn navy blue cotton fine knit by Reiss for Jon (currently on their website for £90), an unopened box of the eyelash dye that usually costs substantially more than the 75p the charity shop wanted and this Boden bikini for £3 (a saving of £67!)



My favourite find of the day had to be this gorgeous velvet jacket that must have been donated by a pixie. The quality of the cotton velvet is an absolute dream and, fortunately, so is the fit. I'd have hated to have had to have parted with this curiosity! 

After lunch on Monday afternoon the computer went back on. We'd made a list of what we needed for the festival season (which kicks off very soon) and things had to be ordered. I also discovered that something we needed was a lot cheaper in IKEA  - despite the store being 3.5 miles from our front door, I haven't set foot in the place for 13 years. God help me.

WEARING: 1960s suede mini dress by Suede & Leathercraft of England (Second to None, 2014)

Today Jon's gone to visit a friend and play with engines work on the other campervan (he's assured me that he'll be sitting at a desk all day and he's taken his lumbar belt just in case he does anything more physical than screwing a few bolts in place) and I'm having to stay in as the bits we ordered are scheduled for delivery today (no sign yet!)



It's been a fairly productive day so far - I've laid a wooden floor in the doll's house and rewired a couple of Lundby lamps. Once the glue's dried I shall varnish it then crack on with finishing the blanket, making some more festival jewellery and catching up with my blog reading.

See you soon!

Linking to Patti & the gang for Visible Monday.

Friday, 8 June 2018

Vix's Week - Dresses, Doll's Houses & Charity Shop Finds


 Although there's some improvement, Jon's still struggling with his back so it's yet more mirror selfies. On Tuesday Lyndsey (Boomerang Vintage) had a free day and, with the patient weaned off the hardcore drugs, I took a train over the border to Staffordshire to meet her & go vintage hunting (a 7 mile trip for a return fare of £7.70 - how expensive is that?) The sun wasn't shining but I optimistically wore this vintage Hawaiian maxi anyway. It did the trick, it was glorious by the time Lyndsey ran me home - if the price of that rail fare wasn't bad enough, all the return trains had been cancelled due to a train breaking down earlier in the day and blocking the line.

1960s English-made gents suede jacket by Strong & Fisher (it's not grubby, it's my poor photo), 1950s Japanese Acetate paisley scarf, 1970s American-made tooled leather belt with eagle buckle


1970s gauzy cotton cape-sleeved maxi dress by Scottish designer, Marion Donaldson (all her garments are hand-finished)


Close-up of print plus two plastic bangles to add to my collection.
Vintage 1960s chiffon and velvet trimmed maxi by Cresta and a handmade tote bag with perspex handles.
Early '70s Linda Leigh lined nylon maxi "For a Slimmer World" - who says you can't get fabulous vintage clothes in larger sizes? This beauty is a case in point!
Anyway, public transport issues aside we had an ace day exploring the flea markets, junk shops and chazzas and - naturally - a leisurely lunch in a new (to me) Wetherspoons. Shame those marvellous maxis I found were too big, I love them all!


Wednesday was glorious. I wore a halterneck top I made from a vintage tea towel and a new-with-tags Zara skirt I'd found in a charity shop last year to dash to the shops for glue as I'd run out during a crucial part of my doll's house decorating. Pritt purchased and decorating done, I spent the rest of the afternoon in a bikini with my crochet.

A massive rainbow granny square.

I popped into town again on Thursday as we were running out of some stuff. I'm clocking up those miles since Jon injured his back, aren't I? I wore the chiffon maxi I'd bought from Hopkinson's Vintage Emporium when I visited Nottingham with the girls back in April and chucked my trusty chazza shop denim waistcoat over the top as the bodice seemed looser than I remembered. I'm not sure why I look so grumpy here - it must be the concentration, selfies and the over 50s aren't natural bedfellows.The eagle-eyed might have noticed that I'm barefoot, I wore my bargain £1.99 Swedish Hasbeens and they cut my feet to ribbons so off to eBay they go! That's the second pair of Hasbeens that have hurt my feet, I never have this trouble with Lotta clogs. That's the last sodding thing I need with only one pair of functioning legs between us - ruined feet!


On my shopping list were oranges, a Barry M eyeliner, dental floss, bath oil, bird food, ibuprofen, pain relief gel and soap but - being me - I came back home with all manner of random bits as well including a 16th scale mountain bike, a tub of Made in Hong Kong plastic toys and these.....


Two Indian door garlands which will be fabulous in our trade tent - when we finally get to a festival!


I found some groovy 1970s shirts last week on my trip into town last week - I think the original owner must be having a declutter as the chazza had even more. You could have your eye out on those dagger collars!


Today I'm wearing the maxi dress I had tailor-made in Goa from some vintage block printed cotton and a pair of rainbow bright embroidered chappals bought for 200 rupees (just over two quid) in Gujarat from a stall outside a temple. I didn't intend to buy them but I needed to escape from the hoards of worshipers chasing me down the street shouting Madam, madam, just one selfie...



What a difference a day makes. It's been raining here pretty much all day, the temperature has plummeted and' like yesterday, I've been up since Stupid O'Clock (hence the reason I've chopped my face off). By 8am I'd fed the beasts (both feline and reptilian), checked my seeds (the kale and the rocket are showing green shoots), caught up with blog reading & commenting, done my daily workout, popped a load of washing into the machine, got breakfast ready and made a bathroom.


The yellow Lundby suite was part of a set of unmatched vintage oddments to which I added my own tile-effect backing. My friend Lisa's cat Hazel, created the abstract art. I made the shower from some Poundland headphones & the packaging they came in, part of a blister pack of painkillers (the bin's full of them), a vintage hat pin and a press stud.


I think young Saga likes the new bathroom but, like her namesake in The Bridge, her communication skills are somewhat lacking.


Talking of The Bridge I'm already excited for 9pm tonight. I still don't know if we'll make it to Vintage Village at Stockport on Sunday, I'm reluctant to get packing in case I jinx everything. Tomorrow could be a mad rush.

See you soon. 

Monday, 4 June 2018

Picture This - Four Days in Photographs



Thank you so much for all your kind words, messages and advice about Jon's back. On Friday, after a horrendous couple of days, with the assistance of the National Health's 111 advice line, he was able to get an emergency appointment with his notoriously-hard-to-get-an-appointment-with doctor's surgery and after a weekend on scarily strong drugs he's starting to see some improvement. It's times like this that makes me feel bad that I can't drive (although a taxi to the surgery, a couple of streets away, only cost £4) but also hugely relieved that we live so close to the town centre, meaning that after Jon was drugged up and safely left on a chair at home I was able to leave him and nip down to Asda to buy some food. I wore a vintage Corky Crag of California maxi dress (a gift from Krista when she came to stay), and my 1970s car-booted sunglasses.  

WEARING: Embroidered cotton off-the-shoulder top (retail, on sale, 2017), vintage Ulkrike, Sweden patchwork maxi (eBay, 2011), silver woven basket (charity shop) 

On Saturday after I'd got the patient up, fed and comfortable I popped down to our corner shop to pick up a parcel. The last time I'd bought brand new bedding was back in 2005 when we'd first moved to Stonecroft. It was starting to look very tatty so I took advantage of La Redoute's* half price sale (where I bought our last lot from) - delivery is free if you opt to have your order delivered to a designated collection point. Although you can buy cheap poly-cotton bedding on the high street I prefer pure cotton and I think 13 years of constant use is testament to La Redoute's great quality. Their underwear is fabulous, too - well worth keeping an eye out for their flash sales.

*I'm not being sponsored to say this, I just like La Redoute. 


Saturday wasn't sunny but it was warm so our new bedding was washed, line-dried and ready to adorn the bed in a few hours.



A couple of weeks ago I bought another vintage doll's house which came complete with accessories. The stable block, this is Lundby's poshest house, the Stockholm, contained lots of horses, some were too small in scale to be used so I turned them into disco horses and before you ask no, I haven't been taking Jon's drugs!



WEARING: Vintage Levis' cut-offs (nicked from our festival stock), crochet bikini top (part of a set made for me by a friend), 1970s deadstock sunglasses (Moseley Vintage Fair), vintage tooled leather belt (car boot sale). 

Sunday was hot and sunny (yay!) so on went the shorts and bikini top and outside I went to tackle the garden.


Assisted by the beasts!


The garden waste bin is due for three weekly collection on Wednesday which serves as a great incentive to tidy up and get it filled. I raked and weeded the area by the pond, prepared the raised beds (made using some wooden pallets thoughtfully fly-tipped over the fence) and planted some seeds. I had done my planting a few weeks earlier but some naughty four-legged animal had decided to dig up all my hard work so let's hope my second attempt and rudimentary beast-proof covers will do the trick.  If you're interested I'm attempting to grow spinach, beetroot, rainbow chard, kale, tomatoes, rocket, three varieties of lettuce, dwarf beans and ox-eye daisies - we'll have to see what happens!


Last week on a local selling site someone was offering a job lot of old Lundby lighting, they weren't sure if any of them were working but at £3 I thought it was worth a gamble. I've joined a fantastic Lundby enthusiasts group on Facebook and reading through some old posts I learnt how to rewire and install them and now Rasmus has light! I've ordered some 4 volt extension leads so by the end of the week I might be able to show you a couple of illuminated rooms. (The 1970s crystal chandelier was missing a couple of cups and candles which I substituted with black press-studs and cocktail sticks.)



Today I'm wearing a 1970s cotton trouser suit which my friend Claire gave me and which the lovely Hermes delivery girl was been in raptures over.  Did I say delivery? Oh dear...my currently in progress Lundby house is rapidly becoming a tower block!



Jon's much improved today, the osteopath is pleased and says that, as long as he takes it easy this week we should be okay to trade at Vintage Village at Stockport on Sunday (we've invested in a sack truck so no lifting will be required) and now he's a lot more mobile I'm off to dye my roots, I've got a date with a mate tomorrow!

See you soon. 

Thursday, 31 May 2018

Pain Stops Play - The Festival That Never Was

Acoustic Festival, 2017

You're probably thinking, Shouldn't they be away trading at a festival? and you'd be right, we should. Normally on the last Thursday of May, just like the past four years, we'd have been at the Acoustic Festival of Britain in Uttoxeter, our pitch would be up and we'd probably be on our second can, I'd be hanging the stock on the rails and Jon would be up a ladder sorting out the lighting but on Saturday, while I was ironing my way through a mountain of summer stock, Jon came crawling into the house, his back had given way and he couldn't walk. While he does suffer with back problems this was the worst we'd seen.

Acoustic Festival pitch, 2016

Hopeful that Jon's back would right itself in a couple of days, I got the stock sorted, priced and ready for sale. I did a dummy set-up in the garden, packed everything up and even found the time to make some crazy festival jewellery, too. Yesterday, when we realised Jon wasn't getting any better I got in touch with the festival organisers to cancel and made an appointment with the osteopath around the corner. We've lost our pitch fee but even with the kind offer of help from friends and fellow traders, getting there, setting up and working three 12 hour shifts would have been impossible.Yes, the freedom self-employment gives you is brilliant but it's not so great when you're ill and there's no sick pay. Oh well, onwards and upwards!


Aside to playing nurse I've been reduced to making my own entertainment. Here's Liv and Rasmus having a domestic over the amount of vintage dolls' house stuff she bought at the car boot sale for £1 last Thursday (no Bank Holiday car boot sales for us).


With my official blog photographer off his feet I've had to resort to taking selfies.
Bank Holiday Monday, after Walsall's horrific storm that tragically claimed a man's life on Sunday evening (HERE), it was warm enough for me to wear this gingham and daisy print maxi Curtise gave me a couple of years ago. Oops, that mirror really is scratched to buggery! 


As always, when I feel like life is spiraling out of control I take comfort in making stuff. I've turned every scrap of wool I could lay my hands on into massive granny squares. Tuesday was all about crochet, sunshine and a free roaming tortoise. 


As I haven't been out, getting dressed to go anywhere is quite an occasion. This was my outfit for walking Jon round to the osteopathy clinic on Wednesday. The dress is a vintage beach dress (no fastenings, quick drying fabric, reinforced bust) and the jacket something I pimped up myself with some panels I made in a batik making workshop.


Earlier today I walked into town to fetch supplies. I wore this Alfredo Bouret for Mexicana midi dress and some Lotta of Stockholm clogs. In addition to the essentials (pain killers, jelly sweets* and the Lonely Planet guide to The Greek Islands) I popped into the chazzas and scored a pair of 1960s French-made sunglasses, three '70s dagger collar blouses and a vintage cowboy shirt...as you do!

*Not for me, I hasten to add, I'm a sweet-shunning vegetarian!


For the first time in months the mending pile is no more so I've been messing around with my fabric stash. Using a pair of 1960s Scandinavian curtains I made a new plastic bag dispenser for our trade tent and invented this hang-up organiser to keep our toiletries and essentials handy in the van. I'd show you the jewellery I've made but I've learnt from bitter experience not to share pictures of stuff I've made to sell as it gets copied by other traders and it's hard enough to earn a living without my ideas being plagiarised. My fab regulars at next month's Cornbury Festival will be the first to see my crazy creations!


Did I mention how much I like the people I've sold The Cottage to? When they were insulating the loft they found some of dolls that Dad must have stashed away after I left home in 1986. The ash blonde fashion doll with the off-the-shoulder pink dress and lace-up wedges was by Mary Quant. The standard sized version is pretty common but this larger sized one, Daisy Long Legs, was quite a rarity and the only one I found on eBay recently sold for £88 which could go some way in helping recoup our losses from the weekend!


H & D also found a sack containing every greeting card my family ever received during the 1960s. There's Mum's 21st birthday cards from 1963, cards from 1966 marking my parents' engagement, their wedding and my subsequent birth and my brother Marcus's birth in 1968. There were hundreds but I only kept the grooviest. It was a poignant few hours sorting through all this lot - only Marcus and me are still alive.

Trying on the stock - back in the days when Jon could stand up straight

The patient is still in a terrible way although the osteopath (who, by weird coincidence is also a regular at the Moseley Vintage Fair) says there's no serious damage and with plenty of rest, pain killers and gentle stretching exercises he should be back on his feet in a couple of weeks.

Wish us luck!

Linking to Judith, the Style Crone and her Hat Attack link up.