Sunday, 5 December 2021

Birthday Eve

 The ice was so thick on Thursday morning that I thought it had snowed overnight. Stephen wasn't keen on going outside by I soon warmed up after my 30-minute Wii Fit session. Supplies were low so we had porridge with bananas and honey instead of the usual fruit and yoghurt.

A comment left on my blog by Leen solved the mystery of Malachi. He's not a maimed boy soldier, he's a European Catholic child, aged between 12 -14, undergoing his First Communion. Further research led me to this photo of a boy in almost identical attire, taken in 1900 in Montreux, Switzerland.

After breakfast, Jon combined a trip to the tip with a supermarket run. I piled on the layers and took some stock photos outside. The light was perfect even though the temperatures weren't.

Thank goodness for having a blog. I trawled through the archives and found photos of me wearing some of the stock when it was in my wardrobe. Jon wondered why I was parting with so many of my belongings but I keep finding things I like even better so it's daft to keep anything that's not 100% perfect.

A local cat charity I support, the wonderful West Midlands Stray Cat Rescue Team, was desperate for help so I bought them a few boxes of cat food from their Amazon wishlist. I've been missing Frank a lot this week, as an ex-street cat himself I know he'd have approved. 

A visit from the postman helped bring some cheer. I'd won this Dilli Grey organic cotton velvet hand-embroidered Kantha jacket on eBay over the weekend. I was the only bidder. I'm not quite sure why, it's beautiful.

I spent the rest of the afternoon reading the book Vronni sent me, Rummage. It's taking me a while to get through as there are so many fascinating facts to absorb. After halloumi and roasted veg, we spent the evening watching Winter Walks with the lovely Nihal Arthanayake and another episode of The Americans. 

It was significantly milder on Friday morning as I discovered when I nipped down to the Kinky Shed to collect the sold stock that needed wrapping. After my Wii Fit, I joined Jon for breakfast and then we walked into town as I needed to collect the boots I'd left with the cobbler a couple of days ago. 

We had another mission in town, to try and find someone who could repair Jon's Dad's military knife, which is missing a spring. I never met Alf, he died when Jon was only 20. He was an accomplished athlete, a keen photographer and served as a British Army commando in WW2. Jon's got some amazing photos he took during the War whilst fighting in the North African Campaign. 

Neither the cobbler nor the watch mender could help us with the knife but I've found a couple of specialist knife repairers online so we'll take photos and see what they say.

WEARING: Dilli Grey Kantha jacket worn with a vintage hand-embroidered Indian dress, Clarks' Orinocho Club boots and a Reiss felted wool hat (all eBay), Banjara earrings (roadside stall Goa), Art Nouveau belt (charity shop)

Obviously, the new-to-me Kantha jacket needed its first trip out. I think I'm gradually turning into William Morris with my ever-growing love for handmade and beautiful things. My wardrobe is full of hand-embroidered and traditionally block printed clothes, natural fabrics and garments crafted by independent (and ethical) designers whilst our house groans under the weight of hand-blown glass, vintage textiles, colourful ceramics, antique pictures and Arts & Crafts metalwork.

Fast fashion wasn't even a thing back in Morris's day but his words couldn't be more true. 

On the rare occasion that I buy new, it's always from an ethical company where everyone involved in the garment's production is treated well and paid fairly hence my annual pilgrimages to Anokhi, Cotton Cottage & FabIndia when I'm in India, which won't be happening this winter. I'm so impressed with Dilli Grey's Ethical Manifesto (HERE) and the quality of the clothes I've been lucky enough to find secondhand that I've decided to invest in a couple of their new pieces, well it is nearly my birthday. 

Dilli Grey, organically grown cotton, made with love in India and bought from eBay

Friday afternoon was spent listing more stock on eBay followed by Higgety pies for tea. Later we watched more of The Americans accompanied by rum & cola.

After a lie-in with mugs of tea and our current reads, on Saturday morning we had veggie sausage sandwiches for breakfast and then Jon helped me touch up my roots at the kitchen table. After I'd showered off the dye, Jon locked himself away elsewhere in the house with strict instructions not to barge in (something to do with making something for my birthday).

Lady Curzon wearing the Peacock Dress - Albert Edward Jeakins (1903) 

And talking of birthdays I did some googling and decided that Monday would be the day we visit the famed Peacock Dress before it is removed from public display in a fortnight's time to undergo several years of restoration. Made from chiffon, the dress was embroidered and embellished in gold and silver thread by craftsmen in Agra & Delhi using the zardozi (wire-weaving) method. It was shipped to Paris where the House of Worth styled the dress with a long train edged with white chiffon roses. The worked panels were overlapping peacock feathers with blue-green beetle wings in the centre.
Lord and Lady Curzon arriving at the Durbar in 1903

It was worn by Lady Mary Curzon, wife of Lord Curzon, Viceroy of India (1899 -1905) at an evening ball which followed the Coronation Durbar in Delhi in 1903 to celebrate the Coronation of King Edward VII and Queen Alexander. We might not be able to get to India in 2021 - the first year we've not visited in over two decades - so visiting Indian treasures on home soil is the next best thing.

It was a gloomy and blustery day (hence the grainy photo) and I spent the afternoon reading. Later we ate pizza, drank rum and cola and watched The Americans, struggling to hear the television over torrential rain.

I was up first on Sunday morning, mopped the kitchen floor and brought mugs of tea back to bed where we lay and read for an hour or so. I stripped and changed the bed, loaded the washing machine and, after taking our lateral flow tests, ate toast and watched The Andrew Marr Show.

We popped into town and dropped off a bag of donations at the charity shop including Jon's old radio alarm we'd replaced with a secondhand DAB radio last week, a pile of paperbacks and some vintage stock I'd weeded out when I was tidying the Kinky Shed earlier in the week. We came home with a Marks & Spencer new with tags Collezione linen jacket, a Madcap, England Mod polo shirt, two vintage midi dresses (Du Marcel & St Michael) and a 1960s leather handbag with a rather nifty integral make-up mirror, all of which are destined for the stockroom.

This antique enamel and brass bowl at a bargainous £2 is a keeper. Etched with antelopes, elephants and tigers, it's undoubtedly Indian in origin and wouldn't look out of place in the Arts and Crafts interior of the glorious Wightwick Manor

The tube lined Morris Ware vase with stylised thistles is by A Hancock & Sons and is signed by the artist, George Cartlidge. It was made in 1920 and found in the parental home when we moved there in 1971.

WEARING: JON: Schott NYC wool coat, vintage cord cap, Levi 510s, Fat Face cashmere jumper, Clarks' boots (all secondhand)  VIX: 1970s Phool skirt, vintage suede coat, 1970s tooled leather bag (all secondhand), thermal polo neck (M&S second, vis eBay), Snag "Pumpkin" tights, now in their second year (birthday present) 

I'm not keen on shoes and only own one pair, these!

A collaboration between the iconic Clarks' Wallabee, the V&A and Liberty. They were absurdly cheap in Clarks' clearance sale a few years ago and really comfy despite the vertiginous heel.

I'm off to tidy up as we're expecting visitors. I'll leave you with the letter my Grandma wrote congratulating Mum on my birth, fifty-five years ago tomorrow, and a photo of Mum & Dad (Jen & Ernie) bringing me for my first visit to Stonecroft, back in the days when it belonged to my grandparents.

See you when I'm a year older!