Wednesday, 20 November 2019

Life Lately - Cats, Curtains and the Pony Awards

I'm back! 

After a somewhat fraught week we finally got the results from Frank's biopsy. It turned out to be a severe allergic reaction to something - possibly a plant - as there's no chance it would be a cleaning product in this house (we're all natural when we do bother). Anyway, whatever it was penetrated every layer of his skin, meaning now it's abating, poor Frank is bald in places. His medication finished today, he's almost back to his usual inquisitive self (although I'm keeping him indoors for the time being) and he's decided that cat food tastes a lot better when served with a generous helping of fresh prawns - we'll be bankrupt at this rate!  

His shaved tummy from the biopsy is gradually growing back and his face isn't looking so grubby now the abscess has cleared up. As you can see he's back to wrestling with his beloved catnip banana.

WEDNESDAY: Vintage Afghan coat, 1970s Indian-made embroidered crushed velvet maxi, tooled leather bag, Doc Marten "Darcie" boots (all eBay), Plum fedora (new, retail) 

We feel a lot happier leaving the house now Frank's on the mend. Today we popped out for our annual eye tests, which the NHS provide for free as I have a family history of glaucoma & Jon of diabetes. My prescription has stayed the same whilst Jon's has changed. He'll get his existing glasses reglazed in India but, as he didn't fancy waiting a couple of months and his opticians had a two for one offer on, he decided to splash out on a couple of new pairs. While he was getting measured up I spotted a pair of 1970s inspired sunglasses and decided to have a pair made up to my prescription - when I read on the beach I either use my E:reader set to the largest font size or wear a pair of sunglasses over the top of my reading glasses and look like a total loon. 

Here in the UK it's turned icy cold all of a sudden and, as you can see, my precious Afghan coat is being worn on repeat. My heart goes out to the young homeless man who's been sleeping in a tent on Lidl's car park for eighty-three nights. Although Jon & I (and others) are making sure he's warm, dry and not going hungry, what kind of country are we living in when this kind of situation is allowed to happen? 

MONDAY: Vintage Afghan and plum fedora worn with an early '70s maxi dress, original purple suede platforms and a 1960s suede shoulder bag (all charity shopped)

This photo was taken when we were off charity shopping on Monday. My vintage maxi was a charity shop find a few weeks ago. I thought I'd got a bargain at £5 but one of the regular customers told me that I should have haggled as nobody but me would wear a dress like that and I was doing the shop a favour taking it off their hands. Cheek!

Whilst nursing Frank I sat quietly and read, not wanting to disturb him. I finished three books, although can't say I was overly keen on Peter James' style of writing, Twilight was the first book I'd read by him and it was too melodramatic for my liking. 

Once Frank was starting to feel better, and no longer slumped on the landing, I felt like it was okay to start making some noise. On Sunday morning I decided my fabric stash needed decluttering and set about making some curtains for the spare bedroom. The previous pair were ivory with a black joie de toile print, for which I paid £5 from a rather posh lady at a car boot sale when we first moved into Stonecroft back in 2005. I liked them but always felt that they'd have worked far better in a chateau in the sunny South of France rather than a draughty Georgian house in the Black Country. 

Psychedelic patchwork is far more me! 

 The cost of my "new" curtains? Absolutely nothing! 

The rectangles were cut from tatty 1970s curtains, stained tablecloths, leftover fabric scraps and vintage clothes too knackered to sell. The thread, dressmaking pins and sewing scissors were given to me and I found the sewing machine abandoned in the street. I even used the existing bedroom curtains as lining - zero waste, maximum impact.

As well as sorting out our leaky shower unit and redecorating the bathroom, Jon's installed lights in my wardrobe so I can admire my clothes on the dark Winter days.

Here's some exciting news - I've been shortlisted for both Vintage Gal and Vintage Blog in the Vintage Pony Awards, 2019 - what an honour!

I've got some stiff competition and to be honest, I'm thrilled just to get this far but, if you are on IG and want to vote, here are the rules... you'll find organiser, Wish Vintage, HERE.

Progress! This afternoon is the first time Frank's curled up on his favourite blanket (crocheted by me) in over a fortnight. 

Thanks for all your lovely comments and messages, you've helped keep me sane.

See you soon. xxx

Tuesday, 12 November 2019

Let's Be Frank - Cat Sitting & Other Stories

 Thank you so much for all your kind words and messages about Frank, the last ten days have been pretty hellish. We're still awaiting the results from Thursday's biopsy which really took it out of him, in fact we were so worried about leaving him that we had to cancel the fair we were due to trade at over the weekend and, other than a couple more vet visits, hadn't left the house since I last posted. We've been taking it in turns to get up and check up on him during the night and neither of us have slept for longer than two hours for almost a week. Last night Jon finally tempted him with a saucer of mackerel and he's managed a couple of small meals today. 

If you're not a cat person you probably won't know just how caring felines can be. Stephen Squirrel has been babysitting him today, gently chirruping to encourage him to get better. Stephen's 15 and Frank's about 5, they're not related but they stick together.

Jon had a call earlier from a neighbour asking if Frank was alright as he hadn't seen him for almost a fortnight. Unbeknownst to us, Frank can be found sitting on their doorstep at around 7am each morning waiting to be let in for treats and fuss. Poor Layla (the silver tabby who made an appearance on my blog a fortnight ago) is pining for him.

 On a plus note, having been unable to leave the house and has meant that it has never been so neat and tidy, that saying about people with dull lives having the tidiest homes must be true. Apart from dusting, mopping and scrubbing everything in sight, I've been decluttering like a women possessed, halving my earring & bangle collection as well as parting with a significant amount of bags, scarves and hats.

But never fear, I'm not turning into one of those freaky minimalists, I'm simply refining my wardrobe. This 1970s tooled leather bag, for instance, replaces both a larger vintage tooled leather bag I love but proved cumbersome to use and the Rajasthani leather & fabric cross body bag I've travelled to India with for over a decade but is now so stained and filthy it's an embarrassment. You may remember that I bought a similar hat to the one I'm wearing for £2 from a charity shop recently, a month earlier I'd fallen in love with this one online but it was way over budget.  Randomly checked the website last week I saw that it had been reduced by 30% so I went mad, ordering it in both orange & plum...and subsequently getting rid of four other hats in my collection. 

As most of my wardrobe is vintage, when I have a clear out I simply put my discarded belongings in the stockroom where I'll eventually find them a new home. Non-vintage stuff like cast-off costume jewellery and paperback books go straight to the charity shop and today we allowed ourselves an hour off nursing duties to drive down to the charity clearance superstore with a bag of donations. Needless to say I didn't come back empty-handed....

Clockwise from left: American-made 1980s tweed bomber jacket by Braetan; 1990s-does-1970s revival platform boots (with the maker's tags still attached); Crochet bellbottoms; 1960s Donegal wool coat; 1980s pure new wool lined maxi skirt; 1970s C&A lined wool midi skirt; 1970s BHS chambray lace-up midi skirt (Click to enlarge photo)

Of course, it's all destined for the stockroom although I'm rather tempted with the Gunne Sax-inspired denim skirt. It fits me, 24" waist garments are generally a hard sell and it would look rather cute in Greece. See, I've talked myself into it already!

WEARING: 1970s wool housecoat (present from our friends, G&T back in 2016), 1960s suede and sheepskin trimmed coat (2017, Second to None), Banjara coin pendant (Goa, 2008), 1970s tooled leather bag (eBay), Orange fedora (new, retail!!!)
Thanks again for being so kind, caring & supportive. It means the world.

See you soon!

Wednesday, 6 November 2019

Autumnal Vibes - My Week In Vintage

Oh, season of mists and manic leaf sweeping. With twenty-seven trees in our garden raking has become a full-time job of late but it keeps us fit and warm so I can't complain. Relentless it may be, there's no excuse to schlep around in scruffs, my boots may be vintage Biba but they're comfy and waterproof and always make me feel fabulous no matter how mundane the task.

WEARING: We're both charity shopped from head to toe!
V: Vintage 1960s psych maxi by Hilary Floyd of London & 1970s wool felt hat  J: Vintage St Michael lambswool polo neck, original 1970s pinstriped blazer, Jones the Bootmaker Chelsea boots, black skinnies

On Sunday we were trading at Moseley, our penultimate fair of the year. As the last two had clashed with Glastonbury & End of The Road, it felt like an age since we'd last set up our pitch on the stage, our regular spot.

Kinky Melon's pitch - Courtesy of Moseley Vintage Fair

We had a fantastic day both with sales and catching up with friends we hadn't seen for months. Organisers Graziella and Steve are taking a well-earned break from running fairs next year to concentrate on their Digbeth-based shop Moseley Vintage Hub which specialises in quality vintage, industrial, mid-century furniture and vinyl records. Find them HERE. 

The details: Vintage label, Indian brass earrings bought in Tamil Nadu in 2010, Vintage Egyptian Revival pendant in Lapis Lazuli & 9ct gold by Thomas Fattorini of Birmingham (part of a set, 50th birthday present from Jon)

I treated myself to this quilted, Indian block print waistcoat from Second To None - Walsall's legendary Walsall vintage shop - who also trade at the fair.

The next day I wore it with a Dollyrockers maxi which I bought from Second to None in 2009....

...and spent the day in Wetherspoons.

Details: Dollyrockers label, this week's nail paint, 1970s Sheffield steel choker.

We haven't been out hunting this week as Frank's not been well. At first the vet thought he'd been in a fight (which wouldn't be the first time) and had prescribed antibiotics for an abscess on his face but here's no improvement so he's got to undergo a biopsy tomorrow. It's somewhat fortuitous me finding the Droopy and Browns dress and Marni jewellery last week as the vet's bill is going to be astronomical. 

 Talking of Marni, here's the rest of it.

My Indian gauze Mayur dress served me well through Spring and Summer...

And today it's getting an Autumnal outing.

Close-ups: Dress details, Rajasthani earrings, my right hand!

Thank goodness for blogging. My head's all over the place this week, I'm so grateful to be able to focus my thoughts on pretty vintage clothes and distract myself by reading about my virtual friends' lives.

See you soon.

Saturday, 2 November 2019

This Week In Secondhand Finds

 Bloody rain! Excuse the dodgy indoor photography, I wanted to show you this Droopy & Browns dress that I acquired this week before it went on the Kinky rails and the weather wasn't playing nicely enough for a garden shot. Droopy & Browns creations are increasingly sought-after and highly collectible and it's the first garment I've ever found bearing the label in over forty years of buying vintage clothes.

Founder of Droopy and Browns, Angela Holmes was one of four children, born in Darlington in County Durham in 1950. At 13, broken-hearted by her mother's death from cancer, she spent her time drawing elegant women in beautiful dresses. At 17, she found work as a chambermaid in Scarborough and met her soon-to-be husband, Keith.

The couple returned to York and, together with Angela's brother Jonathan, set up a market stall to sell her designs. In 1973, they acquired a shop in Stonegate, York, the very place Angela had watched her mother buying couturier gowns as a child. Inspired by those memories, she started designing even more extravagant clothes. By 1997, Droopy and Browns had eight shops, from Edinburgh to Bath, the flagship being in St Martin's Lane, London.


Nostalgic for the days when clothes were beautifully made, and lasted, Angela (a woman after my own heart) disliked the disposability of contemporary fashion, and its use of cheap foreign labour to produce poor quality items. She took an arts and crafts approach, overseeing every stage from design to retail, and employing craftsmen and women to make each garment individually. She worked in natural fabrics, designed and drew many of the prints herself, and had them dyed to her own specifications. Droopy and Browns' clothes were flamboyant and feminine, contemporary but with a historical influence and often with a theatrical twist.


Angela died in 2000, at the age of 50. Her brother, Jonathan, continued to run Droopy and Browns until the bank enforced closure in 2003.

 Unlike the vast majority of vintage clothes this dress, labelled as a 14, runs true to size so there's a series of clothes pegs positioned down my back holding it in place which is a shame as it's a wonderfully luxurious cotton & linen blend, fully lined and with pockets large enough to smuggle kittens. Hopefully she'll find the perfect sized woman before too long.

Here's what else I've found second-hand this week....
Clockwise from top left: English-made Harrington jacket; Crepe de chine duster coat; 1980s duck print bomber; Vintage Indian cotton midi dress; 1950s all-wool McGregor dressing gown; 1950s moleskin waistcoat; 1970s Jane Shilton leather shoulder bag; Super funky Canadian-made 1970s jacket; Vintage 1960s Daks overcoat; FabIndia Ikat maxi; Vintage 1960s Le Mans tartan racing cap.
On Thursday whilst rummaging in the clearance charity shop I spotted a posh looking box on the bric-a-brac shelf. As you know, I'm not particularly au fait with modern designer labels, but I'd heard of Marni and thought it might be useful for something. Upon further investigation I discovered that the box contained a rather nice piece of costume jewellery with a dust bag and the price tag, in Japanese yen, still attached.

Imagine my absolute amazement when, after doing a bit of Googling when I got home, I discovered that 65,100 Yen converts to £464.87 (HERE)

The crazy thing is that the lady behind the counter told me she'd got a few more pieces in the stockroom if I'd like them - so I bought the lot....

I've yet to input the prices of the other pieces of Marni jewellery into the conversion website, I'm still in a state of shock over the necklace!

We're trading at Moseley Vintage Fair tomorrow (see HERE) and it would be fantastic to see you if you're around. We've got some cool gear, I've even roped Jon into modelling some of it.

 You'll recognise several of the pieces I'm wearing from my own collection but one simply has to abide by the wardrobe rules (one in, at least two out) and, as you know, I have acquired rather a lot of good stuff recently.

See you soon!