Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Down In The Bus Station On Monday - A Blogger Day Out

Yesterday Jon and I made the two hour journey to Chester to get together with long-time friends, Lynn and Philip and to meet Ann and her husband, Jos, currently holidaying in the UK from their native Belgium. Our Sat Nav packed up just before we reached our designated meeting point but, just as we we pulled into a lay-by to get the map out, Lynn and Philip appeared behind us so we formed a convoy to the park and ride where Ann and Jos were already waiting. After much squealing, hugging and exchanging of gifts we hopped on the bus and headed to the city centre.

Although Chester was home to my maternal Grandma and the many generations before her, other than a sixth form trip with my Classical Studies group and trading at a couple of vintage fairs, I'd never been. The bits we saw were gorgeous, ancient black and white timbered buildings, elegant covered shopping arcades and cobbled streets where Roman legionnaires once marched to war.

We took a few photos but chatting and exploring Chester's many charity shops took up most of our time.

I was excited to discover that Ann and I were the same height. With the exception of Tania and Krista, every blogger I've met has towered over me (even with my high heels and big hair!)

Other than taking photos and occasionally featuring on our blogs, the menfolk don't tend to participate in meet-ups. Like us girls, these three also got on like a house on fire.

We could have done with one of those Union Jack brollies - it's hard work keeping the six of us together in an orderly fashion.

 This street entertainer was belting out George Michael covers. Lynn and Philip had a bit of a dance when Careless Whisper started up.

Although the charity shops were plentiful, vintage was thin on the ground and the bits we found were either tatty, overpriced or of the Princess Di 1980s variety which, as I'm sure you can probably tell, ain't our bag!

Lucky Ann with her dainty size 37 feet snagged these super cute Italian made jellies in her favourite colour. Lynn and I with our less than dainty hooves were green with envy!

How much! Muttered Jon under his breath. We're not used to city prices.

We had a giggle imaging Lynn buying this settee and driving back to Lancashire with it and Philip strapped to the roof of her lime green Beetle, Frida.

We gave our Belgian guests a taste of traditional British life - a slap up lunch in Wetherspoons. There are two branches of 'Spoons in Chester, we visited The Bull & Stirrup Hotel, a four storey red brick Victorian building on the banks of the River Dee.

What are the chances? The portrait opposite our seats was of a Belgian nobleman. There were also pictures of local lad, Daniel Craig and the brilliant Ricky Tomlinson who, after attending a trade union meeting here in the early 1970s, ended up being imprisoned.

 After a long lunch we headed off in search of Chester's vintage shops, getting hopelessly lost along the way. I'd share a photo I took of the gang trying to figure out Ann's street map but Lynn says she'll kill me if I do. The first shop was of the 1990s/refashioned variety and apart from a couple of pleasant enough 1970s blouses wasn't our thing. At first glance the second shop didn't look much better - racks and racks of repro 1950s dresses & brand new Emo tee shirts but we saw a sign for "handpicked vintage" pointing upstairs and found a rail of proper vintage midi dresses all priced at a very reasonable £9.99 (much cheaper than the bland high street frocks in most of the city centre chazzas). Ann found a groovy 1970s polyester number which suited her to a tee.

With the clock creeping towards half past four we took the bus back to the car park and said our goodbyes (but not for long - Ann & Jos are staying in Shropshire, the neighbouring county to us, so plans have been made for next week). What a fab day, good weather, beautiful surroundings and brilliant company.

This is what I wore - the 1970s satin duster coat I bought last week, an antique Gujarati necklace, a psychedelic bag from Stockport's Vintage Village and a 1960s silk chiffon dress by Jean Allen (also from Stockport).

Gifts galore! Belgian Trappist beer & posh Kontichs Kontje chocolates (which I've had to confiscate from Jon as he'll demolish the lot in one sitting) and a groovy maxi from Ann & Jos and from Lynn & Philip some 1960s style books, a patchwork bag and a handmade Bits & Bobs jar and slow stitched doily (made by Lynn).

Photos nicked from Lynn - ta, love!

We made it home at 6.59 pm - a minute before kick off! After such a fantastic day out and the trauma of last night's match, the pair of us feel absolutely ruined today!

See you soon.

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 (now SOLD!); 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!

Linking to Patti & the gang for Visible Monday.

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.