Friday, 10 January 2020

Double Denim & Travel Packing

WEARING: Vintage Lois bell bottoms, 1970s Vogue for Rockford Indian gauze tie-neck blouse (eBay) and a block printed waistcoat from Second-To-None, Plum fedora, (retail purchase)

No, you're not seeing things, I really am wearing jeans. These aren't just any jeans though, they're vintage 1970s Lois bellbottoms last seen on the blog HERE. They've not seen the light of day since May 2018 and, if I took any notice of the so-called decluttering experts, they'd be long gone by now. Getting rid of anything you've not worn in six months is utter rubbish, if you like it, it fits you & you've got room in your house then hold on to it, you never know when you've get a craving to wear something again.

As I'll be living in maxis for the foreseeable future I thought I'd ring the changes a bit this week. Above is Tuesday's outfit - those same jeans worn with an 1970s Indian gauze blouse by Oasis Trading, (snaffled off eBay just before Xmas for £2.50)  with a 1970s tooled leather belt and a vintage Indian silk screen print scarf which are now packed away in my travel bag.

Taj Mahal, Agra, Jan 2019
Koorg, Karnataka Jan 2015
Dharavi Slum, Mumbai 2018

Yes! I'm Indian ready and this is the final cut for this year's trip. As usual, we'll be travelling about and I need to pack for cold Northern nights as well as the tropical heat of both the coast and the desert; I need modest gear for visiting temples & shrines and for venturing off the beaten track plus glamorous stuff for uber hip Mumbai and laid back hippy chic for Goa's beach life. Of course, when we're in India we'll be posing for selfies with most of the population of the Sub-Continent so will need to look fabulous at all times.

Clockwise from top left: 1970s block printed kaftan (eBay); Recycled sari top (Vintage Shop on IG); Anthropology linen top (Charity shop); Clarks' Orinoco Club boots (eBay); Vintage tooled leather bag (eBay); Block printed maxi dress (Anokhi, Jaipur); Metallic suede tote bag (on-line Fair trade shop); Quilted riding jacket (Anokhi, Jaipur); Yara sandals by Birkenstock (eBay); Vintage Guatemalan cotton maxi dress (eBay); Crochet top (Roadside stall, Goa); Vintage silk kaftan (eBay); 1970s Third Eye block printed maxi skirt; Miss KG suede espadrilles (eBay); Organic cotton block printed maxi skirt (Cotton Cottage, Goa); 1970s India Imports of Rhode Island block print halterneck maxi (eBay)
I've bought a few items especially for my trip - the recycled sari top, the green linen top which I found in the charity clearance shop for £2 last week. I didn't realise it was by hip US label Anthropology until I got it home (I can't be bothered wearing my reading glasses to read garment labels when I'm charity shopping, I just buy what looks good) and the Kurt Geiger orange suede, pom-pom trimmed, espadrilles which I scored for £1.50 on eBay. The Guatemalan angel-sleeved maxi was another recent eBay bargain.

I always pack way too much jewellery and wear the same things for the entire trip. I've really cut back this year - honest! Obviously there's my silver rings and bangles, too - but I'm wearing them.

Make-up: Barry M eyebrow kit (I've been using it daily for 2 years so it's a little battered); Barry M Future length mascara (a recent discovery, I love it); Barry M waterproof kajal; 15x travel magnifying mirror (£1.98 with free postage from a UK-based seller on eBay) ; Barry M matte lip paint; Tweezerman tweezers; Models Own* cheek tint; Pencil sharpener; Nail file; Hair bands and screws; Barry M nail paint in The Way You Make Me Teal.

*I think this UK-made, cruelty free make-up brand is no longer in business, a lot of their stock is currently in every Banardos charity shop I've visited. Stock up if you find it, it's good stuff.

I found the Australian-made green bikini top for £1 in the charity clearance shop yesterday, the crochet bikini top is a couple of years old.

Normal and prescription sunglasses, a sarong, the block-printed cotton scarf I bought from the factory in Gujarat, a tooled leather belt and a vintage silk screen printed scarf (both worn on Tuesday). Not pictured are my alpaca wrist warmers, a vintage cotton sun hat, three pairs of knickers, a pair of leggings, a bodysuit, three pairs of socks and my reading glasses.

First aid/ toiletries: Lush shampoo & conditioner bars; Tangle Tamer; Eye-make-up remover (plus reusable cotton pads); My pills plus ibuprofen just in case; Dental floss; Bath plug: Lip balm; Aloe Vera gel; All day sun screen (Factors 30 & 40); Jon's razor, blades and shave gel; Tea tree soap; Konjac sponge; All day facial sun screen; Toothpaste; Bamboo tooth brushes; Bite relief; Razor; Moisturiser; Foot file; Anti-bac gel; Bamboo plasters & blister plasters; Echinacea Cold & Flu relief.

Agra Fort, Jan 2019

What adventures await? Other than the return flight, an internal one-way flight and the first five night's accommodation booked who knows? Let the fun commence.

Banni Grasslands, Bhuj, Gujarat, Jan 2018

See you in February!

Monday, 6 January 2020

Do or DIY - The Bathroom Makeover

If you've been following me for a while you probably won't see much difference after our recent bathroom re-do. Other than Jon refitting the shower very little has changed, the walls have been repainted in a similar shade of chocolate brown, the wood floors are still stained with Jacobean Oak and, as ever, there's a random selection of artwork, family portraits and stuff we've found on our travels adorning the walls. When you don't follow fashion and you already know what you like there's no reason to change just because the style magazines try to convince you otherwise. 

The light fitting is new, that is, new to us. The brass frame and chains came from the Edwardian light fitting that had hung in my parental home since 1912. It did have an amazing white opalescent shade which unfortunately came to a sticky end a few weeks ago when I was tidying up. Oh dear! Mind you, I think I prefer the exposed retro light bulbs Jon found on eBay.

The shower tiles (wood effect ceramic floor tiles bought for a pittance in 2005) haven't changed, it's just the shower fitting and glass doors that are new. The shower head is double the size of the original, back in 2005 chrome fittings were just becoming fashionable and cost so much we could only afford a titchy one. Now they're mainstream and a fraction of the price so we've bought the biggest available.

What self-respecting musician doesn't hang their gold and silver discs in the bathroom? Those are Jon's from his Charlatans days. Here are my 18th Century ancestors James and Sarah Cook (on my Mum's side). The brown wooden sign comes from a Victorian tram (Seats for 21 Passengers Inside), I paid the princely sum of £2 for it from a car boot sale in 2017.

When we moved into Stonecroft the bathroom was downstairs. Jon converted the upstairs loo, part of the landing and Mum's childhood bedroom into a bathroom using glass bricks and a stud partition wall. While he was stripping the ruined plaster from the walls ready for re-plastering he uncovered this fireplace which had been back-filled with rubble and boarded over. It was as much as a surprise to my Mum as it was to us and she'd lived there since 1952. It's hung with vintage and antique mirrors we've found on our travels. The 1950s vinyl laundry bin came from a charity shop.

 The floating shelves are new and - shock, horror - from a proper shop! The wooden cabinet used to be in our bedroom. It was £2 from a car boot sale and covered in cream gloss paint with ugly yellowing Bakelite handles. The seller was so happy to be rid of it that he insisted on making his son carry it to our car! We stripped it, painted it white and added some vintage cut glass handles bought from a flea market. I'm sure I don't need to tell you that the Mid-Century art glass, retro Bush radio, first aid kit and various ceramic odds and ends all came from charity shops.

The Edwardian mahogany mirror has hung over the sink since 2005. It was originally in my Grandpa's - and now our - bedroom. The Victorian tiles are from my collection. The basket holding the loo rolls and the 1950s Salter bathroom scales are charity shop finds (where else?)

The dragonfly soap dish was discovered in the bathroom of my parents' house when they moved there in 1971. It was made by Royal Doulton and given away free with Wright's Coal Tar Soap over a hundred years ago. A few years ago its twin turned up on the Antiques Roadshow and was valued at around £120! 

Spider plants seem to thrive in the bathroom despite the room having very little natural light. The macrame hanger was £3 from the charity clearance shop in the Autumn and Liz made us the smaller one from some salvaged vintage leather and garden twine. 

More dead relatives! The watercolour of lady with the freakishly small feet is my I don't know how many times great grandma (dated 1820), the handsome chap with the 'tashe was my Grandma's father, William Thomas Crosby, a womanising bastard by all accounts, the naive looking portrait in the gilt frame is inscribed Chester, 1854 so another relative on my Grandma's side of the family - his hat is adorned with a peacock feather so I'm wondering if he had an Indian connection (in my dreams!)

Jon bought me these 1930s cinema stubs originating from British India and many years ago and framed them for me. The fake crystal decanters and Lloyd Loom bedside table were jumble sale finds almost a decade ago.

If you're interested, the walls are painted in Wilko's own brand, Nutmeg Spice. The paint we'd originally used had been discontinued but this turned out to be the perfect match and a lot cheaper, too.

Once our rugs arrive (tomorrow, according to this evening's email) we can finally say that the bathroom is finished....yay!

See you soon with - hopefully - my holiday packing post.

Wednesday, 1 January 2020

Happy New Year!

Don't worry, this isn't one of those retrospective posts prevalent in blogland at the start of January. I might dress in vintage clothing but I don't wallow in the past. I've no interest in looking backwards, you'll not find me blogging about my highlights from the previous year or posting selfies from ten years ago, the past is a foreign country and all that. 

Now, where was I? I signed off on Saturday with every intention of sorting out my travel wardrobe but got distracted by a delivery from Lahore containing a job lot of cushion covers handmade from the off cuts of antique rugs and old kilims I'd won on eBay before Xmas and I spent a hour or two stuffing cushions and moving things around until I was satisfied.

The rest of the day went to plan although we ended up watching Bridge of Spies for the fifth time as it was on TV and we couldn't resist seeing it again.

On Sunday morning we didn't get up until 9am which is unheard of for me but I was too engrossed with my current Le Carré novel to leave the bed. For breakfast we ate toasted sour dough bread with some delicious artisan-made vegan cashew cheese spreads my brother gave us for Xmas*. I placed an order for toiletries with Superdrug & arranged to collect it from their Walsall branch tomorrow.

*Here's the link, it really is delicious.
WEARING: Vintage psych maxi (99p, eBay, 2007), 1960s leather coat (gift from Sarah, who used to blog as Lucy Nation), Original Mary Quant scarf (jumble sale, 2014)
 Jon needed to go to B&Q (a DIY superstore) to get something crucial for the bathroom redo and also to buy some logs for the wood burner so I went along for the ride.

Stephen Squirrel, guardian of the wood pile

After a lunch of spicy noodles I got cracking with my holiday packing. My method consists of pulling out a pile of potential garments, trying everything on and laying the stuff I'm happy with out on the spare bed. Over the course of the following week I'll whittle the pile down. One of my maxi dresses needed shortening so I fired up the sewing machine and spent an hour sorting it out. Uninspired by selection of holiday tops in my stash I turned to the internet for help, finding something fabulous from a vintage shop I follow on Instagram. The unexciting tops? Along with the three books I finished earlier in the month, they'll be redonated to the charity shop later in the week.

I consumed a total of 70 books in 2019 - the first time I've ever kept track of my reading. 

After a shower we ate the rest of last night's pizza with salad & jacket wedges and watched The Repair Shop and more of Dutch crime thriller Blood Pact.

The Guardian are right, it's a must watch
On Monday, after a Wii Fit workout, I took down the Xmas cards, fairy lights and festive greenery I'd draped over the Trechikoffs in the lounge (just visible in the photo with the new cushions) and woke Jon up for our fruit & yogurt.

WEARING: Vintage suede and sheepskin trimmed coat (Second To None, 2017), 1970s embroidered velvet maxi and Reiss wool fedora (both eBay), 19th Century Gujarati pendant (flea market find)
Jon was determined to finish the bathroom so I left him to it and walked into Walsall to pick up the Superdrug order, drop off a couple of parcels at the Post Office and stock up on fruit & veg from the market. Needless to say I couldn't resist popping into the charity shops where I found this embroidered suede waistcoat with the Zara price tag still attached for just £4.50. After a lunch of - you guessed it - spicy noodles, I had a play around in my wardrobe to see how my new-to-me waistcoat could be worn.

I had another look at my travel wardrobe, removed two dresses & a bikini from the pile and slung the three possible wraparound maxi skirts I'd earmarked for the trip in the washing machine as their hems were looking a bit grubby, then I hung them up in the utility room to dry. Bathroom more or less completed, I had a look at my favourite fair trade homewares website for a replacement bathmat and ordered a couple of hand loomed cotton chindi rugs (made using surplus fabric from the Indian textile industry) which had been reduced to £7.50 each.

After a shower (which, after only being able to have baths for the last two years, I'm loving!) we ate baked potatoes stuffed with vegan cashew cheese and watched another couple of episodes of Blood Pact.

WEARING: 1970s maxi skirt, vintage crewel work waistcoat, 1970s ribbed polo neck jumper (all Ebay), Russian folklore belt (charity shop), Vintage Moroccan atomiser pendant (used to belong to my friend Maxine)

On New Year's Eve I started the day with a Wii Fit workout, dusted the lounge and, when Jon got up, we had fruit and yogurt for breakfast. After ironing the skirts I'd washed yesterday, along with some photos of our stall set-up I submitted an application to trade at a music festival we'd not been to before which took the best part of the morning.

Jon drove over to the out-of-town pet superstore to stock up on cat food as he'd realised that a 10% off voucher he'd been sent expired the next day and I knocked up a veg sabzi for later. Izzy the postman delivered the top I'd ordered on Sunday afternoon and I was thrilled to discover that it was even lovelier than expected and it looked great with all three of my potential holiday skirts, making the decision process even more difficult.

After a vegan pasty Jon made a start on his holiday packing while I sorted out the travel toiletries and the miscellaneous stuff (torch, sleeping bag liner, army knife, guide books, mosquito coils, adaptor plugs, etc.,) Jon downloaded some freebie books for our e readers, a real game changer - I used to pack twenty books before I discovered the miracles of technology!

Frank and his giant catnip fish

Neither of us can be arsed with New Year's Eve - paying to get into the pub, queuing to get served at the bar, nowhere to sit, pissed-up strangers trying to snog you, wading through puddles of vomit on the walk home - no, thanks very much! After all, we've got a whole month of going out to look forward to. So instead, we ate our curry, cuddled up on the sofa with the cats, a packet of salt & vinegar crisps (or two packets in Jon's case) and a few cheeky drinks, watched the rest of Blood Pact, a documentary about Dante Gabriel Rossetti and were in bed just before midnight.

WEARING: Vintage Afghan dress (Goodbye Norma Jean Vintage, 2018), purple wool fedora (retail buy, 2019), 1970s leather boots (borrowed from the stockroom)

This morning Jon was up first and brought mugs of tea back to bed. I carried on reading my Le Carré novel until the cats decided we needed to get up. After checking in with the Wii Fit we had toasted sour dough bread with vegan cashew cheese spread for breakfast.

St Matthew's Hall, Walsall's branch of Wetherspoons, the town's first permanent library, built in the Greco-Doric style in 1831

Of late Jon and I have started a new tradition - instead of going out on New Year's Eve and staring the year with a raging hangover, we celebrate New Year's Day instead. It feels a bit like the first day of your holiday, when you find a bar, order a beer and, giddy with excitement and slightly jet lagged, you speculate about what adventures lie ahead.

WEARING: 1950s chores jacket (charity shop), block printed scarf (Gujarat, 2018)

After wishing the bar staff a Happy New Year and exchanging pleasantries with the clientele, we raised a pint of £1.99 Shipyard to 2020, pulled out our India guide and made some rough plans for our trip.

Hungry, Jon ordered a pulled chicken and avocado salad and I had a small vegan pizza.

We had an interesting conversation with David, a Willie Nelson lookalike, who regaled us with tales from his hippy travelling days. We declined to join him for a third pint, knowing from past experience that it would lead to a full-on session with us staggering home in the dark, hours later. Yes, for once in our lives we acted like responsible adults! We finished our second pint, bid our goodbyes and were back in the house with a cup of tea by 4pm.

Tonight's plans? Well, the viewing is looking a bit scary - Victorian thriller The Limehouse Golem followed by the BBC's latest adaptation of Dracula. Not sure what we'll eat (or if we'll bother), we're both still stuffed from lunchtime.

See you soon!

Saturday, 28 December 2019

So That Was Xmas...

Despite an eight hour session in 'Spoons the previous day I was up and on the Wii Fit before 7am the following morning. After fruit & yogurt for breakfast my brother popped round with our Xmas present and stayed for a cup of tea. The rest of Xmas Eve was mostly spent cleaning the almost-finished bathroom, keeping out of Jon's way while he wrapped my presents and delivering the last of the cards to the neighbours. Amid much excitement I took delivery of my Vintage Pony Awards which are now taking pride of place on the mantelpiece in the middle room.

WEARING: 1970s Tori Richard psych maxi (swapped with a fellow trader), Vintage blue velvet marabou trimmed opera coat (£20, vintage shop in Birmingham city centre, 2013), orange fedora (retail buy)

I cooked a cauliflower cheese with roasted carrots and parsnips for tea and we watched Defiance on the i-Player, the final episode of A Christmas Carol and Martin's Close, a brilliant half-an-hour ghostly courtroom drama on BBC4 set in the 17th Century. As is usual on Xmas Eve we abstained from the booze so we'd enjoy it all the more with our curry the next day.

On Christmas Day Jon got up and made tea and we opened each other's presents in bed. We had our usual fresh fruit and yogurt breakfast, opened the rest of our Xmas presents and then showered and got dressed. I wore a 1970s gold lame Victor Costa Romantica dress ex-blogger Joyatri gave me when we first met back in 2012 along with my Egyptian Revival necklace and bracelet.

Jon whizzed off to pick up a Dead Relatives Society member and after exchanging presents we grabbed some booze and walked down to the curry house where we met up with the usual suspects, pulled crackers, groaned at the dreadful Xmas soundtrack and tucked into our Indian feast.

After poppadums, me (the sole vegetarian) tucked into vegetable pakoras and a stuffed Romano pepper while the carnivores ate chicken tikka, sheikh and shami kebab. For my main course I had stuffed aubergine with tikka Quorn pieces and the others ate slow roasted spiced lamb shank. The fragrant turmeric & coriander potatoes were to die for. There was gulab jamum with vanilla ice cream (Jon ate mine) and a choice of coffee or chai but I'd put my camera away by then. 

We said our goodbyes to the staff and the rest of the crew and spent the evening watching three Luca Zingaretti (Italian actor of Montalbano fame) films accompanied by rum & cola (Jon) and rhubarb & ginger gin with Indian tonic (me). We didn't eat again.

WEARING: 1960s nylon maxi dress (£5, charity shop, October 2019), Vintage enameled Moroccan pendant (Stockport Vintage Village, 2014)

On Boxing Day, after cheese on toast for breakfast (how very decadent!) we spent a lazy morning reading. At midday we walked into town having lunch and a couple of beers in 'Spoons (Mediterranean vegetable lasagne and salad for me, fish and chips for Jon). A large proportion of the clientele seemed to consist of couples carrying huge Primark bags intent on arguing with each other. Xmas, the season of goodwill to all men, my arse. 

After a wonderful few hours spent making rough plans for our forthcoming Indian adventure and reminiscing about previous trips, we walked back and spent the evening watching the entire BBC political drama series from the Nineties, House of Cards. Still stuffed from our lunchtime treat we just had a slice of Stollen for our tea.

WEARING: Early 70s Dollyrockers maxi (£5, charity shop, 2018), vintage 1950s Tyrolean souvenir belt (gift from Helga, 2011)

Yesterday morning, after a two day break, I was back on the Wii Fit and discovered I'd lost weight since Tuesday. I never overeat at Xmas. After breakfast (fruit & yogurt) we moved the pictures around in the bathroom to accommodate a new print and a handmade plant hanger that we'd been given for Xmas. Jon wanted to replace the bathroom door but the replacement (another Edwardian four panel skip find) was slightly too big and his ancient saw wasn't up to the job so he suggested we pop into town to get a new bit of kit. Utter madness! The main car park was full with a queue stretching halfway down the road and hoards of crazed looking people, laden down with shopping bags and rolls of Xmas wrapping paper, thronging the streets. 

We picked up the replacement saw and decided to pop into the charity clearance shop to deposit the two books I'd read over the last week. The chazza is next to a huge sportswear emporium and we were amazed to see hundreds of people rifling through what looked like endless rails of identical greige synthetics like their lives depended on it. As we entered the charity shop a gang of men clad head-to-toe in sportswear stood at the store threshold yelling, "Wanna look in there?" "You can f*ck off" and laughed hysterically before heading back into the safety of the sports shop.

Their loss! While they tussled with the masses over dodgy sports attire I scored a Miu Miu mohair and wool Italian-made tank top from their hugely successful 2003 collaboration with the legendary French cartoonist, Raymond Peynet (1908 - 1999) for £2. It would originally have retailed for around £700. Who needs sales when there's charity shopping?

 One of my Xmas presents from Jon was this beautiful fair trade Frida Kahlo Day of The Dead crewel work cushion cover which was handmade in India. As it's an odd size, he was planning to track down a cushion pad after the seasonal retail madness had died down, but I saved him the trouble by spotting the perfect sized cushion displayed on a settee in the furniture department. I removed the pad from the cover, handed my £1 and the cushion cover back to the lady on the till and left delighted.

After a lunchtime bowl of vegetable chilli noodles, I spent the remainder of the day taking up the hem of my Pakistani block printed kaftan and replacing the handle on one of our jute shopping bags whilst Jon acquainted himself with his new gadget. Jon made roasted vegetables with haloumi for tea and we started watching a subtitled Dutch crime series called Blood Pact accompanied by rum and gin.

WEARING: Vintage wool housecoat, Antique Moroccan Hand of Hamsa beaded necklace (£1, car boot sale, 2013. 

Today, like most Saturdays, started with a vegetarian sausage sandwich. Jon successfully cut the replacement door to size and rehung it. I've done three loads of washing, trimmed my hair and was contemplating starting my India packing but I've just taken delivery of a parcel that's come all the way from Lahore and might just have to do some house-y style stuff instead. Plans for tonight include a pizza, a little more rum and watching the new Norwegian thriller, Wisting.

Hope you've spent the last few days doing exactly what you wanted to - we did.

See you soon!