Monday 28 December 2015

Hippy-tastic Charity Shop Finds

On a chazzing mission last week I almost passed out when I spotted this dress displayed on the mannequin in the window of the £1 charity shop.

 Throughout the 1970s Kate Beaver worked with her partner, artist Robin Rae, from their Dorset home screen printing fabric by hand and creating amazing period-inspired dresses. I've found a few on-line but definitely think this colour combo is my favourite.

 1970s Kate Beaver hand printed maxi (£1, charity shop)

 If that wasn't enough charity shop excitement for one day I spotted this maxi in the same shop.

I can't find anything about The Dove Clothing Company but I'm pretty sure it must have belonged to the same person who donated the Kate Beaver. They're of the same era, pretty similar in 1970s hippy style and exactly the same size (mine!)

If Jon hadn't already padlocked the backpacks I'd have been tempted to take them to India but they've been treated them to a night out in Wetherspoons and a trip to B&Q so they'll just have to wait till I'm back.

1970s maxi by The Dove Clothing Company (£1, charity shop)
Hope your Xmas was everything you wanted it to be.

Ours featured a spectacular Indian feast (that's my starter, a tower of vegetable pakoras) and Nordic Noir film marathon. Shockingly we've not drunk very much, hardly eaten any cheese and I've been on the Wii Fit every day. We've got an entire month of hedonism just around the corner.

See you soon!

Tuesday 22 December 2015

I See You Baby (Shaking That Ass)

Jon spotted these donkey ears in a cheap shop at the weekend and had to buy them. We've worn them ever since. Ha! Bet you thought I was talking about another kind of ass.

Wearing: Me: Ricci Michaels of Mayfair 1960s maxi (Bought at End of the Road festival). Jon: American cowboy shirt with wolf  print (eBay, £1.36)

We wore them to Wetherspoons for our weekly lunch date on Monday. The type of lunch date that starts at midday and ends with us staggering home half-cut at 8pm.

They came along to the market town of Wellington in Shropshire on Tuesday afternoon when we popped over to visit our mate Ellen, whose just become manager of this PDSA charity shop.

On both occasions loads of people stopped me to compliment on my psychedelic dresses, my jewellery and my Desperately Seeking Susan jacket (as someone christened it recently) but not a soul mentioned that I was wearing a massive pair of donkey ears. Just goes to show that you can get away with almost anything when you wear vintage.

Wearing: 1960s psychedelic maxi (99p, eBay 2006), Vintage majorette's jacket (part of a set, charity shop in the summer)

Xmas decorations? Nah, you're seeing things.

That's just Camp Stag. I got him from a chazza last week. Kitsch is for life, not just for Xmas.

As you can see from the rest of my décor.

So, what are our plans for this week? Tomorrow we'll be taking advantage of the Christmas holidays and socialising mid-week with friends who have normal jobs. Working almost every weekend this year meant we've hardly seen them.

The 25th will be spent in the curry house with the Dead Relatives Society, our little gang of orphans. No doubt there will be cheese, wine and loud music later on. We've successfully avoided watching Xmas TV since the turn of the century so there will be loads of downloaded films to watch including Desperately Seeking Susan - I'd forgotten how much I loved it until the lady who named my jacket mentioned it.

As to the rest of the week, in the words of my current favourite tune Who Knows? (it's amazing, makes me want to throw a bikini in a bag, jump on a plane and bask on a tropical beach...oh, hang on...that's next week!)  I've never been one for plans or traditions and I'm too old to start now.

Have a cool Yule and see you on the other side.

Linking to Patti and the gang for Visible Monday.

Thursday 17 December 2015

Caldmore Chameleon - Walsall's Cultural Heart

While the rest of the world is driven into a Xmas frenzy we're having a lovely time, staying out of the shops, keeping away from the crowds and enjoying having absolutely no plans. For the first time in ages it wasn't raining when we woke up so we had a leisurely breakfast, grabbed our coats and the camera and went for a stroll. 

Walk down the ancient cobbled alley behind our house, pass the 19th Century Highgate windmill on your left and within a couple of minutes you'll reach Caldmore.

Pronounced "kar-ma" by us locals, Caldmore is a short walk away from Walsall town centre. It developed into a village during Victorian times with a bustling main shopping area thronged with rows of terraced housing, even boasting its own cinema, The Forum Picture House. From the 1950s until the early 1970s hundreds of Indian families made the village their home, bringing with them the culture and traditions of the Sub-Continent.

 I've lived on or in the outskirts of Caldmore for most of my life which probably explains my enduring love for India. It's like home.

In the early 1970s Mum & a friend ran a junk shop in Caldmore called Second Time Around. Newly arrived Indian families, unused to the British weather, flocked there to stock up on second hand overcoats, jumpers, boots, blankets and umbrellas, anything to keep them warm and dry.

Unlike the town centre the local shops never seemed to close, a lifesaver if Father Xmas had forgotten to put batteries in your Xmas present or if Mum had run out of cigarettes.

Indian sweet centres & curry houses were a part of every day life, the tantalising smell of sizzling spices and the allure of the intriguing snacks on display in the shop windows were far more appetising than the overcooked muck we'd get served up for school dinners. 

Most people in Caldmore were either Sikh and Hindu. Many years ago I remember the Hindu temple borrowing an elephant from a nearby zoo and parading him around the village green. 

Caldmore's traditional terraced houses are perennially popular with renters as they are both cheap and plentiful. I moved into a similar one to these early Victorian weavers cottages in 1985 and paid a whopping weekly rent of £11.

This house on the corner of the ironically named Hope Street has been derelict for as long as I can remember. Presumably there were once steps up to the front door, unless it was home to a Victorian giant. 

Original features galore. 

I love the casement windows on this early Victorian terrace.

This is the street where I bought my first home at the tender age of 24. Back then it was the heart of Caldmore's notorious red light district. I was the talk of the village as people assumed I was a high class tart. The street wasn't the best but, as I wanted to get on the property ladder and still be able to afford to eat, it was the only sensible option. 

Mount Street Stores was my local shop for years, the meeting place for all types of odd characters. You could take in an empty bottle and get it filled with sherry or beer, served from taps behind the counter. The local prostitutes would stand shivering on the car park to the left of the photo. I'd often walk back from the pub and take them bags of chips out of pity (there was a chippy on the opposite corner), it must have been a miserable existence.

Queen Henrietta is said to have spent a night at the White Hart Inn on Caldmore Green. During renovation in Victorian times a child's mummified arm was found stuffed into one of the chimneys. It used to be on public display in the town museum (photo HERE) although I haven't seen it for years. The building was once a dodgy pub but is now converted into respectable flats.

Back in the 1980s there was an infamous party in this building culminating in someone falling through the roof. Both Jon & I were there (but not together) but neither of us remember the gory details. 

Doveridge Place bears a blue plaque, it was once home to the poet Sir Henry Newbolt. 

Caldmore used to be filled with busy pubs but, like most of Britain, most are now boarded up and derelict. The Crown & Anchor (above) had a boxing ring upstairs and offered the attraction of catching a fight with your pint.

The Dog & Partridge closed down several years ago.

The legendary Highgate Brewery, built in 1898 and nationally famous for its Highgate Dark Mild (still brewed, just not locally) is also closed, sold to a property developer in 2014 and with no sign of activity since.  I miss the smell of hops.

And back home just before the rain started! 

Monday 14 December 2015

Cher & Cher Alike

I could tell you about last week's second-hand finds, our crazy Saturday night out with some vintage-selling mates or Friday's gin-fuelled lunch with a girlfriend or shown off what I've sewn over the weekend or the two killer curries I've cooked but we've got a date with Wetherspoons in a bit and if we leave soon I might be able to visit the town centre chazzas first. So here's an outfit post instead.

Nikki, the friend I met on Friday, had recently had a massive declutter and offered her unwanted vintage clothing to us. We've got loads in common, a love of India, cats, gin & vegetarian food and a mutual love for hippy-tastic 1970s fashion, so it was extremely tempting just to transfer all of her stuff directly into my wardrobe.

In the end I just "borrowed" this 1970s German-made purple lace maxi. After a couple of washes Nikki said it had gone a bit strange, the seams had disintegrated and it had lost its shape. I restitched the side seams and unpicked the hem, cutting around the edge of the lace and leaving it raw. It's not perfect but it'll do for me.

This Panda, England 1960s hat is probably the maddest piece of headgear I own, the studded band is aluminium.  It's almost as cool as the one Cher's wearing here.

Forget Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe, Cher is the ultimate vintage goddess in my book.

Wearing: Purple lace maxi, vintage velvet jacket with insane sleeves (Liebchen Vintage), Original 1970s leopard platforms (eBay), 1960s hat (Birmingham Settlement charity shop, 2011), tribal jewellery (India)
Linking to Visible Monday - check Patti out, she's looking amazing in a Kinky Melon maxi!

Hmmm....shall I have a naked burrito or a haloumi & sweet chilli wrap?