Thursday 31 March 2016

Ship-Shape & Bristol Fashion

We've traded in Bristol loads of times but neither Jon or I had ever actually explored the city until last Saturday when our mates, G & T, suggested a day trip. The Bank Holiday weather was characteristically filthy but no matter, there's always a Wetherspoons when things get too wet, and in Bristol's case, there were two!

We admired the eco installations

and the Parisian-style locks on the bridge.

We explored the chazzas and vintage shops....

Wandered around the indoor market.....

Found some colour to counteract the gloom outside.

Visited Rag & Bone, a shop I'd have quite happily moved into and lived in....

Enthused over architectural details

Spotted a Banksy

and plenty of pretenders.

Paid our respects to the last surviving video rental shop in the UK, 20th Century Flicks.

We got soaked to the skin....

But had a fab day (we really did, they're just pretending to be miserable, honestly!)

You'd have thought that any decent vintage in a hip and happening city like Bristol would have been picked over by hipsters and they'd be nothing interesting left. Wrong! I spotted this jacket on a Reduced to Clear rail.

I've bought (and sold) vintage Quelrayn jackets and coats before but this one's a bit special, made from top quality Irish Tweed from Donegal, stocked by Selfridges and designed by Christopher McDonnell, one of the coolest British designers of the late 1960s/1970s.

Courtesy of Miss Peelpants
Wearing: Christopher McDonnell for Quelrayn tweed jacket, 1970s Lurex maxi skirt (courtesy of Kerry of Kestrel Makes), Bukta leotard (jumble sale, years ago), Vintage Blast sunglasses (local chazza, 50p)
I don't really need another jacket so I'm just borrowing it. It'll be on the Kinky rails this weekend, in Bethnal Green (details HERE) .

Can you believe it? Tomorrow Jon & I celebrate our Never Had A Wedding Anniversary, twenty four years of unmarried bliss. You'd get less for armed robbery!

See you soon.

Tuesday 29 March 2016

A Twentieth Century Makeover - Victoriana Meets The 1960s

Torrential rain, gale force wind, thunder and lightning, glorious sunshine and a couple of inches of snow, our Great British Easter weekend weather was typically schizophrenic but it did us a favour. Rather than fritter away our spare cash on stuff we didn't need at a Bank Holiday car boot sale we decided to crack on with a project I'd been procrastinating over for at least twelve months.

My Mum bought this Victorian chaise from a junk shop in Walsall in the early 1970s. Back then Victorian furniture was hideously unfashionable and she managed to haggle the proprietor down to £15. She had it reupholstered in brown Dralon as it "went with everything" but always regretted not following her heart and going for leopard print. Forty years on, sitting in the empty parental home, it was in a sorry state, sad, drab & faded and ragged to buggery by a succession of family cats.

 Twenty four hours later and at cost of absolutely nothing it looked like this. Why on earth did it take me over a year to get around to it?! Apologies for the image-heavy post or if you've already seen the before and after photos on Facebook, this chaise has been part of my life for over 40 years, I still can't believe the difference.

Whoops, that chandelier could do with dusting! 

The wood came up a treat with a buff up with some good old fashioned Lord Sheraton Caretaker wood polish and now smells wonderful. Hopefully the pine fragrance will deter Stephen Squirrel and Polly Piglet from climbing up it and sharpening their claws on the patchwork.

The top panel of fabric Marrakesh by Grace Sullivan (take a chill pill pedants, I know it should have a "C"  and not an "S" in it but that's what's printed on the selvage) and produced by Moygashel in the 1960s has actually been in my stash for over 20 years!

The orange rectangle of fabric, Awning designed by Jill Sutton for Heal's, is another screen print I've had for years, it still had the original price tag attached written in shillings. I also used a piece of groovy Scandi fabric left over from a sewing project, some blue 1950s barkcloth, some vintage raw silk in peacock green and a couple of cheery off-cuts from vintage St Michael curtains.

The patchwork took me over eight hours but with rum and coke supplied on demand I hardly noticed.

 We didn't stay in all weekend, managing an ace day trip down South with some friends on Saturday (blog post to follow). On our travels we visited an incredible interiors shop I could happily have moved into until I realised that the reason I loved it was that it combined Victoriana with 1960s kitsch, vintage Bollywood filmi memorabilia, industrial salvage and antique curiosities ....exactly the way we've furnished our house.

Glass bottles we dug up in the garden of our last house, a mid-Victorian terrace.

Vintage art glass and wooden antelopes, all bought from charity shops, car boot sales or given to us by friends over the last quarter of a century.

Another weekend makeover, a movie still bought from a flea market in India & featuring my idol Helen from the 1967 Bollywood spy hit, Jewel Thief, is now housed in a Victorian ebony frame which was salvaged from the parental home. It held a still-life advertisement for Pears Soap for as long as I've been alive!

Moving furniture means lots of dusting and scrubbing down of woodwork, the subsequent cleaning took longer than the makeover. I think I've earned myself a cheeky Tuesday rum.

See you soon.

Friday 25 March 2016

The Hippy Trail - Vintage Hunting in The Cotswolds

When Jon suggested a day trip to Cirencester in The Cotswolds I was excited.

Joan and Reg on holiday in The Cotswolds in the 1970s

My Grandparents holidayed in The Cotswolds every year and always brought back the coolest souvenirs, including Jacob my pet tortoise, going strong some 41 years later. There must have been a lot of shops specialising in imported Indian-made crafts back then as coming home presents would consist of carved wooden toys, papier mache curiosities & embroidered wall hangings for my brother & I and block printed hippy dresses and tribal jewellery for Mum. Dad used to get a Toblerone as he wasn't into trinkets.

After a bit of research (The Association of British Charity Shops website tool, Find A Shop) we discovered Cirencester had loads of chazzas and, remembering the stuff Grandma & Grandpa used to bring us back,  I was hoping for lots of original hippy gear but Jon gave me a reality check. Unlike Walsall (this week ranked as the 4th most deprived place to live in the UK), The Cotswolds is posh. The charity shops might either be stupidly expensive or ransacked by rich hipsters like Kate Moss & Pearl Lowe (both live there) who've snapped up anything remotely interesting or they might just be full of the kind of stuff favoured by the affluent; decent quality but inanely bland, conservative and drab. No matter though, even if we came back empty handed it would be a chance to escape to somewhere pretty. 

The last time I'd visited Cirencester was as a fifteen year old school girl with the rest of my O Level Latin classmates in 1981. Known as Corinium in Roman times, it was then the second largest city in Britain with a thriving wool trade, the first known reference to it was by Ptolemy in AD 150. There are still Roman remains scattered around the area including two villas on the outskirts of the town. To make the 72 mile journey from Walsall we drove along Watling Street and down Fosse Way, originally built by the Romans and still major traffic routes almost two thousand years later (blows your mind, doesn't it?)

The Medieval St John The Baptist church was built by Henry I in 1240. The tower, dating from the 15th Century, dominates the town's skyline. Previous to this a Saxon church stood in the same location for almost 400 years which replaced one nearby which was built by the Romans and destroyed in 577 AD.

The South Porch is said to have one of the most elaborately decorated porches of any English church. It was built in 1490 by the Abbey, which was dissolved following The Reformation, only joined to the church in the 18th Century.

Cirencester hosts a Hare Festival each year. We spotted loads of statutes dotted around.

 Testament to how gorgeous the town is, even on a day as grim as yesterday it still looked beautiful.The buildings are made from Cotswold Stone, oolitic Jurassic limestone, which varies in colour between the north and south of the area. The stone around Cirencester is golden.

Jon carrying the booty!

As you can see, the weather was filthy. There weren't that many people around but everyone we did meet was lovely. Strangers smiled at us and charity shop helpers struck up conversations, one manager even offering us the use of their staff room loo when we enquired about public toilets . Unlike back home we didn't have to dodge mobility scooters, pick our way through discarded fast food wrappers, or turn down dodgy blokes trying to sell us meat, fags and knock-off perfume out of grubby carrier bags. We didn't see a boarded up shop, a wolf fleece or a pair of grey jersey jogging bottoms all day.

And the charity shops? Whilst not as cheap as our local ones, the condition & quality were infinitely better and neither of us saw anything ridiculously overpriced. We even spotted a gents' cashmere & wool Pierre Cardin overcoat for £30 which would be an absolute bargain for somebody, I doubt if you could get a coat from Primark for that (I've still never been in one). Jon said it was a nice change not to see clothes with someones dinner ingrained down the front.

We found loads of great stuff , excluding the cat, she's just doing quality control.

Clockwise from top left: 1970s ski goggles; Janet Moira of Covent Garden 1980s shirt; A pair of Akco bow ties & Canadian Bolo tie; Roccola city shirt; Janet Moira of Covent Garden 1980s cake print shirt; 1950s "Snuggle" car coat (now in Jon's wardrobe); Crazy 1970s checked leisure trousers; Hector James wool overcoat with tags still attached.

Clockwise from top left: Vintage boxed brooch; Original 1960s Afghan; Mid-Century Atomic print jacket; 1950s wool coat by Lachaise of London; 1970s embellished waistcoat with tags attached; Polyester midi dress; Suede & crochet waistcoat; 1950s basket; The Bishopston Trading Co. 1970s Indian jacket; 1980s cotton bra-let; Nepalese fringed sash.

Indian block printed dress & tapestry bag worn with tan suede boots (on-line sale, 2016), violet opaques (Topshop, 2009!), Vintage Lamani torque (India, 2010) and a heap of Indian silver bangles and rings.

I did find a few bits of hippy gear including this Indian cotton block printed tent dress and the English-made leather shoulder bag adorned with a Medieval tapestry that I'm carrying. A Roman Blue bag bought from a Roman city with a Medieval church, what a coincidence!

The details:

This was an absolute bargain at £1.50! A Marimekko curtain featuring one of the most iconic prints of the 1960s, Unikko. I feel a bit of curtain couture coming on.

It's the Easter weekend which, if you're a normal person with a job who eats chocolate or believes in God is probably exciting. As self-employed, non chocolate eating atheists we'll just be making the most of having a weekend free from vintage fairs!

Have fun whatever you do.

Linking to Patti & The Gang for Visible Monday.