Monday 29 October 2018

Fried Green Tomatoes and the £1 Wardrobe Saviour

When it started snowing on Saturday morning I came to the sudden realisation that this year's tomato crop definitely wasn't going to ripen any time soon and rushed outside to rescue them from frostbite. So what do you do with a glut of unripened tomatoes? You could do the conventional thing and knock up some chutney but, if you're anything like us, it'll just end up festering in the back of the cupboard. Pacha Thakkali Mezhkkupuratti (South Indian style sautéed green tomatoes) is, in our opinion, a far better and tastier alternative.

1 kg diced green tomatoes
3 finely chopped red onions
6 cloves chopped garlic
6 sliced green chillies
Sprig of curry leaves (fresh or dried depending on what's available)
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp sambar powder (I used a dollop of brown sauce!)
4 tbsp veg oil
1/2 tsp mustard seeds

1. Heat oil in large pan and splutter mustard seeds
2. Add onions, chillies, garlic and curry leaves. Sauté until onion is translucent
3.Add turmeric, cumin and sambar powder (or brown sauce) and stir fry for a minute
4. Add chopped green tomatoes. Sprinkle salt on top, cover and cook on a medium heat for around 10 minutes
5.When tomatoes become soft remove the lid and increase heat. Sauté for 3 - 4 minutes until liquid has almost evaporated.
6. Serve with rice or wholemeal chapati.

It freezes well so you can adjust the quantity depending on how many tomatoes you've got.

Who remembers these jumpers? If, like me, you were around in the 1970s, you'll no doubt have owned a few of these.  Growing up I didn't have a winter wardrobe, I wore thick tights and ribbed polo necks under my summer dresses. Clothes weren't cheap back then and although most of my clothes either came from jumble sales or were hand-me-downs from the older daughters of Mum's friends or work colleagues, she liked me to get as much wear as possible from my garments.

I found the vintage polo neck pictured above in the charity clearance shop for £1. It's the first one I've found that hasn't got a St Michael label but, just like good old M&S back in the day, it was made in Great Britain.

I bought this '70s colour blocked maxi dress from a neighbouring stall at August's Classic Car Boot Sale, I'd only worn it once over the Summer and was reluctant to pack it away just yet so, taking inspiration from my Mum, I've maximised the number of times I can wear it by wearing my new-to-me polo neck underneath. What are the chances of finding a perfect match to that zingy coral coloured centre panel?

1970s colour blocked maxi and polo neck jumper worn with a wool felt hat (bought last winter from a charity shop)) and a vintage Moroccan enamel pendant (bought from Vintage Village at Stockport Market Hall, 2014)

'Cos it's bastard freezing at the moment, I also added thermal leggings (bought new from the British Heart Foundation for £3) and a coat when I left the house today.

In other news,we traded in leafy Hampstead in London with Pop Up Vintage yesterday. The magnificent venue, the Neo-Gothic St Stephen's Church, was consecrated in 1869 but fell into disuse in the late 1970s. It was occupied by squatters for a number of years until it was awarded a combined National Lottery and English Heritage grant in 1999. It is now run by a trust made up of members of the Hampstead community including, amongst others, Dame Judy Dench.

Although Dame Judy didn't grace us with her presence, one of yesterday's customers was an actor currently starring in a BBC prime time drama. The fair was so good that we've broken our rule of not trading in December (or mentioning the C word so early) to go back and join Pop-Up Vintage for the Xmas Extravaganza at St Stephen's on 9th December. We've also booked our India flights and our first nights' accommodation...yay!

We've got this weekend off and we're looking forward to resurrecting our almost extinct social life, the fun starts at Wetherspoons on Wednesday lunchtime. Watch out Walsall!

Linking to Patti and the gang for Visible Monday and The Style Crone, Judith's Hat Attack #64

Thursday 25 October 2018

Shop Around - Vintage High Street Fashion and Secondhand Finds

Don't adjust your screens, I'm wearing something from the high street but there's no cause for alarm, there's no dubiously produced fast fashion to see here. This is vintage British high street fashion from Miss Selfridge, a brand as old as me (created in 1966) and still going strong today.

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I spotted the dress listed in eBay's non-vintage section as a 1970s-style maxi but was pretty certain from both the style, those gauzy cotton sleeves, tiered skirt and ribbed bodice just shouted 1970s, and by the metal zip, clearly visible in the picture, that it was the real thing and not a reproduction. I imagine that the seller was too young to know that Miss Selfridge had been going since the Sixties and just assumed it was a modern dress.Won for the princely sum of £6, my initial suspicions were confirmed when it arrived and I saw Made in England printed on the label. It's a sorry state of affairs when there's so few clothes manufactured in the UK these days that a Made in England (or Made in Great Britain) label is, more likely than not, a vintage garment.

Source: Get Some Vintage Appeal

Back in the day Miss Selfridge stocked clothes by Thea Porter, Ossie Clark and Gina Fratini. While mine's of the same era (the adverts all date from 1972) it's just a bog standard house brand, but the quality of the cotton is incredible and the fit is perfect. Back then fashion didn't come cheap and I imagine the original owner would have saved hard to afford something this pretty and, judging by the condition of it, it was treated with love and respect. How times have changed, eh?

I'm definitely feeling the floral vibe at the moment. This was Tuesday's outfit, all items I've had for ages but that I'd never worn together before. I love it when a plan comes together! The handmade '70s handkerchief-hem skirt, belt and boots are all vintage but the top was! It's okay though, I've had it 18 months now, no throwaway fashion in my wardrobe.

I'm not really into bags but spotted this adorable leatherette vintage vanity case in the £3 and under charity shop this morning, it even has the original key. Made in Denmark by Cavalet, a company founded in 1945 and, like Miss Selfridge, still in business today. In the old days before computers were invented, I used to have to go the library to research the labels of vintage treasures I'd found, nowadays it's all there at the click of a button. I even discovered a couple of 1970s adverts for Cavalet.

Vintage Cavalet advert SOURCE

In other shopping news here's some of our latest finds. We've only been out a couple of times but haven't done too badly.

Clockwise from top left: Mellor Model chiffon maxi dress; Amazing 1970s braided suede blazer; Phool midi skirt and waistcoat set; Cotton and lace maxi dress with a print featuring hot air balloons and Edwardian ladies (only in the 1970s!); 1980s St Michael green velvet blazer; 1970s St Michael pure new wool Herringbone maxi coat

Clockwise from top left: Dutch waxed cotton African dashiki; 1960s St Michael pea coat; the best leather patchwork blazer ever and a moleskin wool waistcoat worn over a 1970s disco shirt by "Spaghetti Western"
You'll find these treasures plus many, many more on our rails when we trade with Pop Up Vintage Fairs this coming Sunday. I promise to take a photo of the chap who eventually buys the patchwork jacket, he's going to be a seriously cool dude.

See you there!

Talking of fairs here we are last Saturday, ready to sell, sell, sell at Judy's Affordable Vintage Fair in Leamington Spa. We had a fab day, caught up with some of our lovely vintage trading family and even met a blog reader (hello, Liz!)


I met Natalie at the last Leamington Spa fair we did back in the Spring where she bought some groovy 1970s trousers from us. She's a super talented photographer and also has a blog. Check her out HERE.

See you soon!

Monday 22 October 2018

Goan Back To My Roots - Further Adventures In India

It's that time of year again, spending hours reading travel forums & guidebooks and endlessly trawling the internet for cheap flights. Our plan for next year is to start our adventures in North India where the weather is significantly cooler and, unlike our trip to Gujarat in January, I'm sorting out my travel wardrobe now - no last minute fast fashion purchases this time around.

I had an Afghan dress as a child and loved it to bits. I've looked at them in India but the modern, mass produced versions don't come close to the hand-embroidered, block printed, heavy cotton originals. Besides, viscose creases like a bastard and the last thing I want when I'm travelling is to look like a bag of rags. When I spotted this vintage beauty on my friend Fran of Goodbye, Norma Jean's stall at Leamington Spa on Saturday I knew it was going to come home with me. Of course, there's no way I'm saving this for January, I went out in it today and was overwhelmed with compliments.  

Talking of India, when I was looking for photographs of those fast fashion purchases I'd owned up to last week, I realised I'd although I'd posted tales of our adventures in Gujarat and Mumbai, I'd never written about the time we spent in our beloved Goa so here goes.

After flying from Bhuj in Gujarat to Mumbai and then on to Goa, we caught a taxi to Benaulim, which we've been visiting for around a decade and, as our usual place was fully booked, checked into some rooms elsewhere in the village. We'd been to the award-winning ethnographic museum, Goa Citra, a few years previously and decided that a return visit was long overdue. It's a three mile walk from the centre of Benaulim along palm shaded winding country lanes where, in the traditional Goan way, everyone comes out of their houses to say hello.

Owner Victor Hugo Gomes, is passionate about preserving Goan culture and has spent years rescuing old farming tools, local pottery, ancient carts, palanquins and musical instruments from all over the state. There's over 4000 artifacts in the museum, an ethically sourced gift shop and an organic farm on site. The 400 rupee entrance fee (just over £4) includes an engaging thirty minute guided tour. Unusually for an Indian museum, there is no additional charge for cameras. 

These artifacts were rescued from a Portuguese-era Catholic seminary. I think Victor is a bit like Jon & I and can't stand to see old things get thrown away.

You may remember these traditional oyster shell shutters from my post The Palace In The Jungle (HERE).

The well provides the water for Goa Chitra's organic farm.

After a week in Benaulim it was time for us to revisit Agonda in Goa's Deep South. The state taxi drivers were on strike on the day we planned to go so the owner of the house where we were staying kindly offered to drive us there. So we didn't get mistaken for paying passengers and thus invoking the wrath of any picketers, we were accompanied by the owner's elderly uncle from Mumbai and two of the owner's children, stopping along the way to collect both his sister's wedding cake and the weeks' groceries.

We've been visiting Agonda since 2004 when it was little more than a fishing village with a couple of hut encampments. Back then electricity was in such short supply that it went off at 9pm and everyone went to bed. These days it's a fully fledged tourist destination with upmarket coco huts and chi-chi restaurants thronging the shore but it still has a wonderfully laid-back feel and its hard to beat as a place to unwind. Shakir, the chap who we used to rent a basic beach hut from back in the old days, still insists that the Kingfishers are on the house whenever we pop into his now super deluxe 5 star resort for a sunset beer. 

These days we stay at Our Friend's Place - the loveliest place in Agonda.

 This beautiful horse is always seen strolling along the beach at sunset. He's so majestic he often reduces people to tears.

 After a week in Agonda we headed back up to Benaulim for the rest of our trip.

 After almost twenty years I'm still transfixed by the Goan sunset.

We always carry a bag of dog biscuits with us on our early morning beach walks so that we can feed any pi dogs we encounter. The Goa Animal Welfare Trust (GAWT) does sterling work looking after all the state's strays from cats and dogs to horses and cows - and even has a charity shop in neighbouring Colva. Although we're not keen on Colva itself we always make an effort to visit, dropping off a donation (cash if we haven't got any surplus clothes, books or toiletries) and more often than not we find a few bits and pieces to buy.

Just down the road from Benaulim lies Goa's second largest city, Margao. I think we're the only Westerners who ever go into the Hotel Prasad , every time we visit the kitchen staff come out watch us eat our pao bhaji, anxiously anticipating each mouthful.

We love getting lost in the labyrinthine New Market and then venturing up to Cotton Cottage, a wonderful shop selling block printed, hand loomed, organic cotton ready-made clothing. Here customers are greeted at the door, looked up and down, told their correct size Madam, you are  Small....Sir, you are Medium and directed to the correct areas in the store. We never leave empty handed - Jon loves their long sleeved, granddad shirts and me their wraparound maxi skirts.

Like train travel in India, bus fares are charged by the kilometre so a trip to Margao is 5 rupees. The bus driver usually blasts out filmi music but this year we were treated to Ride by Twenty One Pilots (they're huge in India). I love the song already but now I'll always think of a bumpy Indian bus ride when I hear it.

I just wanna stay in the sun where I belong....

Wearing our Cotton Cottage purchases for dinner at Johncy's, our favourite beach side restaurant in the world and I'm not just saying that because half the waiters are my friends on Facebook! A few days previously I'd encountered a lady crocheting these tops by the roadside in Benaulim and I bought two.

Food, glorious food! I never get fed up with Goan and South Indian cuisine - nothing like the heavy, oil-rich North Indian curries we get in curry houses at home. Here they're chilli hot and palm vinegar sharp with loads and loads of locally grown vegetables, just the way I like them.

One of my favourite South Indian dishes, Uttapam, a fermented rice pancake, usually eaten for breakfast. This one is flavoured with chillies, tomatoes and onions.

Oh, Goa, we can't wait to see you again!

WEARING: Vintage Afghan dress (Goodbye, Norma Jean) with Gujarati tribal necklace and 1960s Go-Go boots
Linking to Patti and the gang for Visible Monday.