Saturday 30 January 2021

The Distancing Diaries - 29th & 30th January, 2021


On Friday morning I put the previous day's washing away, wrapped up a couple of overnight eBay sales and did the final Wii Fit workout of the week. After our fruit & yogurt Jon nipped back out to the post office which, thankfully, had reopened and once back we headed into town.

We walked down the Hill of Doom and through Park Street (the main shopping centre) and up to Stafford Street, the location of another of Walsall's blue plaques, this one attached to the former home of anarchist and founder member of Walsall Socialist Club, railway clerk Joseph Thomas Deakin (1858 - 1937), whose arrest and susequent trial following an alleged bomb plot in 1892 was to become the most famous trial in Walsall's history. Recent research has revealed that the bomb plot was orchestrated by Auguste Coulon, an agent provocateur of Special Branch Inspector William Melville, who would go on to be an official of what would later become M15. Despite no explosives ever being found, Deakin was sentenced to five years imprisonment where he became a librarian at Parkhurst prison on the Isle of Wight and self-educated himself with the help of William Morris and George Bernard Shaw. After his release he returned to his home in Stafford Street (above his sisters' millinery shop) and became secretary of Walsall's Communist party, joining the Labour party in his later years.

Victorian politics are a long-time passion, can you tell?

238, Stafford Street, a three-storey Georgian freehold premises with a shop downstairs and a private residence occupying the upper two floors, complete with private parking (and a blue plaque), recently sold for £150,000. 

Stafford Street, like Walsall's Station Street which I wrote about HERE a few years ago, is another part of Walsall on the brink of complete dereliction and with the exception of legendary vintage shop, Second To None, has little to recommend it but, a couple of days ago, I stumbled on a document issued by Walsall MBC listing local places of historical interest and amongst the fifty five pages I found quite a few buildings near the Anarchist's plaque.

Second To None, home to many a blogger meet-up over the last decade. Sadly, like all our non-essential shops, closed for the foreseeable future.

Despite being boarded up for years, The Prince Blucher still bears its 19th century Art Nouveau details with dingity. It took its unusual name from Gebhard Leberecht von Blucher who led the Prussian army at the Battle of Waterloo.

At the apex of the gable are the initial NWB in terracotta relating to the North Worcestershire Brewery who constructed the property. We had a few very weird nights in here back in the 1990s.

247, Stafford Street: Sportio, the place to get your designer terracewear in the 1980s, was originally the offices for the Amalgamated Society of Harness Makers and was also used as a boot, shoe and clog-makers in the late 19th Century. 

146, Stafford Street: Dating from 1870, the former Abraham Lincoln public house is a two storey red brick building. On the first floor the bay has an elaborate oriel window with curved glass sections with narrow sash windows to either side. The decorative floral relief in terracotta has President Lincoln in stylised script. The Abraham Lincoln ceased being a pub in the 1940s, it is now a furniture shop.

236 - 238, Stafford Street: A pair of Georgian townhouses, converted into shops in the late 19th century. The first storey window still have their regency era lintels. The hand-painted Orantips Tea advertisment dates to the 1940s.

Just off Stafford Street, in Shortacre Street, we discovered this incredible mill. Built in 1845 by JE Dolman for the manufacture of animal feed, I bet this would be converted into million quid hipster apartments if it was anywhere other than Walsall.

By the time we'd popped into Wilko for light bulbs & a bread knife and walked the two miles back home it was time for lunch, a blue cheese salad sandwich with chilli and lemon popcorn. 

Needless to say, Wear:Sleep:Repeat continued with the rewearing of Thursday's 1970s Hindu Kush Afghan dress with my vintage sheepskin hat, antique tribal cuffs and a Bedouin wool waistcoat. 

The details: Indian block printed & quilted face mask (as we were around people); Disco ball earrings (hand made by Tamera, another much-missed blogger), Afghan kuchi choker (another gift from Ilaria) and my new boots!

German blogger Beate always looks amazing, her style is truly unique. I loved her in these snakeskin ankle boots, something I've seen on other women but rarely worn with similar aplomb. Wasting time on the internet the other day I spotted a similar pair, reduced from £85 to £17 and, as if by magic, they only had my size left in stock. It was obviously meant to be. Made in Spain and of such fantastic quality that I walked four miles in them without a hip twinge or a blister!

Friday's tea was haloumi with roast peppers, onions and potatoes and, along with our rum and cola, we watched another couple of episodes of The Investigation as well as the latest instalment of Rebecka Martinsson:The Arctic Murders.

On Saturday Jon got up, made tea and we lay and read in bed until 8am. By the time I'd got downstairs after stripping and changing the bed and putting the upstairs houseplants in the bath to soak, the forecasted snow had arrived. Jon made sausage sandwiches whilst I sorted the laundry and put some more plants in the utility room sink to soak.

 After breakfast I swept the upstairs rugs and dusted our bedroom. After a romp around the garden first thing, these two showed no interest in leaving the house.

Wear:Sleep:Repeat continued...

....And despite the blizzard I posed in the garden to maintain continuity for my ever-growing collage of repeated garments. That's not dandruff, they're snowflakes!

Yesterday's embroidered Bedouin wool waistcoat was combined with my 1980s Anokhi dress, second hand Doc Martens and a 1970s ribbed polo neck from a charity shop.

The details: Banjara Raj-era dowry belt (worn as a necklace); 925 silver articulated bracelet; Tibetan coral turquoise earrings - all bought in Goa twenty years ago.

After taking the plants out of the bath and cleaning the bathroom, we settled down to I Remember You, an Icelandic horror film we'd seen before but seemed appropariate for such a grim, snowy day.

Despite it having snowed continously for eight hours the ground was too sodden from the overnight rain for it to stick. By 4.30pm it had all but stopped so we went for a walk around the block. As you can see from Jon's demeanour, it was freezing.

Tea was, you guessed it, pizza embellished with home grown basil, salad and a few sweet potato wedges.
Tonight we'll be watching the rest of The Investigation with rum and cola for company.

Stay safe & see you soon!

Thursday 28 January 2021

The Distancing Diaries - 27th & 28th January, 2021

 On Wednesday morning the temperature was above zero and the snow had all but gone. The sunrise was a pretty shade of pink and it was light before 8am.

I did my Wii Fit workout and had a blog catch up before Jon came downstairs for breakfast. We'd bought a reconditioned hard drive for my elderly PC, the package that had been delivered on Monday, so leaving Jon to copy my files in readiness for the big switchover, I went outside and took stock photos.

After Jon had finished I uploaded my listings to eBay, took delivery of the Superdrug order I'd placed last week, sanitised and put it away in the bathroom and had a bowl of noodles for lunch.

Wear:Sleep:Repeat. I'm rewearing Tuesday's Indian cheescloth blouse, untucked this time to show the embroidered hem. I combined it with my devore bellbottoms (gift from Suzanne, much missed in Blogland), polo neck jumper, 1960s-does-Edwardian boots (car boot sale,2011) and the Tarantella suede waistcoat , part of the suit to which Monday & Tuesday's skirt belongs.

The details: Brass bangles (inherited from Mum or bought in charity shops), brass earrings (Indian women's empowerment charity, Goa 2001), Murano glass bead and hammered brass necklace (handmade by my friend Jolene)

After lunch we went for a walk around the block and once back I gave the lounge & hall a good going over. It doesn't feel like five minutes since I'd last cleaned but the wood burner has been on almost daily and it doesn't half generate a lot of dust, not to mention me trampling mud & melted snow throughout the house when I've been taking stock photos in the garden.

All ready for later! I've always enjoyed our Wednesday night rum but these days I'm looking forward to it more than ever. I don't think I've got a problem, these days I get excited about the fortnightly bin collection. The montony of lockdown life!

Armed with a glass of wine we watched BoJo's latest announcement and ate half a pizza, a few sweet potato wedges and salad. Later, with rum, we watched the rest of season 2 of All The Sins (even better than the first series) and last Friday's instalment of Rebecka Martinsson: The Arctic Murders.

In Thursday my hip (the unoperated one, not my bionic hip) had me up and out of bed before 6am - it's been a bit crap for days. After kicking over the lads' water bowl, walking into the doorframe and tripping over the bathroom rug, I managed to get downstairs in one piece, swallowed a couple of pain killers (the first I'd taken since last May) and did my usual Wii Fit Workout.

Realising that my knicker drawer was almost empty I emptied the washing backet, loaded the machine and hung the laundry to dry in the utility room. I left the teatowels to soak for an hour in a bucket of diluted stain remover, wrapped my eBay parcels, then threw the tea towels in with Jon's white tee shirts on a 20° Ecowash. After breakfast Jon whizzed round to the post office to drop the parcels off but came back with them as, for some inxeplicable reason, our local branch was closed. Maybe tomorrow....

I rummaged in the Kinky Shed and decided to list all the waistcoats on the menswear rails, taking photos in the garden and realising halfway through that we'd got rather a lot.

My Wear:Sleep:Repeat challenge continued....

I rewore Wednesday's Tarantella of Walsall sage green suede waistcoat over my Hindu Kush vintage Afghan dress (eBay, 2019).

The details: Italian-made Mjus leather ankle boots (charity shop, 2019), Turkoman earrings (eBay), enamel pendant, also Turkoman (vintage fair, 2014)

After our lunchtime noodles I edited & uploaded my photos and listed the waistcoats on eBay before taking a walk around the block. We looked for signs of Spring and found a few. We've got another shedload of snow forecast at the weekend but with the green shoots, earlier sunrises and longer days I can't help but feel cautiously optimistic. 

Jon wore his new hoodie. He was shopping (online) for Tony's birthday present when it happened to fall into his basket. Obviously hugs are illegal at the moment unless you live together!

Talking of shopping, a couple of things arrived for me, these incredible antique Afghan Kuchi cuffs which I spotted on eBay last week and did a happy dance around the kitchen when I won the auction. I fell in love with a similar set in posh handicraft and antique emporium in Goa twenty years ago but they'd already sold to Liberty (the London department store). The boots I'd treated myself in the sales last week also arrived which I'll show as part of an outfit in my next post. I'll never be a minimalism-embracing, zero shopping or purchase tracking kind of girl, I'm too much of a hedonist.

You can just about see this beautiful woman's cuffs in this wonderful photo from 1937.

After a blog catch-up we tucked into the rest of Tuesday's potato and mushroom masala with jacket potatoes and cheese.I think we're going to watch The Investigation on the i-player later, another Scandi thriller series if you hadn't already guessed and even more exciting, it stars Rolf Lassgård, my favourite Wallander.


Iffy hip be damned, I'm off on a mission tomorrow morning, there's a particularly interesting blue plaque that needs to be investigated. Stay safe and see you soon!