Monday 30 August 2021

Festival Ready!

 It was sunny on Saturday morning when Lord Jon got up to see to the lads but by the time he'd brought the tea back to bed it had clouded over. We read until 8am then Jon went downstairs to start on breakfast while I changed the bed and threw everything in the machine, pegging it out on the line after our sausage sandwiches. I watered and fed the houseplants leaving Jon to disassemble the shop changing room and load it into the van.

WEARING: Organic cotton, hand-printed kaftan from TukTuk in Benaulim, South Goa (January 2020)

We went over to collect Ray & Florence's unwanted garden furniture, although it was so heavy I ended up leaving it to the menfolk to sort out whilst I chatted to Florence about their trip to Gardeners' World Live the previous day. There are four chairs and a dining table currently scattered around the garden. We'll stain the wood and repaint the ironwork in the Autumn.  


Back at home, the sun had made a welcome reappearance so I spent the rest of the day outside reading my latest book (the marvellously visceral tale of Cy Parkes, a tattoo artist born in the North of England at the turn of the century but whose profession leads him to set up shop amongst the freak-shows of Coney Island). 

We'd harvested more patty pans and courgettes which Jon oven-roasted with harissa paste & shallots and served on a slice of sourdough bread with melted cheese on top. Later we drank rum and finished watching The Man in the High Castle, which was absolutely brilliant.

On Sunday morning we needed a few bits for next week so combined a trip to Wilko with what will be our last trip to the clearance charity shop for a while. Along with a couple of books and some vintage glassware, we boxed up our old printer (which still works but we've since replaced it with a more energy-efficient model) and donated them in the hope of some charity shop karma.

After Saturday afternoon's warm sunshine, the weather had reverted back to the gloomy, grey chill that has plagued us for weeks. I wore my vintage suede waistcoat over my Stella Forrest silk maxi dress and Toast Western boots. 

After a joyful hour rummaging the charity shop rails, we walked to Wilko, bumping into a mate we'd not seen since End of the Road, 2019 and spent ages catching up. We managed to get everything on our list and were back in time for lunch.

What did we find? A 1980s Alexon wool midi skirt, a vintage Frank Usher sequinned cocktail top, a Somerset by Alice Temperley metallic jumper, a Florence & The Machine 2012 tour tee, a couple of books, a 1980s reversible cord/tweed gents' bomber jacket, a 1960s Aertex teeshirt, an embroidered linen kaftan and Raintex waxed jacket with detachable hood.

Normally I loathe Wedgwood's Jasperware anddue to Walsall's close proximity to the Potteries, the charity shops are crammed with the stuff, however, there was something about this planter I couldn't resist. Cobalt blue Jasperware isn't as common as the ubiquitous wishy-washy pastel blues and greens and I loved the combination of the neo-classical women, grapevine swags and handsome lion's heads. Back at home, I looked up the back stamps on the base and discovered the planter would have been made between 1891 and 1908, a proper antique! Jasperware fell out of fashion in the UK years ago so I was stunned to see the identical planter to ours listed on Etsy by a British seller for £190- it made the £3 I paid a bit of a bargain!

After lunch, I washed/ freshened up the new finds whilst Jon sorted out his festival wardrobe. We spent a bit of time pottering around the garden, harvesting our new potatoes and pulling up a few more strangely shaped (but tasty) carrots.

We had a slice of pizza with homemade potato salad & coleslaw and watched the first of the new series of Gone Fishing as well as catching up with Friday night's Boleyn documentary.

Today is a bank holiday in England, not that it makes an iota of difference to us self-employed. After my Wii Fit workout, I ironed & priced Sunday's charity shop finds and swept the stairs, landing and bathroom before Jon got up. After breakfast, we bagged up the stock & broke down the clothes rails and loaded them into the van. 

Despite it being a day of labouring, I still got dressed. The clearance chazza is one of those annoying shops that colour codes their stock. I hate it as I get overwhelmed searching through racks of the same colour clothes. I usually give the grey section a wide berth as it's a colour I dislike but I'm a sucker for a bit of embroidery - and a fine quality fabric - and luckily for me, this Alexander McQueen silk and cotton blouse adorned with crows just happened to be right at the front of the rail when we were in there yesterday.

McQ is Alexander "Lee" McQueen's ready-to-wear, diffusion line and was made under license by Italian company Sinv SpA from the label's launch in 2005 until Lee's tragic death in 2010, making this £3 blouse at least 11 years old.

Holding the shirt up against my skirt rail, this 1970s India Imports of Rhode Island tiered maxi leapt out at me, the bottom tier a near-perfect match. The 1970s Nordiska belt was from the 20p man at the car boot sale over a decade ago and the vintage French deadstock sunnies were from a vintage fair back in 2014.

After a lunch break, we took down the Gala tent and loaded it into the van followed by the outdoor rugs. It's a tight squeeze but it's all in now minus our own clothes, booze, electric coolbox, water containers and food. It wouldn't be the first time I've travelled to a festival atop a crate of ale! We bought a larger VW van a few years ago which Jon converted into a campervan - yes - there's a bed under all that. Gilbert's too small for our festival needs these days (and his classic car insurance isn't valid).

Next weekend's forecast is for below-average temperatures and the chance of a shower so I've gone full-on Autumn. If it does get hot I've always got a vintage shop I can borrow from.

I still can't believe we're getting our old life back and going to a festival - I don't know what I'm most excited about - after almost two years even the prospect of portaloos seem thrilling!

End of the Road, 2019....can we top it? I'll let you know next week!

Friday 27 August 2021

Labelled With Love


Despite only being halfway through pricing the festival stock, on Wednesday we decided we needed to treat ourselves to a couple of hours of charity shopping in our second favourite Black Country town so, after breakfast, we took a four-mile trip up the road. It's not an affluent town by any means and most of the stock is terrible, over-washed, low-end high street tat, but there's always a few hidden gems if you look carefully.

We found a 1960s Harry Fenton of Shaftesbury Avenue cashmere & wool overcoat, a 1980s Renate of Italy pewter leather shoulder bag, a paisley printed tunic from H&M's 2019 collaboration with celebrated 1960s scarf designer Richard Allen, a vintage Spanish hand-blown glass vase, a 1970s jumbo cord gilet with fake fur lining, a gorgeous print of Edith A Andrews' The Blue Butterfly (the label says it was framed by Boots' picture framing department, which closed down in 1963), a 1980s Medici, Italy fine knit batwing jumper and an Aquascutum leather belt

A 1980s purple jumpsuit by Michael Phillips, a pair of British-made merino wool Burberry socks which, I was stunned to discover, retail at £90! (who, in their right mind, spends almost a hundred quid on socks?), a 1980s elasticated belt with copper and beaded buckle, another vintage hand-blown glass vase, some 1980s St Michael printed cotton culottes and a selection of paperbacks.

I wore the 1970s Ayesha Davar embroidered cheesecloth dress I bought the other day, topped with a vintage Indian woolwork waistcoat Cheryl gave me (it's reversible if you didn't recognise it from the photo in my last post). Yes, the weather was so Autumnal that I needed long sleeves and a wool waistcoat!

Jon wore the teeshirt I spotted when I met up with Annie on Monday with a charity-shopped camo jacket by hip Mumbai streetwear label, Breakbounce. The cheese plant leaf print shorts and desert boots are also chazza finds.

After lunch (noodles!), I washed the new finds and pegged them out on the line before settling down in the festival tent for a couple of hours of pricing. Jon whizzed up to Pets at Home to stock up on cat food and litter for when we're away, gave me a hand in the shop and then made tea, halloumi with roasted vegetables (which included homegrown patty pans, courgettes and beetroot). The evening was spent watching three episodes of series 4 of The Man in The High Castle and drinking rum.

On Thursday morning I did a load of washing and pegged it on the line before doing my Wii Fit workout. Whilst tea was brewing I emptied the bins and realised I'd thrown the recycling into the garden waste bin so leant over to get it out ending up head first in the bin, it took me ages to get out as I was laughing so much. After breakfast, Jon touched up my roots as I'd made a complete hash of the job last time. We walked around the corner to the chemist to pick up some lateral flow tests to take with us to the End of the Road festival. Everyone attending has to prove their vaccination status (or a negative Covid test) upon arrival and is then required to take a test 72 hours later. 

Although it wasn't all that warm (19°C), I threw caution to the wind and dressed like I was on holiday in The Med. I'd spotted this 1970s Monsoon Indian crinkle cotton sundress on eBay the other day. They usually command crazy prices but, luckily for me, the seller hadn't listed it as vintage and it got lost amongst the hundreds of listings for contemporary Monsoon dresses and I won it for a song.

My hair had started to develop a bit of a red tinge so I've swapped to an ash-toned dark brown as opposed to my usual dark chocolate shade. Since January 2019 I've only dyed my roots, the rest of my hair hasn't been touched, I love my sun-lightened ends.

 Jon and I spent the rest of the morning pricing stock and after a break for some noodles, continued until Liz popped round for a coffee and a sneak peek (leaving with a couple of cheeky, pre-festival purchases).

Tea was veggie sausages with sweet potato wedges, poached eggs and peas accompanied with a glass of wine. Afterwards, I needed to sort something out online. I was number 283 in the queue and had to wait for an hour and a half for my turn to come which pretty much put paid to any evening TV!

On Friday morning after my final Wii Fit workout of the week, I did a bit more pricing in the festival tent before breakfast. On the way to the composting bin, I harvested some of the rhubarb and made a crumble for later.

With a distinctly chilly nip to the air, I thought I'd try out the Autumnal toned Richard Allen for H&M tunic (although it's a dress on a short arse like me) which I bought on Wednesday morning's charity shopping expedition. Long time blog readers will remember that I used to wear mini dresses a lot, particularly when I was a festival goer (as opposed to a trader). They're a lot more practical when it's pissing it down. 

After collaborating and producing scarves for brands such as Schiaparelli and Yves Saint LaurentRichard Allan launched his own namesake brand in 1962 and quickly became renowned for his bold approach to colours and prints. In his first year of trading, Richard Allan sold over 50,000 scarves. His company moved to 87 Duke Street in Mayfair, where it flourished for the next twenty years.  Throughout the years, scarves were screen-printed and hand-finished in the UK, a tradition upheld by his daughter Cate, who now runs the company.


Scarves were sold initially to London’s most iconic stores, Fenwick, Fortnum & Mason, Harrods, Harvey Nichols, Liberty and Selfridges.  Over time a global reputation was established and scarves were sold to Bergdorf Goodman and Saks Fifth Avenue in New York and in all the major stores throughout the USA. 


Richard Allen also developed a bespoke market for corporate commissions with clients that included Alfred Dunhill and Harper’s Bazaar and also collaborated with Schiaparelli and Yves St Laurent, who licensed several designs.  Richard Allan scarves were frequently seen in film and television productions such as those famously worn by the late Dame Diana Rigg in The Avengers.

Richard Allen for H&M tunic worn with Toast leather boots (eBay), vintage woolwork waistcoat (from Cheryl) and an orange felt fedora (retail buy 2018)

I've never set foot in a branch of H&M and only ever owned one item of clothing by them, the William Morris Pimpernel print blouse bought from the clearance chazza last year (but I ended up selling it as I couldn't bear the fabric). I've sold many Richard Allen scarves over the years and although I'm pleased with my £2 find I can't help wondering how the late Richard Allan would have felt about his designs being mass produced in China using synthetic fabrics and semi-synthetics, like my 100% viscose tunic. (Excuse Stephen's bald patch - his cone came off this morning and he's healing nicely.)

When Jon returned from the supermarket run we got stuck into the pricing. We were taking a lunch break when Richard arrived with the post. A couple of weeks ago Jon had decided that we should upgrade the rusting enamel pot we use to drain our utensils and, after an internet search, found the perfect thing, a ceramic cutlery drainer in a beautiful shade of blue, handmade by Trevor Pictor for the White Horse Pottery in Wiltshire. Lord Jon couldn't resist ordering a small colander to match - it's far better looking than the dented stainless steel monstrosity I bought from a jumble sale in the 1980s.

 Aren't they gorgeous? HERE'S the link if you fancy a kitchen upgrade, too!

After admiring our purchases we went back into the festival shop and finished the pricing.

That's it - all 750 items are priced, ironed and double-checked for any issues (anything that isn't 100% perfect has a note on the label highlighting the fault). The fun bit will be trying to squeeze it all into the van on Monday!

Tonight we'll be watching more of The Man in the High Castle, we've got seven episodes to squeeze in before our free Amazon Prime trial comes to an end. Needless to say, rum will be consumed although Jon's had to buy branded cola as there was nothing else left on the supermarket shelves and there have been no fresh limes for over a fortnight.

Cheers and see you soon!

Tuesday 24 August 2021

We Are Your Friends

 On Sunday, after tea in bed and toast at the kitchen table, we loaded the three bags we'd filled following a ruthless reassessment of our camping gear earlier in the week and drove down to the clearance charity shop to hand them over and to have our weekly rummage.

What did we find? A poppy print scarf still with the tags from the Imperial War Museum attached, a 1980s linen-mix dress (I'm sure it was originally St Michael, I recognise it from my youth), a 1950s Scottish mohair scarf, a Star Wars rucksack, an English-made waxed jacket, a mohair jumper by Cos and an East for Anokhi shirt a friend who was shopping at the same time spotted and handed it over. After popping into Wilko for duct tape and Poundland for batteries - oh, the excitement - we went home for lunch. We spent the rest of the afternoon pricing stock and laundering our finds.

Remember the sneak peek I gave of the dress I found last Wednesday? Here it is in all her glory.

I love that Wyse, London claims to be for women with a sense of joie de vivre, with nothing to do with being a certain age or looking a certain way – but it has everything to do with wanting elevated women’s clothing that’s also unexpected… and a bit fabulous.

Its founder, Marielle Wyse, launched the label five years ago. "Being half French and half British, her design approach was less is more, but with a twist. She wasn’t a fashion designer but had a passion for clothes and a creative instinct. At a time when the industry was either exclusively high-end or mass-market high street, she saw an opportunity to create small batches of expertly cut, excellent quality clothing, with a big dose of happiness." The dress is certainly cut well, I hardly recognise my own body!

Sunday was supposed to be a better day than Saturday, which had peed it down relentlessly, but turned out damp, grey and gloomy. At least the rain's helping the crops. This was the day's harvest - patty pan, cucumbers, a courgette, a fistful of strawberries and some blackberries.

Tea was cheese, biscuits, hummus, cucumbers and olives. We spent the evening with The Man in the High Castle before I retired to bed with my latest read, a psychological thriller with references to Greek mythology.

I've put my eBay shop on holiday so there were no parcels to wrap on Monday morning. Instead, I wandered around the garden and ironed the previous day's washing before my Wii Fit workout. After breakfast, Jon went off to do the shopping and to call in on Tony and I walked into town to meet my beautiful friend, Annie. Our last get together was with Curtise & Tania HERE - EIGHT years ago!!!

I met Annie at the train station and we went straight up to the clearance charity shop where we spent ages rummaging. Sated from our shopping adventures we spent the rest of the day outside 'Spoons quaffing lager, eating pizza and chips and putting the world to rights. Let's not leave it so long next time, Annie!

Of course, no day out with me is complete without an obligatory 'Spoons toilet selfie. I'm a classy lady!

Despite only visiting the chazza the day before, with over a thousand items added to the shop floor daily, there's always fresh stock to peruse. For the stockroom, I bought this vintage Guy Curtis pleated skirt and 1980s St Michael midi (both skirts are the same size & same era so presumably donated by the same person). The mustard teeshirt is for Jon and this pair of handmade pillowcases made from Spanish textile manufacturer, Vilber's iconic World Atlas print - perfect for our campervan pillows.

Back at home, I posed for an outfit photo, not that there's anything new to see, this 1970s Pakistani block printed kaftan pops up on my blog with alarming regularity. Jon served up feta and red onion quiche with roasted patty pans and courgettes and we watched another couple of episodes of The Man in the High Castle.

On Tuesday morning I foraged for strawberries, cut some more sweet peas and ironed the charity shop finds I'd washed the previous evening before doing my Wii Fit workout.  After breakfast, I swept the front of the house whilst Jon continued to tinker with the van electrics, a job he'd started yesterday. 

Our neighbour, Ray, popped over to ask if we could find a use for some wrought iron garden furniture that they no longer wanted. (I'm sure you can guess our answer). Jon offered him cash but he was more than happy with a few beers. It'll be interesting to see us trying to get it up their garden steps, through their house and over the road to ours!

Our friend Cheryl popped over for a catch-up over a cup of tea. She'd had another wardrobe clear out and passed on a few things she thought I might like including this vintage psychedelic poppy print maxi I'd admired when she'd worn it. I love both waistcoats and can't wait to try those original 1970s printed acetate flares!

Just as Cheryl was leaving Lynn and Phillip arrived. They'd spent a week in The Cotswolds at Lynn's sister's house and popped in on their way back to Lancashire. It's been three years since we'd last seen each other and there was much excitement and a lot of catching up to do.

Jon was there too but was in his workwear and decided to stay behind the camera. How amazing is Lynn's dress? I want one! 

Here's Lord Jon - Lynn sent me photo last night!

Talk about spoiled! I raved over this incredible vintage bag when Lynn shared it on her blog years ago and now it's mine! We both commented on this picture frame when we went up to stay with them in 2016, it's now Jon's along with a bottle of his favourite red wine.

Tea was pizza with salad, including some of Jon's homegrown carrots, freshly dug from the ground and flavoured with Moroccan spices. Tonight we'll be watching more of The Man in the High Castle. It's almost the end of our free Amazon Prime trial and there's still another series to go.

Phew! What with seeing Liz, Adrian, Liz & Al last weekend, my brother popping round twice, Brendan & Lynn visiting on Friday, Jon seeing Tony and me meeting Annie yesterday and Ray, Cheryl, Lynn and Philip popping round today, that's the most socialising we've managed since 2019! My head might explode when we get to the End of the Road next week.


See you soon!

PS Thank you so much for your comments, I promise to respond to them all in the next day or so!