Tuesday 29 March 2022

I Want to Ride my Bicycle

The clocks had gone forward overnight so it was dark when I got up on Sunday morning. I made tea, brought it back to bed and read for an hour whilst Jon and Stephen snoozed beside me. Toast and coffee were consumed whilst watching the news in the kitchen.

There was a distinct chill in the air when I popped Jacob outside in his pen but I dressed for summer nontheless, wearing my Kharibou block printed dress, a vintage suede waistcoat and the first pair of Lotta of Stockholm clogs I'd ever bought, five years ago.

We popped down to the charity shop, handing over some donations (completed books & a couple of tee shirts Jon no longer wanted) and finding a few bits and pieces at the same time - a 1980s Hong Kong made leisure shirt, 7 for All Mankind "Roxanne" jeans, some Cos textured cotton ankle grazers, a 1980s Spanish leather bag, a Holland Esquire shirt in Liberty's Wild at Heart print (which originally retailed at £135), a German army shirt in Flecktarn camoflague, a vintage dressing gown, a 1980s paisley print shirt, a 1970s prairie skirt and a cotton cut work leisure shirt.

Back at home I laundered the finds and Jon & I had a lemon muffin and a posh coffee for lunch. Afterwards Jon helped me touch up my roots, normally we do them every 5 weeks but with a trim booked at the hairdressers later in the week I brought it forward a week.Leaving Jon to scrub the kitchen floor, I did a quick clean of the lounge then sat and did some visible mending on our friend, Kev's jeans. 

I thought our tea looked so pretty I took a photo, prompting Jon to call me an Instagram w*nker. Those are Morrison's edamame and sweet potato burgers, served on a slice of sour dough bread brushed with tapenade and accompanied by a salad (glace de reine lettuce fresh from the garden) and some sweet chilli jam.Later we watched another couple of episodes of Scandi cop thriller, Deadwind, followed by Peaky Blinders, the coolest period drama ever made.

It was much milder on Monday when I popped to the Kinky shed to sort out the stock I'd sold over the weekend. After my Wii Fit session and breakfast we drove over to Liz & Al's to drop off Liz's present, in time for her birthday on Tuesday. We had a tour of the garden and their veg plot - which put our efforts to shame - and spent a lovely hour or so catching up over a coffee.

By mid-morning the warmth and sunshine had made a welcome reappearance. I wore the 1960s Indian cheesecloth and crochet maxi dress I'd bought from a charity shop in Walsall back in December and the previous day's Walsall charity shop find, the German army shirt.

After lunch we had a look at the pond to check on the progress of the frogspawn, which seemed to have increased in recent days.

I decided that I was going to give cycling another try, something I've lost the ability to do since my hip replacement. I've got three bikes, my childhood Moulton Mini, which is missing a front wheel, the vintage Raleigh shopper (above) with the knackered gear stick....

...and this ladies city bike which I bought off eBay for £4 fifteen years ago and although I didn't really need it, thought it would be rude not to buy it.  Very wobbly at first, I managed to cycle up and down the lawn 8 times before collapsing in a heap underneath it, much to Jon's amusement. Both tyres are knackered so we've ordered replacements, maybe by this time next week I'll have made it round the block in one piece!

Jon showing me how it's done! 

I've always bemoaned the fact that I own no practical clothing and if I need to do anything strenous or sporty I'm all of a tizz, I'm not attracted to sensible clothes so rarely look at them in chazzas (and wouldn't dream on buying them new) but our wonderful clearance charity shop, with its acres of space and laid back Sunday morning vibe has led me to browse rails I'd normally never consider, those of the trousers and jeans. These Cos cotton ankle grazers I snaffled for £2 on Sunday are comfy and were perfect for my cycling training, far better than risking tearing one of my precious dresses!

I made broccoli and cauliflower au gratin for tea, we watched the final two episodes of Deadwind followed by Stanley Tucci's Searching for Italy, a gorgeous series on the BBC i-player combining travel with good food. I defy anyone to watch this and not want pizza.

The temperature had plummeted on Tuesday morning. After my Wii Fit workout I wrapped the eBay sales before breakfast. Jon did a post office run and a supermarket shop whilst I spent the morning ironing and listing stock on eBay including some of our recent finds -  Alexander McQueen, Moschino, Free People, Superdry, Coast, Gabicci, Quiksilver, Hawes & Curtis of Jermyn Street and Adidas Originals.

I wore the same clothes as I'd worn the previous day. Well, I never did claim to be a style blogger!

I thought it was about time I shared a close-up of this vintage green leather bag, adorned with Portuguese Escudos (which were still in circulation the last time I visited) and a UK shilling and 2p piece. I was the only bidder on ebay and won it for a song.

After lunch we walked down to the baths for the 2pm public swim but were a bit early and had to wait in reception for the hydrotherapy class to finish. I spotted these vintage posters on display. This time we completed 24 lengths, we're improving by the day.

Back at home I tried out another of Sunday's finds, the Seven for All Mankind "Roxanne" jeans in Woodland Green, priced at £3. I'd heard of the brand but didn't know much about it and was astounded to discover that these jeans retail at £200. When I tried them on, I discovered why, they are the most gorgeously soft and comfy jeans I've ever worn in my life.

My legs are quite long considering I'm short but the jeans need almost a foot hacking off the hem. The size label reads "27" which translates as a Uk size 4, which must be an example of vanity sizing 'cos I ain't that small!

Posh jeans worn with my Masscob for Liberty velvet "Badin* jacket (eBay), hand-embroidered Greek top from Lindos, olive velvet boots (River Island via the charity shop) and a 1960s Pakistani bag (jumble sale about twenty years ago)

I'm off galvanting with Nikki tomorrow, I'll be back soon with tales of our adventures!

Saturday 26 March 2022

Unseasonable Sunshine

I'm running out of adjectives to describe the unseasonably warm weather the UK is currently experiencing but the endless sunshine is utterly fabulous. 

On Thursday we took Stephen to the vet to start a monthly course of injections for his arthritis, something we'd discussed with Becky, our vet, when we'd taken him for a check-up a fortnight ago. Although the manufacturer claims that effects may not be visible until the second jab, he perked up almost immediately and was back to his usual vocal and crazy self by mid-afternoon. 

With the temperatures hitting the giddy heights of 19°C it was another day for bare legs, a Dilli Grey cotton midi dress and oversized sunglasses. 

Home from the vet, Jon set about making some platforms for Stephen's food bowls so he didn't have to bend to eat. Our mate Kev popped round and we sat on the garden wall in the midday chatting. After lunch I spent the afternoon in the garden, stripped down to a bikini and grabbed my Philippa Gregory novel, losing myself in the court of Elizabeth I and the paranoia and seething jealousy which was part of everyday life within the Tudor dynasty.

We watched the incredible Writing With Fire, a documentary about India's only newpaper run by Dalit (untouchable) women. A wonderful and inspiring watch if ever there was one. If you're in the UK you can find it on the BBC I-Player HERE.

On Friday morning we were dressed and on our way to our second favourite Black Country town before 9am and by 11.30am we were back at home and inspecting our finds with the first (and, in my case, only) coffee of the day.

What did we find? A vintage NATO issue quilted coat, a Coast mustard wrap dress with the tags still attached, two watches to add to Jon's collection, a 1980s suede waistcoat, a 1950s broderie anglaise top, a 1980s cotton leisure shirt, an Indian all-wool waistcoat, another Philippa Gregory novel (I think I've got almost all of her books now), a planished silver bangle, a 1980s green suede bomber jacket, some 1980s "Africa" shorts, made in Harare, three unused Barry M nail paints, some 1970s Fred Perry shorts and an Italian made Paolo de Ponte calf leather belt which I later found online for £82!

Cheap and cheerful! Friday's outfit cost the grand total of £7 - the Wyse, London shirred cotton midi dress, straw & leather bag and sequin-trimmed still-boxed plimsols were all charity shop finds. The gemstone bracelet was a 21st birthday present from some workmates making it almost 35 years old, scary stuff!

I threw our finds in the washing machine and then we walked down to the baths for another swim, this time doing twenty lengths. While we were swimming we bumped into an old friend, Baz (not literally) and invited him to join us in 'Spoons where we'd decided to treat ourselves to lunch, eaten al fresco in the sunshine.

Buoyed up by a couple of large glasses of Pinot, I popped into the hairdressing training academy in the next street and booked an appointment for a cut and blow dry. It's been a year since I last had a trim and my ends are starting to look a bit wispy, although I shall insist it is only the very ends they cut, I like having hair long enough to get caught in my waistband.

Back at home I pegged the laundry out on the line, washed our swimming gear and wrapped the eBay sales leaving Jon to repair a couple of loose bricks on the outside steps. Later we drank rum and watched The White Tiger. Aravind Adiga's Booker Prize winning novel of a poor man's murderous ambition is one of my favourite books ever and I was excited to discover that it had been made into a film. I'm always slightly worried about beloved books becoming films but this was beautifully done.

On Saturday morning, I stripped the bed and hung the washing on the line to dry alongside the load I'd done the previous day and had left out overnight. After our veggie sausage sandwiches Jon dropped the eBay parcels off at the post office and did a grocery run for Tony, who is still testing positive and feels very weak and feeble.

I took the recently charity-shopped Victorian japanned cabinet outside and touched up the rough bits with the gloss paint we'd bought from Wilko on Sunday before doing some pruning and shifting of plants. When Jon got back he suggested we go for a walk in Merrions Wood, a 12 hectare wildlife reserve so I grabbed my camera and dashed out still dressed in my gardening gear.

Part of a former deer park and containing ridge-and-furrow marks and ancient semi-natural woodland, much of the site was planted in the 18th century by Humphry Repton to create a grand carriageway entrance for Great Barr Estate. His planting included a Horse Chestnut avenue and although various pathogens eventually led to its decline, grant-aid has enabled the planting of a replacement Sweet Chestnut avenue.

Despite living less than two miles from the entrance to Merrions Wood my entire life I'd never been there, I always say that I know Mumbai better than I do my hometown!

We saw an abundance of primroses, daffodils and the pretty star-shaped flowers pictured above and were thrilled to hear woodpeckers and even catch a glimpse of a green feathered belly flying above us. At the end of Merrions Wood we reached the parish church of St Margaret and had a wander around the churchyard.

Dedicated to Saint Margaret of Antioch, the church was founded in 1677 but rebuilt in 1862. The tower is original 17th century but is hidden by the Gothic revival red sandstone casing which was added in 1893. The spire is 18th Century. St Margaret's is Grade II listed and its war memorial, described by Historic England as "a lantern cross in the medieval style" is also listed meaning both are protected from unauthorised alteration or demolition.

Dressed for household chores! I'm wearing a 1970s Oasis Trading gauzy indian cotton blouse, charity shopped Zara jeans, a vintage Indian silk screen printed scarf, tooled leather bag and last week's Nonverse pumps. 

Merrions Wood supports important populations of birds, bats, social and solitary bees and wasps, saproxylic invertebrates and fungi. Grant-aid has funded a bat box scheme in conjunction with Birmingham and Black Country Bat Group.

After a glorious hour and a half we returned home for posh coffees and a lemon muffin each (jon bought some for Tony and thought he'd treat us to some, too).

I stripped down to a bikini and spent the afternoon basking in the sunshine. I started re-reading Carol Drinkwater's The Olive Farm, the first of the triogy snaffled from the clearance charity shop last weekend, and discovered it was a signed edition. How exciting!

I also painted my nails with one of the Barry M paints I'd found on our charity shopping trip the previous day. Butterscotch isn't a colour I've used before but I rather like it.

Tonight we'll be drinking rum (again), starting the second series of Deadwind and trying not to forget that the clocks go forward later.

Cheers and see you soon!