Saturday 30 April 2022

Cool For Cats

 On Wednesday evening, after muttering This is my worst nightmare under his breath, Jon wasn't as intimidated by the gym as he thought he would be, helped in part by bumping into a couple of friends who, unknown to him, were regulars. I even met a lovely - and very fit - girl who reads my blog. The instructor couldn't have been more welcoming, walking us around and explaining how every piece of equipment worked and what it did and, after a chat, created a personal workout plan for us both, which we did and thoroughly enjoyed (okay, maybe I enjoyed it more!)

We spent the evening watching The Great British Sewing Bee and Interior Design Masters and on Thursday morning, after my Wii Fit workout and breakfast, we headed off to our favourite Black Country town for some charity shopping. Jon was a bit achy, I didn't feel any different so I shall increase the reps with the weight training next time. 

For the stockroom we found a 1960s St Michael dressing gown, a 1980s Yves Saint Laurent velvet pencil skirt (with the tags still attached!), a 1980s cotton circle skirt, a 1980s leisure shirt, a 1970s track top by Rodeo, a pair of vintage deadstock rugby shirts (made in England), some English-made 1990s suede sandals and some leather trimmed jeans by quirky Italian designer label, Save The Queen

Here are the keepers: 

  • Faith snakeskin bikini with a rose gold whipstitch trim
  • Free People "Hot Tropics" culotte jumpsuit 
  • Paige American-made Jane jeans.  
  • A 1970s straw bag 
  • Vintage leather gloves 
  • Fat Face organic cotton and recycled rubber plimsols (now back in the stockroom as Lord Jon can't fit his orthotics inside them) 
  • Boden Breton-style tee shirt 
  • A chambray blouse
  • A large framed print of the iconic 1960s Nymph by JH Lynch. This was £7.95 - there's one currently on Etsy for £490! I've been after this for years!

I love a good trying on session! I had no intention of keeping the jumpsuit - it was destined for eBay and I needed to check the size before I listed it - but once on I loved it, its made from a heavyweight viscose with adjustable shoulder straps & is fully lined with pockets. It's the perfect length (not trailing on the floor) and bright enough to burn your retinas. The snakeskin bikini has gone straight in my travel bag and the chambray blouse is one of those useful things that should slot seamlessly into my wardrobe (especially with the American Apparel shorts I bought last week).

There was only two words to describe Thursday's weather - bastard freezing. It was back to thermal leggings & boots under my Dollyrockers maxi and Cheryl's old suede jacket. Never mind the clothes, I bet you're far more interested in my feline photobomber. This is Minnie from two streets away. We often stop to have a chat (she's very vocal) when we're walking past her house on the way into town but it was the first time she'd visited us.

Isn't she gorgeous?

After an afternoon of washing, steaming and rubble shifting, we had a buffet-style tea of out of date cheese, biscuits and pickles before spending the evening watching Secrets of the Museum and more Borgen. In bed I started my twentieth book of 2022, a deliciously graphic murder mystery set during the San Francisco smallpox epidemic of 1876 and based on a true story. Emma Donaghue's books never disappoint. You might be familiar with the film based on her book, Room - highly recommended if you've not seen it.

Friday started, as it usually does, with a session on the Wii Fit and some parcel wrapping. After breakfast Jon did a post office and supermarket run while I listed a few things on eBay before getting changed and walking down to the baths for our twice-weekly swim. We managed forty lengths, clocking up a total of 1.05miles this week.  

Along with a vintage Kashmiri wool work waistcoat, I wore the chambray blouse and Paige *Jane* jeans I'd found the previous day. 

The quality of these Paige jeans stood out a mile when I ran my hand across the denim rail in the clearance charity shop. I loved the overdyed navy shade and the zipped ankles and pockets and, I knew by the Made in the USA tag that they weren't some high street fashion reject. When I googled them back at home I discovered this model, the "Jane Zip" , currently retails in John Lewis for £220. 

I know - no jewellery (bar the earrings), plimsols and jeans! The only vintage I'm wearing is the waistcoat and the 1970s sunglasses and, you know what? I still feel like me. 

Our next escape is within touching distance so I hand-washed the dresses I'm taking and hung them on the line to dry. In contrast to the previous day, it was warm enough to sit outside and read in the sunshine, leaving Jon to tinker with Ebbie. The evening was spent drinking rum, watching the final episode of Slow Horses and then more Borgen.

On Saturday morning I was up first making tea and ironing one of the dresses I'd washed the previous day. After an hour of reading in bed, I stripped and changed the bed whilst Jon made sausage sandwiches. I pegged the washing on the line and continued with my ironing wondering why I had to love such voluminious dresses. 

If you're wondering, the charity shop steamer is great on everything but cotton - for that only a steam iron will do. 

Ollie called round for breakfast. He'd not graced us with his presence since Thursday.

Shortly followed by Mr Trousers who, after rolling around the border and flattening the tulips, came in for a nap.

It was a glorious morning. We walked down to Palfrey Park and spent half-an-hour at the outdoor gym, successfully managing to use all but the monkey bars which had us collapsing in a heap at the base laughing till we cried. (Click on the collages if you want to see them in more detail.)

The tulips & grape hyacinths were blooming in the wildlife area and there was frogspawn in the pool.

We walked to Caldmore, which I've written about HERE, treating ourselves to some Punjabi snacks from Ashirwaad, the pure veg sweet centre.

Back at home I stripped off to my bikini and lay on the lawn with my book. Jacob stomped around his enclosure, delighted with the dandelions we'd snaffled on our walk and Kitty, the pretty tabby from next door, played the stick game with Jon before collapsing in a heap beside the wood pile.

Sunday is the start of No Mow May, where British gardeners are encouraged to lock away their mowers for the month and let the wildflowers in their lawns bloom, feeding our native pollinators. Join us and sign up HERE

Jon got the lawnmower out to mow several pathways, leading to the compost heap, the greenhouse and the pond. 

Here's what we'll be eating later - veg seekh kabab, Punjabi pakoras and Mirchi pakoda (battered chillies) with naga chilli sauce. This platter, including the sauce, was £4.50 - a reward for our workout this morning and is the first time we've bought food from a takeaway since October 2019.

See you soon!

Wednesday 27 April 2022

We Can Work It Out


Hello! After sharing tales from my mispent youth I'm back with normal grown-up activities, no psychotic Mediteranean males, just cats, clothes and chat.

On Monday, after Wii Fit & breakfast I spent the day photographing and listing on eBay. I'm saving most of the vintage for festivals so a lot of the things I'm listing are contemporary pieces, although you can't get more 1970s than that glorious bikini, can you? Much as I love it, I prefer my beachwear a lot more skimpy.

The Dilli Grey maxi skirt got another outing, worn with a vintage Alpnani block printed blouse and a 1970s belt with a snarling lion buckle. I wore my Docs as I'd arranged to walk into town mid-afternoon and meet up with Kate, a friend from school. A family friend was having a clear-out and Kate had kindly rescued these two vintage crepe cocktail dresses from the bin.

Back in the eighties I'd have lopped a few inches off the hem and worn these early-1960s dresses out clubbing, accompanied by ripped-up black fishnets and eight-hole Doc Martens. Although they fit perfectly and I love the fringing on the San-Clair dress, I'm not that little black dress girl any more but I know I'll soon find someone who is.

After tea we started watching Borgen on the BBC i-Player, a Danish political thriller series which, for some reason, we've never seen. We were rivetted.

On Tuesday we swam for half a mile then treated ourselves to a Spoons breakfast. We looked around the charity shops, Jon bought New Order's Blue Monday on 12" vinyl (not that we haven't got at least three copies already) whilst I snaffled a Boden denim dress and a handprinted wraparound skirt for the stockroom. Back at home Ollie was waiting. We'd not seen any cats for days but I'd discovered Mr Trousers fast asleep on the doormat before we left home.

Dressing for the baths is always a challenge, no matter how cold it is walking down, I'm always boiling hot on the way back. Jackets have to be light enough to roll up and throw in my bag. Other than earrings, I don't usually bother with jewellery unless we're popping into Spoons and my hair is always up ready for the swimming cap. I swim in my Barry M kajal and mascara, they never budge.

This was my first Dilli Grey dress, snaffled from eBay for a knockdown price a year ago this week.

We'd skipped lunch and had an early tea as Jon was helping Al and Liz shift 2 tonnes of secondhand paving stones they'd bought online. There's only room for three in the works van so I stayed at home and read until Jon returned, filthy and knackered. We shared a can of Shipyard Ale and had an early night.

On Wednesday, after my Wii Fit workout, I wrapped the ebay sales, handwashed a couple of my Indian dresses and hung them out on the line to dry.

Mr Trousers paid us a visit and, once again, got off his tits on cat mint.

An overcast day at a pitiful 9°C, it was back to boots for me, which I wore with a vintage Indian gauzy cotton midi dress and an early '70s Anokhi jacket to do the post office run, buy a cycle helmet and try on some sunglasses. The gloom did have its advantages though, it was the perfect day for photographing black garments to list on eBay. 

We've taken out membership to the baths, paying a one-off fee which entitles us to unlimited swimming, use of the sauna, steam room and gym in all four of Walsall's leisure centres for a year. Membership works out at £30 a month for the pair of us - we're spending £20 a week on swimming so it'll save us loads of money even if we don't take advantage of the other facilities on offer. I used to love the gym but haven't been years and Jon's never ventured into one his entire life so I called and booked an induction for this afternoon (Wednesday). Jon's not keen but I can always go on my own if he decides its not for him - I'd love to get back six-pack and rippling biceps of my youth! 

I'm not sure what Jon's going to wear but I'm sorted, here's the £2 leggings & £1 vest I bought from the clearance charity shop on Sunday. There's always loads of women's workout gear in the chazzas, maybe it's because the donators feel like they can't keep turning up to the gym in the same outfit, not something that bothers me. 

I'm off to pump iron (or maybe not) then it's rum, cola and The Great British Sewing Bee. 

See you soon!

Sunday 24 April 2022

Shirley, You Can Not Be Serious!

On Friday morning Jon dropped the eBay parcels at the post office whilst I sorted out the previous day's charity shop finds.

 There was a 1980s leather shoulder bag, some Bandolino scuba ankle boots with snakeskin heels, an Amnol Indian embroidered smock top, a 1980s Canda penguin jumper, a 1980s Jessica midi dress, a West African waxed cotton kaftan and a brand new pair of USA-made Hudson jeans which retailed at £220!

I listed a few more things on eBay and tried on my new swimsuit which had arrived whilst we were at the cinema the previous day. Happy with the fit I got dressed and we walked down to the baths for our Friday morning swim. We managed to swim a mile again this week.

I wore my green Van Allan dress (along with the blue one in my previous post, bought from eBay in 2001) with my Superga organic cotton plimsols (via eBay), my charity-shopped Topshop army jacket and a silk kantha scarf bought in Jodphur in January 2020. Jon wore his navy shorts, a tiger print shirt (he's also got a long-sleeved version in black) and some Vans hi-tops (all charity shopped). 

After lunch Jon did some work on Ebbie (our VW Variant) whilst I cleaned the lounge. We watched Fyre, a documentary about a fraudulent luxury music festival although I didn't feel much sympathy for the rich American kids who'd shelled out up to £75,000 in the hope of hanging out with social media influencers and Z list slebs. What is it they say? A fool and his money are soon parted.

Saturday continued to be blustery only a lot more colder and greyer. I stripped and changed the bed before settling down to a leisurely breakfast of coffee and toast. We took a walk around the block and then drove over to see Liz & Al, she'd been out of action for a week having contracted the dreaded Covid again (thankfully, being triple jabbed it was no more than a sniffle).

When we got home we discovered a parcel awaiting, the Adidas Sneekers Jon had won on eBay over the bank holiday weekend. Launched in April 2020, they're a reissue of the original 1970s Adidas Sneeker at a cost of £75 - Jon won his for £14 - and the condition is almost perfect.

I'm dressed in Anokhi - all old favourites you've seen before. The riding jacket was purchased from the Anokhi flagship store in Jaipur in January 2019 and the vintage skirt & blouse were both lucky eBay finds.

Jane Seymour is wearing the same blouse (with the peplum tucked in) in this early 1970s photoshoot. One day I will find the matching skirt - the yellow set did pop up online a while ago but I couldn't justify spending £350!

Jon woke up feeling like he was coming down with a cold and took a lateral flow test just to rule out Covid before we went out visiting which, fortunately, was negative. After we got back from Liz & Al's  he spent the afternoon on the settee with some sci-fi nonsense so I made myself scarse and cleaned the bedroom.

And gave one of my dolls houses a Spring clean whilst I was at it.

Later, we watched two films set in Greece. The excellent Beckett (2021) about a American tourist who, after a devastating accident, becomes the target of corrupt cops, a modern day (and more violent) The Fugitive. I'd not seen Shirley Valentine since its cinematic release in 1989 but it obviously made such an impact on me that I was able to recall great chunks of the dialogue - much to Jon's annoyance - and thirty-three years on it's still utterly brilliant.

In thirteen years of blogging I realise that I've never shared my own Shirley Valentine adventure.

 In 1991, I was in a three year relationship which had become so tedious that, like Shirley, I was starting to talk to the wall. A few months earlier I'd holidayed in Malta with a friend and had met, let's call him X, a local man who ran a popular bar. On our last night he'd asked for my address and had bombarded me with letters swearing undying love. Bored out of my brains with his talk of weddings and having children, I broke up with my then-boyfriend, took leave from work and flew to Malta where X was waiting for me outside tiny Luqa airport in his huge American muscle car. Also in the car was his cousin, a twelve year old boy, who, it transpired was the author of the letters as X was illiterate.

 The following day X went to work and told me to stay in his apartment until he got home but, me being me, I didn't. I put the door on the latch and reacquainted myself with the island, riding on the old buses, speaking to strangers, hanging out in a shabby bar in downtown Valetta and got back before X returned but, Malta being a small island & in March, off-tourist season, and me with my waist length blonde hair, black leather mini dress & platform boots, I didn't go unnoticed and word soon got back to X of my escapades.

The following day I was deposited at his mother's, a morbidly obese widow with a penchant for heavily dubbed American action movies. She spoke no English and I spoke no Maltese and we sat together on the settee, day after day, with the curtains drawn & our eyes glued to Arnold Schwarzenegger. Light relief would arrive at lunchtime when the family (including X) would descend, a raucous affair accompanied by several bottles of The Virgin's Tears, the local red wine. Two hours later and it was back to Arnie before I was collected at 6pm where I'd help out behind the bar.

The rest of my time was spent ever thus but, one day, whilst Mama was absorbed in Red Sonja, I snuck out of the door and headed to the seafront. Halfway there I heard the screech of brakes, she'd tipped X off of my escape, and I was uncerimoniously dragged into the car, where he flipped open the glove compartment and showed me the gun he kept there. After that I didn't dare escape again and, after a fortnight, I waved him goodbye, flew back to the UK and tore up the letters that continued to arrive. After a year of single life I met Jon and thirty years on we've still together. We travelled to Malta in 1994 but, fortunately, never bumped into X and the bar had gone.

Me in 1991 shortly before my Malta adventure

On Sunday morning, Lord Jon made himself a bacon sandwich and started to feel human again. We drove down to the clearance charity shop, arriving just as the doors were opening and were delighted to bump into our friend, Dawn.

We bought a VW teeshirt, which won't surprise you to hear that Jon's keeping, a 1980s leather belt, a woven Greek bedspread (already in situ), two Zara midi skirts, a brand new steamer - the answer to my prayers!, more workout gear for me, a pair of 1980s cotton shorts, made in Australia, a fringed cardi (another keeper!), a navy Harrington jacket, a 1980s dress and a 1980s leather waistcoat.

I wore another old favourite, one that hasn't been seen on my blog since 2018, and darling....its Pucci!

Bought for an absolute steal at Stockport's Vintage Village in 2016, I'm wearing my Pucci dress with my Diesel denim jacket, vintage Sheffield Stainless Steel modernist choker and 1970s Greek tourist bag, some vintage Christian Dior sunglasses Jon snaffled for me off eBay and a brand new pair of Superga flatforms with a rope sole.

To be more precise my Pucci dress is Emilio Pucci for Formfit Rogers, Pucci's lingerie line, which he launched in 1957 as he hated how American women's clothing looked with the heavyweight girdles they insisted upon wearing, creating a lightweight version named Viva.

Pucci was promoted to Vice President of Formfit Rogers, where he supervised every part of creation— he draped fabric, worked with the designers, approved samples and created prints specifically for the intimate apparel line, never reusing ready-to-wear designs.The first print that Pucci created for Formfit Rogers was designed in 1966. It was a linear pattern, but he went on to design floral (mine!), geometric, ribbon and diamond patterns. Each print was signed with “EPFR” which stood for “Emilio Pucci for Formfit Rogers.” The partnership between Pucci and Formfit Rogers was a very successful one but ended in 1979 when Formfit Rogers, established in Chicago in 1917, was sold by its parent company to a European conglomerate. Production was moved to Mexico, the company was not managed well, and soon Formfit Rogers went out of business. 

Emilio Pucci for Formfit Rogers advertisement c.1968

In previous blog posts my Pucci dress has been worn to trade at vintage fairs, Spoons' sessions, blogger days out and even shrinking myself to fit inside my dolls house. It might be a nightie but I don't think anyone's noticed.

Jon's on the settee watching Star Trek, I'm off to sit in the sun and read more about life in Iceland.

See you soon!