Friday 31 March 2023

It's My Life

What a washout the last few days have been. 

I was very brave on Tuesday morning, leaving my coat at home and walking down to the swimming baths in my Frida jacket, albeit with a weighty vintage Louis Caring maxi dress, thermals, huge velvet scarf, Nordic socks and Doc Martens underneath. 

We picked up a Lidl Waste Not box after our swim along with a few extra groceries (not too many, we had to carry them home) and so far we've eaten......veg cutlets with baked potato, sweetcorn and green beans; Greek salad; Punjabi tikka with aloo chat and vegan gyros (they were on offer in Lidl and they're absolutely delicious).

 The early morning drizzle when we left the house at 7.30am soon escalated into torrential rain so, after washing our swimming gear, I left Jon making music and took myself off and spent the rest of the day refashioning the Cath Kidston "London Bus" single duvet set I'd bought from the clearance charity shop last week into a maxi dress and matching tote. The design was only printed on one side (the reverse was red polka dots) so it took a bit of effort to match up the pattern. I think I did okay.

It was another miserably wet start to the day on Wednesday. After my workout and breakfast we drove over to one of our regular haunts for a morning of charity shopping.

Again I was brave and left the coat at home, plumping for last week's River Island balloon sleeved denim jacket over another of my Dilli Grey dresses with a vintage felted wool hat.

Picking were slim but we found a few bits....

Italian-made Jones The Bootmaker fringed suede boots; 1980s leather waistcoat; 1980s leather bag by Palio, Italy; Clarks silver leather shoes; Wooden beads; Draped jersey dress by Israeli designer Ronen Chen (still with the £195 price tag attached); West African waxed cotton co-ord; Hand-painted glass beads (I've found a near identical set listed on Etsy as "antique" & priced at £119!); 1980s leather Gladstone bag; Silk scarf; Massimo Dutti Spanish-made suede cowboy boots; 1980s Shy, London draped jacket.

After an afternoon of listings (and dodging showers to take photos), the evening was spent watching Daisy Jones & The Six, which has proved very good so far although Sam Claflin played such an amazing role in Peaky Blinders I'm finding it difficult not to unsee Oswald Moseley fronting a rock band! We also tuned into the new series of the BBC's Race Across the World, where real people have to make their way across Canada without mobile phones, a limited budget and no flights.

On Thursday, we went for an early swim and a 'Spoons breakfast.With the temperature reaching a balmy (!) 15°C I braved bare ankles and wore the Jones fringed boots I'd bought yesterday, a bargain at £1! I also snaffled the vintage glass and the wooden beads to wear with my Indian block printed smock top, Greek fisherman's cap and chazza shopped Levi's (which are a couple of sizes too big but the quality is so good I'm reluctant to part with them).

Between rain showers we managed to get a few tasks done in the garden, namely removing a clump of bamboo from the border. Word of advice, if you're ever in a garden centre, step away from the bamboo, it's evil! By the way, that's a before photo, it was p*ssing it down by the time we'd finished!

 I also managed to sort out the raised beds, harvesting the last of the onions and turning over the soil in readiness for the seedlings gradually sprouting on the windowsill.

Although he pops round daily to get his Nepeta fix, Mr William Woolberforce has now started appearing on the doorstep every morning, desperate for food (luckily we had some left from when poor Ollie used to visit). As I've mentioned before, he's an entire male (pompoms still attached) although he's very friendly and happy to be picked up and cuddled, I think he must be from the cat colony in the old windmill recently sold and under development, so he's possibly been displaced although I shall print off a paper collar HERE just to make sure he's not a pet from a careless owner. 

 On Thursday evening we went to the theatre (twice in a week, how decadent!) This time we saw The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel at Wolverhampton's Grand. Our tickets were a Xmas present from Liz and Al. The show starred Paul Nicholas (Just Good Friends and, of course, a pop star in the 1970s) and Tessa Peake-Jones (Raquel from Only Fools and Horses) and was absolutely brilliant. I've seen the film I don't know how many times although, with it being set in Bangalore as opposed to Rajasthan and with Dorothy from the BBC replacing Graham (the character played by Tom Wilkinson), the stage show was based on Deborah Moggach's book of the same name (and a wonderful read). It was Liz's birthday on Wednesday so, after she'd unwrapped her presents we celebrated with large glasses of red wine in The Moon Under Water, Wolverhampton's branch of Wetherspoons which conveniently, is directly opposite the theatre.

I wore this hand-embroidered, Barcelona-based designer dress by Nekane NKN, purchased new with tags from eBay last year along, with a car-booted tribal necklace.

Not due at the dentist till 2pm, I had a leisurely morning planned for Friday, a workout and breakfast followed by wrapping parcels, sorting out festival applications and catching up on some cleaning, so I was still in my exercise gear when the surgery called and asked if I could possibly change my appointment to 10.30am. After a mad dash I made it on time and work continued with the intricate business of replacing my cracked 24 year old veneer with a crown.

Knowing my face would be frozen for the rest of the day (a combination of anaesthetic and being in the chair for almost an hour) I posed for a photo before I got there. As Jon was dropping me off I left the jacket at home, wearing one of my vintage Indian block printed waistcoats over my All About Aud dress and last week's cowboy boots. 

One of the many advantages I've found with having a mobile phone is that I can call Jon to pick me up rather than having to walk two miles home in the pouring rain. Whilst I was waiting I took a few photos (another bonus of phone ownership!)

My dentist's surgery is in the Pleck area of Walsall, a mile and a half from the town centre and, like nearby Caldmore & Palfrey, has a large South Asian population. The Shree Ram Mandir one of several Hindu temples in the town. I'm sure you already know that the swastika is an ancient symbol of peace, appropriated by the Nazis in the 20th Century.

As well as sari shops and goldsmiths, the high street is choc-a-block with chai shops, sweet centres and balti houses. The tantalising smell drives you mad when your mouth's frozen!

It's been a miserably wet afternoon so I've cracked on with the tasks I'd planned on doing this morning including agonising over choosing which of the two music festivals held on the same weekend we're going to trade with. Portaloos, sequins at dawn, bare feet, live music, all day drinking, good company and 18 hour working days...bring it on!

Tomorrow is All Fool's Day and marks our Never Had a Wedding Anniversary, 31 years of unwedded bliss (yes, I know he'd get less for murder!) No doubt Lord Jon and I will be celebrating the occasion with a few cheeky rums.

See you soon!

Monday 27 March 2023

It's A Tragedy (and Other Stories)


Hola! Hope all's well in your world. Here's what we've been up to recently.

On Thursday, after a swim and a 'Spoons breakfast we went charity shopping in a nearby Birmingham suburb (as opposed to a Black Country town). This £3 River Island balloon sleeved denim jacket was a near perfect match with the Lee shirt I was already wearing so I kept it on and, to maintain a semblance of order in my capsule wardrobe, I donated one of my suede jackets to the Kinky stockroom.

What's the oldest thing you own? Mine's the brooch I was wearing on Thursday, whilst the silver mount is "only" Victorian, the ammonite is 450 million years old!

Friday saw yet another trip to Birmingham, this time to see the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire's adaptation of Margaret Atwood's Greek Tragedy, The Penelopiad at The Old Rep Theatre. 

I can't remember the last performance I attended at The Old Rep but I was still at school and it would have been something I was studying for O or A Level, either William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, Oliver Goldsmith's She Stoops to Conquer or John Webster's The Duchess of Malfi. I certainly wouldn't have been able to (legally) enjoy a glass of wine during the interval like we did on Friday!

Famous actors who have trod the boards included Lawrence Olivier, Peggy Ashcroft, Derek Jacobi, John Gielgud, Julie Christie, Toyah Wilcox and Brian Cox.

Taking my lead, Lord Jon also purchased some Vooglam frames and had his prescription lenses fitted at Specsavers (he's been wearing varifocals for years), picking them up on Tuesday. I reckon he could get a job on The Repair Shop as Jay Blades's double HERE.

Cut into a dark corner of Hades in the year 2023, is a door into the heart of a story we haven't heard before: that of Penelope - ancient Spartan Princess, Queen of Ithaca, wife to the trickster Odysseus. Tired by millenia of stories lauding her husband's exploits from the interminable male perspective, Penelope is stepping up to set the record straight and spin a yarn of her own. But her side of the story can only be heard if we  also hear the motley and piebald stories of her maids, who suffered the ultimate cost for their loyalty to this fabled queen....

The book is amazing and I wasn't sure if a theatrical adaptation would do Margaret Atwood's writing  justice but needn't have worried, the performance, by an all female cast, was magnificent and received a standing ovation. Several of us wiped tears from our eyes as the curtain fell.

We walked across town from Station Street to the Indian Brewery on Livery Street, where Nikki and I often have lunch on days out. Jon hadn't been before and was very impressed with the Masala fish and chips and fantastic range of Birmingham-brewed craft beers. I went for a Fat Nan (spiced aubergine and potato with coriander, capiscums, tamarind sauce and sev).

 Despite the ongoing bus strike the Walsall-bound train wasn't busy and, after a brisk walk back up the Hill of Doom, we had a few rums and tuned into the final part of Canadian thriller, The Wall: Cover Your Tracks (French with subtitles) which, after a decent start, ended disappointingly. We started watching Maestro in Blue, a Greek series in Netflix filmed on Corfu and Paxos. The scenery was gorgeous but the plot didn't thrill us.

Despite dire warnings of torrential rain and a sharp frost, Saturday turned out to be dry and sunny - if a bit on the chilly side -  and we spent the day in the garden. My visit to Winterbourne with Nikki on Wednesday got me in the mood. After months of neglect there's loads to be done but at least we've made a start.

I planted the Candytuft in the chimney pot when we bought Stonecroft in 2005 and it returns every year (sometimes blooming twice). I snaffled a sprig of the Euphorbia in the foreground during one of our lockdown walks (remember them?) and it's huge.

That week back in December when the temperatures dropped to -12°C killed off several of my cyclamen, this one's hanging on.

Vintage horseshoes awaiting a coat of Rustoleum - unearthed by detectorist, Rob. His sister, Liz, bought me the barrel for my birthday, Jon filled it for the first time to check it was watertight - it is! We've since added a solar fountain.

We tidied borders, emptied out dead plants and weeded between the cracks in the Staffordshire blue bricks. The house is south facing and with the sun out it was warm enough to take off my cardi.

The herb bed was looking rather sorry for itself a few weeks ago but seems to have sprung into life ....Greek oregano, pineapple mint, black peppermint, lemon balm, carraway, thyme and chives have all survived. I'll add parsley, coriander and basil when the danger of frost has passed.

I sorted out the terracotta pots....

Under the watchful eye of young Mr William Woolberforce. (Did you spot Jacob?)

The evening was spent in the company of the magnificent Idris Elba watching Luther : The Fallen Sun, currently on Netflix and written by Neil Cross, the scriptwriter for the Luther TV Series as well as for Spooks. The end was so intriguing, if you've seen it let me know what you think.

Officially the first day of Spring, Sunday was bitterly cold and although we'd planned to pick up supplies from Aldi we ended up just calling into the clearance chazza and deciding to make do with what was left in the fridge/cupboards.

I wore a vintage Adini dress and my bruise-coloured leather coat and wished I'd stuck a polo neck underneath it...bloody weather! 

We spent the rest of the day listing stock on eBay (me) and working on Gilbert (Jon) before watching the England match with half of a Lidl sour dough pizza and a beer. Go boys! The rest of the evening was spent with season three of the brilliant Finnish subtitled cop thriller, All The Sins on Walter Presents.

Monday was bitterly cold, again! I normally have to peel off my sweatshirt midway through my workout but it stayed put this morning. After breakfast we popped over to our favourite Black Country town for a spot of charity shopping. The stockroom's full to bursting but we need to keep at it in readiness for the festival season (three confirmed so far!)

I wore one of my Dilli Grey dresses and trusty Afghan coat.

The manager of Banardo's worked for Selfridges for 14 years and her window displays are always fabulous. Unfortunately the glass was far too reflective to do her artistry justice but I loved those paper flower heads and the optimistic nod to Spring even if it still feels like the depths of Winter! Unlike most of the Banardo's shops she's dispensed with the hateful colour coordinated rails and organises them in clothing type instead (shirts, knits, tee shirts etc.,) I emailed the charity to tell them how much better it was. Who in their right minds goes charity shopping thinking "I must buy a pink top today?"

The rest of the day has been spent washing, ironing and eBay listing (me) whilst Jon's attempted to tackle the pond (very carefully as there's already frogspawn in there).

Here's this week's charity shop finds...

Clockwise from top left: 2016 Adidas track top; handmade cable knit jumper; 1970s travel bag; 2 x chores jackets;1980s beaded belt; Chinese embossed silk duster coat; Rocawear jacket, Jay Z's clothing label; 2 x chores jackets; 1980s ski suit; 1980s patched high waisted jeans; Italian 100% linen jumpsuit; 1970s Lesuede leather jacket; Raw denim jacket by Blackblue with tags attached; 1980s spotty tea dress; 1980s Wallis midi skirt; Cath Kidston London Bus duvet set (for a dressmaking project); 1970s French cortelle jumper; Moss Bros collared waistcoat; Pop Boutique cotton fine knit; Spray painted jeans; 1970s Kangol straw hat.

1980s St Michael camel hair & wool jumper; 1980s St Michael novelty print shirt; 2 x 1980s washed silk shirts; owl tapestry jacket; Adidas tee shirt; 1970s wool waistcoat; Leather Converse hi-tops; Joe Browns novelty print shirt; 2 x vintage hand knits; Levis Western shirt; 1970s Hardy de Paris tank top; 1970s wool waistcoat; 1970s embroidered cotton kaftan; Lands' End embroidered cotton midi dress; Greek Kori-style woven maxi; Puffed sleeve Indian cotton jumpsuit

I'm making mushroom pesto pasta for tea and then that's it, the fridge is officially empty (apart from wine!) I hope Lidl have some Waste Not boxes when we've had our swim and Spoon's breakfast tomorrow.

See you soon.