A tale of a pensioner, a sunbed and vintage negligees

I had an aunt who died several years ago now. I loved her dearly,  she was just  adorable, wonderfully kind in every way and made the best shepherds pie ever! I can even remember how it smelt. Yum yum.

Now that I look back, I can see that my aunt was also endearingly quirky. My appreciation and admiration of her character continues to swell, I may never share her love of toby jugs (which to be honest scared me)  or her love of dolls with knitted dresses that covered the spare loo roll (although maybe  a vintage sindy could work........maybe I should learn to knit....)

kitschtastic or tragic?
However, I adore that in her 70's, she still went to bed in 1960's little frilly negligees! I had never seen anything like them before! If I close my eyes right now, I can visualise her in a bright little blue or orange number! She went from gran to glam when it came to bedtime!

She was constantly tanned....... because she had a sunbed at home! In the 80's this was so unusual and it was HUGE - like a spaceship! I was never allowed on it as I was too young, but she always said she would leave it to me when she died! ( This was way before skin cancer awareness and in those days we would sun bathe wearing baby oil! eek!) Every year she went to Spain, complete with bikini! She also, wait for this.....introduced me to thongs! ( undies not the footwear!) What an amazing old girl she was.

Now I know from the things I've mentioned that you might be picturing a Barbara Windsor type character but this is the thing, she absolutely looked like any lovely old dear you would stand next to at the bus stop. She had short grey hair with a tight perm, glasses, sensible clothing - all of those stereotypical little old lady traits! So it just goes to show that you never can tell! Ahhh, the thought of her always makes me smile. Hmmm I've suddenly got an overwhelming urge to eat shepherds pie and  hunt for vintage nightwear....

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In 2011 I want to learn to...... sew

 A little early for a new year resolution perhaps, but I have got access to a free sewing machine and I have always fancied being able to actually make something....but where does one start? Any good blogs / books out there you would recommend that make it easy to understand?

Hopefully I will be getting a love pad with The Boy next year and it would be fabulous to make stuff for the home. If I ended up making a piece of clothing then I would consider that a huge achievement and would probably bore you with several very picture heavy posts...don't say I didn't warn you.....you could be creating a monster here..........so only offer advice if you can handle the fact that I have a slightly obsessive personality and I am very easily excited. This blog could get over taken with all matters sewing related.........  are you prepared to be the Mary Shelley's of the blog world? If so then feel free to send all tips this way!

I adore the idea of recycling old materials and clothes into something new and gorgeous. I've lost count of the times I've seen a yummy vintage dress but it's been to long or to big and I have been most annoyed at myself for not being able to sew! It's such a handy skill. I wish they had taught us at school. I think things like cooking and sewing are things they should be including in the school curriculum. We encourage small children to make and create things but once they hit high school it seems to get forgotten, when actually I believe that most teens would really enjoy the chance to be creative in the kitchen or with textiles.

So who else has taken up sewing as a 'grown up'?  What have you made? 

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Ear muffs - a flashback to childhood

I discovered ear muffs during my first winter at middle school, which was about the mid eighties. Ohhh, how I adored them. All us girlies had them, between us we must have covered every colour of the rainbow and all the shades in between. An essential piece of uniform for running around playing 'it' (sometimes kiss chase) in the biting winter air. Mine were mint green, like giant soft mints but fluffy (in a non - bottom of the handbag kind of way.)

It was a sad day when they got stolen from the cloakroom. I can recall the moment when I realised they were gone. First call, lost property......not there.....has someone picked them up by mistake?......hmmm, they never got returned. I got replacements, but they just weren't the same, a nice jade green colour but they weren't as comfy, would ping off my head when I was running around and kept catching my hair when I took them off.

Last year I was in London in December, and it was bitterly cold, to the point that it hurt. I was walking with my gloved hands over my Jack Frost kissed ears when I got a sudden flashback to my first pair of ear muffs and it wasn't just the cold that made me wish I still had them. So this year I decided to buy some. First on my wish list was an electric blue pair, second was an animal print pair ( I just adore a bit of leopard print!)

Budget as always is a big factor in the life of moi, so I knew I would have to cope  until some came along that were as friendly to my purse as they would be to my ears. Then along came these beauties........... for 50p!!!

 Yes 50p!! OK, they aren't brand new, but they are only ears! ( if you do need new, then ASOS have some fab animal print ones, but they will set you back £12) These bright blue cuties remind me of the cookie monster from sesame street! What fun! Warm, cheerful and a bargain. could it get any better?! It feels strangely wild to wear these at 33, I've got a few looks from passersby, but I love them! Come on Mr. Frost, do your worst!

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£1 made me Mary Poppins

Well sort off. I haven't suddenly swapped the office for a house full of someone else's children (phew!). Sadly, I also haven't had afternoon tea on the ceiling or danced with penguins BUT in exchange for a shiny one pound coin, I am the very proud owner of a Mary Poppins bag! Here it is......drum roll........ta-daa!

 After quite a while of searching (on a budget of almost zero) I found it! The old phrase of  'all good things come to those who wait' has never been truer. My carpet / tapestry gladstone bag is just one of the best buys ever. It is huge, gorgeously roomy, perfect for weekends away. If I were trying to follow the celeb trend of putting you pooch in your bag then I would be carrying a whole litter of them in this! (In a non Cruella Devil way....honest!)

Looking a little pleased with myself I know...

When it's not being used for jaunts I am going to use it for storage and have it on display on top of my wardrobe. I have come to the conclusion that we all need a Mary Poppins bag in our lives! Why stop at one though?............

My beloved battered cowboy boots
 It's from Marks and Spencers originally and I'm guessing 80's/90's. I wonder how much it cost when it was new? A lot more than a pound was handed over to the Marks and Sparks cashier that's for sure. Ahhh, when you are on a tight budget, it's gems like this that warm your heart and lift your spirits.
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Mittens. I just didn't appreciate them when I was a 5 year old.....

When I was little I had mittens and I loathed them. One of the many bad things about them was the fact that I couldn't even accidentally (on purpose) loose them because they were attached to a long string of wool that would tangle me up when I tried to get my coat on. They used to dangle by my hands like shadows so even if  I escaped from their encasing I could never get very far away from them.

Remember being at school and tying empty tins to either end of a piece of string? Well I used to make so much fuss about having to wear these mittens that you would think my Mother was making me have empty baked beans tins dangling from my sleeves. They felt very alien to me as a 5 year old!

At 33 years old, I am now the proud owner of a pair of mittens. Handmade, I like to think by someones gran, although does that mean they ended up in a charity shop because the recipient was an ungrateful brat? (Takes one to know one, I do understand the irony of it all!)

So for the princely sum of 20p, I once again have mittens. My winter coat  is electric blue and my favourite scarf is a gorgeous purple which a very dear friend brought back from India for me. I do wonder if the blue and purple, combined with pinky/orange mittens makes me look a little like a children's T.V presenter, but who cares? We need colour on these dark days!
My beautiful Indian scarf from my equally beautiful friend
 By the way do the mittens have a string of wool attaching them?? No. Will I be adding this to them? YES! Apart from being both cute and  kookychictastic, it will also prevent me loosing them! I dropped a mitten yesterday and had to retrace my steps to find it. Perhaps Mother did know best.........
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Does love and happiness really mean at least one months wages on a ring?

This topic is one I have been debating for what seems like forever, but yesterdays royal engagement seems as good a time as any to write about it.

What about the old fashioned view that you 'should' spend at least one months wages on an engagement ring? Would you want a expensive show of affection? How many people have a months wages spare? Would you want your man to spend months scrimping and scraping, cutting back, getting an extra job etc so he can give you a ring that cost ££££'s. Is that really what makes a man marriage material??  Does that demand make the woman marriage material? Does the cost or the type of stone really matter? Can a boyfriend be a girls best friend instead of a diamond?......

Earlier this year Tesco began selling an engagement ring for £15, made from gold-plated silver and featuring a zirconia stone. Would you be offended to be given it, if so why? Has the meaning of being engaged been lost on the cost of the ring / size of the bling?

Here is where I stand on this, and there are no rights or wrongs, just opinions. In my opinion being truly in love is priceless. It's how you feel when you are with someone and the feeling you get when you are apart. A ring given with love and true meaning is what it is all about. It could be from Topshop and it wouldn't make any difference to me!

I know it's controversial, which I have to be honest I find incredibly strange, but I have debated this numerous times in the office and I am absolutely in the minority, although you can see the chaps breathing a little sigh of relief!

P.S No I don't have a sister! ;O)
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Vintage heels v's National Express

I promise this isn't going to be a moan at the railway network, it is in fact a celebration of all that is good about my fave pair of vintage shoes. A little pair of 80's darlings ( oooo, I know classing the 80's as vintage has been much debated, but I am of the opinion that 80's is definitely vintage not retro, do you agree?) Made by Bally, the quality is unbelievable and they are just ridiculously comfortable.

A little pre loved but not bad for 20 + years old - I work with people younger than these shoes!

Norwich to London should take approx 2 hours. ( Still feels a lot when long distance love is involved!) I jump on the train about as excited as a 3 year old who thinks they have just seen Santa fly across the sky! Within 30 mins it all goes a bit wrong as the train can't grip the rails??? So we come to a stand still. I can hear the guard talking on the phone and attempting to arrange the train which is due along 'soon' to push us to the next station. However driver of train no.2  isn't too keen to do this as 'he has issues' (?!?!)....not sure what that was all about but I think at that moment I had a few of my own!

snakeskin detail with a pewter coloured trim

We get booted off at Ipswich and told to wait for an announcement. Do we need to start preparing for an olympic style sprint to get to another platform?  Hmmmm,  getting hundreds of people onto a train that will already be pretty full is going to be a mission indeed. You can tell who  the veterans of rail travel are. They are looking at us rookies with not an ounce of fear that we will get on the new train before them.....Then the announcement comes, suddenly it all gets a bit like herding cats.... and believe me fur is flying....I was seeing this as a bit of an adventure whilst others saw this as a battle that must not be lost!

Everyone starts running.....confusingly in different directions so which way to go?!! God bless those Bally shoes as I can't think of another pair of heels I own that would allow me to comfortably sprint across a platform up and down steps and then stand for 10 mins on a freezing platform,(whilst still looking fab!) followed by another HOUR standing on the train and my feet still feel like they are wearing ballet pumps! An hour an a half late but I finally arrived! Hoorah!

 I then had  another hour or so standing in a bar ( vino may have helped here) then  walking for a cab and then  walking from cab to the final destination!! My feet still felt fabulous. I am a cowboy boots kinda gal, I love my heels but normally they just don't fit with my lifestyle. A huge thank you to Bally, I promise I raised a glass to toast those shoes in that bar!

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Oh how I love my tea, tea in the afternoon

Cups and saucers are making a come back? Well according to today's Daily Mail, yes they are. I do simply adore a good cuppa, although I have to admit I always use a mug but that is purely a greed thing - they hold more! I do have these cute little bone china cups and saucers that I actually use to decorate a boring shelf. They are such pretty little pieces, I wish I had more. When 'The Boy' and I finally get our place next year I think we will have lots of gorgeous little gems like this, ahhh how wonderful is it going to be to hunt down such loveliness?

These little cuties are made by  Colclough China Co. I have managed to date them to the early 1960's, so not really really old, but 40 - 50 years which is good enough for me! They are in gorgeous condition although it  isn't a full set sadly, in this design I have the pieces shown plus three side plates (cucumber sandwich anyone?).  What's fab  about old china though is that it doesn't matter that it doesn't match. It's perfectly OK to mix and match it, in my opinion it just adds to the look and is more to feast the eyes on.

The article in the Daily Mail also said that Debenhams stores have  seen the sale of cake stands increase by 57% compared to last year. I definitely have one of those on my wish list, an old one course, so I will be looking out for a lovely pretty stand. I 'd like more than one ideally, as I think one would look gorgeous in my bedroom as a jewellery display. I may have to wait a while until I find one (or two!), but when I do it will feel so much more satisfying than just buying a brand new one from a big shop. The hunt goes on. What fun!
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Blazers....boyfriend ones, grandad ones, granny ones, anyones....

Now I know I really should  be wearing these to do them justice and I will at some point very soon, however my plan to do this was somewhat scuppered by the fact that I got caught in a down pour and returned from my trip to the shop chilled to the bone. Brrrrr. So I ended up looking like poor Shirley Valentine, standing with my bags soaked through,  a soak in the tub to warm up was called for and I am now feeling happier and warmer!

But this means that I am blogging in my pj's ( not a good look with blazers maybe?) along a huge mug of coffee that is infused with a generous splash of baileys. The recent mild spell is well and truly over. I think it is time for the ballet pumps to be hung up and say 'hello boots!' I am a huge fan of cowboy boots and own a gorgeous brown pair that I actually wore a lot in the summer too. I just *heart* them. Those boots deserve a blog of their own though so back to the blazers................

One of my faves is a ladies tweed one from Marks and Spencer, made in West Germany so a real piece of history! I'm on the look out for a flat cap now. I love a bit of tweed!

The Lining is the simply the most gorgeous colour blue. It's details like that that just really add to the whole look and the quality is just amazing. It cost me £2 so can it actually get any better than that??

I seem to have picked up a few vintage blazers from Marks and Spencers along the way. This green one is quite over sized and I will be possibly giving this one an outing in London this weekend. I am thinking of teaming it with black skinny jeans and some 80's heels.....still undecided....but here is the lovely creature...

It is a really bright jade green, perfect for brightening up these dull days. It is a delicious combination of 80's power dressing with the shoulder pads and boxy style cut and the buttons have a military style pattern on them, so all in all it's just divine. Actually the more I visualise this with the skinny jeans, the more I think this will be Fridays outfit...lots of bangles, messy hair ( I don't do straighteners anymore!) and bright red lipstick......ahhh, I love it when a plan comes together....although it is only Monday....Friday feels a long way off...and I am prone to being indecisive so I wonder what makes it off the hanger on the day?......
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''Did you get that from Oxfam???''

Once upon a time this question used to be shouted across the classroom  as an insult! (not in a ''oooo that's lovely, where is it from?' kind of way) No, this question was said with a sneer, and in a superior tone. An accusation, designed to humiliate, because who wanted to get second hand clothes??! Hand me downs were bad enough, but clothes from a charity shop were seen the ultimate 'low street' purchase by the people around me, and being asked this question was just one of many ways kids would find to insult each other.

Then there was me. I didn't have a huge shopping budget when I was a teen. Shopping for clothes was a treat for birthdays and special occasions. How I would have loved a Primark when I was 13! I also liked the idea of being a bit different. One of my favourite items of clothing when I was a school was a black blazer. Only boys wore blazers at my school, but I loved the look, and when I saw a gents black traditional  blazer  in a charity shop I bought it. ( When I was asked  ''did you get that from Oxfam??'' - I could honestly say no, as it was an arthritis charity I think...)  How much was it? I don't know but I remember getting change from my pocket money and thinking that I couldn't wait to wear it the next day.

I loved that blazer. Despite all the attention it drew to me ( at my school that wasn't a good thing believe me) I got the comments about Oxfam, I got the comments about wearing a mans blazer ( let's face it, I was ahead of the recent 'boyfriend  blazer' trend) BUT,  putting all that aside I continued to wear it. I liked it a lot and looking back, it was all part of that journey of discovering who I am. I'm still on that journey now, I don't believe it is one that will ever end. I just simply love the idea of items having a history before they came to me. That blazer may have been to weddings, funerals, job interviews, been there at the first kiss, first dance...who knows?

I never stopped loving blazers by the way, funny how they are now a very 'in' item to have. I do completely agree though, they are such a wardrobe must have. I have a few gorgeous ones that I will of course post pics of. I'm so glad attitudes have changed and recycling clothes, and enjoying vintage/pre loved clothes is more mainstream than my teenage years. Sadly I no longer have my teen blazer , but I like to think it's journey continues with someone elses's lipstick or house keys stuffed in it's pockets.
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