Saturday, 17 August 2019

July She Will Fly.

My fun filled July started with the annual Eynsham (the the village where Soo lives) Carnival. She invited a group of us to come over for the carvinal and followed it with a barbeque at her house. 
The highlight of the day is something called The Shirt Race which has been going for over 30 years and involves teams of two in fancy dress taking turns to push each other in a non motorized vehicle round the village stopping at each pub where they have to neck a beer and then swap places.  

It’s always highly entertaining as some take it deadly serious whilst for others it’s more about waving at their mates and drinking free beer. 
As you can see the top choice for mode of transport this year was the wheelchair!
We found a prime position to cheer the 57 entries on and watch the procession of floats that come after the race.
Everyone then heads to the sports fields where there are displays, a funfair, food stands, a beer tent and craft stalls. Once we had had our fill we headed to the pub for a couple of beers before heading back to Soo’s house to fill our faces and drink lots.
In true British fashion we ignored a few rain showers, stoically sitting out round the fire basket until it started to absolutely pour down. At which point we also realised it was actually very late and we were on the drunken side of sober so it would be a good idea to go to bed.
The next weekend I was back over at Soo’s and we headed out for a day of shopping at Yarnton Nurseries. Neither of us had been there for years so it was quite a surprise to see how much it had expanded. 
The last time I went it was a smallish garden centre with a cafe and a gift shop that randomly had a few cabinets of antiques at the back. 
Now it is a large garden centre with a restaurant, various franchises (The Works, Peacocks, Bon Marche etc), a big ‘outdoor living’ area out front, shoes, bedding, a bathroom specialist, a pet store and a huge separate antiques centre round the back!

Well as you know from this blog, we are not women who crumble in the face of a shopping challenge, we accepted the gauntlet that Yarnton Nurseries threw down for us and set too with a will. We did the outdoor living, most of the clothes, one shoe franchises, the bedding and The Works before pausing for a delicious lunch in the restaurant.
Refueled we did the gift shop, the second shoe franchise, the rest of the clothes and had a blissful browse round the plants. At this point my inner tea-o-meter declared it was time for a drink so headed back to the restaurant where we shared a pot of tea. After which we had a quick scope of the bathroom bit and finally the antique centre. 
Sadly this was where we had an epic fail, we hadn’t checked the opening hours. We were literally just beginning a good nose about thinking we had at least a hour when they suddenly announced over the tannoy they were shutting in 10 minutes. I tried to do a quick fly by of the rest of the place but it was impossible, it was just too big.

So we will definitely be heading back but I think we will be doing the antique centre first that time.
I must confess at the time of going I hadn’t read any blogs for ages and I didn’t know about the slow fashion pledge. Sadly I bought 2 pairs of work trousers and a t-shirt for me as well as a top for my Dad and 3 tops for my Mum for her birthday. So another epic fail in that respect
I also bought this fabulous nautical bedding set at a vastly reduced price and some books in The Works.
I had the next week off work. It was my birthday on the Wednesday and as I have made it a policy never to work on my birthday ever since I turned 40, this year I went even further and took the whole week off. 
I spent a couple of days pottering and doing odd jobs around the house. 

Is there anything more delightful to a bookworm than waking up, making a mug of tea and taking it back to bed for an hour or two of reading? Well I did that every single morning. Bliss.

My Mum came over on my birthday and we went into town to look round the shops and have lunch. Mum had a major sort out and cull of her wardrobe last year and was on the hunt for a couple of sundresses (as she now has none) and a top that would match a lovely skirt she has prior to going on holiday in September. 
We found her a couple of bits and after lunch we called in at M&S for a cake, then the Co-op for a chilled bottle of prosecco from their fridge which we took up to my Dad’s care home to share with him.
Himself and I were going to go out for dinner but then he arrived home with all the accoutrements to make spiced rum cocktails. By the time we had perfected the recipe we couldn’t be arsed to head into Oxford or Reading so we just nipped down to Prezzo in town. 
On arrival we were told it would be an hour before we could even be seated as they were short staffed in the kitchen so we turned around and went to the pub up the road for pizza and wine instead!

I was surprisingly bright eyed and bushy tailed the next day and made up for my indulgences the day before with a strenuous Pilates class. 
On the Friday I had arranged to go out for the day with my friend Charlotte. I caught the train over to Charlbury  where she was waiting with her car and we then drove to Stow for a quick wander around in the rain before lunch at Hufkins. 
I ordered the welsh rarebit and will admit I was expecting posh cheese on toast and not the dish of molten cheese with some bread submerged in it that arrived! 
That said as a proper cheese monster I was delighted and attacked it with gusto. How have I never had this before?? I will confess it did defeat me and I had to stop with a bad case of the cheese sweats. It was absolutely delicious though, I do love Hufkins.
Repleat we headed to Chastleton House a fascinating National Trust property in The Cotswolds. 
It was built in 1607 and was owned by the same family until 1991. As the centuries passed they became more and more impoverished meaning the house remained pretty much unchanged but also fell into bad disrepair. 
The National Trust stepped in in 1991 but decided to just halt the ravages of time and conserve it as is rather than restore the house so it is a hugely atmospheric place.

It feels like the family have just stepped out for a moment yet it also feels incredibly sad somehow, the peeling wallpaper and huge cracks here and there just seem to add to the melancholy.
From Chastleton we headed back to Charlbury and onto the train into Oxford for drinks with friends from work.
The next week Himself and I caught the film Yesterday which was fun, 
I also had another 2 days off work!(can you tell I am frantically using up leave??) Thursday was my Mum’s birthday and also the hottest day of the year. We gamely collected my Dad from his care home and wheeled him out for pizza to celebrate. The food was delicious but we were literally melting as there was no air con and no through breeze, I spent the whole evening fanning my poor Dad with the drinks menu! 
I got to catch up with Nephew Number One and hear all his news which was lovely, we also had an in depth conversation about spiced rum, as we are both big fans.
The next day I took Mum out for her birthday. She chose so we ended up at yet another garden centre, this time in Haddenham. We had a good catch up over lunch and a lovely browse. 
Mum is going to have the patio re-done and then wants to redesign her garden a bit, so we were discussing ideas and sussing out plants as I have promised to help with the grunt work when the time comes.
The last week of July was just mental. One of those times where I suddenly realised I had arranged 3 lunches and 2 dinners in the same week as we also had a team building day at work! 

The team building was actually good fun, we spent the afternoon at Junkyard Golf in Oxford, one of those places that’s basically a nightclub with crazy golf thrown in.

It was great fun but I must admit come Saturday I was very happy to sit quietly at home and just eat tomato soup and crackers.

There have been more bag purchases but I'll maybe do a July/August round up.  


Thursday, 25 July 2019

A Cornish Adventure.

We travelled by train (as we don't have a car) and I have to say it was dead easy. Four and a half hours direct from Reading to St Erth, then a further fifteen minutes or so on a little branch line with absolutely breath taking views into St Ives, what's not to like?

I was in a somewhat fraught state when we set off, work was totally manic and I'd been frantically trying to get as much done as I could before I left, on top of which the shower had suddenly decided to start leaking through the kitchen ceiling *AGAIN*!?! Our landlord got it done on the cheap and boy do we know about it! This meant I got up even earlier than planned to reseal half the shower base before my usual pre-holiday activities/rituals.

Once we were off though I have to say letting the train take the strain has it's compensations. The countryside we travelled through was stunning so I alternated between reading and just gazing out of the window. I could literally feel myself unwinding.

We had checked Google maps and found that our B&B was only 15 minutes walk from the train station. What we had failed to note was the gradient. It became obvious it was called Atlantic Heights for a reason...
The final hill actually had a gradient warning sign, I swear at one point I was just walking on the spot due to the angle of the hill and the weight of my suitcase cancelling each other out!

We arrived to find the front door open, we rang the bell several times, knocked and called but all to no avail. I then rooted around in my bag to find the booking paperwork and Himself called the number. The lady who answered said she was in the garden and would be there in a moment so to make ourselves comfortable in the lounge (it turns out the garden was across the street and then down behind the garage rather than at the back of the house) When she arrived it turns out she may or may not have been the owner, to be honest we never did quite figure it out, as there was another couple who didn't live there but seemed to come in to run the place. Indeed they had expected us to call in at their house first only I had missed that message.. anyway the lady Mary was lovely and initially offered us tea but then said no, no  let's have a Pimms so next thing you know we were sat with a huge glass of Pimms whilst she explained the breakfast/house rules.
We finally got shown our room which was very cosy and I bloody loved the fact there was a little fridge "so you can cool your beers or wine or whatever" No need to sneak alcohol in and empties out like elsewhere. We unpacked, freshened up and followed Mary's advice on the quickest way into St Ives itself.
The view from outside our guest house, can you tell we are up a hill?

The weather was mental frankly. I genuinely have never experienced glorious hot sunshine combined with a gale force winds before, it literally knocked you off your feet. Apparently the day before the weather had been horrific and the winds were due to that storm. We mooched about a bit and got our bearings.
I can understand why a lot of guides recommend coming without a car, the roads are very narrow and steep with sharp bends and the traffic nose to tail in places, I dread to think what it is like in the height of the season.
I could not get over the colour of the sea, this stunning turquoise blue, it was gorgeous. We tried to sit outside a pub with a beer but you were basically being sandblasted which was actually painful at times and had to cover your pint with your hand otherwise it was full of sand, so we bought some chips, then a bottle of wine and headed back to our room with it.

The next day we had decided to explore St Ives in the morning as it was a week day and hopefully less busy. The day alternated between sun and cloud but was lovely and warm though still super windy.
I ended up giving up completely on my hair during this holiday. I usually dry it straight but the combination of wind and salt air brought my natural curls out in force the moment I stepped outside so in the end I just embraced the demented surfer look!
We started out climbing up to the church on St Ives Island which had beautiful views

(look at the colour of the water!) before following winding streets down to the centre of the town and the shops.
I came to conclusion that someone needs to open a shop selling reasonably priced tourist crap and they would clean up (and probably be run out of town by the local traders with burning pitchforks) everything was triple the price of other seaside towns, for the same touristy tat.

Having said that there were some lovely independent shops, and I treated myself to some gorgeous organic hand lotion as well as a couple of brooches
and this driftwood boat. 
Which Himself hates and I love.

There were a couple of charity shops but they weren't great and all I bought was another brooch
A teeny tiny Scottie dog.

We were also recommended a local off licence John's as a great place to buy unusual gin, but as I don't drink gin I chose a bottle of Dead Man's Fingers, a spiced rum made in St Ives which is delicious.
I also managed to find a birthday present for my Mum as well as some fudge for my Dad and to take into work.
I couldn't resist checking out Seasalt as they had a sale on but restrained myself to a breton top in shades of blue.

We went back to the b&b to drop the shopping off  before heading out on the coastal path towards Zennor. We couldn't go too far as we had a table booked for 5.30 for dinner. Mary had warned us to book as the world and his dog eats out in St Ives and she wasn't wrong. By the time we got to the restaurant of our choice the only table left was at 5.30pm!
I wanted to mooch through the graveyard first as I loved it's position on a madly sloping hill to the sea. It certainly made for some atmospheric photos.
The coastal path to Zennor is described as the most challenging part of this bit of the South Coastal Path
so once it started to get treacherous we did turn back, we had neither the time nor the right equipment.
There were more stunning views though so we sat in a sheltered spot and drank it all in a bit.
As you can see I wore my new top straight away!

Back at the B&B we got changed and headed out for dinner. It seemed a bit weird eating at 5.30 but other than a bit of cake we hadn't eaten since breakfast so had no problem stuffing our faces on delicious pasta. yes, yes it should have been seafood but Himself won't touch the stuff *sigh*.

There was another restaurant we wanted to try so once dinner was over, lesson learned, we walked straight there to book for the next night. We had a mooch round the harbour to let our dinner go down, then carried on to Porthminster one of St Ives 4 beaches. There is a raised restaurant on the beach there with a balcony with sea views so we went in and asked if we could just buy a drink and sit out with it rather than eat. They found us a little table outside, so we sat drinking wine and watching the sea and I suspect completely pissing of the poor people inside whose view we had just blocked!

The next morning I may just possibly have woken up feeling a tad delicate. We had planned to walk some more of the coastal path, this time to Lelant and I didn't want to postpone. I wasn't sure breakfast had helped so we decided to get into our walking gear, head into town and see how I felt
To our surprise found a sea fog had come in overnight and everything was swathed. By the time we walked round to the harbour I was feeling more the thing, so we bought some water and set off. The first part of our walk was surprisingly busy considering the weather. We soon found ourselves following a single file track winding up onto the cliff top, with less people and thankfully the weather started to clear.

From there we then headed down and through sand dunes before climbing back up again and finally, and rather alarmingly, right through the middle of a busy golf course at Lelant to the church of St Uny, where randomly the graveyard is up high above the path. I was blown away by all the different flora, so many species I didn't recognise. I will need to by a book.
We were going to catch the train back but got lost finding the station. I decided to ask for directions but by this time Himself had spotted a pub, so we retired there for a refresh and in my case a desperate pee! I also wisely stuck to diet coke. In the end we caught the bus back to St Ives, ate chips, bought some pop, then climbed the hill back to our B&B, got changed and took our books out to read on the cliff above Porthmeor beach.

After dinner that night we walked all over St Ives trying to find a pub that wasn't either too packed or too meh. In the end gave up, went to the Co-op and bought a chilled bottle of wine which we took out into the garden at our B&B. There it was lovely and quiet with gorgeous sea views, seriously what more could you want?

Thursday, 18 July 2019

June in all it's Glory.

June was a full on month of unexpected changes in terms of work which is partly why I haven't blogged sooner. The mad departmental reshuffle seemed to have hit the buffers, so on the plus side I wasn't having to re-apply for my own job, but on the other I wasn't getting paid for all the additional responsibilities either.
Out of the blue my friend Alex announced she had found a new job and was leaving. I can't say I blame her and the new role is great for her career plans, but oh lordy am I missing her already.
This was followed by not one, but two pregnancy announcements meaning three members of our team of ten will be on maternity leave at the same time! (This on top of three of the ten posts being vacant right now.)
The dust had barely settled when the head of our department announced he is leaving too. To be fair we had a feeling he might, but as his contract didn't end until November we certainly didn't expect it so soon and not when in theory he should have been giving six months notice...
It's a weird one because whilst I did like him, he did have a habit of hatching all these mad plans and never quite seeing them through (yes the reshuffle was his idea) so he has left chaos. His deputy is acting up, but as she is one of the pregnancies it looked like everything might be on hold indefinitely. Then apparently someone had a moan to the deputy dean (not me) and suddenly everything has to be sorted by the end of July!?! This is not in anyway way, shape or form enough time for the proper consultation period and everyone is feeling completely fraught again. The only good thing is that as we made it known in no uncertain terms how we felt about having to re-apply for our jobs we now only have to have a 'formal chat' rather than submit an actual application.

The joys of working in higher education. NOT.

Anyway I did have some fun times in June too, going out for dinner several times with friends was a definite highlight, though my waistline might not agree. As well as a trip to see Giffords Circus yet again. This time in University Parks with Alex and Charlotte from work. The show this year was called Xanadu and was an wonderful psychedelic summer of love confection with the usual amount of breath taking acts.
As ever I could have done without the horses, personally I don't feel there is a place for animals parading and performing in a ring in this day and age, but that is me, others seem to enjoy it.

For me the highlight of the show was Lil Rice who is described on the internet as a 'wheel performer and singer.' She started off standing with what looked like an oversized hoola hoop on the floor at her feet. She stepped into the middle of it and started singing a song. She then picked the hoop up and spun it on one arm then the other for a bit and you were kind of like nice voice and everything but is that it? She then got inside it and started swinging which was pretty impressive, see picture below.
(photo borrowed from official Giffords site)

 The next thing you know she is off spinning round the ring like a freaking gyroscope! Over, under, side ways you name it she did it! It was absolutely jaw dropping, and all the while singing, never missing a note or sounding out of breath, just incredible.
I also loved that they had a proper old fashioned slapstick clown routine with buckets of water and coloured slime. It does the soul good to have a good laugh. I highly recommend this year's show.

I also had a day out in good old Witney with Soo. We haven't seen each other for a while and Witney is always a good fall back for a shopping trip. The weather gods were kind that day too so though it started rainy it quickly cleared to the point where we even got to sit outside to eat our pub lunch.

We trawled the chazzas without much joy until we got to Oxfam, my purchases there being this Boden dress
(apologies for it's crumpled state) some birthday cards and this rather mad and very happy paper mache tiger decoration who I could not resist.
He had this weird thick red stripe on his back which I didn't like so I spent Sunday afternoon repainting and varnishing him. He's now hanging on the kitchen door handle grinning at anyone who enters the room.

I shall finish up with some handbag purchases. I really do need to stop, it's getting out of hand...

As you can see my obsession with Corde continues at a pace and I added these two to my collection

The brown one was from Australia and I just loved the star like pattern.

I also bought this lovely blue 1930's leather bag on the bay of E.
It looked lovely on it's listing and I particularly liked the deco style clasp.
Sadly when it arrived the seller had posted it in just a plastic carrier bag turned inside out an taped shut, with absolutely no other protection it arrived so bent and battered I could have wept.
I treated the leather which is fairly brittle with a restoring cream, and then carefully tried to reshape the bag. You can tell when you lift the flap originally it would have been a bright royal blue but years have darkened it to navy, so I used a navy leather cream I already had.
As you can see it's still a bit dented and creased but a million times better than it was. As someone on a selling site I'm part of said this week,  it breaks your heart to see beautiful things that have survived decades completely destroyed by careless and inadequate packaging. 

I have also been sorting out my earrings now I can wear them again (long boring story) and came across this nifty way to display them in the tinternet.

Aluminium craft mesh and a picture frame equals instant earring display. Result.

I shall return anon with a post about our trip to Cornwall.

Monday, 10 June 2019

May Part Two - Trains, Films and Bags.

I feel I should begin this post by clarifying that me taking a full week off for the first time in two years is absolutely down to me and not my work place, who actually have a very generous leave allowance!
Himself doesn't do holidays, so I tend to use up my leave with odd days here and there rather than a full week. I must admit I thoroughly enjoyed it and definitely need to do it again.

Anyway To have a little lift once I was back at work we went to see Rocketman
which I thoroughly enjoyed, even thought for some reason I didn’t realise it was a musical, I just thought it was a biopic with music…oh well.
I must say Taron Egerton was amazing.
We also saw The Secret Life of Pets 2 because I loved the first one but this wasn’t really worth it,
I mean it was fine, but not worth a trip to the cinema to see.

We also finally got round to watching The Dirt, a Netflicks film about the band Motley Crue based on their biography.
Frankly it was dreadful. Not one to recommend at all and I shan’t bother reading the book if this was anything to go by.
Funnily enough I was chatting to Nephew Number One about it and he too agreed it was not very good at all but that the book was.
 He then said that he did think the film was a true portrayal of things like going to a gig “back in those days”  Cheeky bugger.

Of course the final excitement of May was getting together with the lovely Mim for a long overdue catch up. I knew she likes trains which was why I suggested the Didcot Railway Centre and I have to say it didn’t disappoint. 
I thoroughly enjoyed having a good look round even if I did discover that I seem to have some strange kind of magnetic attraction or power over train enthusiasts!?! It really was very bizarre and has never happened to me before! 
 Himself said it comes from being a woman of a certain age so of course I hit him. 

One old chap seemed determined to walk us round the place, I honestly didn’t think he was going to leave us alone, it was all a bit awkward really,  especially so as I spotted him when we went for a cup of tea yet he just cut us dead then.

I found the railway map from pre-Beechings cuts absolutely mindblowing from the sheer number of stations on the map. It was also incredible to see and have a go on the huge panel that moves trains around the system and wonder over the fact it was only decommissioned in 2014. 

Also getting your head around the fact that back in the day it took 9 hours to travel to Bristol in a carriage completely open to the elements with just wooden benches and that apparently they actually employed people to remove the dead bodies after long train  journeys!
This is the First Class carriage, it has a roof and seat backs apparently the height of luxury.

I know they do a lot of filming there (I can share several stories, including one about Russian Cossacks) and tend to be fairly blase as I've seen so much over the years in Oxford, but I did fan girl a bit when I recognised bits I saw in an episode from the recent series of `Endeavour (of which I am a huge fan.)
Shaun Evans was here...

We finished up drinking cider in the pub opposite the station and Himself came down to say hello.

If you are thinking of visiting this amazing railway centre it’s worth checking their website because they do have different events on throughout the year and the entrance price varies accordingly. 
For example there was a vintage transport event there this weekend. 

I feel it's only fair to add that if you are planning a visit sadly Didcot town itself doesn’t have a lot else to offer you…

I shall end with my May purchases which are somewhat epic in the bag department.

I got these two Corde bags from the same seller. They were a little more than I usually pay but I really wanted another blue one and I just loved these two designs.
This is my first crochet style Corde bag and it's rather lovely. I still have a 'one that got away' when it comes to these, I dithered over buying it for too long and lost.
This navy bag was a bargain and I have just ordered some Woly leather cream to feed and restore it.
This is a funky 60's washbag which I will use as a handbag, again it was an absolute bargain which was why I bought it.
Finally who could resist this glorious disco in a bag? Not me!

I have just one dress purchase. I have been giving a lot more thought to my purchasing habits in recent months and have been a lot more careful. 
This was reduced and I just loved the print. Perfect for our holiday at the end of the month. Yes you read that right, after what I said at the start of the post we are actually going on holiday at the end of the month! 
We are off to Cornwall for a long weekend.   

Thursday, 6 June 2019

May Part One - Plants, Cake and Mary Quant.

May has been a super busy fun packed month. It’s super busy as there are 6 family birthdays one of which is Himself’s. 
We both had the day off so I was gently badgering him to do something I finally got “let’s go somewhere on the train” and as it got closer and closer I resorted to emailing the map of the Great Western network and saying please choose somewhere! 
Rather surprisingly he chose Bath because he hadn’t been there for about 9 years. So after a lazy breakfast and presents we jumped on the train with no plan other than to mooch about, which was exactly what we did. 
We ambled at will, tried to follow a painted Easter egg trail that was still meant to be on, but gave up as most of the eggs had been removed and browsed any shop that took our fancy.
 I bought Himself a shirt and myself an lovely elephant (as you do).
 In the indoor market I browsed the haberdashery stall and finally found the right thin elastic I had been after to mend a vintage bag whilst Himself looked at books and then left him with his phone whilst I visited the brooch lady there. After much deliberation I came away with these two.

We tried to find the really nice pub Himself had sat in the last time we were in Bath when I had left him to his own devices whilst I did a fashion exhibition and a vintage fair. We eventually found the place it had been but it was now a restaurant, so we ended up in the Saracen’s Head ‘The oldest pub in Bath  - here since 1713’ according to the sign, after we had both used the less than savoury facilities Himself says he was tempted to add ‘toilets last cleaned 1817!’

This was also the technically the first day of a week off work for me. My first full week off in two years so quite a big thing according to my colleagues!
 I hadn’t made any plans as such just pottering about and a day out with my Mum. I have loads of jobs to do around the house which I never seem to get around too and as it goes I didn’t tick too many off the list this time round which kind of annoyed me, but on the other hand I was also making sure I had some me time. It was bliss to go back to sleep after Himself’s alarm for another hour or so, then get up make a mug of tea, bring it back to bed and settle down with a good book.
My day out with my Mum was to a garden centre, where else?? I’d spent the whole day before gardening so was ready to fill some gaps but on the whole it was a bit disappointing, everything was very expensive. We did have a lovely lunch though and I randomly bought myself a tinman in one of their concession places who frankly is far too nice to go out in the garden and go rusty so he is living in the house!
 We then drove back via a Homebase because Mum was looking for a specific lightbulb, it turned out it was closing down so ended up bagging a load of bargain plants there instead which was a great result.
I also nipped into town to do some chores and browse the chazzas that as it goes had bog all. All I bought was a cushion for a pound. Bah.
 I did buy some more reduced bedding plants, this time at Wilkinsons so spent a happy afternoon getting them planted and tidying up all my pots (renting means my precious plants move round with me in pots.)

I did end up having a day out in London mid-week with my friend Charlotte from work. There is currently a Mary Quant exhibition on at the V&A which I was thinking of seeing at some point. Charlotte asked me if I was planning to go and if so did I have anyone to go with as she really wanted to see it. As we both had time off we booked tickets for the Wednesday and met up on the train into Paddington.

 It was a gorgeous day so we decided to walk to South Kensington via Hyde Park. To be honest I just trot along after Charlotte who grew up in London and knows where to go, I joke that she could just sprint off and leave me but I am very grateful that she doesn’t. We had an early lunch sitting outside the restaurant in the sun and agreed we would both be so up for retiring and being able to do this all the time.  

The exhibition was fantastic. I highly recommend a visit. Widely acknowledged as a leading figure in the 1960s Mod and youth revolution this exhibition charted her rise with dresses from the late 50’s through to the 70’s where she started to move towards household goods rather than clothing. Frankly I can understand why, at her height she was producing 4 collections a year of up to 60 dresses a time!!

Charlotte’s Mum had worn a lot of Quant dresses so it was very nostalgic for her. I was also on the lookout for my friend Liz who got married in a black and white Mary Quant mini dress complete with the famous daisy print on the bodice but sadly they didn’t have an example of that dress for me to take a picture of for herthis was as close as I got.
Charlotte and I were both exclaiming by the time we got to the 1970’s makeup. Remembering the distinctive pacakging and adverts in things like Jackie magazine.
Personally I loved the fact that Quant gave thought and was involved in every aspect of her shops right from the d├ęcor to the designs on the carrier bags making every detail matter. I loved that she also used up and coming young artists, well as her own designs.

There was one bag used specifically when a customer bought knee high boots that I instantly recognised! I have a clear memory of it in the bottom of my mother’s wardrobe with bits and pieces stored in it and asked her about it when I saw her next. She can’t remember it as such, but said if it was a pretty colourful design it was highly likely she would have kept it to use again.
This is it, I now wonder if it was that bag that sparked my ‘thing’ for paper bags lol.

These two were my favourites I think.

The exhibition runs until next February so if you get the chance to go, do!

My week off ended with afternoon tea at this amazing place off the canal towpath near Kirtlington (Oxfordshire) called Jane’s Enchanted Tea Garden. They are only open for one weekend each month so you absolutely have to book if you are wanting the afternoon tea and usually well in advance too. It’s a little hard to find (the postcode in your sat nav will take you to a cul-de-sac of houses who must get so sick of bewildered tea goers!) but if you carry on past them down a track there are places to park up and then a short walk brings you to the right place, you can also reach it from walking the towpath.
 The food was delicious and the surroundings so quirky and quintessentially British it was quite magical.  As a complete cheese monster I absolutely loved the fact the top tier of the cake stand was all about the cheese and biscuits and local cheeses at that.
 You can also just go for tea and cake and judging by the amazing looking selection on show this would be a must for some time in the future too. We had a little amble along the canal to try and burn off a few calories before heading back to the car. I cadged a lift with my friend Liz (she of the Mary Quant wedding dress) who is also a very keen gardener like me. As her daughter lives in this part of Oxfordshire she comes over a lot and a while back had discovered this amazing little family run plant nursery so OF COURSE we called in on the way home and yes I bought yet more plants! I could hardly not as the selection was fabulous and the prices very good. 
 Set up in the back garden of a frankly bloody gorgeous house it seems to go on forever with lots of little corners and paths leading to yet more gems. There is a little gazebo with free tea and coffee and a honesty bar for cake (not that we needed any) and bird feeders hanging up to encourage feathered friends.
I got busy planting once I got back home filling up the spaces I had made sorting out my pots and tubs.

More to follow...