Thursday, 24 January 2019

The Night & Day Exhibition and The Good, Bad & Ugly of the January Sales.

Well January is whizzing by at a rate of knots because work is super busy so once again I’m down to one blog post a month. 

I did manage to take a day off to finally get myself to the Night and Day exhibition at The Fashion and Textile Museum shortly before it ended. Having missed the exhibition Jazz Age they did last year on the 1920’s I was damned if I was going to miss this one on the 1930’s!

I met my friend from work Charlotte at Paddington and we headed over to Bermondsey and grabbed a quick drink in the tiny and packed to the rafters Fuckoffee because the name made us laugh and it had good reviews. 
As I sat sipping my tea wedged on a tiny pouffe, behind a suited city type with a braying voice, I marveled at the thick skin of the 20 something hipster draped full stretch across a three seater sofa idly flicking through her phone whilst people stood waiting for a seat. She was completely impervious to the gentle entreaties to move up, be they verbal or visual and I think it’s a clear indication of how good the coffee was that people just let her get away with it.
Personally my inclination was to just sit and see what happened, on her legs if needs be but I’m guessing this would have been bad form when it comes to hipster coffee shop etiquette, luckily for her languid limbs the pouffe became available so I parked there.   

From there we headed to the exhibition which was tiny as exhibitions go, but absolutely perfectly formed. I tip my hat to the team who curated it. 
You started off in a small room watching Pathe news reels from the 30’s, a sort of snapshot of the era. Down one side of the room they had cases of magazines from the era and on the other a case of sequined evening dress. Clearly deliberately chosen to reflect the current fashion trend for sequins, any of them would not have looked out of place today. 
At the end on it’s own in a glass case was the most stunning black evening gown, the kind of dress that makes everyone stop the kind of dress dreams are made of. To a man the room looked at it and sighed then exclaimed over it’s beauty. Sadly due to light reflections on the glass I couldn’t get a decent picture.

The exhibition was divided into 9 sections each with their own title like ‘Life’s a Bowl of Cherries’ The downstairs depicts night life with sections for things like the golden screen, the night club, dinning or dancing. 

Whilst upstairs is day time from leisure wear and beach wear to work wear, life in suburbia and a group of patriotic red, white and blue ensembles for the 1938 coronation. 

Upstairs there was also a room of prints from a collection of Cecil Beaton’s photographs. I found these particularly interesting as I have read several books on the Bright Young Things of which Beaton was one, and am currently deep in a superb biography about Edith Olivier & Rex Whistler who were his close friends.

I particularly liked this ensemble because who doesn't do their house work with pearls and a cigarette holder??
There were a delightful group of retired ladies all sporting some sort of red hat or fascinator going round at the same time as us. Apparently they try to get together and go out once a month to do something interesting or cultural which we thought was such a fantastic idea. When asked if they were off to lunch afterwards they declared no, they were off to the pub! Now that’s how to retire properly.
A few of them gathered round a group of photographs and were excitedly exclaiming things like ‘There she is’ but I couldn’t get close enough to see which picture or hear who ‘she’ was. I wondered if it was a friend or relative. A couple of times I ended up chatting for a few minutes to one or other next to a particular outfit or picture.

We Ooh’d and Ahh’d to our hearts content and I took about a million pictures. It was interesting just how timeless and wearable a lot of these clothes were, we both found ourselves going round saying ‘I’d wear that’ as much as we were swooning over a stunning evening gown. These are a case in point
Having said that as we left we did both confess to feeling rather under-dressed next to all these stunning outfits, unbeknownst to the other we had both opted for rolled up jeans, black lace up boots and a jumper!

Other than that I haven’t been up to much due to work being so busy. I had to work one weekend and last weekend I was finally off so I spent it sorting through some of my craft/sewing projects with big ideas of downsizing, I think I got rid of about 4 things!?! Oh well, it was a nice way to spend a cold afternoon though, drinking tea, listening to murder courtesy of a Poirot audio book, and sifting through fabric and embroidery kits.

We did go to see The Favourite and for once I’m going against the stream here. I know the world and his dog seemed to love it but I just found it bizarre. I found the soundtrack too invasive at times and the dialogue too contrived at times. Having said that I thought Oliva Colman, Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone were all amazing and well worthy of their Oscar nominations, Mind you Olivia Colman can do no wrong in my eyes and if I had realised they filmed bits of it here in Oxford I would have been a right fan girl.

I shall sign off with my January purchases and a cautionary tale.
First off, the bad. I really loved the look of this Sheen khaki dress but when I got around to trying it on not only were the arms too tight, it had this really weird bulge of fabric just above the waist at the back which looked awful, so that got returned.
 The good are these three Collectif dresses which I got in their 60% off plus free postage sale 

and these purple Hotter boots. 
At first those were half price which I still wasn’t prepared to pay, but when they went down by another third I decided to at least go in and try them on they were super comfortable and they only had one pair left in my size so it seemed like a sign and I bought them. In true Vix one in one out fashion, and mostly because I don’t have the room I am moving on another pair of boots to make way for these.

Finally I shall end with my cautionary tale. I bought a dress, thankfully in the sales, from Lady Vintage. A website I have used several times over the years. Hand on heart I have never ever had an issue with their clothes or their service, I have washed and worn and worn and washed with no ill effect until now…
So the dress as you can see was a black one with a sort of yellow and orange floral pattern, made from 97% cotton 3%  elastine. 
I wore it once and put it in the laundry basket to wash. As it was new I checked the label and that said 30 degrees do not tumble dry so I washed it at 30 degrees and did not tumble dry, mostly because I do not own a tumble dryer. 
The dress came out this awful faded grey like the fabric was not properly colour fast. So I emailed Lady Vintage to say I had washed it as instructed and what had happened with a couple of pictures. 
They emailed back to say thank you for the pictures but what speed was the spin cycle on my machine? I replied 1400 and they came back with ‘Even though you washed the dress at 30 degrees and didn’t tumble dry we do recommend that you wash our dresses at 30 degrees but on the delicates cycle, as you didn’t it’s your own fault - bye’ or words to that effect. 

Well I checked the label again carefully nothing there about washing as a delicate, I checked the tags which I happened to still have, nothing about washing delicately there either. So I logged onto their website and finally there it was, right at the bottom of the description it said
 “Machine washable at 30 degrees (delicate wash). Do not hand wash, do not soak, do not tumble dry” 

Now I don’t know about you, but who the hell logs onto their PC or scrolls through their phone before washing their clothes? I certainly don’t! Also why in the hell should a cotton/elastine fabric need a delicate cycle?? 
It certainly felt to me like a cynical 'it's in the small print' get out clause, I mean it's even in brackets! Frankly their brush off was pretty shabby treatment. It's left a bad taste and Icertainly don't plan to buy from them again.

Monday, 7 January 2019

Brooches Galore!

This post is pretty much just for Ann!

So in the same week as Ann I acquired a set of drawers with my brooches in mind. Mine are modern and nowhere near as nice as hers but they do the job.
During my time off over Christmas I lined them with felt I happened to have in the house and spent an afternoon sorting my brooches out. The hope was that I would get away from having 5 big dishes of brooches to hunt through. That they would be easier to find but also less likely to lose stones, something that had become a problem with them piled in dishes. 
I assumed as there were 5 drawers my whole collection would easily fit. hahahaha wrong. I still have two dishes full of brooches but all of those are plastic or fabric ones so less likely to damage.

Without further ado 
 These are the Christmas ones and a few others

Finally the dishes
I genuinely do wear them all as I wear a brooch pretty much every day, I also fairly regularly move on the ones I no longer wear as I do buy new ones very regularly as my blog will contest.

I'm snapping at Ann's heels with a collection of 285

The week off over Christmas was all about chilling and doing random jobs like this as Himself came home from his Dad's with a bad cold and took to the bed for a few days, plus I managed to twist my knee going into town to pick up supplies for him which was damn painful meaning all my thoughts of some lovely walks together went out of the window. Definitely the downside of getting older is it takes a bloody age for things to get better, two weeks on and my knee is still giving me jip. Bah.
Anyway at least I got a lovely pile of reading materials and some lego to keep me busy.

Christmas was fun. I went home with my Mum on Christmas Eve and 2 bottles of prosecco in we decided to go to the lovely midnight candlelit carol service at the village church she had waxed lyrical about.
We got there at 11.45pm expecting a midnight start and sort of burst through the door of a fully lit church to find the vicar in full flow!
We crept into a seat and found ourselves right in the middle of a full blown midnight mass with all the standing, sitting, kneeling & responses that involves. It seems they have a new vicar who is far more traditional and had sadly given the carol service the boot. We only got to sing one carol and didn't have a penny between us for the collection.

Christmas day we went to Dad's care home to wait for the taxi that was picking us all up to go over to my brother's. Let's just say there were a few issues meaning I had to sweet talk the taxi driver for 20 minutes before Dad was ready *sigh*
I quickly clocked it was a smaller car too so once his wheelchair was loaded in the back there was only room for Mum, so I made sure they were settled in and then set off on foot. It's a 25 minute walk so I set off at a cracking pace as I knew dinner was due to be ready when the car arrived. At least I can say I earned my dinner!

Himself came home on the 27th and we had a quiet New Year's Eve at home then it was back to work. It's our busiest time of year but I have taken a day off to go to the Night and Day exhibition at the Fashion and Textile Museum in London. I'm super excited as I have heard great things about it. Expect more about that very soon.

Sunday, 23 December 2018

A Final Round-up of the Year.

Well I don't quite know what happened but it's the end of December and I haven't blogged AGAIN.

November passed in a blur. It started with an emergency dentist appointment. I got up one morning and stood with my morning cup of tea watching the birds on the bird feeder mind in neutral and suddenly realised half a tooth was missing!
Thankfully my dentist was able to fit me in 2 days later and even luckier for me it was something he could sort then and there, so I didn't have to worry about trying to fit in extra appointments before heading to India.
I had an hour to kill before my appointment and ambled about an antique centre in the town which was where I found the sparkly brooch top right
The  elephant and poodle came from a girls day out with Soo and Melissa in Burford. It was a fab day out catching up over a delicious cream tea at the famous Huffkins Bakery, and mooching round any shop that took our fancy. Which in my case meant buying these cute snowmen in a charity shop for the princely sum of £2
This was followed by the whole family going out for a meal for my Dad's birthday and Mum and Dad's 53rd wedding anniversary.
Dad decided he wanted calamari and king prawn risotto, luckily we have a Prezzo within walking distance of Dad's care home that do both! 

I was due to fly out to India on 20th and had planned to pack at the weekend but then Himself got offered two free tickets to The Albert Hall for Star Wars in Concert with the London Symphony Orchestra. (He writes for a film/tv review website and the person who was supposed to go suddenly couldn't.)
I must admit I wasn't that bothered at first but as it goes we had a great time!

We wandered around Chelsea and then headed to pick up our tickets. We fully expected them to be rubbish tickets as they were press tickets, but we were downstairs in the stalls slap bang in the middle of the auditorium = result.
The performance was extraordinary, though I did keep watching the film rather than the orchestra. I hadn't realised that there are actually only two parts of the film with no music, so they basically just played for the whole duration.

The next week I was in India, on the outskirts of Mumbai to be precise. I got to spend three and a half days in a hotel. Bah.
As anticipated I barely had any spare time, certainly not enough to do any sight seeing, just the old hour or half hour here and there, so not long enough to get in and out of Mumbai. Double Bah.
My room had a nice view though. 

The night of our event there was also a book launch going on. I took to google and discovered the bloke is one of India's most famous cricketers. There were paparazzi snapping away like mad and me sitting there with my University of Oxford table cloth & banner!, So I just slowly leaned back behind a potted palm to get out of view.

We didn't even get the chance to eat anywhere other than the hotel. Hard going for me as they were extremely liberal with the chili and spices and I hate hot/spicy food.Even the pasta al pomodoro on the Italian night had so much unexpected chili in it it blew your head off!!
It got to the point that when there were some plain green beans on the buffet I was so excited I actually started singing "green beans, green beans" and jigging about a little bit until the lady next to me backed away.
Our driver to the airport was so sad we didn't get to see anything he did a slight detour so we did see the lovely Portuguese church and the most famous Bollywood studios which is something I guess. 

Once I was back home Himself and I had tickets to see Bowling for Soup in Reading. We had said we probably weren't going to bother seeing them again but as it was just down the road we went.
I've seen them better and I've seen them worse. 

That Saturday I went back to Stroud but this time with Soo to do some Christmas shopping. We had such a fun day out and this time the second vintage shop Strangeness and Charm which happened to be shut the last time I was there was open. On top of that the white bag I saw in their window was still there so I dived through the door and did a deal then and there on that and another very lovely 1960's blue number that needed a little fixing.

Aren't they fab? They have both been cleaned and as it turns out the blue one was dead easy to mend. I really should have done others that have been waiting longer but hey.

Oh I also bought myself a brooch
the rest was presents for other people I promise.

Himself and I have been to the cinema a few times too. We did The Crimes of Grindelwald and also Ralph Breaks the Internet, both of which I really enjoyed.

We squeezed in Mary Poppins this week too which I thoroughly enjoyed.

We also went to see one of those live theatre productions they screen at cinemas
Simon Callow doing A Christmas Carol reading, it was amazing.This was a recreation of one of Dickens own readings. I love the story anyway so it was great to hear this interpretation.

This is my third Christmas in this house and the first one I've actually felt vaguely festive. We don't actually have room to put our tree up anyway but I did suddenly think of the old table top tinsel tree that I couldn't bear to throw away. With some trepidation I went and rescued it from the shed fully expecting it to be thick with mould but it was absolutely fine. Huzzah.
I have actually put it up in our bedroom, resplendent with random decs and a string of £5 lights from Wilko.
 Oh I also made a snowman from a kit, he seems quite pleased with my efforts.

Sadly we also had a funeral this week. Our old neighbour died on the 30th November. He was 90 and happily had managed to stay independent at home despite having had a stroke, he died quietly in his sleep, you couldn't have asked for more really. He was a wonderful man, such a character, and we shall miss him terribly, Himself especially.
It was a lovely service and wake, literally someone from every house in our old street came so it ended up being like a street party really. He was so well known around the town that the bank manager and staff from various shops came too.You just don't get that any more. 

Well that's me. I don't know about you but I've done three Christmas meals already and will be at my brother's on the day having my fourth. Thankfully I get Christmas Eve off work for once meaning I get the whole week. woohoo.

Work's been a bit weird lately it seems there's lots of change ahead in 2019, I'm buckling up as I'm fully expecting a bumpy ride.

I shall leave you with the frock I have bought to wear on Christmas day.
oh and the pair of brogues I bought when I nipped into town for a few bits and pieces which obviously did not actually include brogues.


Saturday, 17 November 2018

Said the Hatter with a sigh, it's always tea time. October - Part Two.

To pick up where I left off, thankfully I was feeling much more myself by the time I was due to head to London with Soo for an exhibition and my birthday gift Mad Hatter's afternoon tea.

I had to pre-book the afternoon tea as it was one of those experience things where you get a code and as it turned out the only time slot free on the day we chose was 1.30pm so we basically had an afternoon tea for lunch!
But I digress first we took ourselves to the Museum of London for 10am when it opened to give ourselves plenty of time to browse their exhibition London Nights.
An exhibition of photographs from the very first nighttime picture of London taken in 1896 to the present day. It was absolutely fantastic, I'm so glad I got to see it before it closed.
I loved that the pictures were not in a chronological order, but that they did group all the pictures of say Piccadilly Circus together so you could see it from the 1900's - 2000's and wonder at the changes in fashions or advertising as well as photography techniques.

We both loved the set of pictures taken from the roof of Brentwood shopping centre on a cold rainy night, where the photographer was on a level with the top deck of all the passing double decker buses and took amazing pictures of the unaware commuters travelling home at the end of their day. The steamed up rain spattered windows created incredible light effects, they were just fabulous. (No photography was allowed but if you google the exhibition name and click on images you'll see what I mean..)
There was a stunning picture taken this year of the London skyline but with a star filled night sky from the desert in Kazakhstan added to show what you should see in London if it wasn't for the light pollution.

We took a good couple of hours to thoroughly browse before ambling to St Paul's to catch the tube to Oxford Street and the Sanderson Hotel. This establishment is 5 star so we went to a glorious old hotel first (which wasn't The Sanderson) and got pointed across the road to this frankly very ugly concrete office block type building!

Once inside we were rather surprised to be guided through the bar and restaurant and out into the courtyard. To be fair it was a very pretty courtyard with a central fountain. To each side of this there was a marquee filled with prettily decorated tables and chairs, but it was the end of October and absolutely bloody freezing!
Now they did have heaters inside the roof of the marquees, but the roof was high and not all of the tables were inside the marquee.
We were sat at one table outside of the marquee where the blast of wind was positively arctic, we asked to move and were put at another table, just on the edge, so not quite as drafty but not under the heaters either. We were also give a blanket each. So yes I sat and ate afternoon tea at 1.30pm wearing my coat and wrapped in a blanket!
 The dress code was smart casual and there were various groups of people dressed to the nines also shrouded in coats and blankets, I felt sorry for the poor staff who were in shirt sleeves and clearly very cold as they stood hugging themselves in between serving.
The only time we were offered the option of sitting inside was when we have pretty much finished eating and had mentioned again how cold it was. It seems to me that this was just a cynical way to cram in extra people by still seating outside in the middle of the British winter.
I have to say it certainly tainted my enjoyment of my birthday treat as we basically shoveled down our food and left to find somewhere warm.
Such a shame because the food was gorgeous. A great twist on the classic afternoon tea and with quirky Alice in Wonderland touches and absolutely delicious scones and cakes. The service was great and I particularly liked that they asked if there was anything we didn't like and changed the selection accordingly.

Anyway from there we took ourselves to the fabulous crowd funded Sourced Market on Wigmore Street for a hot drink, somewhere I will definitely go to again.

The month finished with Halloween and a yummy Lebanese lunch out from work for Charlotte's 50th. Charlotte and I decided to take the afternoon off and check out the latest exhibition at The Ashmolean Museum called Spellbound.
With hindsight Halloween might not have been the best day to go to an exhibition on witchcraft! Let's just say there were some very strange people there...

Another fascinating exhibition that starts by testing how superstitious you are by asking you to enter by walking under a ladder!
The first part was material from the medieval era, it was interesting to see how much the very beginnings of medical science were steeped in ritual and magic. A whole section was about all the different items that had been found in walls, cellars and loft spaces that were meant to protect buildings (yes there was a mummified cat.) Some of the testimonials from witch trials were quite harrowing, though I wasn't so keen on the random modern art installations that were dotted among the old artifacts. Anyway I'd recommend it if you fancy something a little bit different. 

Halloween is also our anniversary so Himself came and met me and we went out for a drink and then dinner at Gino's in Oxford. As a sign we are clearly getting old neither of us fancied another drink after eating and I was back home drinking tea and watching Holby City on the i-player before 9pm!
As mentioned before we also have a tradition of going to the cinema for our anniversary and this year we went to see Widows.
I loved the TV series back in the day and was delighted this stuck closely to the original story, I thoroughly recommend it.

I'll finish up with my October purchases.

I'm late to the party with the Pretty Retro Hostess dress, somehow I could never justify buying it full price. I finally got it for £25 as it is a factory second, luckily for me the fault is almost invisible.

The second dress is from Collectif in my favourite style by them, as soon as i saw it in tartan check I had to have it. It was out of stock almost immediately and stayed that way for ages. It finally came back in right when I had a discount voucher so I didn't even think about it.

The two bags were online purchases, another Corde for my small collection and a 1920's mesh bag. It was very dirty and is a little damaged but it was a great price and I don't have one in my collection. It has cleaned up beautifully and is now on the project pile (for when I ever get some time) to see if I can fix the worst hole.
This bag was a sale purchase from New Look. I dived in there for something, I can't even remember what now, but came out with a pair of pumpkin print socks and this bag, neither of which was what I went in there for!

Finally brooches.
I have to say I am cheating because all but the Catfish are actually from November. The top right I bought when I had to have an emergency dentist visit and the bottom two on a girls day out with Soo and Melissa, but more of those anon when I do my November round up.
I've already been flat out busy with fun stuff and if that wasn't enough I'm off to Bhandra in Mumbai on Tuesday for work.
Another time where frustratingly I will only have a few hours to try and cram in some sightseeing so no chance to get into Mumbai itself and immerse myself in it's Art Deco loveliness, bah. 

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

This Means Nothing To Me. October - Part One

Another month another missed blog post. October has been jam packed and it's taken me until now, mid-November to even have time to think about blogging.
I still can't quite decide whether to do one massive post or two smaller ones, I'll see how it evolves...

The month started with a trip to the cinema with Himself to see Venom starring Tom Hardy. I'm not in the swooning club when it comes to Tom Hardy, so this was all to do with the comic books and not the man. Sadly the film was a big old mess, such a shame.

We also liberated my Dad from his care home for the evening to meet the rest of the family and eat huge pizzas (and in Dad's case drink gin) to celebrate Nephew Number One turning 24. Where does the time go??
It seems like only yesterday I was dancing round the room singing along to You're Gorgeous by Babybird with him in my arms.

This was followed by a busy time at work shortlisting and interviewing potential students. This culminated in our in person interview day which happened to take place on the day when storm Callum was giving us a run for our money. I was leading a tour group through a door, in full flow about the wonderful facilities when the wind blew the skirt of my dress right up over my head. Being British I just pretended nothing had happened and swept through the door in full flow whilst batting my skirt back into place.
All I can say is thank the lord I was wearing leggings under my dress that day (due to my foot and calf being heavily strapped up with orange & black tape) ore those poor candidates would have been scared for life! Himself ever sympathetic just said "well you do keep wearing dresses with voluminous skirts"

The next weekend I was helping out a a recruitment event in Vienna. I arrived with a colleague Amy on the Friday evening, checked into the hotel, and then met up with another colleague who had done a fair the night before. The three of us jumped on the metro to the city centre to get dinner, where irony of bitter ironies, we talked over dinner about travelling for work and not getting sick in the places you would expect it. For example Amy having been pretty much all over the world had only ever been ill in Paris of all places. 

You know what is coming next don't you?

Yes of course I jinxed myself by saying I had been lucky and never got ill yet, then proceeded to have one of the worst bouts of food poisoning I have had in years.
As we had traveled light with just hand luggage I didn't have my usual huge washbag come pharmacy on me but mercifully for me Amy still had some of her Paris emergency medication with her which I gratefully accepted.
I genuinely do not know how I got through the day, sheer grim determination and bloody mindedness.
We had 4 free hours which we had planned to do some speed tourism in and I popped another pill and headed out into the fresh cold air because if nothing else the hot and airless hotel was making me feel worse.

Vienna was just beautiful, easy to get around on foot or on the metro and well worth another visit if I ever get the chance.
I will say very randomly the centre of the city seemed to have an extraordinary amount of shoe shops and it seems Amy is something of a shoe fanatic. As time was of the essence she did resist for as long as she could before pleading to go into a couple of shops. So yes I ended up trying on various pairs of boots as you do when in a vast shoe emporium and of course I fell in love with some

They really don't photograph well but the panel at the back is glittery!! *swoon* so yes they came home with me, I managed to force those babies into my hand luggage somehow!

We found the most delightful traditional Viennese cafe where I sipped tea and ate a plain potato fritter whilst Amy indulged in Vienna Schnitzel and Sacher Torte then it was back to the hotel where I spent another wretched night.

With me dosed up again we had just enough time to squeeze in a quick visit to a Klimt exhibition Amy was desperate to see before we had to head to the airport. Of course the flight was delayed and the coach took forever to get to Reading where I then had to wait for a train home. I was fit for nothing when I finally got home and just crawled into bed.
I was actually bad enough to have to take 2 days off work which pained me more than I can say as it broke my 6 years with no time off sick record. Now that seal broken I fully expect to be stricken with all sorts *sigh*

Thankfully I was feeling human enough to go and see Bohemian Rhapsody at the cinema by the end of the week.
Overall I enjoyed it. Certainly the last 20 minutes were mind blowing and pretty much saved the film which up until that point was more like one of those rather awful Channel 5 dead celebrity drama documentaries.
Of course the music was amazing (I have always loved a bit of Queen) and as I was explaining to the millennials and generation z-ers I work with, who are all far too young to know, that performance at Live Aid really was that seminal. Ask anyone about Live Aid and Queen is what they remember the most.

Ok I have just seen the time which means this will most definitely have to be part one.

Part two will follow soon.

Expect frocks, bags, brooches, a mad hatters tea party and witchcraft...