Sunday, 29 June 2014

Exploring Stow and The Circus Comes to Town.

I've had a busy week. Monday was our last interview day at work for the 2015/16 intake, it was a bit manic.
 I wore this lovely blue vintage dress for the first time since I bought it however many months ago.

 I got some lovely comments on it, someone said "I love your dress, it has this really vintage vibe about it" which of course meant I could smugly reply "actually it IS vintage".
Pride before a fall for me though, because as the very hot day wore on and the dress began to 'warm up' shall we say, it also began to smell. It wasn't smelling great when I got it, but I foolishly thought a quick freshen up in the washing machine would be all it needed, wrong, so very wrong.

I could not wait to get home and get that thing off me and shower! I then did the only sensible thing and reached out in desperation to our vintage frock guru Vix for advice! She and some other very lovely ladies on her Facebook page gave me some fab tips so here's to the dress smelling as fresh as a daisy from now on.

Tuesday the Dean of the business school had an afternoon tea for the staff, it was a gorgeous day and we got to stand around in his even more gorgeous garden eating sandwiches and little cakes and drinking prosecco.
I was with a couple of people from my office chatting and happily being topped up every time the bottle came round. We realised perhaps we had been a tad too enthusiastic with the top ups when the waiter said "Shall I just bring you 3 a bottle to yourselves?" My cue to wobble off and catch my train home!

Friday I had the dentist (Boo) followed by the circus (Yay)
Thankfully the dentist visit was all good. I still have 2 milk (baby) teeth and he gave them a push and said "these things are rock solid, at this rate you will lose all your other teeth and these two will still be hanging in there" I decided right then and there to do just that very thing, because I am bloody minded in that way.
 Also whose to say that finally losing all my baby teeth might not make me grow up properly and frankly I never want to grow-up properly.

I went back to my parents house to eat lunch, watch some tennis and snooze on the sofa until it was time for the cirucs.
Yes Gifford's Circus was back. As you know I do try to go every year if I can, it's such great fun. This year the show was called 'Thunderers' and was about the Greek gods. It was fantastic, though hand on heart not the best show by them. I would have liked more of the tumbling and juggling of previous shows.
Having said that there were some incredible moments, the contortionist who played Medusa was mind boggling and the Chinese acrobats did one move that had the whole tent gasp out loud in unison.
I loved the good old fashioned slapstick with water from Tweedy the clown, and had to chuckle when Bibi and Bichu the jugglers came on and a woman to my left exclaimed " OH MY! He's just beautiful!" rather more loudly that she probably meant too. For the record they are both gorgeous so she was quite fair in her assessment.

I got home and watched a bit of Glastonbury on the tv with a glass of wine which was a pretty good way to end the day.
Saturday I was up and off to meet Soo for our second weekend jaunt in a row. We were going to take a trip to Stowe Park for a gentle meander but as the weather had decided not to play ball, the plan changed to driving to Stow-on-the-Wold instead because I have never been there before.
It's a very, very beautiful little Cotswolds town.

This is the area where a lot of celebrities and rich people have their country retreat, so it was wall to wall Range Rovers and expensive little shops. Clearly they also like to come to Stow to eat because there were more quaint tea shops and other eateries than you could shake a stick at.
We ambled about oohing and ahhing at the lovely houses and gardens and snorting loudly at the ridiculously over priced unnecessary stuff in the shops. Clearly people round here have more money than sense!

We had a delicious lunch in The Burrow Cafe where they had the inspired idea of putting old games on the table so we got to have a rousing game of dominos whilst we waited for our lunch to arrive. According to the lady who owns the cafe our doubles had been in there a few days before and were touring the Cotswolds.
I know we are all meant to have a double in the world but I'm hoping I have 2 because as I am already meant to have a scanky one (see here for details) So I would like to have a nice looking one too.
Happily there were charity shops so we did both make a few purchases before the sky did this
and it started to rain in a biblical kind of way. We took shelter in the town hall where there was a craft fair.
I bought a necklace for my Mum and admired a nude picture of Nell Gwynn whilst wondering if it really was the right kind of picture for a town hall......

In the end we risked the rain to head back to the car. In that true crazy British weather way would you believe it was hammering down with rain at the same time as the sun was shining when I took this picture. 
Without further ado here are my purchases from the day.

A glass whale paperweight

A crazy blouse with upside down pheasants on it.
a designer frock darling, which looks just like any other pretty tea dress style frock you can get!
and a vintage brooch to add to my every growing collection.

I got home grabbed some dinner and did a bit of sewing whilst I waited to watch Metallica at Glastonbury, who in my opinion fucking nailed it. So there's mud in your eye to all the pretentious music twats who thought it was blasphemy to have a metal band at Glastonbury!

I finally fixed this pretty gingham summer dress with bees on it. It had really stupid frilly straps which I altered.

much nicer now don't you think?

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Afternoon Tea, Wine Tasting, Shoes and William Morris.

'Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.' William Morris.

Not a bad mantra to live by, that's my excuse for a house packed full to the rafters with "things" anyway.

This weekend thanks to Soo I finally got to visit Kelmscott Manor, the Oxfordshire home of William Morris. Bit shameful really, it's only 25 years since I was an art student who did paper on the Pre-Raphaelites  and it's been on my doorstep the whole time.

We chose a beautiful day to drive into the Cotswolds, as you can see the village of Kelmscott was just idyllic
you felt your cares melt away.
No wonder Morris lost his heart to this house the minute he saw it.

Sadly no photo taking was allowed inside the house, which was just beautiful and surprisingly uncluttered!

You could take plenty outside in the pretty gardens though.
We wondered to our hearts content and ate lunch in the tea rooms before ambling back to the car park through pretty country lanes.
The British countryside at it's very best.

If that wasn't good enough we then jumped in the car and headed back to Soo's village for a spot of  afternoon tea.
The teas are run once a month by a mutual friend who not only collected all the wonderful vintage crockery and champagne glasses, but makes all the scones and cakes herself. Delicious it was too.
That was a strawberry, elderflower & white chocolate cake in front of a chocolate, rum & hazelnut cake. As you can imagine I was stuffed after that little lot.

As it turned out there was an alfresco wine and beer tasting going on too so we waddled down there afterwards.
Not only could you taste, but you could then also buy a glass or a bottle of what you tasted, bloody inspired.
I quaffed a couple of large glasses of a rather lovely Pinot Grigio Blush whilst talking America with some of Soo's friends. I was sorry to go but knew I had to get home before my last train so headed off around 8pm.  Trouble with the trains meant I finally got in just before 10, but all in all it was a fantastic day.

No blog post of mine would be complete without a purchase. I needed some more summer sandals but as my toe is still gammy I wanted some that covered it and found the perfect pair, rather surprisingly they are white!
A huge deviation for me.
 I ended up picking up a very 80's-tastic t-shirt too!

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Fun in the Sun. Donkeys and Frocks.

Today is the last day of my week off work (Boo) I have had a great time with lots of unexpected busy-ness so I have actually hardly been in the house at all, and there was me thinking I would be kicking my heels at home for a week!

Sunday Soo came over as her other half was playing cricket in a nearby village. Neither of us is a fan of the cricket so we parked up said a quick hello/goodbye and took ourselves off for a ramble. 
As you can see it was a glorious day, with the most amazing cloud formations in the sky.
We did a slight detour as the village (Brightwell cum Sotwell) has a Donkey Sanctuary.
We ambled about looking at the many animals they keep, and got an unexpected bonus bit of sex education from one rather amorous ass who was having his wicked way with as many of the ladies as he could!
Ice cream was required after all that excitement so we bought an absolutely delicious tub orange and cointreau flavour each and resumed our walk.

We had decided to walk to the nearby town of Wallingford using Soo's O.S map which was fine until we got to the industrial estate where they have kindly built a load of houses since the map was printed.
It was quite surreal in someways, trapped on a housing estate on a glorious Sunday afternoon where there wasn't a soul about.

Seriously, it was like the Twilight Zone no people washing cars or mowing lawns, no children playing, no barbeques just this complete silence.......

We finally found our way to the town centre where we stood on the bridge watching the river which was thankfully VERY busy before heading back a different way!
In some places it got very narrow and I regretted wearing cropped jeans with all the brambles and stinging nettles I can tell you.
We arrived back for that last hour and a half (yawn) of the game but at least we got to tuck into what was left of the cricket tea so that eased the pain.
Then the sky did this
The rain came and it was time to go home, where Himself had thoughtfully put a bottle of wine in the fridge. Now that is what I call the perfect end to a perfect day.

Monday I took my parents out to lunch, prior to that I had made us some scones to have for afternoon tea. get me being all domesticated!
We had a lovely day though I did completely forget to give my Dad his Father's Day present for Sunday, so I will have to post it now - Arse.

Right, steady people but you are about to get not one but 2 frock shots!

I meet a friend for a drink yesterday afternoon and decided to give this little tea dress I picked up in a sale at Peacocks an outing.

I tied the waist ties to the front in a bow, as, as ever the waistband of the dress is nowhere near my real waist. I liked the effect I got.

Apologies for the strange angle I had the camera propped on the wheelbarrow!

Now this is the frock I was wearing when I walked through Oxford train station and a charity collector said "hello big fella" to me.
I did actually do a comedy look all round me to see if it was really me he was addressing, it was.
Big Fella????

It's amazing he lived to tell the tale.......

Today I am off out again for lunch with some more friends and I decided to finally give the bee button dress an outing.
It's not that I am having wistful emotional thoughts in this picture, I am actually really suffering with the hayfever today, hence the pink hooter and watery eyes. I never usually get it at this time of year but I have been hit hard this last week for some reason. Which is a fricking pain in the arse as I can't take anything for it.

Of all things to be allergic too, trust me to be allergic to anti-histamine!!! 

I shall end with a cute little bag I picked up when I was in Oxford yesterday for £3.50 in a 'retro/vintage shop. I don't think it's particularly old but I loved the colour. The blue beads were 99p.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Flowers, Frocks and Gardening for the Soul.

Thank you for your kind comments on my last post, life really is a funny old thing, and I'm getting there.
I'm definitely feeling more like my usual cheery self, when I'm not cursing the air to deep blue at my dear sister that is!
I feel like traveling down to Ramsgate just to kick her arse all the way to Oxford and then back again. I won't bore you with the details but ARRRRRGH.
Families eh?

I had a week booked off work, a Thursday to Wednesday weird way of booking time off. I seem to recall when I booked it we were meant to be going away somewhere but that got nixed, so I thought bugger it I shall have the time off anyway and so far it has done me the world of good.
I thought I would spend the time pottering round at home but I have ended up with so much planned I am hardly going to be at home! Get me.

Yesterday my brother came over for a catch up. Nephew Number One has started his first job in a pub round the corner from us. I am thrilled he has finally found some work but I suspect bar work is not going to be his forte. If nothing else he is still learning the art of thinking before he speaks and has a terrible habit of blurting out stuff at the top of his very loud voice.....not sure how he will cope with doing a large round of drinks either as he also shares the 2 second memory span that afflicts many members of my family!
 Anyway despite that he's taken his first steps on the rocky road of employment and I salute him.

Thursday my parents came over and we went to a garden centre for the day. I was after some pansies for my tubs, they only had 2 trays of violas left in the whole place! bah.
Thankfully they were quite pretty so I grabbed a tray, even if I did have a slight heart attack at the price. In fact everything was damn expensive, more so than I expected.
 Mum and I had reluctantly decided to share the 'buy one get one free' offer on the £8 trays of petunias when we spotted the reduced section, there was no looking back. To give the place it's due, they might be fricking expensive but they know how to reduce!
We filled a whole trolley.
Between us we spent £41. On the way home I sat in the back of the car and did the 'How much would I have spent if I had bought these full price?' game How does £120 grab you? No me either.
This is my haul, the viola's were the only thing I bought full price. I had been admiring some black petunias, but at £6 for a single plant I believe 'fuck that' were my exact words. I managed to get 3 for £2 in the sale area, now that is what I call a result.
I gave them all a damn good soaking ready to plant the next day.

Friday I nipped into town before hitting the garden. As I was taking a bag down for charity I did a quick flit round the chazzas as you do. I came, I saw, I shopped.
Navy jumper £3
Gingham dress, new with tags £3.99 everything in Oxfam was on sale!
1990's sundress £3.99 I'm not a fan of this style of dress, gathered skirts really do nothing for me, but I was drawn to this dress the moment I stepped in the door and kept going back to it, so I though bugger it, for £3.99 I'll take a punt.
If it looks as bad on as I suspect it will I'll chop it up into something else!
belt £1
Old patterns that won't go near me , but were too pretty to leave and some nautical beads I shall restring at some point 99p each.
 It never ceases to amuse me that a size 16 back then had a size 34 bust and a 27 inch waist and was obese by their standards!

Gorgeous handmade vintage evening frock £6. I loved the unusual tie front detail, the shoulder pads were roaming free so at some point I need to decide whether to reattach them or leave them out.
Tiny china cat 20p. Himself came home and said "you've bought another sinister cat" would you say he is sinister? I thought he was quite smiley but maybe in a dead eyed 'you will never find where I buried the bodies' way now I look closer......
Finally a Pearl Lowe dress!!!!! £8 I'm very happy to find this to add to my growing collection. All in all a good haul.

I got home, loaded the washing machine and ate a virtuous lunch of fresh fruit with yoghurt.

 I have been piling on the pounds again lately. *sigh* I just can't beat my comfort eating habit. I get stressed, or tired or low and I comfort eat. I am taking myself in hand but as ever it's a battle, I just love food and hate exercise, it's as simple as that.

Mind you, you know it's got bad when your other half sees the bowl next to you and just assumes you have had ice cream for your lunch!

Anyway after that I went out into the garden for a few hours. I swear being out there with my plants mends my very being. I worked away unaware of the time until Himself started making I'm hungry woman, feed me types of banging plates and pans around in the kitchen noise and I realised it was gone 7.
After dinner we got the loungers out and sat with a glass of wine and chilled = bliss.

I fetched a tartan blanket when it got chilly and Himself had to take a picture because he said it was one pattern too many
Who cares about pattern clash when you are in your own back garden? not me clearly.

What a lovely evening.

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Friends, Collecting and Remembering

I need to write this post because otherwise another week will go by with me having no inspiration/inclination and I fear I may just stop all together.

It's been a fairly emotional couple of weeks, that thing again of people around me getting kicked in the guts by life and the funeral of a friend.
He died after a fall down some stairs which is just... ugh I don't have words, I have to say it has affected me more than I expected.
It's weird because it was a truly beautiful funeral, full of joy and laughter as well as tears, but as a few of us said afterwards it just seems to have really got to us all.
Murray was one of the nicest, kindest, most intelligent people I have ever had the joy to know. We met working at the library and became good friends after we made it past the terrible shyness that blighted us both.

The church was so full we had to stand in the aisle and they couldn't shut the doors, there's a sign of what a lovely man he was and how much people thought of him, I can't imagine I'd have half so many if I karked it tomorrow!

It was also like a snapshot of my 23 years at the library, stretching from my first ever boss, to various colleagues from over the years. It was good to catch up and we had a bloody good laugh about some of the things we used to get up too. Good times, good times.

I think the thing that really tickled me was that the remit was no black, please wear bright colours. This was followed by a flood of emails and Facebook messages from panicky people wondering what on earth to wear??

The best bit was every single one of them was a man!!

It seems your average bloke has a black suit that does for weddings, funerals, court appearances etc and they are completely thrown when expected to wear something that's smart but not black.
Himself was no exception, being an old metal/goth fan, a couple of pairs of blue jeans are about as light as he gets, when it comes to trousers it's black all the way!

Murray's brother said something that made me think, "I'm the man who knew him the longest, but I somehow feel I'm the one who knew him the least". As I said to him this is no strange thing, I mean if you don't share the same interests as your sibling, you don't take the time to get to know the ins and outs of their passions, or even the friends they share those passions with.
I know that is certainly the case with my family.

Casing point, my parents came over at the weekend and my Mum was looking at a couple of my vintage handbags (admittedly there were about 4 of them on the floor downstairs for one reason or another!)
After saying "your Nan used to have one like that" She sighed and said "Why do you keep buying them? You can't use them all, it's a waste of money." Thus it has always been with my Mum, and my brother come to that, both of whom like clutter free clear surfaces and cannot understand my passion for collecting and my love of 'stuff'.
Mum was always throwing out my stuff when I was younger which of course made me hold on to things even more. We had endless rows when I got older and she 'cleared out' my room.
 Now all she can do is tut and sigh when she comes to my house, ha!

Anyways other than getting rather melancholy I have been pottering in my garden when the weather let me. Look at my lovely oriental poppies
We also went to see a screening of the Broadway production of Driving Miss Daisy starring Angela Lansbury and James Earl Jones at The Phoenix Cinema in Jericho, Oxford.
We went for a drink in Jude the Obscure before and after, and I was thrilled to see how beautifully it has been refurbished.

I also bought some new buttons for that cotton dress I got in Bournemouth. I decided to go for something quirky and I'm pleased with how they worked out.

 I may even take a picture of me in it.... or not.