Saturday 24 August 2013

Downtown Eat Your Heart Out.

Yesterday I took a day off work and went out with Jenny and Soo for an adventure.

I was in need of some quality time with my best friends, it has been a tough week. The thing that hit me the hardest was visiting my friend Murray in hospital on Thursday.
He is very sick, I didn't even recognise him when I walked in, it just breaks my heart.

That among other things have really had me thinking about life and making the most of it, not having regrets and not taking my health for granted.

So yes, I was in need of the opportunity to talk, hear advice and have a damn good laugh.

We decided to check out Lydiard House and Park

The house has been wonderfully renovated by a local trust after falling into such disrepair that even the army decided it was too dilapidated when it was requisitioned during the war! Instead they built nissan huts in the grounds. It was interesting to read of it's history first as a U.S.A.A.F hospital and then prisoner of war camp up until 1948.

The park is open to the public for free and it was heartening to see it packed with families enjoying the balmy weather. You are so used to hearing about kids lounging in the house all day whilst their parents ignore them these days.

In terms of a stately home Lydiard is fairly small, but my life what a family the Bolingbrokes were!

I said they could make a tv show out of it all but Jenny pointed out it would more than likely be dismissed as being too far fetched to be believed.
We are talking getting drunk and accidentally killing someone in a duel, getting drunk and accidentally killing your best friend, getting drunk and insulting a king (don't know about you but I see a pattern forming here.)
Bringing in the local blacksmith's daughter as your housekeeper and next thing she's lady of the manor. Marrying one wife then bringing in the second to live with you and fathering two children to her whilst the first is still alive..... Finally, the most shocking, being married with 2 children but having another 4 kids on the side with your own sister!?!

Mind you it is worth remembering the house IS in Swindon.                *joke*

The actual Royal Pardon that was issued to the viscount who accidentally shot someone in a duel whilst he was drunk. (How do you do that??)

The rooms were set up to reflect life in different eras in the house and this was further illustrated with the use of waxworks that scared the bejesus out of me every single time even though I knew they were there!
This is seriously the most sinister waxwork ever, look at that face *shudder*
Mind you have you ever seen a waxwork with a comb over who looks like he is about to break into some music hall ditty on the spoons?

I found the whole place fascinating, I loved all the wonderful family portraits going through the ages  and all the personal bits and pieces that made it feel like a family home.

(Not that they are a family I would want to be part of judging by their history!)

As you know I always seem to find an elephant somewhere and this was no exception. Behold this funny looking chap embroidered on the 17th century bedding as copied from the stained glass window in the chapel.
We went from the house to the renovated walled garden, which had been the pride and joy of Harry Love the head gardener (the best name for a gardener ever.)
It was absolutely gorgeous and refurbed with the help of a lottery grant. According to the lady volunteers in the house the local scouts used to pitch their tents there up until that point.

To just go off at a tangent one of the ladies had the same hairstyle, glasses and accent of Billie Whitelaw in Hot Fuzz. It made it very hard to take in what she was saying as I just kept picturing her in the film!

Anyway rumbling tummies said it was time for lunch so we headed to the stable cafe
not being a horsey kind of person quite frankly this is the best use for a stable I can think of!

The sandwich board outside declared all the various types of hot and cold food they served so we discussed, chose and queued up, got to the counter, placed the order only to be told "We have no food left".
We expressed polite incredulity to be told very defensively "We've been very busy"
No shit Sherlock, it's a bank holiday weekend! Surely the thing to do is to take the boards in when you have run out of food hmm? 

False advertising and all that.

Apparently there was another cafe up in the woods that was bigger and usually had more food. 
The weird thing was, that there is a conference centre at the house and the entrance is directly opposite the stable cafe and it also had boards outside it announcing things like cream teas and hot snacks but that wasn't suggested as an alternative, clearly there was some manner of rivalry going on!

We decided we couldn't be arsed to walk all the way 'up in the woods' so we went to the conference centre instead.

We were greeted warmly at reception which was a good start  so Soo asked if we could have a cream tea as advertised outside. The lady looked perplexed, she didn't think they were serving food as they "had a big wedding on the next day so none of the kitchen staff were in, she would go and ask the duty manager" and off she disappeared whilst we looked at each other with 'seriously, WTF?' faces.

Now admittedly I've never worked in catering, but surely if you have a big wedding on your kitchen staff would be in and busy prepping on the day before?

We waited for about 10 minutes and were making noises about going when a veritable angel of a lady who had clearly been roped into serving us some food, appeared. There was no hot food but she could make us some sandwiches. It took a while but my goodness were they well worth the wait., absolutely delicious!

Fed and watered we headed back to the house to sign out the key for the church for a quick look see before the whole place closed. It's a grade one listed building partly due to it's medieval wall and ceiling paintings,  
I particularly loved this sun painted way, way up on the ceiling.  How happy is he?

All in all a great day out, I'd definitely go back.

Once I got home, I cooked and scarffed dinner, packed a bag and headed over to my Mum and Dad's as today was our annual trek to the Stonor Park craft fair.
As you can see the weather was not playing ball today so we didn't linger as long as in previous years but I still bagged a treasure or two before we dashed back to the car.
Three brooches, a bracelet and two decorations for the christmas tree!

I also got this fabulous book from Jenny as a belated birthday present
I'm really looking forward to reading it properly have dipped in on the train home.

Tuesday 20 August 2013

What A Vintage Carry On Margate - Photo Fail.

Hello firstly I failed big stylie at the weekend and Himself also failed me. I forgot to pick up the camera on my way out to work in the morning and he forgot to bring it with him when he met me at the station with the bags later on BAH.

The camera on my phone is absolutely shit so I have about 4 very poor pictures from my weekend at the What a Vintage Carry On Festival in Margate this weekend.
Not a single one of my outfit which typically came together perfectly and got me lots of compliments, something that does not happen every day!

I wore the lovely polka dot vintage dress I bought earlier in the year in Torquay, teamed with my brown leather and suede brogues and matching leather handbag.

I thought about doing a rerun for blog pictures but it never looks the same does it?

Anyway thankfully the weather held until the evening though it was stupidly windy. I first had a breakfast cup of tea with himself outside a cafe where one lady felt the need to point and exclaim very loudly 'I bet she's going to that vintage thing'.
Thankfully I was wearing sunglasses so when everyone around her turned and gawped I could remain cool and mysterious *cough*.

After I walked Himself to the station where he headed off to the safety of Broadstairs, I threw caution to the wind and went for a stroll on the beach, fancy outfits be damned!

I mooched there until I got a call from my friend Kay who I was meeting for a few hours at the festival. I browsed a few of the shops until she arrived and then we both browsed the outside stalls which were a fab mixture of vintage and handmade items.
We then did more of the many great junk/antique/vintage stores in Margate Old Town until it was time for cake and a catch up. So we headed to the aptly named Cupcake Cafe to stuff our faces until my sister arrived.
My purchases...
 Kay bought me the kitsch little girl ring and I bought one for her because we both loved them. You know me and brooches by now and these two were a done deal.
This funny ceramic dog with a tape measure in his mouth was £4, I couldn't resist him. My sister decided to pull the tape out and then of course it wouldn't go back in!

My sister arrived in time to join her dance group for a jive display in the market which was amazing. I'm so proud of her and very jealous because I can't dance to save my life, and of course, I haven't got my camera with me have I? dammit!

Once she had finished we went for a much deserved glass of wine and a catch up. By then it started to rain so we headed our separate ways, her to go for a kebab with her fella and me for dinner with the in laws.
There are some official pictures here 

A couple of other purchases to share.
1980's sundress which needs a wee bit of altering as it's too big. £4.99

I think this one is 1970's. It doesn't look like much on the hanger, and I thought it might be too small but it fitted like a glove. It looks quite glamorous I must say. Again £4.99

Finally a dress I bought with some birthday money and which I nearly wore for the weekend.

It came from the wonderful Trollied Dolly
What an amazing service they give and what fantastic quirky and well made dresses they sell. I highly recommend them to one and all.

Wednesday 14 August 2013

A Grand Day Out and The Thin White Duke.

This could be a very picture heavy post but I am forcing myself to keep it light.
On Saturday Himself and I got up at a ridiculously early time for a weekend and headed off to Bristol for the day to do the Gromit Unleashed Trail.
As seems to be my luck when I plan these outings, we got to the station and our train was cancelled with no explanation. With a sinking sense of deja vu we finally got on a train wedged to the rafters with people and spent an uncomfortable hour pressed up against the door in the vestibule. It was Easter weekend all over again!
Eventually we got to Bristol and with our blue trail map clutched in hand ticked the first Gromit off the map.
                                                  'Isambark Kingdog Brunel'
  We had a fantastic day out and what a gorgeous city Bristol is. We walked for about 7 hours all in, and covered everywhere from the docks to the shopping centre, the cathedral to the BBC Bristol offices. We saw 45 of the 79 Gromits dotted around Bristol and the surrounding area. Not bad going really and a great way to get around a city.
The statues were either outside or just inside various buildings, a very clever way to get people to go into the museums and galleries and then maybe stay and look round. (Though I suspect Harvey Nichols were rather horrified at all the not quite of our class of people trooping through their store!)
We spotted the one on this amazing old ship from across the other side of the water and then had to figure out how the hell to get over to take a picture. Talking of pictures we did find it amusing how terribly British everyone was politely queuing and waiting their turn to take their pictures!
There was no pushing, no shoving, no dashing in. Everyone took their turn and there were a lot of people at every statue.
 Bristol was packed with people and just about every one of them was clutching a blue map.
We did culture.
We gatecrashed a hotel with a wedding going on to find Where's Wally.

Found a random elephant sign

and saw a pigeon wielding a baguette like a lightsabre (typically it stopped when I got the camera out!)
Our final Gromit was Vincent Van Dog
By this time we were footsore and in need of refreshment. We retired to Wetherspoons for a much needed drink or 3 then only just managed to catch our train home, phew.
All in all a grand day out as Wallace would say.

Yesterday we headed out to the cinema with Soo to see the exclusive live screening of 'David Bowie is happening now' from the Victoria and Albert Museum.
Soo and I were both desperate to see the exhibition but didn't manage to get tickets. It sold out within hours and has been the V&A's most successful exhibition ever with 330,000 visitors. If anything all this screening did was made me even more frustrated not to have seen the exhibition and been able to browse round it at my leisure. I'm not a huge Bowie fan or anything but I do find him fascinating and this exhibition did not disappoint.

It was incredible to hear just how many people that very first appearance of Ziggy Stardust on Top of the Pops in 1972 affected and influenced. You can only begin to imagine what it must of been like, to watch colour tv, for pretty much the first time in your life, and see this glittering catsuited creature with the exotic bright make-up and hair singing at you, directly at you.
Parents were horrified and teenagers suddenly found meaning. A life changing moment.
I did find it amusing how they glossed over the 80's, quick glimpse of the Ashes to Ashes peirrot costume and that was your lot.

Himself and I agreed it could have done with more words from the man himself but other than that it was all good.

The V&A commissioned a piece of art work for the exhibition and much to their surprise the artist came back with the Periodic Table of Bowie. Inspired.

It lists the people who influenced him and the people he has influenced. I have to say I loved it so much I went to their online shop and ordered myself one!


Tuesday 6 August 2013

Under Pressure.

Been doing a bit of navel gazing this week mostly due to having been incredibly ill last week and to the doctors on the Friday. It was one of those give with one hand but take with the other situations.

I knew I had lost weight before I went and I was generally feeling pretty good about stuff.
Yes the weight loss I have achieved so far is great, keep up the good work etc. However now it would appear I have high blood pressure, it was high last visit apparently (though they didn't tell me at the time) and it was still high this visit.

The irony is when I was 'overweight' my blood pressure had always been exactly on the average reading. I lose weight and bingo up it rockets *SIGH*

Before you all tell me it's a coincidence, I know it's a coincidence, and quite frankly a predestined one at that. Blood pressure-wise I was always on borrowed time, High pressure is hereditary and lucky me it runs in the family on both sides, so no escape. It was only a matter of time.
I am pissed off about it though. I don't feel ready for this, I don't feel old enough for a start!
Fuck it I should be a pensioner before I get bloody high blood pressure? surely??

Oy Vey.

Anyway enough of the outraged pity party, I'll get my head around it and what I need to do to keep as healthy as I can.


I have a very busy August ahead of me. This coming weekend we are off to Bristol to see the Gromits (as in Wallace and Gromit) on the Gromit Unleashed Trail
I'm very excited about that and about visiting Bristol as I have never been there before.

Next week Himself, Soo and I are off to the cinema to see the live screening from the David Bowie Exhibition at the V&A. More exciting stuff!

Next weekend we are off to Margate to visit family and whilst Himself is off doing his own thing with his mates, my sister, my friend Kay and myself are going to What a Vintage Carry On

That is followed by the Bank Holiday weekend when I go to the annual Stonor Park Craft Fair.

Finally we have The Rocky Horror Show at the end of the month. The 40th anniversary tour and the tickets were one of Himself's 40th birthday presents so it was meant to be.

Lots to look forward too.

Also I didn't mention that Soo had been over and we did a trawl of the charity shops. I bought a few bits and pieces including this lovely jumper

and a childish picture of a donkey for my wall of Kitsch. Vix may have her wall of misery but I have my Kitsch Kitchen!