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...