Monday, 15 December 2014

I went to the panto. Oh yes I did!

freckleface, freckleface, where have you been?

I've been to Manchester, to see the Queen!!
She's behind me!
Once upon a time, way back in the 1970s my Aunty Ann travelled a long, long way from a distant land (Scotland) to come and stay with us, bringing with her a passion for a handsome King called Elvis Presley along with pictures of him, his wife and his cute little daughter. 

I was rather captivated by how beautiful his wife was, what lovely long hair she had, and what great clothes she was wearing.
Two of the pictures my Aunt brought with her, cut out from magazines and yellowing newspaper articles.
I saw snippets about her down the years, and was very pleased when she joined my favourite TV series at the time, Dallas. Bobby sure got the good looking girls in that show, didn't he?

So, when I saw she was in panto in Manchester this year, playing the Wicked Queen in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, I hatched a plan to go and see her.
It only took about two weeks of constant nagging begging to get Q to come with me.

Of course, when I say see her, I don’t want to be misleading. What with our seats in the gods and my need for goggles these days, she was just a tiny sparkly figure swishing across the stage giving us glimpses of beautifully shapely legs and being perfectly panto evil. But I loved it nevertheless, being there for that experience. She rose to the role and enjoyed being wicked, sending herself up and doing a really cute rendition of Trouble. I could imagine Elvis grinning at the sight of that.
Afterwards, we went off to get something to eat before getting the train back. Manchester is a very vibrant place, with lots of lovely bars and restaurants. I was rather taken by the look of this Thai restaurant with the tuk tuk outside. 
I like a place with interesting d├ęcor. These beautifully aged punched tin panels made for a great feature wall with the industrial lights set against them and I loved the wall of film posters. 
It made me want to go to Thailand. Who knows, that might be the next plan I hatch. I somehow don’t think I’d have to do so much persuading for that one.

But in the meantime, go on, tell me, who would you like to see in real life if you possibly could?

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Giving thanks

The Thanksgiving party didn't go ahead, because unfortunately the hostess was poorly.

But you know, in life, there's always Plan B. If we couldn't go out to dress up and tuck in, we could still do it at home.

I mentioned that the perfect frock had flown in for the occasion, so, having decided I was going to be wearing it on that night to tuck into a dinner of giving thanks, I pressed on regardless.
The cutest Tyrolean wall plaque and my glamorous new dress

Here it is!

A lovely bright 1980s floral maxi dress with a boned bodice, which improved my posture no end and made me feel very glamorous. It was contained within the most wonderful birthday parcel filled with gorgeous things from the very generous and thoughtful Curtise.

The fabric reminds me of Hawaiian dresses, but from the style I would say it is 1980s.
That little round plaque featuring children wearing their little dirndls and lederhosen against a mountain backdrop has already found a place in the back room just above where I sit down to eat.

I sorted out that picture wall on my birthday, but I'm not entirely convinced. It's either too much or lacking something, I can't quite figure it out yet.
Raising a glass of thanks to lovely Curtise! Thank you so much for everything, I love it all

There was also a lovely 3-tiered 70s maxi skirt in this lovely bright floral print. I've actually worn it twice already, but no photographic evidence remains!
Above left, present from Curtise, above right, cross stitch picture of a Polish folk couple
I love folk art generally, but Poland does seem to have a particularly rich folk art tradition. These clothes pegs with the fabulous graphics, which were part of the parcel, remind me of this cross-stitch picture I made a few years ago, right down to the headscarf. One day I plan to visit Poland, and when I do, I shall visit this village.

A pair of little Polish dolls in their folk costume

Friday, 28 November 2014

Playing with the Queen of Hearts

When winter settles in, I like to be all cosy and snug at home, particularly in the evenings. I like to shut the world out, draw the curtains and light the candles, especially when we have people over to dinner. Serena and her partner came over a couple of weeks ago and we had some fizz and nibbles before sitting down to eat properly.
This one is a firm favourite from my tapas cookbook. Cheese and olive bites, with a bit of a kick.
You'll need 4 oz each of chilled butter, plain flour, hard cheese (they suggest Manchego, I use mature cheddar), 2 oz black pitted olives and half a teaspoon of cayenne pepper.



Mix all the ingredients together in a blender, then roll them into a ball, cover in cling film and put in the fridge for 20 minutes. This makes it much easier to use in the next step.

Next, take about a walnut sized piece of the dough, roll it into a ball and then flatten it on your palm. Dust your hands with flour so it doesn't stick.

Then simply place on a baking tray and bake in the oven for about 10 minutes at 200 Centigrade.

Allow to cool or not as you please, and then eat, eat, eat. Try to remember to allow your guests to have some too.

Then last weekend, we went over to Eloise and Patrick's for a lovely evening of food and chatter. They live in a fabulous house, which they have styled beautifully, so it's a real treat to spend time there. I spend my whole time just drinking in the surroundings. Eloise is a talented and successful designer and I seemed to have dressed to fit her latest work, both in terms of the colours and the geometric print.
Images copyright of Eloise Renouf

Q went all art director on me and suggested this Queen of Hearts picture using the reflection in the mirrored dining table. That's a 1960s Dollyrockers dress I snaffled from Second to None in Walsall. Vix pointed it out and said somebody needed to buy it, to save her the bother. She's a good 'un, because it looked amazing on her.
I love that combination of yellow shoes and pink tights, which mirrors the velvet curtains with pompoms I made. I consider myself a junior apprentice to Queen Helga of the Divine Colour Schemes.

This weekend we're off to a Thanksgiving party, where there will be more lovely food and friends to catch up with. I was pondering what to wear, when the perfect dress arrived in the post. I'll show you next time. In the meantime, Happy Thanksgiving to one and all and thank you all so much for your lovely wishes for my birthday. xx

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

I'm late, I'm late, for a very important date

Two weeks, near enough. I've been Missing in Action. Dealing with all sorts of drama.

There was the 50 page booklet which needed to be designed at the last moment, the car breakdown, the family escapades, the tenant problems, the tax returns, the this, that and the blah blah blah.

I didn't even have time to say to the Universe, "I don't have TIME for this". And that's one of my favourite phrases.

It shouldn't happen to a blogger. But sometimes it just does.

So anyway, 12 short days ago, three young ladies woke up and said to themselves, 'Hey ho, hey ho, it's off to shop we go'. We're on a self-appointed mission to find treasure in the charity shops of this Kingdom, one town at a time. This time is was Burton-on-Trent. If you want to hear about the history, Vix is the authority. If you want to know about the charity shops, Curtise has that covered.
So instead I'll present to you the themes of the day. Firstly, of course, there was glamour. Here's Vix, looking like Priscilla Presley in the most amazing jumpsuit, and there's Curtise looking like a sexy Principal Boy in her short dress and boots.
We also visited the Animal Kingdom. My little pony to remind us of Krista and a rather imposing bull.
 Curtise, making overtures to a ladybird.
Is that a T-Rex I see before me?

No, it's the perfect cape.

From Welsh Wales, the first of the countries we visited. After that we went to Sweden for this fabulous bag, Austria for a Dirndl with the cutest label...
...and New York, New York in the US of A!
I stayed mainly in Switzerland, land of my birth exactly 48 years ago tomorrow! 
We tried on hats, we drank alcohol, gave an old man the thrill shock of his life, we chatted, shopped and laughed and laughed and laughed.

These two, what a lovely pair.
When shall we three meet again? And where? And who else is coming?

Friday, 7 November 2014

Sometimes in a daydream

Sometimes I just like wandering round my house and taking photos. Rampant wanderlust aside, I'm a home bird at heart.

I often think it would be quite fun to be an interior stylist. Putting things together to look pretty. Obviously I'm ignoring the whole getting up early, travelling and lugging things about part of the job.

But of course, that's the beauty of daydreaming, you cut out the bits you don't fancy.
I've finally sewn those pompoms onto that chair. As we all know, pompoms make everything better.

We stayed in a gite over the summer, which was decorated in black, white and grey in a very spartan way. There was no pleasure in being there. I pined for colour and cosiness and visual interest.



I got that little pink bowl in Sienna market, in Tuscany. Whenever I go abroad I treat it like the Grand Tour, finding knick knacks to bring back. Who am I kidding, I do it on day trips here in the UK too!

So, when you are daydreaming, what do you think it would be nice to do for a job?

By the way, you're a clever lot! Apparently the difference between a cloak and a cape is that a cloak is longer and has a hood, whilst a cape is shorter and doesn't.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

A cape or a cloak: that is the question

This new to me Kinky Melon cloak caused something of a stir last night when it sailed forth on its maiden voyage to a Halloween Party.

Once the questions of whether I had come as the Snow Queen, Belle from Beauty and the Beast or Lucy from Narnia had been discussed and decided (I forget the outcome), and whether I wanted any more Paprika Pringles had been resolved (no, thanks, my mouth is on fire), the really important question was asked.
My Kinky Melon wonder, a purple woolen garment with arm holes, zip up the front and a chinchilla trimmed hood. When I first got it it was much wider across the shoulders, causing me to look rather Henry VIII in it. Since that wasn't the look I was hoping for, I dismantled the mantle and reassembled the ensemble. Now I feel like a princess in it!

Was it a cloak or a cape?!
These photos were taken on my return. Still awake past midnight! That's a pumpkin-coloured paisley empire line maxi dress I bought on our blogger's trip to Sheffield and that necklace is my Mum's from the 1980s. 

Not as easy a question as it sounds.

Was it to do with length? Was it to do with arm holes? Nobody knew.

Mobile phones came out. Research occurred. An answer was put forward, which makes sense, but it would be no fun just telling you, so do you know what the answer is?
Here we go, 1968, England. A small chunky Snow Princess with a bad haircut is holding court. 'I want the chariot with the red wheels!'

I sometimes wonder if my tastes now are simply about recreating my childhood. Look at my mum's shoes. I'd wear them any day of the week.



























Early 1970s, Kuwait. Little Red Riding Hood is hanging out with a pixie, a clown and Cleopatra. She's holding a hen basket which I would kill to still have now and wearing a red .....you tell me!

Monday, 20 October 2014

A winning Walsall weekend

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to go to the West Midlands, buy something fabulous in the vintage shop Second to None whilst getting quietly inebriated, then adjourn to the pub to drink some more, chat, laugh and eat chips.
Look how many accepted the challenge!

There's Vix, Fiona, Vanessa, Curtise, Gisela, Em, Lyndsey and Annie.
Gisela won the medal for Top Bag Buyer, Vix won Hostess with the Mostest AND hottest in a bikini, Em won the Early Bird award...
Fiona won Most Professional-looking Photographer and Chief List Maker..
Curtise scooped Most Likely To Be A Character In Jane Austen Whilst Taking Lots of Photos, Vanessa and Annie jointly won Most Adept At Avoiding Being Photographed...

Lyndsey won Best Newcomer. I think I might have won The Hey Big Spender award.

All winners!

I love this action shot, you can just see how much fun we were having. I feel I've gone for quality rather than quantity (ahem!) on the picture front...and the Winner of the Lazy Blogger Award is...
Easy peasy lentil loaf to go with Sunday dinner. I put that robe on as soon as it was dry.

That's my haul of goodies on the line. I got up on Sunday morning and put them straight in the washer. There's a folksy wench dress, a Dollyrockers geometric print beauty and a housecoat by Fifth Avenue Robes. Probably the least flattering shape of the three, but lovely soft cotton in a fabulous print means I am going to wear it to death.



















Vix took us into the local wig shop. Simply cross the threshold and find yourself in 1975. Hair bobbles! 99p!

A day out with the girls on Saturday, washing on the line, a bit of gardening and a roast dinner on Sunday. That was a top weekend. Thank you everyone for all the laughter. xx

Friday, 17 October 2014

Great Dixter and a party

It seems such a long time ago that I took these photos at Great Dixter, this perfect little Elizabethan manor house and garden, most famous for its last incumbent, Christopher Lloyd. It's only actually three weeks since we visited, but goodness, everything looks so different here now.

Summer came to an abrupt halt after Autumn elbowed it to one side.

This was a family home for many years. The last inhabitant died 8 years ago, but lived here his entire life without any of the home comforts we find so indispensable.

I coined it Ascetic Aesthetic. It may not be quite right, but it's not a life of coffee machines and central heating. I am such a nosey parker, I love to see how people live on an everyday basis.
Everything is done in the best possible taste.


Oh look here, it's Top Cat. He marched straight past me, ignoring my pitiful attempts at small talk. That face has purposeful written all over it.



















The very last of the summer sun. What a place to enjoy it.

Those are Oast Houses, very typical vernacular architecture found in that part of the country, used for drying hops out before they get used for making beer.




































This to me could be the very place where the opening pages of The Portrait of a Lady are set. Quintessentially English.
Well of course, once all that beer has been produced, somebody's got to drink it. And that is what parties are for.

Another 50th. They are starting to come thick and fast now, even though I am still only a VERY youthful 47, who has years to go before it happens to me.

These are my girls from college. We have known each other since we were 18. It's always quite a raucous affair when we get together.



























The theme was Hollywood glamour, so I wore a 1960s long chiffon evening dress described by the girls as 'very yellow, very booby and very glam'. They nicknamed me Canary for the evening.

'Nobody puts Canary in a corner.'

My last nickname from this group, after a conversation about my snaggle tooth, ended up as Tanny McPhee. Even now it makes me snort with laughter.

I've had a cold, but it's on its last legs now, so I feel ready to go out into the world again. Hmmm. I think I might go on a rail journey tomorrow...