Tuesday, 27 October 2015

I Know There's Gonna Be (Good Times)

Despite a wardrobe stuffed with psychedelia, feather boas, impractical shoes and outrageous hats I can still cobble together something suitable for most occasions. Here's what I wore for Dad's funeral today.

1960s Pseudo-Victorian lace-up boots, £1 car boot sale

Ossie Clark (?) jacket - bought last year from Second to None. Last seen HERE

1950s kid leather gloves by Morley (borrowed from the Kinky stockroom)

Victorian bog oak mourning locket filled with a lock of hair, circa 1850 (part of a collection I inherited)

And, as part of the family tradition I carried my Great-Grandma's clutch bag.

Tucked away inside is a photograph of her carrying it on a stroll around her home city of Chester in the 1930s. The gorgeous woman on her left was my Grandma's oldest sister, Florence.

My Dad was, like me, an atheist so I chose a humanist ceremony.  Searching the internet for an suitable reading I came across this quote from the Russian climber Anatoli Boukreev. As Dad's lifelong passion was mountaineering (after leaving the RAF he spent two years conquering The Alps) the words seemed wonderfully apt.

Mountains are not stadiums where I satisfy my ambition to achieve,
They are the cathedrals where I practise my religion...
I go to them as humans go to worship.
From their lofty summits I view my past, dream of the future and,
With an unusual acuity, I am allowed to experience the present moment....
My vision cleared, my strength renewed. In the mountains I celebrate creation.
On each journey I am reborn.

You might think I'm mad for sharing this. I'm not a believer in life after death, a fan of horror films or have the slightest interest in witchcraft, tarot cards or seances but ever since we've moved into our house strange things have happened with several visitors speaking of a presence (including my dad, who refused to sit in the dining room). Last night as I was brushing my teeth before bed a bony hand gripped my lower back and violently pushed me across the floor and into the sink. I went ice cold, my skin became a mass of goosebumps and I ran downstairs to Jon in tears and, if you know me then you know I'm not a crier.

I was scared to go back into the bathroom but obviously I had to. This morning I braced myself, turned the radio on and the first song I heard was :

I think it's a sign. My beloved grandma was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2000 and died in 2009, my Mum died in 2010 and Dad became ill five months later. After fifteen long years the shadow illness has cast over my life has gone. That evil hand has released me from it's icy grip and yes, I really do feel like there are finally going to be good times.

See you soon.

Friday, 23 October 2015

A Week In The Life

Self-employment - living the life of Riley. Getting up late, spending all day in pyjamas, daytime TV, surfing the net, girly lunch dates and going out every night.  That's what many people think when I tell them what I do for a living. You already know that our weekends consist of getting up early, travelling up and down the country, packing and unpacking the van, setting up our pitch and selling our hearts out but here's how I typically spend my more mundane week days.

Monday's outfit: 1970s psychedelic maxi skirt by Jeannie Jersey (Georgia-May's Vintage Wardrobe), Fringed body suit (Charity shop, 2013), 1960s suede waistcoat (Xmas present from Liz), Original Biba lace-up boots (Inherited from Mum)

Monday. Up at 6.30am, had breakfast, dressed and reorganised the stockroom while Jon dealt with the heating engineers who were servicing the boiler. Sorted out some recent buys, measured and labelled them. A friend had picked up a few things of interest recently and, as she was in need of a vintage fix, browsed the rails, we exchanged goodies and chatted for an hour or so over coffee. After lunch Jon & I went across the road to my empty parental home (where we store our stock), unpacked the van and added the freshly sorted stock to the rails. I did some mending, caught up with blog reading and wrote a blog post. Had a bath and tea. Carried on with the dressmaking project I'd started on Friday. Caught up with a couple of Scandi TV thrillers. Read The Silent Game by Greg Iles in bed.

Tuesday's outfit: Vintage lurex maxi (courtesy of Kerry), Hindi print tee (Kerala, 2012), 1970s tooled leather bag & blue suede belt (car boot sale finds), Blue fake fur jacket (£7, Catalogue clearance shop, 2012), 1960s navy leather gloves (were my Mum's), Tapestry boots (Charity shop, 2008), Tribal jewellery (India)
Tuesday. Up at 6.45am and loaded the washing machine. After a Wii Fit workout put a couple of stained vintage dresses in to soak and altered a 1960s mini by hand. Rinsed the soaked frocks and hung all the washing up. Had breakfast, dressed and walked into town as I had appointments booked with banks to close Dad's accounts. Picked up a pair of shoes I'd left at the cobblers, shopped for a few essentials (toothpaste, mouthwash & soda crystals) and browsed the charity shops before walking back. Had lunch. Printed off the probate & tax forms from the government website and started to complete them. Phoned & chatted to the undertakers with our choice of music for the funeral. After a shower and tea caught up with some blogs and hand-sewed hooks and eyes missing from a couple of dresses in the stock room. Watched BBC 1's River and read a little more of my book in bed.

Wednesday's Outfit: 1970s leather trench coat (eBay, 2004), vintage beaded panda bag (charity shop), floppy felt hat (car boot sale), 1970s leopard print platforms (eBay, 2011). Not a fan of lap dancing clubs but love the nod to the Bollywood movie of the same name.
Wednesday. Up at 6.30, did a Wii Fit workout & ironed and put away yesterday's washing. Dusted, swept and tidied the lounge and watered the house plants. Dressed and had breakfast. Too wet for car booting so we visited the charity shops in a couple of nearby towns. Dropped more of Dad's papers off at the accountant on the way home. Had lunch. Checked over the purchases, replaced the plastic buttons on a couple of waistcoats for some better-looking vintage ones and put everything in to wash. My brother came round on his way back from work as the civil celebrant was coming to discuss Dad's funeral next Tuesday. Chatted about my Dad's life and adventures. After they'd both left I had a bath and we had tea. Opened the rum and watched Salvage Hunters & The Apprentice, texting Curtise throughout the latter. 

Thursday's outfit: 1960s jumble sale curtain I made into a dress; Vintage Dolcis leather knee boots; 1950s leopard print coat and 1930s velvet fringed scarf (all charity shopped); arm warmers (Topshop sale, 2003)  That's most of the car boot finds in the van, including the bass amp. 
Thursday: Up at 6.30, did a Wii workout & cleaned and mopped the utility room. Went to the morning car boot sale. Some regular traders told us that they'd got some chairs that were our kind of thing so we took their phone number and arranged to call them later.  On the way back home we stopped off at the undertaker's to drop off Dad's suit and at the florist to organise the funeral flowers. I unpacked our purchases, put the clothes in the washing machine, polished the shoes & handbags and steamed the hats while Jon cooked veggie sausage sandwiches. After we'd eaten I priced and ironed yesterday's finds and dyed my roots. Swept & dusted the dining room, called the car boot traders and drove over to their unit to check out the chairs which we loved and bought. Jon cleaned them outside and we rearranged the lounge to fit them in. After tea and a bath chatted to Krista via Skype and watched Unforgotten.

Our fabulous vintage chairs!
Friday. Up at 7 am, after a Wii Fit session I ironed and priced yesterday's car boot buys and hand sewed the hem of a skirt that had come down during washing. Stripped the bed, chucked it in the washer and got dressed. Had breakfast. Went to a mid-morning jumble sale, which was dreadful but met up with a blogger friend who'd come across some cool stuff for me on her travels. Popped to Lidl and the Post Office (to get some change for the weekend's float) on the way home and wrote & published a blog post while Jon made lunch. This afternoon we'll pack the van for Oxford. I'll cook a veg Kadai using the mushrooms bought from the car boot sale yesterday whilst Jon makes sandwiches to take with us tomorrow. Then I'll shower, paint my nails and sort out what I'll be wearing. We'll have a rum and coke, watch Mammon on catch-up and go to bed. The alarm is already set for 5.30am.

Friday's Outfit: Vintage lurex maxi (from Australian blogger Nelly who stopped posting years ago), 1970s leather jacket (bought from a charity shop in 1992), tooled leather bag (Car boot sale), Indian tote (India)
New to the womenswear rails this week. Clockwise from top left: 1960s linen maxi by Linzi Cruise Line from County Clothes of Cheltenham; Scottish mohair cape; 1970s Embellished maxi; 1960s sleeveless wool mod dress (I removed the tatty sleeves and sewed bias binding to the armholes earlier this week); Louis Caring psychedelic lace-up midi; dagger collar check shirt; Quad silk maxi; Tooled leather bag; Mexican cowboy boots; 1980s Thai silk jumpsuit; Kangol wool hat; 1950s Chinoiserie jacket. 

So that's life in the week. Shopping is strictly business, there's no stopping for coffee or pub lunches, we have to account for every penny and eat at home every day. There's no time for sightseeing, museums and country walks, when we're not hunting, we're trading. Our social life is a shadow of what it used to be - our friends are nine to fivers so for them going out on a week night is pretty much out of the question and for us, going out at the weekend is impossible. That's why we look forward to our annual month in India so much! We wouldn't have it any other way.

New to the menswear rails this week: snazzy waistcoats, jazzy 1960s cardis and a Texan-made shirt

Jon mostly does the cooking and I do the washing & the house gets cleaned when one of us feels like it (more than usual this week as we're expecting visitors after the funeral). We shop for stock almost every day, the washing machine is constantly on and repairs are done at any time of the day (or night!) I only turn on the TV to watch pre-selected programmes and the internet is accessed from my PC (I don't have a smart phone) so blog reading and social media is done when I'm at home and can snatch a few minutes.

Vintage 1950s fake fur capelet; 1930s leather bag;Roland Cartier lace-ups;1980s felt fedora; North African tooled leather bag; Cheltenham Racecourse trilby; 1950s snakeskin clutch bag.

All this newly-found vintage (and loads more) will be on our stall (HERE & HERE) this weekend.

See you soon.

PS Linking to Patti's Visible Monday

Monday, 19 October 2015

Turning Japanese

 Yesterday we set the alarm for 5am and were on the road, heading for Bristol, at just gone six. A fellow trading pal took this photo at 9am after we'd dragged 19 sacks of vintage clothes into the venue, assembled four double rails and unpacked the stock. Who says that the camera never lies? We don't look half as wrecked in these pictures as we felt.

 Turning Japanese? That'll be a not so subtle reference to the geisha girl print on my new-to-me maxi, described as "fancy dress party outfit" on the eBay listing which resulted in me being the only bidder. Fancy dress? I always dress fancy. I don't need a party as an excuse.

Jon's work wear: 1960s worsted wool Milium jacket, Austin Reed waistcoat, vintage ribbed trousers (skinnied-up by himself), Savile Row shirt and red leather pimp-tastic shoes (all car-booted or charity shopped)

ME: Handmade 1970s maxi (eBay, £4.99), 1960s leather lace-up knee boots (£1, car boot sale), Lamani coin pendant (India). Linking to Patti's Visible Monday.

Photo borrowed from Em!
So what was yesterday all about? Another fantastic Judy's Affordable Vintage Fair. As always it was well organised, well-attended and located in an uber-cool setting, an urban-chic converted paintworks, a short walk from Bristol's main train station. 

The premises is divided into workshops, galleries and eateries with, as you'd expect from hip and edgy Bristol, lots of street art, sculpture and graffiti. This cheeky little devil was visible through the window behind our pitch.

A visit from fellow bloggers and now dear friends, Em and Dee made a great day even better.

Coats and jumpers sold well and our vintage frocks proved popular. Quite a few of the dresses we'd only purchased in the past week found new homes. I knew this 1960s silver Barbarella style mini would look amazing on Sally from Pretty Flamingo (who I met at the End of The Road Festival last month) and I was right. Vintage perfection!

We're trading with Judy's in Oxford on Saturday (details HERE) and with Moseley Vintage and Retro Fair on Sunday (details HERE).  We'd better get stock hunting.

See you soon!

Friday, 16 October 2015

Let's Talk About Spex

With all the grown-up stuff I've done it's felt like a long week and there's still almost a fortnight to wait until the funeral, but things are beginning to move along and I've made a sizeable dent in my daunting to-do list.

WEARING: Dress handmade by me from a vintage curtain and some braiding ripped off an old lampshade.
I've given myself a break today. A morning spent charity shopping with the afternoon divided between washing the latest purchases and attempting to crack on with some sewing.

I did say attempting to crack on with some sewing. That's if Polly Piglet would shift her arse so I can start cutting up this Mid-Century curtain. Good God, that bloody thing's even older than me Said the bemused car boot seller as I handed over my 50p piece. 

 These feisty felines aren't called Naughty Torties for nothing. 

I thought it was time I got another pair of London Retro specs from Glasses Direct. These are Fitzrovia frames in Marble, an authentic 1970s style. I used my webcam to scan a 180 degree image of my face and tried on every pair in the collection. If I'd seen these glasses in an opticians I don't think I'd have considered them but was surprised by how much I liked how they looked when I tried them on virtually.  With the amount of form filling and signing on the dotted line I've done this week if I wasn't an atheist I'd call them a godsend! 

My mantelpiece is like some kind of hallucination without the acid - daguerreotypes of long-dead Victorian ancestors, Indian dancing dolls, art by friends, OBDs* and Poundland pom poms.

*obligatory blogger deer

Another lazy evening in front of the TV for us. Isn't there some great stuff on at the moment? I'm loving River, Beck, Asian Provocateur, Unforgotten and, of course, The Apprentice!

See you soon.

Monday, 12 October 2015

Kool In The Kaftan

I'm still here. I'm not wallowing in self pity or sewn myself into a coma. We've been busy. 

Photo courtesy of Emily of Judy's. We're somewhere on the left underneath the bunting.
Last Sunday took us to London's Bethnal Green with Judy's Affordable Vintage Fair and we had the best day of sales in almost ten years of full-time vintage selling. We spent most of last week hunting for fresh stock, leading to the inevitable laundering, repairing, ironing and pricing that comes with vintage buying.

Clockwise from left: English Lady fake fur (now mine!); 1960s knit top; Reversible David Barry wool cape; 1950s novelty print cotton skirt; 1960s Global evening jacket; Swiss-made wool & Cashmere fake fur trimmed coat; Tab collar Seventies shirt; 1970s Norman Martin maxi dress; Wool cape with lion's head fasteners; Welsh Tapestry cape; 1960s braided anorak
We bought so much stuff that one of the stockroom rails collapsed under the weight (well, I did find it in a skip) so the usual blank wall I take my stock photos against is now obscured by a taller rail normally reserved for the ironing. These are some of Tuesday & Wednesday's finds. 

Clockwise from left: Barry Manilow 1978 tour jacket (now on eBay HERE); Leather trimmed jacket made in DDR; Aquascutum 1960s mac; Vintage sports top; Sheepskin car coat; West German mac; Snazzy silk shirt; 1970s velvet blazer; Tab collared gingham shirts by Van Heusen in blue and red colour ways; Arnold Palmer psychedelic shirt; Canadian made dagger collar shirt

By the time the thousands of customers had finally left Bethnal Green we were too frazzled to pose for a photo. This meant I could wear the same dress for work yesterday when we traded at Vintage Village at Stockport.

The dress was a gift from a friend. Her partner bought the 1960s car coat Jon's wearing from a car boot sale for himself but the fit wasn't quite right when he tried it on at home so Jon bought it off him. They know our taste brilliantly and work on a voluntary basis as Kinky Melon stock hunters. 

Speaking of Stockport, after a visitor's vote last month, the most popular traders were awarded certificates. We were thrilled to be amongst the nominees (after all, we're relative newcomers).

Our fabulous friends and neighbours Pat (the blonde in the centre) & Matthew of a Vintage Affair were joint winners along with Maggie (in the gorgeous Chinese jacket) from Garbo Antiques from whom I bought today's 1960s cotton caftan (one of a matching pair, the other is in blue). 

WEARING: Mr Joe caftan (Stockport Vintage Village), vintage tooled leather belt (borrowed from the stockroom), Aldo leather boots (£1, car boot sale), Lamini coin necklace (India)
I won't tell you how much it cost or Stockport will be inundated with vintage lovers in search of a bargain and there'll be nothing left for me!

I love the label, possibly a tourist souvenir from a traveller on the original overland hippy trail. I've Googled Mr Joe and it appears that he (or, more likely, a son or grandson) are still in business at the Cycle Market in down town Karachi.

Dad's death certificate was issued and ready for collection on Friday afternoon & finally I can get his funeral, financial affairs, probate and all the other grown-up stuff sorted. I've got a heap of covering letters to write this afternoon to catch the last post so I'd best get cracking.

If I don't get a chance to post again this week you'll find us in Bristol with Judy's this coming Sunday (details HERE).

Linking to Patti's Visible Monday

Monday, 5 October 2015

When The Going Gets Tough...

...The Tough Get Sewing.

When life renders you powerless, sewing can be wonderfully therapeutic.

Over the last couple of weeks, in an effort to stop dwelling on my thoughts, I've been sewing up a storm. No pair of curtains, tablecloth or bed cover has been safe. I might not be able to change my circumstances but by taking an ordinary scrap of fabric and fashioning it into something completely different I feel like I've regained some control.

In a state of limbo, whilst awaiting the coroner's report, ready to throw myself into dealing with all the grown-up stuff like funeral arrangements, probate and informing an endless list of organisations and agencies, my poor sewing machine has rarely been switched off.

Last week I visited an amazing lady who was selling off all her belongings ready to make a fresh start in life at the age of eighty-eight. As we went through her wardrobe I turned and admired the brocade curtains which had been hanging at her bedroom window for 56 years, Have them, she said, Indicating Jon to take them down.

When we got back from the hospital on Thursday morning I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I unfolded a pattern, laid it out on the curtains and spent the rest of the day fashioning a hooded cape.

I can't thank you enough for the wonderful comments, messages, texts and emails I've received since my last blog post, I'm truly overwhelmed by your kindness. Sharing your experiences and reaching out have helped burst the bubble I'd felt trapped in for the last fortnight, unable to fully engage with life & feeling too awkward to share our situation.  

I shall do my very best to get back to you all in the next few days.

See you soon.