Thursday, 21 September 2017

Suddenly, it clicks

The Basilica of the Virgen del Pilar, Spain's national saint
The Basilica of the Virgen del Pilar, Spain's national saint.
We've been in Zaragoza a few days, but today we properly got that holiday feeling.

Monday, 18 September 2017

Madrid, you will kill me!

sherry
Sherry! In a bar old enough for Laurie Lee to have drank in.
I'm typing this in Zaragoza, having just spent a couple of nights in Madrid. Madrid is infamous for being a city that doesn't slow down - the nightlife is so good, I think a week there would finish me off.

Friday, 15 September 2017

Kick Miss Fisher?

Waaaay back in January I blogged that the creators of the Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries TV series were hoping to bring Phryne to the big screen – well, it’s a step closer, as the production company has launched a Kickstarter to support Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears. (Nice title!)

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

New (old) work bag

As someone who tries to look after things, I find it really frustrating when I wear something out, and for some reason I seem to burn through black 1960s bags. The vinyl handle cracked on my first one (I’ve still got the back but haven’t yet got round to repairing it), and the cardboard stiffening the second literally gave way, so that handle didn’t just come loose, it tore out a chunk of the structure. Happily, I’ve started seeing the sorts of bags I like creeping back into charity shops. I do have two black ’60s bags, but one has a lace front and the other is snakeskin, and both are really a little too evening-y for work. As soon as I saw this one over the weekend, I pounced. It was a tenner in my local hospice chazza.

Thursday, 7 September 2017

My current vintage obsession: Helen

Helen in the Bollywood film Caravan
Helen in Caravan (1971)
Vix definitely mentioned Helen ages ago on her blog, so that’s where I first heard of her, and she’s become my latest vintage obsession. It’s probably at least a little because she’s a mix of Burmese, Indian and European, like my grandfather’s family, and like them had to move from Burma/Myanmar to India during the Second World War. My family came to England, but Helen's stayed in India, and between the 1950s and 1970s became one of the most famous dancers in Bollywood, dubbed ‘Queen of the Nautch Girls’. Nautch is an old performance art; the dancers were almost legendarily alluring. I don't know enough about it to know if they all moved like Helen, but to be nicknamed Queen of them all is no mean feat.

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Professor Elemental takes Trowbridge!

 On Friday night, Professor Elemental actually did a gig in Trowbridge!

Why the excitement? Well, Trowbridge isn't a place where lots happens. I like living here, but despite being the county town of Wiltshire, it often gets overlooked, I always feel because it's very working class. When the council gave up the old Victorian Town Hall there was a fear it'd be turned into flats, but it's become an arts centre for the people. I actually make monthly donations to Town Hall Arts; I feel very strongly that the arts should be for everyone, not just the privileged, and not just people of school age. (My monthly donation is a tenner; it might just keep the place in loo roll, but every little helps.) The Town Hall hosts tea dances and free art exhibitions, theatrical performances and much more. It really does do stuff for most sections of the community. Sheer Music is a Wiltshire music promoter doing more in Trowbridge, and they brought the Prof to town. A venue I support hosting an artist I admire? That was Friday night sorted.

Friday, 1 September 2017

Tweed!

AH, AUTUMN!

I am so glad to see autumn. I'm not a massive fan of longer nights, or of plants dying back, and definitely not of cold or rain, but I am very pleased to be able to get my lovely woollies out of the wardrobe again, both knitted and woven. I pulled my favourite old purple tweed dress out today and felt so happy to be wearing it again. (The poor thing is very well worn, and while it doesn't show its age too badly on the outside, the lining is completely trashed.) I always feel smart in this dress. Tweed is a very forgiving fabric; it doesn't show every lump and bump, and it's jolly comfy too.

The down side of autumn is that I really need to get my act together and sew that [blorp!]ing sleeve on the 1930s jumper I finished knitting last year, because it's not going to sew up itself.

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

The Z Murders [books]

This is one of the books Gisela sent me, and you know what? This one's pretty good. Originally published in 1932, it's got a pace that a lot of novels of the same era lack. All the action takes place within a couple of days, though the hero Richard Temperley still manages to cover a good chunk of England in that time.

The preface likens this to the Paul Temple stories; I feel it could well have its roots in novels like The Thirty-Nine Steps or other adventure tales. Temperley gets drawn into the action after a train journey; he arrives in London on an overnight train disgruntled with a fellow passenger who'd been snoring throughout, but within a very short time of arriving, the other passenger is dead, and the lovely young lady who was the last person seen in the same room as him has fled. Cue Temperley chasing after the lady, trying to avoid the police (who, refreshingly in a novel of this era, are pretty sharp), and endeavouring to work out what the little 'z' symbols left at the scene of this death and the following ones mean.

Like adventure tales, it does get perhaps a bit silly, with a very odd villain and the strangest reason for the murders, but that's okay. The speed will sweep you along, even while you're tutting at the more ridiculous bits.


Monday, 28 August 2017

How to wash a sheepskin rug

A lot of people are put off sheepskin rugs because of a perceived difficulty in cleaning them. However, I've had mine for more than 15 years, and it gets washed at least once every year too. Before I go into how I clean my rug, it's important to keep your sheep as nice as possible the rest of the year. Give it regular shakes outdoors, and a good brushing every few months. And don't stamp around on it in your outdoor shoes! The less grubby you make it, the less cleaning it will need. Unfortunately, mine is right by the fireplace, so was looking horribly grey lately. Time it had a wash...

Friday, 25 August 2017

Three come along at once...

I have been properly ill this week. I spent pretty much all Saturday asleep with what felt like a nasty virus - feeling doubly awful as I was supposed to be going to Norwich for my brother's 40th birthday party that day - and then on Sunday it mutated into stomach trouble, about which I shall say no more. That knocked me out of action for a couple more days, but I had to be back at work on Tuesday as GamesMaster was on deadline. I am dedicated to getting my publications to press!

I managed to pass the lurgy on to poor Mr Robot. We usually meet most days for lunch, which is a bit sad I guess, but I'm happy that my husband is also my best friend. As he wasn't available, yesterday I thought I'd poke round the shops. Laura Ashley had a sale on, so I tried on a couple of dresses there, one tartan in a very 60s shape, and one shirt dress in one of their 70s prints. Neither looked right. My boobs looked awful in the former (a more 60s-style bra, like a Doreen, might've helped, but I wasn't willing to spend £60 without knowing for sure) and the other showed up my lack of waist horribly. It had a drawstring, and I had no nice curvy waist to draw it into, so it just sat forlornly on my belly. Feeling bad about my shape, I went for a whizz round the chazzas, and got a couple of nice tops that actually looked good on my blocky body for not much money at all. One was a sleeveless linen-look one, somewhere between navy and royal blue in colour, and the other was this navy print sleeveless blouse, which is modern but has a 60s vibe. Hooray for charity shops. Though I really do need to break my addiction to navy at some point.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Who ordered an early autumn?

Send it back, we haven't had summer yet!

Honestly, when we had a lovely June I thought we'd get a proper summer this year, then July was miserably wet, and August appears to have disappeared and we're having an early September. On the plus side, it's really putting me in the mood for my trip to Spain later this year. We usually go to Spain in the autumn, and this year we're having a couple of days in Madrid, as I really want to visit El Escorial, the palace, and then we're heading up to Zaragoza for a few days. I don't have any firm plans there, and I'm trying not to make any - I want it all to be a surprise, and to be able to do things as the mood takes us. There will be art, there will be beautiful buildings, and there will be tapas, but exactly what and when will remain a mystery.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

The steam fair's in town

Carter's Steam Fair is back at Victoria Park in Bath, so Mr Robot and I popped along after work this evening. I missed it last year because I was poorly, so it was lovely to go along again. The weather has been awful since the fair opened on Saturday, but tonight it was sunny. I was really excited to be revisiting the fair, so wore my very silly space cats dress, which someone at work described approvingly as 'f***ing bonkers'.

Here I am riding on the Gallopers. According to Carter's, there's a difference between British Gallopers and American Carousels. Gallopers turn clockwise, not anticlockwise, and carousel horses are prancing. To be honest, I'd never known there was a difference, but anyone can see Carter's Gallopers are a work of art, from the portraits of kings and queens above the horses, or music hall artistes round the centre of the ride, or the wonderfully decorated organ. I always go on this ride because it's so beautiful. You can see the steam engine that powers it glowing away in the centre.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

New shoes and ramblings

Once again life proves my theory that if I don't get what I want, it's because something better is waiting for me. The top I wanted had sold out on the sales, and the red loafers were too narrow and had to be sent back... but the green loafers I'd spotted earlier in the year and hadn't been in the sales suddenly did come into the sales, and thanks to the red loafers being too narrow I had a better idea what size to order.

Weirdly, though both pairs were from Van-Dal the red ones had been in British sizes and the green ones were in European sizes, so no half sizes. (If the appalling mess that is Brexit brings any benefit at all I'd quite like half-sizes for shoes back.) I ordered a six, and a wider fitting, because the problem with the red ones had been that they were too narrow, and the green ones are a little too long, with a gap of about a centimetre and a half at the end of the toes, but they're snug enough to be wearable.

Result: I now have green loafers. I've got loads of '60s clothes these will go perfectly with. I would have done a photo of me in them, but it looks like raining today, so I left my loafers at home. No point soaking them on their first day out.

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Go on a 1930s adventure

It's not often that my day job overlaps with this blog, but this is one of those rare occasions. Strange Brigade is a game that's been announced for PC, PlayStation 4 and XBox One, release date still to be announced, and it's a 1930s-set adventure game. Remember the short-lived ITV series Jekyll and Hyde? The vibe I'm getting from the game is similar. The four main characters - Frank Fairburne, a British soldier and dead shot with a rifle, northern lass Gracie Braithwaite, shotgun-packing Masai mama Natangu Rushia, and Oxford academic Archimedes de Quincy - are taking on Seteki The Witch Queen, who's unleashing all manner of ancient Egyptian nastiness.

I wouldn't have mentioned it as the game's a shooter, and I'm pretty sure most people who read this blog couldn't give a wet slap for shooting games (I'm not a fan myself), but there is also a series of books coming out based in the gameworld.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Dooooo want

A cup of tea and a slice of cake
Grab a cuppa, I'm rambling...
I'm not on deadline, which is usually the time when I go shopping-loopy, but I am hankering for THINGS anyway. (Now I do two magazines, there's a gap of about a week to a week and a half between them going to press.) And for some reason, the things I want are really pricy this time around. My charity shop purchases last weekend have done nothing to contain my covetousness.

Monday, 31 July 2017

The Incredible World of Spy-Fi [books]

How do you feel about spy gadgets? I have a love-hate relationship with them, because when they're put in a TV programme or film and used well, they really enhance the action, but some of the later Bond films - the Pierce Brosnan ones, especially - feel as though the makers picked a few double-entendre names, a selection of locations, and some really silly gadgets (invisible car, anyone?) and then tried to cobble a story around them somehow.

Danny Biederman, on the other hand, is a man who really likes his fictional spy gadgets, because everything in this book is in his personal collection, which he was invited to put in a private exhibition for the CIA. The actual CIA.

Sunday, 30 July 2017

In which I fail at pub, but win at shopping

The interior of the White Bear pub, Devizes
Inside the White Bear, Devizes
Yesterday Mr Robot and I decided to go on an Awfully Big Pubventure. Since our butcher closed its Trowbridge branch, we've been driving over to Devizes most Saturdays. Devizes is home to Wadworth's brewery, and there are some really nice looking pubs there. Instead of driving, yesterday we got the bus, with the aim of also sampling a few beers.

Sunday, 23 July 2017

A lovely parcel from Miss Magpie

Earlier this week I got a parcel note put through my door. Something was at the Post Office, waiting for me to sign for it. "How odd," I thought, "I'm sure I haven't bought anything." (I did buy a pair of cherry red patent loafers while on deadline, but they were delivered to Mr Robot's office, and turned out to be too narrow so they've already been returned.)

Yesterday I picked the parcel up, and it was a box of goodies from Gisela, who blogs over at Miss Magpie's Musings. She'd mentioned having some of the British Library republished vintage crime novels, and as she wouldn't read them again, said she'd pass them on to me. I'd completely forgotten, so it was a lovely surprise. Two - The Z Murders and Thirteen Guests - are by J Jefferson Farjeon. I wasn't so keen on Farjeon's Mystery In White, so it'll be interesting to see if these are better.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Homunculus - James P Blaylock [books]

See the words 'steampunk legend' below the author's name? Usually I'd get annoyed by this sort of thing, but in this case it's justified. Unusually compared to other subcultures, such as punk or goth, steampunk has its roots in literature, and three men in particular: K W Jeter, Tim Powers, and James Blaylock. Since then, and since the mid-noughties in particular, the subculture has grown, and there's been a real explosion in the number of stories written within this genre. Possibly the most surprising thing about Homunculus is how many of the cliches of modern steampunk aren't present.

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Beam Me Back, Scotty at the Museum of Brands

Yesterday Mr Robot and I went to London as our Twitter chum Emily was running her supperclub. She and her sister Amy cook Burmese food as The Rangoon Sisters, and we wanted to support them, and to enjoy some Burmese food we didn't have to cook ourselves. Because we got into London early with time to kill, I looked round to see if any interesting exhibitions were on, and discovered the Museum of Brands had one called 'Beam Me Back, Scotty'.

You might not have heard of the Museum of Brands. It's not one of the big national collections, it's the work of one man, Robert Opie. If you've an interest in old adverts, watch programmes like Back in Time for Dinner, or watch many other retro programmes, you'll have seen products from the Opie Collection. I suppose you could sum the collection up as 'things people buy'. Food in tins and packets. Toys. Cosmetics. And it's fascinating and lovely, because as nice as grand country houses are, for most of us, our history is on the shelves at the Museum of Brands.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Mumbai booked! And other travel plans

A toy robot
Note to self: pack robot
Yes, Mr Robot and I have booked a hotel for the Mumbai leg of our trip to India next year. And the Kolkata one, for that matter. When we book hotels, location is always our primary concern: I’d rather have somewhere less luxurious if it’s not far from the sights, because I don’t fancy walking miles or taking the bus to get where I want to be every day, but if the location I want is pricy, so be it. So we’ve ended up with one pretty cheap place in Kolkata, not far from BBD Bagh, and one rather expensive one in Mumbai, not far from the Gateway to India (though, as Mr Robot pointed out, it’s no more expensive than a hotel in London. And Vix, I know you read that last sentence in horror!). 

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Art deco glasses

Capricious beings, the charity shop gods. I popped into a few yesterday hoping for clothes, and did they deliver clothes? Of course not. Nor bags, shoes or even brooches.

What they did deliver is a quartet of 1930s glasses. I found a photo of an identical set of three plus a matching jug on Pinterest. It would be nice to have the jug too, but four glasses are generally more usable than three and I already have lots of jugs.

I'm rather pleased with this set. I've always loved jazz age homewares, and glasses aren't common finds.

All hail the charity shop gods!

Friday, 7 July 2017

Not shopping in the sales

Damn you, High Street. I'd been umming and ah-ing over whether to buy the 60s-feeling Seurat top from Fever, and then I missed the fact that their sale had started and now it's sold out. Gah. It would have been perfect with my navy trousers.

On the other hand, a number of other brands have sales on and I'm refusing to buy anything at all as now I'm going to the gym regularly, I'm really hoping I'll be able to wear some more of my genuine vintage soon. If I can't wear the summer dresses before summer's gone, I've got at least two suits that will be perfect for autumn and winter. I've never worn one, a beautiful late 40s/early 50s 'Cooltimer' by Printzess. It's the one on the left. Look at those curved pockets! That's the seller's original photo (I bought it from the excellent Soulrust on Etsy); needless to say I'll fill it out more than the mannequin does. And let's not talk about beige not being my colour. I've waited so long to wear that suit, I'm going to wear it even if I do look blah. A colourful blouse and jewellery will do the trick, I'm sure.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Hoorah for July

A tabby cat in front of a fuchsia bush
Thanks for your nice comments to my last post. Mum is loads better, and is now out of Critical Care, though she's still in hospital on a regular ward as she still needs an oxygen mask. It was good to go to Norfolk to see her, and to see she's recovering. Her chap, Brian, is taking good care of the house as well as the farm, so she can relax and get well. As she's a keen Harry potter fan I bought her a Harry Potter charm bracelet and three charms - the Hogwarts letter, the sorting hat, and a Gryffindor house badge. Gryffindor is her favourite house, and I reckon she belongs there.

Both cats repaid our absence by losing their collars as soon as we came home. Ziggy has a beige thing instead of his nice polkadot one seen in the photo (taken shortly before he got all the way up on the roof and started messing around on next-door's chimney pots), and Pippin has a blue camouflage one that doesn't suit her at all. I'm hoping for a nice wander round the chazzas this weekend, but will have to fit in a trip to the pet shop to find more appropriate collars for the little beasts.

Thursday, 29 June 2017

June continues to suck

My lovely mum is in hospital with viral pneumonia. I'm glad she's had a diagnosis, and that her friend nagged her into calling the out-of-hours service - she's been on a full oxygen mask, and I suspect would have died if she'd carried on trying to sleep off her ilness. Hoorah for good friends and the NHS. Anyway, I'll see you in July, and I promise I'll have a blogoversary giveaway for you, and hopefully a resumption of normal blogging service!

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Not ded, just busy

Sorry about the silence – I have MADE IT THROUGH E3 WEEK! E3 is the massive games convention in Los Angeles, and was held last week. All the new videogames are there, a lot of the big news comes out then... and I had a 68-page E3 supplement deadline on Friday, and the main mag deadline for Official PlayStation yesterday. That meant a couple of evenings working, and not much time to do anything interesting.

Mr Robot and I did go for a long, very drunken, tapas crawl on Saturday. It was a good way to clear my head. We'd come into Bath for The Vintage Home Show, and had a poke round all the beautiful furniture and homewares on offer. We didn't see anything that really fitted in with our house, though that's to be expected as ours is more 'Victorian explorer' than anything else. (We thought we might find plates or kitchenware, but nothing shrieked 'Buy me!') Anyway, once we'd seen that we decided to stay in the city, and it turned out Pintxo has a lovely little courtyard out the back, with flamenco music playing. We couldn't neglect dropping into Ole Tapas, and then Tapas Revolution was right by the train station... This is why 'tapear', to go for tapas, is a Spanish verb!

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Not altogether ooky

Last night Mr Robot took me to see The Addams Family at the Theatre Royal in Bath. I'm a big Addams Family fan, so even though the musical has had mixed reviews, I was keen to see it for myself.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Outfit post: Spaaaaaaace caaaaaats!

It's Unsuitable Deadline Day purchase time again! I have a list of things that would be genuinely useful for my wardrobe: a black jersey dress, chestnut brogues or loafers, plain navy top, white bra that actually fits… so what do I buy? A dress designed for someone fifteen years younger and four stone lighter than I am.

But look: space cats! It's got little astronaut cats coming out of space capsules, and other mogs in party hats celebrating.

Friday, 2 June 2017

Crinoline Robot's vintage week


My mojo is returning, slowly. I'm still knitting, slowly, and I've been organised enough to write and post a letter to Marija. I've even remembered that my embroidery is in my trunk so a bit more of that might get done one day! I made it through my print deadlines with only one Deadline Desperation purchase, a dress with cats dressed as astronauts on. (Yes, there will be photos.) My next deadline for OPM clashes with E3, the big international games convention in LA. As a vast chunk of the mag will be devoted to things on show at E3, all that will be coming in at the last minute so I will be stressed, stressed, STRESSED. Expect no blog posts and more novelty shopping mid-June. On a more sensible shopping front, last weekend I got some legging things to wear for the gym, though I still haven't got round to joining said gym. I'm not that organised.

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

The Mummy – and friends – returns

If you're a monster movie fan – and I know a few people who read this blog are, Melanie for one – you might view the news that Universal is bringing back its classic movie monsters with some trepidation. The first film, due to be released this year, will be The Mummy, with a Bride of Frankenstein one scheduled for 2019.

Monday, 29 May 2017

Two 1920s murder-mysteries

Ooooh, so close to recommended, these ones! Usually when I read old crime novels that have been republished, I find myself sort-of enjoying it, but also realising why the novel had lapsed out of print. The ones that stay in print – Agatha Christie, Dorothy L Sayers, Raymond Chandler – are all first-rate, and the ones that have lapsed are not quite the same standard. These two by Anthony Berkeley are actually really good murder mysteries, but with problems that make them hard to recommend to modern readers. As is so often the case, it's our old acquaintance, Attitudes Of Their Time, causing the trouble.

Friday, 26 May 2017

The Flying Scotsman

Built in 1923.

Hauler of the first direct London to Edinburgh service (1928).

First British train to reach 100mph (1934).

Steaming through my town (today).

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Outfit post: sunshine psychedelia

Ten years ago, this dress would have been the stuff of my nightmares. Crimplene, exuberant pattern… not something I'd have touched. Three years ago I'd probably still have quickly skimmed over it on the rack. But isn't it funny how tastes shift and change? I spotted this last week in Secondhand Rose's Etsy shop and pounced immediately.

Tara King is still very much one of my style icons, and my initial thought was, 'It's Taralicious!' Looking more closely at her, though, she tended to wear block colours and mini skirts. It's not really very Tara at all, though I do think in its bright colours and psychedelic pattern it is true to the spirit of the last series of The Avengers, even if it's not what Tara herself would wear.

Friday, 19 May 2017

Caro Emerald: Emerald Island

When we went to see Caro Emerald live, I felt her new songs had an Ennio Morricone feel, as though they'd been influenced by the composer behind the soundtracks from the great spaghetti westerns. There was something about the arrangements… That meant I started listening to this EP expecting all sorts of odd instruments and sound effects, noticeable changes in tempo and so on. Yet I don't get that from the EP; tonally it feels closer to Deleted Scenes From The Cutting Room Floor than The Shocking Miss Emerald, but it's unmistakably Caro.

Caro's said that it was inspired by the 'exotica' genre of the 1950s/60s, but that doesn't come through half as much in the recordings as it does when the songs are played live. There's a mariachi note to the brass in 'Never Ever' , and plenty of brass in 'Whatchugot', but that sounds relatively modern to my ears, in the same way 'Back It Up' from Deleted Scenes does.

I prefer Shocking Miss to Cutting Room, and I think I prefer Cutting Room to this. 'The Ghost Of You', with its tango feel, and 'Tahitian Skies', which has a strangely-shifting melody, are my favourites, but there's nothing as immediately catchy as 'Liquid Lunch' or 'Pack Up The Louie'. Perhaps if I listen to it more I'll fall in love with it, but at the moment, this is one I don't feel is essential.

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Crinoline Robot's vintage week

Four 1960s fabrics and three 1960s brooches, all greenAre you on Instagram? I'm currently doing #thevintage fashionchallenge - each day has a theme, and you simply take an image each day to go with the theme. Some people don't like Instagram as they feel there's a lot of one-upmanship and promoting unreal expectations on there, but it really depends on who you follow. I like it because it's generally a very cheerful sort of social media, with people sharing good times and pretty things, and just about everyone could do with more of that. I've found it's got me to look afresh at my clothes and accessories, and it's made me realise I'm really lucky to have so many nice things that I love. Not as many nice things as a lot of bloggers own (most of my clothes fit into a single wardrobe) perhaps, but enough.

Today's theme was 'favourite colour', and I had to choose green. I have rather more green jewellery than I'd realised, too. That said, navy was a very strong contender; that's probably the colour I wear most. Tomorrow has an accessory theme; it's handbag time for me!

Monday, 1 May 2017

A Goody bag

If you read Goody's blog, you'll know she is the Queen of Accessorising. (And if you don't read it, you should, because she is the Queen of Accessorising.) She recently did a post featuring a navy handbag; I mentioned I was looking for a navy handbag, and she kindly said she'd send me one. And here it is! Isn't it splendid? I love the swooping curves of the suede and leather panels.

The label inside says it is a 'Life Stride' handbag. I did a quick Google search and it looks as though Life Stride are a shoe company – makes sense – and they're still going today. Thanks to the fact the company changed its typeface fairly regularly, I can be certain this particular bag is late 1950s-1960s. It looks it from the outside, but the label proves it. Isn't it nice when manufacturers are so considerate?

(On the subject of handbags, did you see Antiques Roadshow at the weekend? They had a vintage boxy bag with gold-plated interior with holders for things like lipstick and perfume, and it LIT UP. A light-up handbag? How cool is that?)

Being naughty in the best possible way, Goody sent me a pile of other things too.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Slow your Mustang down

Slowing down and social media don't really go together. Even though I don't pay much attention to the number of followers my blog has, I still get the fear that if I go too long without posting everyone will move on and I'll find myself shouting into a digital void. (This is stupid. On the internet, there's always someone listening, even if it's just a troll who'll respond with 'lulz u suck' or an impressively rich bloke with a vast amount of money he needs to store in your bank account and just needs your account numbers for.) Of late, though, I haven't so much fallen out of the habit of posting, as deliberately embraced it. I don't have to live my life online. I can just live it.

My current knitting is making me think about slowness. Yeah, it's the same cardigan for a friend that I started at Christmas. I did warn the recipient that I am a slow knitter! It's not even from a vintage pattern, so I don't share it with you. It's coming along, though: every day I do a little bit, and it gets closer to completion. It started with one stitch, and will end with one stitch, so none of the others in between are any less important, they just seem less noteworthy. I don't think I'll manage to knit a 1960s summer top in time to wear it, though. Maybe I should start a winter knit as soon as I've finished the cardi.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Escaping in books

I've been hiding away in books a lot lately. Well, who wouldn't? Usually the settings are nicer and the manners better - if you read as much Golden Age crime as I do, that is. My latest reads have been a 1930s crime novel and a couple of 1970s science fiction TV tie-ins.

Murder of a Lady was a Christmas gift (my Amazon wishlist keeps my family happy!) but I've only just got round to reading it. I hadn't read any of Anthony Wynne's novels before this one, but it doesn't leave me enthused to read more.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Outfit post: I'm with the (hair)band

Wide hairbands are definitely my thing right now. Mr Robot reckons they make me look like Axl Rose but I don't care. (I hope he means the 1990s version, when Axl was quite pretty, and not the way he looks at present.) Today I decided to fold up a lovely 1960s scarf Curtise sent me and use that. It's satin, so was a bit slippery in my hair, but it's in place now. Most of my hairbands are stretchy fabric ones from Claire's Accessories; I check back every so often to see if they've made them in any new colours and buy any that I'm missing.

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

A pre-1960s tweed jacket

You wanted to see more of my GA Dunn and Co tweed jacket, and the weather's taken a slightly cooler turn so here it is. I'm being very careful to keep it away from the urchins as it's a coarsely-woven fabric and they'd pluck it with their spiky little feets.

The dress isn't the ideal match for it – there's no navy in the jacket, and it is warm in tone where the dress is cool – but I wanted to wear both items, so I'm hoping Vix's rule of 'If you wear things you like, they'll all go together because you like them' comes into play. Both are fairly smart, so they match in 'personality', if not in colour. I'd really like something either in jade green or rust to wear with the jacket. I would opt for a pair of coloured trousers, but I'm not brave enough to buy a slim-fitting pair – go go gadget bowling ball belly – and fear that coloured slacks would look horrendously mumsy. This is why I usually stick to fairly formal, mannish tailoring for trousers. Perhaps in Autumn I could raid M and S's menswear section for a pair of cords...

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Be My Baby [music]

The cover for the CD compilation Be My Baby
Who doesn't love the sassy girl bands of the 60s? From the bad-girl Shangri-Las to the effervescent Crystals to the romantic Ronettes, there's something captivating about them. I love the tight vocal harmonies, snappy pace and overall feeling of fun. And, of course, they're all pretty good hairdo/fashion inspiration for me. I've been wanting a compilation of girl band hits for a while, and thought this one would fit the bill.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Caro Emerald in Cardiff

Caro Emerald is currently touring the UK, and yesterday Mr Robot and I went to see her performing in Cardiff. (I know, I know - I left the house and did something that wasn't charity shopping.)

Monday, 3 April 2017

Chazza success

After moaning for weeks about not finding anything in my local chazzas. Oh boy, did they deliver! I'll start with the biggie, a pre-1960s tweed jacket. According to some posts I saw on the Vintage Fashion Guild forum by the 1960s the 'G.A.' had been dropped from the Dunn and Co labels, so that gives me a vague date for it. I was quite surprised it was so early, as the colours in the tweed are more exuberant than I'd expect from a lot of menswear - there's rust and a vibrant jade green in the mix. Thinking about it, the 1920s-30s was quite a time for bold menswear, the 20s in particular. Could this jacket be from that date? I have no idea how the labels changed over the years, and a search on Google Images and Pinterest didn't help - I couldn't even find many adverts.

Friday, 31 March 2017

Not with a bang, but a whimper

A tabby cat trying to steal dan dan noodles
Not for cats!
My local butcher is closing. You have no idea how upset that makes me. Happily, it was an odd, outlying branch – the main shop is in Devizes – and the staff have been given work at the main shop, but I'm still really unhappy. 

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Things that are making me happy

Three midcentury handbags
The three I'm currently switching between - and I
didn't pay more than £6 for any of them!
I was going to come on here and grumble – summer is coming, and with it my annual flail about being fat – but you know what? Grumbling's no good to anyone. It won't solve my problems (not unless I flail at aerobic levels for at least 30 minutes a day, at any rate) and it won't brighten your day. So, instead of that nonsense*, here are some things that are making me happy.

My handbags
Like perfume and most jewellery, handbags always fit. (Actually, my 1930s bride's book would probably disagree as it was very strict about larger ladies not carrying delicate bags, or petite ones carrying large bags, but never mind that.) I spent most of the winter toting my leather crossbody bag around out of sheer laziness, so it's been wonderful to get back into carrying my vintage boxy bags again. Switching cards, lipsticks, keys and so on in the morning can feel like a faff, but a nice and appropriate bag certainly brightens every day.

Friday, 24 March 2017

Professor Elemental and His Amazing Friends [music]

Hop-hop isn't my thing at all, so I'm still not sure why I like Professor Elemental. Perhaps it's because I've seen him live, in the company of steampunks, and he always puts on a fantastic show. Perhaps it's that the samples he uses are often from vintage music, little snippets of trumpet or clarinet or jazz piano, which echo the music I listen to normally enough to feel accessible. Perhaps it's his sense of fun, singing about animals and tea and the joy of simply being at home. Whatever. I like it. 

Monday, 20 March 2017

Bright Young People [books]

It's taken me a while to finish reading this book charting the lives of the 1920s 'Bright Young People'. I don't know why; the 1920s as a decade fascinate me greatly, and the men and women who made up London's most newsworthy social set at that time in many ways exemplify what we think of when we imagine the period.

Possibly I didn't immediately get to grips with the book because on the whole I like stories, and the Bright Young People were more numerous than you usually encounter in stories featuring fictional characters, and real lives don't rarely have neat and tidy beginnings and endings. DJ Taylor gets round that by opening with the event that was possibly 'peak Bright Young People', the Bath and Bottle party thrown by Elizabeth Ponsonby, 'Babe' Plunkett Greene, Eddie Gathorne-Hardy and Brian Howard, held in a swimming pool with attendees in bathing suits. While the exact pattern of the rise of the BYPs might be debatable, and their lives after the early 1930s all move off in different directions, that party was unarguably one featuring all the central figures, with all the press attention and notoriety that characterised the group. Nonetheless, with so many people and places popping up, at first everything felt (to me) rather chaotic.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

RIP Chuck Berry

I was saddened to hear Chuck Berry had died. Admittedly, all the music of his that I listen to is from the 1950s and 1960s, but still, there's such joy in it. Chuck Berry's music is something I reckon everyone could do with now and again, even if they don't realise it.

Despite not being a teenager when he brought out his best-known records, there's still something about them that captures the happiness of being young, that time when you have less to care about yet somehow everything matters so much more. As I age, I simultaneously mourn the passing of youthful passion and drive, and am glad it's gone because if I had to care about work and my mortgage and the state of the world in the way I once got annoyed at people's perceptions of goths and not being able to find the right sort of boots, I'd be an emotional wreck. Chuck Berry seemed able to recapture that youthful drive in his music - listen to the utter frustration at not being able to make out with his girlfriend because of a broken seatbelt in 'No Particular Place To Go' and tell me that isn't the very essence of being a teenager right there.

So, don't rest in peace, Chuck Berry: wherever you are, I hope it's got guitars and diners and seatbelts that work properly. And your music is out there somewhere on the Voyager spacecraft, so wherever it is, it could well outlast our whole planet.

Friday, 17 March 2017

A day out around Wiltshire

16th-century houses in Devizes
16th-century houses in Devizes
We haven't been out much this week, having had DIY to do. However, as part of our ongoing (neverending!) work on the house, we really want a cabinet to go in the dining room to hold the plates and so on that we keep buying from charity shops. Having finally got rid of the 1950s Prestcold fridge, we decided to go to Chippenham to check out the two furniture chazzas there - one British Heart Foundation, and one Dorothy House (local hospice charity).

While both shops had some great stuff (if you're looking for a 30s-looking wardrobe or 1950s dressing table, Chippenham has what you need) neither had the sort of cabinet we were looking for. Our search is complicated by the fact that our dining room radiator doesn't leave much width, but we need the cabinet to be deep enough to hold plates. I found a lovely display cabinet that looked quite 1920s-30s to me (not deco, just of that time) in the BHF shop, but it simply didn't have the depth.

As we hadn't spent masses of time in Chippenham, we drove home via Devizes, thinking perhaps we needed to start looking in proper antique shops rather than in charity shops.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

New sofa and chair


Our lovely new sofa and chair got delivered from Old Boot on Monday. We'd been looking round for a sofa with very straight sides. Our living room is pretty small, and the current fashion is for sofas to have curved arms, but they take up too much room. When we saw this design, we knew it was exactly what we wanted.

The sofa is a hand-finished deep red, and the chair vintage tan. Why different colours? Well, the chair doesn't come in red, and anyhow we didn't want too much in the room all looking the same. (I know, me taking the non-matchy option. Who'd have expected that?)