Monday, 19 March 2018

Maximum City - 48 Hours In Mumbai

I was planning to write about our weekend of vintage selling but the weather put paid to that. Saturday's fair at Walthamstow (where the above photo was taken) was pretty good considering the hideous temperatures, incessant snow showers and the Met Office severe weather warnings but yesterday's fair at Moseley had to be postponed until April after most of us got up and discovered that we were snowed in. Come on Spring!

I thought I'd share a few photos from our trip to Mumbai instead, although India's heat and humidity seem but a dim and distant memory today. The sweat dribbling down my back and my hair clinging to my shoulders like seaweed is in stark contrast as I sit here with the wood burner crackling away  & looking out on a garden swathed in a blanket of white.

We stayed at Moti International, an elegantly crumbling, ramshackle Colonial-era family mansion a stone's throw from the Gateway of India which you may remember was our base a couple of years ago. Despite being in the heart of bustling Colaba, owner Mr Raj (who occupies the top two floors with his family) is a passionate gardener and his collection of lush potted palms helped filter out most of the traffic noise. Jon & I loved helping ourselves to an ice-cold Kingfisher from the communal fridge in the hallway and sitting on the marble steps, watching the madness of Mumbai unfold before our eyes.

We took a room on the first floor because Jon loved the drama of the rickety wooden staircase.

We'd spent the previous three weeks in Goa and only had a couple of days in Mumbai before our flight home but, as always, we managed to pack loads into those 48 hours. Our flight landed at 7am and, after a quick stop for a breakfast of Parsi-style scrambled eggs (with chilli and green mango), we headed to Sassoon Docks to watch the Marathi fishermen unloading the morning's catch from the boats. The women squatted on their haunches in circles, gossiping and tossing the freshly gutted fish into straw baskets whilst well-fed cats prowled around, feasting on fish guts and mewling for more. Because the area is a port, photography wasn't allowed but we did take the picture above - all that remained of a recent arts festival in the city.

Street cats! We're always amazed at how friendly and well-fed the moggies of Mumbai are. These boys were just a few of the cats hanging around Pasta Lane in Colaba.

The lovely thing about Mumbai is that despite the general chaos there's loads of green spaces where you can sit in peace. Elderly ladies resplendent in chiffon sarees and trainers do one hour circuits of this tiny square every morning.

After a few hours of aimlessly wandering we called into Kyani, one of the many Parsi food joints dotted around downtown Mumbai. We feasted on super spicy veg patties and sweet-salt lime sodas (spending the grand total of £1.50) before continuing on our way.

We continued on to Kala Ghoda, the epicentre of Mumbai's hip and happening arts scene as well as a great place to shop. We're big fans of Cotton Cottage, a shop that specialises in hand-made, block printed, Indian cotton clothes - there's also a couple of branches in Goa. There's often a sale at this time of year so Jon stocked up on granddad shirts and I bought a couple of maxi length wrap-around skirts (we're wearing our buys in the Moti collage). New to Mumbai this year was a massive Zara although I did wonder about the logic of displaying a beige wool cape in the window when it was nudging 36° and I don't think I've ever seen an Indian woman dressed in beige.

I loved the albums covers on display at the second-hand vinyl stall. Sadly the proprietor was nowhere to be seen (probably off feeding the cats like most of the other market traders) so we left empty handed.

After a quick shower back at Moti we rushed down to the Taj with the rest of Mumbai to watch the sun setting over the Arabian Sea before beers and dinner at one of the swanky bars on Marine Drive.

We'd booked the Dharavi slum tour for the afternoon of the following day so after a breakfast of upma (a dry-roasted savoury semolina porridge) & masala chai in a tiny hole in the wall food joint on Colaba Causeway we set off to Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya or, as most Mumbaikers still call it, The Prince Of Wales Museum.

We queued behind this adorable group. How on earth do Indian schoolchildren always manage to look so immaculate?

Built in the Indo-Sarenic style by George Wittet in 1904 to commemorate the visit of Edward VIII, the museum is set in the verdant Victoria Gardens and houses over 50,000 exhibits of ancient Indian history as well as objects from all over the world, categorised into three sections: Art, Archaeology and Natural History.

We loved the thought-provoking displays created by local schoolchildren from waste materials.

The sheer amount of stuff on display was overwhelming. I took loads more photos - which I've shared HERE.

The antique textiles were particularly fabulous.

The image below is possibly one of the best vintage clothing labels I've ever seen!

 After lunch in Churchill's, a favourite Parsi cafe of ours on Colaba Causeway, we dashed back to Moti for a quick change before racing off to Churchgate Station in time to meet the Reality Tour guide and the other tourists. (Read more about our slum tour HERE).

 Before dinner that night we browsed the stalls thronging the pavements of Colaba Causeway as I needed to stock up on leather chappals (I ended up buying three pairs for £10 - I haggled hard) and also snaffled the dress in the photo above from a little boutique which I thought would be ideal for our next trip to India. It was a fixed price shop and cost 700 rupees (around £7.60).

When I was rummaging around a dusty tailor's shop in Goa I found the remains of a bolt of block-printed homespun cotton. The shopkeeper called it "old fashioned" and tried to get me to chose a polka dot polyester, very popular in your country. I explained that I was an old-fashioned girl and handed over the kimono-sleeve dress I wore in most of my Gujarat photos to copy. Twenty-four hours later and at a cost of £15 this dress was mine.

The uber cool Bombay Vintage was the location for our last dinner in India. The food was excellent, the beer  plentiful and a lot of the accompanying 1960s Bollywood filmi soundtrack was just our thing. 

Mumbai, we love you, we can't wait to see you again!

Linking to Patti & the gang for Visible Monday.

Friday, 16 March 2018

Charity Shopping & Mini Makes

Look! I'm finally out of the doll's house and back to full-size. Here in the real world, life continues as usual. We've been out and about vintage hunting so the washing machine is on overdrive and I'm back to mending like a maniac. In vehicle news Jon's trusty mechanic managed to weld the undercarriage back on to the van (that's the works van - Gilbert is enjoying his annual winter break) so the need to replace it isn't quite so urgent.

You'll be pleased to hear that I've been wearing clothes. Today's outfit is a '70s cotton maxi by Gerard of Paris - it's been on the rails in the stockroom for ages as no-one but me can get the zip up, I think that's a sign from the vintage selling gods telling me that I have to keep it. The maxi coat was a £2 bargain - not the greatest quality but the colour, described as freesia, makes me very happy. The brass necklace is made by a hill tribe in Orissa (another Indian state on my must-visit list) but bought in Tamil Nadu. The papier mache bangles are Kashmiri but found in Black Country chazzas. The 1950s beach bag came from a car boot sale years ago and cost me 20p.

Monday's outfit consisted of a British-made maxi dress I bought new (!) in the dregs of the winter sales for £2. As it's so low cut, I stuck an emerald green charity shopped swimsuit underneath to preserve my modesty. The Welsh wool cape last made an appearance on the blog before we went to India. 

I picked up this super funky denim jacket for £2 in the charity clearance shop on Wednesday. Labelled Marguerite Thursby, a bit of internet research revealed that she was one of the British Crown Colony of Hong Kong's leading dressmakers of the 1970s, her clothes were worn by, amongst others, the then governor's wife, Lady MacLehose. I'm wearing it was my beloved slinky psych maxi I bought from eBay for 99p years ago - at £2.99 this got to be one of my cheapest outfits.

I nearly walked past it - I find the charity shops that colour co-ordinate their stock an absolute nightmare to shop in - but the zips caught my eye. Nothing says 1970s more than a big white plastic zip. 

If the weather forecast is to be believed we're in for more snow this weekend so finding this Missoni wool scarf in another clearance charity shop couldn't have come at a better time - although Jon's claiming finder's rights to it. 

Swedish Hasbeens for £1.99 in Banardos? Don't mind if I do. Roll on Summer!

I'd show you our latest finds but they're already packed for this weekend's back-to-back vintage selling extravaganza, which kicks off with Walthamstow tomorrow (details HERE) followed by Moseley on Sunday (details HERE). 

It's not often I come across 1950s dresses in such pristine condition (two are by Horrockses) so I did photograph these beauties the minute I got them home. I'll be taking them along with us at the weekend. 

Meanwhile, back in the world of miniatures, here's my new sewing space. The cupboard is made from matchboxes, dressmaking pins and beads and covered in a photo of our curtains. The Picasso is from a 1970s necklace and the patterns are photocopies of some of my stash, scaled down and printed off. The ferns came from a plastic palm tree I found in a 20p charity shop rummage box. The metal sewing machine was £1.75 from eBay.

The kitchen is coming together. I won these 1970s Lundby cupboards on eBay for £2.19. I found pictures of the original kitchen set they came from and printed off an imagine of the splash back onto glossy photo paper, glued it to heavy duty card and then attached both cupboards.

The flooring has the same black and white quarry tiles in our real-life kitchen and also, just like Stonecroft, no.62 has patchwork curtains.

I'm having so much fun playing with miniatures I've just gone and bought another doll's house! Pictures to follow shortly.

See you soon!

Monday, 12 March 2018

Inside Number 62

It's official, I'm now utterly obsessed with dolls houses.

This was the original 1932 catalogue advert for my inherited dolls house. The Lines Brothers toy-making company was founded by brothers Walter, William and Arthur Lines on returning to civilian life after WW1. They used Tri-Ang as a brand name since a triangle is made from three lines and at one time the London-based company claimed to be the largest toy maker in the world. From the 1930s through until the 1950s Tri-Ang produced a large proportion of Britain's dolls houses - each style was issued with a different number (numbers 49 through to 53 are Art Deco mansions to kill for, see HERE). During the late-1960s business started to flounder and sadly, in 1971, Tri-Ang ceased trading.

Mum's childhood pride and joy can no longer be described as magnificent, there's a hole in the roof, the chimneys and one of the garage doors are missing as is a double upstairs window but, according to the blogs I've recently discovered it's extremely rare for the single downstairs window to survive and to have a functioning door knocker and letterbox plate. When I was little the light bulbs in each room all worked, powered by a battery almost as big as my head attached to the back.

As a child no.62 always felt like a grander version of The Cottage, the house that I grew up in.

WEARING: Handmade crochet and fabric maxi skirt (present from Liz), floppy felt hat and vintage suede platforms (charity shopped), Indian tribal pendant (a gift from Ila Pop), Off-the-shoulder shirred hippy top (£1, retail sale)
I seem to spend a large part of my life hanging around the derelict homes of my childhood. Here's me in The Cottage last November.

The metal windows still had their original curtains - until I got my hands on them! They were filthy and rotten and I'm sure I can come up with a far groovier alternative.

Overhead are the original electrics (which I've now removed). I'm going to screw cup hooks into the ceiling to suspend some home-made lamp shades.

Can I restore it? After a weekend dedicated to all things miniature it's beginning to take shape. The new floors are down, the ceilings are painted and the staircase is a mini replica of our full-sized one down to the Wall of Misery and the papered risers on the staircase.

Like Stonecroft, our real house, no.62 is going to be decorated with skip finds, inherited pieces and hand-made stuff - no running off to the shops and buying new - I want a house filled with personality and not a soulless show home.

The latest additions to No. 62 include some inherited 1940s Dol-Toi furniture, a Tudor style dresser I painted teal, a fireplace I painted pink and tiled (with Poundland's 3 for a quid Washi tape), a pair of brass candlesticks, a Robin Hood book and an Art Deco style clock.  I made the rug from a cut down napkin (which was in the parcel Sarah sent me) and trimmed it with pom-poms. The reading lamp was the top from a used-up bottle of Jon's shave cream covered with Washi tape and glued to a Bakelite thimble I found in the button box. The pouffe was the lid off a carton of milk covered in felt, edged with vintage braid and with cocktail sticks for legs. The hipster stag's head was sawn off a broken 1950s Kenyan antelope figurine and glued to a shield shaped piece of cardboard. The fancy coat was photocopied from the book Lynn sent me,blu-tacked to a coat hanger I made from jeweller's wire. The Lundby Gustavian-style clock, bread bin, ceramic poodle and mannequin were things I already had and Helen is a brooch Tania made me years ago.  

This obsession will have to be put on the back-burner very soon - we've got back-to-back vintage fairs to prepare for next weekend. 

Linking to Patti & the gang for Visible Monday. See you soon!