Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Look Back In Zandra

I don't usually dress up for blog posts, my outfit photos are just what I've worn that day, but I'm helping to get the monthly jumble sale ready this afternoon and I reckon that, even for me, a mourning jacket and Great-Grandfather's top hat might be a tad impractical for humping tables around and sorting through bags of stained underwear.

So I'm just posing in yesterday's top chazza find, an unworn, early 1970s, 100% silk maxi skirt by Zandra Rhodes. What a result, I get to own a piece of iconic British vintage design and two of Birmingham's homeless charities benefit!

As it's almost Halloween, why not accessorise it with some of my dead ancestors' creepy belongings? My Victorian pinchbeck mourning brooch featuring Oscar Wilde lookalike, my great-great Grandfather.

My great-Grandmother's silver and blue enamel pocket watch - which still holds perfect time (except on a witch like me, capable of making time stand still whenever a timepiece goes within inches of me).

My Great-great grandmother's mourning jacket which has featured numerous times previously, but who doesn't love drooling over jet beads, shot silk, black velvet and a bad-ass Victorian bustle? 

The Christy's of London top hat which belonged to Grandma's father who worked on the Liverpool & Manchester railway. Check him out HERE.

Who doesn't look good in a top hat? Surely the sexiest headgear known to man.
(Linking to Judith's Hat Attack.)

Like most grumpy Brits we won't be doing anything for Halloween other than locking the gates at sunset to keep out any passing trick or treaters - there's no way Jon's sharing his stash of Haribo with anyone.

See you soon!

Monday, 28 October 2013

Take A Walk On The Wild Side

I had to be at the doctor's at 8am this morning which, according to the BBC was right when St Jude, the storm currently battering the UK, was due to reach the Midlands. 

However, other than a bit of rain and an overnight power-cut, it was all a bit of a non-event and my wind-proofed hair and cosy layers for the 5 minute walk around the corner wasn't really necessary.

I wish I could blame the weather on the weirdness of my photos today, not sure what setting the camera was on but they look distinctly blurry. I must try reading the manual.

This was our pitch yesterday.

I rescued my repurposed trellis from the garden to make a display frame for the kitsch art badges Jon & I spent Saturday afternoon making.

My glamorous assistant.....

1960s catsuit (the divine Helga), ridiculous disco ball earrings (off the market), 1970s silver Ravel platforms (£3.95, Cancer UK, 2011), hair by Jon!
...and his boss!

Sales were great considering there weren't as many people through the doors as usual. There's a bagful of empty coat hangers and shoe trees, ready to be replenished ready for next Sunday's fair in Warwick (details HERE).

As I'm frantically saving for India, I tried my very best to avoid looking at everyone else's stalls but when a friend's daughter pointed out this amazing swimsuit I couldn't say no!

Another friend bought this fan for me. I do love a bit of Spanish tat.

And these 1971 & 1972 copies of Golden Hands a mate gave me will keep me happy for hours. I actually bought the rug on the cover of the magazine in the bottom right hand corner from a car boot sale in the Summer (HERE). I'd kill to own the crochet halter neck maxi in the middle of the top row, maybe if I wait long enough I'll find it secondhand.

Psychedelic 1970s velvet maxi (£10, Vintage shop, Spitalfields), 1970s suede jacket (from a friend's Dad's loft), striped top (50p, car boot sale, 2011), Patchwork bag (20p, jumble sale), earrings made by Tamera and pendant by Helga

Hope you had a fabulous weekend. I'm off to visit Dad, B&Q (massive DIY superstore) and then tackle the mountain of stock, still bagged up from last night...wish me luck on all three counts!

See you soon.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Dressed in Biba

As soon as I received this amazing Biba halterneck from my friend, Barbara in The Netherlands, I wanted to wear it. The monsoon-like conditions battering the UK this week aren't exactly suited to backless, cropped tops so I improvised and wore it over my very special maxi.

So what makes this particular dress so special? Easy, it signifies the day my life changed forever. 

I bought it from a jumble sale in March, 2010, the day before Jon & I were due to fly out to India for a month. As usual I'd been to say goodbye to my parents, excitedly telling Mum how I'd found the most amazing dress but she'd have to wait 'til I was back home before she saw it. 

It was the last conversation I was to ever have with her. 

Within a week of us arriving in Goa she'd collapsed with a suspected stroke, never to regain her speech. The hospital's initial diagnosis turned out to be wrong, Mum was terminally ill with pancreatic cancer and there was no hope of any recovery. At best, she had just a few weeks left. If things weren't bad enough the news coincided with the Icelandic volcanic ash cloud (which grounded all flights to and from Europe) and I couldn't get back to be with her. I was trapped in paradise.

When we finally got a flight back the first thing I did was stop off on the way to the hospital and change into the dress before taking my place at Mum's bedside. She couldn't speak but I knew she loved it as much as I did. During those last few days I tried to wear something equally spectacular for every visit. Appearance was always hugely important to Mum. I plaited her hair, painted her nails and dressed her in the tie-dyed caftans and embroidered house dresses I'd spent my time searching Goa for whilst grounded. Despite the sad memories, putting this dress on never fails to make me happy, it's optimism in polyester form.

Bloody hell, hope that wasn't too depressing a read. 
 Let's have a look at this week's charity shop finds for a bit of light hearted entertainment, shall we?

Clockwise from top left: 1960s Dhobi overcoat, hipster-tastic 1980s snow-wash shirt, 1950s duster coat, 1980s coat dress (I used to think I was Jerry Hall in mine back in the day), 1980s Chelsea Girl coat, Shubette of London leopard midi dress, 1970s cord tote, 1960s fake fur coat, West German-made 1980s jacket, 1970s donkey jacket, 1970s Colony of Hong Kong tartan shirt, 1980s crushed velvet mini, 1970s St Michael belted cardi, 1960s Rembrandt silk cocktail dress, Charlotte Halton 1980s backless velvet skater dress

The grooviest yoghurt maker ever. It's been working it's magic since 7am and should be ready for an afternoon snack before the pub.

Foreign-made Kitscherama for Sunday's fair.

Biba lurex halterneck worn with 1960s psychedelic maxi (20p, church jumble sale) and Lamani gypsy choker (India)
You'd think that being trapped in paradise might have dented my love for India but no, I still adore it. Only sixty-six days to go until my 22nd visit.

Have a fab weekend and see you on the other side!

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Would You Like To Marry Me? And If You Like You Can Buy The Ring

For a woman who's managed to avoid all things marriage-related for the best part of forty-seven years, I suppose it's pretty freaky that one of my most favourite ever frocks is this crocheted wedding dress from 1967. 

Snaffled from the bottom of a suitcase from a house clearance stall at the car boot sale, it came complete with a flesh-coloured underskirt to preserve the blushing bride's modesty. It's a bitch to wear though, the sleeves catch on everything and it's not unknown for cutlery, coat hangers or biros to get tangled up and trailed around for the best part of the day.

I spotted this 70s crochet skull cap on our charity shop expedition yesterday, it's perfect for hiding my hideous roots which seem to have surfaced overnight. So with a 1" wide blonde parting I won't be modelling the hair bows I've made from scraps of vintage fabric, Indian braid and broken jewellery this week. 

I'd better think of a more commercial name than Bastard Massive Hair Bows, I might offend some of the more ladylike visitors when I take them to Sunday's fair. I'm already a vintage outcast for not liking Elvis, '50s repro fashion, Audrey Hepburn or c*pcakes as it is.

The official blog photographer loves taking surreptitious snaps of my arse. Curtise isn't the only person to have trouble with photos, I can't even control the cameraman. 

Vintage wedding dress (£5, car boot sale, 2008), Crochet skull cap (95p, SENSE), Handmade-by-me bag (20p), Wooden beads (Made by gorgeous Spanish Senorita, Tania), Rainbow hoop earrings (Adorable La Dama), Velvet platform boots (£9, Office sale, 2011)
The bag made from a seat cover brought more charity shop magic yesterday. I'll share my finds once I've laundered, repaired and ironed them all.

See you soon.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Flower Power

Phew! What a weekend. It's testament to how busy we were at Saturday's vintage fair as I didn't even get a chance to take a photo of Kinky Melon's pitch.

One customer was so pleased with her purchase that she popped out and came back with a bunch of flowers for me. Rachel inspired me to use one of my Dartmouth Pottery glug jugs to display them in.

How dim am I? It had never occurred to me to do anything other than look at them previously.

I hadn't seen our stray cat (still nameless) for a couple of days, although she'd polished off the food we'd left outside for her, so she was very excited to see us this morning.

Photobombing like a proper blogger pet. She's a keeper!

We've got another vintage fair on Sunday (details HERE) and, still being on a high from Bridgnorth, I'm set up, labelled and ready to go.

Giving me plenty of time to mess around:

Making spicy pumpkin and apple soup,

Re purposing a broken mirror (a casualty from a friend's stall at the weekend) into a trellis,

And hopefully getting creative with a stash of donated fabric scraps and some broken jewellery in front of The Young Montalbano this afternoon.

1960s floral maxi (courtesy of Heather in California) 

That's if the cat ever decides to leave me alone!
(The other two are fine, Stephen Squirrel is still meow-less and Polly Piglet's camping under the bed cover).

See you soon.

Linking to Patti and the gang over at Visible Monday.

Friday, 18 October 2013

My Beautiful Neighbourhood

It was one of those rare Autumnal days yesterday, the type you normally only see in films, crispy leaves underfoot, brilliant sunshine and a bearable nip to the air. After two days of torrential rain, fog and bone-chilling cold it was a welcome change. On went the layers and the comfy footwear as we took the camera on a leisurely stroll around the block.

Welcome to suburbia.

The neighbourhood was built in Victorian times as a village for the town's wealthy.

Obviously things went downhill when Jon and I moved in.

This house (and it's owner) has featured on Come Dine With Me.

This pretty house looks like it's seen better days.

Local legend, Rob Halford from Judas Priest, used to live here.

Gorway Cricket Club was built in 1909, I worked as a barmaid here in the 1980s.

It's a perfect place to be on a sunny Summer's afternoon, drinking cheap real ale and catching a bit of cricket.

No prizes for guessing the political persuasion of the original owner.

Good to see so many original features remaining.

Our nearest neighbour...

and that's our house just behind it.

Greenhill Walk is the quickest route to the pub,  paved in the famous Black Country-made Staffordshire Blue Paviours, it's lethal when it's frosty and, as it's unlit, terrifying on the way home.

Highgate's derelict windmill was built over 200 years ago.

During WW2 it was used as an observation post by air raid wardens but fell into disrepair during the 1960s. It is privately owned and closed to the public.

Early Victoria-era mews houses.

The local. The White Lion is a traditional back street pub, rebuilt in 1890.

My childhood home.

Our house is probably the oldest around, built in 1760 and originally three single storey dwellings back in the days when the area was all farmland. We're digging up animal bones in the garden over two and a half centuries later.

1950s fake leopard coat (£5, Age UK), suede suit (Ebay, 2010), 1960s St Michael tee shirt (darling Curtise), Leopard platforms (Ebay, 2011), crochet skull cap (Arambol Sunday Flea, Goa)

I'm off to introduce a new friend to the delights of Second To None this morning, flogging my wares at Bridgnorth Vintage Fair & having a Greek night round at Liz & Al's tomorrow and probably spending Sunday recovering.

Have a fantastic weekend!

PS Sharing my boots with the stylish chicks over at dear Sacramento's and Spy Girl Anne's Feline Frenzy.