Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Just An Ordinary Day

I got a sweet email from Anthony this weekend, a Brit living in China. He follows my blog for a regular fix of British life and says that its giving his boyfriend a good insight into what to expect when they visit later this year.

With them in mind I thought I'd take my camera along when I popped to the market to capture a few shots of day-to-day life.

Isn't it funny how even the most ordinary of places become interesting once they're captured in a photograph?

 Walsall market has existed since 1219. Up to 15 years ago it was a huge, bustling event, legendary throughout the Black Country with regular coach trips bringing in shoppers from around the UK. Sadly, unable to compete with the vast 24 hour supermarkets that dominate both ends of the high street, it has become a shadow of its former self. Walsall's fighting back though, with a bustling once-weekly flea market and a host of specialist fabric stalls every Monday.

Sari lengths, vibrant fabric, ready made clothing, even Indian fast food.

As I've always lived here its easy to forget how wonderfully multi-cultural our town is.

You won't catch me bleating on about being given the side eye, the local ladies love wearing colour, I'm just one of the crowd.

How gorgeous are these salwar kameez? A bargain at £10.

Waiting for their wives.

Fabric from 50p a metre.

Here's my favourite place - the trimmings stall. Its where I get my pom-poms!

A girl could go mad here and my visiting blogging mates frequently do! 

I'm off for another typically British slice of life later - a trip to the pub. Its been ages!

Wearing: 1960s silk culotte suit (the divine Desiree), Vintage St Michael Shopping bag (Miss Simmonds Says Clare), Suedette platforms (£5, local retail), Huge pink sunnies (99p, Banardos)
Right, better get back in that garden and work on the tan.

See you soon!

Monday, 21 July 2014

Nice Work If You Can Get It!

At the risk of sounding like a snug old cow I really do have one of the best jobs in the world.

Wearing: Vintage 1970s tee (vintage stall @ Glasto 2014), skinny jeans (charity shop), camo Birkenstocks (eBay, 2001)

The endless pile of washing, mending & ironing, the hours spent travelling up and down the motorway, lugging huge bags of clothes around and the almost constant pitching & dismantling of tents. Having to smile and nod at people taking advantage of having a captive audience by telling you that they used to have one of those, proceeding to reel off every item they once owned and sent to the charity shop.

Its a small price to pay when you get to spend the weekend working in places like this, the magnificent Tudor mansion that is Speke Hall.

 No wonder Alex loves her job, too. She works there.

Not only did we have to pleasure of camping in the grounds all weekend, 

and having the entire estate almost to ourselves,

but we only had one day of rain (which wasn't too heavy and had all but gone by 3pm).

  We got to spend time with our mates Steve, Lyndsey and Dexter from Boomerang Retro,

ate al fresco,

& went on long evening walks through the grounds and along the banks of the River Mersey,

...and got to tour Speke Hall.

Did I mention the classic car display?

Where's Kinky's pitch? Only the bastard massive one!

Inside there's a vintage rug, a me-made patchwork lampshade & yards of bunting, some strategically arranged mirrors, 1970s throws adorning the changing room walls along with a vast array of stock. No wonder poor Gilbert was groaning by the time we reached Liverpool on Friday afternoon! 

Wearing: Vintage 1970s maxi (eBay, 2004)
A weekend spent in fabulous surroundings with great company & plenty of sunshine and the icing on the cake? We sold loads! The friendly folk of Liverpool really do love their vintage.

Wearing: Car-booted Janis Joplin tee shirt I remade into a boob tube (tutorial HERE) , vintage 70s floral maxi skirt (jumble sale) and a ton of silver jewellery

Which means that after popping into town to bank the takings it was straight back to washing, mending and ironing our vintage stock in readiness for trading at IndieTracks this coming weekend.

See you soon!

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Secrets of a Not So Domesticated Goddess

Ever heard the saying You don't own it till you've washed it? Probably not, I made it up. When I'm rummaging through rails of stock at some vintage fairs I'm often put off by ominous looking stains and by the distinct whiff of Febreeze, a tell tale sign that the seller hasn't be arsed to wash their stock. If that's how they present their clothes how sure can you be that they aren't trying to flog retro-looking modern tat with the labels cut out or shoddy items with fag burns, broken zips or missing buttons?

I wash almost everything I sell, which can be a bit of killer, especially on days like yesterday when we come home with the motherload of vintage goodies.

Everything stained or particularly grubby gets soaked in Oxi Fabric Stain Remover from Poundland.  I add a measure to 4 litres of hot water, leave the offending garment to soak for up to an hour and then chuck it in the washing machine (on a cool wash). It works on everything from 1940s wool suits & delicate lace cocktail dresses to shirts like this 1970s one, hideously grimy around the collar and cuffs.

I don't waste money on washing powder, I use soda crystals. They are cheap (99p for a kilo), kinder to the environment and don't have a fragrance. My pet hate when buying second hand clothes is the hideous washing powder so many people use, a stink my friend Sarah describes as a tropical garden on steroids. 

Don't roll your eyes - I didn't figure this out until years after I'd left home - only wash white clothes with other white clothes - no off-whites, creams or white with a print or a coloured trim. This guarantees your whites stay white and not dingy grey!

Wearing: Strappy top I made from a vintage tea towel with a 1970s block printed Chelsea Girl wrap skirt (Tin Trunk Vintage)

I line dry everything if I can and this Summer is proving perfect for it. If the weather isn't dry then I'll use clothes horses (bought from jumble sales) and dry our clothes indoors. The tumble dryer (inherited from Jon's late Mum) is a last resort for bedding and bath towels - no clothes go in it, ever!

Fancy a sneak preview of just a few of the beauties we've found this week?  All washed, ironed and ready to wow the crowds in Liverpool this weekend.

Midis and minis from the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.

A few of the jackets, blouses and skirts from the 1950s & beyond.

...and maxi dresses to die for!

...and that's not even the half of it, there's some incredible 1960s menswear (including a tapestry Regency-style frock coat) , hats, bags, shoes, belts, dressmaking patterns from as far back as the 1940s...but I've a jumble sale to go and help at and a campervan to pack so I'm all out of time.

See you next week!

PS Check out our finds HERE, Jon & I were Finders of the Fair at Stockport's Vintage Village this month.

Monday, 14 July 2014

Night(ie) Fever

Just like my Mum & Grandma before me, I pride myself on having a wardrobe filled with clothes fit for any occasion. A vintage awards ceremony or a curry and a few pints, a birthday bash or a blogger's day out, festivals, art exhibitions, sweaty gigs, funerals, name it, I've got the outfit. When I help friends de-clutter its always the outfit they rushed out and bought at the last minute which is the first thing to get ditched.

When I got the letter confirming my hip replacement operation eight years ago I realised that I didn't have a nightie to my name and, in a mad panic, spent a small fortune in Debenhams stocking up on suitable sleep wear. I'm sure having to wear bland high street offerings hindered the healing process. I took this as an abject sign of failure in the managing of a successful wardrobe. Since then I've snapped up every fabulous vintage nightie I can lay my hands on, vowing never again to waste cash on shoddy, last minute buys.

As my next total hip replacement is still a couple of years away (or sooner, if I insist on wearing heels this height on a daily basis) it would be a crime to relegate my collection to the bottom of a drawer and, as most vintage nighties are utterly gorgeous, why wait till I'm wired to a drip and off my head on morphine to show them off?

Just a few treasures from my nightie hoard!
So I wear them out and about with pride (with a vintage slip underneath to keep it decent).

My latest acquisition is this 1930s emerald green beauty which I found on Maggie at Garbo Antiques rail at Stockport's Vintage Village yesterday.

1930s nightie (£5) worn with pastel suedette platforms (£5, local retail, 2013), vintage beaded bag (Charity shop, 2012)

Stockport was fabulously busy & today we're recharging our batteries in readiness for the week ahead, one which involves hunting down more stock (we sold so much yesterday that the rails are looking rather sparse), helping out at the jumble sale and getting ready for a weekend festival of vintage at Speke Hall in Liverpool where I finally get to meet Alex, a blogging buddy of many years.

Linking to Patti and the gang over at Visible Monday.

See you soon!

Friday, 11 July 2014

More Charity Shop Finds - Vintage Hippy Chic

Last night, during our weekly Skype date, Krista and I ranted about the absurd prices some on-line sellers charge for ethnic clothing so I was thrilled to find a vintage Rabari tribal skirt hanging on the sale rail in Banardos when I popped into town this morning.

Hand-woven by the tribeswomen of Gujarat, the skirt features traditional folk art inset with tiny mirrors on a deliciously soft cotton back cloth.

Colourful, cheap and a bit tatty around the edges it fits in with the rest of my wardrobe seamlessly.

The original over-landers travelled light, dressing in clothes they'd picked up cheaply in local bazaars and markets once they'd reached their destination. On their return they fuelled a craze for the Indian block prints, tribal jewellery, woven leather sandals and maxi skirts which dominated the early 1970s.

Source (No, that's not me!)
I love reading about the intrepids, the original overland travellers who put Goa well and truly on the hippy trail. Much as I love it now what a place it must have been back then.

 I used to do similar to those hippy travellers, taking only a bikini, a few books, sunscreen and the clothes I stood up in to India. Its wonderfully liberating to buy everything on arrival, from toothpaste and ayurvedic soap to leather chappals and recycled sari dresses but you do risk looking identical to every other Western visitor so these days I pack my usual vintage gear & buy a few bits and pieces when I fancy a change.

These 1970s images of Anjuna thrill me. The infamous hippy flea market is still going strong.


Whenever I Google 1970s Goa hippies I find pictures of me. The cheek! I didn't even get there till the late '90s.

Loving Rory Maclean's "Magic Bus".


Just like the clothing, Indian tribal jewellery commands a feckin' fortune on the internet. 

The choice is yours, click a button and input your credit card details or, for almost the same price, jump on a flight and go find 'em yourself. They'll be a lot more special if you can recall the sweat trickling down your back and the hustle and bustle of the marketplace while you haggled your hardest.

This skirt will be eventually returning to its homeland as part of my luggage on our next trip. What a well-travelled garment it will be, bought in India, brought to the UK and back home again - if only vintage clothes could talk.

Vintage Rabari tribal skirt (£1.99, Banardos) worn with 1970s Chelsea Girl halter neck vest (50p rail, Cancer UK), Rajasthani embroidered leather bag (flea market, India), 1970s block printed bed cover (from a jumble sale). 
I'm having a quiet night in, Jon's off to an old band reunion and I'm going to indulge in a spot of gin-fuelled sewing accompanied by the footie. 

See you soon.