Sunday, 31 October 2010

Black Country Woman

If you didn't already know, I'm from an area in the West Midlands known as the Black Country. Pretty, posh or trendy it ain't but it is friendly, down-to-earth with no pretentions, incredibly cheap and I love it, besides local band, Led Zeppelin even wrote a song about me and my ilk (clue's in today's blog title).

Yesterday we went charity shopping in Bilston, a nearby town once famous for steelworks and coal mining both sadly now defunct and also home of legendary pub, The Trumpet, owned by local rock god, Noddy Holder of Slade.

Here's some of my findings:
1960's Kitty Copeland cocktail dress £4.50

Vintage 1970's unworn Slix bikini, perfect for Goa 50p
Christian Dior silk neck scarf 69p

Huge statement brooch by "Miracle" a Birmingham-based jewellery company trading since 1946 £2.50
Vintage viking ship pendant £1
Insane vinyl to add to our ridiculously large and ecclectic collection £1.49 each

 Last night we met some of our friends in one of the town centre pubs, The Black Country Arms.

We love this pub, it's been a inn since 1707 and now serves a choice of sixteen hand pulls as well as the usual wines, spirits and continental bottled beers, lagers and cider.

Look closely and you'll see the traditional attire of a Black Countryman, a flat cap. Can you see the fine array of locally made Pork Scratchings by the till? No good for me but Jon loves them...yuk!

It's recently been awarded The Campaign For Real Ale's Pub of the Year. We drank £2.50 a pint Swedish Nightingale.

I love a dark and dingy pub but unfortunately the camera doesn't. I'm sitting on the balcony with a pint of ale in my hand if you can't quite make it out.

 After a few pints we walked to our favourite balti house buying wine on the way. Most Indian restaurants are unlicensed but you are welcome to bring your own.

I had mushroom dansak - a hot and sour dish of mushrooms, fresh pineapple and split yellow peas (£4.30) with a coriander nan and spicy Gujarati-style chips to share.

 I'm all spent out now! No more shopping until Thursday's car boot sale (weather permitting).
 Hope you've had equally good weekends.

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Recycle - Reuse and The Rules Of The Jumble

Vintage Robert Newman maxi dress (£2.95 Acorn Hospice Shop)
I'm recycling this photograph from the summer as it's the dress I'll be wearing this evening. We're meeting friends at the real ale pub in the town centre then walking to the balti house via the off-licence for a few bottles of cheap plonk.

I've still got the brainpower of a gnat but as promised here's a few of the goodies I found at last night's jumble sale. 
I'm going to paint these Baroque frames and probably change the prints. 10p the pair
  • The great British jumble sale is usually held on a Thursday evening (traditionally a factory worker's weekly pay day), a Friday evening or during the day on a Saturday. Here in the badlands of the West Midlands we have jumbles during the week and in the daytime too, as it's a cheap way for the unemployed to clothe themselves and furnish their homes without having to rely on charity.

1960's SNAP game, hours of drunken Campervan fun for us during the summer (10p)
  • You can find jumbles by searching the Classifieds in the local press (look online if, like me, you're too tight to buy a local paper) and also by keeping your eyes peeled for notices in shop windows or outside community centres.

1950's brooch, very autumnal, a bit shabby but only 5p
  • Jumble sales start at a specific time and it's best to get there early to join the queue. There's no point in turning up later than 15 minutes after the advertised time, there won't be anything worth having left.

Can you believe nobody else wanted these fabulous black gothic mirrors? Matalan are selling one a similiar size to the smaller one for £60, jumble sale price - a £1 for the pair.
  • Have the right entrance fee ready so the man at the door isn't fumbling for change and holding everyone up. 
Vintage Dunn &Co gent's faux shearling overcoat. I know a mod who'd kill for this. How much? 40p
  • When you get in run to the table that looks most appealing, once you've found a gap in the crowd stay there, swapping places along the line with the person next to you. Once you leave the throng it's hard to battle your way back in.
Huge wool Aztec print scarf, just the thing to brighten up a dull winter's day (20p)
  • Don't be afraid to grab, pick things off the floor, rummage in boxes or use your elbows, it's a jungle jumble out there. She who hesitates misses out.
Two pairs of unworn high-waisted ladies' shorts, made in West Germany so pre-1989.
  • Grab whatever takes your fancy, don't waste time looking at labels, sizes or checking for flaws. It's rare anything is priced above 50p and as it's for charity who cares if it isn't quite right? There's always a zip or some buttons you can salvage before taking it to the recycling bank.
1940's annual

  • Carry your haul over your arm until you've finished then hand it to the helper to tot up your final total. Don't be tempted to put your treasures down to rummage further or you'll find someone's made off with your booty.
Are those Victory Rolls I see?
  • Don't moan at the prices, jumble sales are run by volunteers raising money for worthy causes. If you resent paying 40p for a quality coat then there's something wrong with you.
This is an illustrated plate from the tale of "Land Girl Laura"
  • Bring some sturdy black bin bags with you, you don't want to loose your treasures on the way out because there's only ripped bags available behind the counter.
Have a fabulous Saturday night!

Don't forget to visit me tomorrow to see what I found on my charity shopping mission to another Black Country town earlier today.

Friday, 29 October 2010

Hormonal Horrors

I'm utterly useless at the moment and blame PMT. My normally brilliant memory failed to remember the one essential item I meant to pick up in town earlier and I had to walk the two mile round trip back once I'd got home.

My hair's gone all flat, my lipstick's too dark, my blusher keeps sinking into my skin and my eyeliner won't stay put. I caught sight of myself in a shop window earlier and thought how vile and drab I looked and so this is the second outfit of the day.

Fortunately there's one thing to bring cheer to my day, a jumble sale at the church hall at 6pm this evening. Our 1970 Type 4 Volkswagen Variant Ebby is all fired up and topped up with bin bags just in case we get lucky.

I'm wearing a couple of recent jumble sale finds and hoping the vintage fairies will be kind to me.

Vintage Dollyrockers mini dress (eBay), 1960's St Michael nylon pussybow blouse and Miss Holmes suede shoes (Jumble sale), 1980's white floral Chelsea Girl tights (Courtesy of the wonderful Alex)

Wish me luck! I promise to share any interesting finds.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Acceptable In The Eighties

I'm not a fan of 1980's fashion but was quite excited to come across a bag of remarkably well-preserved Eighties clothes at this morning's car boot sale. The nice lady kindly let me have the lot for £5. As you made my day with the lovely comments you left yesterday I thought I'd spoil you and dress up in some of my 1980's haul.

Arte pencil skirt with suede fringe and blinging brass buttons and Club Tropicana purple lycra lace crop top worn with a Kangol angora beret.

Arte was a fabulous boutique in Birmingham City Centre back in the day. It was decorated in an decadent 1920's style and sold stylish clothes and stunning Art Deco-inspired jewellery at prohibitively expensive prices. Needless to say it was way out of my price range so I'm rather pleased with this skirt.

So you think the Aviator trend is new? No, think again. Us 1980's chicks were rocking the tan leather, high-waisted denim and buckled boots before today's fashionistas were even born.

Tan batwing leather jacket by Rave Leathers worn with a black lycra bodysuit and some West German stone wash high-waisted jeans. I've had the pirate boots since the dawn of time.

These jeans have buckles at the waistband and press-studs running up the sides. Keepers or sellers? 

A snow-washed biker-style denim jacket from Kit. Snow-washed denim was the pink velour tracksuit of it's day, never a stylish choice.

Cropped rayon Indian-made blouse with a cut-out back. I'm sure TopShop were flogging something similar earlier this year.

C&A high-waisted, carrot leg cropped trousers with a self-belt. These look exactly the same as the stuff currently available in the shops, no wonder I find high street fashion boring, it's all been done before.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

A Rockstar Lifestyle On A Rockbottom Budget

Along with my dear friends, Sharon Rose and Jem and Franca I was honoured to be mentioned in Kate's fantastic Make Do Style blog as a someone who ignored the trappings of luxury marketing and leads a simple but fairly glam lifestyle. 

Glastonbury, 2010

People often wonder how I manage to live the life I do with more dash than cash. I spend a couple of months a year living the hedonistic dream in Goa, hanging out at music festivals over the summer and residing in a rather beautiful Georgian home with no debts. 

Patchwork curtains (handmade by me utilising my huge fabric stash), G-Plan table (£1 jumble sale), Lloyd Loom chair (£3 car boot sale), Mannequin (Rescued from the jaws of a friend's skip), Radiator (Found in a school skip)

How? Well, firstly I've NEVER had a credit card, nearly every item I buy is bought the old-fashioned way with cold, hard cash so I feel real pain in parting with money rather than the unreality of dealing in plastic.

Almost everything I wear is second-hand. I very rarely spend more than £10 on an item of clothing. I buy undies once a year when our local Marks and Spencer reduce their leftover sale goods to under £1. Wearing maxi dresses lessen my need for hoisery, I wear long socks from the pound shop or leggings underneath them. I stock up on 99p coloured opaques from my local market stall and wear several pairs together if they ladder. Our local cobbler reheels my shoes for £2.50. I sell my unwanted clothes on eBay, buying them so cheaply means I almost always make a profit. 

One night a fortnight is put aside for running repairs, rehemming, new zips and replacing buttons. Since I started blogging I've met some amazingly generous women who send me things they think I'll like and I do the same in return. Whenever I spot an item of pretty second-hand clothing I always consider the resale price. Shop-bought clothes are like new cars, they tend to loose their value the minute they leave the sale room.

I'm never swayed by advertising. I only buy the toiletries I need, no stockpiling. Baby oil from Poundland is my must-have moisturiser, eye makeup remover and bath product. Lush Jungle conditioner and Karma shampoo are the only products I use on my hair other than Boot's own Natural Black hair dye. A good friend cuts my hair when I need it and I'll sell her clothes on eBay in return.

My beauty products are often found at car boot sales, you'd be amazed how many people sell unused high end cosmetics. I buy kohl pencils in India and dye my eyelashes so I don't need mascara. I've never used foundation. Friends who are cosmetic junkies often pass their bad buys on to me in exchange for something they covert from my wardrobe. My good old Boots Clubcard points pay for the occasional splurge on Barry M. I've only received perfume as a gift.

Our house is our biggest expense. We worked like nutters in our thirties to pay the mortgage off in full as we were determined to be totally debt-free by forty. Jon and I don't waste money on unnecessarily expensive gestures for Christmas, anniversaries and birthdays, instead buying something for the house like a fabulous chandelier, energy efficient fridge or a wood burner. The entire house is furnished with stuff salvaged from skips, bought off eBay or found at car boot sales. 

Revamping a stool found in a skip

Over the five years we've lived in our house Jon's taught himself to do plumbing, wiring, building, tiling and plastering. In fact we'll try to fix most things ourselves before calling in an expert. The local antique dealer will take some of our huge stockpile of retro tat in exchange for a big piece of furniture. 

The antique cupboard was a trade off from our friendly antique dealer

We always do the boring "shopping around" thingy for cheap deals on insurance and energy suppliers. Finding a cheap flight to India takes an age but I've never paid more than £500 a head from being cheeky and pitting the local travel agents against each other. 

Vintage 1960's mini (Worcester, yesterday), Shoes (British Heart Foundation), Tights Xmas present 3 years ago), Hair fascinator (Hand-made by Jem)
I'm not off until 3rd December, so we'll have plenty of time to hang out together before I fly away.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

What Have You Been Doing Today?

What a horrible dull and wet day we've had here today, just as well I've spent it doing nice things...

Pulling old men in Wetherspoon's in Worcester city centre whilst wearing my pumpkin suede shorts and cherub and dove print silk scarf.

Finding vintage dresses in charity shops, stocking up on Lush supplies and a new eyeliner, adding to my jewellery collection and finding some fab clogs reduced to a fiver in TopShop.

Waiting for Jon to make his legendary pizza with chips on the side.

A spicy meat feast for him...

and feta, chilli and olive for me

 Booking our flights to Goa.....yipee!!

Hope you've had a good day, too!