Sunday, 27 September 2015

I appear to have had a shopping frenzy.

I'm not sure how else to describe it really.
I was aware I had been doing a bit of buying lately, some of which I've shared in my last 2 posts but when I see all the pictures together well clearly I have gone a bit madder than I thought! 
I can only conclude it's like when you go on a diet and you are so good for weeks and weeks and weeks, then suddenly when faced with the first forkful you crack and eat the whole cheesecake.

I haven't shopped much up until about July. Too much other shit going on in my life and for once instead of that making me shop, because shopping makes me happy (and yes I am VERY aware that it wouldn't take much to tip me over into a full blown shopaholic, that's a battle I fight)
This time round I completely lost my urge to shop, just trying to keep positive and keep everything and everyone together took all my energy.

Anyway the madness seems to be easing and I'm being cautiously optimistic the worst is over. Some of the situations are resolved, some whilst changed forever have settled into a new routine, sadly at least one will rear it's terrible head again in the future but hopefully not in 2015. Frankly this year has already served up enough.

Now the stormy seas have passed it's like subconsciously I felt the need to do ALL the shopping I had missed up until now. I have also noticed that, and being the contrary creature I am, whenever I gain weight I shop more. You can safely say the poundage spent out reflects the ones gained on the girth.

So without further ado let's start with the Charity shop purchases, well the ones I bought for me anyway. It's been a long time since I've trawled the many chazzas in town. As oft lamented before they are mostly full of Primark cast offs, this being a small town made huge with modern housing estates and therefore pretty much made up of young families. I did manage to find a couple of goodies though.

A fabulous fishy bucket bag and a cat print scarf.

I also stepped into our only vintage/retro shop Hidden Treasures, which is possibly the smallest shop in the world ever.
I'm not sure you should even call it a shop really, I reckon it was really the passageway between the two neighbouring shops that at some point someone greedy bugger added a window too and sold off separately!
 I know it's hard to tell from the picture but you pretty much have to enter sideways and get more than 2 people inside and it feels dangerously claustrophobic.

I wasn't taken with any of the frocks but they did have a sale on their repro jewellery and this one just had to be mine.
He's pretty huge as brooches go but I love him and he's already been worn out and about.

Other shopping has included

Two tops from Peacocks

A couple of blouses.

Two dresses from Sainsbury's. The deer blouse was also from there, as is the new pair of black boots I bought on Friday but we won't talk about them yet!
Another Hell Bunny dress and a red sweetheart dress both off Ebay. There have also been 2 pairs of cropped jeans, 4 other pairs of trousers/jeans, 3 cardigans, 3 vest tops, a green jumper,undies and 2 nightshirts!?! 
I will reiterate only the yellow and deer blouses were full price but still it's a bit shocking when you see it all together.

There were 2 mistakes (thankfully neither was more than a fiver) and this ties in with a post Retro Chick did not so long ago about styles of clothes she just can't wear.
Personally I can't do V necklines, so yes I will probably be changing the Hell Bunny one above!

I don't know quite why it is but they just don't work for me. I can get away with the deeper V of a crossover bodice but your average sized V neck just looks weird. sadly every so often I will get swept away by the frock and ignore the neckline.
Like this one from the Sainsbury's sale rail. It was leopard print, it was over the knee and with a huge full skirt, and it was only £5 so I was blinded to the V neck.
I put it on and it just looked very wrong, even Himself who is the epitome of tact was lost for a way of saying politely it looked terrible.

The other frock was a V neck too.

So there you have it like a woman back at her first AA meeting after thinking she was cured I have stood up and shared my excess.

Thursday, 17 September 2015

To Bournemouth In Quest Of Beauty

Well as ever we managed to cram much into our annual September long weekend in Bournemouth.

This year we tried a different hotel - gee that was a mistake.Let's just say we won't be staying there again!

Having said that the location was good and the other side of Bournemouth to where we usually stay. We checked in and went for a mooch round town, ate chips on the beach (because that's what you have to do because it's the seaside law) then took a lovely long walk to Boscombe and back to clear the cobwebs.
We called in for a drink on the seafront at Boscombe and watched with interest whist a bunch of ladies did a boot camp circuit training thing right under our noses, I guess it's more fun to do on and around the beach than in a gym? I can't say circuit training has ever appealed, I'm fat, lazy and get bored easily for a start, drinking wine whilst someone else exercises is always going to win.

On Friday we decided to visit The Russell Cotes Museum because they had a Mucha exhibition 'In Quest Of Beauty' on and Himself is a big fan of Mucha.

 I'm somewhat ashamed that I have never visited this amazing museum before now, it is everything I love in a small museum and the extraordinary Mucha exhibition was just the icing on the cake.

The Museum was actually the Russell-Cotes family home before they donated it and it's contents to the people of Bournemouth. Finished in 1901 and crammed full of all the things that they collected on their extensive world travels, the museum somehow still manages to maintain the warm feeling of being in someone's home rather than an institution. 
I know it's not everyone's taste, and it was even a bit too full of stuff for me if I'm truly honest! but wow did this cliff top house with it's stunning sea views make me wish I could live there!! Look at the beautiful peacock mural, this went all around the whole room.
Below are just a few of the many pictures I took. More of fixtures and fittings than views of the rooms as you will see.

There was even an elephant stained glass window so how was I not going to love it?
 I was also taken with this beautiful side table.
Part of the ceiling came down at one point so it was repainted in the 1930's with this deliciously Art Deco version of Venus.
Look at the detail,on this door furniture. This is the door to the Lily Langtry toilet no less!

The swallow stained glass was repeated often through the whole house.
I loved this painting on the landing.
One room had peacocks the other had slightly more sinister crows!
The gorgeous stained glass dome above the stairs and all this before we even got to the Mucha exhibition.
We both thoroughly enjoyed the exhibition, though as a graphic designer (Himself) and an ex-art student (Me) we both would have liked to see many more of his preparatory sketches. The skill and detail of the few that were there was astonishing.
Mucha was also very interested in photography and there were some wonderful pictures he took himself to use as preliminary ideas for future works. 
   I do love to see originals of prints I have at home, we have the two pictures above as wall plaques. All in all very well worth the visit and somewhere I will most definitely go again.
There was even a fabulous 13th century statue of Ganesh borrowed from the British Museum on display
We didn't stay to sample the busy cafe though I gather it is very good, but did do a quick browse of the gift shop where I bought this print of an old railway poster.
As we still had the afternoon ahead of us and the weather had decided to behave we took a long walk along the seafront to Southbourne and back.
Quick cheeky cider and a sit down!

On Saturday I did my annual meet up with my friend Alison. This year she took me to visit Emporium in Christchurch. It's quite new and still not fully open but we had great fun browsing the mad mix of crafts, gifts and vintage. I ended up buying loads of bits and pieces and this was where I nearly bought the other red vintage handbag, but in the end the price tag was just a little too much given it's well loved condition.
Ironically I was just telling Alison how I never ever wear skirts anymore when I found an absolute beauty for £2! A full tartan swing style skirt in the right length for me, a bit too big but well it had to be done.
Now I just need to get over the skirt thing and actually wear it!

So what else did I buy?

A make your own brooch kit and cat print scarf for my Mum not pictured
Who could resist this cat egg cup?
A ceramic brooch.
and a pressed glass jug that went straight into service catching the water that was dripping through the ceiling when we got home! 


Friday, 11 September 2015

Gladrags, Handbags & Elephants

The time has come the walrus said to talk of many things.
Mostly because I haven't got around to blogging for about a month and much has gone on in between!
It's not that I haven't meant to, I even had a post kind of semi ready to go but somehow I lacked the oomph.
I think even though I have been determined not to let all the upsets and dramas of the year dampen my usual positive outlook I will admit it has taken it out of me and I'm bloody tired right now. 
The clear indication being I'm ill and can hardly crawl out of bed in the morning at the moment
also our usual blissful jaunt to Bournemouth has not recharged the batteries as much as I had expected. 

Anyway this to shall pass and really I should pick up where I left off and share the damn magnificent parcel or joy that was waiting for me when I got home from the Nettlebed sale. 

To give it it's correct name it was actually a parcel of elephant joy.
I'm sure I burst the eardrums of every dog in the district with my squeal when I opened this amazing and spot on gift from Curtise 
I have been eyeing up the recycled elephant cement purses and bags on Ebay for a while now so I was beyond thrilled to find one inside.
Both brooches have already had an outing as well!

Whilst we are on the subject of elephants I celebrated World Elephant Day by buying this really rather lovely set of bedding on a day out with my Ma.
It's actually my 3rd set of elephant bedding and I honestly couldn't choose between them so don't even ask.

There has been much, MUCH clothes buying in the month just gone. I share with you here a mere fraction of all my purchases. I'm not sure why there was such a frenzy but I just went with it.

I will justify it by saying not a one was full price. 

Chazzas, the sales, vouchers and birthday money have combined, but yes it did get a bit manic, I might have to share it in dribs and drabs over the next few posts and that doesn't include the boring things like socks pants and jeans!

Two Hell Bunny dresses off the bay of E. Black one for work blue one might just be  for a wedding that I have coming up.....

Charity shop tea dress and a too much wine, egged on by twitter, impulse Ebay deer print buy.


Hedgehog print dress! Hedgehogs you say, and in the sale? Plus 2 money off coupons that are valid on sales goods? Don't mind if I do!
Ok so on me it is actually more of a top than a dress but still, hedgehogs...
An I'm on holiday blouse purchase when I was actually looking for some kind of cheap footwear I could happily not care about wearing on the beach.

I did find them too in the shape of navy blue canvas flats for £4 by the way. I also picked up another dress at the same time for a fiver but that's in the laundry basket.

So what else? We had some friends from Newcastle drop by unexpectedly which was lovely. We haven't seen them for about 5 years so it was great to catch up over dinner, though kind of frightening to see how much the kids had grown. Children have a way of reminding you just how quickly time passes.

I went out for afternoon tea twice.
Once at Soo's house with our friend Simon where we did our level best to create a Prosecco shortage in Oxfordshire whilst stuffing our faces and laughing like drains.
And once in a far more civilized fashion at Patisserie Valerie with an Amazon Local voucher.

I also did a summer taster menu dinner at Jamie's in Oxford with Soo and Melissa, again a cracking Amazon Local deal.
No wonder I have piled 'The Half Stone' back on again *le sigh*

The bank holiday weekend we went to stay with Mum and help her sort some stuff at the house as well as do our annual pilgrimage to the Stonor Park Craft Fair.

I bought the above necklace and glass pendant, which was made from a piece of a broken lilac patterned milk jug apparently.
I also bought a glass elephant for the Christmas tree, but he is safely wrapped up until he will be needed in December.

Finally I bought a couple of vintage bags.

The beaded one at the top was 0.01p plus postage!?! It's in immaculate condition so I still can't quite believe it was only a penny. I though there would be some terrible fault but nope it's perfect.

The red leather one is a Clarks bag, I'm thinking 1970's?

 I still trawl regularly for my holy grail green 1940s/50s handbag, I haven't found it yet, but I've turned up some other crackers on the way.

Finally we had a long weekend in Bournemouth, there will be a very picture heavy post to follow!

The weather was kind, sadly the hotel was not kind at all, safe to say we won't stay there again.
We did the amazing Russell Cotes Museum and I met my friend Alison who whisked me off to the Emporium in Christchurch where I dithered over another red vintage handbag but ultimately left without it, though I did buy some other wonderous bargains.(see next post!)

We arrived home to water coming though the back bedroom ceiling, I can only thank god we weren't away for 2 weeks!
So I now have the joys of a stained and smelly carpet to freshen up tomorrow as it's finally dried out.

Also home to the sad news that Mum's cat of 20 years Missy, (or Mishka the Russian spycat as she was known internationally) had taken a turn for the worse and sadly had to be put to sleep on Monday.
She had been steadily failing recently, so we were all expecting it, but after all that has gone on this year it really was a bit like the straw that broke the camel's back for my poor Mum.
I have spent a fair bit of my spare time doing things with her this week, including a day off today.

We had a gentle bimble around a fab garden centre that's near her house and is called World's End, I have to say I have always found that a hilarious name for a plant nursery.

I love that I can go into work on Monday and say I went to the world's end to buy winter flowering pansies on Friday!   

Sunday, 16 August 2015

It's Charity Shop Shopping, but on a Mammoth Scale.

So I finally made it to the sheer madness that is the Sue Ryder Sale at Nettlebed. Of course I forgot my camera *sigh* so you'll have to make do with a couple of crappy shots from my phone - sorry!

Held in the grounds and out buildings of their gorgeous care home in Nettlebed (most lately used in The Imitation Game as the exterior of Bletchley Park, in case it looks familiar)
the Sue Ryder sale is absolutely legendary in the Oxfordshire area.
It happens every 3 weeks for just 2 hours and the rule is to get there early, in the case of the clothes sale, very, very early.
It starts at 10.30am so we got there at about 9.30am and there was already brisk trade going on at the garden bric n brac table, as well as in the book and picture areas.
That queue you can see starting to form in the back of the picture is for the furniture area.
This one is for the clothes room, and it already went on way behind me, snaking past the tea shop and right round the grounds!
This final queue was for the china and glass area. I think you get the picture. People come prepared with huge bags and lots of cash, the queue in an orderly fashion until they are let through in batches, then all hell breaks loose!

I kid you not I was in one of the extremely busy, but tiny rooms, full of chinaware and a very pompous woman tried to snatch something up and barge to the front of the queue, she nearly got lynched, seriously I've never seen anything like the women already waiting to pay when they turned on her, they were savage!

The weary lady serving sighed and said "Every time, she comes to every sale and every single time tries to barge to the front" she then nodded over to the door and said "We have to have security you know" and sure enough there was a brick outhouse of a man dressed from head to toe in black with a walkie talkie and an earpiece!?!, at a charity shop sale - mint!

I'm not entirely sure how much very valuable stuff there is to be had as I imagine they sort the quality stuff out at the donation stage for sale via auction, they are about making the most money they can for charity after all.
They certainly had experts in each area as we found when we asked about donation some stuff to the book and periodical team. I'm sure there are still treasures to be had and you got the impression a lot of the people who got there very early and only to hit a particular area were trade.

It was a gorgeous day so the place was absolutely packed with well over 1000 people, it was hard to get about and you did have to indulge in a certain amount of pushing to get to things you wanted to look at. I'm not sure what happens when it's wet, or in the winter, as the majority of the sale was outside. The furniture and toys were set out in the stable yard for example.
You have to buy a ticket for 50p and show it to get into each area and they were very strict on the opening and closing times and only letting so many people through at a time.

 We finally got to the clothes area at11.40 and STILL had to queue for a while before we got in, even at that late hour.

I have to say the clothes sale was a really poor location for being able to search through and see what you were looking at, it was a small barn of all places with hardly any lighting.
When they shut the doors at 12.15 you were pretty much groping round in the dark! There were rails all round the wall with things like long dresses, coats and trousers but the rest was just piled high, oh so very high, on trestle tables jumble sale stylie.

Anything left at the end is chucked into black sacks which they ask the customers still in the room at 12.30 to help fill and sent off to Africa. It was £3 a coat £1.50 - £2.00 for a dress/suit/trousers and 50p everything else.
Frankly we were a bit overwhelmed by this point and only did a bit of halfhearted rummaging, it was fascinating to see the people on a mission working their way with steady determination through the piles from one side to the other.

We left the room before 12.30 because we had to go and pick up some glasses and a mirror Soo had on reserve. She had bought a box of crystal and cut glass champagne flutes for the princely sum of £2. On later inspection it turned out to be a matching set of 4 glasses, 2 sets of 2 glasses and one odd one so she was very pleased. I did a last minute purchase of a wicker picnic hamper full of crockery for £6 including the hamper. 

Now my Mum had lured me to the sale in the first place with the promise of a "Room full of handbags" I tell you was dreaming of that room full of handbags and panicking 2 hours would not be enough time to go through them all.
Sadly it was all a lie, I was badly mislead and I'm not letting her forget this one either hehe.
I was very disapointed to find just one long table of bags,and all modern and naff ones at that. Bah.

Anyway we retreated a bit battered, very thirsty and piled with treasures. After loading the car we headed to a lovely pub for a much needed drink and well earned lunch. What an experience, it was sheer madness but great fun.

Without further ado some of my treasures included;
An Art Deco-ish jug and sugar bowl for £1
The £6 china tea set minus it's hamper.
A huge bunny cotton wool holder £1 plus a quirky little plate for 50p (not pictured)
and various brooches. The stone one at the top left cost me £6 the rest were £10 in total, there was another cat but it sadly got decapitated in transit!

I also bought a book on Pilates for £1 and couple of huge pyjama tops with a quirky dog print for cutting up and making into something else.
A sage green checked shirt, a red 60's sleeveless top and a long brocade 60's dress, but didn't get round to taking pictures of them before they hit the washing basket and or the ironing mountain.

Not a bad haul for less than £30. We will definitely go again at some point, just not every 3 weeks!