Friday, 21 November 2014

This and That.

I had my first free weekend in ages and I was quite excited about it. I had great plans for a bit of an autumn clean.

Those who have followed my blog for a while will know we have just a wee bit of a damp/mould problem in this house. This is the time of year when it likes to take grip if I give it the slightest chance, so my eyes and nose are on high alert.
I have become quite the expert on mould, I swear one of these days with the time and inclination I will write a dissertation on it's habits.

There are the places it grows with depressing regularity, there are the places it grows just once and after a treatment of bleach never comes again.
But then it likes to be tricksy and suddenly appear somewhere unexpected, somewhere that it has never grown before.
It can appear literally overnight, open a kitchen drawer and all is well, open it again and suddenly the rolling pin is wearing a fur coat for winter!

It loves to grow on wood, though not if it's painted, it especially loves wicker. It's also a big fan of suede and if it can't have suede it will make do with leather.

In my never ending battle I have discovered the best treatment is bleach. Sadly even bleach can't stop it returning, only when it does, it comes back white instead of blue or black.

Anyway I digress, I had great plans to tackle a few of mould's favourite places but instead I woke up feeling rough as hell.
I did a couple of jobs but mostly I collapsed in a heap and watched many episodes of Twin Peaks instead. I am working my way through the whole lot from start to finish having been kindly lent the boxed sets by a colleague at work.
So far I have been amazed at how much I remember and how much I have completely forgotten! I have 7 episodes left to go so that might be my Saturday night this week sorted.

I did manage to clean my new handbag display stand, and typically for me, having already bought the black paint I decided to leave it brown after all!
I tried it this way
but in the end I have it turned this way. Not as attractive but it does give me easy access to all the bags on the bottom shelf and holds one of my dishes of Brooches too.

Oh and to answer the question from Mim.Yes I was absolutely losing track of my brooches and never wearing the ones at the bottom of the dish, hence the reason behind getting another dish! (no it wasn't at all an excuse to buy even more brooches....)

I did also forget to share with you the other thing I bought on my last charity shop outing.
Now I have the perfect excuse to buy chocolates to go in it!

On the note of that certain day. Tomorrow Soo and I are off to Reading to do some shopping.


Thursday, 13 November 2014

Friends, Family and Shopping.

So far November is belting along at the same exhausting fun filled pace of October.

I've seen my family loads after hardly seeing them at all for the last month or two, it's been lovely to catch up.
It was my Dad's birthday at the weekend and we all went out for lunch. It was one of those wonderful long pub lunches after which you think you will never be hungry again, ever.

That's of course until you get to your parents house and your Mum cracks open one of the Christmas tins of Quality Street......oh boy.

Himself and I also headed out on Friday night for a get together with friends and ex-colleagues in memory of our mate Murray who died earlier this year.
I can honestly say I haven't laughed so much in a long time, it was a great night out, the kind that does your soul good.

That was followed by a day of shopping with Soo. We decided to give Chipping Norton a go and it was certainly worth it despite the hideous weather.

Chippy is a beautiful Cotswold town with a high street heavily tipped towards independent shops which was a joy to see.

Talking of joys to see, the high street had be wool bombed with a distinctly Remembrance Sunday theme, it was absolutely fantastic, sadly I didn't get many pictures due to the torrential rain.
There were some of wonderful quirky shops to browse,

How cool is this oil can lamp?

A handful of interesting chazzas
                                                       Seriously sinister cat!

We also found a fantastic craft fair in the town hall. I shamelessly bought myself 2 brooches when I wasn't meant to be spending money on myself.
Having said that, priced at £4 and £3 respectively it would have been rude not too.

I also bought a large pressed glass party snack dish for the princely sum of 75p!
It has 5 compartments and is exactly what I was looking for to hold some of my ever expanding brooch collection.
No that's not all of them
there's these ones too
yup I think I may have a bit of a brooch addiction.

on the subject of things being exactly what you were looking for I also bought this afternoon tea stand.
apologies for the weird angle of the photo, it's not as long or as narrow as it looks in this shot!
I spotted it in one of the first shops we went into and couldn't get it out of my head so we called in on the way back to the car.
I don't think it's particularly old and it needs a damn good clean, then I think I will paint it matt black.
The plan is to use it to display some of my vintage bags, it's going to be absolutely perfect for it. I'm a happy bunny.

Once back in the car we decided to head to Woodstock to check out the shops.

For those not in the know Woodstock is a very beautiful and fuck off expensive village on the outskirts of Oxford.
They even still have stocks for the peasants.

We shamelessly earwigged a surreal conversation in a high end furniture store, where the assistant was actually trying to persuade a couple NOT to buy the £20,000 table they had set their hearts on (because it would be too difficult to get it through the kitchen and into their house.) Whilst they were determined to make it their own. Bizarre!

We tried a few shops, got booted out of a chazza that was closing at 4pm just because they felt like it and came to the conclusion Woodstock was not for us.

Soo then kindly drove me to the station with my bags and tea stand. Thankfully the rain stopped long enough for me to get home without incident and collapse in front of Strictly with a huge mug of tea.

Finally I also bit the bullet and had my hair cut. After seeing the various photos from the blog meet in Walsall I could no longer ignore the fact my hair was in shocking need of a cut.

I toyed with going for the usual trim, but in the end decided to go with the urge that had overcome me to have the whole damn lot chopped off!
After the initial wake up next morning having forgotten new haircut WTF??? in the bathroom mirror I love it.

Outfit = 1970's sundress from C&A, Cardigan from Sainsburys, poppy brooch made by me.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Sherlock Holmes and The 39 Steps.

Well this post is very late! I meant to post earlier honest, I don't know what went wrong.

Anyway on Halloween we took ourselves off to The Big Smoke for our anniversary. First stop was a quick visit to 'Poirot's' block of flats in Charterhouse Square, well we were so close by it would have been rude not too.
Just beautiful. *happy sigh*

We then mooched along the road enjoying the glorious sunshine until we reached The Museum of London where we had tickets for the Sherlock Holmes Exhibition.
Himself told me to stand by the poster for a blog picture, I have no idea why I'm doing that granny handbag arm thing, I never hold my bag like that usually, weird.....

As it was Halloween I decided to wear my Vivian of Holloway skull and crossbones dress.
I'm ashamed to say this is the first time I have ever worn it, it's been hanging in the wardrobe ever since I bought it. As you can imagine it cost quite a bit (ok, a lot) and if I'm honest I was too scared to try it on in case it didn't fit.

What an idiot.

We both enjoyed the exhibition but agreed it was too small, it was like you were just getting into it and the next thing you turned the corner and were outside!
Basically you came out wanting more. When you keep in mind it was mostly about the history of Sherlock Holmes on stage and screen it would have been great to have seen much more about the behind the scenes side of things, the planning, the casting, the characterization, things like that.

The Victorian London of the books was depicted by various period photos, paintings and etchings, all of locations mentioned in the stories. Personally I particularly liked the part of the exhibition that showed the different aspects of Holmes's character, all in all very interesting.

My big complaint though is that the Jeremy Brett Sherlock, to me the definitive Holmes, was hardly to be seen!

After the museum we mooched past St Paul's
down Fleet Street and along the embankment
There we caught the tube with a handful of zombies and a few witches all heading to Oxford Street. From where we walked to Piccadilly to see The 39 Steps.
We did call in at our favourite London pub for a cheeky drink or two first.
not telling you where it is or everyone will start going! ;-)

The show was fantastic, I highly recommend it. It is a comedy based on the Alfred Hitchcock film of the book.
 The cast is made up of only 4 members who play all the 130 odd characters from the film! 
It's very cleverly done and very funny.
They certainly shoe in a lot of Hitchcock references which is an added extra, I especially loved the paper cutout who did the famous Alfred 'cameo'.

Sadly after the theatre it was time to go home due to a super early last train home. We dived into Tesco to buy a couple of beers for the journey, queuing up behind yet more zombies and a ghoul or two.
The underground station was also full of zombies all heading out towards Eros, it made me feel like Cinders having to go home early and miss all the fun.

Having said that by the time I got home all I was fit for was bed and sleep. Poor old duck, no wonder I've started carrying my handbag like my Nan!

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Rock, Shops and a Lovely Cup of Tea.

Well my action packed October continues apace.

So far I have been to Paris for work, been to London for work and been to Walsall for pleasure.

I have been out for dinner four times, been to the cinema twice and to the theatre once. I have shopped much, eaten much and walked far.

Quite frankly I am skint, fat and knackered!  

Last weekend was no different. I crammed in a visit to good old Witney with Soo, to oooh and ahh over Melissa and her other half Dan's gorgeous new house and to visit the shops (of course!)

We three shopped up a storm, stopping only for a bite of lunch. We did all the chazza's where I found this magnificent teapot in one for the princely sum of £2.

It was filthy but I loved the shape. A bit of elbow grease later, it's gleaming and I'm thrilled with my purchase. Sadly no genie with wishes for me so it's back to work.
I also found a couple of Christmas presents, yes, yes I've said the 'C' word but it's always a relief to get the first present out the way. Oh and my Dad's birthday present too which is even more of a relief to find.

Soo and I went to see the stage version of Rock of Ages, but please don't hold that against us.
It is a lot cruder and much darker than the film version. As far as musicals go it is truly appalling but we laughed our heads off and had a great night out.

I also took a day off work last week to catch up on some much needed sleep and to try and get my chaotic home under control again.
I blitzed the place, I have 4 bags ready for a charity shop of my choice in town and have listed a shedload of stuff on the Bay of E.

I feel relieved, like I am gaining that control again, there is more to do but much progress has been made.

October ends tomorrow and goes out with a bang. It's not just Halloween, it's our Anniversary.

We are off to London.

First up the Sherlock Holmes Exhibition at the Museum of London followed by The 39 Steps at the Criteron Theatre.

I am very, very excited but as Himself quite rightly pointed out how middle aged does it sound? Spending our anniversary at a museum followed by a theatre show? 


Wednesday, 22 October 2014

As Days Go This Was Second To None.

Late for once but fashionable so I hope! Here is my take on the Bloggers Meet-up in Walsall.

What can I say?

After wanting to go for a few years now I finally made it to the legendary 'Second To None' and what bloody magnificent company to visit it in.
I just had to take a few minutes to drink in the window and yes that was a brimming box of sparkly brooches I spied, oh be still my beating heart!
To say the shop is crammed would be an understatement, I was actually a bit overwhelmed and kind of flipped through a few rails without even seeing things until I spotted a really rather lovely black floral evening bag for £3 and suddenly the fog cleared and I was looking with the keen clear eyes of the hunter.

Vix our ever thoughtful and glamorous hostess had brought drinks, but as by this time I was up the top of a ladder rummaging through handbags I decided to wait until I was back on solid ground before cracking open my can!

Next stop for me was the box of brooches, once a magpie always a magpie! It took some effort but I got my choice down to one or two,
or maybe three or four.....
Look shoes!

I was going to ask about buying a flying duck to join my repro ones but I got distracted (not difficult in this Aladdin's Cave) and forgot.
My brooch habit quenched I suddenly realised everyone else had gone upstairs, oh yes there was more.
First thing to greet me was this C&A jumpsuit. 
How do I know it was C&A? Because my mother had the very same one, she also bought me one in pale blue. That was my early teens, a time when my Mum was still buying my clothes and I was just starting to take enough interest in clothes to realise this bothered me - A LOT.
Especially as she had a habit of dressing me in things that really did me no favours, like pastel blue jumpsuits.
Not a good look when you are short, solid with puppy fat and pastel shades make your pale skin look like a corpse risen.
These days I am a foot taller and the puppy fat that I was delighted to lose has crept relentlessly back on as what the magazines call 'middle age spread'. I should be bothered, and to be fair I often am, but as I've said before basically I'm greedy and I hate exercise so I can't see me going back to my teeny tiny days any day soon.
The downside of this is 99% of the wonderous stock in this shop wasn't going to fit.A couple of frocks I dearly would have loved to slip into were these.

Instead I just took pictures, and thank you to the lovely Lyndsey for holding up the green frock and keeping me company in the back room whilst we made some space for the others to try on the things that caught their eye.
I did grab a couple of shots
Curtise risking life and limb next to the teetering fabric mountain
and Emma trying on a pimptastic hat that was too small for Vix or me.

Purchases made it was time for refreshment so off to Wetherspoons we went.
Chips, drink and much laughter later we did a tour of the town, chazzas and all.

Following the Bill Bryson rule I made sure I looked up as well as around.

The OBD was found and photographed
as was the famous Walsall hippo

then there was time for one last much needed drink in here before we headed to the station
My train was cancelled so instead I got to join Emma on hers and bleat on at her all the way back to Oxford.  She bore it bravely.

So do you want to see my purchases?
The kind of handbag that makes a collector's heart skip a beat or two. Early 1940's and in IMMACULATE condition. I did not let this out of my clutches until I had secured it as mine!
The pretty black floral one for £3 and another lovely brown fabric and leather one.
just one or two brooches........

I did also buy a kitsch tartan headscarf with scottie dogs on it but it's in the wash.

Finally without too much persuading from Vix a genuine Scottish Tam O' Shanter (it said so on the label)for £2 in a charity shop.
Thank you to Vix, Curtise, Emma, Fiona, Tania, Vanessa, Annie and Lyndsey for such a fabulous day out. Here's to the next one.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Paris Mon Amour.

It's not exactly a hardship when you get sent to somewhere like Paris for work and this is the view from your hotel window.
let's use the zoom on my new camera (the one that I still haven't figured out how to use properly)
Well I've seen worse views that's for sure.

The journey there was quite an experience. It was the Arc De Triomphe horse race the same weekend and our Eurostar was packed with race goers, most of whom were Irish, all busy drinking and eating and consulting Racegoers Weekly.
 It was like one lively but very good natured mobile party.
My colleague Alex got given a glass of red wine and a sandwich by the guys she was sitting with and when I was offered some and said "thanks so much but I'm ok" and when pressed admitted I don't really like red wine, the people opposite me promptly gave me a glass of champagne instead!

It's the only way to start a work trip I'm telling you.

We finally got to our hotels around 6pm, unfortunately we had to stay in different ones but thankfully only a 5 minute walk apart. Checked in, freshened up and headed out for some sightseeing and dinner.

The weather was gorgeous, really warm in fact, so we sat and watched them light up the Eiffel Tower. Which would have been great if it wasn't for all the touts hassling you every 30 seconds.

We grabbed a quick snack and headed back to our hotels, getting a bit lost on the way, but in the centre of Paris that really doesn't matter somehow.

When you are on a work trip making the most of your spare few hours is vital so we were up before 7am, breakfasted and off to Les Marches Aux Puces, the famous big flea market in Paris.

I would also say pre-trip research is vital too.

Having found many many posts on the internet about the very aggressive touts and numerous pickpockets at the main entrance to the market.
As advised by the locals I took us via the metro to the far side of the market which avoided all of that. We did get to see the famous swap meet which frankly was like some vision from hell and to be avoided, before we found our way to the bits we wanted to see.

As the internet had warned the prices were stupidly 'foreign tourist trap' high but we had great fun window shopping and soaking up the amazing vibe of the place. I seriously can't believe there were ever that many big houses in France to account for all the massive chandeliers! there were hundreds!

Sadly a vast majority of the vendors had 'No Photography' signs up and got arsey if you did try to sneak a pic. I did get a few though.

We found the bit with the vintage clothes, it's great when you can travel with a colleague who likes the same things. I would have been more than happy to go alone but Alex was well up for a visit and we both bought a couple of bits.
Again prices were tourist high but it was fun to nose around.
Alex bought a very cute, very Parisian navy jacket from this shop. We both loved the deep blue evening dress on the dummy.

So what did I buy?
A silk scarf that I have already worn.
and this 1970's leather bag, I paid 30 euro for the pair. Again I think they both have quite a French feel to them.

Sadly time flew and we had to head back to our hotels to get changed and get to work, it was the reason for the trip after all!

These graffiti cats were all over Paris, personally I loved them.

After a long and briskly busy recruitment fair, we got freshened up and headed out to a tiny little bistro as recommended by a guy at Alex's hotel.
They only had 12 tables and didn't do sittings so you got to sit over a very leisurely and very, very delicious dinner.
Alex ordered a creme brulee, I was full. They brought it out but with no spoon so we asked for a spoon and got 2 spoons plus another 2 creme brulees.
As no one spoke English and our French is very poor it took us a little while to establish they were all that was left so we could have them for free.
The owner also wouldn't let us leave until we had finished them!

He kissed us warmly on both cheeks when we left. I have to say in all my years I don't think I have ever been kissed by the owner of a restaurant but there's a first time for everything.  

I dropped Alex at her hotel and headed back to mine. En route I saw a bidet with a baguette in it.Just sitting there, out on the street.

Only in France....