Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Custard Tarts & Broken Hearts ~ Mary Gibson‏ ~ book review

Heartwarming and gritty, the story of a factory girl in Bermondsey through World War 1.
They call them custard tarts - the girls who work at the Pearce Duff custard and jelly factory. But now the custard tarts are up in arms, striking for better conditions. Among them is Nellie Clark, trying to hold her family together after the death of her mother. She has the most desperate struggle to make ends meet, often going hungry to feed her little brothers.
Two men vie for Nellie's love. One is flamboyant, confident and a chancer. The other is steady, truthful and loyal. But the choice is not as easy as it might seem.
Looming over them all - over Bermondsey, over the factory, over the custard tarts and their lives and loves - is the shadow of the First World War. And that will change everything and everyone.
Usually you buy a book for the content. Occasionally you purchase just for the cover.  Sometimes it’s the title that grabs you. Case in point -  when I saw "Custard Tarts and Broken Hearts” on Kindle -  I knew I had to investigate further. How could I not? The title still makes me smile now. Not in a mocking way -  but in a well-now-whats-that-all-about kinda way. It also left me with a hankering for custard cream biscuits. Mmmmm.
 I am still very much getting used to this new non-paper book thing of mine, so when I spotted this for a mere 58p (currently £1.41 at time of writing), I thought I’d take a punt. And I was not disappointed.
 Written with the authors own family history at the fore, it begins in 1911 in the throes of Industrial strike action, Suffragette movement and the prelude of The Great War. I was told the story of a family struggling to keep their heads above the smog of Bermondsey, London, in the height of its production. With custards and jellies, dockers , factory girls, horses and carts thrown in the mix, I was quickly swept into the life of  Nellie, her family and friends. As life moves on, through the years at a steady, but not dragging, pace, World War 1 heaves into view and the characters are faced with dilemmas of duty, conscious and heartache.
 To be honest, I was not really expecting a historical romance novel to be much cop -  especially on the historical side of the things -  but it was an engaging and warm read that I felt was very well researched and lead me to want to know more about the area and what became of Nellie Clark after the war. It was not fluffy for the most part, and made me want to keep on reading. Considering that this is the authors first novel, I am hopeful that there may be a sequel in the pipe line. 

A 7/10 from me.

Monday, 17 March 2014

The Coat of Charly Brown ~ HeyDay review

I have long admired the wares of HeyDay  and am fortunate enough to know the lovely Shona in person. Having met through a mutual friend back near the beginning of my vintage-style adventure, I was more than a little in awe of her. With her cheery disposition and cheeky sense of humour, not to mention her hair. It’s the kind of natural red I can only dream of. She is one of the nicest people I have ever met and now consider her a dear friend.
 So -  when I had a fairly casual conversation with her at a party last year, little did I realise that what I was waffling about would come to fruition. The chat went a something like this:
 Me: I love your new coat range, love.
Shona: So pleased you like it
Me: Do you ever do them in different colours? I am really after a nice brown coat. You know, like a proper dress it up or down coat. An everyday coat. In brown. It has to be brown. Brown is where it’s at for me. Brown.
Shona: What sort of brown?
Me: hmmmmm – (scanning the room) like Colin’s coat over there (pointing into the darkness as he was trying to say goodbye to people)
Shona: Right, hold on a mo (taking out camera) I’ll be right back
Shona: Can I take a snap of your coat please Colin?
Colin: (eyebrow slightly raised) errrrrr…. Sure.
Shona: (snap, flash, snap) Thanks!

 At this point, I was also saying fare-thee-well to various party goers and I trundled off into the night. I literally thought no more about it until Shona messaged me with some shades of brown. I told her the ones that I liked and off she went. Once again, I thought no more of the conversation. I wandered aimlessly around the shops looking for the brown coat. Neither the charity shops nor the high street had it. And boy did I hunt. But to no avail. Boo-hoo said I.
 The summer (remember that season folks? Hold on tights, it'll be round this way again soon enough!) came along and all thoughts of extra layers were fried from my memory. Fast forward to December and a little message pops up on that there smarty-pants phone of mine. I let out a squeak at my desk. I get a bit hot and flustered. I most certainly clapped. Shona had let me know that the coat was now ready. Ready and set to go. That exact shade was now in beautiful coat form. It had a skirt. It buttons and pockets. It had a waist. And most shocking of all -  it had my name! The 5th Avenue Coat in “Charly Brown” had been born. 
How fancy do I feel now? Very much indeed.
 Am I in love? Errrrrrr …. Just a bit. It is perfect for me and the exact  shade of 1940s-we’re-making-the-best-of-it-nature-pallette-rust-brown I was after. Something that can be made all the brighter with a few accessories, but holds its own without them. A fantastic base to be dressed up with a big felt flower brooch, a smart hat & shoes or dressed down with a pair of boots and a turban. Just like in these beach action shots. A very windy beach in February. Whenever I see any Forties things on the telly box -  it is always the everyday wear that I am enamoured by. Yes, I like the slinky ball gowns and furs, but it’s the making do aspect that I love. The whole “one-coat-for-the-duration” aspect. And here is was.

 Now, Shona kindly offered me a very good deal on my coat (thanks S!) but I am as thrifty as the next person. I am aware of the cost of this delectable item. However when you consider that this is a lovingly made, warm, stylish, durable garment that will literally last you years, I think that price tag is warranted.  I think you would pay something similar in a big department store. And it suits both us 40s gals and also those of a 50’s persuasion. The one I have is a Large, which Shona has advised me has actually sold out in this size and that some colours have sold out in others. If it is most certainly the brown (remember -  in my world that’s where it’s AT) then please contact and they shall do their very bestest to help you.
 So from something in my minds eye to something keeping me warm this Winter, well into Spring and shall be coming leaf kicking with me for many Autumns to come. 
Well done (and thank you!!) that clever HeyDay!

Friday, 14 February 2014

TCB Foam Setting Lotion ~ Review

Hair. It can be a fickle ol’ thing.  Mine, in particular, has had an argument with store bought setting lotions for no apparent reason. One week it worked as normal, like it had for months before and then? I had hair more befitting of Worzel Gummidge. My tried and tested brand of choice – LottaBody -  admitted defeat recently. My hair no likey no more. Sigh.

So, for a while now, I have been setting my hair with some leave in conditioner and the power of air-drying. I favour the Aussie brand of conditioner based on it actually making my hair nice and soft and it’s delicious smell. That and the advantage I took of a deal in the supermarket. I now have a small stockpile to call my very own.
But, of late, I have been wanting something that would last a little longer. So, off I went, back into the world of setting lotions. On the Paks website, I decided to try TCB Foaming Wrap Lotion. Yes, it may very well meet the same demise as the others -  but for the moment I am singing its praises to anyone who will listen.
I bought a few different lotions to try, but TCB Foaming Wrap has been such a success for me that I have yet to try any of the others. Despite the lotion advising me to use this on wet hair which I then roll, I know my hair better than to think it would actually dry overnight having been rolled wet. Even if I use heat, this is no go amigo. I used this in my usual manner -  on just washed, pretty much dry hair. I have found that a little goes a long way that after 3 applications, I have barely used any at all. Win.
I apply this to both smaller and larger sections of hair with the same results, so it really depends on my mood. Sometimes there is something far more interesting on the telly-box that demands my attention and so I am bit slapdash about it all. On others, I take time and primp in front of the mirror. Either way -  the results are the same. Curls that really last.
I pay close attention to the ends and make sure that there is a decent amount of product on them. Then I roll up and sleep on it. I have to say that I have been so impressed with this product. 
On this occasion, I just ran my fingers through my hair once I had taken the pin curls out and left it like that for the day. You can see that it has dropped -  as my hair always does -  but there is still a curl there. Even after a hefty brushing out, there is still shape and no frizz. 
I did find that my hair felt a little, I think heavy would be the right word, not quite tacky or sticky, but I could feel that there was something there other than locks. But, this feeling was all gone by the second day. Because, you see, these curls were around until my next wash. I kid you not.
I re-pinned the curls for the first 3 nights. The same curls -  for the most part - there was a slight drop -  were there again the next morning with no worries. I do have issues with the back underneath of my mane, so I do dampen this bit before re-rolling 4 small sections on perming rods, but the rest of my hair was re-done dry.

On day 4 and 5 I ran out of time to re-pin. This wedding malark ain’t  ‘arf a time sucker. So I shoved it up on top of my bonce and went to bed. I decided I would deal with whatever I was greeted with in the morning. Amazingly, there were still curls. Gobsmacked was I!
It gives my hair a nice sheen, I have less fly-aways (even in all this damp weather) and am confident that it will give me the results I spent all that time a rolling-and-a-pinning.
On that note, this product a massive 9/10 from me.
*this is not a sponsored post. I paid for this product with my own cashola. Other retailers are available -  I just happen to really like Paks.


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