Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Non vintage frock love - outfit post.

There are fewer things that make me as happy as a nice frock. I own few pieces of real vintage frockery, so I mainly make do with what I find in charity shops or the likes of Etsy. Frocks that I think look the part and contribute to the 1940's look I try to create. 
There has been much grumbling in blogland over "real" vintage of late. That you cannot claim to be "into vintage" if you do not wear real pieces from the era. A grumble, I personally, could not give a hoot about. The fact that I do not own a lot of actual vintage has yet to make me feel as though I should not be part of the scene. And long may that continue.  

Jeepers -  I was about to enter rant mode. But shant. I am here to show off a cheap as chips dress I found in a charity shop. For under a fiver. And not only that. The wedge sandals I snapped up for £8. They are Clarks, no less, and I would like to shake the hand of the person who donated them, for they are the most comfortable things I have ever shoved my plates into.

The dress is by Eastex, an old lady brand similar to Bon Marche. So, not vintage in the slightest. There is that "me not giving a hoot" again. Ho hum. It is light weight, but not so light it shall reveal my bloomers should there be a big gust of wind and I love the fact it has the matching belt. Win! Being modern, it means that I can whack it in the machine. Double win!

I am looking forward to more sunny days and ice cream nomming, accompanied by this outfit!


Monday, 27 June 2011

Into the Arms of Strangers - Review

The blurb.... 
In the nine months prior to World War II, 10,000 children left their families, their homes and their childhood and took a journey that would change their lives forever.
Narrated by Dame Judi Dench, this moving documentary details the historic events leading up to the journey from chaos in Europe to safety in Britain. Recalling the tears, the trauma, the waiting, and in a few cases, the joyous reunion, surviving "kinder" tell their story as never told before.


I found this DVD through the handy little suggestion thingy at the bottom of Amazon. This is how I find most of the things that I end up watching and/or reading and reviewing. God bless it, I say!

Now, as the blurb would suggest, this is a documentary and a moving one at that. It taught me more about the Holocaust and the lengths that were taken to try and rescue as many children from the onslaught as possible.

Had it not been for this one man and his couragous efforts to protect the children of people he both knew, and had never met before, they would have in all probability, been consigned to the fate of their elders.

There are touching moments in this DVD. Tales of children torn from parents, not finding out what had happend to them until many years, in some cases, decades later. Although these "children" are now grandparents, they have never forgotten the actions of one man.

A short celebration of what determination and humanity can do in the face of such a monstrous machine.

A 6/10 from me. 

Friday, 24 June 2011

Tales of an Age UK Befriender

I just met a girl called Maria..... 

Well... she is not technically a girl. She is 90. And I have not just met her. I have been visiting her for 6 months. What are you on about LandGirl, I hear you cry? Well. I shall mostly be telling you about it now. Here it comes.... ready?

Back in September I got to thinking that I would quite like to do some volunteering for Age UK. The thought process was simple for me. I wanted to try to give something back to the generation that I so admire. I emulate, albeit sometimes to a feeble degree, the women of the WW2 era and I know from the statistics that abound, that some are living alone and are painfully isolated.   


A friend of mine was chatting one day about someone in her office who is a “befriender” for the charity and said that she thought it would be right up my street. I like to chat. I like tea. I like cake. Match made in heaven.

A quick search on the wonderweb lead me to ring my local Age UK office and it all went from there. I had to attend an interview taking along some of my personal particulars, such as passport or drivers license. The “interview” , I was told, would consist of no more than a 20 minute chinwag, so that a representative of the charity could get to know me a bit more and consider if a) I was suitable for the task and b) who to place me with when the time came.

40 minutes later (ahem,) I was off out the door and awaiting the results of my CRB police check. Despite having one recently for something else, I was told that I would need to have another one. Free of charge. Not a problem. There was a wait involved, which was a little longer than I would have liked, coming in at just under 8 weeks. I was keen to get a placement before the notoriously lonely time of Christmas & New Year hit, but that was not to be. Alas.

But -  come mid January, I was called with the details of Maria. A recently bereaved and slightly depressed local lady. I arranged to meet her at her home, accompanied by an Age UK Representative. I had been warned that, during the first meeting, Maria might not actually talk to me very much, but instead direct her conversation towards the Representative. Which is exactly what happened. I was then left to arrange the next visit with Maria. This has become a weekly visit on a Saturday morning. I would have preferred weekday evenings, but a lot of elderly people prefer day meetings, which is understandable.

The meetings have progressed from being slightly awkward at first, as getting to know someone can sometimes be, into what I feel is an actual friendship. I talk about what I have been up to, she talks about her past. I advise her on how I think she could improve how she spends her time through various activities such as U3A, she listens and occasionally agrees with or dismisses my suggestions, depending on her mood.

But she is showing more interest  in life in general as her bereavement becomes less and she adjusts to life on her own. Due to her depression, there have been tearful, silent moments during my visits, but I handle them as I would do any other friend. I listen. I try to comfort.


I have recently met members of her extended family who have told me that my visits do Maria the world of good. That they really give her a lift and that she looks forward to seeing me. Which is all I could ever hope for. For an hour a week, sometimes a little over, I feel that it is not much to give out of my time. In fact, it is hardly anything at all. I am happy to pay by way of my usual Saturday morning lay in to be able to give something back.

My only reservation is that I cannot spend more time with Maria. I would dearly love to be able to see her in the week, perhaps go along with her to a bridge game, or just simply sit and watch TV. But due to working full time, this is not a possibility. I give what I can, and it seems to be ample for her needs.  

 If you think you could do the same or could help the charity in other ways, have a look on line. Perhaps it is something you would like to get involved in?

Age UK is the umbrella term for the combination of Age Concern and Help the Aged. If you have no luck finding contact details that can help you, then it might be worth giving your local charity shop a call to see if they can point you in the right direction. But try direct contact with an office first.

Honestly? It is one of the most rewarding things I have ever done. Let me know if this inspires you to get involved with the elderly community, or if you already are? I would love to hear of your experiences.
Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Shrewd Vintage - Dorking

A short train journey away from the delightful hub-bub of London lies the relatively sleepy town of Dorking. Not only does it have antique and charity shops in abundance, it also the home of Shrewd Vintage. 

Situated a short, 15 minute amble from either Dorking or Dorking Deepden station it houses a vast array of frocks, flatcaps and fancies.

Fancies in the form of brooches, hats, ties, shoes, bags and earrings.

The owner, Sonja, has bestowed upon me the honor of an interview for you all to have a ganders at.  

She is a lovely-jubbly lady who has, on occasion, made me spend more than I intended on said fancies. Oh...but they are so pretty!

How and when did you get into the Vintage Trade?
My daughter found a job lot of 6000 ( 2000 which went straight into the bin...) pairs of second hand shoes and we decided to clean them up and sell them on eBay, that did not really work. So I rented a shop in Dorking for a few months, bought some old tables which we painted in various colours and with the help of glass shelves and bricks we displayed the shoes and managed to sell most of them. And the vintage bit just sort of developed from there.

What is your favourite find that you could not bear to sell?

A beautiful satin, reversible kimono from the 50s, just so sexy!!!

Do you trade any "vintage" events?

No, tried Goodwood's Revival but it is so much work dragging everything out of the shop and then back in again.

Do you have a personal favourite era of fashion? If so, what makes it so special to you?

Probably the 20s they were so naughty and decadent!

What is the best thing about running Shrewd?

Finding all these beautiful clothes and hearing the stories behind them.

And now follow some more pictures. Because there are too many fancies in this shop for there not to be as many in this post as possible.

There is plenty of menswear too, if you have a chap to buy for. Or to spend the money of.

If I had any organisational skills, or indeed the room, this is what my imaginary walk in wardrobe might look like.

And if I had more money in my bank account, this delightful summer wicker bag might be gracefully hiding all my toot. Alas -  it is still in store. Somebody -  please -  give it a new home!

To get the Shrewd direct from London, it is just under an hour direct from Victoria or Waterloo. So -  why not make a day of it? Once you are done ooing and aahhing over the stock in Shrewd, you can try your luck in those charity shops I mentioned. Don't forget to invite me! I am just up the road!

You can also follow them on Twitter @vintageshrewd and via their Facebook Group Shrewd

7, South Street, RH4 2DY Dorking, Surrey
01306 889 099
Mon - Sat: 10:00-18:00

Friday, 17 June 2011

Autumnal Dress Down Friday - Outfit post

The title of this post is misleading somewhat. For I wore not this to work for the dreaded DDF -  but on a holibobs day when I went off to Brighton. On a Monday no less. Post on my find's to follow soon... 

I bought this skirt on the Isle of Wight when I went there for New Year. I did say at the time that it did not look like much on the hanger, poorly displayed in my bathroom, but I quite like it on.

The weather in the UK is questionable at themoment, and I felt the need to dress for -  well -  Autumn, despite it being June. Sigh. I do love our weather, honest.

This whole outfit is thrifted from charity shops and eBay. Apart from the bag (Primark) the earrings from the Alibu Creations stall in Camden and the bumble bee pendant.

Yes people. Finally I found one that I liked. I have already mentioned my affection for bees before and I have been craving  a pendant for a while now, and especially since I spent a whole work day regretting staying up way too late the night before to watch The Sixth Sense. Again.  

I love the connection between Cole, his Mother and his deceased Grand Mother who visits regularly and moves her bumblebee pendant because "..she likes to look at it sometimes".

Now I have one of my velly own!! Huzzah! 

Friday, 10 June 2011

The Land Girls - by Angela Huth - review

The blurb..

The West Country in wartime. And the Land Girls are gathering on the farm of John and Faith Lawrence.

Prue, man-eating hairdresser from Manchester; Ag, a cerebral Cambridge undergraduate; Stella, a dreamy Surrey girl stunted by love: three very different women from very different backgrounds, who find themselves thrown together, sharing an attic bedroom and laying the foundations for a friendship that will last a lifetime...


I guess, given my blog persona, I should have reviewed this book a long time ago. Although I have read it before, I wanted to refresh my memory. I am pleased to declare that, for me, it did not disappoint. I was worried that I was looking at it through the rose tinted glass-ness of 10 years past.

Telling the story of a trio of young ladies, this book hooks you from the first chapter. Like many volunteers into the Women's Land Army before them, they are shocked and out of their comfort zones but fairly adept at getting stuck in.

There is Prue who can be brash at times but also full of life, enjoying the opportune love that the war throws her way but seemingly unwilling to show her softer side. Ag is the reserved intellectual of the group who prides herself on her countryside and scholastic poetry knowledge. And then there is Stella who proves herself to be helpful, caring and hardworking.

I adored the portrayal of the farmland they inhabited, along with the family they got to know and love. But it is the character of Ratty who I held in the highest esteem throughout this book and the jarring, tempestuous marriage with his wife.

I could identify a bit of my own personality, as well as that of my friends, in each of the girls portrayed. It took me a while to get into Angela Huth's style of writing, but once there, it would not let me go.

There is love and loss, laughter and tears. But underneath it all, under the breeches and scratchy green woolen jumpers, the mud, sunshine and cowpats, this novel touches on what some girls felt on being part of the WLA -  that they had truly made friendships that would last long after the bombs and rationing had stopped. They partook in "doing their bit". 

An 8/10 from me. 

What a facking Liberty

Considering the obscene amount of pictures to follow of me in this dress, how could I not call my post this?  

I had not worn this dress out of the house after picking it up in a charity shop back in February for a penny pinching £7. It is a 1970's of "Liberty Poppies" fabric. It does have long sleeves, which I had planned on snipping off and making into shorter ones. That plan was karboshed when I discovered that I could simply tuck them under. Which now means I also have a wintery dress. Most excellent!

But this post is about the soiree of "Swing for Skin". Because this time last week I was beyond excited (with a dash of nerves for good measure) about attending the inaugural charity event in aid of DebRA.

For the last few months I had a permalink in the top right corner of my blog, advertising this event. I can't remember how I found out about it, but I sure am glad that I did. Not many people know about DebRA and what they are about.I have to say that I only know about them due to the abundance of their charity shops in my locality. And you know me and chazza shops.

DebRa is a charity that supports people with a genetic skin blistering condition Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB).  This condition effects not only the exterior of the sufferer, but also the interior. The smallest of jolts or knocks and painful blisters are caused which tend to become open wounds that can potentially become infected.

Hence the bandaged limbs of the organiser, Melissa. Looking resplendent in what I believe is an Able Grable frock of a sailor persuasion, she had the misfortune of meeting a slightly worse for wear me towards the end of the evening. You can chat on Twitter all you like, but meeting new friends face to face is always a joy. She was very patient with what I dimly remember as my inane chatter. That'll be the brandy. What you cannot see in the above shot is Melissa's ahhmazing red patent t-bar shoes. That matched her bag. Tres envious!

Lady Cherry and her outstanding made-the-day-before dress.

The event was held on the HMS Belfast. I know. Cool, huh? I was not aware that you could hire this floating monument. In fact, I had not been on it since I was a child, on a school trip. I also forget that it is actually part of the Imperial War Museum, which sounds pretty obvious now I have said it. We could explore the ship, shinny up and down ladders -  with decorum and grace - and go into the dark, dark rooms. To be greeted by some fairly scary waxworks. Of men. In hammocks.

When I say dark -  i mean dark!! We did toy with the idea of lurking and jumping out on someone -  but came to the conclusion that if someone did that to us, we would in all honestly, wet ourselves in fear.

Being a smoker, (... i know.. i know.. bad for your health..yadda yadda..) I was surprised to be allowed to smoke on board. I thought that I may have had to spend my evening being unsociable and wandering back off the ship to have feed my roll up need. So, a lot of my time was spent on the upper deck with some of my delightful friends as well as new acquaintances, smoking and drinking. And being spooked by this guy...

I said, at the beginning of the post, that I was a little nervous. I always get a bit shaky at mega blogger meet ups, which is how I saw this event. A lot of people that I have admired from afar for a long time were going to be in attendance. Did I look ok? Was my hair right? Did I have lipstick on my teeth? Would I be too brash, too sweary, too me?

Honestly, I don't know what I worry about. Each and everytime I have met someone new from the vintage blogosphere they have been delightful. I had the joy of spending time with people who I now consider proper, real life friends in the forms of Penny Dreadful Vintage, Perdita's Pursuits, Lady Cherry Loves.

Strike a pout!

I also got to meet a bevvy of vintage beauties such as:- Natasha from The Crafty Ms De Vil, Lisa a la Snoodlebug,  divine Miss Fleur De Guerre, Naomi of Vintage Secret, Min from Red Legs in Soho and Jeni of Yesterday Girl. None of which I have pictures of. Well -  I do -  but they are all too fuzzy to be published. On account of booze.

And of course, the lady that encouraged me to pull my finger out and blog -  Gemma from Retro Chick. This picture is taken in the pub that we bundled into during our untimely shore leave. I seem to remember laughing a lot, taking dodgy photos of people and laughing some more when a drink was spilled into the rim of a hat.

There is a rumor that Swing for Skin may very well return next year - so keep your peepers peeled for updates. I was pleased to be part of something that was so much fun. Things I have forgotten to mention are the singers, the raffles, the cake and the hairdressers that were present. That'll be me, being unsociable on the "Puff Deck" then. Not actual  puff you understand. That's illegals.

For pictures of something other than me in this dress -  have a butchers at Penny Dreadful's post.

Pip! Pip!

Friday, 3 June 2011

HMV - old style

I think, in purchasing the below item, I succeeded in taking my eBay lurking to a whole new level. It involved sitting up for a long time. And waiting. And then bidding, squealing and thinking "eeek -  that's a lot of money". But -  what else are work bonuses for? Saving? Pah! 


I watched this item for over a week. I cancelled a night out because I had to be home when the auction ended. It sat at £28.37 for the majority of that week. It rose by a pittance in the last 10 minutes.

And then I struck. I have mentioned my eBay lurking before. It rarely fails me. But sometimes I shock myself with the numbers I type in. I felt a bit sick. It was a lot of money. However, eBay fever had taken hold and there was no going back. There were only 3 seconds to go.

This is why I like lurking. I know that there are various programmes out there that you can install to your desktop to sniper things you want. But I quite like the kick. And this was a £130 kick. Including over 100 records. And needles. And in perfect working order.

Yes, my friends. This is a 1930's (possibly earlier) His Masters Voice, free standing, windup gramophone. Minus trumpet thingy. Which is good for the limited space I have in my already over-cluttered-with-other-peoples-old-person-toot abode. It is a glorious example and I know that, with a little restoration, it is worth a lot more than I paid for it. Which to me, makes it an investment, not a flagrant cash splurge.

I have been playing records on it now and then, convincing The Beard to flail around the the front room with me on occasion. And when I look at it, I think -  where have you been all this time? What have you seen? Who did you belong to?

Questions I cannot ever hope to answer. So I shall just have to make up it's history. It's a tough life.

Over and oooooot!

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

My Sister Marilyn by Mona Rae Miracle - Review

The Blurb
Finally a book with an insight into the private family life of the real Monroe told by her half sister who at last breaks her silence.


Well -  that's not a lot of blurb, is it? Then again, as a Marilyn fan -  I hardly ever read the blurbs anyway. I thought that I would post this review today on what would have been the subjects 85th birthday.

Do not let the lack of info on the back sway you away from reading this if you get the chance. It is a gem of a book and showed gaping holes in my Monroe-obsession.

It is stuffed with photos of a very young, but not less stunningly beautiful Norma Jean. Even back then, her face is breath taking.

Courtesy of This is Marilyn

It is an insight into her early life and the girl that her family knew. This book confirmed my initial thoughts about the Bombshell she became. That beneath to oozing sexuality and blonde barnet, she was a simple, caring, sweet woman. I feel that the author, Norma Jean's half sister, could be a little biased, but then if she was my relative, I would be too.

A real treat of a book for any fan or those that want to know more about the icon without the scandal and the glitz.

An 8/10 from me (an incredibly biased fan!) 


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