Wednesday, 27 July 2011

The Royal Wedding...Three 4 Eleven - part 3


 T'was a day hell bent on being swathed in red, white and blue. And who am I to argue with co-ordination on a national level?


As I have mentioned, I was a little over excited. Perhaps it was the happy occasion, the street party I was planning to attend or the evening BBQ that had been in the diary for a month.

Or, more likely, it was the utter cake fail of the night before, surpassed by the cake win of the wedding morning. Yep, my wedding breakfast consisted of cake. Well - you have to test these things! More on that later...


And a bit of a hair-whoop! I have been experimenting with proper brushing out and this is my second attempt. I have to say, I was rather pleased. If I can do it and make it look moderately passable, anyone can.    


I had been watching the event unfold from 8am and although the weather was a bit naff to begin with, I was not going to let that dampen my mood. It was a (for most us) national holiday and I was in proper holiday spirit. I could not wait to see the Memorial Flight pass over. Yep -  you read that right. The fly over. Not the dress. It was lovely and all that, but it was not what I was glued to the screen for. In fact, I was mainly sitting outside my chums house, enjoying a street party to which I did not belong.


I have no idea of how many people were there and I have to say that I felt a bit of an impostor, considering I was not a resident. But I was assured by said chums that all was well and I should enjoy myself in the Union flag festooned festivities.


I had not felt that patriotic in a good long while and I have to say, it felt goooood! I had not attended a street party since the 50th anniversary of VE Day in 1995 and Royal Wedding Day came a close second to that. Every one was smiling. Every one was being friendly and chatty. I know that it is, quite possibly, a rose tinted way to think about days past, but I got a real sense of that very same street having had many a street party in it's day, and the exact same scene being played out.


We even had our own balcony! With it's own Royalty. I have a sneaking suspicion that this house might have won the "Best Dressed House" competition.

And then we moved on to the BBQ where my friend's home made strawberry liqueur was being heartily mixed with Pimms. And inhaled by me. Who had decided her hair was too flat on her head and so had fashioned a roll using only one strategically placed pin. A total and utter fluke, which I am sure shall never be repeated.


The evening ended with me watching the WHOLE event AGAIN on the box over a large slab of cake fail. Ahh yes. I had better tell you about that. It came down to the rookie, and frankly unforgivable bakery error of using 2 different sized cake tins. Which meant that the Victoria Sponge I had whipped up looked bloomin' ridiculous. So I had to make another in the morning of the wedding.


Making butter icing is a treacherous task when one attempts the mixing with an electric whisk. The time I saved using a "labour saving device", I lost in the mopping up!



But it was worth it. As I have to say, I am the most proudest of this cakeage. And for that I thank the Great British Cookbook recipe I used. I shall never use another. It was light and airy and wolfed down by the BBQ guests. 
 



And this is the colossal bottom half of the cake fail. I had, in my frenzy of trying to convince my eyes they were mistaken, decided to plough on. Hence the covering of butter icing and jam. Alas, it was not to be. So we decided to keep it.

For ourselves.

For about a day.

Nom nom!

Ta-ra!

Catch up with the beginning of "Three 4 Eleven" with Part 1 and Part 2



Monday, 25 July 2011

Beneath Hill 60 - Movie Review



The Blurb...
The extraordinary true story of Oliver Woodward. It's 1916 and Woodward must tear himself from his new young love to go to the mud and carnage of the Western Front. Deep beneath the German lines. Woodward and his secret platoon of Australian tunnelers fight to defend a leaking, labyrinthine tunnel system packed with enough high explosives to change the course of the War.

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Another film recommended to me by my dear old Dad, who's interest in WW1 fuels my own. I bought this for him for Christmas and he lent it back to me. I have to confess that I put off watching it for a while, as I guess I was just not in the mood for a blood and mud fest. Thankfully, it is not one of those.


 This film tells the true story of a group of Australian miners who are enlisted to help the Allies dig underneath the Germans during the war of attrition that spanned for most of the war. For attrition read:- absolute stalemate of non-movingness.



 


There is hardship in this film, as being underground in pretty shoddy conditions is bound to convey. But it is the spirit of the men doing the work that shines through. They saw it as a job to be done -  and they did it in (and with) spades.

Along with Passchendaele, the scenes of the trenches and the atmosphere that is created on screen is excellent. This movie too has a love story attached, but for me it was more in keeping with the film. The scenes of the protagonists time back home are used as flashbacks, which I much preferred.



The men were a real team  -  a close knit community who trusted one another and breathed each other's air everyday - knowing that things could collapse around them at any moment.

Its viewing is a tense experience -  especially if you watch it in the dark. As I did. Watching this movie in such a fashion really added to my opinion of it.

The story of Hill 60 is one that I hold dear to me. I visited it last year and cannot begin to tell you the feeling you get when you are there. One small hill -  a mere mound -  that was fought over again and again for the direct view it gives you of Ypres.

This is a testament to the men who fought and died there.

A 7/10 from me. 


Friday, 22 July 2011

Splendid Sponsor Spotlight - Penny Dreadful Vintage


It is no secret that I am friends with Margaret of Penny Dreadful Vintage. This was an easy decision for me to make from not only reading her blog, but also on meeting her in person -  for she is lovely with a raucous laugh and a wicked sense of style. 

So when I decided to take on sponsors - she was first on my list. Since leaving her job to focus on her business earlier this year, she has been stocking her online etsy store and her home boutique with more pretties than I can actually count. Here are some of my top picks.... 

 









The last on the list is one of my bestest, for it's obvious 1940's style. There is no chance it would ever fit my chest junk, but I love it all the same.

Margaret not only has her on line store, but also her home boutique which, as advised, holds a trove of vintage treasure. From bags to swimming cossies -  it's all there. Set in the delightful Hampstead Heath, appointments are availiable on request. The atmosphere of her home is one of funky calmness. And her cups of tea are top drawer. 

In addition, Penny Dreadful Vintage offers a searching service -  which she has a spooky knack for. Looking for that glitzy ball gown for your Christmas do? She shall track it down. Racking your brain cells for a vintage outfit suitable for the office? She will source it. Please email Margaret for further details. 

She also has a splendid capsule collection of 1960's apparel.

Visit Margret on her blog -  Penny Dreadful Vintage ,have a mooch about her Etsy Store, love her Facebook page or pop her a tweet.

That's all folks! 

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Hardcore curling with perming rods


No -  I have not had my hair permed. I have thought about it and dismissed the idea on the basis that it would put my Nan - who's handy work is The Chop - into a catatonic state of shock on account of it "being terrible for (my) lovely hair". As I am cheap and refuse to pay for such things, coupled with the fact that I am also naff at anything remotely "proper" about hair styling -  thus ruling out me doing it myself and not telling Nan -  curling on a temporary scale is all that is open to me.   

Sans makeup again folks. Avert thy eyes if easily revolted

But this does not mean I cannot use the tools of the perming trade. Namely the rods. For those of us that use foam rollers, we all know that they are pretty much disposable. The foam only lasts so long before it starts to resemble an apple core and has to be replaced. This bothers me on a green level -  somehow I don't think that the foam is biodegradable. And so I started pondering something a little more long lasting. And then the lucious Lisa from Snoodlebug mentioned the use of perming rods. Huzzah I thought. But ain't they a bit hard?


Well, yes, yes they are. In fact they are solid plastic stuff. For those of you who are sensitive to sleeping in foams, these may not be for thee. But, I can recommend them on ease of use, long lasting-ness and -  with enough headscarf cushioning - comfort when sleeping. I tend to use quite a long headscarf and tuck the ends in at the side of my head which adds to aforementioned cushioning.

They also lay a lot flatter to the head than foams, which may help in the comfort stakes. And because they are solid, they reduce the frizziness at the ends that can devlop with foams that are past their bestest.

Ahh -  party flash setting is most kind to the complexion!

 I have been mighty pleased with the results so far. I started off with the largest size on line that I could find and have now progressed to smaller sizes via a couple multi packs from Boots. I love them for not only their durability, but also the lack of fiddiliness they provide. You know the scene: you roller up (or down, depending on the do), you grab the little bit that keeps it all in place, you pull it up & over to click it in and *SNAP" -  out it pops from the other end. You swear. You fiddle with it. You unroll and start again. You might even shout randomly at The Beard because he asks you if you are "ok". The rubber strand on perming rods is a lot more sturdy. Phew  -  says The Beard.



I vary how I set my hair, depending on whether or not I am planning to brush it out. For me, if I want a slight wave to it and I am not planning any rolls, then I will set the rods quite high. If I just want curls at the bottom and a flatter crown, I set round the bottom and just tease the curls to become less structured.

The only issue I have come across, on occasion, is getting the ends dry. I tend to roll my hair and then whack a bit of heat on and sleep on it. However, on first use, my ends were still a little damp -  curled, but damp. My solution? A little bit of tin foil wrapped around the middle of the rod to conduct heat. Worked a treat. This has only been the case on a wet set, or when I use my homemade setting lotion. Regular shop bought setting lotion dries pretty quick.

And there you have it. Yet another way to curl your locks! I have to say that this shall be my staple from now on. I have gone back and tried rag-rolling and it was a mess.


 

Foams are out -  rods are in!   

Toodles 

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Three 4 Eleven - part 2


So, where were we? Oh yes. My escapades during my 3 days holiday for 11 during the lead up to the Royal Wedding.  


Still gainfully grabbing some of our National Trust membership fee back, we pootled off to Knole in Kent. I had wanted to visit there for some time after becoming a little besotted with Vita Sackville West and reading "A Portrait of a Marriage". And I have to say -  it did not let me down. The grounds are amazing and seem to go on forever. Perfect place to picnic.


The house itself is stuffed full of all sorts of aged treasure. The Sackville-West's were avid collectors and boast a monumental trove of antiques. Like, proper, old, delights. In fact, as a girl, Vita had to show guests around. By all accounts, she found this all rather dull. To her it was just home. Not that she was really allowed to touch anything.

We grabbed some tea and cake, as is the law when visiting any National Trust property with The Beard. We had whizzed round Knole, so decided to head off -  to Chartwell. Yes folks, we were serious about getting some spondoolies back -  2 properties in one day!



I have been to Chartwell many times before, but I never cease to delight in being there. The views are stunning, the atmosphere intimate and you get an immediate sense of why it's former inhabitant, Winston Spencer-Churchill, loved it so. The whole place is seemingly adored by the National Trust custodians who are dotted about the place, willing to answer any questions you may have. 


Regrettably there is no photography allowed inside the house, but the grounds provide ample clicking opportunities.  Although the property is large, it is not a winding, west winged affair. I can really see just Winston and Clem, pottering about of a Sunday afternoon.



And then there is the obligatory outfit post. Which is rather dull as you have seen it before. I wear this dress most weekends. Well -  I have to get my £1.75 worth!

I have to admit that I did get some sideways glances from other visitors, on account of looking a bit time-warp, but I tend just to smile. I forcibly stop myself from blurting out "No. I am not in costume. I dress like this all the time"  *apologetic smile.. looking at floor*


And so ended day 2 of our 3 for 11.

Next up -  the bunting factory explosion that was  - The Royal Wedding...

TTFN! 


Saturday, 9 July 2011

The Night Watch - Sarah Waters - Review



The Blurb
The story of four Londoners - three women and a young man with a past, drawn with absolute truth and intimacy. Kay, who drove an ambulance during the war and lived life at full throttle, now dresses in mannish clothes and wanders the streets with a restless hunger, searching...Helen, clever, sweet, much-loved, harbours a painful secret...Viv, glamour girl, is stubbornly, even foolishly loyal, to her soldier lover...Duncan, an apparent innocent, has had his own demons to fight during the war. Their lives, and their secrets connect in sometimes startling ways. War leads to strange alliances...Tender, tragic and beautifully poignant, set against the backdrop of feats of heroism both epic and ordinary, here is a novel of relationships that offers up subtle surprises and twists. 

_____________________________________________________________________

I was recommended this book by a good friend but kind of forgot all about it, if I am honest. It was not until I saw an advert on the BBC for their new season in which clips for an adaptation for the book are mentioned, that I thought "hmmm.. I had better read that then, before it airs". 

I have to be frank, I blew a little hot and cold with this novel at the beginning. Now, that could have just been me, out of "read mode" again, so I pressed on. And I am so pleased that I did.

The first thing that struck me about this story is the chronology of it. It runs backwards from 1948 to 1941 with years in between. So, you find out how it all ends and then learn the links to what you already know as you read on. This premise I found incredibly refreshing. As I read more, I found myself saying, literally out loud "Ahhhhhh! I geddit!!"

I love the way that all characters are subtly entwined, how their lives, although being lived during World War II, are carrying on. Love is found, heartache is shouldered, lives are lost, trauma is endured. To the backdrop of an incredibly turbulent time in itself.

I liked each character enough that I cared about what happened to them, but there are parts of the book that shall stay with me in a "this is the bit that made me weep on the train" kind of way. Not directly because of loss -  but due to the situation of one character and her desperation in one line. Oh, it got me. It got me good.

I am interested to see the screening of this as a drama, to see if the characters are portrayed as I have imagined them in my head.

If you have been pondering this novel - it is certainly worth the read. Most definitely.

A stonking 7/10 from meeeeeeeeeeee!

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Splendid Sponsor Spotlight - Acorn & Will

It would be easy for me to just give you a link to this company and demand you "go look" -  because you would not be saddened by this site. Just as I am not each time I have a peek. But that would culminate in a very short post.

So, I have had a quick squiz through Acorn & Will 's current stuff, drooled plenty and dropped off some of my favourites for you to have a look at.  



Most items come in a plethora of colours -  in fact I already own a few of the Twiggy Bird Brooches as I find them perfect to add that extra something to an outfit. I am a sucker for brooches - on cardys, on coats, on hats.. shirts... in hair.... You get the gist.



But it is not just brooches that Acorn & Will sell. They also do hair slides...




Earrings....




Lovely celluloid looking brooches...


More hair slide to prettify your nest..


Big fabric covered earrings...



Funky Owl ones...



Stunning statement brooches...



And even more hair clips....


This is literally just a taster of all the purrrrrrtys that Acorn & Will have to offer the disconcerting retro fancier. Or those that just like things of loveliness without the hefty price-tag. And who of us don't like things like that?

. Want to splurge? You'll get a box full. Saving but want a treat? There are things here for every budget.

I have bought from here before -  and have yet to be disappointed.

You can also follow them on Twitter via @acornandwill  and find them on Facebook.

Hurrahs for Acorn & Will!  

Monday, 4 July 2011

Three 4 Eleven - part 1 - Hughenden Manor

I realise -  over 2 months on -  that I have yet to tell you all about the wondrous 11 days for 3 that I had. Yes -  I was one of the crafty so and so's that booked the 3 days between Easter and the Bank Holiday off of work. The day it was announced that we would be having an extra day. I sat back and mocked, openly, those around me that had failed to do the same. I am sure I shall pay for such mockery at some stage.  

I was a little bit more excited about the Royal Wedding than I thought possible. But before that, the Beard and I celebrated Easter with my family. We then thought "..so.. what's next?". We have National Trust membership which we shamefully only really use for car parking on the various walks we partake in - occasional walks at that. What a right royal waste of money! So, we decided to claw some back.

We started off by visiting Hughenden Manor -  former home of Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli. I knew not much of the man before I entered and I have to say that I came out pretty much the same way. Mainly because I spent too much time wandering around going "oooh" and "ahhh" at the pretties on display rather than reading any of the blurb next to things. It is quite an intimate place, but it is vast and not a lot of it is on display. I did grab some snaps -  including the below.


Yes -  this is Queen Mary, Grand Mother to Elizabeth II. I do have an interest in this lady, primarily from a WW1 perspective. There is a small tin that bares her name that was given to front line soldiers during the Christmas of 1914. It contained smokes, chocolate and other little luxuries. I am lucky enough to own one, by proxy. I bagged one on eBay for my Dad last year. It became his Christmas present.


And here is me in the exact same spot. I have to say, I became a little bit excited by the creation of this picture, much to the exasperation of The Beard. He is a very patient lad.



 View from one of the glorious rooms. Me trying to be vaguely arty. Slight fail.


I do love the blatant rivalry between Disraeli and Gladstone, and this quote made me literally laugh out loud.


Now, all the prime ministerial stuff was all very lovely. But, it was the basement which captured my attention for the whole place. Fully. For, it was here, during WW2 when the estate was commandeered for secret operations. Operations that have only recently come to light in the public domain. 

Hughenden Manor was known as Operation Hillside and was at the top of the Nazi "to bomb" list. And with good reason. Under a strict "if-I-told-you-I'd-have-to-kill-you" mentality, artists worked on map drawings of potential raid areas throughout this estate. Hughenden is where the Dambuster plot was formed.


I felt slightly perturbed by the lack of head but ample feet and shoes on this mannequin.



And where better to store a bike? And to pose for a photo?


But, oh my, for me, the best was yet to come. A whole 1940's living space. That looks oddly like my own front room. Minus the typewriter and Singer sewing machine.


Oh hello... do come in... have a cuppa?



And that completed our trip. Apart from a quick squiz round the gardens when I discovered a decent setting on my naff camera. There is me trying to be arty again. I shall cease soon, I promise.




Plenty more updates to come... two more parts in fact. There is a lesson to be learnt here. Less etsy shopping - more blogging!
 

Over and out!

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