Monday, 25 February 2013

Green Glamour Hats by Hesta

As a blogger, there are occasions when I am contacted to help promote or to review something. Most things I politely decline, but then there are the things that I go "oooooooooh..PRETTY!" at and gladly reply to with an affirmative.

Case in point, these delicious handmade hats from Green Glamour. Created and made right here in Blighty by designer Hesta Singlewood, they are recycled from jumpers past their prime. I do so love it when something can be re-purposed, and I wish I had the nouse to do things like this myself. Alas, I seem to have missed that little sprinkle of creativity when it was being dished out.

I was offered a hat in return for a review. I did not need asking twice. 

Although she has some hats ready to buy in her Folksy shop, she likes nothing more than a commission for a special hat where she will incorporate your own garment into something new and usable. 

Short listed last year for International Hat Designer of the Year, her vintage inspired head coverings were born from a love of 2 lambswool jumpers that held significant sentimental value. She could not bare to part with them, but also wanted to be able to use them for something else.

Ta-da! These designs were created! Using vintage buckles and with a wonderful finish, I could well imagine me asking for a knackered woolly item to be transformed.

I adore their design and think that they would suit most vintage looks. I feel that they have more of a leaning towards the 20's and 30's - but that has not stopped me and my Forties style from giving them a bash.  And I rather love them.

They have the ease of a beanie-hat to them, but with a dash of cloche and turban for good measure. You can plop one on and know that you look rather retro. I do so love pieces of clothing that offer simplicity and style.

They are stretchy and I know that they would encompass all my hair, with and without rollers. As a former early morning commuter, who did not take out her curls until she arrived at the office, I very much wish I had had one of these to switch things up from my regular beret.

If that is not enough, textile artist Hesta also crafts some amazing fabric dolls (a doll of  my-kinda-gardening-gal Alys Fowler? Errrr... yes please!) which can all be found on her blog: Hesta.

Hurrah for Green Glamour and keeping my head vintage looking and warm!

Friday, 15 February 2013

Poppy Weekend - Harry Patch and The Christmas Truce

Continuing from my first post last month, I have more to show you from my weekend in Ypres and the surrounding areas. We did so much in just a couple of days that I thought I would stagger the posts a little.

So, after the sombre Trenches of Death, we began to make our way to Ypres. Via a small memorial plaque and a brown, flat field.

We pulled off the road for what I thought was just a pit stop. A couple of sarnies, some flask-infused tepid tea and a stretch. What I did not realise is that the place we had pulled up to had been graced by the presence of Harry Patch.

As the numbers of WW1 veterans were whittled down by time, the remaining men came under a lot of public interest in the latter years of their life. Where had they fought? What had they seen? Were there really rats the size of cats in the trenches?  Until this point, many had simply got on with their lives and not really spoken about their experiences and Harry Patch was no different.  That is until he was interviewed for the book The Last Fighting Tommy.

So -  to be in a place where I knew he had stood -  and jumped over -  all those years ago, as well as returning to unveil a plaque to his comrades in 2008, left me chewing on my sandwiches a little thoughtfully.

The next journey halt was to view a damp, claggy farmers field. An incredibly flat one. Which does not look particularly special - apart from it's size and said flatness. That is until you spy the unofficial marker, the wreathes, the odd Christmas tree and the abundance of footballs.

It is here, on Christmas Eve 1914, that the now legendary Christmas Truce occurred. An unofficial truce between the Enemy and the Allies. A ceasefire that, at first, was agreed for each army to enter No Man's Land, retrieve and bury their dead. 

However, conversations were struck, carols were sung, cigarettes were shared, rations and booze were passed around and on Christmas Day, a football match was played on this very field. On some stretches of the Western Front, the truce lasted but a few hours. In others, it stayed in place until the New Year.

It may just be a field. A field up a steep bank and full of nothing but mud in winter and crops in summer. But there is most certainly something about it that I still cannot quite put my finger on. 

Something peaceful and jostling. Something that made me smile and wonder what would have happened if the truce had never ended and everyone had just gone home.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Cannons Ashby and the Last of Summer

Am I still harping on about something that was 6 months ago and 2 seasons past? Am I being quintessentially (love that word) British and talking about the weather?

Well, yes, yes I am. The sun might be out in the South  - but it is frickin' freezing out there and we have more snow on the way. So I have bundled on some woolly tights, a thick cotton frock, a knitted cardy and a shawl shaped into a scarf. I have a new crochet stitch to master and something warming with pastry for tea. 

No wonder I am thinking about some of our days out in the warmer months.

 On this particular day, the weather was warm, but muggy, we had got lost on the way and my mood was not the best. So, the cool interior of this Elizabethan mansion pleased me no end. There are some places I walk into and think "Yep. I could most certainly live here".  Canons Ashby is one of those places. Originally built around 1550, using stones from the Priory that was there - a victim of the Reformation perhaps? -  it has been added to over the years but has remained unchanged since the early 1700's.

Isn't this place beautiful? Just from the outside? Yet another winner from the National Trust.

The rooms were welcoming and beautifully set out. I love it when I feel as though the occupants of the room have just stepped out to get something and they shall be back in a sec, if I just wait around long enough.

This has yet to happen. Much to my disappointment.

There was plenty of dark wood to be had, stairs that lead to no where and a stunning old piano. Thankfully, this is an NT property that you can get up close and personal to. Hurrah! I loathe guide ropes.

I am a lover old fire places. Not for their decoration normally, although it is not to be sniffed at, but for the scorch marks. I makes me think about all the fires that have burned there and who might have warmed themselves by it. 

Cannons Ashby also treated me to some original Tudor interior decoration in the guise of painted wood panelling. Discovered during the restoration, they are bright, clear and numerous.

A lot of the mansion is pretty dark - which was less than pleasing to my little camera. But the replica Victorian dress, chucked across a bed, and boots at the end of it - as if freshly kicked off by the owner -  got me over my eugh-stupid-camera!!! huff.

The one place that had excellent light was the amazing kitchens. Which I failed to take any photos of on account of getting into a long conversation with one of the guides. They were huge, with flagstone flooring and plethora of copper pots. And a Grandfather clock.

After sheltering from a colossal thunderstorm (t'was nice to be rid of the muggyness, even if the first clap made me physically squeak) in the tea shop and indulging in one the best slices of Vicky Sponge I have ever had, we headed down a wooded path to an ancient church across the road. 

Which had beautiful white walls, stone arches and separate pews for ladies and gents.

And ample opportunity for me to take a picture of my big ol' moosh.


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