Friday, 29 March 2013

WW1 Easter Greetings

When I was a child I had many, many collections. Of Sindy's (never Barbie), My Little Pony, She-Ra figures (Flutterina was one was my bestest), Sylvanian Families and various other 80's bits.

As I have grown older, I have continued to collect, but my interests have changed. Nowadays I am a sucker for an old book with a personal, dated inscription or a nice, pretty brooch. I grin with glee if I get one of those special commemorative coins you sometimes get in your change.

And if there are WW1 silk postcards within 20 paces, I shall sniff them out. My collection is meagre by some standards, but that only gives me time to find more to treasure.

I was unaware of their existence until a few years ago when I stumbled upon a display at the Imperial War Museum. I was entranced by their intricacy and colourings. Hand stitched on silk as souvenir cards in Belgium and France, they were sent home from the front to waiting loved ones. They were fairly pricey, some costing up to a weeks wages, but they were saved for, purchased and posted.

Some of the ones in my collection have a message scribbled on the back, although never an address. I am guessing that, due to their fragility and workmanship, they were wrapped and sent back home.

I will never know the fate of the men who sent these little beauties over the English Channel to anxious families, but I am more than happy to be the guardian of them now.

Monday, 18 March 2013

'Avin a Dig

Whilst sorting through my folder of photos, I have come across some bits and bobs that I intended to share with y'all at the time -  and then promptly forgot. Case in point -  my recent engagement announcement -  4 months after the event.

This post is about something that happened in 2011. I know. 
What am I like? (a forgetful moo, that's what)

Anyway -  onwards....

If you had not noticed, I do like me some history. I am usually more of a up-close-and-touching kind of person and I shall be quite frank: archaeology does not really do it for me. I like looking at the physical building and not really it's long lost foundations.That was until a dig took place on my doorstep. Quite literally.

 I live in an area that until about 60 years ago, was all fields. From my window I can see an area known locally as Rabbit Dell. It is a nice little patch of green with a dip. In the wet seasons (so, that's all year round then in the UK) it can become a little pond. When we park as night and our headlights skim across the grass, we can see all the lumps and ridges in the earth.

Over the past 6 years of living here, I have not once thought about what they might be caused by. 

Not once.

Until a little leaflet plopped through my letter box back in September 2011. Advising me that there was to be a dig on that there green grass. Beyond the diatribe of decades (the area was once used as a rubbish tip -  nice) the foundations of a 12th Century Manor House known as Preston Hawe would be found.

Over the previous few years the Surrey County Archaeological Unit, Surrey Archaeological Society and the Preston Community Archaeology Project had been trying to piece together the finds from a previous dig in 1952.

Just before the surrounding area was developed, a chap called Brian Hope-Taylor had excavated the site and found a whole heap of stuff. Like, a whole load. But, had failed to document much of his findings that made any sense. Details scribbed on paper bags or the back of shopping lists, artifacts pretty much unlabeled.

A total nightmare to sort through and one that took a lot of dedication from those involved.

So, when the dig was opened up to the public, with a view to finding the walls of the Chapel, The Beard and I jumped at the chance. How could we not? It was no more than a 30 second walk from our front door. And who knew what we might find?

Mud, rocks and worms. That is all I found. And that damp mud will give you damp knees, mud is not as much fun as I remember from my childhood and that scraping mud is a thankless task. Hats off to folk that have more than a passing interest in this work.

Then again, if I owned something more waterproof than jeggings, I would not have suffered wet knees. Or, in fact, if I had kept to the kneel-board provided.

But, just to be a part of it was worth all the kneel-ache. That and the abundance of worms I met along the way. I am a worm rescuer. If I see them on the path, where they have been dropped by the early bird, I have to pick them up and chuck them on the grass in the hope that they make it underground before the beaked ones return. I find dried out worms on the pavement most distressing. Thankfully I did not cut any in half with my trowel.

Not long after the dig was complete, the community was invited to an open weekend to explore the items that had been found back in 1952 and also during the present day dig.

There were all sorts, including medieval tiles, glazed pottery, a metal chalice and ceramic pipes. I was actually able to hold the chalice which made me feel a bit spesh.

I also liked looking at the more modern day finds that came from the green being used as a former dumping ground. Bike tires, milk bottles, old coke cans, vinyl and a number plate from the 1980's.

A young boy and his Dad even found a piece of Victorian masonry.

Interestingly, Brian Hope-Taylor had also uncovered some human remains which have been left in situ then as now. There is speculation as to who might have been buried there, but I quite like the fact that they have been left where they lay. There would have once been up to five buildings in and around the area where wealthy families lived, loved and died. It is nice to think that a little something of them remains.

And now? Well now it is all back under the mud. The 7 trenches that were opened have been closed, covered and a whole lotta grass seed chucked on them last Spring to blend the disturbance back into the landscape. 

Rabbit Dell still fills with water and the lumps and bumps still catch in our headlights. But now I cannot help but think about who lived in this area, what they experienced and how I took part in finding out a little more about them.

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Tuesday, 12 March 2013

7 years, 3 rings,1 affirmative.

The Beard and I have been together for a wee while now. Seven years and a few months to be precise. So, when we headed off to our favourite out-of-season-spot, Brighton, on our 7th anniversary in November, I was looking forward to a day of mooching about other peoples old stuff, chips with mayonnaise and perhaps a nice sunset.

 I received all of the above. Hurrah! 

And a proposal of marriage. DOUBLE HURRAH.

It was not a total shock. We have been together for a fair old stint and it is something that we has been talking about as a when not an if in the preceding months. But, the surprise was the way in which The Beard asked me. No one knee, the ring in a glass of champers, sky-writing (although that would have been super cool) or a singing Mariachi band.

Just a sunset, a brisk north-easterly, crashing waves and the question of 
"Sweetheart, would you do me the honour of being my wife?"

I said yes, naturellement. It was the easiest decision I have ever made. Indeed, the proposal did not come in the first flush of love like so many do, but at a time when we have gotten used to one another and are moving onwards with our lives, with some vague idea of a plan. Not a five-yearer by any stretch of the imagination. But certainly something that involves us as a committed unit. 

I know some may feel that, after 7 years together, why is there the need for the whole marriage bit? Why the need for the legality? The paper? The pomp? I guess everyone's opinion differs on the subject. Well -  each to their own. 

My feelings are that, for me, marriage is important. I have been trying to decipher why, other than the answer "It just is". Perhaps it is to do with my own family? A family with practically no divorce? And if so, it is the divorce of folk who I do not really see all that much of? In my immediate fam - there is no divorce or separation on either side. All have, sadly, only been parted by death.

 Maybe? I often put it down to that.

I was presented with a token ring on the beach (ring une) and then we rushed to a little antique shop nestled within The Lanes where we bought what I thought was the ring (deux). I know now that I was completely and utterly caught up in the giddiness of it all. The romantic notion I have long held of finding the ring of someone 100 years past in the corner of a shops cabinet. So, obviously, with aforementioned giddiness, the first ring I liked the look of was that ring.  I loved it for it's quirkyness, faux pearl and price (forever thrifty)

But then? Well. Then I because swept up with the thought of a engagement ring proper. And so we picked the one I now wear with delight together. Based on an old setting, but with modern glitter rocks, I love everything about it.

Now we just have a wedding to plan. Just a wedding. I have many, many ideas, all of which shall be on a budget as much as possible. I am busy trying to learn new crafts so that I can make as much as possible and have already started to collect bits I think we might need. Thankfully, it is not until next year -  so I have a little time.

How long does it take to learn lace making? (joke)

Friday, 8 March 2013

Pitch in for Victory Charity Event

As today is International Women's Day -  I thought I would bring your attention to an event that is taking place to help raise money for a group of women that I regard most highly -  The Women's Land Army.

IWD is many things, to many women. For me it is not only about the ongoing struggle around the globe for female rights -  but also a celebration of our achievements -  present and past. The WLA suffered not only back breaking work on one of the lowest pays during WW2, discrimination from other war workers for not being a regimented unit, but were not officially recognised as a contributing factor to the final outcome of the conflict until 2007.  

Their achievements during not one, but two World Wars, in my eyes, needs to be celebrated and commemorated. I firmly believe that had it not been for these 40,000+ women, the UK may very well have ground to a halt through ill health and hunger. They enabled the populous to keep moving, harvesting the wheat for bread, the potatoes for energy, the milk for teeth and bones.

With the sale of Susan Crawford's amazing Pullover Pattern as well as many other vintage events and money drives, the WLA Tribute is steadily, but surely, reaching it's fund raising goal. One event that is sure to boost the total is the upcoming Pitch in for Victory 1 day spectacular. The brain child of Sharon of Always Red Events and Lisa a la Lotty Blue, it is set to be a day on Staffordshire County Show Ground like no other.

Tickets are soon to be available for the event, which is being held on the 18th May 2013, with a vintage fair, cocktails, tea rooms (and cake!) and a beauty salon. Not enough for you? There is also evening entertainments from Lola Lamour, String of Pearls and Laura Bill. I, for one, cannot wait.

For ticket information please see Always Red Events. You can also follow updates via twitter  (@PitchIn4Victory) and also on good old FaceBook.

If you would like to help promote this charity event, then please do not hesitate to give me a shout for a press release. 

Similarly, if you would like to donate something to the raffle (there are some right tasty bits already secured -  I might have to buy a whole book of tickets!)  then that would be so very, very appreciated and I shall personally love you forever.

I will most certainly be there (with The Beard in tow -  perhaps in a fetching flat cap and neckerchief) and shall be doing plenty o' sun dances. Because wouldn't it be nice to have something that is not washed out this year?

That said, wellies and a headscarf would be in keeping.

Monday, 4 March 2013

What I did Wear: New boots & Thrifted Finds

You all know me. I like to be co-ordinated. But I am feeling very much meh about everything matching at the moment. I want to embrace my inner Helena B-C and wear what the hell I feel like, just because I like it.

Case in point, is this outfit. There are elements of matching, but I don't think it is glaring. I love each piece and wanted to wear all of them. At once. So I did.

We have my one of my eBay beret collection (never over £4) and my whopping £2.99 coat that I bought last year. Oh, how I have needed it over the past few months. It is as snuggly and warm as ever and with a touch of retro glam about it with the faux fur. Win.

And then? Well -  then we have my new boots. I have long longed for a pair of Victorian/Edwardian-esque boots, and one of my local charity shops came up trumps with these tan leather brogue looking ones. From the looks of it, they had never even been worn. I have since remedied that by gluing them to my hoofs.

And under the coat? Well, a hand-knitted and thrifted cardigan that has been a constant since I found it at a jumble sale. Practising my Jumble Boogie really has paid dividends on the new clothes front this year. I could never knit something like this for so little pennies, so when I see a hand knitted garment, I usually snaffle it.

Under the cardy is a thick cotton 1950's dress that I bought last year and promptly forgot all about. On organising my wardrobes recently -  thanks to A Thrifty Mrs - there it was in all it unworn glory. I felt it only right to take it on a nice, yet freezing cold, walk.

Thankfully I also had on some woollen tights and a thermal slip. Needs must. 


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