Monday, 25 August 2014

Fifty years of turquoise.

Today is the bank holiday that symbolizes the end of summer.
Cue the rain - torrents of grey drizzle and low slung clouds.
Quite predictable really.
Unlike the new Gower bus service, which yesterday involved the usual changeover in the middle of nowhere, this time accompanied by a driver emerging from the trees carrying a large, red towel.
The mind boggles.
Perhaps he was expecting a marauding bull.
I was expecting a driver in a bus.

But as I'd had a particularly fruitful vintage trawl I let it wash over me.
Along with the mysterious trail of straw decorating the bus floor.

Oh my goodness, the lure of 1960s vintage.
And oldie, oversized aran jumpers.
My new favourite dress, albeit in need of a freshen up, is a vision of turquoise crotchet.
Amazing to think it is around 50 years old.

We think of impulse buying as a modern habit, but judging by the unopened packets of bed linen at this particular fair, it appears to have been alive and kicking in the '60s and '70s too!

This week has been one of international vintage winging its way through the letterbox.
My fabric stash has been boosted by Swedish daisies and orange hearts.
And I am currently trying not to be seduced by some particularly wonderful french acropal, and a bevie of tins, but I don't hold out much hope.
I'm not sure what's happening to my willpower, but it appears to have vanished.

And as a footnote an update on the fifteen year old minature rose that I'd ignored and abandoned to the point of extinction - the power of banana skins has worked its magic!
Not only has it gone from sad brown stump to fresh green shoots, it is now a mass of minature blooms!
And all due to the humble banana skin...

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Cotton from a bygone era.

My increasing obsession with vintage has been fuelled by the abundance of seemingly upended sewing boxes in local charity shops, yet no sign of the original baskets or boxes they were sold in.
What happens to these boxes, a staple of family homes of a previous generation?
These would have been boxes of a certain age, handed down through generations, only to be discarded by the new throwaway generation.
A trawl  through revealed that while the UK may not appreciate these treasures from a bygone era, there are some truly beautiful wooden sewing boxes being sold in Poland, France .. Germany. All that history - all that darning!
And as for all those vintage wooden cotton spools...oh my goodness, these could be my latest obsession, plastic just doesn't cut it anymore!
So pretty, so full of history - my favourites are those from the Soviet Era, being sold in Ukraine, Estonia...Lithuania.
From a time - and a place - where everyone learned to sew, as very often there just weren't clothes to buy in the shops.
These worn and well used spools date from the early 1980s, and I love the idea of them living on in sewing projects more than three decades on!
A truly bygone era.

As is my latest doorstop, Patchouli.
She is a throwback to the early 1970s and resplendent in flower power.
In a previous life...a campervan curtain.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Whatever happened to make do and mend? The demise of the sewing box.

Today was a vintage trawl sort of day.
Of the traditional,rummage in a charity shop sort, and not the tip tapping over the internet, making dents in my bank balance with Finnish flower power. And London. Oohh, and not forgetting Slough...

Groovy mod daisies from 1960s Finland...oohh, yes!
It's been a while since I've done a proper charity shop trawl in Swansea.
Swansea not being renouned for its love of vintage, and a certain charity shop policy of binning 1970s d├ęcor for being old fashioned, whilst happily stocking nylon polyester.

However, Uplands did not disappoint.
By sheer coincidence I stumbled upon the very same (discontinued and gorgeous) fabric I'm working with at the moment, unused and a metre and a half in length, for the grand sum of £1!
A case of buyer's remorse, and my gain.

My next find was bittersweet.
Hidden away in a dark recess were the contents of a well worn and well used sewing box, now decanted into various cellophane bags.
Some of the buttons dated back to the 1950s, with many attached to their original cards.

I find it sad that the humble sewing box, once a staple of every household, seems to have no place in the modern home.
Indeed, the most popular sewing kit now appears to be the one that comes in a Christmas cracker.
With a hat and a joke.

Whatever happened to make do and mend?
We have become a disposable society, with basic sewing skills having no place in the overcrowded school curriculum.

But I did walk away with several cellophane bags from this once well used sewing box.
And the uncomfortable knowledge that my own well loved and well used sewing jars will one day suffer the same fate...

Saturday, 19 July 2014

The not so humble banana.

The banana.
Not only the most popular fruit in the world but chock full of healing qualities.
And a reviver of dead roses.

Having neglected an elderly miniature rose bush for more than fifteen years it finally gave up the ghost last month, with sweet pink roses replaced by rather dead looking shoots.
Potbound for all this time, with ever encroaching moss and weedy garlands, it had somehow managed to produce the sweetest roses, year after year.
Consumed with guilt and nostalgia for a plant that has acted as sentry by my door since my son was four foot tall with muddy knees I turned to banana skins - and a very large pot.
For three weeks I fed it discarded banana skins, draped elegantly over the compost, and now, a month later, I have fresh green shoots and a much healthier looking plant.

And a new found respect for bananas.

Having spent nearly a year on a kibbutz specialising in bananas in the dim and distant 1980s, I have always had a soft spot for bananas.  However, when it came to picking them I lasted just three days in the banana plantations of Ginosar, being particularly useless in all things agricultural and much more at home in the children's houses.
Perhaps it was the 4am tractor roll call, perhaps it was the ribbons and lace that were a permanent fixture in my hair, but me and bananas - we just didn't click.
But my friends did, and friendships were cemented over bananas.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Musing on time while doting on flowerpower.

If I had to condense my (rather large and ever expanding) fabric stash to just one decade it would be the 1960s.
Absolutely and without a shadow of doubt.
Although perhaps with a smattering of the 1970s thrown in for good measure.

The last two weeks has seen more than a few impulse buys of 1960s/70s flowerpower via the not so retro internet, including this gorgeous pair of groovy campervan curtains that I'm itching to turn into a sausage dog for the door.
Oh my goodness, I'm so in love with these!

...and closely followed by a beautiful 1970s ditzy floral cotton, staying with the lilac theme, that is en route to becoming a cluster of retro owls.

The first of these owls is Lavender Blue, a large owl cushion.
I love the contrast of the lilac against the powder blue of textured boiled wool.
Baby owls in progress.
And on the theme of times gone by, this has been a week when I've felt the passing of time.
Blink, and it's gone in a flash!  Not only was it my 47th birthday on the 8th, my 22 year old son informed me that I was the same age now as my mum was when I had him, and that I was entering grandparent territory!  Oh my goodness!!!  This is the son that I waved off to uni nearly four years ago, scalped by Catriona. A day I remember as if it was yesterday.  He graduated last week with a 2.1 in journalism and is now back home, complete with trailing leads and clothes, boxes and a mountain of shoes.  And a taste for Pimms.  In the bath. 
Leaving day.
Graduation.  Very proud.

Monday, 16 June 2014

Dear Diary, Wednesday 2nd October 1991. Tantrums and dramas, cream stone and marmite.

What is it about Jerusalem?
It reels you in, then draws you back over and over again, like a defective boomerang.
And this week - oh my goodness- crazy!

After an average pub on Friday (the Baker Boys have left a huge hole) and Caesarea with Sarah Shovel beforehand, it was back to Jerusalem on Sunday with Max and Mornay.
Mornay's never been to Jerusalem before, and looking back I'm not sure this was the Jerusalem he had in mind, as he's been walking round with this shell shocked look on his face since we got back!
But we did show him some sights, albeit hungover and in the Jerusalem heat.

Hitching down was great from the start - Max and I hid Mornay in the bushes to get a quicker lift and the first was via a pitstop in Caesarea, where they bought us beers.
A great lift, and we were sorry to leave them!

Back to The Jasmine, which was heaving, and I'd forgotten to ring beforehand, but never fear - they made up a bed in the kitchen and gave us a bottle of vodka :)
Eventually, very drunk, we staggered down to The Underground for Happy Hour, and watched Tom and Jerry before Max passed out on the table.
Propping her up between us, we somehow made it back to The Jasmine, but I knew she was too far gone to make it back at 11, and we had a HUGE argument, with Mornay acting as peacemaker.
I stormed off and went for a drink with Roni to calm down and it ended up as a really nice evening, in one of the side bars.

Back at The Jasmine, Max prodded me awake at some awful hour of the morning and we decided to stay another night and try again, before hitching back to SdotYam for work at 6am.
SO - argument resolved, hungover and vowing to stay on soft drinks all day we took Mornay on a tour of The Old City.
And threw in a few random visits to relatives and friends...
First there was Max's uncle, the vicar, who had MARMITE!  
Next there was Issy, but due to unforeseen circumstances that was a particularly short visit.
And finally, after climbing five flights of concrete steps on King George, after five years, there was Avi!  AVI!!!
Avi, my boyfriend from the summer of '86, who was so very patient when I was so very cross on that first day we met.
That first day, when I was in desperate need of a camera film when all the shops were shut.
He took me to the Old City to track one down and even donned an Arafat scarf to go into one of the Stations of the Cross.
We ended up staying all afternoon at Avi's - he had friends round and it was one big party - then Gizmo's and the Alexander Bar, before waving goodbye and heading for he Underground.
Avi was never a fan of The Underground, even when it was Amadeus.

Ahhh...The Underground.
And it was heaving!
Michael was there again, his twin was there, the music was good, the brothers were great and it was a brilliant evening...until 3am came and we had to hitch back for work.
In hindsight, we were way too drunk to hitch, but Mornay and I sobered up very quickly on our first lift.
Max had passed out on the back seat and the driver was taking corners at crazy speed with his feet on the dashboard.
I knew we had to get out, but we had to wake Max up first, an she was so furious at being dragged from the car that she stormed off to hitch on her own.
She'd got a lift before we could stop her and we spent the whole journey back worried about her, but arriving back she was there before us - passed out on her bed!!!

Working the laundry that morning...I kept nodding off on the ironing machine, and now, sitting on my bed the next day, I finally think I've recovered from a truly memorable, incredible 2 days in Jerusalem.

Saturday, 14 June 2014

The not so humble daisy.

Forget florists, with their abundant display of exotic blooms.
Or hothouse cacti and high maintenance fauna.

No, my flower of choice is the humble daisy.
And if I had to be picky, the Michaelmas daisy.
Pure, simple beauty, but it has to be white.

Daisies.  A bee's eye view.

As a child I was fascinated with daisy chains, albeit with smaller daisies!
Now. I am developing a fascination with photographing them.

Last year it was the street art of London; before that it was squirrels.
Yep,  I'd say I'm quite obsessive.

I love the contrast of the translucent white petals against a cloudless blue sky.
The essence of a quintessential British summer - but without the ominous grey clouds.


I remember reading an article some years ago about changing career.
The writer had made the comment that if you found yourself in a career rut and unsure of a path to take you should cast your mind back to school and remind yourself of the subjects you most enjoyed.

For me it was creative writing - a path I've never pursued - and art - which I have since gone back to.
At Art School it was textiles, which I have always loved - and photography, which I never had the chance to develop, as this was the pre-digital age and prohibitively expensive.

I think the writer had a point.