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Ruby Romance

In May this year my parents celebrated 40 years of marriage which is an incredible 14600 days of matrimony. From that wonderful union they have 2 children and 2 grandchildren and they still love each other as much as they did on their wedding day. My brother and I clubbed together and bought them a garden companion seat with a celebratory plaque.

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Sitting on their celebratory bench

What an achievement 40 years is in this day and age where people are all too quick to file for divorce. Marriage isn’t easy and has to be worked at but my parents are testament to it being possible for love to last a lifetime.

How different the world was in 1976 when they married. Technology which we now take for granted was in its absolute infancy. Can you imagine a time when you couldn’t just google the answer to any question that popped into your head and you had to wait in at home if you were expecting someone to call you? 1976 saw Ford release the first Fiesta which was to become in 2014 the UK’s bestselling car, Concorde did its first commercial flight, England won Eurovision and number 1 the week of my parents’ marriage was ‘Silly Love Songs’ by Wings.

Traditionally the 40th wedding anniversary is referred to as the Ruby anniversary. This association is because the ruby is believed to have an eternal inner flame which glows brighter each year just like the passion and love in a marriage.

My parents decided this landmark was worthy of a big celebration so my Mum and I set about planning an event akin to a small wedding reception. Dinner was held at a golf club for family and friends with a DJ after. We decided on a theme of travel which may seem ironic to those of you who know my Dad well as he hates holidays. However I thought the travel theme was appropriate in more of a metaphorical way because of the journey they have made together through 40 years of marriage.

An old suitcase was used for the table plan and we hung a luggage tag for each table’s guests inside. Each table was named after somewhere my parents had visited together – thank goodness we didn’t have more than 5 tables or we would have been stuck on locations with their limited holidays! The table name was stuck on a cut out of a suitcase and a photo of them in the place put on the back. Place name cards featured a suitcase logo. The centre piece of each table was a single red rose – a symbol used to denote total devotion to one person.

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I made up favours for the tables which were love hearts in a ruby coloured organza bag and I made a cake for them with a photo of them cutting their wedding cake on the top.

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For the event I wore a dress from Coast, similar to the style of my bridesmaid’s dress at my wedding and reddish/pink in colour to tie in with the ruby theme. I accessorized with some silver diamanté sandals which I got in John Lewis when I was a bridesmaid at my friend’s wedding (see I do wear some shoes more than once!) I also had this gorgeous fan shaped metal clutch with a 1920’s art deco feel to it. I got this from Vintage Styler.  I added a red butterfly clip in my hair.

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At the entrance Mum decorated a small table with old photos from the day, decorations from the wedding cake, along with her garter, which was her something blue, blue being seen as a colour representative of constancy and loyalty; and other trinkets hooked over her arm on the day including a horse shoe and a rolling pin. The rolling pin would have been seen as something useful to give a wife so she could make meals for her husband (often a wooden spoon traditionally rather than a rolling pin) and a horseshoe for good luck going back to the 10th century when horseshoes were used to mark the door of Christians thus protecting them from the devil. Many wedding customs are the same today although the gifts hooked over a brides arm are not so common nowadays – I know I didn’t receive any at my wedding.

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My Dad gave a wonderful speech which detailed how they met as a blind date and how he had always loved her and the speech ended with him presenting her with a ruby ring. I also gave a short speech which included a poem which my uncle composed music to and sang at the wedding but unfortunately he was unable to make the party for a second performance of it. The poem is called ‘The Life that I Have’ and was originally written by Leo Marks in 1943 for his girlfriend who had recently been killed in a plane crash. It was used as Poem code during the Second World War. It was common for secret messages to be passed using a poem as code but was proving unreliable as the enemy could find the original source of the poem – Marks got around this by using his own creations. The poem was famously used in the film ‘Carve her Name with Pride’.

A fantastic evening was had by all and it was beautiful to see Mum and Dad dance once again to their first song from their wedding ‘I’d like to teach the world to sing.’

The month of May also saw my husband and I celebrate our second wedding anniversary. Cotton is the symbol given to the second anniversary symbolic of the couple becoming closer and their lives becoming more intertwined. It is also said to represent the couple learning to be flexible and adapt to each other’s needs as cotton is both strong and soft. I bought him a shirt – which he wore to Mum and Dad’s do and some cotton trousers. He bought me a cotton vintage quilt I had fallen in love with from the shop Kiss Kiss Heart in Rochester. We celebrated with a trip to Port Lympne Safari park (one of our early dates) and a curry in a new Indian restaurant in Rainham.

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My gorgeous quilt

Two years has flown by and I’m sure the next 38 will too. I hope we can be as happy at 40 years as my Mum and Dad obviously are.

40th joint pic

 

A Mother’s Day treat for Mother and Daughter

Mother’s day – just another over commercialised day like Valentines?  Maybe, but I wonder how many people know the true meaning of Mothering Sunday in the UK?  It was in fact a Christian religious day which fell on the 4th Sunday of Lent and was when parishioners returned to their mother church i.e. the one they were baptised at.  The American mother’s day which is celebrated in May, was created by Anna Jarvis who wanted to honour the peace activist work that her mother had done before she died as well as honouring all mothers, reasoning that they generally do more for us than anyone else.  Although the founder of it, she actually protested against the commercialisation of the day, suggesting that sentiment should be shown in hand written letters not through purchasing cards and gifts.  Since World War II, when American soldiers came over to the UK, the day here is now more like the American one when people treat their mothers to cards, flowers and gifts but still remains on the 4th Sunday of lent.

I decided to celebrate it a few days early this year with Mum.  I have long enjoyed scouring the variety of kitsch shops that Rochester has to offer so jumped at the chance of being invited, with a guest, to attend an evening at the shop Pink Flamingo to celebrate their 5th birthday.  Pink Flamingo also has another branch in Whitstable and is a ladies clothes, shoes and accessories shop.

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For the occasion I decided to embrace the Americana look seen at London Fashion Weekend and wore my nautical stripe blue, ¾ length sleeve dress by Winser with a denim jacket from Oasis.  I then added a pop of red with my LK Bennett wedge sandals and Floozie heart shaped bag.  I also added a scarf tied to the bag to give a unique twist, seen by Elie Saab; the scarf was une souvenir de Paris and features the Eiffel Tower.  I did my hair in what the industry is calling the grown up bunches as seen at Marni.  These are simple to create but look like you have really made the effort.  Divide the hair in a centre parting and then leave a small strand from each half loose whilst tying the rest in normal bunches.  Then wrap the left over strand around the band to hide it and pin with a kirby grip.  I swept a turquoise blue eye shadow from an old Virgin Vie palette over my lids to create the ocean eyes seen by Diane Von Furstenberg this season.

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On arrival in Rochester Mum and I treated ourselves to a coffee and cake in Fleur de Thé.  This is a beautiful tea room, where all the shabby chic decorative items are also for sale along with refreshments.  I had a slice of their Oreo cake and it really was a huge portion that although nice, left me feeling quite sick.

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Next stop was Rocket, a shop that specialises in vintage design clothing and I bought a lovely 1950’s style turquoise skirt with white polka dots on.  I’m thinking I might purchase one of the taffeta underskirts to really set this off.

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We browsed Kiss Kiss Heart, owned by the same people as Rocket but with a greater emphasis on the homeware than the clothes and I liked so many things in there especially a floral Fiorelli bag; but settled for a butterfly shaped ceramic dish.

By then it was getting on for 5pm so we made our way up the high street to Pink Flamingo.  On arrival we were treated to a glass of pink fizz and there were some cupcakes decorated with pink flamingos and a variety of sweets on offer.

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Pink Flamingo stocks Great Plains London, Cath Kidston and Irregular Choice, amongst other brands.  Irregular Choice shoes were created by British born designer, Dan Sullivan in 1999.  His vision was to create truly unique shoes rather than the neutral and black shoes that dominated the market.  His designs are influenced by his punk rock era upbringing on the Kings Road coupled with his extensive travel around the world.

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On this special open evening, there was 20% off anything purchased and a chance to win either a pair of Irregular Choice shoes or a Cath Kidston bag.  Unfortunately I wasn’t the lucky winner of either.

I tried on various pairs of Irregular Choice shoes, feeling that there should be a bit of this originality in my shoe collection however in the end I didn’t think I would be brave enough or quirky enough to pull them off.  I may pluck up the courage at a future date as each shoe truly is a work of art in its own right.

 

Mum bought a pair of sandals by Lunar which I had also had my eye on and I bought a Great Plains mint coloured top.

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Together we spent over £30 and so received a free goodie bag.  The goodie bag contained some Tamaris lip balm and hand cream, some shoe horns and a bracelet.

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All shopped out, I then treated Mum to a meal and Prosecco at Pizza Express.  My Mum really is my best friend and I love that I can talk to her about anything and she listens and advises without judgement.  I can always rely on her to be honest with me, even if it’s not always what I want to hear.  However many times we mess up, we can always rely on our mothers to love and forgive us. Commercialised or not, I think it is only right that we celebrate all our mothers do for us – not just on this one day but throughout the year.

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Let me know what you did with your Mum on her special day.

Dizzy Heights

When I turned 30 two years ago I felt like I had reached a peak with nothing but a large descent into old age ahead of me.  I thought that birthdays would simply become more and more depressing. How wrong you can be! Since turning 30 my life has only got more interesting and fulfilling. Yes 30 brings with it fine lines and grey hairs as well as a difficulty in shifting those extra pounds from over indulgence but at the same time a new sense of acceptance of who you are and how you look means there is a lot less anxiety. Suddenly what other people will think becomes less of a restraint and we begin to please ourselves more.  What clothes size we fit into or that spot on our face becomes less of an obsession and we make way for simply enjoying ourselves and grabbing every opportunity that comes our way.  Having tick boxes is a great motivator but as an article I was reading the other day said, these should all be things we want to do and not things we think we should do at our age. A survey by the Huffington Post concluded we are most happy at the age of 33. With all this in mind I am looking forward to flying through the next 8 years by the seat of my pants and having many new experiences to write about before as the saying goes ‘life begins at 40!’

By way of celebration of my birthday this year I decided that to arrange a big event would be too much like hard work, so instead I had a number of mini parties; the first of which was the preceding weekend.

A friend and I attended Cocktails in the City which took place in Bedford Square Gardens in central London. This event comprises of 25 London cocktail bars coming together with pop up stalls, along with street food sellers and entertainers to create a festival with a difference.

Those of you of a similar age to me will fondly recall Sex and the City – my love of this series deepened my already growing love of cocktails. The exact definition of a cocktail as well as the origin of the word is unclear however the first recorded use of cocktail to describe an alcoholic beverage was in 1806. Over the year’s popularity of cocktails had waned until the mid 2000’s when mixology suddenly came to the fore of fashion again and more and more complex cocktails were made. You can’t help but feel glamourous with a martini glass in your hand.

Our £15 entrance ticket included a guide to the event and one free drink. I headed straight for The Craft Cocktail Company from Bethnal Green for a cointreaupolitan, being that like my nemesis Carrie Bradshaw, my cocktail of choice is generally a cosmopolitan. I was not disappointed with this twist on the classic drink – however it tasted less like alcohol and more like fruit juice which ensured it didn’t last long!

There were presentations throughout the day and we chose to sit in on one entitled The Motorcycle Diaries. The Motorcycle Diaries was a 2004 film where two friends travel around South America on their bikes so this session focused on alcohol that is local to South America. I dragged my friend to a front row seat – determined to be front of the queue for any possible tastings. I was invited up to the stage to make a Pisco sour. Pisco is a brandy made in Chilie and Peru and on its own it is horrible, what I imagine paint stripper to taste like. I was instructed to put a small measure of Pisco into the cup – naturally my small measure is probably most people’s definition of large and the guy found this quite funny. I then added lemon and lime juice. The final ingredient which I was rather sceptical of was egg white which apparently makes it a smooth drink. It was then time to shake the cocktail and the people leading the session claimed that your face when shaking a cocktail is your sex face! I then poured the mixture into a previously chilled glass and topped with bitters. It was such a laugh doing this and I got to keep the cocktail afterwards which was actually quite delicious. Various other drinks were made by people and then we all left with a complimentary margarita shot.

Cocktail making

By now we were well away and decided that food might be a sensible option. This would be my only criticism of the event as for hot food only pulled pork was left by 3pm which my friend sampled and I had cold chicken with tomato salad.

I found my favourite bar – Trailer Happiness, Portobello Road, otherwise known as the Bacardi bar! When not drinking cocktails, wine or bubbly; Bacardi has always been my spirit of choice. We were given a small balloon to hand to our favourite bar so mine went to them before I even tried my drink. My Bacardi cocktail had a fabulous garnish on it with a banana leaf and a flower.

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One of the bars, Barrio had set up a table and paints for you to paint a wall tile that will be used in one of their branches. It was really relaxing to put some head phones on and just let the creativity flow.

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Next we visited The Rivoli Bar at the Ritz and indulged in champagne.

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Next stop, we visited Loves Company, a Tia Maria stand which had a pop up beach and we relaxed in a deck chair whilst enjoying a salted caramel cocktail.

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Beach fun

To finish up we both had a repeat of the drink we chose on arrival.  It was a beautiful sunny day and a great way to relax on a Sunday afternoon after a busy week at work. For the event I wore a green dress from Torza boutique with leggings and my trusty oasis flip flops.

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The Saturday before my birthday, my husband and I went to our favourite restaurant in Rainham, Eight which I have mentioned on here before. For this I wore a grey polka dot dress which I got from Pink Flamingo in Rochester; it is a little daring for me so I wore a white basic vest top underneath. Grey can be a depressing colour so to lift the outfit I wore my red LK Bennett wedges.

Eight outfit

On the Sunday we had a nice family tea at Mums. Mum made me a coffee and walnut cake which is my favourite and she decorated it with an Audrey Hepburn icing plaque as we enjoyed the exhibition the other week so much; see I Believe in Pink blog.

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On my actual birthday – I took the day off work as usual (I never went to school on it so why should I have to work it?) and Mum and I went to Rochester. Rochester is my new go to place. I adore looking around the unusual and vintage shops. We ate lunch at an Italian restaurant and then rather than ordering pudding went to Fleur de The – a beautiful shabby chic café/shop and enjoyed coffee and scones. I couldn’t resist purchasing 2 miniature cups and saucers with a butterfly motif on them from there.

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The Saturday after my birthday I went with my friend to Greenwich. Our birthdays are only a fortnight apart so as a joint celebration we decided to climb The O2. The O2 is a large tent like construction which was built as The Millennium Dome to celebrate the start of the third millennium and reopened as The O2 in 2005. It was constructed with Greenwich’s role in time and date in mind. It has a diameter of 365m (equal to number of days in the year). It has 12 yellow support towers (representing either 12 calendar months or 12 hours on standard clock face). The dome is 52m high at its central point (representative of the 52 weeks in a year). The climb is a 190 metres tensile fabric walkway over the top of the Dome with a central platform at the top with 360 degree views of London. It was quite a challenge as going up the walkway is 28 degrees steep and coming down 30 degrees. The fabric is also quite springy like a trampoline. The views at the top make it well worth undertaking though – you can see Canary Wharf, The Gherkin and the Olympic Park amongst other sites.

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Afterwards we ventured into central Greenwich on a Thames Clipper which I had never been on before. These are high speed catamarans and I don’t think I have ever travelled on water so fast; they have a maximum speed of 28 Knots.  Once there we got lunch at a pub in the market area and soaked up the cosmopolitan atmosphere. We then discovered a wealth of unusual, quirky shops and visited her friend’s new vintage store, Joli Vintage Living. Look out for a future blog all about this fab store.

There will be one more chance to celebrate at the end of August as for my gift; my husband bought me day tickets to the V Festival so look out for an upcoming blog on that too.

Enjoy the summer!

Sparkling Sunset by the Whitby Coast

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis blog is my final entry before I turn the big 30 and begin a new chapter, leaving behind my twenties.  I am happy to announce that my boyfriend and I are now engaged – something I never thought I would get to experience and write about in a blog.

The other weekend my partner and I decided to go for a long weekend in Yorkshire and we happened to have some of the best weather so far this year – must be our weather magic.

We arrived on Friday in York and began by going on a haunted tour of the city.  The guide really made this tour as he took us round to the Minster, Guy Fawkes birth place and the shrine to Margaret Clitherow – the martyr of the Roman Catholic Church.  He involved different people including my other half in acting out being hung drawn and quartered.  I think even the tour guide jumped though as we stood in the historic street ‘The Shambles’ where he explained butchers would hang up their meat and people emptied chamber pots so blood etc would make a river down the street, when someone pulled loudly shut a window above us.

We then met up with my friend and her other half for dinner in the Mumbai Lounge.  Pregnancy is really suiting her.  I predict it will be a baby girl – watch this space!  That night we stayed at The Golden Fleece pub.  This is the oldest Inn in York – mentioned in archives as far back as 1503 and is believed to be haunted.  We stayed in Lady Peckett’s room.  Lady Peckett’s husband owned the Golden Fleece around 1702 and some guests have reported seeing her ghost.  The pub has great charm with its uneven floors – our bed had a block of wood under one leg to make it level.  Whilst we didn’t see the ghost of Lady Peckett the waiter at breakfast, we joked, seemed almost ghost like!

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We met up with my Mum and Dad the following day and visited York Railway museum for the 75th anniversary of Mallard doing the fastest speed of a steam train in the world at 125.88 on July 3rd 1938.  Little did I know that when my other half and my Dad went somewhere for a quiet chat it was for my now fiancé to ask my Dads permission for his daughters hand in marriage.

That evening the two of us travelled on to Whitby and had a most enjoyable fish and chip tea in the famous Magpie Cafe.  The building itself was built in around 1750 when it began a long association with fishing and shipping.  It opened as a cafe in approximately 1939 and is widely considered the best place to get fish and chips in Yorkshire.

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Full from our meal, my other half suggested a walk along the beach and then as the sun was setting, colouring the sky red, and the sea was rhythmically grazing the shore; he dropped down onto one knee and produced a stunning sapphire and diamond ring.

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Engagement rings go back to the 13th century in the Western World and are worn on the second finger on the left hand as this is believed to be the shortest distance to the heart.  I was so stunned – the first thing I said was are you joking before giving an enthusiastic yes.  It couldn’t have been a more romantic proposal given that our first date had been fish and chips on the beach in Broadstairs.    We celebrated in Wetherspoons of all places with a bottle of champagne which the staff had to dust off!

Champagne was actually discovered by mistake when the cold winters halted the fermentation process only for it to start again in the spring creating a bi product of carbon dioxide which remained trapped in the wine.  It is now generally seen as the drink of choice for celebrations and in a book I am reading that I was kindly bought as an engagement present ‘How to Wear White’ it is said that the UK spends over £5million a week on champagne!  There is some suggestion however that the consumer trend this year is towards people buying Prosecco over champagne to celebrate with.

The following day was spent walking round the town, playing crazy golf (where I got a hole in one) and in arcades as well as going on a boat trip.  I’m sure those cuddly toy machines are rigged!  I couldn’t resist this gem of a satchel – so like the ones of the Cambridge Satchel Company but far cheaper, which I discovered on a market stall.

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 new bag

We had a fish and chip tea down on the beach again whilst the sun set and I dipped my toe into the cool sea.

We then finished our stay with a trip on the North Yorkshire Moors railway and a visit to Goathland where Heartbeat was filmed.  On arrival back at Whitby, we grabbed some freshly baked doughnuts only to be dive bombed by seagulls!

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We returned home to break the good news to both sets of parents.  I still can not quite believe it has happened to me – the little girl who said no one would ever marry her.  I cannot stop admiring my ring and feel like I am on cloud nine.  This wonderful event also ticks another box on my bucket list, so I have achieved 4 out of 10 of the items – got engaged, been to India, done the Moonwalk and started riding lessons again.  The others will be carried over to my new bucket list to do before 40.

We now have around a year to plan our special day and I can’t wait to get started.  Look out for lots of wedding planning themed blogs over the next few months!

A Special Grandma

In February I had the very sad news that my paternal Grandma had died.  At 87 she had lived until a good age, however I somehow always thought she would make her 90s at least.  We were extremely close, not least as I was born 8 days after her husband, my Granddad passed away.  This blog is dedicated to her.

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Grandma was born in 1925 when George VI was on the throne and Stanley Baldwin was prime minister.  She was named Joyce and never was there a more appropriate name being that Joyce means cheerful or merry.  My Grandma was always smiling and such a warm person.  1925 was of course a time of prosperity in the UK, a time of peace between the two world wars and the 1920’s are often referred to as the roaring 20’s.  I am looking forward to the release of the Great Gatsby film in May which is set in 1922.  Fashion then was very much the drop waisted flapper dress and long strings of pearls.  Shoes suddenly earned more fashion status being that they were now being mass produced and dresses were shorter so they could be seen.  T-bar or Mary Jane shoes were the shoes to be seen in.  Vogue magazine came to Britain in 1916 and a quote from January 1925 read

This year the mid-season collections are concerned with subtle changes of the slender silhouette. [The mode] is much given to introducing a fluttering movement – a flowering, feminine line. Waist-lines are low. Chéruit and Chanel are also bringing forth a newer, more feminine elegance. They have launched simultaneously the combination of black and flesh-pink in afternoon or evening frocks.”

These nineteen twenties-esque shoes are on my wish list from Oasis.6700008581

During her childhood years I recall my Grandma saying that she would see a dress in a shop, her Mum would go and look at it and then make her the same thing.  I wish I had such dress making skills.

Grandma would have become a teenager just prior to the start of World War 2.  Through the war years, many people in the UK struggled financially and rationing was brought in.  Clothes were rationed from June 1941 until March 1949 due to shortages in materials.  Women still however paid attention to fashion and those who could not get silk stockings from an American troop would stain their legs and draw a black line up the back for a seam to give the allusion they were wearing them.  Tea dresses were the dress of choice and shoes were often the lace up variety as they were more practical.

Make do and mend was the motto and the reason for patches on elbows of jumpers becoming fashionable.  Magazines would advise on how to update existing clothes for the new season.  Square shouldered jackets were popular, emulating service uniform and because many women entered jobs previously done by men often trousers and dungarees and headscarves were worn as these were more practical.  In occupied France, the Germans tried, unsuccessfully to move the fashion centre to Berlin causing many couture houses to close.  Coco Chanel later benefited from having a Nazi lover.  In the issue of vogue (front cover of which is seen below) there was an advert from Chanel informing readers of the absence of their scent until after the War but continued production of their lipstick and powder.

Vogue cover Aug 1943

Vogue cover Aug 1943

The victory roll was a popular style for hair at the time and you can see Grandma with this in the below photo aged approximately 19.  The government produced strict guidelines on clothes; skirts were shorter, waistlines higher and no pleats and minimal hems and fastenings.  Patterns had to conform to this too.  Red lipstick was also preferred by many women and women felt it was their duty to keep men’s spirits up by still looking their best.

Grandma aged 19 approx

Grandma aged 19 approx

Movie stars in 1940s were Humphrey Bogart, Rita Hayworth, Judy Garland and Ingrid Bergman.  1942 saw the release of Casablanca which was an immediate hit.

This is my Grandma in the 1960s.  This style of dress with the gloves was the height of fashion at the time.

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I have a very similar vintage handbag to the one in the picture only in black.

Grandma was as my uncle said in his tribute ‘born to serve.’  She was of the generation of women who waited on their husband and children’s every need.  In some respects however she was also a modern woman often holding down a job as well as bringing up a family.

Grandma loved her garden so I had a wreath made in the shape of a watering can.  The number of people at the funeral was wonderful and showed just how loved a lady she was.  I also read a tribute and the poem ‘do not stand at my grave and weep’ which Grandma had requested I read.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Grandma you were like a second Mum to me and I valued our relationship so much.  You will be greatly missed.  I hope you are now pain free and are with Granddad and your sister Gladys.  Rest in Peace Joyce.

Happy New Year

Happy New Year!  So another new year dawned, surrounded by the usual celebrations despite it being 2013 – unlucky for some; I wonder if wedding venues have felt the pinch with superstitious brides?!  For more on why 13 is seen as unlucky see my previous blog ‘Friggatriskaidekaphobia’

https://blahnikgirl.wordpress.com/2011/05/12/friggatriskaidekaphobia-fear-of-friday-13th/

Apologies for the long gap between this and my last post but December was a difficult month for me with my eye condition flaring up again for nearly 2 weeks.  I have however still managed to fit in quite a lot, along with shopping for the party season and had an enjoyable Christmas despite everything.  Here are my favourite purchases.

Baroque dress from Oasis

Baroque dress from Oasis

 

Lace dress from Jane Norman

Lace dress from Jane Norman

Shoes from Oasis

Shoes from Oasis

Early December saw my friend’s baby boy christened.  He wore a beautiful gown that was a family heirloom.  I always think choosing an outfit as a guest at a christening can be difficult.  It sort of requires a dressed down, wedding attire look with an avoidance of black, being that it is a joyous occasion.  This is fine in the summer but being winter and tights being required made it more difficult.  In the end I opted for this navy dress with butterflies and red cardigan and shoes, all from New Look.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAViva Forever, a new musical written by Jennifer Saunders and produced by Judy Craymer with the music of the Spice Girls opened in the West End on 11th December and in spite of poor reviews by critics, I dragged my boyfriend along to see it.  He wasn’t the only man present but they were a definite minority.  Having followed the Spice Girls closely as a young teenager, I found the musical most enjoyable regardless of the weak plot; especially during the last song when the whole audience danced and sang to ‘Stop Right Now’.

Viva Forever

I don’t know about everyone else but it took me quite a while to feel Christmassy this year for some reason, with my cards being written out hastily to meet the last posting date and me hanging on tender hooks hoping my online purchased gifts would arrive in time.  It probably didn’t help that we had few decorations due to the dining room being half finished.  What really got me in the mood though was when I was making my Christmas cake a few days before Christmas; the house was filled with sticky sweet aromas whilst Christmas songs filled our ears and there was the distant sound of a steam engine whistle.  We looked out the front and sure enough a steam train was pulling into the station.  This must have been a common sound in 1898 when our terraced house was built but nowadays I think always produces a kind of romance.

My Christmas Cake I made

My Christmas Cake I made

Christmas Eve was spent at home in my cosy PJs on the sofa.  Fashion articles often neglect nightwear but I think it is just as important being that many of us girls put our PJs on as soon as we get home.  Fabulous magazine did however do a small spread on mixing textures.  I went for checked fleecy bottoms with a white cotton vest and a lovely knitted cardigan from Oasis and then for a touch of glam I added pearls.

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My partner and I decided to do a tree present each on Christmas Eve.  Excitement bubbled and butterflies fluttered in my stomach as I picked up a small, square, neatly wrapped box – could this be the long awaited engagement ring?  Alas no, it was in fact a box of dinner party ice breakers!  My partner was quickly forgiven the following morning though when I ripped the paper off my main present of my much longed for Ugg boots.  I was very spoilt by all with lovely presents but thought a couple of my friends gifts deserved a mention being that they were unusual tree decorations – a felt owl which was very in keeping with the 2012 fashion trend and a bauble from Verona.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOver the Christmas period I spent some much needed time with family which was very nice; especially having my brother, his fiancé and my niece join us for Christmas dinner.  I couldn’t resist buying my niece more shoes and these silver ones from Monsoon went down a treat – she wanted them on straight away and wore them to every other event over the period too. My partner and I hosted a New Year’s Eve dinner party with our respective parents which was fun and an opportunity to air the dinner party ice breakers starting with the worst first date each of us had had.  As Big Ben chimed we toasted over champagne and had party poppers whilst mumbling the verses of Auld Lang Syne.  This year I haven’t made any resolutions as such as my bucket list of things to do before 30 sort of covers it (see previous blog).

baby shoes

https://blahnikgirl.wordpress.com/2012/09/30/when-you-realise-that-you-are-all-grown-up/

Talking of the bucket list, the weight has started to come off albeit slowly with my 5:2 diet.  I think I could probably lose far more however if I ate normally on the other 5 days rather than gorging myself on cakes and biscuits.  Having signed up for the half MoonWalk London which raises money for breast cancer research; I now need to get in to training.  My parents bought me some trainers as despite someone offering to double the money raised if I walk it in 4 inch heels – I think this would be suicide even for me.  My fundraising page is now live.  I understand money is probably tight at this time of year but it would be great if you could even just sponsor a small amount.  My company will match the amount I raise and donate it to their charity Action for Children so you will be helping two charities in one go – great if your new years resolution was to support good causes.  Please pledge via the below link.

http://www.walkthewalkfundraising.org/christina_baines

As a year comes to a close it is a good time to reflect on achievements of the previous year and mine and my partners has to be our garden and drive which was completed with much help from my Dad and Uncle.  Check out the before and after pictures.  Look out for more home improvement in future blogs.

 

Our garden early on in the project

Our garden early on in the project

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Yesterday we took my partners niece and nephew to see their first pantomime – Peter Pan at the Churchill Bromley.  The tradition of a pantomime at Christmas dates back at least to early 1800s however the “traditional” pantomime is constantly evolving in order to maintain its popularity.  We greatly enjoyed it although being the penultimate performance signals Christmas well and truly being over for another year.  Guess January blues set in now – let me know how you are combating them.

Until next time ……………………………

‘The Greatest Show on Earth’

You would be forgiven for thinking that I was referring to the Olympics but actually I am talking about a far more important celebration – my birthday that just happened to fall on the same day as the opening ceremony.  So nice of the whole country to join in my celebrations! Lol!  I haven’t seen the opening ceremony but by all accounts it did our country proud and Team GB did very well with 29 gold medals, 17 silver and 19 bronze, putting us 3rd in the medal table.  Go Team GB!  I did watch the closing ceremony which was fantastic and I especially enjoyed the Spice Girls which took me back to my early teens when I was mad on them and the girl power they stood for.  I must admit this is the first year I have taken an interest in the Olympics.  I even got my rabbit Rufus into the spirit with a Team GB football!  Tomorrow marks the start of the Paralympics.

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The origins of the Olympics go back to ancient Greece in 8th Century BC.  The first games held in the UK were in 1908 when such sports as Tug of War were included.  We came top of the medal table that year with 56 gold medals!

So another year passes and sadly this will be the last year of my twenties.  I don’t feel a day over 21 though!  Where have those years gone?  Guess I feel a little behind my peers at times given my lack of career path; however numerology does say that those with a birth date of 27 tend to be late bloomers, taking their time to choose a profession.  It also says we are creative so perhaps there is some hope for a writing career still.

Being that my birthday fell on a Friday this year I decided to stretch the festivities over the whole weekend.  On the day we had a family trip to West Wittering beach.  I chose here as despite being some distance away, the place holds good childhood memories.  You can park up virtually on the beach and picnic.  The sand stretches for miles whilst the tide is out and there is a lot of shallow water making it ideal for children.  The car park has been run commercially since the 1920s and in 1952 the local residents bought it to prevent a Butlin’s (or similar) holiday camp being built on it.  Check out their website for further details.

http://www.westwitteringbeach.co.uk/

We had a lovely cooked breakfast on arrival cooked on a camping gaz and a picnic lunch, followed by a mouth watering coffee and walnut birthday cake that my Mum made.  The history of the birthday cake is quite an interesting one.  Since the middle of the 19th century it has been an important part of celebrating birthdays in the West, however there is evidence of the custom going back to Roman times.  Putting candles on the cake is believed to go back to 18th century Germany.  Singing happy birthday became popular in the early 1900s and it was then that the words happy birthday started to appear on cakes.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe had great fun playing tennis and rounders on the sand.  When I was batting in rounders, I was so excited to have hit the ball I forgot all about running!  I had a bit of a swim and we built sandcastles with my beautiful baby niece who at 13 months is already very cultured; eating olives and feta cheese.  Not sure who enjoyed the sandcastles more – her or me and my partner, lol!  There is nothing more relaxing than the warm sun beating down on you with the soft sand beneath you, water gently lapping and a slight salty taste in your mouth.

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I wore my denim skirt dungarees with a white t-shirt and my bikini underneath.  To finish the look off I wore my healed glitter jelly shoes.  Now these PVC plastic shoes were hugely popular in 1980s but have had a revival a number of times.  People have guessed at their origins with some suggesting that it goes back to just after WW2 when there was a leather shortage in Europe so a French shoe maker developed them.  Many people think they are a big no no or only suitable for children but how else can you wear heels to the beach?!

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We finished the day with a fish and chip supper and a very pleasant bottle of wine and all returned home rather sunburnt with numerous mosquito bites!

Saturday morning my partner gave me his presents to open and brought me breakfast in bed.  That evening I went for a curry where I used to live with many of my friends.  I stuck with my resolve to try different dishes and had Malayan Chicken.  It was a lovely evening and time flew past meaning that we missed the last train and had to sheepishly knock at Mum and Dad’s door.  I wore a butterfly maxi dress from Jane Norman for the occasion.

butterfly dress

Sunday was another meal out, this time with my partner’s family and I was lucky enough to be showered with more gorgeous gifts.

I want to use this platform to thank family, friends and my partner for making it another wonderful birthday and at time of posting I am still dragging out my birthday.  One of my partners presents has yet to arrive and two weeks after my birthday another one of my boyfriends arrived – a gorgeous mosaic bistro set which will set the garden off lovely when it’s all finished.

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I also couldn’t resist these thank you cards from Zazzle, so me don’t you think?

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The other weekend my friend and I met up in London as she was away for my birthday.  We spent a very pleasant few hours wandering round Harvey Nichols and other shops in Knightsbridge looking at all the lovely things we can’t afford.  I especially enjoyed the Louboutin boutique in Harvey Nichols where the assistant informed us that on his crystal encrusted shoes, each crystal is applied separately by hand and so they can take at least a day to make one pair – now I understand the price tag!  Being adventurous and keen to try anything a bit quirky, I couldn’t resist trying out Bubbleology – a concession that sells bubble tea within Harvey Nichols.  The stall looked more like a science lab, with the staff wearing white coats saying bubbleologist on the back.  Bubble tea was invented in Taiwan in the eighties.  Bubble tea is fundamentally green, black, white or red tea and it can then be infused with milk or fruit and drunk hot or cold.  Small bubbles are formed on the top in the process of making the tea as it is shock vigorously, hence the name.  In the bottom are small balls of tapioca.  I quite enjoyed it; it’s certainly worth experiencing!

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe finished off the day in Harrods for afternoon tea in their Georgian restaurant with a glass of champagne included.  Now as much as I enjoyed catching up with my friend and sampling some delicious sandwiches and scones and a nice glass of champagne, whilst the piano played itself; Harrods itself was some what of a let down for me.  The gold leaf on the plates was faded, the silver tea pots were tarnished and the décor looked tired.  My other complaint at the risk of sounding like Samantha in Sex and the City, was the amount of children there.  Now don’t get me wrong I love children but I’m not sure they should be attending a luxury afternoon tea plus isn’t it a waste of money for their parents?

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To end on, I must share with you one of my presents, a book that must have been written for me, lol!  Mum kindly bought me Manolo Blahnik – The Elves and the Shoe Maker.  This book combines the old fairy tale with the story of the designer and is illustrated with drawings from the designer.  The author also wrote another of my bibles ‘How to Walk in High Heels.’  This has interesting tips on such things as how to change a light bulb.

I also received from a few friends, gorgeous scarves, two with butterflies and one with dragonflies which I will be brightening up my work attire with.

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That’s all for this time.  Do let me know any beaches you recommend or indeed what your feelings on jelly shoes are.  I’m now off to enjoy another of my presents – Champagne with black Raspberry Chambord; kindly bought by a friend to remind me of our trip to London Fashion Week.

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