Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Mad House

Does buying vintage make you do bonkers things? It does me. Did you happen to see a madwoman on Saturday, toiling through the streets of Bristol and over The Downs carrying an enormous doll's house? Yes, that was me. Well I'd been to a Summer Fayre at my old school, which was extremely disappointing, due to a complete lack of home-made cakes. The only thing I saw to buy was this great wall shelf with a doll's house front, which opens up. The woman on the stall was selling everything for 50p, but asked if I'd like to give more. I gave her a pound, and we were both happy.

It was then I realised I could hardly carry the damn thing. It wasn't the weight, but the bulkiness, and the doors in the way or swinging open. My trusty driver, Mr Kitsch was at the Glastonbury Festival for the wekend, so I'd walked to the fayre on my own. I tried ringing a friend who lived nearby, but he was out. 'Never mind,' I thought, 'I'll manage somehow.' I improvised a handle with my shopping bag, but it didn't honestly help, and in the end I had to lodge it on my hip, work my arm around it and trudge the one and half miles home. Mostly uphill. In the lunchtime sun. And it was HOT!

I had to stop and have a rest on The Downs, where I took the photo. By this time I was red-faced, sweaty and puffing!

But the thing that makes me completely bonkers is that I totally think it was worth it...

Friday, 26 June 2009

Summer Lovin'

It really feels like summer now, doesn't it? And the summer season of car boot sales seems to have started round here. I've been enjoying myself enormously walking round fields full of wallpaper tables and hopeful faces, rummaging through boxes of toddler-trashed toys or dodgy-looking big earrings. I loved finding the lady with the pottery & china bell collection (some of them are in the photo above). Or the thrill of checking out those old tobacco tins under someone's table and discovering they were full of vintage buttons!

It's great when people are just selling their own possessions - you can share their love for that embroidered antimacassar or hear the story of when they bought the teapot.
How about this fabulous 1960s vanity case? The previous owner told me it had been storing her 21st birthday cards.

For the time being, it's storing my treasure!

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Putting the 'bad' in badger

She looks so sweet and innocent, doesn't she? Huh! Like all the wildlife in the garden, she's determined to misbehave. The squirrels' favourite pastime at the moment is to tear bits off the shed roof and eat it. That's when they're not pinching the fat balls put out for the birds. They carry off the whole thing, still in its little green net.

It's the birds too. I was excited recently when we had a new visitor, a greenfinch. But he decided that the seed in our feeder wasn't up to scratch, and promptly emptied the whole thing out onto the floor, shovelling it all with his beak, and just picking out the odd seed to eat now and then. Not just once, mind you, but practically every day. 'If you're not going to eat it, leave it alone, damn you!' You'd think the other birds would eat it up off the ground, but there was so much there, some of it has germinated, and we now have a very small cornfield growing under a bush.

The blackbirds all keep chasing each other, and Robbie the Robin is forever picking fights with Donald the Dunnock. But worst of all is Bill the Badger. Yes, you all told me how exciting and lovely it was to have a badger in the garden. Well...ye-es...BUT... he dug up all my pots and ate the bulbs. Then he came back the next night and dug up all the tulips in the garden and ate them too! There was also collateral damage to other plants.

Still, I suppose it's worth it. Sitting in the garden and listening to the liquid trill of the blackbird has been a very soothing experience lately.

This large peony is from my mum's garden. It's gorgeous, isn't it? I think it's called 'Bowl of Beauty'. It's lovely to see it and think of her pride in her flowers. I feel a lot calmer this week, and have been fortunate to have had plenty of time to be quiet and think. Many thanks to all of you for your kind and nurturing messages on this blog and elsewhere. I've been so touched and warmed by everyone's sympathetic comments. And this is not just politeness - these kind words have really helped. Thank you.

Friday, 12 June 2009

Back to the Future

This made me laugh a lot. Going through some old drawers in my mum's house, I found this note hidden under the paper drawer lining. Yes, it's a message to my future self! What message did I decide to leave to posterity?

Well, I was twelve, and obviously pretty bored during the Easter holiday. I have no memory of it, nor of the trip to Weymouth with my three brothers. I do remember writing 'Elaine was here' or sometimes 'I woz 'ere' on many a schoolbook, though. Everyone did it at the time; I guess it was our genteel form of grafitti tagging.

Does this note count as my first blog?

Sunday, 7 June 2009

What happened in May

There have been some very nice things happening in May, as well as the sad and difficult ones. Lots of things I would have told you about, but didn't get the chance. Top of the list was celebrating 20 years with Mr Kitsch. Twenty years since we decided to live together? It can't be that long, can it? (Of course we were very young.. Ahem! Cough!) We had a groovy get-together with friends, including the wonderful Katy, who not only made some hedgehogs with cheese and pineapple on sticks at our request (oh yeah, we're classy!), but she also made us a surprise Star Trek Transporter cake.

I wasn't able to do it justice in a photo, but I hope you get the idea. If you're wondering why Star Trek, take a look at my 16 things post.

I also visited a couple of great exhibitions - Bjorn Lie and Lindsay Stainer at the Here Gallery, and Calm Air All Ice, where I got to meet another blogger - the talented Camilla of Made by Milla. Wonderful to be able to chat about a shared love of vintage hankies! Unfortunately both exhibitions are now finished, but I highly recommend these artists.

Meeting online contacts/friends is a new and exciting venture for me. Since I've been working at home, I've got a bit lazy about getting out, meeting people and doing things. I think I need to start facing outwards into the world! The time of year helps- I like to hibernate in winter, but the springtime usually feels full of change and fresh starts.

In fact, I've been contemplating how May seems to be a time for life-changing events. As I've told you, it's when Mr Kitsch and I decided we should live together permanently. I've made some big decisions about career changes in May, like the first time I took voluntary redundancy, and set up a jewellery-making business. Or three years ago when we decided to sell our house and rent, so we could afford to change careers again. And then it was a year later in May, when we finally sold the house. Lots of friends and family have birthdays or anniversaries in May. Four years ago my father died, and now my mum has died in May too. Odd, isn't it? Even with the last two, I think May is a hopeful month. I suppose spring is a hopeful time.

My current hope is to devote more time to creativity, and generally get my mojo back. I have a mountain of vintage goodies to sell, and I want to build up my etsy shop. Here are a few of my latest kitschy purchases, most of them for my shop.

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Vintage & Handmade Fair

I know this is (literally) last week's news, but I have to talk about the Vintage and Handmade Fair last Saturday. Apologies to those of you who looked for me there. As you will have realised from my last post, there were pressing reasons why I had to cancel my stall. However, by Saturday I was feeling in need of getting out and being distracted, and I couldn't have picked a nicer distraction.

I just managed to drop in for a visit, and I'm really glad I did. The fair was marvellous, and there was such a friendly atmosphere. Even so, I was a little bit shy about introducing myself under the circumstances. I know there were many of you there with whom I've swapped comments, and I hope you'll understand if I didn't make myself known to you. Better to say hello under happier circumstances. However, I was very pleased to finally meet Michele of Cowboys and Custard. She is every bit as lovely as her blog, and she and Jayne were so very understanding and kind about my having to cancel my stall.

Anyway, this is most of what I bought (a couple of things got left out of the photo).

Even though I went at the end of the fair, I still managed to find plenty of kitsch vintage goodies to tempt me.

And I have to mention the cakes too. Wow! I had an enormous slice of spiced apple cake - it was fantastic! Go on - hands up if it was you that made it! Lovely!

I am SO looking forward to November!

Thursday, 4 June 2009


This is my mum Thelma, who sadly died last week. She was 83. I think she might be in her early twenties here, maybe a bit younger. I found this photo recently, and I think it's lovely. She didn't like having her picture taken, and most of the later ones from my childhood are fuzzy colour snaps. But this is her long before she was 'Mum', when she was just 'Thelma', a lively young woman.

I'm not sure I can write about what I feel. I'm not even sure I know what I feel. Sad of course, but also relieved that she doesn't have to go through any more illness. She had respiratory problems, and the restrictions on her activity had been frustrating and depressing for her. I'm also comforted by the fact that she had a peaceful end, with no pain. The grief comes out in bursts at odd moments. I'm feeling calm as I write this, but just watching the birds this morning brought on the tears.

So much that I am, I owe to her. She was a librarian, and brought us up in a house full of books, encouraged us in artistic endeavours, valued a good education, and worked hard to give it to all five of her children. She was lively, creative, generous and loving. She hated housework, loved gardening and collecting things. She grew rare orchids and liked Jane Austen, Dire Straits and Alice in Wonderland. She loved cats, but after her last beloved pet cat died, she made her garden a wildlife haven, full of birds, frogs, toads, and squirrels.

I found this badge in one of her drawers, and it brought back the late 1970s, when I was a teenager and we shared silly little things like this. She loved Popeye and especially his catchphrase "I yam what I yam", because she never cared what anyone thought of her and rather enjoyed being eccentric. She hated hypocrisy or stuffiness, so I think it's very appropriate.

She will be remembered with lots of love.