Friday, 23 March 2018

From Bed Covers & Babouches to Bollywood & Books - This Week's Charity Shop Finds

 I'm probably the only person in the world to create an outfit entirely around a bag but just look at that handsome Indian prince astride his horse.

We've been out and about stock hunting all week and the Black Country chazzas have been ransacked for super cool vintage gear to keep our rails topped up. Of course, it's inevitable that I'll find a few things that I need to keep - like this bag which cost me the princely (ha!) sum of £1.99

My poor hands are destroyed by all the gluing I've been doing lately, thank goodness for Barry M Nail Paint to detract from the damage. This colour, Cardamon, has been discontinued - why oh why do they keep doing that with colours I like? Luckily I found a replacement bottle in Age UK for 50p. The Indian bejewelled cuff was £4.50. Everything else, with the exception of the Lapis ring Dad bought me when I was 11, is from India.

Here's the massive 1970s pendant I was wearing in my last post. I suppose goat fish boy isn't everyone's cup of tea hence the reason why the lady in the charity shop gave it me for free.

Here's the vintage maxi skirt I was wearing in my last post. It's a bizarre thing, the green part is polyester and the floral trim is cotton. I found it on a sale rail for 50p. I wasn't sure if it was a keeper but the waist is a perfect fit and that strange contrasting hem makes me look really tall - a bonus when, like me, you're a short arse.

Don't adjust your screens - knitwear-phobic Vix bought knitwear!!! I'm sick to death of being cold and I was pleasantly surprised at how these two looked when I tried them on. Isn't it funny how much more attractive things seem when the charity shop reduces all their stock to £1?

They're not old - the acid green mohair cardi is from Miss Selfridge and the daisy print, Scandi-style sweater is by Henry Holland, but at least I'm prepared for our next visit from the Beast from the East, due to hit the UK during the Easter weekend. 

I loved the colour of these £1 Moroccan babouches and was super excited when I discovered that they were my size. They're unworn so I'm assuming they were given to someone as a coming home from holiday gift and they didn't fit.

How much do Jon & I love this brilliant bed cover? We're dazzled by it! It's got an emerald green fringed trim which I omitted to photograph. It was labelled Brand New which made us laugh. Yes, it was unused but we don't think it's been new for at least forty years! It was £10 which we thought was a bargain.

Did your Mum/Grandma one of these fold out shoppers? Both of mine did. This psychedelic beauty fits in my coat pocket and will be perfect for an impromptu charity shop purchase. Cost? 50p

I loved the embroidery on this £2 contemporary satin wrap. While both pieces of knitwear are a UK Size 6, this is a UK size 16. It just goes to show that modern size labels make no sense whatsoever.

I buy a pile of paperbacks most weeks (and subsequently donate a pile back).
Being a massive fan of espionage novels, William Boyd is one of my favourite authors and I was thrilled to find a book by him that I hadn't read. I love contemporary Indian fiction so I'm looking forward to devouring Graffiti My Soul. An Auctioneer's Lot are the memoirs of BBC's Bargain Hunt & Antique Road Trip expert, grumpy Phil Serrell. I always see Jodi Picoult books in charity shops which is hardly surprising as she's one of the UK's best selling authors. I mistakenly assumed she wrote chick-lit - which I detest - so I've never bothered buying any of her books but I came across both My Sister's Keeper & Small Great Things on my e reader and really enjoyed them. While her work isn't high brow but the subjects are thought-provoking and the endings are never predictable.

I've travelled the Bombay to Goa road many times over the last 20 years and I absolutely love this film from 1972. The songs are brilliant, the characters hilarious and Amitabh Bachchan's psychedelic wardrobe is to die for. Female lead, Aruna Irani, is so beautiful. This 99p DVD will be Sunday afternoon's entertainment.

How could I write a blog post without mentioning my doll's house? My friend Tina spotted these upholstery fabric samples from high end Spanish interiors company Gaston y Daniela when we were out charity shopping yesterday and suggested they'd make great rugs. How right she was! Full-sized it retails at £100 a metre, I paid £1 for a fifth of a metre. 

WEARING: 1960s Wetherall of Bond Street cape (£4.95, YMCA charity shop, 2006), River Island boots, Floppy felt hat, vintage tooled leather belt, 1960s Stainless steel choker, Indian Prince bag, vintage floral maxi skirt, fringed bodysuit (all charity shopped, eBayed or car-booted)

Have a fabulous weekend!

See you soon.

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

What's Cooking? My Mini Kitchen Makeover

Wanna to see my kitchen? This is my latest mini make, like my real one HERE, its furnished entirely from inherited bits and pieces, other people's junk, hand-made stuff and lucky eBay finds.

Yes, I am well and truly obsessed with decorating my doll's house. It's taken me back to being twenty-four and owning my first house, a tiny end terrace so small I could pick up a tin of paint on the way back from work from the DIY clearance centre at the bottom of my road and redecorate a room in a couple of hours whenever the fancy took me.

Friends would pop round to discover that the colour scheme had completely changed from the week before or that I'd transformed the bed's headboard, Ottoman or a chair with a piece of fabric I'd found in a charity shop and my trusty staple gun.

In those days the cupboards were bare. Back in 1990 interest rates were sky high, I was living alone and in order to afford to pay my bills & mortgage I lived on a tight budget of £25 a week. I ate at work (working in corporate hospitality wasn't all bad), cut my own hair & bought all my clothes from jumble sales - just as I'd always done - and the rest went on socialising and tins of bargain paint. My thrifty ways paid off, I was mortgage free before I was 40. 

In my mini world I still don't spend any money on food - I Google free doll's house printables and fill my cupboards for free.

In my first house I went without a fridge, I became the proud owner of a second-hand one when I reached the age of 25! In my mini house I've made one from a broken 1950s sink unit that came from my Mum's doll's house and painted it with Barry M nail varnish. Like our real one the door's adorned with Polaroids of us at Glastonbury and in India.

There's loads of these 1970s Lundby cookers on eBay. I took my time and found one for a decent price. 

When I was a child I loved buying Lundby doll's house furniture. The houses were expensive but the bits and pieces to fill them with were pocket money prices. I'd already got Mum's furniture from her childhood so I mostly bought odds and ends. The saucepans, cutlery, toaster and the loaf of bread survived years of playing. I found a photo of a Taunton Vale chopping board, sized it down, printed it off and glued it to some cardboard salvaged from the recycle bin.

These chairs were pink last week - I haven't changed. Rose wine and Ritz crackers, aren't I sophisticated?

The tea towel is made of paper but with a few folds it looks like fabric. I managed to find the matching sink to last week's kitchen unit on eBay. I made the splash back and the shelves are lollipop sticks.

I helped myself to a sample of wallpaper from Wilko's. I could have used scaled down doll's house paper like I'd used for the rest of the house but quite liked the drama of the supersized retro print.

My reading material - a copy of the NME from 1967 with The Stones on the cover.

WEARING: Green bell sleeved top (retail sale, 2017), Vintage maxi skirt with floral trim (50p sale rail, AGE UK, yesterday), 1970s wooden pendant (Free from the hospice charity shop, the lady insisted I had it!)
I need to crack on with the outside restorations for Number 62, my latest house arrived this morning and I'm itching to get cracking on the next project. Addicted? Me? Absolutely!

See you soon.

Monday, 19 March 2018

Maximum City - 48 Hours In Mumbai

I was planning to write about our weekend of vintage selling but the weather put paid to that. Saturday's fair at Walthamstow (where the above photo was taken) was pretty good considering the hideous temperatures, incessant snow showers and the Met Office severe weather warnings but yesterday's fair at Moseley had to be postponed until April after most of us got up and discovered that we were snowed in. Come on Spring!

I thought I'd share a few photos from our trip to Mumbai instead, although India's heat and humidity seem but a dim and distant memory today. The sweat dribbling down my back and my hair clinging to my shoulders like seaweed is in stark contrast as I sit here with the wood burner crackling away  & looking out on a garden swathed in a blanket of white.

We stayed at Moti International, an elegantly crumbling, ramshackle Colonial-era family mansion a stone's throw from the Gateway of India which you may remember was our base a couple of years ago. Despite being in the heart of bustling Colaba, owner Mr Raj (who occupies the top two floors with his family) is a passionate gardener and his collection of lush potted palms helped filter out most of the traffic noise. Jon & I loved helping ourselves to an ice-cold Kingfisher from the communal fridge in the hallway and sitting on the marble steps, watching the madness of Mumbai unfold before our eyes.

We took a room on the first floor because Jon loved the drama of the rickety wooden staircase.

We'd spent the previous three weeks in Goa and only had a couple of days in Mumbai before our flight home but, as always, we managed to pack loads into those 48 hours. Our flight landed at 7am and, after a quick stop for a breakfast of Parsi-style scrambled eggs (with chilli and green mango), we headed to Sassoon Docks to watch the Marathi fishermen unloading the morning's catch from the boats. The women squatted on their haunches in circles, gossiping and tossing the freshly gutted fish into straw baskets whilst well-fed cats prowled around, feasting on fish guts and mewling for more. Because the area is a port, photography wasn't allowed but we did take the picture above - all that remained of a recent arts festival in the city.

Street cats! We're always amazed at how friendly and well-fed the moggies of Mumbai are. These boys were just a few of the cats hanging around Pasta Lane in Colaba.

The lovely thing about Mumbai is that despite the general chaos there's loads of green spaces where you can sit in peace. Elderly ladies resplendent in chiffon sarees and trainers do one hour circuits of this tiny square every morning.

After a few hours of aimlessly wandering we called into Kyani, one of the many Parsi food joints dotted around downtown Mumbai. We feasted on super spicy veg patties and sweet-salt lime sodas (spending the grand total of £1.50) before continuing on our way.

We continued on to Kala Ghoda, the epicentre of Mumbai's hip and happening arts scene as well as a great place to shop. We're big fans of Cotton Cottage, a shop that specialises in hand-made, block printed, Indian cotton clothes - there's also a couple of branches in Goa. There's often a sale at this time of year so Jon stocked up on granddad shirts and I bought a couple of maxi length wrap-around skirts (we're wearing our buys in the Moti collage). New to Mumbai this year was a massive Zara although I did wonder about the logic of displaying a beige wool cape in the window when it was nudging 36° and I don't think I've ever seen an Indian woman dressed in beige.

I loved the albums covers on display at the second-hand vinyl stall. Sadly the proprietor was nowhere to be seen (probably off feeding the cats like most of the other market traders) so we left empty handed.

After a quick shower back at Moti we rushed down to the Taj with the rest of Mumbai to watch the sun setting over the Arabian Sea before beers and dinner at one of the swanky bars on Marine Drive.

We'd booked the Dharavi slum tour for the afternoon of the following day so after a breakfast of upma (a dry-roasted savoury semolina porridge) & masala chai in a tiny hole in the wall food joint on Colaba Causeway we set off to Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya or, as most Mumbaikers still call it, The Prince Of Wales Museum.

We queued behind this adorable group. How on earth do Indian schoolchildren always manage to look so immaculate?

Built in the Indo-Sarenic style by George Wittet in 1904 to commemorate the visit of Edward VIII, the museum is set in the verdant Victoria Gardens and houses over 50,000 exhibits of ancient Indian history as well as objects from all over the world, categorised into three sections: Art, Archaeology and Natural History.

We loved the thought-provoking displays created by local schoolchildren from waste materials.

The sheer amount of stuff on display was overwhelming. I took loads more photos - which I've shared HERE.

The antique textiles were particularly fabulous.

The image below is possibly one of the best vintage clothing labels I've ever seen!

 After lunch in Churchill's, a favourite Parsi cafe of ours on Colaba Causeway, we dashed back to Moti for a quick change before racing off to Churchgate Station in time to meet the Reality Tour guide and the other tourists. (Read more about our slum tour HERE).

 Before dinner that night we browsed the stalls thronging the pavements of Colaba Causeway as I needed to stock up on leather chappals (I ended up buying three pairs for £10 - I haggled hard) and also snaffled the dress in the photo above from a little boutique which I thought would be ideal for our next trip to India. It was a fixed price shop and cost 700 rupees (around £7.60).

When I was rummaging around a dusty tailor's shop in Goa I found the remains of a bolt of block-printed homespun cotton. The shopkeeper called it "old fashioned" and tried to get me to chose a polka dot polyester, very popular in your country. I explained that I was an old-fashioned girl and handed over the kimono-sleeve dress I wore in most of my Gujarat photos to copy. Twenty-four hours later and at a cost of £15 this dress was mine.

The uber cool Bombay Vintage was the location for our last dinner in India. The food was excellent, the beer  plentiful and a lot of the accompanying 1960s Bollywood filmi soundtrack was just our thing. 

Mumbai, we love you, we can't wait to see you again!

Linking to Patti & the gang for Visible Monday.