Sunday, 30 December 2012

Misty, water-coloured memories ...

Isn't is strange how the sight of a simple, long-forgotten object, can unleash a torrent of vivid memories, that you were unaware you possessed?

For me it was a cherry brooch.  It wasn't even the same as the one I had but it just reminded me of that December, many years ago ....

It was December 1973, I was 12 years old and going to my first ever, disco Christmas party at the youth centre I went to every week.  My Mam must have realised it was important for me to look the part, because before then I just wore what she told me to, but not without heated argument on my part!

We went to town and had a lovely day together ... we had lunch in a little cafe, a very rare treat in the cash-strapped seventies, and went shopping for my outfit.  First of all we bought a black, skinny rib polo neck jumper and a pleated, reddish brown skirt.  In the shoe shop I chose a pair of burgundy, sling back and peep-toed shoes with a thick platform and clumpy heels, which I was sure my Mam would  never in a month of Sundays let me have.  But into the bag they went! Just a pair of Pewter run-resist tights and our mission was complete.

The cherries were the icing on the cake ... They finished the outfit perfectly and I felt a million dollars and extremely grown up and sophisticated. With a touch of lip gloss I looked like one of the girls in Jackie magazine ...

I remember buying my Mam's Christmas present too ... she collected Pen Delfin rabbits and I knew she wanted one of the dogs, Pooch was his name.  I had a job helping my Mam delivering Spot-the-Ball charity coupons, so must have saved my wages for this.  We went to the 'Rabbit Shop' and bought Pooch ... he was the last present I ever bought for my Mam because she died 5 weeks after Christmas, aged just 41.

This is for you Mam, thanks for the memories ....

Love, Claire xxx

Friday, 21 December 2012

In the bleak midwinter ...

It's the shortest day today, the Winter Solstice and the first official day of Winter. I'm sure we're all going to be manically busy over the next few days, so I'd like to take this opportunity to thank you all for your company during the last year.  It was my first year of blogging and I have absolutely loved the interaction, the sharing of everyday lives, and the friendship and loyalty I've received from you all.

I know you've seen this picture before, but it's my favourite at the moment!

Have a fabulous time, and I'll catch up with you all soon!

Have yourselves a Merry Little Christmas!

Love, Claire xxx

Monday, 17 December 2012

Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire

Sadly, I haven't got an open fire ... just a faux woodburning stove, but it doesn't quite have the same ring to it, does it? Anyway, I've finally got round to decorating my home for Christmas so thought I'd share it with you, so do come on in!

I got the idea of using my ice skates as a door decoration from Fee, although hers is much more elaborate and stunning than mine. I love the idea though and think that these skates will make an appearance every year now.  And to think I wanted to sell them! I actually have 2 pairs ... bought from 2 old ladies at a car boot sale in the summer. They were dumped apologetically at the side of the stall, in a bin bag covered by old curtains.  "We nearly didn't bring them", they said, "because we didn't think anyone would want them, they're a bit rusty".  Two pairs of vintage leather, ice skates?  "Would £4 for both be ok, love?"

My lovely Dickensian picture which stands at the top of the stairs, facing the front door ....

and vintage vases, planted up with hyacinth bulbs and decorated with charity shop finds (a big bag of toadstools, which seem to be very popular this year. for 75p)

In the back room, my other pair of skates, toasting themselves by the ahem! woodburner.

Lovely little owl decoration (also very popular this year), found in a gigantic bag of vintage decorations bought in the summer for £1.  I think he's very old ... and very fragile too, amazing how he's survived and remained perfectly intact.

Little Hornsea deers, which seem to come into their own at this time of year ...

and their friend Thumper the rabbit! These Hornsea pieces used to be in the free boxes in the charity shops, or very cheaply priced, but I've noticed that they are getting quite pricey now.

Plump robin at home on the mantlepiece ...

A very old copy of Christmas Books by Charles Dickens ... how can a Kindle compare to this?

The tissue-thin pages ...

The smooth leather cover ... oh and the smell! How many people over the years have dusted off this beautiful book, and rediscovered it each Christmas?

And presents wrapped and waiting for The Big Day!

Hand made felt bauble which I treated myself to at the Country Living Fair ...

and Ruby's own bauble ... it even has her curly tail!

And the tree in the back room ... I bought a bigger sofa for the front room and too late realised that there wouldn't be room for the Christmas Tree! The tree has now moved to the back room and I bought a new bare branch tree which takes up less room for the front room.

It's very simple and unassuming, compared to the blowsiness of the Big Tree, but I love it! It twinkles very prettily, and I'd love two next year at either side of the front door.  Where I live, though, they'd have to be tied down and chained to the wall or they'd be flying round the garden!

And the last word has to go to Ruby ...

"D'ya like my Christmas jacket?"

Hope you all have a fabulous week, and looking forward to seeing all your Christmas preparations!

Love, Claire xxx

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Light up the sky, shy Violet ...

Last week, as I was on my way to Harrogate, my phone beeped with a text message.  It was from an old schoolfriend Kris ... we go back years and ours is a long story ... she was texting to let me and Millie know that she had just opened a little vintage shop and tearoom in Ulverston, a place I've taken you to many times before ...

I couldn't wait to visit, but when I eventually did the whole experience was totally amazing, just like entering another world! "Behind Tesco", were the directions I was issued with, but eventually a passing postman had to direct me there. Next door but one to Tesco, between Thomas Cook's and the craft shop,  is what I thought was just a side entrance; however, when you go through, you leave the hustle and bustle of modern life behind and are plunged into Dickensian Ulverston ... I really wouldn't have been surprised if Fagan himself had approached me!

And there in all her glory is Violet and the Peadod! The story behind this lovely name is poignantly beautiful ... Violets were the first flower Kris's Dad bought her Mum when they were courting, and Kris loves all things violets ... the flower, the colour, scent, Parma Violets ... The peapod comes from the fact that Kris is the youngest of eight children and all were like peas in a pod.  The name is a tribute to her lovely parents and family.

Kris and I met at junior school, aged about 7 or 8 and were inseparable for years.  We walked home from school together, dilly-dallying through the park, spent our weekends together, baking (dolly-mixture cakes were our speciality), playing with our dolls and baptising them under the drainpipe!

Those were the days of the eleven-plus and sadly in the September when we were both 11 we went our separate ways to different secondary schools, and lost touch through the fickleness of youth, new friends and life's circumstances.  Last summer I was doing a stall at a vintage fair and Kris waltzed in as a customer, and the years just fell away as we reminisced about those precious childhood years.

My dream has always been to own my own vintage shop, and I discovered that this was Kris's dream too, so I'm so glad that one of us has realised it!

There are lovely twinkly lights above the door and a welcoming sign inviting you in ...

The feeling that you get when you walk through the door is like you're entering someone's home, and not a business premises.  It is so warm and welcoming, and Kris and her sister Rose (whom I worked with many years ago when we were both shorthand-typists in a shipbuilding company) are excellent hostesses, inviting you in, asking you to make yourself at home, look around, sit where you like and have tea and cake ... and more cake, and another fill-up ... excellent, I could have sat there all day long!

There are vintage scales full of sweets and Parma Violets, of course! Displays of vintage china are on every surface, in drawers, cupboards and on the tables, gorgeous dresses hang on the walls just waiting to be tried on.  A sewing machine and balls of wool sit side by side on a wide windowsill, creating a delightful crafty corner.

Happy customers who are welcome to stay there all day, if they so wish ...

Display of vintage violet hats sit amongst the shop's name ...

The dresser is groaning with home-made cakes, all made by Kris and Rose on the premises ... I greedily chose the orange cake, top right of the picture, followed an hour later by the Dotty Cake, named after their Aunty Dot.  Both were very delicious with lots of tea from vintage china.  The lime cake had already sold out, as had the scones, and the shop had only been opened for an hour when I arrived!

Everything is tastefully displayed, but it doesn't have the effect of being in a shop ... it feels like Violet's home ... and you've been invited in.

A beautiful Mary Quant scarf peeps out of a set of drawers, while vintage magazines are placed in a rack for you to peruse whilst taking your refreshments.  Each little corner is a vision of loveliness and it was a delight to photograph.  The bathroom has lots of little finishing touches such as fragranced soap and hand cream, vintage mirrors and a pot plant from a well-wisher.

I stayed for a couple of hours but could have stayed  longer ... I had to pack my car for today's Fair, I'll tell you more about that later.

So don't forget my lovelies, if ever you happen to be in the little market town of Ulverston in Cumbria, a warm welcome will always await you at Violet's ... next door but one to Tesco! Oh, it's open 10am - 4pm, Thursday, Friday, Saturday ... and Tuesdays up until Christmas!

See you soon,

Love Claire xxx

Monday, 3 December 2012

Baby, it's cold outside ....

Brrrr!! Even though it's not officially Winter until round about the 21st, it certainly feels like it!

I hope that the issues with my blog have been resolved, mentioned in my last brief post.  Thanks for all your advice, and I'll try to put some pics on now.  Here goes ...

Sorry ... it won't let me so instead I'll share some of my Instagram pics with you and I'll show you the Country Living Fair and my Vintage Fair later ...

Tickets to the Big Event!

My Advent Swap parcel which I sent last week ... I won't show you the contents because they haven't been opened yet!  This lovely swap was organised by laalaa, and I was linked to gill.  Gill's parcel arrived on Friday morning, so that was a lovely surprise when I got home from Harrogate.  A big, beautifully wrapped box all covered with stars and full to bursting with hand-made bags, each with the number on the front.

This was No 2 ... a lovely little stocking for the tree, containing a lolly and some Climpies.  No 1 was a lovely piece of vintage Christmas fabric, but unfortunately I didn't Instagram it.

No 3 ... opened already, this morning!

A really lovely, handmade needlecase ... I hope Gill isn't too disappointed with mine ... not much handmade in there I'm afraid ... it would have needed to be a very big box to hold lampshades and bedside tables!

Speaking of which, here is one of my 'Granny Chic' lampshades ... I loved making these, very messy, but really rewarding! (That's me, aged 4 in the photo). Oooh, and I can't help telling you before I show you the pictures ... I met Rachelle ... only one of the actual authors of Granny Chic, at the CL Fair! I must admit I was a bit starstruck ...

Ruby's getting in the Christmas mood ...

and in her new Christmas bandana!

Sorry this isn't the post you were expecting, my lovelies ... hopefully all will be resolved soon on the photo front ... but I missed you all so much, I just had to share something with you!

See you soon ...

Love, Claire xxx

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Normal Service will be resumed as soon as possible

Just a little note to say that I will post soon, as I have pictures of Harrogate and the Country Living Fair, but apparently my photo quota is full and I don't really know how to resolve it! I've noticed a lot of other bloggers seem to be experiencing this too, so am wondering if it's some kind of error, because I haven't been blogging very long really, for it to be full already.

Anyway, will try and sort it out soon as I feel like i've been AWOL for ages!

Love, Claire xxx