Thursday, 29 November 2012

Christmas cards - option 3 and blog loss!!

Old Christmas cards - how lovely they are.  These two shown on top were sent to me by my mum many years ago (no I am not that old - they were old then - I have ALWAYS loved old things) - so my mum was ahead of her time.  My used vintage Christmas cards are displayed every year around our mirror in the dining room.

I also have this one which is extra special as it was sent by either  my great grandfather or grandfather in 1911

I am not sure which one it is because they were both called Clement, both at the same address and both of an age when they might be sending cards.  .

Three years later my grandfather would be fighting in the First World War.

It is has been a very sad few weeks for our family so apologies for lack of comment on other blogs...sunny days around the corner....

PS: I  have a Blogger problem where I get the message that I 'cannot upload any more photographs' even though I have about 80% of photo storage left - I deleted lots of old posts (sniff, sniff) but it has made no difference.  Being the poor sleeper that I am I had a few posts 'lined up' before this happened but not sure if I can continue in blog land without photos to accompany the words...oh dear.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Christmas card - option 2 - sub option!

The other option for your Christmas cards this season is to recycle and use old ones that have not previously been used - there are a staggering number of these about and the ones in these photographs came from a car boot a couple of years ago.

Here is the procedure: light a crackling good fire and throw on some pine cones for extra effect...wait until dusk...the half light is good for candles and squinting....fill your delicious old pen with some Quink...scribe your cards until the candles burn low....fix old stamps to the envelopes and see if you can get away with it!!!

All done

I like this set of photographs so added in extras...

Blue Peter featuring again I see....

More of my stamp albums another time....I loved collecting stamps as a child.

Tra la la
Fiddle de dee
I collected stamps as a child
Crazy old me!

PS There will be a 'Crusty Christmas Special' coming soon.....

PPS: Currently writing an essay on assessment processes in universities - no jokes in that one sadly!!!

Monday, 19 November 2012

100 things to do with a blank wall...number one..

Thinking of you Wendz when I dug these out.
 This is an old photo of mine from a couple of years ago - I had plans to cover the entire wall in these.  Dom said that ENOUGH IS this rate we will have no beige left...Looking at it now I can see that some fabricos has been changed..note fabricos from previous post crept in at the top.

Realise that this is a bit vieux chapeau now...

I did this while Dom was watching the rugby one afternoon....It is a bit rubbish because when the children whizz past they blow off (not in that way!! And not the children!!!!).  Ha ha
Of course that was all in the original concept - leaves on a tree fluttering in the breeze. I am pleased to report that Margot is delighted!!

At the end of the match Dom said that he was a little surprised....I had forgotten to tell him what I was about to do...Best way don't you think...

Risk of sackage beckons as not getting one with work.

Now get outta here you guys...

Tra la la
Fiddle de dee
Off I go to smother a white wall with colour....hang on that doesn't rhyme....

PS: Crusty been on the blower - desperado to do a 'project' together (aka she grabs the glory and I do the hard slog).  I slammed the dog and bone down and told her in no uncertain terms that I will be in the studio first thing Monday...

Oh you British and your sense of 'umoure

..china in your hand..

Ah - struck another chord with the Crusty Alltop   post.  I see I am not alone.  We are all ploughing our own furrow - some furrows are deep, some not so deep.

Thank you also for kind words regarding writing - I write lots and lots of 'funny to me' things in my head - by the time I get to the end and I have made myself laugh I have forgotten it and moved on to the next thing.  Should get a Dictaphone (can you still get those?).  In the past  I wrote many articles but of a serious nature in serious publications - then when I worked for NHS Direct I started a  Garden Club (for staff!) and would write a weekly newsletter.  I laughed my head off writing that - who knew so much merriment could be had in my 'Seed Exchange'.  I had lots of people joining who were non-gardeners as it was full of in-jokes and jolly capers (both varieties!).  I might post an extract here one day. Just to bore/repeat a little further my background is a sister in Intensive Care and then one of the Transplant Co-ordinators for the South East of England (we know Jenny  - you go on and on about it) - exquisitely difficult and demanding job so sense of humour, tempered with sensitivity, always to hand.  I think Intensive Care too needed a degree of  humour - I remember apologising to relatives  for the gales of laughter and they said how comforting it was to hear.... it meant 'normal' life was carrying on..... In between I was a district nurse in Brixton - now that was funny (and heartbreakingly sad) and with my partner in crime I would go round the North Peckham Estate as though I were James Bond (a real risk of being mugged because some assumed that you were carrying drugs).  Peering carefully round corners and firing my finger pistol....I remember dressing an awful gunshot wound - I told the young lad that I hope he had a good look at whoever did the shooting.  'Yes I did' he replied 'It was my dad'.  You couldn't make it up.   If you have never worked in the community then I urge you to do so this very afternoon.  'Call the District Nurse'. Oh just remembered that my first proper job was working in operating theatres which I did for a few years - now that was a funny place!

Anyway following on from the 'Show us your potato pot' post - here is a another little post showing our daily plates!

Good grief what the heck am I doing here!

I have GOT WORK TO DO....

...not least application for Jersey job to complete (thank you Barbara for giving me the nudge)

Anyway this china was in a charity shop about 3 years ago - a lot of it - 6 of everything - plates in three different sizes, pudding bowls, cups and saucers - and was priced at £20.
I did not buy it
I went home.
I do not need any china.
We have lots of plates in three different sizes, pudding bowls, cups and saucers......
One day I will show you some...
It gnawed away..
"£20 is a  lot to spend on something that you do not need" That was the angel on one shoulder.
"Pah - £20 - some people spend that on a pair of shoes" (ho ho) That was the devil on my other shoulder.
I went back SEVERAL DAYS LATER....
It was still there - smiling at me and saying 'We knew...'

So this rapidly became our everyday china (though Maille requests a Homemaker plate for her good self)- put in the dishwasher seven times a week.

I was going to just use it for Autumn but then it becomes 'Seasonal - only to be used for certain months of the year - because you couldn't possibly use it when there are leaves on the trees' china!!

This is what is known as 'Doing a Crusty'...


"La Cootard - we hardly dare ask but do you actively seek out vintage fabricos that matches your china?"
Titter, titter
"La Cootard here - please do not be silly.  I do not wish to give the impression that any morsel of me is in the slightest bit obsessive"

"La Cootard - we hardly dare ask but do you have accessories that match you china....?"

How we laughed....

Kerrr-pow (see what I did there..bonus points for the first reader to spot the link...)

PS: In my head I am planning a vintage Christmas giveaway - the Christmas cupboard   wardrobe is bulbous to say the least and I am deciding what people in blogland might like. I have an idea what one of you likes already (wink, wink....I cannot do that winky thing...).  Whatever it is it will not be a dipped basket...or will it...

PPS Lovely to meet up with you -  Eco Ethel on Saturday - disahhster for myself dahling and ended up being in the minus by the end of play.  Never mind.

PPS Here are some of the less wordy, not funny one jot,  things wot I wrote.  I think that these might be classed as vintage...
Ego gathering speed...

I remember being 'featured' in The Southern India Transplant Journal!  Who needs Country Living!!!

Friday, 16 November 2012

Capturing the Zeitgeist...

Tring a ling a ling...

The door tinkled shut - marking the end of the first day of business for 'Capturing the Zeitgeist' - the sparkliest vintage, shabbiest chic'est, nearly newest, shop in town.  Nestled between 'Poundland' and 'William Hill' the new shop was destined for a far reaching clientèle - one  that Crusty Allpot (owner of a rival establishment) could only conjure up in her imagination.

Margot (silent 't' in Merlot and Lego...) heaved a heavily vintage sigh (laden with a faint whiff of Fisherman's Friend).  She sank into the one remaining chair - one which she had, oh so cleverly, revamped only that morning - a light touch of Dulux, with a whisper of sandpaper round the edges, and the manicured 1930s chair now had the air of a manicured 1930s chair. Grandmother would have been so proud Margot  murmured to herself and to her carefully coiffured Viennese Schnitzel ( a rare breed still undergoing tests by the Kennel Club as they cannot quite fathom the rear end).  Margot allowed herself the smallest of vintage smiles and adjusted her voluminous spectacles.  Originally belonging to Princess Margaret,  Margot had fought hard for these waspish specs on 'UPaidHowMuch!' and surprised us all by winning with a bid of just under £2 325.  She only had to pay a further £356.25 to have new double glazed, solar panelled lenses fitted by Everest....(I bet you weren't expecting that today were you?). Margot had in fact told her husband that she had pulled the glasses out of a skip and received a discount from Everest because she had once worked with Ted Moult (something for the slightly older reader...). Ted had, oh so wisely, informed Margot that you only fit new double glazed, solar panelled, lenses once - so fit the best -  fit Everest.

Perhaps Margot had a right to be so self-satisfied - she had after all spotted the empty shop only three days before and had marshalled a bewildering array of trades people to pare the place back to its original 1996 strip lighting and faux laminate flooring.  It was indeed a wonderment. The local Gazette had fallen under her spell and were documenting the peeling back of the years as though it were the Mary Rose itself.  On each of the three days there could also  be seen a little clucking of women who flattened their faces against the tinted glass windows to see what vintage delights were to be revealed. There was a real buzz about the place which Margot had cleverly fostered by creating a certain mystic (or should that be Mustique!!), an aura, a vibe.  She had done this by displaying a different key item outside the shop each day. This was her USP.

On Day One it was a  hand dipped (in 'Charcoal-White' - from the soon to be launched 'Making with Margot' paint range - available in Robert Dyas only - BOGOF initial offer, double discount if you can produce  'Magic with Margot' or 'How I wrote a book with little content but nice pictures' book) painted, multiple-woven TWO-HANDLED (emphasis as the one handled range had not been so successful) basket.  This created such a storm that 'Poundland' next door had a run on baskets that very afternoon. Phew!

Day Two: Margot carefully shipped in from the other end of the country some low carbon foot printed foot prints - these had been extruded from  molten larva and then cast in wax.  Essence of finest vanilla extract had been added in for extra effect.  To be fair the locals were a little puzzled by this one - what the heck were they for?  But in true Emperor New Clothes fashion they were soon dipping their own feet in boiling wax - though it did smart a bit  they all agreed that the end result was worth the searing heat and lava-ridden blistering. They laughed when one participant likened the pain to that of the chilblains of her youth - not even close they cried (Martha was indeed actually crying with pain at this point). Even Arthur joined in with this one - but he reported that his arthritis had actually improved - so Margot could now add 'Bare Foot Doctor' to her ever growing list of skills.  Indeed by close of play Margot had sketched an outline for her new range of pedicure ware for Boots.  She even had the brass neck to design special 'Chilblain Snugglers' (in a range of pistachio, strawberry and  'blue lip'  - mottled hues).  An extra fungal nail in Crusty Allpot's coffin as she had considered a similar empire in chilblain condiments herself (hoping to launch it with her business partner Lil Denser). Simply unstoppable.

By Day Three there was a positive frenzy because Margot had casually lain a woollen dog blanket on the pavement.  This in fact belonged to the Viennese Schnitzel and had been accidentally dropped after Margot had let it  go to use the Pooper Scooper...

Rest assured readers we will be keeping a very close eye on 'Capturing the Zeitgeist' and will  be following its shenanigans at every vintage turn....

Ho ho.....

Oh you British with your strange sense of humour...

A bit of Swedish..

Just a little bit...
A lot  of our day-to-day kitchen stuff dates from the 60s and 70s.
This dish is used most days
For mashed potato
Or carrots

I think that it would have had a lid originally but as it was only a pound from the car boot I wasn't going to complain.  The tablecoth is one of three of the same design that I have - all in a different colour arrangement!

Also comes in red - which I omitted to photograph

Still working on my tablecloth book..

Huffed and puffed my way through Kirstie's "Not So Vintage - But Does Need a Good Tidy Up (hark who's talking) Home" last night.  In the first episode we spotted a framed tea towel that we also have framed in our dining room and last night the china that was shown at the end we also have (not including the Homemaker bits - those plates are our everyday plates as they are dishwasher proof).  I think that spotting things that we have may be my only reason for watching it - that happens in museums too when the children say: "But we've got one of those...".  I don't think that they can quite fathom why it should be in a museum....

I did learn something though - I was not aware that dipping the bottom of a nice basket into paint was a 'craft'

More Christmassy stuff on the horizon
Getting behind with proper job as usual
Keep warm
Best wishes
La Cootard
PS Thank you re: cards - I will do a separate little post about my favourite thing!

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Christmas cards - option 2

Hello again
I hope that you are well - thank you as always for kind wallpaper comments.  With old houses you never really finish decorating and I now realise that this house will never be 'done' - just  a process of refinement (sort of).  Talking of refinement I am desparado to clear some 'stuff'' and the spare bedroom is rapido filling up with my 'reading rid of' section - mind you when I wistfully see very similar  'stuff' appearing on blogs I have great pangs of regret - daft as it is only STUFF.

I have been caught up in the whiff of Christmas appearing on blogs.  I have opened the Christmas Cupboard (little fanfare) and started thinking up the theme for the display for this year.  For starters let us discuss..... Christmas cards.  I have four approaches to Christmas cards
1.  Don't send them
2. Send home made
3. Send old
4. Donate to charity (as feel guilty for all of the above!)

So these are my Christmas cards - these ones are sort of home made!  They all feature Christmas things from our home.... there is a bit to choose from.... here you can see photographs of  paper bunting that I have made, our old table runner, old tins, old Christmas magazines, old tablecloths, old decorations, one of the wreaths that I have made from old stuff.....  All sorts that I think look purdy for Christmas.  These are pricey I think (our printer is not up to printing these out so have to sent away to be done) so not a cheapo (sorry a bit of Italian creeping in - I just cannot help myself nowadays!) Christmas card option.

Some of these things merit a little posting all of their own in particular is my favourite thing...which one is it do you think?

This afternoon I am launching my brand new shop called 'The Custards Christmas Cards'  (TCCC) for a unique line in cards this season...ho ho.

The other option is so use up old stock that has not been used before and I will be posting about that next time!

Tra la la
Fiddle de dee
Off I go
And will show you next time we have some tea....

PS I have been invited to apply for a little job in Jersey - I haven't been there for years but do still have some things that I bought whilst there - anyone know if Jersey is rich in vintage goodies?  That might be the deal breaker!!!!

PPS Apologies for 'genderism' on previous post - thank you once again to The Hattatts for appropriate reminder.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

WIP = Wallpaper in progress

Thank you as always for interesting and kind comments - I see that the way to go in blogland  are postings regarding old school knickers, frost inside windows, warm school milk and silverfish (I had completely forgotten about these creatures and now recall seeing them whizzing around behind peeling wallpaper and slithering out of books)!  I will bear that in mind and fancy that we could write a collective book of childhood memories.

On to more serious matters.  
Decorating takes so much longer than it used to.  Years ago, when the children were in bed by 18.00 we could decorate until midnight.  Now it is very hit and miss.  You may recall that we painted the fireplace earlier this year (Febuary!)  see here for the first choice of original 50s wallpaper. Slow and steady...  Finally chose this wallpaper  because I could not bring myself to cut into that luverly orginal wallpaper and what would I do if I changed my mind..  Dom has been papering and I have been acting in a supervisory capacity!  I had to move these pots so put them on top of the fireplace and thought that the mass of different swirly whirly handles looked good with the swirly whirly wallpaper and then the swirly whirly chandelier

I used to collect these pots at every opportunity - I haven't bought one for years because ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!!  Ho ho! These date from around 1900 and most of them come from Belgium originally.  These are from the bottom/cheapo end of the Arts and Crafts pot market...but I like them and perchance the blues and greens match the wallpaper.  Who knew!

There are some bigger ones that live in the dining room

Chandelier might get cleaned once a year - Christmas time usually.  Fearful amount of dust up there!

Ceiling rose is a wonderment of its own

Over the years bits have been knocked off as the children play catch in this room....gulp....

We have finally made a decision regarding this room here and it vintage wallpaper  sniff, sniff.  We are going to swap rooms around in order for me to save (dramatic!)  this wallpaper forever - I must admit it also means I get a bigger room for fabricos though it will mean that Dom gets to change my sewing room (as seen in header photo) and I dread to think what it will end up looking like...all manly and brown possibly...

Not really linked to this is a note that yesterday I was teaching  in Oxford (not any of the universities!)  in a beautiful mid-19th century building situated in a delicious little wood...I quite fancied myself as the housekeeper as I paraded round (not the Lady of the house - that would be a step too far) a la 'The Paradise'...Last week I was teaching in the Education Centre at Chichester Hospital - I have never been there before.  If you get a chance to pop in do go and look at the 1940s  photos on the walls - one was of the 'Ladies Ward' - each bed had its own HAND EMBROIDERED COUNTERPANE..I would give my eye teeth....

Onwards and upwards Ladies and Lads (suitably chastised  - thank you dear Hattatts) of Blogland

Monday, 12 November 2012

If I had known then what I know now....I would have kept the prams....

This is an old photo that I had posted a while back onto Flickr - I am on the left with the smaller pram, looking as though I am on a bank heist.  No, I don't have these any more - these were second hand prams but oh how we loved them. We were 'proper' with our prams.  Sadly I do not have the woollies either (not these particular ones....I do have some others..).  Knitted by our mum and they would have been unravelled when they became too small and knitted into something else. I can feel those jumpers now - how they itched and how the head hole became far too small after one wash and your ears burnt trying to pull it off over your head.  I have not so fond memories of being stuck in a jumper head hole - ears on fire and crying for my release!!! Mind you a COLOUR photo - our ship must have come in....

Behind us is the two up/two down that the seven of us lived in ...two to a single bed (not parents though!)...essentially  a cottage in a field....lovely at that age....teenage years not so much.....might go back to the countryside one day...but not now.  One day will write more of countryside tales...funny now...not funny  then...I do not have a romantic view of country living. Without the trappings of 21st century (or indeed, for us, the trappings of most of the 20th century either!!!)  we found being in the country hard work and *&&**!@ ruddy cold...all the time..ruddy cold. Getting dressed and undressed whilst remaining under the bed covers - mind you my father's generation was one of being sewn into clothes for the winter. Chilblains anyone?

 I do not have a romantic view of Country Living either!!!!

I will end with the same snippet  that I had posted onto Flickr with this photo - I am very fond of memorising poetry - all sorts old and new.

"I would give all the wealth that years have piled, the slow result of life's decay, to be once more a little child for one bright summers day...."

Despite the cold!

PS - Our mother's cure for chilblains was boiling water....

Sunday, 11 November 2012


In Memory of
989, 2nd Bn., Royal Warwickshire Regiment
who died age 27
on 18 May 1915
Son of Mr. and Mrs. C. Warner, of 22, George St., Stockton, Rugby.
Remembered with honour
My father was named after him
And also
In Memory of
15409, 7th Bn., Northamptonshire Regiment
who died age 36
on 21 March 1918
Son of Clement Arthur and Amelia Warner, of 22, George Rd., Stockton, Rugby.
Remembered with honour

Thank you to the Commonwealth War Grave Commission

Friday, 9 November 2012

Pink pram worth about £2.50

Just a little posting about a little thing!  You may recall that one of my great nieces was coming to stay so I started to make a little vintage dress here out of vintage embroidered fabric - well the dress was far too small so I will embark on Mark 11 at some stage.

I 'found' (in other words in the spare bedroom...along with three wooden toy or two dolls' houses..and..) an old toy pram dating from the 1960s (?not sure but about then) - my great niece is a perfect size for reaching the handle and toddling around like a little doll herself.  Glad that it is has gone to a good home and will have a few more months/years of being pushed around.

Can you feel Christmas creeping around the corner?

Monday, 5 November 2012

When in Venice....and thriftiness reaps its own rewards

Tra la la off to Venice we go - suitably adorned with a Venetian bag and purse - made from a 20p scarf that had a hole in it -  not a bad bit of recycling I thought.

Here is the bag - I fancied a Gucci/Versace  type of bag....maybe.......not quite..

This is a heavy vintage button and as I was sewing it on I knew that it was not the right choice for lightweight fabric.  Carry On Regardless...

A bit of cutting and pasting for the reverse but left enough for a  purse (hey that rhymes)

Again a bit of cutting and pasting to get all the pieces to fit together - looks a bit of mess here

I will not be singing 'One Cornetto'... maybe I will...oh the shame I will bring on the children...

I realised that I did not have much in the way of purple fabric for the lining but as luck would have it my eldest sister had given me a stash of samples that were for Burberry (ooo la la ) - so I think that this must have been intended for their shirts!  Who knew

Anyway I had a different bag when I entered the plane....during the flight I nipped to the 'small room'.  Once in continental airspace I emerged a la Mr Benn sporting my Venezia bag.  There was a slight drop in cabin pressure when the entire passenger list inhaled and gasped!!! I spied some nudging -  'Arthur...ARTHUR...I am sure that women went in there with a different bag'.  I smiled demurely as I did not wish to appear toooo big headed.  I nodded sagely when Arthur double checked if I had indeed changed my bag....'Yes, Arthur....I do that sometimes!'. How we laughed.

There was more of a 'to do' in Venezia itself.    I should preface this with the story of how the children were suitably impressed by my linguistic skills...I woke up on Monday finding myself fluent in on reader....  Of course already being fluent in a language rich in Latinate roots is a bonus and when you realise that all is needed is to add any vowel  to the end of alternate words - hey presto (see what I did there) you are speaking Italiano!  As you will discover this came in very handy in Piazza San Marco! 

 I entered the Square wearing Venezia bag....soon a small crowed gathered (you can just make out the crowd gathering in the photographi below).  In truth this was a group of turisti who I can only assume thought I was selling rip off Gucci!!  There was a great deal of pointing and exclaiming 'How mucho?' (this may not be a direct transcription).  Initially I laughed as I realised it was a mistake easily made...especially as I looked soooo stylishly Italian in my SHOES (some of you may recall the significance of this comment!). 'No-o, no-o', I exclaimed 'This is  turista tatto' (again I may be getting my Italian a little mixed up here - by the afternoon I rapidly found out that I was not quite as fluent as I thought I had been in the morning).  The crowd changed more smiles....a bit of fist shaking...and rippoffo, disgustingo'.  I pleaded for them to come back but my cries of 'Ordero Catho Kidstoni' fell upon deaf ears....

Ho ho 

We had a delicious time in Venice - how could we not!  I have not been there for several decades and it was as magical as I remembered.  I will indulge a few photos as I do not usually post photographs of things outside of our home!

I stumbled upon a Venetian Charity Shop - imagine!  Many, many years ago my sister and I carefully removed an image of a stupendous Fortuny dress from a magazine and pasted it into our scrapbook - I fancied one might turn up in a Venetian charity shop..sadly not.  Sad also that few Fortuny fabrics/dresses were to be seen in the Fortuny Museum....the only minus for me.

"Just one Cornetto..."

PS - I fancied that I glimpsed The Hattatts floating by.... 

PPS - Thank you for kindly comments on 'Chair post' - I will reply and catch up on othero bloggos when I have caught up with the washingo!