A Day Out With Cars and Frocks!

 Favourite Places, Frocks, Out And About, Shoes, Wednesday March  Comments Off on A Day Out With Cars and Frocks!
Aug 102014
 

Occasionally, Miss Wednesday is allowed out.  For the safety of the general public, she’s usually quite strictly chaperoned and it is only very occasionally…

Last Sunday, 3rd August, Miss Sara and Miss Wednesday went to Mount Edgecumbe for their Classic Car Show and Summer Fayre.  There was also a Miss Ivy Events Vintage and Artisan Fair on, so it seemed an ideal opportunity to visit.

Mount Edgecumbe is the former home of the Earls of Mount Edgcumbe. Set in Grade I Cornish Gardens within 865 acres Country Park on the Rame Peninsula, South East Cornwall, it is now council-owned and a wonderful venue for many a wedding and event.  The grounds are stunning and well worth a visit, especially as most of the park is open from 8am to dusk daily, all year round and is free to visit.  The house and the Earl’s Garden are open during the summer, usually from the start of April to the end of September, although not every day.  There is a charge to visit these areas.

But back to last Sunday…

Miss Sara gave strict instructions to Miss Wednesday to arrive by 11.30 at the latest (knowing Miss Wednesday’s tendency to be tardy) and they set off at about 11.45 am.  It proved to be a mistake, as the road from Looe to Mount Edgecumbe is narrow, windy and with more than one bottleneck.  All it takes is for one person to be rubbish at reversing and the entire area snarls up.  But it was a beautiful day and they had the roof off the Lotus so…

On arrival, they were directed to park in with the classics, which was rather nice, and Lottie was much admired and photographed.  Almost as much as Miss Sara, in fact!

Miss Sara was wearing her Sundae Best Dress and Miss Wednesday sported her favourite Diana with sweetheart neckline, in strawberry gingham fabric.  Not the matching shoes, though.  Oh no.  Not for tramping around on grass.  Miss L Fire Dollie wedges were perfect.  Miss Sara had flat, dotty pumps but Miss Wednesday doesn’t own any flat shoes other than her riding boots, which would have looked slightly out of place.

Two women in retro frocks blocking view of vintage Buick

Blocking the view of a very nice car!

They wandered around drooling over the cars for a couple of hours, visited the food stands – Miss Sara is fond of a proper hotdog*, none of that Cumberland sausage in a brioche bun ponciness for her, thank you – and the bar (which had run out of cider and only had nasty additive-filled tonic water so nothing for Wednesday) and then headed up towards the house and the vintage fair.  There were quite a few stands up there, including the wonderful Trish of Just Seven with her glorious hats and quite a lot of proper vintage clothing.  Miss Wednesday spotted The Little Green Van Company, who have a beautiful 1974 Citroen van named Laurent, with a coffee machine, and which was serving coffee, cake and ice cream.  It looked fabulous and Miss Wednesday, who won’t eat walking around but makes an exception for ice-cream, bought the ice-creams, which were the biggest disappointment of the day.  Coming from such a wonderfully presented stand, you could be forgiven for expecting a decent waffle cone and a serving of good ice-cream.  Alas, they turned out to be a very small blog of, frankly, cheap and nasty and mostly ice-crystals, stuff perched precariously on a cheap and nasty cone.  You know the sort of papery cone that sticks to the roof of your mouth?  Yep, that sort.  Ick.  She won’t be patronising that particular stand again, which is a shame because it looked wonderful.

Overall, however, it was a very nice and relaxed day.  Ran into a few friends, drooled over some beautiful cars – what’s not to like?

Miss Sara’s long-suffering partner travelled there on his rather snazzy Lambretta.  It garnered a lot of attention.  Miss Sara agreed to pose with it for pictures but she drove the Lotus home.  Lambrettas and petticoats only work in pictures.

Vintage scooters and woman in retro frock

Lucky Strike!

Back down the hill to the waterside – stunning on a sunny day – and home via the coast road and Downderry.

 

*  In Miss Sara’s opinion, a ‘proper hotdog’ is made from very little meat  – ‘mostly lips and arseholes’ – and comes in an equally dubious bun.  The ketchup should be applied in a line and the mustard dotted, not zigzagged.  She’s quite particular about these things.

Favourite Places: The Harbour Cafe, Looe

 Favourite Places, Frocks, Shoes, Wednesday March  Comments Off on Favourite Places: The Harbour Cafe, Looe
Aug 032014
 

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that Miss Wednesday “doesn’t get out much”.  Well, last Sunday, she did.  There is a glaring lack of blog post for the Sunday past because she was up at sparrow’s fart (to use the vernacular) and off down to Looe on a mercy mission.  One of her favourite people (Mrs A) owns and runs one of her favourite places (the Harbour Cafe in East Looe) and on this particular Sunday, Mrs A was shy of a waitress.  Now, when the situation came to light on the preceding Friday, they’d discussed the lack and it was agreed that the very idea of both Mrs A and Miss Wednesday working in tandem in role dealing with Joe Public was very probably a nightmare waiting to happen.  Or, at the very least, a jolly good hour’s entertainment on Trip Advisor the next day.  Naturally, when Miss Wednesday offered her ‘services’, Mrs A immediately took her up on it and the world held its breath.

Last Sunday dawned dry but slightly overcast, which was a relief to many after the heat of the day before.  Looe was beautiful and quieter than normal.  Miss Wednesday showed up wearing her ninth best retro dress and was given an apron that almost fitted her.  She was also wearing high heels with a platform.  For waitressing?  Madness?  Well, no.  Miss L Fire pineapple heels are one of the most comfortable designs on the planet and Miss Wednesday is lacking slightly in the height department.  Without a platform, there was no way she was going to be able to reach the cupboards.  As it was, she had to ask Mrs A to fetch the teapot and milk jug.

Woman in blue dress and apron attempting to move a chair

As summer Sundays go, it was a pretty quiet one, although there were plenty of holiday makers who were making return visits, which is always a sign that a cafe is doing something right.  Miss Wednesday explained to people that it wasn’t her normal occupation so if they heard screaming, bad language or dropped plates, to please feign deafness.  Mrs A explained that Miss Wednesday’s usual mode of communication was sarcasm and that if they detected any, to just ignore it as it wasn’t meant unkindly.  Business ticked over, no plates were dropped and nobody appeared to leave in high dudgeon.  Although we haven’t yet checked Trip Advisor…

It was a nice change for Miss Wednesday to work alongside Mrs A.  Usually, she’s a customer at the cafe, indulging in her twin occupations of gossip and scoffing, whilst attempting to imbibe as much coffee as Mrs A will allow, knowing full well what is likely to happen when the hag is fully caffeinated.  (Don’t ask.  You really don’t want to know.)

From the title of this post, you’ll have guessed that Miss Wednesday is a bit of a fan of the Harbour Cafe.  That may well be an understatement.  It’s a constant thorn in her side that she no longer works in Looe and cannot, therefore, justify going in every day for breakfast.  There’s a lot to be said for a proper, down to earth, cafe that serves proper, down to earth, freshly cooked grub and when one comes with a built in view as spectacular as this

Looe harbour with Cornish pilot gig

it takes a lot of beating.  And if you visit on a day when there’s been a staffing crisis and Miss Wednesday has stepped into the breach, you may well get a decent class of insult thrown in for free as well.  Proper job!

The Harbour Cafe is to be found on The Quay, East Looe, PL13 1DX.  Open from 8am (9am on Sundays) until 4pm ish in the summer and closing earlier in the winter when everybody hibernates.  It’s right next door to the Harbourmaster’s Office and therefore doesn’t flood.  Canny, huh?

Birthing Pains

 Frocks, Style, Wednesday March  Comments Off on Birthing Pains
Jul 132014
 
Tropical fruit printed dress with ribbon trim and sewing machine

Adding the metres of grosgrain ribbon trim

Yes, it hurts. Every time. Although you don’t necessarily remember that part until the first flush of enthusiasm is over and the hard work begins. At which point you think to yourself, “Oh no, I remember this now…” but it’s too late to do anything other than carry on. Well, if you want to be able to eventually return to sleeping at night and not obsessing over small details, fabrics, trimmings, etc. When there’s a new frock in your head, there is no option but to make it.

And so it was with this one. Personally, I blame one of my favourite bloggers. Somehow, probably via Facebook, she managed to to sneak this little gem into my consciousness.

Pouting Brigitte Bardot meeting Pablo Picasso

Never mind the pout, check out the frock!

Yes, I know. Utterly gorgeous. My jaw hit the floor when I saw the dress. For years I’ve had a major problem with tiers, having seen too many droopy hippies in ghastly patchwork and crushed velvet skirts. So much so, in fact, that I’d forgotten what a joy they could be. Can’t imagine a droopy hippie in this little number, though, so I thought I might have a go at recreating it. And once that thought was in my head, there was no getting out of it.

The obvious fabric, a pastel-based rose print cotton, was already in my possession but something about another roll called to me. I’d ordered it because I loved the sample. When it arrived, I discovered that not only was it, technically, a one-way design (my OCD won’t let me put the writing upside down) but it was also printed across the fabric rather than along it, making it impossible to cut the full circles I usually use. So it was absolutely ideal for this new design. Perfect! All I had to do was cut strips, gather ’em up and stitch it all together. Piece of p… Well, you get the idea.

I did some basic calculations in an attempt to get the length of the skirt and the proportions of the tiers right. I scratched my head. I sighed a little, worried a bit and then said, “Oh, to hell with this,” and went off plan.

And produced this:

Tiered sundress in tropical fruit and flower print

I’ve road tested it for comfort, ease of fitting behind the driving wheel of a sports car and audience approval factor. It passed everything with flying colours, although I wouldn’t recommend trying to drive the sports car whilst wearing it with a petticoat as there is just too much floofiness for comfort. Without the petti, it’s fine. Do be aware, though, that it’s not a frock for blending in. I’m not sure that any other frock I’ve ever made has garnered quite so much attention from people who wouldn’t normally go for an obviously retro style. Everyone seems to like this one. Including the lovely Welshman in a Cornwall Council carpark, who said, “Ooh, you look gorgeous!” and didn’t appear to register the fact that I’m a 46 year old grumpy midget. I call that a good frock!

Now, there will be a few tweaks to the design before this one goes into “production”. I’ll be re-cutting the straps to give them some shape, making a slight change to the curve of the neckline and possibly taking out a little of the fullness of the skirt. Well, a 12 metre circumference might just be over-egging the pudding. Just a tad…

The full blog post that inspired me can be found at http://www.messynessychic.com/2012/04/26/when-bardot-met-picasso/

I’m aware that the link isn’t working. Unfortunately, WordPress isn’t working properly for me at the moment so posting and editing are very difficult and I can’t get links to work. I’m surprised I can even post anything! If you haven’t yet discovered Messy Ness Chic, may I suggest following her on Facebook? She’s fabulous.

And watch out for the next version of the Bardot dress. This one has the working title of Carmen Bardot. The Brigitte one should be lovely but closer to the original. I can’t wait to make it!

By jove…!

 Wednesday March  Comments Off on By jove…!
Jul 062014
 

You may (or may not) have noticed things looking a little different around here.  The website has changed and almost looks like a website now.  Yes, I know.  Amazing.  And I did it.  Yep.  Me.  Little old me.  The fully-paid up Luddite has embraced technology and – get this – been on a website-building course.  With other people.  I promise no-one got hurt.

Backalong, when I decided to close The March Hare, I realised that in order to continue to actually function as a business, I would need a website; one that functioned properly, told people what I did, where I did it and – above all – how to get their paws on my retro and vintage-style frocks.  As I’m sure you can imagine, this caused me a fair few sleepless nights.  You can probably also imagine the pain that my friends went through, hearing me agonise over how on earth I was going to accomplish this when I am one of the world’s most inept people when it comes to anything other than a sewing machine.  Or things made from wood and string.  Being me, I didn’t just agonise a bit and then go quiet while I found a way through the maze.  Oh no.  Every time I hit a stumbling block or barrier, I wailed loudly, bemoaning my fate through the medium of Google+ to a select bunch of unfortunates who happen to have me in their “circles”.

Note to anyone tempted to add me to their clan on social media:-  Unless you are prepared to deal with a Grumpy Old Trad Hag who has an almost pathological fear of working with the wonders of internet technology but who is also utterly entranced by shiny new pretties like smartphones and tablets and who will shy, whinny and wail like a banshee at every single step along the rocky road to technological nirvana, avoid me like the plague.  Oh, and don’t expect me to be particularly ‘friendly’.  Or nice.  Because let’s face it, most days I don’t even do ‘reasonable’.  You have been warned.

But anyway…  Thankfully I have some very tech-savvy friends who know all about the business of, well, doing technical stuff and running an internet-based business.  Hell, some of them actually make proper money!  Yes!  I know!  Incredible.

One of them, said, “Oh for [insert deity of choice]’s sake!  Let me help you!” and sorted me out with a WordPress website in the blink of an eye.  How she managed to sort me out when she’s busy running the wonderful www.nbtea.com I’ll never know but I managed to acquire the domain name and pay for the hosting wossname, she waved some sort of magic stick and “Hey Presto!” I had a bloggy thing.  Because apparently blogging is the way things work these days.  You witter on a bit, people follow you and by magic they desire – and buy – your wares.  Yeah.  Well, the jury’s still out on the buying of the wares thing but if ever there was a bird who can “witter on”, it’s me.  Oh yes.  Wittering.  I does it.  Selling?  Ah.  Um.  Well, er, no.  I am no saleswoman.  This may well cause a problem in the actually ‘earning a living’ part of the plan but I’m still optimistic at this point.  Remind me to revisit this in a year or so.

So there I was, a blog up and running and I was nervously tweaking the site in the background.  Very nervously.  More nerves than tweaking, if we’re being honest.  Until another fabulous friend said, “Look, there’s a 3 day WordPress course you can go on.  It’s free, gratis and for nothing” – well, she said, “funded” but I’ve never understood that – “and I can get you there and back so it won’t cost you a penny.  In fact, I’ll drive you there myself to make sure you get there and don’t leg it at the first opportunity.”  Some of my friends know me very well and she did do this.  She also patted me on the shoulder and told me to “Play nicely at break time.”  She does know me well.

And now I have a website that almost looks like a website.  I chose the “theme” I had for the first effort and my friend did the magic stuff and installed it for me.  Great.  Very swish.  Rather swisher than me, to be honest.  And I couldn’t make it do what I thought it needed to do.  Or, in fact, anything.  After my first day on the course, during which there was a “Eureka!  Now I know how this stuff works” moment”, I came home and tweaked it and found that…  Oh.  I still couldn’t get it to do what I wanted.  It’s a very cool and chic “theme” but I just failed dismally with it as most of the things I wanted to do, couldn’t actually be done or changed.   After doing the rest of the course, I decided that I’d take the enormous step of downloading the template we used in school because I knew how that worked and that it would do what I wanted, providing I asked it nicely.  In my blissful ignorance, I thought it would just run alongside without being published until I activated it so I installed it right after I blogged last Sunday morning.  And discovered, to my horror, that my actual website changed immediately and I had therefore to do quite a lot of work right there and then as I’d just notified the world and his Dalmation that I’d blogged and everybody would surely be visiting my website to read it.  Aaaargh!  Obviously it’s still very much a work in progress; there’s no gallery yet and I haven’t worked out how to get a Google map with my business pinned on it, plus a whole host of other marvellous things that right now I can’t think of but will attend to, er, dreckly, but now you know why it looks a little different.  Thanks to some wonderful friends, I’ve been to school and learned stuff and have a website.

A black terrier sitting in front of computer screens

 

And do you know the best part?  It was fun.  Watch this space.  I might do something amazing.  One day.  After I finish the latest frock design…

Jun 292014
 

You know that nice theory where everyone is nice to everyone regardless of race, colour, creed, orientation, shoe size?  The one that would make our world a very different – much nicer place – if everybody truly subscribed to it?  Well, it’s another of the bees in my bonnet.  (Yes, there are quite a few of them!)

A bee on a lavender spike

 

And people who don’t subscribe to it really rattle my cage. Like those ‘ladies’ who work in my building who go all quiet and refuse to acknowledge my cheery greeting but scuttle away and then giggle behind their hands like school children.  Well, like school children are actually taught not to do.   And I know why they do it;  it’s because I look very different both from them and what they would consider normal.  I dress in retro-style clothing, often with fluffy petticoats and to them that’s out of their comfort zone.  So they treat me like I’m an alien.  Which, in these days of multi-cultural society, isn’t really acceptable, is it?  I could understand them taking evasive action if I was drunk or dirty and smelled bad.  I’m none of these things.  (At least, not very often!)  I could even understand it if I had some dreadful deformity, like elephantiasis, as people often just don’t know how to react or what to say so as not to cause offence and therefore flee in order to get out of an uncomfortable situation.  But I’m a perfectly ordinary woman, in the same age group as them.  Nothing about me is particularly remarkable.  I’m pretty small and insignificant.  Hell, I’m five foot one and a tealeaf (that tealeaf is very important to a pixie) and 46 years old – that makes me so boring that I’m practically invisible!  Maybe they just don’t see me?  But no, they see me alright.  They see me smile and they hear me speak to them.  They just choose not to respond to me but to treat me with derision and/or contempt.

Of course, I consider myself lucky that this is all they do. I’m not on the receiving end of the horrendous abuse that caused the death of the beautiful Sophie Lancaster, who was basically kicked and stamped to death in a public park for dressing like a goth.  It’s okay, I’m an adult and I’m big enough and ugly enough to cope with other adults who really should grow up. And, if we’re being honest, should try dressing a little better then they currently do, especially in a professional/office work environment.  (Don’t get me started on their ‘fashion choices’!)  But the irony of the situation? Those ladies work for an organisation that works for and with adults with learning disabilities.  People who often look different from the ‘norm’.  And one of the main things they spout about on their website is equality.  Next time I find I’ve inadvertently cornered them in the kitchen, I may well ask about their organisation and its equality policy.  That should be fun…

But please don’t think that their behaviour is the norm because, happily, it is not.  The vast majority of people that I encounter – and most of my customers say the same – are highly complimentary.  I’ve lost count of the times people have come up to me in the street, the supermarket, all over the place, to say, “You look fantastic!” and other things of that ilk.  Dressing the way I do is usually appreciated – and not just by old men!  So many people say, “I wish I had the courage to dress like you,” and “We really should make more of an effort.”  Yes.  Make that effort.  In my book, it’s all part of courtesy to others and making the world a nicer place and that, I think, is really quite important.  Along with responding to a cheery greeting and not acting like a schoolgirl bully.

Wear that frock, hold your head high and make the world a nicer place.