Miss Wednesday Likes A Challenge

 Costuming, Frocks, Wednesday March  Comments Off on Miss Wednesday Likes A Challenge
Aug 312014
 

Back in the days of owning The March Hare in Looe, I used to hear a fair number of slightly puzzled people outside the shop window commenting, “Is it a fancy dress shop?”  Well, yes, some of the dresses are pretty fancy…  This scenario could go one of two ways; either I bridled with outrage and poured another gin or I shrieked with laughter and, yes, usually poured another gin.  On one occasion, I stuck my head around the door, smiled sweetly and said, “And you’ve come as…?” because the “offender” was just so badly dressed that I simply couldn’t resist.  Ah, happy days…

I also have plenty of customers who come to me because they are going to a party with a retro theme, usually wartime or 1950s, and need help or inspiration.  Quite often they’ll utter the legend, “I don’t want to spend much” and then be so overcome with delight when I produce a frock that makes them look better than they had imagined possible that they spend a fair old whack of money and announce their intention to come back for more and wear retro styles “every day”.   Proper job!

But then there are the “other” customers.  The “special” customers.  The ones who feel that I am the one to help them with their “project”.   No, not those customers, I’m talking costuming.  And I’m smiling, because costuming is fun, majorly creative and challenging.  I love it.  Bring it on!  The main constraint is usually budget but on a decent project that just adds to the challenge.

Back in 2011, I was approached by a good friend about a frock for her to wear for a storytelling epic, Return to Lyonesse, and so the Drowned Dress was created.  The brief had been “colours of the storm, forests under the sea, strawberries under the sea, Celtic/mediaeval, a bit Pre-Raphaelitey…”.  Fabulous.  The first ideas involved vast amounts of embroidery and a projected cost of about £16,000 with a lead time of, er, probably at least a century.  So we shelved that and went fabric shopping.  The resulting haul of shot taffeta and dreamy Liberty-print silk chiffon removed the requirement for embroidery as the art nouveau motifs on the chiffon provided the imagery of the drowned forest and the hugely talented Claire Morris of Rowanberry Designs created the perfect glass strawberry beads to take care of that part.

Harpist wearing purple mediaeval style frock

The lovely Barbara Griggs on stage in Callington.

It was a wonderful project to work on and I thoroughly enjoyed myself.  Harpists do enjoying giving me a challenge as I’ve also been called upon by one to recreate a “Regency Wonderbra”, ie a the piece of Regency underpinning that created the shelf-like bust so evident in portraits and costume dramas of that period.  Corsetry is fun and whilst I don’t usually make “normal” corsetry – I can source excellent examples off the peg to fit most people – I do enjoy doing historical corsetry, which can’t just be bought ready made and is essential to give the correct shape and look for serious reenactors and historic productions.

But the latest brief is something else.  It involves, once again, a harpist (honestly, all you have to do is lift a rock around here and out crawls a bird with a cheese grater masquerading as a musical instrument) and the theme of “Celts and Cowboys”.  It’s a Cornish event so images of Cornish tartan are scrolling through my brain, whilst the budget screams in panic because even the poly-cotton varieties don’t come cheap.  Obviously Dolly Parton is in the mix, although the performer in question isn’t what you’d call “well endowed” in that region (in fact, if you patted her on the back in the dark to find out which way she’s facing, you’d probably be none the wiser).  Cowboy boots?  Celtic ribbons?  Colours?  There’s a kind of sea and fishing element, too.  Oh, and a lead time of, er, just under three weeks with all the stuff for the Goodwood Revival to be done for the preceding weekend.  No pressure, then.

But guess what?  Challenge accepted.  Watch this space.  Oh, and there may be colourful language and some screaming.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you…

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?