Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Jottings from the Past

Having recently written about some old diaries I acquired from my favourite vintage shop, I couldn't resist popping back in to see if there were any more gems waiting to be discovered. Imagine my joy when I discovered another pile of diaries and a few bits and bobs from the same box that the other diaries had come from! So now I can learn some more about the diaries' writer, Mrs E. White.

My most recent finds include diaries from 1944 to 1970. Some of them even still have their little pencils tucked down the spine.

They're not always very easy to read. A combination of tiny handwriting, worn pencil and blotchy biro has made my eyes go squiffy on numerous occasions!

I love all the little extras you get in diaries. They can tell you so much about the time they are from. This jolly London theatres map is in the back of the diary from 1955. There are some great quotes scribbled by our diary writer in the back pages of this one - "Take light things seriously and serious things lightly", "Happiness does not consist of having what you like, but liking what you get". There's also a note that says, "Don't collect things"...oops, I've failed on this one already!

Here are a few tips for the fashion conscious, from 1965! There are also pages on 'Manners' ("There is no excuse for bad manners. Give the matter a little thought and you will agree that everyone can and should have good manners") and 'Do's and Don't in Letter Writing' ("Do use ink rather than pencil. Not only is it more polite, but pencil has a trick of going rather smudgy and being difficult to read").

Every now and again I come across something that's been tucked into a page of a diary. Just everyday things, like a newspaper clipping on how to clean car windows, a postage receipt and these bus tickets (which are in the diary from 1965).

Being a fan of the '40s, I was particularly excited about this diary. Unfortunately, it's all written in pencil, so it's proving to be a little tricky to read...

...however, I can make out some bits that tell me about daily life. Such as "Sent 4 sheets to Co-Op lanudry XW658". We still have things at home that have laundry numbers sewn into them. Oh what joys from a bygone age!

According to the Boots diary for 1952, there seems to be a postage rate for just about everything! Mrs White didn't write very much in this year, with entries only going up to 4th January (perhaps she had another diary for this year that she preferred to write in?) It appears these first few days of the year were "dull" and she went to Bromsgrove!

As well as the diaries, there were a number of letters and this telegram (dated 2nd August 1948). I must admit, it made me laugh out loud - "Dear Mother, please forward ten pounds, stony broke, love Les". Les (Leslie) pops up quite a bit in the diaries and I assume it's our writer's son. I think it was the term 'stony broke' that tickled me...reminds me of my student days!

These are the dated 9th January 1912 from our writer's father, the other from 18th March 1920 from what appears to be a long lost friend wanting to be in touch again.

The letter from 1912 reads: "Dear Elizabeth, I am sending you a Christmas Rose(?). Rather late, isn't it, but better late than never? We are sorry you don't seem to get better of that shin complaint. You must not worry about it, you will get over that soon and forget all about it. I am sending you an advertisement of a lotion you can get from the chemist that may do it good. Anyway, you might give it a trial. While I write this, Doggie is in front of the fire. He takes nearly the whole length of the room. He is as happy as a buck in a stocking and as fat as fat. Thank you very much for the spectacle case, it is very useful. Walter sends love and thanks for the tie you sent. Mother and Walter are sending you a present of calico soon. Mother is rather better than she has been. She is one day better and the next worse. We all join in love and best wishes to y and Jack. From your affectionate father."

Here's to letter writing, discovering bygone times and perhaps even getting to know someone we've never even met.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Car Boot Bonanza

My Auntie Lin's always regaling us with exciting tales of visits to her local car boot sales. There's no end to the treasure that she can find! So, with the promise of not one, but two huge boot sales, we de-camped to her house for the weekend...

I don't think I've ever had so much fun at car boots! I found all sorts of things...two old suitcases (£1 that's what I call a bargain!), some vintage tea plates, table linen and haberdashery, a 'town' made from wooden blocks and shapes (for entertaining friends' children when they come to visit...oh, who am I trying to kid? I love wooden toys!) and an old Kiwi polish shoe shining box. Lin also found a book of reproduction vintage postcards for me and presented it to me half way round the first boot sale.

I couldn't resist building the whole 'town' as soon as we got home!

One of Lin's car boot traditions is freshly made doughnuts and a cup of tea. We were, of course, duty bound to adhere to such things!

Yummy! Let's not think about how much sugar was on them!

Rather than forage around the boot sales, Dad decided to stay at home and keep Lin's dog, Alan, company. The two of them have become rather firm friends!

We rounded off our trip away by taking Alan for his walk across the nearby fields. The gang's all here (from left to right): Mr Treasure, Dad, Mum, Lin and Alan...

...I couldn't resist jumping for joy at all the fun we've had!

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Bring out the Bunting

It would appear that things are beginning to turn somewhat autumnal. The leaves on the trees are turning russet before our eyes and soon we will have to admit that summer is over. So, to bring back some cheery summery-ness, I thought I'd share with you something that I've been collecting photos of over the last few months...bunting!

Oh, how I love bunting!

It just goes to show that bunting really can be made out of anything...including book covers! We saw these ones in Hay-on-Wye when we popped there during the Hay Festival.

More bunting in Hay-on-Wye, this time made from Tibetan prayer flags.

We found our selves in Carnaby Street on the weekend of a 'Swinging Sixties' celebration. There were Union Jacks in every direction.

Happy Birthday, Marks and Spencer!

We arrived in the small village of Salbris in the Loire Valley (for our summer holiday) right in the middle of a festival of bands. Music, merriment and, of course, bunting were in plentiful supply!

More French bunting, in another Loire Valley town.

A reminder of sunny afternoons sitting under the vines in our back garden.

This last picture was taken just a few hours ago outside Ledbury Artplace (the studio of textile artist, Angie Hughes). It's Herefordshire Art Week (h.Art) at the moment and there are lots of places to visit, this being just one of them. This 'bunting' is made of dyed fabric, hung on a line to dry. Such gorgeous colours!

Here's to hanging up bunting for every occasion, whatever the season!

It should be said that the turning of the season from summer to autumn is far from being a bad thing. It's not all cold days and long nights, but a time for steaming mugs of hot chocolate, birthday celebrations, warm jumpers and...conkers! Childhood memories came flooding back to me as Mum and I went collecting some in the shadows of the Malvern Hills this afternoon. You're never too old for foraging for conkers, but we did have method in our slight madness, I promise. Apparently, if you put them in your house, they keep the spiders away!

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Vintage Treasures

This week has been filled with treasure hunting!

Every now and again I have a browse around the pages of eBay and find something that takes my fancy. I've never had much luck with actually buying anything though - I usually get outbid. However, this week, my eBay fortunes changed! Having spotted this 1950s knitting bag, I tentatively put a bid on it and waited for the auction to end. Imagine my sheer delight when I found out I'd won! I love the patterns - they're so typical of the era and the colours are still so vibrant.

I couldn't resist a trip to my favourite vintage shop when I was in Malvern the other day - Richmond House Antiques. It's an absolute treasure trove and it's all I could do to stop myself from whooping with delight at everything I saw! The whole shop is packed with vintage loveliness, but my favourite has to be the two rooms of vintage fashion. This 1950s skirt just had to come home with me. I can't wait to wear it! This skirt wasn't my only purchase...

...I also found 2 linen tea towels, complete with the CC41 Utility mark. I don't think they've ever been used. The cloth is rougher than you'd usually expect linen to be. No doubt due to wartime restrictions.

I love collecting Utility pieces...they speak so much about the era that they come from.

I've always been a fan of vintage ephemera. I saw these diaries in the window of the shop and couldn't resist them! You can pick up so much about what life was like from reading things like old diaries, letters and newspapers. I haven't read them all yet (the writing gets worse as the years go by), but from the ones I've looked through, there are tales of the weekly wash day, who came to visit, what was eaten for dinner and great details about the weather!

This page os one of my favourites of the ones I've read so far...Monday, 31st January 1955 - 'W. went to Worcester. Wet day. Very poor shopping day at Worcs.'...Tuesday, 1st February - 'Tea very expensive. Brooke Bonds 1/11 a quarter pounds. Pikelets.'...Wednesday, 2nd February - Cake making and burnt it. Back is better.' A note in the memo section at the bottom of the page reads, 'Monday is a poor day to go shopping at Worcester'.

It's fascinating to read about someone's life from their own first hand accounts. I'll be sure to share any more gems with you all that I find amongst the pages.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Jam and Jerusalem

Mr Treasure and I popped to see the 'Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow' exhibition at Tewkesbury Abbey today. It's been on for the last fews days and is part of the celebrations to mark 90 years since the first Women's Institute was started in Gloucestershire.

There were handicrafts aplenty. From patchwork and sewing, to embroidery and painting.

I loved the embroidered wallhangings - each one featured panels made by members of different WIs in Gloucestershire.

The details and colours in some of the panels were wonderful. I particularly liked the one in the top left of this photo...I think it has something to do with the fact that I've begun to daydream about living in the country!

An embroidered wallhanging depicting all aspects of WI life...from jam and Jerusalem, to cake and tea!

I'm being drawn to stained glass windows at the moment and this one in the Abbey really caught my eye. The colours were so vibrant as the sun streamed through the panes of glass.

There's something incredibly nostalgic about the old WI emblem - "For Home and Country".

Nestled amongst all of the intricate beadwork was my quilted bag, complete with diamante trimmings and inspired by Art Deco...yes, I'm a WI gal!

I joined the WI just over a year ago having secretly harboured a desire to do so for some years. I blame my grandmother (who was a very keen WI member) and the film, 'Calender Girls'! The WI still has a bit of fuddy duddy reputation (I'm still a little shy about telling my friends I'm a member!), but it's not all jam and Jerusalem. I've been welcomed into the group I joined, met people who constantly inspire me and continue to learn new things all the time. I must admit, some of the monthly talks have me in stitches...and not always for the right reasons (if you've seen 'Calender Girls', you'll know what I mean!) For me, being in the WI started as a nostalgic pull to be part of an organisation that my grandmother so enjoyed being a part of...and has grown into a feeling of belonging.