Monday, 30 December 2013

Picture This

These photos are proof that we are never invisible and no matter how mundane the mission, it always pays to dress up.
Updated to link to Judith's Hat Attack.

Little did I know that the smiley guy with the camera I wave at every week was taking surreptitious snaps of me and many other Walsall shoppers.

From the height of last Summer's heat wave to the coldest April in years,

and a blogger day out with Clare and Tania (waiting for Curtise's train to arrive). 

This is the real me - a chronic giggler and serial bargain hunter,

oblivious to the world at large when confronted by a 25p stall.

I can't say I'm that keen on today's photos but after battling with a gale to brave a girly lunchtime session in Wetherspoons I shouldn't expect much and the official blog photographer refused to take more than 5 photos this side of Goa. He says he's conserving his energy for the beach (and even a vintage silk scarf from a charity shop didn't win him round).

I adore my birthday tights from Krista but am loving the thought of bare legs for a month a lot more.

1960s St Michael blouse (the lovely Jo), 1960s suede mini (the elusive Liz), 1960s go-go boots (Kerrang K Boot 2011)

The bags are locked, the travel outfits are laid out on the bed (along with a liberal sprinkling of cat hair) and tomorrow's a day reserved for buffing, primping and pampering - this pasty, bedraggled chick has less than 36 hours to transform herself into a beach babe.

Have a fabulous start to 2014 and see you next year!

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Bikinis, Beaches and Bollywood - Xmas My Way

Sod the party dress. I thought I'd light the fire, try out my latest eBay purchase and recreate some of the magic from previous years because the happiest Xmases are always spent in bikinis.

Agonda, South Goa on Xmas Day 2005. We rented a coco hut on the beach, packed a single set of clothes and wore nothing on our feet for weeks. We woke when the sun came up and slept when it became too dark to read by candlelight. We ate whatever the owner had bought from the market, cauliflower roasted in a tandoori oven fashioned from an old oil drum, fluffy rotis dotted with chilli, & paneer and pineapple kebabs, washed down with fiery cashew nut fenni. The beach was empty so we'd strip off and skinny dip, our audience being a school of dolphins and the occasional sea otter. 

This was Alleppey beach, Kerala on Xmas day 2008. Laughing kids shimmied up palm trees to bring us fresh coconuts on demand whilst we sat in the shade swigging rum from the bottle with a group of toothless, thong-clad fishermen. Westerners were a novelty to the locals, each in turn stopping to practice the few English phrases they'd remembered from their school days, Hello! How are you? What is your good name? Where are you coming from? The further we walked along the beach, the more our entourage grew.

With memories like that tinsel, TV specials and roast turkey dinners are about as appealing as a drunk bloke in a tracksuit wielding a branch of mistletoe.

Tomorrow, after exchanging presents (I tried to stick to the £15 allocated budget but blew it by £2, tut tut), the two of us be eating beetroot and goats cheese rostis with dauphinoise potatoes, pureed carrot & swede, honey & mustard roasted parsnips and sprouts tossed in sesame seeds. There will be a Bollywood movie and The Bombay Royale will be blasting from the stereo.

In the evening I'll dust off some of our retro partyware ready for my brother and Jon's oldest friend, Tony. They'll bring the booze and we'll provide fancy cheese, crackers, pickles, olives and nuts. We'll play punk, new wave and ska with a liberal dose of the Smiths until the early hours, then we'll send them on their way and crash into bed.

Just to prove that I can do traditional, here I am with greenery on the mantelpiece, resplendent in vintage velvet, feathers and bastard massive bauble earrings....

I knew those PVC thigh boots and sequined stripper knickers would come in useful one day.

Look, I've even composed a festive verse.....

'Twas the night before Christmas and all thro' the land,
Bloggers posed by their trees, Cava in hand;
Their wish lists were posted and labelled with care,
In hopes that their gifts soon would be there;
The onesies were laid out all snug on their beds,
While visions of Prawn Rings danc'd in their heads,
And he in Xmas jumper, and her in sequins,
Settled down to watch Love Actually for the evening
When out from the hall there arose such a clatter,
The pair spilled their Advocaat to see what was the matter.
From the lounge to the dining room they flew like a flash,
Tore open the door and saw something awful.
The tree had collapsed from one too many vintage baubles.

Whether you're a traditionalist or a subversive, a rampant atheist or a god botherer here's to you surviving 25th December.

See you on the other side!

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Sh Boom... Sh Boom!

Don't waste valuable time faffing around with Xmas decorations, just move into a mate's place where they've done all the hard work for you. 

This is my friend Lyndsey, the creative genius behind Boomerang Retro, a shop so crammed with mid-century gorgeousness that even the most frazzled vintage lovin' blogger would squeal with excitement.

Now India's sorted and our pop-up at Blighty Bazaar is up & running, armed with homemade vegan brownies (both Lyndsey and boyfriend Steve are vegans) we took a trip over to their shop in nearby Hednesford. 

Lynch's Tina and the 1960s art glass made me feel right at home.

If we hadn't decided on a £15 present budget I might have hinted at Jon buying me the Spanish lady.

 This 1950s tumble drier is in perfect working order. I didn't know they were even invented back then.

 These Scandinavian wall plaques are part of a series of 12, each featuring a month from the same couple's courtship. 

The coolest TV ever topped with a trio of OBDs*, surely a sign that Lyndsey needs to start blogging.

* Obligatory blogger deer (no self respecting blogger dares be without).

 I know several bloggers who'd squeal over this Pyrex (Em, Dee...)

1960s Babycham glasses, naturally!

 The freaky kids were safe - I already have these on the Wall Of Misery.

Jon spent ages fiddling with the radiogram. Wouldn't that shelf make an ideal extension to my poodle parlour? Poor thing's straining under the weight of my birthday poodles (thanks Em & Curtise!)

....and wouldn't that barkcloth make a fantastic shift dress?

You'll find Lyndsey and Steve here.
I didn't tell them that I'd be writing about Boomerang but I knew my blogging friends would love it as much as I did.

Vintage cheongsam blouse (birthday present from Tania), 1970s lurex maxi (courtesy of Dee), velvet platforms (Office sale, 2011)
Well, suppose I'd better get dressed and go and do battle in Lidl for a box of teabags, a pint of milk and a loaf, that's if there's any left. One sodding day and the whole country goes mental, buying more food than the pair of us get through in a month.

See you soon!

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Vix Does India - How I Pack My Travel Bag

That's it. I'm almost ready for India and I've managed to condense a month of my life into 11 kg.

Here's how:

  1. I got the suitcases down from the top of the wardrobe. (Everything summery got washed and put away when winter started)
  2. Tipped the contents out.
  3. Put back any clothes that couldn't cope with a bit of vigorous hand washing, anything too long to wear with flip flops or stuff that required fussy accessories to look good. 
With a bare face and with my hair scraped up I drag the full length mirror into a well-lit spot and try what's left on. If it makes me feel fabulous when I'm at my worst then it's a contender.

When I've done away with the not-so-flattering, what remains gets laid out on the bed and my selection is whittled down to the bare minimum, clothes that can take me to beaches, ride on trains, visit markets, temples, Maharajas' palaces and holy places, dance till dawn or watch the sunset.

Here's the final cut:
Clockwise from top left: 1970s patchwork maxi (Ebay) , denim waistcoat (had for years), cotton sarongs (bought in India), crochet scarf (Yvonne's giveaway), Lamani gypsy top & Rajasthani leather bag (both car boot sales), 1970s pink and orange maxi dress (bought on our blogger day out to Nottingham), Free Spirit vest (flea market, India), leather chappals (bought in India), 1970s maxi (from Op Shop Mama), 1980s cotton bralet (charity shop), Ganesh tote (Yvonne's giveaway), reworked cotton tee (Grassroots giveaway courtesy of Style Eyes), Free Tibet cami (charity shop), Dollyrockers maxi skirt (eBay), Rupee print headscarf (bought in India), Vintage sunglasses (second hand), paisley maxi skirt (charity stall)
  • I've stuck to a mostly pink and brown colour scheme (which doesn't tend to show the bauxite dust, which stains most fabric a pinky orange).
  • Three maxi skirts with an assortment of tops that work with all of them. If a top doesn't work with all three - it's out.
  • A couple of dresses - I get more wear from separates but they're good for lazy dressing, walking back from the beach, popping to the market for a bottle of water & a bag of fruit.
  • A top with shoulder coverage for visiting religious sites, train travel and venturing away from the beaten track. Of course, being a foreigner, one attracts attention but let it be for the right reason, not for causing offence by exposing flesh the locals choose to cover.
  • My beloved denim waistcoat. I've disguised the bald patches by sewing on a Mexican cross stitch bought from a jumble sale. 
  • Heaps of sarongs, used for everything from constructing makeshift beach shelters, as towels, bed covers and shawls. 
  • A single pair of leather chappals bought last time I was in India (for around £3.50). If they start to show wear I'll get them fixed by a roadside cobbler.
  • A large bag which doubles up as hand luggage and a smaller, cross-body one. 
  • A cotton headscarf. Hats don't stay put on the breezy sea shore and rarely stay looking good after being crammed at the bottom of your luggage for 10 hours. 
  • 2 pairs of sunglasses, just in case one gets mislaid, broken or scratched.

You might have noticed that everything I take is vintage/second hand. Well, there is an exception to the rule, a brand spanking new ruffled bikini courtesy of British label, heidi klein. My old faithful bit the dust on my last trip and although I've bought a couple of cheap replacements from eBay I was dubious about well they'd survive a month of near-constant wear. (I learnt my lesson with a Primark maxi dress bought in a charity shop, consigned to the rag bag after a couple of outings).
I'll let you know how the battle between high end vs cheap as chips worked out!

                                     Hopefully this will be my life in two weeks time.

With a minimal wardrobe a girl needs a good selection of jewellery to ring the changes.
  • If I spot these hanging fold-away bags at jumble sales or car boots I grab them, they're ideal for keeping everything tidy even in the smallest beach hut. 
  • Every year I turn up at the airport wearing my bangles, anklets & rings and have to hastily yank everything off in Departures. This year I WILL remember to only put them on after I've gone through the gate. It's enough hassle to have to explain away my metal hip when all the alarms go off .

  • The toiletries are packed inside another hanging (and plastic-lined) bag.
  • Most products can be bought in India for a fraction of the UK price so there's no panic if anything gets forgotten. 
  • Odomos - the leading Indian brand of mosquito repellent is available almost everywhere, from kiosks on street corners to big stores. Its less than a quid and so gentle that even new born babies can wear it. I keep a small tube in my hand luggage and apply it on the plane if I'm landing at dusk or dawn (prime biting times).
  • In the past I've been known to just pack sun cream and buy everything else when we get there, but more usually I'll take what's already in use on our bathroom shelves and replace it locally when it runs out.
  • I buy once-a-day sun care as I don't need to pack as much of it (so there's less to lug about).
  • I take my own hair dye so I can touch up my sun-lightened roots when I'm there. L'Oreal is widely available but I stick to cruelty-free products.
  • My travel essential is a Lush Karma shampoo bar, which in addition to keeping my hair tangle free and clean also serves as a body wash, is great for shaving your legs and washing clothes and, if you leave the lid off the tin, it makes even the grottiest room smell gorgeous.
  • We always pack a bath plug. It's quite rare to find one in the guesthouses we stay in and Jon says it's an essential for shaving.

  • I never bother with my fingernails when I'm away, but feet without nail paint? That's a step too far! I'll stick to the same colour for a month.
  • These Eylure semi-permanent lashes are a bit of a fiddle to apply but once on they'll last the best part of a month with enough spare for emergency repairs.
  • Bathrooms are invariably poorly lit so a handy handbag mirror is a useful extra.
  • I'm bare-faced during the day with a slick of black kajal and occasionally some lip gloss at night. 
  • The blusher is to keep me looking human on the flight, it's left in the bag after I get a tan.
Hair kit
  • When I first went to Goa I had blonde hair and a fringe and the heat & humidity, daily swimming and sun bleaching made it awful. I look back at old photos and cringe.
  • Nowadays I just pile it all up on top of my head, pin it with a hair stick or a fake flower and it's good to go.
  • I leave my hair to dry naturally, the rooms we stay in aren't equipped with anything as fancy as a hairdryer and its rare that it isn't warm enough for my hair to dry naturally.
  • Black hair grips and bands are plentiful and cheap so I stock up when I'm there.

  • I always take my 1950s travel hangers, a journal, a pen and the latest edition of the Rough Guide.
  • We also pack a mosquito net, duct tape (for attaching it to the walls), rope (for fashioning makeshift beach shelters or using as a washing line), a torch, a couple of Melamine cups, a bottle opener, the first aid kit, a double sized silk sleeping bag (bought in Kerala years ago and extra protection against bed bugs), MP3 player with mini speakers, a cheap, unlocked phone and camera, rechargeable batteries and chargers.
  • We take a holdall each and divide our clothes between the two that way, if a bag was to go missing we'd both have enough to wear.

Jon bought me an E-Reader for my birthday and loaded it with 600 books. That means that I won't have to take my usual supply of 25 paperbacks which has made an enormous difference to the weight of my bag.

1970s metallic Indian blouse, made for a New York boutique (courtesy of Jo), West German mushroom print maxi (My friend Ella's vintage stall), Turquoise suede boots (Queen Helga), 1960s Nordiska belt (the 20p man, car boot sale), battered Delsey bag on wheels (TK Maxx in the 1990s)
Phew, if you're still reading you deserve a medal!
See you soon.

Monday, 16 December 2013

Groovy Gifts, Cats, Hedgehogs & Charity Shop Finds

I must have nagged poor Jon to take my photo at least three times today & loathed the result each time. In the end I waited for him to go to Lidl, grabbed the tripod and took my own. I'm having an arthritic flare-up at the moment and I can see the pain in round my eyes, making me look (and feel) about a million years old.

Izzybird crochet maxi worn with vintage Bukta leotard (20p, jumble sale, 2012), customised 1960s leather jacket (£5, Exodus, Rastafarian charity), orange suede platforms (Helga-licious), purple opaques (birthday present a couple of years ago), religious icon necklace (handmade by me) and beaded earrings (La Dama)
Anyway, who cares about that with a skirt this fabulous? Liz made it for my birthday and I bloody love it.  It got lots of adoration from the public when I popped into town this morning to sign off my end of year accounts, get the last of my travel bits and have a mooch round the chazzas.

My present from Vintage Life magazine (I'm in the January edition of the mag) came in very handy for carrying my shopping home. 

My bull's head cuff was another birthday present. Nail paint by Barry M(who else?)

Chazza-wise its been a bit dull lately but we managed to create a bit of good karma by donating most of our DVD collection and loads of paperbacks. In return I managed to snaffle a still-boxed, 1980s wah-wah pedal for a fiver, which pleased Jon no end.

I picked up these four Spanish dancers last week for a ridiculous 50p each. We bought my brother's Xmas present from the same charity shop - a pair of the finest cherrywood Kef speakers, which retail for hundreds of pounds, for considerably less.

But the best things in life are free though, aren't they? Like this little chap, who's moved into our woodpile and has been eating the cats' leftovers at dusk each night. Emma suggested we weigh him and he's okay, big enough to survive winter with any luck. We'll just have to use wood from the store further down the garden, we'd never live with ourselves if we squashed him!

 Our India visa applications have been approved and are ready for collection, the cat sitter has been introduced to Catarella and the holiday packing is almost complete. Expect a mega packing post shortly.

Linking to Patti's Visible Monday.

See you soon.