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Montys Deli and the Fashion and Textiles Museum, a London day out.

November 16th, 2014 · Uncategorized

I love visiting London, every month or so I plan a jam packed day to go to the exhibitions, restaurants and sites I’ve been reading about, out in the sticks, well West Midlands!
My Mum and I took the early train arriving in the big city at 10, it already felt like lunch so we hot footed it straight to Monty’s Deli for some pastrami sandwiches.
Every time I sink my teeth into a stack of cured meat I think my Eastern European routes must come through, never more satisfied than when eating something pickled, brined or boiled! The corned beef was actually my favourite of the two meats, but the star was the chopped liver. While waiting for our Reuben specials to grill we greedily slathered some of the meaty pate onto the really lovely rye bread, meaty, rich and smooth! I’ve read they brine and cook everything onsite for the weekend trading and it’s always a sell out, what a great business, we had been planning to go since hearing about the market stall, it’s grown quickly, now a unit in the arches of Druid Street it’s an inspiring example of a growing business reaping the rewards of making a great high quality product and working hard.


Mum enjoying the delicious liver and our jumbo sangas!

We definitely needed to walk off our super early feast so next stop was the Fashion and Textiles Museum for the knitting exhibition. My mum is an avid knitter, we don’t get such a look in since my sister had a baby but she did rustle up this bespoke hot dog scarf for me..

Opps, another shot of me eating, I’m guessing you’re getting the hint I like my food! This was taken at the famous Coney Dogs in Worcester Massachusetts, same hot dogs since 1922!

Anyway, back to the knitting, what a great subject for an exhibition, so current and specific, the curators could really go for it on this theme, with a lifetime of history and examples of this ever popular craft. I enjoyed the exhibition but did feel it was definitely more about knitting as a fashion texture and fabric, and could have included more on knitting as an action and technique. I really loved the old examples, it really emphasised how classic something is when it’s primarily knitted, things were hard to date, I guess because the techniques and fabrics used have been replicated for decades after, even if they are produced on machines rather than by hand. Obviously there is a huge difference between a Primark fairisle style jumper and a similar looking handknitted 1940s piece! Here are a few shots of the exhibition, I particularly love knitted swimwear as it has always seemed one of the silliest ideas ever!



I will be adding a shot of my mums own knitted cossie from her childhood, emblazoned with her name, I can just picture her shuffling along a windy seaside in a soggy suit, scratching away at the sweaty seams! Well I’ve only got up until lunchtime but will blog again about the second half of the day, it was culture-tastic so a shame to squeeze into one post!

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Let’s make Hay this winter!

November 10th, 2014 · Uncategorized

Hay Literature festival has been going since 1988, it was described by Bill Clinton as “Woodstock of the Mind” This picturesque town on the English Welsh border becomes a stage to politicians, comedians, authors and film stars to talk about their literary works twice a year.


During the summer and winter Hay thousands of people descend on this town to listen, learn and laugh at the many interesting discussions that take place, and in a few weeks you’ll be able to hear me tell my story about the writing of our book Wearable Vintage Fashion, and a whistles top tour of fashions of the 20th Century

This is such an honour to be part of this prestigious festival and we are busy planning our chat to include lots of props and pretties, mostly to distract from our waffling! Follow this link to book tickets, it takes place on 30th November at 12.30pm.
You can make it a vintage themed visit with a mooch in the Hay Does Vintage fair happening on the very same day! A little birdie told me they’re about to launch a competition for two free tickets to the talk so like their Facebook and best of luck!

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PEZ a sweet day out!

November 1st, 2014 · Uncategorized

Its been a literal warm welcome back in the UK! We got back from our East coast USA tour to the mildest Halloween on record!
My boyfriend and I have been to visit my friends in Ottawa and couldn’t resist doing a bit of a road trip, why not when you’ve already crossed the Atlantic!


We wanted to do some ‘leaf peeping during the Fall so travelled from Montreal to Burlington Vermont and drove steadily to the coast then down to NYC. The colours were intense, rich golds, browns and bright pinky reds, especially in my favourite afternoon light as a result of low, moody, grey clouds.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love nature but I am a sucker for a tourist attraction, we spent a super fun night at the Adventure Suites living out a mermaid dream…

Another tick on my list was to visit the Pez factory in Connecticut. For $5 I didn’t have the highest expectations but had always appreciated the fun cartoon dispensers and classic, timeless styling and design.



My expectations were greatly exceeded at the fascinating sweety plant.
Pez started in Austria in 1927 as a breath freshening mint to appeal to smokers, the cigarette lighter shaped dispenser was designed as an alternative to smoking..let me guess you’re thinking ‘ohhhh of course’ as you read this, so obvious when you know! Here’s a reissued copy of the original Pez packet

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PEZ comes from shortening the word PfeppErmintZ, the headquarters are now in Austria and in the USA, although it only went across the pond in 1952, the novelty packaging we now associate started in 1955 with a Santa Claus character atopping the dispenser. At the museum we saw some amazing original display merchandise





Including the super cool outfits the Pez girls would were on the streets of USA to attract adults to the minty sweet treat



It takes 3000lbs of pressure to press the sugar into the tiny brick


The original sign is the word PEZ made up of the tiny bricks and is still present on the refill packs. I never really appreciated Pez, and now I’ve looked at the company in more detail I totally understand why people collect the products, they really are a design classic, unchanged mostly for years, no wonder folks get obsessed picking up whole character series. Japan are especially crazy for the bright, graphic cartoon Pez. If you are passing through Connecticut do drop by!


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Fall into Autumn

October 2nd, 2014 · Uncategorized

In the last couple of days a fresh nip has definitely caught in the air, the leaves are changing into their rich fiery pallete and while the skies are blue I’m happy to say Autumn is here!
The last of the festivals has been and gone, very satisfactorily I might say with our jumble sale sold out by the Sunday afternoon!

Festival of Thrift was once again a brilliant success. It was really wholesome, ‘hands on’ event for all the family and free to get in, with fun activities such as making a minature garden


Having a go at black smithing

The charity shop DJs letting everyone pick from their boxes of eclectic LPs to provide a wacky soundtrack for the weekend!

The event was blessed again with the last of the summer sun so it was perfect conditions for a rumble in the jumble!
We haven’t perfected organising for events with keeping up our online so well the last few weeks, time management is a new challenge working from home. We will be getting in to October full speed now to fill our Etsy shopwith Halloween perfect picks and autumn/winter staples! I personally can’t wait to get the mohair out!


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Its that time again, let’s get ready to Jumble!

September 25th, 2014 · Uncategorized

The last two months have been super busy, since shutting the physical shop I’ve thrown myself into festivals, fairs and growing my online vintage clothing business on Etsy
I was feeling guilty about not having come up with a masterplan for the future yet but have decided to give myself a break! Apart from one week off for a family holiday I’ve been keeping the Second Hand Rose flag flying so although its easy to be hard on yourself I need to step back and pay myself on the back for keeping the momentum going and not giving myself an extended summer break which would have been tempting and easy!

This weekend is our last festival of the year, the super fun Festival of Thrift
This is a free festival in Darlington, the weather was glorious last year and our Vintage Jumble Sale went down a storm! There were lots of bargain hunting, imaginative crafty customers who appreciated our heaps of pretty textiles, whether they were dresses, curtains, knitwear or just scraps. Again we will be doing ‘fill a bag’ deals so you can while away half an hour rummaging on our tables!


If you are local or even an hour or two away I would recommend this for a day out, free entry, workshops and demonstrations at minimal cost, great food, oh and our stall pretty much giving vintage clothing away for free!

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Nice in Nice, France

September 1st, 2014 · Uncategorized

This summer has been quite a strange one having closed the shop and dived head first into selling online
Mixed in with a few festivals and experimenting at new events, last weeks holiday to Nice was a great chance to stand back and look at what was going on with SHR.


This beautiful cottage in Chateauneuf de Grasse, about 45 minutes from Nice, was home for a week, this was my morning view…


A peaceful place to take a few deep breaths.
We had a few day trips out from lounging by the pool and enjoying cheese and wine, I particularly loved Nice.



It had a very traditional seaside feel, the old architecture has been cared for along the seafront, and not over run with modern high rise and flashing neon. Although I love neon this promenade is much too calm and regal, I could just imagine Coco Chanel and friends racing along in their Breton stripes!

While I was away I read #GIRLBOSS I’d seen lots of hype about it and needed to know if I was being a good girl boss!
A lot of what I read rang true and the things I’m trying to work on on my return from France are to schedule my day better, its been tricky since working from home to feel I’ve ‘achieved enough’ by bedtime. When I’ve been used to having a workplace in the shop with a (kind of!) start and end I need to replicate this at home, I shall be more strict breaking the day up, use my diary more and make more lists, and I’ve read lots of great advice online! Sophia Amoruso also talks a lot about her concentrating on the details of her listings. Its all too easy to get complacent with letting things slip, eager just to get the items up into my Etsy shop. Although I’m pretty hard on myself to get things right, I think its important to keep looking back and going over things, being my own editor and critic!

This weekend I’m off to trade at Vintage by the Sea in Morecombe, another arm of the Hemmingway ‘Vintage’ brand. My sister got married at the Midland Hotel so it shall bring back some lovely memories! Are you going? If so, see you there!


This is a fabulous trompe l’oeil wall I saw in Nice, isn’t it amazing!


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1940s Fashion Show

August 13th, 2014 · Uncategorized


As part of the Fancy Pants exhibition we were asked to organise a Fashion Show, we decided to concentrate on the 1940s as Jo and I have quite a collection from this era.
We had a great selection of models, all ages and sizes showing a great demographic of the kind of people who would have walked the streets of Britain in the 1940s, particularly during Wartime.
A few days before, we had a call from Hannah at Forces TV, she was doing a piece on 1940s rationing so our event fit the bill to help her learn more and get some great visuals for her article.
It aired on Monday, follow the link above to see my interview and excerts from the fashion show.
We covered daytime wear,






And evening wear,




The audience was full for both shows and we had a great reaction from the spectators.
Jo and I had been inspired by a brilliant 40s pathe film on transforming hats to 1940s tilts and had pre made many of the hats you see above. We will be doing a ‘how to’ film for our You Tube channel next week.

If you haven’t seen our You Tube channel take a look here this is our little film of the fashion show, scroll down to see all our ‘how to’ 1940s look, 1920s look and 1960s look, all the instructions and ideas to get an outfit right for each era.

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Emma Bridgewater Factory Visit

August 6th, 2014 · Uncategorized

I don’t own a lot of Emma Bridgewater pottery but I love a day out and I’m a big fan of her mother in law, Pat Albeck.
Albeck was one of the head designers at Horrockses in its heyday, creating the iconic floral fabrics that are now highly sought after and have influenced many a 50s look dress. Sadly she doesn’t do much design work anymore but she does do the calendar tea towel for the National Trust, that I get for Christmas every year!

Albeck married Peter Rice, an artist and a costume designer amongst other things, and they had a son, Matthew. Matthew kept with his arty routes and married Emma Bridgewater they now run the business together.

Much like the very detailed design of my pictured tea towel, Bridgewater pottery mostly features themes from nature, as well as the iconic sponged spots and TEA&TOAST lettered ware.

So off we went to the factory today, I was most excited about the chance to have a go at decorating a piece of pottery, using their famous sponge technique. We were booked in to do this first so we were ready to start filling our paint palletes and get creative.



I decided to decorate two fiddly egg cups for my friends housewarming presents, as I was at Emma Bridgewater I decided to do a design influenced by their style




It took me right back to being young and my many ‘pottery party’ birthdays, the results of which my proud parents still have on a dusty shelf somewhere! I can’t wait to see them when they’ve been fired and all the colours are zingy!
Now I must admit I unfortunately find some of their designs a little over used, not their fault, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery apparently, but the high street have really gone to town on them and very similar pieces can be found all over.
The real Emma Bridgewater pieces are anything but mass produced, on the factory tour we saw how the highly skilled teams work by hand, start to end, from the churning of the clay, to the time sensitive moulding, to the painstaking sponging, and everything in between.
So great to see a hugely productive, successful business relying on old fashioned, loyal, people power.

Being situated in an area of the UK renowned for this industry, and named ‘the potteries’ they must be so proud to keep the tradition alive, I loved this industrial view of the area (minus the smokey smog of yesteryear!)

My opinion of Emma Bridgewater changed a bit today, I’m even more eager to get my siamese cat mugs having seen behind the scenes, however its a tough collectors market out there, discontinued collections are sought after and a single mug sold at auction for over £800 once.
Talking about mugs, we ended the day with a nice one full of coffee and admired the framed Albeck tea towels, what a super day out!



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Nele Azeredo Minimum Monument, Maximum Effect.

August 3rd, 2014 · Uncategorized

Since not running my physical shop its been strange getting used to weekends not being ruled by me sitting in the Hopmarket pretty much every Saturday, although I’m filling up my days with fairs and festivals yesterday was an unusually free day! I decided to give myself a treat from Etsy business and spent the day with my Mum and Dad!
I met them in Worcester as there wS a food festival on, the day got off to a cheerful start watching Rosemary Shrager do a cooking demo, what a tonic, she was hilarious, old school no nonsense fun, a bit of slapstick comedy and some great stories!

The main activity of the day was to go to Birmingham to see an art installation, we were proud and excited to have this happening near us.
We got to Chamberlain Square and it took my breath away, a real buzz in the arena shaped steps, local people reaching into chest freezer pulling out plastic bags..on closer inspection we saw they were unwrapping beautiful little ice figures and placing them on the steps in rows.


This ‘urban intervention’ was the work of Nele Azevedo, the ‘Minumum Monument’. Each mini ice figure represents a person who has died in war, in this case to commemorate World War One. Instead of the classic way to commemorate heroes, with a solid often larger than life monument, created to last a longtime, usually in a material like stone or metal, Azevedo used the essence of life, water, to create a transient, translucent, semi permanent commemoration. ‘Anonymous is celebrated in the place of a hero’
The sculpture would only last until it melted away…



The people of Birmingham enjoyed being part of the installation of these painstakingly cast 5000 figures, we were able to put down as many as we wanted to. I think whenever you are personally involved with something you immediately care more about it, and you think about the process and result of your work.
I loved how as the figures melted they seemed to take on personality when you focused on them, leaning into one another, moving forward, losing their legs or arms, heads bowing. Much like with people, when you see them on mass they are just an anonymous crowd, we need to look more closely to understand each other.

Being made from water made for an unintimidating, humble installation, a material everyone understands. We all know how ice is made so even on a physical level everyone is included in the process, we also then appreciate the time urgency of it, within an hour and a half it was pretty much melted…gone but not forgotten much like the brave souls it represented.


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‘Tis the season to be Wed!

July 28th, 2014 · Uncategorized

Sometimes I think I should hire myself out as a wedding guest, you know, if numbers are a bit low and you need someone to fill the pews, need someone to fill the dancefloor, finish up the buffet leftovers, glug the dregs of the wine on the Wedding Breakfast tables, I’m your gal! Always happy to pop on a frock and do the above! I’ll cry and laugh on que in the speeches and oh and arghh when the bride makes her entrance! I genuinely get a lot of pleasure from sharing people’s special day, so much thought, effort and money go into these do’s and I thoroughly enjoy every minute!
In the last I’ve been to a fair few weddings and after everyone I reliably say ‘best one yet’, in all honesty they’ve all been great, some of my favourite people putting together an almighty party that’s personal to them and always full of fun! What can be better than celebrating, eating, drinking and dancing with friends and family!
Our first wedding was last July, I was a bridesmaid for our pals Jeff and Mary, now happily living in Ottawa, it was a blazing hot day at a very grand country manor! I really enjoyed being involved with Mary’s prep at this do, lots of pressure doing her hair and make up but it was fun!



Next wedding came in October, Mike and Kate, this was again in a country manor, I hadn’t seen Kate before the ceremony so loved the surprise of her dress, the vows were truelly heartfelt and a friend played acoustic guitar, it was a tearjerker! The delish veggie buffet was served in a beautiful orangery and it was a dramatic setting against a moody October sky!




March 2014 saw us in Whitstable for the wedding of Jo and Paul, they were having a massive life change, off cycling around the world so the wedding was an extra emotional weekend of congratulations and goodbyes! We partied in an oyster shack on the beach after a traditional church ceremony, the weather held out and we had a bit of sun, just in time for photos on the shingle beach



Next on the wedding train was Marianne and James of Minimum Mouse friends we made through vintage selling. Of course they had a retro twist to their do, marrying in the oldest cinema in the UK in Birmingham, the highlight was a very personal video they played on the big screen featuring friends and family, I was a blubbering mess, I think the drama of the low lighting and red velvet must have softened me up! It was blisteringly hot and the cool drinks on the terrace if the arts and crafts reception venue were welcome, although the building was breathtaking inside!




Every one of these days was memorable, I’m now a pro at staggering my drinking to last all night, know where to stand to catch/avoid catching the bouquet and am ready just at the necessary point to hit the dancefloor after the first dance!
My training came into good stead at our final wedding of the year, Martin and Corissa. Such a personal affair, held at the grooms parents home in Anglesey, a beautifully decorated marquee looking out at an endless sea view! Beautiful! Everything had been thought of from the homemade granola in our accomodation to every wine at the do having been picked up from the south of France, each with a memory for the happy couple! Romantic hey! We really danced all night at this wedding, so handy our beds were just a leap away from the marquee door!




A whistlestop tour of some life long memories! Hope the invites are coming for next year! My enthusiasm for weddings also extended to a healthy collection of vintage wedding dresses I hadn’t realised was so big! Now I don’t have a physical shop its given me time to sort out all the stock I have, including a good few boxes of wedding dresses is been squirreling away…I’m now getting on to listing all these beauties, such as…



This was a super fun shoot, Holly was in Bridal dress up heaven! See our full range here

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