Friday, 14 July 2017

Aldi PANdemonium

This week instagram has gone all hearts-for-eyes over some pans.

We all crave a bit of Catherine Holm's classic and bold kitchenalia. Some of us obsess over Orla Keily's retro style homewares. But it was Aldi that got our heads spinning, thumbs double tapping and our wallets whining over their pans.

It's a standard joke that you nip to Aldi for milk and eggs and leave with a boot full of wind breakers, miniature fence panels, avocado slicers and heart shaped silicon egg poachers. I'm all in for some Aldi middle aisle action and this week I genuinely couldn't fit the windbreaker into the boot, because it was already filled with these gorgeous pans.

I first spotted them on Katie's instagram account, where she declared her love for a good bandwagon and with that, I was off! I needed eggs anyway.

Where my Aldi pan journey started

I pulled up just as I got a message from my lovely friend Jill of Alfie Robot Retro, she'd had a tough day with her new baby. But it was ok because she had just been and bought herself some new pans from Aldi. I replied, while giggling that I was just running into aldi to buy my very own. "Can you get me the roasting tin? They had ran out in mine." RAN OUT? Blimey. This bandwagon really was rolling... So I ran IN to make sure I could fulfil the mission. Pans for me. Roasting tin for Jill.

Now Jill can safely use her pretty pans without wrecking the Orla! 
Luckily for both of us there were only three items with the beautiful teal and blue flower pattern, left. Two roasting tins and one pan. That section of the middle aisle really had been sifting through to the very last pans. The plain white and mint green just weren't bonny enough for these Aldi customers. We ALL wanted the pretty blue and teal flowers, gazing at us as they scrambled our Aldi eggs.

Now, you can't buy something as beautiful as these Aldi pans without giving it a mention on instagram. Off we all went, getting giddy with delirium that the pans were selling out across the country and all us vintage lovers were busily snapping them up before your very eyes!
Delirious enough, in fact, to start some hashtagging daftness for them! #pandemonium, #aldifinds and #aldipansbandwagon (which initially caused a bit of a stir with a typo to make it #aldipansbangwagon).

I knew I was onto a sleep winner when I saw that one of my favourite #vintagegirlgang members, Jenna, had got herself some.

And tintrunk, who's one of my favourite vintage traders to follow (Cue girl gang membership coming right up!)

It was tintrunk's post that got the most comments, sparking an interesting debate about ownership of design and style.

We aren't daft. We know these pans are very clearly inspired by Orla Kiely's well known, well loved and VERY EXPENSIVE style. And it's this point that needs looking at a little bit.

My background is in the arts, where people are encouraged to be original and develop their own unique creative "voice". Orla Kiely, Little Bird, Cath Kidston; we all know their instantly recognisable designs. They are stunning and all obviously drawn to bold patterns, rich colours and childhood memories (hence why we like them so much). The thing is, they're all so bloody expensive! Not that they shouldn't be; they're highly reputable design houses selling quality products and with hundreds (possibly thousands)  of people working for them. But I want there stuff,  I want it badly... But I can't afford it *whinge bag*.

Aldi's kitchen brand, "Crofton", is making pretty design affordable for the masses, with this limited edition range. And we should be applauding them for it, not trolling them for robbing IP (intellectual property), which they have NOT, by the way.

I love mine and I wish I were quick enough to buy a load more. I'm convinced they will be collectors items in the distant future (much like my subconscious told me when I dreamt I'd read an article about this very subject). Should they be kept in their wrapping, then? Nah! I've already used mine to check out their quality for this blog post and I can confirm that the roasting tin.... Drum roll.... Roasts your vegetables.

So bring it on naysayers, I'm loving being on board the #aldipansbandwagon with all my vintage loving and creatively minded stylish mates. Now, I'm off to scramble my eggs, you want some?

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

#VintageGirlGang - Silly Gilly

If you use Instagram and you're a vintage lover, you're bound to have stumbled across the next addition to our #VintageGirlGang. 

The drool worthy Silly Gilly has been on my Girl Gang radar for ages. Her photos are glamorous, soaked in 1970s style and double-tapable until your loose perm drops out. 

Ladies, please welcome Gilly:

Talk me through your vintage journey? When did you realise that the past suits you best?

Until I was about 16 I tried to follow the fashion of the time in a bid to be 'popular'. It failed. Even as far back as the age of 12 I felt connected to 'the past'; I discovered classic films thanks to my school dinner lady lending me her recorded VHS tapes (remember those?) of the afternoon film on BBC2. I became utterly obsessed with Audrey Hepburn, Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire whilst my peers were more interested in Britney Spears. By the time I reached 17 there was a Sky Channel called Granada Plus and I became intrigued with 70's 'Coronation Street' and other British 70s shows such as 'The Professionals', 'The Cuckoo Waltz', 'Nearest and Dearest' and 'No, Honestly', to name but a few. Around the same time my mum opened a previously permanently closed wardrobe in her bedroom which was full of late 60's and 70's clothing and accessories and offered them to me. It was meant to be, and I have never looked back. 

The Cuckoo Waltz

What era suits you best and why? 

The 60's and 70's. In fact, someone asked me once what year I felt I was in, clothing-wise. I'm not a slave to any decade and I like to put my own slant on things, but I would probably say I veer from 1969 to 1971. I have tried wearing clothes from the 30's - 80's, but for my figure the 60's and 70's style just works and it holds the most interest for me print, shape and colour wise. I love how one day I can be a mod, the next a hippie, as they are styles I particularly covet. 

What's your favourite item of clothing/go to outfit? 

I have a 70's brown suede coat with a huge faux fur collar and cuffs. I adore it but I can't do it up anymore; I love it so much but try as I might, no possible replacement can match it. I think the coat is the most important part of an outfit...for a constantly frozen person like me it is the item of clothing people see you wearing the most, so a good coat is vital.

No matter what I'm wearing, I throw on this coat and I'm instant 70s chick.

What's your favourite vintage household item? 

I am slowly building my vintage household collection since being flooded on Boxing Day 2015. Much of it is reproduction but I do have one very treasured piece that was sent to me after the floods. It was a 60's orange vase in the hobnail style from Essentially Eagle Vintage's stall at Stockport's Vintage Village. My friend Lynn (A Vintage Habit) had seen how much I loved it and after our awful time bought it for me and sent it over to me to cheer me up. Every time I look at it I think how touched I was at such kindness, plus it looks blinking amazing!

We all love to look to the past for a bit of inspiration. Who's your vintage muse?
I take inspiration from lots of places, from my mum's style in the 60's and 70's (when old ladies used to shake their sticks at her for wearing short skirts!), from British 70's sitcoms, to vintage-loving friends who inspire me such as Vicky Brearley (go follow her blog, Vintage Vix!) However, it will come as no surprise to those who know me that my muse is Jefferson Airplane/Starship powerhouse vocalist Grace Slick. 

I became interested in her and her music about 5 years ago when it was suggested I resembled her in hairstyle (a fringe covers up a multitude of sins) and fashion. As soon as I watched a 60s performance of her singing 'Somebody to Love' wearing a dress she had made from a bed sheet,  I was utterly hooked. I love how she started off in her first band, 'The Great Society', wearing roll necks, mini skirts and gogo boots and then forged more of a hippie look with her kaftans before opting for 70's dagger collar shirts and flares in her latter career. In the 80's she dressed as wild as possible and didn't give a stuff what anyone thought. I love that. Nobody should feel tied down to a certain look; sadly there can be some snobbery with vintage purists. I wrote an article about Grace's Woodstock look for my husband's website, Clothes on Film.

What's your most desired item that you've not managed to get yet? 

My most coveted piece would be a 70's Diane Von Furstenberg wrap dress with long cuffed sleeves and a stand collar, like the one Cybill Shepherd wears in 'Taxi Driver' (1976). 

According to my husband Christopher Laverty's wonderful book, 'Fashion in Film' (available in all good bookshops, plug plug), this type of DVF is called a 'Jeanne'. 

How do you find the people on the street receive your style? 

Really, really well. I am a primary school teacher and the children really love it when I wear crazy, bright-coloured clothes. I have educated them in all aspects of vintage! Funnily enough, when I first started at my present school one of the office staff later told me she thought we were studying a topic on the 1970s and thought my dedication to the subject was wonderful. It was only after a couple of weeks she realised it was my actual attire! It's lovely to get comments from shop assistants and every now and again someone will come up to me and ask where I purchased an item. Last month, I was nominated for and won 'York's Most Stylish Woman' run by Maude and Tommy, an independent clothes shop in my city, which was a huge honour. The best compliment though was when I was shopping in Aldi wearing my red 60s coat and yellow tights and a little old lady came up to me and told me how lovely I looked.

Where do you buy your gear? 
Anywhere cheap! My first port of call is charity shops with which I am somewhat obsessed - I can't visit a new place without checking out its chazzas. In York we have a Sue Ryder charity shop with a vintage section, in Selby nearby there is a vintage St. Leonard's Hospice and in my hometown of Stockport there is the original vintage charity shop, Barnardo's Vintage in Cheadle which is a gem of a place. They hold lots of vintage events and I was privileged to take part in one of their vintage fashion shows. In fact, Stockport has become somewhat of a vintage Mecca since I left the place in which I was brought up. There are some nicely priced vintage shops around the market place - 20th Century Stores has many fantastic sellers, including the wonderful Tin Trunk who keeps me in deadstock jewellery and Snygg has incredible 60s home ware. Also in Stockport is Pear Mill Vintage Emporium which is full of vintage sellers, some very reasonably priced. 

The highlight of my calendar however is Vintage Village at Stockport Market Hall, which takes place the second Sunday of every month. It's a super event and has the BEST sellers, including Kinky Melon's Retro Boutique, The Queen's Drawers the last! Yes, Silly Gilly Vintage made its first appearance at a vintage stall and there's no going back! I have been selling on eBay, Facebook and IG too which is where I make a lot of my purchases - myvintagebeau is great at finding me holy grail pieces like my recent pair of 70s St Michael 'Rupert' plaid flares!

This little interview with Gilly has been enlightening and a mini education. I feel honoured to be able to add her to my #VintageGirlGang and urge you all to get double-click happy on her Instagram feed.

You've well and truly earned your stripes, lady!

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Hull City of Culture - Part One - Paper City

Living over the river from 2017s City of Culture has its perks. Quick and cheap days out for a young family being the one I love the most. 

I had several people contact me about the upcoming Paper City exhibition, on account of my Masters degree in Book Arts. I hadn't known about Hull's history of creating paper until I read about this exhibition and I was intrigued by the materials suppliers being G. F. Smith, a paper suppliers I used when studying for my Masters and making books.

So, backpack packed with bundles of crisps as bribes for the boy and a Nana in tow, off we set. Over the river we went and followed the Paper City trail through the Humber Street area:

Adam Holloway's sculpture, through the handy viewfinder on the route map

"That one is for Batman, Mummy"

Lazerian's fish was so cool. The detailing was insane. 

The sections were all laser cut and these scales were beautiful 

As impressive as the fish was, Stan was more impressed with the Citro├źn HY. His Father's son. 
Made Thought's woven tapestry is MASSIVE and perfect for those happy family portraits ;)

The next piece of work was a little trickier to find, but definitely worth the hunt. Bethan Laura Wood's "Seaweed Kites" was perfection in paper engineering for me. Wood's considered the venue's history as a Smoke House, and suspended carefully made laminated and laser cut papers. They were so colourful and their lightweight forms swayed and turned in the breeze of the open door. I wanted to spend a lot of time in there, but the event was so busy we had to leave as soon as I'd taken these photos.

Richard Wood's red and white brick walls are dotted up and down Humber Street. Large sheets of paper are laminated to the walls of unused spaces. We'd seen these a few weeks before this visit, when Mr P and I went to see Primal Scream in Zebedee's Yard. But that's another story...

Stan said "This one is a touching one, mummy. There aren't any signs to say NO".

Jacqueline Poncelet's "Island Life" was in an empty shop unit. These paper folds were laid out all across the floor, leaving a thin pathway for visitors to walk through. The photo does it no justice. The colours were so vibrant they filled the room.

The bribe crisps had run out, so it was time for a bit of Stan time. He's a buzzing ball of intense about-to-burst energy, at the minute. So he needs a chance to use that energy up. Step up the permanent tilting cubes that are dotted along Humber Street:

A much needed pit stop at Thieving Harry's for scrambled eggs and Earl Grey.
We also bumped into delicious #VintageGirlGang member Gwen, who works there when she's not busy arting.

If you haven't been to Harry's, it's a MUST visit for some r+r while soaking up the Brick Lane vibes of Humber Street.

I liked this aged paper art that we found on our walk to Hull Minster
And why were we walking to Hull Minster? Well, you'll need to wait for the next Hull City of Culture blog post to find out. But it's worth the wait!

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

The day I fed Stan gone off cheese

The day I fed Stan gone off cheese. 

My fella works shifts, and sometimes works 2-10pm meaning I tackle the dreaded afternoon tired tantrums, not-gonna-eat-owt tea times, peak teething pains, inevitable-wet-everywhere bath time, wriggling-poo-everywhere nappy changes and screaming banshee bedtimes on my own. Fun. 

This particular day everyone is proper tired because I am ill, Stanley is ill and Jack is teething and going through a tricky development phase that makes him only need 20 minutes sleep at a time. Also fun. 

With Jack hanging off my boob, the kettle is boiling for my fourth cup of tea which I know won't get drunk and I'm making lunch for the toddler that is demanding a pile of grated cheese. Grated. With a cheese grater that requires two hands.  
Now, Jack is nigh on 16lbs at this point, which is heavy for those of you with normal weight babies; he's busy guzzling biting and flailing his arms, and Stan's busy shouting at me. I balance Jack on the worktop, cheese grater wedged in an awkward position, partially under Jack's flappy arms, pouring stripes of cheese to the worktop, Fireman Sam plate and floor. The radio was playing some repetitive yelling rubbish, the dog was barking at the fly catcher, the rain was pouring, Jack was guzzling and Stan was still yelling and throwing anything he could find at me because the food wasn't coming fast enough. My phone was beeping with messages from people I don't care about and ringing from people I don't want to speak to. I noticed a smell. It must be the cheese. "Stan the cheese has gone off, do you want something else?" 
He replies by launching a recipe book at me which hits my already bruised calf. 


pause. stress induced tinnitus sets in. 

I find myself shouting Stop repeatedly on days like this. Mainly at Stanley because he's the only one of the four small creatures in this house that understands this command. He might never ever stop, but he knows what it means to stop and so I continually shout it at him. Guilt. 

I wish that cold tea was a cold Staropramen and that Star Jar can get fucked. 

And what I really mean when I shout stop is that I need the world to stop; the endless cold cups of tea pouring down the sink, the crunch of dropped crisps under my feet, the broken "soothing" vibration on the baby bouncer that sounds like chewbacca on crack; the dog scratting at his poorly leg; the two year old's constant whining and aggressive thrashing about, purposefully throwing things at my face to get a reaction that in all truth, I don't have the energy for. I want the baby to stop pulling off my nipple to give me a happy grin because it's just a big game of stretch the nips. I want the guilt to stop, the tiredness to stop and the constant comparisons to stop. 

I just want it to stop, all of it at once. With no-one around me at all. I don't even want a warm cup of tea, or a full chocolate bar to myself, or back to back Netflix binging. I don't want someone to bring me cake or a magazine. I don't want a relaxing bath or a long deep sleep. I don't want my hair doing. I don't want anyone talking to me, touching me or looking at me. I just want everything to stop. The guilt of mothering, the joy of mothering, the adventures and playing of mothering. Just to stop. 


And if it did all just stop at once, I'd probably end up picking up all the lego, descaling the kettle, putting the washing piles away and getting some hoovering done. 

**DISCLAIMER** Stan didn't actually eat the cheese. Instead we ate popcorn, drank hot chocolate and watched a shit film. Then he spilt the hot chocolate. 

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

#VintageGirlGang - The Queens Drawers

Here we are again, adding another gorgeous lass to our #VintageGirlGang; Marie aka The Queens Drawers. We've all either bought from her, swooned over her dresses or stumbled upon some glorious genuine 1960's frocks at her vintage fair stalls. It's high time she joined our gang and here she is!

Instagram posts from The Queens Drawers are usually instantly recognisable for the quality of her genuine vintage and retro dresses, with clear measurements (an addition always appreciated by us vintage wearing ladies). Her stock is impeccable and drool-worthy and I wanted to find out more about the lady behind the trader, so I sent her a few questions:

What drew you to the vintage side of life?
"I've always been interested in the past even as a child. My favourite subject at school was history, especially all those amazing fashions they used to wear.
I loved watching old Hollywood musicals with my mum too and Harold Lloyd on a Saturday morning.

I was a child of the 70s, a teenager of the 80s and a young adult of the 90s which I am really happy about as I got to see some great trends first hand. A bit sad I missed out on the 60s but at least I get to experience it as part of my job."

How did you get into trading?
"I've been a mad charity & vintage shopper for as long as I can remember. When I go to a new place that's always the first thing on my to do list (Haha saddo).
I fell into selling with a friend of mine about 10 years ago who was just clearing out some stuff. I got the bug straight away. 

As I already came from a retail background, (working for a soulless Department store as a visual merchandiser) I found it easy to get into the selling side.
I turned it into my full time occupation about 3 years ago and The Queen's Drawers came about because I wanted something British and a little cheeky at the same time."

What's the best thing about being a trader?
"I've made some fabulous friends for life since doing this. I love the green aspect of it too, the history and the thrill of finding something special."

What's the worst thing about being a trader?
"I get disheartened when I have a bad month. That's when I let negative people get to me. I hate it when people presume this job is easy or offer you half the price of something. Someone once said to me 'you get it for nothing'. Sigh. This is few and far between though!"

All traders have a good story to tell, what's yours?
"I sometimes get the opportunity to visit people and buy their collections. One lady sticks in my mind as she had the most fabulous 60s & 70s pieces and told me about each occasion she wore them. I loved that!"

What's your favourite outfit?
"My 60s tartan wiggle dress. I don't keep many pieces (try not to hoard) but I won't part with this one. Well until it falls apart anyway.
It's from Tilly's Vintage. A fantastic Sheffield trader. She has the best stock."

And your favourite household item?
"I have a china Chinese boy & girl from my Nana's house. They were always in her cabinet when I was growing up and I always loved them. They have both been broken and badly repaired but they remind me so much of her."

Who's your inspiration from bygone eras?
"Oo so many! From the Busby Berkley Flappers to Prince and all the amazing Instagram girls of today!
I think if I had to pick one person it would be Debbie Harry. 

Parallel Lines was the first album I ever bought and remember being fascinated by her a woman standing strong amid all the men."

What music do you use as inspiration?
"I would like to pick something really cool but it would have to be the Theme tune from Steptoe & Son because it's all about the rag & bone."

It's not up to me to decide whether or not The Queen's Drawers belong in any kind of gang. But I'd like to think that Marie would head up a hunt for some of the best vintage treasure around! Here's to earning your stripes, Queenie (lip kisses from yours truly)

Sunday, 23 April 2017


April has been a real insight for instagram using vintage lovers recently, as we've been witnessing a Spring-like bloom of instagram posts from vintage dealers across the nation and beyond, with users in Millwaukee (@bcmodernmke), Narbonne, France (@mllejoys) and throughout the UK. 

The brainchild of Rebecca, owner of Wish Vintage, a new hashtag is being used by vintage dealers to grow and connect our instagram community.

It's a fast growing trade which can often seem competitive and hard to break. But as highlighted by Rebecca herself, the hashtag is developing a supportive and friendly environment with room for everyone to develop their business and clientele.

I contacted Rebecca to find out more about #aprilget2knowavintagedealer, from its creator. 

I’ve been thinking of doing something like #aprilget2knowavintagedealer for a while now but it was just getting on with it. A few online vintage dealers were really supportive and some of them that weren’t IG savvy took the rest of the month to get set up to do it. I then felt under pressure to get it organised!!!

The list of themes were very me centred, thinking about how I came to be here, what I do, what I struggle with.  
I did a course very early on in my career as a vintage dealer, called the Vintage Academy; a one day course run by vintage legends Kate and Keeley. I learned a lot about branding and being your brand. Those were lessons I needed to hear, so I wanted to pass those on. 

I wanted #aprilget2knowavintagedealer to be a positive challenge and a chance to chat, but also a chance for people to show what they sell. After all we are businesses. Since doing this full time I have found that on-line is my virtual office.  Not just for work but for being at work, being with people. This is my new reality, and the more I have moved away from fairs the more I have become disconnected from meeting new dealers.

I think I am most looking forward to the City Break day, getting some new tips on where to go next. 
I was looking forward to the day when I put in for favourite place to shop as I guessed there might be lots of photos of boot fairs. I liked that feeling of us traders all being out there. My favourite answer was “France”.  People don’t give up their secrets do they!!!

I've messaged one of the participants because I saw that she had sold something off of the back of one of the posts.  She replied saying that she was mainly enjoying the challenge, the selling was a small bonus.  I’ve had a few messages and a card saying thank you.  And I think that is the point of a lonely job working at home.  We’ve created a community where we know we can relate to the hardships of what we do and seeing it much more positively through each others eyes. 

courtesy of @rainbowvintagehome on "My Collection" day.

I’ve followed a few new dealers and bought a few bits. There are some stand out people for me who really took the challenge by the horns! I’m impressed by how some people really understood some of what I was trying to achieve without my being explicit about it. I’ve been inspired by the enthusiasm of a lot of the dealers. I’ve been doing this for a long time now and its nice to feel reinvigorated! 

I have to say that Cheryl from @VRInteriors has really made me laugh on a couple of days - her Tretchikoff impression was a real stand out, bless her.  Also her brother referring to her home as Steptoes Yard.  Again for me I see that humour as having been important to showing that we are more than just sellers.  We are people doing this for a living and for a lot of reasons other than to make a lot of money.  Seldom does that happen!  

from top left: @alfie_robot_retro, @donnaflowervintage, @rainbowvintagehome, @vintagepantry, @wishvintage and @buttonbacked all showing "How We Relax", "Vintage Shop" and Rebecca with a tonne of selfies from a trading day at Festival of Vintage, featuring some of the #aprilget2knowavintagedealer challenge.

Ultimately I think that the challenge is useful on a number of levels other than selling vintage or networking. There has been some great advice about branding and some suggestions about who to use to do logos.  There are some inspiring posts about how people have displayed their collections or how their homes look.  But a vintage dealer covers a whole host of subjects from antiquarian books to vintage fabrics.  I would challenge anyone not to find something from one of these dealers!

Top advice from @marthas_attic

I’m really thinking about the future. There have been quite a lot of requests for future challenges so I am planning one for November, just in time for Christmas! Theme suggestions gratefully received and look out for #novemberget2knowavintagedealer
I’ve also got a lot of ideas (that I need to get on with) about ways to maintain this little community and expand on it. The hashtag has been so popular that a lot of people not taking part in the challenge started using it on their sales posts. I am afraid the police officer in me kicked in and they got a little told off. I wanted to keep the challenge pure. But you can’t argue with the benefit of using a popular hashtag on sales posts. Though I think it is key to understand that the success of this challenge has been due to the fact it hasn’t been about selling. Selling has been a bonus! Its a key way for me to move forward. Blatant selling is boring. Let's make it fun!  

It's definitely been something fun for traders to have a focussed reason to post a photo about ourselves and our businesses each day. #aprilget2knowavintagedealer has broken the "professional/personal" barriers and made me think a lot about the future of Pigeon Vintage and how keen I am to trade again. I've gained over 100 extra instagram followers, 20 new "likers" on Facebook and four unexpected sales as a result of this instagram challenge. 

From @pigeon_vintage profile... personal and professional working together
It's a refreshing way to refocus our online profiles and look at who we target outside of buyers; who might we want to work with in the future? What fairs might we want to add onto next year's calendars? Which city will we be taking our new buying and auction tips to?

I know I have some serious writing to get done, in order to add a lot of new ladies to the #VintageGirlGang!

And I also have some serious work and thinking to do in preparation for Rebecca's #novemberget2knowavintagedealer.  

There are still seven whole days left to make use of the hashtag, so don't miss out! Go find yourself some new online buddies, buyers and sellers.

Aldi PANdemonium

This week instagram has gone all hearts-for-eyes over some pans. We all crave a bit of Catherine Holm's classic and bold kitchenalia. ...