Saturday, 31 December 2016

2016 Pigeon Style

It's the last day for 2016, you don't need reminding of this, because all of the Internet is full of articles, memes, statuses, news stories and #bestofnines telling us all about what a shit year it's been and how 2017 is going to be the miracle year where no celebrity ever dies ever.

Pigeon Vintage's 2016 Best Of Nine
So, I forgive you if you don't read on, but here is my moany blithering about our 2016, anyway: I'd say enjoy, but...

According to Timehop, a year ago today, I said "This year I lost my marbles and found them again..."
Let's all pause there. I don't think anyone I know has marbles to lose or find or look after. My most popular blog post this year and most shared was "We're All Mad Here", where I wrote candidly about being a miserable mentalist, diagnosed with "Post Natal Depression"... Hmm...

It seems all the people who shared the post felt a point of relation, which suggests to me that none of us have marbles to gather, line up, look after or lose anyway.
This year I've seen a lot of articles, hash tags, statuses and books dedicated to the idea of "self care" or "self love". For those of you who don't know, this translates as "look after yourself a bit more". A hard notion when you're a mum of a super cute bossy and time demanding toddler. I'm yet to use two facial vouchers that I was given for my birthday 18 months ago. Self care sounds and feels like a bit of bollocks to me, but I can see how it's working for some people around me and I'm pleased for them (and a bit jealous). Personally,  I don't think lobbing a fancy bath bomb in a warm tub, drinking a glass of wine and reading the latest meditation guide is going to help the majority of us through what has been a strange and disastrous year.
It goes without saying that this it has been a weird one and I don't need to list why, because, like me you're probably sick of online articles or blogs having opinions on why everyone is dying or turning to the darker side of politics. Let's just agree to leave behind all the bad bits and wake up tomorrow with a different perspective: feel more, think less, be kinder and more energetically proactive (says the 7 month preggo).

I started 2016 with a fresh mind, thanks to the Scunthorpe and District Athletics Club, who taught me how to run properly (yes, properly! See blog post all about it). This lead to me having a fitter body, cleaner mind and better understanding of my capabilities and determination. My goal was to run 6 miles non stop and I did that. Once, but I did it. And I felt such a huge sense of "well done you", with no external pressures, no exams to pass and all the encouragement of a great gang of runners. A week later I found out I was pregnant, so stopped running. That "well done you" turned into morning sickness, extreme tiredness, elation at the pregnancy and a touch of sadness that I wouldn't be running again for a while. Alas, I had bigger things growing that needed my attention and running will always be a goal again!

2016 saw the Pigeons being part of the ever amazing meanwhile gang. A group of traders and artists who worked unbelievably hard against all odds to open the first vintage emporium in Scunthorpe.
We all dream of playing shop; having quirky shop fittings and making top dollar flogging our wares. Truth is, it's bloody hard work. Even with the best and most supportive gang of people behind you.

Running meanwhile opened my eyes to some interesting revelations:
* People saying they're desperate for vintage in Scunthorpe doesn't always translate into them parting with their pennies. As much as we loved the friendly nudges of support, we needed hard cash to make the shop work, and that wasn't flowing as freely as the buzzing excitement of the people visiting for a mooch around the new emporium on the High Street.
* Small businesses can be run by some very bitchy fully grown adult men. Yes; men. I'll not go into the finer details, but let's say that my perceptions of supporting small local businesses have been skewed somewhat, and that feels a bit pants because I'm a huge supporter of shopping and supporting smaller businesses.
* Meanwhile traders were cheaper than charity shops!! Go figure.
* Meanwhile was such a lovely community. We made friends close enough to call an honorary family and joined a growing army of independent co-ops in Scunthorpe who work hard to make the town a better place to be.

* Meanwhile wasn't just a transitional period for us, it was a starting point that will hopefully lead us onto other pop-ups in the future... Once Alfie Robot Retro and I have popped out our new sprogs.
* Meanwhile made me wonder whether vintage is really worth all the hard work put in. Traders spend our "free time" travelling, sourcing, buying, fixing, cleaning, styling, photographing, loading, unloading and eventually selling at fairs/pop ups, for very little financial gain. It's not become the extra pocket money me and Mr P were hoping for, but more of a bind. I love being a trader, but it's blooming hard work keeping up with the big guys. Hence why we're are thinking differently for 2017... More to come on that one ;)

And so onto: The Shed. The Pigeon Hole. My new "me space". The place of dreams. And... Full to the brim as we pour more stuff in there to get sorted for baby. We started with marvellous intentions for Pigeon Hole and still have those, but with the winter setting in and my ever expanding belly, actually spending time in the Pigeon Hole hasn't been the easy reality we'd hoped for. I spent a lot of time in there preparing for An Indie Kinda Christmas and it felt so freeing having a space to be Miss Pigeon again. So, I fully intend to start dedicating a full day each week to being in there; making, repairing and photographing stock to sell online during my maternity.
With a new logo, branding and ideas, I can't wait for 2017 and all the fresh things it'll bring. The new baby being the freshest and most exciting for us all. I can't wait to see this family grow and for me to have even less time to take part in the self care craze. And I can't wait to see if I go barmy again and lose the marbles I never had...

2017, be kind and gentle, sleep All Night Long and bring me some calm when I need a minute to visit the Pigeon Hole alone. And fill my heart with love and strength for me and all the boys in my home. Peace out. 

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Autumn - Fresh Starts

There is no fresher start than the dewy golden glow of an Autumn morning.

Crispy leaves under foot crunching away the summer warmth. Frosty mornings warmed with porridge. Cooler nights bringing in logs for the fire. Asking for extra cinnamon on your frothy chai latte. 

All signs we are about to compete for the sassiest vintage cape, the opaquest of tights and all the mustard coloured knitting we can get our hands on. 

So get your scarves out, hats out and drag those boots out, because it's time to get yourselves out into the cold wet air that frizzes your hair, and embrace the fact that you're about to get a hard-to-shift cold. 

Some of you may have read my blog post this time last year about Autumn and why I love it so much. It's a special time of the year that always conjures feelings of new beginnings and fresh starts.

At Pigeon Villa, we've had the freshest batch of newness in our lives, recently. The closure of meanwhile... has snapped my neck with the swiftness of the about turn. Something new; a big fat unexpected END to a dream that became a reality. How would we respond as a friendship group and, more immediately, as a family. All a bit new, that was. 

The shop opened in the Spring and closed just as the Summer was coming to an end; crunching beneath our feet like the delicate shattered dreams of all the traders. BEEL! 

But onward we all had to go, and fast. With the impending necessity of turning the "Pigeon Storage Room" into the next baby's nursery, it was obvious extra storage was urgently needed at home. 

I'm not going to bang on about my ace new project The Pigeon Hole, just yet. But here are a few photos of it coming together:

Me in it
Mr P on it
The beautiful view from the roof
Building a log cabin seems a bit extreme, doesn't it? Well, it's the only place dedicated to me, the business growing and hopefully getting back into making and arting. So it feels like a necessary project for my sanity and our storage issues. 

It's been such a tiring and long drawn out process, but we are so close to be able to reveal The Pigeon Hole in all its glory! 

Autumn this year has given us time to stop and take stock of what we've achieved this year. We've been lucky souls, though we've not always felt it. While lathering protective oils and paints on the shed, I've been thinking about all the new beginnings on the horizon. 

Being pregnant is making me emotional and reflective. Enjoy Autumn and all the new beginnings and fresh starts it brings to your horizons! 

Monday, 17 October 2016

Fixing and Doing - Retro Foot Stool

We do loads of upcycling here at Pigeon Villa and I want to keep sharing what we do with you all. You may have read a while ago about the chairs we fixed up in preparation for sale. I mentioned then and will repeat unapologetically that we do love a bit of fixing and doing at Pigeon Villa. 

It's become second nature to spot the potential in old furniture and notice areas to revive and reuse hand-downs, skip-raids and house clearance items. 

This little raggedy Anne was one of the latter. A cute 1960's foot stool that had been covered by the previous owner. There were a few marks and the fabric was fusty and didn't compliment the slim slender and much sought after dansette legs.

As soon as I got this one home, I knew precisely which piece of fabric I'd be hunting down from my ever growing stash of vintage and retro material. 

This blue, purple and green bit of gorgeousness was part of a stash I bought during a "cheer me up" trip to Horncastle, last summer. It's a pair of large curtains that don't fit anywhere in the house and the curtain tabs are very worn. They're one of those items that I always put a bigger price tag on at fairs, knowing that I'd much rather keep the fabric for this type of project, so I'm glad the stool rocked up when it did.

I had a stall at LouLou's Vintage Fair at The Baths Hall that weekend, and it was already Friday afternoon, so I wanted to crack on with reviving the stool so I could take it with me. 

I stripped the fabric carefully to make sure I could use the original as a template for the new. 
It seemed, once bare, this cutey revealed she was entirely handmade. The family we bought it from had explained that their Dad was an amateur carpenter, often taking furniture to pieces to reuse elsewhere in the house. It seemed, he was having a go at upholstery, too!

The two foams were glued together with some sort of expanding glue, meaning I didn't have to worry about them shifting when recovering. They weren't stuck to the wooden base though, so I used some leftover carpet spray glue to hold the foam in place.

Laying the original down on the new fabric, meant I would definitely get the right coverage and shape.

I decided to put the old cover back on, after a quick hoover  and hand wash. It was in ok condition to provide some padding and keep the edge of the stool smooth and rounded. I turned it over, to make sure the raised pattern wouldn't come through.

I stapled the fabric down with a staple gun, and then flattened to prevent bumps, using one of StanleyPigeon's toy hammers!

I added another layer of padding with some old wadding I had kicking about in a craft box. There was just enough to cover and it was so light and easy to use now there was the extra  layer protecting from the rough old sponge.

I knew my book binding skills would come in handy at some point in my life!
The wadding really made it feel more professional than just covering the stool in a fabric. It means that wear and tear will be less likely and the stool is more comfortable. It protects the new fabric from the old one, too.

I wasn't happy with these corners or overlap at all, but with the way the stool had been originally made, it was tricky to ensure a good clean edge from all angles, without having to overlap onto the leg brackets.
Once all those staples had been flattened out with Stan's toy hammer, I polished the legs up and popped them back on. We were over the moon with how it turned out and felt a bit attached to it immediately.

The stool drew a lot of attention at the fair, but eventually made it's way to meanwhile... where it only lasted two days, before being snapped up by a very happy customer who is adding it to her new living room that has a bohemian vibe.

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

We're All Mad Here

Yesterday was World Mental Health Day. You may know this from all the cutesy poems and pretty memes making their merry way around Facebook to cheer you all up and make you feel less alone in your suffering. I know it by being fortunate enough to have some very brave and brilliant people in my life, sharing their experiences. 

And, well, here's some truth. I'm waving my bingo wings in mutual (but actually really lonely) misery with anyone else suffering from mental health issues. I'm not doing too bad now, but thought it the right time to share my experience of feeling really rather shit. I'd say enjoy your read, but, you know... Enjoy. 

After having our beautiful little creature, StanleyPigeon, I was "diagnosed" with Post-Natal Depression. Way to go doctors. You did it. You made it worse than it already was. That label to me, meant "you can't actually do this. You can't mum as well as you're meant to. This baby has made you terribly sad and it's his fault you don't want to wake up in the mornings." 
That was what cracked me and made me realise this wasn't normal; the not wanting to do the "living" part of having to live. Do not misinterpret that as me wanting to be the big D. So so far from the truth! But having to do the living after the waking up and then later trying to sleep, knowing I'd have it all to do again the next day. That is what made me realise feeling sad and tense and worried and down and not good enough and on edge and in knots about the tiniest life details... That wasn't supposed to happen. 

The day I was diagnosed with anxiety. We took Stan to soft play. Sometimes smiling happened and that felt great. 

This was when I felt a huge difference between what I thought was depression and what I was experiencing; anxiety. Eurgh. It bloody wasn't Post-Natal Depression, it was anxiety; about Stanley not wanting to breastfeed anymore (hormones are a KILLER), about going back to work, about losing friends who turned their backs not knowing how to cope with anxiety, about friends and family saying "what have you got to be sad about, look at Stanley he's so happy!". 

Anxious about getting it right and being right and feeling right. None of that was right. 

I had OK days where I'd attend a MummyFit session at a local park and that helped immensely. I'd remember to eat something myself those days and I'd talk to people those days. 

After a MummyFit session, with my chubby Stan

I was referred to my health visitor who came and we had a cup of tea and I curled up in our woven 1960s tub chair, sobbing into my cuppa. She crouched on the floor next to me and explained the following: 

"Post-Natal Depression does NOT mean you're shit at being a mum. It does NOT mean your sadness is related to Stanley or your new life. It does NOT mean you can't cope. It is a term used for any mental health sufferers upto two years after having a baby."

Well that changed EVERYTHING. Whether she was lying to make things feel better, I don't care. She changed my world in those few moments. The fog completely lifted. I could look at Stanley without guilt or blaming him and realise it was the external factors of returning to a workplace that didn't want me back, my hormones being all over the place because I wasn't needing to produce milk anymore and one of the biggies: losing my hair (no one had told me I might go a bit bald after having a baby! This hit me like a tonne of hair that had fallen out of every new mums head!). 

Stupid hair trying to cover bald patches

I was free from all the doom of believing it was all from me. 
I have so much to thank my health visitor for. She then referred me onto a "new guy in town". He was over from LA teaching mindfulness and was working wonders on the people of Scunthorpe. 

Tom frightened me to begin with. He was a real gentle guy and he was actually local, but had moved to LA following his passion and love of wellbeing and mindful meditation. Tom changed the way I see and think forever, though actually, a lot of what we discussed week to week was always clear and in the back of my mind:
Think of NOW. What are the "dangers" around you creating anxiety. Do they exist in your immediate proximity? Are you in "danger" from them? Is there anything you can do about them? Are they REAL? Do you believe in them/trust them/respect them? Why do we let those things affect us? 
Are you a mind reader? Do you KNOW what that person is thinking? Are you just presuming those people can't cope with your mental health issues? Are you assuming *this* is how they feel because it's easier? 
Are you WELL? No. And that is perfectly OK for the time being because you are bright enough and strong enough to help yourself out of the darkness. 

Tom and my health visitor and people around me (mainly Stanley and a couple of total gays) changed my life last year. And I have them to thank for making me see the darkness, accept it as part of how my brain functions and then develop ways of recognising and growing out of it all. 

We went for a lot of walks to clear our heads

One of my smaller mechanisms for clambering is the silly and totally detached from reality Instagram. It's where I found a moment of relation, recognition, sometimes jealousy, but always a smile. Finding other ladies and girls who were into the vintage scene as stylists, traders, lovers of dreams and makers of another reality. They were who I wanted to "be around". My virtual Vintage Girl Gang. So, gathering the girls up is sometimes slow because I don't have the time I'd like to actually develop the idea (I have SO MANY), but the VGG was a step away from feeling "mental mumness". 

Today, is International Day of the Girl and I want to take this opportunity to share a thank you to and from all the Vintage Girl Gang for being strong and brilliant women. Some of the girls have shared their experiences of mental health "issues" or "problems" (I like to just see mine as dips so that I'm not having to fix or find solutions to them). These girls are braver than you know and are strong women leading such varied, interesting and stylish lives. Have a read about them all by clicking on the Vintage Girl Gang page

I'm laid here, at 6am writing this post, while I remember some really dark days and real moments of clarity. 
Stanley has made his way into my bed after his 7th night of "allnightlong" in his own bed. His morning routine now consists of celebrating his allnightlongs and then laying with baby at his insistence. These moments are mixed with equal love and worry that it might all happen again with baby number two. 

This time though I'll be prepared, tooled up and will be able to recognise the dark before its hanging over the family

I'll turn to my family and my gay mates, I'll hold my babies tighter, let go of my brain a bit and just embrace the surge of weird feelings that comes with being a bit "mental". 

So, to all the supposed "sufferers"; don't feel suffered. Feel united that you aren't the only one out there who feels lost or broken or unstable. We are all in it together! 

Monday, 26 September 2016

Crowle and Ealand's 1940's Weekend

Last weekend saw the first Crowle and Ealand 1940's Weekend, organised by a new committee who worked tirelessly to create an incredible event!

I went along with my Dad and StanleyPigeon to get involved in some hard-core 1940s fun.

Not one of us was left disappointed. The venues were easy to get to, there was plenty of parking along with a park and ride to get to activities further afield, and loads of places to grab a cheap and tasty bite to eat.

The programme was packed! So much so that it meant a second visit was definitely on the cards! 

That beautiful car was for sale. Lots of swooning over that beast, though I'm glad Mr Pigeon wasn't there or we might have been in danger of needing a garage extension! 

I felt a mini swoon of excitement when I saw 1940's Ben in real life! I've been following Ben on instagram and love his feed. He lives a genuine and full 1940's lifestyle that I am very envious of, though I'm glad to be just an onlooker of all that hard work and dedication. 

This feisty little terror was seeing off the enemies!
Another photo for the benefit of Mr Pigeon. A beautiful beast. 
The stalls were full of treasures
And were wonderfully decorated.

The camps and front lines were so realistic. It was a pleasure to get chatting to some of them. Must improve my history chat for next years event! 

StanleyPigeon is going through the tractor phase. This pose lasted about 40 minutes... Sitting, whinging, sitting again (repeat for the rest of the afternoon) 

The couple who owned this caravan were staying in it and regularly travel with it. The caravan was all hand built by the gentleman whose name I didn't get, unfortunately. It was a treat to get a look around inside.
StanleyPigeon clinging onto Grandpa as they watched a mechanical orchestra. It filled the air with really nostalgic organ music and got people tapping their feet!

This couple came into meanwhile... they were asking for some advice on their 1940s outfits for a special weekend. I was staffing the shop and showed them around a few things that might work together with their outfits. The lady ought her entire look from us, except for the dress. 

I had such a great time at Crowle and Ealand's first ever 1940's Weekend and I'm already hoping to take Mr Pigeon to next year's event. I want to get along to the evening dances at The Hirst Priory! Looking through the photos, today, I was envious of all their moves and outfits.

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. ...