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Turkey Part 1 – the Bodrum bit

Well, it’s only been nearly two months since I came back, but I thought I’d do some posts about my summer holiday… now that the sun is completely gone. It might work to remind me about when it was hot and my lovely summer clothes weren’t vacuum-packed into cotton bricks!

I had the most amazing two weeks in Turkey in September. Neither I nor the boyfriend had been before, and he’s been to far more places than me, so that was a bonus! We planned to visit three different areas of Turkey – Istanbul, Bodrum and Cappadocia, with different things planned for each. Bodrum was the relaxation part of the holiday and, therefore, the place where I did very little.

I didn’t even bring my big camera out with me when we did leave our sun loungers, so forgive the iPhone snaps for this segment!

We went to three different bits of the Bodrum peninsular over the space of the five days we were there, all on tiny little minibuses. Gümüşlük was by far the most beautiful, tranquil bit. We spent a day and evening sitting on the gorgeous beaches and I walked out to the ancient ruins of Myndos, which you can do at low tide. Sadly, you aren’t allowed on the island itself, but you can clearly see the foundations of ruined buildings in the sea. Amazing!
We had a lovely, if slightly overpriced seafood dinner on the beach and watched the sun go down. Bliss.
Bodrum itself is very built up and quite touristy. We went around Bodrum Castle and the Museum of Underwater Archaeology but I have to admit, after 4 days in Istanbul (which I’ll cover next), we were thoroughly bored of bits of pottery, broken columns and tiles. Even if they have been underwater. Here’s a lovely view from the top of the castle (lots of views in this post)!
Where we stayed was unfortunately, a big mistake and entirely my fault. I picked something that looked decent and cheap, within 15 minutes walk of Bodrum centre. Unbeknownst to me (probably should have checked), it was in a whole other town, Gümbet, which had precisely 3 sentences about it in the Lonely Planet guide to Turkey.

Since it’s just 5km from Bodrum, party-palace Gümbet got debased faster than other peninsula villages. Now more or less a British colony, Gümbet is an outpost of neon, cheap cocktails, energy drinks and table-dancing. In winter, the place is derelict.

This was what greeted us on the bus from the airport.
Oh dear. Luckily, apart from the pumping techno we could hear (and block out with earphones), the hotel was perfectly pleasant! The weather was glorious. And there were some good views to be had from the hills on the walk from Gümbet into Bodrum.

Lots of no makeup and swimsuits which I wasn’t really up for posing in, so the only fashion shot you’ll get this time is the above shot of me posing in a lovely vintage inspired playsuit which I’ve had so long that it actually looks vintage (plus accidental feature of Rocket Originals bag), and my amazing Lucky Lou souvenir shoes which arrived the day before I went away and were worn nearly every day on this segment of my trip. ♥ This is the third pair of Lucky Lous I have owned as the design of the Souvenir changed a few times over the last 6 years or so and I’ve sold all my previous ones… these are by far the best with their padded sole. Wish I’d had more chance to wear them over the summer… next year!

I’ll post another segment – Istanbul and its amazing sights – next time! 

Fleur xx

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Trust in the Ginger

Today I’m going to tell you a little story about the formation of what might be the most quintessentially British thing ever… mainly because it’s been ensuring that large swathes of our precious countryside and many of our historical stately homes remained preserved for generations to come. It also has a little to do with our good friend King Edward VII and therefore The King’s Ginger… and what better excuse to show lots of gratuitous shots of English countryside in the autumn? Today’s King’s Ginger story is about the one and only National Trust.

National Trust for Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty, to give it its full name, was first formed in 1895 by three pretty amazing people. The first I’ll talk about was Octavia Hill, a no-nonsense lady who pioneered housing for the poor, fought tooth and nail to prevent the destruction of inner city forests and green spaces like Hampstead Heath and Parliament Hill Fields, first coined the term ‘Green Belt’ and firmly believed in ‘the life-enhancing virtues of pure earth, clean air and blue sky’ for all people, especially the urban poor’. She was much admired by everyone from the working class to royalty – Queen Victoria’s daughter and King Edward’s sister, Princess Alice of Hesse-Darmstadt, was once taken on a tour of some of Hill’s properties, incognito.

Octavia Hill by John Singer Sargant

Before the formation of the NT, Octavia Hill became the treasurer of the Kyrle Society, whose slogan was “Bring Beauty Home to the Poor” and, among other cultural things, aimed to bring open spaces into the lives of the inner city working class folks. It formed something of a blueprint for the NT proper.

The second of the trio was Hardwicke Rawnsley – a clergyman, poet and conservationist. Rawnsley resided in the Lake District and, together with Octavia Hill and our third National Trust hero Sir (then plain old Mr) Robert Hunter, had managed to successfully campaign to prevent the construction of railways to carry slate from quarries in the fells above nearby Buttermere, which would have ruined the unspoilt valleys. That was in 1883, and a decade later Rawnsley dreamed up the National Trust, an organisation that could purchase and preserve places of natural beauty and historic interest for the benefit of the rest of the population.

The third and final piece of the National Trust puzzle was the aforementioned Sir Robert Hunter. From as early as his 20s, Hunter was interested in conservation (perhaps you’re sensing a theme here?) and in 1866, he wrote an essay entitled ‘The Preservation of Commons in the Neighbourbood of the Metropolis”, many of the principles of which were actually incorporated into English law just under a decade later. His day job was as solicitor to the General Post Office but he worked with the Commons Preservation Society to help Hill save Hampstead Heath and Rawnsley with the Lake District campaign. According to Wikipedia, ‘One of Hunter’s most celebrated successes was the rescue from enclosure of 3,000 acres of Epping Forest, with the support of the corporation of the City of London. The case was bitterly contested across three years. Hunter acted with the corporation’s solicitor, Sir Thomas Nelson, in the conduct of the legal proceedings. In 1882 Queen Victoria went to the forest and formally declared it “available for her people’s enjoyment”.’

After these successes the logical next step was for the three of them to set up an even bigger body to save even bigger bits of countryside.

“In November 1893 Hill, Hunter and Rawnsley met at the offices of the Commons Preservation Society. They agreed to set up a national body, to propagate the formation of a “National Trust for Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty”. In July 1894 the trust was formally inaugurated under the presidency of the Duke of Westminster. At the inaugural meeting Rawnsley declared, to cheering, that the aim was to establish “a great National Gallery of natural pictures”. Hunter was appointed chairman of the executive committee. In the same year he was knighted for his services to conservation.” (Hunter was also honoured again in 1909 for King Edward VII’s birthday).

And the rest was history, really. It took until 1907 for the National Trust to be formalised, after Hunter drafted the 1907 National Trust Bill, which was passed by parliament the same year.  Soon after its 1895 formation though, Hunter organised a public subscription to buy a big chunk of Hindhead Commons including the Devil’s Punch Bowl, which became one of the Trust’s earliest acquisitions.

The Devil’s Punch Bowl is where Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (also knighted by King Edward VII in 1902), who lived nearby at Undershaw from 1897-1907, went walking and found his inspiration for the Hound of the Baskervilles. Since the A3 underpass was built, it’s also amazingly quiet. I doubt it has changed much in the last century and a bit… 

So, what about some other ties to our hero? As well as being appointed as chaplain in 1912 to King Edward VII’s son George after the former’s death, Rawnsley also happened to be related to Alfred, Lord Tennyson, whom I’ve mentioned on here before. It’s very fitting that large swathes of the beautiful land around the area I mentioned in the previous blog were donated to the National Trust in 1948. Here’s two such signs I snapped while on my photo-gathering field trip around the area!

There are some interesting plantings around the area, from ornamental trees that were probably planted so that Victorian or Edwardian visitors could perambulate around the then common land, and Norwegian spruces that were planted in later decades, in stark contrast to the usual leafy, deciduous trees native to the area.

It’s quite amazing to think that because of a few people’s passion and far-sightedness, our generation and those to come will always have these stunning bits of countryside to enjoy, for free, forever. Well hopefully forever. And the autumnal nature is the best place to enjoy a tipple too, of course. No recipe this time – you should just enjoy a bracing walk on your nearest National Trust ground and a nip of neat King’s Ginger this season! 
Catch you next time!

Fleur xx

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Typical a-Typical

Hooray, huzzah, hoorah! The access to my Flickr account has been restored! While I get on with editing and uploading photos for my very overdue King’s Ginger blog, here are some I didn’t take earlier.

The very gorgeous Miss Turnstiles, aka Simone of the perfect hair and amazing wardrobe, has been busy in the last few months. Not only has she launched her own website and brand Atypical Girl, but she has also opened a shop in Camden Stables Market. I don’t know how she does it, but I am in awe!

So Atypical Girl is a curated collection of vintage inspired clothing, genuine vintage and accessories, all with a fashionable edge. It’s for those of us (for we are many) who love vintage style to its bones, but sometimes want to put a twist on it. This is me every day, now. Never again shall I think to myself, ‘I wish I could wear X, but it just doesn’t go with my 40s look!’… Stuff that! Wear what you love, what you think is awesome, and don’t sweat it – that’s my new motto. So I can get behind the entire concept of Atypical Girl! Plus it helps that Simone always look A+ mega amazing, so you know you’re getting the handpicked selections of someone with impeccable taste.

I have had a little advert for the site over there on the right for a while, to help the site get a few extra clicks, but now she’s had a fabulous launch party, I also have some good snaps to share as well. It was one of the most stylish parties I have been to in a while… or maybe ever! Here’s just a handful, taken by © Tigz Rice Studios 2014.

Simone & KeeKee from Laurel & Hector, stocked on ATG

Gorgeous Miss Amy May (who I follow on IG but met at the party) & her sister
Myers Dancers
The DJs
No idea what this face is…
Lots of the London girl gang! Why did I go home before this shot?!
You can see alllll the photos (and ‘like’ the page) over on the Atypical Girl FB – I think you should go there right now! 😉

Fleur xx

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This was meant to be a post for The King’s Ginger, but  I have managed to somehow lock myself out of my Flickr account until later today, and if you’re a regular reader you will know that those posts are very picture heavy. So I have made myself a free Photobucket account in order to do another quick ‘n’ dirty outfit post!

This is what I wore during the day on Halloween. A nod to seasonal spookiness, but without going all out!

My spiderweb Jenny Skirt from PinupGirlClothing is apparently from the ‘Vintage Goth Pinup’ Capsule Collection, and suitably gothy indeed. I do wear it all-year round but it’s particularly suited to this time of year! I’m wearing it with a Vivien of Holloway peasant top and my trusty leather jacket. You can’t see my shoes above, but they’re Minnetonka Thunderbird II moccasins, purchased from somewhere online in a sale!  Here’s a shot from instagram.
My black velvet turban is a really cheapo one I got from eBay, jazzed up with an autumn cluster-clip from the lovely Rosie Alia Designs. As you can see from this photo, it was unseasonably warm on Friday. 

The dagger fakelite brooch came from Beyond Retro!

As to what I wore on actual Halloween night and the following one, this Instagram will have to serve as the only proof since I didn’t pose for any proper photos. Mainly because I didn’t put in any proper effort.

Mainly I just want to point out my Luxulite brooch and my ReVamp Meteor purse, which cost me a lot of money a frighteningly long time ago (maybe 8 years) and which I hardly ever use. So I have used it loads lately!
Hope you had a much better costumed Halloween than me, guys? 

Fleur xx

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Subculture Clash

Clash… get it? 😉

I hardly ever model any more, through choice rather than because I never get asked. Sometimes I feel a little long in the tooth, which I know is rubbish, but also because I quite often get weirdly self-conscious if anyone sees me posing in public. That said, it is fun, on occasion, to stand in the middle of a busy street and annoy everyone who has to walk around you/your photographer. This is an example of that.

From Instagram

I took some pretty traditional photos for Heyday for the release of the ‘Lilac Heaven’ Fleur dress a couple of months ago, but I also took some much less usual ones, just for fun. My boyfriend works in Kensington and suggested we take some shots in front of the Joe Strummer mural that’s just off Portobello Road and actually, I really liked them. The only problem is my slightly boring hand-on-hip poses, so sorry about those… but it’s quite hard to shake off ‘vintage mode’ completely when it’s been your main MO for the best part of a decade.

As soon as we stopped snapping, a tourist starting doing the same – I’m pretty sure that happens every minute of the day. While I’m not actually a huge fan of punk music, it is part of my history growing up with friends so heavily into punk and mtal and I do end up at a lot of punk gigs with my boyfriend these days… so I didn’t feel like a total phoney posing in front of it. It’s fun to mix your favourite subcultures!

Fleur xx

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Bonus Boomstick Outfit Post!

Good afternoon.

As is so often the way when I do photos for big articles like my last King’s Ginger one, I take a few extra photos for a super lazy outfit post. Because I *still* haven’t processed my holiday snaps, here is something of a holding post, featuring the outfit I wore to Purdey for the aforementioned article!

I think this was the last warm day in London, the rain lashing my window as I type would seem to indicate that cotton dresses are a thing of the past now. This super-cute vintage Swirl dress is probably the tiniest bit small for me, but has cute folkloric people and things on it, so how could I not?

The best purchases are ones you make with friends, who give you great deals on things they want to see loved. These Miss L Fire shoes (from a few seasons back) come under that category – they were bought from my lovely pal Hayley and are pretty special.

That’s basically it, sorry for the quick and dirty post! A few people asked about my hair in the last post – Hot Sticks, always the Hot Sticks! I haven’t changed the way I do my hair since I made this video OVER FIVE YEARS AGO?! Blimey, time flies. Except in this post, I have obviously done a middle parting rather than a side one… method is exactly the same, though!

Fleur xx

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The King’s Boomstick

(That is boomstick, and not broomstick, though we are getting towards Halloween! Evil Dead fans will know…)

Greetings from an autumnal London! For my latest King’s Ginger investigation, I am going to write about a slightly controversial subject – shooting. Or, more specifically, guns. Disclaimer: I’ve done clay pigeon shooting before, but I could never shoot something alive. But I really enjoyed writing this piece, because the guns I got to look at during my visit to Purdey in Mayfair are true works of art, and the history of is long and interesting (and of course, intermingled with lots of King Edward VII), so I hope you find it all as fascinating as I did!

It’s currently Game Season for almost every type of game in the United Kingdom, from pheasants to grouse to ducks and male deer, so it’s a good time as any to be writing on this subject. King Edward VII was a great hunter, as were most members of the gentry at the time – it was a noble pastime in an era when animal rights were less important (although I have written about the King’s help in the formation of the RSPB, a slight double-standard there). This is the story about his gunmaker, to whom he awarded the Royal Warrant.

James Purdey the First was London-born of Scottish heritage, and he worked as a blacksmith in the Minories – London’s gun-making quarter. When his son, James Purdey the Second, was of age (age being 14), he was apprenticed to a gunmaker and upon finishing, he secured himself a position as a stocker (the person working on the stock, or wooden bit, to use the technical term) at England’s greatest gunmaker at the time, Joseph Manton. He was incredibly well-regarded: it was said that guns stocked by James Purdey always fitted the best. Then, in 1814 after a few years at another highly prestigious gunmaker, Forsyth’s, the ambitious and talented Purdey decided to go it alone. He opened his own shop at 4 Princes Street, near Leicester Square, building single and double flintlock guns, duelling pistols and rifles. To cut a long story undeservedly short, after taking over the shop’s lease from his previous employer, Manton, Purdey’s combination of impeccable craftsmanship and the long-standing fame of the shop meant that it was only a matter of time before royalty caught wind of his wares.

In 1838, Queen Victoria ordered a pair of double-barrelled pistols from Purdey’s, as a present for the Imam of Muscat. From that date onwards, the Royal Family became regular patrons. But now we move into the most pertinent (Purdeynent? …sorry) era of the firm’s history – that of James Purdey the Younger, son of the aforementioned James (who was the second James as mentioned above… do keep up), who took over the firm in 1858.

It wasn’t until 1868 that our hero enters the picture. On the 12th February at the age of 26, Bertie awarded Purdey’s his Royal Warrant of Appointment, while he was still the Prince of Wales. Here’s a portrait of his Highness and the actual Warrant (click to see it bigger), hanging proudly in the front shop!

A decade later, on 28 March 1878, Queen Victoria also assigned a Royal Warrant to Purdey, as has every British monarch since (They currently have Warrants from HM the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh and the Prince of Wales). But this brings us to the ‘modern’ history of Purdey, and a super interesting time of innovation in gunmaking, including an invention that completely revolutionised gun construction, to the point where nothing much has changed as it can’t be improved upon, even 134 years later.

Frederick Beesley, was a Purdey stocker (the same position occupied by the first Purdey), invented the system that opens the shotgun and ejects the spent cartridges in one fell movement. You know, how in the movies (for those of us who have no other means to watch shooting) when a shotgun is cocked open and the shells ping out at the same time? That. The year was 1879, and he patented it the following year, wasting absolutely no time in selling the idea to James Purdey. Their website reveals that the Beesley self-opening system ‘has sustained the company ever since. Such was its success, that by the late nineteenth century every crowned head of Europe had become a customer of James Purdey & Sons.’

Such prestigious customers secured Purdey’s success and in 1883, Audley House in Mayfair was built. It was, just like the guns, entirely bespoke, and came to be known as a ‘Palace amongst Gun Manufactories’. It’s been there ever since (although guns are no longer made underneath it) and on the day I visited, I got to have a good old rummage around. There’s much in the way of original features around the premises and a lot of Edward memorabilia dotted about the place, especially in the Long Room.

There are also lots of pictures, many of them downstairs, of the King (or Prince, depending on the year), shooting or doing thing associated with shooting!

The King with his dog Caesar, in the Long Room
The King shooting in the early 1900s, two in a series! 
The King weighing down a stoic-looking horse, I assume the same day!

Shooting parties at Gunton, late 1890s

He also used to regularly pop in when he was in the area, something that I could never imagine the Queen or Prince Charles doing (or being able to do, more to the point).

The hands of the very lovely and knowledgeable Purdey archivist Pippa.
And he gave gifts to his gunmakers. One which took pride of place in the shop for many decades was a stuffed albino peacock, sadly no one knows exactly where it went but Pippa found a picture in a history book! 

But what about the actual products? After all, they haven’t changed much at all since the above photos were taken. I got to look at those, too. I was shown a couple of guns close-up by the knowledgeable David, who’s worked in Purdey for a very long time.

Perfectly balanced!

Demonstrating. It’s very, very heavy.
Customers can either buy an off-the-peg gun, which can then be adapted to fit their measurements, or they can buy something bespoke, a process which takes a full two years to complete. The stocks are made from Circassian walnut, and people can choose theirs depending on the grain and colour. There are different types of action, and the actioner will spend 100 hours getting it perfect. The barrels are machined to within a remarkable four-thousandth of an inch. The engraving (as seen above), ‘help[s] turn the shotgun from a cold metal object into a thing of beauty; it [also] traditionally served a practical purpose, with discreet engraving softening the face of the metal, lessening reflection which might otherwise turn game.’ You can have the traditional ‘Rose and Scroll’, a game scene, or something else that might take your fancy (within reason).  The finishing alone of each gun takes over 75 hours and the processes are spread over three months. For all these reasons and more, the gun I’m holding costs nearly £100,000. But it’s truly meant to last a lifetime and more – the wood of a brand new piece deliberately juts out over the inset metal bits, so that after years and decades of use, wear and reconditioning, it will look even better. 

Because of the long history of the company, and, of course, the meticulous record-keeping, I got to see one of his Highness’s actual orders. Among other specifications, he ordered it hammerless, so no flintlock hammers, and with a pistol hand (the extra bit that if you covered the end of the stock, it would look like a pistol) – exactly like the gun pictured at the end of the cabinet above. Sadly, I’m not allowed to show it.

After all that investigative journalism, what else was there to do but toast the King under the watchful eye of James Purdey the Younger!
I had a few too many sips before we took the photo… it is in the glass, I promise! 😉
I should have lugged a full-size bottle, really.
For a longer, season-appropriate King’s Ginger cocktail, give this one a try if you have any on hand… and if you don’t, then you should definitely track some down! Tis most definitely the right time of year.
Thank you to the kind staff of Purdey for entertaining and educating me for hours, hope you’ve enjoyed reading even if you, like me, could never go hunting!

Fleur xx

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Vintage beauty with Vaseline


Today I am talking vintage beauty. There are few beauty products out there that can claim to be as truly vintage as Vaseline. Except maybe lead and belladonna, and thankfully, we stopped using those on our skin a long time ago. I’ve been a genuine, lifelong user of the wonder-grease, from my very earliest days as a tiny child, when my mum would help me put a little slick on my chapped lips or dry cuticles. I’d have a pot by my bed even back then, and a pot has never left my side (or bag) since. For better or worse as I literally can’t go without it (unless wearing lipstick) – my lips demand it. But I don’t mind, it’s a little ritual that I would never want to be without.

It’s hard to do a heart when you have very long fingernails!

Vaseline’s been around since 1872, since a young chemist called Robert Chesebrough discovered that oil rig workers were using a jelly substance, a seemingly useless by-product of drilling, to heal their cuts and burns. He saw dollar signs, soon perfected a process for making it, and patented it (though it didn’t reach England until 1877). An inexpensive product, it was hugely successful and soon, every household in America had a jar of it, apparently. Used on babies’ bums, chapped skin and lips, mild burns and more, it even went to the North Pole in 1909 – the only medicinal product of its kind that wouldn’t freeze. Through the First World War and through to the present day, Vaseline has proper vintage credentials and it is a truly indispensable product for me.

The Cocoa Butter one goes so well with my beloved tan satchel!

I must have at least six pots of Vaseline Lip Therapy on the go at any one time, but when they offered to send me the newest, rebranded little tins, I couldn’t really refuse. They’ve gone temporarily vintage, you see – a special, limited edition vintage rebrand – though I personally feel they should look like this all the time. Why not?

When I edited these photos and saw how dry my fingers were, I immediately put some Vaseline on them! Seriously.

As I keep saying, I can’t do without Vaseline. I don’t wear lipstick every day, and when I don’t (probably 30-40% of the time, to be imprecise), I wear Vaseline. Sometimes, when I am feeling jazzy, I mix in a hint of colour to the Rosy Lip one, which has an almost imperceptible hint of pink to it. Cream blush is the perfect product to mix with it, to add a few extra shades of pink, and doesn’t ever seem to spread on me. I actually use my Besame cream blush more often in this way than on my actual cheeks!

I was privileged enough to get my lashes done recently, and not because of my blog! I’m writing an article for The Review – these are ‘3D Russian Lashes’ – I am not wearing a single scrap of eyemakeup! But anyway, look at my lips! It’s Lip Therapy Rosy Lips with a tiny touch of cream blush mixed in at the Cupid’s Bow and middle of my bottom lip.

The vintage-style packs are now in all good shops like Boots, Superdrug and so forth, at the princely sum of £2-ish each, if I hadn’t been kindly gifted them, I would have bought them all, because I am a hopeless collector. Thank you guys!

I Heart Vaseline!

Fleur xx

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I ♥ Miss Bamboo

I’d just like to take a moment to show some love to my lovely sponsor Miss Bamboo. She carries some of the best repro brands around, and her own line of dresses is just wonderful. You may remember the La Bonita dress from Chap Olympiads gone by… Already a bargain when we bought ours, I see she has it down to £41.99 – total steal!

There also the China Doll dress, which I have and adore – grey and red is so chic!

Anyway, I just want to do a little spotlight post on Miss Bamboo and do a little pick of the best things she has (in my humble opinion!)… Firstly, the signature Bamboo Barrel Bag, which she reproduced from one of her own collection – perfect Tiki style!

Against my wishes my own mind is starting to turn to autumn and this navy dress is perfect.

As I have the China Doll, it’s ok to covet the Tea Dress in the same print, right?

Nothing but love for Trashy Diva – the 40s dress is a winner. I used to own one in red – it’s super flattering, mine was just too small for me.

And again… this Sarong version of the Red Waterlilies playsuit I own is so flattering!

And finally, how can I possibly not draw your attention to the newest Miss L Fire booties! This style is called Alpine and Miss B is doing them for cheaper than RRP. I’m SO tempted – Christmas on your feet!

Please give Miss Bamboo a visit, she is a doll as well as having impeccable taste! 🙂

Fleur xx


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The King’s Seaside Jolly

It’s been a while since I did a King’s Ginger piece at the seaside – my trip to Brighton was many moons ago now! But just like we commoners, Kings (and Queens) like to be beside the seaside too, and Eastbourne is another coastal Sussex town that he visited a lot. So off I went to investigate (and eat fish and chips)! 
Oh, I do like to be beside the seaside…! 

Eastbourne is a funny old place. Well, it’s not actually that old at all, having only been in existence as we know it now, since the 1850s. Before that, it was a collection of four smaller villages or hamlets and it was only when the 7th Duke Of Devonshire, William Cavendish, moved to nearby Compton Place (inherited from his wife Elizabeth Compton who of course couldn’t continue to own it after she got married, the very idea!), that he began to turn it into the town it is today – full of parks and lovely Victorian architecture.

The Duke’s residence, Compton Place, is a stately home that was quite often visited by our hero, King Edward VII, both as a monarch and during his sixty year stint as the Prince of Wales. This is what drew me to visit Eastbourne, of course! There are several records of Edward and Alexandra having stayed at Compton Place with Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, whose hospitality was so good as to have been called ‘regal’.

In 1892, the Prince and Princess’s son, Prince Eddy, the Duke of Clarence (who has been mentioned on here before in association with Jack the Ripper), died of influenza. He was only 28. Wikipedia says that, “the nation was shocked. Shops put up their shutters. The Prince of Wales wrote to Queen Victoria, “Gladly would I have given my life for his”. Princess Mary wrote to Queen Victoria of the Princess of Wales, “the despairing look on her face was the most heart-rending thing I have ever seen.” His younger brother Prince George wrote, “how deeply I did love him; & I remember with pain nearly every hard word & little quarrel I ever had with him & I long to ask his forgiveness, but, alas, it is too late now!” 
The Prince on the left at Compton, from around the same (possible the same) time. (source)
After Eddy’s death the Prince and Princess of Wales and their family went to Compton Place to stay with the 8th Duke.  This writer “witnessed the arrival of the bereaved visitors, and will never forget the silent and sympathetic reception accorded to them as they drove from the station through lines of people mostly clad in mourning. The visit benefited all of the Royal Family, and their desire for privacy was carefully respected. When they returned to London, the improvement in their health was obvious; and especially was this the case with the Duke of York.”
Whether he came again in the intervening years, we can only guess. According to Britain’s Finest, ‘he had been the king for only four months when he came to Eastbourne for a royal house party at Compton Place in the company of the Marquis of Abergavenny’. By this stage, much of Compton Place’s grounds had been made into a golf course (but the King’s love of golf is a story for another day). 
The reason I have no photos I took of Compton Place is simple – it’s not somewhere you can just turn up to – it’s a stately home but not a National Trust or English Heritage property. I tried to drive there but didn’t fancy being arrested for terrorism (exaggeration, but snapping people’s homes is risky!). Another historical site which I was unable to visit was the Princess Alice Memorial Hospital, named for the King’s sister, who died at of diphtheria in 1878 – precisely 17 years after Prince Albert passed away, sadly enough, after having spent a summer in Eastbourne. Bertie opened it with Alexandra in 1883, when still Prince of Wales. (He also apparently opened Bedfordwell Pumping Station, and the western parades in the same year!). The hospital is now closed, but despite scouring the internet I can’t find anything that says when it closed. Any ideas/history detectives out there? 
Luckily, everywhere you look in Eastbourne proper there are reminders of the era we’re remembering. From Queen’s Hotel, built in 1880 and named after Victoria, to the Alexandra.
The latter is actually situated on King Edward’s Parade, an Eastbourne street named after no other than you-know-who; although the name did not appear on street directories until 1914. 
Looking up King Edward’s Parade to the west. 
But the other big connection our hero had to Eastbourne is also situated on King Edward’s Parade – the very aptly named Grand Hotel. 
Britain’s Finest says of Eastbourne in 1901, “The Grand Hotel (built in 1875 by William Earp), also known as ‘The White Palace’ was its undoubted showpiece. From the site: 

“Dominating the shoreline with its grand stature, this magnificent 19th century hotel is one of the finest of its kind, having welcomed a galaxy of the great and the good including Winston Churchill, Charlie Chaplin, Arthur Conan Doyle and King Constantine of Greece. 

On the 13th May 1874 the Eastbourne Gazette announced that local resident William Earp was proposing to build a magnificent hotel with a 400-foot frontage at a cost of £50,000.  The result was The Grand Hotel, constructed in 1875 in a superb position facing the sea, with views of Beachy Head, surrounded by ornamental gardens and tennis courts. 

The Grand Hotel was built when the upper classes ruled the land and took their holidays by the sea, sometimes months at the time, taking with them their entire staff.  The Grand Hotel is famous for its long association with music.  Debussy completed his symphony ‘La Mer’ in Suite 200 in 1905.”

Before leaving Eastbourne, the king inspected the hotel.” Presumably, it got his stamp of approval. 
By lovely coincidence, as I walked past the entrance, this fabulous old Rolls Royce appeared! 
I had a quick Google and, as it dates from 1927 the 20-horsepower Rolls-Royce tourer is technically a little too futuristic for this piece, but the Vintage Motoring Company looks brilliant and I hope to take one of their tours one day! 
There was only one thing left to do to finish off my seaside trip – fish & chips on the beach!
Eating fish & chips on the beach is a challenge, because of the seagulls. But I managed. I’m a straightforward salt & vinegar on my chips kind of a person… but maybe this is a condiment to try for your future supper? 😉 
…no? Then how about this instead. Go to what may be the best Italian gelateria in the South – Fusciardi’s – on Eastbourne’s Marine Parade since 1967, buy a giant cone (mine is sea-salted caramel on the bottom and vanilla on the top) and douse liberally with The King’s Ginger
DO try this at home! 
I took so many pictures in Eastbourne that I’ll on it post again – including outfit deets, so check back soon! And please check out The King’s Ginger as well… now that it’s getting closer to autumn it’s a cocktail cabinet essential, and no mistake! 

Fleur xx