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#tbt – to Fleurs gone by

It’s been a whopping FOUR years this month since I started collaborating with lovely Shona Heyday on our vintage reproduction wrap dresses that she kindly decided to name the Fleur dress. (This isn’t intended to be a salesy piece, but if you do want to check them out, go here) As an addict of vintage cotton wrap dresses, I was over the moon when Shona asked me if I wanted to partner with her to recreate one. The rest is history!

I posted the below picture on Instagram today and immediately wanted to do a little retrospective of the dresses we have released over the last four years, both proper runs, limited editions and one-offs… and there seem to be rather more than I actually thought!! I am so proud of Shona and of our little project. Here goes!

The first ever Fleur dress, from April or May 2010, beautiful roses on white!

The second ones – black with tiny white daisies and roses on black were released the following year, and the entire original Vintage Mafia wore them in France.

 The next batch in late summer had three fabric ways, navy with tiny sprigs of flowers, a two tone gingham stripe, another two-tone limited edition one with real vintage 1960s fabric on the bottom!

Shona kindly made me my first one-off dress that summer too – red oriental fans. Here we are together! 
We did two more super limited editions, one with vintage rayon covered in pink and turquoise roses on the skirt and an autumnal fruits one, which is a contender for my favourite, along with the fans! 
This was another one-off, from ages back… 
Conveniently around the time of the Royal Wedding, we did a patriotic blue, white and red one, which is in polycotton and BY FAR the easiest to iron. I think we should do more in poly, stuff the authenticity! 😉 
The Mafia commissioned some plain Fleurs in coloured cotton, which we had embroidered with our initials. Here’s the current lineup in ours.
For my 30th birthday, Shona made me up a very special one, with kittens and balls of wool on the skirt! This one doesn’t get worn nearly enough! 
Then at some point, we had the pink and blue gingham stripe editions!
I am not sure what came next, chronologically, but this lilac rose limited one was pretty special.
This light tan with floral sprigs is one of the latest fabrics and the most understated … 
While the green fan print is a bit more party-tastic and again, one of my all-time faves. 
Last but not least, the Christmas edition sold out like hot mince pies at the end of last year.
Phew! I think that’s all of them! If you do want to see the ones that are currently available, then check out Heyday.
We also now do the PinaFleur, but I’ll save that for another day. 
Which has been your favourite of them all? 

Fleur xx
DiaryofaVintageGirl.com

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Bella Venezia – part 1

Greetings from Venice! Well, not actually from Venice, I came back two weeks ago. Feels like longer though – post-holiday blues is well in effect! Thought I’d show off some of my holiday snaps… not boring ones, hopefully… outfitty ones.

It wasn’t really that warm in Italy, where we were, about an hour outside Venice. It was warm enough for a pasty, sun-deprived Englishperson to go all out on the summer gear, while the native Italians were all bundled up in scarves, long sleeves and those puffa coats that seem to be all the rage over there. I certainly didn’t let it stop me from unleashing the skirts and gyspy tops all over the shop, at least in Venice proper. Behold one of said outfits!

Venice
Serious holiday face! 
Spot the Boyfriend! 
Journey over on the vaporetto

Venice

Venice

Here I am in beautiful Burano, one of Venice’s islands (the one where they make the lace… or used to. I didn’t see any lace-making happening. Sad face)

It’s absolutely beautiful there, with every house painted a different rainbow colour.

Leaning tower!

None of these photos are edited, since I have a new computer, currently without editing capabilities. It was really that colourful and the sky was really that blue.

Outfit details: I’m wearing a gypsy/peasant top from Vivien of Holloway
a vintage 40s skirt and some old gold sandals!

I’ll write more about the trip in my next instalment… At the risk of sounding like a hairdresser… going anywhere for your holidays?

Fleur xx
DiaryofaVintageGirl.com

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Luminous skin revisited!

Hello lovelies!

Without meaning to sound boastful or big headed, I often get compliments on my skin. Lots of makeup artists have said nice things about it (though the cynic in me thinks they probably say this to everyone) and people often profess amazement about my age. They may just be being polite, but it happens often enough for me to realise that my skin is at least pretty good. The disclaimer being that, at nearly 68, my mum also has lovely and minimally wrinkled skin, so a good part may be genetic. But that aside, I have been asked a few times to do a post about my skincare routine recently… so here it is!

I did another skincare post a whopping FIVE years ago (where on earth does the time go), called How To Have Luminous Skin – The Vintage Way. Incredibly, this very old post, originally written for the wonderful Queens of Vintage, is usually still in my top 5 posts of any given week as so many people search for the relevant terms! And equally incredibly, my routine hasn’t changed a huge amount in that time.

Here are my current skin-care heroes!

Luminous skin - my skincare heroes!
Back in 2009, I was singing the praises of simple, tried and tested (and technically ‘vintage’) skincare products. I still follow the same steps in my evening cleansing routine. I use a fragrance-free, soap-free wash on my face (varies, sometimes I steal the boyfriend’s ‘sensitive’ Nivea Men wash, I’m currently using a Simple moisturising shower gel) and then slather on a cream cleanser. Only I don’t use cold cream any more, I use this bad boy:
Luminous skin - my skincare heroes!
I discovered this about a year ago and I love it so much, I have converted quite a few friends to its ways! I love the idea of natural extracts, even though in practice, most of these ‘natural’ products are full of the usual chemicals. Not to mention that natural extracts are chemicals themselves and can be just as harsh as man-made ones. But this cream cleanser, after being applied and massaged off with a warm, wrung out flannel, takes off all my makeup and leaves my skin feeling lovely – perfectly balanced and neither dry nor oily. If I have had a few too many drinks (ahem), I can do this single step and go straight to bed without doing anything else! NB. This double-cleansing routine I do is apparently something that’s approved by real skincare experts.
After cleansing, I then follow up with the magical tonic.
Luminous skin - my skincare heroes!
I’m no skincare professional but I never bother using any other toning product or astringent as witch hazel is perfect for my skin, and I’ve used it for 10 years plus. It doesn’t dry me out, but it does help shrink spots if I ever get any (which is rare and usually hormone-related) and just feels so refreshing after the cleansing. Works for me! 
Luminous skin - my skincare heroes!
Night cream is something I am still experimenting with. I started using it 3 or 4 years ago as I approached 30. I like Simple products and have used their Age Resisting Night Cream in the past, which was fine. Then I tried Botanics Radiant Youth Night Cream, which I loved, but my boyfriend complained literally every night that it ‘smelled like twigs’, so when it ran out, I picked up this Triple Age Renewing one. It’s A LOT thicker, and I suspect formulated for older skin, but it hasn’t broken me out and it smells a lot less like twigs. So at least I don’t get pointedly sniffed every single night.
Side note: the Botanics 81% Organic Day Cream is also brilliant and contains almost no man-made stuff, mine has literally just run out and been thrown away. My only complaint is it’s really hard to scoop out cream from the bottom of these tub when you have long nails.

Luminous skin - my skincare heroes!
Now, facial oils are something I have used on and off over the years. I have had a vial of organic rosehip oil for ages, but remember to use it so rarely I think it might have gone off. So when US based cruelty/chemical/SLS/paraben and even gluten-free Tarte Cosmetics got in touch and sent me a load of cosmetics to try out ahead of their launch on QVC here in the UK (keep your eyes peeled for the review of the makeup they sent me when I’ve tried it all), I was intrigued by the Maracuja Oil they included.
For the last week or so, I have been adding three drops into my night cream and one into my day cream. It is LOVELY. I am quite normal-skinned, slightly combination in the t-zone but not too bad – this oil doesn’t leave me greasy at all. I genuinely think it’s made my skin glow! At 32 it’s impossible to fight the early appearances of lines around the eyes and mouth (at least if you smile and laugh a lot, which everyone should!) but it has made them virtually disappear. A potential candidate for wonder product of the century! I will keep using it to see if it will break me out, but so far, so good. I also got the Maracuja eye cream, which is also being used in the evenings and also seems to work very well. Before I got this, I’ve been using the Botanics Organic eye cream for around a year, also very good and probably one of the reasons for my eye wrinkles being minimal.
An additional plus with the Tarte stuff is that the packaging is also lovely – that’s real wood and glass right there! It’s pricey but I would certainly consider replacing it when it runs out at this rate.

Luminous skin - my skincare heroes!

In the mornings, I pretty much just rinse my face with water in the shower, but every other day or so I use Lush’s Angels on Bare Skin cleanser. Another entirely natural one (unlike many of Lush’s products, contrary to what they would have you believe), the ground almonds exfoliate without microscopically ripping your pores like scrubs that contain ground up peach kernels do. I love it, but there’s no picture because after 3 months in the shower, my tub is not remotely photogenic.

As the other mentions above might indicate, I have been a lifelong Simple user, so that’s what I’m currently using as a day cream. I’m under no illusions that it’s ‘natural’, but the fragrance-free aspect appeals to me. I forgot to put it in the ‘group’ shot, so here’s an excuse to show off my awesome new nails!

As a bonus, another product I was sent recently to try out and can recommend is Steamcream. My bestie Bethan used to have a pot on her bedside table and it comes in such a gorgeous array of tin designs, it’s definitely part cream and part dressing table accessory.

Luminous skin - my skincare heroes!

It’s natural, vegan, handmade, high quality and ethical, contains all these lovely ingredients and is approved for the face, hands and body. But I find it a bit too strongly fragranced for my face, so I use it on my hands last thing at night. It feels more like a treat than just a routine! I find applying hand and body cream extremely tedious and kind of can’t be bothered most of the time, so my hands are currently getting a nightly treat. Lovely! I would buy this, definitely.

Luminous skin - my skincare heroes!

Bonus dressing table shot as I tidied it especially for these photos!

What are your skincare heroes that you can’t imagine not buying unless, gawd forbid, they stop making it (which happened to my last favourite cream cleanser)?

 Fleur xx

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The King’s Laureate

It’s that time again! I enjoy writing these posts for the King’s Ginger so much – digging through the history of fascinating people and places that had some association with King Edward VII give me much pleasure. I hope you enjoy reading them as much! With that, it’s time to delve into the life and times of a real Victorian rock star (sort of) – Alfred, Lord Tennyson.

An old one for you!

In an age before recorded music, poets and writer were big celebrities. Look at Lord Byron! Tennyson was one of the most popular poets in his day and is still one of the most popular ever. Born in 1809, he took up the post of Poet Laureate when William Wordsworth died in 1850 and remains to this day the longest serving Laureate, holding the position until he died in 1892.

From here, we find out that ‘the Scottish historian and philosopher Thomas Carlyle described Tennyson as “one of the finest-looking men in the world,” with “bright, laughing hazel eyes” and a “most massive yet most delicate” face. Later in his life, a photographer called him “the most beautiful old man on earth.” His resonant, booming voice riveted listeners when he read his poetry.’

Tennyson composed a lot of his more famous poems before he became Laureate. That should be fairly obvious, though, since he needed to be well-regarded to have been appointed to the top job in the country! The Lotos-Eaters (which I analysed at University… don’t ask me anything about it as I have long forgotten), the Lady of Shalott (as famously painted by Waterhouse – one of my favourites) and Ulysses (not the impenetrable Joyce version) are all well-known.

The job of the Poet Laureate, as appointed by the monarch (in Tennyson’s case, Queen Victoria) is to compose poems and verse to mark national occasions – Royal weddings and deaths in particular. It was actually Prince Albert’s influence that got Tennyson the top job but it was his ‘In Memoriam A.H.H‘, a requiem poem ,which reputedly brought Victoria some peace after the death of her beloved Prince in 1861. It contains some of the most memorable verses in the English language, perhaps ever:

‘I hold it true, whate’er befall;

I feel it when I sorrow most;

‘Tis better to have loved and lost

Than never to have loved at all.’

But the verse that so comforted the Queen (she swapped the genders) read thus:

Tears of the widower, when he sees

A late-lost form that sleep reveals, And moves his doubtful arms, and feels

Her place is empty, fall like these;

He notably once put his foot in it with Queen Victoria, whom he apparently only met in person twice – the first time being after the death of Albert, and after she had read and found comfort in the above poem. In 1863, she asked the Duke of Argyll to tell Tennyson to come and see her. After receiving the Duke’s letter, Tennyson was apparently rather alarmed and wrote back, ‘I am a shy beast and like to keep in my burrow. Two questions, what sort of salutation to make on entering Her private room? And whether to retreat backward? or sidle out as I may?’

The foot incident happened with his telling Victoria, ‘He would have made a great King’. Prince Albert, as Prince Consort could, of course never be king. Silly old Tennyson. ‘As soon as it was out of my mouth,’ he related to a friend later, ‘I felt what a blunder I had made.’ Victoria didn’t seem to mind at all, though.

It’s probably fair to say that art and creativity cannot be forced, so some of Tennyson’s least inspiring poems were those he wrote out of duty. The one that’s most important to my story is the one written for the marriage of Princess Alexandra of Denmark to our hero, Albert, Prince of Wales on March 10th, 1863, published in the Times.

The Prince with his bride in 1863 – looking very uncharacteristically skinny and beardless!

The Wikipedia page for Tennyson describes it as ‘uninspired’, which may be a little unfair. Well, judge it for yourselves!

SEA-KING’S daughter from over the sea,

                            Alexandra!

Saxon and Norman and Dane are we,

But all of us Danes in our welcome of thee,

                            Alexandra!                          5

Welcome her, thunders of fort and of fleet!

Welcome her, thundering cheer of the street!

Welcome her, all things youthful and sweet,

Scatter the blossom under her feet!

Break, happy land, into earlier flowers!         10

Make music, O bird, in the new-budded bowers!

Blazon your mottoes of blessing and prayer!

Welcome her, welcome her, all that is ours!

Warble, O bugle, and trumpet, blare!

Flags, flutter out upon turrets and towers!  15

Flames, on the windy headland flare!

Utter your jubilee, steeple and spire!

Clash, ye bells, in the merry March air!

Flash, ye cities, in rivers of fire!

Rush to the roof, sudden rocket, and higher  20

Melt into stars for the land’s desire!

Roll and rejoice, jubilant voice,

Roll as a ground-swell dash’d on the strand,

Roar as the sea when he welcomes the land,

And welcome her, welcome the land’s desire   25

The sea-king’s daughter as happy as fair,

Blissful bride of a blissful heir,

Bride of the heir of the kings of the sea,—

O joy to the people, and joy to the throne,

Come to us, love us and make us your own:   30

For Saxon or Dane or Norman we,

Teuton or Celt, or whatever we be,

We are each all Dane in our welcome of thee,

                            Alexandra!

The catchily titled Opening of the Indian and Colonial Exhibition by the Queen, 1886 was written at the request of Prince Bertie and is similarly… meh. But it’s notable perhaps, that one of the very last poems Tennyson ever wrote was in memory of Bertie’s son, the Duke of Clarence in early 1892. Tennyson died later the same year.

I found a fascinating reference to Tennyson’s funeral in a newspaper from Sacramento, California, of all places. It reads:

The fact that the Prince of Wales absented himself from the funeral of Tennyson in order that he might attend the Newmarket races is provoking considerable comment. His action is especially dilated upon by the Radical journals. His absence from Westminster would have been less remarked upon but for the fact that not a single royal personage was present at the funeral. Since the Tranby Croft affair, public opinion has been very sensitive in regard to the conduct of the Prince, but the public takes a very common-sense view of the Prince’s present action. Efforts being made to arouse a feeling against him fall flat. It is generally felt that his partiality for the lighter side of national life is so marked that to show deep regret over the death of Tennyson would be mere hypocrisy. The Chronicle says: It is true the Prince went where the mass of the people went. Tennyson was never the people’s poet, but the point is whether in the hearts of the people they really prefer a Prince who cannot postpone one day’s shooting or racing in order to mark a great epoch in his mother’s reign. The Radical journals, while dilating upon the Prince’s absence, discreetly omit, as far as possible, Gladstone’s absence.

So interesting. And I will have to look up this Tranby Croft affair!

Onto my photos. In 1884 Victoria created him Baron Tennyson, of Aldworth in the County of Sussex and of Freshwater in the Isle of Wight. Preferring to do some of my own sleuthing for these pieces, I therefore set off to Sussex to find his primary seat.

Leaving the very last few metres of Surrey before entering Tennyson’s county, I started down his own lane before arriving at the pile. Here’s what I found:

Sadly, it is a private residence and the sign is at the start of a mile-long (literally) drive that I was too chicken to trespass on to take a photo. So here’s one the internet made earlier:

The views from the land around where the house sits, on Blackdown, are stunning. Tennyson often set out from home to walk, take the clean air (Haslemere is very high) and look across the country and be inspired by the amazing views.

I hiked to the mysteriously named Temple of the Winds, one of Tennyson’s absolute favourite views. Turned out it was named after the actual winds, of which there were lots.

Outfit as before, with the addition of a wind-resisting Barbour jacket!

Black Down was the property of various landowners until WE Hunter donated it in 1948, as a memorial to his wife. A nifty stone seat was installed at that time, so I pretended to be Tennyson looking at the view and thinking about poems… despite the fact the seat wasn’t there then. Artistic
license.

On Tennyson’s death, William Morris was offered the position of Laureate, which he declined. Alfred Austin became the next, and he lived through the coronation and subsequent death of King Edward VII. But that is a story for another time.

I will leave you with another of Tennyson’s most famous excerpts, from The Charge of the Light Brigade, in which few short lines, he perfectly captured the futility of war.

Theirs not to make reply,

Theirs not to reason why,

Theirs but to do and die:

Don’t forget to visit the King’s Ginger site if you get a mo and snap yourself up a bottle to see out the last chilly days before we get into summer cocktail season. Tis the perfect time of year for a King’s Spring Daisy!

Fleur xx
DiaryofaVintageGirl.com

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Breezy steez

Hello!

I’m currently mid-flow in my newest King’s Ginger blog, but as I don’t really think it fits the format to do full on outfit shots for said posts, I thought I’d share a couple as a kind of sneak peek.

They were taken at what may be one of the loveliest spots in southern England – Blackdown – albeit on a rather chilly and very windy day! I swear my hair looked good before I set off.

Vintage cotton dresses are now on rotation… even if I am still a bit chilly. My awesome handknitted cardi was bought from 1940s Style For You – find her on Etsy
Still adoring my leather satchel – you’ll probably never see me with another bag again! 
King’s Ginger is obviously an essential accessory for cold walks… proper post coming at the weekend!
These fab Chatham boots might not be glamorous, but they have served me super well on country walks! Obviously the rest of my outfit is not too practical.

Full outfit deets! 
Dress: Vintage Swirl
Boots: Chatham

See you again in a day or two!

Fleur xx
DiaryofaVintageGirl.com

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Schoolday chic

Hello from slightly more spring-like London!

I occasionally get offered things to review through my blog and I hardly accept anything these days (I have too much stuff, not enough space and no wish to be a greedy git). But when a very kind and helpful young man from The Leather Satchel Co. got in touch recently and asked me if I would be interested in a vintage-style satchel, hand-made by British craftsmen, I felt it was my duty to review one for you all, so you could be assured of their quality. So I did.

I have a soft spot for satchels, as I had one identical to the Leather Satchel Co’s classic bags when I was a tiny girl going to primary school. In fact, as the LSC have been going continuously since 1966 (with a lot of much newer companies springing up in recent years), it’s quite possible that it WAS one of their bags.

Faced with their huge array of sizes, colours, trims and optional bells and whistles, it was really hard to choose. The satchel I eventually opted for is the Classic 12.5″ model in London tan. I will confess that part of me wonders why I didn’t go for anything bright and colourful like cherry red, or one of the amazing pastel shades they do. But ultimately, I wanted something that will never date and go with absolutely anything. And it is perfect! 
I had it customised slightly. I asked for the front pocket to be removed, for a clean look, the straps to be turned into magnetic poppers (otherwise I knew the hassle of having to buckle and unbuckle them would mean I walked around with it open most of the time, I am terrible for that) and for extra vanity, to have my initials blind embossed on the front. Let’s hope I never get married! 
Here’s a closer look. The boyfriend’s heirloom travelling trunk makes a nice photoshoot location!
The quality of the leather is lovely. I had to wait a bit longer for it, because they had run out of the tan and since they apparently only source their leathers from Britain and the EU for ethical reasons, I was happy to wait for it to come back in. It’s quite thick but gives the impression that it will wear in beautifully. The 12.5″ is described on the website as being the perfect size for an iPad, while the 14″ fits a small laptop and they can make laptop bags bigger. Customisation options are endless – you can have handles put on, backpack straps, different colours all over, have it wider or narrower – even have the hardware in gold, I’ve just noticed. Dammit, should’ve had the gold hardware – I’m all about gold these days (even faux gold jewellery, although it does always end up wearing off into the cheap copper underneath).
They’re all hand-made and hand-stamped in their Liverpool factory. They run apprenticeships too – awesome news in today’s difficult economic times. 
I have to say, the process of working with Adam at the Leather Satchel Co. was a pleasure from start to finish. I had some problems with the couriers not delivering it or leaving a note and he was unbelievably helpful – sorting everything out for me. When I remarked on the great service he said they were proud of their old fashioned attitude to customer service and rightly so, I say! 
I am not lying when I tell you that since my satchel arrived, I have used nothing else for a handbag and I don’t think I ever will (don’t quote me on that, it’s not exactly an evening bag)! It’s the perfect size for fitting everything I need inside, it’s easy to carry and will last me a lifetime! 
Full outfit details! 
Dress: Heyday Fleur (a lovely limited edition from a couple of years ago)
Jacket: vintage
Shoes: Swedish Hasbeens from last year
New favourite lipstick for spring!
 Revlon Kiss Me Coral with MAC Lasting Sensation lipliner
Thank you Leather Satchel Company for my brilliant bag and for being so lovely! They have very kindly given me a 10% discount code, so if you are tempted to get one for yourself, just use ‘vintagegirl’ at checkout.
Until next time… 

Fleur xx
DiaryofaVintageGirl.com

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#ThrowbackThursday!

Every month, when I do my King’s Ginger posts, I have to search through the image archives on my blog to find the KGL logo. Since my blog has now been going for six years this May, there’s a lot of old pictures from way back that I have to scroll past. And, since my recent blog post with some old modelling photos of me was a popular one, I thought I might try out a blog version of Instagram’s Throwback Thursday trend. I mean it’s essentially a vanity project, but indulge me a little, eh!

Side note: I actually fancy doing a bit of modelling again, just to see if I still can. If anyone is a photographer or a keen amateur and wants to collaborate on some outdoors/location photos then give me a shout!

All these photos were taken with an amazing creative chap called Russell Lewis, who unfortunately stopped doing photography to concentrate on art. Hope you are well if you read this, Russell! I still have high res copies on a CD somewhere and they look amazing in full res (they have lot a lot of detail, thanks Blogger).

Floating puzzles should be a thing.

Fleur xx
DiaryofaVintageGirl.com

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Windy Weather

Just a quick outfit post for you today!

I wanted to start incorporating some of my cotton summer dresses into my outfits after a long and boring winter, but I picked a particularly bad day to do it. I don’t really have enough slips or vests and today was cold, windy and, when we started taking these photos, drizzly to boot. I was cold. Still, I have been getting good use out of my trusty scarf/hood, and today was no exception. It’s excellent fringe protection in windy weather!

However, I haven’t given my recent haircut enough blog coverage yet so here I am without it too. Instead of going for the full Bettie bang effect, I have taken to combing it slightly to the side, Audrey Hepburn style. I promise it is meant to look like that, I’m not just pretending because the wind ruined it. 😉

In between every photo, the wind whipped my scarf over to the front.

I’m showing off my slip in all of these. 
Jacket : Heyday
Dress: vintage Swirl
Boots: old, horrible and ready for the bin
Bag: The Leather Satchel Co – full blog review very soon! 
We only spent about 3 minutes taking these pictures but just as we finished an ice-cream van drove past… it was way too cold for ice-cream but here’s a little outtake showing my reaction. Haha! 

Cannot WAIT until the day I can stop wearing tights (and eat ice-cream outside without hypothermia)!

Fleur xx
DiaryofaVintageGirl.com

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The King’s Wheels

As the seasons turn, it becomes less appropriate to drink The King’s Ginger neat (to warm one’s cockles), and more of a time to start thinking about long, cold cocktails to drink in the warm sunshine. Or maybe it’s just the two days of sunshine we had that’s made me do some seriously wishful thinking! Anyway, the sun was out when I motored down to the New Forest last week on the trail of King Edward VII. So, dear readers, to Beaulieu, where His Majesty went several times in his life, to meet the man who sparked in him the passion for motor cars which would last until his passing… not to mention the very reason for the existence of everyone’s favourite royal themed liqueur!

Ello guvnor! Fancy a ride in me ‘Ackney carriage? I’ll give you a nip of summat spicy!

Back when I started doing these King’s Ginger adventures, I touched upon King Edward VII’s love of cars and visited Brooklands Museum, but I only really touched upon it then. As I wrote in that original piece, King Edward owned a remarkable four Daimler motor cars upon his coronation in 1902 but he was introduced to cars in the late 1890s by early car fanatic John Walter Edward Douglas-Scott-Montagu, 2nd Baron Montagu of Beaulieu. As we all (hopefully) know by now, The King’s Ginger was invented by Edward’s physician, specifically to keep him warm when he was out driving. There wasn’t much in the way of heating in cars in those days, after all. I decided it really was time for me to pay a visit to the National Motor Museum in Beaulieu and the place where the King’s passion was born and therefore, where the roots of The King’s Ginger ultimately lie!

The Hon John Scott-Montagu (father of the present Lord, who still lives at Beaulieu) was born in 1866 and had a lifelong interest in engineering. He was first into sailing (Beaulieu being very close to Buckler’s Hard, where war ships were built), then trains. He trained as an apprentice at the London & South Western Railway (something which came in handy during rail strikes in 1919 and 1926, when he volunteered to drive trains himself). But he also saw first-hand the invention of the horseless carriage and the early motor car and could see the potential in this new form of transport. He became a passionate campaigner for motoring, taking part enthusiastically in early events and races in Europe (because man cannot invent a mode of transport without then racing it), winning the first ever medals for British drivers in British cars.

He’s generally acknowledged to have introduced Bertie, then Prince of Wales, to motoring, when he took the Prince for a drive in his 1899 Daimler. Bertie was so enchanted that he soon ordered his own Daimler. Royal officials were flabbergasted! Montagu was also the first man to ever drive a car into the courtyard of the Houses of Parliament, invented number plates and got the speed limit raised from 12mph to a hair-raising 20mph on public roads.

The King visited Montagu at least twice more – in 1902 and again in 1904, though he went by train on the latter date.

The National Motor Museum was founded in 1952 by John’s son, Edward Douglas Scott-Montagu, and at first, contained only five cars parked outside the Palace House. Nowadays, it has over 250, with everything from the very earliest cars and motorbikes to modern F1 cars and James Bon’d most recent Aston Martin. Plus the most amazing art deco Aubern as driven by Marlene Dietrich, one of the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang cars (there were apparently several – one with wings, one without, etc) and the car that Truly Scrumptious drives in the film as well.

The Truly Scrumptious car, complete with parasol holder! 

But the most interesting thing, with regards to this blog, is looking at the cars that actually belonged to King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra.

This car is a Renault, built in 1906 with a body by Hoopers of London. The way quality cars were made back in those early days involved the car manufacturer making the chassis and the buyer then choosing one of the many specialist coachworks to make the body, in order to show off their excellent tastes. Of course the King did it this way! After Edward passed away, Queen Alexandra continued to use the car, and it was apparently one of her favourites to go shopping in. The staff at Beaulieu kindly allowed me to go around the exhibit ropes to take some detail photos.

Apart from the tiny crown on the back which you could easily miss, there’s no indication it was a royal car. Well, except for this, perhaps.

This car was used personally by Queen Alexandra!

It’s an American made Columbia Electric from 1903, which the Queen would drive around the grounds of Sandringham. It had a range of 40 miles on one charge and was driven by its second owner, Richard Nash during WWII when petrol was rationed! 

There are plenty of other amazing cars from around the same period, the dawn of motoring.

1903 De Dietrich
Cadillac! 
A 1902 Daimler, just like the King would have had.
There is a lot of fab old motoring memorabilia too!
Early Driving licence – pretty sure the King never needed one of these! 
I could post these pictures all day – steampunk-esque details of old engines but I will stop there. Not before some additional pictures of me larking about on the only car you’re allowed to actually pretend to drive! With some King’s Ginger, of course.
Don’t drink and drive though kids, unless you’re the King, it’s 1902, there are hardly any cars and they all go around 12mph. 😉
I thoroughly recommend a visit to Beaulieu Motor Museum – so much to see and do as the ticket also gets you into the Palace House and the ruined Abbey on the grounds! I hope to go again and read up more about the lady racing drivers in the early days too. 
I’ll leave you with a King’s Sour, taken from the KGL Facebook page, perfect choice for the changing season. Make one with a shot of King’s Ginger, a shot of lemon juice and a dash of Bourbon shaken up with some cubed ice. I don’t think KGL cocktails need extra sugar but that’s just me!
One final note – I actually love driving, especially driving fast. Maybe I was a lady racing driver in a previous life! 

Fleur xx
DiaryofaVintageGirl.com

PS. As I have occasionally had questions from people asking about pronunciation of words, if anyone’s wondering, Beaulieu was known in the 1600s as ‘Bewley’, and that is indeed how it’s still pronounced despite its fancy spelling!

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Wonderful workwear

As a blogger of reasonable standing, I get sent a lot of press releases – too many these days to ever have the time to reply to as 99.9% of them are not about vintage, nor indeed any of my other interests outside of vintage. But the other day I got quite a cool one from Dickies that I thought I’d write up.

Now back in the 90s, when I was all into skater style, Dickies were all the rage! Work pants and work shirts on both sexes (but for girls, paired with little vest tops underneath) plus skate shoes (or Adidas shell-toes) were the standard uniform. Both things were even sung about by Vanilla Ice. Thems were the days!

But Dickies were historically always known for their tough workwear – something that they are probably more known for in 2014 again after those skate-tastic glory days of the mid-90s. The email I got was about all the awesome old advertising that they had dug up. Dating from the very earliest days of the Williamson-Dickie Manufacturing Co, it seems they originally did leisure wear too!

I actually had to email back to ask why they didn’t make awesome vintage-style swimwear like this original ad shows. I mean, really! Happy to say, they thought they should as well! It might not happen, but who knows. If it does, it was my idea. 😉

Throughout the 30s and 40s, Dickies weathered the storms of the Great Depression and WWII, mainly due to focussing all their efforts on the sturdy, practical gear they became known for. 
By the 50s they placed the emphasis on the ‘men of production’ with not a lady in sight, unless she was ironing his Dickies. You know, very of its time. They liked to mention how hot men looked in their clothes though! ‘Do your job and look good while doing it’ – a motto you tended to see a lot in advertising to women, so it’s nice to see the same reflected in the blokes’ ads too! 
This one’s a bit weird though. 
Ladies started to reappear in the late 50s/early 60s, albeit these seem to be unisex pegs! 
In the 1960s, the adverts got more edgy…

And I love this campaign from the 70s!

But by the 80s… well, I’ll let the fashions speak for themselves.

Hmm.

Thanks Dickies Store for sending me these brilliant pictures. Looking through the store now, there are a few 90s skate-era looking hoodies tucked away in between the functional workwear, but nothing that I’d currently wear. I suggested to them that if swimwear is a stretch too far, they might go back into high-waisted workwear pants for men and women as I am sure they would be really popular among the vintage crowd, don’t you think?

Well if nothing else, with the current early-90s revival working its way up through the decade, work shirts and work pants with skate shoes will soon be back in style anyway. If only I’d kept mine!

Fleur xx
DiaryofaVintageGirl.com