Welcome to my last Fleur dress post of 2013! We’ve had quite a few awesome new ones this year, but this one perhaps tops the lot. For it is a seasonal delight. Behold… the Christmas Fleur!
Welcome to my last Fleur dress post of 2013! We’ve had quite a few awesome new ones this year, but this one perhaps tops the lot. For it is a seasonal delight. Behold… the Christmas Fleur!
A story for you today.
As a blogger with a reasonable following, I often get contacted by companies and agencies wanting to send me all sorts of weird and wonderful things. Sometimes I say, ‘ooh, yes please’, sometimes I say, ‘ooh, no thank you’ (and sometimes I say ‘ooh, no thank you’, when really I mean, ‘OH HELL NO’). Sometimes I say nothing at all because I am pretty rubbish at replying to emails. Sorry, anyone who ever emails me.
Sometimes the companies are cryptic about what they want to send me. Usually this makes me say, ‘ooh, no thank you’ (and not with the latter’s additional thought… who doesn’t love surprises), not because I am not curious but because usually the things they send are things I cannot use, or don’t like, or which don’t suit me. Or, the problem I suffer from most in my undersized British flatted life, which I don’t have room for.
So when fancy pants social media agency 1000heads got in touch to ask me if they could send me a package that was something to do with Royal Mail’s (then) upcoming British Auto Legends stamp collection and guaranteed to contain cool stuff, I was intrigued. They also wanted to deliver it to me in person, in ‘serious style’. How exciting.
Sadly, it was not to be. On the two days they gave me, I was doing extra work on a new Marvel film that comes out next year. As you no doubt know, film shoots have seriously early call times. The conversation went something like this:
Them: ‘Can we deliver it to your house’?
Me: ‘Unfortunately I’ll be at work from super early to super late :(‘
Them: ‘Perhaps we can pick you up and drive you to work in a classic car?’
Me: ‘Awesome! I need to be there at 6.30am, so you’ll have to pick me up at 5.30am! Oh and collect me later otherwise I’ll be stuck in the boonies without transportation… ;)’
Them: ‘Erm… can we post it to you instead?’
An enormous parcel duly arrived. In it was an enormous but indeed very cool, old-fashioned toolbox.
Now I will confess at this point that I have been, on this occasion, one of ‘those’ bloggers. One that the PRs moan about in their office. The one who goes to a press event or a review dinner and eat EVERYTHING and drink EVERYTHING, racking up a huge bill. I have not done this, I promise. Real journos can be quite notorious for doing this too. Then there’s the one who gets a cool thing and doesn’t write about it for months and months and months. And another month. This is me. I actually owe another blog post on something else cool, but luckily that was more recent than this… ANYWAY!
The irony is that although a tool box was quite a topical thing in my life, since I had recently sold my flat and was doing all sorts of odd DIY to fix the neglected problems accumulated over eight years of living here, my tools are the kind of tools lots of rubbish 21st century adults have. Crap ones that we bought for 2.99 from Ikea, or acquired somewhere as a student, mostly rusty, paintbrushes never cleaned etc. I don’t want to put these horrible tools in my lovely toolbox. And plus, that’s not really relevant to my blog! 2003 isn’t vintage for a tool. The months ticked on. And still the long-suffering chap was emailing me, politely asking whether I had had a chance to post something about it, when he had obviously been on my blog and seen I clearly hadn’t.
A new twist in the tale came when a video was released of a man winning a weekend in the classic car of his choice. It being a Royal Mail campaign, the car was delivered in a huge parcel. Through the post. Here’s the video – it’s beautifully shot and the winner is so cute and shy, bless ‘im! And it explains the actual campaign, which I have completely neglected to do thus far.
But how to make this more relevant and thus make a reasonably interesting post on my blog? I suddenly realised when chatting to a blogger friend, Jayne Kitsch, that I was being a right idiot.
I shall use it for my REAL tools.
Thank you Royal Mail and 1000heads for sending me this very useful, huge makeup storage box. It even has my name on it!
Sorry, sorry, sorry, it has taken me so long to write this post.
What’s the most unusual surprise gift you’ve ever been sent?
Last week, I got involved with a little project with Pentax (or, PENTAX as it seems to be in all the correspondence, which is odd retro-futuristic to my eyes… PENTAX THE DESTROYER, robot from outer space), anyway, yes. They wanted me to test drive a little Pentax Q7 – little being the operative word. It is a very small non-SLR camera with interchangeable lenses. Something in between a point-and-shoot and my beloved and very battered Canon.
Look how small!
It’s a mirrorless camera, meaning there’s no viewfinder – just the LCD screen. It’s very light and, importantly for me, very sturdy, falling off a high counter onto a tiled floor just 3 days into my challenge and being absolutely, perfectly fine (unlike my Canon which smashed its expensive lens into bits during a similar mishap).
You can fiddle with the settings like on a normal DSLR – I like to shoot on Av, so I can change the f-stop (the lower the better), although the zoom function on the Q7 changes the f-stop automatically. You can change the ISO and the white balance too. I tend to stick with Auto on those 😉
It even shoots video, though I haven’t had a play with that yet.
The challenge was to take a photo every day for a week, each with a different colour scheme. This is something quite fun, requiring one to keep an eye out every minute of the day for a suitable photo opp (and sometimes failing and resorting to what one has in hand). I also took it to Rhythm Riot over the weekend before to test it out. Here are some of the test results (these have not been edited in any way):
And here’s the full project! These were all taken on the Q7, emailed to my phone and then put through Instagram, so there are filters added.
Blimey but I am behind with my posting. I have new job! It’s very exciting – I am now officially ‘Head of Social Media’ at a little digital agency called Digital Binx. It’s all very new (two weeks!) so I don’t have a huge amount to tell you all yet. Have a look at the site to find out more!
But just before I started, I had the absolute honour of being invited to stay for a night at Bailbrook House in lovely, lovely Bath. It’s part of the small, boutique chain of Handpicked Hotels, all known for their beautiful and unique venues. Bailbrook itself seems to have languished for several decades as a conference centre, so the transformation to a fancy hotel is pretty amazing. Here’s my little review!
We arrived on a rainy Sunday afternoon and were immediately treated to Afternoon Tea. Now I am a huge fan of afternoon tea as you may well know from reading umpteen other blogs about said teas; but my lovely man Sean is not as au fait with them. It’s fair to say he doesn’t ‘get’ afternoon tea and had not, in his recollection, ever had one. He was soon converted.
There were two teas available – savoury and sweet. We chose one of each! The savoury had freshly baked breadsticks, smoked salmon caesar salad, parma ham and some amazing homemade harissa spiced ‘hummous’ (in inverted commas as it didn’t taste at all like hummous but was utterly delicious) and tzaziki, plus olives, tiny prawn vol au vents and croque monsieur. Oh and the finger sandwiches, standard tea offering but not standard in this case with homemade bread in multiple flavours. YUM.
The sweet tea was pretty traditional: sandwiches, scones with fresh clotted cream and jam, but also with tiny strawberry and mint cupcakes, bakewell tarts and a little Peach Schnapps sorbet and madeira cake. Very tasty indeed.
The tea was all Twinings finest, but with a really neat system to choose. A presentation box with loose teas in jars was brought over for us to open and sniff. I chose Earl Grey as I very often do. Mr Tizard chose a smoky one whose name escapes me. They came over with a little timer to get the perfect brew – white, green or black tea!
That evening we explored Bath and had an awesome sleep in the very comfy bed (not to mention a bath in the huuuuge bathroom with TV and waterproof remote. Here’s the Tizard, demonstrating.
Unfortunately I forgot to photograph the bed, I got so excited about jumping onto it. So here is a recreation of my first entrance into the room, performed the following morning.
There were lots of cool, quirky vintage pictures everywhere… and the four poster bed was THE most comfortable ever.
The Cloisters restaurant was beautiful and it was delicious.
What about the hotel itself? It was a horrible day when we visited Bailbrook House Hotel. Here’s a photo of it looking lovely.
It’s truly gorgeous, Georgian; built in the 1790s and used for all sorts (including, as previously mentioned, as a conference centre). The grounds are lovely too. I had to have a pose. In me big troosers.
I had such a lovely night’s stay with the great food and super room. A massive, massive thank you to Bailbrook House and Handpicked Hotels for having me. If you are looking for a luxurious mini-break in the wonderful city of Bath, I couldn’t recommend it more! I adore Bath so much though. Anyone got any other recommendations? I want to go back soon!
I have been threatening to
entertain bore you with my holiday photos for a while and while there are some good holiday outfit photos forthcoming, I also went on a little investigative journalism trip while out in Athens. By which I of course mean, I larked about in the name of a particularly gingery libation which I am positive will be well-known to you all now. It’s time to do some cursory warmup lunges and jog on the spot for five seconds before launching into a fancy new ‘abroad’ instalment of The King’s Ginger Adventures!
In April 1869, the Prince of Wales, who was on a big tour of official duties (and presumably fun and sightseeing) around Europe, left Constantinople vis Bosphorus in Turkey and duly arrived in the Port of Athens. After a quick look around (with everything festively decorated to welcome his Highness apparently,) the Royal Party then hopped on the train to the Hellenic King’s palace in the countryside, by all a beautiful place surrounded by equally beautiful scenery. On the following day, they all hopped back on the train and headed for the Acropolis for a personal (and presumably private) tour.
It’s not surprising that his future Majesty went for the Acropolis tour. It’s such an imposing and unmissable sight, looming up over the city of Athens. I had actually been to visit it before, while on a day trip to Athens with my family (from our holiday on a Greek island, standard) when I was about 12 or so. And my lovely boyfriend Sean had been before, too. But I wanted to do something unusual for this latest article and so, we duly trekked up to the lofty heights on a scorching day.
After getting there, getting tickets and then nearly dying of shock at trying to buy two (500ml!) bottles of water and being asked for no less than €10 (we declined), we headed in. The first thing to say is that it (and its surrounding areas) look rather different from how it would have done back in 1869.
This is the view from it today with the hill from which the above photo was taken to the left…
But what about the ancient buildings themselves as Bertie would have seen them? Well, between 1835 and 1854, the first ever major restorations took place and the monuments were, in effect, put back together using the actual ancient parts, interspersed with new marble. Hence the Parthenon was partially restored at the time. But unfortunately, the inexperience of the workers and the use of iron created lots more problems which have been being sorted out ever since. The modern Acropolis is 50% scaffolding.
The Temple of Athena is more put together than it was back then, though. Exhibit A (1869):
And Exhibit B (September 2013):
Nonetheless, it must have been an imposing sight for the future King and his entourage… not to mention significantly fewer heath and safety restrictions!
The Life of King Edward VII by John Castell Hopkins tells us that on the day in question, 21st April 1869, ‘The Acropolis was visited and the glories of that scene of historic greatness revived in the memories of the Royal travellers. A state banquet followed in the evening and on the next day a number of memorable sights and scenes were visited while the evening was the occasion for a coloured and very striking illumination of the mighty ruins of the Acropolis.’ Sounds super fancy.
But this wasn’t the only time Bertie visited Athens (and went round the Acropolis)… for he returned again during his reign. In 1906 to be precise, for the first Intercalated Olympic Games.
Ah, the Olympics. Big news in the UK last year and, in fact, a topic I covered in this very blog series since they were also held in 1908, during the reign of our hero King Edward VII. You will know several Olympic facts, like that they happen every four years; but you may not know that in the early part of the last century, they tried to make them more often.
The first ever ‘official’ (there were plenty of smaller forerunners across Europe in previous years and centuries) took place in Athens in 1896. They were very successful, so much so that the Greeks proposed they did the same every four years. Unfortunately, the French chap who founded the International Olympic Committee, Pierre de Coubertin, wanted his homeland to have some of the glory. Hence, Paris hosted the next Games in 1900, St Louis Missouri in the US got the 1904 event. And dear old Blighty played host to the 1908 edition. But the French games were very long, stretching over several months, were slightly overshadowed by the Exhibition they ran concurrent to. Thus, after the 1900 Olympics, the IOC decided to grant the Greeks their own quadrennial Games – otherwise known as the Intercalated Games. They were a big success, short (two weeks), sweet and with the first ever First Parade of Nations (in alphabetical national order with Greece entering last as the host nation), and the first Closing Ceremony, featuring 6,000 local schoolchildren. Very little footage survives but, luckily, this clip features none other than our hero, King Edward VII entering the stadium along with King George of Greece for the opening ceremony with Queen Alexandra (who was in fact the daughter of King George I of Greece). So grand.
At the time, this interim Games was actually known as an official Olympics, it was only downgraded later. Shame! It wasn’t as eventful as the 1908 Olympics of London but Royal participation did come in the form of Prince George, King Edward’s brother in law, accompanying the marathon winner, Canadian Billy Sherring, on his final lap of the stadium. Also, according to Wikipedia, ‘Peter O’Connor of Ireland won gold in the hop, step and jump (triple jump) and silver in the long jump. In protest at being put on the British team, O’Connor scaled the flagpole and hoisted the Irish flag, while the pole was guarded by Irish and American athletes and supporters.’
I wish I could have gone to Panthanikos Stadium to take some photos, but there are only so many ancient ruins one can do in one holiday (I did lots more, pictures to follow).
I hope you have enjoyed this little look at King Edward’s two visits to Athens. As you know, I usually pose with a bottle of King’s Ginger to illustrate my posts, but booze and budget airlines don’t work well together at all. So, I improvised with a booklet instead!
Don’t forget to try the King’s Ginger… perfect for these cool autumn nights. See where it’s available here!
I don’t think the pictures need much waffle from me. Take it away!
Aside from the Chap stuff, there is SO much going on. I didn’t go to see any racing, but I did enjoy the Mods v Rockers brawl…
Here’s to next year!
Hello, hello, hello. I have so many fun pictures and stories to post here, especially from a lovely wedding I went to in Greece last week, but this business news post was meant to go up while I was away… and it didn’t. So please indulge this news about pretty dresses, I’m sure it isn’t too much of a hardship though!
So you may remember a short while ago I posted about the PinaFleur, a new dress collab with Heyday. The first run came up slightly short which was great news for petite ladies, not so much for tall-ies. But the next one was not too short. It is perfect for a range of heights!
Ta-daaa! The PinaFleur!
Now you may live in the Northern Hemisphere and be feeling it is a little chilly for summery gingham, and you’d be right (although all you Southerners please feel free to go wild on summery fabrics), so we have also launched an autumnal-hued Fleur wrap dress in a quality cotton. Pop a slip underneath and it’s an outfit that’s going to last you until it starts turning *really* cold.
The Garden Circles Fleur dress has a light biscuit brown/beige background with white circles filled with pink and rosebuds. The navy version of this was our best-seller! The neckline and pockets have been bound n forest green to bring out the green leaves of the flowers and make it more autumnal still.
And here’s me with some dinosaurs just for good measure.
Hope you like the frocks and the fabrics we chose. Back to bore you with my holiday snaps soon!
This is when I went to the London pop-up store to see it all with my eyes.
PS. I am not sure what’s up with the photos in this post… I cannot do anything with them. Sorry, symmetry fans! 😉
Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Of course not, are you feeling alright!? It’s the latest instalment of my King’s Ginger adventures of course, in which I have a tour round the residence of the future King… in which I was sadly not allowed to take photographs! Thank goodness for The Internet, eh? To Marlborough House and the full story!
Marlborough House was Edward VII’s home for nearly 40 years, from 1863 until 1901 when Queen Victoria died and he became King. Then, of course, he moved to Buckingham Palace. It’s not a place that’s open to the public as it is now the headquarters of the Commonwealth Secretariat. But, last weekend, it was thanks to Open House London 2013. There were so many brilliant places to go and see but this year I chose Marlborough House. Who wouldn’t want to poke around a Prince’s pad??
Marlborough House was built in 1711 and was, as the name suggests, the London residence for the various Dukes of Marlborough for a whole century. Actually, five Dukes and Duchesses of Marlborough, three dowager queens and three Princes of Wales. When it was first constructed, it had a mere two storeys, thus:
Designed and built by Christopher Wren (he of St Paul’s Cathedral fame) in his typical stone-trimmed brick style, the first Duke of Marlborough and his wife used it as their London residence. We can thank his Mrs, Duchess Sarah, for the idea. She was a favourite lady to Queen Anne and Sarah went to the Queen for a lease and permission to build. She even laid the first foundation stone herself, and she later fell out with Wren and supervised the building work herself! Talk about a Lady of action. The Duke was a noted military leader (his main pile was Blenheim Palace, given as a reward for his success at the Battle of Blenheim) and the house was covered in wallpaintings by decorative artist Louis Laguerre celebrating his various victories. Many of these remain in the staircases (named after the battles the Duke fought in) and they are stunning (photos from the panoramic viewer on the site).
The House passed into Royal hands in 1817 and housed a few dowager queens and princes in the proceeding years. But the period we’re all interested in (aren’t we!) is the one where our hero, Albert, Prince of Wales took up residence in 1863.
Marlborough House had some extra storeys put on it to accommodate his future Majesty – first looking like this… and then to its current incarnation with three levels, as below! It was in 1863 that Sir James Pennethorne, chief architect at the Office of Works, knocked together two or three of the principle rooms to make much bigger, grander ones, added a northern extension and added the extra floors too.
This is the back or south side of Marlborough House – if you look carefully, you can see the Prince of Wales emblem on the top storey (next to the flag of the Commonwealth).
For his Highness, some modifications were made to the inside, too. The front lobby that I am standing outside was added, and the Blenheim Saloon, the first room visitors came into from the front was also updated. It’s very grand in that completely over the top way the Victorians were so good at. We can only imagine what the original Duchess’s waiting room looked like. It was described as being ‘of ample proportions, for the accommodation of the crowd… who were certain to assemble there’. But it was not ample enough for Bertie. The resulting saloon was deemed ‘one of the handsomest rooms in London’. It’s hung with tapestries and on the upper levels, by the balcony, there are Laguerre paintings of the Battle of Blenheim, including the big surrender to the Duke.
Below is the Delegate’s Lounge, as it is now known. Back in younger Bertie’s day, it was the State Dining Room and his future Majesty would entertain and hold Derby Day dinners for members of the Jockey Club. It’s also where Edward VIII dined the evening he later informed his mother he would be abdicate and marry Wallis Simpson… but that is a story for another day. There’s a grand portrait of the Prince in there.
When our Bertie was crowned on his mother’s death in 1901, he moved with Queen Alexandra to Buckingham Palace and the rest is history. It was home to a few others after but then passed on to the government by our current monarch, Elizabeth II.
From the official blurb:
‘In September 1959, the Queen placed Marlborough House at the disposal of the British Government as a Commonwealth centre and it came into use as such in March 1962. In 1964, the idea of an international and independent secretariat to service the growing Commonwealth was proposed, and Marlborough House became its actual headquarters in 1965.’
Posing with the Commonwealth flags.
…and just posing.
My lovely sponsor and friend Miss Bamboo needs your help.
She has reached the finals of the Vintage Manchester Awards and now could do with a final push. Can I ask all my dear readers to take mere seconds out of your day and please vote for Miss Bamboo in said Vintage MCR Awards? You don’t need to vote in all the categories so it is really quick.
Just look at all the lovely things she does:
There there’s the awesome repro lines she carries… she is the main stockist of Trashy Diva in the UK…