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Welcome Betsy Rose!


Well, on 14th July at 3.44am, this little bundle forced her way into the world weighing 7lbs 10! I had her at the Lucina Birthing Centre in Coventry, which was the best decision I ever made. The midwives were fantastic and the rooms and facilities incredible. Midwife run wards like this are definitely the way forward!

So here she is, our beautiful, windy, bubbly baby; Betsy Rose May Von Mew…

betsy von mew

Betsy and her Mama Mew

V&A Museum and Tea at Claridges


As baby is pretty much imminent and we were running out of time to do things that we wanted to before her arrival, we decided to use my Claridges afternoon tea voucher (thanks Little Siss!) and visit the Victoria & Albert Museum for our wedding anniversary.

I hadn’t been to the museum for many years and so much had changed, which was a shame in some respects, but there had also been many improvements such as the inner courtyard area. This now hosted a shallow pool and sitting platforms, encouraging you to dabble your toes on a hot day and take in the beautiful architectural features. Like a lot of places, the V&A features an incredibly over priced eatery, but everything looked lovely and you would go there for a treat not as a necessity!

It is a little hard to get your baring whilst walking through then endless levels, even with the map and had to double back on many occasion when trying to find certain exhibits, but got there in the end! I was especially keen to see the costumes and stage/ film section, but unfortunately it was not fully open and some of the cases were empty which was really disappointing! There were some little gems though as you can see…

victoria-and-albert-museum-joan-rhodes-dress

This incredible boned and highly structured dress was worn by Joan Rhodes. Joan was a glamorous ‘Strong Woman’, famed for her 50 cm waist and her ability to break 25cm nails with her teeth, bend steel bars and rip up telephone directories (250, 000 of them in her career!).

victoria-and-albert-museum-george-formby-banjo

1930’s banjo owned by George Formby. He actually used to re-string his banjos with fishing line.

victoria-and-albert-museum-dandelion-light

Designed by Studio Drift in 2011, this amazing Fragile Future concrete Chandelier features real dandelion seed heads and is powered through a 3D bronze circuit that conducts the electricity to the bulbs inside the dandelion heads. Not a wire in sight!

victoria-and-albert-museum-dandelion-light-1-web

dale-chihuly-glass-chandelier-v-and-a-museum

A stunning glass chandelier sculpture by Dale Chihuly. I remember first seeing his pieces at Art in Action many years ago. It is wondefrul seeing them in such places as the V&A and Claridges now!

victoria-and-albert-museum-vivien-leigh-costume

Vivien Leigh’s costume from Duel of Angels (1958). It has a very ‘New Look’ feel to it, even though it is much later. Designed by Christian Dior.

victoria-and-albert-museum-noel-coward-hip-flask

A fabulous flask given by Noel Coward to each of the cast members on the opening night of his operetta Bitter Sweet. It is designed to look like a little book and in inscribed ‘with best wishes Noel Coward’.

victoria-and-albert-museum-movie-gown

Frustratingly, this amazing costume had no information as they were still working on the exhibit. I have a photo of this outfit saved somewhere from many years back and know it was worn by a famous starlet in a film, but cannot say who or where!

victoria-and-albert-museum-lion-king-costumes

Fantastic costumes from the Lion King stage production!

The V&A has rather a lot of religious artifacts, but I was more interested in the jewellery section (absolutely STUNNING pieces, but no photography allowed!), the costumes and the marble statues. The museum now has a separate site housing the children’s things (which I had not realised as I was hoping to see the doll’s houses and vintage toys) and doesn’t seem to have the Egyptian items I remember fondly from my childhood. It was still a lovely outing and the building itself is spectacular if you are a fan of gothic architecture!

We couldn’t wait for our afternoon tea at Claridges! We are a big fan of these and have already been lucky enough to have some at The Ritz, so the comparison would be very interesting. Claridges has some wonderful Art Deco features and detailing. Even the door bell has me weak at the knees! The decor was fabulous and airy, but I guess that is mainly because you are literally sat in an atrium foyer area whilst having your tea. I found it less pretentious than the Ritz in some ways; no need for shirt and tie (but relieved to see that everyone was till dressed smartly!) and the food was just as good! I was served gluten free finger sandwiches and my pregnancy dietary requirements were all catered for. The bread was wonderful (sometimes gluten free can be rubbery or dry) and they happily topped up the sandwiches when plates were empty (Ettington Park could learn a thing or two about this, they actually charge extra for more of their measly pickings and don’t tell you until you receive the bill!). The scones (also gluten free) were delicious and served with clotted cream and a special fruit jelly infused with tea! Then came the delicacies such as a little coconut and passion fruit tapioca pudding and wonderful treats. We were also brought out another cake plate especially for our anniversary!

The tea (I am a sucker for Earl Grey) was wonderful and topped up frequently by our allocated server. The only thing that was a little frustrating was that you had to wait to have the tea served for you, rather than being able to relax and do it yourself. This was literally the only gripe and the rest was wonderful. I think I actually preferred it to The Ritz! Oh I forgot to say! There was a cello and pianist there playing not only classics such as A Nightingale Sang in Berkley Square, but also renditions of modern songs like Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean! Fantastic!

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The Mew’s plus bump enjoying our wonderful afternoon tea!

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Our wonderful ‘Happy Anniversary’ surprise at Claridges!

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My scrumptious gluten free selection of treats!

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Mr Mew’s selection!

Celebrities at War


From Silver Screen to Serving in WW2 – Originally written for Military World Magazine by Kitten von Mew

So we all know about the honourable work that a lot of celebrities did, entertaining our troops throughout the war with ENSA, the USO and in the movies. What about those stars that actually served in WW2? I’m bring you just 6 of the many who did!

Attenborough 1942

Richard Attenborough 1942

Richard Attenborough in In Which We Serve, 1942. Image from http://vintage.tips

Winning 4 Golden Globes and BAFTA Awards, starring in blockbuster movies such as Jurassic Park and The Great Escape and directing classics such as Whistle Down the Wind, Oh! What a Lovely War, Gandhi and A Bridge Too Far…This is one man with a determined and energetic disposition! It is no wonder that he signed up for the Royal Air Force. He initially trained as a pilot and was then placed at the RAFFPU (Royal Air Force Film Production Unit) located at Pinewood Studios, under the command of Flight Lieutenant John Boulting. They produced propaganda films, showing bombed sites, RAF aircraft and aerial action. Attenborough volunteered to fly with the unit and qualified as a Sergeant after sustaining permanent ear damage during his further training. He flew several missions, recording from the rear gunner’s position. Although this is not technically classed as actually fighting in the war, can you imagine being up there, filming Bomber Command sorties and wondering when the next air raid would be???

Mike Anderson

Mike Anderson, Around the World in 80 Days

Michael Anderson (left), Mike Todd Frank Sinatra Around the World in 80 Days 1956. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Michael Anderson is best knows for directing Dam Busters, Around the World in 80 Days, Orwell’s 1984 and Logan’s Run! In WW2 he served from 1942 to 1946 in the Royal Signal Corps, 48th Infantry Division. There is hardly any information about his time in the British army!

Bea Arthur WW2 Card

Bea Arthur WW2 Card

Bea Arthur WW2 Marines

Bea Arthur WW2 Marines

Bea Arthur (previously Frankel) is most famous for her ‘ tough chick’ character in The Golden Girls, but was also one of the first women to serve in the Marines in the war! After hearing that the Marines were enlisting in 1943 (at the age of 21), she hoped for a role in ground aviation, but became a truck driver and typist and made it to Staff Sergeant in her 30 month serve. In her Personality Appraisal interview sheets, she had been described as ‘Officious but probably a good worker – if she has her own way!” and her conversation as “Argumentative”.

Arthur always denied serving in the war, but this may have been a cover up of her one count of misconduct…contracting a venereal disease in 1944!

Gene Autry WW2

Gene Autry WW2

Gene Autry. From rgreyh.files.wordpress.com

Known fondly as the ‘Singing Cowboy’, Gene Autry appeared on television, radio and films such as In Old Santa Fe, always playing the same singing cowboy character. He was the fist of his kind, but was superseded by Roy Rogers when Autry enlisted.

Joining the US Army 1942, he already had a private pilot’s license that proved useful. He became Tech Sergeant but was hell-bent on becoming an aviator. 2 years later he earned his service pilot rating as a C-109 transport pilot as Flight Officer. Autry flew dangerous airlift operation as part of the 91st Ferrying Squadron of the 555th Army Air Base Unit, Air Transport Command. Their missions took them over the Himalayas, between China – India – Burma Theatre. He ferried ammunition, arms and fuel until the end of the war.

Jackie Coogan WW2

Jackie Coogan WW2

Jackie Coogan in the US Army, From amazonaws.com

Jackie Coogan was famously know for his role as Uncle Fester in the Addams Family in the 1960’s (bald head, made light bulbs glow by putting them in his mouth…you know the one), but did you also know that he was the little boy in Charlie Chaplin’s The Kid?

In the First World War, Coogan worked with Near East Relief and toured across Europe and the USA in 1924 on a fundraising drive. In March 1941 he enlisted in the US Army as a medic after being angered by the Pearl Harbour attack. He later requested to become part of the 1st Air Commando Group thanks to already having a pilot’s license. Coogan was the first glider pilot to land allied troops behind the enemy lines of Burma! One of the gliders he was aboard unfortunately crashed. Coogan’s troop was attacked by the Japanese and he was the only one to survive, due to being at the bottom of the pile of bodies. He served for 5 years before being honourably discharged in 1944 and given the Air Medal and several other war citations for his service.

Alec Guinness WW2

Alec Guinness WW2

Sir Alec Guinness, middle row, centre.

He didn’t just help Skywalker defeat the dark side as Obi Wan in Star Wars! No! He also served in the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve too! Also famous for such movies as Bridge Over the River Kwai, Kind Hearts and Coronets (one of my favourites!) and Hitler: The Last Ten Days of which he surprisingly considered his best film performance.

Guinness commanded a landing craft in the invasion of Sicily and Elba, later ferrying agents and supplies to the National Liberation Army and Partisan Detachments of Yugoslavia.

VE Day Celebrations 2015


I was lucky enough to attend 3 events this year commemorating the 70th anniversary of VE Day…and huzzah! They were all local!

With baby on her way in just 8 weeks, these were my last until I am recovered enough after her birth, making them poignant for other reasons as well as marking the allied victory in 1945.

Evesham VE Festival was first on the May Bank Holiday. It has always been a firm favourite local event of mine and as well as vintage stalls and great food stands, it also features free live entertainment through out the day. The fact that you get to see the Del Ray Rockets and other singers free of charge is well worth the day out and for some miraculous reason, the weather is always good no matter what it was doing 20 minutes prior to the festival opening! It is a shame there were no stall in the square’s main building this year as I usually love a good mooch inside there, but hopefully they will bring them back!

I had a super time singing on stage and doing our little stall, not to mention having the privilege of being the face of the event this year! If you have never been and are local to the Warwickshire/ Evesham, area, why not take a trip to this fantastic event next year. If not for my warblings, at least for the crepe stall!!!

Kitten von Mew and Peter Wayre

Dressed up for my 1950’s set with Peter Wayre

Richard and Kitten von Mew, VE Festival Evesham 2015

Mr and Mrs Mew! Wearing an original 1940’s sun dress with a mock bolero style front. Luckily it fits over the bump!

richard-and-peter-wayre-evesham-2015

Peter Wayre and Mr Mew at our stall

Next up was Yates Court Care Home, putting on a wonderful VE Day party for the residents and guests! Union Jack bunting and table wear was the order of the day and everyone came dolled up in their best. We even spotted some medals (on a Hawaiian shirt) and a paratrooper beret being proudly worn for the occasion. The little stage was festooned with camo net and flags and I had so much fun entertaining the crowd! They all joined in to Vera Lynn, Siegfried Line and Run Rabbit Run and some suddenly got a huge burst of energy during the Gracie Fields numbers and came up for a jig around!

VE Day 2015 Yates Court Care Home

Having a little jig to Sing As We Go!

Yates Court Care Home VE Celebrations 2015

Yates Court Care Home VE Celebrations 2015. Having a little rest before my set!

VE Day Cake

A wonderful VE Day Cake made by the staff!

Finally my last singing set before Baby Mew arrives! This was last night at The Oak in Hockley Heath. A wonderful VE Day Dinner Dance with the Steve King Big Band. This wonderful 18 piece was one of the best we had seen in a long time and played some wonderful classics. The singer (sorry, no photo!) was exceptional! My little set was slotted into the band’s break and I had a wonderful time entertaining the guests. There was such a lovely atmosphere and it was the perfect way to wind down my performances!

kitten von mew the oak hockley heath

Mr and Mrs Mew plus one

the oak hockley heath ve dinner dance

The Steve King Band

So a huge thank you to everyone who has made the first half of this year so amazing with their events and booking an every-increasingly more pregnant singer! The next half will be just as exciting!

 

Evesham Vintage Festival 3rd and 4th May!


This has to be one of my favourite local events! With wonderful stalls to browse, scrumptious food and fantastic live music and entertainment throughout the 2 days, it certainly makes for a memorable bank holiday!

I am so proud and honoured to be the face of this year’s event and will be singing on both the Sunday and Monday! See you there!

Vintage Maternity Suit


Just thought I would show you this adorable 50’s maternity suit I borrowed from my lovely friend Shona. We now seem to be utterly comfortable with our baby bumps and many of us are not afraid to show them off to their best advantage with form fitting tops etc. It seemed to be a totally different story until very recently. The idea was to completely conceal what was going on until the baby popped out into the world. Smocks and very loose fitting dresses were the order of the day!

I wanted to make a couple of 1940’s things to wear at some point, so purchased a couple of patterns from Etsy. The covers made me laugh as every single one out there has illustrations of the designs on ladies who are clearly not pregnant. Although stating ‘Maternity’ across the envelope, you wouldn’t know it from what is on the front at all!

1940's matenrity patterns

Image from Coconutheadpatterns on Etsy

So here is the 1950’s suit I wore to Lyme Regis this weekend. It was very comfortable, the skirt very much so, with a flap at the front concealing a hole so that your baby bump can expand. There are 3 buttons either side that allows the waist to expand also. The jacket is obviously a loose fitting thing that skims over and smooths everything. I would say that a belt under the bust line would improve it immensely!

I will be writing an article for Military World about what to wear at events when you are expecting, so will post on here also. It is a struggle to find vintage styles out there when your bump reaches a certain size! I have some larger fitting repro items, but after a while, you do seem to need maternity wear or something with a higher waistline. I shall attempt to help those who still want to look the part, even if they still feel like a baby bungalow…

1950s Houndstooth Maternity Outfit

WW2 Doll Pattern




I found this fantastic doll pattern on Etsy, which is a copy of an original American WW2 doll pattern. It is very basic and that suits me down to the ground! I wanted something I could alter without too much hassle!

I decided to change the WAC uniform to British ATS and a red head (of course!). This was the first time I have tried embroidering a doll face, so was a new challenge for me! The eyebrows are Marino wool to match the hair but the eyes and lips are just formal sewing thread that I tripled in the needle before using.

The pattern includes 3 types of uniform (skirt, jacket, hat and blouse), but because I didn’t want the jacket to open, I just made the front of the blouse, collar and tie out if a scrap of one of Richard’s old USO shirts! I had used the other half of it for an act, so glad I kept the scraps!

The wool fabric was bought at a local haberdashers and although expensive by the metre, I only bought a 30cm width so wasn’t too bad and I have enough left for a matching boy doll and more. I also bought a sample swatch of leather as the pattern used more embroidering to depict shoes (literally just shoe laces). After some playing around I came up wit a basic pixie design and matching belt.

Here is my first attempt…

So, I was quite pleased apart from the head. The doll ends up with no neck, so I tried creating one which wrinkled the face and my stupid permanent pen guides I had drawn for the facial embroidery ended up spreading, making her look like an old lady!

I ended up doing a Marie Antoinette job on her head, which I had made all the more complicated as I had inconveniently sewn the blouse collar and jacket to the body. I drew around the head template again onto the plain cotton, but this time I added a neck! I sewed the new head on as best I could and tidied the wound with a strip of leather. Lucky it just neatens the area and doesn’t make her look like a 40’s themed dominatrix. 

So here you go! The finished doll and, for my first attempt, I think she is pretty good! I want to add some buttons on her jacket using thread, but just have to figure out a way to do this.

I am planning to use the pattern for different themes, not just military, but will re-draw the body so that she has more of a neck before trying another one.





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