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Monthly Archives: September 2012

Military Magazine Issue 1 Article – Carbooting


CARBOOT BARGAINS

As winter waves its white hanky at the world, Spring and early Summer means one thing for most of us; the lul before the WWII events and… Carbooting!

Unfortunately due to wedding costs, I cannot afford our much loved flea fairs at present, so we are resorting to the odd visit to the local carboot instead. With a budget of £15 you can still find some amazing bargains if you hunt carefully enough!

Another great tip is to wait until right at the end of the carboot for when people are packing up. Some stall holders cannot be bothered to take things home so either leave a box of ‘junk’ by a bin that can hold a few treasures or sell things off for coppers.

Our recent treks to the carboot have been most satisfying and I managed some great finds! My first was a studio photo of the Beverley Sisters, which was not only signed on the back, but also again on a page from an autograph book. This fantastic piece of vintage music memorabilia from the very early 50’s only cost me £4! I am planning to mount it in a frame with a Beverley Sisters LP when I get around to it.

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On our second visit I managed to pick up a WWII American parachute, which Mr. Mew had seen the previous week. The guy was offering it for £35 (an amazing price indeed!!!), but sold it to me for £28 in a tatty canvas bag. On taking it out, I saw that it was dated 1942 and stamped with the makers name (a men’s trouser company) and the logo for Philadelphia Ordnance District where munitions have been made since the 20’s.

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My final great find was the King George Farthing Bracelet, with coins dating from 1941 and 1942. A great piece of sweetheart jewellery from the war, it has been masterfully made without drilling holes into the coins and dipped into silver (as the coins are originally copper). This fabulous bracelet cost me just £2 and was met with envious eyes when showing friends!

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Carboots are certainly getting more difficult to find collectible wartime memorabilia at good prices, especially as half seems to be pricey antiques dealers and the other half people flogging their Danielle Steele collection, Challenge Anneka board games and marble print dining curtains. There are still a few gems out there and as long as you aren’t too fussy about condition, you may be able to grab a few 1940’s books and china wear to add vintage touches to your home too.

A good tip for the ladies; don’t be afraid to dress up for these field events. Although you may stumble and totter over a few pot holes… and small dogs on too longer leash, there is a lot to be said about the power of vintage fashion! I never go to any flea market or jumble sale without some form of iconic headwear and a red lipstick smile. This proves a useful talking point with the sellers and has gained me quite a few bargains and some wonderful connections in my time!

Go with a small budget and this will make you more picky, observant and eager to barter on each stall. It also makes it a fun challenge! If you see anything more expensive than your budget that you MUST have, just ask the stall holder whether they will save it for you and exchange details. Some are very obliging, especially if you can give them a small deposit (or that annoying small dog on a too longer leash) as a down payment…

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Goodwood Revival 2012 Photos!


Here you go folks! A round up of photos taken mainly by Mr. Mew of the 3 days. I would have included more of him, but he was not happy with his outfit and hat mismatch, so have had to leave some out. Enjoy!

 

Kitten von Mew and Bill

Supposedly Bill and Ben, but more like Thompson and Thomson from TinTin or Mr Ben! Bill, his son and I in the back lot at Goodwood Revival

James Bond Baddies and Kitten von Mew at Goodwood 2012

James Bond Baddies and Kitten von Mew at Goodwood 2012

Goodwood Revival Camels

The camels outside the Driver’s Club VIP area!

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Inside the Driver’s Club, shmoozing with the peoples…

Kitten von Mew and The Garrison at Goodwood Revival

Kitten and The Garrison reenactment Group with a couple of members from the Goodwood team too!

Kitten von Mew and Ian

Kitten von Mew with ‘Daddy Tiger’ outside The Mess VIP area

Dan Gurney and Kitten von Mew, Goodwood 2012

Dan Gurney and Kitten in the Driver’s Club. What a guy!

Pinup Girls at Goodwood 2012

A couple of pinups from a magazine wanting photos!

Kitten von Mew in a Racing Car, Goodwood Revival 2012

Sitting in a classic F1 racing car…again… Thanks boys! You certainly need a corset to squeeze into that tight space!

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Derek Bell, Kitten von Mew and Tiff Needell in the Driver’s Club. Nice to be recognised!

Kitten in What Katie Did Corset at Goodwood Revival

Kitten von Mew posing on the WWII Swordfish at Goodwood Revival in What Katie Did’s Union Jack Corset

Kitten von Mew and Stirling Moss, Goodwood Revival 2012

Sterling Moss and I in the Driver’s Club. His wife recognised me immediately which was lovely. I proudly told her all about fitting a thermal vest under my corset. Stirling was more interested in my suspender belt 🙂

Kitten von Mew and Sue O Donoghue at Goodwood Revival 2012

Kitten von Mew and Sue O Donoghue in the backlot having a squidge. Didn’t get to see enough of my lovely lady this year!

Terry Elliot and Kitten von Mew, Goodwood 2012

Terry Elliot and I posing with the Daily Telegraph on Staurday which had a 2010 photo of me in there advertising Goodwood! Yeeehaw!

Kitten von Mew modelling What Katie Did Corset, Goodwood Revival 2012

Mid shoot on the Swordfish, posing with British Navy veterans, whilst wearing the gorgeous Union Jack WKD corset!

Kitten von Mew in Union Jack Corset at Goodwood Revival 2012

The best of British at Goodwood Revival 2012!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alton Towers – The Gardens and House


Kitten von Mew at Alton Towers

Kitten von Mew at Alton Towers

My trip…

We did not go to face the big rides and queues! To be honest I wanted to show Mr Mew the house itself and the beautiful gardens, which are somewhat overlooked nowadays. As we climbed down the woodland path with its walls of gnarled tree roots and stone walls, it was still hard to shut out the droning electrical clatter of the cable car. But soon even the screams of happy roller coastering youths were but a hum as my senses exploded with the mossy cool air of the shade to the hot grassy scent in the sun as we reached the old conservatory and ‘Le Refuge.’

Alton Towers Conservatory by Kitten von Mew

The crown on the glass domes top of the conservatory taken by KvM

Passing confused teenagers with maps “Looking for Air” and puffed out parties of girls thinking that it would be quicker than the cable car, no one really took in these beautiful surroundings and were more hell bent on finding the next death defying ride. If only they were to stop for a breath! Look at the stunning lake with its oriental pagoda! Take in the shadows and stillness of the once tropically cultivated conservatories! Imagine the harpist that lived in the little thatched cottage and was hired to fill these gardens with music! But no, they just hitched up their low cut jeans over their crystal embellished g-string and muffin tops and sauntered on towards the shouts and smell of fast food.

Conservatory Cobwebs by Kitten von Mew

The cobwebbed light of the conservatory, taken by KvM

I was in awe of the conservatories. The paintwork had baked in the Sun and cracked to show all of its original colours underneath.

Alton Towers Conservatory Windon taken by Kitten von Mew

Through the window, taken by KvM

A solitary palm tree, planted in one of the beds had grown large and broken through one of the glass roofs to escape the loneliness within and a large stone pool once filled with fish and a splashing  fountain now lay empty and full of creeping weeds and broken glass.

From the grounds to the house itself, which is now a shell and houses the Hex ride; There is little of the interior that you will get to see unfortunately. There do seem to be renovations going on, but no word on if this will be historical, a posh restaurant or just another ride. The chapel, with its beautiful hand painted ceiling and stained glass windows is accessible! Unfortunately the ornate alter and paneling was sold many years ago, but a small example of this is framed on the wall with a new reproduction next to it). At first it just feels like an empty room, but you soon find yourself immersed in the ceiling, the restored angels and old side windows with their intricate detailing.

Alton Towers Chapel Ceiling by Kitten von Mew

The ceiling in the chapel, hand renovated with angel statues. Taken by KvM

Stained Glass Windows at Alton Towers by Kitten von Mew

Left hand stained glass window of the chapel, taken by Kitten von Mew

I wasn’t a big fan of the main window, which is a modern piece designed by a local artist. I was however a lover of the colours that were projected on to some of the walls of the room:

Reflections in the Chapel by Kitten von Mew

Reflections from the main chapel window, taken by Kitten von Mew

When exiting the chapel, a conservatory walkway is visible and also serves as part of an exit for the Hex ride. This is currently being restored and some of the original beauty is still visible!

Original Flooring, taken by Kitten von Mew

Original Flooring, taken by Kitten von Mew

Alton Towers Fresco taken by Kitten von Mew

Fresco on arched doorway, leading from the conservatory hallway to the main house, taken by Kitten von Mew

Central Garden and Conservatory taken by Kitten von Mew

Central Garden and Conservatory taken by Kitten von Mew

Alton Towers House, taken by Kitten von Mew

Alton Towers House, taken by Kitten von Mew

It was not hard to visualise what this place had been like in it’s heyday. So full of music, laughter and entertaining! But I guess that is what it is now, just in a different way.

A short history on Alton Towers…

It was thanks to the 16th Earl of Shrewsbury that Alton Towers became such an amazing Gothic mansion. Hiring the famous architect Pugin in 1837 to add extra rooms for the ever growing family and art collection, Alton Abbey was transformed into Alton House. His budget was luckily not on the small side, so lavish vaulted ceilings, amazing carvings, light fixtures and fresco’s were a few of the additions brought to the home until the untimely death of Pugin in 1852 and then the Earl’s unfortunate passing from Malaria a few months later.

Unfortunately the 16th Earl’s cousin Bertram, aged 19 years, inherited the estates and title but died within 4 years, although in that time built Shrewsbury Cathedral with Pugin’s eldest son William and finished the work at Alton Towers.

After the 17th Earl’s death there ensued a bitter fight for the title and grounds as he was last in line of the Talbot heirs.  He had arranged in his will that the deeds were left in Catholic hands with the Dukes of Hazard Norfolk, but this was unfortunately over-ruled and Henry Chetwynd-Talbot took over the great estate. Unluckily for him, this did not include the contents and his celebration meal took place in a rather empty building. In 1857 the executors of the estate had sold off most of the contents in over 4000 lots at auction. Due to the legal action, the 18th Earl’s finances weren’t exactly flush and he could not replenish the lost beauty up to scratch. There was a miss-match of furniture and only basic maintenance upheld. Henry’s main home Ingestre Hall still remained his main abode other than when it suffered a large fire in the 1880’s.

It was in the 1890’s that the 20th Earl Charles Henry John Chetwynd-Talbot (are you keeping up?!) decided to open up the lavish gardens as a tourist attraction. 1000’s of people would attend these open garden events which would include circus acts and fete stalls! In 1896 the Earl divorced his wife and left the impoverished ex in Alton Towers, with no money to maintain the building. Most the estate was sold off in 1918 with the house being sold in 1924. This included a mass auction of the rest of the contents.

The house was never to be lived in again. It was finally passed onto the Talbot family again and the main dining room was transformed into a tearoom for garden guests in the 20’s and 30’s.

During WWII the house was used by the Cadets and they looked after the house very well considering! The house seemed in good stead until 1952 when the owners decided to blame the armies occupants for all manner of excuses to strip out the remainder of anything valuable.

From roofing to floorboards, local residents watched van loads drive out of Alton for weeks. The rest was then set alight in a big pile at the Eastern end of the big house, leaving but a shell. In the 1970’s some of the floors were re-instated to provide some menial structural support.

I have heard many stories, myths and legends about Alton Towers including the original gardens being created in dedication the the Earl’s deceased wife, so that he may be closer to her in heaven, but I do not know which Earl this was or if it is even true!

One thing that is true though, is the tale of the chained oak tree that you may see snippets of in the Hex ride. There is indeed a chained oak between the gates and Alton village. The 15th Earl demanded every branch of the tree to be secured after running into an old beggar woman who cursed him for not giving her a coin. He dismissed her at first as she shouted “For every branch on the Old Oak Tree here that falls, a member of the Earl’s family will die.” , but a violent storm ensued that night and a branch fell off of the tree and a member of the family died.

Whether or not this is all true, the tree and it’s chains remain.

BBC’s Wartime Farm Book by Octopus Publishing


Wartime Farm Book with Kitten von Mew

Kitten in her kitchen reading Wartime Farm

This week a rather exciting parcel arrived on my doorstep from Octopus Publishing! If anyone was a fan of The Edwardian Farm series on the BBC, they will know that the latest is Wartime Farm, taking you through pre and wartime farming life. This wonderful parcel was the book to accompany the series.

Beautifully presented with lots of interesting photos, fact and recipes, the reader can learn all about farming in the war, the machinery and techniques, the Women’s Land Army and my favourite part…wartime recipes for food and Soapwort shampoo! There is a splendid section dedicated to country fashion, hairstyling (with instructions for Victory Rolls) and entertainment (You can learn the basic foxtrot with the footstep diagram!) and even about the wartime evacuees that descended on the countryside.

Womens Land Army Poster

Women’s Land Army Poster

It always shocked me how much food was rationed in WWII, but to see it in pictures really does bring it home when you see the size of a piece of cheese or lard that had to last your family a week. There is a chapter on preserving and drying meat and fruit with some fantastic and at other times baffling recipes with step by step instructions.

I will definitely be trying the elderflower cordial recipe and possibly the Baked Potato Pudding (A pastry base with raspberry jam, topped off with mashed suede and potato which is baked in the oven). Im not too sure about the mock marmalade which uses crab apples, but the Soapwort shampoo certainly sounds interesting and Ruth Goodman said it was the best she had ever used and was now converted to it!

BBC Wartime Farm Series

BBC Wartime Farm Series

If you are looking for Christmas gifts or perhaps an interesting coffee table book for fans of the TV series, you can get this stunning hardback book from the publishers, Amazon or other book retailers.

Goodwood Revival 2012


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Murray Walker and Kitten von Mew, Goodwood 2011

With only 9 days left until the glory of Goodwood Revival yet again zooms it’s way around the track, I thought I would tell you some exciting developments for this year’s show! Revival is far from just classic car racing Catnips, it is a full day of entertainment, vintage and vintage inspired stalls, aircraft displays, famous racing car displays and more!

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Goodwood Revival Party 2010 with Kitten and Lord March

This year is especially exciting for me as they are featuring a new entertainments section called Over The Road, which is more early 1940’s inspired than the 1948-1966 areas that are usually on offer! Here you will find the famous Chap Olympiad (Ok, so they are more 20’s/30’s, but they are also a complete hoot and worth watching!) and Mr. B the Gentleman Rhymer who wraps in a King’s English accent over hip hop soundtracks and also pays the banjo splendidly(I will be sneakily trying to catch a glimpse myself as YouTube videos will not quench my thirst for his eclectic rhythm). As well as this there will be other pieces of entertainment in the Victory Street Party, which hosts a variety of stalls, an Earl Grey Tea Shop (yum!) and 2 hilarious eateries/ watering holes named Dig For Victory (think salads and fruit smoothies) and the Spit n Sawdust pub!

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Kitten with Sue O Donoghue at Goodwood Revival 2011

I will be there in my RAF corset doing meet and greets and posing for pictures, so please collar me as I walk by for a photo and chat! I hope to see many regular faces as well as new ones and remember to take the opportunity to dress up and join in the fun!

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Kitten and little soldier at Goodwood 2011

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Kitten and Chris Barrie at Goodwood 2011

Twinwood Festival Burlesque Photos by Lee Parker


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Richard and Kitten von Mew on the Vintage Life Magazine stand. Taken by Lee Parker

I have just received a photo CD from Lee and had to post up some of his shots from Twinwood 2012. There were so many  great ones, it was hard to narrow them down, but they deserve to be seen!  Here are some of my Lili Mewleen burlesque act from the Colonial Club and a few of my ATS fan dance at the Casablanca!

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Kitten von Mew as Lili Mewleen – Taken by Lee Parker

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Close up of original shot by Lee Parker

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“Oh nein!” Taken by Lee Parker

 

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Kitten in her Voller’s Corset by Lee Parker

 

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Clam shell kisses, taken by Lee Parker

 

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Kitten singing in the Casablanca Club in her ATS Corset by Lee Parker

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A song and a smile making life worth while! By Lee Parker

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Kitten von Mew’s ATS Fan Dance by Lee Parker

 

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Low flying Spitfires! Taken by Lee Parker