Whilst recovering from my keyhole surgery, I decided to make something for myself for a change! I am a huge fan of berets, so took one out of my cupboard and set to work on decorating it. I have to say it was highly enjoyable and I was very pleased with the outcome! With pearl beads from a broken necklace and felt swallows, hearts and flowers, it has cheered up my headwear no end and looks great with my red coat! I will make some to sell if the prove popular!
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This is my fabric design that I have entered into a competition, which will start on 29th November! Once my test swatch has come, you will be able to order some for yourself!
Check out my fabric shop here for more designs on sale and preview!
On 23rd September Mr. Mew and I jetted off to Chicago to a WWII event in Rockford Illinois. This was a huge excuse to meet up (for the very first time) with 2 friends from Facebook who’s friendship became so great that I felt like we were long lost relatives.
Unfortunately for everyone else I had over done the drama of my diva bride role at Goodwood Revival the weekend before so ended up with Laryngitis and lost my voice. I was mortified as I was supposed to be singing and performing in Illinois and felt like I was letting a lot of people down. Don and Stephanie did their best to put my mind at rest and were so incredibly generous and sweet to Richard and I.
I couldn’t have been the best company with sniffles, coughing fits and temperature, but everyone made us feel so welcome and the event itself was spectacular. Based at an open air museum in Rockford, there was a large wooded area where camps had been set up and a few trenches dug throughout. There also a huge expanse of ground with around 7 old wooden slatted buildings ranging from homes to a hospital and church. There was also a large straw barn, water tower and stable block and a street with a blacksmith, cafe, bank and shops. This street was also where a battle reenactment took place!
Certain groups were stationed in the houses including the WACs in the old hospital. In the central grass clearing there were more army tents set up and towards the barn/ stables were a few vintage military stalls.
It amazed me that some things you can get over here are quite expensive (OTT 1940’s swing ties £20 and up) but over there you were looking at the equivelant of £5. Apparently civilian fashions in South America in WWII were muted colours of grey, navy and black; not like the glamorous pieces in Hollywood films I innocently thought were factual. People seem to be more into the military side of things and civilian are only lightly touched upon. Even then, they tend not to go for the garish ties that I love (hurrah for Mr. Mew who snapped up 2!).
One of the best parts of the weekend (other than the wonderful hotel room that aided my poorliness) was a right on top of a Sherman tank through the woods! Richard sat astride the great gun barrel and I batted away branches with 4 others right on the very top of the tank. It was a wonderful feeling and you got a great view of people’s camps.
On the first day I was only well enough to stay for 2 1/2 hours before retreating back to the hotel and to bed. We had been up for 24 hours with 3 hours sleep after that, so needed rest! The next day we went to the event early and even got to visit the Rockford Museum – Home of Sock Moneys and the Rockford Peaches Baseball Team!
We got to meet the apposing team (well, 2 of) when enjoying a rest in the woods. They get the uniforms specially made for each girl, don’t they look authentic?! We missed the game itself which was a shame, but greta to meet the girls.
I loved seeing their cavalry horses, which is something we don’t see in British WWII events. Of course the Polish and Germans used horses at the beginning of the war (including other countries). It was a wonderful site, although strange seeing Americans dressed as German soldiers. On speaking to an Iraqi veteran about this, I was informed that the Germans had actually taught the American armies battle techniques, how to march and fight in the 1700’s and that some of their ancestors had been German.
On the Sunday, just before leaving, Richard and I decided to go for a stroll in the woods. It was gorgeous and we spotted some Chipmunks! There were also a couple of baby squirrels that had obviuosly fallen out of their nest as they were too young. They kept following our shadow until 1 climbed up on Richard. Weirdly enough this isn’t the 1st time this has happened to me! Stephanie and Don didn’t believe us when we came back with the excuse that we had been attacked by baby squirrels…Until they saw the evidence…!
Richard and I would like to say a HUUUUUGE thank you to everyone for making us feel so welcome, despite being unable to perform or speak much. I promise that I will make it up to you all and will be back…fit and healthy!!!
This video was taken by my great friend Lee Parker of my new Carmen Mewanda act that debuted at Wartime in the Vale this year. This clip was recorded on the Saturday evening at War and Peace 2011 with live singing and a fun strip tease. I hope you enjoy!
As many of you know, my family used to have 2 gorgeous cats called Rupert and Rosey who were larger than life characters. I adored having cats around, but unfortunately where I live now, we are not allowed any! The landlady has a huge dog who is so sweet and gentle, but she roams freely in the grounds and turns wicked when faced with felines apparently. So cats are not allowed. The pussycats had incredibly strong personalities. Rosey was an utter flirt, would shout and chatter to everyone and loved having men in the room. She loved rough play and there were many occasions where guests would look on in sheer horror as we pummeled her ribcage like a masseuse, whilst she dribbled and purred in appreciation. Rupert was a complete lap cat and had a bad habit of biting noses when he was younger. A pure ginger tiger with huuuuge padding paws, this was one mog who craved cuddles, food and plastic bags or wrapping paper to rustle around in. On so many occasions I half expect 2 furry friends to bound over to me as I come down the drive to visit my parents. I don’t think you ever get over losing pets you have known for so long.
I finally decided to get some fish as I have a little fish tank with 4 Minnows in it at work and love them to pieces (Churchill, Liz, Rommel and Miller). I bought a fish tank and added Dame, Vera and Lynn who didn’t seem to appreciate our efforts to keep them alive and happy at all. We decided to start again with 4 smaller Minnows – Dame II, Vera II, Lynn II and Glenn who have been living happily in their tank for 2 weeks. We decided to change 10% of the water so popped the top off and skimmed the top of the tank on Saturday. Sunday I was getting concerned as Glenn seemed to be missing in action and would not normally hide himself in the cave-like barracks at the back of the tank. After a lot of searching we discovered he seemed to have vacated the tank and neither of us could figure out how as we know we had not taken him out whilst changing the water. Late yesterday evening we discovered the mystery of Glenn Miller’s disappearance. Upon taking the top off of the tank and starting the cleaning process, the fish sometimes get a little over-excited and flick their tails at the surface. It seems that Glenn, in a moment of territorial vigour, had hurled himself out of the water. Inconveniently for him, he landed by the china cabinet instead of back into the tank and we found his body last night whilst watching King Kong. Twasn’t beauty that killed the beast it was stupidity. Poor Glenn.
To be honest, the girls seem relieved about his removal. Having regained the stage, they seem more full of life and colour as they swim around their submerged battle tank. One came to the glass and I am sure I saw her mouth ‘We’re back ladies!’
I came into the office this morning (I am a creative writer in the week at a gift company) and my work friend Becky had gained herself some chickens over the weekend. She discovered when they were dropped off that they were in fact a chicken and 2 cocks, so it looks like she will have eggs flying around like ping pong balls at a Thai lap dancing club. Im looking forward to the prospect of fresh poached eggs on the odd morning!
There is something very therapeutic about having pets, something to look after like a child, take your mind off of life’s problems. One of these days we will buy a place and get 2 kitty-cats, but until then Glenn (R.I.P), Miller, Dame II, Vera II, Lynn II, Liz, Rommel and Churchill are an absolute pleasure.
I am well known for my hoarding skills, just as much as my pin-up poses! Having been an avid carboot sale hunter since the age of 4, I have progressed to antique markets and flea fairs in the vain hope of a bargain. Nowadays carboot sales frustrate me a little. Gone are the days of 20p sales, as antique dealers set up camp next to people clearing their loft of 90’s decor. But do not fret dear Catnips, for there are still bargains to be had and treasures to be found! Take my Art Deco sofa set for example, bought for £15 from Ebay and recently valued on the Antique Roadshow at £800. Now that is pretty good going!
I cannot say I own anything of great rarity, but have certainly found my own personal jewels. If like me you just want to search for things to improve your vintage inspired home and WWII collection at the same time then read on! Until the next flea market, I was left twiddling my thumbs, so Mr. Mew and I stepped out for a wonder around Warwick. Not the most enthralling shopping hub, but with 2 lovely antiques centres, I thought I would show him the old military booth in the main one. Unfortunately, unbeknownst to us, the poor man who had manned it for these many years had ‘passed on’ so we were left down hearted. We did however totter along to the other one, more famed for costume jewellery antique homeware and random books on cricket. There is a small vintage clothing section at the back of the shop, but prices are rediculous (£32 for a pair of evening gloves?!). I myself love old books and the covers of sheet music, so after gawping and hopelessly hinting at the things I couldn’t afford, we headed to the book stand where I could peruse the pages of Enid Blyton, Biggles and more. There is nothing quite like the smell of old books. Take a good long sniff of your Kindle or computer screen and tell me it smells just as good. I adore it when you find one marked with the receivers name, or the odd ticket used as a bookmark still lodged in one of its well-worn pages. We came away with a few lovely finds…
The first ‘Spinsters Progress’, bought for £1, is well used and first owned by the W.H.Smith & Son’s Library in London. A first edition, this book also has the fabulous ‘BOOK PRODUCTION WAR ECONOMY STANDARD’ logo inside, which is something I always look out for and collect. This mark, found framed by a book and sitting lion is found in one of the front pages of some books printed during WWII in England. Because of paper, glue, thread and ink rationing, books started to be produced meeting certain criteria, much like CC41 clothing. Look out for this mark in your own collections. Usually you can also see what date the book is publiched and which addition it is. Older books will say ‘First Edition … 1942 / First Published’ or ‘Tenth Edition/ Tenth Impression…1949’ etc, whilst post war books may have a line of numbers (something like 6 5 4 3 2 56 57 58 59). The lowest number usually indicates the edition (the example shows that the book is the 6th edition), whilst the larger numbers, if any, indicates the date of print (1956 in the example). This can be handy when looking for collectable first editions such as your children’s Harry Potter books, your Ian Flemming collection and the like. Bear in mind that just because it is a first edition, it doesn’t make it rare or collectible! It’s just a nice thing to look out for when you are at a rummage sale or confronted with a box of old books in your loft. The second hard back book I found was H.M.S. by Klaxon and bought as a gift for Mr. Mew. At a whopping £12, I wouldn’t normally spend extravagances on such an item, but it is rather a lovely book. Dating it is a little confusing as although it states 1918, the first entry was written by Professor J. Scott of a ‘recent Airship Journey accross the old Bed of the North Sea, July 1, 1923.’ A collection of short Naval stories and poems centred around the 1st World War, it is a really interesting read and was definitely worth the money. Reading true and old accounts of the wars is always fascinating. If you are into WWI or the British Navy, this could be a good book for you and can be found online.
On to my favourites! Now, any lover of WWII newspaper humour and political comic satire would have heard of Jon’s ‘Two Types’. These two British characters enthralled soldiers and public alike with their rather forthright ‘Damned if we do, damned if we don’t’ manner. These two thoroughly English gents military gents, gave everyone a well needed chuckle in the war years. We happened across a copy of ‘Jon’s Two Types in Italy’, which although slightly dog eared was complete and a bargain at £5. Very collectable, grabbing yourself anything to do with Jon’s Two Types is definitely a worthwhile investment and a great read for the coffee table! Another bargain in my book *titter* was a hardback of ‘New Pocket Cartoons by Osbert Lancaster’ for £3.50. When I initially saw this book, I was convinved that it was a 1970’s publication, with a pale pink and grey illustrated dust jacket over a bright yellow cover! On closer inspection I was pleased that it was infact a 1941 First Edition. A fantastic book, it has reprinted satorical cartoons from the Daily Express, some rather non P.C. for the modern day audience. Books in hand, we made our way to the till, stopping briefly so I could sift through a wad of music sheets! I just LOVE the covers and typography of some of these and managed to grab an original Singing in the Rain, Auf Wiederseh’n Sweetheart and Lay Down Your Arms for 50p each. Bargain!
So all in all a successful trip and the kind gentleman of the shop also knocked off another £2, which made the sheet music free. My next stop… a good old table top rummage sale and a flea market, so I will let you know how I get on! Word for the wise, it is a lot more fun going with a set budget and seeing what bargains you can pick up or you may find yourself flittering away that cash before you can blink. Save up your coins and set yourself a limit. With so many carboots and fairs coming up in the summer months, you will need to pace yourself for some good bargain hunting! Never be afraid to offer a slightly lower price, but don’t insult the seller by going rediculously low. They will usually have put up the price of their goods by £1 to £5 depending on what the item is, just incase someone fancies a barter. Happy hunting!