Thursday, 29 September 2011

Internal Combustion

This is the second in a series of adventures I've been sent on, by and for The King's Ginger. I'm following the life, loves and hobbies of King Edward VII, spinning you all an entertaining yarn or two, and, since this is of course primarily a fashion blog, showing lots of pictures of me in frocks. Here we go again...tally ho!

It's a well-known fact that old Bertie was really, really keen on motoring. He would make his way all around the country in his beloved horseless carriages. Upon his coronation in 1902, he owned no fewer than four Daimlers, but he was introduced to his cutting edge hobby while still the Crown Prince, in the 1890s, by *deep breath* John Walter Edward Douglas-Scott-Montagu, 2nd Baron Montagu of Beaulieu, who was himself a pioneer of early motoring. He was the very first person to drive a car into the yard at the Houses of Parliament, don't you know! But while his legacy, the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu does indeed have a much wider range of historical automobilia, it's a long way away for a semi-crippled half-marathon survivor. Conveniently though, there is another right on my own doorstep, which is actually a much older and even more suitable venue for a Ginger-themed jaunt! So it was there that I limped off to this week to investigate his Majesty's love of horseless carriages.

Brooklands was a motor-racing circuit and aerodrome, built by the very regal-sounding Hugh Locke King in 1907, the very same year that our hero awarded the Royal Warrant to the Automobile Club of Great Britain and Ireland. I've actually visited the Royal Automobile Club with Miss Minna, and it's very grand. Quite right that I should visit too, since I've been paying my RAC fees for years! Anyway, as well all know by now, The King's Ginger was actually invented by the King's own physician, who was worried about his Majesty going out driving his horseless carriage in the fresh air. The idea was to ward off the cold, and any germs; as well as sharpening his senses. The latter seems rather doubtful since KGL is an extremely strong libation, as I've discovered to my... inebriation... before. Luckily, not very many people could afford a car at the time. That, and they went very slowly.

The Clubhouse that you can see me posing in front of above, was the first building to go up. It now contains a rather amazing room, which is themed on one of the most famous lady racing drivers of the 1930s, the thoroughly remarkable (not to mention personal idol of mine) Dame Barbara Cartland. More on this later. How do you like my new racing suit, by the way?

There were so many fascinating things to see, do and read in the museum. From real horseless carriages to sleek 1930s cars and even modern F1 beasts. Unfortunately, the real Edwardian treasures were quite hard to photograph, hidden away in corners or behind glass.

The top of these two magnificent machines is a 1910 AC Sociable 3-wheeler. I like to think of it as a very early Reliant Robin, as made famous by Trotter's Independent Traders. But the bottom one is fascinating. 'Daisy' was owned by Ethel Locke King (wife of Hugh), and she is a 1904, Siddeley 2-seat Tourer. She was also the very first car to ever be driven round the Brooklands track, when it opened three years later, and took part in the London-Brighton Run in the 1930s, and was being driven up until the 1960s! She's a wonder to behold, as, I'm sure, was Ethel herself. Pity all you can really see in the photo is a reflection of my dear old mum.

Being a keen cyclist, these old penny farthings and particularly the Racer at the top fascinated me. As I inspected the label and realised with amazement that it dated to 1901, a chap about my age passed by and remarked, "looks exactly like something you'd find chained up in Shoreditch, eh?". Indeed. The archetypal O.G. fixie! If only I could borrow it for the next Tweed Run!

We then went to investigate the Clubhouse, paying particular attention to the Sunbeam cafe, the deco sunburst-windowed canteen in which we had a meal of scampi and chips that would have pleased Bertie. And then we hit my favourite bit, the Ladies' Reading Room. Now known as the Barbara Cartland Room!

All done in pink and unashamedly girly (as you would expect), it's filled with pictures of Dame Babs looking glamorous in the 1930s, amazing furniture and also information about the intrepid racing ladies of yore. I especially enjoyed the picture of Miss Muriel Thompson (any relation, Naomi?), winning the Ladies Bracelet Handicap in 1908. We couldn't vote... but we could still burn rubber (...if we were wealthy and/or married to a male racing driver... technicalities)!

I found several examples of lovely Edwardian clothing, accessories and ephemera.

Hats, a menu from the 1907 opening day, a driver's coat. All in such amazing condition after more than 100 years. Marvellous.

There was only one thing left to do, and that was to go and examine some planes. I looked pensive in front of some very spindly Edwardian planes. Edward was the first monarch to have any association with aviation (indeed it hadn't been long invented!) when he travelled to Paris in 1908 to meet and observe the Wright Brothers. But the King loved his food, so he never got to have a go at flying himself... these rather rickety contraptions would have been unable to carry him!

And then I marvelled at the WWII ones. It actually humbles me to think what the young men had to endure on bombing missions. But since this is a story about the era of King Ed, I thought I'd finish off with a go on the 1907 racetrack that made Brooklands a part of motoring history (and also an amazingly clear target for German bombs in WWII. Whoops.

The banked track at Brooklands fell into disuse decades ago. Strangely enough, the big Tescos nearby is practically built on a section of it, and despite having seen it hundreds of times over the years, I never actually realised it was a racetrack. I'm a bit slow like that. Anyway, while I wanted to have a go, I was clearly not going to be allowed to do it in a car, so there was only one thing for it. A swig of revivifying King's Ginger...

And she's off (slowly and in a very apt turn of phrase, you could say gingerly, due to my poor tortured gams)!

In a race of me against me, I most definitely won. And that was my whirlwind adventure to Brooklands. If you've stuck with my little story this far, here is a reward for you (other than the enjoyment of my rather amazing writing of course...). I promised this last time, but didn't follow up on it... this time I vow there will be a King's Ginger giveaway next week. Keep your ginger-loving lugs to the ground, for it shall appear right here forthwith. Until then, have a lovely day.

Chin Chin!

Fleur xx

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Boardwalk Empire victor!

Holler! Or should I say, good day to you.

The winner of the pair of tickets to the Boardwalk Empire party at the Candlelight Club tomorrow night is...

Comment 21 was left by one Meghan!

Meghan, please email with your full name and your guest. He will also let you know the whereabouts of this smashing event! Please also leave me a comment to say you've done so, just so I know. Well done and enjoy! Come say hello as well.

Don't forget the Candlelight Club has Boardwalk Empire parties on Friday and Saturday, too!

Fleur xx

Monday, 26 September 2011

Sporting Chance(r)

So, after many months of complete under-preparation, yesterday was the big day. Run to the Beat, 13.1 miles of music-powered pain around the mean streets of London, what joy. I'd gone from being super excited when I signed up, to panicking about my gammy knee being healed in time, to being filled with dread about starting a half-marathon basically healthy and capable, but completely lacking in adequate training. I've only been running since March this year, and with only 12 miles under my belt in the previous MONTH, how would I fare over 13.1 in one single morning? There was only one way to find out.

I prepared for the big race as any elite athlete would: by stuffing my face with pasta and chicken, and playing several rounds of Left 4 Dead 2 with my brother (also my running partner). A quite rubbish night's sleep and Weetabix-y breakfast, and we were on the tube with hordes of purple t-shirted runners, making our way to the O2. I was nervous, both about the run and about the toilet queues, visions of the 10k race I marshalled where a girl actually shit herself and CARRIED ON RUNNING filling my mind. If this should ever happen to me (heaven forbid), you can be sure I'd hurl myself into the nearest bush rather than power on bravely to the end. Nothing is worth that, except, perhaps winning the London Marathon. And that is never going to happen to me, is it?

We wended our way to the pens, clad in our Beating Bowel cancer vests, looking at the amount of people in each category and wondering idly who was being overly optimistic about their start time (7,000 people in our 1:40-2 one and 10,000 in the 2-2:30, far fewer before and after). It took an inevitably long time to funnel 20,000 people past the start line, but we were soon off!

From the Beating Bowel Cancer Flickr. Oh, the optimism!

The race itself was like an exercise in mental agony. At two miles in, I thought I might die. It was hot and I was a very long way from being in my 'zone'. I learned something at this point - even when it's really warm out, and I'm running at close to my threshold, I don't sweat from my face. Even though my head felt radioactive and ready to burst. I would love to sweat from my face, believe me. But I don't. So until I hit the first water station at 3 miles, I was about to faint. Not fun. This carried on most of the way round - the music stations were a welcome distraction and the water and Powerade stations a lifeline, though each sip of Powerade was punctuated by recurring visions of the above-mentioned toilet incident. Sport drinks and particularly sport gels can wreak havoc on digestive systems unused to such chemicals. But the minerals in the drink were much-needed, so I risked it, luckily, without any unwanted side effects! I had to stop around five times to stretch out my sore hip and calf muscles, adding precious minutes on, which I thought would make us miss our target by a long way, but I just couldn't help it. The pain!

After 8 miles, I had the added mental barrier of the fact that it was then the furthest I had ever run to overcome, and the pain in my legs increased with every mile thereon. By the final mile, I was just pushing myself with sheer willpower and my brother encouraging me every step to 'keep going, we're nearly there', and, 'you're doing amazingly, keep it up!'. He physically pushed me along with his hands a few times, too.

And right at the end. Spot the difference! Guy looks the same and I look pale and ill ;)

The feeling as I ran over the finish line is indescribable, a sense of massive achievement and sweet relief. The time said 2 hours 13 minutes from when the race started, but we didn't dare make a guess at what time that meant for us, since we didn't know if it started on schedule. When the text result came in, I was floored to see that we ran it in 2 hours and 2 minutes - a mere two minutes off my original goal time, and several minutes slower than if I hadn't stopped to stretch along the way. If I can do that time with so little training, a barely-healed injury and a cold, imagine what time I can do next year! This shows beyond a doubt that the human body is a remarkable piece of kit! And that I seem to be genetically predisposed towards being pretty alright at running.

I couldn't have done it without Guy, so thank you bro, you're an absolute star. If it wasn't for him, I would have collapsed and died about a quarter of the way in. Well, walked a lot more, probably. He's amazing, and the best running partner I could have hoped for... though without him I probably wouldn't be in so much pain today! I can barely walk, and I don't mean that in a dramatic, ooh my legs hurt way. I mean I have to hold on to the wall to stay upright. Worth it though, and no permanent injuries I think, only muscle soreness. Severe, crippling, muscle soreness.

I think running endurance races is like childbirth (probably), it hurts like hell when you're doing it, but afterwards you forget as you bask in your smug self-satisfaction (ignoring the twinges of pain in the nether regions). I will be back and even better next time. Once I can walk again, that is.

 This is me post-race and post-journey back.

I didn't, as you can see, stick to my promise of wearing red lippy. THANK GOD. If I'd worn my Maybelline Superstay, it would have been an added torture. The young St John's Ambulance volunteers handing out vaseline around halfway were actually more welcome than the Powerade (it was supposed to be for chafing not lips, but whatev).

Afterwards, at the Vintage Mafia Sale & Social. I could do nothing but lounge listlessly in a chair in lots of pain, wearing my medal.

I'm pleased to say we smashed our target for the Bowel Cancer charity we chose, raising £638 so far, and that's without the offline donations promised by my technophobe best friend, parents, uncles, aunts and grandparents. Hurray! Thanks to everyone who chipped in. You're all amazing.

Now excuse me while I crawl into another bath. Happy Monday!

Fleur xx

PS. If you're interested in sporty things, then do hop on over to the Boutique Sport site. They have taken me on as one of the Glambassadors of sport, and I've written a blog about city cycling which you may find interesting!

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Long live the Empire!

Hello all! Just a quickie, but hopefully a goodie! I have a rather cool giveaway for you on this autumnal Sunday eve. This is unfortunately one for the UK residents only, and probably the South East particularly, but we shall see. Are you ready? Then I shall begin!
Do you love Boardwalk Empire? I know I do. It's one of the only TV shows I watched religiously, and went to all possible lengths to see it, not having the Sky Atlantic channel myself. I shall do the very same when the new season starts on October 8th, of course. Prepare to be visited, friends!

I'm also a big fan of my friend Clayton's notorious Candlelight Club, the pop-up 20s-style speakeasy that appears in London every couple of weeks. Well, it's not just me who noticed the utter perfection of a pairing of the two, because the Candlelight Club has been chosen to host a Boardwalk Empire-themed extravaganza next weekend. They are hosting nights on both Friday 30th September and Saturday 1st October, and each event will feature “cocktails inspired by the era and the show plus live period jazz from our friends the Shirt Tail Stompers and vintage vinylism from MC Fruity, plus some wholly amoral burlesque from notorious showgirl Sophia St Villier. There will also be some Boardwalk Empire books, soundtracks CDs and episode DVDs up for grabs.” Sounds exciting, non? I would urge you to book some tickets soon if you'd like to go on one of those evenings as it's absolutely bound to sell out.

However... they're also putting on a rather special, private event on the evening of Thursday the 29th, and it is for this soiree that I have been lucky enough to get a pair of tickets to give away! You lucky things!

This is EXACTLY what the party will be like...

The VIP party will be totally private, packed with Very Important Personages (apparently), and will also include a screening of the first episode of the new series of Boardwalk Empire! Not only that, but I will be there! I know!

So if you would like to win a pair of tickets to this exclusive bash, and be among the first in the country to see the new Boardwalk Empire ahead of its October 8th launch, then all you need to do is leave me a comment below.  Please don't comment unless you're entering!
One comment is one entry, and there is one entry allowed per person. You must be free on Thursday night to attend the party in London. I encourage you to follow the Candlelight Club on Facebook and/or Twitter, as we'll announce the winner there first. I'll do a quick blog post on Wednesday afternoon as well. And if you're not lucky enough to win, then do ensure you visit the Club the following weekend!

Omar Little in plaid, well I never.

OK then, hop to it!

Fleur xx

PS. Sorry to be a pain, but please don't comment unless you're entering - makes doing the draw rather difficult! Thanks ladies and gents xx

Friday, 23 September 2011

Stick of Rock, Cock?

I realised late last night that I never posted any of the smashing photos from last month's rather good New Sheridan Club Summer Party, so it's about time I rectified that. Here goes!

For those that don't know, the NSC has two big parties each year, in addition to the monthly meetings, and this year's summer instalment had a seaside theme. Kiss Me Quick took place at the newly opened and thoroughly fabulous Tea House Theatre in Vauxhall, south London. This historic venue used to be a notorious and very seedy strip joint called the Queen Anne, and last year, two friends of mine, Harry and Grace Iggulden took it over and utterly transformed it. It's now, as its name suggest, a tea house by day, serving tea, coffee and unbelievably good cakes; and will be a theatre by night. Grace runs parent and baby and knitting groups, too. Go and visit their Facebook page to have a look, and please do visit if you're in the area! It was the perfect venue for a very British themed celebration, and, as is the custom for NSC parties, there was much drinking, themed costumes galore and silly games throughout the night. I went along with Bethan and we had a marvellous time!

 The wife and I went for a gender-bending seaside stroll. 

 This super fun game involved using a wooden seagull to try and grab chips from a straw boater. Bethan and I did some Chap-style cheating on her go, it got us disqualified... however when it was my turn... 

I actually won, fair and square after nabbing an astounding four chips on one go and three on another swoop! Other games included the Knobbly Knees competition, which I didn't win (the knee support foiled me, I fear)...

The 'shooting at something with a pirate eyepatch on' game (I wasn't there yet, so no idea...)

And the Grand Raffle, in which I won not a sausage...

But, thanks to my efforts in the seagull game, I did take home one prize....

The seagull itself! I even managed to get him all the way back to Mafia Towers, despite consuming large amounts of prosecco.

And since you're dying to know about our outfits, Bethy is sporting the red, white and blue Fleur dress, perfect for a nautical theme, and my outfit is from Miss Hussy, an Australian company which sadly, doesn't seem to be trading any more. Mr Rillo Razca is wearing vintage black tie, of course (and a rather dashing new moustache!). All the photos were taken by Clayton Hartley and the rest of the set can be found here.

Do visit the New Sheridan Club, and also the lovely Tea House Theatre if you get a chance, two places that everyone should visit when in the Big Smoke.

Fleur xx

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Running scared

You may have noticed that after my enthusiastic post some months ago about my newfound love of Running, I went very quiet on the subject. This is because around 8 weeks ago, I gave myself a mild case of shin splints, and, following two weeks rest, during my very next run, I tripped over a tree root and tore something in my knee. Four frustrating weeks were spent trying to rest it and it inevitably getting sore after doing every day things; but it gradually got better and I started training again only two weeks ago. I've done two two-mile runs, one six miler and an eight mile jaunt with my brother and running partner, and I am therefore woefully underprepared for Sunday's Run to the Beat Half Marathon, but I am going to give it my damned best shot. See?

*Disclaimer: Since this was taken in July, I may or may not look like this currently.
I couldn't possibly say.

Since I was unsure whether I'd even be able to enter, I haven't even thought about my 'vintage style' running outfit, nor have I begged much for sponsorship. Our charity Beating Bowel Cancer is a super worthy one, and we chose it because it's a disease that runs in our family. And there has to be a reason and motivation for me nearly killing myself! ;) I was quite worried we wouldn't make our target. But I'm glad to say that thanks to my friends, and my brother's friends and work colleagues, we're nearly there! Should anyone feel like throwing a few pounds or dollars (other currencies also appreciated) our way, we'd really appreciate it.We only need a few more people to bung us two quid and we're there. FYI, I will be in red lippy as promised, but likely I'll be in the above, super sexy Nike capris. Ah well.

JustGiving - Sponsor me now!

I don't ask you for much, do I... just to read, comment, buy lovely things... come to my events....

So what a coincidence that I have another event to plug! ;) If running doesn't interest you (and I can't blame you), then buying vintage might. The Vintage Mafia's Monthly Sunday Sale and Social takes place this very weekend.. the same day I run the above 13.1 miles. So if you would like to swing by, browse our quality wares, not to mention point and laugh at crippled old me, then please do. If only to buy a delicious burger and milkshake from our smashing venue, the Love Shake. We'll have ladieswear, menswear and accessories.

Join me before I hobble home! And please wish me luck!

Fleur xx

Monday, 19 September 2011

Ruffle kerfuffle

I recently had the pleasure of modelling the Late Summer Afternoon Dress from Puttin on the Ritz! This little lovely is honestly the most flattering frock I've probably ever worn - it fits me like a glove and hugs every curve perfectly, making me feel absolutely fabulous! But let me show you the evidence...
This darling dress is made from a high-quality powder blue cotton with a white floral motif. It's actually quite a weighty, thicker cotton, so though I'll be wearing it to death next summer, it's actually going to be quite good for the autumn. The gently flared skirt has four gores, and it's good for twirling, as I have already established this past weekend (albeit twirling to very unseemly heavy metal...)!

It's just the ticket for lounging on country gates, wearing red, white and blue accessories!

The bodice is loose with gathers below and on the yoke. The sweetheart neckline is so flattering, and the ruffle sleeves are the stuff of my frocky dreams. You know me and ruffles!

As you can see, the fitted midriff has a point at the top and bottom.So chic! I don't have anything with this ever-so-slightly dropped waistline, as I was never sure it would suit me. But it would seem it does!

The back is finished with a little buttoned keyhole, and my bulky runner's calves...  but seriously you lot, it's the little details that set Puttin on the Ritz's stuff apart from most of the other brands out there. It truly is the bees knees and worth every penny.

I hope you'll all agree that this is an exceptionally lovely dress, and it was an honour to model it. Go and pay Puttin on the Ritz a visit and have a drool over all their lovely wares. I can't wait to get my Spying for the Allies suit out again!

Fleur xx

Saturday, 17 September 2011

A night of delight

Do forgive my complete lack of posting this week. It's been a mad one! Did some filming for a new advert, started a new course, caught a debilitating cold... you know. The usual.

But I couldn't let another day slip by without posting up a few photos from last weekend's Ric Rac Club, which was absolutely smashing, by the way! I think everyone who came had a smile pasted on their faces for the entire evening, and that, dear readers, is all we could have wished for. As a first event, there are some things to be learned, but overall, it was brilliant. Here's how it went, in pictoral form.

For decoration, we used Ric Rac... of course!

The Ric Rac Raffle of joy contained prizes including a Fleur dress, food, silly bits and booze!

Naomi and Lisa took the first door shift, accomapanied by some ginger root brew courtesy of one of our fine drinks sponsors...

We danced...

We posed...

Gorgeous Shona Heyday paid us a dancing visit...

I did a boogie myself...

Our special guests, the Marjorie Belles went down a storm!

Our attendees were gorgeous...

And so well-dressed...

All Fringe, No Knickers played a storming 60s set that had everyone dancing until lights up...

The simply divine Bright Young Twins came along...

As did that dangerous dame Red Legs...

We had a truly excellent time and can't wait for the next one!

Fleur xx

PS. Huge thanks must go to our drinks sponsors, Jeremiah Weed and The King's Ginger, as well as Freixenet who sent us a bottle of their fizzy joy to share before the party started. What a treat!

And in case you wondered, my amazing dress with its bum curtain came from South Side Market on Etsy! What a find! I can't wait to wear it again, even if it does make men run a mile.

Next from The Mafia is our monthly Sunday Sale & Social, which will happen on the 25th September... but also make a note in your diaries for the very next Ric Rac Club, which is rumoured to take place on the 5th November. It'll be an explosive party, I can tell you!

PPS. To see all the photos of the night, head over to our Facebook Page! See you soon! x

Take a look!

Blog Widget by LinkWithin