Monday, 31 December 2012

Wedding belles

So, I lied. I didn't make it back for another post before Christmas. And I've been pretty much abstaining from the internet since - occasional social media monitoring and stuff excepted. And I did take a nice dress to wear on Christmas day, but ironing fatigue combined with the fact I'd left my camera turned on in my bag and drained its battery completely meant that I didn't bother to get dolled up this year. It was all about a pair of high waisted but very stretchy leggings, and a kitten face t-shirt. Thusly:

But I did get extremely gussied up this Saturday just gone, for I was invited to a wedding. The bride and groom were very old friends of my boyfriend, who was an usher for the occasion. I was honoured to have been invited for the whole shebang, and very lovely it was too. It was held in the most beautiful location in Yorkshire. Unfortunately, the weather was beyond atrocious, so no panoramic views could be taken of the outdoors. Bloody British rain.

So here are some outfits and assorted views of the afternoon and evening, all taken in the dry warmth of the indoors.

My lovely dress is a Bettie Page one, the Silver Roses, and came from Pinup Parade, my dear sponsor and friend. It got so many compliments!

The shoes are from Shellys, a sister company to Miss L Fire - I got them on sale earlier this year. The bag came from Dungaree Dolly, ages ago! I adore it.

First table! The privilege that comes with dating the usher. 

Sloe gin favours - an excellent idea! 

Cake tower.

Using nature to your advantage and budget - I approve of this too.

Shots of Jager - a traditional British celebration drink ;)

I wish you all a very happy new year - hope you're up to something decadent and fun. I'll catch you in 2013!

Fleur xx

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Countdown to Sleepmas

Oh hi! Is anyone still out there? There's been a deafening silence from this blog for well over a week, so I wouldn't blame you if you've tuned out. I've been so crazy with new work and handling social media stuff for lots of different people that I have neither interesting news, nor interesting photos to post.

I do have some slightly boring photos and general waffling though, so perhaps that'll do?

I would like to say a big festive HELLO to my (probably) oldest readers, who are a group of 'little old dears' (their words) who live in a care home in St Louis. They write me lovely, lovely emails through the daughter of a sadly passed friend. I've had two so far, and both have delighted me beyond measure! They praise my blog (which they like to call a 'bog') and they admire my vintage look but they didn't like my fringe/bangs when I cut it/them back in April. They wrote to me again just this week saying how glad they were that I'd grown it back out (although there's a fair way to go!). Apparently when I am old and wrinkly like them (they wrote), then I'll be allowed to have a nice thick fringe again. I love the fact that I can make the older generation so happy just by being me, more than I can say. So thank you, ladies and thank you Miss K who owns a laptop and writes what they say to me!

They sent me this picture of 'holiday cheer', which is pretty cheery, I must say.

I was going to film a video message, but I just haven't had the time. Boo to me.

The ladies like to say that I manage to 'infuse' my modern outfits with a true vintage sensibility. I can conveniently illustrate this with some photos I took the other day to send to my casting agency. They had to be 'smart', but also show me as I am. This outfit is typical of what I wear almost every day at the moment, due to not being able to fit into my Heyday trousers (still! I wish I could say I've tried to lose this extra weight... but I haven't).

The dress is Topshop, and the cardigan Freddies of Pinewood
Simple, comfy...not particularly disguising of the extra 'curves'... who cares! 

I'll post again before Christmas, hopefully with something festive and colourful to show you. I'm not really in the spirit yet as I haven't even put my Christmas tree up (mostly because my fairylights have stopped working)... and I haven't done most of my shopping either, argh!  As the title of the post suggests, I am actually looking forward to a week of sleep and naps and lie-ins more than anything else.

Are you ready for the big festive event?

Fleur xx

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

It's all Balls

Don't worry, this post is entirely safe for work, containing no anatomical balls whatsoever. Except, perhaps, for the nagging ache in the front part of your feet after twirling the night away. I've been invited to the Kensington Palace Midwinter Ball on Thursday night and it looks like an amazing night, so I wanted to share it with the world (of people who read my blog).

Kensington Palace has seen some sights in its long history. The Midwinter Ball seems to be trying to evoke the lavish court parties of the 18th Century, being held in the Orangerie (usually home to a rather delicious afternoon tea!) and featuring some amazing performers. A friend and fellow film extra actory type, the Irrepressible Edwin Flay will be doing escapology and death defying(ish) fire-hula hooping will be coming courtesy of Anna the Hulagan.

I'm most excited about taking an eerie tour of the Palace by night, apparently, you can hear 300 years of mysterious sights, unexplained happenings and strange stories as you are guided round the darkened rooms and echoing corridors... and listening to the amazing Trans Siberian March band playing klezmer/Balkan/ska/Latin mashups as is their wont.

It's on at school-night friendly times of 7.30-11.30pm as well.  I'm going after a bit of festive ice-skating... so I may be hobbling from my various crash injuries. I have no idea what I'll wear that is suitable for all those activities!

Have a look at the full write-up on Run Riot and details of tickets and suchlike (they're £20), but let me know if you're going!

While I wait for official photographs to emerge, here's what I wore to the last ball I attended... the glorious Chap Magazine Grand Anarcho-Dandyist Ball...

Dress: vintage (1930s)
Coat: vintage (no idea!)
Shoes: Shelly's

We all need more opportunities to wear gown and finery, don't you think... pity you can't wear a full-length dress ice-skating!

Fleur xx

Monday, 10 December 2012

Edwardian Society Christmas

In my final King's Ginger adventure for 2012, I decided, perhaps unsurprisingly, to do something seasonal. I wanted to write about the Edwardian Christmas - what they ate and what they might have done for entertainment - and after only a few moments of research, discovered that a nearby National Trust property, Polesden Lacey, had an actual event on. So, last weekend, I went off to find out about the house's links to the one and only Edward VII. After all, ginger is nothing if not festive! 

The lady of the manor of Polesden Lacey from 1906 to her death in 1942 (and the main subject of this piece) was Margaret Greville, a very famous Edwardian hostess. She was the illegitimate daughter of a beer baron, and most definitely “socially ambitious”, wishing to mingle with the very creme de la creme of Edwardian society. She was also rather a looker.

She had an unbelievable array of vastly expensive jewellery, built up over the course of her life that she actually left to the Queen Mother on her death is 1942, believe it or not. Our Queen doesn't wear the most famous tiara, but Camilla Parker-Bowles does. You get to wear one of her pieces in the house, as well as a fancy vintage top hat. Not the real one, sadly.

Anyway, back to the story. Mr and Mrs Ronald Greville moved to Polesden Lacey after it was purchased for them by her father, William McEwan, in 1906. They had a house in London as well, but Margaret had a true vision for her country residence, and upon moving in immediately began to remodel it, creating an additional suite of rooms, especially for use by a certain regal guest who I'll come to in a moment. I'm sure you can guess who it is... 

The Grevilles used to entertain at Polesden Lacey from May all the way through until Christmas. Margaret was a true socialite, and a fan of all the finer things in life. And she was an absolute party animal. Sharp, witty and ascerbic, one of her most famous observations was a cutting put-down of Emerald, Lady Cunard – a woman who used to wear a lot of makeup. "You must not think I dislike poor dear Emerald," she apparently once said. "I am always telling Queen Mary that she isn't half as bad as she is painted.”

King Edward VII visited Polesden Lacey for the first and last time on June the 5th 1909. The Grevilles had entertained the King, a great friend of Ronald, many times before in their London home but they wanted his Majesty to experience their famous country pile house parties. The aforementioned 1906 extension to create an additional suite of rooms, was indeed especially for Edward's use. 

Very sadly, Ronald Greville had died exactly two months earlier of pneumonia, brought about by an operation for his cancer. After two months of mourning, a house party hiatus that had never been matched. Society papers cried that “Mrs Greville was entertaining once again!', so it was only right that such an esteemed guest would be the one there. He came with his favourite mistress Alice Keppel (who had, in fact been introduced to the King by the Grevilles many years before in 1898), and Mrs Greville was stunned by his kindness – he didn't have to come but wished to support her in her grief and attempt to return to normality. Indeed, he displayed his usual mischievous streak as ever, as I managed to find a reference to King Edward VII being refused admittance through the french windows of the tea room! What a wag.

Here is an absolutely fantastic blog about the meal that was served to King Edward on that weekend in June - I could never do it such justice! 

Some of her gifts from him are on display in the house. They are quite... well... Edward-themed. 

A brooch with 'E7', a tortoiseshell box and an 'EVII' brooch

She always said that she found Edward to be a very dear, warm man. And surprisingly normal for a member of royalty, as demonstrated by the fact that he apparently wrapped his own presents. And this brings us neatly to the Christmas theme of this post. Polesden Lacey is decked out in Edwardian Christmas finery at the moment, and every weekend day in December, it's full of volunteers clad in period costumes, full of fascinating information about the festive parties that Margaret used to hold.

Christmas was a huge affair at Polesden Lacey. She had a minimum of seventy staff to attend to her guests' every possible whim. They wanted for nothing. These high-class visitors were used to the London Clubs of the time, and she very much wanted to recreate that experience for them in her home. The fare served was not really all that dissimilar to what we eat today (the pig's head aside). Traditional roast turkey and Christmas plum pudding were on the menu. Roasted nuts, mince pies and marzipan dates were on hand for snacking. Mrs Greville's French chef, Monsieur Delachaume would have pulled out all the stops for the veritable banquet served to around ten guests every year.

One of the smaller drawing rooms was decked out to represent Christmas morning, with coffee, presents and nibbles. It's full of curious artifacts as every room of Polesden Lacey - Mrs G didn't really get picky about the things she collected - if she liked it, it didn't matter what it was or when it was from.  There's everything from Oriental antiquities to medieval portraiture and furniture from across the globe.

She would often employ popular musicians to play in the astonishingly shiny and luxurious Gold Room – later, Bert Ambrose, a favourite of Bertie's son Edward VIII, would play to esteemed guests. 

Despite its opulence, I could really imagine Margaret sitting with her guests and friends, having a jolly old time.

I love the Edwardian crackers, sweets and glassware, but I just had to add in the brilliant photo of Mrs Greville hanging out in Hollywood with Spencer Tracy and Wendy Barrie in the late 1930s. She really did know absolutely everyone. 

After a slap-up Christmas dinner, guests would retire to the Games Room, to smoke cigars, play billiards, cards and chess, and listen to four minutes at a time's worth of music on celluoid discs, on the wind-up gramophone. I tried to take a picture, but it was too dark! I love the sound of this (almost) technology-free Christmas... anything's better than old repeats and soap opera specials.

After the tour was over, I headed outside into the frankly freezing grounds. Since the King's Ginger would likely have been served to his Majesty after his motoring journey down and his huge meal when at Polesden Lacey, it's only right that I also partook in an attempt to warm up after my own feasting on culture inside.

If you've managed to bag yourself a bottle of The King's Ginger and are looking for a festive recipe to use it in, may I recommend the King's Winter Cup? I'll have a video to show off for this very soon!

30ml The King’s Ginger
20ml cloudy apple juice
100ml apple cider
Cinnamon stick to garnish

Add all ingredients into a pan or soup urn. Simmer on a gentle heat for 30 mins then serve. Garnish with a cinnamon stick.

Happy eating and drinking this Christmas! Do it like an Edwardian... by indulging in too much of both (and if you do, remember the King's Ginger is a wonderful digestif).

Fleur xx

Thursday, 6 December 2012

A sparkling New Year special

Two weeks ago, I got invited to a rather lovely champagne masterclass at the Zetter Townhouse by Eventbrite, a ticketing company that many/most of you will heave heard of, I'm sure.

There was a reason for it, of course but I'll come to that. The event itself was fantastic - drinking some truly delicious champagne and meeting a very special lady.

Photos by Lucy Millson-Watkins

Here's me in the nearly front row with my lovely man.

Sparkling wine was not invented by the French, fact fans! It originated in England, in the days of yore. 1660s, to be precise! I'm going to be writing about Nyetimber more soon, hopefully.

I don't think I look like me in this picture... most odd.

The wonderfulness that is Champagne Jayne, leading us through the highs and lows of champagne. If you're thinking of buying for Christmas or New Year, Jayne recommends Tesco Premier Cru (really) and Sainsbury's Blanc de Blancs for lemonade pockets, or Lanson Gold Label for a little bit of vintage champagne luxury. 

I had to ask some deep and meaningful questions, namely: what champagne would be best to put in cocktails? 

Jane recommends Marks and Spencer Oudinot if you must but actually, a cava or prosecco rather than a champagne is better, she said. She is a purist, though.

Tweeting... maybe with the man behind me! Anyway, as mentioned, it was a promo event of a sort - namely to let us (occasional) event managers know that Eventbrite are waiving their fees for anyone who is throwing a New Year's Eve party, and on the very same page, offering up one lucky person £5,000 to host the NYE event of their dreams. There are only a couple of days left to enter, so if you're already doing an event then submit it to them now (now!)! I didn't get paid to say that, but I did get plied with champagne! 

The man and I have already met up with the brilliant Champagne Jayne since, and I will be collaborating with her on a special bubbly feature soon. Rather excited! 

I'll leave you with some photos that I took myself...

Do check out Wok + Wine (aka the world's most delicious social network), which looks like a wonderful event, and Flavorpill, who list the best of the best events! The chaps who run them are both fascinating.

Thank you Eventbrite for having me, but I am no closer to deciding what to do on New Year's Eve. What are you doing? Is there anything fun happening in (or indeed out of) London that I should know about?!

Fleur xx

Monday, 3 December 2012

Leopard and Lace(y)


And how are we on this chilly Monday? The temperature here has plummeted substantially over the last few days, and, as ever, I am not really prepared with much in the way of warm clothing. I still struggle slightly with opaque tights, even though I am not being quite so strict with my vintage look at the moment. I just find sheer nude stockings more aesthetically pleasing. It's a problem. I'm dealing with it (by being cold).

Yesterday, I got dolled up and went to Polesden Lacey, on a mission for The King's Ginger. They're doing their annual Edwardian Christmas event, you see - perfect for my festive KGL post. But I took so very many photos that I thought I'd do a gratuitous outfit and photos-that-don't-really-fit-the-brief post.

Et voila!

Little bits of Polesden Lacey's furniture and Christmas decorations, just to give you a taste of what's to come. And my outfit in more detail... first outing for my Able Grable Christmas frock! Burgundy velvet, how seasonal.

This coat was given to me by my neighbours, who stopped me one day and asked if
I would like it, as otherwise it would have been binned. Yes please! 

My mum gave me this bag for my birthday a few years ago.
1950s, gold leather, little furry leopard inserts, amazing.

I very sadly broke one of my original pair of these Gogo Philip earrings,
but I found another pair on eBay for £4. Hurrah!

Miss L Fire sheepskin booties from a couple of years ago... like granny slippers with heels! 

Please tune back in a day or so to find out what I got up to at Polesden Lacy.

Fleur xx

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