Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Festive Fleurs!

Welcome to my last Fleur dress post of 2013! We've had quite a few awesome new ones this year, but this one perhaps tops the lot. For it is a seasonal delight. Behold... the Christmas Fleur!



The Heyday Baubles for Santa Fleur dress is made from crisp, Christmassy cotton in bright red, emblazoned with green and white mistletoe, gold and red baubles, sprigs of holly and other festive flourishes. 


It comes with its own novelty button - this time a little Christmas present! 

The trademark pockets are trimmed in forest green - perfect for stashing treats! 

As always, you can tie the waist wrap at the front or back! 

Tinsel halo sold separately, depending if you've been angelic all year ;)

(proudly worn with my Swedish Hasbeens Singoallas!)

This is another limited edition number, we hope they all go before the big day so are on sale for a special festive price of £70. Treat yourself or, if you're like me and find your finances rather stretched at this time of year... get someone else to treat you! Hurrah! 

With super sparkly season's greetings,

Fleur xx
DiaryofaVintageGirl.com

Tools of the trade

A story for you today.

As a blogger with a reasonable following, I often get contacted by companies and agencies wanting to send me all sorts of weird and wonderful things. Sometimes I say, 'ooh, yes please', sometimes I say, 'ooh, no thank you' (and sometimes I say 'ooh, no thank you', when really I mean, 'OH HELL NO'). Sometimes I say nothing at all because I am pretty rubbish at replying to emails. Sorry, anyone who ever emails me.

Sometimes the companies are cryptic about what they want to send me. Usually this makes me say, 'ooh, no thank you' (and not with the latter's additional thought... who doesn't love surprises), not because I am not curious but because usually the things they send are things I cannot use, or don't like, or which don't suit me. Or, the problem I suffer from most in my undersized British flatted life, which I don't have room for.

So when fancy pants social media agency 1000heads got in touch to ask me if they could send me a package that was something to do with Royal Mail's (then) upcoming British Auto Legends stamp collection and guaranteed to contain cool stuff, I was intrigued. They also wanted to deliver it to me in person, in 'serious style'. How exciting.

Sadly, it was not to be. On the two days they gave me, I was doing extra work on a new Marvel film that comes out next year. As you no doubt know, film shoots have seriously early call times. The conversation went something like this:

Them: 'Can we deliver it to your house'?
Me: 'Unfortunately I'll be at work from super early to super late :('
Them: 'Perhaps we can pick you up and drive you to work in a classic car?'
Me: 'Awesome! I need to be there at 6.30am, so you'll have to pick me up at 5.30am! Oh and collect me later otherwise I'll be stuck in the boonies without transportation... ;)'
Them: 'Erm... can we post it to you instead?'

Gutted.

An enormous parcel duly arrived. In it was an enormous but indeed very cool, old-fashioned toolbox.

Forgive the unorthodox setting. My house is 3/4 full of boxes and my bed is the only clear space.

Now I will confess at this point that I have been, on this occasion, one of 'those' bloggers. One that the PRs moan about in their office. The one who goes to a press event or a review dinner and eat EVERYTHING and drink EVERYTHING, racking up a huge bill. I have not done this, I promise. Real journos can be quite notorious for doing this too. Then there's the one who gets a cool thing and doesn't write about it for months and months and months. And another month. This is me. I actually owe another blog post on something else cool, but luckily that was more recent than this... ANYWAY!

The irony is that although a tool box was quite a topical thing in my life, since I had recently sold my flat and was doing all sorts of odd DIY to fix the neglected problems accumulated over eight years of living here, my tools are the kind of tools lots of rubbish 21st century adults have. Crap ones that we bought for 2.99 from Ikea, or acquired somewhere as a student, mostly rusty, paintbrushes never cleaned etc. I don't want to put these horrible tools in my lovely toolbox. And plus, that's not really relevant to my blog! 2003 isn't vintage for a tool. The months ticked on. And still the long-suffering chap was emailing me, politely asking whether I had had a chance to post something about it, when he had obviously been on my blog and seen I clearly hadn't.

A new twist in the tale came when a video was released of a man winning a weekend in the classic car of his choice. It being a Royal Mail campaign, the car was delivered in a huge parcel. Through the post. Here's the video - it's beautifully shot and the winner is so cute and shy, bless 'im! And it explains the actual campaign, which I have completely neglected to do thus far.

But how to make this more relevant and thus make a reasonably interesting post on my blog? I suddenly realised when chatting to a blogger friend, Jayne Kitsch, that I was being a right idiot.

I shall use it for my REAL tools.

Forgive the messy bed. My whole life is messy, currently.

Tadaaa! PErfect makeup storage. Please note, I have only put nice, clean, photo-friendly makeup in here. The real stuff is pretty unphotogenic.

And here are the rather nifty vintage car stamps that I shall definitely not be using for the only post I do, sending off bill payments! 



Thank you Royal Mail and 1000heads for sending me this very useful, huge makeup storage box. It even has my name on it!



Sorry, sorry, sorry, it has taken me so long to write this post.

What's the most unusual surprise gift you've ever been sent?

Fleur xx
DiaryofaVintageGirl.com

Friday, 29 November 2013

The Pentax #q7weeksofcolour project!

Last week, I got involved with a little project with Pentax (or, PENTAX as it seems to be in all the correspondence, which is odd retro-futuristic to my eyes... PENTAX THE DESTROYER,  robot from outer space), anyway, yes. They wanted me to test drive a little Pentax Q7 - little being the operative word. It is a very small non-SLR camera with interchangeable lenses. Something in between a point-and-shoot and my beloved and very battered Canon.


Look how small!

It's a mirrorless camera, meaning there's no viewfinder - just the LCD screen. It's very light and, importantly for me, very sturdy, falling off a high counter onto a tiled floor just 3 days into my challenge and being absolutely, perfectly fine (unlike my Canon which smashed its expensive lens into bits during a similar mishap).

You can fiddle with the settings like on a normal DSLR - I like to shoot on Av, so I can change the f-stop (the lower the better), although the zoom function on the Q7 changes the f-stop automatically. You can change the ISO and the white balance too. I tend to stick with Auto on those ;)

It even shoots video, though I haven't had a play with that yet.

The challenge was to take a photo every day for a week, each with a different colour scheme. This is something quite fun, requiring one to keep an eye out every minute of the day for a suitable photo opp (and sometimes failing and resorting to what one has in hand). I also took it to Rhythm Riot over the weekend before to test it out. Here are some of the test results (these have not been edited in any way):


Rhythm riot

Rhythm riot

Rhythm Riot 2013

Rhythm Riot 2013

Rhythm Riot 2013

I feel that the unedited photos have a slightly vintage quality - might be to do with my inexpert wielding of the Pentax Q7 and very slight overexposure? I'm not sure. All I know is, it took a lovely photo with an extendable flash that helped in dark conditions. I'll be writing up the Rhythm Riot properly next week by the way, with a few more of these photos and several of other people's too.

And here's the full project! These were all taken on the Q7, emailed to my phone and then put through Instagram, so there are filters added.

Yellow

Red

Paint it #black. Went to Heavy Metal Bowling/BBQ tonight. I'm pretty metal ;) #q7weeksofcolour
Black

Mint Juleps! #green #q7weeksofcolour
Green

Took the little Pentax to town today! Bright #white lights & sparkle! #q7weeksofcolour
White

Details for tomorrow. #lilac #q7weeksofcolour
Lilac

Of all the vintage sparkles I have, most of them are #blue! Last day of #q7weeksofcolour - thanks for watching! #nofilter
Blue

What do you think? This was a super fun little project so thank you to Pentax/Ricoh Imaging for sending me the Pentax Q7. These little babies retail from £369.99 so not at the budget end of the camera scale, but considering its tiny size, portability and image quality, it seems very reasonable. Fits in a vintage handbag, too, as I demonstrated at Rhythm Riot. Plus! You can choose almost any colour combo for the body and trim! My boyfriend is planning to buy a wide-angle lens for it, so that should be fun! 

If you fancy winning a Pentax Q7 for yourself, there's a #Q7weeksofcolour competition running at www.facebook.com/RicohImagingUK - go and enter! 

Fleur xx
DiaryofaVintageGirl.com

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Having a Bath

Gooooooood afternoon!

Blimey but I am behind with my posting. I have new job! It's very exciting - I am now officially 'Head of Social Media' at a little digital agency called Digital Binx. It's all very new (two weeks!) so I don't have a huge amount to tell you all yet. Have a look at the site to find out more!

But just before I started, I had the absolute honour of being invited to stay for a night at Bailbrook House in lovely, lovely Bath. It's part of the small, boutique chain of Handpicked Hotels, all known for their beautiful and unique venues. Bailbrook itself seems to have languished for several decades as a conference centre, so the transformation to a fancy hotel is pretty amazing. Here's my little review!



We arrived on a rainy Sunday afternoon and were immediately treated to Afternoon Tea. Now I am a huge fan of afternoon tea as you may well know from reading umpteen other blogs about said teas; but my lovely man Sean is not as au fait with them. It's fair to say he doesn't 'get' afternoon tea and had not, in his recollection, ever had one. He was soon converted.



There were two teas available - savoury and sweet. We chose one of each! The savoury had freshly baked breadsticks, smoked salmon caesar salad, parma ham and some amazing homemade harissa spiced 'hummous' (in inverted commas as it didn't taste at all like hummous but was utterly delicious) and tzaziki, plus olives, tiny prawn vol au vents and croque monsieur. Oh and the finger sandwiches, standard tea offering but not standard in this case with homemade bread in multiple flavours. YUM.


The sweet tea was pretty traditional: sandwiches, scones with fresh clotted cream and jam, but also with tiny strawberry and mint cupcakes, bakewell tarts and a little Peach Schnapps sorbet and madeira cake. Very tasty indeed.



The tea was all Twinings finest, but with a really neat system to choose. A presentation box with loose teas in jars was brought over for us to open and sniff. I chose Earl Grey as I very often do. Mr Tizard chose a smoky one whose name escapes me. They came over with a little timer to get the perfect brew - white, green or black tea!




That evening we explored Bath and had an awesome sleep in the very comfy bed (not to mention a bath in the huuuuge bathroom with TV and waterproof remote. Here's the Tizard, demonstrating.



Unfortunately I forgot to photograph the bed, I got so excited about jumping onto it. So here is a recreation of my first entrance into the room, performed the following morning.



There were lots of cool, quirky vintage pictures everywhere... and the four poster bed was THE most comfortable ever.


The rooms all have grand names like Lord Nelson and Jane Austen. Ours was General James Wolfe, apparently a British army officer who trounced the Canadians at the Battle of Quebec. Soz Canadians.

(civilised official pic)

After all that jumping, there was only one thing for it. Breakfast and the papers. 





The Cloisters restaurant was beautiful and it was delicious.

What about the hotel itself? It was a horrible day when we visited Bailbrook House Hotel. Here's a photo of it looking lovely.



It's truly gorgeous, Georgian; built in the 1790s and used for all sorts (including, as previously mentioned, as a conference centre). The grounds are lovely too. I had to have a pose. In me big troosers.



Billowy.

I had such a lovely night's stay with the great food and super room. A massive, massive thank you to Bailbrook House and Handpicked Hotels for having me. If you are looking for a luxurious mini-break in the wonderful city of Bath, I couldn't recommend it more! I adore Bath so much though. Anyone got any other recommendations? I want to go back soon!

Fleur xx
DiaryofaVintageGirl.com

Thursday, 31 October 2013

It's all Greek to me - A KGL adventure

I have been threatening to entertain bore you with my holiday photos for a while and while there are some good holiday outfit photos forthcoming, I also went on a little investigative journalism trip while out in Athens. By which I of course mean, I larked about in the name of a particularly gingery libation which I am positive will be well-known to you all now. It's time to do some cursory warmup lunges and jog on the spot for five seconds before launching into a fancy new 'abroad' instalment of The King's Ginger Adventures!





In April 1869, the Prince of Wales, who was on a big tour of official duties (and presumably fun and sightseeing) around Europe, left Constantinople vis Bosphorus in Turkey and duly arrived in the Port of Athens. After a quick look around (with everything festively decorated to welcome his Highness apparently,) the Royal Party then hopped on the train to the Hellenic King’s palace in the countryside, by all a beautiful place surrounded by equally beautiful scenery. On the following day, they all hopped back on the train and headed for the Acropolis for a personal (and presumably private) tour.




It's not surprising that his future Majesty went for the Acropolis tour. It's such an imposing and unmissable sight, looming up over the city of Athens. I had actually been to visit it before, while on a day trip to Athens with my family (from our holiday on a Greek island, standard) when I was about 12 or so. And my lovely boyfriend Sean had been before, too. But I wanted to do something unusual for this latest article and so, we duly trekked up to the lofty heights on a scorching day.

After getting there, getting tickets and then nearly dying of shock at trying to buy two (500ml!) bottles of water and being asked for no less than €10 (we declined), we headed in. The first thing to say is that it (and its surrounding areas) look rather different from how it would have done back in 1869.



In the screenshot above (click to see bigger), you can see the ruined Temple of Olympian Zeus...

This is the view from it today with the hill from which the above photo was taken to the left...




But what about the ancient buildings themselves as Bertie would have seen them? Well, between 1835 and 1854, the first ever major restorations took place and the monuments were, in effect, put back together using the actual ancient parts, interspersed with new marble. Hence the Parthenon was partially restored at the time. But unfortunately, the inexperience of the workers and the use of iron created lots more problems which have been being sorted out ever since. The modern Acropolis is 50% scaffolding.



The Temple of Athena is more put together than it was back then, though. Exhibit A (1869):


And Exhibit B (September 2013):



Nonetheless, it must have been an imposing sight for the future King and his entourage... not to mention significantly fewer heath and safety restrictions!

The Life of King Edward VII by John Castell Hopkins tells us that on the day in question, 21st April 1869, 'The Acropolis was visited and the glories of that scene of historic greatness revived in the memories of the Royal travellers. A state banquet followed in the evening and on the next day a number of memorable sights and scenes were visited while the evening was the occasion for a coloured and very striking illumination of the mighty ruins of the Acropolis.' Sounds super fancy.



But this wasn't the only time Bertie visited Athens (and went round the Acropolis)... for he returned again during his reign. In 1906 to be precise, for the first Intercalated Olympic Games.


Ah, the Olympics. Big news in the UK last year and, in fact, a topic I covered in this very blog series since they were also held in 1908, during the reign of our hero King Edward VII. You will know several Olympic facts, like that they happen every four years; but you may not know that in the early part of the last century, they tried to make them more often.

The first ever 'official' (there were plenty of smaller forerunners across Europe in previous years and centuries) took place in Athens in 1896. They were very successful, so much so that the Greeks proposed they did the same every four years. Unfortunately, the French chap who founded the International Olympic Committee, Pierre de Coubertin, wanted his homeland to have some of the glory. Hence, Paris hosted the next Games in 1900, St Louis Missouri in the US got the 1904 event. And dear old Blighty played host to the 1908 edition. But the French games were very long, stretching over several months, were slightly overshadowed by the Exhibition they ran concurrent to. Thus, after the 1900 Olympics, the IOC decided to grant the Greeks their own quadrennial Games - otherwise known as the Intercalated Games. They were a big success, short (two weeks), sweet and with the first ever First Parade of Nations (in alphabetical national order with Greece entering last as the host nation), and the first Closing Ceremony, featuring 6,000 local schoolchildren. Very little footage survives but, luckily, this clip features none other than our hero, King Edward VII entering the stadium along with King George of Greece for the opening ceremony with Queen Alexandra (who was in fact the daughter of King George I of Greece). So grand.


At the time, this interim Games was actually known as an official Olympics, it was only downgraded later. Shame! It wasn't as eventful as the 1908 Olympics of London but Royal participation did come in the form of Prince George, King Edward's brother in law, accompanying the marathon winner, Canadian Billy Sherring, on his final lap of the stadium. Also, according to Wikipedia, 'Peter O'Connor of Ireland won gold in the hop, step and jump (triple jump) and silver in the long jump. In protest at being put on the British team, O'Connor scaled the flagpole and hoisted the Irish flag, while the pole was guarded by Irish and American athletes and supporters.'

I wish I could have gone to Panthanikos Stadium to take some photos, but there are only so many ancient ruins one can do in one holiday (I did lots more, pictures to follow).



I hope you have enjoyed this little look at King Edward's two visits to Athens. As you know, I usually pose with a bottle of King's Ginger to illustrate my posts, but booze and budget airlines don't work well together at all. So, I improvised with a booklet instead!




Don't forget to try the King's Ginger... perfect for these cool autumn nights. See where it's available here!


Fleur xx
DiaryofaVintageGirl.com

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