Thursday, 31 January 2013

Vintage London: Valentines Bowling & Dating

This morning I got to play in a retro bowling alley for a last-minute modelling job.

It was before it had opened, so it was a bit strange. Especially the weird noises coming from behind the pins...

Spooky goings-on aside, the shoot was to help out a friend who goes by the name of Cliff Gloom, best known as one half of Feeling Gloomy - a favourite club night of mine which I haven't been to in too long (since it moved to a Friday, in fact).

They are putting on a special 1950s Valentines-themed bowling and dating night in a week and a bit, and needed some promotional photos. I was only too pleased to oblige!

Bowl Me Over is on Monday February 11th from 7pm-11pm at the retro Rowan's Ten Pin bowling alley in Finsbury Park and looks like it'll be a must for any lovelorn singletons who are also into rock'n'roll or vintage (or both)!

These aren't the official photos of course - they are ones I persuaded the nice photographer chap to take on my own camera. Look out for the real ones, which also star Cliff Gloom himself, in an events-listing publication near you soon.

And by the way, the dress I'm wearing is a new (vintage) one, and is to be the subject of a near-future post about my love of Vanish Oxi Action. An Ode to Oxi, if you will. Bet you can't wait for that one, eh readers?

Fleur xx

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Vintage London: Future Cinema's Casablanca & Shawshank Redemption

On account of this 'ere blog, I do get the chance to attend some really wonderful things. Last week, I went along to one of the last showings of Future Cinema's Shawshank Redemption. It began as a Secret Cinema production before Christmas. For those who don't know, Secret Cinema is exactly as it sounds, you sign up to watch a film, but you have no idea what it actually is. What you do know is that it will be an unforgettable experience, taking place in a venue made up to look like a set from the film, with all sorts of clues, communications and even tasks beforehand. I went to the showing they did of Prometheus - the first time they've ever done a new film, and it was in an abandoned warehouse filled with real props from the movie, brilliant actors and was an amazing night unlike anything I'd seen before. Even though I was terribly late. And a bit hungover. Ahem. I've been to a Future Cinema production before, too - when they did Bugsy Malone at the Troxy. This was a bit different.

I knew that I was going to see Shawshank Redemption, but it didn't make it any more intriguing. The Secret Cinema team had taken over two historic buildings in East London - the Bethnal Green Library and an old school/former hospital in Victoria Park. The library was the court room where we all lined up, clad in smart officewear as instructed, to await our sentencing for an assortment of crimes.

I felt genuine nerves! At this point I should point out that photography is not usually allowed at Future Cinema, and especially not at Secret Cinema. No point in ruining the fun for everyone! But a group of us were given special dispensation as prolific Instagrammers to document our experiences...

I went down for indecent exposure and was given the nickname 'Dick', because, in all honesty, I was being one. He was being mean! I was in character!  All ladies are referred to by male names and as transvestites since, of course, the inmates of Shawshank are all men.

We then got told to line up against a wall and given a tongue-lashing by a guard, before being ushered into an amazing vintage bus (often used at Goodwood and Hemsby I believe), then transported to Oakhampton State Penitentiary.

Here's Bethan and I on the bus.

Once there, we had to line up again in the gymnasium, before being told to strip to our regulation long johns and teeshirts (again, we were instructed to wear these under our clothes) and we were supplied with prison outfits. They were sexy.

You're then left to explore the prison, with occasional lock-ins to dorms kitted out with bunk beds, taken to the cafeteria for victuals, drink beer from bottles in paper bags, get side missions to steal things from the warden's office and, if you remember (we didn't), go to the parole office to try and plead your rehabilitation. We witnessed a big punch up in the chapel and people being force-fed gin. We played the bad girls/boys with miniatures stuffed down our bras and trying to get in with the most notorious inmates. It was absolutely excellent.

The last thing, of course, was watching the film, which speaks for itself. What an amazing movie! I can't believe I'd never seen it. I'm probably the only one!

I'm sure I've missed more that I did while there, and I definitely missed a lot of what was going on. I encourage you to go yourself and experience it in full. The last tickets for the extended run until 24th February are available to buy here. Go! It would be a brilliant Valentines date... or maybe not.

If this post gives a little insight into the unbelievable amounts of work and attention to detail that Future Cinema put into their productions, then my next task is to tell you about the next one which I am definitely, absolutely not going to miss out on... Casablanca!

They're taking over the Troxy in Limehouse, a gorgeous art deco dance hall and cinema that's been completely restored. The film, of course, is set in the Second World War in 1941, and the action takes place around Ricks Café Americain - a haven for refugees trying to purchase illicit papers and flee the fast approaching war. Then, on a dark night, a brief encounter occurs as Rick meets the girl of his dreams...

Benoit Villefon and his Orchestra (who are awesome) are playing, there will be a recreated Blue Parrot Cafe serving delicious food, there will be dancing, secret bars and bands and, of course, the film.

I have actually never seen Casablanca either, so a lot of this means very little to me, except that this vintage movie is obviously an absolute classic and I have no doubt at all that Future Cinema will more than do justice to it.

So do come along to Rick's, it's open from 14th February (so a better idea for a vintage Valentines date than being banged up, probably) to 3rd March at the Troxy. Tickets available here, now. Hope I'll see you there!

Fleur xx

PS. This post isn't sponsored, I just hope they let me toddle along to Casablanca!

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Vintage Valentine Giveaway #1

Good morning you gorgeous people! I have a rather exciting post for you today.

But first, a question. Are you more of a sweet, cotton candy girl?

Or a dark-hearted temptress?

You'd better make your mind up, because by the end of this week, one of my readers, somewhere in the world, will win one of these sets, courtesy of Betty Blue's Loungerie!

Now, you may remember, many moons ago, I modelled for Betty. If you have a poke about on her wonderful site, you'll find me modelling both a 40s style two-piece and some very awful modern pyjamas. But the purpose of this post is not to talk about my modelling, but to make you choose between the Cotton Candy Tempest set, comprising:

The bed jacket, as seen above...

A babydoll...

And a pair of ruffly knickers.

The Black Tempest set comprises the same pieces, of course...

(side note: how smokingly hot is Lady Betty herself?)

The Tempest comes in Small, Medium and Large, and Betty will post it anywhere in the world, to arrive in time for Valentine's Day (at least in the UK, fingers crossed for the rest of the world).

But how can you enter our little giveaway, you might well ask?

We want you to expose your crimes against loungewear, and repent.

  • Go to your social media network of choice and follow Betty Blue's Loungerie - either on Twitter or by liking the Facebook
  • Take a photograph of your most criminal lounging apparel - you can be in it if you like, but you don't have to be! We want jogging bottoms, old vests, grey pants - the works!
  • Post it to your Twitter (you can do this through Instagram) with the following message and hashtag: I've served my time, @bbloungerie! #loungecrime
  • Or, post it to the BBL Facebook page with the same message, but tagging Betty Blues instead of hashtagging.
We will look through all the entries at close and judge whose crime is the most heinous, and thus the most deserving of a new set of loungerie. Anyone in the world can enter.

Competition closes on Sunday 3rd February and I'll announce the winner (and post their winning/losing #loungecrime) on Monday 4th.

While you wait for us to pass our sentence on to you, make sure you have a look around the beautiful things on the Betty Blue's Loungerie site. And someone, please, buy me this.

Good luck, everyone!

Fleur xx

Monday, 28 January 2013

For the love of Land Girls - Vintage Charity Knit

Hallooooo there!

A quickie as I am in tax return exile for today and probably tomorrow as well. But I have been meaning to post about this for a couple of weeks and here it finally is. A friend of mine, whom I've worked with a couple of times before, Susan Crawford, is a knitwear designer witha  passion for vintage. Here's a sneak peek of me on a very cold beach in November wearing one of Susan's creations. It's for a project we worked on together, which I will fill you all in on at some point soon!

But a sneak peek is all you're getting there, because that's not what I am posting about today. Instead, I'm telling you about a knitting pattern she's done that's entirely for a very worthy cause.

The Wartime Farm Sleeveless Pullover Knitting Pattern has been created by Susan Crawford to raise funds for the Women’s Land Army Tribute Campaign, which is aiming to use said money to build a memorial to the Women’s  Land Army. 

Here's some blurb:

This downloadable and printable PDF pattern contains instructions to knit your own sleeveless pullover as worn by Alex Langlands on the BBC Wartime Farm series. The pattern is provided in a wide range of  sizes to fit from 3 years of  age right through to 54 inch chest and can be knitted for both men and women. Detailed and clear instructions are provided in the pattern along with suggested yarns (needles and yarn need to be  purchased separately). This downloadable pattern costs £5.00, with £2.50 of that going direct to the WLA and payment can be made by debit or credit card, or Paypal. 

The pattern can be purchased from Susan’s website. Find out more about Susan and her wonderful patterns on her site too!

The lovely Gavin, husband, photographer, natty pullover modeller

My vintage blogger colleague and passionate Land Girl fan Charly, aka Landgirl 1980, is doing a lot to spread the word about this pattern, and it was she who asked me to post about it. It was my pleasure to help! Go and visit her blog, she's an avid historian and it's always full of interesting reads and vintage fashion for curvy ladies.

One last sneak peek of that forthcoming project... stay tuned for when I announce what it's all about!

Fleur xx

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

31DOVER – Drinks delivery with Panache

Last week, I popped along to the launch of a new booze-related venture – a website called 31DOVER. It sells an array of wines, spirits and premixed cocktails, with the focus heavily on high quality, personalised customer service. The site is 'run' by a character called The Barman, who is a bit of a rogue (apparently), but knows his stuff. That's probably why he has that slightly smug look... ON THE SITE, not on his real life counterpart!

The Barman's biological form made some masterful martinis.

I took the wonderful Bethan as my date and we got to sip the aforementioned dry martinis (as seen above) as well as 31DOVERs, a champagne cocktail with honey, lemon and maraschino cherries. They were delicious!

These are among the brands that 31 Dover sell. I haven't actually tried Crystal Head Vodka (as made by Dananananan Aykroyd), but I like the bottle a lot.

I unfortunately forgot about this event when I packed my overnight bag the day before, so was in a semi-casual pair of high-waisted jeans from American Apparel (nowhere near as high-waisted as I like but good for work and everyday wear), plus a jumper that came from Greetz from Tiz.

It's lucky I tend to err on the side of dressy rather than letting my usual tendency towards vintageness slide when I am busy and having early starts. And that day, I had something of a stressful mornin, so the fact that I managed to win a bottle of booze at the party made everything better! We all had to choose one from a deck of 31DOVER cards, with the four aces winning a bottle. I picked out the first one, and you'll never guess what kind of spirit I plumped for...

Thank you to the guys for having me and Bethan last week, and thanks for the lovely souvenir, which will be on my keyring forever more.

 If you're looking for some advice on drinks and cocktails, then 31 Dover seems to be a good place to go. Check it (and its nicely designed Facebook app) out.

Fleur xx

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Alpro #deskfest – a week of healthy breakfasts

Just before Christmas, I was invited to be an ambassador for Alpro as part of their #Deskfest campaign. My duty was simply to have five healthy breakfasts using Alpro products – things like soy and nut milks, as well as a new pouring yoghurt substitute. They would also send me some nice bits to use – bowl, glass, notebooks, accessories... all sorts. Since my goal was, as mentioned, to get healthy in the new year, I said I would love to! My usual breakfasts consist of a snatched piece of Marmite toast or a bowl of Rice Crispies. Not the most filling or the most nourishing.

There was only one minor catch – the idea behind Deskfest is, of course, to eat your breakfast at your desk.

Well, I am freelance, and I tend to work in different places all week, depending on where I am and what I am doing. While this did make for a variety of different settings and 'desks' (some real, some makeshift), it did mean I had to be quite organised. Which is not one of my (many) strengths.

I soon realised balancing liquids on my laptop was not a good idea...

Case in point – day one arrived and though I was in a real office for the day, I had so much to do that I didn't have time to eat my breakfast until lunchtime. It was so snatched that a simple bowl of Cheerios with plain soy milk was the extent of my non-culinary creation skills for the day. It was a nice introduction though... plus I had a glass of the hazelnut milk, which was absolutely delicious. Recommended! The quirky vintage and retro furniture in the Bourne & Hollingsworth events office made for a nice setting for photos, which is always a bonus.

Day two, I was at my boyfriend's house. I had writing and blogging to do from his dining table, so my makeshift desk housed a slightly more substantial Deskfest of mixed berry granola with Alpro pouring yoghurt, and an elegant cup of tea (the cup came from the Atrixo event and now lives at his). 

My 'Turn Over a New Leaf' book has had some 5:2 diet recipes (see my post last week) jotted in it.

On my third day of Deskfest, I was back in a real office again, and working on Bourne & Hollingsworth's new/old decoupaged desk. For my breakfast I made cinnamon-nut porridge using a sachet of Oat So Simple Sweet Cinnamon and Alpro hazelnut milk. Topped with fresh raspberries and some dried fruit plus a glass of almond milk, it kept me going all day while I skipped lunch (I wasn't able to do a full fast day).

The fourth instalment fell on a Friday, and I was back at the man's abode, writing some blog ideas down in a real notebook in lieu of a laptop, before heading to work at the Sprizzato head office. Unfortunately, it wouldn't be the done thing to make breakfast there, especially since the place would make an excellent photo location! I had a seedy, fruity muesli with more pouring yoghurt. Tasty.

The blurry brown thing is actually a vintage football! Appropriate.

Last but not least, after a weekend of egg-based breakfast (boiled eggs and soldiers on Saturday and scrambled eggs on Sunday... no reason for me to tell you this except that I feel oddly compelled to full breakfast disclosure), it was back to Deskfest yesterday for one last hurrah...

And this time I was working at my own house! Hurrah indeed! I don't have a proper desk at my house, though. I work on my sofa or, when feeling particularly lazy, from the Boffice (bed-office). So here's my last faux-deskfest from my kitchen counter! The last of the yoghurt topped with granola, a coffee with hazelnut and a glass of almond milk.

I also got the chance to fill up my rather lovely tiffin set that the guys at Alpro sent me, with portions of different cereals and breakfast bits to take in for my next few days in the B&H office. It's almost too nice to take out of home, though, might stick to boring old tupperwares instead...

I had so many plans for beautiful yoghurt/fruit creations in recycled jam jars and frozen fruit smoothies but the realities of my hectic freelance life meant that carb-based breakfasts were king. I actually love how using the Alpro Deskfest products upped my protein intake, though. I really recommend the nut milks on cereal and in coffee, as well as in your cereal, of course. I'm going to continue the good example set to myself in this week as I carry on my healthy eating crusade. I actually haven't lost any more weight this week sadly. But I feel great - energised and positive! I'd forgotten how much I like breakfast as well. Move over marmite toast, I'm going to be eating more substantially in the mornings from now on.

Fleur xx

Monday, 21 January 2013

White (& red) out

London is currently blanketed by snow. Partially crippled in fact, as the trains are all up the creek and the roads are slippery, plus everyone gets to either go home early, or not come in at all depending on how far out of town you live, because once more the country cannot cope with a few inches of the white stuff. It's not like this happens every year or anything.

But snow has the delightful effect of making grimy old London look pretty, and across the commons, heaths and fields this weekend, people were outdoing each other to make towering snow people. When the man and I made a pit-stop in wealthy Clapham, south London (not one of my usual haunts, though my brother does live in those parts), we saw some snowmen with better scarves than ours, saw one woman carrying a small step-ladder away from an eight-foot snowman, and passed a snow-burlesque-starlet by the side of the road sporting fetching leaf pasties.

The light was fading as we snapped these outfit pictures. It was a totally lazy Sunday ensemble, bright but comfortable, warm but not too sloppy...

The jumper I'm wearing is knitted from the famous V&A Victory jumper pattern. The trousers are from Pinup Girl Clothing, and the merino wool scarf/snood (as opposed to a hair snood) was a present from my mum. It's not exactly vintage, but it is warm and not entirely un-retro. I've got almost no makeup on, but who needs loads of slap on a Sunday? My face is currently staging a protest against the weather and I have horrible dry/itchy/bumpy patches on either side of my nose... never happened before though, so I hope it goes away without medical intervention :(

These old faithful shoes are not the most practical for snow, but aside from wellies, they're about as good as I have!

By the way, thanks for all your comments on my last blog! Things haven't gone so smoothly in the last week, and I haven't lost any more weight. I feel like my clothes are marginally less tight though, so we shall see at the end of the month. Those thighs will reduce (though I will admit that cherry-red isn't the most flattering of colours)! More health-related musings will come tomorrow.

I hope everyone in snow-gripped countries is staying warm!

Fleur xx

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