Friday, 28 February 2014

The King's Wheels

As the seasons turn, it becomes less appropriate to drink The King's Ginger neat (to warm one's cockles), and more of a time to start thinking about long, cold cocktails to drink in the warm sunshine. Or maybe it's just the two days of sunshine we had that's made me do some seriously wishful thinking! Anyway, the sun was out when I motored down to the New Forest last week on the trail of King Edward VII. So, dear readers, to Beaulieu, where His Majesty went several times in his life, to meet the man who sparked in him the passion for motor cars which would last until his passing... not to mention the very reason for the existence of everyone's favourite royal themed liqueur!

Ello guvnor! Fancy a ride in me 'Ackney carriage? I'll give you a nip of summat spicy!

Back when I started doing these King's Ginger adventures, I touched upon King Edward VII's love of cars and visited Brooklands Museum, but I only really touched upon it then. As I wrote in that original piece, King Edward owned a remarkable four Daimler motor cars upon his coronation in 1902 but he was introduced to cars in the late 1890s by early car fanatic John Walter Edward Douglas-Scott-Montagu, 2nd Baron Montagu of Beaulieu. As we all (hopefully) know by now, The King's Ginger was invented by Edward's physician, specifically to keep him warm when he was out driving. There wasn't much in the way of heating in cars in those days, after all. I decided it really was time for me to pay a visit to the National Motor Museum in Beaulieu and the place where the King's passion was born and therefore, where the roots of The King's Ginger ultimately lie!

The Hon John Scott-Montagu (father of the present Lord, who still lives at Beaulieu) was born in 1866 and had a lifelong interest in engineering. He was first into sailing (Beaulieu being very close to Buckler's Hard, where war ships were built), then trains. He trained as an apprentice at the London & South Western Railway (something which came in handy during rail strikes in 1919 and 1926, when he volunteered to drive trains himself). But he also saw first-hand the invention of the horseless carriage and the early motor car and could see the potential in this new form of transport. He became a passionate campaigner for motoring, taking part enthusiastically in early events and races in Europe (because man cannot invent a mode of transport without then racing it), winning the first ever medals for British drivers in British cars.

He's generally acknowledged to have introduced Bertie, then Prince of Wales, to motoring, when he took the Prince for a drive in his 1899 Daimler. Bertie was so enchanted that he soon ordered his own Daimler. Royal officials were flabbergasted! Montagu was also the first man to ever drive a car into the courtyard of the Houses of Parliament, invented number plates and got the speed limit raised from 12mph to a hair-raising 20mph on public roads.

The King visited Montagu at least twice more - in 1902 and again in 1904, though he went by train on the latter date.

The National Motor Museum was founded in 1952 by John's son, Edward Douglas Scott-Montagu, and at first, contained only five cars parked outside the Palace House. Nowadays, it has over 250, with everything from the very earliest cars and motorbikes to modern F1 cars and James Bon'd most recent Aston Martin. Plus the most amazing art deco Aubern as driven by Marlene Dietrich, one of the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang cars (there were apparently several - one with wings, one without, etc) and the car that Truly Scrumptious drives in the film as well.

The Truly Scrumptious car, complete with parasol holder! 

But the most interesting thing, with regards to this blog, is looking at the cars that actually belonged to King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra.

This car is a Renault, built in 1906 with a body by Hoopers of London. The way quality cars were made back in those early days involved the car manufacturer making the chassis and the buyer then choosing one of the many specialist coachworks to make the body, in order to show off their excellent tastes. Of course the King did it this way! After Edward passed away, Queen Alexandra continued to use the car, and it was apparently one of her favourites to go shopping in. The staff at Beaulieu kindly allowed me to go around the exhibit ropes to take some detail photos.

Apart from the tiny crown on the back which you could easily miss, there's no indication it was a royal car. Well, except for this, perhaps.

This car was used personally by Queen Alexandra!

It's an American made Columbia Electric from 1903, which the Queen would drive around the grounds of Sandringham. It had a range of 40 miles on one charge and was driven by its second owner, Richard Nash during WWII when petrol was rationed! 

There are plenty of other amazing cars from around the same period, the dawn of motoring.

1903 De Dietrich


A 1902 Daimler, just like the King would have had.

There is a lot of fab old motoring memorabilia too!

Early Driving licence - pretty sure the King never needed one of these! 

I could post these pictures all day - steampunk-esque details of old engines but I will stop there. Not before some additional pictures of me larking about on the only car you're allowed to actually pretend to drive! With some King's Ginger, of course.

Don't drink and drive though kids, unless you're the King, it's 1902, there are hardly any cars and they all go around 12mph. ;)

I thoroughly recommend a visit to Beaulieu Motor Museum - so much to see and do as the ticket also gets you into the Palace House and the ruined Abbey on the grounds! I hope to go again and read up more about the lady racing drivers in the early days too. 

I'll leave you with a King's Sour, taken from the KGL Facebook page, perfect choice for the changing season. Make one with a shot of King's Ginger, a shot of lemon juice and a dash of Bourbon shaken up with some cubed ice. I don't think KGL cocktails need extra sugar but that's just me!

One final note - I actually love driving, especially driving fast. Maybe I was a lady racing driver in a previous life! 

Fleur xx

PS. As I have occasionally had questions from people asking about pronunciation of words, if anyone's wondering, Beaulieu was known in the 1600s as 'Bewley', and that is indeed how it's still pronounced despite its fancy spelling!

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Wonderful workwear

As a blogger of reasonable standing, I get sent a lot of press releases - too many these days to ever have the time to reply to as 99.9% of them are not about vintage, nor indeed any of my other interests outside of vintage. But the other day I got quite a cool one from Dickies that I thought I'd write up.

Now back in the 90s, when I was all into skater style, Dickies were all the rage! Work pants and work shirts on both sexes (but for girls, paired with little vest tops underneath) plus skate shoes (or Adidas shell-toes) were the standard uniform. Both things were even sung about by Vanilla Ice. Thems were the days!

But Dickies were historically always known for their tough workwear - something that they are probably more known for in 2014 again after those skate-tastic glory days of the mid-90s. The email I got was about all the awesome old advertising that they had dug up. Dating from the very earliest days of the Williamson-Dickie Manufacturing Co, it seems they originally did leisure wear too!

I actually had to email back to ask why they didn't make awesome vintage-style swimwear like this original ad shows. I mean, really! Happy to say, they thought they should as well! It might not happen, but who knows. If it does, it was my idea. ;)

Throughout the 30s and 40s, Dickies weathered the storms of the Great Depression and WWII, mainly due to focussing all their efforts on the sturdy, practical gear they became known for. 

By the 50s they placed the emphasis on the 'men of production' with not a lady in sight, unless she was ironing his Dickies. You know, very of its time. They liked to mention how hot men looked in their clothes though! 'Do your job and look good while doing it' - a motto you tended to see a lot in advertising to women, so it's nice to see the same reflected in the blokes' ads too! 

This one's a bit weird though. 

Ladies started to reappear in the late 50s/early 60s, albeit these seem to be unisex pegs! 

In the 1960s, the adverts got more edgy...

And I love this campaign from the 70s!

But by the 80s... well, I'll let the fashions speak for themselves.


Thanks Dickies Store for sending me these brilliant pictures. Looking through the store now, there are a few 90s skate-era looking hoodies tucked away in between the functional workwear, but nothing that I'd currently wear. I suggested to them that if swimwear is a stretch too far, they might go back into high-waisted workwear pants for men and women as I am sure they would be really popular among the vintage crowd, don't you think?

Well if nothing else, with the current early-90s revival working its way up through the decade, work shirts and work pants with skate shoes will soon be back in style anyway. If only I'd kept mine!

Fleur xx

Monday, 24 February 2014

Bingo wings

I haven't been to a good old Blogger event for ages, so when my lovely friend Jayne from Jayne's Kitschen invited me to go along to a Musical Bingo night underneath Pizza East, I threw caution to the wind and said yes. Actually, when I realised the venue, it was like I was a cartoon character and my eyes turned into tiny pizzas. They are seriously good pizzas, you guys.

Anyway, Musical Bingo. I wasn't sure what to expect. When Jayne emailed me about it, she made a remark that with our musical taste (we have actually bonded over a mutual love of 90s-2000s metal and pop punk) that we would suck at it. Well, I said, speak for yourself! I only have a radio in my car, plus I spend a lot of time in nail bars, so I'm pretty familiar with the top 40 and pop music generally.

As it turned out, we needn't have worried since the format was dead easy.

I'm more familiar with Concrete as a club venue that hosts nights like Work It (90s R&B/Hip Hop) and others, but there was a real party atmosphere down there on the night. Lots of people out for birthdays and, I presume, hen parties and things. It is THE perfect thing for that, because it was 100% girly fun. Well, that might sound sexist, but it was definitely only ladies standing up on the table singing along to Dancing in the Street.

The whole set up was quite low-budget - deliberately, I think? Chipboard and silly prizes consisting mostly of sweets and the compere, Foxy Roxy (or was it Glitzy Ritzy?) was brought in in a shopping trolley made to look like a swan boat of love (it being Valentines week)! Brilliant. 

I was on a table with Jayne full of lovely bloggers, including The Girl Who Stole London (who I'd met before) and EpiphannieA (who I hadn't). The pizzas were exceptional. You can see Jayne with the orange hair next to me! 

The way you play Musical Bingo, is that you have a sheet with 9 songs on it - ours were all Love themed, since it was Valentines, and the DJ plays most of (or all, if everyone is singing enthusiastically) each song for you to cross off your card. Even if you didn't recognise the song, someone else would. They were all well known songs. If you can read this one, held by a lovely lady I didn't actually meet, it's Round 2 (duets) and features such classics as 'Breathe' by Blu Cantrell and Sean Paul, 'I Knew You Were Waiting' by Aretha Franklin and George Michael,  the aforementioned 'Dancing in the Street' and 'Crazy in Love' by Jay-Z and Beyoncé among others. 

It was insanely fun to sing along to the ballads. This one may have been Cher, it may have been Elaine Page. It may even have been N****s in Paris (which I actually know all the words to). 


Anyway, thank you to Costa Bingo for inviting me along, via Jayne. Read more about the night here and if you ever need something fun to do for a birthday or hen do, it is definitely personally & thoroughly recommended! Plenty of cracking songs both old and new to belt out, karaoke style. Even if I didn't actually win a single thing. 

Fleur xx

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