Friday, 29 December 2017

Merry Christmas!

He's quite a cute little goblin really.
Um, yeah, it's the 29th, so I've left this a bit late. But I have been checking in on everyone's blogs and Instagrams, time permitting. It looks like everyone's been having a good time, which is nice.

Just before Christmas - we drove up on the 23rd, came back on the 24th - we went to Norfolk to see my mum and Brian. My godparents were there, and my brother, his girlfriend and my nephew Harry. Harry's one now, which coincidentally is the sum total of his vocabulary. All he can say is 'cat!' As Mr Robot isn't fond of children, Harry immediately latched onto him, and spent the next few hours repeatedly shouting 'cat!' at him and handing him oranges. Every time the oranges went back in the bowl, Harry would return them to Mr Robot. It was a fun time, and I was glad to see my mum after she nearly died of pneumonia earlier this year.

Thursday, 21 December 2017

Crinoline Robot's vintage pre-Christmas week

Hello again! I hope you're having a super pre-Christmas week. All my shopping's done, and we're polishing things off at work, so it's feeling pretty mellow at the House of Robots.

Do you count Die Hard as a Christmas film? Some people do, some don't. I don't exactly, but as it's set at Christmas it is vaguely appropriate to watch it at this time of year. Anyway, Mr Robot saw the Gourmet Picture Company was doing some showings in Bath, and as Casablanca was on the night of our office parties, and It's A Wonderful Life is on a day when the trains are borked* he booked us tickets to see Die Hard. Basically, we went, we sat on really comfy sofas in a big tent, and had a meal brought to us while we watched. The menus are devised by two big-name British chefs, Tom Kerridge and Rick Stein; Die Hard had a Stein menu of prawn cocktail (but a really good one, nodding at your 70s aspirational dinner party rather than your soggy 21st century sarnie al desko), fish curry with rice, and then ice cream - and the banana ice cream I had was fantastic. Because we're heathens we washed our fishy meal down with red wine.

Monday, 18 December 2017

The Leavenworth Case

Don't be fooled by the cover! While it's a reproduction of an old jazz age edition (it's from the same series as The Wychford Poisoning Case and The Silk Stocking Murders, which I reviewed earlier this year), the story within these pages is decades older still. The Leavenworth Case is a very early detective novel indeed, first published in 1878.

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Your Christmas viewing and listening

The Sweet Makers at Christmas - cast photo
It's looking like a thin Christmas for telly as far as vintage lovers are concerned! So get your vintage fix in early, as BBC2 has a couple of treats for us this week. On 15 December - this Friday - there's The Sweet Makers at Christmas, where the confectioners explore Christmas sweets enjoyed by the Georgians, Victorians and people of the 1920s. The following night it's showing Feud: Bette and Joan, about the two superstars' career revival and intense rivalry in the 1960s from 16 December.

Over Christmas itself most programmes appear to be either modern, or set much earlier than the 20th century. The BBC's flagship period drama is Little Women, while ITV is highlighting Victoria. Here's my pick of 20th century things to entertain you while you're digesting your turkey.

If I spot anything else interesting, I'll update this page.

Friday, 8 December 2017

Bulldog Drummond [film]

I reviewed the first four Bulldog Drummond novels all the way back in 2010 (yes, this blog really has been going that long!) and I was not a fan. Nonetheless, when the 1929 early talkie came on Talking Pictures TV I Tivoed it, and today got a chance to sit down and watch it - I got through both my print deadlines earlier this week, and both magazines went on time, so I treated myself to a day off.

The date was the thing that grabbed me; you don't often get 1920s films on telly so I wasn't going to waste it, and early talkies are fascinating. This film was adapted from the stage play of Bulldog Drummond, and you can see it in the way the action is confined mainly to a few rooms. It probably made sense given the limitations of early sound technology.

Another reason for watching it was that it had Lilyan Tashman in. Who's Lilyan Tashman? A former Ziegfeld Follies girl, like many a Hollywood beauty, she was also known for being one of the best-dressed women in Tinseltown before her death at 37 from cancer. Given her early death and scandalous life (her lovers included Greta Garbo) you'd think her name would have lingered in the popular consciousness, but it hasn't.

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

More than a feeling...

Boston! Boston Spa, to be precise. That's the pattern of these plates. Back in June 2015 Mr Robot and I found a set of six dinner plates in a chazza, and were very pleased with our bargain. This weekend I found myself unexpectedly getting this little lot to go with it, thereby proving Vix's maxim that if you wait long enough, everything turns up in a charity shop.

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

One Thousand Monsters [book]

Do you have a favourite writer or band or artist who you think should be more popular than they are? Kim Newman falls into that bracket for me. I suppose his blend of supernatural stories and truckloads of obscure pop-culture references don’t really appeal to the mainstream. He’s not gory enough for the hardcore horror fans, but doesn’t trade in the descriptions of pretty clothes and prettier boys that seems to appeal to the other end of the market. So One Thousand Monsters will probably only get picked up by those who appreciate what fun his books are.

That’s a shame really, because this novel slots into Newman’s Anno Dracula cycle, and represents a real return to form after the disappointing Johnny Alucard. Not up with the series? Anno Dracula is set in Victorian London, where Drac has married the widowed Queen Victoria and Jack the Ripper – Jack Seward – is killing vampire prostitutes in the East End. The Bloody Red Baron has a WWI setting; the now-exiled undead Prince Consort has gained influence in Germany and is creating a squadron of undead super-flyers. Dracula Cha Cha Cha is set in 1950s Rome at the time of Dracula’s next wedding, a swirl of movie references in that one. And Johnny Alucard is at the end of the 20th century.

Monday, 27 November 2017

Stress and nonsense

 So, Project Get Through Deadlines continues. This mainly being rigidly organised at work, and doing sod-all at home beyond ensuring we're clean, have clean clothes, and are fed. I've been finding it a little frustrating that a lot of my friends don't seem to take it seriously; they get narked that I don't want to meet up when I really need to go to ground at weekends right now. Arranging things means slotting one more deadline into a schedule, and it's just too much.

Anyway, I've been enjoying a bit of gentle, no-pressure pottering. Saturdays usually mean a trip to Devizes to go to the butcher. Devizes is awfully pretty, and the old, not-very-bear-like bear atop the front doors of the Bear Hotel was looking very festive. King George III and Queen Charlotte stayed there; I wonder if the bear is old enough to have been there to greet them?

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Crinoline Robot's vintage week (and then some)

A lottery win and a bigger house and I'd buy 'em.
On Saturday I met up with Liza (The Vintage Knitter) and Gisela (Miss Magpie's Musings) for a day out in Bath. I know, everyone comes to Bath - I'm very spoiled with not having to travel far to see people! One of these days I'll actually have to take a proper journey to visit someone. Anyway, we had a fab day out, ponking round the farmer's market at Green Park Station, eyeing up the amazing vintage jewellery in Bartlett Street Antiques Market (this was yer actual gold, not costume jewellery) and ambling up Walcot Street to look at the vintage shops.

Bath's a bit rubbish if you need practical things like a washing up bowl or a mop, but if it's Edwardian earrings or giant bronze cat-things you want, the city's got you sorted. The Christmas Market starts this week, which is a fortnight of hell for those of us who live/work there as coach parties converge on the already-congested centre. I avoid the city centre during the daytime as much as possible for that period, and try to avoid catching the train if I can (nightmare) but will take wanders round it after work, when most of the coaches have gone and you can actually enjoy your mulled wine as you browse around Tat In Sheds.

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Beat Girl [film]

It was supposed to be shocking in its day, but I couldn't help being charmed by Beat Girl. I'd seen it years ago, but couldn't remember much about it, so took the opportunity to reacquaint myself when it was on Talking Pictures. Father Paul comes back from three months away with his new 24-year-old, blonde, French wife in tow, and finds his daughter Jennifer (who's in her teens herself, and looks like a baby Bardot) has been going off the rails in his absence.

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Dementia 13 [film]

Well, there's an hour and a bit of my life I'll never get back. This 1963 low-budget horror was directed by Francis Ford Coppola (listed as Francis Coppola) and produced by Roger Corman, so I'd hoped it would be a little forgotten gem. Nope! I found this proto-slasher really quite dull.

Friday, 27 October 2017

Stop! Hammer time!

One of the great studios in the history of horror films – in my view, surpassed only by Universal – and indeed the only truly great British one was Hammer. Radio 4 has turned one of the unmade Hammer scripts, for The Unquenchable Thirst of Dracula, into a radio play. And if Hammer isn't enough to lure you in, it's set in the 1930s, in India. The film was very nearly made on location in India in the 1970s. (Thinks: something for everyone who reads this blog in there, I reckon.)

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Cuphead is jazztastic

This is going to be about music, not videogames, so don’t go away yet! Cuphead is a new game, yes, but that’s not the interesting thing. What you will appreciate is how deliciously jazzy it is. The whole thing has been designed to look like a 1930s animation. The tale of Cuphead, who sold his and his friend’s souls to the devil and now has to battle to get them back, is absolutely beautiful. And to go along with those perfect 30s animation looks, it’s got a wonderful soundtrack. The developers specifically asked composer Kris Maddigan to come up with something that sounded like genuine Depression-era music, played by a proper big band.

Monday, 23 October 2017

The bloggers are in town

 Well, were in town - yesterday Gisela (Miss Magpie's Musings) and Emma (Ivy Black Chat) were in town, and Vix (Vintage Vixen) was trading at the Guildhall as Judy's Affordable Vintage Fair was in town, so we all went for a shop and natter. Gisela promised that if I wore my zombie dress, she'd wear her Cheshire cat one. Had to be done. It was really good to go round the stalls with Gisela and Emma, to hear what's been going on in their lives, and enjoy a cup of tea and a natter in town.

Friday, 20 October 2017

Timewasters: 1920s-set time-travelling comedy

Horace and Lauren from ITV comedy Timewasters
Time travel!

“It’s what white people do, like skiing or brunch.”

So says one of the four lead characters in ITV2’s new time-travelling comedy, Timewasters. The premise is simple: a quartet of young, black British jazz musicians get into a lift with a tramp, and end up back in the 1920s. As they’re jazz musicians, the fall on their feet relatively quickly, being picked up by a pair of posh twins to play at their birthday party.

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Mostly Ghostly: More Horror For Halloween

Another Halloween means another CD of Halloween music. I had high hopes of Mostly Ghostly, thinking as a mix of 1950s and 1960 novelty songs it would be like These Ghoulish Things. Sadly, it's not everything I'd imagined.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

1920s Jazz Age: Fashion and Photographs

A selection of 1920s evening dresses
The exhibition 1920s Jazz Age: Fashion and Photographs at the American Museum in Bath is nearly over, so I thought I'd better get round to going before it was over and I kicked myself. If you're planning to visit it, it closes at the end of the month, so GO NOW.

Friday, 6 October 2017

The accidental capsule wardrobe

Heyday Judy dress - my old faithful! - and
chazza cardi
Capsule wardrobes, in my mind, go with minimalism: something that sounds like a great idea, but that I know in my heart of hearts I’d get bored of even if I ever managed it. (Do you ever look at the advice given to women in the 1940s/50s about how many of each item of clothing they needed and think about how small the number of items seems?) Somehow, though, I took very little on holiday for the week back in September, and it was fine. I feel like I’ve learned an important lesson in holiday packing somewhere along the line.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Bloofer lady: Theda Bara

Theda Bara
 We've had had Bloofer Gents for the past three years, so I think it's time we added another lucious lady of lurkiness to the Bloofer list. And who better than the original vamp herself, Theda Bara?

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Watchy McWatchface

Have you ever bought anything from one of those catalogues they have on planes? On our way back from holiday, Mr Robot surprised me with this watch. I've never bought anything on a plane myself, but I did really like this Orla Kiely watch when I saw it. He thought I'd like it too, so got it for me.

Kiely's 'Stem' pattern is pretty much ubiquitous nowadays, which did make me wonder why she doesn't get quite as many negative comments thrown at her as, say, Cath Kidston. Is it that her stuff is more streamlined, less pastel, a little less twee? (I quite like some of Kidston's patterns, but too much of the florals or polkadots can make me feel like I'm trapped in a Yummy Mummy's Instagram feed.) I don't think I'd want 'Stem' on a large item – a bag, say – but it's a nice splash of colour on the watch face, and the long, slim rectangular shape is unusual.

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Suddenly, it clicks

The Basilica of the Virgen del Pilar, Spain's national saint
The Basilica of the Virgen del Pilar, Spain's national saint.
We've been in Zaragoza a few days, but today we properly got that holiday feeling.

Monday, 18 September 2017

Madrid, you will kill me!

Sherry! In a bar old enough for Laurie Lee to have drank in.
I'm typing this in Zaragoza, having just spent a couple of nights in Madrid. Madrid is infamous for being a city that doesn't slow down - the nightlife is so good, I think a week there would finish me off.

Friday, 15 September 2017

Kick Miss Fisher?

Waaaay back in January I blogged that the creators of the Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries TV series were hoping to bring Phryne to the big screen – well, it’s a step closer, as the production company has launched a Kickstarter to support Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears. (Nice title!)

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

New (old) work bag

As someone who tries to look after things, I find it really frustrating when I wear something out, and for some reason I seem to burn through black 1960s bags. The vinyl handle cracked on my first one (I’ve still got the back but haven’t yet got round to repairing it), and the cardboard stiffening the second literally gave way, so that handle didn’t just come loose, it tore out a chunk of the structure. Happily, I’ve started seeing the sorts of bags I like creeping back into charity shops. I do have two black ’60s bags, but one has a lace front and the other is snakeskin, and both are really a little too evening-y for work. As soon as I saw this one over the weekend, I pounced. It was a tenner in my local hospice chazza.

Thursday, 7 September 2017

My current vintage obsession: Helen

Helen in the Bollywood film Caravan
Helen in Caravan (1971)
Vix definitely mentioned Helen ages ago on her blog, so that’s where I first heard of her, and she’s become my latest vintage obsession. It’s probably at least a little because she’s a mix of Burmese, Indian and European, like my grandfather’s family, and like them had to move from Burma/Myanmar to India during the Second World War. My family came to England, but Helen's stayed in India, and between the 1950s and 1970s became one of the most famous dancers in Bollywood, dubbed ‘Queen of the Nautch Girls’. Nautch is an old performance art; the dancers were almost legendarily alluring. I don't know enough about it to know if they all moved like Helen, but to be nicknamed Queen of them all is no mean feat.

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Professor Elemental takes Trowbridge!

 On Friday night, Professor Elemental actually did a gig in Trowbridge!

Why the excitement? Well, Trowbridge isn't a place where lots happens. I like living here, but despite being the county town of Wiltshire, it often gets overlooked, I always feel because it's very working class. When the council gave up the old Victorian Town Hall there was a fear it'd be turned into flats, but it's become an arts centre for the people. I actually make monthly donations to Town Hall Arts; I feel very strongly that the arts should be for everyone, not just the privileged, and not just people of school age. (My monthly donation is a tenner; it might just keep the place in loo roll, but every little helps.) The Town Hall hosts tea dances and free art exhibitions, theatrical performances and much more. It really does do stuff for most sections of the community. Sheer Music is a Wiltshire music promoter doing more in Trowbridge, and they brought the Prof to town. A venue I support hosting an artist I admire? That was Friday night sorted.

Friday, 1 September 2017



I am so glad to see autumn. I'm not a massive fan of longer nights, or of plants dying back, and definitely not of cold or rain, but I am very pleased to be able to get my lovely woollies out of the wardrobe again, both knitted and woven. I pulled my favourite old purple tweed dress out today and felt so happy to be wearing it again. (The poor thing is very well worn, and while it doesn't show its age too badly on the outside, the lining is completely trashed.) I always feel smart in this dress. Tweed is a very forgiving fabric; it doesn't show every lump and bump, and it's jolly comfy too.

The down side of autumn is that I really need to get my act together and sew that [blorp!]ing sleeve on the 1930s jumper I finished knitting last year, because it's not going to sew up itself.

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

The Z Murders [books]

This is one of the books Gisela sent me, and you know what? This one's pretty good. Originally published in 1932, it's got a pace that a lot of novels of the same era lack. All the action takes place within a couple of days, though the hero Richard Temperley still manages to cover a good chunk of England in that time.

The preface likens this to the Paul Temple stories; I feel it could well have its roots in novels like The Thirty-Nine Steps or other adventure tales. Temperley gets drawn into the action after a train journey; he arrives in London on an overnight train disgruntled with a fellow passenger who'd been snoring throughout, but within a very short time of arriving, the other passenger is dead, and the lovely young lady who was the last person seen in the same room as him has fled. Cue Temperley chasing after the lady, trying to avoid the police (who, refreshingly in a novel of this era, are pretty sharp), and endeavouring to work out what the little 'z' symbols left at the scene of this death and the following ones mean.

Like adventure tales, it does get perhaps a bit silly, with a very odd villain and the strangest reason for the murders, but that's okay. The speed will sweep you along, even while you're tutting at the more ridiculous bits.

Monday, 28 August 2017

How to wash a sheepskin rug

A lot of people are put off sheepskin rugs because of a perceived difficulty in cleaning them. However, I've had mine for more than 15 years, and it gets washed at least once every year too. Before I go into how I clean my rug, it's important to keep your sheep as nice as possible the rest of the year. Give it regular shakes outdoors, and a good brushing every few months. And don't stamp around on it in your outdoor shoes! The less grubby you make it, the less cleaning it will need. Unfortunately, mine is right by the fireplace, so was looking horribly grey lately. Time it had a wash...

Friday, 25 August 2017

Three come along at once...

I have been properly ill this week. I spent pretty much all Saturday asleep with what felt like a nasty virus - feeling doubly awful as I was supposed to be going to Norwich for my brother's 40th birthday party that day - and then on Sunday it mutated into stomach trouble, about which I shall say no more. That knocked me out of action for a couple more days, but I had to be back at work on Tuesday as GamesMaster was on deadline. I am dedicated to getting my publications to press!

I managed to pass the lurgy on to poor Mr Robot. We usually meet most days for lunch, which is a bit sad I guess, but I'm happy that my husband is also my best friend. As he wasn't available, yesterday I thought I'd poke round the shops. Laura Ashley had a sale on, so I tried on a couple of dresses there, one tartan in a very 60s shape, and one shirt dress in one of their 70s prints. Neither looked right. My boobs looked awful in the former (a more 60s-style bra, like a Doreen, might've helped, but I wasn't willing to spend £60 without knowing for sure) and the other showed up my lack of waist horribly. It had a drawstring, and I had no nice curvy waist to draw it into, so it just sat forlornly on my belly. Feeling bad about my shape, I went for a whizz round the chazzas, and got a couple of nice tops that actually looked good on my blocky body for not much money at all. One was a sleeveless linen-look one, somewhere between navy and royal blue in colour, and the other was this navy print sleeveless blouse, which is modern but has a 60s vibe. Hooray for charity shops. Though I really do need to break my addiction to navy at some point.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Who ordered an early autumn?

Send it back, we haven't had summer yet!

Honestly, when we had a lovely June I thought we'd get a proper summer this year, then July was miserably wet, and August appears to have disappeared and we're having an early September. On the plus side, it's really putting me in the mood for my trip to Spain later this year. We usually go to Spain in the autumn, and this year we're having a couple of days in Madrid, as I really want to visit El Escorial, the palace, and then we're heading up to Zaragoza for a few days. I don't have any firm plans there, and I'm trying not to make any - I want it all to be a surprise, and to be able to do things as the mood takes us. There will be art, there will be beautiful buildings, and there will be tapas, but exactly what and when will remain a mystery.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

The steam fair's in town

Carter's Steam Fair is back at Victoria Park in Bath, so Mr Robot and I popped along after work this evening. I missed it last year because I was poorly, so it was lovely to go along again. The weather has been awful since the fair opened on Saturday, but tonight it was sunny. I was really excited to be revisiting the fair, so wore my very silly space cats dress, which someone at work described approvingly as 'f***ing bonkers'.

Here I am riding on the Gallopers. According to Carter's, there's a difference between British Gallopers and American Carousels. Gallopers turn clockwise, not anticlockwise, and carousel horses are prancing. To be honest, I'd never known there was a difference, but anyone can see Carter's Gallopers are a work of art, from the portraits of kings and queens above the horses, or music hall artistes round the centre of the ride, or the wonderfully decorated organ. I always go on this ride because it's so beautiful. You can see the steam engine that powers it glowing away in the centre.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

New shoes and ramblings

Once again life proves my theory that if I don't get what I want, it's because something better is waiting for me. The top I wanted had sold out on the sales, and the red loafers were too narrow and had to be sent back... but the green loafers I'd spotted earlier in the year and hadn't been in the sales suddenly did come into the sales, and thanks to the red loafers being too narrow I had a better idea what size to order.

Weirdly, though both pairs were from Van-Dal the red ones had been in British sizes and the green ones were in European sizes, so no half sizes. (If the appalling mess that is Brexit brings any benefit at all I'd quite like half-sizes for shoes back.) I ordered a six, and a wider fitting, because the problem with the red ones had been that they were too narrow, and the green ones are a little too long, with a gap of about a centimetre and a half at the end of the toes, but they're snug enough to be wearable.

Result: I now have green loafers. I've got loads of '60s clothes these will go perfectly with. I would have done a photo of me in them, but it looks like raining today, so I left my loafers at home. No point soaking them on their first day out.

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Go on a 1930s adventure

It's not often that my day job overlaps with this blog, but this is one of those rare occasions. Strange Brigade is a game that's been announced for PC, PlayStation 4 and XBox One, release date still to be announced, and it's a 1930s-set adventure game. Remember the short-lived ITV series Jekyll and Hyde? The vibe I'm getting from the game is similar. The four main characters - Frank Fairburne, a British soldier and dead shot with a rifle, northern lass Gracie Braithwaite, shotgun-packing Masai mama Natangu Rushia, and Oxford academic Archimedes de Quincy - are taking on Seteki The Witch Queen, who's unleashing all manner of ancient Egyptian nastiness.

I wouldn't have mentioned it as the game's a shooter, and I'm pretty sure most people who read this blog couldn't give a wet slap for shooting games (I'm not a fan myself), but there is also a series of books coming out based in the gameworld.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Dooooo want

A cup of tea and a slice of cake
Grab a cuppa, I'm rambling...
I'm not on deadline, which is usually the time when I go shopping-loopy, but I am hankering for THINGS anyway. (Now I do two magazines, there's a gap of about a week to a week and a half between them going to press.) And for some reason, the things I want are really pricy this time around. My charity shop purchases last weekend have done nothing to contain my covetousness.

Monday, 31 July 2017

The Incredible World of Spy-Fi [books]

How do you feel about spy gadgets? I have a love-hate relationship with them, because when they're put in a TV programme or film and used well, they really enhance the action, but some of the later Bond films - the Pierce Brosnan ones, especially - feel as though the makers picked a few double-entendre names, a selection of locations, and some really silly gadgets (invisible car, anyone?) and then tried to cobble a story around them somehow.

Danny Biederman, on the other hand, is a man who really likes his fictional spy gadgets, because everything in this book is in his personal collection, which he was invited to put in a private exhibition for the CIA. The actual CIA.

Sunday, 30 July 2017

In which I fail at pub, but win at shopping

The interior of the White Bear pub, Devizes
Inside the White Bear, Devizes
Yesterday Mr Robot and I decided to go on an Awfully Big Pubventure. Since our butcher closed its Trowbridge branch, we've been driving over to Devizes most Saturdays. Devizes is home to Wadworth's brewery, and there are some really nice looking pubs there. Instead of driving, yesterday we got the bus, with the aim of also sampling a few beers.

Sunday, 23 July 2017

A lovely parcel from Miss Magpie

Earlier this week I got a parcel note put through my door. Something was at the Post Office, waiting for me to sign for it. "How odd," I thought, "I'm sure I haven't bought anything." (I did buy a pair of cherry red patent loafers while on deadline, but they were delivered to Mr Robot's office, and turned out to be too narrow so they've already been returned.)

Yesterday I picked the parcel up, and it was a box of goodies from Gisela, who blogs over at Miss Magpie's Musings. She'd mentioned having some of the British Library republished vintage crime novels, and as she wouldn't read them again, said she'd pass them on to me. I'd completely forgotten, so it was a lovely surprise. Two - The Z Murders and Thirteen Guests - are by J Jefferson Farjeon. I wasn't so keen on Farjeon's Mystery In White, so it'll be interesting to see if these are better.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Homunculus - James P Blaylock [books]

See the words 'steampunk legend' below the author's name? Usually I'd get annoyed by this sort of thing, but in this case it's justified. Unusually compared to other subcultures, such as punk or goth, steampunk has its roots in literature, and three men in particular: K W Jeter, Tim Powers, and James Blaylock. Since then, and since the mid-noughties in particular, the subculture has grown, and there's been a real explosion in the number of stories written within this genre. Possibly the most surprising thing about Homunculus is how many of the cliches of modern steampunk aren't present.

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Beam Me Back, Scotty at the Museum of Brands

Yesterday Mr Robot and I went to London as our Twitter chum Emily was running her supperclub. She and her sister Amy cook Burmese food as The Rangoon Sisters, and we wanted to support them, and to enjoy some Burmese food we didn't have to cook ourselves. Because we got into London early with time to kill, I looked round to see if any interesting exhibitions were on, and discovered the Museum of Brands had one called 'Beam Me Back, Scotty'.

You might not have heard of the Museum of Brands. It's not one of the big national collections, it's the work of one man, Robert Opie. If you've an interest in old adverts, watch programmes like Back in Time for Dinner, or watch many other retro programmes, you'll have seen products from the Opie Collection. I suppose you could sum the collection up as 'things people buy'. Food in tins and packets. Toys. Cosmetics. And it's fascinating and lovely, because as nice as grand country houses are, for most of us, our history is on the shelves at the Museum of Brands.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Mumbai booked! And other travel plans

A toy robot
Note to self: pack robot
Yes, Mr Robot and I have booked a hotel for the Mumbai leg of our trip to India next year. And the Kolkata one, for that matter. When we book hotels, location is always our primary concern: I’d rather have somewhere less luxurious if it’s not far from the sights, because I don’t fancy walking miles or taking the bus to get where I want to be every day, but if the location I want is pricy, so be it. So we’ve ended up with one pretty cheap place in Kolkata, not far from BBD Bagh, and one rather expensive one in Mumbai, not far from the Gateway to India (though, as Mr Robot pointed out, it’s no more expensive than a hotel in London. And Vix, I know you read that last sentence in horror!). 

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Art deco glasses

Capricious beings, the charity shop gods. I popped into a few yesterday hoping for clothes, and did they deliver clothes? Of course not. Nor bags, shoes or even brooches.

What they did deliver is a quartet of 1930s glasses. I found a photo of an identical set of three plus a matching jug on Pinterest. It would be nice to have the jug too, but four glasses are generally more usable than three and I already have lots of jugs.

I'm rather pleased with this set. I've always loved jazz age homewares, and glasses aren't common finds.

All hail the charity shop gods!

Friday, 7 July 2017

Not shopping in the sales

Damn you, High Street. I'd been umming and ah-ing over whether to buy the 60s-feeling Seurat top from Fever, and then I missed the fact that their sale had started and now it's sold out. Gah. It would have been perfect with my navy trousers.

On the other hand, a number of other brands have sales on and I'm refusing to buy anything at all as now I'm going to the gym regularly, I'm really hoping I'll be able to wear some more of my genuine vintage soon. If I can't wear the summer dresses before summer's gone, I've got at least two suits that will be perfect for autumn and winter. I've never worn one, a beautiful late 40s/early 50s 'Cooltimer' by Printzess. It's the one on the left. Look at those curved pockets! That's the seller's original photo (I bought it from the excellent Soulrust on Etsy); needless to say I'll fill it out more than the mannequin does. And let's not talk about beige not being my colour. I've waited so long to wear that suit, I'm going to wear it even if I do look blah. A colourful blouse and jewellery will do the trick, I'm sure.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Hoorah for July

A tabby cat in front of a fuchsia bush
Thanks for your nice comments to my last post. Mum is loads better, and is now out of Critical Care, though she's still in hospital on a regular ward as she still needs an oxygen mask. It was good to go to Norfolk to see her, and to see she's recovering. Her chap, Brian, is taking good care of the house as well as the farm, so she can relax and get well. As she's a keen Harry potter fan I bought her a Harry Potter charm bracelet and three charms - the Hogwarts letter, the sorting hat, and a Gryffindor house badge. Gryffindor is her favourite house, and I reckon she belongs there.

Both cats repaid our absence by losing their collars as soon as we came home. Ziggy has a beige thing instead of his nice polkadot one seen in the photo (taken shortly before he got all the way up on the roof and started messing around on next-door's chimney pots), and Pippin has a blue camouflage one that doesn't suit her at all. I'm hoping for a nice wander round the chazzas this weekend, but will have to fit in a trip to the pet shop to find more appropriate collars for the little beasts.

Thursday, 29 June 2017

June continues to suck

My lovely mum is in hospital with viral pneumonia. I'm glad she's had a diagnosis, and that her friend nagged her into calling the out-of-hours service - she's been on a full oxygen mask, and I suspect would have died if she'd carried on trying to sleep off her ilness. Hoorah for good friends and the NHS. Anyway, I'll see you in July, and I promise I'll have a blogoversary giveaway for you, and hopefully a resumption of normal blogging service!

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Not ded, just busy

Sorry about the silence – I have MADE IT THROUGH E3 WEEK! E3 is the massive games convention in Los Angeles, and was held last week. All the new videogames are there, a lot of the big news comes out then... and I had a 68-page E3 supplement deadline on Friday, and the main mag deadline for Official PlayStation yesterday. That meant a couple of evenings working, and not much time to do anything interesting.

Mr Robot and I did go for a long, very drunken, tapas crawl on Saturday. It was a good way to clear my head. We'd come into Bath for The Vintage Home Show, and had a poke round all the beautiful furniture and homewares on offer. We didn't see anything that really fitted in with our house, though that's to be expected as ours is more 'Victorian explorer' than anything else. (We thought we might find plates or kitchenware, but nothing shrieked 'Buy me!') Anyway, once we'd seen that we decided to stay in the city, and it turned out Pintxo has a lovely little courtyard out the back, with flamenco music playing. We couldn't neglect dropping into Ole Tapas, and then Tapas Revolution was right by the train station... This is why 'tapear', to go for tapas, is a Spanish verb!

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Not altogether ooky

Last night Mr Robot took me to see The Addams Family at the Theatre Royal in Bath. I'm a big Addams Family fan, so even though the musical has had mixed reviews, I was keen to see it for myself.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Outfit post: Spaaaaaaace caaaaaats!

It's Unsuitable Deadline Day purchase time again! I have a list of things that would be genuinely useful for my wardrobe: a black jersey dress, chestnut brogues or loafers, plain navy top, white bra that actually fits… so what do I buy? A dress designed for someone fifteen years younger and four stone lighter than I am.

But look: space cats! It's got little astronaut cats coming out of space capsules, and other mogs in party hats celebrating.

Friday, 2 June 2017

Crinoline Robot's vintage week

My mojo is returning, slowly. I'm still knitting, slowly, and I've been organised enough to write and post a letter to Marija. I've even remembered that my embroidery is in my trunk so a bit more of that might get done one day! I made it through my print deadlines with only one Deadline Desperation purchase, a dress with cats dressed as astronauts on. (Yes, there will be photos.) My next deadline for OPM clashes with E3, the big international games convention in LA. As a vast chunk of the mag will be devoted to things on show at E3, all that will be coming in at the last minute so I will be stressed, stressed, STRESSED. Expect no blog posts and more novelty shopping mid-June. On a more sensible shopping front, last weekend I got some legging things to wear for the gym, though I still haven't got round to joining said gym. I'm not that organised.