Sunday, September 30, 2007

French Fancies at Vintage Home!

I thought I would give this post a 'French theme' and share some of my amazing recent finds with you, which I have gathered together for a photo-shoot! The backdrop to this display is a beautiful blue striped French fabric with pretty lilacs and roses. I was very tempted to keep this fabric for myself so I made sure I added it to the shop before I weakened! On the table - which is also French, dates to the 1920s and is covered with beautiful hand-painted hydrangeas - is a lovely linen and lace boudoir cushion made by Niki. The picture in the background is actually a pair of old prints on silk, one depicts a young lady waiting for her beau, and the other, as seen here, shows the pair of young lovers together. I found this pair of prints in a very sorry state; they were badly framed and extremely grubby. I should really have shown a before and after photo as they have been utterly transformed with a gentle clean and this exquisite old frame!

The 'piece de resistance' of this little ensemble is the beautiful Globe de Mariee, a recent acquisition that I simply could not resist! Niki showed us photos of hers a few months ago and up until then I had never seen one before. I have been doing a bit of research on them and discovered that a wealth of custom and symbolism is attached to these wonderfully decorative items. If you would like to read more about it, then please visit the all new Tales of Old. This is a new addition to my website, where I will regularly provide pictures and information on interesting and intriguing objets d'art!

We took delivery of a huge pile of logs this week and I have filled the inglenook with them, in readiness for warming the chilly evenings which are now upon us. Likewise, I have just topped the shop up with, amongst other things, some extra-cosy eiderdowns and quilts which will be a delight to snuggle under!

The painting of the Clock House is coming along - after rain stopped play a few times we managed to finish the outside. We started painting the inside this week - more photos coming soon..!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

All Good Things...

...come to those who wait, apparently!! In this case, it is true, and after being very patient I finally have something to tell you all! Do you remember me hinting at some exciting news recently? I expect you all got fed up with waiting to hear and thought I was being a tease!! Well, at last, after a few delays (Sue and Niki know all about it - bless them, they've had to hear all of the trials and tribulations!) I am pleased to announce that Vintage Home has a new home!

We decided - some months ago now - that we would move the web business out of our tiny cottage and into a garden studio - so say hello to the Clock House!

The build finally took place this week and today we took advantage of the glorious weather and gave it the first coat of paint. Tomorrow (weather permitting - this is England after all!) we will apply another coat of green and then set to work on the door and window frames and edge boards, which will be a soft cream.

More before and after photos will follow when we start painting the interior later this week. I am seriously consider moving into this delightful little house - it even has a sleep deck where I can lie and gaze out at the fields and sky!

Friday, September 14, 2007

A Country Lane...

I commented recently to a friend, that sometimes, in the midst of a busy or stressful day, I forget exactly what I have right here on my doorstep. I only have to step out of my gate into the lane and there in front of me stretches miles of fields and countryside. So I thought I would share my recent country walk with you...

On this particular warm and sunny September day, I set off to collect blackberries. Our cottage is almost at the end of the lane, and once out of the gate, after walking little more than a few hundred feet, the lane merges into a grassy track bordered by abundant hedgerows which are filled with hips, haws, elderberries and blackberries.

Hips are the fruit of the wild rose and have a very high level of vitamin C. During the second world war and a time of rationing, children collected sackloads of hips which were made into 'Rosehip Syrup', a valuable vitamin C supplement for the war years. To make rose hip tea, boil the hips for a couple of minutes, allowing them to split open, then drain and serve. You will have a lovely pale pink tea!

The hawthorn tree is a very long-lived tree, living for 250 years or more and its fruit provides good food for immigrating birds such as the redwing and fieldfare.

The wildlife have a rich source of food in the autumn hedgerows, but there's always plenty to go round - for humans too! Elderflower presse is a very refreshing drink - or perhaps elderberry wine would be your preferred tipple!

Of all the wild fruits growing in the English countryside, the blackberry has to be my favourite and our lane and surrounding fields are full of blackberry bushes! At this time of year we see many families trooping past our cottage heading off to gather the fruit. Some are rather more keen than others and carry stepladders and huge cool boxes!! We occasionally joke to them that they need a permit to pick 'our' blackberries!!

Within a few minutes of leaving the cottage, I reached the bridge, and stopped to look down at the steadily flowing water, a small tributory of the River Ock. At this point, I had the choice of turning right, climbing the stile and walking through the field which runs parallel with the water. Or turning left, and walking through fields which eventually take me out to the back of the village and across further fields. By continuing straight on, I could walk for a few miles with the fields stretched out either side of me and the hedgerows full of wildlife, until I reached the nearest village, arriving close to their village pub - how convenient! The pub is called The Chequers, a common name for English inns. The name is related to the chequers board but not for the obvious reason - its origin is in an ancient drink once served in inns, which was made from the fruit of the Wild Service Tree, or as it is also known, the Chequers Tree - its square-shaped bark resembles the markings on a chequerboard. This tree is rare these days, usually found at sites of ancient woodland in parts of Southern England and Wales.

I stopped to say hello to two four-legged bathers and decided to take the right turning by the river and stepped over the stile into the field. Here, the blackberry bushes are particularly abundant and I gathered as many blackberries as my basket would hold. I spent some time listening to the birdsong and enjoying the scenery. Wherever I looked, I could see only countryside and I revelled in the fact that not a single house or manmade structure was visible. Soon it was time to return to the cottage so I headed back home for an afternoon of baking...

This is the result - an apple and blackberry pie - but it wasn't me who spent the afternoon baking - this was made by my husband! (Okay, so it's a little bit dark around the edges - was I complaining?! Of course not!)

It tasted as delicious as it looks - so I will be heading out again soon for more blackberries - I rather fancy a crumble this time!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

And the Winner is..?

A huge thank you to everyone who left a comment on my last post - such kind words from you all!! Well, all of the names were popped into hubby's tatty old straw hat (okay, I suppose a photo is necessary and it doesn't look too bad upside down!) and after a short speech and roll of drums (well, it was a grand occasion!) the winning name was drawn from the hat! So, congratulations to Monika - the treasure tin of goodies will be winging its way to you soon!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Happy Anniversary to ME - and a giveaway for YOU!

I cannot believe I have been blogging for a whole year, but it's true and today marks my first anniversary!

Some months back, when I was thinking ahead to this day, I thought how lovely - and original - it would be to host a giveaway! Well, as I'm sure many of you know, it has now become traditional to host a giveaway on a 'blogiversary' - a bit like buying the drinks or cakes on your birthday (hope there's enough to go round!)

So, to keep the tradition going I am pleased to announce, in honour of my 1st Blogiversary, I have put together this little treasure box filled with a gorgeous array of vintage goodies! All you have to do is leave a comment on this post and I will send this collection of treasures to the first name pulled out of my husband's old straw hat (trust me, you do not want to see a photo of that rather shabby piece of vintage!) The draw will take place on Thursday next week. You don't have to be a blogger to leave a comment - as long as you remember to check back in a week's time to see if you have been the lucky winner! This giveaway is open to everyone who reads my blog, wherever you are in the world!

This original, art nouveau tin is included and holds a tiny Victorian booklet with prose and delightful illustrations; an unused Catherine Klein postcard, some Victorian scraps, a postcard of a young girl, a glass knob, some earrings, a lavender filled heart, a tiny pewter teapot pin cushion, fabric flowers, a china brooch and a bunch of fabric violets as well! I will continue to add more little treasures to this collection, so there should be a nice little bumper package for some lucky person!

I have thoroughly enjoyed blogging and getting to know all you lovely vintage gals out there! Oh, and I must wish a 'Happy Blogiversary' to Sue who started blogging the same day as me! It's not limited to women though - there are some great male bloggers out there - you know who you are!! When I started blogging I had no idea just how addictive it would become. In February, I launched Vintage Home, my online shop and have been overwhelmed with the response! It has spurred me on to provide a regular array of vintage treasures for everyone and I hope it continues to go from strength to strength. It has meant I've had a little less time for blogging, but I hope you will all understand - I enjoy visiting your lovely blogs even though I may not always leave a comment!

September is certainly proving to be a month of celebration - our cottage is featured in the current issue of Oxfordshire Life - here are a few glimpses...

I was hoping to bring you more of the exciting news I mentioned in my last few posts - well, best laid plans and all that..! But as the saying goes, if something is worth waiting for it's worth having, so if you could bear with me another week or so I promise all will be revealed!

Thanks to everyone who has visited my blog over the past year - here's to another year - and many more! - of blogging!

Saturday, September 01, 2007

A Feast of Fabrics, Floral China and Finery!

Well, here we are in September - where did the Summer go to?! Hopefully we still have some sunshine and warm days ahead of us. I have been busy sorting through some lovely old fabrics - here they are blowing in the breeze after a freshen up!

As you may expect, they have a rosey theme to them!

A very kind friend was having a clear out recently and gave me these gorgeous fabrics, again covered in roses! There is a huge amount here so I will have a good think and see if I can come up with a special project for them.

There are big, soft pink roses...

...and small deep pink roses!

I've also given some shelves in my kitchen a fresh new look - I have mixed a pretty 1930s tea service with soft blue Dartmouth pottery - I love that blue! The tea service is decorated with lupins...

...isn't that just the prettiest design you've seen?!

As well as attending to things in the cottage, I have been out buying treasures for Vintage Home and have many lovely things ready to fill the shop. Here is a small taster of some of those pretty items...

...a pair of blue French garters - ooh-la-la!

A delightful Victorian chromo book of poems and texts...

...and a 1930s hat stand with handpainted roses.

I am planning to update the shop in the next few days - and then I think it will be time to give you another clue regarding the exciting news...