Tag Archives: art deco

Art Nouveau – Alphonse Mucha exhibition, UEA.


F. Champenois Imprimeur-Éditeur by Alfonse Mucha, 1897

F. Champenois Imprimeur-Éditeur
Alfonse Mucha, 1897
(Public Domain image)

I’m a big fan of the Art Nouveau movement, especially the works of Alfonse Mucha, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, and Charles Horner. I have a number of reproductions of Mucha’s works and a few items of jewellery in the style of Mackintosh. Sadly I don’t have anything by Horner as even reproductions are expensive.

I love the organic shapes of Art Nouveau, far more than the more minimalistic style of the more popular Art Deco movement that followed it, although that’s not to say that I dislike Art Deco; I just don’t like it as much as I like Art Nouveau. I do particularly like the Streamline Moderne (aka Art Moderne) movement that evolved from Art Deco, although I think it would be fair to say I am a fan of the whole Raygun Gothic catchall retro-futuristic vibe. But I digress.

In a subsequent post I will show what I have of the above, but it will make this post too long if I do it here and, besides, it deserves a post of its own.

A month or so ago, I learned that I had a missed an exhibition of Alfonse Mucha’s work at the Russel-Cotes Art Gallery & Museum in Bournemouth last year but that it was currently running at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts at the University of East Anglia (UEA) until 20th March, so a plan was hatched to visit my best friend Claire in Lowestoft again and for us to attend the exhibition.

Claire & Joanne, Besties Forever

Base credit: eugene-joe-c at DeviantArt

So, tickets were booked, time off work was booked, and a hotel was booked. The weeks dragged by somewhat until the weekend we had dubbed “Bestiefest” finally arrived.

I travelled up on Friday morning and the journey was not good. The M3 and M25 were ok, but the two lane M11 was a nightmare with loads of lorries doing elephant racing.

Here’s one of those maths questions for you – if a lorry travelling at 60.01 mph overtakes a lorry travelling at 59.99 mph on a two lane carriageway, how many miles of abject misery can they cause for other road users? Answers on a Carrier Pigeon or Stone Tablet please.

In the end it took me just over 4 hours to get to Claire’s, having set off around 10am. Although, in fairness, I did stop for 15 mins at a service station for a loo break, and also had a panicked switch from the A14 route to the A11 route because I thought I knew better than Google Navigation. I should learn to welcome my digital overlords, because I was wrong.

It was good to see Claire again, and we spent the afternoon just nattering and catching up. She had to pop out to get the kids from school mid-afternoon, so I took the opportunity to drive over to the hotel to check in, to freshen up, and change.

Off out for a night in

Off out for a night in

I had decided not to book myself into the same hotel as last time, but to use a Premier Inn. Upon arrival this proved to have been a good choice. Although Premier Inn are quite basic, the price was very keen, and the room turned out to have everything that I needed – a nice comfortable bed, a comfortable chair (a chaise longue, no less!) which also doubled as a place to put my suitcase, a small desk, and a small dressing table with illuminated mirror for doing my makeup. Everything I needed and nothing I didn’t need. The only thing lacking was a lift – lugging my suitcase up a flight of stairs was a bit of an inconvenience.

The downside of my choice was that, rather than being 5 mins from Claire I was now 15-20mins but, to be honest, the cost and benefits made that worth it. I just wish I could have the best of both worlds. As always.

It took me a little longer than I anticipated to unpack, freshen up and change, and although we weren’t going out that night I probably slightly overdressed but never mind. It was late afternoon before I got back to Claire.

We spent some more time nattering, and I also helped her with the new website for the band that she is in (the band is called ICONIC). She is developing with WordPress and was having a few problems with a few things, and I have some experience there so we were able to work on that together. In fact the rest of the day fairly flew by and I’m not entirely sure that we did a lot more besides that, apart breaking for dinner.

All too soon it was bedtime and I headed back to the hotel where I had a really good night’s sleep, which considering that I often suffer from insomnia was a nice bonus.

Alfonse Mucha exhibition. Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts University of East Anglia

In quest of beauty

The next day I got over to Claire’s mid-morning, and a little while later we headed over to Norwich for the exhibition. We got there a little ahead of schedule and I spied a large Next store so we popped in there for a browse and a coffee, then headed over to UEA to arrive in time for our “slot” at the exhibition.

I went to university at a non-campus one, so entering the campus of UEA and driving round looking for the SCVA was a slightly new experience for me. In the end we found it, and even managed to find a space in the small car park with free parking that had been set aside for exhibition visitors. In fairness, had we not been able to park there then there were other car parks on-campus, and a free parking permit was available from the front desk of the Centre, but it would have been a little bit of a hassle of back-and-forth to go get one then go back and place it in the car, then back again. It was nice not to have to do that as no permit was required in the reserved car park.

The exhibition was small, but was well presented. There were examples of Mucha’s artwork throughout his career and also examples of his sculpture and jewellery on display. In the corner was a television showing a loop of a documentary about him which ran for around 20-30 mins, so we sat and watched that and it was very interesting and I learnt things about Mucha that I did not know. It’s made me want to read the book I have on him in more detail as I confess that I had only skimmed it until now.

After we had finished at the exhibition we went down to the gift shop. I very much wanted the weighty 168-page paperback guide that went with the exhibition (£16) and they also had some very good quality mounted reproductions of some of Mucha’s art. I have wanted some of these for a while but have been very wary of buying online – when I enquired of one seller on Amazon Marketplace a while back as to the provenance of their pictures they told me that they printed them themselves on an Epson printer on ‘high quality paper’, so being able to see the quality, and to see that they had been commissioned by the Mucha Foundation, was a big selling point. They weren’t cheap, though – £25 for a larger size and £15 for a smaller size. There were also some unmounted posters of A2 size for a more reasonable £12 each. There were also various books on Mucha, including a book of posters whose quality was very good (£12).

In the end, after an awful lot of pondering, I limited myself to one larger print, one medium print, the guide, the poster book, and a poster. This came to a not unsubstantial £80, but I could very easily have spent double that.



Even now I’m not convinced I chose the right prints, particularly Bieres de la Meuse which I already own as a metal sign. I think I should have chosen a different one, and perhaps given in to my desire to buy more of the prints. I justified the decision not to at the time as I rationalised that I could cut out the posters in the poster book and frame them, but now I am not so sure.

It was early afternoon by now so we popped into Norwich for a light lunch and then dropped in on one of Claire’s friends who was looking forward to meeting me as she’d heard lots about me. We seemed to get on really well, so that was nice. Then after a little while we headed on back to Claire’s.

A little later we popped out for a curry (and a natter, of course. Lots of nattering on this weekend). The portions were really big and at the end of the meal they asked us if we wanted the leftovers to be bagged up. They were so nice about it, and we felt so guilty for leaving really nice food, that we accepted.



By now it was getting late and I headed back to the hotel after. Again, I had a good night’s sleep – there must be something about those Premier Inn mattresses after all.

I was a little later getting over to Claire’s on Sunday morning as I overslept a little, plus I had to pack up and check out.

We spent much of the day nattering (yet more. I know) and working on the website and the like. Lunch was jacket potatoes plus all the leftover curry and sides from the night before, which was really nice and filling.

By mid afternoon I felt it was time for me to hit the road, not just because I had a long journey but also because I felt that Claire’s poor hubby had been somewhat neglected due to me being around so much and taking up so much of Claire’s time, and I thought that he would appreciate some time with her. So I left around 3pm.

The journey back was as expected, with the M25 being rather a nightmare. It didn’t help that idiot drivers like the one in a white VW Tourag were bullying their way into gaps that weren’t there and causing everyone to brake. At times we were reduced to walking pace, then back up to speed again for no reason – almost certainly the “traffic ripple effect”. But I got home eventually, about 3hr30 after setting off. That left me with the evening to wind down and prepare myself for the coming week.

And that was my weekend. Not quite as packed as the last time, but very enjoyable and I was very happy.





Posted by on March 19, 2016 in Diary, Out & About, Photos, Social


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Farnham Maltings (August)

Heading out...

Heading out…

Yesterday I returned to Farnham Maltings for their monthly market. You might recall from a previous post that I went to the June one.

Given the slight confusion that buying earrings in guy mode caused a seller last time, I made the effort to go in girl mode this time. I wore the Dorothy Perkins dress that I wore in the photos I posted to Flickr a few weeks ago, which wasn’t ideal for photos as I like to have a different outfit in each pic I post to Flickr. But this was the dress I wanted to wear (it’s very comfortable, fits me really well, and is very flattering), so that’s what I wore. If that means I have 4 photos in a row in my Photostream with me in the same dress then so be it.

I got down to Farnham in good time, although the dual carriageway down near the station was rammed solid as usual. I must try to find an alternative route in future.

The first surprise on arriving was that the Pay & Display machines in the car park are now active on a Saturday and charge £1.30 for an hour, and £1.40 for two hours (rising to £5.40 for all day). I guess that even adding on the 50p admission fee for the Market, this is still not too terrible but is obviously a big jump from last time when parking was free.

The second surprise was that, unlike last time, the Courtyard, Great Hall, the area behind the Great Hall, and another room (whose name I forgot to note), were all closed off and without stalls. This meant that the Market was probably about half the size of June’s, which was rather a disappointment.

Art Nouveau earrings

Art Nouveau earrings

I had a good browse, and talked to several stall holders. I don’t know if it’s a case of me being more relaxed and talkative when in girl mode, or the way people (especially women) react to other women, but people seem a lot more friendly and chatty to me when I’m in girl mode. People even smile at me.

My first purchase was a lovely pair of earrings in an Art Nouveau style. The seller wanted £30 for them and wouldn’t budge on price, pointing out that the stones were topaz and amethyst. It was more than I wanted to pay for a pair of earrings; in fact I think it is the most I have ever paid for a pair of earrings. But I thought they were really special so I reluctantly agreed.

My second purchase was a figure of a lady, around 10″ in height. The age and provenance are unknown, and it feels like resin. It’s stamped Annie Rowe on the base of the casting, and on the underside of the plinth it says “The Leonardo Collection”.

Leonardo / Annie Rowe figurine

Leonardo / Annie Rowe figurine

The seller was asking £15 and reduced that to £13 when I asked if it was her best price.

Back home again

Back home again

Some research on google once I got home has suggested that, as I suspected, there isn’t much age on this and it is of this century. eBay suggests that I paid pretty much the going rate. So that’s fine.

Finally I was all done – there was nothing else that I desperately wanted so I left.

When I got home, I changed into my shorter wig as I was a bit hot and bothered, and when I looked in the mirror I liked the look it gave me, so I took another selfie.

I didn’t really do much for the rest of the day – just lounged around taking it easy and watching telly.


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Comic Con – the aftermath

As I mentioned in my previous post about Comic Con, the following day I decided to drive across London to get home, and to stop off at Old Spitalfields Market at Shoreditch. I was in two minds about doing this as my feet and my hip joints were all very sore from Comic Con the day before, but I decided to go for it anyway.

Shoreditch Selfie

Shoreditch Selfie

The traffic in London wasn’t too bad since it was a Sunday morning and I made it to the market in good time and managed to find some free on-street parking directly opposite one of the entrances. Bonus!

Circuitboard Earrings

Circuit board Earrings

The first stall that caught my eye was a guy selling earrings and necklaces made out of printed circuit boards. I thought this was immensely cool so took a photo in order to mention it here on my blog, and the seller immediately told me off and said I shouldn’t have taken a photo. I apologised and asked if he would like me to delete it, and he went on to say that if I had asked first then he might have said yes. I replied that I had taken the photo because I thought his jewellery was incredibly cool and awesome and I wanted to share it with my friends on Facebook and on my blog, at which point he relented and said that maybe publicity would be good. So he didn’t insist on me deleting the photo after all.
I have to be honest and say that it didn’t even to occur to me that I shouldn’t take a photo, especially as I was taking it for entirely innocent reasons. However, as I continued to wander around the market I did notice that some sellers had signs on their stalls asking people not to take photos. Maybe the circuit board seller should have had one too, rather than telling me off afterwards for what was an honest mistake made without malice.

Although the jewellery itself was very cool, I didn’t buy any. There wasn’t any one pair of earrings that really leapt out at me, and also the prices were more than I wanted to pay (I acknowledge that they are hand-made and unique, and I’m not saying that they were overpriced; I’m just saying I didn’t want to spend that kind of money).

I also found a stall where the seller was selling mostly silver jewellery in an Art Nouveau and Art Deco style. Although I liked some of them, there were none that I wanted to buy despite the prices being quite reasonable. There was one pair that almost tempted me but I decided against it.

The last time I visited Old Spitalfields market, there was a great deal of the kind of stuff I would expect to find at an Antiques and Collectors fair – lots of reclaimed stuff, second hand stuff, ephemera, and the like. This time was different, and it was far more of a traditional market – stalls selling dresses, bags, leather goods, art, jewellery, food, etc. One stall was selling a range of silk t-shirts with scenes and characters from Studio Ghibli films on them and I very nearly bought one with No-Face (Kaonashi) from Spirited Away on it, drinking a cup of tea. With hindsight, I really should have bought it as I really liked it and at £15 it wasn’t excessively expensive and I regret not doing so.

After a while I was done, and headed back to the car and then drove home. I had a lot of fun darting in and out of traffic, which my little car was ideally suited for, and I made it across London in good time and then on to the M3 and to home.

Steve Conway

Steve Conway

The next day was Bank Holiday Monday, and there were a number of Antiques and Collectables fairs on. There was a big one down at Goodwood Racecourse and another down at Winchester, but I decided that both were too far away considering how tired and footsore I was from Comic Con. There was, however, one of Take Five’s regular fairs at Woking Leisure Centre, this one being one of their 20th Century, Art Deco and Art Nouveau fairs, so I decided to go to that one. I also knew that Amita Veta would probably be there, and also singer Steve Conway. Steve is a Swing / Rat Pack singer who Take Five have hired several times now to sing at their fairs. He sings live to a backing track, and really lifts the atmosphere and ambience, and it’s always a genuine pleasure to hear him sing (and swing).

When I got there, I looked around and sure enough Amita was there, but busy with a customer, but she saw me and gave me a big smile and a wave and I motioned that I’d come see her when she wasn’t busy. Steve was also there and I said hello and he recognised me and said it was good to see me again. I asked when he was singing and he said I’d just missed one set but he’d be singing again in 10 mins or so.

Love that Amita Veta

Love that Amita Veta

I started making a circuit of the hall, looking at the stalls, and noticed a stall selling mostly silver jewellery in an Art Nouveau and Art Deco style and I thought “hold on a second…” and looked up at the seller, did a double-take, and said “weren’t you at…” and he laughed and said “Yes, and so were you. I recognise you!”. It was the same guy from the day before at Old Spitalfields Market. 🙂

I got to speak to Amita in the end, and we had a good natter, and I also asked her if she’d take a pic of me with my camera.

This all brings home how important it is to always go these fairs in girl mode, as I am starting to get to know regular attendees now, and going in either girl mode or guy mode as the mood suits me just means that I build up relationships more slowly or, worse, twice. Or, worse still, see someone I know when I am in the “wrong” mode and they therefore don’t recognise me.

Whilst I was out, I had a text from a client saying that they had some development hardware for me to test against for some work I am doing for them, and did I want to pop in and get it, and catch up, if I was free. I replied that I would be happy to so long as they didn’t mind me being in girl mode. So after I had finished in Woking I drove over there.

I wouldn’t say I was nervous about turning up in girl mode, as they’re a small company and they know I’m transgender, but they haven’t see me in girl mode before, and also this is the first time I have ever let my work life and my personal life mix like that.

They couldn’t have been less fazed by the whole thing, which was absolutely brilliant. We hung out for a while, ordered pizza as it was lunch time, discussed the work I’m doing and the work they’re doing, and had a really productive time.

I’m not saying that I want to transition or go “full time”, but having had 4 whole days living full time in girl mode including meeting with a client, it does make me think that I could possibly cope should the need arise.


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Project Reorganise: Dressing Table

Project Reorganise has slowed down a little of late, but I have managed to get to a milestone on the Dressing Table.

I’ve been holding off posting about it until I had found the right mirror for it, which I found at a Big Surrey Fair at the Tolworth Recreation Centre on the A3 a few weeks ago. It’s in a lovely Art Nouveau style and complements the picture frame that I bought last month (which you can see in the picture).

Dressing table

Dressing table

When I saw the mirror, the seller was busy in conversation so I spent time having a really good look at it and then moved on, returning when I saw that she was free again. She said she’d seen me looking at it and would I like a price on it, to which I said I would. She said that she could come down from the sticker price of £38 to £32. I asked if she’d accept £30 and she said she would. She also remarked that she’d told herself that if it didn’t sell today then she’d probably have kept it.

I mentioned to her that I hadn’t wanted to interrupt her conversation earlier and she said that she wished I had as the guy was a bit of a bore. Oops. 😀

Small picture frame

Small picture frame

A week or so later I was at another fair, this time in Hartley Wintney, which is nice and local to me. I happened to come across a little double picture frame that had almost exactly the same design as the mirror (or, certainly, incredibly similar), which I managed to buy for £5. I haven’t yet decided what pictures to put in it or where to put it – whether to have it right next to the mirror or to have it elsewhere so that someone looking at it might go “oh! Isn’t that the same design as…?”

I’m not yet sure if this will be the final configuration of my Dressing Table, as when I have put on my make-up at it I have felt that the mirror is a little small and also that there is not enough light in that corner of the room, so I may have to revisit this. But it will do for now and it certainly looks nice.



Posted by on April 26, 2015 in Diary, Home furnishing


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Art Deco ceiling light

As I mentioned in a post about lighting for Project Reorganise, I have what has turned into a bit of a project over an Art Deco ceiling light.

Art Deco light as it was when I bought it.

Art Deco light as it was when I bought it.

To recap, I was in a charity shop in Camberley and I saw an absolutely lovely Art Deco style brass chandelier. It wasn’t in the best of condition, as it was missing its shades, lacked any kind of mounting bracket, had no electrical connector (the wire had just been cut off), the top of the hub was missing, and also the cups for the missing shades were full of dead flies. However, it was only £7.25 and I saw a lot of potential in it.

Also in the shop were a pair of rather boring 3-bulb brass pendants which, crucially, had what looked like suitable shades and also had fixings that I thought might transfer over. At £12 for the pair I thought it was worth a punt so bought those too.

When I got it all home I was delighted to find that the shades did in fact fit the Art Deco light, although only just. I also found that, as I had hoped, the fixings shared a common thread size so I was able to transfer the D-ring from the top of one of them onto the Art Deco light and also use the rose from one of them, with a link of chain to join them. I also used the existing top cover of the Art Deco light, turned upside down, to cover the top of the hub. I then used standard 5-amp chocolate block to terminate the wires. The wires proved to be only *just* long enough, even with only 1 link of chain in.

First attempt (with donor lights behind)

First attempt (with donor lights behind)

Houston, we have a problem

Houston, we have a problem

The place I chose to fit the light was in my front hallway, immediately as you enter the house. Currently there was a recessed spotlight there, and when I pulled that out it was immediately clear that there would be a big problem – the hole left behind was going to be pretty hard to cover. I came up with an elegant solution pretty quickly though – cover the hole over with a ceiling rose. A plaster rose would be unlikely to take the weight of a light fitting, so I quickly settled upon the idea of a wooden one and found a seller on eBay who makes them. I chose one that would be wide enough to completely cover the hole, and then some, with the idea being to securely attach that to the ceiling, and then attach the light fitting to it. At £12 including postage, it was duly ordered.

Whilst I was waiting for that to arrive, I offered up the light to where it was going to go and immediately found my next problem – it was going to be way too long and any guests much taller than me were going to hit their head on it. And this is where it became “a bit of a project”.

Clearly the central hollow tube would have to be shortened or replaced. Since it was threaded at both ends, I couldn’t simply cut it down unless I was to buy a tap and die to re-cut a new thread. And replacement, shorter rods, are not immediately available unless imported from the USA as I measured the thread and found it to be Imperial – 3/8″ to be precise.

By stripping the donor light down further, I was able to get a short threaded rod which was just long enough to attach the D-ring directly to the hub, although not long enough to retain the inverted cover I had covered it with so that had to go. I then was able to use chain to choose pretty much any length I needed.

Light switch

Light switch

Then I discovered the third problem – the metal rose and mounting bracket from the donor light that I was planning on using was missing its screws and these were also Imperial which meant I had nothing that would fit. After some head-scratching and looking on eBay and Amazon, I decided that I would have to abandon using that mounting and buy a new one. Fortunately these are readily available and I was able to order one for a quite reasonable £9.99 incl postage.

I also ordered a nice brass effect light switch to complement the light.

A rose by any other name

A rose by any other name

The wooden rose then arrived, and I pulled the recessed spotlight out again and offered the rose up to the hole. It was quickly evident that I would have to drill the mounting holes as close to the stepped edge as possible and that, to be on the safe side, it would probably need 4 holes. I drilled and countersunk those, and then marked and drilled through the ceiling plaster. At least one of the holes was worryingly close to the edge of the hole and looked like it could fail so I reinforced everything with Ronseal Big Hole filler and allowed it to set until the following evening. Then I fitted decent winged Rawl plugs designed for hollow plaster walls. Perhaps I over-engineered slightly, but better to over-engineer than under-engineer. Especially as this light had become a bit of a labour of love by now!

The wooden rose then attached securely to the ceiling.

The new metal rose had also arrived by now, so it was time to complete the job. Attaching the light to the rose by a bungie cord allowed me to wire up the electrical connections (fully earthed, with a separate earth wire to the metal rose of course), and then it was a case of dropping out the bungie and taking the entire weight of the light in my left hand whilst trying to screw through the rose and into the wood. This was one time I really could have done with an assistant or else devised a better way of supporting it whilst fixing. It was really touch and go at one point and I dropped both screws which left me in the comical situation of being up a ladder with a light in one hand, a drill driver in the other hand, and no way to get down to the screws again. Fortunately there was so much electrical cable that I was able to come down enough to reach the dropped bungie cord and hook it back up again. I then retrieved the screws and tried again, this time with more success.

Unfortunately I accidentally over-tightened one of the screws, and the metal rose deformed very slightly which is a real shame. It annoys me a lot and rather spoils the effect a little but it doesn’t annoy me enough to make me re-do it. Besides, it had been such a job to get to that stage that I don’t think I want to do it again! I think that I can live with it.

So, here finally, in all its glory, is the finished light.

The finished item

The finished item

Just as with the jewellery, this has been a really interesting learning experience and I would have a lot more confidence if I was to attempt a similar project again. It’s also been quite fulfilling making something that is fairly unique and has had time and love poured into it. It gives me pleasure every time I look at it.


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Off to the Races

On Monday I took the day off in order to go to a big Antiques & Collectors Fair at Newbury Racecourse. It’s something I have wanted to do for a while, as week-day events tend to be bigger and are often more trade-focussed.

Pricing was such that 8am to 10am was £10, and 10am onwards was £5. Although there was a real risk of some of the best stuff having been sold by 10am, I elected to aim for that time especially as it would allow me to set off a little later and therefore miss the worst of the traffic.

My journey up to Newbury wasn’t too bad, but as soon as I got into Newbury itself I remembered why I tend not to go there if I can help it, and why the Newbury Bypass was so desperately needed. Traffic got progressively worse until the final mile or two, which was then solid. It turned out that there were roadworks with temporary 3-way traffic lights right slap bang outside the entrance to the Race Course!

Once parked up, I made my way on-site. I’m not really sure what I was expecting – something like some of the shows I have seen on Bargain Hunt, I guess – namely an Exhibition Centre with loads of indoor stalls selling jewellery, pottery, ceramics, art, etc., and a large outdoor area with loads of furniture and the like. I was half right – it was *all* outdoor and seemed to be a cross between a Car Boot Sale, an Outdoor Market, and a Rugby scrum. It was laid out along a tarmac apron in front of the main Grandstand, then continued on to another smaller tarmacked area, then onto grass and hardcore, and finally onto an area adjacent to a building site that was grass with a hardcore path. It went on for quite a way.

Open & shut case

Open & shut case

There was certainly an eclectic mix on offer, covering all sorts of ages from new to very old, and from very good condition to shockingly poor, and everything in between. However, I really struggled to find things that I wanted to buy. It was very interesting looking at everything though.

I don't even know what this is

I don’t even know what this is

Mein boxen

Mein boxen

There were sellers from all over the country, and indeed the continent. I overheard one seller saying he was over from Holland, and many of the sellers’ vans and cars had European number plates.

One seller had a stack of wooden ammo boxes with German writing on them (pictured). Googling for what was written on them showed they were for German DM-31 and DM-11 land mines, and DM-56 fuses, which are modern ordnance. The boxes certainly looked pretty new. I couldn’t really see any value in them for myself, but they were interesting.

They weren’t the only Militaria there – there was quite a lot of military surplus including some very recent-looking British Army kit. And, of course, the usual array of swords, bayonets, muskets, medals, uniforms, and the like. One seller had what looked like a WW1 Lewis Gun, which is not something I have seen before; the usual machine gun you see for sale is the WW2 Bren.
It was a bit of a oddity though as it was lacking its cooling shroud, but it had a bipod and a flared end on the barrel, and also had a stock. It also looked rather black and shiny like it had a coat of enamel on it. Certainly didn’t look right.

Another thing to catch my eye was a rather “used” hard hat diving helmet (pictured).

One diver's helmet. Slightly used.

One diver’s helmet. Slightly used.

I didn’t even ask what the price was as it didn’t really hold any interest to me. I did wonder what the story behind it was though.

Assorted shells

Assorted shells

I was starting to get concerned that I would even make a purchase by this point. But then I came upon a stall selling sea shells, geological stones, and other whimsy, which was exactly what I was looking for in order to accessorise the driftwood shelf in the downstairs cloakroom.

I managed to bag an unpolished geode for £7 and a collection of shells for £10, all of which I photographed when I got home (pictured).



I think I did ok on price, because some of the shells were individually priced at around £4 each, although others didn’t have prices, and the geode was priced at £10 until I haggled a little, so £17 for everything seemed fair. I’m really pleased with them.

I finally got to the far end of the stalls, and started walking back. Up until now the weather had been lovely – brisk, but clear with nice sunshine (as you can see from some of the earlier pictures). However, the weather was starting to close in by now and rain was definitely in the air.

Sign of the times

Sign of the times

I’d spied a collection of railway signs on my way down the line of stalls, so on my way back I looked out for them again and enquired as to the price on one I liked (pictured). The seller wanted £25 for it, and I asked if he’d take £20. He said he could sell them all day long for £25 but he would split the difference at £22.50 which I accepted. So I got out my purse, pulled out a £20 note, and then looked in the coin area, eventually tipping it all out into my hand, and it was clear that there was less than £2.50 there. There was a £1 coin, a few 20p pieces, and some other loose change. The seller said that he’d take all the shrapnel plus the £20 note, which seemed fair to me. He then wished me well carrying it as it was heavy. He wasn’t kidding! When I got it home and weighed it, it turned out to be 6kg! That’s around 13lb in old money.



I decided that this was probably a good time to return to the car. But I then passed a stall selling a variety of lamps and shades, and I spied a Tiffany-style hanging pendant lamp with chain and brass fittings (pictured). It didn’t look that old and there was a small crack on one of the panes, but I asked the seller what his best price was. “£10 if you like it, and £15 if you don’t” he replied, so I laughed and said that I liked it and gave him a tenner. Again, I photographed this one when I got home.

There were spits of rain coming down by now, and I decided I had given the place a very thorough sweep and also the cast iron railway sign was starting to feel more like 12kg than 6kg, so it was time to go.

Walking back to the car park I immediately saw, with dismay, that it was absolutely grid-locked with cars trying to get out. I got back to the car, loaded up, and eased myself into the flow. Well, I say flow, but I didn’t move an inch for the first 10 mins and it was a good 40 mins before I made it the 100 metres or so to the exit from where I was parked. The problem was the 3-way temporary traffic lights that I mentioned earlier, which were only letting a few cars out each time. And, also, cars from all parts of the car park trying to join the queue to get out was adding to the gridlock, as they were blocking cars from trying to enter, which was in turn preventing cars from flowing through the traffic lights properly. Classic definition of gridlock and an absolute nightmare. They should have turned off the traffic lights and had people directing traffic by hand I think.

Then, after I’d got out of there and joined the main roads, I very quickly ran into another awful queue of traffic, this time due to a car having broken down on the entrance to a roundabout causing two lanes to merge into one to try to get round them. Again, traffic chaos. In the end it was over an hour between getting into the car and finally getting out of Newbury. I don’t think I will be going back there for a while.

Newbury is only 10 miles or so from Hungerford, which has many Antiques and Collectables shops and I have visited several times in the past. It’s notable for the Hungerford Arcade, which has featured on Bargain Hunt several times and is well worth a visit.

Now that's more like it.

Now that’s more like it.

It was around 1.45pm by the time I got there and I was starving, having not eaten all day, so the first thing I did was to head up to the Rafters Café in the rafters (funny, that) of the Hungerford Arcade. In marked contrast to my previous report on a Full English Breakfast, this one was far more like it – two decent sausages, two good rashers of bacon, two eggs, mushrooms, decent beans, nice toast, and an actual pot of tea.

It was then time for a really good root round the Arcade. If you’re not familiar with it, then it is a large collection of stores / booths / areas owned by different vendors; some manned but in most cases unmanned and being sold with the vendor in absentia by the front desk. Some areas are locked and you can get the key from the front desk, others have locked cabinets and you must enquire at the front desk and a member of staff will come with you to unlock, and others are open and browsable.

House of Erté / Franklin Mint 'Ocelot' Porcelain Figurine

House of Erté / Franklin Mint ‘Ocelot’ Porcelain Figurine

Last time I was there, which was mid-January, I saw a really lovely Art Deco style figurine but it was £50 and had damage to the hand. It was also in a locked cabinet. I very nearly asked to see it but passed in the end, feeling it overpriced for what I thought it was. I’ve thought about it many times since though.

I was delighted to find that it was still there (pictured), and also this time the cabinet was unlocked with a sign saying you were free to take stuff out and have a look. I considered this a sign of sorts (well, duh), so I very carefully took the figurine out to look. It was “Ocelot” by Franklin Mint / House of Erté – a hand-painted, limited edition, individually numbered, porcelain figure (with 24K gold paint and silver chain, I have since found out from research). This made it significantly more valuable than I had first thought.

Talk to the hand

Talk to the hand

The damage to the hand (pictured) was a great shame – her thumb, and her index and middle finger, are all missing on her right hand. But other than that there was no damage and her earrings and necklace were not broken or missing (they are chain, rather than moulded).

I took it to the front desk and asked if the seller was prepared to negotiate on price, and the very polite young man on the front desk said that the seller had indicated that they would offer a 10% discount if pressed (i.e., £45). I looked unconvinced, and he said that he would be happy to ring the seller if I had a price in mind. I said that in light of the damage to the hand, and the lack of a Certificate of Authenticity, the best I could go to was £40. In my head I also knew that if it had been unsold for at least 2½ months then the seller might be amenable. He couldn’t get an answer on the phone immediately, so said to leave it with him.

Small, so doesn't take up mushroom

Small, so doesn’t take up mushroom

I continued to browse and quickly came across a small mushroom-shaped brass and frosted glass lamp shade (pictured) that I thought would be ideal for the downstairs cloakroom. It was only small, and there wasn’t much age on it, but the £13 price label reflected that. I’ll need to buy a brass ceiling rose, a brass bulb holder, and some period flex to complete it, which will easily be the same again in money, but I think it will look lovely.

I also found some small polished nodules (which are like geodes but not hollow) so picked two small ones at £4 and £5 respectively to add to the collection of things to go on the driftwood shelf.

By now the seller had phoned back, and accepted my offer of £40, which I was overjoyed about. I asked if there was any movement on any of the other items, and he said that that the label on the lamp shade indicated the seller would knock no more than £1 off, so it would be £12, and that the stones were on their money (which I agreed with – I wasn’t going to haggle on those anyway). So it just remained to get the figurine very carefully wrapped up to avoid any further damage to it. And pay, of course.

I took everything straight back to the car, and then continued to browse the shops because, as I mentioned, there are loads of Antiques & Collectables shops in Hungerford which is why I like going there.

Sadly, despite a really good look, I didn’t find anything else that I wanted to buy although I really enjoyed the browsing.

It was about 4.30pm by now, so I headed on home.

When I got home, the first thing I did was to mount the railway sign to the side gate (which can’t been seen from the road, so I’m not overly worried about theft). It fitted perfectly and I am so pleased with it!

Please close the gate

Please close the gate

I did a little research online and it seems that although this sign isn’t that rare (there are a number for sale on eBay both current and recently sold), it looks like I did get a good price on it as the going rate seems to be around £40 – £60. So that was a nice bonus.

I also carefully unwrapped the Ocelot figurine and put it on the shelf, and then photographed it. I really like how this photograph has come out – the composition and lighting especially.

“Ocelot” by Franklin Mint / House of Erté

And that was my day. I was absolutely knackered, so I had a quiet evening and a nice soak in the bath.

This Easter Weekend sees a whole load of shows on Friday, Sunday and Monday, with Easter Monday being particularly busy with several shows within driving distance of each other. So hopefully I will find some more bargains then too.


Posted by on April 1, 2015 in Diary, Out & About, Photos, Shopping


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Project Reorganise: The delivery

As I mentioned previously, the bed and the furniture were due to arrive last weekend and I was going all out to get my bedroom cleared in time. Fortunately I achieved that goal and by Wednesday evening the room was cleared, hoovered, and ready. With the room clear I could see that the carpet was rather worn and could really do with being replaced but it was entirely too late by then.

On Friday late afternoon just after I got home from work, the bed arrived as scheduled and was assembled without any fuss or bother.

The furniture was due the next day and since I had ordered it in girl mode, I thought I might as well receive it in girl mode. Not that the delivery guys would have given two hoots either way, of course, but I thought it would be appropriate and fun.

I didn’t know what time they would be arriving, and decided I wouldn’t bust a gut to get up early – I would get up when I did, and if it meant that I was awoken by them arriving then I’d just pull on a t-shirt and joggers and open the door in guy mode.

Au naturel

Au naturel

As it happened, I awoke before they arrived. I decided I would just go for minimal make up – just foundation, a little eyebrow pencil, some mascara, and some lippy. Just as well really, because I had just got that done and my wig on, and was just brushing it, when the doorbell rang! If they had arrived when I was in the middle of things that would have been the worst possible scenario, and one I had not thought of.

It's going to be tight

It’s going to be tight

There were two guys, and they chose to do the hardest item first – the 7-drawer low wide chest of drawers. The route involved coming in the front door, turning right along the hallway, then a 180° turn to get up the stairs. It was very, very tight. They had to tip the whole unit vertically, and it only just cleared the ceiling on the mini-landing at the foot of the stairs (pictured). Then they had to tip it forward parallel to the stairs and there were literally millimetres of clearance on the ceiling. I’m not sure what we would have done had it not fit.

The rest of the furniture went up without any problems and in no time at all it was all done and the guys left me to it.

I did a little organising, and then decided to go out for a while. I added a little eye shadow and some eye liner to my make up, and then left the house. Whilst I was out I was a victim of rather an unpleasant road rage incident where the other driver was trying to force me to stop by trying to cut me up and block me to a halt so that he could remonstrate with me, but I don’t really want to go into that on a public forum. Sufficient to say that I eluded him each time and eventually lost him. But I learned an important lesson that it is even more important not to rile other drivers when you are a woman than it is when you’re a man. Until that incident I would have predicted that the reverse was true – that a man would be more aggressive towards another man, but it would seem not. Very scary.

Shorter, comfier

Shorter, comfier

When I got back home, my longer hair was really annoying me but I wanted to stay in girl mode, so I swapped to my older, shorter, wig which you’ll have seen many times in my photos in the past. I haven’t worn it since buying my new wigs, so it was nice to go back to it.

I spent the rest of the evening doing this & that, and then had an early night. For once I didn’t take all my make up off – I removed my foundation and lippy but left my eyes, with a view to getting back into girl mode the next day.

The next day, I got into girl mode again and headed over to Woking for a Take Five Flea & Collectables fair. Amita Vetta of Love That Jewellery was there again and she instantly recognised me, and we had a nice little chat. And the guy who does the Swing style singing was there too, only I have only ever talked to him in guy mode, which made me realise that I should really make an effort to always go to these things in girl mode even if I don’t feel like it because it is good to build up relationships with people.



This was especially true when I got chatting to another seller who I have previously bought a necklace from, because she remembered me buying it and also remarked how lovely the necklace I was wearing was (it was the same as on Saturday, pictured). I saw she was selling a necklace I liked the look of, and I thought the price of £15 she was asking was reasonable so bought it. I really should stop buying necklaces or I will have to declare myself a collector of those too! I told her as much and she laughed and said that was how she started as well and if I wasn’t careful I would be opening a stall like her. 🙂

I spent a lot longer at this fair than I usually do – normally I whistle round in around 45 mins – but I took far more time this time and was there for double that if not longer. Possibly because I have more I want to buy now that I am accessorising a room. I bought a couple of Art Deco / Art Nouveau style postcards. I’m not planning to start collecting, but if I get enough similar cards together I will collage them into a picture frame to hang on the wall. It doesn’t matter if it takes a while until I have enough – they can sit in a drawer until I do.

Art nouveau picture frame

Art nouveau picture frame

Another thing I managed to get was a gorgeous Art Nouveau picture frame for £5. I didn’t have the nerve to haggle on that price – generally £5 and under I don’t, although my mum definitely would. I don’t know how she has the cheek to do so, to be honest.

Fairy earrings

Fairy earrings

I also saw a really lovely pair of silver fairy drop earrings. The seller wanted £12 for them and I offered £10, which he accepted.
I particularly liked them because they are mirror images of each other – I really hate it when single-sided asymmetric earrings are identical to each other because it results in them facing in different directions when you wear them. I’m strange like that – things like this matter to me.

Eventually I was done, and I moved on to the small fair in the Village Hall at Ripley, since that’s not far from Woking. I’ve been to one of these before, although didn’t blog about it. In fact, now that I come to think of it I have been to quite a few of these fairs since I last blogged about one. I think perhaps I’ve been going to so many that I thought readers of this blog might be rather bored to hear about yet another one!

Although Ripley Village Hall is a small venue, last time I was there I got some reasonable stuff so I was hoping for the same again.

Away with the faeries

Away with the faeries

I spotted a pair of what seemed to be lead or pewter faeries for £3 each. I wasn’t too sure on them, but the seller said I could have both for £5 so I decided to take a punt. The wings are definitely lead or some other soft metal as the tips had bent and needed to be teased back into shape. The crescent moons, however, are clearly resin as the silver paint has worn off them showing the translucent resin underneath. I may touch them up with silver paint or I might just bin them. I haven’t decided yet.

Slim cabinet

Slim cabinet

I then came across a rather beat-up slim wall cabinet in a shabby chic style, whose knobs match the ones I have fitted to my wardrobes. The label price was £35, and I asked the seller what her best price was and she said she could come down to £25, which I thought was fair. However, it turned out I literally only had exactly £24 left by now, so I asked if she would accept that and she did. It’s nice enough, although it has an absolutely horrid modern white plastic magnetic catch (not visible in the pic) holding it closed. I think I might have to replace that with something more in keeping.

I looked around the rest of the hall, even though I was out of cash, but there was nothing else of interest, so left with just those items.

When I got home, I made myself a nice lunch and settled down to watch the Australian F1 GP. However, a combination of the lunch, the active morning, and a less than thrilling race, meant that I fell asleep on the sofa and missed much of the race. However, it appears that I didn’t miss much, sadly.

There’s nothing much more to report for now. I am still pondering on the Art Deco light. I have two options for making it shorter but I will leave that to another day to blog about.

Likewise I will leave it to another day to report on how the bedroom has come along this week.


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Project Reorganise: Lighting

As mentioned in my previous post, I am in the process of reorganising my main bedroom and my spare bedroom.

In this post I want to tell you about lighting, mainly because it’s been a bit of a journey and also because of a brilliant find I made in a charity shop which I’m really pleased with.

In keeping with my “Shabby-ish Chic” look, I initially looked for an ornate chandelier-type fitting. It was quite difficult to get an accurate idea of the drop on the ones with chains as online listings would invariably only show the maximum length and not the minimum length (that could be achieved by removing all but one link of the chain), and often sellers were unwilling to provide the information.

Lighting candidates

Lighting candidates

The Orion lamp (top right) was a bit of a wild-card and not really in keeping with the style, but I liked the fact that it looks like an atom. Perhaps I will buy it for elsewhere in the house – perhaps for my dining room – although it is quite expensive at £99.

I initially bought a fixed length pendant from B&Q (top left in the photo) for £35, but when I got it home it was immediately apparent that it wasn’t really what I was looking for, as I realised that I needed something much darker to offset the bed. Also it looked rather cheap and naff, and also was rather plain being a single colour. Had I kept it, I would have had to have painted the leaves gold or something. But it just wasn’t special enough to be worth the effort of doing so.

Bronze & Gold Ashford Chandeliers by Dunelm

Bronze & Gold Ashford Chandeliers by Dunelm

In the end, I decided to go with the 3-bulb Ashford by Dunelm at £59.99, which involved a drive over to Basingstoke. However, when I got there and looked at the display items I decided to go for the 5-bulb version at £79.99 instead as it just seemed a little more balanced. Perhaps that was a bit of an extravagance at that price, but I thought it was simply the better one, aesthetically. When I got it home, it was simple enough to remove all but one link of the chain, and I had it fitted in no time.

Flicker bulbs

Flicker bulbs

Initially I have put LED candle bulbs in it, but I have ordered some really cool flickering-effect bulbs from a seller on Amazon Marketplace. I suspect they’re coming all the way from China because the delivery estimate is 10-23 days.

Folden by Dar

Folden by Dar

During my time looking for candidates, I found a 3-light fixed pendant (Folden by Dar) in a more modern brushed brass effect which I thought would be ideal for my front hall. Currently there is a recessed spot there and I very quickly realised that the hole left by it would be too large for the rose of the pendant to cover. I had a little think on this and realised that what I needed was a ceiling rose wider than the hole, which could be attached to the ceiling using holes drilled either side of the large central hole left by the spot, and then attach the pendant to the rose. However, a plaster or plastic rose would not be strong enough. A quick search online for wooden roses led me to an eBay seller who makes them and one was duly purchased.

The pendant was for sale for £78.50 from several retailers, but I managed to find an online retailer selling a factory return unit with opened packaging for £45. When it arrived there was a tiny bit of damage (one of the wire embellishments had become detached from one of the arms) but this was trivial to fix with some metal glue. Other than that it was absolutely fine and complete.

Art Deco light as it was when I bought it.

Art Deco light as it was when I bought it.

Whilst I was waiting for the wooden rose to arrive, I was in a charity shop in Camberley and I saw an absolutely lovely Art Deco style brass chandelier. It wasn’t in the best of condition, as it was missing its shades, lacked any kind of mounting bracket, had no electrical connector (the wire had just been cut off), the top of the hub was missing, and also the cups for the missing shades were full of dead flies. However, it was only £7.25 and I saw a lot of potential in it.

Also in the shop were a pair of rather boring 3-bulb brass pendants which, crucially, had suitable shades and also had fixings that I thought might transfer over. At £12 for the pair I thought it was worth a punt so bought those too.

Art Deco light with the shades and fittings from the other light (in the background)

Art Deco light with the shades and fittings from the other light (in the background)

When I got it all home I was delighted to find that the shades worked well on my Art Deco fitting. I also found that, as I had hoped, the fixings shared a common thread size so I was able to transfer the D-ring from the top of one of them onto the Art Deco light and also use the rose from one of them, with a link of chain to join them. I also used the existing top cover of the Art Deco lamp, turned upside down, to cover the top of the hub. I then used standard 5-amp chocolate block to terminate the wires. The wires proved to be only *just* long enough, even with only 1 link of chain in. If the wires had been even a centimetre shorter then I would probably have had to rewire the light.

Unfortunately, when I went to fit the light, I realised that it is simply too tall, so I am currently investigating alternatives. Since the central tube of the light is threaded at both ends, I can’t simply cut it down. One option is to replace the tube with chain, but this will involve fabricating some kind of fitting. I think I will have to go down to B&Q with the various bits and see if I can buy a threaded rod of the correct diameter and thread, and see what I can come up with.

The Folden brass chandelier that I had bought with the intention of fitting in the front hall, which I mentioned earlier, I instead fitted in the spare room where the heavy pine furniture now is, and it fits in there quite well. So all in all a success I think.


Posted by on March 11, 2015 in Arts and Crafts, Diary, Home furnishing


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Project Reorganise

It’s been well over a month (6 weeks, in fact) since I last posted, and a few people have asked me what I have been up to and said that I should post it on a blog post. I confess that I have been wary of turning this blog into a “Dear Diary” one which is why I have held off a little.

So, what have I been up to since my last post?

For quite a while now, I’ve been rather ‘treading water’ in my house. I’ve bought the odd picture here and there, the odd houseplant here and there, have moved various items of furniture around, but haven’t made any really major changes since my divorce.

Over the past few years, as I have embraced all facets of myself, I’ve come to realise how much I love Art Nouveau and the whole vintage aesthetic. I also have come to appreciate Shabby Chic, whimsy, and quite a feminine vibe. It started with a few little trinkets and accessories around the house here and there, and then recently has coalesced into a grand plan for my bedroom.

The plan, which is already well-progressed, is to move the heavy antique pine furniture in my bedroom into the back bedroom, where the wardrobes from the same set already are, to end up with all pieces from the set in the same room. It should make for a really nice themed guest room. Who knows, maybe I might even have some guests over to enjoy it.

That leaves my own bedroom, and the plan is to go for a rustic sort-of Shabby Chic look but without going all the way to half-broken mismatched furniture. So a sort of “Shabbyish Chic”. 😀

I’ve been keeping my eyes open for suitable furniture and finally found what I think to be ideal in a branch of What Not Antiques. It’s a bedroom furniture set called Claremont that is made from solid reclaimed timber in a rustic style. Unlike true Shabby Chic, everything matches, but this is what I want.

Claremont tall chest, wide chest, bedside cabinet, and table

Claremont tall chest, wide chest, bedside cabinet, and table

Funnily enough, just after I bought the Claremont items I was in House of Fraser and saw a very similarly styled chest of drawers to the 7-drawer low & wide one. However, unlike the one I had just bought, this was all smooth melamine-faced board with smooth drawer runners and shiny handles, and completely lacked any character. And, ironically, it wasn’t a huge amount cheaper either. So although what I have bought is fairly expensive, I’m really pleased with it. It also comes with an extremely comprehensive insurance-based 5-year warranty which even covers it for having a glass of red wine spilled down it – if they can’t remove the stain they’ll replace the item.



I don’t want everything to be matching, though – I felt that would be just too much. I envisaged the bed being a metal-framed one, possibly in a Victorian wrought iron style – perhaps black with brass detailing. Benson’s for Beds had something sort-of suitable and, better yet, it was in their sale for £199 rather than the usual price of twice that. For the price, it was ok. However, I really had my heart set on something antique with some character and on Saturday I found just that at Victorian Dreams, which is a company based in Hampshire who specialise in sourcing and restoring antique beds. Although the prices were way outside what I was planning on spending, I found the most awesome bed with the help of the owner of the shop, and she gave me a good discount to help me afford it too. The bed dates from the early 1900’s and is apparently Portuguese in origin, and I’m so excited about how it’s going to fit in with the style that I have chosen.

The plan is to have the low, wide, chest of drawers across the foot of the bed, which is why a high foot was quite important to me. By my measurements the top of the chest should come to exactly the base of the vase on the bed, which is ideal.

Butterfly Lamp

Butterfly Lamp

Whilst this has been going on, I’ve been visiting various Antiques and Collectables fairs around the Hampshire, Berkshire and Surrey area, ranging from small village halls to large Sports Halls, looking for things to complement the look I’m going for. There are probably too many to mention here but notable purchases include a gorgeous Tiffany-style butterfly lamp and a mirror featuring artwork by Alphonse Mucha. I also bought a cheap table lamp also in a Tiffany style to use as a bedside lamp.

Mucha Mirror

Mucha Mirror

At one show I bumped into Amita Vetta of Love That Jewellery again, who was the person selling the Charles Horner necklace that I mentioned in a previous post. I bought a lovely earring and bracelet set off her, and was chatting to her about the Charles Horner necklace but it was quite clear she didn’t remember me. It was only when I got home that I realised that I was in guy mode this time and that I had chatted to her in girl mode originally. No wonder she didn’t recognise me!
A few weeks later I was at another fair and she was at that one too, and I was in guy mode again, so I went up to her and she instantly recognised me. I explained the situation and it was like a light bulb came on over her head and there was a look of relief on her face. She said she did remember the conversation and that I had been wearing a really lovely necklace when we’d been talking about the Charles Horner one, which indeed I had.
The thing that I found the most nice is that she totally took it in her stride and didn’t so much as bat an eyelid over the concept. How wonderful! I think it is yet more evidence that Society as a whole (the decent members thereof, at least) are much more tolerant to transgenderism these days.

Rose mirror

Rose mirror

Another purchase was a gorgeous mirror, although with the design of the room starting to mutate out of Shabby Chic and towards a more vintage bronze look (what with the Tiffany-style lamps, the bed, the handles on the furniture, and one of the candidates for the chandelier light fittings I’m considering), I’m starting to be concerned that it still fits. But I really like it so I think it will stay.

The furniture and the bed both arrive next weekend, and once installed there will be a little more still to do, but I will be sure to post pics when it’s all done. I’m not planning to re-decorate or re-carpet, but I do want to fit some coving to soften the feel of the room and make it less boxy.

Not only have I been pretty remiss on this blog, but I’ve also been remiss on going out in girl mode and taking pics for my Flickr. I think I’ve only done it once or twice since my last blog post. I’m at the stage right now where it is no big deal whether I do or don’t. Much as I love the clothes and jewellery of girl mode, it is a complete palaver and if I’m absolutely honest, after a long week at work I can’t really be bothered on a weekend. Especially in the cold weather we’ve been having, I just like to dress up warm and comfortable, and I can do that much more easily in guy mode than girl mode. There may also be some confidence issues too, but I think it is more down to the fact that warm clothing doesn’t really flatter any woman, although I do think I look particularly chunky in my more recent pics even though I’ve put no more than 5lbs back on. That’s well on the way to coming off again though, so perhaps by the time Spring comes I will be in a place where I want to resume.

I recently got to a stage where I considered stopping buying any more dangling earrings because I think I probably buy them more often than I wear them! So I told myself that I had two options – either stop buying them and start wearing what I have, or else say that I am collecting them. So, a Collector of Nice Earrings I now am. 🙂

I will have to photograph them all and make a static gallery-style page on this blog, I think. Something to do one day.


Posted by on March 6, 2015 in Diary, Home furnishing, Transgender


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Take another Five

20th Century & Art Deco fair

20th Century & Art Deco fair

On Sunday I was back at the Woking Leisure Centre for another of Take Five‘s fairs, this time for a 20th Century, Art Nouveau and Art Deco fair. These are generally less packed with stalls than the “flea, antiques & collectors” markets but the sellers tend to have more expensive and larger items for sale.

I went in knowing from previous experience that I would be unlikely to find something that I both liked and could afford, and that was certainly the case. There were some lovely pieces but were way outside my price range. Rather amusingly I also saw a few items that had also been in the ‘flea, antiques & collectors’ market a few weeks previously. I guess there is some overlap between the two.

One thing that did catch my eye was an absolutely gorgeous Art Nouveau necklace, which I asked to look at. As the seller took it out of the display case to show it to me, she said it was an original Charles Horner dating from around 1908, and at that point I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to afford it.
As we chatted she remarked on the necklace that I was wearing and how pretty it was, and I mentioned that I had bought it for next to nothing. She then said that this one was going to be a little more and the very best price she could do was £220. I winced, and explained that I really just buy stuff on aesthetics and I don’t really know anything about anything, and I don’t buy to sell on; I buy to wear. She said she totally understood, and that she thought I had a very good eye given the fact I liked this necklace and also given the necklace I was wearing.

I asked if she could write down the name of the creator of the necklace for me, so I could read up on him and if I could possibly take a picture of it to remind me how beautiful it is, so she wrote down the name ‘Charles Horner’ on her business card and said that there was a picture on her website. Her name is Amita Vetta of Love That Jewellery, and when I got home I visited her website and saw that the necklace is for sale there for £285 so she really was giving me her best price and I appreciate that, and also appreciate the amount of time she spent chatting to me; a thoroughly nice lady. It’s just a shame that it was just way outside of my price range. I confess I was really tempted though. I do hope this doesn’t turn out to be another of life’s little missed opportunities.

A little disheartened, I moved on and eventually came across a necklace that I thought was quite nice, and which the seller said was probably from the 1920’s. The best price she could do was £20. I said I’d have a think and come back to her, and continued to wander around. At some point a live male singer began to sing to a backing track (you can see the microphone in the centre of the pic above if you look hard), which was really nice and gave a lovely atmosphere despite the fact we were all in a Sports Hall.

Fan necklace

Go on then

Eventually I finished my tour of the stalls, and I returned to the cheaper necklace and after a little pondering said “ah go on then” to the seller and gave her a £20 note. It was probably a little more than I wanted to pay but I consider it a consolation prize for the fact I couldn’t afford the Charles Horner necklace.

After that, it was a drive from Woking to Basingstoke, via Lightwater to the M3, because I had to take that sequin dress back and only had one day left to do so. I made good time despite the M3 being on a 50mph speed limit with Average Speed Cameras due to the extensive roadworks they are doing, and eventually I arrived at Festival Place.

I took the sequin dress back to Top Shop and they gave me a full refund for the £68 I paid for it (I notice it is now £40 in the sales) without any quibble. When the sales girl asked me if there was anything wrong with it I said there wasn’t, it just wasn’t right for me. She nodded and said that this is always the problem with t-shirt dresses and that she prefers a more fitted waist. I agreed and said that was exactly why I was returning it. So in some ways I felt quite vindicated by her comment. Which was nice.

I wandered round the shops but nothing much caught my eye apart from this awesome pop art canvas of Iron Man. I knew the moment I saw it that I had to have it, and the fact it was only £15 was a bonus. So I bought that and returned to the car to stow it, and then went back down to wander the shops some more.

Iron Man canvas

Iron Man canvas

I came across a very strange thing in one shop. It was one of those pop-up clothes shops that sells all sorts of brands and they had my ‘Gold & Grey Mesh Flower Print Dress’ that I had bought from Quiz. Only the label didn’t say Quiz; it said Stella Morgan. I’ve done a little detective work on this since, and it seems legitimate – Tesco are also selling it branded as Stella Morgan under their F&F range.
The shop had the Gold & Grey, and also a Black & Blue. My research online has shown that the usual colours are Black & Grey and Gold & Grey, but I can’t find the Black & Blue online anywhere, which is a pity as if I’d known that I might have been tempted to buy it despite it being £39.99 as it looked stunning in Black & Blue, but it might work in Black & Grey too. I notice that Tesco have just reduced the Black & Grey to £30 in their online sale so I might buy that as I really do love the Gold & Grey that I have.

I’m still a little confused by the fact that this dress is by Quiz with some sellers (including Amazon) and Stella Morgan with others. Clearly there is some re-branding going on.

Anyway, I didn’t find anything else, and decided I was done. But before I went home I took an obligatory selfie because, well, you have to don’t you? 🙂
You can see the pic on Flickr (click here), and can see the necklace I was wearing too – the one Amita complimented me on.


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