Tuesday, 26 July 2011

brighton rocks

I am an absolutely terrible blogger - I've been so busy thrifting, and adventuring, crafting and having a good time lately, that I've neglected my poor blog completely. I have, however, edited a whole mass of photographs, so be assured, there are some grand posts coming up.

A couple of weeks ago, it was our first wedding anniversary (paper, ahhh), and my parents kindly volunteered themselves to look after the Boy while we went off galivanting to Brighton for the day. We went there last year for our honeymoon, and had such a wonderful time that I insisted we go back - unfortunately our measley bank balance wouldn't stretch to an overnight stay, so we left at about 8.00am, intending to arrive for breakfast. It turned out to be a rather late breakfast, though, as we hit rush hour traffic (doh!), and didn't manage to get parked until about 10am. Best laid plans.....

Green opera hat: Save the Children sale, 1970's St Michael Top: Sue Ryder, Green Cardigan: White Stuff, Spotty tapered trousers: eBay, Belt: Sue Ryder, Brogues: Kate Kanzier, Tapestry Bag: British Heart Foundation.
 I remembered most of the places we went to, and saw,  from our honeymoon, but Emily kindly sent me a humungous email, with detailed descriptions of her shop and eatery recommendations - Metro Deco, a 1930's style tea salon, was first on her list, and as it had been a stones throw from our B&B on our last visit, we knew exactly where it was. The furniture is all for sale, and the bagels and jam are the best I've ever had. Seriously, I've thought about that jam almost constantly since we came home....

I was aiming for an arty food shot. I ended up with something I aptly titled 'Gannets Delight'.

 After we'd stuffed ourselves silly with bread products, coffee (me) and pear juice (the Husband), I popped downstairs to use the loo - and discovered even more amazing furniture. And teacups! Oh, the teacups...

Love the box, think I'll leave the eel fillets though, thanks.
Although everything in there was spectacular, our budget had more in common with the Brighton Flea Market, which was a few doors down. So after sating him with food and drink, I coerced my (luckily for me, fairly compliant) husband into going in for a wander. Highlights included a child-sized mangle and wash-day set, a 1920's beaded dress (unbelievably heavy) and the wonderful old crockery. I didn't part with any money but I did take some rather good photographs of the lovely stock.

This area of Brighton is, I think, classed as Kemp Town, and has some of the best little shops - when we were on our honeymoon, we stumbled across a retro and vintage shop called The Kemptown Trading Post and Cafe - I was overjoyed to finally find a shop that combined two of my great loves; tea and coffee, and vintage lovelies. The last time we visited, there was the most beautiful 1950's style sewing box just crying out to be taken home, but alas, I decided against it and have regretted it ever since - I've never seen one quite as nice, or in such good condition. When we got there this time, however, the lovely metal chairs and tables that usually sit outside were nowhere to be seen, and there was a sign on the door, informing us firmly that it was closed every Monday. But, we did take a detour into the wonderful Red Room Vintage - an absolute haven of treasures, beautiful dresses, linens, accessories and even a little something for the boys....

We spent a lot of the day walking, just meandering into this shop, and that, just having the sort of day you can't expect to have when there is a toddler in tow, who only cares about cars, number-plates, hoovers and grabbing things. I absolutely refuse to take the Boy shopping - children have got absolutely no interest in it whatsoever, and why would they have? I'd much rather find things to do that he would like - at his age, it usually involves the local common, a playground and an ice cream. Simple pleasures!

On the way down to the lanes, I popped into a charity shop (well, it had to happen at some point!), and was faced with the most amazing vintage section - my first thought was, 'perhaps if they did that sort of thing in the charity shops at home, they might manage to attract a little more interest'. It was brilliant - vintage dresses and coats, shoes, and a fabulous display on the top shelf, just to finish it off.

That 3/4 length sleeve floral number almost came home with me. Almost.
In the end, after much umm-ing and ahh-ing, I decided I only really wanted a beautiful mustard coloured blouse, that was nestled happily on the other side of the shop. I've been hankering after something in mustard for absolutely ages, so was delighted with my find. Even better, the Husband bought it for me as an anniversary present. Hurrah!

We'd decided that we wanted to visit the museum (why would you not want to take advantage of such a fabulous free resource?), and so headed through the beautiful Museum and Pavilion grounds, where I obviously had to stop and take a million more photographs. Since discovering the macro setting on my camera, I've become absolutely obsessed with close-up photography, flowers and plants in particular. The level of detail is just fantastic, and with the aid of Picnik, it makes for some really lovely images.

But alas again! Once we actually made it through the grounds to the museum, we were faced with yet another sign, telling us firmly but politely to bugger off, and that they too were closed every Monday. Fighting the temptation to wave our fists at the sky, we decided instead to just meander through the lanes, and down to our favourite lunch place - in retrospect, food played a pretty big part in the day. Hmmmm.

Emily had given me a list of the best vintage shops, so we dutifully visited all of those, and I did a lot more pondering over whether I really did need yet another dress - I decided I probably did not. Although I loved it, I didn't love it quite enough to pay £18 for it (charity shops have absolutely ruined me, I am an utter skinflint), so it stayed on the rail. We stumbled across Beyond Retro, which was staffed by impossibly young, ever so cool looking people, which instantly made me feel old and past it. I bought a turban hat, and scurried off without taking any pictures - I've never visited one of their shops before, and to be honest, I found it a bit much to take in. A warehouse building that seemed almost the size of an aircraft hanger, just stuffed with every item of vintage clothing you could imagine - you'd need a good couple of hours to go through everything, and frankly, I wasn't willing to make the husband suffer that much!

The place we were aiming to have lunch in, the fabulous Bills, turned out to be literally around the corner from Beyond Retro, and we were soon seated in a beautifully sunny spot, right at the front of the building. My shoes came off, we ordered, and I sat back and took a few more pictures...

Modelling the Beyond Retro turban.

I love everything about Bills - I love the atmosphere, I love the furnishings, I love the staff, and I love the concept. I would be more than happy to sit there, with a good book and one of their pink lemonades, whiling away an afternoon. But this time, we were there for the serious business of eating - I can't even remember what the husband had, something with a sausage, I think, but I cannot rave enough about my halloumi burger and rosemary and parmesan chips. I've never been one to go mad for food, but this was like a taste explosion - hummous, halloumi, rocket, peppers, some sort of sauce.... I'll let the photographs do the talking, because I just can't do it justice.

This photograph makes me want to lick the computer screen.
I've always been a lover of food, but this was something else entirely - I am now completely and utterly addicted to halloumi, and have some sort of radar that detects it on a menu immediately. Nom. Nom.

For fun, and to see how much you can change in a year, we recreated the photo we took in Bills when we were on our honeymoon:

Two things have improved dramatically - the Husbands camera skills, and my haircut. I'm a big fan of the red, and also the shorter length - it was a bit of a shock at first, but definitely the right decision, I think.

We decided to walk off our lunch by heading to Snoopers Paradise, my main 'Can't Miss' shop whenever we're in town - and although there were many, many things I could have cheerfully taken home, I chose only a roll of 1970's wallpaper (plans for which will be revealed in a future post), and some old photographs. Now, the Husband thinks it's odd, and slightly macabre that I bought pictures of people who are a) quite possible dead by now and b) completely unknown to me. I look at it from the perspective that it's no different to looking at pictures in a history book, non? Anyway, whatever - I love them, and will scan them in at some later date.

The smaller one of the two looks like it could be from the 1920's or 30's - cloche hats and parasols, delightful. The bigger one just makes me ask questions - who were these girls? Was it a school class? Where were they going? Gah!
By the time we'd finished in there, the ticket had run out on the car, so we decided to head for home. We stopped off at Rosies Vineyard in Southsea once we got back for some dinner, but I was still stuffed from lunch, and so I'm ashamed to say a lot of my pasta remained on the plate.

We had beautiful weather, almost exactly the same as we did for our honeymoon, and I can't imagine a more lovely way to spend our first anniversary together!
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