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Vintage Shops of Margate

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Last weekend Grandpa Chic, Lady Violet and myself ventured to Margate, lured by the many vintage shops I have seen on Twitter. In particular, Madam Popoff, who held a sale, and very kindly sent me a map to help me find more than just the seafront!

It was beautifully sunny and absolutely freezing – the wind actually prevented us from lingering too long along the promenade, so we will have to venture back on a less windy day! However, I wasn’t disappointed at the vintage shops on offer.

So, let’s get this out of the way. Margate has developed a poor reputation in recent years, for its social problems and boarded up shops. I used to go in the summer at least once a year when I lived in London…I have fond memories of splashing in the sea with my cousin, and visiting what was Bembom Brothers White Knuckle Theme Park. Even Del Boy visited Margate in one of the funniest ever episodes of ‘Only Fools and Horses’. But the park got smaller and smaller, then finally closed, the train fares went up, the beach got dirty and it generally became very run down. Everyone forgot about Margate.

Then Tracey Emin entered the art world, heralding from the  forgotten town, and it started to creep back into people’s minds. It began to have festivals on the beach. Then the Turner Gallery opened. Thanet District Council decided to block the plans to build houses on the old Bembom Brothers (now Dreamland again) site, hoping to pay homage to the site’s history by restoring it to a semblance of its former glory (more about this another day). Then Mary Portas was on the telebox, telling everyone how Margate is the next big thing. So, worth a trip, I thought. And I wasn’t disappointed!

We parked up in the Morrisons Car Park (pay and display), which is really handy for Old Town, which is where all the vintage shops are located.

Pilgrim's Hospice Frocks n Stock Shop. Market Street Margate

Pilgrim’s Hospice Frocks n Stock Shop. Market Street Margate

Pilgrim’s Hospice is one of my favourite charity shops. It has several themed shops, including a furniture warehouse at Canterbury and another Frocks n Stock shop in Canterbury. The stock is varied from vintage clothing to sewing patterns. I spied a 1950’s frock coat for a mere £20, but I am not buying clothing at the moment due to baby weight.

 

Chaps are well catered for, too!

Chaps are well catered for, too!

 

Treasure Trove

Treasure Trove

 

 

Margate Museum

Margate Museum

 

Entry to Margate Museum in the Market Place is a bargainous £1.50. Previous exhibitions include one on mods and rockers – apparently it was Margate beach that was the scene of the battle between the rivals in 1964 made immortal in the film ‘Quadraphenia’.  (Ha! Stick that in your eye, Brighton!)

Madam Popoff's Vintage Emporium, King Street

Madam Popoff’s Vintage Emporium, King Street

Madam Popoff’s sale did not disappoint. It’s so lovely to see vintage shops that stock a range of accessories and vintage clothing from different eras. There furs, hats, bags, brooches, girdles….I had not seen a range as good as this since Retrochick and Missy Vintage took myself and Penny Dreadful Vintage on a tour of Norwich in May 2011.

1920's cheuogsam, Madam Popoff, £35 in the sale

1920’s cheuogsam, Madam Popoff, £35 in the sale

Betty B's King Street

Betty B’s King Street

 

Margate Old Town

Margate Old Town

I am going to confess, I didn’t go into Betty B’s. It might have been something to do with the fantabulous cat’s eye glasses they had on display in the other window. I knew if I went in, I would buy them. So I resisted. Although I am secretly hoping they will still be there when I go next time…

You can see more photos of Margate and other vintage places to visit on the Vintage Kent facebook page. Vintage Kent is also on Twitter.

Along with the beach, which is now a blue flag holder, and the vintage shops, there are also some lovely tea rooms, the Turner Gallery and the shell grotto to visit. Nearby there is Ramsgate and Broadstairs, as well as the historic RAF Manston museum, Battle of Britain Memorial and Dover Castle – plenty of things to fill a weekend up with.

Margate still has some social problems it needs to overcome, and Thanet District Council have acknowledged they have an important role to play in this. But I am really pleased to see a place where I have many happy childhood memories starting to come alive again. Margate has a little something to offer everyone, from the beach to shops to museums, and even more so when Dreamland re-opens (it will, it will!). I think everyone who has fond memories of Margate wants to see it get back to its glory days, want to see it succeed.  I will certainly be going back soon!

A return train ticket to Margate from London is £10 via the Southeastern Trains website. The ticket hall is a wonderful example of Victorian architecture, and is located at the bottom of the promenade. Walk towards the Turner Gallery for Old Town. In a car, follow the A2 onto the M2 then A299. Madam Popoff has written a Vintage Guide to Margate, which you can see here. The map is available from Kiss Me Quick and Madam Popoff.

Jemima x

PS I have contacted the winner of the Eliza M Vintage sewing pattern giveaway – sorry if it wasn’t you, but I will be holding another giveaway shortly…watch this space!

Dig for Victory: Growing Your Own Fruit and Veg for Beginners (Part One)

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If you are new to the concept of growing your own fruit and veg, there are two things you need to know:  it’s not hard, and you don’t need acres of space.

What you do need are a bit of patience, a way of reminding yourself to water your seedlings and plants, and a plan.

Now is the time to start planning what you want to grow. Home grown tastes infinitely better than anything you could buy in a supermarket, but you aren’t suddenly going to like something that you don’t eat just because you made it yourself. So think about the things you like to eat, primarily.

Many fruit and veg can be grown in pots, such as tomatoes, courgettes and salads. New potatoes can be grown in compost bags or similar. Others, like asparagus, are a labour of love, and will be in the ground for three years before you get your first spear. Not one I recommend for the beginner.

Draw a rough plan of your garden, or whatever outdoor space you have, and identify the space you have for growing. I intend to make more space for growing this year, by re-arranging some of the shrubs. You can grow lots of things in pots, so if you only have a hard standing area in your garden, you can still grow things.

So, seeds. The rows and rows of seed packets at your local garden centre can seem daunting. So, here are a few things to help you out:

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Information typically found on the reverse of a seed packet

On the reverse of the packets you will find information on when to sow it, when to plant it out and when you can expect to harvest your hard work. It will also have a use by date. Some crop can be planted straight into the ground. This saves space in the house.  I confess though, I have cats, and they would wreak havoc on such an arrangement. You would also need to be able to distinguish between a weed and a seedling, which isn’t easy until you are a dab hand.

Some seeds will be referred to as ‘hybrids’. These are seeds that have been bred to be resistant to a type of disease that the veg is susceptible to. For example. Courgette ‘Defender’ should be mildew resistant. If you are a newby gardener, hybrid seeds are good ones to go for, so that the worse case should be avoided. You should be aware though that some situations are unavoidable.

If there is a hose pipe ban, you can still water by hand in the event of drought. But if there is too much rain, some crop, like potatoes, are likely to rot in the ground. Not enough sun light will be an issue for the sun lovers – the peppers and chillies, for example. There’s not a great deal you can do about the weather, sadly. You will also need to look out for Jack Frost – but not until we are ready to plant out. However, many people grow lots of things successfully – too much rain might not make for good potatoes, but pumpkins and squash will thrive in all that water.

I do recommend you go to a proper garden centre, and not the garden section of your DIY store. The garden centre will have a much better selection, and the staff will be able to help you if you get confused. You should also be able to get heritage seeds – such as purple carrots. Yes, carrots were purple, until the pesky Victorians liked the novelty of orange carrots, and they caught on. I am a big fan of heritage seeds and seed libraries. If our farmers are struck by a plague that wipes out all of a particular type of crop, it’s the seed library they will rely on to re-introduce it. A few years ago, the US sweet corn industry was nearly wiped out by a mystery disease, but the seed libraries came to the rescue and ultimately kept those farms going.

You don’t have to buy seeds. If you eat a pepper, or a tomato, that you really like, you can save the seeds from it in a tissue and have a go at growing them.  It really does work and will save your some seed money. Don’t go mad and buy too many packets, especially if you are just starting out. You might not enjoy it as much as you thought – although I think working the land is good for the soul, even if you have a teeny patch – but it might not be for you.

Whilst you are picking the seeds you want to grow, you will need to think about what you are going to grow them in. You could pick up plastic module trays, which are probably the cheapest thing. You could also save your toilet rolls – the good thing about these is that they will rot in the ground, so you need not take the seedling out as it gets bigger. You will need some pots for when your seedlings get bigger too, but I will go into this in a later post. You will also need a way of noting what seeds are where, unless you don’t mind playing a game of ‘what plant will this turn into?’ You can buy white plastic markers, but wooden lolly pop sticks, or even cocktail sticks with a little handwritten label on them will do.

You will need a bag of compost – I recommend seed compost, as it is finer so it’s easier for your seedling to make its way up to the surface. However, any compost will do, so long as it has been sterilised. Earth from your garden won’t do, I’m afraid. It might start off well but it will be full of bacteria and it is very likely that your seedling will die. This is called ‘damping off’.  So you will hear gardeners say ‘don’t use old compost if you want to avoid damping off’.

One last thing to consider is where you are going to put your seedlings. You see, in order to germinate and stay alive, they will require a minimum temperature, which is warmer than outdoors. So until probably around April – it depends on the weather – they will have to live in the house, or somewhere else warm.

When you get your seeds home, you need to keep them somewhere cool, and dry. This is to preserve the integrity of them, and stop them sprouting. I organise mine in a cat food box, as it is just the right width for seed packets and I can flip through them easily.

If you want to grow fruit, I recommend purchasing fruit bushes. Strawberries (known as runners) are easy to grow in pots or hanging baskets, which keeps those pesky slugs at bay. I purchased raspberries (known as canes) from an Aldi store for £1.99 each, and the raspberries were plentiful, and delicious. They often have other types of berries available so are worth a look  – their website will detail offers they have, which are usually in store on Thursdays. I suggest you look out in March, but if I see any offers I will post them on Twitter and Facebook.

One more thing – buy some sunflower seeds. A competition to see who can grow the tallest one is such fun, the bees love them and they are guaranteed to make you smile when their heads bob in the wind.

Part Two – sowing your seeds – will be in a couple of weeks.

Jemima x

Valentine’s Day: Origin, Thifty Ideas and Inspiration

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It’s next Thursday, the Day of Lurve, and it will be here in no time (especially if you are like me and spend most of your day in a headscarf and pjs. Cut me some slack, I have a three month old darl.) I have a few minutes peace and quiet, so I am going to some photos and ideas from my Pinterest board with you. My name is Jemima and I am a Pinterest addict. There are a few of us on Twitter, we hang around the common room at lunchtime. Come, join us.

According to the Church, Saint Valentine was a Roman priest who was martyred for marring Roman soldiers, who were forbidden to marry. However, apparently this date has been officially dropped from the Church calendar of martyr days.

However, like many religious festivals, it also has roots elsewhere. The Romans used to have boys select pieces of paper with girls names on them, in a sort of sexual tombola. The boy and girl would then be sexual partners for the remainder of the year. This took place on 14th February, the feast day of Juno Februata, the Roman goddess of women, marriage and the fever of love. Now it makes sense why the onus is on the boy to woo the girl…

February 15th is Lupercalia, or the Roman festival of fertility. Roman man would sacrifice a goat, don its skin, then run around Rome whipping ladies’ bottoms in order to encourage fertility. Kinda glad that one is buried in history.

Cupid means desire; in legend, he was the son of Venus, Roman goddess of love. I haven’t found a definitive answer as to why he shoots arrows, but I wonder whether it has something to do with the shape of our top lip, also called a cupid’s bow, and an obvious erogenous zone.

Fancy making your own card? Cards? I say ‘yes please, for they cost a fortune and the recipient might throw them in the bin after!’ (Note to my husband – never throw any love token I give you in the bin.)

How to make your words into a shape using Microsoft Word. Always good to know

Arrange the word ‘love’ in different languages in a heart shape using Word and print it off then cut to size.

If this is beyond your technical skill, and I confess, I’m not sure I could be bothered with the faff, type them onto a text document then cute a heart shape out of them and glue it to your card. Simples.

Let’s face it, baking something it always going to be well received.

Valentine's cookies!

Cookies decorated with hearts and red m&ms

Cookies are an easy choice if you are baking-challenged. Decorations can be picked up at the supermarket or a cake decorating store (I say support your local store, if you have one). You can bake your favourite (or, rather, your lover/the one you want to woos’ favourite) then decorate it accordingly.

This idea is mega cute, although finding 365 reasons why you love someone might be a bit of a stretch. I once wrote why I loved Mr Jemima on post it notes and hid them around his room, as we didn’t live together then. You still have them, dearest, right….? He thought it was cute. And he was finding them for days. It’s a thrifty way to make the romance last, to make your love smile.

365 reasons. totally doing this!

365 reasons why I love you – count down to a wedding day

Leave romantic messages for each other on a blackboard – you can wipe away all of that unimportant ‘don’t forget to take the trash out!’ stuff for a few days every once in a while, right? Write ‘I Love You’ to surprise your lover when they get up.

cute for Valentine's Day

A Lurve Blackboard

If you get a wiggle on, you might be able to find a heart-shaped board. We had one at our wedding, with ‘welcome to our wedding’ and an arrow showing guests where to enter. In the evening as a surprise our best man and his wife rubbed it out and wrote ‘Sweet Dreams, Mr and Mrs Forest’ on it…

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Write romantic notes for each other

This adorns the handle on my wardrobe door now, the writing a little smudged, but it always makes me smile.

Have a go at making your own heart-shaped chocolates – buy a heart-shaped silicon mould so they pop out easily. Melt the chocolate in a bain marie (that’s a bowl over a pot of warming water on the stove, to you scratching your head), then add a little vegetable oil. The oil will keep the chocolate glossy, if you aren’t bothered about that, don’t add it. Melted chocolate loses it’s sheen. You can add a little chocolate to the mould, then add a filling (I added honey once, for example) then add some more chocolate, and leave in the fridge to set.

Carving initials into wood has a childish endearing appeal about it. Go for a romantic walk and pick up a piece of waste wood. Don’t go all Elf style and chop a tree down, though…

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Love carvings at the end of Brighton Pier. Copyright Granny Chic Gal

Of course, you don’t *have* to do any of this. You don’t have to literally buy your way into someone’s heart. And you really shouldn’t bother if it’s the only day of the year you do anything remotely romantic, just because you have to.

sailor

Or you could just have a Hollywood snog. Why not? The best things in life are free.

There’s one thing that I certainly don’t appreciate: air freighted flowers at over inflated prices. There is really only one good place for flowers, as my lovely granddad used to say….in the garden, where they grow.

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Roses in May

Whatever you do, take note of the first blackboard: do it in love.

Jemima x

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