Wednesday, 25 January 2012


This is a sort of draft/plan that I wrote for my Little Monkhams story. I often write a plan like this before typing it up, editing as I go along. This was on a tiny scrap of paper that was all I could find in a boring French lesson :p I thought it made a nice picture.

Posts may be few and far between for the next couple of weeks as I have exams :(

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Winter sunshine

This is what I wore when taking pictures of Little Monkhams yesterday. It was a truly glorious day, with my favourite weather: quite cold, but brilliantly sunny.

I think I'm going to have to get better at taking pictures of myself that aren't quite so universally unflattering. Try as I might, I could not get a full outfit picture in properly, so you will just have to imagine :p

Jumper, belt, skirt - charity shops

Scarf - vintage

Tights - Forever 21

Shoes - New Look

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Little Monkhams

About 15 minutes walk away from where I live, there is an old house called Little Monkhams. When I was little, I used to walk past it every day to get to school, as I do now to get to my current school. It was a gorgeous old white house, apparently dating back to the 16th or 17th century, and the scene of many a local ghost story. Once I could swear I saw an old rocking horse in the window, but the next day it was gone...

However, a lot has changed since I was at primary school.

I was unable to find any pictures of how it used to look, but this is how it looks now:

About 4 years ago, a developper whose name shall not be mentioned applied to turn Little Monkhams into a block of flats.

I'll let that sink in. A BLOCK OF FLATS.

Obviously such a suggestion provoked a strong outcry among its neighbours; directly opposite is a small part of Epping Forest, and a block of flats would just not be right, quite apart from the fact that the house itself was such a gorgeous piece of history. The council refused his request.

He then replied he would "rub their faces in it properly", essentially because he planned to build some flats that were completely out of keeping with the aesthetic of the area.

A few months later, the house caught fire at 2.00am after a week of heavy rain, and could not be put out until a substantial amount was destroyed. The cause of the fire was said to be a fault with the wiring. This is in a house that was not connected to the mains. The developper's application was to be reviewed the very next day.

I'll let you draw your own conclusions, shall I?

What makes me sad is that I could find no pictures of this house as it used to be. All of that history, the lives of people who had lived there - gone. This is my poor attempt to do justice to this once-beautiful building.


The old house groaned, creaking out of years of slumber. Bricks heaved, rooms expanded, a rigid structure made soft by oncoming warmth. It remembered.

There were people once. Rooms full of soft, swishing fabric, sadness, laughter. Fireplaces roared in winter, competing along with the sound of voices. Warmth - but not only physical warmth - the warmth of home, of comfort, that soft, yellow feeling.

And later, when flashes of burning white smashed into its neighbours, in the whine of aircraft and the deep, low booms that caved in the windows, when all around was a panic of anxiety and fear, it stood tall. Proud and calm on its hill, it welcomed them in, enveloping them with strong, safe, reassuring brick. Come and shelter. There are deep cellars, and comfort.

Even in the years that followed, the cold years when no laughter rang through the ancient passages and time and squatters peeled the wallpaper, there was still pride. It said: look at me, and remember. I was once great.

But now - a reawakening - a call; and it called back, welcoming the presence of another person, a fresh, new spark.

But a wrong spark. A spark of true heat, fire burning out the insides. Beams split, creaks ran through the timber of the roof. A sliding, roaring, tumble of a crash as the tiles escaped from the burning roof and smashed, as one, on the wet ground.

But it was tired, and glad to go. No-one was there; no-one cared. Only the lingering glory of past days was left, embodied in the steadfast, reaching chimneys, reaching up to the grey skies above with a silent plea.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

A promise of things to come

Apologies for the absence of creativity in this post, I am snowed under with A level coursework. I have a few posts lined up, including a trip to Spitalfields market with my friend Rebecca and a ghost story about a haunted house near where I live; unfortunately posts are not going to particularly frequent as I am in the midst of my A levels. I will attempt to post at least once a week though.

A lovely vintage blog that I have just discovered is Annie Pancake and the Time Machine. She's holding a giveaway "Vintage Girl's Starter Guide" to celebrate 100 followers. I can only hope I will get there too one day!

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Adventures in Paper

Look what I got for Christmas!

This is Charlotte...

...and this is Patricia.

As a child, I used to spend hours playing with paper dolls that could be bought from the Museum of London shop (I think I received the first one as a gift, and then was determined to find the rest of the set). They were all from different historical periods (Roman, Medieval, Tudor, Regency and Victorian) and formed the basis of my understanding of history for a long time.

As you can probably tell, I'm still secretly 9 years old, because pretty much all I did on Boxing Day was cut them out. I think I may do a sort of series on Charlotte and Patricia and their lives, so I can show off all their lovely clothes (15 full outfits each! That's a lot of stories.) I love the 1920's (so elegant!), but there are two reasons why I concentrate my everyday style on the 30s, 40s and 50s:
  1. I don't have the figure for 20s clothes - you need to be tall and willowy, which I definitely am not!
  2. Anything older than 1930s is generally damaged and/or far too expensive for a student budget. Oh well.
Petal details on the hat...

...and clover pattern on the blouse.



“Oh for goodness sake, just knock on the door, Pat,” rang an exasperated voice from the street as Patricia dithered on the doorstep, her hand hovering over the door. She looked round, and saw her sister gesturing impatiently. “Just knock! I want to get inside!”

“I can hardly knock on the door when I’ve got a suitcase in each hand, can I, Char?” she snapped, trying to cover her moment of uncertainty. Rolling her eyes, Charlotte paid the cab driver and came up the steps. Tossing a fold of her elegant black cape over her shoulder, she knocked smartly on the door.

“Leave the bags, someone will get them. They don’t even have a proper knocker...You really should get one of these box capes, you know, they’re much better than that old thing,” Charlotte murmured, with a glance at her sister’s sage green travelling coat. Her foot tapped on the doorstep. “Where the blazes are they?”

A sudden click, and the door was opened by a woman wearing a flowered apron and a disapproving expression. Frowning at Charlotte’s language, she looked at Patricia and broke into a smile.

“Patricia, dear, how are you? And how is your dear mother?”

She ushered Patricia into the house, chivvying her along the hallway into a small drawing room, complimenting her on her ensemble. Patricia, bowled over by the sensations of the new, would normally have been indignant about the woman’s tight grip on her arm; but was suffering from the slight nervous excitement she always felt on entering a new place. It was a place to transform, re-invent her personality; the people here had no idea who she was or what she was like. Not listening to Mrs Griffiths' attempts at conversation, she concentrated on gaining a thorough first impression of the place. She smelt the mustiness from the carpet and felt the flocked wallpaper under her hand, and decided that this would be a much better place for her  - she could become her own person here.

There was one who did know exactly who she was, however, and who might well hold her back from her new and fabulous beginnings.

“Excuse me, Pat, Mrs Griffiths? Where is the manservant, to take our suitcases?”

Mrs Griffiths turned back in the direction of the haughty voice from the front doorstep. “We only have one servant here, and she is at present preparing tea for your sister in the drawing room. Why don’t you take the suitcases up yourself and then go and join her?” she said coldly.

Charlotte was left with her mouth open in outrage in the threshold, as her sister and Mrs Griffiths clattered into the drawing room. The door clicked shut. Shaking her head in disbelief, she picked up one suitcase in each hand and began to struggle up the stairs.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Straw hat

This is my straw hat, for something completely inappropriate for the time of year; a bit of escapism from the rain that was trying to drown London on the day I wrote it. I have no idea how old it is, (well, my best guess would be at least over 30 years old), but for the purposes of this story I'd like to think it's from the late 1930s.


Laura stands by the window, a tear of frustration rolling down her face. The coolness left in the tear’s track catches her attention for a moment; it is a gorgeous contrast to the heat filling the air. She longs for a glass of water and the sweep of a winter wind across her face.
She leans out of the window, hand to her hat, for the third time in as many minutes, even though she knows she will hear the car before she sees it.  Squinting down the road into the sun, she sees nothing but the familiar view: Mrs Keel is outside next door's talking to the cat as she fiddles with her keys; and in the distance a tractor buzzes and grumbles over newly cut wheat. Her heels knock on the boards with nervous irritability.

Unable to stand it any longer, she turns around and flings herself across her bed. Why doesn’t he come?
Her hat flies off with the force of her frustration, hitting the wall with the whisper of a crunch. Another tear escapes, and now they are flowing freely, first hot, then colder as they cool in the air. Her desperate attempt to quench them, dabbing frantically at her eyes with a handkerchief, only serves to spread new mascara over her cheeks. She picks up the hat from the floor and sobs.
It's a simple hat, useful for keeping the sun off her face in this stifling weather, but it's already one of her favourites. She’d sewn a ribbon on, thinking it was a little plain without it, and now it really was hers; the stamp of individuality well and truly there.
But the effort would be wasted if he didn’t arrive. She hadn’t spent two and six on a new hat for nothing: everything had to be exactly right (even though she already had a summer hat that would do just as well). Stupid boy; he obviously didn't care about what hat she wore, and even less about her.
Straw hat - etsy
Circle skirt - handmade by me
Blouse - charity shop
White lace tights - Forever 21

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Miss Lily Elsie

Lily Elsie was an actress who became one of the biggest stars of Edwardian musical theatre. She was born on 8th April 1886 in Leeds, Yorkshire. In 1896/7, she played Princess Mirza in 'The Arabian Nights' at the Queen's Theatre, Manchester.  Then for Christmas 1896, at the age of ten, she played the title role of 'Little Red Riding Hood' for six weeks followed by six weeks touring.

Her most famous role was in 'The Merry Widow' in 1906. She became an overnight sensation, even though she was painfully shy off stage. She married Ian Bullough in 1911, and died on 16th December 1962, aged 76. Full biography here.

Cecil Beaton said about Lily Elsie: "To see her merely walk across the stage was a poem."

This is something I wrote a while ago, and on re-reading it I thought it suited Miss Lily Elsie perfectly. I'm not a master poet at all, but seeing as this is (mostly) a creative writing blog, thought I could put it in. Critiques and comments are welcome.

I am what they dream me to be.
A genie, a shimmer
Beauty, a glimmer
Following limitless imagination.
The expectations tug
Pulling, twisting
Through the fog of fantasy
Chasing me through the depths
to the debt
of transformation.

And then
The eyes have it
Seductions of dark glamour
Take the pit
Into damnation – or
Which is more romantic? – your choice.

She’s smashed it.
The audience susurrate
Hypnotised by her gait; she has lit
The theatre
I can hear the sirens.