Monday, 29 June 2009

Label love

I love old ephemera and spent some time today sorting through this stash of vintage chemist labels. They are from Claud Manfull of "The Botanic Pharmacy" in Sneinton, Nottingham. The store closed down about 30 years ago and the old pharmacist apparently left nearly half a million labels! Claud had several premises over the years as his labels show a number of addresses in Sneinton (which is a very small area) and he is variously described as a "Medical Herbalist", a "Herbal Practitioner", and a "Qualified Optician". As time marched on it appears his son took over as "Dispensing and Family Chemist". Interestingly this store was very close to the very first "Boots the Chemist" store which I suspect had a lot to do with the closure of Manfulls becoming, as it did, the biggest Chemist in the country.

The labels are fascinating. In addition to all the usual tinctures and liniments Claud made up his own fruit cordials and wines with their bright, colourful labels. The herbal labels are a much more serious affair. All the poisonous substances have their labels printed in red with the less dangerous chemical labels printed in black on white. There are some lovely reminders of the cures of yesteryear. How many of you remember having wounds dabbed by a handkerchief soaked in iodine? That made you squeal! What about the foul taste of Cod Liver Oil? And I was regularly dosed with Sanatogen as I "had nerves" according to my father - and that was in the seventies!

Carbolic acid has notes to all its uses helpfully printed - including one suggesting its usefulness in removing risk of infection from dead bodies by wrapping them in sheets saturated in the solution! It could also be used to clean stables, sick rooms and to clear lice in dogs.

I like the one for influenza (wonder whether it would work on swine flu?) - "Pour one pint of boiling water upon contents of this packet; let it stand five minutes , strain, and drink immediately when in bed." I love the fact that the patient is instructed to drink it "when in bed"!

And in the spirit of helping the poor old housewife of the first half of the last century, he made up "Laundry Gloss " "to save time and labour" in "rendering linen and other fabrics glossy and stiff". I do wonder how much time and labour it actually saved...

Some of the labels are much smaller and don't give any indication as to their use. I could always research the uses of "Tincture of Myrrh", "Dill Seed Water" and "Syrup of Violets" but sometimes its nice just to wonder...

Love Wend

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Buttony serendipity!

I have to have a look when I see a tin like this at the car boot - a bit worn and well loved, several decades old, always good for a bit of kitchen kitsch. But when I picked it up it was heavy and ratlled! Always a good sign! And yes - it was full of buttons. And there was another! (Not quite so attractive). I had them both - it seemed rude not to. There might not have been another button lover along today!

When I got home I just had to pour them out and have a rummagy (new word) scrummage to see what delights were in there. I love messing about with buttons - the shapes the colours, the designs. Buttons for everyday, buttons for uniforms and buttons for very special occasions - there is so much domestic history in a button box I always think. And it's never just buttons though is it? Today there was a ball bearing, curtain hooks, and a large pair of clock hands. "I know - I'll put them somewhere safe - in my button box" the owner must have thought "until I find a clock with its hands missing"!

I found some real gems including some great (possibly 30s?) red glass deco beauties. I might have to use those to upcycle a thrifted cashmere cardi... Lots of little 50s floral plastics and a few mother of pearl.

Then onto a basket full of haberdashery bits and pieces. I really liked the "housewife's button box" which clearly every housewife needed containing 24 each of vest buttons, shirt buttons and pyjama buttons!

And then a whole stack of knitting patterns including this classy Jaeger number for two hat and scarf sets - one a natty tartan beret and the other called "A Dutch Cap". How times have changed (this was in the pre - decimalisation pile) - I'm not sure that you would get any self respecting housewife today knitting their own Dutch cap!!

Any way I must away and stitch on some vest buttons. Have a good week everybody!

Love Wend

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Not Wednesday but Wend's day!

Today I had the day off work to spend some time with my "all GCSE'd out" daughter (although she had something lined up for which I needed to act as chauffeur). And what a day it has been! Just one of those days where everything flowed and went well and it truly felt like Wend's day!

After a bit of light blogging and gardening (for gardening read mowing the moss!) we decided to go to Farnsfield a little village a few miles away for a wander round. Though quite close I'd never spent any time in this village and it turned out to be wonderfully British with its red phone box, old fashioned signage, cottage gardens and a fabulous bakery where we picked up some goodies for our picnic.

Then I spotted "The Loft" tucekd away behind the hairdresses. It was the most amazing little antiques shop. "The Loft" aptly described the place as inside it looks like the contents of Miss Havisham's loft have been tipped out in a couple of very tiny rooms. It was delightful! (Weblink -

Although teensy this shop bulged with fabrics, chandeliers, candelabra, books, trinkets and all sorts of other delightful bits and pieces. Now I'm no expert on vintage lighting but these pieces were gorgeously shabby and beautiful. I'd never seen so many lovely vintage lighting fittings all together. The owner was quite happy for me to take photos which was nice!(Last week in London it was another story entirely although I'm not sure why - and I did ask first!)

We picnicked on Southwell's green in the sunshine and enjoyed some down time. Then once my gorgeous girl was safely deposited at her drama rehearsal I grabbed the chance to do some serious charity shop rummaging (well there are 7 shops in the town I visited), followed by some successful flea market foraging.I'll show you my finds another day! Isn't it wonderful how much joy such simple pleasures can bring?

A day packed with photography, vintage, gardening, thrifting, antiques and sunshine...May I have some more please? I like this way of life!

Love Wend

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Fathers' Day

In memory of all those fathers no longer with us...


Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Handmade with love

Oh joy! What finds! I spotted these on Sunday at the car boot and was immediately drawn to them. I've been checking ebay regularly for these baskets and afghans but was too mean to pay the prices demanded. So when I spotted this I was thrilled. All the weaving on the basket was intact as was the binding round the handle which often unravels.

Then I found a lady selling these crocheted blankets. They were right at the back of the stand leaning against her car and wrapped in scruffy plastic bags. They looked unloved but promising but I was really pleased to find these two beauties when she unwrapped them. She must have been in her 70s and said they had been made by her mother in law but her husband was now happy to let them go as long as they went to a good home. He had been fond of them as his mother had made them but it was now "time".

I managed to convince her they would have a good home with me and bought them both. I've recently picked up a couple of others but they bear no comparison to these. These are both made of wool(pre man-made fibre days) and are in the most gorgeous shades.

Given the price of wool these days I think I did very well to bag them for less than the price of two balls of wool! Now, where to put them...

Love Wend

Playing in the sixties

Just a bit of fun. I spotted this Ladybird book at the car boot at the weekend and had to have a flick through. I don't think it had ever been opened as the pages didn't fall flat.

This is a picture of "A working tractor" and I had to buy the book as I remembered my Dad making these for my sister and me when we were small. We used to race them! You had to wind the match round and round and then set the tractor down on the table and it would the propel itself along! I know it doesn't compare in any way to today's toys but we did enjoy playing with them. This very image brought back lots of long hidden memories.

I don't recall having the book as a youngster: I would have remembered this next image, "The Balancing Man" made from 2 knitting needles, 2 nails , some plasticene and a cork!

Next "Doll's furniture" made from matchboxes and matches. I made lots of these and there were no warnings about not playing with matches! The legs for all the furniture were matches! How times have changed!

Finally all self respecting girls (and even some of the boys) had their own "Knitting machine" made from a wooden cotton bobbin (now selling for silly money on e-bay). We were forever making long strands of these knitted snakes from Mum's wool scrap basket only to have absolutely no idea what to do with the end product. If I'd had this book I'd have known to use them "to make reins for a baby brother"as it suggests.

Isn't it weird how something so innocuous can stir so much in you? I recently persuaded my daughter to try Marmite having refused to eat it for the last 13 years. She thought she hated it. As soon as she had tasted it she recalled a scene from nursery aged 3, eating sandwiches with the other childern and loving it. It is now a store cupboard favourite again...

A picture, a smell, a taste can all stir so much that has long been filed in our memories. Perhaps that's why so many of us love vintage...

Saturday, 13 June 2009

How kitsch is this?

I have to share this. I spotted this in a charity shop today and was strangely drawn to it. I can't say that it fits with William Morris's adage "Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful" but nevertheless it spoke to me. I love the picture with the full blown roses but this isn't just a picture but a firescreen with the typical plastic binding that you might get on the handles of a 50s shopping basket.

I've taken a picture close up so that you can see it. I don't know what possessed me to buy it as I don't know where I can put it as I don't have a fire but it had to come home with me. I'd love to know if any of you have any thoughts on it even if it's to tell me that it's in the most appalling taste!

Love Wend

Monday, 8 June 2009

How times change

I thought this book might produce some inspiration and ideas to increase my daughter's range of activities a couple of years ago... Picked up at a boot sale it has chapters on joys of a bygone era - leather work, rug work, raffia work, poker work, bead work, metal work, laquer work and enamel work. Not to mention butterfly and moth collecting (ugh) and silhouettes (charming).

What is it that puts her off - are girls scared of being un-cool? Is it the word "work" which accompanies each hobby? Does that make them wary of what might be involved? My daughter isn't lazy by any means. She's been working hard on her GCSEs for the last few weeks, or at least I thought she was. In fact, while on study leave today she e-mailed me at work daring me to guess what she had done in my absence. "Washed up?" I said hopefully. "As if" she responded, "but I have BAKED BREAD!"

To say I was amazed was an understatement. (It's not as if I'm a role model when it comes to being a domestic goddess - I'm more of a fallen angel!) This was her first time and although she had asked me to buy the ingredients a while back I expected to have to provide encouragement and support at the appropriate time. I didn't have the heart to criticise her for taking time out to do something that she has been wanting to try for ages. In fact I was proud that she had done just that. When I got home she was full of a great sense of achievement. Perhaps we could all learn something from that...

I altered this book at the time when she was heavily into MP3 and MSN. She tells me things have changed even since then and that I'm way behind...

Still there is something to be said for the simpler pleasures. Most of mine don't involve trailing wires and spoiling the planet. Oh, unless you count the servers that whirr into action when we all start checking out each others' blogs using enough energy to power a small city!

Love Wend

Saturday, 6 June 2009


Gosh I've been tagged for the first time! Thanks to Alexandra of Domestic Novice! So I apparently need to answer some questions so here goes:

What is your current obsession? Vintage linens

What are you wearing today? Jeans and a navy cotton jumper - not terribly stylish.

What's for dinner? Haven't thought about it yet!

Three styling tips that work for you:
1. Wear the right size!
2. Scarves, scarves and more scarves! I've been collecting them for the last 30 years so have plenty to choose from.
3. Have a basic capsule wardrobe and ring the changes with up to date accessories.

What are you proud of? My daughter

What do you think about the person who tagged you? Alexandra's almost as new to blogging as I am and I look forward to her posts as we seem to have similar interests.

Desert island beauty product? Lippy definitely - I feel naked without it!

If you could go anywhere in the world for the next hour, where would it be? Venice - I just love it. The canals , the colours , the mists, and the shops full of the most wondrous marbled papaers. I have to go back!

Who do you want to meet right now? Stephen Fry

What are you going to do after this? Work out some options for dinner!

What is your must-have item for summer? Sunshine and flowers - both free and priceless!

What is your favourite piece of clothing from your own closet? My upcycled cashmere cardigan

What is your dream job? Owning my own shop and filling it with lots of scrummy vintager bits sharing them with other like minded people.

What's your favourite magazine? Country Living - I still have the very first one from 1985. (I was persuaded to part with some of the others in between!)

What do you consider a fashion faux-pas? I suspect most people would see me as a fashion faux pas!!!

Where in England would you go for a lovely day out? Holkham Beach, Norfolk

Describe your personal style - I daren't!

Who's your favourite modern artist - must have two here - the mosaic artist Cleo Mussi and Laura McCafferty - modern textiles and embroidery

Gosh - that took a while!

Okay, so here are the rules to this tag:
Respond and rework – answer the questions on your own blog
Replace one question that you dislike with a question of your own invention.
Add one more question of your own.
Tag eight others.