Monday, 27 August 2012

Pensioner's day out

  Now and again Bald bloke and I, like to go out on little trips which we refer to as our 'Pensioner days out'.
We like to live the high life, going out for tea and cake don't you know...
 Well, after lots of debating on our half an hours drive limit (gawd forbid I get a blinking headache if we dare to venture further) we decided on Burford House Garden Store.  
The interiors shop
 It's not far from Ludlow, in Tenbury Wells (there's also a Burford near Oxford) and it was far more than just a 'garden store', much to our delight.
I could have spent a small fortune there, quite easily.

the reclamation yard
We were traveling behind a horrendous thunder storm and when we arrived it looked like they had had the worst of it already. There was a lot of mopping and sweeping water out of the shop and cafe going on.
 The garden centre was lovely and quite reasonable,there were lots of plants that I had been looking for locally and everything had been reduced but what we didn't expect was finding a fabulous Georgian house that was an interiors outlet store, selling wonderful Newgate clocks, mirrors, candles and vintage-looking homewear, A children's wear shop with the most gorgeous clothes and toys I've ever seen, a wonderful reclamation yard (we both LOVE having a mooch in those) and a pretty riverside garden to stroll around attached to the house.

  There's no charge to enter the gardens and they were shabby but lovely.
 Old English country house style which is just what I love. I used to maintain a garden like this and they are super-high maintenance, by the time you'd taken a month to get round the whole thing, the weeds in the first part you did were two foot high and it was time to do it all again.

  If I hadn't of got my most un-sensible flip-flops on (considering the thundery weather!) I'd have got stuck in with the weeding. I love a challenge like that.
 Pete spotted this great hand painted vintage tin sign attached to a door in the reclamation part. It's about 30" high. Knowing how much I love old graphics and tatty stuff he made the lethal mistake of pointing it out to me...

 A little bit of cheeky bartering later and it came home with us for probably a quarter of the price you'd have got it on eBay for.

It was a bit bent,covered in grease and filthy but very 'us'.He spent the afternoon gently cleaning it up with petrol of all things. An insanely cheap Victorian terracotta flower pot came too.

In the main house, I also spotted a mirror that I'd been hunting for. I have the little version but really wanted the big wall version for the bathroom. (You'll have to imagine the big one as it's still all wrapped up safely)
the little version
Ages and ages and ages that's been on my wishlist, so when we found it there for half price it was too good an opportunity to miss. Bald bloke just gives me that knowing look when I start whining on about 'wish lists' and the like. I promised to live off beans on toast for a week and it came home with us aswell.

The cafe was quite nice too..the cup of tea was pants but the cake was lovely!
(In my best Homer Simpson voice Mmmm Caaaaaake!)
The cafe with it's lovely Lloyd loom chairs
   I'd thoroughly recommend having a mooch if you're over that way anytime!

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

The HQ incident...

I was asked up to White Stuff  Headquarters recently.
Very exciting stuff but also a bit scary.
Its been donkeys years since I went up to London on my own (probably about 25 years!) and I seem to be the worlds worst traveler.
If I dont manage to get myself lost, I'll get a migraine or throw up which in itself creates a viscous circle of worrying that I will.... so I inevitably do.
Well anyway, the journey there was surprisingly straight forward, I had forgotten quite what a fabulous thing the Tube is.Winding, breezy tunnels of gorgeous green, black and cream deco tiles lead you to those clunking screeching, rushing trains and your destination. I wanted to take photos of their colourful retro looking seat fabric but a fear of being clocked as a tourist (instant pickpocket target!) stopped me.

White Stuff HQ is in the Oval area of south east London. It's like entering someone's retro decorated home, not a company headquarters and you are greeted by a bunch of  lovely smiley ladies who treat you like an old friend. Vintage 30s cupboards filled with awards, comfy sofas and old fashioned kiddy rides with a backdrop of whirly 1970s wallpaper makes you feel like you are stepping into one of their clothing catalogues.
I love White Stuff clothes and shop online with them often (always with a discount though!) When I go into their shops the assistants are lovely and dont make you feel awkward or too old or too fat to be in there, It's one of a very few shops I don't mind shopping in and even though they are more expensive than some others, I do feel it's worth it. This, apparently, has made me one of their 'super-shoppers'.... hence the invite.

The day started with me being missed off the list as they hadn't received my email to say I'd be coming. Oops. No problem, a name badge was quickly rustled up. Then the15 of us had a tour of the offices. We met the now infamous, Ivy and Lil stitching away in their little room, there's a 'street' with 3 mocked up shops, all as they would be outside in the real world, with windows displays and  proper doors and signs and there are offices decorated in their quirky style, one themed as a Royal room (vintage royal portraits, red flock wallpaper, swags, velvet and tassels and a gold crest on the wall) a log cabin room (wood wallpaper, huge fake moose head) and the 50s kitchen with not one but three 1950s kitchenette cupboards and a formica table around which to talk business.
All in all a rather fabulous place to work (even your dog is allowed to come to work).

We were there to have our brains picked, eat a fabulous lunch (and afternoon tea) and see the new collections, giving our opinions on things like customer service, fit and quality.
Knowing that I'm prone to migraines and having been up since 5.30am I started on the water straight away.
I think I must have polished off about 4 litres before the queasiness and 'fizzy eye' thing happened.
 Urgh I know those signs all too well. After a rather scrumptious lunch, the queasy thing took hold and I had to be excused to sit in the garden.
 The offices are on the second floor and all face onto a glass walled garden that sits bang in the middle. So there I sat huffing and puffing, fanning my face trying to look jollier than I felt (which was bloody awful) like an over weight, nearly-middle-aged goldfish!
When it rained I snuck back inside, started drinking yet more water and the queasiness became the sweating, face draining sickness I dread.
The loos at white stuff have large portholes where you can see out but (un-beknown to me) no-one can see in.
Projectile vomiting 200 litres of water whilst on your toilet paper covered knees thinking that everyone outside can see you is not a good feeling. Nor is trying to wash the ends of your hair in one of those teeny tiny hand basins.
 Drying your hair in a Dyson air blade is neither a good idea nor a good look!  Dont try it.
Candy floss and sheep's wool come to mind.Thank goodness I had a pony-tail band with me.
 My make-up now looked like that bloke from Kiss.
As you can imagine, by this point all I wanted to do was be transported home by time machine, but alas, alone, bar a handful of strangers and a long way from the big hills I was going to have to rely on my good old British stiff upper lip.
 Keep calm ( sort your face out ) and carry on....
So the day came and went, we were thanked by The Lovely People and given a fabulous goody bag.. a scarf, belt , pretty necklace...vouchers and discount cards..whoopee!
I hopped back on the tube, took my super-strength knock-out pills at Paddington and away we went.

The train journey was slow. A sweaty man smelling badly of  B.O was in my reserved seat and was most irritated to be moved, the lady behind me (well dressed,well spoken older lady, traveling alone) gave me a great running commentary on everything she ate, saw and drank, interspersed with the odd 'F' word.(actually it was more like every other word was the F word)
A posh student gave the whole train a loud phone commentary on his part in the Olympics, much to the groans of the passengers. I think a hundred hushed voices said 'it was the Mary Rose' when he described to 'mummy', Annie Lennox riding Noah's Ark.
It makes me laugh how no-one would ever dare to say can you please be quiet. Oh no, us British, we just tut and mutter. Sweary lady had a field day when posh teenager started up.

The train finally broke down at Worcester, having crawled home at a snails pace, It was dark and I'd missed my train link to Malvern. Urgh.
After some bribery I managed to persuade a friend of stinky boys to be my taxi.
 I got home at last. Phewwwwww
As you can imagine, I didn't take any photos. The day ended up being quite surreal in the end. Almost like a Mr.Bean sketch!

I think This little video will show you how lovely the people there are and give you a sneaky peek into the world that is......... White Stuff.

I'm off for a lie down!..... xx
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