drEAming, fashion, general chit chat, mEAndering, out and about

mEAndering…down memory lane in 1970’s Cheltenham

Here is part 2 of our trip down to Cirencester and Cheltenham…

For anyone that doesn’t know Cheltenham it is a Regency spa town and this is an example of the houses you will find there – usually painted and quite often adorned with wrought iron balconies and canopies – from my first visit when I attended my interview for the fashion course I fell in love with Cheltenham and this house was always one of my favourites just off the town centre – I love the intricate iron work.

 

As we wandered through the town we were surprised at how much we remembered –  we walked down the famous Promenade…

 

– it felt very much as it always did with Cavendish House (now House of Fraser) at the top of the street –  but many of the other shops along the stretch had changed.  It is a shame the trees are bare at the moment it looks quite splendid when they are in full leaf.

Habitat was at the very bottom of the street in the 70’s – our favourite shop because it was so modern and different then – but now long gone.  I remember that on a Saturday morning it was usual to see many of the wealthy shoppers parading the Promenade and Montpellier in their furs and jewels accompanied by their Afghan hounds and other beautifully groomed long-haired pedigree dogs.  Such a contrast to my home town of Huddersfield where the shoppers were much more about a bargain from a mill shop or the markets.

 

Behind the Promenade lies Regent Street with the Everyman Theatre – this has quite rightly received the Heritage Award for the complete refurbishment in 2011.

 

We eventually came to the High Street – the old HSBC bank (then the Midland) is still on the corner – I had my first bank account here and ran up an overdraft of £10 in my first term and was called in by the bank manager who looked at me sternly from across his desk and told me in no uncertain terms that overdrafts were a definite no no – putting the fear of God in me I went straight out to get the local paper and found myself a weekend job at the nearby hospital to pay it off and then went to bank with the Co-op where the two ‘old’ ladies on the counter upstairs always addressed me by my christian name and enquired after my progress on the course.

This is quite a famous pub because of the lovely old tiled exterior – it was never our local but it is good to know it has survived demolition.  Our local was still there but I expect the owners have long retired.

Further along the little old fashioned jewellers shop is still in business (surprisingly it looks just as it did then) – this is where we chose my engagement ring –  a diamond between to deep blue saphires and cost a hefty £28.  I still have the handwritten receipt and of course the ring!

 

Turning off the High street into one of the many side alleys we just had to go and see where our second rented house once stood – now demolished and the site occupied by a Lidl supermarket.  This picture is all that is left of 30 Grosvenor Terrace.  (I am the one on the bike and as you will notice beards were very much in fashion then!)

 

Our previous house called simply ’58’ was out on the Prestbury Road, which back then was a rather fine row of large semi-detached Regency properties with our very shabby student house letting the side down.  It now stands looking very grand and much more in keeping with its well maintained neighbours who have managed to keep their beautiful wrought iron canopies intact.

This house holds very special memories –  this is where I met both my life long friends and my husband – this is where we packed more fun into the few years we lived here than the rest of my life.  In all the time we lived here we never had a key – there was no lock to the front door so the occupants and everyone else just walked in and out – quite unbelievable now but I can assure you as poor students on very frugal grants we certainly had nothing of value to pinch so it was never a problem!!

 

 

The Art College at the top of Pittville near the racecourse has been demolished in places and rebuilt – this is how the fashion block looked when I was a student there from 1972 to 1975 …

Google image University of Gloucestershire

 

…and this is me leaning out of one of the upstairs windows – being young and slim I always got roped in to modelling both my own and other students creations for photo shoots and shows so I thought it might be fun to show you fashion in the seventies.

 

 

 

It was usual during our course to be involved in projects with fabric manufacturers like Courtaulds promoting their new fabrics.  We would be sent rolls of various fabrics and had to design outfits to suit.  This one was a hit with ICI fibres and was featured in the trade magazine Fashion Weekly – I remember that seeing my outfit in print was quite exciting – I think I even wore the coat a few times afterwards.

 

 

Below was a project for Heathcote fabrics in fine wool crepe and I made the coat for myself afterwards in grey wool for a trip to London – I thought I was the bees knees at the time!

Oddly whilst we were in Cheltenham I actually saw someone wearing an almost identical coat (now 40 years later – which just shows how fashions just keep coming around).

 

As well as the very stylised line and ink drawings I was very much into experimenting with pastels back then and drew large A3 sized freehand drawings onto coloured pastel paper which were so different to my fellow students that I worried the examiners might frown upon them.

 

 

Luckily not – but all my drawings do seem a bit crude now – with all the latest technology Fashion students today produce work that looks much more professional.

When I started work at New Look patterns in Bradford I was asked to design a simple range of patterns for the fabric manufacturers Landau Sekers to team up with our Special Offer patterns – I found these old drawings the other day.

 

I wondered if any of the patterns I designed back then might still be available now and Googled vintage New Look patterns and sure enough among the hundreds that are featured on Google images there are many designs that I remember doing –  though in general they are not my drawings on the envelope fronts as we used a professional illustrator called Alan who lived near Warrington and each week we would send him a pack of sample clothes we had made with fabric swatches and colour guides and he sent the hand painted drawings back to be used on the envelope fronts.

So that is my recent trip down memory lane and it was much more enjoyable than I thought it would be – I just wish I could go back and do it all over again and yes I certainly do miss Cheltenham.

back soon x

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drEAming, general chit chat, mEAndering, out and about

mEAndering…goodbye to Uncle P

It has been a bittersweet few days.  We travelled down to Cirencester on Thursday morning for my Uncles funeral, he died suddenly, leaving the whole family shocked and upset at his passing.  You may remember this picture of him that I included in my mum’s Family Album recently.

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Uncle P was married to my late dad’s younger sister (the one here with the cake tin) – he was always full of life – ‘a happy chappy’ I guess – full of wit and wisdom and well-known for the occasional practical joke.

All our side of the family wanted to attend the funeral even though we had long journeys to get there involving a night in a hotel.  Those going from North Yorkshire chose to go down after work on Wednesday evening, stay in a hotel overnight and then go back home after the funeral.   Those of us here in the west of Yorkshire chose to journey down early on Thursday morning and stay over coming back Friday.

Even though it was a sad affair it was lovely to see all of the wider family, some of whom we have not seen for months or in some cases years, and catch up with all their news and the latest arrivals.

As is usual at these events there are many cousins –  first cousins, second cousins and third cousins and not forgetting all the once removed ones – I am never sure how the heirarchy of cousins fits together but we were all there.  Little L discovered her third cousin (possibly removed, possibly not), Little H – they are of similar age and even though it was the first time they had ever met got on so well to the point that little L did not want to leave her new playmate and go home and had a bit of a sulk on at home time!

After a bite to eat and a lot of catching up, a few tears and a few laughs, we set off to find our Premier Inn hotel at Little Witcombe – just outside Gloucester – only to be directed by the Google place finder to the one at Barnwood.  We didn’t even know it was the wrong one until the lady on reception could not locate our booking.  We then had to run back to the car in the lashing rain with all our luggage – repack it into the boot and set off with a few vague directions from the polish receptionist to find the right one.

All we knew was there was a lot of left turns and roundabouts involved – but more by sheer luck than management we eventually came to Little Witcombe – only to discover the hotel is in the middle of nowhere without a takeaway or chip shop in sight and the restaurant next door had stopped serving long ago for the night.

So after dumping our luggage in our room it was back into the car again to find a local takeaway – we ended up a few miles away on the outskirts of Gloucester at Domino Pizza – my first ever and although I am not a fan of takeaways and fast food it was surprisingly good.

On Friday morning before heading homeward we had our trip to Cheltenham where both DH and I met and lived for a few years whilst at Art College – it is many years since we had been there and I was a bit hesitant about going back – sometimes just having the memory of how it was is better – but I really enjoyed trying to spot buildings and places we remembered and what had been knocked down or changed.

I will fill you in on our visit on my next post.  I am experiencing some computer problems at the moment so posting is a bit intermittent.

Back soon x

mEAndering, out and about, sEAsons

sEAsons…a living Advent

Saltaire

As some of you may know I live in a small market town in West Yorkshire, that is really no more than a large village, where the Pennine Moors rise steeply above us and mill chimneys are dotted around the landscape.   Like many similar places that you may be familiar with such as Holmfirth (Last of the Summer Wine country), Hebden Bridge and Halifax these places expanded from nothing more than small hamlets during the Industrial Revolution with the building of the ‘dark satanic’ mills for the woollen, cotton and silk industry.
Titus Salt was one of the many people of this era, often influenced by a religious faith, who not only built mills and factories but also provided decent housing for their workers.  Titus Salt went one step further and created a whole village namely Saltaire which is near the city of Bradford.
When we first married we lived in an old 4 storey terrace of similar mill worker’s houses over the other side of our village and they are now quite rightly listed.  There is a small park called the ‘People’s pleasure grounds’ accessed by the bridge over the stream at the bottom of the gardens – all part of the provision for the mill workers.
I mention all this because yesterday we braved the weather to visit Saltaire Village, we hadn’t been for some years, it is now a world heritage site and I desperately wanted to see the Living Advent windows. Every year 24 of the houses take part and a window is illuminated with a festive scene with one scene being ‘opened’ daily in sequence from 1st of December until 24th December and then remaining to view until 5th January.
As you can see from the first few photos the mill is enormous and no longer used for textiles but houses an Art Gallery including a collection of David Hockney paintings, a large restaurant and three floors of books, homewares, furniture and clothing.  The homewares section has display cabinets of design classics – crockery, cutlery and glasses that most people will remember from the different eras that are now very much collectible.
 The china, dishes, pots and pans on sale are all selected for their design and quality and although some items are very expensive some are much more affordable (especially at the moment whilst certain items are much reduced).  I was in absolute heaven – I could easily have come home with almost everything in the shop but decided that I would make a mental note of anything that I felt might be useful or just plain beautiful to have and plan another trip there another day.
Before going in the mill we had a wander around the streets – there is a stretch of shops along the main road down to the mill with craft shops, restaurants and cafes – beyond this is the tight network of terraced housing built on a grid system and all the streets are named after his wife, sons and daughters, Caroline, William Henry, George, Amelia, Edward, Fanny, Herbert, Whitlam, Mary, Helen and Ada.

Some houses had larger gardens, some smaller and some of them open straight onto the pavement – I expect this represented your standing in life and the importance of the work you did at the mill.  Every house was looking very festive and I particularly loved some of the wonderful colour combinations.
What would have been little corner shops and general stores are to be found at the end of many of the streets.  This one has been turned into a Bridal shop and we also discovered the local Spa.

It was so bitterly cold and wet but we walked up and down the streets with me snapping away every time we came upon another Advent window.  As it was only mid afternoon the first few were not yet illuminated but I wanted to capture as many of them as I could.  But scroll further down and you will see they come alive after dark when we went out again after the lights had been switched on.

   

 

Even the ordinary stained glass in the windows and doors of these houses look extremely festive.

And lastly we came upon Victoria Hall, originally named Saltaire Institute, such a grand building for a village I thought it deserved a photo before we came home – apparently it cost £25,000 when it was built between 1867 and 1871 and contained a main hall seating 800, a lecture room, two art rooms, a laboratory, a gymnasium, a library of 8,500 books and a reading room.
It is currently used as a venue for weddings and conferences.

This is now my last post of the Christmas season – tomorrow is New Year’s Eve and then the start of a whole new year stretching ahead of us.  I have a few ideas in mind, a lot of reading still to do and plenty of decisions to make. 
2018 feels like it might be a good year.

Happy New Year to all my readers. x

drEAming, mEAndering, out and about, random thoughts

autumn journeys…

Fond memories of times past.

On our way to Edinburgh last weekend we took a detour off the A702 to visit the pretty historic conservation village of West Linton.  Fifteen miles outside Edinburgh and at the foothills of the Pentland Hills this tiny village, steeped in history, with evidence of pre-historic occupation is one of the oldest market settlements in Scotland.

In 1974, a mere twenty years of age and studying Fashion and Textiles at Cheltenham Art college I stayed here for a weeks holiday with my then to be husband (with his long curly hair) in this tiny caravan that we had hired.  The same caravan site we found is now a housing estate!

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To say all the other vans on the site were larger than this is no lie – we booked the caravan through an advert in the local Cheltenham paper and had no idea what we were letting ourselves in for other than it was affordable for two ‘impoverished’ students.  On arrival at the site we wandered around every caravan looking for the right number and kept disregarding this one until after eliminating all the others it finally dawned on us that yes this tiny 2 berth was our home for the week!!

We had no transport of our own as we had been ‘dropped off’ by my parents who were on their way to Pitlochry for a holiday in their own touring caravan.   To get anywhere we had to rely on the local bus service going either north to Edinburgh or south to the little town of Biggar.

Each morning we would walk into the village of West Linton and wander round taking in the history and scenery and always ending with a coffee in the Old Bakehouse where the waitresses all dressed in long Victorian styled Laura Ashley print dresses complete with white mop caps and aprons.

 

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It is now a Bistro and looking more like a pub inside than a tea room.

We could still recognise most of the shops – the post office, the chemist and especially the newsagent where we bought a jigsaw to do during the evenings and had to sleep on top of it when we made the bed up at night as there was no other table top.

 

 

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We remembered the quaint cottages and unusual street names…

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the intricate wall plaques and historic artefacts dotted around…

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and the curious central clock tower…

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We had a pleasant walk around reminiscing about those few wonderful days – going back after so many years  was quite emotional.

Before we left we had a final look at this little building in the square, today it is used as the Village Centre – but back then it was a registry office for births, deaths and marriages.

 

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This tiny building evoked such strong memories for us tinged slightly with sadness of what might have been.  We were young, in love, and like many, full of hopes and dreams for our future and each day as we walked past we were so tempted to go and get married – just the two of us with no fuss.  The only thing that stopped us in the end was the fact that my mum would never have forgiven us!

This is the same building in 1974 with me stood in the doorway.

West Linton 1974

We finally married in 1976 during the July heat wave a church wedding with sit down reception of ham salad and trifle for 60 guests with disco afterwards.  We had the full works – wedding dress and veil, bridesmaids, cake and all the trimmings (which pleased my mum) and although so far it has been happy ever after we do wonder what course our lives would have taken had we married in West Linton.