Beating The January Blues With A Boogie And A Giggle!

After the joys of Christmas and New Year, January can feel pretty bleak. Term started over a week ago for me; I’m already feeling both stressed and tired. To fight my low mood, I’ve planned something nice to do each week. Hopefully, this will keep the doom and gloom at bay and help me to focus on positive moments.

During the holidays, a couple of friends organised a meet-up in London – just to hang out and catch up. Kelly and I booked tickets to a dance class linked to the Louise Dahl-Wolfe exhibition at the Fashion and Textile Museum in Bermondsey. It was great value – an hour’s dance class and access to the exhibition for fifteen quid.

A chilly day out called for an outfit of many layers: thermal vest (I get very cold), shirt, dungaree skirt, cardigan and thick jacket. I was colourful and toasty – perfect.

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We turned up (fresh from the cold) for the class based on posing in Wolfe’s photography. As we picked the earlier class, the class was quite small but I definitely think that worked in our favour. Let’s just say we worked up a good sweat and had a proper boogie – highly recommended!

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After a cool down outside, we headed back to explore the exhibition. There were many striking images throughout with photographs from the Great Depression to Old Hollywood. Upstairs there was also a small section dedicated to Dior – a lovely reminder of my time in Paris with my mum. If you’re in the area, do visit!

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From there, we hopped on the tube to Angel. We’d worked up quite an appetite so I took Kelly to Kipferl (a lovely little Austrian restaurant). Kaesekrainer and sauerkraut consumed, we met up with Leanda, Becky, Carrie, Linz and Holly. Strolling through Camden Passage, we chatted and perused the goods on offer. We even got to bump into some cute pooches!

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Next, we moved on to Brick Lane to rest our feet and consume doughnuts. This was my first time trying Crosstown Doughnuts and I was not disappointed. I had a creme brulee doughnut – it was just what I needed. After bidding farewell to the rest of the womenfolk, Kelly and I picked up some beigels before heading home. My feet were sore and my heart was happy.

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Spotlight On The Diverse World Of Pin-Up and Vintage #1

Top of my list of things to do in 2018 was to highlight vintage and pin-up lovers from different backgrounds. Well, it makes sense to address this in my first blog post of the year!

I went through the long list of people I follow online and picked out ten accounts that share something other than what Google shows when you type in the words ‘vintage’ or ‘pin-up’. There are many more accounts I could share so I’ll probably do a few additional posts in the future. I’ve linked their IG accounts and added a short description.

The Urban Pinup

Bee Jackson PhotographyImage Credit: @beejacksonphotography

Elora is a woman with many strings to her bow: pin-up, gamer, artist and a whizz with hair-styling. She’s utterly hilarious and an all-round good soul.

Ms Tiff Mischief

MstffImage Credit: @the_bella_rush

Tiff is a US-based lover of retro and vintage, who is always well turned-out. She shares her fab outfits and info about events she attends too.

Dandy Wellington

dandyImage Credit: @Nina.Galicheva.NYC

Dandy is a talented bandleader based in New York. He is always impeccably dressed – lots of style inspiration. Often he shares stories or posts about people of colour, past and present.

Pinups Of Colour

pocImage Credit: @katesepulvedavergara by @angela_altus

The Pinups Of Colour account shares posts about people of colour who enjoy pin-up/vintage style. I’ve discovered so many people through this account and there’s a ton of fashion and styling inspiration too.

Violet Chachki

violetImage Credit: @k_iphoto

If you’re a fellow Drag Race fanatic, you’ll know who Violet is. Violet is a drag queen, specialising in burlesque fantasy performances. From her hair to her shoes, her make-up to her costuming, she is exquisite.

The Desi Pinup

desiImage Credit: @thedesipinup

Laila is an Aussie pin-up, who has an array of stunning tattoos. She shares elements of her Desi background on her account, including the styling of some of her pin-up looks.

Frantasy Island

franImage Credit: @tonymckaystudios

Fran is a bright and colourful pin-up from New Zealand, who’s a hair and make-up artist. She’s also a disability advocate, sharing her experiences and thoughts on the subject.

His Vintage Touch

hvtImage Credit: @hisvintagetouch

Tony is an incredibly talented vintage hair-stylist, primping and preening an array of people. He also speaks out on issues such as racism, homophobia and transphobia.

Angel Demure

angelImage Credit: @angeldemure

Angel is a fellow vintage lover, based in the US. Not only is she well put-together, she styles her hair beautifully in a variety of ways.

Onyx Vintage Magazine

onyxImage Credit: @onyxvintagemagazine

Onyx Vintage Magazine puts a spotlight on black and brown history. Contributors to the magazine come from a variety of backgrounds. You read about anything from cherished family stories to make-up tutorials.

This is only a slight glimpse into the huge world of vintage/pin-up – there is so much out there and I hope to discover more and more. Remember that a lot of what we see is a very narrow view of a subculture.

Which accounts do you follow that show a different element of the vintage/pin-up subculture? What kind of inspiration are you looking for?

Reflections on 2017

If you took the time to read any of my blog posts over the year – THANK YOU! Papow & Flo was originally a personal project but it’s given me a platform to connect with the world and to interact with others. I have met people from far and wide and I have had so many meaningful experiences. Blogging has helped my anxiety and my confidence too. Even though this is a very small blog, I’m grateful for any support or feedback – especially if it’s had a positive impact on someone.

Now this year has been pretty full on. I had hopes about kindness, diversity and mental health for 2017 but I don’t really think they were fulfilled. I did keep my promises about buying less and being kinder to myself but I still need to do more to put spotlight on pin-ups and vintage lovers from different backgrounds.

Now, time to reflect on 2017!

Three Happy Moments:

  • Stuttgart with Kelly and Rhina – The most chilled, food-filled holiday I’ve ever had. A wonderful opportunity to catch-up with Rhina after her move to Germany and hang out with a lovely bunch of people.Stuttgart 2017_IMG_5591.jpg
  • Paris with my mum – A 26 hour trip to explore food and fashion with my mum. A great getaway and memory I’ll always treasure. Paris 2017_IMG_5129.jpg
  • Margate Weekend – My first trip to Margate with a gang of fellow vintage-lovers. Apart from the seagulls, it was a right good giggle. Margate 2017_IMG_8544.jpg

Three Most Popular Blog Posts:

Three Great Events:

Three People I Got To Know:

  • Jennifer Brough – I bumped into Jennifer when I went to Margate. Since then we’ve met up twice and I am so happy we’ve got to know each other. We talk about everything from cake to gender politics, from vintage fashion to race relations – we just seem to be on the same wave length and I love it. London 07-17_IMG_3363.jpg
  • Dandy Wellington – To begin with, we started chatting online about shared values and views on the world today. Fast forward to November, we got to sit down over afternoon tea with our partners and have a proper chin-wag face to face. It was a truly lovely occasion. Cream Tea with Dandy Wellington_IMG_5666.jpg
  • Steph Pink – I met Steph on a trip to Manchester. From then on, we chatted online a lot. We both love food and fashion but we also talk about our issues around mental health. At the end of November, we had a proper weekend in London together which cemented our friendship. We’re already planning our next meet-up.London 11-17 Steph Pink_IMG_5843.jpg

 

Three Hopes For 2018:

  • I hope politicians reflect on the current state of the world and work together to make things better (unrealistic I know).
  • I hope to see all people treated with respect and kindness – no matter who they are or what their background is.
  • I hope to see greater diversity globally but particularly in the pin-up and vintage community (same as last year but I still feel it’s something to hope for).

Three Promises For 2018:

  • I will write about issues that are important to me without apology.
  • I will take time to meet new people and spend time with people who matter to me.
  • I will further educate myself on diversity and my own background, with a view to sharing more with others.

This year has been packed and, of course, there have been many ups and downs. I’m really glad I’ve pushed myself to meet new people and I’ve developed some wonderful friendships. Here’s to a positive year ahead!

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Many Versions Of Me

Merry Christmas Eve everyone! First of all, I need to apologise for not posting last week. The end of term was incredibly busy both at home and at school so I gave myself a short break. Normal service has now resumed.

As the year has gone by, I’ve shared more about myself on social media. It’s often said that what you choose to share online is a show reel of highlights and I guess I’d like my highlights to reflect all elements of who I am – good and bad. Since my anxiety has started to improve, I’ve become a lot less self-conscious. I’ve been through periods of manically worrying about what people think of me to the point where I wouldn’t leave the house – thankfully that’s changed. I think that rather than putting a single version of myself out into the world in the hopes that people will like me, I want to be just me and people can take it or leave it. With that in mind, here I am.

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I can be bright and colourful or dark and moody. I can have gigantic hair or sleek locks. I can dress practically or impractically. I can be painted for the gods or bare-faced. I can be anywhere on the masculine-feminine spectrum. I can be ready for a photo shoot or ready for bed. I can be subtle or unsubtle. I can be a vintage vixen or high street gal. I can be tough or gentle. I can be anything in between too.

Basically, I can make myself look however I want and that can change from day to day. I know there will be elements that people will love and elements that people will hate. Ultimately, it’s about what makes YOU happy. It’s been quite liberating to share different versions of me and I’ve enjoyed discovering alternative versions of others too. I look forward to exploring more in the future!

Anyway however you’re spending the holidays, look after yourselves and be kind to each other. Oh also eat and drink to your heart’s content.

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Papow Ponders #15: Surviving Christmas

Usually when you mention teaching and Christmas, most people picture teachers flinging their planning and marking in the air and spending two weeks in their PJs doing sweet nothing. While I’d love for that to be true, the reality is quite different. In two weeks, there are family and friends to visit, appointments you can’t normally make during school hours to organise, a term’s worth of paper work to file and the usual Christmas bits and bobs to sort. If you have anxiety (like me), you also end up panicking about the term ahead.

To make sure I get some proper down time, I employ a few helpful strategies. As with all mental health issues, what works for some doesn’t always work for others.

1. Saying No
It’s very easy to over-book yourself over the Christmas break. Next week, for example, I only have one free evening. Some people thrive off of being busy but I end up either burnt out or overly anxious. Instead of squeezing as much as possible into each day, I know I have to say no sometimes. This year I won’t be travelling far from home – I’m not even making my usual trips to London. A little bit of time to yourself is necessary.

2. Positive People
At any time, I try to ensure that I spend time with people who have a positive impact on me. Over the years I’ve cut out negative relationships from my life. It sounds cold and heartless but ultimately if neither of us is benefiting, what’s the point of maintaining a relationship? It helps me to focus on those who really matters to me and makes me use my time more wisely.

3. Eat Whatever The Hell You Want
Being bullied for your weight for most of your life can make holiday feasting a time of great anxiety. A lot of my Christmas breaks have involved a lot of guilt, self-loathing and planning for a better, thinner me in the new year. I’m well and truly over that. One of my favourite things about my time off is having the ability it cook and eat with people I love. I’m not going to ruin that with diet culture demons.

4. Reverse Bucket List
I have Flo to thank for this one. Towards the end of the year, there is the tendency to either look back on the things you haven’t done that year or make plans for all the things you’re going to do the next. Reverse bucket listing is when you write down all the things you got to do during the year. I’ve done it the past two Christmases and it helps me to beat that feeling doom and gloom as the year ends.

5. Go For A Walk
As much as I love hibernating and turning my flat into a winter-proof bunker, being out in nature is the best thing for my head. I can get away from my responsibilities and just be. It also gives me the chance to have a proper natter with whoever I’m out walking with.

6. Sleep
Goes without saying. During term time, my best sleeping times are Friday and Saturday nights. The rest of the time I find it hard to sleep because of thoughts whirring through my head and I’m usually up just before my alarm. Proper solid sleep is a luxury and I plan to get as much of it as possible over the holidays.

Whatever you plan on doing over the Christmas break, make sure you look after yourself.

Girl Date In The Big City

It’s getting to that time in the school term when Christmas chaos ensues and you feel more and more exhausted. Escape needed!

During the summer holidays, I took a short trip to Manchester to meet Flick (dressmaker of my Twinwood outfit). Flick introduced me to some other vintage vixens during my visit – one of them being Steph. We’d only talked for a few hours but we got on so well that we’ve been chatting to each other ever since. Apart from being generally fabulous and a good giggle, she’s a fellow foodie and fashion lover. With that in mind, we decided not long into September that we should hang out properly – doing what we do best. One of the great things about Steph is that as an ex-teacher, she totally understands the stresses and strains of the job; I don’t feel the need to justify my need for a break to her. Fast forward to the last weekend of November and our girl date was ready to begin!

Saturday Morning

As we are a bit ridiculous, we decided to theme our outfits for the weekend – the first theme being ‘Rainbow Vomit Realness’. My dress was a five pound bargain from Frock & Roll, full of colour. Cold weather called for a a cardigan from Vivien of Holloway. I also added my new favourite jacket from House of Foxy. I want one in every colour!

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My other half was off to techie happenings in London at the same time

Our day began with brunch at Duck & Waffle. We might have had two courses of waffle. It was all so delicious, I particularly loved the ‘Full Elvis’ waffle with all of its sweet additions. A great start to the day.

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Now because I was having so much fun, I didn’t take that many photos. After brunch, we headed to Spitalfield’s to check out Collectif’s Black Friday sale. Steph picked up her dream coat and a two gorgeous dresses and I picked up a cosy jumper.

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From here, we moved on to Portobello Road. We started at The Hirst Collection (best place to find unusual brooches). I picked up a prawn brooch I’d had my eye on during my last visit. Then we moved on to What Katie Did as Steph had never been before. The staff there are so friendly – always a pleasure. Not wanting to blow our bank accounts any further, we got the tube back to our hotel to get ready for the evening.

Saturday Evening

I smoothed my hair out and added a darker lipstick to go with my evening dress from Collectif. Our evening theme was black and gold – I must admit I did feel quite glamorous. Again, I didn’t get any proper outfit photos as I was out gallivanting.

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Our dinner destination was Brasserie Zedel in Piccadilly. To quote Rachel from WKD, “It totally embodies champagne lifestyle on a ginger beer budget”. We had a very decent three course dinner for thirty quid each. My particular highlight was the Tarte Tartin – a yummy pudding of caramel, apple and pastry. I be having it again!

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After dinner, we strolled over to Bar American in Zedel. The setting was perfect for sipping cocktails. We both ordered a ‘Lady Day’ – apt. I was very happy indeed.

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When your friend won’t let you have their lucite bag

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Our final stop was Cahoots for more fun and frolics.

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Sunday

Our Sunday theme was twin-sets – both our outfits were from Lindy Bop. I’ve definitely got my eye on more of these. I took my outfit photos when I got back home.

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We met up with my good friend Kelly and walked to Brick Lane. Stop one was hot chocolate at Dark Sugars. Steph’s friend recommended it so we decided to give it a try. I was awaiting disappointment but it did not come. I was quite impressed by my salted caramel hot chocolate – though it did make my heart beat a little faster.

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Next, we went to get beigels from Beigel Bites. I picked up a load for home and munch a salt beef one straight away. They are the best beigels I’ve ever had. We stopped for a cuppa before we had to run off for our trains home.

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My weekend was not only a welcome break from work but it was the perfect opportunity to get to know Steph better. We enjoyed ourselves so much that we’re already considering our next meet-up. Thanks so much for your wonderful company, Steph – it was a perfect girl date!

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Autumn In Stuttgart: Part 2

Our Stuttgart adventure continues! You can catch up with part 1 here.

Day 3:

After yet another feast of a breakfast, our gang made the journey to Esslingen – not far out of Stuttgart.

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Yes, I had crepes straight after breakfast…but then nearly everyone else did too!

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Kelly, Rhina and I all wore the same dresses because…why not? Autumnal style in the perfect backdrop. We strolled around old buildings, including a wine cellar and a church. Esslingen is incredibly picturesque – we spent a great deal of time staring at everything around us.

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After a quick stop for some warming soup, we made the ascent up to the castle to get a better view of the town. It was steep but it was worth it! The views were spectacular and the castle grounds were a pleasure to walk round.

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As night fell, we made our way back for a local harvest festival. I have to say – I absolutely loved it. There was lots of local produce and you could try everything. The whole event was very warm and cosy; everyone was welcoming and friendly.

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After a few glasses of local wine, Rhina and Holger took us for a kebab (I wish I’d ordered a larger one!). It was the perfect end to a perfect day.

Day 4:

When we got up on Sunday, the entire flat was filled with the most delicious smell. Rhina had promised us a traditional Venezuelan breakfast and boy did she deliver! As well as traditional German fare, we were treated to home-made arepas with black beans and avocado. It was proper and it was sublime.

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Rhina and Holger kept on making it harder and harder for us to leave. As a final treat (not that we needed any more), we went for some cake and tea before taking the train to the airport.

Reflection:

As much as the food, sights and activities were great during our trip, what made it unforgettable and truly wonderful was the company. Kelly and I had really been missing Rhina since she left London and seeing her made our little gang feel whole again. When you’re apart for a while, you worry about things becoming awkward but there was none of that. The six of us had what I can only describe as the most chilled, fun and food-filled break possible. Thank you Rhina and Holger for being fantastic hosts – we hope to repay the favour very soon. Thanks as well to Kelly and Grant for being great travel companions (we can’t wait fly off again with you two in the new year).

Here’s to making memories – PROST!

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