Tentacles By The Sea – Part 1

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Half term always calls for some kind of escape – at home or abroad. For this break, @darktechsupport and I decided to spend two days in Brighton. I have been there previously but I hadn’t properly explored the area.

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We headed down on Sunday and strolled straight to the seafront! It had been forecast to rain but it was sunny and warm. I love to dress up for trips and as we were by the sea, I thought I’d go for a nautical look. Most of my nautical clothing is the traditional mix of red, white and blue but I wanted to try something different.

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It was time to bust out my octopus skirt from Unique Vintage. I loved the colour and print of this skirt as soon as I saw it. The fabric is great quality and it has got POCKETS too! Definitely a great addition to my wardrobe.

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To go with the colour scheme of the skirt, I added a purple slash-neck top from Vivien of Holloway. This would look equally good with any of the other colours in the design – I’m going to try mint next.

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For a bold design, I felt the need for subtle accessories. Neutral sandals and my vintage starfish brooch seemed appropriate.

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While I was over at Viva, I managed to win a turban from Sarah’s Doo Wop Dos. Sparkly lilac velvet was the perfect addition to this outfit – I felt pretty fabulous.

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Finally, I added a slick of purple liquid lipstick. When it’s hot, I hate wearing make-up so I generally pat my face with translucent powder and wear lippie.

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I loved everything about this outfit and I can’t want to style it again!

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Thanks as always to @darktechsupport for his great photography skills.

Green and Mustard in the Bluebells

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Last year, @darktechsupport and I looked all over the place for bluebells near our house. We ended up in a scattered patch but it wasn’t what we were hoping for. Then this year, we found our favourite walking spot was brimming with them – what a lovely surprise!

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When I was over in Vegas, I went to Buffalo Exchange. It’s a clothing exchange store and you can buy clothes there too. It’s a place you need to have a bit of a rummage through. With a little patience, I’ve been able to find a little gem each visit. This time round I found the most amazing coat but also this cute sweater for just eleven dollars. I fell for the sleeves, the colour and the cropped cut.

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Back home, I instantly knew what I wanted to pair with it. This Vivien of Holloway skirt is one of my favourite pieces in my wardrobe. I have lots of green items I could have paired with it but I love the mustard in the skirt and wanted to bring out more of it. To keep off the chill, I popped a bottle green cardigan round my shoulders.

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Keeping it simple, I added my Lillian Madison Designs brooch and brown flats.

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I thought I’d play around with my make-up a little so I added a darker lip and green eyeliner. I need to try out different make-up styles more often!

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Thanks to @darktechsupport for taking these beautiful photos. I wish you could smell the strong floral scent that filled the copse – it was magical!

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Hibiscus Happiness with Susan Phelps Photography

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Hibiscus flowers just make me happy. I always associate them with Fiji and my family, especially my grandma who has an interpretation of a hibiscus flower tattooed on her forearm (I have the same tattoo on my thigh).

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When I spotted this dress at Vivien of Holloway, I instantly fell in love! You can tell right away that these are bright, bold flowers. I love the simple colour scheme too.

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I adore a well-fitted garment and this dress is a dream – you don’t need to wear a bra with it! The skirt falls beautifully, it looks gorgeous with or without  a petticoat.

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For this shoot, I added a black cropped cardigan and simple black shoes. You could also turn this into a much more casual outfit by adding a jumper and some Converse.

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I tried a dry-set on my hair for the first time. It came out really smooth but I missed my usual frizzy curls.

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Thanks to Susan Phelps Photography for another stunning set of photos – I love them!

Viva Las Vegas #20: Saturday Part 2

After some time recovering from the heat of the Vegas sun, we popped on fresh threads and headed out for our final night. I changed my lippie to go with my gorgeous Vivien of Holloway dress and I added a hair flower to my massive ‘do.

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Having heard some great reviews, we started off at The Golden Tiki for a drink. It’s a lot bigger than Frankie’s and though I loved the decor, it didn’t feel as cosy and intimate. I’m glad we went but Frankie’s has a special place in my heart!

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When we got to The Orleans, we had a final stroll around the vendors while it was quiet. Here I met Bettina (Miss Lulu Heart) who was such a pleasure to talk to! Then we bumped into the gorgeous Kara again (she has the loveliest smile!).

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Flo was really excited to see Wanda Jackson so we got to the Mardi Gras Ballroom early to get a good spot. On the dance floor, we saw a boy strolling in such fantastic style – everyone around us was loving it. We got chatting to a few other people waiting for Wanda, which made time fly by. Eventually, the great woman herself came on stage to rapturous applause. As well as her own songs, she also sang tunes by Elvis and Amy Winehouse. It was an amazing set and we got to hear some of her stories too. We didn’t get any photos – just got into the session!

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Feeling the week catch up with us, we headed back to Alder and Birch to repeat our fabulous Friday meal.

I know there are things that we missed out on and we could have crammed so much more in but I honestly don’t regret any of it. I had one hell of a holiday with my better half and my pin-up wifey – I could not have asked for more!

 

Viva Las Vegas #20: Saturday Part 1

As it was Viva and we didn’t know when we’d next be back, Flo and I booked in with Heads Will Roll salon to get our hair and make-up done for our last full day of Viva. It was quite nice to walk to The Rio in the sunshine with a bare face.

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After an hour and a half (and a lot of hairspray and bobby pins), my look was complete! To say I loved it is an understatement – it was so much better than I could have imagined! My hair was huge and strong-holding and my make-up was bright and bold to go with my dress for the day.

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I love this dress so much – it’s from Alexandra Vintage (sadly now closed down).

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Glamorised, we grabbed @darktechsupport and got an Uber to The Orleans for the car show. It was seriously hot – we’d all slapped on sun cream, grabbed parasols and took huge bottles of water with us. Shopping was our first port of call so we perused the many stalls for pretties to take home.

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Saying hello to Miss Lillian Love

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Shurlee Sweet – what a stunner!
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Gals from ‘The Bonnit’

Later on, we stood and watched the pin-up contest. I placed my first and only bet with a few onlookers on who would win (no money changed hands) but I lost!

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We took a very necessary ice cream break from the sun and then lined up to get back into the car show. This time we went walking among the cars, people watching and soaking up the sun.

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Gotta see Elvis officiate a wedding when in Vegas!

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We were pretty happy bunnies – I just don’t think we’re used to so much heat and sun!

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Up next – our final night at Viva.

Viva Las Vegas #20: Friday Part 2

In new threads, we lined up for the 6pm Burlesque Showcase. So many people were dressed to impress – boy, there were a lot of sequins! I changed my lipstick on and slipped on this gorgeous dress by Scarlet Rage Vintage.

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Dita Von Teese was due to perform in the evening but, due to her big name status as a performer, we thought she’d be in the finale. On the fourth row from the front, we sat with baited breath as the curtain rose.

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There she was, sparkling in the spotlights, resplendent in our gaze – the queen of burlesque. I gawped while swearing and squeezing Flo and @darktechsupport’s hands!

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We also saw several other acts including a set of Star Wars-inspired burlesque acts by The Star Girls (bizarre but brilliant!).

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Immodesty Blaze performed in fabulous style. Dita returned for a stunning finale – all eyes were on her!

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On the way out, I managed to bump into Jenny Rieu who was waiting for the 9pm show. She’s so beautiful and just lovely!

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Stunned and a little overwhelmed, we wandered over to the pub in The Orleans. It was such a warm and lovely atmosphere; there were friends dancing and people chatting as music played. We bopped and wiggled as we waited for Los Rhythm Rockets to start up. Finally, the band arrived on stage and the crowd was buzzing! We stayed for the entirety of their set – I loved every minute.

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After the pub, we went upstairs to catch the end of Si Cranstoun’s set, which included one of my favourite tunes – ‘Let’s Twist again’. The ballroom was busy but it was worth coming up to take in the last few tunes!

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On the way back downstairs, I saw Pinup Doll Ashley Marie. I’ve followed her make-up and hair tutorials on YouTube for ages; I’ve always admired her honesty and down-to-earth manner.

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Tired and starving, we went Alder and Birch for much-needed steak and cocktails. A perfect end to a perfect day.

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Next up – Saturday’s car show.

Viva Las Vegas #20: Friday Part 1

Friday was seriously full-on and it started early! As this was the 20th anniversary of Viva, the Burlesque Showcase was brimming with fantastic performers and we were adamant that we were going to get a seat. Armed with tea, coffee and my notebook, we camped out in the queue from 6.20am.

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As it was so early, I wasn’t going to get into full hair and make-up. To stay comfy and presentable, I covered my rollers with this turban from Sarah’s Doo Wop Dos and popped on this wonderful forties housecoat from Frock&Roll.

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Again, company made a boring wait bearable – this time we talked with a mother and daughter from the UK and we shared some travel tips for their later trip to San Francisco. After nearly three hours, we got our tickets and skipped off to a much-needed brunch at Makers and Finders – again!

Full up and more awake, we returned to our hotel to get ready for more fun at The Orleans. I went bold and bright with this vintage dress I picked up from a stall at Goodwood Revival.

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When we got to The Orleans, the fashion show was already half way through but we got to catch the tail-end of Ains and Elke StyleHaus’s collection while @darktechsupport was setting up his camera. Olivia was modelling a long red dress and she just looked WOW! In addition, we saw an amazing collection from Prettie Lanes, as well as clothing from Swearing Parrot and Secrets In Lace. I was so excited to see Jenny Rieu modelling – she’s such a babe.

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Swearing Parrot

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Prettie Lanes

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Secrets In Lace

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After all the glamour of the fashion show, we decided to take a breather and go bowling. There was an offer on at Viva: for $5, you got two games and a slice of pizza – who could say no to that?

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Part way through our game, I spotted Helen. I’d met her previously at the Christmas Tiki Meet-up in the UK – she has amazing taste in clothes and I always envy the white streak in her hair! She and her husband also looked very happy to be attending Viva.

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Feeling the need to change outfits for the Burlesque Showcase, we returned to our hotel.

Next up – the Burlesque Showcase and Los Rhythm Rockets.

Papow Ponders #10: Self- Preservation

Note: This post will go into issues such as morbidity, loss, global crisis and generally heavy stuff.

Since I was quite young, I’ve had a massive fear of losing loved ones. This fear has often left me thinking ‘what’s the point?’. Much of my teens was spent angry and despondent or very sensitive and emotional. I would picture members of my family dying; think about what I’d say at their funerals; and imagine my life in the aftermath of their deaths. This happened on a near-daily basis. I was never comfortable talking about it because I imagined everyone would think I was crazy. There wasn’t a great deal of change until at the age of seventeen I started seeing a counsellor when my dad left. Originally, it was so I could find ways of coping with our dysfunctional relationship. My counsellor was lovely though and in our final two sessions I was able to open up to her about my morbid feelings. She proceeded to tell me that I needed to focus on my family in the moment rather than thinking about the future – if I continued being a morbid soul, I would only make them miserable and drive them away. It was a revelation; that conversation changed my life and my outlook on my relationships. It worked…for a while.

In my first year of teaching, a very good friend died. I knew people who had died before but I never knew them well and I didn’t really have any connection with them. This was very different. For the first time in my life, I understood that death meant no coming back – there is space left behind, an emptiness. I saw the impact it had on loved ones. I also learned that I had absolutely no power to make it better. No amount of words, meals, days out, nothing can take that pain from the person who is feeling it. Not only did it make me feel powerless to help, I also started to panic about everyone around me.

Not long  after, I started to double check if I’d kissed my husband before I went to work. I thought (and sometimes still think) that if I didn’t, he’d die feeling unloved – that would make me feel horrifically guilty. Increasingly, I worried about my mum on her commutes or having an accident at work – I had to make sure I said ‘I love you’ on the phone every time I spoke to her (I still do). I began to obsess over people’s diets, thinking that what they were eating would put them in a early grave. I was quite horrible to be around.

Pressures at work made things even worse. Now instead of just thinking that everyone I loved would die, I thought that somehow I could cause their death. I’d leave a floor wet and they’d slip; I’d get them to meet me in a horrible place and they’d get attacked; I’d leave a knife in the dishwasher and they’d slip and impale themselves on it. I thought about these things all the time – sometimes they were quiet thoughts but sometimes they screamed in my head.

I was very pleased though as all of my rituals were working because nothing bad had happened to anyone else and if I kept this up, no-one else would be lost. That didn’t happen sadly.

On my wedding day, a few of my family members and I noticed my grandma looking a little bit lost and out of it. I assumed it was the hubbub of the event and lots of new people around her. As the months went by, she started repeating herself and asking questions that had already been answered. I really desperately wanted to ignore it – all of us did. We couldn’t and she was diagnosed with dementia.

My grandma is very very special to me. I swear she has magical powers. She’s always made me feel like I could do anything. She never laughed at my ideas, she never shouted me down. My grandma was always there with a knowing smile and, of course, a delicious plate of food. She was the kind of person to wake up at six in the morning and wash windows on the tallest ladder, to nurse a poorly pigeon back to health and cry when it died, to welcome anyone into her home and feed them. She swore and gave as good as she got to anyone who crossed her. She left her country with her one year old child to build a better life – and she did.

What happened? We started losing her and we continue to lose her. I don’t want to go into detail but she is still her – just not who she used to be. I’ve lost part of my mum with her too. That emptiness eats away and as much as you try, you can’t make things as they were before. My obsessions and rituals are pointless because the worst is happening – I am losing part of my family, part of my heart.

I currently flit between bursts of all-encompassing sadness, anger, numbness and blissful ignorance. I wish I were in her place so I wouldn’t have to witness what’s happening. I wish I had seen the signs sooner so i could have done something to stop it. I am angry that it’s happened to her – honestly, the loveliest, most selfless person I have ever met. Losing her has strengthened my belief that there can’t possibly be a god – if there were, why would they let something so so terrible happened to someone so wonderful. It’s not right.

This is where self-preservation comes in – I’m trying not to drown. I feel guilty when I don’t see my grandma but each time I see her, my head falls into a hole that I struggle to crawl out of. I don’t want it to be like this. I want to go back to making rotis with her. I want to go back to sitting on the kitchen top licking a spoon while she tells me how to bake syrup sponge for the fiftieth time. I want to go back to lying on her legs while she took an afternoon nap. I want to go back to when we lived together at uni and she’d always welcome me home with open arms. I can’t go back now – no matter how hard I want it, I can’t.

Now, my focus is going on my family, my job and my friendships. I can’t live in memories and hopes. It is what it is. The world is in some strange and horrible place currently and it can all take its toll. If I want to stay away from my darkest thoughts, I need to keep busy and try not to dwell. I’ll have moments like now when I sit sobbing a hot stream of tears but I can’t let it take over. On the outside, I may seem superficial, care-free and unburdened – it’s just one of the ways I find to cope. Painting a face on, talking about something light and eating cake – pure escapism. If I spend too much time with my thoughts, they won’t let me go.

I’m not sure if any of this makes sense but I felt the need to get it off my chest.

 

Viva Las Vegas #20: Thursday

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After a quick change of lippie, we headed off to The Orleans for our first night out at Viva. Excited, we took in the atmosphere and looked at all the gorgeous people milling around the casino. Looking to do a bit of shopping, we headed up to the vendor rooms. It quickly got crowded as people waited for the rooms to open. It wasn’t too bad as we got chatting to a couple from near Sunderland – they’d been going to Viva for a while and shared some of their pearls of wisdom with us. Finally, we got into the vendor rooms and I managed to pick up a few things (I’ll be doing a separate post about my Viva buys later on). The crowds got too much after half an hour so we escaped downstairs.

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At the Mardi Gras bar, I met up with Alixis of Ains & Elke Stylehaus and her friend Olivia for the Pin-ups Of Colour meet-up. To say I was overjoyed is an understatement. It was so so good to meet up with ladies from all over the place to share our stories and get to know one another in person – definitely one of my Viva highlights!

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Alixis of Ains & Elke StyleHaus – clothing wizard and all-round lovely human
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The delightful Tiffany with her stylish mum, Angela – seriously beautiful ladies

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From the left: Alexis, Olivia, Miss Tammi Savoy, Brittney and Elena
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Elena is utterly hilarious and just gorgeous!
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Elena with her husband, ‘The Norm’ – the most adorable couple
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Kara in pink and Joanna in the floral sarong next to her
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You couldn’t ask to meet a lovelier bunch of women!

Once we had parted ways, our trio queued up for Burlesque Bingo. While we were in line for just over half an hour, I got talking to a guy called Daniel from California. Like many others, this was not his first Viva. We had a long conversation about teaching as he was getting ready to train as an SEN teacher – I swear I always meet fellow educators on holiday! Not really sure what to expect, we took our seats with bingo cards and pens in hand. Let’s just say it was titillating, tongue ‘n’ cheek and an interesting introduction to burlesque for those who haven’t seen it before.

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Next up – Friday’s fashion show and bowling.

Viva Las Vegas #20: Pre-Viva Part 3

Daytime Thursday

Thursday morning began with a painfully early start as we had a morning shoot with Made In Eighty (Lars). We were given an address and got there at 6am. Lars headed off for a nap while the bright and beautiful Lainebeautyfx (Laine) got to work on our hair and make-up. I’d wet-set my hair the night before to save on time – I went for a 50s/60s style. Laine is one talented lady, I felt transformed!

While we were shooting, we also got chatting to @photosbyana_j and @silverscreenvanity – a pair of stunners preparing for the following photo shoot.

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My dress is from Scarlet Rage Vintage – a fantastic vintage seller based in the UK.

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Needing to refuel, we took an Uber straight to The Pepper Mill. One of the shopkeepers from The Glam Factory recommended it so we thought we’d give it a try. On arrival, we could tell it was popular as there was a twenty minute wait but we didn’t mind as we could wait in their interesting cocktail lounge. As we were on holiday, it seemed perfectly normal to have cocktails before 12pm!

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We all wolfed down breakfast – I had eggs with chorizo which is one of the best food combinations going!

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Human again, we thought we should have one more trip to Frankie’s (only to pick up souvenir mugs…).

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Two drinks later, we swung back to our hotel to get ready for our first night of Viva antics.

Up next – Burlesque Bingo and vendors.