Birthday Bonanza 2017

As I’ve got older, I’ve become less and less fussed about my own birthday. Being the centre of attention isn’t my idea of fun and I’d much rather spoil other people! My idea of a great celebration is being around people I love, eating yummy things and having a giggle – this year’s birthday was just that!

OOTD

I love dressing up anyway but I thought I’d whip out my Vivien of Holloway Lana dress. There are lots of colours in this print so I can pair it with a variety of accessories – like my epic birthday pin from @darktechsupport. I added a teal Jenny cardigan to keep the chill off.

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Duck &Waffle

I love food – good food. My life basically revolves around what I want to wear and what I want to eat. I follow blogger @notsobasiclondon on IG and I trust all of her food suggestions, Duck & Waffle being on of them. My sister had already heard of the restaurant and was more than happy to come along. I have to say it was ruddy delicious, though I was most upset that I couldn’t finish my pudding because I was so full!

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Oh now I really want to go eat all of this again!

BOBBA Exhibition

Brick Lane wasn’t far from the restaurant at all and I knew that @burntrotimag had their ‘Beauty Of Being British Asian’ exhibition taking place there. Last week’s post was about my own feelings on being British Asian – you can read about it here. The exhibition itself was weirdly emotional, my sister felt the same way. It’s that feeling of not being alone, of finding common ground – it was welcoming and home-like. From the artwork, we were able to identify part of ourselves but also find differences from our own upbringing. I’m really glad I went, it was an eye-opening experience.

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Soofiya Andry
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Shaheen Kasmani

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Cahoots

My sister headed back home after we mooched about on Oxford Street. My better half and I headed to The Department of Coffee and Social Affairs off Carnaby Street – a place we stumbled upon a few years ago. It was so good to sit and chat about absolutely everything for a couple of hours. After that, we strolled around Soho and had a browse in a great comic book shop. Finally we got to Cahoots! It was pretty fabulous…

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My face says delirium, his face says mildly awkward

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So many cocktails – decisions are tricky!

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Thumbs up

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Soused

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This one tasted like a liquid fruit pastille
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Boozy garden in a glass

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My favourite – bloody fruity and zingy!

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Yeah – it was a great birthday, no doubt! A massive thank you to @darktechsupport and my sister for organising and enjoying everything with me. I loved every second of it.

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Oh We Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside!

Summer has officially arrived in Britain – last week it was ridiculously hot! Carrie and Leanda from Yesterday’s Gals (a fab Facebook  group for vintage lovers) decided to organise a June meet-up by the sea. It felt quite far away but last weekend arrived quickly. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect as reports and assessments meant a break was definitely needed.

On Saturday morning, my better half and I packed an overnight bag and got the car ready for our drive to our Air B&B in Margate. As we were headed to the seaside, I had to dress for the occasion! From the back of my wardrobe, I dug out an old but firm favourite Laura Ashley dress. I love the beach hut print and also the fact the colours aren’t traditional red, white and navy. To keep off the chill, I added a cropped cardigan and my fabulous custom brooch from Lillian Madison designs.

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First stop of the day was Broadstairs. @darktechsupport and I arrived around eleven so we met up with the wonderful Leanda and the lovely Linz. As we are classy folk, we decided to get some tea and cake for breakfast at Bessie’s Tea Parlour. It was seriously good.

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After cake, we met up with everyone else and explored Broadstairs. We might have had ice cream for lunch.

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Linz
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Leanda

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Morellis Ice Cream Parlour

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Margate was up next. We had a big old mooch around, dinner in a diner, wind-swept ciders and a good giggle.

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A chance encounter with the adorable Jennifer

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I’m really not a fan of seagulls
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In fact, I fear them

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Linz – queen of the roller disco!

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Dreamland

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By the time it got to nine o’clock, we were pretty exhausted so we headed off for looong night’s sleep! The next day, @darktechsupport and I strolled around Margate and had some seriously yummy pizza.

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The Shell Grotto – it was spooky!

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The Greedy Cow
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Peony Vintage – might have picked up something here…

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The yummiest pizza!

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We had such a great break. The internet can be a bit of a nightmare at times but then it can also get you in touch with some great like-minded people. It’s a little odd sometimes, meeting people you’ve only ever seen on a screen but after a while you realise you’re just humans hanging out, trying to muddle through life. I’m definitely looking forward to more meet-ups with these guys!

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I’m pretty sure my husband was laughing at me while he was taking this

Viva Las Vegas #20: Pre-Viva Part 1

Preparation

Before we headed off to Las Vegas, I did a bit of prep-work. Normally when I travel to a completely new country or area, I pick up a Lonely Planet guide and read it from cover to cover. I focus on my areas of interest: nature, walks, local and independent places to eat and interesting shopping spots. Once I’ve done this, I make a list including my better half’s picks. Then, we find the location of these places and pin them on an offline Google map – this helps us to get a feel for the area and plan places to go more efficiently. We also look on Google Maps for nearby places, checking photos and reviews to help us make decisions. Now as this was Viva, we also looked through the entire Viva schedule for our top things to do and scheduled them in too.

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As an obsessive list-maker for holiday packing, I also made a detailed packing list. Not included on the list is the extra suitcase we packed for our purchases abroad!

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Monday

We flew out from Gatwick airport at 11am. For the flight, I wore a very comfy vintage dress, a red Vivien of Holloway cardigan and my red Converse. I didn’t want to crush my curls during the flight so I pinned up my hair haphazardly and added this handy turban from Sarah’s Doo Wop Dos. Even though we were tired, we were so excited to finally be going to Vegas. When we landed, we got some food and headed straight to bed.

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Tuesday

In the morning, Flo had a helicopter flight to the Grand Canyon so @darktechsupport and I headed to the arts district for brunch and mooching. I wore my Vivien of Holloway dress, black Converse and an old M&S denim jacket.

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This area of Vegas is most definitely one of my favourites; it’s quieter, full of independents and pedestrian-friendly. My favourite brunch and coffee place has to be Makers and Finders – we loved it so much that we went there four times during our stay. If you’re ever in Vegas, go there!

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We strolled around lots of spots, picking up some things from Buffalo Exchange and The Glam Factory. Both of us wanted to pick up some furniture from Retro Vegas but the shipping would have been a nightmare!

Once Flo got back from her epic flight, we headed out to explore The Strip. The scale of Vegas is like nothing I’ve experienced before – with the heat as well, it was not easy to walk all over the city. Unlike other places I’ve visited, Vegas doesn’t have particularly cheap or widespread public transport. Staying off-strip meant we had to take an Uber from place to place but we managed to grab a day’s bus pass for exploring the main casinos. We started off with brunch at Roxy’s Diner in The Stratosphere – the malts were so so good!

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After that, we headed off to Circus Circus and watched a balancing act. Then we went to The Flamingo.

Finally, we walked around The Strip taking in some of the sights. If I’m completely honest, this part of Vegas didn’t really do it for me. It all seemed a little strange to me – I didn’t get what was drawing people in. I guess it’s a city based around money so it would be natural for it to feel really corporate – I just don’t think it was for me! Also smoking is legal indoors which I really did not enjoy (my clothes and hair reeked so much).

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Back at the hotel for a bit of a breather, we had a quick change of outfit and headed to Frankie’s Tiki Room. I wore this gorgeous Collectif dress with my new-to-me bag from The Glam Factory.

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I bloody loved this place! The drinks were just delicious (try a ‘Scurvy’ if you go), the atmosphere was friendly and relaxed and there were great tunes playing all evening. After only two drinks, we were quite merry so we headed back to the hotel to get some rest.

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Next up on the blog – Wednesday with His Vintage Touch!

Papow Ponders #8: Battling My Brain

Well, tomorrow I’m off to Vegas with Flo and @darktechsupport for my first (and possibly only) Viva Las Vegas. Since my school holidays never really line up with Viva, we made sure to book tickets when the dates actually worked. We’ve been planning this trip for well over a year and the excitement has been building and building. In preparation for the whole experience, I turned to social media for a little education. To say I’ve been overwhelmed is an understatement.

I’ve watched tons of YouTube videos, read blog after blog and flicked through Instagram – now I feel totally out of my league. I’ve started to question myself a lot.

  • Am I too big?
  • Am I polished enough?
  • Do I seem approachable?
  • Will people judge me if I dance badly?
  • Are my clothes appropriate?
  • Will people think I look ridiculous?
  • Will my anxiety become too much?
  • What if my hair and make-up skills aren’t up to scratch?
  • What if I don’t have enough accessories?
  • What if I have a meltdown?

I am by no means a perfectionist in my day-to-day styling but I’m one of the only people in my town to dress the way that I do. Going from my comfort zone to a 24/7 glamour onslaught is becoming quite intimidating.

Now, the logical human in me is saying, “Good god girl, get a grip!”,  but my insidious, anxious brain is screaming so much louder.  It’s telling me that I’m inadequate, that I’m a waste of space and that I shouldn’t even bother leaving my flat. Starting to pack this week has left me with a tight chest and sweaty palms. Boy, do I know that there are so many more important issues worldwide – but my brain has the terrible ability to make mountains out of mole hills.

When I’m with people I know, I don’t feel so paranoid and I can relax. With big, new groups, my head swims with insecure thoughts. Usually after a meet-up, I have a day after to mentally unwind. Knowing that I’ve got four straight days is adding to my nervousness!

Why put myself through it? I know I’ll regret it if I don’t – it’s an opportunity that may never come again. I’ll be spending time with my better half and my pin-up wifey doing the things we love to do: exploring, eating, mooching, laughing and making memories. Why let my brain ruin it?

To prevent meltdowns and panics, I’ve given myself a positive action list:

  1. Drink plenty of water (I find it helps my brain take a break).
  2. Go for a stroll.
  3. Listen to loud music (the shoutier the better).
  4. Repeat the mantra – I am a stone in a stream (this got me through uni finals).
  5. Tell Flo or @darktechsupport if I’m feeling anxious.
  6. Locate quiet spaces to go to if I need them.
  7. People-watch (my favourite activity – makes me less concerned about what I’m doing).

I’ve had a great deal of advice and positivity from friends and people on-line which I’m really grateful for! As we head off for our little adventure, I’ll do my best to focus on the good stuff – life’s too short not to.

Cake At Kew #1: A Photo Story

A few months ago, a couple of vintage-loving gals suggested a picnic meet-up at Kew Gardens in London. On Saturday, we were finally able to get together – huge thanks to Leanda, Amelia and Rhina for their brilliant organisational skills! Here are @darktechsupport‘s wonderful images from the day.

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Keep an eye out for a follow-up post on Sunday – you can find out more about these fabulous femmes then!

A Little Meet-Up with The Vintage Girl

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I’ll be blunt – I’m terrible at making friends. As some of you know, I have social anxiety and I’m quite awkward so that doesn’t really help! I don’t have many friends but the ones I do have are very precious to me indeed. As one of my resolutions this year was to buy less and do more, I decided to get to know some of my acquaintances a little better.

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I’d met Holly at the first Tiki Pin-Up meeting but it was really brief. The second time round, we actually managed to have more of a conversation. After a bit of chit-chat online, I plucked up some courage and suggested a meet-up.

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For our day out, I put on my beloved Collectif jacket and my new Vivien of Holloway cherry tartan circle skirt with my Dr Martens to stomp about in.

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In contrast to my head-to-toe repro look, Holly donned a Canterbury Tycora sweater (1950s), a 1959 Jonathan Logan dress, a Carl of New York 1947 coat, a Jane Shilton handbag, Marks and Spencer shoes, a 1940s red beret and a 1950s Coachhouse trail scarf.

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We ended up spending the day in Wallingford. My lovely other half @darktechsupport came along too. After getting out of our cars, we went on the hunt for tea. We came across the loveliest pottery cafe which served up the scrummiest Victoria sponge – we will be back!

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After that, we mooched up a storm – especially at the Lamb Arcade. Now in terms of my vintage buying, I usually go along the lines of if I like it – I buy it. Holly is incredibly knowledgable about vintage fashion (a true geek). Here are her top tips for buying vintage:

1. Know your labels.

2. Try ANYTHING.

3. Buy what you love but look ahead – invest.

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Holly managed to grab herself a vintage shirt and a great handbag . She even managed to find me a vintage Liberty print dress – what a bloody brilliant find!

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I think it’s safe to say that we’ll be meeting up again. More than the mooching and the usual vintage/pin-up natter, we had one of those proper discussions about life and it’s good to be able to talk about the heavy stuff as well as the lighter stuff with someone.

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Cacao Papow meets Cherry Dollface

I’m not one for big birthday celebrations – a good meal and decent conversation always make me happy. Last year though, an amazing birthday opportunity came up and I couldn’t say no!

Cherry Dollface had announced her UK tour earlier in the year and luck would have it that she was in Bristol the day before my birthday. Let’s just say I didn’t need much persuading to book a session and, of course, Flo hopped along too.

I’ve always had a love of vintage clothing and non-mainstream fashion. When I started blogging and getting into shooting with my better half, I watched lots of Cherry’s videos on posing, modelling and wardrobe. Since then I’ve found my own way of doing things but as a starting point, I found her videos incredibly useful.

The day arrived. With a ton of outfits in hand, Flo, @darktechsupport and I set off on a road trip to Bristol. My session was first – I was ready to be glamorised!

First of all, I had my hair set into curls. While it cooled, I had my make-up done. I really enjoy the process of being painted, the transformation process fascinates me. I didn’t need to bring anything with me – Cherry had colours that matched my skin tone perfectly.

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Once my make-up was finished, it was time to finish up the hair. I’d looked at so many hairstyles before my session but I finally settled on a forties half-poodle as I’d always been a little fearful of trying out a poodle myself. After the hair and make-up had been completed, I felt like a goddess!

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Flo then had her time with Cherry while I had some photos taken. The atmosphere was really relaxed and we could just hang out and chit-chat throughout our sessions – I even had time to munch a pastry.

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Meeting someone you’ve been a fan of online in real life is a little odd. I felt like a nervous fangirl and I didn’t really know what to do with myself for the first five minutes. After that however, I calmed down and actually got to enjoy the experience. Cherry is very down-to-earth and incredibly easy to talk to, which made this experience all the better!

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From my previous experience with photographers, it takes a while to warm up and relax in front of a camera with a new person behind it. Having my better half and Flo with me definitely helped. When Flo and I got our images to choose from afterwards, there were lots of portraits so I requested a wider choice of images, including full-length outfits and greater detail on the hair.

These were the results by Holly Matthews Photography:

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I really loved meeting Cherry and I’ve been able to recreate this hair since my shoot so I learned something new as well!

After our shoot, we were in desperate need of food. We had the most delicious quesadillas ever! Full up, we headed home. Once we got out of the car, @darktechsupport managed to get some snaps of us in natural light.

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What do you think? I had lots of fun and I was glad to finally meet one of my pin-up idols!

Flo will be sharing her views and photos of her Cherry Dollface experience in an upcoming blog post.