Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Pleasant diversions

The last couple of weeks have been a bit of a wash out. What with lack of sleep, stress and then full-blown flu to contend with, I've been doing very little (other than watching back to back Upstairs Downstairs for 5 days solidly) and have barely left the house!
However, there have been a few diversions that I thought worth sharing;

1. Date your Singer
I hadn't realised until recently that Singer sewing machines can be aged using their serial numbers. Virtually everyone I know seems to have one of these up in the loft or even on their sewing tables and they're all a bit different. Mine was inherited from my Grandmother and I think it belonged to her Mother. I rarely use it now that I have an all singing, all dancing model of my own, but it's a permanent fixture in my sewing room.
I used this website to date it and and found the following information;
Factory Name: Kilbowie Clydebank, Scotland
Class (model): 99K
Quantity: 10000
Allotted Date: January 3, 1935
I still have the original manual, but Singer have copies of most of the manuals they've issued over the years free to download on the same site.
Interestingly, Tina at What-I-Found has just posted up a whole load of adverts for Singer accessories from the 1920s which show two gadgets on my machine - the lamp and the electric motor. It's lovely to see adverts for things like this that have always been a fixture. I wonder if my Great-Grandmother had to save up for the gadgets, or maybe the whole thing was a gift. It's also amazing to think that something made 76 years ago still works better than my swanky new machine. They really don't make 'em like they used to...
2. South Riding
If you've failed to watch the start of this series, I recommend you get over to BBC iPlayer sharpish. It's a lighthearted drama set in 1930s Yorkshire, in a small town on the coast.
The scenery is charming and perfectly suited and as Gemma has pointed out, the costumes are wonderful and more reflective of what ordinary people would wear and therefore more representative of the sorts of look most of us manage to achieve without Hollywood stylists following us around. On at 9pm on Sundays it clashes with Being Human (best TV on the box at the moment), but that's what iPlayer was made for eh?

3. Beautiful and Damned
In a break from Upstairs Downstairs (seriously, I've watched the first 3 series and have been at it since the 19th Feb...that show just goes on and on) I saw this pop up on BBC iPlayer. It's a documentary about the 'Bright Young People' of the roaring 20s in London. Decadent, beautiful and ultimately doomed, it's a fascinating insight into a niche culture which spawned artists like Waugh and Beaton. The film and photos used in the programme were superb and I thoroughly enjoyed the whole thing. Highly recommended if it comes round again!

4. Buttons galore
I was confined to home, so I shopped. What else is a girl to do? My main obsession this week has been with buttons. I didn't have enough. Now I have enough to last me till 2056.

5. Street art
Clearing out my phone's photo memory was what I was reduced to after a week of bed rest. I found lots of great shots I'd forgotten I'd taken, and amongst them, this beauty from a local Organic Supermarket's car park.

6. Exhibitionism
On Friday I had agreed I'd go with my new reenactment group the North Somerset Museum to put on a display about the 2nd World War. I got to stand with my friend Cathy and talk all about a woman's place in war, and (happily) clothes and fashions.
Cathy brought along 3 beautiful outfits and we had fun telling all the children about the rabbit fur cloak made from rabbits raised in a back garden for food. Waste not, want not!
I was amazed at the number of women who came past and said that they loved the style of the clothes and wished they were more popular now. It's great that people like it, but why not cast off your jeans and trainers for a day out if you feel like that? I just don't understand people sometimes! I enjoyed myself immensely and was very pleased that I was able to answer so many questions about the war and fashions off the cuff. My endless reading about old dresses is obviously paying off!


  1. Pleased that you are on the mend. HOW many buttons??? ha ha ha. I really need see about a "living history" type thang... hmmmm..

  2. I love South Riding, its brilliant tv - I hope the BBC plan to make more episodes and that this isn't a one off series. Your re-enactment group sounds great, I wish we had one locally.

  3. Love South Riding and love Beautiful and Damned. I became slightly obsessed with Stephen Tennant after I first watched it!

    That is some serious buttonage.....

  4. Glad you are feeling better, love your Singer and your buttons.

  5. Love the singer. And thanks for the reminder about the South Riding. I totally missed it so far.

  6. Thanks for the tip about South Riding...I'd overlooked it. I too have been back to backing Upstairs Downstairs this winter, just can't get enough. Get well soon!

  7. A girl can never have too many buttons in her stash =) And the shoes were wonderful!

    "South riding" sounds very interestinf, I really hope they'll take it up here in Sweden. It usually takes a while, though. For example, they're just airing the last "season" (3 episodes) of Foyle's war.

    Hope you get well soon!

  8. Hello,
    This is my first visit here. I like your post on things that cheer you up. It cheered me up. Result.
    I love the shoes from Primark. There is a cream pair with ruffles that are particularly fetching. Leather is much better for the feet. They occasionally do nice retro look frocks, but I am guessing you know that.
    I wish I could watch South Riding. I no longer live in the UK so miss lots of good telly. I am wondering if it based on book by Winifred something or other. I heard something on Rdio 4 I think.
    I have a Singer but sadly not one of the old beauties.