At long last, it’s the school holidays.
Whilst not getting many days to myself whilst the holidays are here, I always anticipate the time they will afford for fun and frolics…
On Saturday, we frolicked down to London to meet up with my partner’s family for the weekend.
Whilst the rest of the gang went off to the Olympic stadium, I, not being a fan of athletics (in fact, it is second only to football in my league table of sporty dislikes) got to spend the whole day in the capital pleasing myself instead. Bliss!
I’d never been there before. But well, with a shop called Vintage Heaven as first stop, how could I resist?
A shop poised perfectly on the brink between well-stocked and obsessive-compulsive, it had everything that could be wished for in the way of vintage china, framed embroideries, kitchenware, and – yes – fabric!
I was quite tempted by this Market Day vintage curtain with it’s cast of characters…
But London prices meant that I would’ve been more than spent up having only just started my day’s wanderings.
So I was very good and restricted myself to just a cuppa at the rear of the shop, in lovely café Cake Hole.
Columbia Road is famous for it’s flower market, held every Sunday.
Being Saturday, the street had a more laid-back atmosphere.
Some shops were closed. But I popped into Choosing Keeping, a posh stationers selling handmade papers, carefully chosen books and beautiful writing implements.
I bought a lovely embossed card as a gift…
Then it was on to Ryantown…
His work, some of which is now sold as laser-cuts or screen prints as well as original hand-cut art, is still, in my opinion, the most stunningly beautiful thing to grace a wall.
But alas, I was too intimidated by the shop’s hushed atmosphere to ask if I could take pictures inside (silly perhaps, but true – I am easily intimidated).
Capturing the beauty of how the papercuts, suspended unframed from near-invisible threads, cast their delicate designs as shadows on the wall behind, I think would also have been beyond my camera and photographic skills.
You’ll just have to take my word for how nice it all was - and enjoy browsing Rob’s website instead, whence these pictures came.
I was exceedingly fond of Milagros, which was not at all intimidating, and full of treasures from Mexico including tiles, shrines, statues, mirrors, glassware and textiles…
The ceiling was strung with a different sort of papercut – papel picado…
These little silver-coloured charms are called milagros, after which the shop is named. They are religious folk charms, traditionally used for healing purposes and as votive offerings to attract good fortune.
I also bought a tiny tile – well, at just 44p it seemed rude not to…
After scoffing a bagel for sustenance, eaten whilst seated in the sunshine in the lovely little courtyard at the back of Café Columbia, it was time to wander on.
There are quite a lot of shops combining vintage with new nowadays.
But hardly any of the ones I’ve been to do it quite so well as Mason and Painter.
Having oohed and aahed my way around the shop for a bit, I chatted with the lady at the counter, who mentioned that she happened to have designed all the lovely tea towels and cushions I had just been admiring.
Amazingly, to me at least, this lady turned out to be Michelle Mason, whose rugs and cushion designs I had coveted for my house before I even owned a house!
That’s one difference about London – famous designer people seem to pop out from every nook and cranny.
You just don’t really get that in Nottingham.
After more wandering and browsing my final stop was J&B – The Shop.
It’s a place I have wanted to visit ever since reading about it’s co-proprietor Jessie Chorley via Hope and Elvis, for whom Jessie teaches occasional workshops.
The shop is not an easy place to photograph, as it’s like a dark little cave of wonders…
I have mentioned Buddug’s lovely plates before.
I then spent quite a lot of time extracting lovely garments from an almost-hidden rail at the back of the shop, and attempting to shimmy into them in the cupboard-sized kitchen that serves as changing room.
It was by no means an easy task, being clumsy and taking up 90% of the available space, but was so worth it.
I came away with a handmade frock by Jessie which, although somewhat nightie-ish on me, is perhaps the most comfortably pretty thing I have ever worn…
But time seems to slip away like water through your fingers.
And so a day to myself in London had slipped past, with the rest of it spent failing to spend my gift voucher in Heals (again) and negotiating maps and tubes to keep a post-athletics rendezvous with the family.
Days out in London are always over before you know it. Like the summer holidays.
Hence it has taken several days longer than usual to write this post, what with lad around to entertain and routines abandoned.
Alas, the days of simple trips to the park being the epitome of holiday happiness are, it seems, sadly over. Now that lad is on the brink of twelve, most of my holiday activity suggestions are met with deep sighs and rolls of the eyes, fun requiring instead much motherly patience, cash and catering skills.
So I shall cherish the memory of a day to myself in London. And I shall enjoy wearing my nightie-frock whenever I can.
Whether that embarrasses lad or not. ♥