Last Pop Of Summer

Rome Vintage Outfit 12It’s officially the end of Summer. This Tuesday was the Autumn Equinox, that time of year where I usually look forward to wrapping up in layers and digging the woolies out from the back of my wardrobe. Checking my Instagram feed I’ve began to see hot chocolate instead of ice cream and ankle boots instead of flip flops from you all back home.

In Rome, we’ve still got temperatures in the high twenties so I’m a little disconnected from the usual routine. That said, last night we had a crazy thunderstorm (they really are so much more intense here and they go on for hours!) so Autumn should hopefully be here soon.

So, in contrast, introducing the last post of the Summer!

Rome Vintage Outfit 17Ask an Italian and they’ll tell you this Summer was much colder than usual and rather disappointing. If that’s true, then thank god!  It was bloody hot, I’m not sure how I would have survived anything much hotter.

As for clothes, I lived in bikini’s, sandals and loose cotton dresses to cover up when sighting seeing or walking to and from the beach. Not actually owning much of this type of clothing (there just isn’t the demand for it in Coventry), everyday was an easy and rather liberating choice.
Salt Water Sandals 3Rome Vintage Outfit 4skirtThis has got to be one of my favourite vintage dresses, originally bought from Freshmans Boutique in Sheffield (remember that uni friends?!) it started out allocated to the party dress section of my wardrobe. These days I find the 100% cotton and loose cut makes it perfect for scorching hot days. Label by Pop Vintage so I suspect it’s remade from vintage fabric – good work on find that kaleidoscopic pattern guys, I’ll never get tired of it.

It’s an uncomplicated outfit, simply paired with a pair of white Salt Water Sandals which I treated myself to a few months ago. I love their traditional style and they’ve really withstood a battering of sun, sand and seawater. Recommended.

Rome Vintage Outfit 25So let’s wrap up with some postcards from an Italian Summer…San Felice Circeo Old Town The view from the old town in San Felice Circeo. I also spent a few weeks further afield and travelled to the region of Puglia which (think of a map!) is the heel of the boot. PugliaPuglia sunsetPuglia DolceGood food is everywhere you look in Italy – and in every place I’ve visited I’ve been told “Oh, the mozzarella is very famous here”. Everytime.

Locorotunda PugliaScooter South ItalyTrulli Puglia Puglia is well known for this type of white brick building called Trulli, the distinctive dome rooves are topped (and sometimes painted) with different symbols, each from different religious meanings. Puglia Puglia StreetPuglia ChurchIMG_1791italian tilesIMG_1863If beautiful towns comprised of maze like streets is your thing, then Puglia is the region to visit. I also think it is impossible for Italians to be far from the sea in Summer, so of course there’s plenty of gorgeous beaches too.
Puglia rock beach

Burnt Sienna

Emma (14)Just when you think you’ve got the hang of this living in a new country thing, when you no longer get stumped by public transport and when you can find your way through a maze of side streets by instinct, Rome likes to remind you that you know nothing! We were all set for a day away from the tourist filled streets with a visit to Villa Doria Pamphili, Rome’s largest park. Well, that was the idea anyway.

We got pretty close, but the walls of the park and roads which twisted away as soon as we got near did a good job of keeping us out! Rome is full of delights though, with things previously unseen hidden around every corner. We ended up at Gianicolo (if you know Rome, you know just how close we were) so the day wasn’t wasted by any means. It also means you get this blog post in a lovely shade of burnt sienna, what a treat. Emma (2)As much as I love piling on the layers to keep out the English chill, it’s a welcome change to wear a simple summer dress with just a liberal spray of factor 50. To my eyes, this lemon shift dress looks very vintage in shape (and in that delicious print!) although it’s actually from Topshop via eBay a few years ago.

Emma (4)The white pumps are a happy accident of my limited wardrobe here in Rome – none of my sandals went with the dress so a fresh pair of white trainers it was. Not only had I forgotten how satisfying that pristine white canvas is, I’d forgotten how quickly they get grubby. Not ideal for pounding the pavement in a dusty city.Emma (7)Emma (8)Emma (9)And if you look closely, you’ll see no Roman outfit is complete without a smattering of mosquito bites around the ankles. Yum.
Emma (13)

I Wanna Be EUR’s

16It might be the Brit in me, but I want to talk about the weather! These photos were taken last week when we were hitting around 33° here in Rome.  In the city it somehow feels hotter too, the heat seems to bounce off ancient marble turning the streets into a giant greenhouse.

Not wanting to do anything too strenuous we headed to the EUR district of Rome in the late afternoon for an explore. I wore this beautiful vintage dress (it deserves a more in depth post of its’ own actually – label research in process!) with a DIY cropped T shirt to keeps things casual…and voilà! Throw on the sandals you’ve been living in for the past few weeks and it’s as easy as that! I really rather like it but in truth it was still a little too warm for the blazing sunshine.

3 IMG_0931 12 IMG_0814 1356EUR was commissioned by Mussolini in the 1930’s to celebrate fascism in Italy. As an area designed entirely from scratch rather the usual expansion and redevelopment of cities it feels quite unlike the rest of Rome. Visit the Colosseum for example, and you’ll be impressed its’ the grandness and scale, yet you’re very much aware you’re looking at history, at ancient Rome. Take a trip to EUR and it feels like ancient Rome’s best bits have been revamped for modern eyes.

IMG_0437The district is pleasingly uniform, each building in matching shades of almost white marble or limestone. You’ll see hallmarks of ancient Rome, a stack of columns or a row of arches, in buildings with present day uses. Although I never ventured to this part of Rome before living here, I would recommend spending a few hours taking it in – preferably out of the midday sun!
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A Faithful Old Shoe

outfit

Isn’t it funny how a new item of clothing can reinvigorate your outfit choices, reminding you of some long forgotten gems at the back of the wardrobe?

military coat

red collar

Freshly delivered to my door via eBay, I knew I’d be wearing this vintage red coat at the weekend and planned my outfit around it. Once I’d clapped eyes on the sapphire/navy blue collar, the rest of the outfit presented itself from the depths of my wardrobe. A blue velvet T-shirt which rarely gets an outing these days, black trousers, and some beat up brown shoes. As my friend commented at the time they’re old favourites of mine, with leaky soles and faded toes to prove it.

Vintage coatHeatonex Coat Label

Anyway, back to the star of this post, the coat! Trying it on for the first time I noticed the somewhat cropped sleeves (not the usual fit for a 5’2 woman) and suspected it might have been a kid’s coat. Inspired to do a little digging I looked into the name on the label and found some rather sweet adverts for Heatonex. (I’ve pinned some more here.)

-1950s-uk-childrens-heatonex-the-advertising-archives 3342422684_4371b99154_o 10940602663_7ab43936b7_oHeatona were a Yorkshire clothing company specialising in coats, Heatonex being their girl’s fashion range. It’s definitely a name I’ll look out for when vintage hunting now, the designs are adorable and the quality still great. I wanted to keep the rest of my outfit quite low key, letting the coat be the main focus but I think it’s versatile enough to go with lots of styles and slot into my wardrobe nicely.

Vintage outfitcrest

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Oh, the title of this post comes from an expression which my mum frequently uses to describe the cat!

And Your Bird Can Sing…

Woodland dress

jephson gardens

It’s getting to that time of year when you can start to feel the season changing, with gentle reminders of Autumn nudging you for attention. Getting ready yesterday morning, I was choosing which sandals would go with my Summer dress only to see (and hear) the rain reminding me to be slightly more practical! On went the standard tights and sensible shoes instead.

Thankfully, the shower abated and I took advantage of what I suspect will be one of the last days of Summer with a trip to some nearby Gardens.

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swan print dressI love this swan print dress! It was love at first sight when I spotted it on eBay –  with a cute collar and even cuter print I knew it had to be mine. It’s actually maternity wear which means it’s a bit, ahem… busty for me but I think it’s manageable.

tie waist

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With such changeable weather I covered up with a favourite army shirt of mine. It magically fits into that slot of your wardrobe when it’s too hot for cardigans, and too chilly for bare skin. Being so useful must be why it’s so worn and bobbly but I’m not ready to part with it yet.

railings

NoCycle

yellow flower

wasp flowerIt turns out having your picture taken for blogging is mortifying and hilarious in equal measure. Of course, I’ve edited out the dodgy snaps but I can tell you they come with captions such as; “what’s wrong with your face?”, “yeah, you have got a funny mouth” and “what are you doing with your arms?” Not my words, but those of my trusty friend behind the camera :) So, for balance, please enjoy some pictures from around the park including a rather adventurous squirrel!

grey squirrel

sitting in shelter

swanThe real deal :)

Back to back in time

traditional sweet shop

This weekend I was transported back to yesteryear (my favourite of all the years) when I visited the Birmingham Back to Backs.

If you’re not already aware, back to backs are terraced houses which were literally built back to back around a communal courtyard. Working class families flocked to the cities during the Industrial Revolution and this was a cheap way of sheltering large numbers of people in a relatively small area.

The houses have been restored to demonstrate different time periods and tell the stories of the people who once lived there. I’d wanted to go for a while, so when my friend Ellie announced she’d be coming to visit, the perfect opportunity arose to book a tour.

victorian cash till

old sweet shopWonka Bar

We met Harry, our lovely tour guide, outside the traditional Victorian sweet shop. We were a little early so there was time to buy some Turkish delight and liquorice wheels – but we had to leave behind the pear drops, rhubarb and custards, cola cubes, banana and custards, giant gobstoppers…

1850s house

1850s mantel

1850s dressing table

At each house, we learnt about the residents and their day to day life. In one house, there was 11 children, and at another six boys shared a bedroom with two lodgers! As you can imagine, the houses were dark, dingy and residents could expect a much lower quality of life than we’re accustomed to now – no electricity or running water. That said, I got the impression there was sense of community which most of us probably don’t experience in our modern lives.

1850s front room

bread and jam

19th Century dinner table

Rather than a pristine museum with artifacts behind class, ‘do not touch’ signs and velvet rope ensuring you stay out of reach at all times, the houses are restored with of the era furniture and some props which you can inspect close up. I especially enjoyed the dinner table laid out with real food including bread, flour and freshly patted butter. (I doubt it was actually that fresh, but brownie points to the National Trust anyway!)

The atmosphere is cranked up again with real candles burning and clothes soaking in the wash house. It’s almost as though you’re sneaking around whilst the residents have all nipped out.

1930s decor

After housing provisions improved and people left the poor conditions of back to backs, some of the buildings began to be used by traders. Part of the museum is a time capsule of George Saunders’ tailor shop with original fixtures and fittings from the workshop which opened in 1977.

70s tailors

Amazing wallpaper! Seems kind of familiar though, doesn’t it? This 70s wallpaper is the inspiration behind the Cath Kidston Cowboy range. You can even pick up a mug in the gift shop as you leave.

vintage wallpaper

From memory, I always felt a little unsatisfied from history lessons at school. It was a kind of abstract concept, where kings and queens whose lives bore no resemblance to my own fought wars for reasons I couldn’t understand. The stories of everyday individuals help me to put history into context, and if you can experience something as close to first hand as possible then all the better I think.

courtyard

back to backs courtyard