Sunday, 18 January 2015

Wake up and smell the chocolate - A walk through the birdcage

This post was prepared for publication whilst we were moving, but with all the hoo haa of moving I forgot about it!  Thought I would publish it now so you can all have a read.  Apologies for the poor photo quality, most of them were taken on my cheap mobile phone.

I've done an awful lot of walking around the area we've just moved from in Birmingham in the past six months, probably more than in the past six years.  That's a shame as mostly it isn't bad, but like most urban areas, parts can be a little unsavoury.  Recently I've been walking past Cadbury's, the large chocolate factory nearby, and somewhere I used to hang around when I was younger.  There is a footpath which cuts through the grounds of the factory, it is known as the birdcage walk, come with me for a stroll around Bournville. 

I lived just the other side of the tracks (literally!), and so first port of call is the station.  This is where I would commute from, before I learned to drive.  I used to get the train at 6.50am, and get off just a few stops down the line at Five Ways, so the journey was fairly quick if the trains were running to time.  

Like a lot of things in Bournville, the station is painted Cadbury purple.  On platform one there was a huge gold Cadbury sign and the glass and a half of milk, the Dairy Milk logo. These disappeared years ago, but I used to stand next to them whilst waiting for my early morning train, and must be on some tourist photos from way back, particularly as I remember some Japanese tourists at the crack of dawn, snapping away! 

The photo below is an old one of mine but the view is just the same today

Walking towards the factory itself we go down a private road, Franklin Way.  This road used to be closed one day a year, and did not appear on general printed road maps as it was not adopted.  Everything was maintained by Cadburys, the roads, paving, and street lamps.  It appears to be partially maintained by the local authority so ownership may have changed!

At the bottom of Franklin Way an entrance to the factory is in front of you, on Bournville Lane.  It looks rather odd, a little Arts and Crafts style building with a whacking great factory behind it.

As we walk along Bournville Lane, the main vehicular entrance comes into view, and the extent of the factory becomes clear.  This was also the original entrance to the birdcage walk and the chocolate shop, where workers (or anyone they lent their card to, if you were lucky) could buy discounted products and bags of mis-shapen chocolates in plain sugar paper bags.

Just a little further along, and the original frontage has been substantially remodelled fairly recently, to the dismay of locals.

I don't like it, but I suppose it looks more like the main entrance to a global confectioner than it did. If you look carefully through those windows, you may be able to see the glass and a half sign and in the middle window the word 'Mondelez' this is the new Cadbury name and has been for a few years.  

This view shows the style of frontage that was replaced by the new main entrance.  The new entrance to the birdcage walk and Cadburyworld (from the station) is just to the left of the photo.

The birdcage walk is so called because the path is enclosed on both sides by high railings, giving the impression of being in a birdcage (some imagination needed though!).The entrance now takes you past what was the restaurant on one side and sports field on the other.  A fountain with statue overlooks the sports field.
 The restaurant used to be open on the Cadbury fair day, and where the main entrance is now there was a sumptuous cinema where you could sit and watch cartoons all day! 
 This pavilion is a lovely building, South Birmingham school sports days were held here many years ago and I ran for my school on several occasions, as did my father before me!

Walking through the birdcage proper now, you get the feeling of being enclosed

This is where the smell of warm chocolate starts to envelope you!  I'm not a great fan of chocolate but the smell of warm chocolate is very nice in small doses. 

The Bourne brook runs under the factory, and as a child I used to think it was liquid chocolate as it is always brown.  I imagine it used to be used to power machinery when the factory was built.

 The Bourne enters the factory at this point.  I've actually never seen this area so low before, it is usually a mini chocolate covered lake.  With ducks!

Another view of the maze of buildings within the factory, some with fancy white faced bricks too.

I do love the old architecture on the factory buildings, even though they were industrial they were still built with attention to detail.  These must be some of the prettiest factory doors in Brum!

I'm nearly at the end of the birdcage now, and as we pass the welcome sign for people driving in to Cadburyworld

I exit the birdcage walk and arrive at my destination, Bournville Village Green, home of the Tudor Selly Manor and the Rest House on the green.

Well, I hope you enjoyed the journey through a small piece of Birmingham's industrial history.  I certainly enjoyed the walk, and the smell of chocolate! 

Saturday, 10 January 2015

She's a miner, 49er

Apologies for the lengthy blogging hiatus, it seems more difficult than anything else to get phone and internet set up when you move house!  For the time being, I'm sure my blogging will continue to be sporadic, charity shopping has taken a back seat as we have lots to sort out with the new house (which is a cottage actually, and if you follow me on Facebook you will have seen a view from the window). I might take some before and after shots of some of our projects, although the first major one, a kitchen re fit, has already been done, thanks to an Argos cheap sideboard and some matching B&Q cupboards, hastily bought and assembled before Christmas!

Right, back to the post in question, OH has been singing "Oh my Darlin' Clementine" to me since his 49th birthday back in September, hence the title, in case you were wondering!    

I might as well shout it from the rooftops, less than a year now until I am the big 50.  

I turned 49 on 3rd January and OH took me out for my birthday treat, a meal.  We don't do extravagance at birthdays, just a bit of quiet time with those you love is more than enough of a gift for me these days.

We popped over to The Fleece Inn, a medieval pub under the guardianship of the National Trust, in the middle of nowhere!  It has been owned by the same family from day one, over 600 years ago, right up until 1977, when the last owner died by the fire in the snug, a fact we were unaware of when choosing to sit in the snug by the fire and wondering why it was so icy cold! 

                                                                 The icy cold snug

Cold yet roaring fire

I decided on faggots for my birthday meal, a nice old style meal and absolutely delicious!

More internal shots

Blurry pic of OH in his new winter fisherman jumper, he does now answer to the name Captain Birdseye!  Look how low those ceilings are.

I love the Christmas decorations at the window

Another shot of the chilly snug

The outside was just as quaint as the interior, I do love these black and white buildings

Even I had to duck through some of the doorways, and I'm only 5'4"! 

Wearing: my new ebay Geox brown leather boots, £1 charity shopped Next denim skirt, Boden jumper (sale, years ago) £4 charity shopped brown needlecord Next jacket, new to me Tula brown leather bag £3.49, gloves, scarf and tights all gifts.

Linking up, albeit a bit late, with Patti's Visible Monday!


Saturday, 29 November 2014

November bargains - an alternative to Black Friday!

Oops, just remembered I have time to squeeze this post in before my internet disappears!  

This month has been quite expensive yet frugal, confusing?  I haven't bought much, on account of moving, but then managed to spend all of my paypal account balance on some bargain expensive boots on eBay.

I figured as I need boots for the winter, I will find some way of smuggling them in to the new house.

So, here we go, the round up:

I started off with this fab rugby top from the pound rail (of course!) of a local chazza.  I've been told not to wear it to matches at our local club, Moseley, where black and red are the only acceptable colours.  Tommy Hilfiger no less!

As it is the season to keep one's bonce warm, I couldn't resist buying this hat.  Another pound find, but quite warm.  It is by Daniele Meucci, who I have never heard of.  It is also not washable, so I washed it.  It came out just fine.  It's also had a lint shave, to get rid of some of those tatty fluffy bits.  The pic is 'before' by the way!

Something for the new house now, well I'm not turning down a rubberwood pan stand for 50p, and a proper Le Parfait jar for the same price!  The other jar, unbranded, was also 50p.

I'm going to finish with a flourish, and my new trio of expensive winter boots.  I've managed to get rid of a few bits and bobs on ebay in the past month or so and forgot the money was still in Paypal.  Several Christmas presents and three pairs of boots later and the account is empty.

These lovely grey leather Fatface boots are usually around £130 but I paid just £42 for these and that includes the postage charge.  Hardly any wear as well.

Bertie boots next, these lovely black leather boots retail at £165 and I paid £34 (including postage).  I've worn them out for the first time today to go walking in the drizzle and they are very comfy, and leather lined as well so really toasty!

   Finally, my last purchase, these stylish Geox brown leather boots, again they retail at £165 and I paid just £37 all in.  Very pleased with my new trio of winter boots.

That's it.  I make that a spend of £3.50  and £460 worth of boots for selling unwanted stuff online, I've got a lot for my money this month!

 I've prepared a further post that I will release for publication whilst I am moving, just so you all don't forget about me.  It's a bit different but I hope you like it! 

Monday, 24 November 2014

It's not goodbye, it's just until we meet again

We have a tentative date for moving.  Well, more than tentative, but not yet set in stone.  I won't cheer just yet, this house buying lark is a law unto itself.  

We are surrounded by boxes and half packed things at present, and some of my charity shopped treasures are finding their way back to the local charity shops, to start another journey with a new owner (it's a charity shop circle of life!).

I will be going offline very shortly and hopefully normal service will be resumed in a few weeks.  I do have access to a roving modem and my very old netbook but will not be blogging in the interim.  For those of you who blog, I may pop up in your comments if I have time, so you will know I am still around!

Until we meet again!


Saturday, 15 November 2014

New boots and visiting Bonzo

Despite being a professional guitarist, him indoors' favourite musician of all time was the late, great, drummer John Bonham and he pays an annual visit to his grave.  Ironically, for someone who was so loud in his lifetime, he is interred in one of the quietest places you could find, and one of the most beautiful.  

 The tiny village is cluttered with an architecturally diverse collection of large and expensive houses, the Bonham family farm is nearby.  The church is teeny, and completely silent inside.  A visitor book notes travellers from Manitoba in Canada, California USA and Melbourne in Australia, all in the past week.  Whenever we go, we are the only ones there, it feels so private.

Bonzo's grave is generally piled with items reverently left by fans, it appears to be tidied regularly.  Drumsticks, some with messages attached, are piled behind, coins from all over the world are left on the headstone, and other gifts to the front.

I find the last line on the headstone particularly poignant and upsetting

As usual we leave nothing but footprints and take nothing but photographs.  We bid our goodbyes to Bonzo and will visit again next year, when we will be living just a couple of villages away, hopefully.

Not sure how him indoors always manages to take photos of me with my eyes shut but hey ho!

Wearing: New to me Fatface boots, ebay £42 (RRP somewhere over £120)
Per Una jumper  £3.99,
 BlackYak hat 50p,
 Next denim skirt £1 and
 Pink leather Coccinelle bag £1 all charity shopped
M&S knitted tights 3 for £1 from Oxfam but a gift from a friend

Monday, 10 November 2014

Every Lerose has its thorn - more wardrobe rummage finds

Still clearing things out whilst the house sale continues, I re-discovered this vintage dress purchased earlier in the year, still with charity shop tags (and dry cleaning tags) on.

My Lerose buy was just £4.49. 

You can't see from photos but it is gold lurex and black.  

I do love it, it fits beautifully, but I actually think it's a little long!  I'm not sure of the depth of solid black crimplene along the hemline, compared to that around the neck.  They just don't balance to me.  It is generous in length so I may have a look at the hem. There wasn't a belt with it so I've improvised but I think a plain narrow black belt would go better.

I tried it on with boots and heels (leather and from ebay), I prefer the heels myself but I'm pretty sure a decent pair of boots would cut it, mine are fake suede and horrid!  I found a butter soft leather jacket I bought in a charity shop for £15 (George at ASDA of all things!), my new to me Viyella scarf, a vintage belt (origins unknown!) and beautiful gold colour vintage bark effect Carronade cocktail watch (ebay, part of a job lot for just £18).

    See what I mean about the boots?

Those shoes were worn a lot for work.  I was thrilled with them as they are high but really comfy, and with an unusual popper fastening.  I can drive in them too, always a bonus, and a necessity for me as I don't like swapping footwear.  I also feel quite comfy in this outfit, probably because there is more black for me to hide in!

Now I did say last time that I would make an effort with my hair and make-up didn't I?

Yeah, I lied!!  

Linking up, for the first time, with Patti's Visible Monday!  Woohoo!

Monday, 3 November 2014

What? This old thing? - Wardrobe rummage finds

The house sale continues to trundle along at a sedentary pace, so I'm making use of the time to sort through every item in the house and have a good old declutter.  That includes the wardrobes.  Him indoors has already made some jumper donations to charity, I've acquired quite a stash of fabric (still masquerading as items of clothing!) and we have new dusters courtesy of some old t shirts.

Today I turned my attention to the spare wardrobe in the back bedroom, the place where I hide my second hand treasures (and him indoors has a suit, yes, a three piece suit!).  I did have a bit of a declutter about a year ago and sold some vintage dresses I had acquired donkey's years ago, and was rather attached to.  They didn't suit me and I could not envisage ever wearing them, so onto ebay they went.

I have always had regular wardrobe clearouts, and when you buy second hand that's easy to do with a clear conscience I find.  Thankfully, some pieces just get left behind in the sortout. 

Today I found this fabulous black and white swirly pattern velvet coat, one of a few fur hats I have and used to wear, these gorgeous soft as butter leather Clarks lace up boots with Louis style heel, an old sleeveless dress I wear as a pinafore (with lace top underneath which cannot be seen), and a black with silver thread scarf which was a gift ages ago and I do actually wear occasionally.  Oh, and those tights were straight out of the packet but are a couple of years old, I have a tights habit!

When I had put it all on I felt rather mutton, as in mutton dressed as lamb.  Yet not too long ago I would happily wear similar items to go to work in and not give it a second glance.  I don't like this lack of confidence, and wonder if it is to do with approaching 50?  I was more than happy to hit 40 head on and relished in my confidence and attitude.  I follow older bloggers who could wear the same things and look stunning.  I just feel overdressed. Maybe I've been slobbing around in jeans for too long.  Maybe this is the kick up the backside I need to start dressing up for the day?  Make-up wouldn't hurt either!  I do have some so there's no excuses.

So, do I need to bother dressing up more often or am I mutton dressed as lamb?


Velvet coat - Birmingham Rag Market £20 many years ago
Dress - Tesco sale £7 years ago
Boots - ebay £15
Tights - Boots the Chemist sale (probably less than a pound)
Black fur hat - Next sale, less than a fiver
Sparkle scarf - gift 

As I'm wearing a hat I'll take the opportunity to link up with the incredibly stylish Judith of Style Crone for her latest Hat Attack!

Friday, 31 October 2014

Wonderful Witley at Halloween

It's a Friday and it's Halloween, what to do?

Visit a burnt out 19th century John Nash (designer of Buckingham Palace) designed haunted palace, that's what!

Poor Witley Court is a mere ghost of its former self.  Burnt out in 1937 and stripped of all its metalwork (the stunning ironwork gates now reside in the USA at Lake Havasu City in Arizona), it stands forlorn in beautiful Worcestershire countryside. 
 I'm afraid this post is rather photo heavy, Witley is huge and very sprawling, and despite being in ruins there is probably more to see than a lot of places we have visited
The beautiful Perseus and Andromeda fountain is now fully restored and fires on the hour.  Each display lasts 15 minutes and the main fountain is 120 feet, the second highest in England behind Stanway House 
 There is still so much detail left in the stonework
 This wing is allegedly haunted
 Another fountain, as if one is not enough!
 The back of the house, and the largest Portico on a country house in England
 The dormant fountain

The orangery on the left, larger than most executive houses, connected to the main house by a glorious sweep of stone facade
 Close up of the portico

One half of the orangery, complete with ancient grape vines                                                       

View of the fountain from the orangery

 Intricate plasterwork still survives in what would have been the grand staircase

 I'm wearing Moto jeans £1, Timberland boots ebay £12 (including postage), leather bag £1, silk scarf probably 50p or a pound, all second hand and my free jacket from earlier in the year.

Finally, Autumn arrives in England and the leaves are all changing colour

Well, we didn't see any ghosts thank goodness, but Witley is capable of sending shivers down the spine even in broad daylight!