Thursday, 13 February 2014

Favourite Things

Stuff accumulates. It creeps into the house bit by bit, initially eagerly justifying its presence before falling into disuse and skulking in drawers, cupboards, lofts and garages. I swear it is breeding there right now! There are definitely no-go areas in my house, drawers and cupboards full of discarded things that I can't quite decide what to do with.  The loft is another country...

Of course, there has been much de-cluttering over the years, much editing of possessions as our needs have changed and we have moved from house to house.  There have been car boot sales, garage sales and many visits to the charity shop and the tip, but still some things continue to make the cut for whatever reason.  I still keep a few of the children's clothes from when they were tiny - nothing quite so well evokes a time and a place.  The other day, I tried to throw out some old cookery books, but made the mistake of looking through them first and found myself lost in another world.  Our eating and cooking habits have changed greatly in the 30 years or so since I first acquired them but still they engaged me and earned a reprieve.

I was thinking recently about what I still hold onto from the time I first came to live in London in the 1970's to start my independent life; my early forays into re-inventing myself and attempts at home-making and these are some of my favourite things.


I found this amazing dress in a vintage shop in Covent Garden shortly after I moved to London and started my first job, moved into my first London flat share.  It is an original 1920's silk/satin dress and I wore it to the parties I attended at the time in South London with students from Guy's, Tommy's and King's (are they still there?) who lived in the flat below.  Wafting around in a maxi dress felt so good.  Of course I fell for the handsome, raffish young medical student I met there who promptly broke my heart, instead of the devoted, smitten but less viscerally attractive young dental student who would have cherished me!  I know better now.

The dress is nearly a 100 years old and deserves another reincarnation soon - I think it still has a few more parties in it and maxi dresses are fashionable again. Perhaps one of my new daughters (in and out of law) will adopt it one day.





I couldn't afford this lovely cream throw that I found in Heals in Tottenham Court Road when I was working at the Middlesex but I loved it so much that I bought it anyway and it has graced various sofas in many houses over the years and more than earned its keep.

Children have curled up on it to watch films after school, puppies have jumped up on it for illicit cuddles and it is a favourite venue for my cats who like to sit along the top, making a mucky indentation lined with shed fur and muddy paw prints, but it all just washes off and looks as good as new again.


This colourful enamel tray came from Nice Irma's Floating Carpet, a hippy emporium in Goodge Street, around the same time and it has brightened up the work surface in every kitchen I have ever had.  It is still in daily use for our early morning cup of tea in bed.  I was drawn to the strong colours which are still as sharp today as when I bought it.  
I love the way some things just form the fabric of a life and translate from one place and time to another, providing a thread of continuity, each with their own story to tell and all part of my sons' memories of home, wherever home might be.

34 comments:

  1. The lovely items you've shown are well worth keeping. The dress is really beautiful - I do hope one of your young things will give it another airing at a special party or two

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    1. I am still trying to decide whether it is time to let the dress go - vintage clothes are rather sought after now and it is a pity to keep it hidden. But the memories...

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  2. What a charming post! I've been looking closely at some items 'round here lately, wondering what I might bear to cull if I really had to -- as I will someday when we move to a smaller, more urban place. . .

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    1. I am trying to harden my heart and have a big push to move stuff on, one way or another, before it takes over my home completely, but things hold memories!

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  3. This is a very sweet post. I think many of us are looking at our 'stuff' and wondering what will stay and what will go. I have begun to visit a local consignment store to 'bring in', rather than 'take out'. The thinning-out is slow but steady.
    The dress is gorgeous. I'll bet a museum would love to get its hands on that!

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    1. What to keep, what to let go? So many things that make up a well-lived life. Thank you for visiting x

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  4. Three wonderful things that I'd have kept too, if they were mine. I remember Nice Irma's. When did that go? It had glittery mosaic tiles on the front, I remember......and it did sell beautiful bright things.

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    1. It was a real treasure trove Jenny and always a pleasure to visit. One of a kind!

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  5. Beautiful dress! Love the tray from Nice Irma's too - used to love going there. I had a friend who worked at the Middlesex as a nurse, possibly about the same time as you - Jane Bignell, then Lambert. X

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    1. Thank you - it is still lovely and needs more outings. I wish I could still fit into it! Like so much else from that time, the Middlesex is long gone but it was a big old place and lots of people must have passed through it - my partner worked there too at one point although it took us many years to meet up after that time.

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  6. What great things to have kept. I so wish I had kept a beautiful Biba dress which made me feel like a Jane Austen heroine, all bosom and sprigged muslin. Can't believe I got rid of it and can't remember doing so but it is definitely no longer with me! Love your dress.

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    1. The dress is the only thing that isn't in constant use, and I do wonder about liberating it. Apparently my old Laura Ashley dresses are also sought after now, as indeed are Biba. It is hard to know what to keep and what to let go and although I can't remember most of the things that have left the house, there are always some regrets!

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  7. Enjoyed this post; I'm afraid I could have written some of it! I have a house full of ill-assorted furniture that I couldn't quite part with when I moved, and regret the loss of a couple of things that I did part with. The worst bit is that I can't do to my son (a ruthless chucker-out/declutterer) what my mother did to me - pass on all the large unwanted stuff, knowing that it wouldn't be discarded!

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    1. Families are stuff magnets Rachel. Luckily my partner is with your son on this and didn't bring too many things with him when we moved in together, as I already had a house/loft/garageful of a lifetime's accumulation. I did try and declutter when we moved up here, but cannot be as ruthless as he was. Things carry memories and they are precious.

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  8. Hello Marianne,

    Oh how well we identify with all of this. Stuff seems to accumulate around us at an alarming rate....all of it with far too many precious memories attached in order to release it from our lives. And how wonderfully well your things have stood the test of time and what tales they can tell. Perfect!

    Thank you so much for your comment on our return. It is good to be back!

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    1. I am trying to be strict with myself at the moment and have a good sort out - not sure how successful I shall be though.

      Good to see you back and look forward to reading about your adventures!

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  9. Three beautiful photos - the dress, the throw, the tray - all gorgeous.

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    1. Thank you Cait, and all chock full of memories!

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  10. Hi Marianne,

    Such a charmingly nostalgic post. Your maxi dress is quite alluring; beautifully designed, I'm sure it has taken you to many special occasions. I've learned over the years, that you 'get what you pay for', indeed, and your pretty, white throw exemplifies this perfectly. After so many trips to the washing machine, it still is a showstopper! And, that very sweet plate still serving up the finest of cheery, early morning greetings is a delightful way to start one's day!

    So enjoyed this. Thanks for sharing!

    Poppy

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    1. My pleasure Poppy. Glad you enjoyed reading it!

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  11. You've showcased three very lovely items here, Marianne. I know how difficult it is to downsize belongings. I had to do that nearly ruthlessly before my recent move. I still mourn some of the things I had to relinquish but such is life. Those cookbooks kept you drawn in for a reason. Your time with them is not over yet.

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  12. What a wise comment Hilary. I am at war with clutter at the moment, but it is important to recognise the value of what I have at the same time. Hope you are settled now in your new home.

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  13. We went to the same places! I have a rug I couldn't afford from Heals. I was working in Bedford Square and went straight there after a modest pay rise. Nice Irma's furnished me with throws, cushions and Christmas decorations. My vintage dresses, some from Flip, still hang in the wardrobe and I have a daughter-in-law now to share them with. Thank you for your visit. I'm going to have a look around now.

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    1. Bizarre isn't it? My (relatively) new partner has lived round the corner from me both in London and in Kent where we finally met, and we both worked at the Middlesex at one time. Nice to meet you at last - we probably saw each other in Nice Irma's

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  14. I loved this post and it has really got me thinking about special things I have kept and carried on using. It's so difficult to get the right balance when de-cluttering- plastic bags filled with a multitude of differing things are so darn time consuming!

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    1. It is so hard to know what to let go and what to keep. I am so glad I kept my old LPs and all my lovely children's books as well as some of my clothes, but keeping everything is impractical and some things are meant to be ephemeral, and yes it all takes far to much time! Lovely to see you again.

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  15. I loved your post and also the cherished items you choose to keep. I try to declutter periodically, but there are some remnants of our family's past that I keep because of the memories they evoke. Congrats on POTW!

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    1. Life accumulates in layers and it is so easy to lose parts of it, which is where the things we keep come in so useful. Sometimes it feels good to reconnect to another time and place. Thanks for coming by and nice to meet you.

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  16. I can just imagine all the treasured memories of all those lovely treasures you kept.
    One of my greatest treasures is a collection of letters I have saved that my mom wrote to me when I left home to go to college.
    I read them often.
    I so enjoyed this post.

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    1. I am so pleased you enjoyed the post Margie - it certainly seems to have struck a chord with lots of people. I too have my mother's letters from the time I left home to go to College and treasure all my memories of her. So important!

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  17. Funny you should write this post today. My husband was trying to clear out a part of our basement today and came upstairs to tell me he was... "throwing some old stuff out," as he gestured to a pile of old shoes and sneakers that we usually wear camping or canoeing.
    "What?!" I responded. "No way! Those are my Dr Schol clogs from 1977. It took me years to break those things in. They're vintage now!"
    I love those clogs and drag them out every summer to wear around the garden or on camping trips.
    They're back in the basement again. Albeit in a safer place!

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  18. Well rescued! Some things are just too precious to let go. Hide them well!

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  19. Loved the sofa, and the whole way you have put them up. The room, the cushions and everything. Looks so cozy.

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    1. I love to put a room together and cozy does it for me. Thanks for visiting

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