Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Joanne's Creamy Pumpkin Pie

You know what? I've never yet made any of Joanne's pies; it's entirely possible I never will. But I still think of her often, and particularly on this day, which would have been her 71st birthday.

Creamy Pumpkin Pie

½ C cold milk
1 pkg (6-serving size) vanilla instant pudding & pie filling
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 C Pumpkin
2 ½ C Cool Whip
Graham Cracker Crust Pie Shell

Beat milk, pudding mix spice with whisk for 1 minute (very thick).  Whisk in pumpkin.  Stir in whipped topping.  Spread in crust.  Refrigerate at least 2 hours or until set.

Thursday, 25 June 2015

The Grand at Scarborough

As part of our wanderings around Scarborough we explored a bit of The Grand Hotel. There was some story about Bill's ex having stayed there as a youngster and met the Beatles who were also guests. This was, I gather, by way of explaining that a few decades ago it was quite the place, his former in-laws having been fairly well off. 

The hotel rather dominates the 'skyline' (if you could call it that) perhaps second only to the castle on the hill. It still had some 'grand' features, and the overall design is still impressive, but it seemed a bit sad inside. 

Particularly when we found the neon signs advertising the bingo hall. I decided I'd seen enough by then.

Besides having been graced by the Beatles and Bill's ex, the place played a part in both world wars, having been damaged by the German Navy in WWI and serving as a training base for the RAF during WWII. It is also the place where Anne Bronte died in 1849 - just three days after she arrived. The hotel's real heyday was in Victorian times and Wikipedia reveals that its design is even more fun than I'd realised.

I'm afraid Picmonkey can't help me rid this of the lights reflecting on the glass.

The building is designed around the theme of time: four towers to represent the seasons, 12 floors for the months of the year, 52 chimneys symbolise the weeks, and originally there were 365 bedrooms, one for each day of the year. The hotel itself is in the shape of a 'V' in honour of Queen Victoria. 

It's tough these days for the old seaside resorts, like Whitley Bay and Scarborough, to flourish in this day when cheap package holidays to Spanish sun replace the former trips to the iffy weather of British seaside. 

I'm no interior designer, but there is something horrid about the decor here.

I'm thinking the old and the new aren't liking each other much.

My guess is that finding their way in the local market is as important as attracting holiday-makers. So let's hope their bingo hall thrives.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

History of Jewellery - Part XV

Susan told us that jewellery design got a bit quirky after WWII. For one thing, during the 1950s, jewellers began rolling gold into thin layers which they could then sculpt and roll. This made pieces look larger without the added expense of using more gold.  This is a style that sounds vaguely familiar, but I'm not finding the examples I had before I deleted all my work. Maybe something like this from Van Cleef and Arpels?

The use of semi-precious stones also become more and more popular, with odd combinations like amethysts and turquoise. 

Cartier - for Duchess of Windsor (again)...

Not just 'quirky' but positively surreal elements - actually called surreal -  also crept in and to my mind it was all pretty creepy. I can't think of anything Salvador Dali did that I can enjoy, but if you like this sort of thing you can see more of his jewellery here.

We were given Elizabeth Taylor's iguana clip as another example of surrealism, but at least she wore this around the time of the film Night of the Iguana...not one of hers, but of Richard Burton's - and it looks a bit of a creepy movie as well-ick.

Clothes, she reminded us, were also fairly surreal in the 1960s and 70s: Paco Rabanne's plastic neon coat; "space clothes" (by Andre Courreges); and she mentioned Emanual Raft (who is apparently still designing) to whom she attributed the gyro bangle, versions of which are still being made - or at least the name is still used.

Another name she mentioned was Andrew Grima, responsible for modern British jewellery design according to Wikipedia. She described his early work with agate, referencing stars and planets. As you will see, his work was plenty exotic - and though he died in 2008, his work goes on (or that of his wife and daughter).

If you know about the history of clothing design, you'll be aware that for many decades fashion had strict dictates: the silhouette, the skirt length, the required accessories all had to be right in order to not look foolish. That is not presently - thank goodness - the case, at least not for most of us ordinary folk. The speed with which new fashions are presented has backfired on the industry and given us all a bit more leeway to choose our own paths. 

Susan made the point that jewellery styles have all been mixed since the time of Art Deco (in the 1920s and 30s), which she says was the last of the true styles. 

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Day Out in Scarborough

We took the bus into Scarborough to go exploring. I had a list of streets with charity shops, but was open to whether or not that happened. One can only expect so much of the most patient of husbands. As it turns out we did go into a couple and I came home with a brass candle holder for £5. Three elevated candles at dinner are an improvement but I'm not settled on how much I actually like that brass thing. Perhaps it needs a shine.

First sight off the bus!

The Bathing Belle - celebrating Scarborough as the first sea-bathing resort!

Scarborough seems a place, like many in Britain, that grows and fades with the latest occupation / industry / cultural trend. Its documented history goes back as far as about 370 when the Romans built a signalling station there. The Danes founded the town sometime in the 900's but then died off with the invasion of the Norwegians in 1066. The castle was built in 1136 and part of it still stands.

Fishing, town markets, religious orders of monks*, spa waters, sea bathing, wool and coal export, shipbuilding and the famous annual medieval town fair all aided the growth of Scarborough. Foreign invasions, the Great Plague, Henry the VIII's reformation of the Catholic church, development of gun power, the decline of industries and social fashions and world wars all contributed to its decline.  [Going back to those religious orders, I just learned that the colours they wore signified their order - seems obvious now - black: Dominican; white: Carmelite; grey: Franciscan.]

Many people seemed a bit surprised that we would chose Scarborough as a destination, which sort of tells where it currently stands. However, as usual I found much to please my eye, not least because it was a beautiful sunny day. I could see some of the more prosperous history in the grand architecture. 

The worst we saw on the day was the tattier bits of seaside amusement park and related: shops selling souvenirs, fish and chips, cotton candy, etc. (Not forgetting pubs, of course).  I'll not be sharing much of that here. It was a beautiful sunny day and almost everything looked pretty good!

The castle stood tall on the cliff - taller than I cared to climb. I've seen a ruin or two in the twenty years I've lived here, so was content with distant photographs.

Luna Park! They got everywhere!

There were a few surprises, but I'm keeping those for another post...or two.

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

History of Jewellery - Part XIV

I'm thinking the last installment of this series being number 13th is no mistake. I had nearly all these posts written, lumped together in one big draft. I pulled out the last one and scheduled it when we were in Vienna last month and for some inexplicable reason, deleted the rest of the draft...with hours of work in it. So I'm reconstructing as best as I can...wish Blogger had a back up system for drafts like deleted emails.

During WWII England stopped manufacturing jewellery; France and Italy's production was sharply curtailed. Guess it's hard to make necklaces and earrings when bombs are dropping on you, eh? My notes also indicate that France and Italy both imposed a tax on the value of jewellery to help fund the war...whether this was at purchase or of one's existing collection, I'm not sure. 

In Britain, as part of the prevailing attitude during the war, we were told, it didn't do to be seen decked out; one piece of jewellery was all that was considered tasteful. Perhaps royalty were the exception to this rule?

We were told that whilst the present Queen tended to wear her art deco brooches in the traditional manner, Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, liked to wear brooches on her hat. 

On the other side of the pond, production continued as usual in the US and women wore what they pleased. 

The royal ladies weren't the only fans of aquamarines. Joan Crawford, American screen star, was known for wearing gold and aquamarine pieces in the 1940s and 50s.  Her famous parure came from Boucheron. 

Another film star with a penchant for jewellery was Paulette Goddard. We were told she had a great divorce settlement. Reading about her life, I'd say she was really good at getting great divorce settlements.  (Then again she didn't have such great luck with her maybe-father.)

Gifts to Paulette Goddard from one of her several generous husbands, Charlie Chaplin.

She's quoted as saying "I do not accept flowers. I take nothing perishable." 

Wise words.

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Are You Going to Scarborough Fair?

We took the motor home out for a spin last month, well - April - in preparation for a longer trip to Eastern Europe in May. The trouble with only posting twice a week is that I get way behind; on the other hand I'm catching up with stuff in real life. So that's how it is.

As demonstrated by the title of this post, I fell into Bill's habit of planning travel through song lyrics. I just couldn't think of another place nearby that I hadn't been yet, that also had a camp site. So we headed to Scarborough, about 90 miles down the east coast of England from us, in Yorkshire.

The Yorkshire moor is a different sort of place with endless undulations but no notable landmarks: easy to get lost in. The only features are heather, sheep, hedgerows or stone walls and the occasional stone farmhouse. 

You already know that I spent some time knitting and sewing when we were there, but we also went to the pub one afternoon. 

It was a lovely place that says it dates back to the 1400's. I was captivated by the view of sunshine and daffodils out the window. Why was I not sitting out in that sun, you ask? Because it was cold and windy out there. 

That's an important thing to remember about England - its looks are misleading.

We were on the outskirts of a picture perfect village, West Ayton, but it seems hard to find photos that seem appropriate to share. Except this one which neatly sums up the place.

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

History of Jewellery - Part XIII

There are few women who have collections that truly impress and of course one of them was the Duchess of Windsor. The pieces are valued not just for their outstanding beauty and exquisite craftsmanship but because of the stories attached to them. I no longer think of the relationship of Edward VIII and Mrs. Simpson as terribly romantic, but instead as quite sad. 

We were told about the diamond and sapphire 'contract bracelet' engraved "For our contract" and dated 18 May 1937. 

Another ruby and diamond bracelet was engraved 'Hold Tight' on the clasp which, when you think of it, makes sense for a clasp on such a valuable piece. It referred however to their holding tight to one another through the storm caused by Edward's abdication. 

Our lecturer mentioned Henry Channon, a politician and I duly scribbled the name. Turns out this is 'Chips' Channon, American born British politician who married Honor Guinness and was an admirer of Mrs. Simpson. I could get quite excited about this man, if only because he is distantly related to the Mitfords... Anyhow he is quoted as having said that the jewels given to Mrs. Simpson were the talk of London. I expect every thing about Wallis and Edward was the talk of London. 

In the post war period of the 1940's an into the 1950's and '60's, jewellery design focused on nature and animals.  The flamingo brooch by Cartier is one of the most copied pieces in the world.

So, enough of That Woman (must read this book one day).

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Cute Things in Guisborough

We took the motor home out for a short trip to Scarborough to check that all was well before we went further afield. 

We stopped on the way there in the market town of Guisborough as Bill was feeling expansive and decided we should eat out for lunch. Why do I never make BLTs at home?

Anyhow, we passed this window and I couldn't resist these bunnies.

Or bunting made out of little sweater shapes..


More craft ideas than I'll live long enough to make...

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

History of Jewellery - Part XII

This is sort of another story of the one-upmanship that went on (probably goes on) in the worth of the uber-wealthy. Apparently Harry Winston had a stunning emerald necklace made in 1953 and it came to belong to the Duchess of Windsor in 1956. She wore the necklace the following year to a ball in Paris and it made quite a stir. Another person attending the ball was the Maharani of Baroda. When the Maharani was asked her opinion of the necklace she agreed that it was beautiful, adding that the emeralds were once her anklets.

The Duchess was not amused. She later traded the necklace for emeralds that had belonged to a King of Spain. Presumably he'd not worn them around his ankles. Strangely enough, either because of the incident with her anklets or because of the jewels lavished upon her by the Maharaja, or because her marriage to the Maharaja created a scandal, Sita Devi, the Marahani of Baroda was given the name the 'Indian Wallis Simpson'.