Tuesday, 19 August 2014

At the Fashion Museum: The Great War in Costume.

I've been to the Assembly Rooms in Bath. My last visit was a nostalgia trip to look at the Laura Ashley dress styles that I used to trip about in back in the day. But this time I went to see an exhibition of the type of clothing worn during the First World War. The first outfit to greet me was that of a suffragette.
It is easy to take for granted the freedoms that women now enjoy and to forget the frustrations and disempowerment that women of all classes experienced prior to the First World War.
I was fascinated to read about the reasoning behind their choice of clothing.
Fancy trying to be argumentative and disruptive in that hat!
When war was announced the suffragettes made a decision to stop campaigning and instead to put all their efforts into aiding the war effort.
Large hats with ostrich feathers gave way to practical outfits for whichever type of work they chose to do.

 But they all had rather enviable leather boots!

The Women's Auxiliary Corp. 

The Land Army.

The poster advertising for women to work in the munitions factories shows a clean, fresh-faced young woman. The reality of this work was very different. They were called 'canaries' not because they sang at work but because their skin became stained yellow from the TNT in the shells.
And you can imagine what that did to their health.

No elaborate corsetry was needed under such practical clothing.

Phew, that's more comfortable!
The central display was given over to clothing made for the 'Downton Abbey' series of the Great War period. These outfits were all beautifully made. Years ago I saw an exhibition of costumes made for the television series of Elizabeth the First. Those clothes were made up of bits of paper doily sprayed with gold paint. Nothing so shabby for Downton!
No expense spared!

I wonder what her ladyship would think of today's fashions!
Looking at the costume for Lady Edith Crawley I have to say that the actress Laura Carmichael has the most enviable figure!

Lovely attention to detail.

What a fascinating way to spend a rainy afternoon!
Thank you to Bath and North East Somerset Council for such an excellent exhibition.

Monday, 11 August 2014

Monday link-up

I'm linking up with Patti at Not Dead Yet Style to show you my latest purchase. This was supposed to be a year of buying no clothing but a few exceptions have been made and on Saturday a new sunhat became one of them. (It's been raining ever since!) I've had my old cotton sunhat hat for so many years that the colour has faded to a rather useful 'no' shade that goes with anything. It's 100% cotton and can be crammed into a pocket without difficulty. If you look inside you can see that it started out a muted pink.
The new hat, a fair-trade product, is similarly made but with a bigger brim (I'll need larger pockets!) and a much bolder colour, although I imagine that it also will fade over time.
This is how the old one looks.
And here's the new version.
I'm wearing a Boden linen shirtdress today, a sale purchase from a year or so ago, with an amber necklace, a present from Russia from my elder daughter.
Come on, sunshine, I'm ready for you!

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Korcula and Dubrovnik.

We were looking forward to a return to the island of Korcula. After so many years how would it have changed and what would we remember? We arrived in the afternoon as it started to rain - talk about making us feel at home!  The rain was over in a matter of minutes, however, although for a while the sky was overcast. (Trusty Brits, we had our macs at the ready!)

The explorer Marco Polo was born here in 1254 and a sign down this side street pointed to Marco Polo's tower. We climbed the rickety stairs to see what we could see.
A view out to sea
and the fascinating remnants of the house next door.
We could have climbed the much taller tower of St Mark's but chose to stay at ground level and admire the stonework.  Korcula was well known for stone masonry and carving, using the clean, white stone quarried from nearby Vrnik. Beautiful examples are all about the town.

At night this simple church and Marco Polo's tower were spotlit and looked like a stage set.
We walked along the waterfront towards Put Sv. Nikole to see if we could recognise the house where we had stayed in 1968.

But memory failed us. Time for a cooling drink
and to enjoy looking back at the town in the evening light.

As the sun set
it just got better
and better.
The town felt different again in the evening, the buildings theatrically lit and street musicians entertaining the tourists; we listened to both classical and modern music as we strolled around the old walled town.
The stone paving is polished by centuries of use.
The following morning we sat sail for Dubrovnik where our holiday had started,

with plenty of time on deck to lie in the sun or to loll in the shade.
In Dubrovnik it was HOT. Even a downpour of rain did little to lower the temperature. The wet stone paving in town was treacherously slippy and I had to take off my sandals and walk in my bare feet. A cruise ship had docked and the streets were crowded with people. I found it far too busy to be pleasurable.
In front of the church of St. Blaise was a statue of Orlando, nephew of Charlemagne. Not even an image of a troubadour could lift my spirits - and he didn't look too happy himself!
People were walking the old city walls, defensive structures built between the 8th and 16th centuries.
We explored the narrow streets
then walked to the Porporela to catch a breeze from the sea. There we saw a marvellous sight, something of a performance. A man and wife came along with their old labrador dog. The dog went down to the water's edge and barked to his owners as they undressed getting ready to swim. The man told the dog to start swimming without them and it did. But when the man got in the water he and the dog swam together in perfect formation. When the man dived deep into the sea the dog swam in a circle above him until he resurfaced. It was fantastic to see. When they got out of the water the man put on his wife's large straw hat with it's flowery, floating band and sat happily in the sun - someone quite happy to be the centre of attention! I wish that I had managed to take some photos that properly show what a special relationship was on display.
We ate in town and returned to the harbour in the dark. Our boat wasn't there! What to do? Passports and travel documents were in the cabin! Calm down, walk around a bit. Oh, there it is, they've moved it. What a relief!
Last night on board. A knock on the cabin door, Come on, group photo! (Have I mentioned that everyone else on the boat was French? Au secours!) There should be twenty four of us. Not everyone was there, some must be in bed.
On our last day the captain invited us to have lunch with the crew. Thank you, Captain!
We had a calm sea throughout our holiday. Thank goodness, because the captain's orders were fixed to a wall of our cabin warning us of 'big wives and wind' in rough weather! 
(Photo of the boat from the holiday firm.)
Then it was time to leave Dubrovnik for our flight back home. 

(Aah, looking forward to a bath and our big bed!)