Wednesday 31 August 2011

Birthday hats and the world's greatest detective

While I am still getting back into the routine of scouring the ætherweb for interesting vintage-inspired stories that tickle my fancy, here's a post featuring some recent (and eclectic, naturally) acquisitions of mine.  That the 19th was my birthday was reason enough to go on a bit of a shopping spree and strike a few things off my "wanted" list.

I've long been a huge fan of the (all too-short) early 2000s TV series A Nero Wolfe Mystery based on the Rex Stout novels and starring Timothy Hutton as Archie Goodwin and Maury Chakin as Nero Wolfe.  Set in 1950s New York, I just love the quality of the production, the colourful setpieces, the sharp costumes and the snappy dialogue, all aided and abetted by a fine line-up of actors.  It is one of television's greatest travesties that it barely lasted 2 years.  Occasionally making an appearance here in the UK on B.B.C. Two, usually at some obscure hour long after midnight (and from which most of my well-worn video-cassette copies are derived!) I didn't think it existed on DVD outside North America, so I was delighted to come across a 10-disc Region 2 box set - albeit with the sleeve notes and subtitles in Dutch(!) - featuring 10 episodes (still only about half the entire run, but better than nothing!) at a good price on Amazon.

A trip to my local branch of Mr J Sainsbury's emporium a few weeks later saw me load up on four more DVDs for less than £20 from a distinctly period-themed display shelf - the 3-episode pilot series of the new Upstairs Downstairs from a year or so ago, Wilde starring Stephen Fry, The Young Victoria (which I've heard good things about but never got to see) and Piccadilly Jim, a film that had somehow managed to completely pass me by, despite my love of Wodehouse.  So, they should see me to Christmas, I reckon!  Reviews may follow...

The British summer has once again generally been more conducive to sitting in front of the television, but like any true Englishman I've tried to make the best of what little sunshine there has been and I still have high hopes of an Indian summer.  As such I invested in some gentlemanly sun hats from my favourite online hatters - Village Hats.

For those after decent-quality headgear on a budget, I can't recommend this company enough.  I bought my first hat from them - this splendid Jaxon fedora (right) - a couple of years ago, and for £25 I haven't felt the need to go anywhere else since.

So for the (non-existent) summer I decided to eschew the typical Panama, of which I already have an example anyway, and instead decided to satisfy my hankering for a boater.  Although there's not much opportunity for punting round my way, I've always fancied the early 20th-Century smart-casual, garden party, tennis-and-lemonade feel of it.  At least that's what I think when I put it on!  It's made of softer, thinner straw than the more traditional boater types, but for £22 it's a sixth of the cost of a top-line example.   
Jaxon straw boater, £21.95 from Village Hats

For when I'm hacking my way through the Essex wilderness fending off the local savages ;-p I now have my very own pith helmet!  A present from my sister, who actually needed very little encouragement from me(!), I look forward to finding occasions to don it, whether it be a great exotic expedition or just striking a pose in the garden while others sweat(!).
French-style pith helmet, £18.95 from Village Hats

Well, there you have my most recent retro arrivals for the month of August.  As you can see, despite my imposed non-appearance I've been carrying on in the vintage spirit.  Some national and international vintage-related news won't be long in coming, I feel sure; in the meantime thanks to all of you for your kind comments welcoming me back. 


  1. Happy birthday! I've not seen any of these programmes, but I'll keep my eyes peeled for them now! We've also have some great purchases from Village Hats and their customer service is excellent.. X

  2. As always a most intresting blog and thank you for the information relating to Village Hats,it appears they sell just what I have been looking for for my husband and at an agreeable price.
    I too also recently watch Stephen Fry's Wilde and thought him quite amazing.

  3. Rather late, but Happy Birthday! Pleased to see a chap taking an interest in hats - The pith being the best for sure! xx

  4. Interesting! We hardly ever get the male bloggers vintage shopping lowdown so it's nice for a change.

  5. nice idea, thanks for sharing...


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