Sunday 13 September 2015

Bowls, bread & books

Well, here I am again with another month having flown by - a month that included my week's holiday to Eastbourne for my birthday.  Pictures of that will follow once I have prised the best photos from mother's mobile 'phone camera.  Suffice to say for now that I had a lovely time (despite a cold manifesting itself just before departure) and the south coast - and particularly the South Downs - are a lovely place for a short UK break.

Now to more recent events - yesterday's, to be precise, and a trip to Southend for a spot of lunch with mater and a rummage around the shops.  As well as tea and cake for elevenses at one of our usual haunts, The Remedy Tea Shop (as first mentioned in this post from last year), we went for lunch at a charming little café bistro that mum had discovered off the high street a few weeks ago with some friends - La Petite Petanque.  Originally the pavilion building of the local bowls club (hence the name) - and dating from at least the 1930s - it has now been transformed into a lovely little French-themed, vintage-style café.  The bowling green still exists so you can sit, secluded from the hustle and bustle of Southend proper, and enjoy watching the odd game of lawn bowls as you have lunch.  The interior is wonderfully French country chic (including the quaint facilities - labelled "mesdames" and "messieurs"!).  I honestly had no idea that this was in Southend (to be fair it is well tucked away, and you could well be forgiven for thinking it still a private club building)!


Unsurprisingly it's a very popular place, as it was on the Saturday we went.  Unfortunately we happened to choose a day when two of the three chefs were off (one with a stomach bug - but not from there, I should add!) so the poor third chef and all the waitresses were rushed off their feet.  As a result my meal - steak sandwich in toasted ciabatta bread - was not all that it could have been as the bread had been left too long in the toaster and had gone as hard as a rock.  Still, it would not put me off returning, and I would certainly recommend it to anyone visiting Southend (just make sure you check how many chefs are on before you order!).

I seem to be developing a bit of form when it comes to visiting vintage-style cafés in Southend and then making a find in the charity shops.  Last time it was a book from 1936 called Thrills of the Skyways costing £2, this time it was a book from 1936 called Film Pictorial Annual, costing £2.  If this happens any more I shall wonder what's going on!

This time around I was in the local branch of British Heart Foundation, not really expecting to find anything because with the best will in the world I've found BHF prices to be at the higher end of the charity shop spectrum (something I believe I'm not alone in amongst vintage bloggers?).  They're also one of the few who have a dedicated "collectors" section for older books (anything pre-1970, in my experience) which, while saving me time scanning along shelves of books does seem to make them feel that they can ask a higher price.  So I was pleasantly surprised to find this 79-year-old annual for only two pounds.  The price reflects its condition, though, since the spine is very weak and the whole book only just hanging together, but all the pages were there and in good nick.  The cover belies its journey through a couple of secondhand shops and BHF didn't exactly help its cause by sticking their price label on the front as well (I mean for crying out loud, would it be asking too much to stick it, or - here's an idea - write it in pencil! - on the inside page ) but the fact that it had already seen better days didn't bother me overly much.

Home with me it came, then, and I have to say having looked through it properly that it's a splendid old book - with lots of articles both on and by our favourite actors and actresses of the time.  Without further ado, here are my highlights:

It was lovely to see how it had obviously staying in the same family for at least a generation - passed from one auntie to the next!

There are dozens of signed studio portraits, some more well-known then others.  Here are some of the more familiar names:

Clark Gable & Loretta Young
Marlene Dietrich & William Powell
Ginger Rogers & Katherine Hepburn
Gary Cooper admires Jean Parker (and rightly so!)
Ronald Colman & Joan Crawford
Carole Lombard & Claudette Colbert

Then there are the articles - girls you'll love these, I reckon (although there's a lot for the chaps too, including an interesting piece by The 39 Steps actor Robert Donat)!

A portrait of Madeleine Carroll and Fay Wray's Guide to Hollywood

Carole Lombard's Introduction to Charm
"Exercise and Be Beautiful" says Helen Mack

Girls, do you "measure up" to 1936 standards?

Five Stars to Follow to Smartness

Crawford Coiffures

Dramatize Your Beauty

The New Art of Make-up

See How They Grow

Hollywood IS Human

A very welcome addition to my ever-burgeoning library, then, and I hope you've enjoyed this flick through its pages.  Let me know if you like any of them in particular and - if I can find the time - maybe I'll put them on the blog in full.

I'm soon to start writing another article for In Retrospect magazine (issue 4 out now, get it while it's hot!), so it may be some time (probably another month...) before my next post - unless I can get those holiday snaps off mother - so until then:


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