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November 18, 2015

A Great Day at the Dump...

Vintage sewing patterns galore!

It's more common for my prowling around the reclamation shops associated with waste transfer stations, to result in hauls like this...

or this...

or a combination of both with the odd dress making pattern tucked in to stop the plates from knocking together.

I haven't sewn much in the last decade, and these patterns aren't the beginning of renewed interest. They are likely though, to make their way eventually into my Etsy shop, Dunedin Street. I say eventually because I take my time over preparing them. 

I have worked out that I can spend two hours on a single pattern; sourcing it, counting the pieces and checking that they belong, what their condition is, ironing them if they are badly creased, photographing aspects of the pattern and researching unusual features - including value! 

Today's huge haul appears to have come from one professional dressmaker and half a century's worth of accumulating. I bought most of the pre-1980s patterns but there was the same bulk again representing that period alone. Sifting through them on the back seat of the car (scattered there for photographic purposes), I discovered at least six different brands. 

These included Academy, which as far as I can tell was a New Zealand company producing cheaper versions of British and Australian styles into the 1960s.  Also represented above are Weigel's, Maudella, Butterick, Simplicity and Vogue. There are patterns for fathers and mothers and little girls (maybe little boys didn't qualify for professionally made clothing).

There are patterns for underwear and over wear.

There are patterns that might just pay for my next overseas trip - or at least a new skirt. Bridal patterns are the most profitable for me to sell online; that is they return the effort I put into preparing them for sale.

I'm very pleased to find a 13/6d stamp on the back of the Vogue John Cavanagh pattern. This helps date it to the early 1960s, showing that it is not one of Vogue's later re-issues of style classics. Possibly though it is a re-working by Cavanagh of his wedding dress for the Duchess of Kent judging by the neckline and the slimmed down shape.

But the patterns - or rather their packet designs - that I like the best are the ones from the late 1950s and early 60s. There's a softness and elegance to the graphics, and they remind me of a time when I was completely loved and wanting for nothing. The awfulness in the World had not yet revealed itself to me and my mother still wore narrow-waisted, full skirted dresses. Her magazines were full of women dressed like those in these illustrations. 

After passing through the 1970s, when teenagers like me thought these styles were deeply unfashionable, I re-discovered them in the 1980s. Yes, these styles sourced from op-shops as well as my mother's old wardrobe were my preference when asymmetry and huge shoulders were the in thing. I do have to confess that I am beginning to collect the occasional 80s dressmaking pattern, just for the record and ahem... the hoard.

November 6, 2015

May in November

Maybe it's a little later to flower this year - but the may is heavy in blossom now: More than last year, thinks Chris who's garden I photographed this scene from this morning. Farm hedges like this one are a bit of a rarity these days and certainly won't have been 'layed' for many years. A classified Unwanted Organism in New Zealand, hawthorn, quickthorn or may thrives in Canterbury conditions - heavy soils, strong winds, and extremes of temperature and weather. In a world where species are disappearing unpredictably due to climate change it's worth questioning our attitude to so-called weeds. 

Here remnants of the hedge enclose the garden and form a glorious setting for one of Chris's plantings. 

I  love the way that this arcade which Chris has built, echoes the curve of the downs rising from his courtyard in Sefton. The hedge appears to curve too. What a stunning borrowed view this is.

Back home this seedling, of a tamer garden variety of may, is flowering in a tub outside my kitchen window. With its prolific double pink blooms it has an eat-me allure about it!

And that brings me to a poignant memory of a day just over five years ago, when  this paler seedling from the same parent, flowered for the first time. Elwin studied the few flowers and thinking of the place of Crataegus monogyna in herbal medicine tasted a flower of this species C. laevigata. He handed me one, sweet with nectar.  I thought that it was a terribly romantic gesture: as it turned it was one of his last. 

Look how much like tiny roses the flowers are. I had thought this seedling - of the tree in the background - a bit underwhelming and lacking in vigour, but I planted it out of its tub this winter and it's growing on me.

Five years ago today Elwin's heart stopped and our May to September relationship was gone.  He would love the show of may around the countryside this year.

May, hawthorn  Crataegus monogyna
Pink may  Crataegus laevigata  'Rosea flore pleno'

October 29, 2015

Jazz on a Spring Evening

A wet day and a beautiful one at this time of year with the spring foliage drenched green - something to be treasured before summer steals away the lushness.

Yesterday began with a visit to the Ashley Church on its saints' day - and yes the apostrophe is in the right place for St St Simon and St Jude. Marilyn, a new friend with an interest in old churches joined me there before coming to lunch.

She brought flowers from her garden, rich purple lilac and pink flushed rhododendrons. Marilyn's son Chris, who lives in an old church not far from here, came to lunch too.

And then it was time for jazz - and more - at a school recital in a class room at Ao Tawhiti (previously Unlimited Paenga Tawhiti).  The evening was an opportunity for music students to be assessed for performance credits for NCEA. 

With the damp day fading across the lovely treed campus of the University of Canterbury, the music flowed. 

Photographing musicians indoors is bit easier than photographing Morris dancers, but I don't use a tripod just because I don't want the photography to override my appreciation of the event.  I experimented with different settings last night and I'm pleased when a blurred shot, like the opening one for this post, also shows something of the energy and interaction between the musicians. 

Kitty sang quite a lot! Her first piece was a modern pop song Someone Like You by Adele.  

Kitty has enjoyed working this up with her pianist Oscar especially using a grand piano in the University's music suite. It's a pity that pianists are hard to photograph when they are part of an ensemble in cramped conditions.

When it was time to sing with the Jazz Band, Kitty pumped out Watermelon Man and Zoot Suit Riot... She has a good jazz voice.  But the Ao Tawhiti Senior Jazz Band wouldn't be quite what it is without teacher, Matt Davis' enthusiasm and encouragement. I enjoyed watching him move from his smoky sax to thrash heavy metal out of the drum kit for a later act.

And I remember how Jazz continues to be for me part of the character of the school - on a summer's day or a spring evening.

October 18, 2015

Spring - Better Late Than Never

Of course there has been early spring, but although I take photos around my garden, I do not find the time to make a blog post very often; especially when Life in the real World is so... engaging!

This photo of the band rotunda in Victoria Park, Rangiora, was taken during the after-party for The Wizard of Oz, when new leaves were just freshening on the trees.

Plum blossom is one of the defining features of this old country garden. Crimson King, Greengages and Coe's Golden Drop mark progressive orchard plantings, but their seedlings make themselves at home everywhere!

Another feature of the garden is the daffodils, which have flowered along the front of the Skudder House for as long as I can remember. 

My mother developed these plantings from seed - mostly jonquil varieties - that she collected every year from existing bulbs. This year most of the display seems to have recovered from earthquake shock. After five years the flowering bulbs could now be from post-earthquake seed, which might explain the prolific display. 

It has been a strange year for timing though with the daffodils blooming up to five weeks later than usual, the plum blossom around three weeks later than recent years and the ancient Kowhai by the river not flowering at all this year. On the other hand roses are showing fully formed buds and even opening before the may has even flowered - a full month before most garden varieties bloom here.

But birthday dates don't change... only the family dynamics around them! Ten minutes for three busy people to come together over a 16th birthday cake before my littlest princess left for her school ball.

Kowhai  Sophora microphylla

September 23, 2015

The Wizard of Oz

Some weeks ago Dorothy, the Cowardly Lion, the Scarecrow and the Tin Woodman got lost in the Secret Garden.

Somehow they found their way out... 

and along with the rest of the Dale Hartley School of Speech and Drama, are busily rehearsing for opening day next week. This is the drama school's big return to its beloved Town Hall theatre. And...  proud mama has to mention that Dale's Assistant Director for this show is Bryony!

All the promotional photos were taken by Trevor White. You can see the rest of his Wizard of Oz photos taken in and around Lady Mondegreen's Secret Garden at Ashley on his website Trev White Photography .

August 20, 2015

Another Year Older...

Make the most of celebration days I think...
Get out early in the morning and breakfast somewhere you've never breakfasted before...

Like the Lyttleton Coffee Company. 
Walk by the seaside and marvel at

spring buds...

Check out some civic art and recall a literary hero at the same time...

Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, Mowgli, Just So, Puck, and more recently, Kipling's poetry on what it is to be torn between two countries, have coloured nearly all my years of reading. Here he sits at the end of Kipling St in Christchurch - a sculpture by Chris Reddington.

Eat more at some indulgent place like The Tannery - Christchurch's post Earthquake, boutique shopping destination... While you're there buy kid gloves, dried hops, an old Penguin book of 
D H Lawrence's short stories England My England.

Head home to the garden with your brand new birthday gloves and potter ... Today I planted peonies received from a friend earlier this week. 

Finish the day by giving your niece a belly dancing lesson. Don't forget to dance a bit yourself even at your age!

August 17, 2015

Five Years of Lady Mondegreen's Secret Garden

You'd be forgiven for thinking I am flagging: that after five years, original intentions for setting up this blog have fallen by the wayside, and I have lost interest. 

I've experienced major life altering events since 17th August 2010, and the idea of following the development of an old garden into a self sufficient source of income has certainly lost impetus. So has the intention to create a record of the restoration of a dilapidated historic home for eventual use towards a qualification in museum and archiving studies.  

The Skudder House now has a different story to tell though it is more one of bureaucratic bumbling than anything structural.

The budding daffodils that illustrated my very first post though, are a symbol of some kind of forward motion. I did move them, and this year after a couple of years of sulking from earthquake stress, they have bulked up and are a mass of buds by my back door! The increase of bulbs was a distant dream back in 2010.