Just a reminder that the fabulous Mill Road Winter Fair is on tomorrow. If you are local then you really must come, it is a vibrant event full of entertainment for all. Wrap up warm and come and find us in the Donkey Green marquee near the swimming pool.
Our stall will be full of vintage goodies - from lovely china to original jewellery. Here's a little taster to whet your appetite!
If you are looking for unique Christmas pressies, then Retrovert is the place to come. Vintage pinnies and cake stands perfect for your friend that loves to bake and pretty china trios for the tea addict. Gorgeous vintage scarves for those that love a splash of colour and stunning brooches for those who can't resist a bit of sparkle! Plus even more!
If you want to plan your day at the Fair then you can check out the programme here
. Look forward to seeing some of you there!
Two local fairs, plenty of Christmas baking, sourcing new (old!) stock and playing vintage games. Here's what we got up to last month:
Cambridge Vintage Fair
We had a fabulous time at the last Cambridge Vintage Fair of the year. It was great see so many familiar faces and we very much enjoyed ourselves. Here are two of our happy customers showing off their vintage purchases.
From Cambridge With Love
From Cambridge With Love was a Christmas special and so many came along in search of unique gifts. It is wonderful to know that lots of lucky people will be getting some gorgeous vintage jewellery or delicate china cups under the tree this year! As you can see Mum and I got into the festive spirit with our outfits :-)
Favourite Vintage Purchases
We love sourcing new stock for the stall and the favourite item we added this month has to be this stunning asymmetric 1950s party dress. It proved very popular at Cambridge Vintage Fair and was the most tried on, but it has not yet found it's perfect fitting partner!
This exquisite Liberty print silk scarf was the runner up for best item of the month, and has already been snapped up and whisked away to foreign shores!
And finally onto my favourite purchase for myself - it has to be this 1950s card game. Aren't the illustrations just fab - it is rather fun to play too!
So that's what Retrovert got up to in November! Hope you had a good one too :-)
It's official - we've only got one month until Christmas! That means, if you haven't already, you better get on and make a Christmas Cake. If you've never made one before it can seem daunting but actually it is very simple, it just takes time.
Christmas Cake recipes come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, but fundamentally they are all the same - a rich and densely fruity cake. You can find a recipe to suit you and adjust it to your tastes by adding different spices, adding or leaving out nuts, and changing around the dried fruits. This is a family recipe, written by my Great Aunt Nell. It is probably 100 years old or more so it is very much a traditional recipe.
The method I like to use to make my Christmas cake is simple.
Weigh all the dried fruits, nuts and other extra ingredients like citrus zest. Then make the cake batter by creaming the butter, and sugar, then adding the eggs and the flour and spices.
Then simply mix the two together. You will need a really big bowl! We use our old TG Green ceramic mixing bowl and it is traditional to get all the family to give it a good stir.
Next prepare your tin. I like to use a springform (not very traditional I know, but some modernity comes in very handy!) I line it with greasproof and wrap the outside several layers of brown paper. This is to help it to cook more evenly and not burn in the long cooking time. Pour your batter in and then pop in the oven for the required cooking time at the temperature suggested in your recipe. You may find yours takes a shorter time or even longer than the recipes suggests. Mine took 2 hours 45 mins at 160ºC. A cake tester should come out clean when you test the centre of the cake, the top should also hold its shape when you press it with a fingertip.
Leave it for around half an hour to cool in the tin.
And then turn it out onto a wire rack to cool completely, before storing wrapped in paper in an airtight tin. You can see mine isn't perfect looking, but you once it is covered in icing it will look fab! It smells completely delicious. One other tip I recommend is cooking a mini version at the same time so you can try some right away without having to wait until Christmas! Sneaky, perhaps, but it saves the big cake from being nibbled!
So there you have it, my traditional Christmas cake from a vintage recipe. Have you made yours yet? What recipe did you go for?
Check back in a few weeks for some vintage Christmas cake decorating inspiration.
We are very excited that Cambridge Vintage Fair returns to the Guildhall tomorrow. If you are looking for the perfect dress for the party season, then this is the event for you. And also the perfect place to do some Christmas shopping if you are looking for one of a kind gifts.
Here are the top three vintage party dresses I will be bringing along to the fair.
Asymmetric 1960s Cocktail Dress. This gorgeous vintage piece has a perfect hourglass shape and is so very unusual with its gold embroidery and half cape.
1950s Chiffon Party Dress. If you are looking for something with Mad Men style this classic 50s shape dress is just the ticket.
1960s Cheongsam Wiggle Dress. And if you fancy something a bit different, this original oriental dress, made from a beautiful woven satin, is sure to impress.
If you've already found the perfect dress for the winter season, but need the perfect accessory to go with it, then we've got plenty of exquisite vintage bags too!
And we will also have our vanity case full of elegant and kitsch vintage brooches. These little beauties make lovely presents, whether for yourself or a vintage loving friend!
Hope to see some of you at Cambridge Vintage Fair tomorrow! You can check out the Facebook Event page
for details and to let us know you are coming.
This is a recipe close to my heart, as it is one I inherited from my Nan. I have many fond memories of the teatime treats she used to make and I treasure all her handwritten recipes. This 'Uncooked Chocolate Cake' is one I use often and is a favourite of my Dad's, he even remembers having it when he was a boy.
Ingredients for Uncooked Chocolate Cake
6 oz biscuits ( I use digestives and rich teas)
2 oz walnuts (optional)
3 1/2 oz butter
1 oz caster sugar
3 oz golden syrup ( well heaped tablespoon)
2 oz cocoa
The method is really simple. Crush you biscuits with the end of a rolling pin (this happens to be rather fun and a good stress reliever!). Then mix the butter, sugar and syrup together before sifting in the cocoa powder to make a dark and deliciously chocolatey mixture.
Then simply add in the biscuits and the optional chopped walnuts and give it a good stir, before pressing the mixture into a round tin. Easy, right! The hard bit is waiting for it to set in the fridge overnight!
If you don't hide it well in the fridge, you may find that some is missing in the morning. Two pieces of mine were snaffled before I even had a chance to take a photo! Proof that it is somewhat irresistible...
So there you have it - a family favourite for teatime. I'd love to know if you try the recipe. It's super easy and lends itself to experimentation - you could try adding fruit, nuts, or even some cheeky marshmallows!
Last week I paid a visit to the newly opened Afternoon Tease
cafe in Cambridge. I first came across the lovely Jo Kruczynska (aka Afternoon Tease) at Cambridge Retro Disco, a fundraiser for the local Folk Museum. She had spent hours making a multi coloured rainbow of party rings (recipe here
) for her retro bake stall. They were displayed on old records and I just couldn't resist the temptation of their neon icing. I knew from then that with her baking talent and creative eye that she deserved to go far.
So it was with great excitement to hear that Afternoon Tease was opening a cafe in Cambridge. I followed the efforts of Jo and her team as they fitted out the cafe on her blog, and they really have made an amazing transformation. A fabulous neon sign draws you into the light cafe and you come across a counter laden with tempting cakes and other goodies. I love the retro touches to the decor - tea served in vintage cups, a 50s style kitchenette unit behind the counter and even the staff wearing kitsch aprons. The food was just great too. I can definitely recommend the crumpets and the chocolate brownie!
At 13 King Street, Afternoon Tease happens to be right next to my local Post Office, which is where I send off all my vintage from by Etsy Shop
, so I have a feeling I'll be popping in to sample more of their treats in due course!
Well it certainly is getting chilly now! The arrival of winter is something that I definitely don't look forward to, but if I had to choose one redeeming feature, it's that the time has come for our vintage winter wardrobe to be unearthed.
And one of my favourite winter garments is a good old fashioned cape. They are wonderfully warm and are great for a splash of uplifting colour. Coats are all well and good, but with a cape you don't have the problem of getting a chunky vintage knit jumper into the arms, and you could even wear a cape over a coat if it is exceptionally chilly! At last years Mill Road Winter Fair
I had an outside stall and my vintage wool cape was a life saver.
Here I am wearing my vintage cape on an autumnal day at Wimpole at War
. It is by 'Foxhunter' and is all wool in a striped pattern. It looks brown and green from a distance, but when you get close it is an array of orange, pink, green and brown, so perfect for a colour addict like me. It also has a fabulous twisted fringe. I inherited it from my Nan too, so it is extra special to me.
If you fancy getting yourself a vintage cape (or even another one, like I do!) then here are my favourites that are available on Etsy. The tartan ones are rather brilliant, and are very on trend right now. If I had to choose one of these for myself I'd go for the green one with the silky lining - what about you?
Stay warm and have a great day!
October was a busy month here at Retrovert, it started off with a good old fashioned road trip, and then we had stalls at two fabulous local events. Here are the highlights of our month:
A Road Trip
The beginning of the month saw a mother and daughter road trip through the countryside of the south west. There is such a wealth of naturally beautiful and historic places in that part of the country and we visited many of them. Here I am at Tarr Steps in Exmoor. The unusual stepping stone bridge dates back to medieval times, though I was rather more channelling the 1960s in my Bernat Klein hat and Liberty print skirt.
We sampled the delights of many tearooms. Some were a big disappointment, but two stood out for delectable teatime treats and customer service: Woods Cafe near Bodmin, a chocolate box cottage in the woods which offers up creative and delicious food and even serves Cornish tea; and Periwinkle Tea Room in Selworthy, a picturesque thatched National Trust property which serves all its home made goodies on vintage china, and even had its own matching traycloths and tea cosies!
Cambridge Vintage Fair
October 13th saw the return of Judy's Vintage Fair to the Guildhall after the long summer wait. And boy did it come back with a bang. Thousands of vintage seeking students and locals came in search of fashion bargains. And judging by the increasing number of happy faces and shopping bags I saw throughout the day, it seems they were in luck!
This 70s lurex number was snapped up from our stall before the fair even opened - a fellow stallholder just couldn't resist. She was just the perfect person for it, so I was delighted.
From Cambridge With Love
A week later, we also had a brilliant time at From Cambridge With Love
in the Guildhall.
We met and chatted with so many wonderful local handmade and vintage fans, and it was a joy to help our customers find the perfect pieces for them. Our vintage china went down a treat and it is nice to know that lots of it is now being used for a good old cup of tea and cake in their new homes. I can't wait for the next From Cambridge With Love event. Bring on November 30th!
My Favourite Vintage Purchase
Trading at so many vintage fairs makes it hard to resist the temptation of buying something for yourself when you are there. I picked up this 1950s circle skirt at Cambridge Vintage Fair and also found an original net petticoat to go under it. I'm addicted to bold and colourful prints and just love twirling around in a circle skirt (and if you do too, then check out my How To Make a Circle Skirt Tutorial
So that's a snapshot of our October here at Retrovert. I hope you had a good month too! November already looks to be full of promise, with skirts flying out of our Etsy shop
and two more events
to look forward too, and at home, plenty of crafting and Christmas cooking to be getting on with!
Recently I went to the National Trust's Wimpole Hall for their 6th wartime event. The house and grounds was transported back to the 1940s and brought to life by reenactors and authentic period touches.
This dashing pair cycled all their way from Cambridge with all their camping gear on the back of their vintage tandem. Isn't that bicycle just great! If like me, you fancy riding a ride on a vintage bike then you are in luck - they are setting up their hire business Tommy Vintage Cycles
so you too can have a chance to cycle in vintage style.
There were also plenty of uniformed reenactors. Here's the Suffolk Home Guard's outpost.
Lots of people went to great efforts to make their encampments authentic. This man's array of 1940s goodies, was even all edible. I was pleased to see the bottle of Camp coffee as it brings back childhood memories of baking with it. You can tell this one is a original bottle from the label, which was revised to become more PC! You can read more about the design over on the BBC's History of the World
It was a joy to see the fabulous members of Cambs and Beds Lindy Experience again and to see if we could remember the steps of the Palais Stroll that we learnt with them at Twinwood Festival
The Hall itself had also been taken back to what it might have been like in the 40s. An original newspaper with the latest stories on the war effort was laid out for reading over tea, and there was a basket of wool in the living room for the women to get on with some making do and mending, as well as authentic games for the children to play.
I particularly liked below stairs, which gave a glimpse into the life of the servants. Best thing was I could pretend I was on the set of Downton Abbey :-)
So I had I thouroughly enjoyable day out at Wimpole at War and look forward to next time!
Have you been to any reenactment events recently?
Those of you who have visited us in person at one of our events will probably have met my Mum, as she often helps out on Retrovert's stall. Well she is not only fabulous for that, but she has also generously handed down to me the few items of clothing that she had back in the 60s and 70s.
I treasure each item and I wanted to share with you my absolute favourite. It's a check top and maxi skirt ensemble which she probably bought in 1970 when she was a student in Oxford. Here I am wearing it at my visit to Anglesey Abbey
It has really nice detailing, with broderie anglaise edging, an unusual shaped waist and a line skirt complete with a ruffle.
The absolute best thing about it though has to be that my Mum wore it for her going away outfit after her wedding. Isn't this a such a wonderful photo! (And don't you think my Dad looks a bit like Austin Powers!)
Do you have any clothes that were passed down to you?