Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Curvy Kitty - Land Army Girl

I'm off on holiday!

Heading off to the station after work to catch a train to Warnambool, then a bus to Narrawong, then a drive to mum's place, arriving in the middle of the night. I've already packed two books and there's the promise of a hot water bottle awaiting me. It's going to be a weekend of chickens, horses, cooked breakfasts and Wellington boots.

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Monday, August 29, 2011


Phew! Lost book drama over. Turned out I never even brought the books home from the library. Which is rather good because I discovered one of them now fetches $2500. Yikes! So the weekend turned out all tip top and boompsadaisy!

Time for some spring fashion inspiration courtesy of the 1940 spring Sears catalogue. Clicky clicky to see bigger pics.

My future has plaid in it.

And gingham!

Bolero jackets! Red, white and blue!

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Saturday, August 27, 2011

Bad day for a librarian

I know that it should have been a good day, picking up my ticket to Bolwarra (visiting my mum next week - hurrah!), stopping in at Spotlight to pick up some fabric, buying a pattern (admittedly for an overcoat, but it had a hood and so was not to be passed up). Then I had the afternoon off. I read some Ngaio Marsh and watched North By Northwest. Which I didn't like. Largely because storm clouds of doom hung over me all day. Somewhere between my desk and my backdoor I lost sone library books on Friday. Not just any books but books from another library. That are out of print. That are rare. That are pretty much non replaceable. Ye gods! What have I done?!

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Operation Bathing Beauty

Phase one of Operation BB is underway! Pattern has been bought - an Eva Dress repro of a 1941 pattern.

Fabric also bought - cotton, on sale at Spotlight. Board short fabric, for the little shorts that go underneath the skirt, sourced - thanks to Donna in Queensland! She's making a special trip so yay Donna! The vintage pattern specifies silk jersey - which retails here at $60m. I don't think so!

(sorry but i had to take the photo on my phone, my photographer being a work - it's actually very bright and sunshiny fabric)

The last thing I bought from the US took a month to arrive. I really don't understand US Postal. They managed to organize a cycling team but can't actually deliver any mail on time. Delivery dates and postage costs vary seemingly at random. So I may or may not get the pattern in time for my Queensland adventure in October.

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Monday, August 22, 2011

Springy sprungy

Hurrah! Spring is almost here! Unless winter is just teasing us (in Melbourne it's quite possible). Sunshiny sparkly days that we've spent mucking around on bikes and sitting in the sun drinking coffee. I'm looking at the winter fabric I've got left in my stash and wondering if I can whizz something up or leave it til next year. About now I get excited about spring sewing and the gorgeous repro 30s and 40s prints that are available. My big project over September is to have a go making some bathers.

I'll be off to Queensland in October and need to look glamorous poolside! which ones do you think?

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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

New pattern

Next on sewing pile is this black number with the peplum, chosen by my young man. I've some burgundy crepe set aside - what is conceivably the last lightweight crepe left in Melbourne. Somehow fabric stores here just don't stock it anymore and I don't think satin back crepe is fluid enough. I made a muslin of the bodice on the weekend (yes, I learnt my lesson!) and will be adding a bit of length to the waist. I'm hoping I can cut it out next weekend, in between hosting an antique valuation session at the library and going for a ride if the weather is fine (i.e. unlikey).

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Sunday, August 14, 2011

Whirlwind weekend

Yes, I started the weekend early! I took Friday off to Yell for Cadel.

I trotted off to Fed Square with thousands of other people to see Cadel Evans. I had an excellent spot where I could see both the stage and the big screen. Yay for being taller than most people! I waved my little yellow flag, murmured a ladylike hurrah and even got a bit teary. And what a nice chap he is too. I've never seen him so relaxed and cheerful. A very exciting day.

Saturday morning I went for a ride with my friend Michael. Tried out the new S Works. What a sweet bike. It's less twitchy than my Parlee so even though super light and responsive I was filled with confidence. It's a real honey and I can't wait to get out on it again. Though it turns out that Michael's idea of a slow ride is very different to mine.
I made a bit of a goof with my social calendar and only a lucky txt alerted me to an afternoon tea i was running late for. So i went from sporty to glamorous in ten minutes! I got treated to a scrummy vegan spread that was absolutely delicious. And I drank more wine than i've ever had in my entire life. Plus champagne cocktails in vintage glasses. Spoilt!

I was going to ride again this morning but ended up doing the ironing, reading an old mystery and watching a war movie (When Trumpets Fade which I thought was rather good but short I - though i was setting my hair at the time so it's possible I missed bits). Now Kim is cooking dinner and I get to relax with a cat on my lap. Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Nancy Wake

I don't normally cut and paste but I've pinched this from the UK Mirror newspaper. This is about war hero Nancy Wake who died yesterday. A truly remarkable woman.

SEEING her being pushed gently around the gardens of a London nursing home, it was difficult to believe the frail old woman in the wheelchair once delighted in killing any Nazi in her way – with her bare hands.

Yet Nancy Wake was a Second World War super heroine, a Resistance fighter and secret agent so feared by Hitler’s war machine that she was top of the Gestapo’s most wanted list.

One of the most decorated Allied servicewomen of the war, Nancy was glamorous and ladylike – until fighting broke out, when she was reputed to act like “five men”.

Her famous exploits included throwing a grenade into a crowded Nazi cafe and, on a mission to blow up an ammunitions dump, killing an SS sentry with a single karate chop.

The fearless femme fatale is credited with helping to save the lives of thousands of Jews and Allied servicemen during the war by setting up escape routes through the Pyrenees.

And she played a key role in D-Day by leading 7,000 French Resistance fighters in missions to sabotage enemy installations in the run-up to the invasion.

Yet despite the Nazis’ best efforts – and a five million franc bounty on her head – Nancy always managed to evade capture, leading to her being codenamed The White Mouse by the Gestapo because she was so infuriatingly elusive.

Australian Nancy, who died on Sunday just a few days before her 99th birthday, was awarded France’s highest honour, the Legion d’honneur, Britain’s George Medal and the US Medal of Freedom for her extraordinary exploits.She was also the inspiration for Sebastian Faulks’ 1999 novel Charlotte Gray.

It is the story of a Scottish woman who joins the French Resistance during the Second World War and was made into a smash-hit film starring Cate Blanchett in 2001.

In accordance with her wishes, Nancy’s body will be cremated privately and her ashes will be scattered next spring at Montlucon in Central France, where she took part in an heroic 1944 attack on the local Gestapo headquarters.

Yesterday world leaders rushed to pay tribute to her after her death in a London hospital following a chest infection.

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard said: “Our nation honours a truly remarkable individual whose selfless valour and tenacity will never be forgotten. Nancy Wake was a woman of exceptional courage and resourcefulness whose daring exploits saved the lives of hundreds of Allied personnel and helped bring the Nazi occupation of France to an end.”

Her biographer Peter FitzSimons said: “They called her La souris blanche – the White Mouse – because every time they had her cornered she was gone again.

“Part of it was she was a gorgeous-looking woman. The Germans were looking for someone who looked like them, aggressive, a man with guns, and she was not like that.”

David McLachlan, president of the Returned and Services League of Australia, said: “She was very much involved in providing information for the planning of D-Day.

“She parachuted back in behind enemy lines after she’d been back to England. The Gestapo hated her, wanted her, more than anybody else. She was an incredibly brave woman.”

In one of her final interviews, aged 80, Nancy proved that, despite advancing years the feisty nature which made her a legend was still very much alive.

She said: “Someone once asked me, ‘Have you ever been afraid? Hah! I’ve never been afraid in my life.

“I loved killing Germans! I hated the Germans… I loathed and detested them, and as far as I was concerned the only good one was a dead one. And the deader the better.”

Calmly recalling the moment she karate-chopped a Nazi soldier to death, she said: “It had been raining and I thought that would be good because I wouldn’t make so much noise but I must have made a bit, because he turned around as I went to give him a karate blow and stuck his dagger in my arm.”

When asked what happened to him, she drew a finger across her throat and said: “He had it.”

Born in Wellington, New Zealand, Nancy moved to Sydney, Australia with her family when she was only two years old.

At 16 she ran away from home and worked as a nurse. Then, with £200 she had received in an aunt’s will, she travelled to New York, and London, where she trained as a journalist.

In the 30s she worked in Paris as a European correspondent for America’s Hearst newspapers and in 1939 met and married wealthy French industrialist Henri Fiocca.

In 1933 in her work as a journalist, she went to Vienna to interview Hitler.

Nancy was shocked while she was there to see Jews chained to huge wheels, being whipped by Nazi troops.

The experience had a profound effect on her and proved to be the turning point in her life. Realising what a danger Hitler posed to the world, she devoted herself to defeating the evil she had seen.

In 1939 when the Second World War broke out she immediately joined the French Resistance, starting as a courier carrying everything from simple messages to hi-tech radio parts.

She used her native cunning and beauty – being openly flirtatious – to overcome the suspicions of German guards to get through checkpoints.

Nancy soon graduated to spiriting downed Allied pilots or groups of Jewish refugees from one “safe house” to another until they reached the base of the Pyrenees, the gateway to freedom in Spain. She once said: “Freedom is the only thing worth living for. While I was doing that work I used to think it didn’t matter if I died, because without freedom there is no point in living.”

She once cycled more than 500 miles through several German checkpoints to replace codes which her wireless operator had been forced to destroy during a German raid.

Once the Gestapo almost caught her – but she shot her way out of a roadblock and managed to escape while bullets whistled around her ears. Then, at the sixth attempt, she managed to flee over the Pyrenees to safety in neutral Spain.

Her husband Henri was not so lucky. After being arrested by the Gestapo he refused to divulge her whereabouts or give an account of her activities and was executed. Nancy later said: “I will go to my grave regretting that. Henri was the love of my life.”

After escaping to Spain Nancy came to Britain and joined the Special Operations Executive, before being parachuted back into France on April 29, 1944. She became a vital liaison between London and the French Resistance.

Known by partisans by her codename Madame Andree she co-ordinated Resistance activity before the Normandy invasion and recruited more people to fight Germany.

French fighters later recalled how, to teach the male Resistance leaders to respect her, she would challenge them to drinking contests and was always the “last man” left standing at dawn. Referring to blind French Resistance hero Jacques Lusseyran, a partisan once told a British officer: “Madame Andree is braver than Jacques, and Jacques is the bravest man among us.”

After the defeat of Nazi Germany Nancy was among the first into the newly liberated Paris – but was still in a fighting mood when she got into an argument with a waiter.

The waiter thought he had won the confrontation by saying he would prefer to serve the Germans than the likes of her and her noisy friends. Nancy reflected on this for a moment before leaping to her feet and knocking him senseless with a right hook.

As soon as another alarmed waiter rushed to his fallen colleague with a glass of brandy, she grabbed it, drained it in one gulp, thanked him with the word: “Merci,” and strutted out of the door.

After the war Nancy continued working for British intelligence in Europe until 1957, when she moved back to Australia and married British fighter pilot John Forward.

While there, she unsuccessfully stood for parliament and, in 1985, published her autobiography The White Mouse.

It became a bestseller and has been reprinted many time since.

In 2001, four years after John’s death, she moved back to Britain.

Despite receiving the highest decorations from the French, British and Americans, she was for years denied a medal by her home country, Australia, on the grounds that she was not fighting for any of the Australian services during the war.

In her later years, Nancy was contacted on numerous occasions by the Australian government but she repeatedly rejected their offer of a medal.

When she was asked about this in April 2000 she was typically blunt.

“The last time there was a suggestion of giving me an Australian medal, I told the government they could stick their medals where the monkey stuck his nuts.

“The thing is if they gave me a medal now it wouldn’t be given with love so I don’t want anything from them. They can b***** off!’’

It was a typical outburst but three years later she mellowed and accepted her Companion of the Order of Australia, humbly saying: “I hope I’m worth it.

“I hope I will be able to live up to the oath that I have made to my country.

“And the people in it and those that will come after us.”

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Monday, August 8, 2011

Sunday movie matinee

I watched a really good movie yesterday but i've already forgotten the title of it... Oh dear! So I'll have to talk about the other film I watched.

After reading Brodeck's Report I decided to take a break from the war. What better than a movie from the Depression! Actually this isn't as grim as it sounds. Take a look at this!

Wouldn't you go and see this? This is Gold Diggers of 1933. It's Warner Bros follow up to 42nd Street and it's a fabulous frockfest.

It's a great cast with Ruby Keeler and dreamy Dick Powell, in his pre noir crooner days.

The fabulous Aline McMahon

Sassy Joan Blondell and Guy Kibee. Look at that lingerie!

Ginger! Which is why we're watching it really.

And girls!



Yep, thats Busby Berkeley being saucy. I've always really enjoyed this film. The female leads are so strong and sassy and it really is a feel good film. It's very frank about the Depression - no one's got any money. The songs are great, the costumes enough for me to abandon the 40s and there are some hilarious lines. It also features the very moving Forgotten Man number - a protest against government treatment of WW1 veterans.

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Thursday, August 4, 2011

A new shirtwaist

My latest sewing! Though I have a bone to pick with the pattern grader on this one. I've made heaps of Simplicity patterns from the 1940s and I've never had to alter any of them. They're a perfect fit! So of course I didn't make a muslin first (I know! Stupid me.) This one turned out to be too short in the waist. It's also a bit voluminous around the waist, all cunningly disguised by a belt. Would I make it again? I actually love the way it looks on, so yes, definitely - with a proper fitting next time!

Bottle green gaberdine and vintage 40s buttons from L'Ucello.

My latest set. Three hours at the hairdresser. One night to fall out. I'll be sticking to my home sets in the future!

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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Brodeck's report

I started this book yesterday. A friend came to visit and I wondered how rude it would seem if I kept reading. I came home today and put the kettle on. Started to read. Read on and on - the tea unmade, the cats unfed, the light in the room dimming. And now, having finished, I'm not sure how to speak of it. Brodeck's Report is a beautiful, sad and horrifying read.

For now I'll give you the publisher's synopsis while I think about how to tell you about it.

From his village in post-war France, Brodeck makes his solitary journeys into the mountains to collect data on the natural environment. Day by day he also reconstructs his own life, all but lost in the years he spent in a camp during the war. No-one had expected to see him again. One day, a flamboyant stranger rides into the village, upsetting the fragile balance of everyday life. Soon he is named the Anderer, "the other", and tensions rise until, one night, the newcomer is murdered. Brodeck is instructed to write an account of the events leading to his death, but his report delivers much more than the bare facts: it becomes the story of a community coming to terms with the legacy of enemy occupation. In a powerful narrative of exceptional fascination, Brodeck's Report explores the very limits of humanity.

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