It’s flower drying season!

Everyone who knows me knows I love the changing of the seasons.  When it’s dark and cold in the new year, I am desperate for the first flowers of the season and the changing of the clocks, when my poor old pasty English skin has had enough of summer, I long for crisp autumn mornings.

One of my favourite things to do at this time of year is to dry flowers ready to create displays; my personal favourites being hydrangeas, seed heads, honesty and Chinese lanterns.


I have a couple of the latter in our garden, but I have to be honest and say that they did not do particularly well this year, having been in a neglected part of the garden, so my mum saved me some from their garden (from a plant I gave them, I might add!) and they are just gorgeous.


I will be using them, alongside my usual stash of hydrangeas, at shows this year and to make dried Christmas wreaths.  Assuming you keep them indoors or in a porch that doesn’t get much exposure to the elements and that they are stored properly in a box with tissue paper and bubblewrap, you can re-use dried wreaths again the following year.

I find the colours much more in keeping with the time of year than the many brash primary colours you see in shops and I will post some pictures once that time of year comes around so you can how easy it is to make them yourself.

Unlike the lanterns and honesty, you really do need to take hydrangea flowers from the plant to dry.  Timing is everything and my best advice is to keep running your fingers along the petals every day until you can feel them take on a papery quality – you’ll know the day they’re ready, I promise!  Try to leave a decent stem – a minimum of 4 or 5 inches ideally, taking off the leaves once you’ve cut them, so that you’ve got plenty still left to cut when you’ve decided what you’d like to do with them once they’re dried.


Others have advocated drying them upside down to retain colour, but I generally place one or two stems in a bottle or rose bowl up on a shady shelf somewhere with an inch or so of water and leave them alone until they’re completely dry.  The woody stems remain really quite hard, so they can be easily poked into oasis or chicken wire or even willow wreaths without causing too much damage to the petals.  The colours can be really spectacular and vary wildly even when taken from the same plant.


This year, I also decided to save some lovely pink delphinium which were part of a bouquet I received from a friend in July  and I’m very happy to say they dry beautifully! They are incredibly delicate – one puff of wind or over-handling and the petals would be on the floor!  As the bouquet started to fade, I took these out and put them in one of my lemonade bottles (LOVE these), without water, without cutting the stems.




As you can see – delphiniums really keep their colour, which was a nice surprise and something I will remember for next year, assuming the dreaded slugs don’t decimate my plants as they did this year (check out the hostas in the background of the picture above – I HATE snails!!).

If you don’t have lots of space to dedicate to flower drying, but like the look, I can highly recommend Nkuku’s kiko frames, which are ideal for displaying petals and smaller flowers whilst drying. Because they’re glass, you can just wipe clean any ‘bleed’ that comes from the flowers and it would be a nice way to keep wedding flowers or confetti alongside other special bits from the day that aren’t really suitable for traditional frames.

You can find lots of different ideas and methods of drying on our ‘Floral’ board over on pinterest, but not all these ideas will work for you –  I, for instance, have tried many many times to dry flowers upside down, but I honestly find I get the best results when I just leave them alone.  If you can give me any tips for retaining the colour in roses, I’d love to hear your thoughts!


Feel free to leave your own hints and tips below for other people to try.

Thanks for reading,
Katie xx


My love affair with pinterest

I’ve been on Pinterest for some time now – I signed up back when you had to apply to be a member……so, forever!  I’ve used it for Wedding Planning, Christmas Planning, Dinner Party Planning, Lists of Crafts I Will Never Make, Pictures of Chateaus I will Never Live In……. you name it, I’ve pinned it.

Unlike other sites, Pinterest is that rare beast, an almost entirely positive place to be.  Nobody questions your taste, nobody criticises – or if they do….you never know about it!  You are your own interior designer, event planner and head chef. You have no budget.

It’s coming in particularly handy at the moment, as we are currently working on the teeny tiny galley kitchen at my house and my lovely lovely boyfriend is spending his evenings fiddling about responding to my whims and generally being an incredible kitchen fitter, despite his day job being in IT! I am a dreadful assistant, more focused on paint colour and ‘the fun bits’ than making decisions on electrical requirements and whether or not I am happy with the length of various bits of wood, but, I AM trying and I can already see that the end result is going to be well worth the wait.  I am, as he likes to tell me, a lucky gal………!

I have already warned him that I am going to post pictures of it when it’s finished and I think he is secretly pleased, but in the meantime, I thought I would post some of the awesome kitchens that have inspired us along the way……

Classic subway tiles paired with oak worktops and cup handles – what’s not to love?


Open shelving against white walls – we were determined to let in lots of light, which means, for us, not putting up wall cabinets
Moving our fridge means we’ll have room for …..a pantry!  Heaven!  Although I doubt it will be as neat and tidy as this one.


I look forward to posting pictures of my own kitchen in the not too distant future – we have a little jaunt to NYC planned in the next couple of weeks (he’s right, I AM a lucky gal), so it won’t be until next month that we finally finish.  In the meantime, feel free to share your own kitchen successes below…….it will help to keep us motivated to finish our own project!

PS: Remember that episode of Ab Fab when Saffron is determined to make Edie chose a kitchen and Edie & Patsy end up going to New York on Concorde in search of door handles……..?  We can relate!

Rainy day jobs and why I love them….

Normally, the summer months are understandably spent out and about sourcing new pieces, visiting fairs, dealers and brocantes and generally enjoying the freedom I’m lucky to enjoy in this job.  But – hey, we live in the UK, and it’s always possible that an entire weekend – or even a week – will be lost to rain.

This weekend was just such a weekend, so I had to find something else to do, because while I am at my happiest digging for treasure, constant downpours see me running inside!  There’s always mending and restoring to do, chandeliers to rebuild, textiles to clean and press, stock to sort and – my favourite….. cutlery to polish.

I have to admit, cutlery is one of my addictions.  I am a great believer in *useful* antiques.  We all love the curios; the strange and beautiful things we see along the way, but certainly from my perspective, the majority of what I buy (and therefore my lovely customers buy), are pieces they can use every day, if they so wished.

There’s something beautiful about vintage and antique cutlery that you simply do not get with modern pieces.  Whether it’s the engraved blade of a fish knife, the elegant handle on a mother of pearl service or a set of dainty teaspoons, my heart always beats a little faster when I see some tarnished beauties languishing at the bottom of a box, just waiting for a new home.

This sweet little set of teaspoons which I recently picked up was absolutely desperate for a clean, as you can see. There are a number of cleaning products suited to the job on the market, but I always, always use good old silvo.  You can buy the wadding, but I find it much easier and cost efficient to buy the liquid.


It’s useful to have a few cloths to hand for cleaning – I tend to clean lots of pieces all in one go, so I lay them out on an old towel, rub in some silvo, a small amount at a time, then leave it to ‘soak’ for a couple of minutes before using a clean, lint-free cloth to rub it off and buff up the piece.  Old tea towels are great for this and I always have a little stash for polishing.  Handy hint – children’s toothbrushs are fantastic for getting into the details on silver plated and silver items!

I’m sure you will agree – it’s quite the difference!


The same can be seen on this lovely rose bowl, picked up the same weekend, which will also be hitting our etsy shop shortly.  The difference between the polished right and the unpolished left is pretty obvious.


So, don’t be put off by the sad, tarnished pieces you see next time you’re out hunting. Most pieces you discover will clean up brilliantly, and if there are a few scuffs and signs of wear even after your attempts…… well, the Hello Vintage motto is always to consider great finds to be ‘perfectly imperfect’ – a little patina simply adds to the beauty of the piece.


Hope you had a great weekend hunting for your own treasure! xx

PS:  If you prefer to use new cutlery, or just like to have a matching set, we have the John Lewis Vintage Ivory cutlery at home which we use when we’re ‘being fancy’ and I have to say I absolutely adore them.



So, this isn’t an other abandoned blog………

Four years can pass by pretty quickly, and that’s what has happened here.  Other things – other jobs, came along and took over, but, here I am, four years on, taking things in a different direction.

Spring feels like a good time for that, don’t you think?

Hello Vintage started as a way for me to work for myself, in the events world, having done similar work for other people before.  I always loved vintage, especially china, so working on weddings and the celebrations of others was a genuine pleasure.

But, of course, things move on, ideas change and develop and for me, that side of things has drifted away.

After four years of part-owning and running a bricks and mortar vintage shop, a need for more time and space with family and friends and an opportunity to do something different came along, which I took.  The love of vintage and antiques, of finding a treasure with history, or a scrap of fabric that will be just perfect for a particular project, or sourcing a piece for a customer that they’ve been searching for high and low, that’s all still there.

So, I’ll be starting to sell on Etsy and at fairs again, which is something that I’m hugely excited about.  The website is still the same ( and I’ll be listing the fairs I’ll be selling at on there, updating as I go.

For now, I’m simply going to enjoy my leisurely morning coffee, rearranging my office and sorting through my collections with the radio on in the background.  Bliss!






Autumn Days

When I was at school The Harvest Festival was my very favourite school festival.  I was rather partial to singing songs about nature’s bounty, carving pumpkins and being ever so slightly smug about the fact I was giving away chutney that I had MADE to the senior citizens down the road.  Of course it also meant that my birthday was just around the corner, which, when you’re seven, is something that needs endless discussion.

I’m less keen to shout about my birthdays these days, but my enthusiasm for this time of the year; its colours, its crisp blue mornings and of course the harvest remains.

As I started to write this, the sun was shining brightly through the window and we’d just started to enjoy our mini heat wave! This week has been quite different of course, but despite us not having a great summer, the lovely weather in April and May has meant a bumper harvest this year.

Despite my lack of garden, I’m lucky enough to have parents who have a ginormous garden and am bombarded with bags and bags of apples, blackberries, courgettes, tomatoes, onions and all sorts of lovely things.  This year, for the first time ever, my father thinks he will have picked all the apples by the end of the month – has anyone else had the same experience?

It’s always a challenge to work out what exactly I’m going to do with all the apples – there is only so much puree and custard we can eat – but this year I’m happy say I’ve got through quite a lot already!

There’s a country park really near our house which I visited a couple of weeks ago with some friends to go sloe picking – if you’ve never made sloe gin, I’d urge you to give it go, it’s so simple and makes a great Christmas gift.  Sloes are plentiful this year, and you’ve still just about got enough time – but get your sloes quickly!  The plants look like hawthorn bushes and the berries a bit like blueberries.  They are incredibly sour and are full of tannin, so please, for the sake of your taste buds, don’t bother eating them!

I never bother buying expensive gin for this, just a supermarket own brand is perfectly fine.  I have bottles from Lakeland, which are the ones I used here but there are some lovely ones in Ikea this year too (the taller ones with the snowflake pattern below)– I bought a few and will be making limoncello for Christmas shortly.

Once you’ve picked your sloes and washed them, you need to prick them to let the juice run out, which give the flavour and lovely pink colour to the gin.  I use cocktail sticks, but you could just use a fork or even the tip of a sharp knife (mind your fingers!)

Then I pop a few berries into a bottle, like so:

Cover with sugar, about this much:

…and then fill up the bottle with gin.  I then give it a good shake once a day for a week, then pop in the cupboard and shake once a week until Christmas, when I open the bottles, sieve it through a muslin cloth to get the berries out and re-bottle ready to drink.  Yum!  After just a few weeks, the gin is already looking good, as you can see:

I had about 500 grams of sloes left, so I used them to make this sloe gin and apple jelly recipe, which I think will be delicious with turkey and make a nice change to cranberry jelly, and from the same site I’ve found a great new recipe for using up some of those apples – a beautiful looking apple and chilli jelly, which was so easy to make and again will be lovely served with meat.

I used a mix of cookers and eaters rather than crab apples, but I think you’ll agree it looks really pretty with all the little jewel-like chopped chilli suspended in the amber-coloured jelly

Give it a go – there are so many British apples in shops at the moment and a homemade gift is always appreciated.

Oh and I’m not the only one who’s inspired by autumn, I just had to include a couple of pictures I took of Betty’s autumnal window display, so sweet!

Happy autumn folks, I’d love you to share your seasonal recipes with us here…….

Katie xx

The Travelling Parlour

A rather self-indulgent post from HV Towers today I’m afraid, but it is our blog and we’ll talk about ourselves if we want to.

We love what we do – we get to shop for pretty things.  A lot.  But our favourite thing is when we get to meet other people – we love meeting couples for the first time, we love seeing people on the day of their wedding, we love bonkers hen parties, we love them one and all.

So we thought, we should do more of this, more meeting people, more laughing, more making people happy.  So that’s what we’re going to do.

It made sense to us to incorporate other things we love too – good food, beautiful spaces and just a hint of secretiveness and naughtiness and so it was that The Travelling Parlour was born!

We’d sort of been aware of supper clubs for some time, mainly because of the awesome Ms Marmite (AKA Kerstin Rodgers), whose book Supper Club, Recipes & Notes from The Underground Kitchen  has proved such a huge inspiration to us in planning this new adventure.  Even if you’re not planning a supper club it comes highly recommended as a great, heartwarming read!

Firstly, we realised we wanted a logo that would encapsulate all of the ideas that were being furiously emailed, we we called upon Natalie Ramsell of super cool designers I Am Nat to step in and make design sense of it for us.  After many barked instructions, including ‘ Make It Look French!’ and ‘We Like Grey, Y’Know, French Grey – It’s Like French Pink – Sort Of Grey!’ (eh?) , Nat has dreamed up our perfect logo, and here it is (looking both french AND Grey!).  We love it.

‘So what next?’ we thought. We love cooking, we do – but it would be overestimating our talents by quite a lot to suggest we’d be capable of producing a several-course-supper for quite a few strangers without out heads exploding, which frankly, we felt would put a bit of a dampener on the whole affair. 

Luckily, we know lots of brilliantly talented chef types who keep bringing all sorts of exciting ideas to the table, including our friend, and owner of Love to Eat, Louise Brogan-Hewitt who we’re teaming up with for our first event in October (we talked about her here).

And now for the plug:

We’d absolutely love you to come along to our very first super supper club event on Thursday 27 October in York, which is part of the fringe programme for the Illuminating York festival. 

Here’s our menu:

Tickets are £45 per person, dress code is black tie with a twist.  Our venue is…….well, you’ll have to book to find that out won’t you, but it does have fancy lights, as proved by this picture I took on my iphone when we first saw it (I love hipstamatic, don’t you?)…..

So, if you’re a facebooker, do come along and like The Travelling Parlour page, and if you’re a tweeter, tweet us.  For more information and to book places, visit our page on the Supper Club Fan Site.

Hope to see you in The Parlour xx

Vintage by Hemingway

A few months ago, it was with great excitement that Alex and I planned a weekend in London; a couple of days away from it all to relax, unwind, gossip and enjoy a weekend of glamorous vintage style.  Vintage had its second outing this weekend, moving from the 2010 outdoor setting of Goodwood to the hive of cultural activity that is London’s Southbank Centre, as a flagship event of the Festival of Britain celebrations.

So were we impressed?  Well, not overly.

I must point out that we didn’t go last year, so I can’t talk about comparisons, but listening to other people’s opinions, the general consensus was that the atmosphere was lacking which was pretty much how we felt.  We heard it was a sell-out on Saturday, but it was anything but when we went on the Sunday.  Apologies too that this is a post without pictures, but truly dear reader, we didn’t find anything worth photographing until we went outside to the stalls and by then we couldn’t be bothered.

We thought we’d have a bite to eat before we went into the festival, and grabbed ourselves a couple of spots at our favourite yo sushi so we could do some good old fashioned people watching as the crowds started to appear.  It’s always wonderful to see people in full vintage regalia, and we certainly weren’t disappointed. The weather had brought out some stunning outfits.  Our particular favourite was a blonde lady who was wearing a beautiful 1920s silvery silk floor-length gown (sadly we didn’t get a pic) – I wish we felt the occasion had been special enough to have deserved her Gosford Park gorgeousness!

On entering, we caught the end of a set by The Bombshellettes, who I have to say sounded brilliant and so looked the part.  We’d have loved to have seen them at a ‘proper’ dance event so that we could have joined in, but there were 3 couples jiving, all of whom were clearly experts, so the dance floor was pretty empty and we decided to give it a miss.

And then, we wandered.  We were given a ‘map’ when we got in, but it was basically a photocopied piece of A4 paper with lists of names on it.  We’d planned on getting our hair and make up done, but there only appeared to be four people offering this….the queues must have been busy on Saturday when it was apparently sold out, that’s all I can say!  So we carried on wandering.  And that was pretty much it to be honest.

The usually fantastic Judy’s Affordable Vintage fair had been split up across two separate landings, one of which we didn’t discover until we were ready to leave.

We thought we’d quite like to watch a vintage fashion show that was due to start at 2pm, but by half past, it showed no signs of starting and we were fed up of watching rotating images of Pearl & Daisy Lowe on 2 big screens, as stylish as they undoubtedly are.

The only saving grace in our minds came from us joining in two craft sessions.  The first was with the London Printworks Trust (their website is currently being renovated) who were absolutely fantastic and were frankly far more patient with us than I would have been in their situation.  Fiona was really helpful and talked through all the different designs we could use and we made a 50s/Festival of Britain inspired headscarf of which were are very proud!

We then headed over to the other craft landing (no, nothing was all together in one area!) and were given a lesson in hand embroidery by Jessica Aldred which we both really enjoyed – after her initial frustration, Alex declared herself to be a convert!

After we’d had some crafty fun, we thought we’d better head outside to do some shopping before the vintage market closed, so headed out into the crowds enjoying the sunshine.  We were very nearly totally distracted by all the delicious food outside, which I don’t think was anything to do with Vintage, but made do with a glass of prosecco.  In a plastic glass.  Which was a bit wrong!

Now, we are chronic browsers the pair of us, and will happily wander around for a long time searching for that elusive vintage item, but to be honest, I’d sort of lost a bit of heart by this point.  It was pretty warm and there were a LOT of people in there, just milling around looking a bit mystified by the whole thing.  There was some gorgeous stuff that sellers had put together and most stalls looked really great – some had clearly put a lot of effort into making their areas look tip top.  But y’know what….. I didn’t see anyone actually buy anything.

I’d love to hear from some sellers to see if they thought it was worth all their hard work, because the pitches can’t have been cheap and I do wonder if they made their fees back.  A few stalls had some crazy prices (£125 for less than a metre of 50s fabric, I shit you not!), but we did see some amaaaaaazing dresses and some fabulous mid-century furniture which were totally worth the (mostly hefty) price tags.

So would we go again? Not if it’s like this year.  With so much to do outside the Royal Festival Hall for free, the £60 ticket price wasn’t worth it and we were miffed to say the least when we discovered they’d offered up cheap tickets via Time Out a few days before.  Take note organisers:  You reward the faithful for booking early, not rip them off then flog tickets half price to the as-yet-undecided cos you’re panicking!!   We saw people with wrist bands for all three days, and quite what they managed to amuse themselves by doing each day I have no idea.  Also, maybe make some signs so people know what is where……….

The Hemingways do seem to have a great passion for making a success of the festival and it is only their second year, so we’ll reserve judgement until they unveil the plans for 2012 and hope they take onboard some of the comments from other festival goers on this years, rather underwhelming, event.  I should imagine it’s make or break time.

Feel free to share your thoughts folks

Katie xx