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

Something Old v Something New: Part III

OK, we have to admit it, we’re really not very good at keeping on top of this blog, but hey, we’re busy!

We have however seen lots of pretty vintage things on our travels recently, so we thought we’d share them with you here……enjoy!  Team HV xx

Fueling our Orient Express fantasies
Fueling our Orient Express fantasies
Carousel at the Eye of York. Sadly, we were not allowed to have a ride.....
Carousel at the Eye of York. Sadly, we were not allowed to have a ride.....
French Accordian - do you remember when Joanie played one just like in Mad Men?! Sigh.
French Accordian - do you remember when Joanie played one just like in Mad Men?! Sigh.
A splendiferous collection of French antique jars
A splendiferous collection of French antique jars
We LOVE Letterpresses - more on this later when we get ourselves in gear
We LOVE Letterpresses - more on this later when we get ourselves in gear
Mary, looking slightly incongruous next to a van and some fairly random stuff!
Mary, looking slightly incongruous next to a van and some fairly random stuff!
This chap had oodles of tasty vintage ribbons & lace he sourced en France
This chap had oodles of tasty vintage ribbons & lace he sourced en France


Well, we ooh-ed, we ahh-ed, we shed a little tear and sipped champagne to toast Kate and Will and wish them the very best for the future.  It was a lovely day and great fun to watch – but what does it mean for weddings?

Kate & Will exit Westminster Abbey, courtesy of The Telegraph
Kate & Will exit Westminster Abbey, courtesy of The Telegraph

Big events, especially weddings, tend to influence styles and tastes over the following years, and this really was The Big One!  There were lots of terribly chic details to pick up on, so we thought we’d share our thoughts with you on what we think you’ll be seeing at stylish weddings over the next few years.

The dress

Kate's Sarah Burton Dress
Kate's Sarah Burton Dress

We knew there’d be sleeves and we hoped she’d go for lace, but what we didn’t expect was such a structured number.  It was such a beautiful shape and suited her so perfectly.  Now, we’re sure she choose it because she loved it, but it must have crossed her mind that people would want to copy it – and boy will they!  The sleeves make it extra wearable and it had a really timeless look to it – the Grace Kelly comparisons were absolutely justified.

We asked vintage wedding dress expert Linda Davey of Dresses at No. 9 what elements she thinks we’ll be seeing in wedding gowns after seeing Kate’s stunning dress;

“Well, as we’ve just had an enquiry for a Catherine-inspired dress, I think sleeves will make a comeback along with covered shoulders. However, we’re already in the process of working on gowns with these elements as we speak, which were designed weeks before the royal wedding took place, so perhaps this reflects a wider trend for brides.

“One of our clients in particular said how excited she was as the gown we designed and are in the process of making for her was similar to the top of Catherine’s dress!”

The cake

Fiona Cairn's masterpiece
Fiona Cairns' masterpiece

The thing that struck us most was how detailed the wedding cake was – an incredible amount of work no doubt went into it by the very talented Fiona Cairns.  It was very traditional in style and of course, all whites.  We asked top cake maker Claire Weir at Just Darling Cakes (who made the cake for our Royal Wedding shoot back in March) what changes she expected to see in requests from her brides.

“Fiona Cairns created Kate & Will’s cake using the Joseph Lambert technique which involves lots and lots of intricate piping.  It’s a look which could easily have seemed dated but was anything but.  She managed to make it look gorgeously contemporary whilst retaining a classic elegance which is sure to be popular with today’s brides.

“I’ve already had my first Royal wedding inspired cake ordered for a July 2011 wedding and I cannot wait to get to work on it!”

The flowers

Kate's Bouquet
Kate's Bouquet

Kate’s bouquet by Shane Connolly complemented all the other style aspects of the day perfectly.  Understated, chic and quintessentially English.  Touchingly, it also included lots of flowers that were meaningful to her and her new husband, including Sweet William (are there any other flowers with men’s names? We couldn’t think of any except Ragged Robin…….!), a sprig of myrtle from a plant used for the Queen’s bouquet in 1947 and Lilly of the Valley – meaning ‘return to happiness’.

We think, as with the cake, that there’ll be a return to simple, predominantly white bouquets – and hopefully that people will be inspired to use British-grown flowers.

The details

There are lots of ways to pick up trends form the Royal Wedding for your own special day without a Royal budget, here are a few of our ideas……

Take tips from Grace Kelly’s oh-so-chic wedding

Simple floral and table arrangements speak for themselves

Following Pippa Middleton’s amazing dress, get yourself an uber-glam maid of honour – remember Charlotte York’s bridesmaid’s dress in SATC?!

Two cakes – one for the bride, one for the groom!

A focus on vintage pearls and jewellery.  The Queen lent Kate her tiara, so ask your relatives if they have anything that could be your something borrowed (and your something old of course!).

Veils.   Come on ladies, it’s the only day you’re going to wear one, so embrace it – you don’t have to cover your face, but if nothing else – think about the amazing photos you might get!

So that’s what we think – but what do you think?!


A Right Royal Knees-up!

At the risk of coming across as Royal Wedding obsessives (ahem!), we though we’d put together a little moodboard of all the fabulous and funny things we’ve seen recently to help you stage your own celebration next Friday.  Heck, you don’t have to be into the royals – or weddings for that matter to enjoy yourselves on our extra day off.

Clockwise, from top left:

sweet cupcake toppers from Hunky Dory Home, make champers even more fun with the Royal Wedding Bingo card to download for free from Boden, Union Jack paperchains from Dotcom Giftshop – if you’re really good, you can use them again next year for the jubilee!, Knit Your Own Royal Wedding book by Fiona Goble, do the washing up after your afternoon tea with a Corgi Tea Towel from To Dry For,  Fun paper bunting tutorial from What Katie Did Next – great fun to make with kids and pretty cheap to make too!

If you’d rather be part of a crowd on the big day, there are plenty of events you can join – here are some happening inYork…..

York’s City Screen is hosting a live screening from 10am, and you can pick up ‘picnic boxes’, have strawberries & cream and Pimms, and even stay on afterwards for a special screening of The King’s Speech if you want a day of patriotism!  If you’re not in York but you like the idea, check out the Picturehouse website to see what’s happening near you.

If you’re hoping to drag out a posh frock and pretend you’re invited the to the party, you could head down to the beautiful Middlethorpe Hall for a special wedding breakfast and champagne, perfect for princess fantastists!

There’s also a fascinating sounding exhibition on at the moment at York Minster (running until 11 May); featuring a display of both wedding and royal-related items in the Minster’s treasure trove – you can learn more about the Royal wedding held inYork that ended in a brawl!

But if you really aren’t bothered (who are you, really, we want to know!), there are still plenty of things you can do with your day off without resorting to staying in with the TV off and the curtains closed!

Why not head off into the countryside for a picnic – there are some amazing spots across Yorkshireand there won’t be a wailing onlooker in sight!  One of my favourite spots has to be Beningbrough Hall, just outside York.  It has a beautiful walled garden and you might be lucky enough to catch the lovely cherries in blossom.  If you’re feeling particularly lazy (and why not), you could pop into the Home Farm shop at Beningbrough and pick up some tasty treats for a spot of lunch.

If it’s no to the wedding, but yes to the pub – the perfect event for you is taking place at the Fulford Arms in York – an anti-royal wedding party, with a swear box for anyone uttering anything about the wedding!!

Me?  I’ll be heading over to a friend’s house to have strawberries and champagne whilst wearing a posh frock.  I’m embracing it as a day to do something different and not be judged for drinking before midday……!

Whatever you decide to do on the day, make sure you enjoy it, they’re only going to do this once.

Katie xx

PS – if you’re just a *teensy* bit traumatised that you’re not going to be a princess – don’t worry!!  : )

Royal Wedding Inspired Street Party

So, you know by now about the photoshoot we co-ordinated and styled recently – and I’m proud and delighted to say that it was featured yesterday on the fabulous Love My Dress.

You can read all about how the shoot was put together and which lovely people we worked with on Love My Dress, but we’re so happy with Cat Hepple’s gorgeous pictures, we just HAVE to put some on here too!  Hope you love them.

It’s made us think about what we’re going to do on 29 April – old fashioned street party or head in to York and join in with the crowds, we can’t decide.  Tell us your plans – we’re totally prepared to be influenced!! xx

My Fabulous Friday

Sometime ago, I was walking home when I had a great idea for a photoshoot inspired by a certain couple’s forthcoming nuptials .  The full details shall, for now, remain under wraps, but I can’t resist sharing some of them with you here!

I wanted to create something with a quintessentially English feel, that would inspire and bring a smile to people’s faces – something unique, vintage and above all FUN!

I shared my vision with the wonderfully talented photographer Cat Hepple, who produced the marvellous images you can see below, and who captured our ideas so perfectly.  Cat’s modern take on vintage style shows off the gorgeous vintage outfits perfectly, and has made the streets of York look so vibrant – who knew there were so many colours in our own little stomping ground?!

As is generally the case with these things, several heads are better than one, and I also have to say a huge thank you to the following contributers who gave their time, support and creativity so freely and without whom, this shoot would not have been possible…..

Sarah Richardson at Leafy Couture for her beautiful flowers

Claire Weir at Just Darling Cakes for creating an amazing cake

Keeley & Diane at Discover Vintage for loaning us some stunning vintage outfits

Natalie Ramsell at I Am Nat for her wonderful and original stationery designs

Leanne Bennett at LAB Make Up for her vintage inspired hair and make up looks

and Lucy at Bunting Queen for sending us some of her pretty bunting

Can’t wait to share the rest of these fabulous photos with you – hope you love them as much as we do xx