Sunday, 18 May 2014

Meeting Maya

When I received an email from Penguin Books inviting me to attend a 1950's soirée, I was excited. When I read that it was an event to celebrate the release of Maya Van Wagenen's book Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek, I was intrigued.

I'll be honest: I'd never heard of Maya before this. A quick Google search told me that she was named TIME magazine's most influential teenager, and she recently won a major film deal with Dreamworks - pretty damn impressive, especially considering that Maya is only 15 years-old. When I was that age, my biggest achievement was customising my MySpace profile. Needless to say, my parents are very proud.

When we arrived at Penguin's stunning offices, we were met with a number of adorable vintage stalls, featuring the likes of The Secret Tea Party, There is Only One Amy Laws and Red Bird Makes. After having a browse of the various goods and enjoying a few delicious canapés, the legendary Jo Elvin, editor of Glamour magazine, chaired a Q&A with Maya. Maya's story is a fascinating one; after feeling like a social outcast for most of her young life and being bullied by the "cool kids" at the age of 13, Maya turned to a book called Betty Cornell's Teen-age Popularity Guide, which was written in the 1950s. With the help of her extremely supportive family, Maya decided to take the book chapter by chapter and follow the advice over the course of a year. From wearing pearls every day right through to wearing a girdle, Maya tried it all and kept a diary of her journey.

Jo Elvin interviewing Maya. Doesn't she look adorable?

Maya kindly signed my copy of her book. My head is high as we speak!

Hearing Maya talk about hear experience was truly a delight. Not only is she incredibly eloquent, but she also spoke with such passion, sincerity and maturity. Since the event, I have read the book. I read it in just under a week, and it was charming from start to finish. I laughed, I shed a few tears, I smiled a lot and I even dug out my old pearl necklace. Maya is talented and compelling writer, and I highly recommend you pick up a copy of her book. You won't regret it!

Much love,

Swell Vintage


Sunday, 11 May 2014

Born to be wild?

Well well, look who it is...

It's ME! I'm back, after a very long absence. How's it going?

Instead of dwelling on the fact that I've been gone so long or making a load of promises that it'll never happen again (because it probably will), I'm going to tell you all about my recent trip to Scotland. 

It's no secret that I bloody love Scotland. I've only ever been to Edinburgh, so when my bearded man told me that we'd be visiting Dunbar for his cousin's wedding, I was excited to see a different part of that beautiful land. Not only that, but we booked to stay in a tree house. Yes, you read that right - a TREEHOUSE. Like a modern-day Swiss Family Robinson, but a lot less Swiss. Needless to say, I was extra excited as we set off on the long drive to Harvest Moon

But, here's the thing - none of us read the website or the booking information properly (we may or may not have been distracted by the pretty pictures...) and it turns out that despite the high-end, luxury nature of the accommodation, there was no electricity. None. Not even a smidge. Instead, we were presented with a fire stove for warmth/cooking with in the kitchen, and a number of hot water bottles for the bedrooms. I don't know if you know this, but the area by the coast in Scotland has a tendency to get rather nippy, so the fire stove soon became our very best friend. 

Here are a few pics to set the scene:

Our tree house home

Our very own swing set

Our wood stove (aka our best friend/worst enemy)

One of the few rechargeable LED lights we had to guide us through the darkness

Our beautiful sink. Fortunately, there was running water. Sometimes it was hot too!

Our bedroom (excuse the mess)

The other bedroom

Our lounge area (again, excuse the mess)

Our bathing facilities

Our baaaaaa-shful neighbours. There were also chickens, rabbits and horses because...why not?

Once I got over the fact that I had nowhere to plug my hair dryer in and sorted it so I could charge my phone in the car, I was pleasantly surprised at how well I adjusted to life as a woodsman. I quickly learned how to keep a fire going (top tip: lots of wood), and even managed to cook eggy bread without setting myself alight. 

Making tea with the wood stove. Definitely worth the effort.

As you can see, the accommodation and the setting were rather stunning overall. While staying there was fun, having to build a fire and wait half an hour for it to be hot enough to boil a kettle before having a cup of tea was a bit of a faff. I'm also honest enough to admit that I am shallow, and I love my comfortable technology-filled life. Not having my hair straighteners to hand or WIFI for my phone made me enjoy the whole the whole experience a little less. I also really missed central heating, as the nights there can be bitterly cold. 

I understand that a lot of people would love having no electricity, and would consider it a welcome break from modern life, but it's just not for me. If Harvest Moon invested in a couple of plug sockets and a heater for the bedrooms, I'd consider moving in. 

Have you ever tried glamping? Could you survive without electricity for a whole three nights like I did? Tell me all about it!

Much love,

Swell Vintage