Gypsy Meets a Red Hat Society Lady!

Now, I know that at least two of my blogging friends are Red Hat Society ladies, you know who you are over in Oregon, but at the weekend I met a real live one myself. Carol, whose Hatter name is Countess Caroline, had a table displaying her gorgeous handmade fascinators, many of which she has created for mellow hatters (I just invented mellow because fellow sounded too masculine for Hatty ladies). Once Carol told me she was involved in this craziness I just had to learn more.

She began by telling me that they are all show offs! ‘You almost have to be’ she said, ‘and I’ve always been a showy off person myself’, I don’t know about that, but she is certainly a very attractive and outgoing lady who loves to chat. As well as the red hats they wear purple clothes when they meet up in their ‘Chapters’. Most of them are middlies but you can still join in your forties, then you are a Pinkie with lilac clothes and pink hats. At fifty you are invested with scarlet sparkles or a wand. Carol is one of the one hundred members of the Riviera Royals, whose leader is Princess Cockington.

When the ladies meet up they go on a ‘Hoot’, days out, concerts, shows and balls, and men are never allowed. Occasionally other chapters are invited to a soiree, to which they often travel using their bus passes, fully hatted and gowned. They have big conventions and she has been known to attend as a St Trinians girl.

During a ladies birthday month, they dress in reverse, red clothes and purple hats. There’s a whole world of red hatters out there with dedicated internet shopping sites. Some hatters have appeared on the Vanessa show, I would imagine Ms Feltz would be in her element.

            Carol told me that she went on her own to her very first meeting and that from the start she felt welcome. ‘I’ve found that women can be bitchy, but never felt that in the Red Hatters. I think it’s because of our age, there are no grudges, it’s a sisterhood. No one minds disgraceful behaviour. Even out for coffee we wear our hats. It’s supportive as well as fun, caring for each other through bereavement, watching out for each other’s well being and remembering little details.’

For last year’s Royal Wedding they celebrated at a lovely local restaurant. They watched together, all dressed to the nines waving flags, as if they were actually there. Carol has immaculately painted nails and not a hair out of place. Last year the chapter went to Ladies day at Ascot, what a sight they must have been, but as it was £3-400, this year they will be going to Newton Abbot. I have no doubt they will look wonderful.

            They have a ‘Mother of the Bride’ evening planned shortly. This will be held at the Grosvenor Hotel, Torquay, as featured on a recent Channel Four TV series. This will be a major event for which Carol will be making a sash to wear and the high heels will be out in force – manageable because it will be ‘Car to bar’.

Carol said ‘I can’t promote the Red Hatters enough, it’s given me a new lease of life and I wouldn’t be making fascinators without the society.’ She taught herself to make these exquisite little numbers. I tried one on and looked incredibly silly, but she has made lots for her chapter.

            Carol is a glamorous lady and even on holiday her style is maintained. She is ecstatic if she can sit in the sea, watching the sun glinting on her red glittery finger and toe nails. I am grateful to this fabulous lady for sharing her Red Hat experiences with me and maybe one day I might just join. Or not, because I’m too much of a scruff bag!

As well as the unnamed Oregon ladies, I’m sure there are more of you out there around the world, would you like to share some of the fun you have had? I would love to learn what you get up to around the globe!

A Cycle of Platforms and Hot Pants

Browsing a few shops the other day my friend (also middle aged) and I had a lot of laughs at the clothes in the High Street fashion shops. Some of the things they would like young women to wear, are quite ridiculous, ghastly and even dangerous. I pulled tiny, bright yellow, jeans style shorts from the rack, held them against myself and decided that if I could somehow force them onto my plumptious rear, I would probably get arrested. I was told the next day that they are worn with thick black tights, uh so? They would still be ultra revealing. Again, from my old fogey perspective, I find it quite worrying to drive through the town on a Saturday night, and see girls, even in winter, in the skimpiest of garments, especially when they are far from sober. And then I remembered. I would have been sixteen, drop dead gorgeous and with a perfect figure, when I wore Hot Pants and walked down the town on a Saturday night, far from sober! I was never one for flashing the cleavage, but my  long, brown and sexy legs climbed high up to my very cropped denims. Actually my skirts were possibly worse than the Hot Pants, because they barely covered my assets and were definitely shorter than this.

We looked at shoes next; laughing at five inch platformed Betty Boo heels, that we would need scaffolding to be able to climb into, and crutches for three months if we attempted to walk in them. Some, like these are beautiful art, I’m tempted to buy some for posterity.

I asked a shopper if she wears anything like it and she said that yes, she does on a night out, and can keep them on comfortably for four to five hours. She was a sweetie, twenty-one and happy to have a laugh with us.  Apparently she usually wears them with skinny jeans, the mind boggles. I really hope she manages to keep staying vertical. And then I remembered. My five inch, sling back platformed shoes, shiny yellow patent and worn with those tiny skirts. I really wish I’d kept them or even had a photo . . . sighs. I wonder if the twenty –one year old will be looking at the fashion when she is middle aged,and laughing about it. In the 80’s, leggings were everywhere, they disappeared for a while but then lycra’d their way back to a whole new generation, who think they’re cool. But there’s nothing new under the sun is there? Are you old enough to remember wearing some of today’s so called hot trends? Do tell me!

The Sunday Post: Blossom

I’ve been somewhat distracted since yesterday hence my blossom photo, of a Dogs’ Tooth Violet, isn’t the best but I still quite like it.

You’re probably wondering what could possibly have distracted me! Well, you could call it a blossoming because yesterday a whole new grandson came into my world and I am so happy I don’t know what to do with myself!

Exeter Cathedral 1

Just a quickie taken with my mobile tonight. The cathedral has had scaffolding up for  a very long time while they were doing restorative work. For several months the Occupy people were there and they left a mess. It was so nice to see it in all its glory. The stone masons have done such a good job on this thousand year old building, so I wanted to share it.

St Peters Cathedral Exeter

Crazy Polish Woman has gone downstairs

Yes truly! Ooonika, not how you spell it but I’m trying to provoke a reaction, has upped sticks and left my office and now works in another department. I didn’t frighten her away. I know this because she has been back up at least six times today. She needed to clear her desk, complain, help solve someone’s problem, complain, ask a favour of me, complain about the smell of a heavy smoker down there. Complaining about not having a window any longer. I do, whoopee I can see the sky and the hills!

CPW likes to sing, the Polish equivalent of humming, a sort of dee dee dee sound, when she’s happy or bored or attention seeking. She won’t be able to do that down there in the serious dungeon of management accounts, and I have already missed the noise but luckily, I can hear it in my head. It’s strange when people move on, you miss them, but they are busy learning new jobs and fitting into a different environment with new people.

CPW has promised to help me to translate some dialogue I have to write into sensible Polish but she may be too important now 😦 I know she will keep visiting though because my office has the best and most regular supply of biscuits and naughty stuff. But she won’t be able to hang around long enough to indulge in the type of stimulating and  intellectual conversation we usually have, who will I talk to now? She has been great fun to work with. I’ll just have to look to the hills and hum a dee dee dee in my head, perhaps I’ll step into her shoes and become the Crazy English Woman. I have already slid under her desk to pinch her footrest, right what else has she left behind?

The Sunday Post : Culture

Jake’s Sunday post this week is culture – not as easy as you would think, but here is my offering! Pop on over and join in or see how other people have interpreted it.

My Chambers Dictionary defines culture as :

The result of cultivation; the state of being cultivated; refinement in manners, thought, taste, etc; loosely, the arts; a type of civilisation; the attitudes and values which inform a society; a crop of micro-organisms, eg bacteria, grown in a solid or liquid medium in a laboratory.

I’ll skip the science and instead show you just a little culture from my city.

A touch of Rock to celebrate World Peace Day

Some Cafe culture, at least three choices in Princesshay Square

Some Cultural heritage provided by history re-inactment

Busking Hip-hop

Last but not least one of the High Street sculptures, 6 metres high, stainless steel and I love it but as always with these installations it has been controversial. Engraved on it are some of the Exeter Riddles, from one of the oldest books of Old English poetry, dating back to the tenth century. To add to the mystery the riddles are engraved backwards to be read in the reflections.

Here are two of the riddles.

Some acres of this Middle Earth are handsomely attired with the hardest, sharpest, most bitter of man’s fine belongings:

It is cut, threshed, couched, kilned, mashed, strained, sparged, yeasted, covered, wracked, and carried far to the doors of men.

A quickening delight lies in this treasure, lingers and lasts for men who, from experience, indulge their inclinations and don’t rail against them; and then after death it begins to gab, to gossip, wrecklessly.

Shrewd men must think carefully must think carefully what this creature is.

Any ideas?

I am a strange creature with various voices.

I can bark like a dog, bleat like a goat, honk like a goose, shreek like a hawk, and at time I imitate the ashen eagle, the battle bird’s cry;

the vulture’s croak trips off my tongue and them mew of the seagull as I sit here saucily.

The capital G suggests my name and AE, R, and O assist it so do H and I. I am called what these six characters clearly spell out.

I’ll come back in a couple of days and add the answers!

So Many Beautiful Villages in Devon, Gypsy Goes a Wandering in Spreyton!

My friend and I agreed to have  craft table at a fund raising dog show last weekend. It was in aid of German Shepherd rescue, a very good cause. The sun shone and the dogs were cute but as we didn’t have very many customers Gypsy went for a village wander to pass sometime.

The main road into the village had some pretty cottages and a tiny school



The pub looked quite appealing – hum, maybe it’s as well that i didn’t have any money with me!

And then I discovered Spreyton Pottery and Ross, its very friendly owner. His signature style is a blue glaze, from quite pale to a deeper rich shade and sometimes decorated with dragons or the triple hare emblem *. I fell for a lovely bowl that would be the perfect size for salad and very affordable – if I’d had that cash on me! His work seemed familiar and I thought perhaps I had seen him at a craft show, but then I spotted a coffee mug on a shelf, and realised I had one, a present from a friend and one of my favourites.

Ross also offers pottery classes, with tasters for an hour and a half, which allow enough time to have a go at throwing on the wheel, and painting pottery. He also does one day workshops which include lunch at the pub above, the Tom Cobley – I like the sound of that! Alternatively you can book six weeks of evening or day courses so that as well as learning to throw, you can try slip cast, glazing and decorating your creations.

Ross is a talented man, not just a potter, he also built his lovely studio. He was very welcoming, even though I came empty handed! An all round affable guy, one of the things he does are Hen party sessions, including lunch at the pub, I’m sure he would be a good tutor and genial host.

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I strolled on up the village, feeling inspired to try my hand at pottery again . There was hardly anyone around, the odd dog, child and chicken enjoying the peaceful sunshine. I headed for the church, and through the lych gate

and I sprang a pheasant, breaking the silence as I walked down the  lovely original path.

The door was heavy oak and probably as old as the church.

Inside, it was simple but well loved, with the remains of an old stone font and bits of rood screen. The floor was also natural old stone.

The ceiling, just as simple

Leaving the church behind,

I headed back to where I started my wander, and spotted this, which took me back to childhood when I learnt to sew on a treadle sewing machine!

This has turned into a mammoth post but I couldn’t leave anything out because Spreyton is such a pretty village.

* This is the trefoil of hares, they are a symbol of many Dartmoor villages  and have pagan folklore about  Eostre, the goddess of spring and fertility – where we get Easter from! There are also connections with the Silk road that go back eight hundred years.

More information about Spreyton Pottery can be found at

Weekly Photo Challenge: Journey

The weeks photo challenge is what I like to do most of all – journey! A journey for me is to be as far away from my normal world as possible, not necessarily in distance, but  in culture, landscape, climate and  experience. So the photo I have chosen was taken in Borneo, the greatest distance I have travelled, so far, and as this is in rain forest it’s really different from temperate England. This is the Kinabatanga river in Sabah.

Poisonous green snakes nestled in the trees and wild orang utans and proboscis monkeys were up there too. If you check out a post from last year you will be able to read more about this particular journey.