Monday, 29 June 2015

My Favourite Vintage Thing with Glenn Haybittle

 Today's guest blogger is Glenn Haybittle.
Glenn  is a translator and freelance writer from London who lives in Florence. He currently translates academic books for the Florence University and Italian history books for a Florentine publisher. 

His debut novel,The Way Back to Florence is out now. 

Writing, among other things, is the best excuse I’ve been able to find not to leave my room. To be a writer you’ve got to like not going out much. You’ve got to secretly enjoy saying no to social invites. I think it was Subbuteo that first taught me that I didn’t have to go out the front door to find excitement. 

You’re down on your knees (bit like proper gardening in that sense), you set up the pitch, you bring the teams out onto the pitch, you turn on the floodlights, you set the timer and off you go. The next ninety minutes will have a satisfying order but they will also throw up unpredictability – just like writing. 

I’ve since realised there were many parallels between those days of enacting football matches with miniature plastic men and writing novels:

1) The full-blooded embracing of solitude. (Anyone who entered my room when I was in the middle of a game got the evil eye.)
2) Immersing myself in a self-enclosed world.(The floodlights helped here, creating a Lion, the Witch and the Warbrobe atmosphere)
3) Talking to myself without restraint. (I always did commentaries on the matches I played; now and again I did crowd noises and singing too)
4) Endowing imaginary people with personality. (During the commentary I would offer stats and anecdotes about the individual players to my imaginary audience.)
5) Ordering my thoughts. (To commentate you have to transpose subjective ideas into a narrative that makes objective sense.)
6) Parcelling up my day into obsessive routines. (Kick off times were scheduled and upheld with military precision)
7) Transcribing events into notebooks. (I wrote down the details of every game in a notebook – the line-up, yellow and red cards, goalscorers, substitutions, how the result affected the overall league table.)

So I thank the makers of Subbuteo for their sizeable contribution in turning me into a writer.

Thanks for sharing, Glenn! Glenn's book  Way Back To Florence is out now. 

Praise for The Way Back to Florence:
"Vivid, compelling and hauntingly beautiful." Judith Kinghorn, author of The Last Summer
"A great novel - at once stylish, clever, exciting and deeply moving." Tim Binding, author of Island Madness
"A quite brilliant novel of art, love and war told with extraordinary delicacy and poise." Alex Preston, author of In Love and War

In 1937 Freddie (English), Isabella (Italian) and Oskar (a German Jew) become friends at an art school in Florence where they are taught by the dictatorial but magus-like Maestro and his sinister fascist assistant Fosco. When war arrives Freddie returns to England to become the pilot of a Lancaster bomber. Oskar, now a dancer, has moved to Paris where he escapes the 1942 roundup of Jews and arrives in Italy with his young daughter Esme. Isabella remains in Florence where she continues to paint. Until she is called upon by Maestro to forge an old master painting, apparently at the behest of the F├╝hrerhimself, and as a result is seen as a Nazi collaborator by her neighbours.
The murderous skies over Germany and a war-torn Italy in the grip of Nazi occupation provide the setting for this novel about the love of a separated husband and his wife and the love of a man for his young daughter. Freddie and Oskar both hope to find their way back to Florence. But Florence's heritage of preserving the identity and continuity of the past has never before been so under threat.

Read the first chapter by clicking here

Saturday, 27 June 2015

My Favourite Vintage Things by Jon Teckman


I'm excited to welcome Jon Teckman to the blog with this fantastic post. Jon is Ex-CEO of the BFI. Treasurer of the BBFC. His  Debut Novel - Ordinary Joe - published by Borough Press, 16 July 2015.

My 11 year old son, Matthew, has all the gadgets one would expect a child of his gilded generation to enjoy: x-box, wii, 3DS, tablet. He also retains an endearing love of board games. The other day, as I reflected on what I might contribute to this season of blogs about vintage objects we still hold dear, we settled down to play Philately, an old game of mine about stamp collecting which I had played with my brothers and sisters when I was a child.  Matthew claims that I have yet to beat him – that he always fills his album page of 40 stamps before I can complete my collection.  I’m not sure whether this is strictly true, but he was certainly giving me a sound beating on this occasion as I let my mind wonder to the subject of what the hell I might write about.



Vintage, apparently, is defined as anything more than 25 years old.  Although I am not a great collector of stuff, I am a bit of a hoarder, often failing to throw away items that have long since possessed any usefulness, so, I thought, it shouldn’t be too difficult to find some old, treasured item to fit the bill.  If I looked in my chest of drawers, I’d venture that I could soon find items of clothing that would pass this test of time, though not necessarily of any real cultural or sentimental value. No cherished t-shirts from any of the eardrum-popping rock concerts I attended in the early eighties; no university jumper or scarf that I appear not still to have even though I have no recollection of throwing them away.
My autographed King of America CD (my favourite of all Elvis Costello’s albums) dates from 1986 but the signature was added much later when a friend asked him to scribble his name on the cover at the end of a dental hygiene session, so I don’t think that counts. Ditto my special edition of Raging Bull which director Martin Scorsese signed when I met him in a makeshift film studio in Queens, New York in October 2001, just a few weeks after the events of 9/11 had changed the city forever – a meeting that is now immortalised in the opening scene of my soon to be published novel Ordinary Joe.  That edition in its splendid cardboard slipcase was actually released on the film’s 20th anniversary in 2000 so definitely doesn’t qualify.
Sadly, the photographs and memories of my brother, Mike, taken from us in a car crash at the end of 1989, now qualify as vintage - the last time I saw his dazzling smile being more than 25 years ago.  And, as with many much-loved and cherished keepsakes, these too are fading over time, crinkling in their albums and at the edges of my mind as the distance between when they happened and the here and now grows longer with each passing day.
So, what can I write about? Matthew only needs one more stamp - Burma - to complete his collection, taking advantage of my disjointed concentration to hand me yet another beating.  In desperation, I turn to my wife – as I am often obliged to do in times of existential crisis.  “I need to think of something vintage I can write about,” I say, “any ideas?”  
She looks at me, not for the first time in more than eighteen years of marriage, as if I have failed to evolve at the same rate as the rest of the species Homo sapiens sapiens.   “How old is that game you’re playing?” she asks in the same tone she employs when checking whether I really need to add that six pack of beers to the shopping trolley.
And I can’t deny she has a point: Philately was released by Dixons Games in 1973 and is, therefore, comfortably vintage.  I was 10 that year – almost exactly the same age as Matthew is now.  Games, I recall thanks to my wife’s prompting, have always been a big part of my life – being one of five children, there were always plenty of willing opponents to take me on (I might have even won the odd game back then!) Philately, Escape from Colditz Haunted House, Mouse Trap and Abandon Ship were all family favourites, alongside the old standards: Monopoly, Cluedo etc.  We still have most of them. Games from that era in good condition can fetch more than £50 a time on eBay.  Ours, of course, aren’t in good condition – they are battered and torn and bent because they have been played and enjoyed and loved as games are supposed to be for more than forty years. What exactly is the point of a Barbie or an Action Man that is still in its box?

Besides which, all those memories – and the fact that my own children still love to take time away from their electronic devices to enjoy them with me now – are worth more to me than all the money in the Philately bank. 

Thanks for sharing, Jon. I'm looking forward to reading your book! 



A brilliant, fast-paced comedy about what happens when all of your dreams become true.

What would you do if…
…you were happily married
…with two gorgeous children
…and the most gorgeous film star in the world walked up to you
…And it wasn’t a joke.
…Could you resist?

Joe West, accountant, father and husband is just your average guy who has just walked into that dream scenario. Except the dream sours fast and suddenly everything he holds dear is on the line.
Sometimes life is crazier than the movies.
You can order Jon's "Ordinary Joe" by clicking here
and you can say hello to Jon on twitter here https://twitter.com/Jontwothreefour
Why not have a look at the other My Favourite Vintage Things post.
You can find them all by clicking here 

Friday, 19 June 2015

My Favourite Vintage Thing with Fionnuala Kearney




I'm delighted to welcome Fionnuala Kearney to the blog to share her favourite vintage things. 

Fionnuala Kearney  was born Fionnuala Moore into a large Irish family. One of seven children, she discovered, age six, that she had in fact been christened Ann. That’s Ann with no ‘e’. Her parents had decided, for some reason to address her by her second name, saddling her with a life of dealing with unnecessary vowelsShe likes to write about relationships: a married couple, a mother and child, siblings, best friends… She likes to peel away the layers and see what’s going on beneath and then tell you all about it.


I confess. I had to google it. And surprisingly, it wasn’t much help. Google didn’t teach me anything I didn’t already know about what exactly ‘vintage’ means. My favourite explanation, at least the one that resonated with that which I already knew, was, “denoting something from the past of high quality, especially something representing the best of its kind.”

Before we continue, you need to know something about me: I am a clutter-free girl. While my home is not a sterile, white, zone – I don’t do mess. I don’t have much on display, dislike ‘ornaments’ and can’t bear to have to dust tiny little things. Everything has a purpose and everything has its place. Usually, if it’s small in size, that means in a cupboard or a drawer, or it doesn’t get past the front door. Couple this with a preference for contemporary furniture and modern living, well, I’m really the most vintage thing in the house.

I don’t need to think about it for long to understand where this particular quirk comes from. I’m one of seven children which meant nine of us, NINE of us, all the time, all together. Imagine! Nine people’s things; nine people’s clothes, shoes, homework, schoolbags. You get the picture. Add to that the fact that my parents did like little things that required dusting and I grew up craving stream-lined order.

So what has evolved is someone who, by nature, doesn’t hoard or clutter and doesn’t keep things for very long. Someone who doesn’t really do vintage. Even my clothes don’t make it past very many seasons before I decide it’s time to recycle and head off to the charity shop. (Although a little part of me regrets this. I do think both my daughters would have loved that Afghan coat I had in the seventies or that cheesecloth dress with the square neck, maybe even those lurid pink, velour, jeans...)

I do have a few things that have been passed down to me and mean something because of that. I have a wonderful carriage clock from my paternal grandfather, a few pieces of crockery from my maternal grandparents. Today, though, my show and tell pieces are a photograph and a single record disc (remember them?)



This photograph is an image of my parents taken in 1952 when my mother would have been twenty one and my father twenty three. Somehow, they look much older than that to me; much more mature… And they look so smart and stylish! It was taken in Dublin by a photographer who seemed to spend all of his time on O’Connell Bridge – the main thoroughfare across the river Liffey. There is an identical one of my in-laws, taken around the same time. The photographer would snap the couple, give them a number and they would collect the photo from his nearby studio a few days later.


As I said, my parents went on to have seven children together. Times were not easy, with such a brood, and this shot of them reminds me that they too were young and in love and made each other laugh. I see my elder brother in my father’s smile; my younger brother in my mother’s, and all four of my sisters in both of them. Me? I’m a facsimile of my mother.
In fact, I have to confess to being a little teary seeing this today. It’s odd how we think of our parents, isn’t it? They’re just there, always, as we grow up. We leave home. We make our own lives and still, they’re there – until they’re not.

My father died twenty years ago this year. Today, I’m opting to remember him as that young man in the photo. I didn’t know him then, but he looks like someone with aspirations and dreams and I hope that some of them were realised in us, his children. I know, had he lived, he would have been enormously proud of me as a writer. He did love a big word or two and as a closet scribe who spent his working life in a corporate suit, he’d probably have said something like: ‘Living my life vicariously through you, love…’

My mother, eighty four this month, is now suffering with dementia. There is a reason they call the disease ‘the long goodbye’. It is the cruellest of things to watch someone you love lose a small piece of themselves daily. So today, I’m choosing to think of the woman in this picture when I think of my Mum. She loved, she laughed and thankfully, in her own way, she still does…

Which brings me to that single… Music is something that is important and powerful in my life. Along with the madness and mess of a big family, there was often music. When I met my husband we shared a love of live music. A wedding and two children later, it remains a constant for all of us. Admittedly, nowadays it comes from an ipod – that amazingly tiny piece of kit which is actually a lot easier to keep dust free than a Wurlitzer.

My other half still has his prized collection of every vinyl record he has ever bought (obviously stored in shelves in the least likely to offend manner) and last year when I got a book deal after spending years in the wilderness dreaming of one, he gave me this:




The vinyl, a single 45rpm by Dire Straits was released in 1979, the year he and I met. At the time, it would have meant little to me, other than it topped the charts and was a good radio track; one we would have bobbed our heads along to in the car. Now, with the intervening thirty plus years, it means a lot more. Until eight years ago, I was earning a living in property, raising a family and had never had the time to devote to my dream of becoming a writer. After much scratching of heads and discussion then, we both decided that I should give it a go. Eight years later, the dream has come true and now when someone asks me what I do for a living now, I tell them I’m a writer. Even if they don’t ask me, I tell them. I can be found engaging with the staff at the supermarket telling them. I am that proud. I am that relieved. And yes, I possibly am that mad.


So, this single ‘Lady Writer’ and this photograph, these rare pieces in my stream-lined home, are very precious. Are they from the past? Tick. Are they high quality representing the best of its kind? I think so. Tick. Hell, like me, they’re definitely vintage…

Fionnuala is on twitter here and her website is here

They say every family has skeletons in their closet… But what happens when you open the door and they won’t stop tumbling out? For Adam and Beth, the first secret wasn’t the last, it was just the beginning and some secrets – they change everything.  Then the question is, how can you piece together a future when your past is being rewritten?
Fionnuala's book "You, Me and Other People" can be ordered from Amazon and you can read the first chapter here 


Wednesday, 17 June 2015

My Favourite Vintage Thing by Liz Tipping

Today's guest post comes from ... ME!
It's possibly slightly unusual to guest post on your own blog. I'm slightly concerned it will cause a rift in the space time continuum, but as I have hosted so many in this series, I thought it might be nice to share my own favourite vintage thing.

So, over to erm.. me!


I was working in a camera shop when a customer gave me this Kodak Brownie 8mm movie camera. I used them before, we had one growing up and I'd also an 8mm  movie camera at University to make my photography and film pieces.


I also studied graphic design and I'm a bit of a font geek, so I love the typography on the camera. 
And it still works too! Listen to that noise, you don't get that on a smart phone. 




Along with the camera, was this.


I wasn't sure it would work, but when I got it home, I plugged it in and it worked perfectly.


But as well as these items being lovely aesthetic tactile things, the best thing of all was that I was able to watch the piles of cine films we hadn't seen for years. My parents had a huge collection of films starting from the early sixties to the late eighties. I remember how we had to send the films away and wait weeks for them to come back and thread them through the projector. The setting up would take a lot longer than watching the film itself. 

Shortly after we had them transferred onto DVD. 
I love this little film taken in 1977 on the beach in Portmarnock, Dublin,  Ireland. I suppose you could say it's my first vlog! 





And there's another one here taken in Weston Super Mare. I love the Welcome To Weston Super Mare sign!

Strange to think I filmed this video on my phone and uploaded it in a matter of seconds. it's great we can do this with the technology we have now, but I am not sure we appreciate it as much as if we had to wait weeks for a film to be developed and threaded through the projector.



I love the signs on the building by Knightsone Island. Me and my husband go to this beach a lot. Knightstone island is full of posh flats now and I think I'd quite  like one of those when I grow up.



My novel Five Go Glamping is out in August. So, if you'd like to contribute to my "Posh flat in WestonSuper Mare" fund, you might be interested in
pre-ordering my book. It's  called Five Go Glamping. There's no cover or blurb yet, but I will tell you it's a really funny rom- com and  I reckon you can kind  guess what it's about because  the clue's  in the title!Besides,  it will be a nice surprise for you when you do read it.
You can pre-order Five Go Glamping in the UK here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Five-Go-Glamping-Liz-Tipping-ebook/dp/B00YALQPDQ  And in the US here http://www.amazon.com/Five-Go-Glamping-Liz-Tipping-ebook/dp/B00YALQPDQ It's also on googleplay, ibooks, nook so whatever you read your ebooks you should be able to find it! I'm excited to share it with everyone!


I'm always looking for guest bloggers, so let me know if you'd like to share your favourite vintage thing. The guest post guidelines are at the top of the page. 


Monday, 15 June 2015

My Favourite Vintage Things with Sarah Taylor

Today's vintage post is brilliant and comes from Sarah Taylor. Sarah is an author of children's books . As well as a passion for vintage, Sarah also loves hamsters, singing and chocolate! 

My favourite vintage things are a bit of a cheat really as they’re not vintage, although the patterns used to make them are. I love 1940s and 1950s clothing, but being a girl not quite built on 1940s and 1950s lines, I have to make do with replicas.




My passion for circle skirts and daydresses started a few years ago when a festival I was going to decided to throw a 1950s ball. I went looking online for a dress and found a vintage company specialising in gorgeous halternecks with full skirts - perfect for swirling with a cotton-candy chiffon petticoat underneath. Made from original 1950s patterns but re-sized for modern figures, the dresses were a blast from the past.

I was hooked. There is something so full-on glamorous about the 1950s. Pretty soon my wardrobe was full of circle skirts,circle dresses and 50s raglan sleeved shirts (mostly in polka dots because they are so wearable and fun). For the weekends I have my circle frocks, and for work I have my 1940s day dresses, teamed with mary janes or t-bar shoes.



Since one of my main hobbies is sewing, it was only a matter of time before I started to make my own dresses. I can run up a circle skirt in an afternoon, although a dress takes a little longer. The first dress I used was made using a Vogue pattern from the 1950s to get an authentic look. The most difficult part of the process is hemming - you would not believe how many metres of hem goes into a circle skirt!



So why do I love them so much? In a society where us larger ladies are told to cover up our body shapes and hide away our ‘shameful’ size, it’s liberating to wear clothes that are glamorous statement pieces. When I put on a 50s or 40s frock I feel my confidence soar. I love the way that they move and the way that the widened hem and nipped in waist show off the figure. I’m done with hiding.

Of course, with vintage things once you buy one item you pretty soon find yourself creating a whole look, so I’ve also found myself investing in hair products to perfect the ‘victory roll’ and I’m still looking for that ideal carmine red lipstick.

One item I did buy that is true vintage to go with my frocks is a pair of crown hairpins, made to celebrate the Coronation in 1953. They are so tiny, but I love that they connect my  modern reproduction look to the past that it emulates, and they are incredibly pretty.




You can say hello to Sarah on twitter where she is @scraphamster 
You can read her blog here https://sarahtoddtaylor.wordpress.com/

Sarah's children's book Arthur and Me was  published by Firefly Press in  2014

Arthur and Me - Tomos is not having a good time on the school trip. The class bully has taken his lunch and the teachers are fed up with him always getting in trouble. When he falls down a hole and wakes the sleeping King Arthur, this seems like his chance to please his Arthur-mad teacher. But Arthur is not the hero he's learned about in class. He's nervous, scruffy, and all the knights pick on him. And then there is the Chicken of Doom! With the knights of the round table taking up residence in his Dad’s shed and the end of term school fete (complete with bicycle jousting) looming large, Tomos is going to have to find a way to be his own hero.


Arthur and me is available on Amazon here  

Friday, 12 June 2015

My Favourite Vintage Things by Sarah Jasmon

You have no idea how much it delights me to bring Uncle Dick's Wonder  Shredders to the blog.
I love these tales from Sarah Jasmon about her childhood holidays and I am so pleased she has shared them with us
Sarah lives on a boat where she writes novels. Her first novel The Summer of Secrets is published in August.






Uncle Dick's Super Shredders by Sarah Jasmon

Long enough ago that the time itself is now vintage, I lived in Eastbourne. I was in my mid-twenties, with a toddler. We’d moved there because my then-husband was a student at the University of Brighton, but I had older links to the town. As a young child myself, we’d spent a number of family holidays here, staying with an aunt of my dad’s. Auntie Dorothy had elephantiasis, and was strict in a way that I now see was a bit intimidating to my mum. My brother and I didn’t care, though. We played in the garden, shivered on the pebble beach and crawled up to the edge of Beachy Head to peer down at the sea below. In 1976, we were there the only week it rained that whole summer.


My dad and brother having a picnic on Beachy Head in the seventies.
 Note the trusty calor gas stove!



This group shot is Uncle Dick with his mother, one of his brothers and two of his sisters at my grandparents' wedding in about 1935. He's the tall one with glasses, Dorothy is bottom left. 




Uncle Dick, outside of his house in Eastbourne in about 1995.
I’m not entirely sure how many visits we made. It might only have been three, but I have the memory of it being every year for my whole life. One year Uncle Dick, my aunt’s younger brother, had moved in. He had a crooked back and a Jack Russell called Cheddar. He also drove very fast. One time, he shot around the town with me and my dad and brother in the back seat, my mum - who has never been a quiet passenger - clinging to the dashboard with an expression of frozen horror. My brother and I laughed about that for at least a decade.

Anyway, by the time I moved to Eastbourne to live, in 1995, Auntie Dorothy was dead and Uncle Dick was living in the quiet double-fronted Edwardian villa by himself. I got into the habit of popping in once a week. To begin with, we’d have a chat and a cup of tea, and then watch the snooker. There were never any awkward silences, and he was incredibly relaxed as my two year old ransacked his kitchen cupboards for saucepans or spread packs of cards out over the floor. We both liked reading Dick Francis. He would buy the latest as soon as it came out in paperback, and then pass it on to me, having first crossed out any bad language.

These visits built up into a real friendship. He’d tell me about the days he used to motorcycle out from London for day trips to the coast, and we’d work out the finer details of second-cousins-twice-removed. And, of course, watch the snooker. One day, he mentioned that his home help hadn’t turned up for a while, and I offered to run the vacuum around. It didn’t take long for smoke to start coming out of the motor and, when I took it apart to investigate, the innards were completely blocked with the long-dead Cheddar’s hair. I took on his cleaning after that, and then his weekly shop.

He became older, and frailer. One night, someone broke into his house, and he lay in bed and pretended to be asleep so nothing bad would happen. He stopped being able to open his tins of soup or digest porkpies, though his shopping list stayed the same and it took me far too long to realise. He started to give me things, an electric mantelpiece clock from the thirties, a cross-stitch sampler that his grandmother had finished in 1834. I sat next to him in the hospital as he slipped away.

There’s something very unsettling about going through the effects of someone who has died. It wasn’t my responsibility to sort through the house. My first-cousin-once-removed took that on, and invited me round to see if there was anything I wanted. An art deco mirror, a chair. I felt uncomfortably like a looter, even though I knew it all had to go somewhere. The Wonder Shredder graters were in one of the wooden drawers in the kitchen, a room which, like the rest of the house, hadn’t been updated since it was first fitted. I might have passed them over if Dianne hadn’t pointed them out, and then added them to my pile. I’ve used them several times a week ever since and, at this rate, they’ll probably outlive me.



I’ve no idea who registered Patent 310004, but whoever it was gave the product strength, style and durability: not such a bad legacy to leave behind. My crossover time with Uncle Dick meant a lot to me, and I still have a fondness for snooker on the telly and Dick Francis books. Good vintage items cross timelines, leaving trails of stories behind them. Practicality is just an added bonus. I don’t remember the provenance of the graters every time I use them, but it’s often enough. Carrot cake, anyone?

Thank you so much for sharing Sarah! 
Sarah's novel The Summer of Secrets is available to pre-order now. 

One day she was there . . .
and the next day, the day after the fire, she was gone.
In the summer of 1983, when Helen is sixteen, the Dover family move in next door, at once making Helen's lonely world a more thrilling place. She is infatuated with the bohemian Dovers, especially the petulant and charming Victoria. But the summer ends suddenly one tumultuous evening, and the next day Helen wakes up to discover that the family have simply disappeared.

What went wrong that summer's evening? Why does Helen feel like something terrible happened, but she can't remember what?

Then one day, thirty years later, Victoria comes back.


You can pre-order Sarah's book by clicking here 
and you can say hello to Sarah on twitter here https://twitter.com/sarahontheboat
and find out more on her website http://sarahjasmon.com/






Why not have a look at the other My Favourite Vintage Things post.
You can find them all by clicking here 

Thursday, 11 June 2015

My Favourite Vintage Thing by Melissa Bailey

Today's wonderful photograph comes from Melissa Bailey. 
Melissa Bailey grew up in Lancashire even though her parents were from Yorkshire! She studied English Literature at Oxford before moving to London to study law and practised as a media lawyer for a number of years. Her first novel, The Medici Mirror, was published by Penguin Random House in 2013. Her second novel, Beyond the Sea, will be released on 16 July 2015.


My favourite vintage things have got to be my mum and dad! But, for the purposes of this blog, this picture of them in particular. I found it years ago in a collection of my parents' old photos and I love it, faded and crinkled as it is, the visible lines running across it only make me feel a greater sense of nostalgia. It sits in pride of place in the centre of a notice board on the wall opposite my writing desk. The board is full of notes, quotes, pictures - black and white and colour - and postcards; things which are meant to remind me, inspire me and occasionally console me as I write! But of everything on that board this is my favourite...


It was taken on the beach in Scarborough in 1960. My dad, Melvyn, is sitting in the middle. He was about 20 at the time and had been 'courting' my mum for two years. He was eating a tub of cockles bought from a fish stall on the promenade and this probably explains the expression on his face! My mum, Marjorie, about 18, is on the right. You can't tell from the photo but she is wearing one of those flouncy netted skirts, white with big purple flowers on it, matched with a purple woollen cardigan. Her best friend, Sylvia, sporting the same fabulous bouffant hairstyle as my mum, is on the left. I always imagine that her expression, something approaching contempt, also has something to do with the cockles! Barry, Sylvia's boyfriend is behind the camera.
My mother, in particular, was very fond of Scarborough as her grandma (an indomitable woman called Mary Weaver) ran a hotel on the north shore. The whole of my mum's family went for a few weeks every summer, helping out in the hotel to pay for their board.
On this occasion, however, this foursome had simply gone for a day trip. They had taken the train from the village of Featherstone, West Yorkshire, where they all lived. My mum and Sylvia took a packed lunch, in the cradle baskets you can see at either edge of the photo, and they accompanied this with cups of tea bought from the stall on the beach - apparently still there. In the late afternoon, they ate fish and chips in deckchairs on the sand, and then were royally entertained with musical numbers by Max Jaffa and his Palm Court Orchestra. Late in the evening, after Thelma Hammond's always smiling all girl band had played at Gala Land (an underground amusement cavern) they made their way back home. 
If I ever need to be buoyed up, I look at this photograph. I can feel the sunshine on my skin, smell salt and vinegar lingering on the air, hear laughter and the faint sound of music floating on the breeze. And I have that incredibly comforting feeling of home.   

Thank you so much for sharing, Melissa! Melissa's second book is out on the 16th July

One summer's day, Freya's husband and son vanish at sea.
A year on, and struggling to cope, Freya returns to the lighthouse-keeper's cottage on a remote Hebridean island, where she and her family spent so many happy times.

Haunted by visions of her old life, Freya's dreams are dark and disturbed. And when a stranger, Daniel, is washed ashore during a storm, they turn even more menacing.

As dream and reality start to merge, Daniel seems to be following Freya's every move. What does he want from her and is he everything he seems to be?

Is her mind playing tricks? Or is the danger that she senses very real?

Read the first chapter by clicking here 




You  can say hello to Melissa in any of these places.
Twitter: @mbaileywrites
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