Saturday 25 August 2012

A Day In The Life - Holidays At Home

So it's the Summer Bank Holiday this weekend in old Blighty, and if the weather is up to its usual tricks it is probably going to be pouring all weekend (there I go again talking about the weather!) so it will probably be best to stay indoors wrapped in a blanket eating copious amounts of cake - well those are my plans anyway!

If you have been in Britain this year you will probably be aware that 2012 is the year of the Stay at Home Holiday.  We have been actively encouraged by the government and the tourist board that Holidays at Home are Great! - and who I'm I to argue with Stephen Fry! Essentially the idea is to plan a Holiday to one of Britain's many glorious destinations rather than travelling abroad, to Clacton rather than Cannes, and by doing so save ourselves time, hassle and above all money, and in turn, we will help refuel our own economy.

This Holidaying close to home idea is by no means a new one, during WWII the government put out a very similar message 'Holidays at Home'. People were actively encouraged to go one step further than today however and essentially not leave their towns - not that sunning oneself in the south of France would have really been an option - by doing this it would help the country to save money, fuel, and more trains could be given over to transporting food, soldiers and munitions and so ease the pressure on the rail networks, with the money you saved being put towards war savings (if you so desired).

To encourage people to heed the stay at home message Councils provided free entertainment for their locals, such as open air dancing, gymkhanas, swimming events, fun fairs and even baby shows, activities which before the war would have been considered a little shocking, were soon to become respectable and even seen as patriotic.

The ministry of Food even produced a pamphlet (see part of it here) providing menus to help mothers get a bit of a break from the stress of feeding the family, one suggested picnic menu was "Mock hamburger wrapped in greaseproof paper and carried in a tin; green salad carried in a screw-top jar; bread and butter and sweet sandwiches (margarine, golden syrup, coffee and cocoa)" (Quote Source)

Though there are also many reports that not everyone was so keen to holiday in their own back yard, One such account comes from Edinburgh's Evening Dispatch, during the Scottish August bank holiday in 1942 many people chose to ignore this advice, see this article, which talks about the chaos at stations with overcrowding, queuing all night for trains and food shortages caused by mass arrival of tourists needing to be feed.
Two ladies who were certainly keen to help the government endorse this message (if perhaps only for the cameras) were Peggy Franks and Pinkie Barnes - seriously I think these names are getting better- So this brings me on to the next installment from the Imperial War Museums archives. Today we follow Peggy & Pinkie as they endeavor to enjoy a Holiday at Home in the Summer of 1943.

A Day In The Life - Holidays At Home during WWII Peggy Franks 'The Blonde Bombshell' & Pinkie Barnes 'The Black Beauty'
Peggy Franks prepares to throw a medicine ball to her friend Pinkie Barnes (not pictured) in the garden of her home, somewhere in London. She is wearing a swimsuit as the two friends have been sunbathing as part of their 'holiday at home'.
A Day In The Life - Holidays At Home during WWII Peggy Franks 'The Blonde Bombshell' & Pinkie Barnes 'The Black Beauty'
Pinkie Barnes and Peggy Franks play with their cat in the garden. They are both wearing swimsuits as they are enjoying a spot of sunbathing as part of their 'holiday at home'.

A Day In The Life - Holidays At Home during WWII Peggy Franks 'The Blonde Bombshell' & Pinkie Barnes 'The Black Beauty'
Peggy Franks pours tea for her friend Pinkie Barnes as they enjoy tea in the sunshine in the garden as part of their 'holiday at home'. Both are wearing swimsuits. A medicine ball can be seen on the grass beside the table.
A Day In The Life - Holidays At Home during WWII Peggy Franks 'The Blonde Bombshell' & Pinkie Barnes 'The Black Beauty'
Pinkie Barnes and Peggy Franks compete in a ladies' doubles table tennis match. Peggy has just made a low backhand return.
A Day In The Life - Holidays At Home during WWII Peggy Franks 'The Blonde Bombshell' & Pinkie Barnes 'The Black Beauty'
Peggy Franks competes in a table tennis match. She has just hit a forehand shot, and is awaiting the return of the ball.
A Day In The Life - Holidays At Home during WWII Peggy Franks 'The Blonde Bombshell' & Pinkie Barnes 'The Black Beauty'
Private Christopher Murray, Peggy Franks, Aircraftman Jimmy Clark, and Pinkie Barnes (in the boat nearest the camera) enjoy a spot of rowing on the Serpentine in London's Hyde Park. Several other boats can be seen, making their way across the water, whilst men, women and children wait their turn on the bank.
A Day In The Life - Holidays At Home during WWII Peggy Franks 'The Blonde Bombshell' & Pinkie Barnes 'The Black Beauty'
Private Christopher Murray, Peggy Franks, Aircraftman Jimmy Clark, and Pinkie Barnes enjoy a spot of rowing on the Serpentine in London's Hyde Park. Christopher and Peggy have an oar each, but Peggy seems to be having trouble with hers.
A Day In The Life - Holidays At Home during WWII Peggy Franks 'The Blonde Bombshell' & Pinkie Barnes 'The Black Beauty'
Four friends raise their tea cups in a toast to celebrate an afternoon's fun in Hyde Park, London. Left to right, they are: Aircraftman Jimmy Clark from Edinburgh, Pinkie Barnes, Private Christopher Murray from Cork and Peggy Franks.
A Day In The Life - Holidays At Home during WWII Peggy Franks 'The Blonde Bombshell' & Pinkie Barnes 'The Black Beauty'
After an afternoon in Hyde Park, Private Christopher Murray, Aircraftman Jimmy Clark, (both hidden behind their companions), Peggy Franks, and Pinkie Barnes enter the Regal Cinema and Ballroom at Marble Arch, London. The film they are about to see is 'Watch on the Rhine', starring Bette Davis, Paul Lukas and Geraldine Fitzgerald.
All images and Quoted text are taken from the Imperial War Museums Collection Archive

And in case you fancy Holidaying like it is 1943 then you can always take a leaf out of  Peggy & Pinkie 's book and have a viewing of Watch on the Rhine which stars the fabulous Bette Davis!

So Peggy and Pinkies 'Holiday at Home' seems like a lot of fun. A spot of sunbathing, a game or two of table tennis, lots of tea, some messing about in boats and a couple of rather dashing men in uniform, what more could a girl ask for!

Now for the first time in this series of posts, I have actually been able to find some more information on these two lovely ladies.  It appears that Peggy and Pinkie were both accomplished Table Tennis players who played for England at competition level, during the war they joined forces and formed an exhibition partnership, they toured fires stations where they showed off their impressive TT skills.

Peggy Franks 'The Blonde Bombshell' married Ronald Hook also a TT player, Here is a clip of Peggy at the English table tennis Championship (not sure what year) she later retired from the sport to raise a family but in 1960 she was featured on a Pathe news reel 'This Colourful World' You really must see what our Peggy was getting up to from her Faerie Glen factory in Walthamstow (my hometown, I wonder where it was!), it is delightful!!

Pinkie Barnes 'The Black Beauty'  actually born Lavender Rosamund Marguerite Barnes, as well as being an accomplished TT player she was also one of Britain's first female advertising copywriters, she married Sam Kydd a TV/Film actor, her son Johnathon Kidd (also a well know British TV/Film/Advert actor) you can read his account of his mother here and also see pictures of the fabulous Pinkie as she is today!

Since publishing this post I have now learnt that Pinkie has died at the age of 97, I found this fabulous article which I have quoted below as it gives us a much broader picture of her life and career
Lavender Rosamund Marguerite Barnes was born on April 18 1915 in Luton into a poor family of six; her father, George Barnes, was an alcoholic journalist, and her mother performed in music halls as Stellar Sinclaire. Determined to improve her lot, she took a variety of jobs on leaving school in Norwood at 15, eventually becoming secretary to the manager of the Chiswick Hippodrome. During the 1930s she was in a singing act called Sweet and Swing with her sister Shirley. 
Starting just after the Second World War she made 11 appearances for England, taking part in Corbillon Cup table tennis internationals (World Team Championships) in London, Budapest and Stockholm. The London venue in 1948 was the Empire Pool, Wembley, in front of a sell-out crowd of 15,000 , and Pinkie Barnes was “shaking in her plimsolls” as she “gazed in awe at the size and noisy enthusiasm of the crowd”. Despite the jitters, she and her English team-mates went on to win , repeating their success in Paris from a year before. She was a key member of the team – a highly-effective chop backhand causing her opponents to dig the ball out high over the net, whence she would dispatch it with glee with her venomous forehand. 
She took her looks equally seriously, declaring “the better I look, the better I play” and was regularly pictured with her doubles partner, Peggy Franks, in newspaper reports. In fire stations, where they played exhibition matches during the war to boost morale, they were promoted on posters as “Pinkie Barnes the Black Beauty [she had black hair] and Peggy Franks the Blonde Bombshell”.  After the war Pinkie won the Dutch open singles on several occasions and was equally successful in Scandinavia, as well as playing for her county, Surrey. 
In the 1950 world championships at Stockholm, having parted ways with Peggy Franks, she played doubles with the then world singles champion, the Hungarian Gizi Farkas, reaching the final. But the partnership did not endure – back in London, the allure of Selfridges proved too tempting after life in war-ravaged Hungary, and Farkas was deported for shoplifting. 
In 1952, after her marriage to the actor Sam Kydd (who would go on to make more than 200 films and countless television appearances in the next 30 years), Pinkie Barnes gave up table tennis and concentrated on a career in advertising. She became a successful copywriter with Masius and Ferguson (one of the few women in the business at that time) working on the Ponds cream and Veet hair removal accounts among others. 
Advertising ran in her family. One brother, Micky, was chairman of the Bensons agency, where Howard (Boogie) was a leading copywriter . Pinkie Barnes won an award for her catchline: “Veet. It’s always summer under your arms”. Another result of her career was that she practiced the Ponds neck and face anti-wrinkle exercises — “QXQXQX” spoken rapidly — all her life. 
Pinkie Barnes continued to teach table tennis in Shepherd’s Bush well into her fifties and devoted the rest of her life to her husband’s busy career. She proved a highly able hostess to his showbusiness friends, who included Eric Sykes, John Mills, Trevor Howard, Harry Secombe, Harry Worth, Hattie Jacques, Jack Warner and Dirk Bogarde among many others. She was a fine poet and a stalwart of the Barnes poetry society in south-west London. (Quote Source: The Telegraph Pinkie Barns Obituary 4/10/2012)
Wendy x

For More posts from the Imperial War Museum Archive Click the Picture Post Tab at the top of the Page!!

Thursday 23 August 2012

A Sunny Sunday, A Red House & A Pink Dress

Wow, the weather here last weekend was shockingly good*, so for almost the first time this year, we actually made an effort to venture out for the day and do something more fun than our weekly food shop! It was also the perfect opportunity to 'Crack out my Sunday Best' which finally could be a summer dress!

We decided to take a trip 'saaf' of the river to Red House, in Bexleyheath which is the former home of William Morris founder member of the Arts and Crafts movement. Now owned and preserved by the National Trust. I have loved William Morris since I was a child, probably due to growing up a stone's throw from his childhood home in Walthamstow, I've been brought up on a diet of arts and crafts and twiddly botanic wallpapers, so this really was a perfect choice for me. There is not a huge amount to see regards artefacts, but what there is, it's impressive.

When we arrived we were a bit confused when the sat nav lady said, "you've reached your destination" as the house now sits in the middle of a housing estate, it is really not where you expect to find such an elegant property. But once we found the entrance in the red brick wall, I was enchanted by it. It is a truly beautiful place, it's an oasis of art history amongst the suburban sprawl. When it was completed in 1860, it was described by fellow artist Edward Burne-Jones as 'the most beautiful place on earth' and he was not wrong, just see for yourself...
The house was built for Morris with designs by Philip Webb who chose to work in the Victorian Gothic style to reflect Morris' love of all things medieval.

It is a most noble work in every way, and more a poem than a house, but an admirable place to live in too' [Rossetti]

“If you want a golden rule that will fit everything, this is it: Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” [Morris]

The Aphrodite embroidery was created as one of 12 female figures, inspired by Geoffrey Chaucer's poem The Legend of Good Women, to decorate the Red House. The design was drawn by Morris and embroidered by his wife Jane, her sister Bessie and their artistic friends.
Glass Mosaics depicting the seasons (Spring to Winter) installed in front door during the repainting in the 1950's
Morris wanted to create a 'Palace of art' were he and his artistic friend could be creative. 'It featured ceiling paintings by Morris, wall-hangings designed by Morris, furniture painted by Morris and Rossetti, and wall-paintings, stained and painted glass designed by Burne-Jones. 
Stained Glass by Edward Burne-Jones

"The past is not dead, it is living in us, and will be alive in the future which we are now helping to make." [Morris]

'I know a little garden close 
Set thick with lily and red rose, 
Where I would wander if I might 
From dewy dawn to dewy night. 
And have one with me wandering.'
Sadly Morris and his family only lived at Red House for five years, as they were forced to sell for financial reasons.  After leaving Morris said that to see the house again would be more than he could bear, which is understandable it must have been like leaving a huge piece of himself behind.

My Sunday Best was a recently finished Stash Buster, made using Butterick 5748. Though it was made as a wearable muslin and it has some irritating fit issues, I think it's my favourite dress so far!

We rounded our visit off with some seriously delicious Fentimans Ginger Beer and a generous helping of Carrot cake. The perfect end to the perfect day!

Wendy x
*You know it's all true what they say about the British being obsessed with the weather, we really are!  It may well be 'the last refuge of the unimaginative' but it if you're ever stuck for something to say to a Brit, it's certainly a topic which will always produce a polite/enthusiastic response!

Saturday 18 August 2012

Eleventy First Post Giveaway

Righty, Ho!
Without further a waffle or an ado here is my 'Eleventy First Post' giveaway for you!
Oooh, that rhymes and as promised and there's not a hobbit in sight!
So what's up for grabs...
1.1950's Gold colour brooch seen above
Whoops! I forgot to get a pic of it on its own!

2. A copy of the fabulous What Every Woman Should Know
I love this book it is packed with lots of great 'Life Lessons' from the 1930's and makes for a fascinating read.

3.  Two 12x8" prints from Vogue Covers 1919 & 1927.
Printed on matt/satin photographic paper. I had these made up absolutely ages ago and they have just been sitting unloved waiting to be displayed for far too long so it is time I found them a better home!

All this could be yours, so what do you have to do to enter?
Well, it is as simple as 1-2-3:
1. Be a follower new or old it doesn't matter!
2. Leave a comment below -It doesn't need to be anything fancy, simply a 'count me in' or 'Hello' will do!
3. Do the above before 12pm (UK BST) on Sunday 2nd September 2012

I will draw a winner using one of those random generators and post the winner's name here and if possible contact them directly.
If I am not contacted by the winner before the 16th September 2012 I will draw a new winner.
I hope you like it and please don't be shy and have a go
 I am more than happy to post worldwide so no one needs to be left out :)
Wendy x