Thursday, 24 April 2014

Alive Here In Death Valley

Last week, I managed to get out of the house for an hour or so to do a spot of local exploring. I hadn't left the house in ten days and was developing a bad case of cabin fever, so my older sister picked me up and drove us to one of the nearby country villages for some fresh air.

We had intended to potter around the shops in Burford, but on our leisurely stroll from the car park we got side-tracked and ended up paying the church a visit instead.

I have lived locally to Burford, a beautiful, historic village in the Cotswolds, all of my life and even though I've passed the church hundreds of times over the years, I had never visited it before; at least not to the best of my memory. 

The sun was shining, the sky was blue, and it was a gorgeous, hot Spring day- perfect weather for acting like tourists! I doesn't look so warm in these photos, but it felt like a Summer's day, and I was boiling in a dress, short-sleeved cardi, and opaque tights!

Even from a distance, the church is impressive. It's a 15th century Methodist church built between 1160 and 1475 called St. John the Baptist, and as I soon found out, it's steep in hundreds of years of history. Far more than I realised before hand.

The church is surrounded by a well tended graveyard, and many of the headstones close to the path were so old and weathered I couldn't read the inscriptions. We stopped to read the grave stones along the main path to the church, but didn't wander around to see them all. (Although I would've liked to).

These headstones caught my eye. The shape and floral design at the top of them are really interesting; although I have no idea if they mean something or are purely decorative.

Inside, the church features high ceilings, exposed beams, and huge ornate arches that almost seem to section the church in to rooms. The architecture of the building is so beautiful, and it's so large that it seems more like a cathedral than a village church.

One of my favourite features were the huge stain-glass windows

I was amazed by how intricate the windows were. Each tiny pane had so much detail and they really were stunning. I can only imagine how much time and effort must've been put in to each one. (These windows were high above my head, so apologies for the unlevel photos).

I'm not sure what this gizmo is exactly, but it looked pretty.

On each chair were these hand-stitched cushions, each with a different design. I presume they're kneeling pads for prayer, as there weren't any on the floor. (Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong).

This is a memorial to King Henry VIII's barber-surgeon, Edmund Harman which shows some of the earliest representations of South American Indians. It's believed to be of an Indian tribe living along the Amazon that Edmund Harman may have traded with. The inscription in the centre is written in Latin. The sign says he was King Henry's barber-surgeon between 1533-47, was made Lord of the Manor of Taynton in 1549, and died in Burford in 1577 (although it might say 1572; I can't quite tell).

I've completely forgotten what this sculpture related to. It may have been the bottom part of Edmund Harman's memorial, or something completely different. I just thought these praying men looked interesting.

There are many bodies buried underneath the flagstone floor of the church, marked with marble and stone gravestones. Many of the gravestones I paused to read were written in Latin, and dated back to as early as the 1600s! I found them really fascinating because I had never seen a gravestone written in Latin before; well, not that I can remember, anyway.

I didn't have time to stop and read each grave as I would've liked to, but I skimmed over as many as I could. This one caught my attention. A man called John Pryor Gent was murdered and found hidden in the priory garden in April 1697. I hadn't heard of his story prior to reading his gravestone, and sadly it seems that nobody alive today knows much about this man, either. I wonder who he was and why he was murdered.

(Apologies for the crap photo. There were overhead lights reflecting on to the marble, and no matter which angle I tried, the lights ruined the shot).

Deeper in to the church, there is a canopied tomb where the bodies of Sir Lawrence and Lady Tanfield lie. Sir Lawrence Tanfield was an English lawyer, politician, and Lord Chief Baron of the Exchequer, an elected Member of Parliament for Woodstock on at least six occasions, a sergeant-at-law, a puisne judge of the King's bench, and a Knight of the Shire. From what I can gather from Wikipedia, I think this man was a very big deal! He sure looks impressive and intimidating in this picture.

I think this was the first time I'd seen an elaborate tomb from another era than the ancient Egyptians. It's quite substantial and detailed, and surrounded by a wrought iron fence that I almost impaled my arm on trying to take a photo! I hadn't noticed the spiked rails until my arm slipped and I stabbed myself on one. Oops. Luckily the arm could be saved. The positioning of the fence made it difficult to take good photos, but it's a beautiful piece. Can you imagine being laid to rest in something like this?!

Ornate lion pillars.

And an ugly looking angel plaque from 1668.

The church is so large it's impossible to get the entire building in to a photo, no matter how far away you stand as there are walls, buildings, and trees surrounding it. It's a beauty, though.

When we came back outside, we had a rest for a little while so I could recover, and we sat on a bench in the graveyard. It was so peaceful sitting there in the sunshine with little noise but the sound of the birds singing.

I had a quick peek at some of the graves and headstones to the left of the grounds as we headed out.

Next time I'll have to go for a wander around the back of the church and see what else there is to explore.

I didn't know until afterwards that in 1649, during the Civil War, 340 Levellers were imprisoned in the church by Oliver Cromwell and were forced to watch as three men (considered the ring-leaders) were executed. Apparently the bullet holes remain in the walls to this day, and graffiti one man carved on the font is still visible. The village is such a quiet and peaceful place that it's hard to imagine a time when it was anything but.

While we were there, my sister snapped a few photos of me on her phone. I haven't cropped them in too close as I looked a mess with my fringe pinned back and no eye make up on. (My fringe needed a trim and my left eye was swollen as it hadn't stopped streaming in a week). As we weren't going to be out for long and I didn't expect to have photos taken, I hadn't worried too much about my appearance, but I wish I had. I feel so frumpy when my hair and make up aren't done!

I was wearing my heart print Alice & You skater dress again. I can't stop wearing this dress! The fit of it is so perfect that I keep returning to it regularly because it makes me feel fantastic. I really hope that they bring out other prints in this design because I'd buy them all. I love it!

I'm wearing it with black opaque tights from Evans, my studded Simply Be boots, a pink cropped cardi from New Look, my Russian doll bag from Accessorize, and a pearl / cameo necklace I won in Rachel's giveaway last year.

Outfit Details

Dress-Alice & You // Cardigan-New Look // Tights-Evans // Boots-Simply Be // Bag-Accessorize // Necklace-Giveaway Win

We parked down by the river in Burford, and it was so tranquil. I'm jealous of the person whose house backs on to the river bank!

When I think about it, it's shocking how little exploring I've done of places close to home. People come from all over the world to visit The Cotswolds, and I live in it, close to so many beautiful places and rarely explore anywhere new. I love visiting new places, but usually stick to places I know at home and look further afield for new experiences. I've wanted to start exploring more of Oxfordshire and The Cotswolds for years, and hopefully over the Spring and Summer I'll be able to get out a bit more and see a little more of what my area has to offer. It really is a beautiful region, and if you like pretty country villages with a lot of history then Burford (and the church) are well worth a visit.

Do you enjoy exploring cemeteries and old churches like I do?

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Wednesday Wish List

Hey guys,

How's everybody's week been so far? Did you all have a good Easter / bank holiday weekend? Mine was quiet but lovely, spent in bed watching movies.

This week I have so many pretty things to share with you; lots more than usual; forty to be precise! I tried to condense the numbers down, but then I thought against it. It would just be selfish of me to keep all the lovely finds to myself, when I can share them with people who will appreciate them. So forty it is!

I also find that putting these wish list collages together sort of satisfies that hunger to shop when I can't afford to treat myself to anything I have my eye on. Almost. I'm still human!

 1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5 // 6 // 7 // 8 // 9 // 10 // 11 // 12 // 13 // 14 // 15

There are so many pretty pastels and lovely soft colours around at the moment; which is no surprise, being Spring time and all. They appear every year without fail. I don't particularly suit pastels because I'm extremely pale, although it doesn't stop me craving the sweet colours. I find it easier to wear pastels in small doses with accessories like the lovely shoes, socks, and bags in the collage above, but every now and then I will embrace pastel clothes, too.

My favourite two from this bunch aren't exactly pastel-coloured, but they're lovely just the same. I'm obsessed with the flamingo print skater dress (1), and the leaping tiger smock dress (4), both from ASOS Curve. The prints on both dresses are amazing, and one way or another they need to make their way in to my wardrobe. I think it's time for a spot of eBay selling because I'm smitten with them but penniless.

1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5 // 6 // 7 // 8 // 9 // 10 // 11 // 12 // 13 // 14 // 15 // 16 // 17

This collage is a little bit bolder than the first, featuring plenty of beautiful brights, and some gorgeous prints; two things which I love and feature heavily in my day-to-day style.

I cheated a little bit here and added a dress which has just been delivered; the vibrant blue Aztec skater dress from F&F at Tesco (3). It arrived just yesterday, purchased with a voucher I won, and I'm so in love with it already. The print is beautiful, the fabric is soft, it fits perfectly, and it only costs £14! Make sure you check it out before it sells out as it's a beauty of a dress! I'll make sure I feature it in an OOTD soon.

I discovered a new-to-me Etsy shop called Ladybird Likes on another blog the other day (I forget whose), and I've fallen in love with many of their accessories, especially the red cardinal and blue bird necklaces, brooches, and collar clips (7, 10, 11) and the toadstool collar clips (15). Aren't they beautiful?

Also, how cute are the strawberry ankle socks from ASOS? I want them!

1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5 // 6 // 7 // 8

I've also had my eye on some darker pieces that are mostly printed with bold floral prints. I enjoy wearing a wide range of colours and colour palettes, as you can probably tell.

I really love the colourful pansy print on a pair of Dorothy Perkins palazzo pants (6), although I know it's unlikely they'd ever suit me. I've never seen eye to eye with wide-leg trousers. They usually swamp me and leave me feeling frumpy. That's not to say that this pair would, too, although I live in hope that DP brings out another garment in the same print.

And the final piece I must mention is the lovely floral tea dress from F & F at Tesco (8). The style of the dress is so classic and perfect, and the print is beautiful. If only I could reach through the laptop screen and grab it!

Well, that's what's on my wish list this week... what's on yours?

Which of these pieces is your favourite?

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Steel Magnolias: Essential Easter Viewing

I thought I'd do something a little different today, and talk about one of my all time favourite movies; Steel Magnolias.

Steel Magnolias has been one of my favourite films since I was a little girl, and I have watched it every Easter without fail for as long as I can remember. I consider it essential Easter viewing, and it just wouldn't be Easter without it. 

In my opinion, Steel Magnolias is one of the best and loveliest girlie movies ever made, and for those of you who have never seen it, I'm here to tell you why.

Steel Magnolias is a beautiful bittersweet eighties classic about a group of southern women from Louisiana who have bonded at the beauty parlour and come together to support each other during the triumphs and tragedies of life.  It's simply a film about love and friendship with plenty of dry-wit mixed in. 

The film has a strong all-star cast including Dolly Parton as the fabulous glamour technician Truvy; Daryl Hannah who plays the deeply religious Annelle; Julia Roberts as Shelby, a young diabetic newly-wed; Sally Field who plays Shelby's doting mother M'Lynn; Shirley MacClaine as the fantastic sharp-tongued Ouiser; and Olympia Dukakis as Clairee, the fabulous wealthy widow.

The film focuses around the six women over a few years, beginning at Easter on the morning of Shelby's wedding to Jackson (Dylan McDermott). Although the film focuses equally on all of the women, most of the scenes are linked to Shelby in one way or another from her wedding to her funeral, as they band together to support each other during each milestone.

While the film is mostly filled with feel-good moments, it's also a tearjerker. Shelby is a diabetic and suffers kidney failure after having the baby the doctors said she shouldn't have. She goes on dialysis, gets a kidney transplant from M'Lynn, and all is fine until she collapses and slips in to a coma. Her family have to make the difficult decision to turn off her life support machine, and the remaining four ladies come together to support M'Lynn as she grieves for the daughter she's lost.

Sally Field is extremely moving as the heart broken grieving mother, and her scenes towards the end of the film never fail to make me cry. I think each of the six lead actresses play their roles perfectly, and it's impossible not to laugh and cry along with them throughout. It's my favourite feel-good movie, and I feel so content whenever I watch it.

Not convinced this film is for you? The startling and flamboyant eighties fashion is alone worth watching the movie for! There are some real monstrosities worn in this film, along with a few beauties, and the huge eighties hair is quite something! If you love eighties fashion, this movie will be a feast for your eyes.

The same can't be said for the wedding decor and bridesmaid dresses. They are quite hideous. Could Shelby's wedding be more quintessentially eighties? I think not! 

For some reason, Shelby's groom, Jackson, wanted a red-velvet armadillo groom's cake at their wedding!

This armadillo cake scene has always been one of my favourites and it's definitely one of the most memorable parts of the film.

While Steel Magnolias isn't a comedy, it's full of hilariously witty lines throughout. I probably quote this film in real life more than any other movie or TV show... because I'm sad like that...

Here are some of the best ones:

Drum: Ouiser, can we call a truce long enough for me to get a piece of cake?
[Ouiser slices him the tail piece of an armadillo cake]
Drum: Aww, thanks Ouiser. Nothin' like a good piece of ass.

Dolly Parton is just fabulous in this film!

Truvy: What are your colours, Shelby?
Shelby: My colours are "blush" and "bashful."
M'Lynn: Her colours are "pink" and pink."
Shelby: My colours are "blush" and "bashful" Mama!
M'Lynn: How precious is this weddin' gonna get, I ask you?

Annelle: I promise that my personal tragedy will not interfere with my ability to do good hair!

Clairee: It looks like two pigs fightin' under a blanket. 
[Observing a wedding guest dancing (badly) in an ill-fitting dress.]

This scene when Annelle finds beer in her Frigidaire is another of my favourites. 

Annelle: Sammy Wayne Desoto, what is this in my Frigidaire?
Sammy: Beer.
Annelle: I don't care what you do with your refrigerator, but you will not keep liquor in mine.
[dumps the beer out in the yard]
Sammy: Oh, Annelle, for Christ's sake!
Annelle: Who? Who did you say?
Sammy: Christ, Christ, Christ!
Annelle: Are you speaking of our Lord? Is that whose name you're taking in vain?
Sammy: That's the one.
Annelle: Well, I'm sorry, Sammy. But I am not about to spend the next fifty years of my life with someone I'm not gonna run into in the hereafter.
Sammy: Oh, Annelle, goddammit!
Annelle: I think we should pray.
Sammy: Oh, I'd rather eat dirt!

This scene at Shelby's funeral is brilliant! I want to be friends with Clairee!

The best character in Steel Magnolias without a doubt is Ouiser played by Shirley MacClaine. She's a miserable,feisty, sharp-tongued women with a foul-mouth and the best one-liners. My sisters have called me Ouiser after her since childhood! I take it as a compliment because Ouiser is awesome!

Clairee talking about Ouiser.

And here are a few other favourites I couldn't find an image for online.

♥ Clairee: The only thing that separates us from the animals is our ability to accessorize.

♥ Truvy: In a good shoe, I wear a size six, but a seven feels so good, I buy a size eight.
   Clairee: They're eight and a half.
   Truvy: Perfect!

♥ Truvy: Well, these thighs haven't gone out of the house without lycra on them since I was 14.
   Clairee: You were brought up right.

♥ Clairee: I've just been to the dedication of the new children's park.
   Truvy: Yeah, how did that go?
   Clairee: Janice Van Meter got hit with a baseball. It was fabulous.
   Truvy: Was she hurt?
   Clairee: I doubt it. She got hit in the head.

♥ Ouiser: I'm not as sweet as I used to be.

♥ Shelby: I would rather have thirty minutes of wonderful than a lifetime of nothing special.

♥ Clairee: Ouiser, I'd recognise this penmanship anywhere. You have the handwritin' of a serial killer.

♥ Clairee: The older you get, the sillier you get.
   Ouiser: Yeah, well the older you get, the uglier you get.

♥ Clairee: [trying to do "colour commentary" by discussing the colour of the football uniforms] ... But I love        the top - such a vibrant purple. Bob, would you call this colour "grape" or "aubergine'?
   Ouiser: SHUT UP!
   Clairee: What?
   Ouiser: You're makin' a fool outta yourself, Clairee.
   Clairee: I am not.
   Ouiser: This is football. All the people wanna hear about are touchdowns and injuries. They don't give a          damn 'bout that grape shit.
I stuck to the tradition and watched Steel Magnolias again this Easter Sunday. It's the perfect Easter film because it begins and ends during Easter, and has no shortage of sugary sweet pastel colours and dyed eggs to set the scene. It's a classic, the characters are all fabulous, and I never tire of watching it one more time.

If you haven't seen it before, I hope you'll check it out, and what better time to watch it than during the Easter festivities? If you like chicks flicks, I'm confident you'll love Steel Magnolias!

Did you grow up watching Steel Magnolias, like I did?

*None of the images used in this post belong to me. Unfortunately, the majority of the images I found (via Pinterest) weren't credited, so I'm unable to credit the owners. If you know who they belong to, please get in touch and I'll gladly credit back to them.
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