If one could but go to Brighton!

The Grand Hotel

Last September my mum and I headed down to Brighton for a couple of days of relaxing and, of course, shopping. We also met up with the incredibly lovely Jenny and Kieren from the Frantically Jenny Francis blog. Despite the fabulous day spent with them zipping around in their 1930s car Betsy, the weekend getaway didn’t exactly go to plan.

Firstly, I had a stinking cold and horrific cough which got worse on the first evening and it kept me awake all night. It actually turned out to be bronchitis, which was made worse by my asthma! Secondly, I took a new-to-me 1940s silk faille blouse with me to wear that evening and it was completely ruined by the hotel’s iron. It desperately needed a press before going out but as soon as the iron touched the fabric it spat out a whole load of watery limescale all over it. I cannot tell you the expletives that came out of my mouth!

The hotel we were staying at was The Grand in Brighton, a very prestigious hotel. We normally wouldn’t have been able to afford such a posh place but we’d found a superb bargain basement deal online and took full advantage of it. You would then of course expect them to have tip top irons, but oh no. Anyway, after speaking with the manager he offered to, not only pay for another vintage blouse for me, but also to give us a sea view deluxe room at the same price of our bargain deal if we came again.

The Grand Hotel card and chocolates

Well roll on nearly a year and my mum and I decided to take up the manager’s offer and return to The Grand. This time the whole experience was fantastic and the room, or rather suite, we were in was incredibly impressive. Last time we’d been stuck in a dark and yet to be redecorated room with a rubbish view. However, this time we had the amazing Napoleon Suite, which usually goes for approximately £440 per night! The red arrow on the photo at the top shows you which room it was.

I did a quick video of the main room to show you just how stunning it was. You can see we had a sofa, coffee table, dining table and chairs, a very long dressing table and several other chairs dotted about. The enormous bed was split in two later on in the day to make twin beds (I didn’t really want to share a double bed with my mum!). We had a huge balcony which literally overlooked the sea. It was wonderful first thing in the morning watching the mist disappear from the horizon.

1920s bag and social calendar book

Our first port of call on the first day was the North Laine area. If you’ve ever been to Brighton you know this is where the non-high street shops are. Amongst the vibrant streets you’ll find all sorts of independent shops selling their wares. However, we were on a mission to visit both the plethora of vintage shops and fabric shops. We didn’t have a massive amount of time, having arrived later than planned, so we headed straight for our favourites.

My favourite vintage shop is Snoopers Paradise.It’s full of all diffrent sellers and is a mixture of junk, secondhand and vintage. You can literally find anything in there so it’s always great to have a rummage. In fact, at one point I had one of the assistants opening loads of different cabinets whilst he patiently waited for me to go through everything. Most of it is out on display but this particular seller was offering some really old jewellery and accessories that needed locking up.

In the end I just bought the book and bag above. The book was written in the 1970s and covers everything about the social scene of the upper class. It goes into things like what events happened when, including the London Season. I’ve always wanted to find out more about this subject so I quickly snapped it up. The bag is a knitted one from about the 1920s. It’s in really good condition, although the tassel needs a good wash and comb. I believe the handles are celluloid and I absolutely love their knotted shape. Together these only came to £20, so I was quite impressed.

Fabrics from Brighton

Next it was on to my two favourite fabric shops, Fabric Fair and Ditto Fabrics. Fabric Fair is like an Aladdin’s cave of fabric. It’s so overwhelming that you have to walk around the entire place once to just get a sense of everything. Eventually you start to notice designs that you like and beginning pulling them out. Or, like me, getting the poor assistant to run around and pull them out for you!

In the end I bought three fabrics from them, a heavy navy linen, a blue and white check cotton and a green parasol print cotton. The blue and white check was probably the one I got most excited by. The reason for this is that it’s a soft 100% cotton very much like the cottons used during the pre-polyester days. I’ve been on the hunt for some ever since I kept spotting vintage clothing made with it at fairs. If you’ve never come across it, it’s got a good weight to it but also has an amazing soft drape. If I could find more of this cloth in the future I’ll be a very happy bunny.

The other check is a mid-weight wool, something I’ve been looking for for a while. It was from Ditto’s and was in their sale, so it was a real bargain. I’m going to be using it for an in-between season 1930s jacket. I’ve been wanting to make one for ages and Mrs Depew has the perfect pattern, but I just needed to find the fabric.

The white cotton floral fabric was actually bought the next day and is a vintage fabric. It was probably sheeting but is very much like a cotton lawn. I thought it would make a lovely summer top though. However, I think that’ll have to wait until next year, I’ve got far too much to get done as it is.

Collectif Alice Wicker Dome Bag

My last purchase in Brighton was this gorgeous Alice Wicker Bag from Collectif. I’ve been after the perfect wicker bag for a couple of years now and this is definitely it. Although it’s fairly small, due to it’s shape it has loads of room in it. It was probably a bit more expensive than I would normally pay, £30, but I just fell in love with it straight away. Sometimes you’ve just got to treat yourself!

The 1930s gang

The next day mum and I had arranged to meet up with Jenny and Kieren in Lewes. It was somewhere we’d never been before but had heard it had lots of vintage shops in it, so were pretty excited. We also couldn’t wait to see the lovely couple again and catch up on everything. I have to say we had an amazing day with them. We shopped, we ate, we had cake and had a good old natter. Of course, the three of us caused quite a stir walking around in our vintage get-ups which my mum found highly amusing. I cannot tell you the number of times we were asked if we were going to an event.

The 1930s gang

Of course we had to have the obligatory photos done. If we look a bit weary it’s because we’d just walked up two huge hills to get to our cars and we were exhausted. My mum was the fabulous photographer for the three of us and I love how stylish we all look. As none of my friends around where I live are into vintage I generally stick out like a sore thumb compared to everyone else. However, it was so nice to literally just walk down the street with people who get why you do what you do. It was really refreshing.

Frantically Jenny Francis and Vintage Gal

I love the photo above. Jenny and I had my mum and Kieren snapping away at the same time and we had no idea who we should be looking at! This photo shows perfectly just how confused we were. And for those of you who follow my Instagram, you’ll notice that I’m wearing a blouse and skirt I’ve done some sneaky peaks shots of. I will, of course, do a proper post about these some time soon.

1960s white bag

Lewes certainly didn’t disappoint on the vintage front. Jenny ended up buying a gorgeous 1920s dress that fitted her perfectly, although she panicked trying to get it off and ripped it slightly. However, it perfectly fixable and I’m sure she’ll be featuring it on her own blog sometime soon.

My first purchase was this beautiful white patent leather bag. I believe it’s from the 1960s and is near-perfect condition. This is so rare for white vintage bags so I’m so glad I spotted it. I’ve been after one for a while but have never found one quite up to scratch before. And a little bonus awaited me inside. In the zipped pocket was the original mirror and stuck on the back was the name address of the lady who owned it. Then, in the pocket behind I discovered a typed piece of paper with her married name and new address on it. I love finding things like this and, just like my previous 1940s Cordé bag, I’m going to do some serious research into this bag’s owner.

1930s lemon gloves

I also bought a pair of cotton lemon yellow gloves that my mum spotted. They were only £5 and fitted me perfectly, so I immediately snapped them up. Again, they’re in near mint condition, however, I’m not sure of the era. It doesn’t really matter anyway because they go so beautifully with my lemon yellow dress, that I know they will get a lot of wear.

1930s home accessories

Lastly I got a couple of pieces for my home. The oak frame is from the 1920s rather than the 30s. I know this because the 1920s ones were rather more chunkier than their latter counterparts. I have a few 1930s ones but had to get this one because the glass area is landscape rather than portrait, something you don’t often find. I immediately knew what photo I’d put inside, a picture of my great uncle Len, and his wife, and my great aunt Ethel, and her husband, on the beach in 1932. I absolutely love the photo and it’s just perfect for the era.

The butter dish is for my Welsh dresser. I have been slowly collecting pieces of 1930s cream ware to display on there and this will look gorgeous with them. Generally each piece is a different pattern or manufacturer but I wanted it to all be mix and match. It makes it look so interesting that way. Both these pieces need a good clean but I can’t wait to display them.

Both days we had were so wonderful. We had an amazing hotel room, fantastic service (we got a few raised eyebrows when we said what room we were in!), brilliant shopping, fabulous food and drinks and the best company we could have asked for. It really was a great couple of days and we were both very sad to leave.


Just a vintage gal suffering from the Golden Age syndrome. A lover of all things old, especially the 1930s, seamstress, crocheter, maker of hats and enjoys rummaging at flea markets.


  1. So many lovely things to look at in one post!! I don’t know where to start with my gushing comments – how fabulous you all looked? The gorgeous bargains you picked up? That green parasol print fabric? The amazing hotel room?! It looks like a wonderful time was had. I love that parasol print fabric, I’ve seen it in red somewhere (Minerva I think) but the green is just fabulous, I’m going to have to see if I can track down that colour way!

    Thank you for brightening my afternoon with this lovely post!

    • I first found out about the parasol print fabric when Kate-Em messaged me about a blue version they had in their shop. However, when I saw this green version I completely fell in love with it. I know if I hadn’t have bought it I would’ve regretted it. I have no idea what I’m going to do with it but there’s enough there to make a top. xx

  2. Oh Cate, me & Kieren had such a lovely time! Love the picture of us looking confused, haa ha! I’m so glad that the Grand gave you an excellent experience this time, your room looked lovely – the video is a genius idea! 🙂 You found some great buys, I’m excited to see what you create from those lovely fabrics!
    I’m still deciding what to do with that 1920s dress. I gave it two good soaks to clean it up a bit (I always wash anything vintage/second hand, even jewellery, I’m a bit ocd in that way). I took the sleeves out, which has made it much more wearable from a movement perspective. I might do some other bits and bobs to it, but at the moment it is just hanging up looking pretty 🙂 I can’t believe I ripped it – and the sound it made! Noooo.. The perils of true vintage eh?
    I’m so glad you enjoyed Lewes, it really is crammed with so many antique and vintage shops! Pass my love onto your Mom too, (and Kieren says hi!) xxx

    • It really was such a lovely day we all spent together and my mum and I kept saying so all the way home. You know you’re always welcome if you venture up my way.
      I cannot tell you the amount of times I’ve tried something vintage on and then started panicking because I couldn’t get it off. No matter what you do to calm down, it always get worse. I’m sure you’re dress will be really lovely once you’ve added your magic to it and I’m sure it was meant for you, it’s exactly the colour I would’ve chosen for you. xx

  3. What a dream!! OK, not the “ruining a vintage blouse” part… that’s tragic. But I’m so glad the owner was so generous! Thanks for the peek into your weekend! I’ve been dreaming of visiting the south of England again… so I might be about 30 shades of green right now. 😉

    • It really was the most marvellous weekend and it just felt so lovely to be near the sea for a couple of days. I do hope you return one day so you can enjoy it for yourself. xx

  4. The three of you look marvelous – I’m not suprised you caused a stir in Lewes.

    • Hehehe! It was funny watching all the heads turn in our direction as we walked past xx

  5. Ooohh, where to begin! There is so much vintage and travel awesomeness packed into one post here. I especially love that you got to meet up with Jenny and her husband. Seeing two (or more) bloggers that I follow in the same post always warms my heart. Congratulations on all of your marvelous finds. I adore your cheerful yellow gloves. What a classic, elegantly pretty pair. Thank you for sharing so many of the highlights of this excursion with us, sweet lady.

    xoxo ♥ Jessica

    • I knew you would love those gloves! I actually thought of you when I first saw them because you have such a wonderful collection of colourful day gloves. xx

  6. Lovely buys , what a great weekend , friends , fun and handbags ! I am off to Brighton in a few weeks , can’t wait to check out those shops for myself .

    • Oh I do hope you have a wonderful time! There are so many good shops there that we never get around them all, you almost need a whole week! xx

  7. This sounds like such a wonderful time! I’d love to visit Brighton again someday, as when I went I was alone and I suspect it would be more fun with a companion or two. I love the parasol print fabric you found, the colors are gorgeous!

    • Oh you really should go back, it’s such a wonderful place. If you ever need some company down there I’m always happy to return and I’m sure Jenny would join us. xx

  8. What a wonderful trip for you! I really enjoyed your post. I just started following your blog, Cate, and I absolutely love it. I’ve always been fascinated with vintage style (particularly the 1930-40s) and all since I was a girl. Only one other person I know gets it. It’s nice to find others who do too. Thanks! Best wishes from Louisiana!

    • Thank you for your kind words Morgan, it means a lot and welcome to the blog! None of my local friends are into vintage in any way, so it’s always lovely to meet up with friends from afar and chat about our mutual passions. I really should do it more often. xx

      • You’re welcome, Cate! Keep up the good work! 🙂

  9. Amazing what a fabulous time and such a gorgeous place. You all look like you stepped out of a Poirot episode and i love the yellow gloves

    retro rover

    • Aw, thank you Kate. If only we were in a Poirot episode, as long as I wasn’t the poor victim! xx

  10. Oh, how I hate an iron spitting watery limescale! But what an awesome suite you got to stay in as compensation. And so many lovely finds. You did really well. Although I haven’t yet made it to Brighton, I have been to Lewes about ten years ago. I actually found one of my favourite vintage things ever in Lewes, a 1930s enamel Household Wants Indicator! xxx

    • Yes, the compensation certainly made up for it! I think I’ve seen your household want indicator, wasn’t in one of your blog post photos just recently? Lewes is such a lovely place, I would definitely go there again to search for more vintage goodies. xx

  11. Oh what a fantastic place! I would love to visit there one day if I’m overseas anytime soon. I’m glad that despite the initial issues with your trip it turned out just wonderful. Congrats on all those great finds too.


    • It really is Liz, you’d love it. There’s so much vintage shopping in both Brighton and Lewes and I’d highly recommend visiting both if you ever find yourself in the UK. xx

  12. hello,ciao Cate…nice post full of colourful photos…Your outfit is super super super Charming!

    • Thank you! I will be blogging about it at a later date because both the skirt and blouse were made by me.

  13. Oh that green parasol fabric!!! I can’t wait to see what you will make with that, although I already know whatever you decide to create you really can’t go wrong with such a print! So many great find on this trip! It is so fabulous to see you all hanging out together, looking brilliant as usual – I can just imagine the stir you would have caused.

    • Thank you! I haven’t quite decided what I’ll make with it yet but it’s definitely be some sort of blouse. It takes me a while to work these things out in my head and I think about it endlessly for weeks. The joys of being a seamstress! xx

  14. Wow, that is a great haul! Love the wicker bag! The butter dish is nice as well. It reminds me I really need to replace my own butter dish. Mine is round and I discovered that’s not practical at all, since butter comes in a rectangular shape when you buy it.

    • Hehehe! Yes, those were the days when you could just buy the amount of butter you needed to fill your particular butter dish! xx

  15. What a wonderful weekend you had! What a lovely hotel and your room was beautiful, so glad you didn’t have to pay the full price, though, that made my eyes water!! Love your little fabric haul, such pretty prints, especially love the parasol fabric it looks totally 30s! And how lovely to meet up with Jenny and Kieran too, I am not surprised you caused a stir, looking as picture perfect as you all do! xx

    • Yes, I’m so glad we didn’t pay full price either! I have no idea what I’m going to do with the parasol print fabric but I just couldn’t resist it 🙂 xx

  16. I just love how fabulous you all look! No wonder you turned heads! Each of you is wearing marvellous outfits! It sounds like a really fun weekend and you found some super treasures. My parents bought me a white vintage handbag for my birthday, it is quite a compact one and is pristine. I reckon it was used once for a wedding and never again. Yours looks marvellous. The parasol fabric is fantastic in that green colour way. Looking forward to seeing what you make with all the wonderful fabric.

    • Thanks Kate-Em! Yes, I think the handbag I bought was only used a couple of times. Apart from the addresses in the pockets, there was also a long ago banned headache tablet and a safety pin. I mean, what else does a girl need! xx

Comments are closed.