This weekend I was really looking forward to going to Judy’s Affordable Vintage Furniture Flea in Oxford. However, once we’d done a turn of the room, we left empty handed and I was left a little bit disappointed. I was expecting a larger array of items and was particularly in search of a mid-century armchair for my lounge, of which there were none. There were a lot of G-Plan style sideboards, plenty of lighting and a rather weird stall selling taxidermy, all of which I had no interest in buying. It was a shame because the one’s in London (this was their first outside the capital) always looked so good. Feeling deflated, we needed to find something else to do. So, as it was such a lovely sunny day, we decided to explore the countryside between Oxford and where I live.
And it was a great excuse to take some photos of my new There’s Only One Amy Laws skirt which I’ve been dying to show you. I came across Amy Laws when she started following me on Twitter. I quickly went and had a look at her website and was instantly in love. Amy designs and makes beautiful hand printed skirts, dresses and tops for women and cute little dresses for girls. The prints, such as giant flamingos, ice cream cones and squirrels, are just so cute and playful and are just perfect for the summer. The styling is very much a modern 1950s look with gathered or half circle skirts.
I chose the most popular design, the Wild at Heart skirt in the sky blue colour. It’s recently been released in a salmony pink colour too but I thought this would suit me better as I love blue. Amy’s skirts are a little shorter than I would normally wear but she very helpfully offers to make small adjustments to her stock designs to accommodate different tastes. Before ordering I measured my favourite skirt and decided I needed an extra 5 inches in the length for my kind of style and for an extra £5, making the total cost of the skirt £40, I thought it was definitely worth it.
I absolutely adore this skirt and I love the fact that it was handmade and hand printed for me, it makes it extra special. I’ve had so many comments about it. My only grumble would be that it creases quite easily, as you can see in my photos, so after one wear I have to get the ironing board out again for the next time. I haven’t washed it yet so can’t comment on how it comes out but you can put it in the machine on a 30 degree delicate wash.
So after stopping to take some pictures at a nearby farm we headed to a place called Folly Hill. It wasn’t too bad of a climb but the wind was howling right across it and blowing our hair into our faces, not a great look. I was amazed to see that my curls still remained intact once I got home! Once you reach the top you can literally see for miles all the way around and across a total of five counties. In the photo above you can just make out the cooling towers at Didcot which are about 20 miles away.
The sole reason for climbing the hill was because, buried in a small wood, there is the last ever major folly built in the UK. It was commissioned by Lord Berners, the owner of nearby Faringdon House during the early decades of the 20th Century. He’s known as ‘the last eccentric’, which he certainly was, and the folly and its wood definitely proves it. The folly itself is a huge 100 feet high tower which you can climb on certain days during the summer. Unfortunately it was closed when we went but I’d love to go back when it’s open and look out across the stunning countryside that surrounds it.
During the 1930s and 40s Lord Berners hosted some of the best weekend parties in the south west with guests such as Salvidor Dali, Stephen Tennant, Nancy Mitford and George Bernard Shaw. He was known for keeping his horses in the lounge as if they were house pets, dying his doves all different colours and putting signs up like “Don’t feed the giraffes” and one of his closest friends Diana Churchill, Winston Churchill’s eldest daughter, was often seen running around the grounds stark naked!
Last year they replaced the old seat in Faringdon with a brand new stone one that included a sitting statue of a deep sea diver. This was in memory of the time when Salvidor Dali walked through the market square in a divers costume to try it out before wearing it to the opening of the first exhibition of Surrealist Art in London.
As I said, it was very windy up on top of the hill, so I had to put my cardigan on for extra warmth. It was also making my nose itch with all the pollen being blown about and just about all the photos taken up there were of me sneezing!
This is one of my more casual vintage looks, the type I generally wear to work every day. The cardigan is from Gap and I’ve probably had it for nearly 15 years, but it still looks brand new. The white t-shirt and pink wicker bag are from Marks and Spencer, and again, I’ve had the bag forever. The shoes and belt are from Accessorize and the catseye sunglasses were from Lou Lou’s Vintage Fair.
After having a look around the folly we explored the wood that surrounded it and came across a few more of Lord Berner’s odd little quirky pieces, including this randomly placed wooden bridge. There was no stream or path running underneath it and it wasn’t connecting anything either end but oddly enough you couldn’t help but go over it. It was like a compulsion!
We were then admiring the beautiful chestnut trees, trying to spot any prickly chestnuts, and were suddenly alarmed by what looked like a real bird up in the tree flapping its wings as if it was about to swoop down and attack us. Thankfully after a few seconds we realised it was made out of wood! It looked so real though, and you just don’t expect to see it. Apparently there are a total of 24 of these birds dotted around in the wood but this was the only one we spotted.
This rather cute carved rabbit was sat on one edge of the wood looking out towards Lechlade. Unfortunately, somewhere along the way , he seems to have lost his nose and on the other side he’s very worn away, probably by the wind whipping up from the valley.
As we were leaving we spotted this wooden canon with the date 1645 on the front, King Charles I, Royalists, Faringdon House on one side and Oliver Cromwell, Parliamentarians, Folly Hill on the other. This is in memory of the Battle of Faringdon during the English Civil War where Cromwell and his infamous Ironsides had fortified a Medieval castle on the site of the folly tower and tried to take Faringdon House from the Royalists. He was not successful.
After a disappointing start, the day turned into a rather enjoyable one and I’m really glad to have explored some of the countryside around where I live. It couldn’t get any more English and it makes me proud to live amongst such natural beauty. My new There’s Only One Amy Laws skirt was a rather apt choice for the day I think!