Monday, 18 November 2013

A Birthday Treat

Back tracking a little to late October, a certain young person turned yet another year older.  All those cliches about time flying and how fast they grow up really are true, it seems.  For the first time, the Munchkin's birthday fell (just about) in term-time so we waited until the following weekend before treating him to a little surprise trip up North.

We had a good journey up to York, letting the train take the strain, as they say.  That you can travel from Kings Cross to York in two hours still amazes me.

Now my very useful Mr HenHouse had noted to me that the Scarborough Vintage Fair was taking place that very weekend.  So, on Saturday, we caught the train once more and headed for the coast via some picturesque scenery.

It was a little blowy and wet in Scarborough but we set off for The Spa at the far end of the beach, an easy stroll from the railway station.  It is said there has been some sort of spa on the site since the early 1700s and indeed, Scarborough was declared England's first true seaside resort, somewhere "nice to take the waters".  The building now mainly dates to the 1880s and in its time has been host to a  glittering array of music hall stars.  It is quite magnificent and so fantastic to see it being used today as a venue for all sorts of events.  Did I take a photo of the outside?  No.  Oh!  Here's a nice one of our approach to the sea front.

The Fair was held both in several of the smaller ante rooms (where there was also a tea room and a NAAFI in another), and in the main grand hall.  What a splendid setting.

It was extremely busy with visitors and there were some goodies to be had, at sensible "out-of-London prices".  There was also a friendly welcome from everyone we met.  I was entranced by a stall held by two young ladies whose family has owned a gift shop in Scarborough for decades.  When clearing out an upstairs storage room recently, a whole hoard of vintage jewellery and gift stock was discovered.  Oh be still my beating heart.  I was spoiled for choice with the really lovely original 1940s and '50s pieces they had.  (Mr HH bought me one of the gorgeous green doggie fobs for my birthday.)

Some people are just so silly.

When we ventured back out into the open air, we were delighted to see the sun had come out and set off for a brisk stroll across the sands, all the while hunting for sea glass.

And happy days, look who we happened to find!

I do so love a donkey and what a treat to find some still on the beach.  The Munchkin did not need asking twice before hopping into the saddle and going off for a trot.  (Do donkeys trot, I wonder?)  Despite being twelve years old, it seems he loves riding the donkeys just as much as ever.  Hurrah.

Our destination was the far end of the beach and one Harbour Bar.  This is always a must-stop when in Scarborough.  We learned that the cafe was opened one week after the end of the Second World War and is still making award winning ice creams under the ownership of the same family.  As you can see, the decor is a true delight.

The menu is suitably retro.  Cherryade ice cream floats...

...and of course, all sorts of sundaes and a knickerbocker glory as big as the Munchkin who chose it.  It just so happened I matched the decor and my banana sundae!

Feeling somewhat chubbier, I was rather dreading the trek back up to the station.  Then Mr HH reminded me that we could take the cliff tram.  Phew.

After a lovely day in Scarborough, where else could we spend Sunday in York but at the National Railway Museum.  You will know if you've read this blog before, that Mr HH and the Munchkin are avid steam railway fans and I've grown quite partial, myself.  Indeed, my very favourite engines are the A4s, those fantastic streamlined numbers from the 1930s.  Only 6 of these now remain. Mallard, holder of the famous speed record, lives at the NRM, three other A4s work out on the mainline, hauling special charters mainly (Sir Nigel Gresley is usually at the the North Yorkshire Moors Railway in Pickering, of course,) and the other two live overseas.  

Thanks to a group of dedicated folk, plans were made and the two engines were shipped from North America back to England where they have undergone an extensive overhaul and now look rather splendid.  As such, it was a rare opportunity to see all six of the big A4s all together before they go back to America next year.  The boys informed me that the NRM was very busy thanks to this special display but they haven't been to the Festival of Quilts if they think that is busy!  It was impossible to take a decent shot of all the engines together but it was a great and memorable day, not least because you could also go up on the footplate of all the A4 engines.  (Apologies if you do not share our enthusiasm for steam engines and were expecting chat about quilts or vintage frocks!)

So let's finish with something a little crafty because as all you dedicated crafters know, the first thing to pack when you're going away is your chosen crafty project.  I decided to finally use these lovely vintage fabric circles I bought from America via Etsy (I think they were once Suffolk Puffs).  I've looked at them on my shelves for far too long!

I started fashioning them into fabric flowers.  Indeed, I've pretty much finished them and I enjoyed it very much.  I've added felt circles with embroidered French knots to the centres.  When they're truly finished, I'll pop back and show you.

I did come back with some lovely little treasures from the vintage fair.  I think my fave has to be this very cute "make do and mend" pony.  I'm pretty sure that if I looked back in my 1940's magazines, I would find the pattern to make him.  As always with my vintage finds, I love thinking back to the life this pony might have had.  Fashioned from the rag bag with scraps from a blanket or old coats or hats, with some swirly embroidery for good measure.  A real treasure to a child on a Christmas or birthday morning, perhaps, at a time when you couldn't just go out and buy everything you wanted from the shop (or even the www).

In the background, you can see a rather jolly fabric creation on my design wall.  It is now a pretty fetching finished quilt and one day soon, this Winter weather permitting, I'd like to share it with you.


  1. Loving the pony, I want one :) What a lovely child you have, that enjoys a trip up North for a present instead of demanding the latest and greatest console games and then hiding in his bedroom for hours on end. So nice that you and your family can enjoy a good vintage fair together in that way. Wish I could pry my lot off their respective computers. But that would take power of nuclear proportions and they won't let me borrow Dungeness, so I guess I'll be looking for these fairs on my ownio. Loving the flowers as well. Do you fold the circles into quarters before stitching the ends and gathering them?

    1. Hi Claire,
      Well I must admit he is mithering us for a mobile phone of all things, but we're resisting. Yes, just fold the circle into quarters to make the petal and run a gathering stitch along the bottom. X

  2. Oh Hen I always wait excitedly for your posts and you never disappoint. I would have loved to have gone to the vintage fair, it looked fabulous and those brooches are to die for. I went to Scarborough years ago and loved it but not returned since - seeing your photographs has made me yearn to go again. I love the fabric flower you are making, can't wait to see them finished. Munchkin is growing up fast and what a wonderful young man he is going to be. It looks as if you all had a fabulous time and many happy returns to your young man Hen, he does you proud. Big hugs Hen
    Lots of love

  3. Sounds a blissful weekend Hen. I can't think of one bit I wouldn't love. Quilt looks intriguing cant wait to see it.

  4. What a beautiful day you had at Scarborough! You are so lucky that Mr Henhouse enjoys these trips with you. He even told you that the fair was on. I love the world I am transported to when I read your blog.

  5. What a lovely and fun time!! Beautiful flowers!! Have a wonderful and crafty week! xo Heather

  6. My youngest went to a sale with me last month. He came home with a lighter made from a bullet. He doesn't smoke!

    My husband rebuilds WW2 planes for a local aviation museum as a hobby. Well, at least I know where to find him when he retires at New Years!

    Donkeys on the beach! Picture of me somewhere on one at Blackpool!

  7. What a lovely time you had. Jacqui x

  8. Fab post Hen. Love the stand with the ex-shop stock brooches..I could have purchased several! Like you, I do have a bit of thing about steam trains, so can totally appreciate you raving about those 1930s beauties. Have a good week, happy stitching no doubt! Lizzie x

  9. Great photos, Hen, and as usual, I love the fact that you Boy still loves to be out and about with mum and dad and throws himself so happily into all that Vintage loveliness! Long may it last!! (BTW I am salivating over those vintage circles - I think I would have re-made the suffolk puffs simply because I love them at the moment!)

  10. Great post Hen, looks like you had a fab time :) xx

  11. Lovely weekend was had by all! Love the post.
    Julie xxxxxx

  12. Found myself smiling all through this post, the photos were fantastic hen, I can't imagine I'll ever get to visit Scarborough, but now through the pictures it's like a great day out. I'm a fan of steam trains so even enjoy your 'train themed' posts, but have to say, it would have been hard to hold back looking at the things on display on those girls stall, I can't believe you didn't come home with bursting suitcases. x

  13. What wonderful fun you had with everyone enjoying themselves and all of you together. I am so pleased Munchkin still enjoys doing things with you. I miss those times with my boys - that's another way you realise time has gone by so quickly. Are you seriously expecting us to believe you only came away with a dog fob, a donkey and "a few treasures"? Philippa xx

  14. Oh my stars...that jewellery...I went up to York in the Summer to see the A4s together- fabulous, and so easy to do on the train.

  15. What happy memories the bridge photo in Scarborough evoked. I shall look out for the next Vintage Fair there and get myself up there. My husband loved the train Museum in York and went there every time we were close by,
    Those "circle" flowers are Fab, can't wait to see the finished item.
    I agree London to York on the train is brill and if you book in advance not over expensive.

  16. Writing to you from Missouri, in the US. I always enjoy reading about your journeys and fairs. I also collect vintage fabrics & linens, redwork,
    and 30s kitchen items. Take care!! Rhonda


  17. I didn't realise York was only 2 hours from Kings Cross. That really is amazing. It's somewhere I would love to go. You are amazing, Hen. What a wonderful, action packed, something for everyone kind of weekend. As someone else said, I love being transported by your blog. I'm glad mr munch had a happy weekend and a donkey ride too. I've always loved donkeys. Love the photo of you in your banana cardi. And mr hh and his cherryade. That was my fave drink as a child. Corona cherryade hmmmm, I can smell it now. Hugs to you and the furry trio xx

  18. Gorgeous post and what a birthday treat. I'm quite partial to the railway museum myself, just the smells and those beautiful royal carriages....takes me back to a bygone time.

  19. What a wonderful birthday weekend treat!!! Can't wait to see more of that fabulous quilt!!! Have a wonderful weekend!!!

  20. What a lush little birthday trip! i'm a Yorkshire lass living in the north east, so i love seeing blog posts pop up about my home county. My dad loves steam trains just as much as your family, so i spent quite a bit of my childhood on train journeys and have a bit of a soft spot for them too. I'm glad you had fun in Scarborough, i love the harbor bar, a trip there as a child wasn't complete with out a Knickerbocker glory taller than me!

    Thank you for a little trip down memory lane!

    Cate, x

    p.s. lovely looking fabric flowers, can't wait to see them finished!

  21. Hello, Hen~ I love the pictures of the steam trains. Would love to take a trip on a lovely train. So happy the models from this side of the pond made the return trip for refurbishing. Thanks for including us in the wonderful trip. Jo J.

  22. Hello, Hen~ I enjoy the pictures of the steam trains. Would love to ride on a steam train. Glad the models from this side of the pond made the return trip for refurbishing. Thanks for taking us along for the weekend!


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