News, reviews and inspiration, sightings and writings, ideas and insights .... there's something for all vintage lovers in our blog!

Furry Paws Animal Rescue

Furry Paws Animal Rescue in Addington Vale has rescued, rehabilitated and re-homed some 5,000 domestic and wild animals since it was set up in 1988. It’s a remarkable achievement, given that this independent voluntary group is entirely run from home by Robert Atkinson, his mum, auntie, brother and a couple of family friends.

Caring for animals has been a part of Robert’s world since he was a baby. In 1971 his mum, Maureen, took Robert in his pram to Downing Street to deliver a petition with nearly 3,000 signatures as part of a “Save Our Seals” campaign. The petition helped to change an Act of Parliament which led to a more humane way of culling seals rather than hunters skinning the animals alive.

Furry Paws’ primary mission to rescue and re-home domestic pets - mainly cats - that have strayed and got lost, been dumped by owners who can’t cope or no longer want them, or can’t stay with their present owners because they’ve gone into accommodation or care homes. Furry Paws always respond instantly to any animal in need. They are never turned away or put down and on the few occasions that Furry Paws couldn’t find a new home Robert and his family have kept the animal for life.

Over the years Furry Paws has helped all kinds of animals including cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, budgies, chinchillas and even a few badgers, hedgehogs and foxes. They have even taken referrals from the RSPCA.

We asked Robert why he has devoted his life to looking after the animals. He told us: “When animals are lost, unwanted or ill treated they become scared and bewildered. And because they’re domesticated they need the comfort, security and companionship of a loving home. I cannot think of anything more rewarding, more motivating, than helping to change the lives of these sad little creatures.”

“There are much larger and well funded animal rescue centres nearby, but we can offer these animals a home environment straight away, making the eventual transition to a new family less stressful for them. The attention we can give them is very personal and it starts them on the road to recovery almost immediately.”

Robert and his family raise money to look after Furry Paws Rescue animals through selling donated bric-a-brac at a host of local fairs and markets. If you’d like to help out, or could offer a loving home to one of their cats, then you can contact Robert on 07842 991161, or Maureen on 07751 097604. They would love to hear from you!

Fashion shopping the vintage way!

by Fran Taylor - Daisy Dog Vintage Blog Editor

Five years ago I remember reading in the Daily Mail that the British passion for vintage had run it’s course and that ‘retro’ was about to fall out of favour. In reality there are some very compelling reasons why owning and wearing vintage is probably with us to stay!

If you’re new to vintage fashion I hope the following tips will inspire you to visit a vintage fair or two before heading off for the shopping malls next time you fancy a new outfit!

A century of vintage evening dresses

We’ve all done it - wandered around the shops for hours on end looking for inspiration, trying to find something a bit different. But it can be really hard when all the shops are offering the same thing and in the same colours because that’s what the fashion industry forecasts dictate. And even harder when current fashions simply don’t suit you, your lifestyle or that inner you that’s dying to show off!

Vintage fashion offers an eclectic range of styles to suit every taste - from mid-century classic cuts and 1960s pop art minis, to early 1900s glitz, glamour and elegance. An hour or two at a vintage fair could take you back in time to fashion eras that are completely you - styles that you love to wear and feel totally gorgeous in!

You don’t have to embrace a whole look - you can wear a vintage brooch or necklace with jeans and a T shirt or simply accessorise a modern classic with a vintage hat, bag or shoes. Chaps can dress up a favourite suit or smart casual outfit with Art Deco cufflinks and a stylish waistcoat or a designer vintage silk tie or cravat for extra flair!

Decorative and designer handbags from a host of vintage eras

Quality: It’s fair to say that, for the most part, vintage goods of all kinds have a quality about them that’s hard to find in today’s high street stores. Clothes were beautifully tailored, tea cups were invariably made of fine bone china, furniture never came in flat packs, toys were made of anything but plastic, and nearly everything was finished by hand.

Vintage clothes were made with ‘proper’ seams so that you could let them out or take them in, and proper hems so you could let them down! It also meant that they didn’t come apart after a few wears! Makers rarely skimped on the cut of a garment just to keep the price down, so clothes draped and pleated and tailored and flared with panache! Fabrics were varied and interesting too. Tweed, seersucker, cotton lawn, crepe, satin, brocade, georgette, taffeta, velvet, Broderie Anglaise ... all so hard to find amongst the jersey, cotton and polyesters that dominate today.

And then there’s the detail - tactile leather, Bakelite and glass buttons, metal zips that don’t get stuck, luxurious trims and embellishments ...

Beautifully tailored suits, silk ties and dapper hats for men

Enduring styles and charisma: So many of today’s fashions and accessories are “must have” for a short while but a year later they’re obsolete or fuddy-duddy. Vintage, on the other hand, has already been through the ‘fashionable’ experience once and survived. It no longer matters that it was trendy in 1950 and passé by 1960 - it’s now an iconic statement piece with its own personality and story, proudly flaunting its bygone style.

Summertime hats and dresses from the 1940s and 1950s

If I asked you to name three of the most famous fashion designers of all time your list would probably include names like Dior, Calvin Klein, Coco Channel, Versace, Givenchy, Mary Quant, Prada, Pierre Cardin, Burberry, Vivienne Westwood or Yves Saint Laurent. These great and enduring names were stealing the limelight as long ago as the 1920s and it seems we still love everything about them. Their innovative styles are enduring - still treasured, still fresh, and still inspirational.

And the best thing? You might not have been able to afford a “Westwood” or a “Versace” at the time, but I can absolutely promise that every vintage fair you browse will offer up at least one iconic and enduring design which you’ll fall in love with - and this time you’ll be able to afford it! What could be more satisfying and rewarding?

A Vivien Westwood coat and a Mary Quant shift dress

What to look for: Anything that catches your eye! Whether it’s functional, wearable, decorative or simply for fun, it’s really quite difficult not to connect with fashions from a bygone age. Wearing a little piece of the past is mesmerising - even a £5 vintage brooch can quickly become a fascinating and treasured possession!

Don’t feel you need to look for designer labels or famous make marks - the charm, character and appeal of the item is all that counts. A little stain or a little bit of wear doesn’t matter either. Just enjoy the journey it’s been on, and the reaction it’ll get the next time you put it on life’s catwalk!

"Good as new" vintage shoes for every style and taste

The Art of Advertising

Why Richard of Richard’s Retro Road Trip is hooked on old American adverts

The hugely popular American drama series “Mad Men” (which followed the colourful lives of those working for the Madison Avenue advertising agencies from the late 50s into the early 60s) portrayed the clever techniques that were employed to “get the message” out to the American public and get them spending their hard earned dollars. The “art” in this respect covered two main things – the image itself and the message that it sought to hit you with.

Advertising nowadays has to play by very strict rules, with ads being “pulled” by the powers that be if they fail to meet specific criteria. Go further back however, and things were much more relaxed and you could get away with claims, the majority of which, wouldn’t pass muster now. They also fed on the public’s desire for the assuredness of cosy normality; the wholesomeness of the nuclear family - Dad coming home from work and being met by either a) his wife dressed to the nines b) his young son and daughter running joyfully to greet him, or c) his faithful slobbering hound leaping over the white picket fence - sometimes all of them together! In this context, it must be remembered that America emerged from WW2 far stronger than when it went in. Its industrial output had grown exponentially, and post 1945 (having never been bombed) it was ready to immediately feed the consumer desires of (arguably) the true victors of WW2. Thus for example, the Michigan and Detroit motor giants were soon offering new models of Ford and Chevrolet whilst companies that had hitherto been producing war material were turning their new skills into filling kitchens with “white goods” and time and labour saving gadgets. Britain, in contrast, was worn out and pretty much broke, with rationing continuing for some years and much of what we could produce being prioritised for export.

Anyway, enough of the history lesson! The artwork used by the companies and their ad agencies is a testament to those seemingly rosy days that existed between 1945 and the early 1960s (even allowing for Korea). Dad smokes his pipe, his perpetually smiling wife wears her high heels in the kitchen (which she adores of course!) and the freckled kids either help mother with her sewing chores or father with his more “manly” duties around the house. And of course everyone drank like fish and smoked like chimneys! The reality for many was, of course, quite different from this (black Americans for example invariably only appear as hotel bell boys or railway porters). Nevertheless, there is no denying the creative energy that these “Mad Men” set in train.

To see just a few of Richard’s collection of original adverts visit his Facebook page at Richard's Retro Road Trip and click on the “photos” tab. A selection will also be available to buy at the Daisy Dog Vintage Christmas Fair on 8 November in Oxted.

From Silver Service to Silver Artisan

Ken Hawksworth's inspiring story behind "Little Anvil"
Little Anvil upcycled vintage silver jewellery

As a Chef I love making things and have done so since my childhood. But after a serious motorcycle accident I couldn’t work in the professional kitchen again. On seeing a silversmith course I jumped at it.

Enjoyed it so much! I love the feel of silver, which to me is a lovely buttery texture to it. And my daughter loves the fact that she can use me as a borrowing library.

Working with silver is very absorbing time passes quickly. I try to use oddments and broken pieces: odd spoons and sugar tongs make wonderful bangles. Making posy holders from the bowl of a spoon for special occasions is great fun too. Commissions are my favourite as I love a challenge, but I do also like to undertake repairs.

Sterling silver is an alloy of silver containing 92.5% by mass of silver and 7.5% by mass of other metals, usually, copper. The sterling silver standard has a minimum fineness of 925.

Ken offers a fascinating range of bespoke, up-cycled, handcrafted and pre-used silver jewellery. Visit his Facebook page for more inspiration! www.facebook.com/littleanvil