Well, let's kick off with the four copies of MAD magazine from 1998 and 1999 that I picked up at Books by the Sea, a second-hand bookshop in Bude. I remember seeing MAD on sale way back in the early 1960s, and, being young at the time, I naïvely thought it must literally be a magazine for mad people. Every front cover featured that slightly creepy smiling idiot Alfred E Neuman, so I had some reason to believe that the contents were certifiably loony. In any case, I couldn't buy any copy of MAD without Mum and Dad fretting over the dire effect it might have on my young imagination. They had already noticed my young brother Wayne getting obsessed by super-heroes and similar fare in various comics. We were somewhat over-protected, me and my little bro!
Great artwork. And within, more of the same, plus very witty cartoons, captions, and satirical text. 1998 and 1999 was of course the era of President Bill Clinton and the Starr Report on what he got up to in the White House, including all the doubletalk surrounding his absolutely not having any kind of sex with intern Monica Lewinski, and other peccadillos political or otherwise. Despite all that alleged misbehaviour, I still think Bill Clinton is one of the best ex-presidents there ever were.
Next trophy, a lovely floral melamine tray from Banburys department store in Barnstaple:
This is for the car. I haven't possessed anything to put potentially messy items like takeaway fish and chips on, having brought the same back to Fiona for a quayside nosh. Now the deficiency is remedied. As you can see it is a deep tray, so nothing will roll off it. And of course it's wipeable. At one stroke, civilised eating à la voiture has been made a genuine reality.
Next up, a brightly-coloured Spanish tapas jug, presumably intended for wine. I bought this at Wroes department store in Bude:
Looks as good at home as it did in the caravan. It has become, as intended, an eye-catching ornament in the kitchen.
Another little ornament now, or should I say a new addition to my pantheon of travelling companions, a small cast-iron mouse bought at Castle Drogo. I have named her Squeak.
On to the clothes! A skirt from Wroes and a green floral scarf from Castle Drogo:
And (the best item of all) a multicoloured, handknitted, hooded jacket with a fleece lining made in Nepal. The story behind this was that I saw, from one of the side windows of my caravan, Phil and Ann at the farm dismantling an old chicken house in a chilly breeze, and Ann (who was mostly just watching) was wearing one of these jackets, and looked very cosy despite the wind. I went out to ask her about it. She'd bought it from a shop called Ian Snow in Bideford. I was just about to go off for the day, and said I'd modify my plans and check this out as a priority. Well, I found the shop (worth another visit, methinks!) and another lady customer there helped me choose the precise jacket that suited me best for colour and fit. You couldn't go by the size labels. They were clearly all individually hand-made in a kind of cottage industry, and not churned out to precise standard measurements in a factory! Although of course they all looked similar, each jacket was in fact quite unique. The cost? £39.99. Pretty good for what one got.
So now a few pix, to show what this garment looks like. This is my jacket (left) next to Ann's (right) in late-afternoon light at the farmhouse, while we were having tea together:
I tried hard not to buy one that was exactly the same as hers, and mine is noticeably greener. She bought hers back in 2012 and it hasn't been washed yet, so you can see that the bright colours will not fade. Although perfectly content with mine as it is, I'd seriously consider adding a bit more zig-zag stitching in ochre and red. There'a an awful lot of wool up in the attic, and if its the right sort I might be able to make the jacket even more individual at no cost whatever!
It's a bulky garment that traps warm air and keeps one very snug - great for a chilly day out. Underneath you can be any shape: it makes you look like a blob regardless. But that's not the point. Its meant to be both eye-catching and weather-beating, and it succeeds very well. Let our resident model strut her stuff, and demonstrate how the Country Girl and the Girl About Town can both look chic and interesting:
Or should that be elfin and unusual? Whatever you may think about the styling, this is one of the most comfortable garments I've ever bought.