Everyone Takes Turns, Now Its Yours To Play The Part

Jumper and skirt: Clothing at Tesco.

I bought these…wow, a year ago? Looking back at that post, I realise how different those pictures on the Tesco website are to these items. The skirt is a LOT shorter than it appeared online, and the jumper looked nicer in the lighter grey. I need some new clothes really, but am feeling so ~*uninspired*~ by the usual websites and shops. Any recommendations? (Or would anyone like to come shopping with me and make me buy stuff?!)

The comments in my last post were really awesome too, seems like most people were recommending M&S for high street tights, so I’ll have to pop along there this week after work. Until then, I must remember to Superman more often (thanks Sarah for educating me on that term last weekend!)

Yesterday I headed over to Bath to see Ally (whos new blog you should all check out, like, right now) for a bit of shopping, some delicious espressos at Colonna and Smalls and lunch at The Canary Tea Rooms – yum!

Vintage and Charity Shopping in Bristol

We’re very lucky in Bristol to have a massive selection of second hand shops (both vintage or charity) but despite living here for almost 4 years in total, I still am pretty clueless about where to go. I hopped on a bus, and headed up to Gloucester Road first of all.

Gloucester Road is a great place for independent shops and it has so many charity shops along it. Within a few minutes walk of each other, you have St Peters Hospice (which raises money for the only adult hospice in the Bristol area), Cancer Research and Marie Curie Cancer Care. These are all your typical charity shops – you know the type, a random assortment of items at tiny prices. Recently, CLIC Sargent opened a shop just along from these which is specifically a vintage charity shop. I’m not sure how exactly a vintage charity shop differs to the usual type, but it will be interesting to see how it does. Theres also a Amnesty International bookshop – I can never resist a charity bookshop but hadn’t been in this one before!

Just down the road is RePsycho, a vintage and retro shop. This tiny shop is crammed with mens and womens clothing – theres barely any room to move! This can be a great thing because of the amount of choice, but when I visited, there was quite a few people in there so it felt a bit claustrophobic. Apparently they also hire out party wear and have a music exchange in the basement although I couldn’t actually see where those were!

Further down, past the railway bridge, is my new favourite shop, Cox and Baloney Vintage Boutique. I’m a little bit in love with this shop I think. On one side, theres a little tea room, with gorgeous china for sale, and on the other, different rooms full of clothing, books, things for the home and even a dressmaker in the basement! Definitely one to visit again soon.

The Love Gloucester Road website has more information about some of the shops that are along here, but I think the best way to find out about them is to just wander down there yourself!

Clifton Village is often the first place people mention when looking for good charity shops, and the Oxfam shop on Regent Street is usually my first stop because they usually have a great selection! The Save the Children shop just along the road is also a great choice, although whenever I’ve been in there, theres usually still so many bags of donations to be sorted through. Focus on the Past is an antiques centre where different dealers have set up a co-operative to sell more homeware based items. Clifton Online has a list of charity shops in the BS8 area on their website.

Walking towards town from the Village will usually lead you along Park Street. Theres not many charity shops along this part of town, with just the Oxfam bookshop at the top. Being so close to the University of Bristol, this is a great book shop for non-fiction books. Walking down the hill, you’ll come to Uncle Sams American Vintage Clothing. I’d love to tell you more about this shop, but in the 5 years I’ve been visiting Bristol, I think I’ve only seen this shop open once! The one time I did go in though, they had a great selection of vintage clothing, mostly mens clothing, but they had some gorgeous shoes and a pair of roller boots that I really wish I’d bought. Further down, BS8 is a huge shop on three floors made up of different sellers – my favourite has to be the little gift shop at the front of the basement! Motel is a familiar name to quite a few people because of the success of their clothing in places like Topshop, but the Bristol store also sells vintage accessories, with a great collection of shoes and bags.

The Lanes started off a few years ago just as a bowling alley with a bar, but its expanding all the time. Upstairs, you’ll find the Rock and Bowl Motel and downstairs, Gimme Shelter vintage boutique. Gimme Shelter also organises a vintage fair ever month at the Lanes, bringing together some of the best vintage shops around Bristol. If you’re more Bath based, then later this month, “Its Darling!” vintage and artisan fair will be held in the Friends Meeting House.

Too busy to get out to the shops, or are you like me, and never seem to find those amazing bargains your friends always seem to come away with? Go online! St Peters Hospice is the only Bristol based charity I know (please correct me if I’m wrong!) that also sells items on eBay that would normally go into the shops. This is a fab idea because it allows people all around the country to not only get a great bargain, but help a great charity. Oxfam also does the same sort of thing with their second-hand store.

The above blog post was originally written for Groupon, but after it published there, I asked the lovely people of Twitter if they could recommend some others. Jemma very kindly emailed me an awesome list, so I asked if I could share it with you guys, and she said yes. Thanks Jemma!

Billie Jean, Gloucester Road – sells well-priced vintage and second hand clothes and linen – from Liberty silk scarves (ask to see the really special ones under the counter) to 70s dresses and retro curtains. Also does an excellent line in proper men’s felt hats, and blokes who want to channel Gossip Girl’s Chuck Bass should check out the hundreds of bow ties.

Clifton Vintage at the Clifton Village Arcade – a small unit full of beautiful vintage finds – I love the piano shawls, fake fur coats, amazing bags and 50s jewellery. The lovely and helpful owner has a great eye for seeking out vintage bits that the catwalks are currently channeling.

Cotham Hill – what I call “the chazza run”. There are several charity shops in this area, from PDSA next to Sainsburys Clifton Down right up to Oxfam where it meets Aberdeen Road, including three or four others all in a row for speedy browsing. Theyre all worth a look but St Peter’s hospice seems to come up trumps, and a few of them have a special vintage/ fancy dress rail to save you sifting through the Primarni cast- offs. Don’t forget retro clothes sales and hire from Naff on the other side of the road for your fancy dress or out-there outfits too.

North Street near the tobacco factory – another mini-run of charity shops. Not as good as they used to be – at one time all of my favourite shoes were from the Cats Protection League – but inexpensive and worth a look if you’re that side of the river. Further down North Street on the other side is a little vintage place I can’t remember the name of but they had retro hip hop stuff and some nice bags.

Focus on the past – this antiques shop in Clifton Village is mainly furniture and trinkets but they have a little rail of genuine vintage clothes and bags, and a few cabinets of old costume jewellery in all colours. Good if you like brooches or have a thing for vintage resin/plastic or paste jewellery.

If you have any tips on amazing charity shops, let me know!

Visiting New York

Ah, the unexpected part of our trip. I’ve covered why we were there in previous posts, and I’m still unable to even think of that airline without getting angry. (The return trip home didn’t help matters – after the luxury of economy on British Airways, economy on American Airlines was dismal. I’m trying not to remember the food, which lived up to the stereotype that airline food is revolting, and actually made me sick. Which doesn’t usually happen – I have an iron stomach. Or something.)

We managed to get a hotel sorted out, and got a taxi from JFK into Manhattan. I was still pretty upset when we got into the cab, but when we passed the graveyard that you see at the start of Cruel Intentions (oh yes, I’m a 90’s teen), I started to cheer up slightly. The view of the island was amazing. Once we had been through the tunnel, we were suddenly in the city, and I couldn’t help but stare upwards.

We got into the hotel (Westin New York at Times Square – it even has its own iPhone/iPad app. No, I don’t know why either.

We were staying on the 28th floor, which gave us an incredible view of New Jersey, and down below, West 43rd Street. Because the room was booked via Alex’s company, we had a “deluxe” room, with another epic “heavenly” bed (I really like the Westin chains now.) and a “heavenly” shower which is two shower heads instead of one. Pointless, but kinda cool. (Lets not talk about the bath, another American disappointment.)

Around the corner was Times Square. Such a crazy place!

Monday, we got to the hotel, went out to get some snacks, etc, and went to bed. I had had very little sleep (only managing an hour or so on the plane) so was grumpy from that as well. We had to send our clothes to the laundry service in the hotel, as obviously, we’d only packed for one week! It was pretty funny having to give someone 4 sacks worth of clothes – the bill was crazy, but it was probably cheaper (and definitely easier!) than buying new clothes (and the excess baggage costs – I was almost up to my limit anyway).

When packing to go, I packed for the weather we had been having in the UK at that time – temperatures of -5C. I got to California to find it was about 20 degrees warmer! Thankfully they were mostly layers, so I was OK. Alex, having been to Las Vegas the month before, knew what sort of weather to expect in Palo Alto, so packed for that. Unfortunately this meant that when we were in New York, he hadn’t brought a coat! It was seriously cold there, bitter winds but thankfully no snow! So on Tuesday, we went to Macy’s, apparently the largest store in the world. You’d expect me to be delighted by that, but honestly, a giant shop 3 days before Christmas? Hell on earth. We found a coat (Alex doing his usual “take an hour to debate different items, then settle for the first one seen” (he is like a girl)) and went up to the 7th floor for some Maccy D’s filth. I just couldn’t find any enthusiasm for shopping – maybe it was because I had no money, or maybe it was just that I was tired of shopping, but it meant that the most exciting part of that trip was the wooden escalators that have been there since the beginning!

On Wednesday, we took a walk up Fifth Avenue, passing the tree in Rockafeller Centre (still so pretty)

Saint Patrick’s Cathedral

Trump Tower

And er…the Apple store on Fifth. Oh come on, how could we not go? Look at it! Its a flipping cube of nothingness! Its all underground! Thats a queue of people waiting to get in (partly to get out of the cold tbh)

We didn’t actually buy anything, but we did get some very late lunch in Trump Tower. That place is so insanely decorated, pink marble and gold everywhere.

On Thursday, Alex stayed in bed all day, after staying up till 7am trying to catch up with the work he was missing at home, so I caught the Metro down to Battery Park and hopped on a ferry to Liberty Island to visit a blue lady.

Lulz, Statue of Liberty’s bum. (I don’t think I’ve seen a photo from this side.)

Unless you book really early enough to get “crown” tickets (which I obviously didn’t), there isn’t really that much to do when you go to Liberty Island besides take photos of Lady Liberty. Yawn. So I caught the ferry back to Manhattan, and set off to try and find a subway station. Well, that was the aim, until I saw this:

This sculpture, called The Sphere used to reside in the plaza between the Word Trade Center towers. After 9/11, the Sphere was moved from there to Battery Park, and currently acts as a temporary memorial while work is underway to build a permanent memorial.

I headed up Trinity Place, and knew where I was when the towers all around gave way like this.

Its pretty incredible when you think only 10 years ago, this was a built up block. They’re currently building the permanent memorial on this spot, which I’d like to visit one day.

Over the road from the building site is Trinity Church

I had always wanted to go to New York, but I didn’t really enjoy our trip as much as I should have done because it was so unplanned, and I just wanted to be home. I’m so grateful to everyone on Twitter who kept me sane those two weeks I was away – I think I would have gone crazy if I couldn’t vent somewhere! I’d like to go again some day, but maybe around my birthday so its a bit warmer!

More photos (of course!) over on Facebook.

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