Bring on the Summer Holidays Part One: Corsica!

One of the massive perks of being a teacher (pretty much the only perk?) is the wonderful holidays we get. Yes, we work hard, but yes, we also get lots of days off during the summer to do what we want with. Last week, Aidan and I visited the island of Corsica. And it was pretty much by flukey chance that we ended up there at all.

Without going into detail, a previously planned road trip to France fell through for the week. So we found ourselves a week last Thursday with a week’s holiday booked in for Aidan but nowhere to go. After many threats of: “That’s it, I’m just going to book us a package and if it’s crap, it’s crap!” from me, Aidan eventually shook off his despondancy and found cheap flights to Corsica. My Friday morning was spent trying to buy things to take on holiday (not very successfully, but that’s another story involving a grape and a pair of ridiculous shoes…); the afternoon spent ringing around like a crazed woman trying to find us some accomodation.

As luck would have it, after a few frantic emails and polite refusals, I managed to get through to someone.

“Excuse me,” I asked, feeling extremely English. “Could I speak to Isabelle ___, please?”

A small, masculine chuckle, some words in French and I’m passed over. Presumably my pronunciation of her name is just far too English. Thankfully, Isabelle can speak very good English and our week at ‘La Bergerie’ was booked.

La Bergerie in Corsica

La Bergerie in Corsica

Our former shepherd’s cottage was just gorgeous. A mezzanine floor held the bed, a little terrace perfect for dinners and wine-drinking and an extremely friendly host in the shape of Isabelle. She really made the week special for us. We were invited around for dinner one evening to meet some of her friends; it turned out the she was a vegetarian too so we had a delicious dinner. We also found out that the laugh on the phone from her friend was because Isabelle has been so obsessed with England since a teenager that he thought I was a friend, ringing up as a joke to tease her. When he’d passed the phone over, his words had been: “It’s for you, it’s a joke!” It honestly wasn’t! Every morning Isabelle brought us breakfast in the form of croissants and french bread, and as an added treat, on the final night she cooked us dinner and brought it over to us. Accompanying this were many Corsican presents for us from Isabelle, including an oil jar and a sugar dish that she had decorated herself as it turns out she is an artist. It was so lovely of her, and we loved staying in ‘La Bergerie’.

Now, this is supposed to be a retro and vintage blog predominantly, so I’ll try and restrict my pictures and words to the parts of Corsica with a retro feel. We did manage to visit one charity shop and a flea market in Bastia – the results of which you’ll have to see another day. Around Bastia, we found a few interesting retro bits and bobs:

Cinema in Corsica

Cinema in Corsica

Bastia itself is quite an old town, which has managed to survive mostly intact from the 17th century (and much earlier in places), but there are a few aspects which fit the Mid Century image, including this cinema above. Sadly closed down, it was still worth a picture for it’s retro sign.

Art deco facade

Art deco facade

I am the stereotypical British woman – very pale, slightly ginger and a complete pear shape… as pointed out by the major of the town we stayed in when he was having lunch with our host and spotted us on the beach! Nice to know I stood out that much amidst the sea of berry-brown people (to use an Enid Blyton phrase!). Anyway, here I am modelling an art deco facade to a wine shop for you. We spent a while looking for an art deco building mentioned in the guide book, only to find it was the building we’d already taken a picture of…

Art deco facade

Art deco facade

Graffiti in Bastia

Graffiti in Bastia

We also discovered some Space Invaders! The first one was lurking on the edge of the closed cinema:

Squint and you'll see it!

Squint and you'll see it!

The next we discovered by a lighthouse in the port – which we weren’t supposed to walk to, but others had so we decided to copy them.

Space Invader by the Sea

Space Invader by the Sea

And finally, on a wall and joined by many fake baby versions:

Space Invader population

Space Invader population

We did lots of walking, swimming, sight-seeing and, of course, sampled a bit of the local food and wine. Corsicans love their food, and it’s easy to see why. We’ve brought home some chestnut cake and conserve, fig conserve, some herbs snaffled from a mountain top and gifted to us by Isabelle. Being French, the cakes were delicious. My mouth’s watering at the memory of a chocolate and pear tart I had… it’s a good job we did some long walks!

As I said, we did find a flea market and bought a small selection of retro goods. But they will have to wait for another day now.

Bring on the rest of the summer holidays!

Squinting at the sun!

Squinting at the sun!

Glorious Glazes

I’ve just been looking at our vast collection of pots and thinking about how varied the glazes can be. Now, these pots are not necessarily my favourites (though some of them definitely are!) – it was more a case of what was close to hand!

Like I said, not all of these are favourites but they do show the variety and breadth of glazes that can be created. I’m no expert, but some of these look incredibly tricky to produce. Many people in the West German Pottery world can mock Scheurich, but some of the most striking glazes here were produced by that particular factory.

We’ve finally booked our holiday this evening – we’re leaving on Sunday! – so I’m a bit excited by that. If I get time tomorrow, I’m going to scour my Woman’s Own magazines for holiday related pictures, articles and adverts. That depends on if I can get packed in time though. Wish me luck!

The Latest Delivery from Germany

I know I’m fairly easily pleased, but the latest batch that Aidan’s brought back from Germany contains some of his best finds yet. Here’s a quick ‘preview’ of some of it:

West German Pottery finds

West German Pottery finds

Check out the plastic bin at the front! We’ve got a book on Plastic Collectables, so I’d asked Aidan to keep his eyes open for anything. This made me smile quite a lot. I think I’ll put it on my desk at work. Some fantastic pottery – gorgeous, gigantic Fohr pot and that amazing Schäffenacker wall plaque (with the horses on).

Schäffenacker Plate and Others

Schäffenacker Plate and Others

West German Pottery haul

West German Pottery haul

It’s not just West German Pottery that he brought back this time; many ’60s lights, retro curtains, couple of pictures and quite a few 1950s atomic pieces are now mixed in amongst the pots. The most difficult part is deciding what to keep and what to sell! Much of what’s on the picture above, we’re keeping. There are a few strays lurking in there, but there are plenty we like enough to keep… at least for a while, anyway!

West Germany Pottery

West Germany Pottery

Some good stuff here that we’re definitely keeping. The Karlsruhe Majolica elephant is staying, as is the ES Keramik hiding slightly behind it. I absolutely hate the Silberdistel ‘blood and icing’ vase (as Jen from Wowie Zowie christened the glaze once), but Aidan loves it so it’s staying. The Ruscha ‘Vulcano’ dish will probably get sold after we both confessed that we’re not that keen on it. And a few other random bits and bobs of interesting shapes and glazes; quite an eclectic mix of ‘keepers’ really.

Ruscha Wall Plate

Ruscha Wall Plate

Last but definitely not least (and actually, not even last as there’s loads more I’ve not photographed yet); is this giant Ruscha wall plate. The circles are 3D, standing up from the base which is intricately glazed with a whole smattering of colours. It looks like some kind of frenzied Pacman game gone haywire. This one is most definitely staying put with us, and most likely going onto the wall sometime soon.

There you have it – a not-so-quick preview of some of the newest items. What do you like the look of so far?


Green, green, green…

My favourite colour ever! Yet for some reason, many people don’t like it; particularly in their retro pottery. I love it. So this is a Green Feast of West German pottery, just for me:

I had many grand plans of what I was going to accomplish this evening. Driving lesson went relatively well. It’s my third one so far (not counting the two I had two years ago…); today I managed hill starts, emergency stops, drove to Buxton, parallel parking, turning, up to fourth gear and back down again. However, I was feeling quite tired and stalled a few times which made me cross. I kept forgetting to put it back into first when I’d come to a stop. Anyway, the short story is: I’m tired. So the run and marking of year 7 assessments is not going to happen. What will now happen is a bath and some Heroes in bed. Ah, but first I have to actually make the bed… I know it’s early and I really don’t care! Night all…

Car Boot Bonanza

Yesterday I went to the car boot sale in Stafford. Without a doubt, Stafford is the Mecca for car boot sales. Every time I visit my family there and we go to the boot, I always come back laden down. Yesterday was no exception:

Some of it will be Ebayed, most of it I appear to be keeping… these 1960s costume jewellery pieces are becoming a slight obsession. I don’t know anything about them, so I should start researching into them.

I’m having massive problems with WordPress at the moment. I’ve managed to figure out how to insert all of the pictures I want to (using a Gallery function). However, I can’t seem to insert them individually and hence can’t make them any bigger. I’ll keep trying.

Bits and Bobs from Wowie Zowie

One of our favourite places is Wowie Zowie in Chorlton, and not just because they buy West German Pottery from us! They stock a wide and amazing range of mid century, retro and vintage bits and pieces. Virtually everything that is in that shop, we either already have or covet madly. If we ever open up our own retro and vintage shop, the template will most definitely be Wowie Zowie.


Wowie Zowie

Last time we went was a couple of weeks ago. We spent a good hour chatting to Jen and Goff, looking at all of their amazing finds. They have this treasure trove of a cellar and back room which I think we’d like to spend an hour or two rummaging through. Anyway, eventually we decided to purchase a few things:

Vintage things from Wowie Zowie

That is a beautiful print by Louis Shabner, a vintage 1950s Welsh Wool Tapestry Bag and a greetings card with a 1950s vase print. The Shabner print is probably one of our best prints:

Louis Shabner Print - Gail

Louis Shabner Print - Gail

 I’m also quite pleased with my tapestry bag. I’ve got a few of the purses now, including one in the same print just different colours. Jen informed me that it was quite a rare one from the ’50s so even better.


Vintage Tapestry Bag

Vintage Tapestry Bag

Aidan has headed off to Germany again tonight so I’m home alone. That means: party! No, not really. But it does mean I can drink wine, watch Heroes, blog and paint my nails ridiculous colours. And I have a car boot full of retro goodies to look forward to once he gets home. I’ve given a wish list which includes Italian Tourist Tat pottery, 1950s prints on anything and some plastic collectables. Fingers crossed he brings at least one of those back.

TFI Friday everyone!

Vintage Woman’s Own Magazine: July 1952

Vintage Woman's Own Magazine Front Cover

W/E July 5th 1952

Greetings from 1952. This week, we have some ‘Romantic Fiction’, ‘Vera Lynn’s story’ and ‘Two Gay Summer Jumpers'; goodness only knows what Google Search will make of that last feature. There are going to be some very disappointed visitors to this blog…

Vintage Woman's Own Magazine Letter

Gone with the wind:

We have all heard of flying saucers, but have you heard of flying nylons? After rinsing through a new pair, I hung them out on the line.

A little later I heard laughter coming from a nearby garden and looked out to see one of my stockings filled with air and, foot uppermost, sailing in the sky like a sausage. It rose to about 300 feet and I watched it going strong for a quarter of a mile.

Alas, I don’t know the end of my poor stocking, but it has taught me to never hang them outdoors again. – Mrs. F. D. (Horsham, Sussex).”

Making light of it:

Just recently I went to visit a friend who has a small brother. I knew the little boy had two goldfish so I asked how they were.

He smiled brightly and said: “Oh they’re all right, thank you” – and then, quite casually – “One’s dead.” – Miss M. M. D. (Kingston, Surrey)”

If only letters to women’s magazines were like this nowadays. I’m sure I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: reading magazines from a bygone era is not only eye-opening but it has actively encouraged me to not feel like I need or want the latest fashions. When I read anything modern now, I miss the stories, the illustrations, the advice for new mothers and parents, the innocent letters, the problem pages, the poem at the back, the doctor’s advice and everything else that makes these magazines so enthralling to me.

Illustration by Fancett


As an English teacher and former linguistics student, one of the many things I find fascinating is how they show a change in language use. Take this story by Claire Wallis, ‘Hat with Seven Roses’. The phrase ‘to make love’ and how it has changed since the 1950s is perfectly illustrated here:

“‘But well, it isn’t that I don’t like you too, Stephen. You’re a darling. But what I mean is, I’ve decided I must marry a different kind of man.’

At the look on his face she said quickly, ‘Oh, there’s nobody else – yet. But I don’t want you to go on hoping. You’ve become so very mathematical, Stephen, since you went into the investment business. You’re like one of those mathematical robots who do everything, multiply, divide and-‘

‘Everything but make love,” Stephen said sourly.

‘Well, you must admit you do calculate everything.'”

Marvellous! Now from what I can deduce, it seems that the phrase was used more in line with how we would say people are ‘in love’ with each other, and when showing their affection for one another (in a non-physical sense), they use the phrase ‘make love’. All very innocent but gives me some jolly good giggles when I’m reading these stories.

Incidentally, go back and look at that picture again. I presume he’s meant to be holding onto something on the bus; not about to cosh the lovely lady over the head! Fancett – perhaps Gerry Fancett? – illustrated this, and it is very striking. Although not immediately in the way in which it was intended.

Vintage illustration Woman's OwnVintage Yardley advert

Striking Steuler

Zyklon by Zalloni - Courtesy of Kevin Graham

Now the regulars of the WGP world who frequent my blog will probably think, “Finally!” when they read that heading. I asked aeons ago if anybody had any fantastic Steuler pieces that I could share via this site, as I wanted to do a post to show off the fantastic variety of pieces that Steuler created. In my mind, I’m always thinking about those people who, like me a few years ago, didn’t really know anything about West German Pottery; where to start, what to collect, who made good quality pieces and so on. So, as much as anything, I think if anybody does stumble upon my blog, it would be good to share information where I can.

Enough babble: onto the pots! Some of these are mine and Aidan; but many are from other collectors who have very kindly allowed me to use their photographs.

Thanks to Kevin Graham at the Pottery and Glass forum for the following information about Steuler. Kevin is in the process of researching and writing a biography about one of Steuler’s most prominent designers, Cari Zalloni.

Steuler was founded in 1917 and closed in 1996. Steuler produced with a reddish clay up until the early 1960s, using one mark, the switched to a new mark,and white clay for their production from the 60s onwards, possibly as they geared up for mass production techniques. (Pottery and Glass forum)

One way to really tell the Zalloni designed pieces is to look out for strong, clean lines and a striking design; bright, vibrant colours and unusual curves. They are very much in keeping with the ‘Space Age’ era to my eye:

Incidentally, Richard has a gorgeous set of photographs over at his Flickr site, featuring not just his beautiful Steuler pictures, but a whole range of West German Pottery. Make sure you take a visit.

Micha Kempf, Claudia, Frank Geesink and Julian Shimmin also sent me some photos, which you can find in the Gallery above. I think they beautifully show the range of glazes and designs you can find by Steuler.

Perhaps my favourite though, is this little fellow sent to me by Claudia:

Steuler Owl

Courtesy of Claudia

Thanks again to the gorgeous pictures from everyone who sent me them.

More information about Steuler can be found:

All Creatures Great and Small…

No, you haven’t accidentally gone to the wrong blog. Nor have I had a religious experience. But it did occur to me this morning that many of the more unusual retro items we have appear to have an animal theme. So, here are some of the beasty bits and bobs lying around our house:

I’d like to know who’s idea the Pig Jar was!

We’ve also got this fella:


I wonder what he keeps in his humps?

Just what I’ve always wanted – a West German pottery camel! He and the donkey are rivals. I thought they might be friends, but it’s not worked out.


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