Didn’t we have a lovely time….

Here is our latest article for Vintage Life magazine all about vintage picnics and outdoor dining. The good old street party even gets a mention.

Didn’t we have a lovely time…….

the day we went to the beach, the park or simply parked up by the side of a field. In days gone by, when the sun came out, families packed up the car or the baskets on the bikes and went for a picnic.

Now the weather is warming up, it’s time to leave the comfort of your home and embrace outdoor dining adding, of course, a vintage twist!

The traditional way

Picnics in the early 1950s were eaten from china plates accompanied by proper cutlery. Brexton and Sirram made perfect sets in small, hard suitcases with pretty china held in place by leather straps. They would always contain a flask for your obligatory cup of tea, drunk from a pretty teacup. A blanket was thrown down, with the adults sitting on folding chairs and the children on the ground. The Morris 8 car had leather seats that could be removed for the adults to sit on. The youngsters ran off to pick wild flowers which were placed in a vase in the middle of the rug. Sandwiches were wrapped up in greaseproof paper and ham eaten straight from the tin….plastic storage had not yet become the norm.

 The ladies wore summer dresses, the kids flew kites and the men watched on, dressed in a suit. Even on beach trips the men would be quite smart, with their trousers rolled up to paddle in the sea. The scene was quite formal yet copied today will add a real sense of nostalgia to your picnic.

Plastic fantastic

Things really changed in the late 1950s with the increased popularity of plastic. As families started to enjoy camping trips rather than staying in traditional boarding houses, they fell in love with the durable, fun, coloured melamine made by Melaware and Gaydon Melmex. At one stage it was so popular that it was even used for dinner parties!

 Because of this, ceramic manufacturers such as Midwinter also designed ranges. Why not cram a hamper full of Gaydon early 1960s pastels or the later bright, zesty colours of Melaware for your picnic. All came with matching salt and pepper pots, butter dishes, jugs,egg cups….just remember to leave space for your food!

The TV dinner concept took over the camping/picnic world in the early 1970s with stacked trays, plastic cutlery and a space for your drink. The Pac-A-Pic is by the far the funkiest way to eat outside!


A different kind of party

The introduction of Tupperware revolutionised kitchens and the way we ate in the 1950s. Food could finally be stored properly thus reducing the need to cook daily. Sandwiches would remain fresh for outdoor dining and for your packed lunch. With 1000’s of styles, colours and uses the range will add a real retro feel to your picnic and are great to collect. We love the 1950s pretty pastel styles and the 1960s bright orange range with a yellow flower on the front! There is a container for cheese with the grater as the lid, sauce pots, lollipop and jelly moulds, beakers to drink from and jugs for your juice…the list is endless.

The introduction of the Tupperware Party had a real impact on society. Women had experienced great independence whilst working during the war, which was then given up to return to the kitchen in the 1950s. The role of party hostess provided employment and freedom for women in the comfort and safety of their own home. It was a well respected job and product. Friends and neighbours were invited over for the evening, to share a glass of sherry and experience the whole range. Excitement ensued, storage items were bought and delivered only days later. Lets face it, we nearly all describe all food storage as Tupperware even if it isn’t actually Tupperware?

Take to the streets

Don’t wait until the next Royal Wedding to enjoy the ultimate outdoor dining experience…the street party. This is the perfect opportunity to create a real sense of community, hang bunting and balloons and get to know your neighbours. The first street party in the UK was after World War 1 and has been repeated on national celebrations ever since. We propose however, to bring it back for any celebration and with all the bank holidays coming up why not give it a try. Follow the tradition of dressing up the children in costumes and sit them at long tables with the adults standing behind. So, this May Day why not take to the streets and bring a dish…in Tupperware of course!


Egg-cellent ideas!

With Easter just over a week away, Your Vintage Life has turned its head to thoughts of eggs……chocolate ones, dippy soldier ones and with our new chickens arriving over the weekend it’s time to get our bonnets on and think of vintage pressies!

Start the day with a hand painted egg and toasted soldiers. We shared this idea in Vintage Life Nostalgia magazine recently…place the colourful egg inside a 1930s Heatmaster stainless steel egg cup, underneath its cover. Imagine your loved ones face when they take the top off to reveal your masterpiece. Tupperware produced their version in the 1970s so use this one for a more retro look.

If you don’t have time to paint an egg, make sure you still eat them, maybe with a hot cross bun dripping with butter. Here are some of our favourite vintage egg cups in bright colours. They date from the 1950s through to the 1970s and are mainly made from melamine.

Then it is gift giving time! How about a china chicken filled with chocolate eggs? 

We have white ones, brown ones and even a yellow glass one….we use them to store our eggs in all year round. The coloured foils look great here against the white ceramic!

Or how about a vintage coffee cup filled with a simple chocolate egg? These gorgeous 1950s orange Palissy coffee cups were a recent find and will shortly be available on-line. The colours are so vibrant and they would look great in both a modern and vintage setting. And, yes we know the egg only just fits inside….surely the bigger the chocolate the better!

Or fill a tea cup with hand-made chocolate truffles..roll them into egg shapes with your hands..don’t worry if they are not perfect; they taste so good no one will care! We have chosen a pretty rose bud tea cup and saucer in fine white bone china. Add a ribbon bow and a home-made card for the perfect detail.

So everyone’s had their gifts…now it’s time for the kids (and adults) to enjoy the annual Easter egg hunt. Hide them all over the garden, remembering to use a vintage basket to collect them in!

We do love a basket…for the shopping, picking the home-grown veg and flowers into and of course for collecting chocolate eggs!! We will need a few more to fill this beauty….

It is traditional to have a big family dinner served from your best china. In years gone by, the whole set would only be used at Christmas and Easter…why not follow this tradition by laying a formal table and serving your vegetables from vintage tureens? We have a great collection online dating from the 1920s through to the 1970s. I love the 1950s bright yellow Midwinter one in the centre of the photo.. and it’s the perfect colour for Easter! The styling is so obviously from the 1950s with its high curved edges.

Then for the easter cake! Whether it’s a whole Simmel cake or tiny cup cakes make sure you display it on a vintage cake stand. We have chosen a simple, elegant white bone china one with gold edging to really show off the yummy cakes. Last year we made chocolate cornflake birds nest cakes with so much chocolate in, no one could manage more than one! We found these hand painted decorations last week too..they are wooden and designed to hang from a plant or tree. They reminded us of Christmas decorations and are perfect for decorating the cake with.

Then what to do next? We reckon after lunch it’s time to sit back and eat all that lovely chocolate!

Hope we have inspired you just a little with our vintage egg-cellent ideas!!

Happy Easter!

A heavenly breakfast

Flicking through some 1960’s wedding magazines, researching some amazing images of vintage brides for our new range….we came across the most fabulous adverts. As a bride in the late 60s you were enticed with images of home wares to add to your wedding list.

We found this one in Bride and Home magazine from 1969. We love it as we know the range well. We inherited some last year from Nanna Wallis who maybe didnt realise how important it was to revolutionising a newly wed’s life…….

A wonderful looking lady has prepared breakfast using the Midwinter tea service called Riverside. The words say, “Midwinter can’t make breakfast a dream. Just less of a nightmare.”

Now firstly, I must ask how many of you would describe breakfast as a nightmare? For the 1960s newly wed, it obviously was….

“We’re not trying to kid you. Breakfast is almost always hell. But Midwinter pottery helps to make it a bit more civilised.”

So for her it was actually hell before she had this range……

It was designed by John Russell as modern tableware for the more grown up customer who didnt like the stylised shapes of the 1950s. Riverside has a dark green base with reeds over white. The shapes are fabulous especially the gravy dish.

Now back to the advert….so breakfast was hell before…

“Look at the pot. We designed it to be practical as well as handsome” (I havent heard a coffee pot be described as handsome before)

“The lid never falls off in mid pour because it has a lip to keep it on. And the handle is easy to handle because it’s big enough to get  your hand around. The handles on the cups are good and big, too, so you won’t fumble over your first cup of tea.

How do you like the simplicity of those shapes and patterns? We think they’ll be a welcome sight to the most bleary eye.”

We have the dinner service and trios for sale at Your Vintage Life. Why not add them to your wedding list and make every breakfast time heavenly?