Sunday, October 23, 2022

Getting Steamy

 A short and sweet blog this week.  We've reached a new low in the UK with the economy in chaos and a revolving door of PMs and senior ministers most of the country aren't happy with.  So, let's escape into fantasy and nostalgia and steam up the windows from the inside, to obscure the frightening world beyond!

Last weekend we headed to the Shropshire market town of Shrewsbury to visit the Shewsbury Spooktacular steampunk event hosted by St Mary's Church.  The spire of St Mary's has dominated the skyline of Shrewsbury's old town for over 500 years, but last weekend, instead of worshippers, it was crammed full of immaculately dressed eccentrics.

Wearing denim dungarees, an Indian Kantha jacket, beanie hat and boots, I felt distinctly underdressed, even though some kind gent told me I looked stylish.  Emboldened, I asked a few of the visitors to pose for photos.  Don't they look cute?

I wanted to steal this man's leopard print jacket...

...or maybe this coat? (He can keep the cigarette).

Pictured below.  A splendidly sinister figure on the left.  More on him later.

Floor tiles, a dog and some sturdy biker boots...something for everyone!

I happened to exit the church at the same time as Mr Sinister, so seized the opportunity to ask him to pose.  Mr Sinister turned out to be a softly spoken gent and was most accommodating.  

So how to follow the finery of a steampunk gathering?  Well, by a visit to our favourite heritage railway station, the Severn Valley Railway's Arley, of course!  Our visit luckily coincided with the arrival of both a diesel and steam locomotive.  Naturally, I had to capture our visit in a suitably gothic, darkly brooding Victorian style.

On Thursday, it was black over Bill's mother's as we say here in the Black Country and rained incessantly during my first visit ever to Bilston with Vix.  

After a tour of a mock Tudor housing estate courtesy of Google Maps, I arrived 10 minutes late to collect Vix from our designated meeting point.  However, we were soon catching up over the clothes rails of the local charity shops and bagged ourselves a few bargains, including a gorgeous pink pin tuck artist's smock of a top by Yacco Maricard.  I had never heard of the brand, but liked the colour, shape and quality of the garment.  I later discovered that £3.00 was a steal for this item.

Formed by a design collective of three friends, Yaccomaricard began in 1977 as a fashion project in Harajuku, Tokyo.

The founding members were fashion graduate Mariko Watanabe, photographer Ricardo Watanabe and Yacco Hayata; a graduate of the highly respected Bunka Fashion College.

Their aim was to break away from the constraints of conventional Japanese clothing of the time using oversized shapes in an excess of luxurious natural fabrics that could act as an expression of their lifestyle.  I seem to have a thing for an oversized silhouette at the moment, so this top immediately caught my eye.  

The trio refined and mastered techniques such as garment dye process and hand placed pin tuck work, characteristics now synonymous with the brand.

Satisfied with our bargains, we headed to Wetherspoons for lunch, marvelled at the award-winning carpet (which was somewhat reminiscent of the carpet in the notorious Overlook Hotel) and awaited the inevitable news of Liz Truss's departure as the TV cameras were clearly trained on the front door of number 10.  Within minutes of leaving, our phones were pinging with confirmation of her departure.

We wandered around Bilston in the rain.  Grim to some, but not to us.  All around the town are reminders of the area's chain making history.

We both enjoyed discovering some of the town's handsome, if neglected, landmark buildings, including the former Art School and Police Station.  Vix is way more informed on the Bilstonia's history than I am, so read all about it here. Vintage Vixen: A Trifle From Bilston ( 

Love a ghost sign.  

We also headed for the Museum and Art Gallery and took in the natural history exhibits as well as local industrial landscape artworks and exquisite enamel delights Bilston is famed for.

I was quite taken with the entrance hall's mosaic floor featuring a typical Black Country landscape, which Vix managed to blend in very well with.

The intention was to round off our visit with a drink in Bilston's oldest pub (formerly a manor house but licensed between 1774 and 1820), The Greyhound & Punch Bowl.  Well, we did make it through the front door, but decided against buying a drink.  We're not particularly shy and retiring, but it really did have a whiff of testosterone and beer about it.

We said our goodbyes and headed home and watched the fallout from another disastrous tenure in office on TV.  I'm all for giving Larry the No. 10 cat a go.

I'll sign off now with a warning that try as I might, I am unable to ignore spooky season, so be prepared.  Oh and be scared.  Be very scared.


  1. How fabulous are those steampunk people dressed up in their finery! Your portraits are stunning, I love that last one in particular. Your brooding photos of the Severn Valley Railway, which continue the mood of the portraits, are fantastic too.
    I enjoyed tagging along to Bilston with you and Vix. I'm a sucker for ghost signs and neglected buildings, and I absolutely love the industrial landscape art and the mosaic.
    Oh, and Larry the cat sounds like the perfect candidate for no. 10. xxx

    1. They must spend an absolute fortune on their outfits Ann!
      Bilston was interesting. Every town has a story to tell doesn't it? One day soon, you'll hopefully be able to accompany us in person.
      In just over an hour, we'll find out if Rishi Sunak is PM or if it's going to be a two horse race. Madness! xxx

  2. very cool steampunk event! you picked some fantastic styles and personalities for your photos. and of cause i do enjoy the railway & train pictures :-D
    love the stylish pink blouse - i´m too into oversize lately - its comfy AND artsy......
    glad you had a nice day with vix in bilston!
    as for government chaos (here it is not rosy too) - cui bono?.....

    1. Thanks Beate. The pink blouse is such good quality and will work throughout the seasons.
      That's the trouble with the Conservative Party. They seem to serve only their own interests and those of their wealthy friends! xxx

  3. Those steampunks are amazing! There's so much effort and attention to detail going into those outfits and St Mary's church was the perfect setting.
    Your railway photos are fantastic.
    Didn't we have a fabulous trip? Your photo of the oppressed chainmaker in the rain sums up Bilston brilliantly, it's no everyone's choice for a day out but - for weirdos like us, it was perfect! I'd love to know how that top ended up in Bilstonia, what a find!
    Right, I'm off to glue myself to the TV news, what will happen today? xxx

    1. Thanks Vix. Aren't they just?! Heaven knows how much they spend on them!
      It was really enjoyable. I was about to say I love walking the streets, but probably better to say I like a little mystery tour; exploring on foot and making new discoveries. :-D
      I'm about to do the same. I think it's looking likely to be Rishi. Austerity here we come! xxx

  4. Ooh, I love all that steampunky goodness! I used to be quite into steampunk for a few years in the 2010s. Came over from Vix's blog!

    1. Hello Sheila, Lovely to hear from you. Steampunk is a way of life I think. Their attention to detail is incredible!

  5. Hello Claire, those steampunkers...what a hoot! I love the lady's hat, complete with creepy doll, in the first picture. And how accommodating of the chap in the last picture to pull such a dramatic pose! Oh yes, that carpet is very Overlook Hotel :0 :0 :0 Super kind of Vix to model the exquisite mosaic tiles floor in Bilston's art gallery. I bet you had a fab time... though beware other charity shoppers... bargains will be scarce after you two have done the rounds! ;) Well, I am thoroughly looking forward to spooky season Claire style, bring it on!!! :) :0 :) xXx

    1. Hello Lulu, I actually think it's my favourite time of year. Will I ever grow up? xxx


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