As some of you may recall, in the past I have been a keen supporter of “The British Belles” annual Pin Up Picnic in the Park and have attended every one, even though due to the British weather only one of them has been in a park!
So, I was excited to attend the latest picnic, due to be held in Hyde Park on July 29th. Later in the month than normal, it was hoped that the weather would be kind.
Quite a few ladies from a vintage group I belong to decided to all meet up and kill two birds with one stone; Vintage meet plus picnic!
Alas with only a few days to go the venue was changed to a venue in Shoreditch as the forecast wasn’t looking too good.
Whilst this was a good idea, sadly it put off a few people as the picnic aspect was taken away. However that doesn’t stop vintage girlies at all and we decided to turn up for a few hours and then possible meet our friends later in a suitable location.
I duly booked my train travel and then went into a meltdown over what I was going to wear! Torn between several of my outfits, I resorted to narrowing it down by discard outfits that I didn’t have a hat for.
Then I narrowed it down further to accessories including comfortable shoes, jewellery and bags until I was left with this corker of an ensemble, which happens to be one of my favourites.
Now, I was due to meet with the babe that is Boo and we arranged to have a spot of breakfast before we went onto the event.
We then hopped on the tube and arrived at Old Street just in time to meet up with Kelly and Marge. We were waiting for another few ladies so hung around in the tube station, looking a little salubrious!
Eventually there were a dozen or so of us and we decided to walk along to the venue which was around a 5-8 minute walk from Old Street.
Arriving at the destination, Barrio in Shoreditch we were stopped by a photographer who took a large group photo of us all, which was an experience!
Going into the venue, I was amazed to see how fabulous it looked! Bright colours and amazing decor really set the day off to a good start and a perfect place to hold a vintage event!
Boo was again my official shoe “putter onner” leading to this delightful photo, Not!
One of the highlights of the room was the caravan that had been cut up and banquette seating put in. We quickly sequestered ourselves in it. It had the most amazing wallpaper; badgers, squirrels, sloths and more, with fans, shisha pipes, handbags and playing musical instruments. Just perfect!
The other highlight was the outside area. Jewelled coloured, with silk flowers woven everywhere. A parrot mural and gold iguanas decorated walls. It really was a great place to take photographs.
The bar had put on some special cocktails for the event, brilliantly priced at £5.50 each which is pretty amazing for London. I had a “Papa don’t preach” which was two kinds of rum and peach juice. It was actually really nice and didn’t last too long.
We all sat chatting and catching up, taking photographs and sharing vintage tips and as is usual, complimenting each others clothing, hair, bags, accessories etc.
I went back to the bar, this time deciding to have a Wray and Nephew Rum and coke. This was the first unpleasant shock of the day. £10 for a rum and coke. Well, I was a little taken aback, especially given how well priced the cocktails were. I then decided that I wouldn’t be having very many more drinks at that price.
Secondly the bar staff left a lot to be desired. When you get a large group of people all turning up at the same time, you expect to queue. It is part of the British way, and we are excellent queuers. However, when the bar is 20 deep and there are three bartenders and two suddenly decided to go on a cigarette break, leaving one poor guy on his own, it shows a level of “not giving a damn” about your paying customers.
The poor guy who was left on his own was serving two or three people at a time. How he remembered everyone’s order amazed me, and he was excellent at his job. It’s just sad that he had more dedication to his job than the other staff.
The third bit of unpleasantness came when I had gone to sit and chat with a group of girls I know from a vintage Facebook group.
Mel was sat with a small baby in her arms, fast asleep. Of course, I went into cuteness meltdown and was asking Mel about the little one. Her mum was sat next to Mel and was packing her things up.
It turned out that the Mum had been told by a member of staff that the baby was not welcome in the establishment and she needed to leave.
When this happened, the mum was actually discretely breastfeeding her baby (with no flesh on show) and she quite rightly refused to leave in the middle of the feed. She was told quite rudely that she needed to leave and this left her a little upset.
Her baby fell asleep, causing no fuss or problem and the staff member came back and told her to go.
Now, in my opinion (and it is only mine) there is a way of handling things in a compassionate, professional way. Telling someone they are not allowed in the bar can be handled much better by maybe saying “I am so sorry but for reason XYZ we are not allowed children in the venue etc”
Telling someone to leave will never be pleasant but there is a much better way of handling it, than the way it was done.
Even so, I can appreciate that maybe children are not allowed, however after this lovely lady left (thankfully she lived in London so hadn’t travelled a great distance to come to the event) my friends and I spotted another 3 or 4 little girls aged around 7-10 who were with their mums at the event.
It seemed to be one rule for one…. one rule for another!
This did indeed put a dampener on the day. I felt so sorry for this lovely lady, who just wanted a bit of adult vintage company at what was advertised as family friendly, yet was told unceremoniously to leave.
Not polite vintage like behaviour at all!
This is in no way a dig at the fabulous organisers, The British Belles. They do an amazing job and raise lots of money for charity by arranging these meetings. Sadly due to the unpredictable English weather, the decision to hold it inside a bar at the last minute meant that the event could still go ahead.
In all fairness, the venue was absolutely stunning. The decor and quirky seating made for a great photo background and we were all having a great time.
It was just such a shame that the attitudes of the staff let an otherwise perfect location down.
Sadly, a large group of us then decided we had enough and made our way over to Camden with a view to grabbing a bite to eat, but the rain defeated us.
This meant that the day drew to a quicker conclusion than normal, as we usually stay right until the last minute at the Party venue.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the event for the most part, it was just sad that a couple of things let it down. I hope The British Belles hold another event around Christmas time as they are one of the highlights of my vintage calendar.
And let’s face it, pretty dresses, cocktails and vintage pals meeting up will always be a delight.