Sunday, 8 September 2013

Minted Memories

Photographic evidence of my mint craze.  Mint leather to be precise!  These were taken in the grounds of St John's College at Cambridge University where Mr V was an undergraduate and later also a graduate.  That's when he met me.  I was providing entertainment by flamenco dancing at a party in his student digs believe it or not.  Yep.  True story.

We were back at our student stomping ground recently to see our friend the Other V get married.  It was gloriously hot weather and the summer blooms were out in force.  Going back brought back all sorts of memories of being a student here.  I have particularly vivid ones of when I first started dating Mr V.  Soon afterwards I had college friends sidling up to me and saying "I heard you're dating the best looking guy in St John's."  There's the pulling power of flamenco for you!

Here are a couple of quaint things about St John's. A college member is referred to as a Johnian and they retain the title until death.  Old male college members are referred to as Old Boys, a throw back to the days when women were not allowed in the University.  But there doesn't seem to be a similiar term of endearment for the ladies who attended John's.  How sexist is that?

Soon after we started dating Mr V invited me to accompany him to St John's annual May ball.  Called a May ball it was actually in June after the end of the exam period.  Many of the college balls were themed and that year St John's was hosting a masked ball!  Mr V was on the scenery committee and decided to take the post very seriously.  A couple of months beforehand he organised for us both to go to Venice for a few days on a reconnaissance trip so he could take some photos and get some inspiration.  His idea was to turn St John's into a little Venice.  It was a wonderful trip which we spent touring around the islands of Venice in awe.  We returned armed with photos, sketches and plaster masks which we hand painted to wear for the ball.

The link was of course, a bridge, or to be exact, two very famous bridges.  St John's has a covered bridge over a river that links two courtyards which was christened the Bridge of Sighs after the famous Bridge of Sighs in Venice.  Whilst the sighs in the Venetian bridge were of convicted criminals walking to their cells, the sighs in the St John's bridge are fondly attributed to students trudging to tutorials or exams.

I remember arriving at the ball on the night and seeing the fruits of Mr V's labour. It did in fact look like a little version of Venice. When you walked into the grand courtyards the first thing you saw were large colourful stripey poles flanking the stately entrances into the college buildings, recalling the mooring poles of the boats and gondolas on the grand canal.   There was a large Plaster of Paris mask hanging at the end of the Bridge of Sighs.  The punts on the River Cam were manned by punters dressed as gondoliers and everyone was wearing ballgowns, black tie and masks.  It was a certainly a night to remember.

This is a view of Mr V's riverside room window which looked right out onto the River Cam and directly at the Bridge of Sighs.  If you take a paid tour by punt down the Cam the tour guides will tell you some story about how the students would shoot water pistols at tourists trying to punt.  Punting is harder than it looks and tourists who rent their own punts often end up colliding with other punts or at worst capsizing.  Most make a lot of noise screaming and shouting excitedly as they struggle past these riverside windows behind which many students may be trying to study for upcoming exams.   Hence the legend grew of students taking matters into their own hands with water pistols.

If you ever take a punt tour in Cambridge I would say take any story that a punting tour operator tells you with a pinch of salt.  Half of the stories are fabricated.  Mr V assures me that according to College rules they were not actually allowed to aim any projectiles out of their windows at tourists.

Not just a pretty face my Mr V and he's pretty handy with a camera too!

I maybe offline and away from blogland quite a bit over the next couple of weeks due to pressing work deadlines but in the meantime I'll be joining all the other stylish ladies for Visible Monday over at Not Yet Dead Style.

Leather laser cut top: Raoul; Leather shorts: Theory; Espardrilles: bought in Spain; White brodierie Anglaise jacket: Kate Moss for Topshop; Gold Snakeskin Bag: Botkier


  1. What a wonderful romantic tale about how you met your mate, V! The Ball does sound fabulous. Love these leather shorts, and thanks for sharing with Visible Monday.

  2. That is a great handbag!! I hope you can stop by and register to win the necklace I am giving away on my is gorgeous!!

  3. I loved hearing the story of how you and Mr. V met. Are there photos of this masquerade setting he created? I'd love to see a few when the press of work relents.

  4. A gorgeous outfit - what a wonderful top! - and a equally gorgeous romantic tale to match! The ball sounds incredible. I've never been to a ball, never been to a black tie event till this year, I've clearly not been moving in the right circles! I like the idea that you wove your magic spell with your flamenco moves, and Mr V was forever mesmerised! xxxx

  5. What a brilliant story, you Flamenco dancing temptress!
    My best mate was at Oxford and I spent many a wild weekend down there in the Eighties. The public school boys were transfixed with us common state schoolers with incomprehensible Midlands accents
    Those shorts are fabulous (made that way as they show off your gorgeous legs!). xxx

  6. Hi V. Thx for sharing your beautiful, romantic story. Your outfit is fabulous. Love the soft color.

    Thank you so much for following my blog. It's nice to meet you.

    Have a lovely day.

  7. Very pretty color on you. Love the texture of the blouse and great bag!

  8. Lovely of you to share the very charming memories of you and your young Johnian! I'm sure you personal charms were as least as alluring as the flamenco ... but I'll bet it's hard to separate the two sometimes. Mr. V seems to be an accurate shot in a lot of ways ... particularly lovely photos of you in your mint! It's a great color against your skin and with your hair. That's a pretty great bag, as well.
    Hope everything runs smoothly and all deadlines are met with ease! Have a great week, V.

  9. A beautiful and romantic love story, and it sounds like your Mr V is as talented as you. The perfect match. Flamenco is at the heart of it all!

    Gorgeous photos of you in mint, with your intriguing personal history as background!

  10. Gosh mint leather, what a great idea, it suits your skin tone beautifully and looks so fresh and lovely.
    I loved reading how you met Mr V, so romantic! My older brother did his grad and post grad degrees at St John's in Cambridge like Mr V so I also have fond memories of it from visits there. A timeless place.


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