fleaweb3 flealogo facebook instagram twitter

Welcome to my blog


Hello! This is the blog for the Rochester Flea :)

By tracyaffleck, Aug 23 2015 07:40PM

Hi Hayley! Really looking forward to seeing you at the Rochester Flea on 29th August. How long have you been selling vintage and how did you start?

I’ve been selling vintage and quality fashion items for around 15 years now. I started off working in an underwear boutique in Bluewater and the owner always mentioned what I was wearing and customers would ask me where I got my clothes from. She gave me a budget and I would go out and buy items and customise garments for her to sell in her shop alongside the underwear and those items flew out the shop, so I started setting up my own stalls, beginning at Greenwich market in London, and it’s all gone from there.

I had my own boutique that some of you may remember, Up the Junction along the lower Rochester road, and that’s where I started off my styling side of things and sourcing and supplying clothing and accessories to costume designers and wardrobe departments for TV and stage, which I still do now.

What do you love about vintage clothing?

Well, I love the romance of where that piece has been, who wore it before you, what it’s seen and all that hippy dippy stuff!

But more seriously, it’s the design, the cut and the quality of clothing then, time and care was taken over making a garment, it wasn’t knocked up in some sweat shop in China,

Which brings me to the ethical side of it... for starters wearing vintage or second hand clothing is recycling so it’s good for the environment, it cuts down on the energy and pollution made by producing and transporting disposable clothing, and less goes to landfill.

Desert Island Discs?

I love this question!! If Carlsberg asked questions this probably would be one of them ;)I’m a cast away!!

I have to start with a Beatles track as they are my all time favourite (BIG John Lennon fan over here!)

It was my mum that got me into The Beatles when I was a kid (as well as Rod Stewart, T-Rex and Reggae!)

No.1 is The BeatlesCome Together.

No. 2 Eddie Cochran Twenty Flight Rock. It’s in a great film The Girl Can’t Help It with Jayne Mansfield and it’s a great tune, nuff said!

No. 3 a bit of Doo Wop now that sounds like it could of fell off the Grease movie soundtrack....

Del VikingsWhispering Bells. I was a Indie kid in my teens when I started wearing vintage clothing, 70s flares, some kitsch skinny rib t shirt and my Adidas Sambas, thinking one day I might be the first female member of Oasis!! Oasis singles where great because you’d get 2 or 3 B sides that where just as good as the A side so you got a lot a bang for your buck so...

No.4 is Talk Tonight Oasis (B side on Some Might Say)

No.5 Another track from the 90s Indie days ..

The Stone RosesWaterfall . brilliant song.

No. 6 Love this song.... Ramblin’ Man by The Allman Brothers Band

No. 7 Free Bird - Lynyrd Skynyd. I have my Dad to thank for my love of 70s rock music, he was a drummer in a band in the 70s, they were called Mind Cage! Hehe!

No. 8 is Bo Diddley – Who Do You Love, just because !

And then I know you only get 8 but I NEED 9! This last track is not only my teams song (Liverpool FC) but it’s the lyric, simple but always pick me up when I need it, and its fitting with the lost of Cilla Black this month...

No. 9 Gerry & The PacemakersYou’ll Never Walk Alone

Artists that inspire you?

These are all artists too me in one way or another..

Salvador Dali, Andy Warhol, Ronnie Wood, Keith Richards, John Lennon, Barbara Hulanicki, Alexander McQueen, Vivienne Westwood, Rachel Zoe, Iris Apfel, Karl Lagerfeld, Kate Moss, Edith Head, Elsa Schiaparelli, Elizabeth Taylor and Brigitte Bardot.

What was the last exhibition you attended?

Last week I visited the Imperial War Museum for their Fashion On The Ration exhibition, The exhibition was a little smaller than expected, but was really good if you are into fashion or 40’s fashion.

It includes uniforms, utility clothing, “make do and mend” garments, wedding outfits etc.

My favourite piece was definitely the “Siren Suit” a kind of (more stylish) onesie that was designed to wear over nightwear to maintain a ladies modesty while travelling to and seeking shelter during night time air raids.

Favourite thing about Rochester?

The history, the boutiques, the coffee shops, the cobblestones

Sushi or Italian?

I’m not much of a meat eater and I’m not keen on sushi at all, you can’t go wrong with an Italian.... I do love a mean pizza!

Pink or Red?

Definitely red! My hair gives that away, I’ve never been that much of a pinky girly girl, I even tried to dye my dolls hair red with my mums’ red food colouring when I was a kid! As of this spring I am also a trained hairdresser, so I’ll stick to proper hair colourants from now on, Promise! I’ll have a mannequin head with a victory rolls hair style on display at the Rochester Flea so if anyone’s in need of some vintage hair styling for events then come say Hi!

Favourite ever vintage purchase?

Well that has to be the Austin Mini I had 1966 Red with a union flag on the top next to no mileage, he’d been sat in a garage for years, he was a stud! But I had to let him go, I didn’t trust my driving !!

Where can we find you?


Twitter: @styledesdemona

Instagram: @desdemonastyle

Facebook: Desdemona Style & Vintage

All these links are on my website www.desdemonastyle.moonfruit.com

Some of the lovely items for sale at the Rochester Flea on 29th August!
Some of the lovely items for sale at the Rochester Flea on 29th August!
For Sale on Hayley's online store
For Sale on Hayley's online store
'Fashion on the Ration' at The Imperial War Museum
'Fashion on the Ration' at The Imperial War Museum

By tracyaffleck, Apr 23 2014 11:54PM

Xtina, could you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background. Have you always been a printmaker?

I come from Hertfordshire and have lived in London since the early nineties. I learnt printmaking at art school and loved it instantly. I ended up specialising in a more conceptual side of fine art at university, but came back to printmaking a few years later. I was doing illustration work when I was invited to take part in a Print Gocco project. The small scale and affordability of this cult Japanese printing device hooked me back in, and I've had ink under my fingers ever since.

What bought you to Medway?

I've had friends here for quite a while through small press and music connections. My boyfriend lives here and I realised that you can get a much bigger studio in Medway than in London. Also, the arts community is very active and I've felt very welcomed by people here. You can try things out in ways it just wouldn't be possible to in London, and people appreciate your efforts more.

What do you think of the music scene in the Medway?

It's always seemed that Medway has more than it's fair share of good music. I grew up to the sound of the Thee Headcoats & Headcoatees, The Prisoners and James Taylor Quartet so the area was on my radar in the eighties, and I love going to see The Masonics and the A-Lines live. I stumbled into Honey Ride Me a Goat's gig at Homespun last year and was impressed. Looking forward to what's in this year's festival. Despite the lack of venues for gigs for an area of this size, there's still a lot of great stuff going on. It just might be on the LV21 lightship or Hand Of Stabs playing in a nature reserve.

You have recently moved to the Chatham Intra. Can you tell us a little bit more about this and what sort of activities you run there?

This stretch between Rochester train station and along to Chatham High Street has been a bit sorry-looking in recent years. But it's rapidly developing as a cultural quarter, with lots of artists' studios, Sun Pier House and Medway council's Pop shop. We've moved Medway Fine Printmakers' studio from a quite hidden spot by the river at Boundary Wharf, to an art deco fronted building on the high street called INTRA. We've set up a multi-disciplinary arts venue and charity, with the aim of getting the public involved in all kinds of creative activities though workshops and events. The print studio is very well equipped - you'd have to go to London or Whitstable to find comparable facilities. We teach screen printing, intaglio, relief printing, textiles & heat press techniques. The other tenant of INTRA is Unravel & Unwind, a creative drop in centre where you can work on your own projects in a social setting, take affordable classes in art and craft techniques, or join crochet, knitting and sewing clubs. We're seeking out other tutors to run all sorts of classes, and it's interesting seeing who will walk through the door next!

What inspires you about the area?

I like the mix of Medway's industrial past, the independent shops in Rochester, the walk alongside the river especially when it's misty, easy access to real ale and countryside... It surprises me when people from London haven't got a clue where it is. 'Chatham Intra' as a name draws puzzled looks from a lot of people in Medway, but this small area is rich with history - from leper rights of way to the old ship slips. It's typically been a place for outsiders, and that appeals to me too.

Read any good books recently?

I wish I could find more time to read books, but mostly I've just been reading the Charity Commission website lately! The last big reading splurge I enjoyed was on the Lewis trilogy by Peter May: The Blackhouse, Lewis Man, and The Chess Men, all set on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides. I have friends there and read them after a visit, partly to prolong the sense of being there. It's a very beautiful, bleak and strange place. It's remote, but everyone knows everyone else's business!

Do you have a favourite printmaker? Any other artists who inspire you?

Eric Ravilious is a big favourite, along with that whole set around the Royal College of Art in the 1920s Edward Bawden, Enid Marx, Barnett Freedman and later on Barbara Jones. Mark Hearld and his contemporaries at St Judes Gallery are doing a lot to keep that spirit alive. I have a collection of books illustrated by Barbara Jones, including her fantastic celebration of 'The Unsophisticated Arts' covering taxidermy, fairground art, boat decorations, tattoos, fancy cakes, fireworks etc. Visitors to my studio will know that I'm just as likely to prize a brightly patterned 1960s tin kaleidoscope as highly as a piece of fine art. Mid century children's' illustrators like Alain Greé and countless others, designers such as Alexander Girard.. that period is rich with eye candy for me.

What sort of things will you be selling at the Flea? I see you are running at workshop at the Flea as well. Could you tell us a little bit more about that?

Usually I sell bags and bunting hand printed with my illustrations, but this time I'm doing a workshop where you can choose from my repertoire of lightweight screens with over 50 designs and print them onto your choice of bag, t-shirt or cushion. Or you can print a flag and wave it around on a stick! I like showing people how it's really easy and a lot of fun. I make the screens up for people from their own designs too. I'm hoping to make more people aware of INTRA with the stall, and encourage them to come down and join us.

You can find out more about Xtina here:


By tracyaffleck, Mar 25 2014 11:12PM

Hi Sharon, thank you so much for being our March Featured Stallholder. So first question what is your background, have you always been an artist?

Always! I remember the deep joy of opening a new pack of felt tip pens - the rainbow of colours and possibilities... finding the odd one that was already dried out...and lovingly bringing it back to life with a tiny drip of vinegar - made your colouring smell like chips too!

Yes, I was always designing and making. I loved 'Why Dont You..?', 'Magpie' ,'Vision On' and was constantly creating...'a mess', my Mum said! 'Plasticraft' ruined the carpets - and essential items were lost (a key)...embedded in resin forever. My Parents would leave strict notes, when they went out, not to, 'Pierce or tattoo anyone, paint any rooms, cut up anything, go in the garage etc. - We will be back soon!!'

I was expelled from school at 16, but eventually was accepted at KIAD with a little sketchbook of drawings Id done of my lounge and kitchen - kids toys, disarray, washing up.. the bin! I completed a BA (hons) in Communication Media - Illustration, at the Maidstone campus. It was a fantastic course that offered opportunities to experiment widely with.. anything you wanted! - printing, photography, 3D, mixed media.. by the end of my course Id started to stitch into my printmaking - that was the beginnings of combining drawing & sewing.

I went on to do a PGCE and taught Art & Design at various schools around Medway - I loved teaching but eventually yearned to be doing my 'own thing' ...

Which artist/s inspires you the most and why?

Paula Rego, Picasso, Tracy Emin, Stanley Spencer, Eric Rivilious, Frida Kahlo, Grayson Perry... I could go on! I suppose these are some of the artists that inspired me when I was 'growing' creatively...looking for guidance! I hadnt seen an art book until I went to college.

I love Picasso's, 'Two Women Running on The Beach'.. the colour, hatching, ultamarine sky, the solid figures.. it makes me feel .. free!.

I was introduced to 'art textiles' and free machining with the work of Alice Kettle... and I still love her work, but contemporary embroidery has really evolved and is very exciting at the moment, with artists like Ana Teresa Barboza stitching into images of her own body, tightening the skin and decorating photography with beautiful hand embroidery. Orly Cogan and her cake, drugs and housework - beautifully painting and stitching down women's work. Cecile Jarsaillon sewing into mass produced images - hardcore embroidery! Fantastic artists who are taking the feminine tradition of sewing and giving it exciting new meaning.

What are you reading at the moment? A fan of fiction, non-fiction or both?

Yesterday I was reading 'The Bumper Book of Thrills for Girls'. Its a 1959 Girls Annual.. I love annuals and have a large collection from 'Bunty' to 'My Guy'. My particular favourite is The Jackie Annual - I have a complete collection. I suppose (like Medway) its part of my history - I knitted the legwarmers, decorated a beret and carefully copied the fashion illustrations.

I did enjoy Caitlin Morans 'How to be a Woman'..Not only is it hysterical, but it sort of beats out of you all the stuff Jackie dripped in! Its funny and sad.. she talks about the everyday niggles of womanhood, hair removal. tiny pants...and the big stuff marriage, kids.. its easy to recognise yourself. I have got her follow on book 'Moranthology' waiting on the window sill ..but its finding the time!

Favourite Cake?

Without any doubt - Gypsy Tart! The most delicious combination of sweet moussey filling and a thin short crust...and all served at school! I used to watch the menu going up and check to see when gypsy tart was 'on' - it was crucial to get sat next to Vanessa, because she couldnt stand the stuff.. and would actually swap her tart for your apple - weird kid! I would also politely ask the dinner lady if I could have a piece from the centre of the tray - more gypsy less tart! It was pretty handy when my Nan became a dinner lady! Oh how I love that stuff - fortunately, when I became I teacher I could push to the front of the queue and nab the centre portion quite legitimately... there had to be some perks!

So widely known was my love of the stuff, when I left one particular school, the dinner ladies presented me with a whole tray of Gypsy Tart as a leaving gift!

But no! Its all rather sad, it seems that the most delicious dessert in the world has been phased put of Medway schools.. apparently it is now deemed 'too unhealthy'. Ive never really found a good recipe either - or at least Ive never had a good outcome!.. Occasionally, I opt for a shop bought version...but its not the same, too much pastry and sometimes a hard skin to the filling... Oh well, I continue my search!

Your work is very much influenced by the Medway what do you find inspiring about the area which informs your work?

Ive lived in Medway my whole life.. did the 'normal' stuff growing up, hung around the Pentagon, went to Joanna's, had my first Malibu and pineapple in The Blue Grotto.

When the opportunity arose, I moved to Brighton and though it was different, it wasnt everything Id hoped ...

But when I came back to Medway I looked at my surroundings quite differently. As soon as I got off the train at Chatham, walked down Railway Street and saw Waghorn sporting a cone..I had a warm feeling of being 'home'...having my haircut at the bogs, Churchills, Whites dance club.. I knew where I was. I think we become so accustomed to the people and places we see everyday that eventually we fail to see them at all ...so I started looking...and stitching down my memories of Medway, its character, residents and rituals.

.. its a constant source of enjoyment and inspiration!

Medway Moments and the cards in particular have been extremely popular which has been fantastic..but what is fascinating is that invariably when people purchase an image they tell me 'their' story .. memory of The Strand, Private Shop...

I had someone email me from China recognising The Waghorn and saying how he looked out the bus window every morning as a kid just to see if he had a cone on today!

Thats when I began the A -Z of Medway... Medway..it just keep giving!

Whats the most amazing place you have ever visited?

It would have to be Pompeii - It was fantastic. Generally its very busy and crowded, but I was there on a late October afternoon..and it was quiet and deserted - it felt as though everyone was indoors.. I half expected someone to come out of house or a centurion to ride a round the corner. The fact that so much is so well preserved makes it feel less like a 'ruin' - food stalls on street corners, graffiti on the walls of the brothel.. life has stood still.

The castings of families huddles together are so poignant and sad... the expression on the face of the dog gasping his last breathe.

What does your working day look like? Are you an early bird or an owl?

Im not an early bird and Im not big on routine - every day is different and I like it that way!

If Im making, Ill be at my table either machining or drawing - Ive got everything to hand and a small view of the Medway - l look up interesting boats that go by, on the website 'shipfinder'. I often listen to the Desert Island Discs archive.

I might be working out ideas and methods for future projects or out and about collecting material from charity shops - fabric in itself sparks ideas..a check shirt that reminds me of skinheads or just the right green I need for the frontage of Pats shop! I photograph people going about their business- the man asleep in the launderette, workmen eating pie and mash, the man in Gillingham walks with eight dogs tied to his belt!

I do spend a lot of time researching topics im interested in on the internet.. Im really into the imagery of popular culture, media and social networking. Lately, Ive been working on some embroidered 'selfie' ideas. I do tend to work late..machining is very calming.

I'm really looking forward to you being at the flea. What sort of things will you be selling?

Thanks for having me along - Im really looking forward to it! Ill be bringing along a selection of original embroidered canvases from my work 'Medway Moments' and possibly some samples too. Ive a range of cards too - 'Waghorn' and 'Private Shop' always seem popular! Ive framed and unframed prints of the 'A-Z of Medway' and may have some A-Z tote bags. Im currently working on postcard sized individual Medway letters - so you can spell out what you like.. theyre good fun!

How can I find out more about what you do?

Ive a very new website - but you can find me at sacooper.com - do feel free to contact me, Im happy to respond to questions. I will be exhibiting later in the Summer during Medway Open Studios in July - so do come along and see me in my natural habitat! I may make provide Gypsy tart!

Thanks Sharon! Look forward to seeing you at the Flea!

You can find Sharon at the Rochester Flea this Saturday 29th March at the Gordon Hotel Rochester 11am-4pm www.facebook.com/therochesterflea and at the Medway Open Studios and Art Festival in July more info from www.medwayopenstudios.co.uk

By tracyaffleck, Feb 19 2014 03:40PM

So Sian, you have been at the Flea pretty much since the beginning selling your gorgeous jewellery, how did you become a jewellery designer, was it always what you wanted to do?

I always wanted to do something arty and was always making, though I don’t come form a artistic family in any way but we are makers and engineers so I like to think I fit in there somehow. When I went to do a Foundation Course at UCA Rochester I discovered jewellery there and completely fell in love with it.

I loved being in the workshop from the beginning so I went onto the BA Jewellery and silversmiting course, learning lots of the basic skills which I have built upon. I love that there is always something new to learn and try, I’m always doing extra courses when I can to learn some new techniques its just so much fun. I get the play with tools and machines as well as sparking gems and diamonds all the time and I get to create some beautiful jewels especially the bespoke engagement rings which are so special.

Which contemporary jewellers do you admire?

There are quite a few of my fellow jewellery designers work which I covet and love, thankfully there's a certain amount of “swapsies” at the end of the big high end jewellery shows that we do.

I love the morbid whimsy of momocreatura and her decapitated bunnies and bears in chains.

I love the enchantingly playful bubble blower pendants by Claire English and the beautiful deadly glamours jewels of Katie Rowland who pieces are so perfectly designed, Fernando George also has a fantastic eye with gems in the most stunning ways.

What are you reading at the moment?

I'm on a bit of a Angela Carter binge at the moment and her writing is so fantastic, enchanting and strong, one of the best female writers and her academic papers are also fascinating .

I’m flicking though her collected fairytales from around the world for inspiration and I have just finished 'Nights At The Circus' which I adored, I love Fevvers the main character and the beautiful poetry of the way Carter writes. Just starting on The Infernal Desire Machines of Dr Hoffman and already loving it.

What sort of materials do you work with and are there any materials which you have always wanted to work with? Are there any challenges working with certain types of material?

I normally work with silver, gold and anodised titanium for my main collections and bespoke jewellery I use a lot of sparkling gemstones like opals, topaz and emeralds, plus a bit of enamelling which is a new technique I am learning to add a range of colours.

For The Flea I produce a special range of aluminium jewellery, which is beautifully lightweight and highly affordable. I image transfer, anodise or impress patterns and pictures onto these pieces to create the pretty vintage style jewels which are exclusive to The Flea and our workshop.

Each of the materials have their own challenges and properties, for example you can't solder the titanium or aluminium like you can silver or gold but you can anodise (colour) them in way that you can't with silver or gold, but that is the same for all the materials I work with each having there own behaviours and ways of working. Even gemstone have different levels of harness’s and brittleness meaning some stones cant be cut or set certain ways or are unsuitable for a hard wearing piece of jewellery like a ring. It's knowing how and when to use all these different properties and how they behave that’s part of the jewellers skill.

What's your perfect Sunday?

Snuggly! Last yast year Fred we made a rule of no work on a Sunday unless i'm at a event or something. I have a habit of working too much and all the time. But Sundays are just for spending time with Fred, or family and friends. So snuggly morning then a long walk though the country or cost probably ending in a good pub and something tasty for dinner, homemade curry is weirdly traditional and super yummy.

What do you like about Rochester and what are your favourite places to visit?

I love having a dig around Baggins for new book inspirations, my main jewellery collections are all literary inspired from the enchanted fairytale Springtime jewels, our Wonderland heart necklaces to the dark Nautilus collection inspired by 20'000 Leagues Under the Sea. So I love having a dig around in Baggins, or Fieldstaffs or any of the other beautiful odd shops for something inspiring for the next piece of jewellery.

Deaf Cat for yummy coffee and arty vibe or a wander outside of Rochester to the yummiest place,Café Moroc their Meze and fresh mint tea are delicious.

What will you be selling at the Flea on 22nd February?

The range I produce for the for the Flea are special to the Flea, an exclusive little range of aluminium jewellery and a few one off silver jewels.

In addition to the pretty vintage style butterfly form the natural history collection illustrations, postcards and vintage book cover I’ll be adding new jewels like a small range of bee, beetle, dragonfly and ladybug natural history collection illustration sets, some hummingbird pendants and earrings, natural history butterfly earrings and some more vintage map bangles and new pendants. So lots of new treats in store plus the opportunity to order your own very special photograph locket, any photograph old or new can be transferred onto a sweet little pendant to keep treasured forever. From only £20.

How can I find out more?

Take a peak at the website at www.sianbostwick.co.uk where you can buy all our delightful jewels from the main line collections, there's a gallery of our bespoke jewels, upcoming events and our stockists retail shops.

Jewellery lovers are always welcome to pop into our jewellery workshop based in Chatham at the Nucleus Arts Centre. Have a peek in the workshop where all the jewellery is made and how. It's also a great opportunity to see pieces from our main collections and to talk about commissioning a extra special bespoke jewel, which is easier then you think, can be designed to fit your budget and most importantly to make your jewellery dream come true.

The Rochester Flea range of jewellery and lots of other one off unique pieces of jewellery are only available direct from me in the workshop so you can come and peak at them to.

And everything will be beautifully wrapped to, ready to treasure.

Just drop me a email (sian_bostwick@live.co.uk) or tweet if you want to pop in.

Or follow us on twitter @SianBostwick for little sneaky peaks from the workshop and lots more.

By tracyaffleck, Dec 12 2013 05:44PM

So Chris its great to have you back at the flea this month!

Ah, thanks Tracy - It's great to be back here. Its such a great atmosphere at the flea, I aim to be a regular feature!!

Could you tell me a little bit about how you got into collage work? Have you always been an artist?

I have always been creative - it was a welcome outlet as a child and thankfully it continued. I guess it's only really this last couple of years that i have felt comfortable and worthy of calling myself an artist. My creative life as an adult was originally with photography. This was pursued as an artistic medium rather than a commercial career choice. I had no interest in shooting something that i had no passion for, i wanted to be inspired not forced. Professionally i worked as a photographic printer - and it was inspiration enough to work with high calibre photographers. I thrived on making their images look great in print. I found myself veering off into experimenting with a mixture of images and graphics, and naturally progressed to a more illustrative path. Where my photography is largely black & white - i found confidence in rich, bold colour. Total opposites. My work has always consisted of texture, and of multi layering and building up images to reach the final composition, and this last year i steered myself away from my computer and back to plain old scissors and glue. I found that working with actual physical materials worked really well for me - and i became a magpie, collecting scraps of everything to cut up and glue down. I found energy and passion from working this way, and it allowed me to make quick, random, often absurd pairings which worked really well. I could create my own scenarios and worlds by matching things that you wouldn't ordinarily put with each other, mixing up all kinds of contexts. This new approach has now in turn taken me back to my iMac - by taking the basic practice of cut and paste and using it with todays technology. I have now found i can create quite complex collages using both methods, whatever I am in the mood for at the time, which is quite liberating and satisfying.

Which artists influence your work?

Sigur Ros, Hannah Hoch, Andy Warhol, The Jam, Nan Goldin, Thomas Bewick, Mogwai, Patti Smith, Robert Mapplethorpe, Derek Jarmin, Jim Morrison, Jack Kerouac, Max Ernst, Stereolab, George Orwell………………….and many many more

What's on your Christmas Tree?

I don't have a tree - but we will go and collect fallen branches and twigs from the woods and decorate them with white fairy lights and cones etc. Not a bit of tinsel in sight hahaha. Totally natural and free.

What's the perfect Christmas lunch?

Well, i am vegan - so i have mastered a luxury nut roast recipe adapted from a Jamie Oliver one. It has a thick layer of cranberries on the top - its totally orgasmic and totally ethical. This will be accompanied by roasted parsnips and roasted potatoes, loads of veggies and red cabbage with apple. Homemade balsamic glazed spiced pecan nuts. Xmas pudding with a soya brandy cream sauce………red wine……brandy…..port…. Montezuma's chocolates……....and then i will likely explode haha.

What's a perfect day to you?

OOOh, well - a perfect day would be an attempt at a lay in - which for me is difficult as i seem to have a natural body clock that wakes up at around 6.30am without an alarm, so that normally doesn't happen. I am a morning person and love that time of day. v peaceful. So realistically my perfect day would be an early morning long run, minimum 10 miles, back home for a hot bath, a snack….spending the rest of the day with the people that matter….might involve a pint somewhere… making bread…..cuddling up with the dogs…..music….a nap???? i guess just slowing the pace down from a normal weekday and appreciating life and what surrounds you.

I know you are a runner, what do you like about it?

Well, i just love the feeling of being in complete motion - i find it very meditative. I love just being out there - moving, breathing, not thinking, not worrying. Its a very simple and primitive motion. It allows me complete freedom and space. I love just being out in the open, feeling the miles open up between you and home - gliding along and feeling free. It gives me a total calmness and sense of power. When i was marathon training last year, my final long run i did before the race i got the train from Whitstable to Margate and ran all the way home along the sea front - i don't think i could ever explain how liberating that felt. I was choking back tears as i ran!!!! (tears of joy i may add haha). Running is something very special, a gift, if you enjoy it and don't see it as a chore.

Who inspires you in life generally?

I think creatively in life i am inspired by nature and its surroundings - our relationship with it and how we interact with it. I am inspired in my day to day life by the people who take life and live it. People who cross your path on a daily basis that have an energy, a zest for life and what it has to offer. I am always inspired by people i meet along the way that give off a positive energy that feeds me and my imagination, and that in turn bounces back and gives them something positive. I recently met the poet Claire Meyrick, at the last Rochester Flea I did, and wow!! her poetry and her energy blew me away!!!!! I think that's really important for artists, it enables us to keep creating and progressing.

Tell me a little bit about what you are working on at the moment?

At the moment i am putting the finishing touches to a new digital collage. I have produced 4 new ones in the last week, so am feeling quite prolific!! The latest pieces are a little bit bonkers, and quite complex in their build up. They all explore the notion of role and power reversal between humans and animals, as well as the usual sense of adventure. They are making their debut at this weeks' flea!!!

What are you going to be selling at the Rochester Flea this Saturday 14th December?

I will be selling some original collages made on old book covers, most of them framed in antique frames which compliment the work and make them a unique, complete piece. I will also have Ltd edition Giclee prints of my latest digital collages for sale, as well as badges and cards!!!

Where can I find out more?

You can catch up with me and view pretty much all of my work at: www.chrisfclark.tumblr.com and you can buy prints of my digital work online at: www.chrisfclark.com You can stalk me on twitter @chrisfclark1 if you want!!

By tracyaffleck, Nov 25 2013 08:54PM

So Ben. Did you watch the Dr.Who 50th Anniversary special? If so what did you think?

I did. It was alright. Exciting glimpse of Capaldi.

If you could travel back in time who would you have liked to have been and why?

Erm, I always struggle with this question because being someone else would mean losing all frames of reference from me, thus negating any pleasure of experiencing the time and place...but I guess Howard Hughes maybe, but with less crazy. Or did the crazy define him? Having an obsession and bankroll to feed it is what draws me in.

What did you want to be when you were growing up?

Cartoonist. Also actor for a while.

Who inspired you to become an illustrator?

Me, and my dislike for working where I worked. I scrambled around for ages trying to do 'anything' but the jobs I had...

Any artists who inspire you at the moment?

Not hugely. Lots of people inspire me to work harder though.

Favourite Pen?

Rotring Tikky pens are lovely. Really deep blacks.

Favourite Comic?

I don't really read comics at the moment but The Walking Dead graphic novels have kept me hooked for years. Great story and character even if the dialogue is a little.. obvious at times.

Most irritating politician?

erm... all?

What's a typical day like for you?

Wake up, tea. head into office (across the hall from bedroom so not too far) and crack on with commissions. Popping out to post office and occasional break see's me round to dinner time. I'll then work intermittently until bedtime.

I know its been a year since you became self employed. Hows it been?

Busy. Hard. Exhausting and exciting. There's a whole new pressure to work now. Love it though.

What sort of things are you working on at the moment?

I publish 'recent work' galleries on my site often. Thats a good idea of what I've been up. Got a couple of big projects on the sidelines too.

What will you be selling at the Rochester flea on 30th?

Printed greetings cards and hand drawn doodles.

How can I find out more?

Visit my site (strangepaul.com) and or follow me on twitter @ben_cameron

By tracyaffleck, Nov 11 2013 11:38PM

Rikard Österlund is a Freelance Photographer and Lecturer/Photography Educator based in Rochester. He has recently started a new venture Fikabröd making delicious Swedish cakes and bakes.

Hi Rikard, Fikabröd is a new venture for you could you tell me a bit about why you started it?

I was homesick. After over 12 years in England one of the things that I miss the most are my Grandma's cinnamon buns and biscuits, and Sweden's relaxed Fika culture. As a consequence I have been baking more and more the last few years. Zara (Carpenter - my wife) suggested I start selling them and the time has come to try it out!

Where did you get your passion for baking from?

From my Grandmother and my Mum (…and my brothers fascination with cookbooks and gadgetry!). When I was growing up we often used to bake during Christmas - toffee's, ginger biscuits etc. Whenever we are at my Grandmothers we Fika after lunch (Fika is essentially a coffee break with a selection of biscuits and sweet pastries). She always has LOADS of different biscuits or cakes ready to whip out whenever she has guests around (…it's as if they appear from nowhere!) - eating them is a joy! Many of the recipes I use for Fikabröd are hers.

One of the many things I love about baking are the processes; the impact that the mixing, weighing, proving, shaping etc has on the final little biscuit. I love those processes in photography too…

So how did you end up moving from Sweden to UK?

As a teenager I knew that I wanted to be a photographer for a living and kept looking for ways to learn more; I assisted, joined photo-clubs, studied, worked in camera shops… In 1998 I bought a copy of Dazed & Confused magazine and I loved the fact that there were fashion magazines in London publishing stuff that was so clearly about the photography and NOT the clothing so when it came to applying to University I knew I had to go to the UK. I found the course at Kent Institute of Art & Design in Rochester and moved here in 2001. I graduated in 2004 with a fine art portfolio and have freelanced as a commercial photographer ever since.

Best thing about your hometown in Sweden?

I'm from a town called Norrköping on Sweden's east coast, a couple of hours south of Stockholm. The best thing about it - apart from my family and friends - is the regenerated industrial area - aptly named 'The Industrial Landscape'. It's a vast area of old factories built around the river when - in the 1800's and early 1900's - Norrköping was a booming industrial city, home to Sweden's largest ship industry, paper mills and textile manufacturers. The majority of these old buildings are now museums, concert venues and a university campuses. It celebrates the history of the town whilst generating a lot of new opportunities for people (http://www.isak.liu.se/acsis/konferenser/practicalities/1.274334/IndustrialLandscape.pdf)

Best thing about Rochester?

The entrepreneurial creatives and what they bring to the town. Rochester is full of great buildings and possible venues. The Intra area is very exciting at the moment, with Coal Shed Press etc offering workshops to creatives and the general public. The Homespun music festival this summer was brilliant (please let it happen again next year!) The Rochester Flea is an example of this too - a one-woman decision to get something off the ground! These things makes a massive difference to living in a town!

As a photographer I have to ask who is your favourite photographer and why?

My fellow Swede Anders Petersen - his images always gets me in the stomach! Somehow he manages to be raw, gutsy and in-your-face whilst at the same time being compassionate and tender. I can look at his images for hours and make up my own stories about the people in them.

"That 15th of a second. Once you’ve been there, you keep on wanting to get back."

This video is a nice introduction to him and his work https://vimeo.com/album/1805117/video/11467547

If you could pick one and only one of your favourite bakes which one would it be?

Just one! That's a horrible restriction Tracy!… but it has to be the Balls! The Chocolate Balls that is - they have been a favourite of mine since I was boy (ps. the balls are a 'fridge cake' so technically not a bake…). They are only £1 to visitors at the Flea!

What takes the longest to prepare and bake?

Probably the Cinnamon Buns - they take around 4 hours for a standard batch. It is important not to rush the dough when it is proving - the slower the prove the better the flavour and texture of the finished bun. I always bake them fresh in the morning of the Flea!

What goodies will you be selling at The Rochester Fleas on 16th and 30th November

There will be some Swedish Christmas favourites; Lussekatter - saffron buns - sweet dough with saffron and raisins - and Pepparkakor - my Grandmother Dagny's Ginger Thins. There will also be Cinnamon Buns, Chocolate Balls, Love Yums (a chocolate sponge with a mocha flavoured icing), Kladdkaka (sticky chocolate cake) and several different kinds of biscuits. For the Flea on the 30th I will take orders of Fikabröd's Christmas Boxes - filled with a delicious selection of pastries and biscuits from our range - freshly baked and ready for collection on the 24th December.

Do you take orders for your cakes and bakes for birthdays, weddings etc ?

Yes! But at the moment I am figuring out how to fit the baking in around my photography business, and only bake every other weekend, but please ask!

Where can I find out more?

Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/fikabrod

Instagram @fikabrod

+ I am more than happy to respond to e-mails: info@rikard.co.uk

You find out more about Rikard's photography here:

Events/Industrial/Corporate portfolio: www.rikardphotographic.com

Fashion/Portraits/Interiors portfolio: www.rikard.co.uk

Personal Projects: www.rikardosterlund.com

By tracyaffleck, Oct 20 2013 10:46PM

This months features stallholder is Vicky Nowell from Violet's Attic. Vicky will be at all the fleamarkets for the rest of the year with her wonderful collection of Vintage goodies!

Hi Vicky, tell me a little bit about Violet's Attic? How long have you been running the business and what sort of things do you sell?

Violet's Attic itself began just over 10 years ago, but I've been buying and selling vintage for twice that long in markets, boots sales and fairs. I sell vintage and second hand clothing, textiles and costume across the decades from Victorian pieces to clothing up to the 90s.

Where do you find inspiration day to day?

More than anything I love to see people that have put amazing looks together for pennies. The most individual and creative looks come from having to be being inventive, wearing things in different ways and seeing beauty in something that someone else has thrown away. It makes me so happy to see young girls rummaging in second hand and charity shops and I'm really uncomfortable with the disposable culture on the high street today.

I started a board on Pinterest collecting street style pics of people I think look fantastic in vintage and thrifted outfits and I've become addicted to it. http://www.pinterest.com/violetsattic/vintage-street-style/ It's great for inspiration.

Can you recommend any films that you have seen recently?

I really should say something highbrow here but the last thing I saw at the cinema was Dispicable Me 2 with the kids. Both films are really funny, clever and heartwarming.

What do you think the key vintage pieces are going to be for this Autumn?

Knitwear! Big comfy oversized chunky knits, Aran sweaters, mohair, Nordic style jumpers and closer to Christmas I think novelty sweaters will still be going strong!

Best comfort food for cold autumn nights?

It's unhealthy but on cold days I love rich red meat like slow cooked lamb with lots of red wine and good bread. Either that or a blow out curry from our fabulous local curry house Shozna. I'm starving!

What sort of things are you going to be selling at the next Flea on October 26th?

So this month I will be bringing said knitwear in lots of designs and sizes so there'll be something for everyone with jumpers starting from £15. I'm also going to have lots of vintage denim shirts and jackets - denim shirts are a staple in most people's wardobe and are really versatile for Autumn layering for guys or girls. I'll also have faux fur coats and jackets, dresses, skirts, lingerie and accessories as well as some fabrics, curtains and loads more.

I will be giving every customer at the October Flea a discount voucher to spend at Violet's Attic online. This voucher will be valid up until the end of November and customers can buy online and either have their items delivered or collect from my studio at Sun Pier house if they'd like to save on postage costs.

You can find further information about Violet's Attic at:



By tracyaffleck, Sep 18 2013 08:14PM

Hello flea fans tomorrow we will be announcing the stallholders for the next flea on 28th September. While you are waiting patiently for all the details, cast your eyes over this interview with the following stallholder Edwin & Gray purveyors of vintage industrial, reclaimed furniture and accessories.

Can you tell us a little bit about Edwin & Gray?

Edwin and Gray was established in July 2013 after my 5 year love affair with old well made furniture. Whilst working and before having my son I would renovate furniture for my self and for friends and built up a small following of customers who were dedicated to having unique interiors. I have recently been designing rooms for customers and helping them to create their perfect environments to live in.

What kind of things do you sell at Edwin & Gray? What is special about the pieces?

We sell anything to enhance the interior and occasionally exterior of your home. We love unique quirky pieces of well made furniture and accessories. Everything is restored with love and attention to detail. We sell things that we love and would be happy to have in our own home.

What kind of things tend to be your best sellers?

Functional pieces are our best sellers anything from trunks to vintage trolley coffee tables. Our battery boxes flew off the stall at the last flea market and we were delighted to hear some of the customers ideas for uses of their boxes, one of the best being a man who was using one to store his gun powder, as he is a pirate in re enactments .Rochester has some very interesting people with great imagination.

You live and work in Rochester what things do you like best about the town?

Having been born and bought up in Rochester I love the people, the architecture and the quirky nature of many of the houses. Working in Rochester has introduced us to many creative and interesting people who have brilliant skills in their chosen fields.

Describe the Edwin & Gray aesthetic in three words?

Vintage, industrial and quirky

What are your top tips for creating a unique home environment?

Spend time hunting out things you truly love. Don't be afraid to mix items from different eras and textures and above all else be bold. You are unique and inject your uniqueness into your home. Our favourite quote is " have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful"

What sort of things will you be selling at The Rochester Flea?

We have been working hard to ensure the stall at this months market is crammed full of items of furniture and accessories catering to all budgets. We have recently bought some fantastic antlers and skulls , we have a beautiful low bench and lots of other quirky pieces for the home.

Photographs by Rikard Osterland www.rikard.co.uk

By tracyaffleck, Aug 14 2013 07:37PM

Greetings Flea fans! We're just days away from the first Rochester Flea and while there may be tumbleweeds here on the blog, rest assured there's frantic activity behind the scenes. Stall holders are preparing to pack their wares, and we're readying The Gordon House Hotel for the arrival of eagle-eyed bargain hunters. We just wanted to pop by to give you a sneak peek of what to expect this Saturday.

Amongst the treasures, you may just spot (deep breath): new and used vinyl, hand made vintage hats, original art and illustration, loads of vintage clothing, perfumes, comics, crockery, haberdashery, handmade handbags, antiquarian prints, vintage fabric, retro geekery, bucketloads of unusual ephemera, classic cameras, industrial and reclaimed furniture and more surprises and hidden gems than you can poke a vintage poker at. If surprises aren't your thing, head over here for a full list of stall holders.

Rochester Flea Stallholders

And if you perfer looking at pictures of some of the items that will be on sale, here are some we prepared earlier below.....

Doors open at 11am and The Gordon House Hotel will have plenty of refreshments and food on hand if you find yourself overwhelmed by all the amazing stuff. We'll even have a sprinkling of entertainment from our buskers corner and some retro gaming for those who fancy some console based fun. Be sure to head over to our Facebook event page for further updates.

We look forward to seeing you on Saturday!

Tracy (aka Grandmaster Flea)

Ian MacKinnon
Ian MacKinnon
Kerry Anderson
Kerry Anderson
Ian MacKinnon
Ian MacKinnon
Zara Carpenter
Zara Carpenter
Robbie Munn
Robbie Munn
Jacqueline Atkinson
Jacqueline Atkinson
Linnet Hannan
Linnet Hannan
Rosie Melville - photo Kaye Sedgwick (kayesedgwick.co.uk)
Rosie Melville - photo Kaye Sedgwick (kayesedgwick.co.uk)
RSS Feed

Web feed