27 June 2007


On Saturday morning I shall be leaving home just before 7.00 in order to get to Bradford-on-Avon for 8 o'clock. I've booked a stand at the Antiques Fair/Flea Market there and the doors open for us to set up at 8.00am. I used to do this Fair when we lived just 20 minutes away and did quite well, but haven't done it since we moved. So ... we'll see how we get on. My last Fair coincided with the retirement of the the original organiser, and since then it has been advertised more widely, has booked more dealers and, thankfully, the number of people through the door has quadrupled.

If you live nearby you might like to visit - it's held at St Margaret's Hall! If you don't know this small town then do take a look here. It's a charming place, with some interesting buildings including an amazing tithe barn. According to the website it is at the southern-most tip of the Cotswolds (I didn't realise the Cotswolds stretched quite that far!), but as far as I'm concerned, it's just 8 miles from Bath and best of all Hannah lives there. So she'll be popping in to say hello at some point during the day which will be lovely as I haven't seen her for a few weeks.

I've spent the afternoon refreshing some of my linen stock that has been packed in boxes since April and needs some creases ironing out! I'm hoping that the same things still sell there, and will be taking some eiderdowns, quilts, embroidered and crochet-edged tablecloths etc and, my stock in trade, kitchenalia! This Fair is held every month and I guess there are 15-20 dealers there. So ... not huge, but quite jolly and friendly.

If I don't see you there, I'll see you here in a day or two!

Edit at 9.22pm! This is tonight's sky from the same position as the previous ones. Not a particularly inspiring foreground, I know, but it's what I look out onto if I turn to the left and look out of the window! These were taken one immediately after the other, to the left and right of the same rooftops. I think these houses on the opposite side of the road could end up as the most photographed silhouettes in England if we keep getting interesting evening skies ...

26 June 2007

Mme Caroline Testout

I need some help, please!

The reason I'm asking is this ...

When I went to Ardingly a couple of months ago I bought a 72"x105" damask cloth with a name woven in the end. I assumed that the cloth (which has never been used/washed) was commissioned by or for someone of importance, but did nothing about it at the time. The name is Caroline Testout.

I caught a couple of minutes of Gardeners' World on television on Friday evening and they mentioned a rose named ... Mme Caroline Testout. Alarm bells went off in my head and I spent the next couple of hours trying to remember whether the cloth was in one of the antiques centres or in a box here at home or in the store. When I finally found it and opened it out it is amazing. Full of roses.

Mme Caroline Testout is the name of a rose bred in 1890. Today I received an email response to a query I sent to the owner of this site who directed me to this site which states that Mme Caroline Testout was a French fashion designer. I've Googled all there is to Google about the rose (shortly before WWI 10,000 bushes were planted along the streets of Portland, Oregon earning it the nickname "The City of Roses"; it is purported to be one of the finest hybrid tea roses ever produced and was bred by Pernet-Ducher), but Madame Testout herself is a problem!

This is where you, kind bloggers, come into your own. I need to know where/when/etc. As the rose was bred in 1890 presumably Caroline was a 19th Century designer. If any of you know, or can find any information about her I'd be so grateful. In view of the above, I'm guessing that the cloth was in fact made to celebrate the introduction of the rose rather than for Caroline herself, but who knows ...

I'd also love to hear from you if you live in Portland and have a Mme Caroline Testout in your yard!

25 June 2007

What a Lovely Day ...

... we had at Niki's on Friday! Silly me, I forgot to take my camera, but if you have a look at Niki's blog or Ginny's you'll see why it was such a lovely day.

P went with me and tried to look interested - he struggled, but at least he stayed the course!!! - while I felt like a child let loose in a sweet shop. Clare and Mike were there at the same time as us, and she and I went round drooling and touching everything in our path!!!! Niki, we had a wonderful time! I might just have to be in touch with Niki about some of her other painted pieces that I had to leave behind!!

I've done my first day in the Old Town Hall today. Not a lot of selling going on today, but an amazing number of people through the door considering the state of the weather. But just at the end I sold a round painted table which I was quite pleased about. I'm also going to rent a book shelf! There are several rows of shelving and sections are available to rent which I hadn't realised until today. I thought the books all belonged to just one book dealer. So, as I have hundreds of vintage cookery books, as well as endless other 'interesting' books acquired over the years, I thought that at £5 a month it was worth trying a shelf for a couple of months. At worst I'll lose £10 but at best I might clear some clutter and make a pound or two.

The sky was quite weird this evening. The photos don't really do it justice, but these 4 are in sequence with only about 5 minutes between the first and last photos. It changed so rapidly from pale to intense and back to pale. Look how quickly the cloud formation changed.

21 June 2007

Is This Better?

Well, Liz and I have finished painting at Dairy House. How does this look? Better? Apologies now, but this is nothing but a post showing off what I consider to be a great achievement against all adversity (if you've been following, you'll be with me on this one!) - my space at Dairy House Antiques, with as many photos as blogger will let me post at one time. There's a certain amount of repetition, but I'm hoping you'll excuse me on that one as I'm a tad tired tonight and if I fiddle around with this post much more I shall probably lose everything (thought I had a few minutes ago), and then I won't be happy!

I didn't get to take the photos until 6 o'clock this evening and I still haven't got everything in that I'd like, nor is everything exactly how I'd like it, but I'm getting there. We painted the walls Dulux (I think) Antique Cream which has made such a difference (look back to the blue walls if you're not sure!), and the whole effect is lighter, brighter and, according to this week's customers, a considerable improvement!

I'm there again on Saturday to stand in for the regular Saturday afternoon person and I hope to be able to tweak a bit here and there. The back of the car is still fairly full of stock which I'd hoped to display today, but there just aren't enough hours in the day, despite this being the longest one of the year.

P and I are off to see someone special tomorrow and meet up with some other special people. More on that over the weekend with a bit of luck. But first of all it's another trip to the physio with Mum first thing in the morning. I wonder what they'll think of her gardening japes!

19 June 2007

I See the Sea ...

Yesterday Liz and I went to an auction in Exmouth and before setting off for home we stopped along the seafront for 5 minutes. And what a glorious 5 minutes it was. I love that specific ozone-y smell (sometimes you can be disappointed and not smell it at all), but we weren't disappointed. It hit me as soon as I opened the van door. There was a lovely breeze coming in off the sea, the sun was shining and it gave us both such a boost after a day in a stuffy saleroom. That and the Thornton's ice cream we'd just eaten!! I caught Liz before she had time to realise she was being photographed!

I was so tired last night, after the long day yesterday and an even longer day at the Shepton Giant Flea on Sunday, that I collapsed on the bed for an hour and woke up 11 hours later!!!

Shepton was brilliant. I didn't need to do my customary raindance (although I think it did rain briefly) and had my best Giant Flea sales ever. And yes ... a good chunk of the sales was cross stitch kits, with a few cones of thread. One lovely lady bought 4 kits and came back an hour later to buy a further 5 (when her husband wasn't looking!!). I like customers like that! I was so pleased that Jennifer from Acorn & Will came to say hello. It was super to meet you Jennifer, and thank you so much for your purchase. The "Shepton Stalwarts" Niki and Clare came to see me and did a little bit of shopping ... as they do! Thank you both!

My friend Eleanor "borrowed" a corner of my pitch to see how her jewellery would sell. Her first sale was to a lady who has a shop in Dorset. She bought several pieces "to see how they go", so hopefully that will be the start of a new relationship! I didn't take my camera, otherwise I'd have shown you what she makes. Maybe next time ... Eleanor was delighted with her sales and as I've booked a double pitch for the August Bank Holiday Giant Flea (the regulars on the next pitch will be away) she'll be bringing even more. And I shall load up the car with mountains of cross stitch kits and embroidery thread!

As far as my own sales are concerned, I've finally realised there is absolutely no point in loading up the car with bulky kitchenalia for either the Shepton 3-day Fair or the Flea. There are too many outside pitches selling it to make it worth my while, and it takes up far too much valulable space. The last 3 Fairs/Fleas have been my best in the 2 years I've been doing them, and my pitches have evolved into being 90% textile-related. I'll continue in that way for the time being - until my customers want something different - flexibility being the key!! The kitchenalia sells so well at Dairy House that it really is a waste of time and energy packing it up to take it somewhere where no-one wants it! It's taken me a while to realise this (sad, but true), but then I suppose it is only since March that I've had a really good display of kitchenalia at Dairy House, thus making it more interesting. And now Liz and I have more or less finished painting over those dark blue walls, we might do even better!!

Here's a photo of the Old Town Hall leaflet to give you an idea of the type of building we have in the centre of Somerton, and some views of the interior of the antiques centre showing various dealers' units. These leaflets were done before Liz and I moved in so nothing of ours is showing. After telling you last week about the lovely food on offer in the tearoom, the lady running it is leaving for personal reasons which is an awful shame. However, someone new is taking over from the second week in July - just in time for the annual Somerton Festival.

If you are interested to see what Somerton has to offer, have a look at the Somerton Community website which gives an insight into the town. Click on the Summer Arts Festival to see what will be happening between 13 and 21 July. I'm off to book my ticket for the Treorchy Male Voice Choir who will be singing in the Church on 14 July. I love listening to Welsh MVCs (a childhood thing) and every year a different Choir comes to the Festival. Last year's was amazing. I'm sure the Treorchy will be, too.

Update: I forgot to tell you I finally came home to roost on Friday night. We bought walkie-talkies thinking they'd give both Mum and me peace of mind, but she can't manage holding down the button and talking at the same time, so we won't be using them! She seems to be fine going up and down stairs now, so no problem. The w-ts will be perfect for taking to Shepton so that anyone who kindly mans my pitch while I run round searching for a bargain will be able to make contact when there's no mobile phone network coverage! We caught Mum in the garden yesterday hoe-ing - so she's definitely on the mend and I'm finally catching up with some sorting!

11 June 2007

Embroidery Threads ad infinitum ...

Did I say I'd bought some embroidery threads? ... Mmmmm!

Well, these photos are part of the latest car-load ...

More cones of DMC stranded cotton (varying lengths up to a maximum of 425 metres for an unopened one), a double-sided stand of 8 metre bobbins of the same, more boxes of DMC Coton Perlé No 8 (10 metres) ...

So far (without today's haul) I've counted 436 balls of Coton Perlé No 8 ... 470 skeins of DMC Coton Perle No 5 (25 metres) ... 25 DMC Mouline metallise 8 metre skeins ... 50 unopened cones of DMC stranded cotton/embroidery floss (and I guess there must be about 500 part-used cones) ... As I said before, enough to embroider round the world at least once ... And then ... 56 packs of counted thread fabric, mainly Aida but some linen ... about 50 pieces of loose Aida fabric in varying colours and counts ... over 300 cross stitch kits ... the list goes on! AND IT'S ALL FOR SALE!

So if you think you know of any fellow bloggers who might be interested in part of this stash (or all of it, of course!!), then please let them know. My house really isn't large enough to accommodate all this as well as all the vintage and antique linen I seem to have purchased over the last few weeks!

So ... if you're coming to the Shepton Mallet Giant Flea Market on Sunday (17 June), you know what to expect! Although I shall of course be taking my usual vintage linen and textiles, lace, buttons, boxes and so on ... There won't be room for everything, so I shall be selective and hope I choose to take the right things! I wonder if I shall need to do another raindance?

As if this wasn't enough, I bought about 20 embroidered tablecloths from a retired dealer this afternoon. They are all beautifully done and clean enough for me not to have to wash them before putting a price tag on them. Hopefully they'll be going to Shepton with me on Sunday.

Several of you wished me well for the Shaftesbury & Gillingham Show. Suffice to say I won't be doing it again!

08 June 2007

What Have I Done ... ?

Well, it's like this ...

Not one to miss a bargain ... I have temporarily diversified and have bought a huge amount of cross-stitch kits, aida fabric in packs, and enough DMC silks and threads to embroider round the world at least once. All courtesy of a shop which is, itself, diversifying. Eh, voila ...

The tip of the iceberg ... I have no idea how many skeins there are here,
but the box is filled to a depth of about 12"

A tablecloth with cherries to cross-stitch, some mini alphabet packs,
pencil cases, bags and purses in this box

More ... and more ... and there's still some in the shop waiting to be collected!

So, what do you think? Have I gone totally mad? Does this make it official? Have I really bitten off more than I can chew? Will it sell? Shall I try Ebay/Fairs/my website which, if it ever gets built will be a miracle/or none of the above?

All the kits are marked with the shop prices and I intend to market them at half the marked prices. If there are any cross-stitchers out there who are desperate for the odd kit or 50, do let me know. Prices will range from £1.00 to £15.00 based on half ticket prices for the kits.

I shall be taking some of them to the Shaftesbury & Gillingham Show on Sunday in the hope that I don't bring them all back home again, and plenty more will be going to the Giant Flea the following Sunday. Obviously I can't take this sort of thing to the 3-day Antiques Fair but, as the next one isn't until September, I'm not too concerned about that!

I popped into the Old Town Hall and added a few more items ... and I'VE SOLD SOMETHING already. An HM Govt enamel pint measuring jug for £8.00. Well ... it's a start! And I don't intend to retire just yet.

Funny day all round, really.

If anyone is in the vicinity of Shaftesbury on Sunday why not visit the Show. I can't tell you anything about it, except that it's at the Motcombe Showground between Shaftesbury and Gillingham. I've never been to it before either as a stallholder or as a paying member of the public. I assume it's a small agricultural show sort of thing. Fun for all the family I would imagine.

05 June 2007

The Road to Normality ...

... whatever that is!

Mum's doing her physio exercises and is beginning to be able to lift her arm quite well (even though she's finding it exhausting).

My foot seems to have made a miraculous recovery, and I spent all yesterday painting furniture etc for the new antiques centre unit, and apart from his bitten lip (which doesn't look particularly pretty), Pauley is back to his old self.

So, thank you ALL for your good wishes. I'm so glad our escapades amused you ... I thought you might enjoy hearing about them! When all that happens you can't really do anything but laugh, can you! (But we honestly didn't create that chapter of accidents just to make good blog reading!!)

So, normality chez nous returns ... I'm racing around as per usual, wondering how I'm going to fit everything in and panicking that I haven't got the right things to put into the Centre and wondering what I'm going to take to the Shaftesbury & Gillingham Show where Liz and I are sharing a pitch on Sunday. Oh yes, and of course Thursday means Dairy House and more painting!! Watch this space!!

04 June 2007

Three in a Row and a Bonus ...

... as an old TV programme used to say ...

You realise, of course, that I'm heading for the sympathy vote here ...

Having spent the day gently painting things for the Old Town Hall and generally taking it fairly easy, Sunday afternoon television and all that, I was just coming downstairs with my things to take next door for my nightly sleepover, when there was an almighty crash/thud/bang ...

Pauley has a sciatic nerve that plays up periodically and every now and again his left leg gives way ... which is what it did at 11.15 pm ... with no warning. So there he was in a heap in the porch having banged his head (all OK) and bitten his lip as he fell (no long-lasting damage thankfully). So ... having hauled him up off the floor and wiped up the can of lager he had just that minute opened which had fizzed all over the floor after being thrown all over the place ... I was about to go out of the back door when I heard a little voice saying hello? hello? ...

It was Mum! She'd heard a crash/thud/bang which she had convinced herself was a burglar climbing in an upstairs window, and had walked round in the dark, hanging on to the wall, with legs like jelly (she doesn't do the dark well at the best of times). A certain amount of sound carries between the two houses and what she had actually heard was P. Anyway, all 3 of us then limped round to her house, P checked over the house, Mum had a brandy and I just laughed. What else could I do? P then went home and I'm glad to say he's still in one piece this morning, albeit a bit shaky. Mum KNEW she wouldn't sleep all night, but she snored rather well for someone lying awake. Me? My foot's a lot better today, although I'm still going to rest it as much as I can while I have the chance. Anyway, that's our 3 things out of the way. Hopefully we can now get our acts together and not worry each other half to death.

Thought you might like to see these amazing clouds. I took it one evening last week.

Have a jolly day ... and take care out there!!

03 June 2007

New Beginnings ...

My second post of the day! This won't happen often but, owing to the escapades related in my last post, I can only do sitting-down things today, so here I am again.

Some of you may remember from previous posts that I used to be in one of the antiques centres in Somerton but left 3 months ago, putting the majority of my stock into Dairy House Antiques at Semley. Liz came with me and we're doing 'nicely, thank you' at Dairy House. However ... we have been offered a unit in the other Somerton centre and have decided to give it a try. Whilst we shall have our own individual items in there, we shall also be buying some pieces together and sharing the profits (if any!). We move in this coming Wednesday (foot permitting). It'll be interesting to see how it goes and how we get on with stock in 2 places once again. Time will tell ...

We are taking Unit 14 on the upper floor. It is adjacent to the Tearoom area which is, to our minds, the prime spot. Everyone sitting having morning coffee, lunch or afternoon tea and cakes will be able to gaze on our Unit and maybe spy something they need to look at more closely after their sustenance. Fingers crossed!

The lady who runs the Tearoom makes everything herself from the unusual soups to the superb cakes. Luckily we will only need to do one duty day each per month. Any more and I know the pounds would pile on again instead of hopefully continue to drop off. This is what Liz and I had for lunch on Friday when we went in to confirm we would be taking the space. Beautifully presented Broad Bean and Mint soup with some crusty bread and butter. Linda takes care with presentation and if you order a pot of tea it arrives in a vintage bone china teapot with water jug, milk, sugar and a pretty vintage teacup and saucer. Whilst coffee comes in a cafetiere, the cup and saucer will always be bone china. Lovely!

So, when you all decide to travel down the A303 to the West Country why not take a detour to Semley or, 40 minutes further on, visit Somerton and the Old Town Hall. There's sadly nothing for the tummy at Semley, but maybe you'll find plenty of soup for the soul instead!

Hop-a-long Cassidy and the One Armed Bandit

Are you ready for this?

Not only does Somerton have one mother with 2 fractures of the right arm, but I fell off the steps when I was painting my room at Dairy House Antiques yesterday afternoon. I had been so careful the other 2 days when I was painting, making sure I was at the bottom before moving away from the steps. Yesterday afternoon I was doing an extra 'duty' as the normal dealer wasn't available, and trying to paint at the same time. A blob of paint dripped down between my room and the next and I was concerned it may have gone onto another dealer's stock, so hurried down the steps, tried to compete with mum and walk on air, and ended up flying through the air, sending Dolores (or was it Daphne - the 2nd of my mannequins which has sold and was waiting to be collcted) flying. Bless her, she broke my fall and I ended up with 2 grazed arms and a right foot that really hurt.

Stupid, wasn't it. Especially as I'd been telling myself for half an hour beforehand that I had to be careful as I was the only person there and if I fell no-one would be there to help me. Despite my landing on top of her, Dolores is still in one piece. It could have been a lot worse - I ended a good 8 feet away from the bottom of the steps. Stalwart to the end, I carried on painting but was aware my foot was getting more uncomfortable. By the time I'd driven home I couldn't walk and spent the rest of the evening being waited on "hand and foot".

The fun part came later. I'm still sleeping at Mum's as she's still unable to dress/undress properly and is a wee bit anxious on the stairs. So ... with P on one arm and a walking stick in the other hand I shuffled/hopped/limped next door. P did all the running up and down stuff that needed to be done, Mum got herself upstairs with me crawling (literally) up behind her. The problem was, how to stand up once I got to the top. She and I were absolutely convulsed with laughter (which doesn't help, of course!), and even P joined in at one point. Finally the right people were in the right beds, and with P calling out "Lights off in the dorm, girls", he locked us in and went home.

Thankfully I can put my foot down flat this morning, it's not swollen, and provided I don't do anything too stupid, I should be OK for the coming week's hectic schedule!! More of that in another post - I may manage 2 today.

Sorry there are no photos - there were some rare sights that would have made good viewing - but I'll make sure I have my camera next time!

Have a jolly day ...