28 January 2008

This Little Piggy Had Roast Beef ...

... We met Pip and Squeak yesterday when we went to H&R's for lunch (roast beef - she's such a good cook! All that pretending to be Delia Smith as a child paid dividends). That's Rob giving Squeak (I think) a good scratch! Haven't they grown ... (Do enlarge the second photo in particular!)

We were at my cousin's daughter's wedding on Saturday at this venue. The ceremony was conducted in the tiny Island Church which is lit by candlelight alone. The bride and groom (ex Somerset) both live in Australia now and are doctors. It would have been interesting to call out 'is there a doctor in the house?' as there were in fact SEVENTEEN in attendance! The majority of the guests stayed overnight, us included, and then after a hearty breakfast we wandered slowly on to Bradford on Avon for our lovely lunch.

The weekend was rounded off nicely with me suddenly sneezing and ending up with one of the worst colds I've had for years, aching limbs and red eyes. Not a pretty sight, so I've temporarily 'taken to my bed' with a hottie and a book which I've managed to read in between snoozes! I knew it would get me in the end. I've been staving it off for a couple of weeks!

However, it was great to get home, check my emails and find that I had won Lucy Bloom's Pink and Green Giveaway. Thank you so much Lucy, it was a lovely surprise!

Have a good week, everyone. I'll be back with a vengeance as soon as I'm fit and able!

18 January 2008

Shepton Mallet Antiques Fair - Trade Day

Well, it's come round quickly and I finally filled the car (and a large corner of Liz's van) with stock. It was almost dry for unloading - just some of that fine drizzly rain which thankfully didn't do any damage. Certainly not the downpour we thought might happen.

Remember THOSE GIRLS from numerous previous posts? Well Liz vH and Bronia's double pitch was opposite Liz and me, so there was quite a lot of laughter throughout the day, after the rather worrying sounds of stress emanating from our side of the aisle up until lunchtime because the painted bed that Liz had brought would NOT fit together. As it is the first Fair where we have shared a pitch we actually did quite well and despite being two rather bossy people (I know I am, you don't need to tell me) we ended up still friends and no pistols at dawn.

It was lovely to meet Ruth and her friend Jane. Ruth had emailed me to say they would be coming. I introduced them to Liz and also to Liz and Bronia and the inevitable blog photocall ensued (Ruth's camera so you'll have to visit her blog for the results). I tried to hide behind Ruth as I was still feeling the effects of the bed episode and getting hot and bothered trying to unpack everything before the one o'clock deadline when the trade buyers are allowed in. But I don't think I managed it. It was fun though, and I hope to see Ruth and Jane again before too long as they plan to visit Dairy House. Exciting!

I had just one 'star item' on my stand today which was a wonderful hand-stitched 19th century patchwork quilt made up of hexagons. I was delighted when it sold and even more delighted when I found out who had bought it, although I don't think I should say on here who it was. That probably sounds intriguing but I don't think it's prudent to reveal big names. Some of my lovely regular customers came too. It's always nice to see them and whilst they don't always buy, I love seeing them and catching up with all their news. The Antiques Fairs are great social occasions if you 'stop to smell the roses'. If you get caught up in everything and moan about the weather or the lack of customers or the size of the pitch or the lack of this that and the other then you're not going to enjoy it. I received a lovely comment from a return visitor today. She told her friend that I'm a lovely lady and so friendly, and that I'm still friendly, even if they don't buy. She added that so many dealers can be miserable but that if someone is friendly and helpful she will always return and buy whenever she can. I felt quite humbled. I must be doing something right!

Time I went to bed I think. I want to get there by about 7.30 tomorrow morning so I can whizz round all the other buildings and stallholders to see what's around. I'm trying not to buy as I need all my cash reserves for April, but you can't just ignore what's going on around you, can you ...

Enjoy your weekend everyone and hopefully it won't be too wet for any of us!

10 January 2008

Time Waits For No Man ... or Woman ...

... and we're almost 11 days into January already ... and I seem to have achieved nowhere near as much as I'd intended in this last week and a bit.

The next 3-day Shepton Mallet antiques fair is from 18-20 January (so no birthday party for Mum on the 20th I'm afraid!) and what with one thing and another, I have only 4 free days during which to sort and pack stock. And I have no idea what to take this time. I have one rather lovely Victorian hexagonal patchwork quilt which I need to iron before it goes on display and that is the only exciting item I can think of. I'm obviously not in the right frame of mind yet, because the shed is full to brimming and there MUST be plenty there that I can take, and the sitting room floor is once again lost to piles of stock which P and I brought out from the storage unit the other day. We have finally got rid of the large unit and crammed everything into one less than half the size. So what a lot of money we've wasted this year in storage costs. Ridiculous. I just MUST NOT buy anything until everything else is sold. Can you see a flaw in that thought process? I most certainly can!

I still have a couple of mannequins for sale, and of course miles of lace trim, mountains of buttons, yards of fabric and enough eiderdowns and quilts to create a full life-size Princess and the Pea story. But ... is any of this what the visitors to Shepton want in January? Who can say? A new year might well mean a totally new breed of customer wanting totally different goods from the customers who came in 2007. I wonder if they might like blanket coats. I've made a few in the last week or so - perhaps I could take them. I still have the amazing wedding dress I mentioned in a post some weeks ago, but it's so voluminous that it will fill half my pitch - and half the car space too. Not a viable item I don't think.

This time I have booked a double pitch and Liz (who is at Dairy House with me) is taking half. We've booked it for the whole year. Liz sells furniture among other things, so as we're planning on combining the two pitches things could look quite different this time. We could also get quite confused because the other Liz (you'll remember her - she gets around the blogs quite well) has booked to do Shepton and her pitch is exactly opposite me. I wonder how many times the wrong one will answer if I call out their name! I'm looking forward to this fair as it will, as a consequence, have quite a different feel.

Thank you all for your wonderful and encouraging comments about the Dairy House Antiques venture. I think I've replied to most of you, but if I've missed you, or you can't be contacted (I know a couple of you can't), then please accept my thanks. Rest assured I read all your comments and please keep them coming! I've added the photos to the DHA website now, and a list of towns and villages within a 50-mile radius for those of you planning a trip to the Wiltshire/Dorset area! I shall be adding more photos and information as time goes on with, hopefully, the opportunity to buy from the website too. I didn't go there today as we've just spent a couple of days up in Northamptonshire at a sad family occasion. However, to balance things out we shall be attending a family wedding in a couple of weeks' time and yesterday heard of a couple of summertime babies in the offing.

To round off this post I'll change to a farming theme ... you might like to know that Han and Rob are now the proud owners of 2 Gloucester Old Spot piglets named Pip and Squeak! They were a Christmas present from Rob's parents - and very much a surprise! Here's a photo although it's not very clear.
I must also tell you that I now have a jamjar of hay ... yes, hay ... on my desk. My farmer uncle gave me a bag of it on Tuesday. I have mentioned the farm before, and you may recall that I spent many childhood holidays there helping with haymaking, milking etc. Well, whenever some really good, sweet-smelling hay is made my uncle thinks of me, bless him! He presented me with a good-sized bag of it - which my cousin is selling for rabbits in her farm shop. He knew what my reaction would be - I couldn't get the bag open quick enough to put my nose in and take a deep breath. It's a better fix than chocolate, so that's saying something! About 10 years ago in my typesetting days, when I sat all day every day at my desk I had a similar jar of a handful of equally good hay. I used to sit down, switch on the computer, unscrew the jar, have a good sniff of the hay, put the lid back on and get on with my work. Many of you will by now have switched off your machines or clicked away from Vintage to Victorian vowing never to return to read of the exploits of this mad woman, but those of you who have smelled the freshest, sweetest newmown hay will hopefully stay with me every step of the way. You will understand ... and will appreciate the fact that this is September hay. Remember that good sunny spell we had in September after all that foul weather during normal haymaking season? Well, September turned up trumps and produced the sweetest hay ever! Do you think I should make some hay sleep pillows? Perhaps not pillows - hanging sachets might be preferable!! Hmmm ... food for thought there. Perhaps hay could be the new lavender?