24 October 2008

Those were the days ... 1966

Third from the left is my father. Last weekend the Northampton Chronicle & Echo (or maybe it's only the Northampton Chronicle now, I'm not sure) printed a number of photographs from their archives asking people to write in if they knew the names of any of the gentlemen at the 1966 Institute of Bankers Dinner. Two of my aunts phoned Mum to tell her the photo was in the paper and one of them had already written to the editor telling them about Dad.

Last evening I emailed the newspaper asking if they would send me a copy and when I switched on my computer this morning they had already sent me the photo. In 1966 I was 16 and he was 46 (only 12 years older than Han is now which is a scary thought). His first coronary was 6 years earlier and his second, the fatal one, was 7 years after this photo was taken. I have to say that for me, the 12 months following my 53rd birthday were weirdly uncomfortable and I felt a great relief when I got to 54.

This isn't a sympathy vote post, I just wanted to share the photo with you. Thirty-five years on of course we miss him, and Hannah never knew him at all, but the raw soreness has gone and that was another lifetime. We still remember that 16 October marks his birthday, 31 March Mum and Dad's wedding anniversary (and Pauley's and mine), and 12 November will always be a day of quiet thoughtfulness for Mum and me.

I'm so glad the paper printed that photo now. It's given us a chance to remember the prudent banker as opposed to the family man. I wonder how he would have reacted to all the problems the banks are facing today. As, I believe, the youngest manager of Martins Bank, latterly Barclays, he was totally against the introduction of the Barclaycard, which some of you may recall was the first credit card, insisting that it would be a licence to commit fraud and would cause endless problems. No-one believed him at the time! Not one to mince his words I bet he'd have a few choice words to say about the current financial situation!

Update to the previous post:

We collected my new car this morning and so far we're getting on fine! Think I might love it soon. I'll let you know after a few trips up and down the A303 to Dairy House and back!

20 October 2008

End of an Era ...

Exciting though it is, there's also a touch of sadness. My little Suzuki Wagon R is almost 3 years old and over the last xx years I've been very lucky to have been able to change my cars just prior to that first MOT and the expiration of roadside recovery and 3-year warranty.

So, the exciting part is that on Friday I get my new car. The sad part is that they no longer make Suzuki Wagon Rs and I have to say "Goodbye Suzuki, Hello Citroen"! I'm not sure how well I shall cope with this after having had Wagon Rs for 9 years, and knowing to the last square inch what I can load into them. The lovely square back (with the seats folded down) has been a godsend over the years of doing Fairs, but much as I've loved it I have to say that a tad more room would have been very useful at times. But finding another square rear (if you'll excuse the expression) hasn't been a simple task. No, I tell a lie ... it has. There is, in fact, only one possibility ... the Citroen Berlingo. Not the new version which is actually quite claustrophobic to sit in with a peculiar overhead storage-cum-air conditioning thing which goes down the middle from front to back, and a further silly overhead storage box thing which is designed to make things fall out onto your head ... (go to a Citroen garage and ask to look. You'll see what I mean). I am, apparently, having the last old model Citroen Berlingo Multispace Forté in existence in the UK (or so they say, and who am I to argue?).

As of Friday I shall be the proud owner of what is known in the trade (apparently) as "A van with windows". The upside is that the rear storage area with the seats up isn't much smaller than the space in the back of the Wagon R with the seats down, and with the seats down in the Berlingo I should be able to fit pieces of furniture in as well as the linen and textiles that are my normal stock in trade. Hmmmm ... exciting times ahead ... I hope! At least when I go to a Fair and buy more than I sell I should be able to get it all in the car when it's time to pack up and go home! (I have been known to load up the car and completely unload it again, just to fit in a basket which cost me £5 ... well, you wouldn't leave it behind, would you!!!!)

Only time will tell how the Berlingo and I get along. Let's hope it's a marriage made in Heaven!

14 October 2008

Those Were The Days ... 1978

As at least 50% of you readers of my blog are years younger than me I'm wondering whether any of you had one of these little Mothercare cookers in 1978/79?
This is the picture on the box it would have come in ... and the reason I'm asking is ... the 'model' is Hannah and she's wearing a spotty dress and pinafore which I made. She used to do ballet, tap, modern, jazz and national dance and this was her costume in a competition. She danced a ballet duet to a song entitled (I think) The Kite when she was 4 or 5. I made the outfits for both Han and her partner and appliquéed 2 kites, one red and one blue, on each of the pinafores. I think Han still has the dress. I'm not sure, but I hope she has!
The reason for this little bit of nostalgia is the fact that I'm trying to clear my desk of clutter and came across the photo. It's Mum's photo and she lent it to me a while ago to scan. Must remember to give it back! We thought at the time it would have been nice if Mothercare could have given Han a cooker but silly us, they don't do that sort of thing, so Mum bought her the cooker, keeping the box for herself!!! Since then the cooker was passed on to my god-daughter who has since returned it. I've no idea where it is currently, but I'm sure we'll come across it at some stage. Perhaps Hannah has that, too!

11 October 2008

Shepton Mallet - Giant Flea ... Before and After

A quick reminder for those of you for whom Shepton Mallet isn't too far away - Sue Ede's Giant Flea Market tomorrow, Sunday 12 October - and good weather forecasted! Only one more after this before Christmas which is quite a scary thought!!

Hope to see you!


It was a lovely sunny day as you'll know if you've already read Niki's or Donna's blog. The weather was so glorious that although people came in to cool down they weren't necessarily buying inside, and there were so many outdoor pitches that I think they were probably exhausted by then! Sales weren't amazing for me, but purchases were!! I managed to run outside once or twice and came back with something each time. There's a modern Stockman mannequin to photograph, a Victorian hand-stitched small quilt made up of half-inch squares (superb), 2 painted and inlaid lacquer/papier maché blotter covers and a mid 18th-century Jennens & Bettridge lacquer box containing mother-of-pearl handled sewing tools. Oh yes ... also a pretty lacquered and painted 3-legged stool. So it was a case of a few quality items rather than bagsful of lace and textiles this time. Makes a change ...

Today I took Mum to Dairy House - the last time she visited was over 2 years ago. I'm glad to say she loved it. Several of the dealers were in so she can now put faces to names when I tell her who's been in and who's sold what. We then stopped off at East Stour on the road between Shaftesbury and Sherborne for lunch at 'The Udder Farmshop'. No link at the moment, but apparently there's a website coming soon. We sat at a table in the window and were able to enjoy the views whilst we ate our lunch. I'd left my camera behind so sorry, no photos!

After a brief wander round Sherborne and a whistlestop tour of Sainsbury's we finally got home just before 6 o'clock ... A Grand Day Out ...

10 October 2008

Dairy House Antiques

I thought you might like to see a photo of the entrance. Still some work to be done outside, but at last the doors and walls are painted. A little weeding and a change of plants for the winter to be done, but this is it - my not so little venture! The double doors on the left used to be the entrance but they open up into a very boring hall so we now use the centre door, which is much more inviting.

I took this photo when I arrived this morning. Look at the shadows - it was another glorious morning and in fact a beautifully sunny day from start to finish. Hope yours was, too.

08 October 2008

Six Months and Still Smiling ...

Well, can you believe it. Dairy House and I have been 'an item' for 6 months already. And what a 6 months it has been. Bearing in mind I had that awful virus for the first 3 months I suppose it's hardly surprising that I don't know where the time has gone.

However, we seem to have achieved ... namely introducing 8 new dealers on taking over; redecoration of the areas most in need of a facelift; moving the sales desk and opening up an unused door to make a new entrance; painting the heavy internal black iron RSJs a soft sage green, with the external doors painted to match; agreeing to change the telephone provider and deciding to set up broadband so that I can work on the Dairy House and Vintage to Victorian websites in quiet moments when I'm there, and a number of other things I can't think of at the moment. In addition I'm so pleased to be able to tell you that in these 6 months footfall has increased to such a degree that I sometimes don't get to take the first bite of my lunchtime sandwich until 3 pm, and our monthly sales have exceeded those of 2007 in every month except September, which was just slightly lower. October has already shown amazing promise and all the dealers seem happy with their lot. For their sakes I hope this fantastic trend continues. There has been a real buzz over the last few months, and it has all surpassed any expectations I may have had. There's still a lot to do, but it all takes time ... and energy!!

I haven't had a chance to take any photos recently, but I'll post some soon. I'm beginning to think about what we can do to make it Christmassy. I don't want to go OTT as it could be too much of a shock for both the dealers and our customers, but I think we should have a tree and a cauldron of mulled wine bubbling away on the woodburner.

Meanwhile, it's Giant Flea time again and I've suddenly realised I only have tomorrow afternoon and Friday afternoon free to sort stock and load the car. I thought I might take a selection from my collection of vintage birthday, wedding and Christmas cards; I've washed and ironed some recently acquired linens to take, but as far as the rest is concerned it might just be a surprise when I unpack the car and set up my stall.

Here are a few of the cards

06 October 2008

Four Sausages so far ...

... was the message I received from Han this morning, along with this photo ...

Will keep you posted. I don't remember if I told you, but Squeak lost her babies a while ago, so this is Pip with her first four babies. Shall we have a little bet on the final number?