30 May 2008

Sublime to Ridiculous ...

I may be OK sitting at a computer and taking photos with my digital camera and uploading them, but give me a mobile phone with a camera and I have no hope. For some reason I can (sometimes) take photos but then lose them and any I manage to keep I can't send to anyone which rather defeats the object to my mind.

Especially yesterday evening! Did you see (we were captured by national television) the flooding in and around Shepton Mallet and other parts of the West Country? I was driving from DH to Shepton to see Gillie and drove through flash flooding the likes of which I've only ever seen on television. Then I had to drive past the Bath & West Showground (where the antiques fairs are held) at about 7.30 last evening only to find that visitors to the Bath & West Agricultural Show were struggling to get out of the site, and the road was flooded. Veritable rivers of water were flowing through the bottoms of hedges, down the verge and straight across the road, or rather across the muddy pond that I and a hundred or more other cars were trying to drive through. At one point it was flowing so fast it looked as if the cars facing me were going backwards. Quite scary, but I live to tell the tale. Unfortunately I can't show you pictures (although I took two with my mobile). It wasn't until I got home that I remembered I had my camera with me and I could have got some superb muddy water shots to prove I was there!!!

Those desperate to see it, you can look here: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1022936/Householders-evacuate-homes-flash-flooding-hits-Britain-torrential-rain.html and on several other news sites - although of course none of them makes it look as bad as it was when you were actually there!!!!

12 May 2008

Happy ... with a tinge of sadness ... (with photos at last)

On Tuesday Mum had an operation to remove a cataract from her 'good' eye. Whilst waiting for her Pauley and I spent a few hours in and around Taunton but nothing went right for us. You know those days ... Mum thought her op was specified at 12.30 but it turned out she wasn't due to be 'done' until 5pm so no way were we going to be able to take her home at 6.30 as anticipated. We didn't find out until I'd been sitting with her from 12.00 until 1.30 (while Pauley was sitting waiting in the car). This made her quite jittery so we didn't want to go too far away from the hospital in case she decided to do a runner! So we mooched round Taunton briefly and went to get something to eat. The plan had been to spend the afternoon in Watchet and Dunster or maybe just wander over Exmoor but that didn't work! The place we chose to eat (in desperation) was offering smoothies and paninis. Mmmm we thought, a nice cool smoothie would be lovely on such a hot afternoon. Ordered our food and were then told the smoothie machine wasn't working, so we had banana milkshakes - but I defy anyone to prove there was any banana flavouring in the insipid white liquid we were given. Pauley stood outside WH Smiths waiting for me to pay for a belated anniversary card for Han (what an awful mother, but being poorly was my excuse), and when he tried to move he was stuck to the pavement having been standing on a dollop of chewing gum! Aaaaaargh - we hate towns!!

We then set off for a brief jolly for an hour or so, and on the way back to Taunton came across a layby with a couple of picnic benches. So we sat and read for a while. This was the view from the bench.

Mum's op was a great success though, and the next morning everything was bright and clear. She's thrilled to bits (and so are we!!), and is now thoroughly enjoying all the wonderful colours in her garden.

A couple of days later I had to collect some shelves which Liz had stored for me after the last fateful Shepton Antiques Fair. I love cows and although they're not easy to see, there are some under the tree. This is the lane leading away from Liz's home.

And then Friday arrived and I set off for my final Shepton 3-day Fair (the tinge of sadness referred to) and believe it or not the weather was warm and sunny. Amazing. I think that's the first fine 3-day Fair in a year!! Someone said there were apparently a few spots of rain though. A friend came to help me unload my car as I knew it would be too much for me as I'm still coughing well. And cough I did - for the first 2 hours! However, once I was set up and able to slow down the coughing eased off. I'd printed off plenty of Dairy House flyers to hand to all my regular customers and had some wonderful comments about how I'll be missed at the Fair. They really made by day! Mind you, so did my takings! I had a brilliant trade day (Friday is trade only).

Gillie came with me for the day on Saturday and said what a sociable occasion it was. I shall miss that. I love talking to everyone who comes to my stand and many of them seem like friends now rather than just acquaintances. At least that's how it feels. I had another brilliant selling day and by the time I'd got home and checked totals I realised that I was nearing my best sales ever at this particular Fair. Another good day on Sunday would certainly clinch it.

Not to be, though. Sunday was a very slow affair, with reasonable but not good sales. However, this Fair ended up as either 2nd or 3rd best, so I certainly won't be complaining. May has always been a good Fair for me. A number of Japanese buyers come in May and they love to buy white linen and Christening gowns. No colour. Just white - and perfect. One of my 'regulars' (I have always sent complimentary tickets to she and her husband) came on Sunday and they already knew it was to be my last Fair. They were so kind a brought me a Streptocarpus as a gift (a pot plant with beautiful soft blue flowers for the non-gardeners among you). It was a day of hugs and good wishes and I really felt quite sad to think I wouldn't be part of that little community any more. Admittedly I shall be there in September buying like mad (if I sell well enough between now and then!) but it won't be quite the same. The sense of belonging will have gone. Still, there'll be no excuse now - I shall be able to concentrate on photographing and getting stock onto Vintage to Victorian. Some of the items shown are still available and will be added soon.

This amazing cloth is silk and measures approximately 6ft x 6ft. It's in perfect condition.

And talking of buying ... I finally found these Dewhurst's Sylko drawers. I've been looking for ages, and this just leapt out in front of me on Sunday morning. I shall keep it for a while, but it may eventually make it's way to the website. We'll see ...

And look at this amazing pair of Deco firescreens. They are wooden, covered in mottled paper, the ladies are painted and the central pleated section is fabric. I saw the blue one first thing yesterday morning before the dealer was at his pitch. When I went back later he showed me the pink one as well. I'd missed it before. These will probably go on the website although I may just take them to Dairy House. For the time being I'm going to enjoy them at home!

I also bought 3 blue and white striped deckchairs (with arm rests) in excellent safely usable condition, an Edwardian bathroom cabinet with 2 lockable cupboards, original bevelled edge mirrors and locks with keys. And I found a lovely shabby round French garden table and 2 chairs. These will be going to Dairy House on Tuesday. So, not only was it a good selling weekend, but it was also a perfect buying one, too!

Driving home through the lanes I came across this field full of buttercups. A lovely end to the weekend. (I've wished I'd been able to stop several times over the few weeks to photograph the amazing bank of cowslips on the A303 but there was nowhere to pull off the road. I did manage one attempt but it was rather scary as the cars were zooming past at break-neck speed. It was the largest mass of cowslips I've seen since I was a child - awesome as some would say!)
Thankfully I'm feeling much better, although I'm tired after the weekend. I'm still coughing in phases, and it seems to have turned into a cold/bunged up doze type thing. Energy levels aren't what they were, but are building up slowly each day. Lucozade and Guinness (not together) are helping, along with Manuka honey (and the odd swig of Covonia for the cough)!
I hope the photos have made up for all those posts I've written with nothing to look at. Have a lovely sunny week and lots of fun!

05 May 2008

On the mend at last ...

Thank you all for you good wishes and to those of you who thought I was working so hard because I haven't been blogging ... I'm just rounding the corner of 5 weeks of coughing and feeling exhausted. I can't believe it's taken all this time to begin to feel even slightly better. I've been a pathetic wimp of the extreme order and all I can say is thank goodness for Gillie.

As you know, she came to live with us whilst house-hunting, and without her I think I would have starved! She seemed to know exactly what sort of comfort food an intermittently bedridden pathetic heap needed. And Pauley, bless him, has learned how to use the washing machine and tumble drier. All I've done since 23 March is intersperse my days at Dairy House with days in bed conserving energy for the next day at DH. But things are changing ... (not least because Gillie completed the purchase of her new house last Wednesday, and will be moving out later this week ... so I have to get better!)

Yesterday I did the Giant Flea Market at Shepton (the first one I've managed to get to this year because of family events. I took far less than usual and decided that whatever I sold would be a bonus because I certainly wasn't in slick selling mode. I covered costs and caught up with several regular customers so that was good, and although I had a couple of coughing fits when I unloaded and packed up again at the end, I managed to get through the day without collapsing (which when I set off at 7.00am I wasn't sure wouldn't happen!).

I was determined to go yesterday, especially as it was a chance to meet the wonderful
Lucy Bloom, who was planning a visit to the Flea. She was one of the first people to come to my stand and it was super to meet the lady whose prize draw I've won, and who has sent me some lovely little extras from time to time. We chatted for a while, she rummaged through my stocks of ribbons and fabrics and then went off to view the rest, returning for another chat before going home. Thank you, Lucy, for your purchases. I hope we'll see the results of your inspiration on your blog in due course ... no pressure of course! It was good to see Niki of course, and Frances, who has just created a website and who I think I've persuaded to start a blog. Frances lives just a few miles from me, and I've bought some super items from her in the past. Have a look at her new site and keep a lookout for her blog.

Anyway, I was delighted to find that by the time I got home last evening I wasn't in a state of collapse. I managed to stay up until gone 9 o'clock (well past my recent bedtime) and this morning I've been pottering about, very aware of the dreadful state of the house which I haven't noticed all this time. So I must be getting better. Just as well because Friday, Saturday and Sunday brings the next DMG 3-day Antiques Fair at Shepton Mallet and I need to do it. Need, as in really NEED to, because I've made the rather sad decision that it will be my last one (other than maybe an odd one from time-to-time). Now I have the responsibility of Dairy House I really can't risk overdoing it again, and putting the onus on the other dealers to run the place while I languish in bed. Not good business practice. So, I need to be at Shepton to see all my regular customers and tell them the party's over and hand out as many flyers for Dairy House as I can.

Talking of which ... the first month has been brilliant. Whilst I've done my allotted days each week I haven't actually achieved very much while I've been there, but I have at least managed to get some good advertising in place, and found a painter and decorator who has painted the staircase (no mean feat as it's a 3-storey building) in readiness for a picture dealer joining our happy band at the end of next week. His pictures will be displayed up the staircases and on the landing and I'm hoping DH will work well for him. Sales have been amazing which has meant I have 16 happy dealers, so hopefully none of them will be moving out just yet! There's lots of tidying up still to do, but there's plenty of time. The atmosphere is generally quite jolly, old customers are still coming to buy, and we have experienced a few days with so many people wandering around that those on duty have been quite stunned by the buzz. I imagine there can't be many cottages left to buy in Dorset judging by the number of people who have come in saying they've just moved into a cottage and need to furnish it!

Now I'm on the mend (please no relapse!) I really must get the Vintage to Victorian website restocked. I'm amazed that people are still looking (and buying) as I have been so remiss in updating the site. I do appreciate everyone's visits and can only apologise for not giving you more to choose from. Let's get next weekend over and then I really should have no excuse ...

And finally ...

Do you remember ... a year ago yesterday Mum fell and broke her arm in 2 places ... and a year ago today
this happened

Happy 1st Wedding Anniversary Hannah and Rob! xxx