I love attending this fair as I share a large marquee with such lovely people. Liz and Jack van Hasselt with their vintage and decorative items, Alan with his fabulous French textiles, and Maud from Beyond France with her Hungarian linens, together with us make for a really good mixture. We have named our area the Textile tent, and hopefully customers love our mix of the pretty and useful.
It has been a long, hot summer here and I have been out and about buying. Lots of fabrics and quilts, and some really pretty items that I am finding it hard to part with. But under the ‘one in, one out’ rule, not much is being kept! It has been quite hard work at some events, in the intense heat, but always enjoyable. We have seen lots of brocante, a plentiful supply of childrens’ clothes, regularly find a massive stall of plastic containers that appears never to sell anything, and some rusty garden tools the like of which I would send to the dechetterie (tip). I sometimes wonder why we get up when it is still technically the middle of the night to make sure we arrive early, but the hunt is part of the pleasure. When the perfect item is found, squeals of delight have to be contained, and the price enquired about calmly. We have to truffle through a lot of unwanted stuff before we find just the right thing, but hey it’s not like we are doing anything too hard. So, I hope everyone else is having a lovely summer and if you do come to Newark next week, please come and say Hi.
I love vintage enamel ware, which is also called graniteware, as it is practical and fairly indestructible. You can get lots of household useful items such as pots and pans, but I prefer jugs and bowls and smaller pieces. Sets of canisters are always popular, especially with the names of ingredients on them such as Farine (flour), Sucre (sugar) and of course Cafe.
I have a small collection myself, but have been known to swop new pieces with my own so it keeps everything looking fresh and new. I recently bought quite a few enamelled candlesticks in pretty colours, and a really lovely shaped jug and bowl set which may stay with me a little while before being passed on.
I even like the enamelware a little damaged with ‘dings’ where the under metal shows through, as it shows that someone loved it enough to keep it, or maybe in more economically unsure times, it was a case of making do. Jugs that cannot hold water are still used as flower vases with the addition of a plain glass insert. Pretty in many colours, even the plainer white, I love them dotted around the house being useful if possible, just beautiful if not.
I always try and have flowers on my pitch when selling, as they can make the space look pretty. Unfortunately I often leave them in the van for days afterwards which means they never last! Whilst out brocanting yesterday I came across a large dried bunch of what I think is called Sea Lavender, and made my other half buy them for me. I thought they would make a great display together with the dried bunches of hydrangeas I have at the moment.
The hydrangeas I have are from a neighbour’s garden. Our garden here is large but hasn’t been used as a proper garden for a long time, so we have lots of plans over the coming years to make it less of a field, and more a space to spend time in. We have made a small start by putting in a rockery, and we have lots of pots around, so although it does feel like a garden, mainly it is just grass. I bought a few hydrangeas earlier in the season and although they have done well, they are poor relations to the ones that a neighbour has. Theirs are 3 times the size of ours, with a lot of flowers on, and every time I’ve seen them, I’m afraid to admit that I coveted them. Not just envy you understand, but passionate longing over the summer that has given me plenty of time for the planning and plotting of how I could steal them!
Should I slink along in the night and cut a few blooms off each bush so that they would never notice, or just pull a few heads as I sauntered by. Obviously we like our French neighbours, and so I would never have followed through with nefarious plans, but it shows how much I wanted those blooms.
Imagine my dismay when we came back home after a few days at a fair in the UK to find that the hydrangea bushes had been decimated, totally cut down, and all the glorious flowers gone. What was I to do – there are plenty of hydrangeas around in villages, but I have no desire to be arrested. Luckily my other half noticed a large pile of the cuttings and went to investigate. He came back 30 minutes later with armfuls, all still in lovely condition, which I have dried upside down in the kitchen. Sat with a coffee looking at my bounty that evening, I mused that if I had gone to see the neighbours, they would probably have let me cut down the bushes and kept the flowers, and saved them a job into the bargain. Why I didn’t think of this months ago is beyond me, but hopefully I won’t have to dream up any more plans as my own plants next year will be as glorious as theirs have been this.