28 September 2011

If the animals don't get you, the shopping will

So a few days have past, and the serious shopping has begun.  But first, on Saturday we decided on a Play Day and went to visit Banham Zoo in Norfolk.  Even though we got there at 10am we practically had the place to ourselves, which was really nice.  We decided to have a go at feeding the giraffes, and that was a lot of fun.  They have deep blue tongues that are about 18 inches long and really raspy, and huge eyes with beautiful long eyelashes.  We were given willow branches to feed them, and they pull really hard as they strip the leaves off the branches so you need to hang on tight.  Doug was bitten on the bum by the biggest giraffe when he didn’t hand over his leaves fast enough, and the keeper said this was quite an honour because they never make contact with people.  I got giraffe spit all over my hands from an over-enthusiastic girl who wanted her leaves faster than I could move my hands, which was a blek! moment.

We stopped by various big cat enclosures (Banham Zoo has cheetahs, leopards, tigers, ocelots, geoffrey’s cats, parres cats and snow leopards, so they’re well stocked with cats) and all the moggies obligingly came up close and posed for photos.  Then we visited the meerkats and decided to take advantage of the opportunity to get in and feed them.  I’ve never been to a zoo that lets you in with the meerkats before, and it was tremendous fun.  The keeper poured mealworms on our laps and in our hands which was another blek! moment although the meerkats thought it was wonderful and they jumped all over us and squabbled on our laps for the best position to be fed.  They have the most amazingly rough coats and they allow you to stroke and tickle them as long as you keep the food coming.  As soon as the mealworms run out they’re off – no food, no friends.

But just after the keeper had finished assuring us that the meerkats had never bitten anyone, one of the wretches bit me!  I was trying to move my hand to give another meerkat a chance at some mealworms when my assailant tried to grab a big mouthful worms but instead got a big mouthful of me.  There was blood!  I’m sure I feel rabies coming on.  I have two little puncture wounds in my hand and they had better turn into scars so I have proof of my deadly encounter.

So after being mauled by assorted wild animals we headed off to the Norfolk coast so we could find somewhere nice for my birthday lunch.  On the big day we went to Aldeburgh Beach and had lunch at a hotel right on the beach.  It’s a pebble beach, as so many in the UK are, so not conducive to strolling along but the day was warm and sunny, a light breeze was blowing and it was a very pleasant place to spend a few hours.  If you had bionic vision I think looking straight out from Aldeburgh you could see the northern end of Holland, and then out into the North Sea.  A variety of people were sunbaking on the pebbles, and we thought that could not be comfortable (although we did not test out our theory by trying it ourselves).  And unlike at Noosa Beach, there wasn’t a bosom in sight.  All the sunbakers at Aldeburgh Beach were entirely covered from their necks to the tips of their toes.

Then we headed down almost to London so we could attend a big Fair that we hadn’t tried before.  On the way we did a quick detour to a small Fair at a community hall, and it was worth the stop.  Mostly the items on offer were over-priced and boring as, but then we discovered some beautiful scales from an old lolly shop in Suffolk, so we carried them off.  They are unlike any scales we’ve had before, and any one of the collectors who visit us should be well pleased with them.

The Fair near London wasn’t nearly as big as we had been expecting, and it was reminiscent of some of the flea markets in France in that all the stallholders and buyers are allowed in at the same time.  So at 8am utter pandemonium breaks out, with stallholders trying to get their wares out as fast as possible, and all the early bird buyers positioning themselves so they can be the first to see the new things coming out.  Of course you can’t be the first person at every stall, but you can jolly well try, and by being at the right place at the right time we came away with a number of really interesting items, including 4 sets of very attractive French scales (one with a marble top), interesting kitchenalia, lots of good quality glass, some lovely enamelware and a couple of big French wooden beer crates.

Today we went off to a huge Fair on the other side of London, which started at 6.30am – not what I call civilized.  We got there right on 6.30am and were amazed to see that literally thousands of people were there ahead of us.  We were the second last vehicle allowed into the huge carpark, which was then full and closed by 6.33am, and poor Doug wasn’t impressed that we were about a kilometre from all the action and he would be the one taking all the purchases back to the van.

As I suspected, this Fair did suffer from being too close to London in terms of gobsmacking prices for many of the more interesting European pieces, but it still took us about four hours to get around and we came away with plenty to be pleased about.  We did particularly well with nice cutlery and good glass again (but no show-stopper pieces yet) and surprisingly well with enamelware in interesting colours.  I’m always on the lookout for nice old wooden items, and this time we have three really big (really big!) wooden sticky rice serving platters/bowls that are about 140 years old and come from northern Thailand.  So they’ll have come a long way to find a home by the time they end up in our shop.  They are lovely and I’ve never seen anything like them, so we’ll see how they go.  Really old wood tends to wax up well with a bit of work, and when they’re good and glowing they’re going straight to the front window.

Tomorrow we’re visiting a large antiques centre in the Midlands, and then positioning ourselves for the first of the big northern Fairs.  Prices are usually more reasonable up north, although you don’t get the same number of European dealers until you get to Newark – the biggest antiques Fair in the world, where absolutely everyone comes from absolutely everywhere.  But for now it’s been a big day and we’re all tuckered out, so time for some dinner and a relax.  More later.

24 September 2011

Messing About in Shops & Auction Antics

Well I didn’t intend to post blog entries as often as I am doing right now, but lots is happening and if I waited to talk about it for a few days then the blogs would be humungous and would bore everyone rigid.  Hopefully short(ish) entries are more user-friendly.  Views on this happily accepted.

So, yesterday we visited a nice centre that can be quite expensive but with sufficient hunting you can usually find nice things at reasonable prices.  I tend to do circuits of the centre, because there’s so much to see you can miss things the first time around (or the second, or the third).  I’m reasonably good at finding good stuff, but when things are just piled up higgledy-piggledy it makes it hard.  But still, it also makes for some fun ratting about. 

Doug then relieves me of my finds and transports them off to the front counter for me, so I can do a final inspection before I purchase.  On our last trip I had a good pile of purchases building up on the front counter, but when I had finished I came upon a woman sifting through My Stuff and putting a good deal of it aside for herself!  I explained that the reason it was on the front counter and not still on the shelves was because I had already purloined it.  Then she asked me to give her a tour of the centre to help her find some nice things because she hadn’t found a thing and here I was with a large pile of stuff.  It was too late for her, though, because I had already selected everything I thought was nice and reasonably priced.

Our visit this time didn’t yield as much as it often does, but we still did okay and bought some nice kitchenalia in particular.  One really good thing was a small German enamelled onion storage rack, but Doug immediately seized it and it now falls into the I-Must-Pry-It-From-His-Cold-Dead-Hands category before I can ever sell it.  There was a new French dealer at the centre whose stuff we coveted but her prices were Sacre Bleu! (that’s French for You can’t be serious).  It would be significantly cheaper for us to physically go to France and get these sort of things ourselves, so bugger it we will.

We then drove down to view the auction in Norfolk and found that lots of things looked much better in the catalogue than they did in real life.  But there were still good items to bid on, so we turned up on the day and as usual I ensconced at a table on the mezzanine level with a hot chocolate.  In the end we walked away with three Georgian coffers, which is unheard of.  Just getting one decent Georgian coffer (it’s like a giant blanket box) is always something to celebrate, and three in one auction is unheard of.  The most expensive one was actually the smallest, but it dates to the early 1700s and it’s a dinky size that is really useful for a modern home, which I guess is why everyone wanted it.  Why does everyone else in the room decide to bid when I want something?  I had to battle to get all three, but it was worth it.  I know it wasn’t my intention to buy furniture, but count them people!  Getting three Georgian coffers is a triumph and not something you can pass on.

It was also a happy day because we were the winning bidders on an item for which we’ve been hunting for three years – a brass nurse’s lamp.  It’s a little battered around the base, but it’s in good working order and has the original oddly shaped chimney these lamps always have.  And yes Fran, if you’re reading this I know that right at this very moment you are getting finger cramp trying to email me as fast as you can, but be calm because you can have first option on it.  I know my life would be forfeit if I ever tried to sell this lamp to someone else, for the Wrath of Fran would know no bounds.  And hey I’m not making this up – Fran is someone who still swears horrible and bloody vengeance on some innocent customer who dared to buy a Roman glass tear vial she had her eye on – three years ago!  And she still hasn’t given up on the idea of a new life as a Cat Burglar so she can retrieve a lovely Austro-Hungarian glass egg she fancied but someone else got to first.  Fran is Hard Core and she’s a nurse who knows how to use sharp things effectively, so I don’t cross Fran.

It’s amazing how every trip is different because last trip we found a very beautiful French enamel cistern and basin, which was snapped up before it even made it into the shop, and it was the only one we’d ever managed to get.  But today there was one at the auction and I was determined to have it.  This one is a beautiful turquoise colour and I expect it will end up on someone’s outside wall with flowers in the basin, with the cistern above the basin to water the flowers.  It will look really lovely and I’m always very pleased to buy something so nice.  But fancy that – we went from getting none at all, to getting one last trip and another this trip.  It’s always fun to see how each trip works out.

After the auction we went to visit a charming nearby village, and found an antique shop that was selling a lovely cast iron fire back which features a seriously attractive dragon.  A fire back is a very thick plaque of cast iron that is put in the back of a fire and used to throw heat back into the room.  It’s English and dates to about 1870 and we love it.  But it weights about 50kg and goodness knows where we’re going to put it.  We walked around the village while we discussed where it could go in the house, and in the end we decided we couldn’t think of a single place but what the heck we wanted it anyway.  It won’t arrive in Australia until December so we’ve got plenty of time to figure it out.

Tomorrow we’re doing a bit of cataloguing and packing first thing, but then having a play day and going off to a local zoo that I saw on TV some time ago and have wanted to visit for a while.  It’s hard work shopping til you drop, so we need a bit of relax time.

22 September 2011

Let the Shopping Begin

Assassins of Eumundi, Rejoice!  Oh, and pharmacists.  And a goodly number of interior decorators.  And of course bottle collectors.  And let’s not forget normal people who just like lovely old glass. 

So okay, Assassins, Pharmacists, Interior Decorators, Bottle Collectors and Normal People of Eumundi, Rejoice! – for I have visited poison-bottle-man and he has delivered.  Oh yes, we’re talking really lovely emerald green and cobalt blue poison bottles in interesting shapes.  Also a small selection of those cool bottles with marbles in the tops.  So hurrah, the bottle buying was sorted on Day One.  Can’t ask for more than that. 

It’s very blustery and overcast in the north of England, but the temperature is quite pleasant and the trees have just started to show their autumnal colours, so it’s all good.  The moors in the High Peak District have flowering purple heather and yellow gorse right now, madly tumbling brooks down steep slopes and lovely dry-stone walls.  It’s bleak but really quite beautiful.  We always like it up around here, and we visit in spring and autumn so we avoid the tourists of summer and the black ice and snow of winter.

At the moment I’m waking up bright and alert at 3.30am and then totally crashing by 5.00pm, so that sucks but I should recover in a day or so.  It just means that we need to get to our accommodation early so I can be unconscious in our room rather appear snoring and dribbling in public – Doug has unchivalrously informed me that this is not a good look.

On the shopping front, boy oh boy have we hit the ground running.  This part of the country is always a happy hunting ground for us, and we visited a number of places and spent up a storm.  So in addition to a bazillion lovely bottles I also have a couple of Chinese late Qing Dynasty (c1850) ginger jars with lids and one without a lid but it was too lovely to leave behind.  Also some good Deco glass, nice tins (I have a thing for nice tins lately), a range of cutlery and kitchen utensils in good colours and great condition and a couple of interesting books. 

And finally, finally I have found some decent fire tools.  How hard can it be to find good quality and attractive antique fire-bodging implements at a less than ridiculous price?  Very hard, is the answer.  I’ve been looking for ages, because even in Queensland it gets cold at nights in winter and plenty of people have fires and want nice fire tools.  Unfortunately, people in England have fires too and getting good, vintage fire tools has been a real challenge.  But hurrah, I have finally prevailed.  And lucky I picked them up and carried them about with me, because some woman came barrelling up to me and told me she had been looking for good quality fire tools for years and was quite pushy in wanting to know exactly where I got them and if there were any more available.  If there were I would have bought them too, lady.

I think the buy of the day, though, was a really beautiful Royal Doulton jug, basin and soap dish set.  Lots of people have asked me to look for nice jug and basin sets in the past, and I have only ever found ones that were hideously expensive or dang ugly.  So I’ve waited for the right one to come along, and it showed up yesterday and was totally worth the wait.  It doesn’t fall into the Cheapest Ever category, but it was affordable and I think the nicest set I’ve ever seen.  I’ll have to hit the books when I get home to properly date it, but its design is very much of the Arts & Crafts era.  Once I figure out how to download photos onto my Blog I shall photograph it.  It won’t get into the shop until just before Christmas but it’s going straight to the front window when it does.

So there I was, wandering around being well pleased with myself over the jug and basin set, when I found someone who had recently acquired a lot of Murano glass from an estate sale.  Mostly it was not affordable, but I did manage to get several lovely end-of-day fishes in shapes I haven’t seen before, so now I will have a nice little school of these fish for my personal collection at home and some for the shop.  They look lovely when grouped together, so I feel a nice window display coming on.

Today we have a bit of driving ahead of us, because after visiting some good dealers here-abouts we’re then bolting down to Norfolk to view an auction we’re attending tomorrow.  This is a very civilized auction house which has a mezzanine floor overlooking the main action, where they will serve you a hot breakfast if you like (or hot chocolate, or raisin toast) so you can keep up your strength and bid at the same time.  If I really have to go to work, this is a good place to do it.

21 September 2011

Travelling Trials & Tribulations

The more I do it, the less tolerant I become of the rigours of international travel.  Yes I know, poor me.  But really, being cooped up in a really small seat isn’t the most comfortable way to wile away 24 hours.  It was different when I used to travel Business Class back in the day, but the day was some time ago.  These days as an impoverished shop-keeper I’m consigned to Economy and I swear the leg room gets smaller every six months – no doubt to cadge the extra space needed for the luxury suites that now take up the front of international flights. 

One interesting thing on Etihad Airlines that we haven’t encountered on another airline so far is the opportunity to view take-off and landing via a special camera on the plane’s under-carriage.  I wonder if it leads to pilots taking extra care when they know that the entire plane is watching and able to see what they’re seeing.  And then you can use the camera to point straight down as you’re flying along, and view the world from 40,000 feet as it passes below you. 

The movie options on Etihad aren’t anything to write home about – even though I’m doing precisely that.  There are a couple of flicks we’ve all heard of, but mostly they seem to be straight-to-DVD specials.  I fell asleep during one where mean-but-nasty-not-to-mention-invincible aliens invade Earth, but where in the end they were vinced thanks to the US Marines.  And what an easy gig that was for the actors, because it appears that US Marines don’t say much beyond Ooo-rah! and Outstanding! to each other so there wasn’t a lot of script to learn.  Maybe these words are like Chinese and saying them in different tones mean different things.  Or not.

Oh well, such has been our lot – trapped in a small seat and being force-fed bad movies for 24 hours.  We spent an hour and a half in the Transit Area of Changi Airport in Singapore, and it was good to get off the plane and stretch our legs.  I really would have preferred to have a stopover at this point and go and get into a decent bed, and I think in future trips we will have to schedule a few stops.  Why not?  Life’s too short to be uncomfortable if you don’t need to be.  But we found the koi carp pond in the Transit Area, which is a nice spot, surrounded by giant tree ferns, staghorns and assorted other greenery and the pond is stocked with a large number of big and beautiful fish.  Mostly they are orange and white, but occasionally a fish had mottled black markings which looked almost indigo blue and that looked lovely against the orange.  In Chinese symbolism I think koi carp indicate long life, and it reminded me that I should look for some nice Chinese items while we’re away, hopefully with fishes on them.

We got in late to Abu Dhabi last night and then had to present at the Airport in time for a 10am flight today so we didn’t get to see a lot, but early impressions are Sand.  Lots of Sand.  No shortage of Sand.  Stay in line, no pushing, plenty for everyone.  Yes sir, if you want Sand this is the place for you.  And, perhaps not surprisingly, lots and lots (and lots) of palm trees.  Very surprisingly, all around our hotel and along the road to the airport it’s very green, and we were dead impressed by the size of the desalination plants they must have secreted nearby.  And call me whimsical, call me dreamy (or call me jetlagged), but is it true that the moon rising over the desert is so much more romantic than anywhere else?  It wasn’t a full moon, but it was still big and fat and yellow and glowing and looked lovely. 

We’ve decided we will probably come back to Abu Dhabi on another trip, because we’ve discovered a wildlife reserve that we’d really like to visit.  It has lots of critters but is also a big cat sanctuary and rehabilitation reserve which takes in large cats that have been rescued from owners who can’t handle them now that they are too big for the bed and not cute and biddable little cubs any more.   You can organise a guided tour of the reserve and I think I’d like that.  And I also fancy visiting the falcon centre and rehabilitation hospital and perhaps going out into the desert, so next trip we might stop over for a day or so and do some fun things.  We hired camels and trekked out into the Sahara with some Tuareg guides last time we were in Morocco and that was fun, so we’ll do it again (albeit with four-wheel-drives) next time we’re in the United Arab Emirates. 

Abu Dhabi does look like it’s more interesting than Dubai, and it has some quite interesting architecture which ranges from “traditional” through to one building that looks just like a giant Stargate (and there’s a reference that any Sci-Fi geek worth their salt should get).  Even Ferrari World, which I thought would just be about expensive cars, is actually the world’s largest indoor theme park that includes dead cool real fast car simulators – all the fun of driving like a bat out of hell without the fiery death when you inevitably crash.  And their rollercoaster (in the outdoor bit) has an aircraft warning light on the top, which I think is always a good indicator of a decent hair-raising ride.

So now we’re here in Manchester, and it’s sooo much better coming in to the UK this way.  We were through Immigration and Customs and in our hotel in the same time it would have taken to just get through Immigration at Heathrow.  Heaps better when you’re tired and ratty and just want to get where you’re going.  And here’s something obscure but interesting – well interesting to me:  to Arabic speakers this is bleedin’ obvious, but when you read the Departures board at a Middle Eastern airport you have to read from right to left.  Our western eyes automatically go to the left of the screen, and then it takes a bit of figuring out.  But somehow we coped. 

Okay, shopping starts tomorrow.  Right now I’m going through the irrational what-if-I-can’t-find-anything-decent-to-buy? feeling that I get at the start of every trip.  But every trip there is always plenty of good stuff to buy, and after the first purchase I’ll be off and running and into Shop Til I Fall Down Dead mode.

14 September 2011

The Joys of Cleaning, Assassins & Pickles

We used to have a cleaner when we lived in a Consular house in the UK, and I never fell into the practice of tidying up before the cleaner arrived.  How dumb would that be?  I’ve heard of it happening, but it really does defeat the purpose of paying someone to do something you don’t want to do yourself.  House-sitters, though, are a different kettle of fish.  They get to poke around your kitchen, get in your shower, rat through your cupboards.  Even worse when your house-sitters are your parents – no pressure, of course your mother isn’t judging your house-keeping skills.  So that time of the year has arrived when Doug (under protest) and I dash about like idiots, purely so we can pretend that we have a clean and tidy house all the time, not just once every six months.  It is good to be forced into a huge Spring Clean twice a year, though, and makes me appreciate that it’s nice to play at being a responsible grown up sometimes.  But only sometimes.

Meanwhile, it’s nothing but frustration with ANZ’s New! Improved! Travel Card system.  We’ve found that using a travel card is (usually) the simplest and cheapest way of buying currency and withdrawing it when you’re in Europe.  But I can’t help feel that computer nerds take pleasure in creating unnecessary process, and assume that we all like extended button pushing as well.  But do they ever trial these new processes with real people before they introduce them?  And why does it take four days for the money you deposit on your Travel Card to show up on it? – answer me that.  It’s the 21st century, people, and if my money can instantly disappear from my account, why can’t it instantly reappear on the Travel Card?  Just saying.

It’s our last Wednesday Market Day in the shop for a while, because we’re heading off next Monday to start the next buying trip.  So far it’s much better than last Wednesday, so hurrah for that.  Last week ended up being excellent because we made so many sales on every other day, but Wednesday sucked.  This time I’ve brought the current George R.R. Martin book in with me, as entertaining backup if nothing happens in the shop.  But it’s always true that whenever I bring in a book I really want to read it’s a signal to people that they should descend upon me, en masse.  The same whenever I order anything for lunch – I’ve given up ordering anything hot from the surrounding cafes, because it’s an absolute monty that as soon as the food arrives so do lots and lots of customers and by the time I get back to the food it’s nicely congealed.  So in fact, if I had any sense I would constantly have a book and hot food at my side – guaranteed to bring in the customers.

It’s Mischka back on duty as Shop Manager today.  I want her to do her fair share as Shop Manager so she needs to learn to behave despite a lot of handling from customers.  Today she’s already been schmoozy with a shy little girl, let lots of people rub her belly, had her photo taken twice, allowed a nice old lady to accompany her on her rounds of the shop and seen a poor terrified little poodle off the premises.  But mostly she’s behaving badly, and taking the opportunity to jump on cabinets when I’m wrapping things and can’t directly supervise her.  She’s heading for a smacked bum real soon if she doesn’t settle down and have a snooze.  She’s so well behaved when she’s unconscious.

In the last week we’ve sold heaps of poison bottles and more again today.  How many assassins do we know?  Lots, it turns out.  They are beautiful deep cobalt blue or emerald green glass, so I can appreciate what everyone likes about them, but I’m still a bit surprised at how popular they’ve been.  The first stop on Day One when we get to the UK will be poison-bottle-man, to see what he’s got.  Six months ago I pretty well cleaned him out, but he’s had plenty of time to restock.  The last of the pickle jars have gone today as well, so I’m hoping I again encounter pickle-jar-woman on this next trip.  She had lots of lovely pickle jars last time and I could (and should) have bought more because her prices were quite competitive.  But I bought seven and thought that would be sufficient because how many pickle jars does one shop need?  More than seven, it turns out.

Well, next stop Abu Dhabi.  17 hours in Cattle Class - can't wait.  Surely teleportation technology can't be that hard, and I'd pay extra to use it.  If I’m awake during our stopover I shall give my impressions, otherwise I’ll start chattering again in the UK.

09 September 2011

Of croquet and crocodiles

What a rainy day in Eumundi – bucketing down.  And yet a surprising number of people are out and about, taking cover in the shops.  It’s a public holiday here for the Noosa Show so it’s unfortunate that as an outdoor event it’s probably a wash-out.  If I had my druthers I would be at home curled up with a moggie and a good book, and in a few hours I shall do just that.  And hurrah that a book I’ve been waiting to arrive from America for months has finally got here.  I thought it was the final in George R.R. Martin’s epic Song of Ice & Fire, of which I am a huge fan, but friends recently told me they were sure there were more books to come.  Excellent, I say.  This book is almost 1000 pages long in hard cover, and I can’t wait to get into it.

Meanwhile, in keeping with our something-new-must-come-into-the-shop-every-day ethos, today I have brought in a really charming French croquet set.  We used to have a croquet lawn when we lived in Cheshire some years ago, and it’s such a fun game to play.  Any flat bit of lawn can be conscripted as a croquet lawn, but it was nice to have the real thing.  It looks like it’s so genteel, but in fact it’s a cut-throat game of move and counter-move, where the object is to win while ensuring that your enemy is well and truly dirked.  It’s no good to just win – you have to win in a manner that most effectively kills off your enemy at the same time. 

The correct response by you when you have just sent your enemy’s ball off into the bushes is a self-satisfied tight smile that could be mistaken for partially apologetic but which everyone knows is code for Ha! Take that, Cow!  And your enemy’s correct response to a fiendish move that has totally out-manoeuvred them and sent their ball off into the bushes is to smile tightly back at you and say Jolly Good Shot, which everyone knows is code for Bring it on, Bitch!  Of course, in addition to being a horrible cheat, Doug could never master the tight smiles and pseudo-polite conversation that you’re meant to exchange while playing croquet, and when he got you a good one he would either erupt into maniacal laughter like some over-the-top Austin Powers villain or, if he was trying to control his glee, he would end up doing a gaspy type of laugh which sounded exactly like Muttley, the dog from Whacky Races.  Still, it did bring a distinctly Australian edge to such a pretendy-proper British game and our English friends didn’t quite know how to take it.  Hopefully someone will get as much pleasure from this set as we had from ours.

Wes from Australia Zoo came by today and told me that there really is a crocodile at the zoo called Debra!  I’m so chuffed, because this no-doubt gorgeous animal was named after me by Steve Irwin way back in about 1991.  In those days I worked for the Minister for Immigration, and Steve wanted to talk through an issue.  Although it was nothing, he said he was going to name a lovely little Burdekin River crocodile after me in thanks.  And he did!  Wes assures me that Debra the Crocodile is actually as ugly as sin, perpetually grumpy, would rip your arm off as soon as look at you, and is an all-round nasty piece of work.  But he’s lying, of course.  There is no doubt in my mind that D the C is a star exhibit who is a beautiful girl, entirely good natured and who likes nothing better than to be petted and tickled on the belly by small children.  Wes told me that the Zoo’s new Africa Exhibit opens next week, so it will be a good time to go and look at the new critters and admire my name-sake.

07 September 2011

Meant to be getting ready for a buying trip (but actually phaffing about)

Here I am at my inaugural Blog, and I find I am the literary equivalent of tongue-tied.  And yet I have opinions on pretty well everything, so I’m sure I’ll warm up in due course and begin rabbiting on.

Right now Doug and I are supposed to be preparing for our second buying trip to England and France for the year.  Haven’t packed, haven’t turned the house into even approaching habitable for our house-sitters, haven’t looked at the pre-trip To Do List.  But what the heck, we’ve got 12 days and an awful lot can (and will have to) get done in that time.  But I’ve booked the flights, the van and most of the accommodation, and I’ve got a detailed itinerary decided upon, so the important stuff is done.

This time we’re stopping off in Abu Dhabi on the way and we haven’t been there before so we’ll see if it’s more interesting than Dubai, which is just down the road and one of the boringest cities we’ve visited in recent times.  Good if you like shopping in modern malls, but hey I’m an antiques dealer, I like exotic markets and fabulous treasures.  I want to get lost in souks and deal with dodgy looking characters who may sell me something incredible or may kidnap and sell me.  Or I want earthy and gorgeous Frenchmen to wink and flirt outrageously while they sell me something fabulously, beautifully French.  It happens.  A lot.  (Not the kidnapping bit.)

It’s been an unusually quiet day in the shop today, so I’ve taken the opportunity to start writing up my Must Find List of things I will especially look for on the next buying trip.  Of course declaring that I must find something and actually finding it are two different things when dealing with antiques, but I’m not a bad hunter.  This time I’m looking for vintage French copper cookware, French linen, Art Deco glass, good bone or bakelite-handled cutlery, enamel kitchenware, interesting small antiquities (Roman arrow heads or glass poison bottles are always nice), beautiful ceramics - and this time I’ll go for Art Deco and Victorian ceramics primarily, although I rarely say no to a nice Qing Dynasty Chinese piece.  It’s hard to get really nice wooden pieces like chopping boards or dough troughs at reasonable prices but I often sniff out something worth having, so I’ll try for some of these again.  Jewellery is absolutely a Must Have, and there is rarely a shortage of beautiful French, English and American costume pieces to select from, so as usual I’ll go nuts on the jewellery front. 

Wednesday is a Market Day in Eumundi and today our Shop Manager is Mischka, our youngest moggie and by far the most wilful.  She has been much admired and photographed, and for the most part she’s behaved herself.  She has a trick of “accidentally” falling off my desk and then takes the opportunity to stroll about, meeting and greeting various admirers and eyeing off the door.  But Not a Paw Past the Door is the primary shop rule for the furry Shop Managers.  I’m again trialling her as Market Day Manager – even though she was sacked last time she was here on a Market Day for reasons of Extreme Naughtiness – and she’s been sufficiently well behaved that I might try her again next Wednesday.  There haven’t been the large volumes of people coming through as there usually are, though, so she hasn’t had the chance to get over-excited as she often does when faced with lots of people stroking and admiring her.  Still, she turns two this month so she should be getting old enough to behave maturely and professionally when at work.  Famous last words.

There.  It’s amazing that you can actually get some words down when you just write a stream-of-consciousness missive.  Once we get over to Europe and start buying stuff I shall attempt to post photos of some of the things, and won’t that make me Ms Techno-Savvy-2011?  It will be more than I’ve done before, at any rate.