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.

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