10 October 2011

Buying up Big in England, and Oh La La in France

Boy are we having fun!  On Thursday we headed off to the biggest antiques Fair in the world, held in the north-east of England, and even though it’s the biggest it’s not always the best so you can never be sure what you’ll find. 

The forecast was rain and extremely high winds, and the high winds certainly made their presence felt – very strong gusts sent things everywhere flying and dealers diving to save their stock.  There was lots of damage.  But one dealer told me that after we had left the other big Fair on Tuesday huge winds developed and in one gust a 100 foot long marquee was ripped up and flew off, scattering thousands of pounds of stock and causing general mayhem.  Fortunately no-one was hurt, but lots of damage.

No such drama at Thursday’s Fair, but mini-disasters were happening all over the place.  We had one period of heavy rain for about 15 minutes, so we took that opportunity to dash into a pavilion to visit one of the jewellery sellers we see most trips, and yes I bought up big.  Over the course of the day I bought masses of jewellery, so we shall be well and truly stocked until the next trip.  And that’s before we got to Paris on Saturday (spoiler alert:  Paris buying was fantastic!), so we’re well set for jewellery I’m thinking.

And yet more scales.  Last trip we saw nothing affordable that was worth buying, and this trip we have so many we’re going to have to re-name the shop Scales R Us.  Actually, they are all excellent scales, and some really quite beautiful and rare, so the shop shall be called Really Cool Scales R Us.  I really should have photographed some before we dropped them with the packers, but as usual I forgot.  Oh well, they’ll all arrive soon enough and then they can be viewed in person.

We also have quite a few very high quality glass pieces, and I’m now feeling very happy and relaxed about the glass.  I bought so much glass at one point I started to get concerned about the shop having little but scales and glass on display but then I thought bugger it, fabulous glass always sells well so I should just go for it.  So I did.  And now I have an awful lot of glass and there isn’t a single piece I don’t think warrants front window status, so that’s pretty good going.  Already I’m planning what flowers will go into what vases and how they will be displayed, and it’s going to be fun styling the shop when it all arrives.

And despite all this good buying, which was indeed very good, this is the Fair where we tend to find the more esoteric things.  So now we have another good croquet set (because the set I had in the window has now sold and they’re actually hard to come by so as soon as I found another good quality one I snapped it up).  Plus we have a really cool iron street lamp that we might keep if we can think of somewhere to put it around the house-to-be, but if we decide to offer it for sale it shall go straight to the front window and should attract a lot of attention.  We now also have a particularly battered and weathered Master Not in Command copper ship’s lamp, that is probably the oldest one we’ve had so far, the smallest and certainly the most lived-in.  It’s certainly seen some high seas, there’s no doubt about that. 

Something really unusual was a pair of quite old Foo Dog roof cap tiles.  The provenance is that they were removed from a temple roof in 1972, right in the middle of the Cultural Revolution.  Religious items were often removed and hidden so they weren’t destroyed, often at considerable risk to the people hiding them.  I used to be able to get these tiles from time to time years ago from a supplier who went into China all the time, but I haven’t managed to get any for at least five years so these were good finds.  Poor Doug had so many trips back to the van over the course of the day, but he is such a wriggle bum and it’s good that I can harness his powers of wriggle for good rather than evil.

Then on Friday it was off to Dover to catch a ferry to France.  An uneventful crossing, as usual, and then we hit the road for Paris.  Doug wasn’t impressed at having to negotiate the Paris Périphérique (the ring road around Paris) during peak hour, when the traffic was manic, but he did really well.  And the traffic was manic but also strangely courteous.  With so many vehicles on the road going in all sorts of directions I guess there is no choice but for everyone to be polite or else or it would all just grind to a halt. 

And talking of grinding to a halt, at one point the car in front of us stopped and the guy driving jumped out.  Right in the middle of peak hour on one of the busiest roads in Paris, he dashed over to the side of the road (a 6 lane road, I might add) so he could have a pee.  In his defence, he clearly had been hanging on for a long time – it was a very long pee, right in front of a significant audience waiting in their cars for him to finish and get back into his car so we could all proceed.  Welcome to Paris!

In addition to such edifying sights we also noticed that there was one spot between two of the lanes on the Périphérique where all of the hundreds of motorbikes travelled, and also all the Police cars.  Police sirens in France have such a distinctive sound (re-watch the Bourne Identity if you forget) and they are all dinky little cars that can fit into that little gap between lanes of traffic on busy Parisian roads.  We also saw motorbike taxis, which we had never seen before, and they would certainly get you where you want to be a whole lot faster than a car but with all their ducking and weaving between cars you would be taking your life in your hands.

Our hotel was incredibly convenient for us to visit the markets next morning, so we didn’t have to leap out of bed at some ungodly hour.  And ah, a comfortable mattress at last.  The French do such good mattresses – so much better than the English.  But they also do the world’s suckiest pillows.  A prize to the first hotel in all of France to offer decent pillows.  Thank goodness I know enough to always bring my own pillow, otherwise I’d have difficulty sleeping.  Anyway, I digress.  After dinner in a nearby bistro we settled in for the evening and it took five entire minutes before we saw a bare bosom on the telly, which is unheard of.  On every other trip, no matter what TV station we have turned on, we have been guaranteed to see bare bosoms within a minute or two.  What has happened?  Are the French going all staid and inhibited on us?  Of course that’s not counting men prepared to flash their willies on major Parisian thoroughfares.

We didn’t get to Paris in time for me to see The Bold & The Beautiful in French, which was a pity, but maybe I’ll see it next week.  Oooh, Ridge sounds so much more sexy in French than American.  I remember years ago watching the show in a bar in Portugal, with a bunch of old Portuguese men.  It was just me and the Portuguese bar flies, but I couldn’t understand a single thing that was being said (by either Ridge or the Portuguese codgers).  At least in French I have some hope of keeping up with who’s sleeping with whom. 

This has turned into a long missive, so I shall stop here and talk about the rest of our French merchant adventuring a bit later.

No comments:

Post a Comment