26 January 2012

Australia Days I Have Known (and Other Reminiscences)

Happy Australia Day!  And in celebration we’ve gone all Green and Gold in the shop’s window.  Not my favourite colour combination, I must say, but they’re the official colours so there you go.  Fortunately I still have sufficient green and amber glass to make a good display, plus some green and yellow French enamelware, a nice large French bottle carrier, ceramics, tins, good jewellery, etc – a good cross-section of items in the right colours.

It was also our wedding anniversary this week, and on this day 24 years ago we were zipping about Sydney Harbour – along with every other yacht on the planet – because it was the Australian Bicentennial celebrations in 1988 as well as our wedding.  We told people that getting married was our Bicentennial Project (whatever that meant) and people believed us without asking for details, which was just as well because we made it up.  Our honeymoon was my first ever visit to the UK, and while there we went to Whitby and bought an antique ceramic gravy boat which we told people was Captain Cook’s personal gravy boat – seeing how he came from Whitby our theory was that it must have been his – and people believed that too.  Aren't people fun?

Boy have times changed since my first foray into buying antiques.  Back then I had zero experience but a lot of opinions.  I reliably informed Doug that there was no point in looking in antiques shops in the UK because with a gazillion people living there, all the good things would have been long since bought.  So I refused to look in antiques shops all the way from Lands End in Cornwall (as south as you can get) to Tongue in Scotland (as north as you can get).  Finally, though, we were driving through some back-of-beyond village in Scotland and Doug pointed out yet another antiques shop so I said Stop the car!  Stop the car, get out of the car, and come with me while I prove what I say is true.  So off we went into this higgledy-piggledy shop, with stuff piled haphazardly everywhere over several storeys, and boy was I wrong!  It was fantastic!  We bought heaps of stuff, which was a problem because we only had small bags on that trip and no idea about how to properly ship things other than via the post, which even then was hideously expensive for big things.  Ever since then we have tried desperately to remember the name of that little Scottish village, but to no avail.  I think it might have been Brigadoon, because after our visit it appeared to disappear off all maps.

But while I’m being all confessional about making classic know-nothing-beginner mistakes, here’s another confession – I walked straight past the jewellery cabinets in that fabulous little Scottish shop, without a second glance.  How dumb was that???   The prices in that shop were so amazingly good I would surely have picked up some lovely pieces that were affordable, but hey I was still a beginner back then.  Plus I was too distracted by my hunt to dig out various bits of the same set of beautiful blue and white Scottish china that was scattered throughout the shop in all sorts of hidden corners, and you know we still have that china today and use it almost every day. 

I do enjoy having a good dig around such messy, everything-precariously-balanced shops, but I’m afraid I just can’t bring myself to have the same set up in my own shop.  I don’t like our shelves to be over-stocked, and I like things to be nicely displayed.  Although from time to time I do let the very bottom shelves get messy and haphazard so people have to get on their hands and knees and have a bit of a dig around, and they seem to enjoy that.  But that’s my only concession to messy – in the shop, at least.  Home is mayhem.

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