16 February 2012

Getting Stuff Done

So that was Valentine’s Day, and wasn’t it nice?  Aw, shucks, it was downright sweet at my house.  Douglas secretly booked us into a nearby little French restaurant that had a visiting 2 Star Michelin Chef, and boy it was a fabulous meal.  We’ve eaten plenty of meals in Paris and broader France, and this was better than many we’ve had there.  And then we found out that the chef is going to be a permanent fixture from March, so hurrah! we’ll be able to have very decent French food fixes between our trips.  My only complaint was that the chairs were metal and looked all suitably Frenchified, but it was a case of form over function because dang they were uncomfortable.  Even with a nice little cushion for your bottom, they were still uncomfortable. 

Francoise, the charming restaurant proprietor, wants us to get her some tiny vintage copper saucepans for a particular dessert she wants to offer, but all I can do is promise to look.  She will only use vintage copper, as will all decent chefs, but getting her ten itsy-bitsy vintage saucepans is much easier promised than delivered.  Chefs in France also favour vintage copper, so getting hold of good pieces can be quite a competitive exercise.  But we’ll see what we can find, and we’re going to both the major Paris markets this trip so if they are there to be found I will find them.

From last week’s window we sold that nice Parisian metal cafĂ© table, plus the image of the mostly naked girl on a red heart was snapped up (as predicted), plus some other Erte images as well.   Elsewhere in the shop it was mostly jewellery, glass and other French pictures.  I’m about to run out of the spare jewellery – items I haven’t put out yet -  which means from quite soon gaps will start to appear in the jewellery cabinets until I get back in late April and replenish supplies.

This week in the window we put out a very fabulous French pastry table which has the semi-industrial look that I favour, and the top is such a thick slab of beech that I can barely move it even with Doug doing most of the lugging.  Sweet Doug morphed into Pain in the Arse Doug when it came to getting it properly restored and into the shop on schedule, though, because apparently everything can only be done at the very last minute and that drives me nuts.  Is it a just a boy thing that there has to be lots of asking (by me) and lots of complaining (by him) before things get done?  Or am I just the lucky one?  He came to pick me up from the shop at closing time and I told him that it’s already sold and now I need another piece for the window pronto, and he appeared to take it quite calmly.  But oh no, let the drama begin again because what I have in mind for the next window is currently smack bang in the middle of our shambolic storage garage and will take a bit of retrieving and then some serious elbow-grease to get it properly waxed, so he’s not going to be a happy vegemite.  Oh well, it had to come out at some time, so it can be sooner than later. 

Meanwhile, the pastry table can stay in place until at least Sunday, so for a while the window will look all patisserie / kitcheny.  I put a Sell It Now price on it and it was immediately admired by a number of people so I knew it wouldn’t last for long.  We can’t offer better than gobsmacking bargains for really lovely and unusual pieces, and so far that’s been a formula that’s worked for us.  It does make shopping a challenge, because the pressure is on during every trip to find other lovely and unusual pieces at seriously good prices, but that’s the bit we enjoy the most.

On the trip planning front, I’ve now done all the accommodation bookings for England, all that I’m going to do in France (because we tend to mostly wing it outside of Paris because we’re not sure exactly where we’re going to be), Singapore there and back, and the first stay in Istanbul.  If we like the Istanbul hotel on the way out we’ll stay there again on the way home, but if not we’ll find somewhere else once we’ve had a look around.  Now I have to consider where to stay in Brussels and Amsterdam and book a couple of ferry crossings for the English Channel, and then we’re done.  This approach requires a whole lot more organisation than we used to do, when we’d just turn up on the other side of the planet and take it from there, and while that’s of course still possible and in many ways it’s more fun to be more spontaneous, booking in advance is a whole lot cheaper.  And for a business trip we really should be budget conscious so we can spend more on stock, so we’re more fuddy-duddy than free-wheeling these days.  Mind you, if you know that you have to be at certain locations on certain dates (for Fairs or auctions) then you may as well be organised and get the cheaper accommodation. 

We’ve got a fair bit of play time available on this trip, so it should be fun.  We want to visit at least the Grand Bazaar and the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, and the Topkapi Palace if we have time (though that will probably be on the return trip).  We have zero interest in the Singapore Markets – once you done them once, let alone several times, then you’ve done them enough. But we haven’t been to Singapore Zoo for many years so that might be the go.  In Paris we have a bit of down time, and it’s been so long since we visited the Louvre that it didn’t have that glass pyramid out the front back then.  OMG that’s a long time ago. 

It’s funny how the memory works, because from the entire Louvre museum the only items I recall are some very beautiful highly polished red granite sphinx that you were allowed to touch, and a fabulous marble statue of a discus thrower right next to the Venus de Milo, and the discus thrower was so much better (to my not-very-educated-in-art eye) and that was by someone no-one had ever heard of.  And apart from the Mona Lisa, the only other painting I recall was some Renaissance picture featuring two women with frocks that entirely showed their bare bosoms (as was the fashion for a little while back then).  Both women are looking directly at the viewer and it would be an ordinary looking image except for the fact that one woman is very firmly pinching the other on a nipple.  What’s that about?   And who painted it?  I’ll just have to go and have another look for myself.  And what does it say about me that this is one of two paintings from the whole museum that I have any memory of?  That was rhetorical, by-the-way, so keep your opinions to yourself about that bit.  It’s not as if it was even an erotic image – it was more a Oh-My-Goodness-Look-At-That image.  But hey, it’s in the Louvre so it must be Art.

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