24 March 2014

My thwarted career as a media megastar

I’ve said it before and I’ll whine about it again – it’s no fun turning right when you get on a plane.  But we can spend our money on buying trips enjoying Business or First class flights, or we can spend our money buying nice stock for you lot - such are the sacrifices we make for our customers.  I expect sympathetic cooing to be coming out of your mouths right now.  

Solar powered Super Trees at Singapore Gardens, beautiful by day or night
We’re not the biggest fans of Singapore, even though the urban landscaping is beautiful and it’s an attractive city.  But it’s hideously expensive in terms of good accommodation and certainly in terms of antiques buying.  One thing it does exceedingly well is food.  We arrived late in the afternoon and found a good looking food emporium that was packed (always a good sign) and only with locals (an especially good sign).  So we ventured in, and enjoyed a rich and tasty Laksa and then some almond beancurd/lychee concoction which was delicately flavoured, delicious and refreshing.  Then it was off to that keenly-awaited decent bed before the next leg to England.

We've already found a number of lovely End-of-Day glass fish.  Each fish is unique in the world. 

A small potential drama brewed at Singapore Airport, when we caught the plane to London with only four minutes before the flight closed.  There I was, blithely enjoying a serve of very nice Siew Mai in an airport restaurant, having entirely misread the time.  Doug gently mentioned we’d better get going soon.  Yeah, yeah I said, we’ve got heaps of time.  No, actually we don’t he said.  So in my defence, it was all his fault for not dragging me to the plane by the ear when he knew perfectly well what the time was, and I was having a blonde moment.   

We always look for Art Deco ceramics and this piece is a good start to this trip's collection

We got to the security check point and ground crew started running towards us from all directions.  The last time a group dressed in black converged on us like that they all had semi-automatic pistols drawn, whereas this was just a group of gels tottering towards us in very high heels – doesn’t have the same Alarm Value.  But the gels were all quite agitated and almost bodily carried us onto the plane.

We arrived in England on the first day of Spring, and how lovely to be in such a green and pleasant land.  The skies are mostly grey and the wind has a wicked bite, but there are masses of pink and white blossoms, yellow gorse and daffodils, daffodils everywhere. 

Spring time in England - beautiful
We hit the ground shopping, and immediately carried off some teenie-weenie French copper saucepans – the smallest we’ve ever sourced.  French chefs really like tiny little vintage copper saucepans because they’re excellent for making sauces, but increasingly they are being used to serve desserts such as souffl├ęs directly from oven to table.  So they are seriously hard to find, and as they were the first purchases of the trip we saw this as a great sign for good buying to come.

A bright sun-shiny day at the Peterborough Fair.  Still needed our coats on, though.

The East of England Antiques Fair at Peterborough was the first of the Fairs we’re here to attend.  It’s not the biggest of the fairs, but with 1700 stands it’s certainly a good start.  Most of our shopping is done at the outdoor stands, which are not always cheaper but generally more interesting than the indoor stands.  This is where we find good semi-industrial items and kitchenware, and after six hours we emerged footsore but victorious.  Yay that Peterborough did not let us down!  We bought heaps of great items, including a number of the giant Jamie Oliver wooden boards that sold like hot-cakes last time we had them.  No round wooden boards yet, but there’s still time. 

We look at rubbish so you don't have to.
We also carried off a couple of French wooden well buckets, and some long narrow wooden boards that were originally used for bread, but I expect in Australia they will be used on tables with candles, shells or other decorative items.  They are 150 years old, and will look fabulous when they’re all waxed and glowing.  Various wire baskets and beautiful enamelware really loaded us down, and we had multiple trips back to the van before plunging back into the fray.

We also sourced some nice Roman era bronze rings that were excavated in the Balkans, and medieval crosses that were excavated in Russia.  This is great news for the antiquities collectors who have been hounding me to find them something decent.  For the last few trips there has been nothing to be found, but this time I hit paydirt.

Hey, interior decorators!  Stop getting all creative with galvanized crates and buckets and forcing the prices up.  I am determined to find some, but no luck so far.

I pounced on various galvanised crates, only to drop them like hot potatoes when I saw the prices.  And do you think I could find a traditional wire potato basket that was remotely affordable?  Prices have sky-rocketed, and we lamented with several dealers how hard sourcing good semi-industrial pieces is increasingly becoming.  But still, we have found a number of attractive wire baskets, of a type that hasn’t yet been discovered by interior decorators.  But they’ll get there, as soon as prices for the more traditionally shaped baskets gets too much for even them.

Glass rabbit jelly mould on its way to Australia
I’ve also noticed a marked increase in the price of clear glass jelly moulds, which was hard to explain until I saw that the latest edition of BBC Homes & Antiques (one of the trade’s bibles) is featuring a big article on how jolly good these moulds are.  Dang, I hate it when mainstream discovers something I had been quietly buying at reasonable prices.  Then I can say goodbye to anything approaching reasonable.  But I am working quickly to snaffle any good pieces I can still find at good prices, keeping ahead of the trend by the skin of my teeth.  I’ve found a few very nice examples, including a most excellent clear glass rabbit jelly mould, which is a piece I’ve been hunting for some time.

Finally, I have now been filmed in the background of Bargain Hunt 19 times.  But have I appeared on your TV screens yet?  My enemies are deliberately making sure that I am edited out, that is all we can assume. 

This time I chatted with the red team, who had just finalised their purchase of the most hideous 1960s highly coloured totem pole.  I said to the husband I’m a person who will be watching the show, talking at you through the screen and telling you not to buy that.  And he told me I’m the guy on the show, wondering why I just bought that.

The Red Team buying a hideous 1960s totem pole
I later caught up with the red team just as they were about to purchase another hideous item.  They were blocking a stand where I wanted to buy some lovely Edwardian ceramic tiles, so I had to wait until they’d finished filming.  The wife of the red team and I met each other’s eyes, and I gave a slight shake of my head, suggesting to her that it wasn’t a good purchase.  She gave me a thin-lipped smile in return, rolled her eyes and shrugged her shoulders.  What could she do?  Her husband had the bit between his teeth yet again, and he and the so-called expert were talking themselves into another disastrous purchase. 

The girls are very stressed without us
I was standing next to a production assistant while filming was underway, and asked if it was possible for Bargain Hunt to introduce a new segment, where a person (say, me) could stage an intervention when a team was about to buy something so hideous Tim Wonnacott would fall down dead from apoplexy when he saw it.  I said they could have someone (say, me) enter Stage Left, put their hand on the main offender’s arm and say I’m sorry, but no and then step out of the scene. That would be all that was needed.  I told the production assistant that thousands of viewers would appreciate this new Intervention Segment.

OMG, gasped the production assistant, that’s a great idea!  Suitably encouraged, I expanded on my role, saying I could tell the red team Come on, you’ve just lost a huge amount of money on that hideous totem pole, why exacerbate the problem?  She told me that if it was going to get down-right bitchy there was no prospect I could have the part because Tim Wonnacott would demand to do it himself.  We cacked ourselves laughing at our own brilliance in planning this new segment, to the point that filming had to stop because we were being too raucous in the background.  So she had to look suitably chastened and I took the opportunity to buy the tiles I wanted and leg it. 

We've found more glass pate pots - yay!
So you heard it here first, people.  If Bargain Hunt introduces a new Intervention Segment it was all my idea and I should have gotten the part.  I know you won’t believe this, but I can be every bit as bitchy as Tim Wonnacott.  And I won’t wear appalling bowties while I’m doing it.


  1. following your latest adventures with great interest!

  2. Thanks Veronica - it's good to know you're still out there! We did London today and are off to France tomorrow, so more to report soon.

  3. Replies
    1. Thanks, Helga! We always have fun on our buying trips, and our new shipment should be here in a few weeks and it will be like Christmas doing the unpacking.