21 April 2014

Have you tried picking strawberries from a ladder?

Look at that concrete sky.  The small Fair is a
pretty casual affair, set out in rows on the field of
a local rugby club.  But it yields good results.
The small Antiques Fair squeezed between the two major Fairs of the week was even smaller than advertised. And it started early – real early, so yet again I was obliged to climb out of a snug bed and into extreme cold.

But added to the cold, because really, really cold wasn’t enough, there were very high air pollution levels and a sand storm that had blown in from the Sahara. Yes, northern England being impacted by an African desert sand storm – who would have thunk? And it was really thick sand which, when mingled with fog and pollution, meant we were breathing in concrete. Lovely. 

After that great carousel in Dieppe I would
have loved to bring this fair ground horse
home.  But it was too expensive and is more
of a shop than a market piece.
There were constant warnings on TV that old people, young people, sickly people and people who might become sickly if they breathed in concrete, should stay inside for a few days. Basically, they were telling the entire population of England to stay inside. It will be good to get back to the fresh air of the mountain stronghold.

Meanwhile, the small Fair was surprisingly good and we walked away with a nice selection of vintage French wire egg baskets in interesting shapes.  We also found a couple of cool Danish bread slicers that work perfectly well as bread slicers but interiors magazines tend to feature them as recipe book holders.  There was more fabulous vintage French enamelware waiting for us, and a couple of really nice French wire flower baskets. It’s amazing how such utilitarian objects can look so good, which is why everyone is hopping on the semi-industrial bandwagon, I suppose. 

This was not the most glamorous
French woman I've ever met, but
she had great vintage wire egg
baskets.  I also carried off those
wire flower baskets on the ground
in front of her.
We also picked up a thickly-plaited rope barge fender, which was used on the canals in France to protect the sides of barges when they were docking. I know it might sound sacrilegious because it’s a lovely semi-industrial piece, but I can’t resist the idea of it being a gift for the moggies. It will be the best ever scratching toy, and Mischka in particular will go nuts over it and derive a great deal of pleasure from it. She destroys her regular scratching pole on a frequent basis because she scratches like a fiend, but this barge fender should slow her down for a while. Hopefully.

Then came more packing. This week we need to be conscientious because there is little time to get a whole lot of things done, so it’s been shop-pack, shop-pack. This equates to fun-yawn, fun-yawn. We save a motza by not incurring the considerable expense of having someone else do the packing, and that helps keep our prices low. But low prices comes at the cost of Extreme Boredom, people, so I hope you appreciate it.

These are supposed to be lion heads.  Might be
Chinese or Indonesian, I guess.  Not my
thing, so they stayed behind.
We have noted with interest at the various Fairs the number of Japanese dealers buying large agricultural items. Who are they selling this stuff to? Japanese interiors obviously look very different to what I had been imagining.

We met a man who told us a story about a friend of his, a major antiques dealer in Norfolk, who buys extra-long wooden fruit picking ladders which he cuts down and sells to Japanese dealers. Four-run ladders he sells as raspberry picking ladders, two-runs as strawberry picking ladders and one-run as skirting board ladders. Come again? 
What unusual things we sometimes find.  The
wooden hands are moulds for making rubber
gloves, back in the day when these things were
individually hand-made.  On the wall is
a rubber balloon making mould.  All are
Our Place things - there's got to be some
reward for all this hard work in the cold.
Apparently he can’t keep up with demand, which makes you wonder if the Japanese dealers he’s selling to are in on the con, or if they really don’t know how big a strawberry plant is. Can you imagine tottering on a two-run ladder to pick your ground-grown strawberries? I might pay to see that. And what the heck is a skirting board ladder?

So anyway shopping done, we skedaddled back to the hotel to get out of the concrete air and get more packing done. The last Fair of the trip, the biggest in the world, is coming up. But we are sitting pretty, having already bought a huge amount of really interesting stock. I can’t wait to get it home and start presenting it.

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