29 May 2014

Zombie Cats Rule

It's hard to photograph anything at
our place without a trusty Photographer's
Assistant helping out. 
This is a moveable chopping block on a
slatted rack & with castors on two legs.
$135.  It has been excavated from the
depths of our shed & will be offered for
the first time at Collectorama on Saturday.
Here is a heads-up about Collectorama, the biggest antiques fair in south-east Queensland.  It is being held this coming Saturday 31 May at the Nambour Fairground.  It will be great, as usual, and we hope to see you there.  We have unearthed a few more never-before-seen treasures from our shed – even we are amazed at what we are finding in the depths of the shed.

Meanwhile, it was back to the Caloundra Street Fair for us last Sunday.  Yet more new things came out, and they are being well received.  This Fair is working out very well for us, and we have a good time each time we attend.

Still, I can’t talk about the Caloundra Street Fair and not mention buskers.  Don’t moan, I’ll be brief.

You may very well think that I can’t be pleased by buskers.  But you’d be wrong.  I just want them to be remotely melodious.

On our last two occasions at the Street Fair, Banjo Busker (my musical nemesis) has been nowhere to be seen.  His place has been usurped by a cute little Australian version of the Von Trapp Family Singers.  Only without Julie Andrews.  Or any harmony.

Nice glass and ceramics at the Caloundra Fair.
Yes, yes, now I’m being mean to children.  But really, isn’t keeping in tune with each other a kind of prerequisite for singing groups?  And what is it with bad buskers only knowing six songs? 

This little group does get points for only singing their six songs three times each, then going home.  So they only invade our ear-space for a short while, whereas most buskers at the Street Fair wail on, and on.  And on.

You can imagine our dismay, then, when we discovered that Peregian Beach Market had decided to host buskers as well.  Even worse, when we saw that the Busker du Jour was setting up exactly opposite us.  I was already planning my blog rant in my head.

These blue pots have a wonderful, thick blue
glaze that looks almost Ruskin-esque.  They are
actually floor polish bottles, salvaged from 
landfill near London.  Florists love them
because they look striking with small posies.
But hey, this guy was great.  He’s from Argentina and had a great selection of toe-tapping, hip-swaying Latin numbers.  You know a busker is doing well when people shimmy their bosoms to the beat as they pass by.  So Doug enjoyed it as well.

But oh no!  The best busker I have ever heard in a Market, and the only one I would happily have as a neighbor, has gone back to South America.  Of all the buskers I have ever wished away, the good one was the only one who left.

So now we await Peregian’s next selection this coming Sunday (1 June).  At least the management there seems to actually audition the buskers – a fine approach.

Good quality pieces always sell well.
Lucky we have 600kg more on the way.

Meanwhile, we’ve had total drama with Calypso in the past few weeks.  Facebook Friends have heard the blow-by-blow account of what happened – if you’re a Facebook user do you want to be Friends?  Aw, that would be nice.  You can find my personal page at Debra Palmen, or our business page at Continuum Antiques.

Anyway, suffice to say here that while sedated to give blood for yet another test, Calypso had a heart attack and died.  But!  She was resuscitated by the vet who moved incredibly fast to intubate her and give her mouth-to-mouth through the tube.  It took a little while, but eventually she regained a pulse and came back to life.

Our little Zombie Cat Calypso is already looking much better.
So now we live with a lovely little Zombie Cat – she was dead but now lives and walks among us.  And let’s not forget that through it all she’s most definitely still a Ratbag Cat. 

Now I can review what happened a little more dispassionately than when I was standing there watching her be dead but brought back to life.  It’s interesting to note just how rough medical personnel are when your heart has stopped and they’re working to get it going again.  Really, really rough.  But if she’s a little bruised, at least she’s alive.

Our non-Zombie boys.  Caleb turns 2 today.
And now we have a diagnosis for her, which is hypothyroidism (an under-active thyroid), which is incredibly rare in cats.  It’s so rare she appears to be the youngest ever recorded moggie with this condition. 

The good news is that it can be readily treated through medication.  The bad news is the idea of having to give her two pills a day, every day, for the next 20 years because she’s a real devil to give pills to. 

So I had to get creative.  And sneaky.

Fortunately, my skills as a Sneak are world class.  Beyond compare.  Unparalleled.  Sneak Masters around the world try to emulate my Utter Sneakabilty and fall down, exhausted and confounded at just how sneaky I am.  Any day now I shall be appointed Professor of Sneakiness at the Sneaksville Institute of Sneakism. 

So, as a result of my ability to outwit a cat, Calypso’s now had a week of medication and hasn’t suspected a thing.  Hypothyroidism would have eventually killed her, but we can already see an improvement and at last she seems to be on her way back to good health.
Even though she's the walking dead, Calypso isn't yet a Creature of the Night - she enjoys sitting on the couch next to me, snoozing in the sunshine too much.

In Breaking News, our new stock has now arrived in Australia and appears to have already received Customs clearance.  That’s record time, and after dealing with Customs and Quarantine for so long I’m naturally suspicious when everything seems to go without a hitch. 

But we are yet to deal with Quarantine – who are always the ones to give us the most grief - so I’m practicing my best left eyebrow raising technique in preparation for the coming battle with them.

As soon as we have our mitts on our new stock, it will be announced here straight away.  We’re close!  Can’t wait.

16 May 2014

Lunatic Decisions by TV Producers

Some of our glass glittering in the sun at the
Peregian Beach Market.  Look at that
blue, blue sky behind.
It’s official – we are now in Australia in real life and in the blogosphere.  So we’re back to talking in real time.

On return to Australia I discovered that the Producers of the TV show Aussie Pickers had been trying to contact me. 
As you might expect, it’s the Australian version of the original show, American Pickers.  In both shows a couple of guys tour the country, finding old things to buy in peoples’ sheds and garages, deceased estates and closed down shops.

These pieces are ready sold, but great enamelware
just like this will be arriving in our shipment soon.
At last, I thought, the shining truth of my media megastardomness has been recognized.  Finally, there are Producers with the immense good sense to make me rich and famous.  Mostly rich.

But no, I am rejected again. 

The producers weren’t interested in me and Doug at all, but our shed.  It’s true that our shed is full of great things.  Many of them have been there for some years and can take a bit of finding.  It’s exactly the type of treasure trove that a show like Aussie Pickers would love.

But they faced two problems: 

  • firstly, no-one gets to pick our stuff except us.  If someone is going to find a great thing at a bargain price in our shed, it’s going to be us.  That means if someone is going to be offered a great thing at a bargain price, it’s going to be you.
  • secondly, we share our shed with a variety of snakes, including a rather large and not always friendly python.  Mind you, having a presenter stick his excited little face in a box and emerge with a cranky python attached might make for interesting viewing. 

For everyone who has expressed an interest, this
is what a commercial metal meat press looks
like.  It is terrific for making terrines.  One 
arriving in Australia soon is long and rectangular
(like this one) and the other is square.
I told the Producers if they’d like to do a French version of the show, An Aussie Picking in France, I could take them to some amazing barns and sheds I know. 
But apparently their budget doesn’t extend to special French editions of the show.  And they have a couple of boofy blokes who front Aussie Pickers and they’re not keen on gender balance. 

I’ve now looked at the show on the internet, and claim a shopping ability every bit as good as these dudes – heck, somewhat better because I don’t buy junk.  And because I’m a gel.  Sorry chaps, but it has to be said – for the most part, gels are more experienced and vastly superior shoppers.

This is what the finished product looks like, in
this case accompanied by drunken figs.
French terrines - delicious!
The plate is one of our own, but we also have
beautiful plates arriving in the next shipment.
But now you’ll just have to take my word on that because of some lunatic TV Producer who only likes men.  And I mean that in the gruffest, blokey-est possible way, of course.

But no you won’t – you can visit our stand at the Peregian Beach Market or the Caloundra Street Fair and see for yourself.

So now I have been rejected by TV shows around the world, and shall remain unrich, unfamous and unloved by the masses.  Or, more likely, unheckled by the masses.  So maybe the cosmos actually has my back.

Anyway, thanks to Aussie Pickers, we decided to ransack the shed ourselves – taking the most readily accessible pieces first.  While we’re waiting for our new shipment to arrive we have run perilously low on stock, so an infusion of never-before-shown pieces will be just the ticket.

We have four of these Crown Devon
trios (cup, saucer, plate sets)
available.  Very Art Deco in design,
and only $24 each - that's a
gobsmacking bargain.

We started showing - and selling – the newly picked stock at the Caloundra Street Fair last Sunday.  But we have plenty more that I need to catalogue this week for its first-time presentation at the Peregian Beach Market this coming Sunday, 18 May.

Some bad news is that our part of the Peregian Beach Market has been closed, by order of the Council.  What a pity – we really liked our site, directly behind the beach. 

So we’re being moved to elsewhere in the Market, but won’t know where until we get there on Sunday.  If you’re planning on visiting us don’t worry, it’s not a big Market so you’ll find us soon enough. 

We’ll have our visitors’ chairs at the ready, you bring the TV crew.

10 May 2014

Right Royal Fun in London

Especially for Ann, who is now the proud owner of our lovely little English fox, here is a photo of the fox and Caleb.  Caleb loved tackling that little fox, but now has to make do with his other toys.

This is the last post where I’m pretending to still be overseas.  But I can issue a Spoiler now that we’re really home and tell you that it was a very successful trip, with over 600kg of goodies on their way to Australia as I type.  Yep, I bought over 600kg of stuff – no furniture, all smalls – in three weeks.  Now that’s shopping.
Enamelware just like this
is on it's way.
And we’ll be taking our usual stand at the Caloundra Street Fair on Sunday, 11 May.  Come by and visit, if you can. 

We’ve dug new things out from the depths of our garage that we will start presenting from Sunday at Caloundra.  This is directly related to a phone call I had from the Producers of the TV show Aussie Pickers.  But more on that next post.
Meanwhile, in the final catch-up post of this trip, we find ourselves in London on a beautiful Spring day ….

With the last of our boxes delivered to the shippers, we headed down to London for a play day.  The pollution and Saharan sand storm had blown away over the Atlantic, and the day promised to be warm and sunny.  So we set off for our long anticipated visit to Hampton Court Palace.
Costumed actors roam the Palace, re-enacting
the little (and big) scandals and gossip of
the Court.
The Palace was built 500 years ago and its most famous occupant was Henry VIII.  It’s actually two Palaces in one – the original Tudor building and the baroque “extensions” done by King William and Queen Mary in the early 1700s.
Our time was limited, though, so we visited the Tudor part of the complex this time.  And not even the entire Tudor part, because this place is much bigger than you think and there’s plenty to catch your attention and have you linger.
One of the cooks in the Palace
kitchens.  Look at that giant
wooden board he's using.
We spent an especially long time in the kitchens, which served two sittings for 600 people twice a day, every day.  As long as you liked to eat a whole lot of red meat the food was good, with a surprising amount of interesting, exotic spices in Tudor recipes. 
These days there are re-enactment cooks in the Palace kitchens making all manner of things, and I got a good tip from one on where to buy reasonably priced saffron.
The tapestries in the Great Hall are the actual enormous tapestries commissioned by Henry 500 years ago to dead impress visitors to the Court.  They are very fine and still highly coloured, and they certainly dead impressed these visitors.
More giant wooden boards and nice stoneware
in the Royal kitchens.

One of the least imposing rooms but perhaps the most reflective of Henry VIII’s callousness in his later years, is a hall called the Processional Route.  This was the hall that led from Henry’s private apartments to the Palace’s chapel. 
One of the enormous 500 year old
tapestries in the Great Hall.
It is down the Processional Route that Catherine Howard, the fifth wife, is said to have fled screaming from her guards in a desperate bid to reach Henry to deny rumours of her infidelity.  These rumours were apparently unfounded – it appears she was just a pretty, young girl who was the centre of attention and liked to flirt.  Clearly she was out of her depth in machinations of the Tudor Court.

But after hearing the rumours and ordering her execution, Henry refused to meet with Catherine ever again.  So much for the King’s Justice and hearing two sides to every story. 
The Processional Route, the most
haunted place at Hampton Court Palace.
Despite her efforts to see Henry, the guards caught Catherine in the Processional Route and dragged her back to her apartments – and ultimately to her death.  What a charmer our Henry was.
The Processional Route is said to be haunted by poor Catherine.  To this day she still runs down it, screaming and weeping - if you’re psychic enough to sense her, that is, which apparently I am not. 

Interestingly, this is the one spot in the entire Palace where vast numbers of people faint, or report feeling suddenly unwell.  Again, nothing from psychically-challenged me and Doug.

Lots of nice things in the Palace's gift shop, but mostly very expensive.  We did indulge in a couple of the large hour glasses, which you can just see on the left of the bottom shelf.
I can’t help but wonder how many visitors feel faint in this spot after hearing the tale of Catherine’s presence and told this is where “sensitive” people become affected by her continuing distress.  The power of suggestion.  Or maybe I’m just oblivious to the Other Side. 

I also can’t be hypnotized, in case you were planning it.

What did get a reaction from us was the King’s Very Own Chocolate Kitchen, devoted entirely to making nice cups of hot chocolate for the King and his favourites.  It was the one room of the William and Mary part of the Palace that we had time to visit, although there is no doubt we will visit again to see the rest, perhaps in October.

There are a number of lovely gardens in the
Palace's grounds.


We had time for a quick perambulation around the gardens, which were full of springtime colour and very beautiful.  I do like a nice parterre garden, although they require a huge amount of work to keep them looking neat and geometric.  No problem if you have a host of gardeners on your staff.  I will start recruiting soon.

Not all the gardens are strictly groomed, and
there are plenty of beautiful, wild areas.
We also looked in briefly on The Great Vine, planted in 1768 and now the largest grape vine in the world.  We didn’t visit the Palace’s famous maze this time, though.  It’s not for nothing I call Doug Wrong-Way Palmen and we did have a plane to catch the next day.

So then off to Singapore, on an interminably long flight that was absolutely packed.  I really prefer to stay on planes for no longer than about 7 hours at a time, but having only one stop-over between Australia and the UK means you’re destined to have a 14 hour leg at some point.  The suckiest part of every trip is the time on the plane.  Bring on teleportation, brilliant scientists.

A Heraldic window in the Watching
Room at Hampton Court Palace.
It was literally where courtiers
would stand around watching and
waiting - sometimes for hours, sometimes
for days - for the King to appear
from his apartments.
I have nothing to report about Singapore this time.  We stayed in an okay hotel with a giant room and a giant bed – unusual for Singapore – but slept most of the time.  I would like to try a night safari at the zoo one time, but it needs to be when I’m not horribly jetlagged.  So maybe next time we’re travelling through Singapore.

So that was this buying trip brought to a close.  We had a jolly good time and bought masses of great things that I can’t wait to start presenting.  Pretty soon the battle with Customs and Quarantine will commence, so we shall gird our loins for that.