07 April 2016

Smiting your enemies is always fun

Lincoln Castle

372 years ago Edward Montagu, the Earl of Manchester, arrived in Lincoln and gathered his army on Canwick Hill.  From there he sallied forth to besiege Lincoln Castle, and it was all over red rover within half an hour.  He took the castle, smote his enemies and jumped up and down on the ruins.

Fast forward to 2016.   

Dougie and I arrived in Lincoln and booked into our hotel on Canwick Hill.  From there we sallied forth to besiege the Lincolnshire Antiques & Home Show, the second largest antiques fair in Europe. 

The pitiful amount I left behind.
Within half an hour I had spent over £1000 and smote all my enemies rivals who also wanted lots of fabulous European enamelware.  Take that, you laggards!  You’ve got to get up early to beat me to the best enamelware.

Oh yes, I’m feeling triumphant.

As soon as the gates opened I marched briskly to see Zoltan (the Magnificent), who always offers the best selection of enamelware, and always ends up giving me a secret discount.  It’s only a few pounds off per item, but when you’re buying over 50 pieces it adds up to a mighty fine discount.  And a great deal for me = a great deal for you.

But despite my bolt for Zoltan’s stand, there were still a couple of dealers there ahead of me, already buying.  Damn you, faster dealers!

I had to take Zoltan aside so we could conduct our secret negotiations.  He doesn’t usually give a discount and doesn’t like anyone else to know he gives me one.  But meanwhile, those other dealers were already making their selections.

French window shutters coming home
So I did a quick scan of the scene.  All of that, I said to Doug, pointing to a very large group of beautifully coloured enamelled storage vats, bowls, ewers, buckets, etc.  So Doug got to work gathering it into an enormous stack over which he stood guard, while I strode off to deal with Zoltan.  Thirty seconds of fierce whispering later, I had cajoled, harassed and nagged poor Zoltan into compliance.  I’m a well-practiced nagger, so I’ve been rudely informed.  Meanwhile, Doug had amassed an impressive pile of enamelware.  Teamwork!

But it turned out I had little to worry about from the other early-bird dealers.  Rank amateurs.  Slow as a wet week.  They bought, what – 10 pieces between them?  Ha!  I bought 50, baby!  Just in that first selection.

But there was more than one pile of enamelware to rifle through, so while Doug guarded our trove I made more selections.  Pretty soon our pile of All The Best Stuff was looking dang impressive, and was attracting the buyers who were slow to arrive.  By slow to arrive, I mean they were 15 minutes behind us.

Nice things coming home with me
Ear, ‘av you bought all that? one woman said to me.  Yep, I said.  Wot? But you’ve tooken all the best stuff, she said.  Yep, I said.

What can I say?  I’m here to shop.  I’ve come a long way to get what I want, and I’m jolly well going to get it.  These pieces were a nice addition to the fabulous shopping we did in the Porte de Vanves market in Paris.

I haven’t had a chance to talk about Paris other than the play day activities, but let me tell you now it was fantastic.  It started off slowly, because for once not many of the sellers had done much early unpacking.  But after a few cigarettes, strong coffees, arm-waving arguments, cigarettes, double-cheek kissing to resolve the arguments, and cigarettes, they got their acts together and presented some beautiful things.  And I bought them all.  At any rate, I bought lots. 

Lovely cloisonne, coming home
Doug and I staggered back to our van loaded with the most beautiful enamelware utensils we’ve ever had, lovely antique copper pots and pans, enormous wooden cheese and chopping boards, really pretty glass, striking cloisonné, more wire baskets, nicely shaped galvanized tubs, wine bottle carriers, ginormous carboys (giant, huge, bulbous green wine bottles), and so much more.

All in all, the buying in Paris was a triumph.  But not as triumphant as the buying in Lincoln.  There’s always a lot more competition at the big antiques fairs in England than there is in Paris, because many buyers attend only those fairs to stock up.  Doug and I skip everywhere, buying nice things wherever we alight.  But for a serious quantity of good stock, we need to put on our game faces for the Lincoln and Newark fairs.

Lovely Art Nouveau, but too expensive.
I’ve done so well shopping the freight forwarding company tells us we should take a container this time.  We haven’t done that for years, but once you reach a certain amount of cubic meterage it’s cheaper to take your own container.

So the gloves are off and some really serious shopping is about to begin. There’s an awful lot I can fit into a 20’ container.  Running out of money is now the issue, but somehow I’ll make it work.   

The biggest antiques fair in Europe starts in Newark tomorrow. Today we headed up to Derbyshire and Yorkshire to some good centres, and came away with some interesting bits and bobs. But tomorrow is my last chance for some big-time shopping. We'll see what happens.

French enameled lunch boxes all coming home + more
More from the Ever-Victorious Besieging Army of Two soon.

PS.  Don’t you love the word ‘tooken’? I’ve only ever heard it in England, but I might have to start using it.


  1. Love reading your blog posts, always wanted to do this but somehow don't see myself knowledgeable enough. Let us know when you are back in QLD, can I come and shop first?

    1. Linda, you need my book! It's called Travel & Shop The World For Free. I wrote it for people who want to do what I do, or even just dream about doing it. It's being published soon - I'll announce it here. Meanwhile, we're back in Australia on 15 April and I hope to attend the Peregian Beach Market on Sunday 17 April, where we'll offer the first of our new shipment - the things we're bringing home in our luggage. The rest won't arrive until June, because it's coming by ship.