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Monday 30 January 2012

Lincoln Antiques and Home Show

I used to  be a regular at Lincoln Antiques and Home Show, which is a vast flea market in the Midlands. But a combination of things - a new location 20 miles further away, a big hike in the entrance fee, petrol prices, a busy working life and my health meant that I haven't been as much over the last couple of years. I've missed it very,very much, even those 5am starts to get there at the beginning when all the best stock comes out. 
So, now that I have a little more time, and my health is better than it was, I was very excited about going today. The day started out cold and grey, but by mid-morning I was squinting against the sun. Wonderful. There probably weren't as many stands as I remember, but still loads to see and buy and lots of familiar faces. I tried to be cautious, to stretch my pennies as far as I could with some bits for my sale and a few for me, too. Lots of browsing ensued, especially of the haberdashery variety...

So, what exactly did I end up with? Well, certainly not what I set out to buy! But that's usual.

Some things for my sale. This little chair has pink paint underneath and I shall sand back the white gloss to uncover it. And a car boot that looked like this:

Happy days.

Sunday 29 January 2012


I did not realise how fiddly it is to make marmalade, but when I spotted these Seville oranges on the market, I could not resist. I was determined that they wouldn't sit in the fridge for weeks, and then make their way to the compost heap, so I got to work yesterday afternoon...

After a lengthy shredding, juicing and de-pipping process, they bubbled away on the cooker for about two hours filling the house with the most glorious scent (I love citrus smells). Then, I just had to add sugar and boil hard for about 20 minutes. I thought it wasn't going to set, but sure enough, that magic alchemy happened, and I was soon ready for potting up.

And a little bit left over for this jar....

It reminds me of one of my favourite children's books, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, when the children have tea with the Beaver family. Mrs Beaver makes....

Sticky marmalade roll...this was my favourite bit to read when I was a child. I love the illustration that goes with it, too:

January is good for something, after all!

Friday 27 January 2012

Bringing the spring in

It was a sunny market day and the stalls were full of spring bulbs and baskets of cheerfully coloured plants. These little Muscari are barely out, but I thought they looked so pretty in this old enamel pot, which was another find on a vintage stall. It has really spindly, sweet handles, and the bottom is a sieve, so I don't even have to make drainage holes. In fact, this was one of a  few good purchases today. These mixed hyacinths are a joy (and I only had to shift a bunch of hockey sticks, three pairs of enormous trainers, a bag of jelly babies and several sports kits to make our kitchen look tidy...):

The oil cloth is another new acquisition. I had tried a bright, almost acid green, which I quite liked, but I am more at home with muted colours....

Then I found a little something to do up....

This is a tiny Lloyd Loom-style chair. I shall make a new cushion cover (a round one will be a challenge, but perhaps I will use the old one as a template) and hopefully it can go into my May sale. Very cute. There are an increasing number of vintage stalls on our market, which used to be purely fruit and veg. I am certainly not complaining! And finally, the latest issue of Nene Valley Living is out, with my wonky heart on the cover and a spring-like feel:

You can see inside the magazine at

Wednesday 25 January 2012

Heirloom recipes

A friend showed me her mother's old recipe book, which she had inherited when her mum passed away. It was just the most beautiful thing, with the pages almost furry with handling, and faint, much loved recipes dotted with spots of cake batter, the words blurred with water drops. I've kept my own school home economics notebooks, filled with the round, careful handwriting that I was very proud of at the time, and I still use them for the basics. I can't believe that we made things such as liver and bacon hot pot and lamb stew (I'm not THAT old!), although I am very glad that I did learn how to cook these dishes. I also used to cycle home with my tins and tupperwares balanced on my bicycle handlebars!

Extract from my great aunt Florrie's recipe book (above) and my school book (below)

In fact, the subject of handed down recipes has intrigued me so much that I'm writing a feature about it for the local magazine. It's amazing how many people have a story to tell about their inherited recipes. I often find scraps of paper sandwiched between the pages of the old cookery books that I am partial to buying from charity shops, and I can never bear to throw them away, as they are part of somebody's domestic history.

One day, I'll stick them all together and make a picture from them.

I also enjoy making things from these aged text books. So far, favourites have been treacle scones and welsh cakes. I think I'll give this suggestion for a nightcap a miss, however! Treacle and milk...hmmm

By the way, I'm now the proud owner of a loyalty card for the Sue Ryder charity shops. The manager offered me one yesterday as I was buying a box of old crochet thread (for no particular reason as I can't crochet). "You are in here a lot," she said. "Would you like one of these...."
 I think it's a badge of honour for any dedicated thrifter....

Saturday 21 January 2012

A flying visit

Friday night found me at St Pancras International station, but I wasn't about to board the Eurostar, I was on my way to my friend's house in Catford, South East London. I can now catch a connection at this station. I love this place: it feels really glamorous and exciting. Just the thought that if you stepped aboard the Eurostar, you could be in Paris within a couple of hours. 
I had half an hour spare to soak up the atmosphere: I liked this statue of Sir John Betjeman, outside the entrance to the newly opened St Pancras Grand hotel:

Anyway, never mind Paris, posh hotels and champagne bars, I couldn't wait to get to my destination. I was meeting up with three of my oldest and best friends. We met in our first week at university 30 years ago, and despite miles between us, and sometimes different countries and continents, we've always kept in close touch. 2011 was a challenging year for us all, in different ways. But we had a wonderful evening, eating lovely food and chatting into the small hours, setting the world to rights, with R's four cats keeping us company. 

 This morning we went on a long, blustery walk, through parks and green spaces. Time for coffee, cake, and more chat:

Then, off to somewhere I've wanted to visit for ages: Borough Market. 

I enjoyed the sights and smells but I didn't buy much: it was expensive.  I just couldn't resist a big piece of focaccia to bring home to the family. And a little snack for myself, which was toasted raclette cheese on new potatoes, with pickles. I ate it overlooking Southwark Cathedral, and the sun shone.

Hasty farewells, resolutions to do it again soon, and back on the train home.

Tuesday 17 January 2012

Fresh face

I had a free day today, so I made over an old stool that I've been hoarding for a few months. It started life like this:

I thought it looked a bit dowdy, although I liked the shape, so I gave it a lick of paint:

Then I added an oilcloth top:

If you have read my blog recently, you may well be wondering just how many stools one house can accommodate. I admit that I have got quite a few. This one will go to my annual vintage sale, which I've just booked in for May 7th. It's never too soon to start preparing the stock!

Monday 16 January 2012

Glimmer gold

Warehouse has beautiful jewellery at the moment. Very delicate and a little bit vintage. The perfect January lift. This little bracelet was £6.