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Sunday, 29 April 2012


Today it is pelting with rain, and has been ever since I got up. So, what better opportunity to get lots of things ready for my two sales? I have accumulated a lot of stuff over the last few years, and it really is time to let some of it go. I'm making up sets of mismatched china and putting them into old baskets lined with vintage fabric.

I started to set a few things out, as I always get flustered on sale day, and I need an idea of what I've got and where it will all go (last year everything sort of ended up in a heap on the floor). This is a rough idea of how it will look, although there is at least four times as much as this, plus furniture and two enormous trunks of linen. Oh my goodness, I hope I get a fine day as it's all open air and my trusty tent will only hold so much.

There are so many little bits and pieces, packets of this and that....

Who needs a vintage app for photos when you have a day as grey as today? It is soooo dark. 
The dolls house is finished and ready for its new home. It was made by my Dad in the early 1970s and before its makeover, it looked like this:

I set to work repainting and wallpapering, and ended up with this (it was much harder to do than I'd thought).

A smart new exterior. And inside....

The furniture is mainly the original Dol-Toi brand, but some of it has gone astray, so I'm sure  the new owner will have fun hunting down some new pieces to complete the rooms. 
Finally, sales are going to be here: Elton Village Green, near Peterborough May 7th, 1pm-5pm
Foxtail Lilly Vintage Day, Saturday May 12th, 41 South Road, Oundle, Northants, 11am-3pm (tea and home made cakes on sale, too). There will be other dealers here, as well as Tracey's little barn shop open, with some gorgeous vintage available.
If you live nearby, come and say hello.

Foxtail Lilly barn shop, on a much sunnier day than today!

Saturday, 28 April 2012

The beauty of buttons

Back in my routine now, and a very rainy and grey market day yesterday. I wanted to do a final trawl of the charity shops to see if I could find any little extras for my sales, which are approaching fast. I found: one old bottle, a pretty book, six wooden cotton bobbins....and I was just giving up when I came across these sensational buttons. I think some of them are really old, almost all of them are mother of pearl. Charity shops usually sell buttons individually now, but these were a whole basketful sold as one lot.
The best bit about buying buttons is sorting them out, as you never quite know what you've got until you inspect them very closely. This little crescent moon shaped one is my favourite, I have never seen one before:

I was hoping to paint some final pieces of furniture outside today, but that won't be happening, as our forecast is dire, and for tomorrow, too. I'm going to do some baking for a 50th birthday party later, and put the final touches to the dolls house I've been renovating. A friend spotted it on the blog and said she would like to have it, so it has a good  home all ready and waiting. I'll pop some pics on later....

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Love Lille (2)

Lille is famous for its 'Grande Braderie,' a vast flea market that takes over the town on a particular weekend each September. It attracts a million visitors apparently. Wow, you'd need pretty sharp elbows for that one! We were hopeful that we would find some second hand stuff, but it proved a bit harder than we thought. On Sunday morning we set off for the large market at Wazemmes. This is a mix of things and it really is huge. There were tulips, hydrangeas, roasting chickens, stalls full of radishes, fresh mint and artichokes. Cheeses, cheap clothes, fake much stuff. We were starting to wonder if we would ever stumble across the flea market, when there it was. Just about seven or eight stalls, but it was a very welcome sight. I just found a few small treasures:

Old French school books and a card of bone buttons. The sweetest vintage dolls' tea set (I have a thing about these). Tracey bought a wonderful enamel coffee pot, a really huge one with flowers embossed on it.

I loved this old travel poster.

An old tablecloth for two euros.

We did track down some vintage shops, but they were closed on Sundays and Mondays, which was exactly when we were there! This one was our favourite (love the fabric box): 

We'd promised ourselves that we would take it really easy, and so there were many cafe stops. We had pots of tea and home made chocolate brownies in this one, which was a bookshop, too. 

I got the impression that English-style tea is quite fashionable!

There were a few more purchases made. We found a fantastic fabric shop, very messy, just selling bolts and bolts of floral fabrics at reasonable prices. I couldn't resist these:

A couple of lengths of ribbon from a very pretty haberdashery shop with hundreds of sweetie jars full of buttons (they wouldn't let me take photo though, or maybe it was just my rusty French and I asked something else entirely!).

And I paid a quick visit to the beautiful Palais des Beaux Arts de Lille. It's a wonderful museum and gallery, with some famous Impressionist paintings. Vuillard is one of my favourites, and they had a few of his works. This one is gorgeous.

We finished our trip with lunch in a tiny traditional restaurant in this street:

Three courses, including homemade pate, with toasted country bread and salad, chicken in a delicate sauce with saute potatoes and a wicked creme brulee, for 10 Euros. A great ending to a lovely weekend away.

Plenty of inspiration to read through on the train home....

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Love Lille (1)

So many things to love about our trip to Lille. It's a handsome city. The buildings are elegant, some are very grand. There are cobbled streets, huge old doors, shutters, and large, bustling squares lined with cafes and bars. Our hotel was central and just right for my friend Tracey and I . Inside it was simple and clean, furnished with just a few antiques, and some beautiful old floral oil paintings. 

We walked a lot. There are streets of modern shops, and then Vieux Lille, the old town. So much to see. So many cafes to sample, although we did keep coming back to Le Pain Quotidien, with its beautiful home baked bread, and sensational salads. We adopted this as our official canteen....breakfast was particularly scrumptious with free range eggs, and lots of fruity conserves and nut butters to try.

A bowl of coffee to start the day....essential.

We didn't hire one of these, the equivalent of 'Boris bikes' but it was tempting (except that both Tracey and I have a bonkers sense of direction, so it could have ended badly...). I hadn't realised quite how close to Belgium Lille is, and there was definitely a Flemish influence in the buildings. 

The weather was very similar to the UK, sunshine and showers, so you had to grab your moment to sit outside. But we did it, and very nice it felt, too, watching the world go by. Saturday was busy, busy, busy, with everyone out and about. But on Sundays, shops actually close and the crowds disappear. We walked to a huge market, Wazemmes, which is full of food, flowers, fruit, clothes, bags and just a very little tiny stretch of flea market, too. I think we'd hoped for a bit more of that, but actually, it's amazing what you can find when you poke around. I'll be back here tomorrow with lots more about that and details of a few small purchases that came home with me. x

Friday, 20 April 2012

All set....

Passport is ready, euros are ready. It was fatal to walk through M&S to the Bureau de Change and see these rosy pyjamas...

So, they are in the suitcase now, too. We're off tomorrow morning. Thanks for your good wishes. x

Thursday, 19 April 2012

A bold move

The week has flown past. I had an extra article to write for another publication, so I've been tucked away in my office typing away. In between times, it has rained, and rained, and rained. I'm combating the greyness with a shot of colour. I usually find that neutral colours sell best when it comes to furniture, but once in a while, I just crave some brightness, so I decided to play around with my £2 car boot stool that I bought at the weekend. It started out like this:

I had a pot of pillar box red gloss standing by (I bought it last year to repaint an old tricycle) and a scrap of Cath Kidston oilcloth, so I decided to go for it. I love these old 1950s stools, because the top just pops out, and it's secured by four large wooden sliding catches, which slot into place. All you need is a staple gun to anchor the oilcloth before you tuck it all back in. Just a bit of work to do to neaten the corners....

But I think it looks really cheerful. 

The wooden heart bunting comes from Sainsburys Jubilee range, which is very pretty. 

I'm still making button cards, they're quite addictive. And now I am starting to get very excited about a short trip that I'm taking over the weekend. It's my Christmas present - a mini break to Lille on Eurostar. I've been so nervous about getting ill again and not being able to go that I've hardly been able to think about it, but it looks as if things will be just fine. Of course, there will be a full report here when I return on Monday....we're hoping to take loads of photos, sit in lots of cafes, take in a few markets and shops and just r-e-l-a-x.