Antiquing in Hog Country.

Three Cheers for The Junk Ranch.

Great fall decor, using shovel heads.

Last weekend, we did some antiquing in NW Arkansas. We headed south on Interstate 49, from Joplin Mo down into Razorback country. Interstate 49 crosses the state line at Bella Vista and continues south through Fayetteville. It’s hard to tell one town from the next and we visited them all. Bella Vista, Bentonville (home of Walmart), Rogers, Lowell, Tontitown, Springdale and Fayetteville (home of the University of Arkansas). All together, we visited 26 antique malls and shops over a three day weekend.

We would like to report that we found tons of treasures in NW Arkansas, but, alas, that was not the case. Treasures were hard to find. There are two uber-expensive French antique stores in Fayetteville, but the rest were lousy and loosely classified as antiques. The majority were garage sale junk malls featuring classics from the 1980s. There were a few exceptions, such as the Somewhere in Time in Rogers, Tontitown Flea Market and the Bella Vista Flea Market.

Behind the house at Junk Ranch, Prairie Grove, Arkansas.

All was not lost! The best portion of the trip was not any mall or market. A tip from a fellow shopper led us to the Junk Ranch. This made our trip. The Junk Ranch is held twice a year, on a Friday and Saturday, on a farm south of Prairie Grove (southwest of Fayetteville). It’s an outdoor antiques/vintage fair. Fairly new on the antiques fair calendar, this promises to get better and better.

Philip working the fields at Junk Ranch.

The Junk Ranch dealers presented worthy items to browse and shop. You can find antiques, vintage, industrial, crafts and enjoy live music and concessions. There is an old farm house, a good sized barn, and many tents around the property. We wondered if this is how the Round Top Texas antique festivals got their start. If so, Junk Ranch may give them a run for their money soon.

Good stuff at Junk Ranch, Prairie Grove, Arkansas.

We arrived at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday and were hauling items to the van by 9:10. Cars and trucks filed into the farm, bumper to bumper. There is no fee to park, but the entry fee is $4 on Saturday. It was well run and the dealers were friendly and willing to negotiate. We took a look at all the booths and filled our van with fresh stock for the store. Because of the crowd on Saturday, we figured we should have gone on Friday, thinking we could have found even more.

The barn at Junk Ranch.

Our weekend away wasn’t just about antiquing. We managed to squeeze in a visit to the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. Nestled in the Ozark hills, the museum is a breath of fresh air for any American. From the landscapes of the American movement west to Mary Cassatt’s impressionistic paintings to Andy Warhol, the focus is on America, in all its breathtaking glory and resplendent talent.

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas.

We enjoyed our weekend get-away and we’re ready for the Christmas rush in November and December. Come see us soon!

New stock from our NW Arkansas trip.

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Fall is just around the corner!

Pick your favorite before they're all gone!

Pick your favorite before they’re all gone!

It is the perfect time to come see our latest container items.

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Focused on the English Antique Market.

IACF Newark

IACF Newark

This is the last of our blogs on our 2014 antiquing trip to the Cotswolds and beyond.

Flea and antique market shopping is different than shopping for antiques in clean, cozy buildings. Spending the entire day, usually outside, moving from booth to booth may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but you can’t beat the selection or the prices.

Cool model of spiral staircase at IACF Newark.

Cool model of spiral staircase at IACF Newark.

Cheltenham Boot Sale.

Cheltenham Boot Sale.

We buy most of our inventory of smalls at flea/antique markets in England and Europe. It’s our sport of choice. It’s all about finding a great bargain that we can pass onto our customers. Something new or different is just what we are looking forward to finding. We cover as much ground as possible, at all sorts of venues.

This ice cream truck seemed to follow Philip to several fairs.

This ice cream truck seemed to follow Philip to several fairs.

It’s fun but this is kind of shopping is not for the faint of heart. It’s not comfortable, nor clean. Portable toilets are the rule. Food is purchased from trucks. Often, the weather will not be perfect, so you are working against time. If the weather turns, the dealers are gone in a flash. We are up early, moving fast and staying until the dealers pack up. As the day comes to a close, you can find the real bargains, as dealers prefer not to lug their items back home.

Griffins ready to go into the shopping trolley.

Griffins ready to go into the shopping trolley.

Trio shopping at Arthur Swallow Lincolnshire Fair.

Trio shopping at Arthur Swallow Lincolnshire Fair.

On our last trip to England in 2014, we visited more fairs than we normally do and because of that, we’ve have some awesome bargains coming in the next container. Here are the fairs we visited:

  1. Stow on the Wold Flea and Collectors Fair
  2. Cheltenham Boot Sale
  3. Malvern Flea and Collectors Fair
  4. Great Wetherby Racecourse Antique Fair
  5. Magnes Antique Fair
  6. Swinderby Village Hall Antique Fair
  7. Winthorpe Antique Fair
  8. Pride of Lincoln Antique Fair
  9. Arthur Swallow Lincolnshire Fair
  10. IACF Newark Fair
The gang's all here!

The gang’s all here!

Here are some of our survival tips for flea market shopping.

  • Start early. We hate to be late; Philip always feels like he has missed something of value if we aren’t there when it opens.
  • Wear comfortable all-weather shoes. You may be stomping in mud puddles and standing all day.
  • Carry more than one collapsible tote bag. If it’s a good fair, you may need to unload several times during the day and it’s a long walk back to the car.
  • Bring a small note pad and pen to track your purchases. At the end of the day, you won’t remember how much you paid for which item.
  • Bring cash, in small bills. Don’t count on the presence of an ATM.
  • Dig for items. Scanning a booth from the aisle won’t cut it. Look under tables and through boxes.
  • Travel in light layers, adding or shedding as the sun plays peekaboo.
  • Buy quickly and keep hold of the item until you finish the sale.
  • It’s ok to haggle, but only if you are serious about making a purchase. If the dealer can’t come down to your price, make sure you still thank them.

 Magna Carta Pub in Lincoln with Stephanie, Suzanne, Peter, and Philip.

Magna Carta Pub in Lincoln with Stephanie, Suzanne, Peter, and Philip.

At the end of the day, it’s great to settle around a table at the neighborhood pub and share our stories and finds with friends.

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Turn Back Time in the Cotswolds.

Phone Booths in Broadway.

Phone Booths in Broadway.

This is part three of 4 blogs on our May/June 2014 trip.

By combining our vacation and a buying trip, we were able to take time to explore the northern Cotswolds. It had been on our bucket list and many of our customers rave about the area. There is no way to see it all, so we didn’t overcommit to a long list of must-see places. Instead, we were guided by our love of antiques. We let the history of the area speak to us.

It’s so beautiful. Time has stood still here. Villages are nestled around a bend or in a valley, with the homes and buildings snuggled up to each other, protected by large walls. We loved our vacation and having the daily experience of walking by the dry stone walls, hearing the bells toll, smelling the fresh bread. It’s no wonder that so many people chose to vacation there. History is deep here and visiting the Cotswolds is not a new idea; travelers have been coming there for thousands of years.

Rollright Stones.

Rollright Stones.

Not far from Stow-on-the-Wold are the Rollright Stones. Set just off a country lane, a mysterious stone circle waits for its visitors. Built by people in the early Bronze Age, overlooking fields of green, the purpose is unknown. We visited on a cool, rainy day. Pulling up on a late afternoon, no other visitors around, we took our time walking the 77 circled stones. A tad bit eerie; it’s no wonder that a Dr. Who episode was filmed here.

Bathing area of the Roman Ruins at Chedworth.

Bathing area of the Roman Ruins at Chedworth.

We traveled the famous Fosse Way, a Roman road running from southwest England to Lincoln. The Romans invaded England in 43 A.D. Driving down an incredible narrow lane, hugging a hillside, we arrived at the ruins of the Chedworth Roman Villa. Here, we visited remains of an important family’s villa from the 2nd century. When the Romans moved into the British Isles, they set up outposts and gave the wealthy land. Beautiful mosaics have been uncovered and restored. The underfloor heating systems and bath houses impress with their innovative technology.

Sudeley Castle, Winchcombe, UK.

Sudeley Castle, Winchcombe, UK.

One day, we ventured down a densely foggy lane to emerge into sunlight at Sudeley Castle, just outside the village of Winchcombe. Sudeley Castle’s history begins around the year 1000, with a Saxon manor. We were there to learn about Catherine Parr, Henry VIII’s last wife. She outlived Henry, remarried and made this her home until her death in 1548. It’s a magnificent manor house with a beautiful garden and lovely ruins. You tour the manor at your own pace. We also had a delightful lunch there.

We were tempted by this cottage at the top of the Chipping Steps.

We were tempted by this cottage at the top of the Chipping Steps.

In the Cotswolds, limestone was used to build compact villages. There is a sameness of the villages, but each distinctively unique. Most of the villages we visited were built in the 1500s, but built on earlier settlements. Nothing has changed the look of the villages in many, many years. Money streamed into this area of England because of the famous wool-producing sheep as early as the 1100s, when international merchants came to purchase the wool and left behind mountains of money.

Burford took our breathe away. It has a wonderful High Street with 14th-17th century homes and shops lining the road.

Burford took our breathe away. It has a wonderful High Street with 14th-17th century homes and shops lining the road.

Our best meal came from the Fox Inn, in Lower Oddington. Oh, did we mention it's been around since the 1600s?

Our best meal came from the Fox Inn, in Lower Oddington. Oh, did we mention it’s been around since the 1600s?

The Market Hall in Chipping Campden was built in 1627. Such a beautiful town. We saw the best thatched roofs here.

The Market Hall in Chipping Campden was built in 1627. Such a beautiful town. We saw the best thatched roofs here.

St. Edward's Church, Stow-on-the-Wold was used as a royalist prison after the Battle of Stow in 1646. We posted an early photo of its “Moira” door.

St. Edward’s Church, Stow-on-the-Wold was used as a royalist prison after the Battle of Stow in 1646. We posted an early photo of its “Moira” door.

In Tetbury, we climbed the Chipping Steps, built in the 1600s, which led up from the lower town, past the weavers’ cottages, to the market area near the market hall.

In Tetbury, we climbed the Chipping Steps, built in the 1600s, which led up from the lower town, past the weavers’ cottages, to the market area near the market hall.

Bourton-on-the-Water is an attractive village featuring 18th century bridges over the River Windrush.

Bourton-on-the-Water is an attractive village featuring 18th century bridges over the River Windrush.

Here, we visited a miniature reconstruction of the entire Bourton-on-the-Water village at the Model Village. Now, we know how Godzilla feels.

Here, we visited a miniature reconstruction of the entire Bourton-on-the-Water village at the Model Village. Now, we know how Godzilla feels.

 

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Vintiquing in the Cotwolds.

A beautiful Black and White arrangement in Tetbury.

A beautiful Black and White arrangement in Tetbury.

This is the second of 4 blogs on our May/June 2014 trip.

Philip filling up the car's boot with our purchases from Station Mill Antiques Centre.

Philip filling up the car’s boot with our purchases from Station Mill Antiques Centre.

With Stow-on-the-Wold as our base camp, we divided our time between antiquing and lollygagging. Antiquing in the golden villages of the Cotswolds tends towards the high-end. For example, that darling pub stool is from the 1600s and cost $1600. That’s what we would say is high-end. However, we are happy to report some of our best finds, cool and affordable, were found in the Cotswolds, we just had to look a little harder.

Winchcombe Antiques Centre.

Winchcombe Antiques Centre.

If you’ve read our previous blogs, you know that we tend to shop wherever we can, but we spend the majority of our money and time at large international fairs in the midlands of England, i.e. IACF Newark and Arthur Swallow Lincoln. In the Cotswolds, we focused our attention and efforts on antique centres. By doing so, we avoided the high-end furniture stores and found affordable items to bring back to Missouri. Thus, we did more vintiquing than antiquing, since the antiques in the UK are truly antiques. Once we found locations of the centres and markets, we eagerly mapped out our day trips and googled park-and-pay lots, so we were good to go, as long as the SatNav was working!

Fenwick and Fenwick in Broadway.

Fenwick and Fenwick in Broadway.

We drove down to the Cotswolds from the Manchester airport and stopped for lunch in Broadway, a beautiful, tidy village northwest of Stow. Here, we found a great first stop, Fenwick and Fenwick. The owner clearly loves the same antiques we do, and his shop is full of brown oak furniture, pewter and copper, carved wood and blue and white transferware. You could easily confuse our two stores, except his building was built in 1450. A little earlier than our 1953 building.

Antiques at the George in Burford. Philip was pleased with his purchases.

Antiques at the George in Burford. Philip was pleased with his purchases.

If you’re planning on shopping in the northern Cotswolds, let us guide you. Here are the places where we found our favorites.

  • Burford. Although there are several antique stores here, we only had success at two of them. Antiques at the George and Chris Walker’s shop on Tailor’s Row.
  • Chipping Norton. There are two good antique centres, one is on the east side of the town, The Quiet Woman, and the other is on the west side of the town, Station Mill Antique Centre. Both were large centres and there is something for everyone.
  • Moreton-in-Marsh. A busy market town with several shops and antique centers on the main road. We enjoyed our visit and would recommend antiquing here. Favorites included: Windsor House and London House.
  • Stow-on-the-Wold. Our residence for the week had many lovely shops, although most fell into the high-end category. Our favorite was the Tudor House.
  • Tetbury. This was our favorite shopping. Several centres and shops line Long Street. We spent a whole day here and it was here we found our favorite centre, Top Banana. We searched all five floors looking for interesting items and we emerged happy with our findings.
  • Winchcombe. There are several shops along High Street and the Winchcombe Antique Centre has two floors of affordable antiques. It was easy to combine antique shopping with visiting Sudeley Castle, so we made a day of it.
What was he thinking? That's French White and Grey not English Brown!

What was he thinking? That’s French White and Grey not English Brown!

We also visited Broadway, Bourton-on-the-Water, Chipping Campden, and Lechlade. Each village had one or more shops. Enough to entertain us, but not an antique destination.

The purchases under the stairs, neatly wrapped and ready for the container.

The purchases under the stairs, neatly wrapped and ready for the container.

 

 

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Our Cottage in the Cotwolds.

The Cotswolds is an area of southwest England known for its beautiful countryside and idyllic villages. It’s also known for its antiquing, so we choose to go a week prior to our shopping trip and explore the northern Cotswolds.

SheepSudeleyCastle

This is the first of 4 blogs on our May/June 2014 trip.

We chose the northern Cotswolds for our vacation and selected Stow-on-the-Wold as our base for our explorations. Stow is a lovely, bustling little village with a large central square. We rented a small, comfortable 2-bedroom, 2-bath cottage off the square for the week.

 Stonecot Cottage in Stow-on-the-Wold.

Stonecot Cottage in Stow-on-the-Wold.

Stonecot Cottage is located on Wells Lane, a small residential lane. We chose it because it offered off-street parking, a washer/dryer and wifi. It proved to be an excellent choice. It had two floors. The ground floor had the living room, dining room, bathroom and kitchen. Winding stairs took you to the first floor, where there were two bedrooms, separated by a full bath. Philip learned the hard way that the door frames were on the short side, especially the bedroom door. What’s a few whacks on the head now and then.

Philip wrapping our daily antiques in preparation for the container.

Philip wrapping our daily antiques in preparation for the container.

The cottage did not have a garden, but it did offer off-street parking on a small tight driveway. Philip had the task of backing the sedan rental out of the drive each morning. This was a challenge since the drive was narrow with a rock wall on one side and a hedgerow on the other and a large rock wall directly behind the driveway. Since it was a tight fit, pulling the car into the lane took several attempts each morning.

The driveway's tedious wall. Lovely to look at; a pain to escape.

The driveway’s tedious wall. Lovely to look at; a pain to escape.

Once the car was out, we would head off in a new direction to explore the Cotswolds and each evening we would return and head to a different pub or restaurant for our evening meal. We enjoyed our evening strolls, walking past small fragrant gardens, mostly hidden behind drystone walls, and listening to the doves call.

This entrance to a church is thought to the inspiration for the Gates of Moria, in the J.R.R. Tolkien books. The author walked the Cotswolds, often around Stow.

This entrance to a church is thought to the inspiration for the Gates of Moria, in the J.R.R. Tolkien books. The author walked the Cotswolds, often around Stow.

The cottage was a short walk from Digbeth Street, where several pubs and restaurants were located. Alternatively, we could walk up a short lane, past private cottages, through the King’s Arms patio to arrive on the square. Here was the main shopping and eating area of the town.

The Market Cross standing in the same spot for 500 years.

The Market Cross standing in the same spot for 500 years.

The square was large for the Cotswolds, offering plenty of parking and everything that a small town needed: two groceries, banks and ATMs, shops, bakery, tea shops, pubs, restaurants, inns, and the church. The town opened around 10 each morning and was closed by early evening. The day visitors were

gone by the time we returned each day. That left the locals and their dogs to head to the pub for their evening meal and we were right there with them. We had wonderful homemade and locally sourced food.

These two dogs were well-behaved and well-known at the pub.

These two dogs were well-behaved and well-known at the pub.

Following our first-class meals, we would stop in at the grocery to pick up snacks and something for breakfast the next day. Phil would buy newspapers to wrap our daily antique purchases. At night, we would drift off to sleep will listening to the rain falling on the slate roof.

Our favorite pub in Stow. Great homemade food. Lots of locals ate here.

Our favorite pub in Stow. Great homemade food. Lots of locals ate here.

Here’s a rundown of where we ate, with our favorites at the top of the list.

  • The Queen’s Head
  • The Talbot
  • Cotswold Baguettes
  • Digbeth’s
  • The Porch House
  • Greedy’s Fish and Chips
  • The King’s Arms

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Let’s make some noise with an air raid rattle!

Rattling the Air Raid Warning. 

English Vintage noise makers.

English Vintage noise makers.

What do a WWII warden and a football frantic have in common? They both need to make noise, really loud noise.

On our last trip to England, we found two wooden vintage rattles at two different shops. We were told that each was used during English traditional football (soccer) games to cheer on the teams or dispute the officials’ calls. However, upon closer examination, we found that one of the rattles was older and used by the Air Raid Precaution Wardens during WWII.

The larger of the two rattles is composed of wood and metal. It is impressed with a 3 letter mark and 1942, indicating its manufactured date. Upon investigation, we found out that the ARP Wardens would have used the rattle to warn the general public of a gas attack by whipping the rattle in a circular fashion, causing a sharp pop as the gear released the wooden strip. It’s certainly loud enough to wake a neighborhood.

Close up look at the impressions of the WWII symbols.

Close up look at the impressions of the WWII symbols.

Air raids and the fear of gas attacks were real concerns since the zeppelins first dropped bombs in WWI. During the build up to WWII, the British government began to make plans to protect the civilians on the home front. The rattles were part of the equipment issued to ARP Wardens. Upon hearing the rattle, the public knew to put on their gas masks and wait for the all clear. In case of a gas attack, the plan was to decontaminate those under attack and give first aid. The ARP Wardens were the first responders.

The smaller of the two rattles is all wood and painted and most definitely used at a football match. The larger ARP Wardens rattle may have also seen some football action, since, thankfully, the Germans did not use gas attacks on the home front.

Flip side shot of the WWII ARP Warden's rattle and football noisemaker.

Flip side shot of the WWII ARP Warden’s rattle and football noisemaker.

Think about these as Father’s Day gift ideas! And stop by the store and give them a shake. They may just be what your dad needs during football season or scaring away the birds from his garden.

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