It is the perfect time to come see our latest container items.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- Stow on the Wold Flea and Collectors Fair
- Cheltenham Boot Sale
- Malvern Flea and Collectors Fair
- Great Wetherby Racecourse Antique Fair
- Magnes Antique Fair
- Swinderby Village Hall Antique Fair
- Winthorpe Antique Fair
- Pride of Lincoln Antique Fair
- Arthur Swallow Lincolnshire Fair
- IACF Newark Fair
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This is the second of 4 blogs on our May/June 2014 trip.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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
- The Porch House
- Greedy’s Fish and Chips
- The King’s Arms
Rattling the Air Raid Warning.
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.
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.
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.
Our friend, Stephanie’s store is day to our night.
We’ve been lucky to have our friend Stephanie join us on several of our trips to England. Stephanie has a store in Georgetown, Texas, just north of Austin. The store, Gatherings, is located at 1009 S Austin Avenue. In March, we finally got to visit her store.
First, we should tell you that traveling with Steph is a blast. She’s fun and sassy and always ready for the pub (shhhh, don’t tell James!). It’s important to travel with people you enjoy and also, with people who don’t necessarily buy the same type of antiques that you buy. That way, no one gets bent out of shape over who saw what first, etc.
We were not surprised by what Stephanie carries in her store. She roots through the different English antique centres and fairs looking for light French, while we’re searching for the heavy carved English. The store is a ying to our yang; light to our dark; lady to our store’s gentleman; religious to our sport; and day to our night. She has beautiful things, wonderfully displayed. She has a great eye for big furniture cabinets down to small pearl necklaces and rosaries.
Most of the store is full (and we do mean FULL!) of Stephanie’s merchandise; however, she does rent out several booths to other dealers. Their stock is equally as fascinating. When she moved into the South Austin Avenue address, she put old salvaged doors on all of the walls around the retail space, adding to the soft tone of the store. Here, you can browse for a long while, assisted by friendly staff members. This is the kind of store where you discover you love something new. It’s a place where you start a new collection. In Stephanie’s store, you could easily find just the right item for a BFF.
We enjoyed our visit to Gatherings and can’t wait to go to England with Stephanie again. Check out Gatherings website at http://www.gatheringsofgeorgetown.com. And if you are in the area, stop in and tell her the Robertsons say “howdy”. (that’s Texas talk for hello!)