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We open at 9:00 a.m. Saturday, December 1,2018!

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Thanksgiving Weekend Hours

Friday, November 23: 10:00-5:30

Saturday, November 24: 10:00-4:30

Sunday, November 25: Closed

Monday, November 26: Closed

Tuesday, November 27: 11:00-4:30

Wednesday, November 28: 10:30-5:30

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The Grande Rederie of Amiens

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The Catholic cathedral at Amiens’ official name is Basilique Cathédrale Notre-Dame d’Amiens.

Twice a year, Amiens France holds a huge flea market in April and in October. The city streets fill with vendors in the wee hours of Sunday and the shoppers follow along. Shopping commences at 5:00 a.m. and by midday, fifty streets fill with 80,000 people. From professional antique dealers to families setting out car boot items, you can find nearly anything at bargain prices. Flea markets are particularly large in France because the government restricts sales.

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To haggle over prices, be sure to bring a notebook and pen. Shopping at 5 a.m.

We attended our first Grand Rederie of Amiens on Sunday, October 7, along with the Brocant Travel fellow bus riders. We arrived in Amiens the night before and did a walk through the center city to get our bearings. The shopping area is defined by the Amiens Cathedral at the north and the main wide Rue des Trois avenue to the south, the train station to the east and the Coliseum multi-sports arena to the west. Prices were the best near the cathedral and the prices increased the further west we went.

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The tall tower in the background helped serve as a landmark, when we got turned around. Our hotel was near the tower. This shot was taken at 5 a.m.

We stayed near the train station and were up and out the door, ready to shop at 5:00 a.m. In the dark, with our flashlights on, we starting haggling the best we could with our extremely limited French language skills. We shopped for about 4 hours and then, headed back to the hotel for breakfast and to unpack the cart. We returned to where we had stopped and started up again. The city started to wake up and the casual shoppers came out. Once again, we filled our cart and walked back to empty the cart at the hotel. We took the side streets avoiding the congested avenues.

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Goods are either displayed on folding tables or laid on fabric on the streets. These are jars from the Lorraine region of Northeastern France.

By now, we had shopped for 9 1/2 hours. We were having a blast but we were teetering on the edge of exhaustion. A stop for a slice of quiche and dessert at a French patisserie provided refreshment. The walk back and forth to the hotel each time was our undoing. We made a total of three trips back to hotel with our wagon, but that was all we could manage.

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Construction on the Amiens Cathedral began in the 1200s.

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Amiens was heavily damaged in both World Wars and rebuilt with wider avenues.

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An ornate clock tower at the Place de Gambetta in Amiens. Jules Verne lived in Amiens for 8 years. You can tour his home.

We had a busy first week of shopping. Our second week, we visited some of our favorite fairs and antique centres in England. Now, we wait on the container to arrive. Stay tuned and follow us on Facebook and Instagram for updates on the container.

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Riding the Happy Bus

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Note the red roofs. That’s how you know you are in France.

It never fails. We’re shopping in England, picking out an item, and a dealer mentions that they just bought the item last week in France. So, where do the English dealers go to buy antiques in France?, we asked ourselves. Can we cut out the middle man and shop ourselves?

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The French countryside is so different than the English country. We could just sit back and enjoy the scenery.

We’ve shopped in Paris, Brussels, Budapest, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, and along the Rhine and Danube. We know that the best bargains are not found in a city antique shop, but in the street markets. So where are the markets? And how do we get there?

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Brocant Travel runs a professional service, where all you have to think about is what to buy.

Enter the Happy Bus! Or to be more exact, Brocant Travel. Discovered on Instagram, we decided to check into their services. Two dealers have teamed up to run brocante shopping trips into France and Belgium several times a year. These aren’t tourist shopping experiences, but for dealers who need inventory. Luckily, their October Amiens France coach trip coincided with our shopping trip to England.

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Boarding the ferry at the White Cliffs of Dover. The Dover Castle is perched on top.

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We walked and walked to hunt for inventory, but were rewarded with this scene.

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Shopping before the sun comes up at a Saturday market.

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When the whole town turns out to have a look.

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French goodies purchased at an Emmaus.

We enjoyed getting to know twenty-plus professional dealers from all around England and Scotland. Many of them ride “the happy bus” several times a year and book their seats well in advance. They were so friendly and welcoming to us Americans. It was fun to see what treasures they found at the end of the day.

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One of the finds aboard the Happy Bus.

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Sitting down for a late night dinner to re-fuel for the next day shopping.

Next up, the description of shopping in Amiens, where our shopping began at 5 a.m.

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Exploring Lewes

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We hit the jackpot in Lewes! There were plenty of antiques to buy and history to learn. It’s a charming town with medieval hilly streets and a Norman castle perched in the middle of High Street. We only spent a day and a half there, but we could have spent several more.

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Our second castle of the trip, here in Lewes, was in ruins but that means we got to explore every nook and cranny. Construction began after the Norman Invasion of 1066. The keep is perched on a high chalk mound and possibly an even early burial mound. It was built as a fortress and administrative center for the De Warene family.

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Philip climbed the spiral staircase to the top of the tower, where he could see 360 degrees view of the town and countryside. The morning we were there, a heavy fog was settled in over the town but you could still make out the chalk hills. The castle grounds were beautifully landscaped.

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Shopping was great! We want to give a shout out to the Church Hill Antiques Centre, where we found a bunch of affordable antiques and a helpful staff. There are several good antique centers along High Street, enough for a full day of rummaging. We can’t wait to show you what we bought there, once the container drops.

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Church Hill Antiques

 

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Church Hill Antiques Interior

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Lewes Flea Market

Also, along The River Ouse, in the center of the town, is the Harvey’s Brewery, founded in 1790. We stopped in at The John Harvey Tavern to sample some of the brewery’s championship bitters and ales.

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One of our many shopping bags. We sat in this beer barrel. Cozy!

Side note: The American Revolutionary writer Thomas Paine lived in Lewes for six years, before he migrated to America. In America, he wrote pamphlets encouraging independence from Great Britain and they rallied the people to support the cause. His famous quote, “These are the times that try men’s souls.”

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Philip’s favorite building in Lewes. 

Our time in Lewes was short because we were headed to France to buy antiques. That’s the next blog article.

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Which Prince at Brighton?

 

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We had planned on visiting Brighton on the third day of our October 2018 shopping trip, but the fates intervened. Or should I say the Prince did? Facebook informed us of Prince Harry’s upcoming first visit to Sussex, where he is now the Duke of Sussex. He and his wife were going to visit the Brighton Pavilion in Brighton on Wednesday. Thus, everyone in the area would be converging on the narrow streets of Brighton and the Pavilion would be closed for the day.

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The Entrance.

So, we altered our plans. Our friend Camille would have gone and waved to Harry and Meghan but not us. Not even for the Queen would we face that kind of crowd. And the point of going to Brighton was to visit the Pavilion.

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The Park.

The Brighton Pavilion is one of the must-see tourists’ spots in England. It was built in the late 1700s as a pleasure palace for the Prince Regent, later King George IV. The prince did all kinds of naughty and mischievous things at his seaside resort topped with onion domes and minarets. Even though he had never visited India or China, he was fascinated by the look. Inside dragons adorn the walls and exotic decorations fill the rooms. You can’t take photos inside because most of the objects now belong to the Queen. And one does not do that.

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Queen Victoria and Albert visited the Palace on several occasions but She didn’t really like the location. The palace is set on a few acres of park in the smack middle of the town. The townspeople could have easily spied on the royals. Queen Victoria sold the palace to the town of Brighton in 1850, having first stripped it of all its fittings and furniture.

The palace was been beautifully restored and filled with some wonderful original antiques. Our favorite rooms were the Banqueting room with dragons and the Great Kitchen. The Great Kitchen was close to the Banquet Room, which was unusual for it’s time and it is filled with a set of 550 copper utensils from the Duke of Wellington’s private collection. We do love copper!

Looking at all those copper fish pots had us thinking about lunch, so we headed to the Brighton Pier. The Pier juts out into the English Channel and is lined with arcades, rides and food stalls. We joined the throng of people and strolled down one side and back the other. We had lunch at a wonderful Fish and Chips restaurant with views of the English Channel and the oceanfront hotels. The beach is not sand, but rather pebbles, so we skipped a romantic stroll on the beach and went shopping.

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In the Lanes. 

We walked back towards town through the narrow lanes searching for antique shops. The Lanes are located in the old town between the Pier and the Pavilion. Not much treasure to be found; however, if you are searching for jewelry this is your place. We walked further north into the North Laine neighborhood, where we found a few interesting antique shops. We took turns carry a heavy French scale back to the parking garage and by then, we were done with Brighton.

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Bought a crazy heavy French scale here at Mr. Magpie.

As the day started to end, we took a drive down further east of Brighton and ended up driving on the smallest lane ever. Sometimes, the GPS takes you where you want to go, but not on a road you would ever choose. It was the kind of road that you dread meeting another car, let alone a farm tractor. Smaller than narrow. Finally, after creeping along, there was a wide spot in the road, so we pulled over to catch our breath. And there, across the valley and above the River Cuckmere, we spied a chalk figure of a horse, carved out of the side of the hill. The Litlington Horse is one of nine horses in the area and there has been a horse carved there since the 1800’s. You just never know what you’ll see when you follow a GPS.

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As fascinating as the horse was, we refused to return to Lewes via that road and ignored the GPS directions.

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Up next, we’ll share some memories of Lewes.

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You’re Never Far from the Ocean in England

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They say that no matter where you are in England, you are less than 70 miles from the ocean. It makes sense; it is an island. But we shop in the midlands, so we rarely see the ocean when visiting. But not this trip. We planned a trip to the South Downs, an area known for its beautiful rivers and wide valleys heading down to the white chalk coastline. The River Cuckmere and River Ouse both run down to the English Channel and we visited and followed both rivers as we traveled the narrow, steep back roads.

We chose the county town of Lewes for our base for the first week we spent in England with every intention of getting to spend some time at the ocean. The River Ouse flows through Lewes, a wonderful, friendly town with several antique centres and shops in the center of town. Lewes has the remains of a Norman castle, a jumble of medieval streets and a brewery. The antique shopping was so good, we had to return a second day to fit in the castle (that’s another blog).

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We stayed north of Lewes, near the village of Ringmer, at a quaint little rural cottage 50 meters from a pub. The couple we rented from had retired from running the pub and decided to continue their hospitality service by renting out two cottages for holiday lettings. The buildings that they have remodeled were originally the outbuildings of a manor house, Corsica Hall. The manor house was moved stone by stone to the coastal town of Seaford by a privateer, a licensed pirate. Which is a good thing because it is haunted.!

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Corisca Hall

Joy Garnsey, the co-owner of The Getaway and The Escape, is a landscape designer and her love of gardening is evident as soon as you approach the cottages. Not a blade of grass can be seen, as the entire front garden of The Getaway is filled with all kinds of beautiful plants and roses. A beautiful gazebo was located right outside our bedroom window. The cottage provided a lovely escape from the hustle and bustle of our shopping days. Quiet and restful.

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Each night, we ate next door at the 16th century coaching inn, The Cock. A nice diverse menu with wonderful service and just a short stroll in the moonlight from the cottage. The Cock has original oak beams in the bar and a couple of separate dining rooms. It’s a typical country pub where the locals gather at night and bring their dogs. And the dining rooms are filled with locals throughout the week. One night we dined alongside a classic car club meeting. When we exited and walked through the parking lot, we stopped to admire the amazing cars. James Bond would have been impressed.

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Tap Signs!

The Cock was named after the nursery rhyme “Ride a Cock Horse to Banbury Cross”. A cock horse was an additional horse, ridden by a postillion, and harnessed to a stage coach to help pull the coach up the hills of the Downs. We saw a pair of Postillion boots at Hever Castle. It was quite dangerous to be on the extra horse and the boots were made of iron and leather to keep the driver safe.

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The back of our cottage. To the left was parking for two cars. And further on, to the left, is The Cock. 

It’s so magically to stay and visit a place that’s existed for so long. For 500 years. We loved our time here.

We did make it to the ocean on Day 2 of our trip. That’s the next blog.

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Hever Castle

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The October shopping trip to England and France was exceptional with wonderful experiences, great buying opportunities and some sightseeing thrown in for good measure. We arrived on a Monday and spent the first week south of London, along the southern coast. Then, over the weekend, we headed across the English Channel to shop in France. We spent week two at our favorite antique fairs before heading back home.

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Looking across the moat at the village.

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One of the buildings in the village, with the apple orchard in the foreground. 

Our first stop, following our arrival at Heathrow, was Hever Castle, an easy hour drive. Over 700 years old, Hever Castle is an outstanding example of Tudor architecture. It is famous for being the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII’s second wife. Their relationship was an important cause of the establishment of the Church of England and the renouncing of the Catholic Church by Henry VIII. Anne was only Queen for 1000 days before he had her beheaded. Another of Henry’s queens owned Hever, Anne of Cleves. Through the centuries, it passed through several families and in 1903, American William Waldorf Astor brought it and made it his family home. He restored the castle and added the adjoining village, lake and gardens. It’s not the fortified castle most people think of, but more of a fortified family home.

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The draw bridge and the oldest part of Hever Castle.

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Philip protecting the castle.

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The inner courtyard with the black and white timber architecture. 

To enter the castle, you pass over the water-filled moat and under the portcullis into the inner black and white timbered courtyard. The oldest part of the castle is the 13th century gatehouse. The tours begin across the courtyard in the hall that Anne’s father added. The castle and it’s furnishings are everything that we love about England. Carved wood, copper, and the pewter that we buy for the store were all evident throughout the castle. I think Mr. Astor would have enjoyed shopping at our store.

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Anne Boleyn’s father added the carved gallery in what used to be the kitchen.

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The fireplace in the dining room. Henry VIII dined here. 

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The chapel.

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One of the rooms converted for use by the Astor family. 

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Henry VIII’s bedroom. 

We wandered through the castle in rooms were the Boleyn children grew up, where Henry VIII stayed and held Court, and rooms that were converted to use by the Astor family. An interesting juxtaposition of time periods and wealth. The castle forms a square around the inner courtyard. It’s smaller than the massive manor houses we had visited in the past, but full to the brim with historical elements. One of the books on display was the Prayer Book that Anne took to her execution at the Tower of London.

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The end of the Italian Garden with a small view of the lake.

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The Pompeiian wall.

After checking out the castle, we wandered through the Italian Garden to the Lake. We skipped the maze, not knowing whether we could figure out the exit, since we’d been awake for 24 hours because of the flights. There is lots to see around the grounds of the castle and I could imagine that you could visit often and experience something new each time.

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Nutley Antiques.

Of course, we couldn’t just be tourists, so after a few hours of poking around Hever Castle, we headed to an antique store, naturally. Nutley Antiques is located about halfway between the castle and Lewes, where we rented a cottage. Two floors of goodies, with a majority of the ground floor being French.

We bought more French on this trip, which is understandable since we shopped there. We are hoping the container will be ready for pick up by the first week of December. Stay tuned for more adventures and the announcement of the container drop.

 

 

 

 

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July Sale in Progress

Older inventory pieces are now wearing fashionable yellow post-its, indicating huge savings!The piece you love may be on sale. Stop in and have a look before the pieces and the markdowns disappear.

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Trench Art Explained

We don’t carry trench art but we see pieces every time we visit England. When we toured the WWI Museum in Kansas City last weekend, we saw this explanation. So, we thought we share.

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