The Iron Tour

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Welcome to Walnut!

Over Father’s Day weekend, we attended the AMVets Walnut Iowa Antique Show.

Located between Council Bluffs and Des Moines Iowa, just south of Interstate 80. Walnut is a small tidy farm town with an updated Main Street. The Antique show is under the direction of the AMVets and is a mix of outside pitches lining two long streets that run the length of the town and a few inside halls. An added plus is that the town has many antique stores and vintage malls.

The show is held every Father’s Day weekend and is advertised to have over 500 dealers. We went because it’s one of the top antique shows in America according to the Country Living magazine. And it’s only 6.5 hours from Springfield.

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Outside pitches.

We arrived at the show on Friday at 8 a.m. and hearty shopping was already going on. The weather cooperated and we were able to shop until the crowds thinned, about 4:30 p.m. We bought well for the store. We returned on Saturday morning for a couple of more hours, so that, we could shop the local stores.

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Philip inspecting a possibility.

Okay, so these weren’t English or European antiques, but we weren’t able to shop in England this past spring (new grand baby!!). Regardless of where we shop, we are always on the lookout for something different, something with a story.

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Some of the iron treasures.

Most of what we bought was iron. Lots of interesting gadgets and tools. Heavy iron. Enough to build an Iron Throne. We also bought lots of holiday items, including vintage Christmas (these will be out later in the year). We were happy with our purchases.

Charming town. Good show. New inventory.!!!

 

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Before Water Taps

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Pearson & Co Improved Water Filter Chesterfield.

We take piped water for granted. Turn on a tap and there it is. But it wasn’t always that easy.

Where did the drinking water come from before cities had water systems? Rain barrels, shallow wells, a spigot in the center of town, or if you were lucky, you lived near a spring. Even with water available, it was contaminated. It had to be boiled before consumed.

Thus, the ceramic water filter came into use in the 1830s. The water filters were made by the potteries in England. The system was fairly simple. It used gravity to move the poured water through a filter made of charcoal, clay or sand to remove pollution and bacteria. A spigot at the bottom of the filter would dispense the water.

In manor houses, servants would pour water into a free-standing decorative stoneware filter.  The large crock would be located in the kitchen area and then, the clean water would be dispersed through the house in pitchers. The water filter crock would improve the water clarity, remove smells and improve the taste. To make the water taste even better, the servants would pour the water from pitcher to pitcher in an attempt to add air to the heavy water.

If you watch English period dramas, you’re sure to see them in the “downstairs” area.

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Dining at Pauline’s

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Dining under the chandelier.

If you’ve been on a cruise, you know all the ins and outs of shore excursions. Some are wonderful, some thrilling and some are boring as hell and you should have stayed on the ship. Viking Ocean cruises does shore excursions better than most and one area that they excel in is providing first-class opportunities in dining.

One of the shore excursions we paid for on our February cruise was an all-day Art Treasures tour in Florence, Italy. We wanted to see Michelangelo’s David and take in the Renaissance world of art and legacy of Florence. When you take an all-day tour, lunch is usually included.

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Your carriage may come in.

We had done an all-day tour (actually a two-day tour) in St. Petersburg, Russia with Viking Ocean cruises and had wonderful lunches on both days. The Florence tour’s lunch was exceptionally good for several different reasons.

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The Family Crest on the ground floor.

First, the location was the spectacular Palazzo Borghese of Florence. Built in the 1400’s, it takes up an entire city block. It is an important neoclassical palace. You enter on the ground floor in a room that could easily accommodate a carriage. A couple of statues and an eminence staircase. The first floor is full of lounges and large public rooms. This is how they lived in rooms full of chandeliers and mirrors, each room a different color, but trimmed in gold.

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A salon.

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Gold everywhere!

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Just a small wall sconce.

Second, we were dining in history. As stated, it was built in the 1400’s for the Salviati Family, but it was the Borghese Family that left their mark on history. Prince Camilo Borghese, the 6th Prince of Sulmona was married to the sister of Napoleon. Yes, that Napoleon. Pauline Bonaparte. She was a younger sister to the first Emperor of the French and she lived for a short time at the Palazzo Borghese. The marriage did not last, but the palace survives.

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Dining Room set for Viking guests.

And last, but not unimportant, the actual dining experience. We sat in a beautiful room and were served a four-course meal. Relaxing and the wine flowed. We had the best lasagna ever! Big tabby cat Garfield would have never left. The chandeliers sparkled and lit up the splendor of the room.

We reluctantly left the palace, but still had the Uffizi Gallery to tour, with it’s galleries full of masterpieces by da Vinci, Botticelli, Michelangelo, Rembrandt, and many others.

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A majestic Florence dining room with a Missouri tourist.

Side note.

Because inquiring minds want to know: 1. Bathrooms were also exceptional and 2. Rotary meets there!

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Antique cupboard used as a liquor cabinet.

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Stepping Back in Time

We cruised the Mediterranean in February and managed to do a little antiquing along the way. Mostly, we were on vacation and picked a Viking Ocean cruise to go where we hadn’t been before. We visited five countries: Greece, Italy, Monaco, France and Spain. Although, we’ve been to France three times, we hadn’t been to southern France. We were gone 16 days, but it felt a lot longer, since we went way back in history.

In this blog post, we’ll share some of the early historical sights we visited. Starting with those furthest back on a timeline. We saw statues after statues, rocks after rocks, walls after walls, art after art. From sunrise to sunset, we were out exploring.

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Old Venetian Harbour of Chania. Built 1320–1356 by the Venetians, this busy harbor includes a restored lighthouse, shops & eateries.

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Wandering through the streets of Chania, Crete, Greece.

First up is Crete, where the Minoan civilization lived on the island south of the Greece mainland. This pre-Greek world was from 2000-1400 BC. You might remember the Minoans from the story of the Minotaur, half bull and half man, in Greek legends. We visited Chania, a port city on the island of Crete, which is part of Greece.

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Our first view of Athens Acropolis.

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The Parthenon in Athens.

Following the disappearance of the Minoan civilization, the Greeks came to the forefront. The start of the boom of art, architecture and philosophy began in 1000 BC. We climbed the 80+ steps to the Acropolis in Athens, Greece. Towering above the city of Athens, some of the Parthenon and various temples still stand.

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The Philippeion, Olympia, a monument dedicated to Zeus.

Philip’s favorite stop on the trip was the visit to Olympia, Greece, the birthplace of the Olympic Games in 776 BC. Here, we walked among the remains of the temples, training facilities and in the stadium. People in the ancient world would walk for up to 3 months to attend the games. We were there for three hours.

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The ancient theatre of Taormina Italy.

Theresa’s favorite stop was Taormina Italy, a hillside village on the island of Sicily, in the shadow of Mt. Etna, an active volcano. Here, we climbed to the Greek Theater, which was built in the 3rd century BC. Perched on the side of a cliff, it overlooks the Ionian Sea. Greek plays were performed here, as were Roman plays, and it’s still operating as a concert venue!

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The massive Colosseum in Rome.

When in Rome, we had a chance to see the Coliseum, built in 70 AD and the Circus Maximus, where the chariot races were held.

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Herculaneum Italy destroyed in 79 AD, now an archaeological site similar to Pompeii.

In 79 AD, Mt. Vesuvius wiped out Pompeii and Herculaneum, near Naples. We chose to visit Herculaneum, an upper-class seafront town which was also destroyed by the great eruption. People instantly baked with temperatures above 450 degrees F. The buildings were better preserved than Pompeii because Herculaneum was covered in mud, not burning ash.

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The tower of Pisa (or Leaning Tower), situated in Piazza dei Miracoli together with the Duomo, the Baptistery and the Camposanto.

We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to Pisa. Started in 1000s, the church, the Baptistry, and the leaning tower are quite wonderful. Everyone knows about the leaning bell tower, which used to lean one way and now leans another, but we were more impressed with the Baptistry. People had to be baptized in the Baptistry before they could enter the church. One guide stood in the center of the marble round building and sang a few notes, and the sound echoed so much that it seemed that a choir was singing.

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Carcassonne, France. Narbonne Gate entrance into the fortified city.

Now, we’re up to the Middle Ages and we visited Carcassonne from the 1200s in France. Philip is interested in all things Knights Templar and wanted to visit the town where the Cathars were wiped out. Carcassonne is a double-walled village, with a castle and a cathedral and small winding streets. There’s a legend of Templar gold buried under the castle.

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A model of the Palace of the Popes in Avignon France.

Avignon, France is the town that served as the 14th century home of the popes, when according to history, it was unsafe for them to reside in Rome, due to civil unrest.

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Ceiling of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. Once owned by the powerful Medicis. The East Corridor ceilings were frescoed in 1580-81 by Alessandro Allori

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The Ponte Vecchio is a medieval stone arch bridge over the Arno River, in Florence, Italy. There are shops built on the bridge.

The Renaissance occurred in Italy following the Dark Ages and a vast number of artists and sculptors created religious treasures, which are housed in Florence. We got to see Michelangelo’s David.

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St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican.

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The Mausoleum of Hadrian, usually known as Castel Sant’Angelo is a fortress next to the Vatican. Built in 123-139 AD.

We figured we’d be back in Rome one day, so we chose to spend most of our time in Rome at the Vatican, the country within the city of Rome. It was like walking onto a movie set, in particularly, Angels and Demons. The Basilica was built on St. Peter’s grave in the 4th century, but the Vatican didn’t become a city-state until 1929.

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Casino de Monte-Carlo. Opened in 1863.

Monte Carlo was lucky, at least for Theresa, who made some money at the Grand Casino. But, alas, did not see James Bond. Perched on a cliff, the small country is very compact and has elevators and escalators to take you up through the city.

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An interior photo of La Sagrada Familia Catholic Cathedral in Barcelona.

We ended our cruise in Barcelona, where we took a Gaudi Architecture Tour that visited some of his design projects; including, a park and the cathedral. He was active in the 1870s until his untimely death in 1926.

We did a bit of antique shopping because we always go antiquing wherever we travel. Our spring shopping trip was canceled due to the arrival of our newest family member, a baby girl born to our daughter and son-in-law.

Thanks for following along on our adventures. For more photos, check out our Instagram page.

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Shop Our Latest Finds

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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