Category Archives: Trips

Exploring the Vasa Ship


A model of the Vasa, painted to show the grandeur of the ship when it was launched.

Almost four hundred years ago, a warship sank on its maiden voyage, right inside the harbour where it was constructed in Stockholm Sweden. It sank into the mud and was left there and forgotten. Now, it resides in a museum.


Doesn’t it remind you of the Black Pearl? Note the people in the shadows at the 3:00 position.

We visited the Vasa Museum, home to the ship, in Stockholm on our cruise aboard the Viking Sea. Walking into the museum, you’re immediately struck by the size of the resurrected ship; it looks like the Black Pearl of the Pirates of the Caribbean. We wandered up and down stairs and platforms which allows you views of the outside of the ship in all its glory. Each year, a million visitors view the Vasa.


The masts were cut off as soon as it sank, so these are reconstructions.

In the early 1600s, Sweden’s King Gustav II Adolf was ready for Sweden to become a naval power and had ordered four identical warships built. The Vasa was the first one finished. The ship was impressive. It had 10 sails, 64 cannons and hundreds of sculptures. It communicated the wealth and power of Sweden. Four hundred and fifty people were needed to run the guns and the ship. There were concerns during the Vasa’s construction about the ship being too narrow and too top heavy, but the King pushed forward.


This is the back of ship, which was highly carved. The wood was saved because the water was so cold that worms and bacteria could not survive. Thus, there was no damage for hundreds of years. 


These are the carvings directly below the former photo. Note how the carvings would have been painted. 

On August 10, 1628, thousands of spectators gathered to watch the Vasa set sail from Stockholm’s harbor. About 1300 meters from the shipyard, a gust of wind causes the ship to list and water to flood the open and low positioned gun-ports. Yep, it sank and sank fast. Ending up on the ocean floor along with fifteen crew members.


Isn’t this grand?!! On a battleship?



So much detail on the sculptures. 

They tried to raise the Vasa, but it was stuck in the mud. Later, in the mid-1600s, they raised most of the cannons using a new invention, the diving bell. But the Vasa continued to sit at the bottom in cold ice water. The exact location was lost in time. In the 1950s, a determined Swede set out to find the battleship. And he did.

In August 1959, the Vasa was lifted and moved in stages. On Monday, April 24, 1961, the Swedish people gathered to see the Vasa appear over the water. The first of its kind to be raised in its entirety. Years passed as they work to dry out the wood and preserve it. In 1990, a museum housing the Vasa opened to the public.


The model next to the ship. 

Thanks for reading about our adventures aboard the Viking Sea. This concludes our trip blog series.  Back to antiquing!



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Archipelago of Stockholm Sweden


Arriving by ship to Stockholm Sweden had its advantages. Early in the morning, as dawn was breaking, the Viking Sea sailed into the archipelago of Stockholm from the Baltic Sea. There are over 30,000 islands that make up the archipelago.



Amazing! Some are little more than uninhabited barren rocks and some are wooded islands with gorgeous historical homes perched on their coasts. Rugged shores and little hideaways captured our imagination. Sailboats flitted among the islands. Small villages hugged the shoreline. It was so quiet.




As we got closer to the islands that make up Stockholm, we saw more activity as the city was waking up. Stockholm is made up of fourteen islands set on a lake. It’s a beautiful clean city and easy to find out the layout.



A dry dock with a “giraffe” crane.


Amusement Park near the ABBA Museum.

We loved our visit to Stockholm. All the photos were taken from our balcony aboard the Viking Sea.

Only one more vacation blog! Thanks for reading.


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Palaces in St. Petersburg


Catherine’s Palace

On our Baltic Sea cruise, we visited St. Petersburg Russia for two days and managed to see three palaces, do a tour of the city, visit a church, and attend a Russian Ballet performance of Swan Lake. Needless to say, we were a bit worn down after Russia.

Peter the Great planned this city on the Baltic Sea over 300 years ago. It gave his navy access to the sea and was meant as an elevated showcase to the world as Russia’s cultural capital. Most of his inspiration came from other European cities, including his grand boulevards and canals. What we experienced were his baroque and classical buildings.

All of the buildings we toured were magnificent. The opulence and artistry are hard to convey in a blog post, especially in a few photos. There were times we were overwhelmed by the art and architecture. Speechless. We can’t imagine the blood, sweat and tears it took to build these palaces and then, rebuild them after the war. The locals are extremely proud of these buildings, as they should be. As tourists to a foreign country, lining up in great herds to see priceless works of art and oh and ah over each room, it’s too hard to take it all in.

If we were turned loose, and allowed to wander at leisure in empty rooms, our experiences would have been different. We would have found favorite pieces of art, discussed details we found in the rooms, noted collections that spoke to us, but we were not allowed to stray from our particular herd. You cannot go into St. Petersburg, unless you are on approved tour or have applied for a visa. So, what we’ll share with you is a few photos of each location and let you linger if you want.

First up was Catherine’s Palace. We visited both the house and the extensive gardens. We saw the famous “Amber Room” and the 12 chandeliers in the Great Hall.




Next was the Winter Palace, home of the Russian Emperors from 1763 to 1917. Today, it’s one of the five buildings that make up the State Hermitage Museum. The Small Hermitage was built onto the Winter Palace to house Catherine the Great’s collection of artifacts. The Hermitage now has over 3 million items. Only a small portion are displayed for the masses. Here, we saw two da Vinci paintings and a number of Rembrandts.


Luckily, we got to by-pass the lines into the Hermitage.



Later, in the evening of the first day, we dressed up and went to the ballet. We were so exhausting it would have been easy to just stay on the ship. But this would be a chance of a lifetime, to see the Russian Ballet performance of the Swan Lake in the small private royal theatre located at the Hermitage. So, we pulled up our big boy pants and got back on the bus. The three-act ballet and orchestra performance were outstanding.


The next day, we visited the onion-domed Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood. It is a memorial built where Alexander II was assassinated. With every inch filled with mosaics, it was something to see in person.




Our last palace was the Peterhof, the yellow palace of Peter the Great.  Established as a royal summer imperial residence, it opened in August 1723. The northern facade faces the sea and after touring the building, we followed the gardens from the palace to the sea. We stopped to admire the fountains and sculptures in the gardens, then boarded a hydrofoil back to the city.




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Scenes from Gdansk Poland


There are many choices for cruises sailing in the North Sea and the Baltic Sea. We chose the Viking Ocean Cruises “Viking Homelands” for our vacation because it included several stops in Norway, visited eight countries and spent a day in Gdansk, Poland. Theresa is Polish on her mother’s side, so Poland was a must do.


Even the manhole covers are interesting.

Gdansk was one of the most prosperous cities in the Baltic during the Middle Ages and the Old Town has been beautifully restored since the end of World War II.


We saw many accordions.


Children enjoying the costumed characters in the Long Market. 

As luck would have it, we visited Gdansk on the first weekend of their three-week St. Dominic Fair, held annually since 1270. The city was packed full of families and tourists spending the day in the street market and listening to music as it filled the old town city streets. We even found several streets with flea market items.


Marking the spot of the first engagement of WWII.

Our ship, the Viking Sea, docked at the Westerplatte Quay. It was here that the first invasion of WWII occurred, when Germany attacked the Polish Military Depot.


The Motlawa River that connects the town with the Baltic Sea.


The Green Gate is not green.

The old city of Gdansk sits on the Motlawa River and restaurants and shops line the riverbank. During the Fair, throngs of people bought bread, pierogies and souvenirs from all the temporary stalls along the city streets. Even though the town was crowded, we enjoyed the fair atmosphere. The Green Gate spans the opening of the Long Market Street. It’s actually a building with arches at the bottom and was built in the 1500s as the formal residence of the Poland’s monarchs. Walking through the arches, you enter the Long Market, a historic public square lined with period architecture.


Dluga Street.


Neptune’s Fountain in Long Market


Lovely architecture on a private home.


We also visited the Basilica of St. Mary of the Assumption (Roman Catholic).


We also visited the Basilica of St. Mary of the Assumption (Roman Catholic).


The house, now a hotel, where Nicolaus Copernicus (“sun is the center of the universe”) is said to have visited with his mistress/housekeeper. 

We had the opportunity to visit the shipyards where the strikes led by trade union activist Lech Walesa began the fall of communism in Poland and deconstruction of the Soviet Block.


Mariacka Street, quiet and cozy. Full of shops and cafes.

Gdansk was nothing like what we expected it to be. We thought it would be reflective of the war that happened at its doorstep, but instead the Polish people have rebuilt and stayed true to the original architectural designs. Neither dull, nor boring, instead it was lively and welcoming. If we have the opportunity, we’ll go back.



Back on the ship, a traditional Polish troupe shared folk music and dances from the area.

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Antiquing on the Viking Sea


Outdoor Market in Gdansk, Poland during St. Dominic’s Festival

We took a Viking Ocean cruise to celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary In July/August. Even though this was a vacation, we still planned to use our downtime to hunt for antiques for the store. We were gone for 16 days and managed to pop into a couple of different antique shops and attend one flea market.


Antique Store in Bergen, Norway.

We visited two stores in Bergen, Norway, on the second day of our Homelands Cruise, but we came up empty. That happens a lot when you rely on the Internet to help you find shops. Antique stores are not always open when you are in their area. We tried again Stavanger, Norway and then, in Aalborg Denmark. We peered in many store windows.

We were in Copenhagen on a Friday and we had signed up to do a shore excursion to Trivoli Gardens and Rosenberg Castle in the afternoon. Since our morning was free, we hopped aboard the ship’s free shuttle that took us to the drop-off site and walked several blocks to a flea market we had found on the internet.


Thorvaldsen Flea Market


Philip’s wheeling and dealing!


Another view of the Thorvaldsen Flea Market

The outdoor Thorvaldsen Flea Market is located in a plaza near the Danish Parliament, close to the Christiansborg Palace. They are open every Friday and Saturday, April through October. We arrived just as the dealers were setting up, around 9:30. There was around 20 stalls with a good mix of actual antiques and vintage items. The dealers seemed to be willing to take Euros, which worked out well for us. We found what we were looking for and loved the beautiful setting to shop in.


Copenhagen, Denmark

We visited another outdoor market in Gdansk Poland without any luck. And then, we simply didn’t have any time in Berlin. We visited one small shop in Tallinn Estonia. No time in St. Petersburg, Russia. We had planned to visit another outdoor flea market in Helsinki Finland, but the rain caught up with us on that day and since it was raining buckets, no flea market. On the last day, our plans to shop were blocked by a Gay Rights Parade in Stockholm Sweden. Oh well.


We loved what we did buy. Stop by the store and let Philip show off his new treasures.

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A River Runs Through the Valley

Looking down on the abbey from the south bank of the River Skell.

Looking down on the abbey from the south bank of the River Skell.

In a small valley, in Yorkshire (midway between London and Edinburgh), a river runs quietly and peaceful. People have been here for a long time. This couple from Missouri visited in October 2016. There are several abbey ruins on our bucket list and we chose to visit the National Trust site of Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden, near Harrogate. Because there’s a friendly antique centre full of our kind of treasure at Harrogate! It’s the Harrogate Antique Centre at Crimple Hall. Anyway back to the story….

A view from the altar down into the nave.

A view from the altar down into the nave.

Thirteen monks were given land in the valley, where the River Skell runs, in 1132. Here, they founded an abbey. Originally part of the Benedictine order, the monks switched their alliance to the Cistercian Order. The massive abbey grew, built from the white sandstone that lined the valley. Many workers laboured for years. Wood buildings went up and then, down, replaced by marble and stone. The storeroom, cellars and latrines were thoughtfully situated over the river, to make use of the cool river temperature. The abbey became one of the most wealthy abbeys in England.

Chapel of Nine Altars.

Chapel of Nine Altars.

Philip at the base of Abbot Huby's Bell Tower, next to the ruins of the Church's choir.

Philip at the base of Abbot Huby’s Bell Tower, next to the ruins of the Church’s choir.



A mill was built next to the river and provided a source of income for the Order. As the conflict between Henry VIII and the Roman Catholic Church ramped up, most abbeys fell to the crown. The Fountains Abbey was abolished in 1539 by edict from the crown. The little mill on the river was saved due to the income it produced. It is the oldest 12th Century cornmill in all of England. It was still operating in the mid-20th century and it is the only original complete building on the grounds.

One of the many ruins you can explore. This was in the area that was the Abbot's residence and dormitories.

One of the many ruins you can explore. This was in the area that was the Abbot’s residence and dormitories.

As the abbey’s land was divided between important families, two massive country manor houses were built on adjoining land. The Fountains Hall was a Jacobean House. Construction began on it in 1598 and builders used stone from the abbey ruins. The other mansion, Studley Royal began in 1452. A medieval mansion, it burned down twice and was rebuilt. Now, it is a private home. The Studley Royal owners used the river and began to make plans for a Water Garden. The work on digging the canals, lakes and ponds began in 1716 and they still exist today. A folly temple tempts the visitors a little further down the path. It’s easy to imagine characters from a Jane Austin novel strolling around the ponds. In 1767, the owner of Studley Hall bought the Fountains Abbey estate, once again combining the estate, and the abbey ruins became a focal point for the water garden. The work on the Water Gardens foreshadowed the landscape work by Capability Brown and set the stage for known English landscape gardens.

Pond at the Water Garden with statue.

Pond at the Water Garden with statue.

The Folly at the Water Garden.

The Folly at the Water Garden.

View of the abbey, as seen from the path at Studley Royal water garden.

View of the abbey, as seen from the path at Studley Royal water garden.

Nowadays, tourists visit the river and the valley. If they are like us, they miscalculate the acres as they walk down from the visitors centre, past flocks of sheep, to the ruins and onto the water gardens, descending down into the valley. Distracted by the quiet beauty and the sounds of the pheasants rooting in the underbrush. Then, they are suddenly aware how long the path is once they start back to the car. A 10 minute walk down to the river and a 45 minute walk back up hill. We highly recommend you visit the designated Studley Royal Park including the Ruins of Fountains Abbey, an UNESCO World Heritage Site. We had great fun exploring the ruins and imagining the quiet life of the devout monks. Lots of rooms and ruins to discover!



On a side note: Near our hometown of Springfield Missouri is Assumption Abbey. The Trappist monks, who reside there, are part of the Cistercian Order. The same order that lived in Fountains Abbey. According to Damian, our substitute while we shop, they make the best fruitcake ever! Something for your Christmas 2017 list.


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A Christmas Mouse in Our House

We want to take a moment and wish each and everyone of you a Merry Christmas! Thank you for following our adventures and information on the store. Our stories will continue into 2017 and we can’t wait to share them with you.

In October, we visited England for the second time in 2016. Besides our usual shopping in Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire, we spent some time in Yorkshire; particularly York, Harrogate and Fountains Abbey.


Red House Antiques. The best centre we found in York.

We’d been to York before as tourists, but this visit we focused on shopping for the store. We visited a few antique centres; nothing special to report. Prices were higher than we are accustom to paying. We were in York on a Saturday and so were thousands of other visitors.


Part of the wall that surrounds York. We walked part of the wall on this visit.

At the end of our visit, we found what Philip was really seeking….a candy store. In fact, there were two directly across from each other and he shopped both. At Cocoa & Sweet, he scored big. Located in a Georgian building in a lane across from the York Minister (which is amazing!), Cocoa & Sweet features high-end chocolates, either bars or local chocolates from a case. It’s a beautiful little shop with enticing displays. We bought Montezuma bars (from West Sussex) for gifts for the family back home and Philip chose several wonderful local pieces from the case.


Cocoa & Sweet York.

Theresa found the cutest Sugar Mice. According to the owner, Sugar Mice are a Christmas tradition in England. They are given to family members in their stockings. Traditionally, they are white or pink and have string tails. We’re guessing that they are purchased at candy stores or made at home. We purchased a few because who wouldn’t want a sugar mouse in their stocking? What a fun tradition!


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Revisiting Hampton Court Palace

Main entrance to Hampton Court Palace. The Thames is on the right. We purchased tickets on the left and then walked up and through the main gate (the door in the middle).

Main entrance to Hampton Court Palace. The Thames is on the right. We purchased tickets on the left and then walked up and through the main gate (the door in the middle).

Part V of our spring antique shopping trip report

Did you know that we started dating in January 1981 while in England? We were on a Drury University Winter Term trip (Theresa as a student and Philip as an alumni’s friend). During our three weeks in England and Wales, we stopped at the Hampton Court Palace for a brief tour and walk around the gardens. Now, in 2016, we returned to London to attend two antique fairs and between the fairs, we spent an afternoon revisiting the palace.

Chapel Court Garden. Henry VIII's recreated garden with plants found in the 16th century.

Chapel Court Garden. Henry VIII’s recreated garden with plants found in the 16th century.

Most people know of Hampton Court Palace. It’s the estate that Henry VIII took away from Cardinal Wolsey, when he fell out of favor with the King. That particular historic period, the Tudors, is a favorite of ours, so going back gave us a chance to do more exploring and learning about Henry VIII.

Hampton Court Palace is a museum and no longer an active royal palace. The 6 acres are situated on the north shore of the Thames about 14 miles southwest of Buckingham Palace. In 2015, it celebrated its 500 year anniversary. It’s been open to the public since 1838 and no monarch has lived there since George II. The palace building can be separated into three time periods: The Tudors (1509-1547), The Stuarts and The Georgian monarchs. Since time was limited, we focused on exploring the rooms associated with Henry VIII: his apartments, his Kitchens, the Chapel, and the Great Hall.

One of the rooms of the ginormous kitchens built by Henry VIII to feed his guests, court and staff.

One of the rooms of the ginormous kitchens built by Henry VIII to feed his guests, court and staff.

We’ve been in many castles and famous houses, but we were excited by the Henry VIII’s kitchens. The enormous kitchens and food halls show how the staff managed to feed 600 people twice a day during Henry’s reign.

After three hours of touring just a portion of the palace, we headed out into the gardens to have ice cream in the area where Henry VIII held jousting tournaments. It was a good day.

Up next, our last installment on the IACF’s Monday Market at Sandown and Sunbury Antique Market at Kempton Park.

Fountain Court designed by Sir Christopher Wren from 1689-94.

Fountain Court designed by Sir Christopher Wren from 1689-94.

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Oh Lovejoy!

Philip standing at the entrance of the Clare Priory, est. 1248. We walked through the gardens, ruins, and the grounds around the Priory House and Catholic Church.

Philip standing at the entrance of the Clare Priory, est. 1248. We walked through the gardens, ruins, and the grounds around the Priory House and Catholic Church.

Part IV of our spring antique shopping trip.

Pockets of England hold antique treasures, just as Eureka Springs, Arkansas and Springfield, Missouri are known for antiques. So, when planning this spring’s trip, we looked for “pockets” between Lincoln (our first week) and London (our second week). We found Suffolk and Essex! Lots of shops and centres were listed online, so we did our research.

Clare Antique Centre. Near the trash bin is the footpath crossing over the River Stour and up to the entrance of the Priory.

Clare Antique Centre. Near the trash bin is the footpath crossing over the River Stour and up to the entrance of the Priory.

Once we planned our trip and booked our hotels, we happened upon the BBC Drama “Lovejoy”. “Lovejoy” was loosely based on the novels by Jonathan Gash, about a roguish, but charming antiques dealer who solves mysteries. The series ran for six seasons in England and was shown in the states on A&E Network. Lovejoy, the character, was played by Ian McShane (Deadwood, Pirates of the Caribbean, Game of Thrones). The series was about Lovejoy and his friends helping solve a mystery or a possible murder involving antiques, and usually, they straddle the line between ethical and unethical behaviour in a comical way. Lovejoy and his friend, Lady Jane (Phyllis Logan – Mrs. Hughes, Downton Abbey) dined with the upper-crust in Suffolk and Essex and helped the locals with their antique troubles.  “Oh Lovejoy!” expresses the exasperation of everyone dealing with the cunning, but gifted antique dealer.


We purchased the first season of the series and watched it before we headed out. For us, the countryside and villages highlighted in the show were a close second to the actual drama-comedy. On our shopping itinerary were the towns of Clare, Long Melford, and Halstead. We found that each of these towns were featured in the series. So, as we toured the area in April, we could easily imagine driving on the country lanes along with Lovejoy. The area is located in the east, above London. It’s lovely, flat countryside, not many hills.

A typical country lane in East Anglia.

A typical country lane in East Anglia.

Huge copper Turbot (fish) pan found at one of Lovejoy's haunts in Long Melford.

Huge copper Turbot (fish) pan found at one of Lovejoy’s haunts in Long Melford.

Our choice proved to be a good shopping area. We attended a fair in the lovely village of Lavenham, visited two centres in Long Melford, had lunch, walked around the Priory and visited a centre in Clare, and visited the mill antique centre in Halstead. When we shopped the large centre at Halstead, we found a framed artwork of autographed cast photos from their filming visit at the centre. Just like Lovejoy, we found treasures galore and our little French rental car was full for the trip to London.

Auction in the Village of Clare. Lovejoy would have been there to spy a fake or buy an overlooked treasure.

Auction in the Village of Clare. Lovejoy would have been there to spy a fake or buy an overlooked treasure.

Halstead Antiques Centre occupy the top two floors of the Townsford Mill, est. in 1710 as a silk mill. Lovejoy filmed there in the 1980s. Do you see Philip?

Halstead Antiques Centre occupy the top two floors of the Townsford Mill, est. in 1710 as a silk mill. Lovejoy filmed there in the 1980s. Do you see Philip?

While we didn’t choose the area to follow the footsteps of Lovejoy, our trip was enhanced and more interesting because we had enjoyed season one of the series. You never know what you’ll find when you’re out shopping for antique treasures. Want to borrow our DVD?


We’ve got two more blogs about our spring trip to share with you. Up next, we visit one of the Queen’s palaces.


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Sheffield’s Antique Quarter Trail

Philip at the entrance to Sheffield Emporium.

Philip at the entrance to Sheffield Emporium.

Part III of our spring shopping trip to England.

When we plan an antique shopping trip, we start with the Internet or recommendations by friends or shopkeepers. That’s how we found the Sheffield’s Antique Quarter. Someone on our fall 2015 trip recommended we check it out and then, we did our research online.

One web listing led to another and soon we discovered several centres and stores in Sheffield. We made our plans and headed off to spend the day at Sheffield’s Antique Quarter. We had been through Sheffield before, since it’s located on the main North/South motorway in England, but we had never shopped there. The Sheffield metro population is over 1 1/2 million. We usually avoid driving in mega-cities!

The Sheffield’s Antique Quarter is located in the south of the city and you definitely need a car to reach all the places. Since we’re shopping for specific items, we skipped the retro, salvage and industrial shops and focused our hunt on the centres. On the printed brochure, over 6 centres and over 20 independent shops are listed.

We visited the following five centres:

  • Langton’s Antiques & Collectables
  • Heeley Bank Antiques
  • Sheffield Antiques Centre
  • Sheffield Emporium
  • Chapel Antiques Centre
This cabinet, sitting outside our holiday rental, was purchased at Langton's.

This cabinet, sitting outside our holiday rental, was purchased at Langton’s.

The first two, Langton’s and Heeley Bank, are located close to each other and parking is available behind them. Langton is a medium-sized centre on two levels. Most items are in cases. Not much furniture, mostly vintage smalls. We bought a few pieces. The staff was friendly. The other centre, Heeley Bank, is located in an old Victorian bank. The building is interesting and there are two levels of antiques and vintage. Worth a visit but we didn’t buy there. The prices were too high for wholesale trade.

Treasures bought at Sheffield's Antique Centre.

Treasures bought at Sheffield’s Antique Centre.

Next, we drove to the Sheffield Antiques Centre because a.) they have a parking lot and b.) we could walk to the Emporium and Chapel. We did pretty well at all three. The Sheffield Antique Centre has a great, helpful staff and a good mix of furniture, smalls, and silver. It’s large and covers two levels. Not too many cases (which Philip dislikes!) We had the most luck in finding our type of antiques at the Sheffield Emporium at prices that work for wholesale. It’s a large quirky centre on two levels. The Chapel Antiques Centre featured painted furniture and items from France. We’re really excited about a cool piece we purchased from them.

Philip serving tea.

Philip serving tea.

Lastly, we had lunch in the Vintage Tearoom, located in the Sheffield Emporium. It was delicious! The girls are super-friendly and great cooks. We had the ploughman’s lunch and an afternoon high tea. Way too much food, but we enjoyed what we ate and what we took back to our house that evening. There are several cafes, tearooms and pubs in the area, but we would recommend the Vintage Tearoom.

Ploughman's Lunch.

Ploughman’s Lunch.

Lunch is served at The Vintage Pantry.

Lunch is served at The Vintage Pantry.

Thanks for joining on our adventures. Up next, in our blog series, we’re antiquing in Lovejoy country.

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