Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Bargains and Baubles

We very recently visited a vast antiques warehouse in Wales. It was in a disused mill, on several floors, and there were many, many traders. I went looking for wine glasses for my collection, and Amanda teacups for hers. Suffice to say, she went in like a rat up a drainpipe, haggling, grinning, and on one occasion whispering that she had grabbed a rather collectable Spode teacup and saucer for £2.00.......wow! All in all she settled down with the others in our crowd to enjoy a cup of tea in the cafe, and peruse her purchases, of which there were several, and all impressive. Meanwhile, I had been searching for hours, and was on the uppermost floor, indeed the attic, and still without any luck whatsoever. Collecting glasses requires a certain patience, as good pieces rarely appear for sale, having already been snapped up by collectors on ebay. I was approaching the last of the dealers, a couple selling antique furniture of the type found on merchant ships from napoleonic times. The smell of ancient wood in this space was heady, and they certainly knew their stuff where furniture was concerned. I on the other hand had noticed a small glass cabinet off to one corner of the room. It contained oddments that one might find when clearing out a house, and the item that initially caught my eye was a rather beautiful 1930's blood red champagne glass. 'Yes', I thought to myself, that will do nicely. But as I picked it out something else made my heart skip a beat, for there in the back of the cabinet, marked as Edwardian glasses (a wrongly judged pontil mark and enamelling in this case), were in fact five assorted high quality Salviati glasses. They were priced unbelievably cheaply, and I asked a little more about them from the dealer, who confessed that his forte was furniture, and he didn't really know anything about them, and I didn't let on that I was nervous that he might come to his senses. I couldn't believe it that here, in the back of this mill house in Wales, were tucked away such treasures. He and his wife looked like they had missed something important as I said that I would have the red champagne glass, and all five of the glasses at the back, and I came away jumping for joy at my latest aquisitions, all worth far, far more than I had paid for them. The others laughed as I joined Amanda at the cafe table, and we talked like two bank robbers who had just robbed a bank!
The design was unmistakable
Yesterday we went into the New Forest to collect bits and pieces to decorate the house and crib with. A wonderful morning was spent picking up fir cones, bits of wood, moss and lichen. It was very cold and towards the end we had to make a dash back to the van, as it looked as though the heavens were about to open up on us, and sure enough, as soon as we got back to the van they did, with thunder and hail!
It turned the whole place into a winter wonderland for a short while, and we just walked around for a time before heading to the High Corner Inn for a warm up by the fire before returning home. It was very cosy in there, but we had to share the fire with a german shepherd, two whippets, two springer spaniels, a jack russel and a west highland terrier, all very wet and steamy, but all glad to be there! 
While we waited for our forest floor loot to dry out on the radiators, we busied ourselves with the decorations, and first and foremost the tree. The lights are always the trickiest, and Amanda is the one with the steadiness and dexterity to get this right without bringing the tree down.
Four hours later, and the tree was finished. We collect baubles wherever we go, and virtually every one is different. This was the first we chose together, many years ago, from the Christmas shop in the medieval town of Rothenburg-ob-der-Tauber in Germany, and it miraculously still survives today. 
The decorations were now up, the tree was decorated, the mulled wine was brewing, and Al Green was on the CD player, pretty darned perfect.
I started to make the crib from scratch a couple of years ago, and although there is still lot's to do, it's ready enough for it's debut I think. There is still a small corral, a lantern, and some bushes and rocks to add, but you can't rush these things, and so next year. 
For now though, can I wish you all a peaceful and contented run up to Christmas. 

See you later.


  1. Well done on the glasses, have a Merry Christmas.

  2. Thanks Doc, the glasses were quite a surprise find. I'm glad your wife was safe by the way.

  3. That is a beautiful design. Knowing your glassware really paid off. Worth all the time looking I'm sure.
    So great that you collected items to decorate with. Quite the little storm to chase you (and the beasts) inside.
    Your tree is dressed well. Very 'rich' looking. Love the colors. You even have coordinated presents under it already.
    The nativity is nice. I like how you have the lights in the ceiling. I've tried to find a good way to light ours but nothing has worked well yet.

    Enjoy the lights and decorations. Merry Christmas.

  4. Antique hunts make my life happy. It is always fun to find something, tucked away...hidden and neglected and then bring it out into the light and appreciate it. I am pretty ignorant on glassware, as it is not what I sell either. So you got lucky and Amamda did too. Tree and decorations are beautiful, Merry Christmas to you both!

  5. Oooohhhh, I love a good bargain, sounds like you both did a blagging! I would like to know where that mill is, maybe worth a trip :-). Not every antique seller knows what they have in their possession, the research is so time consuming. I'm guessing he was happy with his profit and you were happy with your find, everyone is happy! Enjoy your wonderful glasses, they are spectacular.
    Have a wonderful holiday season!

  6. Hi Sherlock,
    The lights were tricky. In past years, previous cribs have had 240v bulbs that got very hot, and so for this one I use 3v led's, soldered to wire and connected to a 3v output similar to that used with mobile phones. That way I can connect more bulbs as time goesby.

  7. Hi Gina,
    Thanks for the kind comments. I do love antique markets, and they seem very Christmassy as well.

  8. Hi Di,
    I can't remember offhand where it was,as Amandas uncle took us there, but I will find out and let you know.

  9. Hi Gary-
    Thanks so much for visiting me at Small Blue Thing, I'm so happy to meet you!
    Really like the visual of the steaming dogs with you and yours sitting around the Inn fire. This would never happen in the U.S., too many blasted rules about pets in public places, sigh.
    Also love your cresh, so simple and beautiful.

  10. Hi Cheryl,
    Nice to see you here. Most pubs over here allow dogs, and those that we frequent even have jars of treats for them to help themselves to.When there is also an open fire, they are spoilt rotten!

  11. Love your decorations. .and your bargain hunting!! Merry Christmas to you and yours!!