Sunday, 23 October 2016

Just call me Busy . . .

Today's photos are from a long walk I took yesterday.  My Fitbit steps for the week were down and because we had been to auction twice in Gloucestershire that meant a long time sitting in the car especially as we got held up in a 2 mile traffic queue to join the M5 on Tuesday, arriving at the auction with just 3 minutes to view it!  We just bought one thing at the auction (prices are higher there) and left bids on others which would be sold after we left - it was a slow day bidding-wise and went on till 7 p.m.  Having properly viewed the furniture - the stuff we were interested in was in the schoolhouse building - we bid on line the following day and drove down again on Thursday to pick it up.  This time we took the motorway route as we weren't driving down in rushour traffic, and got there in 1 hr 55 mins, compared with FOUR hours on the Tuesday!

Now all we need is for people to start buying things at our Units, but trade in both places has been extremely slow.  I just hope that the Fleamarket next weekend is better than it has been - last time it was a complete waste of time as we took just £65 - and it costs £55 just to stand for the day!

I managed to get some more Chutney made on Monday, Indian Chutney, an old favourite of mine which really does improve with keeping and what's more, uses up some of the apple mountain.  It came in handy yesterday, as one of the chaps from the Shoot next door, came over with a bag of venison for us, so we rewarded him with three big jars of chutney and a gigantic box of apples . . .

Now I am fitter, I put myself to the test with this walk which is unrelentingly uphill for the first half hour, then a slightly flatter bit and then climbing again.  As you can see, the weather was wonderful although the views were all a bit milky.

On the bank below a hedge, this Primrose decided to let itself be encouraged by the sunshine and put out a tentative flower.

Wishy-washy fields beyond the hedgerow.

Looking across to a neighbour's farm at "top o'bank".

Looking back across the Towy Valley here.

Now there's a challenge - clambering up that hill would certainly test my fitness!

The higher fields suffer with bracken, and given half a chance would soon revert to scrubby woodland.  They have never forgotten being reclaimed from the wildwood.

That steep hill again with a barely discernible Black Mountain scarp behind it to the right.

I carried on climbing, and shedding layers!  I was down to a t-shirt by this time and fed up with carrying a jumper and a jacket.

Looking across the Cothi Valley to fields bisected by sheep tracks.

This farm trackway was tempting . . .

On the way home.  Single track lanes are the order of the day round here, and passing places few and far between.  The overhanging trees framed this view perfectly, and it is about to become a new header photo.

Downhill all the way back (the reward for effort).  On the right is a wilding apple tree with small red-striped apples.  I brought two back with me to plant along our hedgerow.  This walk was about 11,000 steps and all in all I did over 17,000 yesterday and walked 9 1/2 miles.

I shall be away from my computer Monday - Friday next week as I am down in Southampton with my best friend Trisha.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Chutney and cluster flies (fortunately not in the same room . . .)

I managed to get some better photos of the reverse of this lovely quilt, which as Sharon (Morning's Minion) suggested is probably a Postage Stamp quilt.  As you can see, the materials are all satins and similar, even the little tiny checks.

The writing certainly looks Victorian period - ink written letters and other bits from magazines (e.g. W Brown, Nelson ).

I wish I knew a bit more about its history - but we were trotting smartly round Malvern, so my mind was already on the next stall.

Back to more domestic things, I bought a box of pears from Chris Thomas at Abergwili for £1 and they needed using quickly so I turned them into Spiced Pear Chutney.  The recipe called for firm pears, and these were getting softer so made too much juice and it wasn't as syrupy as I'd have liked it, but smelt wonderful.  My friend Dawn, from Doing It For Ourselves blog gave me lots of red chillis  and some of those were included in the chutney.

The thing which looks like a large dead spider in the middle of the chutney is a Star Anise . . .

A nice colour in the jar, and they will be presents for friends at Christmas.  I am being held to ransom by apples now - we must have a couple of hundredweight on the trees (I jest not).  I am going to make some Bengal and Indian Chutneys later on today to soak up a few of them but I am low on jars so can't go too mad.  Also I still have pickled onions to deal with . . . oh, and the autumn tidy up in the garden.

And speaking of spiders, there are cluster flies in the attic again.  I must have collected an inch thick layer of dead ones when I vacuumed up there this week, plus letting out some live ones.  There were also a hatching of (fortunately dead) wasp-imitators.  I don't think they were wasps as they were too small and their stripes too close together.

Today is a catch up day.  I have a live auction proceeding in the background here, as we have an item in it and also plan to bid on stuff later.  Gosh, he's going fast today - we had to leave late afternoon yesterday and put bids on things as the auction looked set to go on until around 7 p.m.!  It took us 4 hours to get there (Gloucestershire) as we got held up in a 2 mile traffic jam when we crossed the old bridge - all traffic waiting to join the M5 . . .  That'll teach us to try and avoid the motorway in the dark.  I had 3 minutes to view, so needless to say I didn't get far before they ushered folk out, although I did ask to see something later.  You can't bid sight unseen.  Anyway, we have viewed today's furniture and marked a few things off and will go tomorrow to collect anything we have bought and bring back an item we had in yesterday's sale which didn't sale.  (NOT jewellery, hah, as some of that went sky high!)  We need to buy at least one piece of furniture to cover our fuel costs.

I am still doing well with the Fitbit and am losing about a pound each week, weightwise.  I would like it to be faster but there is flab going too, so I mustn't complain.  Would you believe I clocked up a mile or so just around the kitchen the other morning when I was baking?!  I was dashing around a fair bit.

Nearly forgot, here is a new-to-me Preserving book I got for just £2 recently.  Lots of nice recipes in it, all divided up into monthly suggestions.

This sounds like a cheap chutney to make at this time of year and what lovely colours it has in it.

One last photo - one of the Shoot's white pheasants came calling with a couple of normal-coloured friends this week.  Here she is sneaking round the back of the Bay Tree . . .

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Star quilt

This beautiful quilt top came home with me from Malvern last week.  As you can see, real vintage/antique materials have been used and it has been well cared for (but never finished).  The squares are tiny - about an inch square.

Below: all the original papers are still there, some are old letters which were cut up - beautiful writing.  I am sorry this isn't sharper.  I'll try and get a better one in the morning.

It will be going to the next Antiques Fair/Fleamarket I do, so I hope someone will fall in love with it.

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Lily's recipes, WW1

Regular readers of my (sporadic!) witterings will know that I am fascinated by social history.  Being THE Family Historian in our family, it is difficult not to be interested by other people's histories too.  This little book of recipes from WW1 came my way last week, at the Wee Flea we go to.  The dealer who had it knew it had my name on it!  I paid for it in money and cake : )

This photograph is signed on the reverse:

"From Lily,

            To Mother  & Dad,

                       December 23rd 1917."

It was made into a postcard as so many photographs were at that time, by Charlesworth's Studio, Southall, W.                    Day and Electric Light.  (I presume the latter meant photographic methods).

I don't know her surname (or I would be off researching her on the internet).  She has a lovely kind face - one that you can invisage in old age

Her recipe book is entitled "Puddings and Sweets" but some savoury delights also crept in.  I assume many were copied from women's magazines of the period, but some may have been family recipes, especially the Christmas Cake and the Mincemeat.  The latter is similar to my Mincemeat recipe, only hers includes Suet for keeping properties.

This photograph was also tucked into the back of the book.  It is marked on the reverse "Cartolina Postale.  Carte postal.  "Ubermor".  I believe it was taken in Italy and my husband says that the badges on the Pith Helmets are Royal Engineers.  I don't know if any of them was her brother, or her "young man", but the card was there for a reason.  I need to do some more research on where they may have been stationed in Italy, but did come across this fascinating link about the "White War" fought on the glacial edges of the Italian Alps.  Many thanks to the Telegraph's Laura Spinney for this excellent piece of journalism.  Warning - photos of not-too-detailed mummified corpses, so you may wish to avert your eyes.

I just hope that Lily's young man (or brother) returned safely to her.

Monday, 10 October 2016

Wonderful day out at Malvern

I know, you've seen it all before, but some fresh pictures from the latest day out in Malvern where we spent a mint of money on stock, met old friends, made new ones and walked more than 17,000 steps! It was so close to 20,000 that when we got home and I had tea simmering on the hob, I walked up to the very top of the hill and back to get some extra Fitbit milage.  Weight is a bit stagnant this week due to Eating Badly because of being sat down at various selling venues, and all the time in the world in which to feel Very Hungry.  I will get back to basics today though and also burn off some extra calories working in the garden.

Anyway, weren't these china cats pretty?  I know a couple of family members who would like these . . .

Our friend Ann at her inside pitch.  She always has some lovely things to sell.

At one time I would have bought this lovely old jug, but made do with just admiring it yesterday.  I have too much china I fear . . .

A good candidate for reupholstering, though our eldest daughter would have gone for Paisley material again.

This sort of taxidermy amused Victorians, some of who didn't get out much!

An excellent display of toys and old board games at this stall.

Our daughter G would have loved ALL these as she has a small collection of framed butterflies.

All too many stalls look like this.  The "chair on wheels" in the middle looks like it came from the dump (and ought to go back there!)

Obviously a fan of Ozzy Osbourne . . .  Cool man . . .

We were half an hour too early for the sunrise yesterday, so instead here is a picture of the sunrise view from Malvern Wells in plain daylight.

I stopped in a layby to take these photos of Pen-y-Fan.  There were some tremendous skies yesterday, as you can see from these photos.

Then it was homewards and making a note of what we had bought for the records.  I managed to get some unusual (and hopefully desirable)  things yesterday.  We have the Carmarthen Fleamarket at the end of the month so I will have some new stock to put out there.  Nothing worse than just rehashing old stock.

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Satisfied update on the Fair . . .

I'm relieved to say that today was a very different sort of selling day with LOTS of people through, as the weather was excellent.  In fact, it warmed up so much in the afternoon we wished we were in shorts!

So, it was worthwhile and we will do the next Fair there too.  Time to start hunting for some more tempting goodies!

This was the lucky shelf - 3 pieces sold off here! Sad to see the little bunny go as he had black eyes like boot buttons.

Off to relax in front of the Antiques Roadshow shortly.  I have a glass (or 2!) of wine waiting too.

Saturday, 1 October 2016

Must try harder . . .

The trying harder bit refers to the public, not me.  I have tried as hard as I can to provide an interesting and eclectic mixture of stock on my Antiques Fair stand.  I have driven 100s of miles to other Fleamarkets and auctions.  I have paid money for what I bought.  I have been on the go for weeks and weeks trying to get a good selection for an expensive Fair (to stand at).  I haven't put stupid prices on my stuff as obviously I have to compete with other traders but some things come dearer than others because I also have to compete with other traders to buy them, especially at auction.  The same pretty well applies to every dealer there.  My prices start at £2.  Nothing is more disheartening to have people coming round and either marching straight past your stall to the cafe, or looking at something, picking it up, and putting it down without so much as a word or a smile. Fortunately not all the customers are like that and we've had some lovely chats with people today.

Better still, our middle daughter G came to visit us and stayed a couple of hours.  We had a good wander round the Fair together and are planning for her to come and stay a couple of days when she has her holiday in a couple of weeks.  They we are going shopping for a new mobile phone for me, one on a contract so I don't have mobile bills on my terrestial phone as I'm just on pay-as-you-go on my current mobile.

Back to stock, for things we sell regularly, we have a ball park figure.  Other things are harder to price, as you haven't sold them before, so it's a bit trial and error.  Two things in here need to be reduced tomorrow, although of course then I need to then take an offer as very few people pay the asking price.  Some things are really quite unusual (the little milk-lined glass to the right of the foal's legs on the shelf below being a case in point) and command more of a price.  Things like that I don't mind keeping as they are so nice, but we ARE meant to be downsizing!

The little Holly Hobbie dolls are more window dressing than likely sales.  A little bit of fun anyway.   I know, I am selling things that people don't NEED, but let's hope they WANT them soon!

I couldn't resist this skeleton money box - when his hand lifts up with money in, his mouth opens and his eyeballs pop out!  Great fun!   The wooden things next to him are Norwegian ice skates, nearly 100 years old.

We only sold one thing from the militaria side of things, which can sometimes (often!) save the day, with a profit of just £5 and took a hit on the asking price to try and get some money in to offset against the cost of the stall.  Mustn't complain, as some of our friends did even worse!

Let's hope things are better tomorrow but one thing is for sure,  we can't keep doing fairs if folk won't buy, and this is the current trend, and other folk say the same.  Last weekend's fair was pretty dire too though we had a good sale earlier on which paid the rent.  The one before that - well, we should just have stayed in bed!