Thursday, 27 December 2012


Sometime in September or October my good friend J and I start planning our Christmas competition: Cleverest Themed Gift. We didn't mean for it to be competitive, but somehow each year hears one or other of us muttering, "YOURS was better this time, dammit!" not quite in the Spirit of Christmas... This year my theme was pretty basic.


J loves gardening and old books...

...fascinating worm poo!

A new box for compost stuff...

...and a Bridgewater bird and worm mug - sorted!


J's idea was this kit to help me on cold, early morning antique-ing trips...

...a lovely candle to warm my hands while I rub them with this luxury hand cream, or perhaps J's expecting power cuts this winter.

Super Scandinavian gloves - fingers free, ready for action!

A miniature hot water bottle, just 4 by 4 inches, can be popped anywhere that needs warming up

What on earth is this? A portable pin cushion for safety pins, just in case my knicker elastic fails?

A bright hair band so that Mr N can find me in the fog?

A handy necklace containing personal details in case I become lost and bewildered?

Oh, brilliant - a bag for treasure-seeking - I can't wait to get started!


Sunday, 16 December 2012


Time to wind down from the hurly-burly of the antiques trade with a visit to the altogether gentler world of vintage. As has been mentioned before on this blog, the model village of Saltaire near Bradford has become the vibrant centre of the Yorkshire vintage world with several shops and frequent Vintage Fairs, run by The House of Rose & Brown.

The recent December Vintage Fair took place in three packed rooms of the splendid Victoria Hall.

Ooooh! Lovely - just my style - very Martha Longhurst!

I'll bet this chaise longue saw some action in the '60s. Come to think of it, looks a bit familiar...

Oooh La La!

For Mr N the best bit of the morning came next - refreshments served by a lovely lady in a snood - or is it a hair net? We'd better ask Ena.


Sunday, 9 December 2012


The last big antiques events of the year saw freezing conditions at the huge Lincoln Showground Fair, followed quickly by the even huger, even chillier Newark International event. In fact, my cold-defying layers of clothing were so thick that my stiff little arms gave up all efforts to whip out my camera to record proceedings. (I am still kicking myself for failing to take a snap of the Tibetan monk in saffron robes, bare legs, sandals and a parka! Had he taken a wrong turn?) We sold a lot of stuff - and I bought a bit too; needlework, tins and things

My last-minute impulse buy seems to have been a result of the mind-numbing cold and my current obsession with sorting old family photographs...

Great Aunt Violet.

Great Granny Rosie.

A family friend.

Cousin Lydia.

Cousin Queenie (Newton Ferrers.)


Monday, 3 December 2012


There aren't too many box pews left in churches today. Most date from the 16th to 19th century and were designed to give privacy to worshippers. Sometimes they contained tables, fireplaces, windows, curtains etc. and sometimes they were available to rent. Here are some pale and beautiful examples at St Stephen's, Fylingdales, near Whitby.

I was reminded of this type of church interior when hunting for a great, great uncle on the other day. This useful resource can often provide an interesting history lesson (not to mention a wonderful collection of unusual names - my favourite to date is Eglantine Thonger.)
I was looking at this particular 1871 Berkshire census page and discovered a really useful occupation for a lady of a certain age: 

Here she is among the scholars, the carpenters and the under gardeners - Harriet Boult, aged 62, Church Pew Opener!

Those were the days, no need for an over-60s lady (with no pension) to worry about gainful employment. Her duty was to unlock private pews when required by their owners, while sometimes making extra money by renting out empty pews. 
My great grandmother had another good idea; widowed at 60, she started up a servant's registry office - matching servants to employers. The responsibility for angry, mis-matched pairs would be just too much for me!
At the moment, of course, buying and selling the quaint & the curious keeps me busy - and I PROMISE I'm not "a duffer", the Victorian name for a pedlar of cheap and rubbishy goods.
But  if I ever do need a gentler occupation, church pew opening sounds like a doddle to me...

..."this way, Sir!"