Sunday, 23 September 2012

The Final Brocante of 2012

I think we have been so lucky this far to have had no rain at previous Brocantes, alas it wasn't to be this month!  Thank goodness for gazebos and for all those people who braved the rain and came to see the fabulous array of antiques, stunning textiles, vintage clothes, gardenalia and for the first time hats.  Despite the gloomy day everyone had once again turned the area surrounding the cafe into a stunning market and veritable feast of variety, definitely mirroring those of our French neighbours!

As we stood and chatted to our customers, enjoyed sipping coffee and very warming bacon rolls etc it was great to see regular customers coming back and to see new ones too. 

This time we had four new dealers, as well as the stalwarts.  Beccy Sheton Agar came with her beautiful vintage fabrics and dresses.  I loved these stunning curtain holders and I also spotted a sherbert pink vintage dress that I thought could have been perfect for my daughter's school party.  Alas it was not to be, if only I could have squeezed into it!

These rather stylish "Little Bo Peep" menu card and name holders caught my eye on the Heritage Living stall and could be another way of table decorating.

I would love this vintage flour tub as a coffee table.  As ever Charlotte and Adam Calkin bought their fabulous and quirky wares.

I decoupaged this Georgian trunk with 1920s/30s French magazines.  It seemed that you could have ordered anything from the "Louvre Magasin" in Paris; clothes, sheets, pots and pans, threads, furniture.  A fine trousseau!

Always inspired by something new I particularly enjoyed how Katie Boys from Refound Reloved has covered the interior of this pretty suitcase with vintage fabric.

Rachel Cottenham from 'Pleasant Pastimes' and Patricia Pentecost from 'Just Seven Hats' came from Devon with their interesting and varied selection of vintage clothing and accessories, including hats made from vintage material.  I was grateful for their enthusiasm despite the rain (and everyone else too!) and am so pleased that they would like to return next year.

Gill from Magpie also came for the first time.
I feel very grateful to my long suffering husband and children, who have helped pack, price and set up my stall and to have been interested and provide encouragement!  Also to Tony Hickman for his help and advice about forthcoming Brocantes and how to progress in this age of many fairs.  I do feel we have something quite unique that people are drawn to and to come back again more importantly. 
That's it for this year folks!  Look forward to seeing everyone next year, where there will be new, varied and exciting wares.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

June's Inspirations

Not quite sure where to start having had an incredible week of inspiration with a rare visit to London, the Vintage Sunday fair and a Bollywood fundraising evening at my daughters' school!  I feel that my soul has been given a really amazing boost musically, artistically and emotionally. 

It started with a Jewellery/hat sale where my very old school friend Polly Whately was selling her beautiful hats.  She is very creative and just manages to fuse a very classic style with a large dose of quirky and fun.

Then it was on to see her mother Belinda Belville's dresses in the Balldresses exhibition at the V&A, as well as the fashion collection which I loved.  The permanent fashion collection also provided inspiration for me. 

This was a fabulous lead up to the Vintage Sunday fair in Bath's Royal Crescent on 24th June where the fabulous fashion shows put on by Vintage to Vogue of Bath were incredibly exciting together with 1920s music coming from Nick "Wind up Merchant's" vintage pram as he wandered inside and outside the marquee!

This was my space from which I could watch the entertainments going on including the fabulous dancing, beautiful and the unusual vintage clothes being bought from Claire Nolan opposite me (I am thrilled with my Frank Usher dress and can't wait to wear it this weekend!)

This lady's dress and whole attire attracted my eye and very kindly let me photograph her.  She and her friend I saw enjoying a cup of tea in a stunning powder blue herald triumph before coming in to have their hair styled by Pop up Parlour. 

Another moustached gentleman and his elegant wife in a beautifully fitted tweed suit came and swapped flyers with me.  I feel sure that I must go to the British Beard and Moustache Championships in Brighton Dome on Saturday 15th September!

There was dancing from Hoppin Mad, delicious tea and cakes from Mrs Stokes and so much entertainment.  Everyone seemed to be happy to join in, from Claire's 3 year old daughter dancing on the stage to all those "game on" people who joined in the dance classes.

Loved seeing Ruth from Delectable Collectables and others I've met doing fairs.  Well done, Imran, John and Polly, think you did a great job and created a wonderful day.  If only we'd had croquet on the lawn later.

The other completely extraordinarily inspirational evening was the week before when I heard the British Paraorchestra performing at Bloomsbury Church.  This group of disabled musicians brought together by British conductor Charles Hazlewood are incredibly talented and those who are physically unable to hold instruments are able to communicate their music by the use of technological equipment.  As well as the incredible quality, diversity and different musical influences during the evening, there was definitely a feeling of something extra being experienced beyond the music.  Chatting to Tim Jones, who sang devotional Indian songs with a blind guitarist Adrian Lee, afterwards, we agreed that had there been more time it would have been interesting to involve the audience in some kind of vocal improvising.  The evening was a fundraising event to raise the money to provide Charlotte White, a 23 year old girl who suffered a head injury wich caused her to lose all movement in her body, to be able to use music technology to provide an outlet where she can be creative and regain control of her life.  Having been a music therapist for a time in my life, I can truly say that music can absolutely give people such opportunities.  See Charlotte's blog for more information and I would urge anyone to donate to this hugely worthwhile cause.  For details of Paraorchestra's gigs see

Finally and really importantly the final Brocante of 2012 is approaching, and rather aptly on Bastille Day, 14th JULY, so come along and browse the exciting selection of antiques/vintage clothes and gardenalia.   Relax and sample the delights of the Alice Park Cafe too.  I tried to get Chris Garratt to bring his Petanque players to provide more of a French feel, as well as the Biddestone boules players.  Alas it seems that they are in demand elsewhere, but next year hope they will be a fixture.

Beccy Shelton-Agar will be joining us for this Brocante with her fabulously quirky textiles, clothes and Brocante finds.  As will be 'Pleasant Pastimes' and 'Just Seven Hats' with their quality vintage clothing and accessories. 'Magpie' will for the first time be joining us with their vintage clothing, jewellery and accessories.  Together with regulars selling decorative and antique furniture, retro collectables and gardenalia there should be something for everyone!

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Another Sunny Day for the Second Brocante!

Can't believe it was another sunny day for the second Brocante of the season!  How lucky were we!  As I put the fabulous new banner created by Sound Marketing up early on Saturday morning under slightly menacing clouds I was a little worried.  However as my optimistic stallholders arrived, and we put the marquee that had been staked down the night before to stop it blowing away! up, the sun seemed to conquer and provided a dry morning and sun soaked afternoon with plenty of people coming out to enjoy the park and browse the exciting array of antiques. 

I had been inspired by the Bridport antiques market earlier in the month that created such a wonderful atmosphere of anticipation of what treasure would be found, and a very French feel as people wandered up the street, enjoying the sunshine and browsing.  I bought a quirky vintage suitcase from one of many stacked up, and a 1950s picnic table which provided we ate our lunch on whilst camping.

I bought some exciting new stock for my Brocante, including the American Decorware storage pots in the photo above and some unusual Regaid 1940s water bottles.

It was great to have the Calkins back at the Brocante.  Their stall looked fabulous edged with Adam's bunting, brimming with quirky French crockery, cake stands etc and some beautiful and unusual textiles; embroidered lace curtains and embroidered scalloped edging which would decorate and cheer up any corner of a house/cottage etc.  Could have spoken with Charlotte further about the fascinating social history of her textiles particularly.  Around every corner was something of interest including another favourite item of mine!  This beautiful 1940s/50s dress.

Loved this deco style cup and saucer!  Would love my coffee in it for breakfast, reading my 1950s "Modes & Travaux" magazine that I bought from them too.

Chris Garratt from Old Hat returned too with his unusual vintage broaches/jugs and quirky clothes, and am hoping that he will bring his Petanque players to the Brocante next year. 

Victoria Burton from Puce & Co came from France with her fabulous selection of French furniture, which she gives her own distinctive style to and I especially enjoyed her stripey deck chairs, the seats of which she had replaced.

Alison Meer  from "La Petite Jardiniere" made her debut with her fabulous selection of garden furniture and beautifully planted pots, interspersed with vintage crates and step ladders as well as a fascinating water pump.

Along with Jacqui Hunt and Steve Weekes, there was a real French feel to the day.  Complementing that French feel were Refound Reloved, with their quirky, covetable curiosities and reloved vintage finds; Rosie Blue with her vintage homewares and fabric; Jacqui Martin with her decorative collectables and vintage clothes.  Berverley Hopkins made her debut with her Brocante finds, and I was grateful to her for her enthusiasm and optimism about the weather!

Alice Park Cafe again provided a fabulous backdrop and much needed coffees and bacon rolls.  There was a steady stream of people, including regulars who come back again and again as well as new customers.  Pear Lowe came and bought as well as a local TV presenter.  A couple who had seen my wonderful new banner popped in on their way to Bath from Reigate and another gentleman who has restored houses stumbled upon the Brocante and was very enthusiastic about the event and it's importance in the community.  Someone had already wondered about getting Lottery funding for such events.  I definitely think from feedback from Tony owner of Alice Park Cafe and others that people are keen for the Brocante to continue and that it adds another dimension to the Cafe and park and a broadening of the community.

Imren Eshref and John from Vintage to Vogue came and introduced themselves to me fabulously attired in vintage clothing.  I am having a stall at their Vintage Sunday fair at Bath's Royal Cresent lawns on Sunday 24th June, from 12 - 5pm.  Come along and be part of this really incredible and quirky sounding fair, with stalls as well as entertainment and music, performances and dance classes with Hoppin Mad, Mrs Sotkes Tea Room, hair and beauty makeovers from the Pop up Parlour and the wonderful sounding gramophone maestro Nick "Wind Up Merchant".

The next and final Brocante of the season is on Saturday 14th July, from 10am til 4pm at Alice Park Cafe, Lower Swainswick, Bath so come along and join us on rather appropriately, Bastille Day!  Joining the regular stallholders will be Rebecca Shelton-Agar with her eclectic mix of antique textiles, vintage clothes and quirky decorative items, and Pleasant Pastimes and Just Seven Hats selling quality vintage clothing and accessories and fabulous hats made with vintage fabrics.

On a final note I loved all the knitted bunting, hats and spiders on webs adorning various buildings in Corsham, these being part of a knitting initiative which was part of Corsham Festival.  This was one of my favourites at the Pound Arts Centre.  Could just do with some knitted bunting for the Brocante!

Thursday, 17 May 2012


Given the return to the soggy climes of last week, I feel incredibly lucky that we had such a fabulously sunny day for the first Brocante of the year on Saturday.  French Living magazine had tweeted just before to encourage people to come and taste a bit of France, which felt hugely encouraging.  Thank you to them.  This seemed to bring lots of people out to browse, buy, run, play rugby and just "hang out" in the beautiful surroundings of Alice Park.  I had some fantastic stallholders.  Returning again were my stalwarts; Steve Weekes from Texworks, (to whom I am eternally grateful to for support and her husband Ivan for transporting my furniture for the day) and Serena Simpson with her stylish antique homewares.      

Attending for the first time was Jacqui Hunt, whoose quirky brocante finds transformed the edge of the cafe into a veritable French feast, (I loved her stunning bamboo cabinet), Chris and Sammy from Old Hat with their stunning vintage clothes, hats and sorts of other curiosities.  My lovely daughter bought me a Super Saints badge that I had admired, and their ladder back chair was admired by many, and bought by a friend.  Also Scrapiana with her fascinating vintage haberdashery, including her china poodle that came from her Mother-in-Law's off licence in Bournemouth with a secret supply of cherry brandy!  Alice Roberton from Homes & Antiques magazine was there selling magazine subscriptions as well as her beautiful vintage homewares.

I was really heartened to hear how much those who came had enjoyed it and especially the couple who booked in to a B&B especially so they could come.  I admire that drive! 

Next month's Brocante on the 9th June, is looking pretty full with about 10 dealers including Rosie Blue, La Petite Jardiniere, RefoundReloved, Albion House Design, Elise M, Old Hat, Texworks, Katherine Gilmore and Puce and Co.  COME ALONG AND BRING YOUR FRIENDS!

I also wanted to thank my family and friends for all their encouragement and Tony from Alice Park Cafe for lettting it happen and his encouragement.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012


I love all the spring flowers emerging and the sound of birds excited at the feeling of hope that spring brings.  I even had forty winks with my pigs in the glorious sunshine yesterday!  I seem to have been inspired by anything painted, knitted or woven in primary colours.  I loved the lastest Bath Decorative and Antiques Fair, the variety and the sheer quirkiness of some of the stands.  Particularly exciting were the bright colours and fair ground feeling provided by Doe and Hope with their fabulous vintage fairground ride seats and Victorian paraphernalia.  I was inspired by Piccadilly Antiques too and John explaining about the sampler from Penzance with it's crab claw frame.  OLD had as last year a particularly intriguing and quirky stand with a 1930s lime green sofa, overlooked by metal cabinets painted in primary colours, and the wooden troll like figures in it's small metal fabulous polished metal/glass display cupboard.

Shepton Mallet last week felt very cold, grey and with what felt like considerably fewer stands.  I found myself buying a crotched green square with big red flowers on it and a wonderful mat/wall hanging made with strands of bright coloured wool from one of my favourite stands.  If anyone knows about the latter would love to know more about how it was made/who made it.  It is always a joy to see what Liz van Hassault has been storing up, and I wasn't disappointed.  Other than that it seemed quiet.

Found myself drinking delicious coffee from a stunning vintage cup and saucer in front of a table full of the most delicious cakes, meringues, cookies etc whilst listening to a wonderful pianist on Saturday at a Vintage/Retro fair at Oriel Hall, Larkhall.  Particularly loved the rosepetal cake, as well as all the stalls!  Lovely event.

Things are hotting up for the three Brocantes this year on 12th May, 9th June and 14th July.  Alice Park was looking stunning in the spring sunshine, and I could almost close my eyes and be transported to a pretty French town adorned with fabulous Brocante finds!  BBC Home and Antiques will be taking space, as will Texworks, myself and some new dealers:  Magpie, Old Hat, Heritage Living selling a mixture of vintage clothing, French kitchenalia, decorative antiques.  Beccy Shelton Agar will join us with her fabulous French vintage texties and clothes and other quirky finds.  Refound Reloved and Elise M, Puce and Co will also be coming for the first time.  Am always on the lookout for new and interesting stands, and in particular would love to find some vintage toy dealers.  Please get in touch if you are interested in joining this unique and interesting event.