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Diary update

Christmas Lunch

Christmas Lunch

I’ve been very remiss of late in keeping you up to date with how things are going with the job.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I have been predominantly working from home with occasional face-to-face meetings which I have been conducting in girl mode.

The initial contract had been for 3 months, and when this became due for renewal it was extended by another 3 months which would take the engagement through to the end of the year (as in the end of 2016).

We settled down into a pattern of meeting up face-to-face once a month for a progress & planning meeting, but other than that everything was conducted remotely. It worked fairly well for me, although it wasn’t without its downsides which I will come to shortly.

Typical work outfit

Typical work outfit

As December wore on it became increasingly clear to me that we were approaching the end of this block of work and that the contract looked to be drawing to a natural conclusion. In our December progress meeting, that feeling was borne out as I was told that there would not be a renewal as we had indeed reached a natural conclusion. That’s entirely fine, and is the nature of my work and the service I offer.

Since the people I was working most closely with were going on holiday just before Christmas, and not planning to work again until the New Year, we decided that this would also be a good point for me to finish, even though there was a contract through to the end of the year.

It was interesting six months. I couldn’t have asked for a safer and more friendly environment to present as female professionally, what with the fact that the owner of the company is a trans woman, the company is very small, close-knit and friendly, and so distributed with everyone predominantly working from home, but even so it was an interesting and rewarding experience. I was certainly made to feel very welcome and accepted, and was explicitly invited to their Christmas party and again to an end-of-year pub lunch. One of the ladies took me to one side at that and told me that I always dress so well, and have such great dress sense, and that she would love to go shopping with me sometime. I think this might be quite the nicest thing someone has said to me in a while. 🙂

After I finished there, I decided to take some time out before looking for another client. I’ve spent time doing my house up, going to antiques fairs, visiting places, seeing friends, and generally being a Lady of Leisure. However, all good things must come to an end and needs must when you have bills to pay, so I will be putting out feelers shortly.

Will I apply for future roles in girl mode? No, I don’t think so. The main reason being that quite apart from my previously stated reasons for presenting as male professionally, getting ready to go out in girl mode is a faff that takes a good hour or more, plus additional time to choose an outfit, whereas guy mode is only around 15 mins if that. I really noticed it on days where we had a meeting, as I would lose around half a day to what was sometimes only a 90 min meeting. Which, when you bill by the hour, is not so great.
Also, with guy mode, there isn’t the requirement to shave every day, nor is there the worry of losing the full coverage foundation on your upper lip when you blow your nose. Nor the itchy scalp and mild headache that comes from wearing a wig for an extended time. In short, it’s a faff, and a distraction from work, and I’m not sure how much benefit it would be.

I really can’t say that I am looking forward to going back into an office environment after 8 months away from one, but I certainly can’t afford to retire and contracts like the one I have just had don’t come up very often so it is rather unavoidable. That doesn’t make it any more palatable though.

 

 

 
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Posted by on February 23, 2017 in Diary

 

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Project Reorganise: Jewellery Rack

Credit: Mango Stream

Credit: Mango Stream

Recently I found a jewellery rack for sale on Amazon. It’s the first one I have ever seen for purchase that doesn’t require you to remove the back from a post earring, push it through a hole, and then reattach the back. Instead, you put it through a larger hole and then let the earring drop down into a much smaller slot, which then holds it.

The rack is available in silver or matte black, and comes in either ‘standard’, or in ‘deluxe’. The latter has an extension add-on that slides into the standard part to increase the total amount of storage space.
I chose the ‘deluxe’ in black but with an idea in mind to improve on it; I have a spray can of Antique Bronze paint and had the idea of spraying the rack a mottled bronze and black.

I got the balance of bronze to black pretty much spot on first time with the lower add-on part, but for the upper ‘standard’ part I completely overdid the bronze. With hindsight, I should have not been painting in fading light!

Too much bronze!

Too much bronze!

Fortunately, I had a spray can of matte black so was able to bring it back again. It took me several iterations to get to a point that I was happy with.

Almost done

Almost done

Once happy, I then gave it two coats of clear lacquer and then mounted it on the side of my tall chest of drawers, which is right next to my dressing table.

The finished item

The finished item

 
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Posted by on April 18, 2016 in Arts and Crafts, Diary, Home furnishing, Photos

 

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Don’t forget Facebook!

Don’t forget Facebook!

Often I have little snippets of blogette to post and don’t feel like they really belong here on my ‘proper’ blog, so I post them to my public Facebook page instead. Sometimes these are incorporated later into a more formal blog post here, but quite often they don’t make it into one and the only way you’ll see them is on Facebook.

So, if you follow this blog and don’t want to miss out on the extras then be sure to follow my Facebook page too!

You don’t need to have a Facebook account to see my posts there, and if you are worried about privacy or back-tracing, then you can use your internet browser’s private browsing feature. All of the mainstream browsers now support private browsing (a.k.a. ‘privacy mode’ a.k.a. ‘incognito mode’).

However, if you do have a Facebook account then please ‘like’ my page – I’d really appreciate it.

 

 
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Posted by on February 7, 2016 in Diary

 

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Ruby Shoo

Recently, one of my colleagues wore the most GORGEOUS pairs of shoes to work. They were a pair of either black or dark Navy court shoes in a Mary Jane style, in material / fabric, with an ankle strap and a bow on the ankle, in a kind of vintage retro style.

Piper by Ruby Shoo

Click to enlarge

Initially I didn’t think it would be appropriate for me to talk to her about them in guy mode, but as luck would have it I bumped into her in the canteen mid-morning whilst we were both waiting to be served, and it was nice and quiet with nobody else in earshot, so I simply blurted out “OMG I love your shoes so much” and fortunately she was brilliantly positive and shot back “I know! Aren’t they fab!”. She wasn’t at all fazed by me wanting to chat about them, nor by me asking what make they were and where she bought them.

Turns out that they are by Ruby Shoo, who I must confess I have not heard of before, but from looking at their website I can see that they specialise in quirky fun shoes with a hint of vintage about them, and that is definitely my style.

When I had a moment, I started google image searching for “Ruby Shoe” (since that is what I had misheard) along with various attributes of the shoes my colleague was wearing, and I very quickly homed in on Piper in black by Ruby Shoo. It had to be the black because hers were plain with a floral bow, whilst the Navy blue version is polka dots all over. I surreptitiously checked her shoes a few times as I saw her around during the day to make sure I had correctly identified them, and I am absolutely sure I have.

Piper by Ruby Shoo

Click to enlarge

I’m a UK 8 for shoes, and initially was gutted to see that on Amazon they only go up to 6. But then I went onto the Ruby Shoo website direct and saw they actually go up to size 9 (unusually). Size 8 was out of stock but they did have a size 9, so I took a chance on that and ordered since they were the same price as on Amazon. Even better, I got a 15% discount for signing up to their newsletter so got them for £37.50 including postage. That seemed quite reasonable to me.

Piper by Ruby Shoo

Click to enlarge

The very next day I got an email and text to say that the shoes had been despatched and would be delivered the day after and they indeed were.

They’re gorgeous and I love them, but unfortunately they are way too big and I really do need a size 8. Currently I am waiting for a reply from Customer Services as to when (or if) they will have size 8 back in stock and if I can exchange. I so hope they are not permanently sold out or I will be so upset!

 


 

Updates

[22-Oct-2015]
Ruby Shoo responded to my email (and also posted a nice reply to my Facebook post) saying that Piper has been an extremely popular choice this season and subsequently has completely sold out in size 8 and that they are not expecting any more stock of this style and colour. However, they did identify a stockist for me who did still have stock; a company called My Vintage. I went to their website and found that they did, but that they wanted £40 + £4.95 postage for them, which seemed excessive to me. I sent them a polite message asking if they would give me a discount code and received a prompt reply saying that they would not. However, I then found another stockist called Scorpio Shoes who not only had stock, but had free delivery, and even better had them in a sale, and they were reduced to £31.20! So I’m over the moon about this, as you can imagine.
I just need to return the size 9 to Ruby Shoo for a refund and keep my fingers crossed on the size 8.

[27-Oct-2015]
The size 8 from Scorpio Shoes arrived today (actually yesterday, but I wasn’t able to pick them up until today). They fit absolutely perfectly and I love them!
I also received the refund from Ruby Shoo direct. I was a little disappointed that the refund was less postage, however they only deducted the price of postage in one direction rather than both directions, so that’s something.

 
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Posted by on October 21, 2015 in Clothes, Diary, Shoes

 

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Project Reorganise: Parental house rummage

As you’ll know from previous posts about Project Reorganise, I have been on the look-out (amongst other things) for a chair for the Dressing Table.

I visited my parents one weekend a few months back, and they let me have a good rummage through their sheds and garage. These have become the repository for stuff that they have collected over the years, and also for the remaining possessions of both my sets of grandparents, all now deceased, since neither of my parents have any living brothers or sisters.

Chairs

Chairs

I told my mum I was particularly on the lookout for a chair for my dressing table and she showed me two chairs that she had out in a shed which might be suitable that I could have, which I happily took. There were several others in differing styles, but those were the only ones I felt would work.

Singer sewing machine

Singer sewing machine

In the garage there were a pair of vintage hand-powered Singer sewing machines which were in a pretty poor state and very rusty. I asked if I could have one of them as a conversation piece, and my parents were more than happy for me to have one. Whether or not I will actually put the effort into refurbishing it is perhaps open to debate.

1930's lamp shades

1930’s lamp shades

There were also two 1930’s lamp shades in a sort-of Art Deco style which my mum was very keen for me to take away.
I hope to sell those on, as I really don’t have a use for them.

Candelabra

Candelabra

She also pretty much forced a candelabra on me which I don’t really like (and she *really* doesn’t like) and I definitely plan to sell that on.

Chinese picture

Chinese picture

Another thing that caught my eye and caused me to go “Oh WOW!” was what appeared to be a Chinese painting on white porcelain, framed in fretwork, which had documentation on the back which appeared to be dated 1988, and rubber-stamped with text that seemed to say it was an antique of over 100 years of age. It had been bought by my maternal grandmother on one of her many foreign trips and, knowing her, was probably quite expensive. My mum said she was happy for me to have it as I have a love of the orient and several items of oriental furniture, and also she isn’t really that keen on it. So that seemed ideal for everyone.

Bead curtain

Bead curtain

There was also a wooden bead curtain that my mum was keen for me to take. I can’t decide if it is delightfully kitsch or hideously awful. 🙂

Beware of Trains

Beware of Trains

I’d been telling my dad about the cast iron railway sign that I have over my gate, and he told me that he also had several cast iron railway signs, which he had acquired decades previously and were original to the best of his knowledge.

Larger railway sign

Larger railway sign

It turned out there was a small “Beware of Trains” sign, and a pair (duplicates) of a much larger sign. He suggested that I had the small sign, and one of the pair and he’d keep the other. And, further, since one of the pair was in fairly good condition and the other was in pretty poor condition, I should have the better of the two. The smaller is of indeterminate age but the larger is dated 1893 and could well actually be that old.

I’d like to mount them on the outside wall of my house next to the gate, although I do worry about the rust on the larger sign and wonder if I should restore it before doing that in order to protect it from further deterioration.

Finally, my mum gave me a vintage 1940’s belt and headscarf that had belonged to my paternal grandmother, and also a cute lipstick holder with integral mirror by Stratton, which probably dates from the 1960’s or 1970’s.

Strattron Lipview

Strattron Lipview

There were a few other things that might have been of interest, but we were running out of time so that was all that I came away with on that visit.

When I got home, I sent a photograph of the Chinese picture, and also the documentation on the back, to a friend who speaks Cantonese. After consulting with someone else for a second opinion, she came back to me with the news that it appears to be somewhat, shall we say, “misleading”, and that the inscription on the picture itself says (roughly) “Falling Stream”, then who it was painted for (a “Mr Shanzon”) and by whom, and that it is dated 1986. The documentation on the back looks like it is an export license, under the column headed “Dynasty” it says “Recent”, and the rubber stamp certifying it as an antique may have been applied in error (or dishonestly), or perhaps it is certifying the age of the wood of the frame, or something. Who knows? But this doesn’t bother me in the least – I wanted the picture because I like it and not because it is valuable.

In the next instalment. I’ll tell you how I restored the chair and made it ‘Shabby Chic’ with chalk-based paint, and also how I got some shelves for above the dressing table.

 

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Farnham Maltings (August)

Heading out...

Heading out…

Yesterday I returned to Farnham Maltings for their monthly market. You might recall from a previous post that I went to the June one.

Given the slight confusion that buying earrings in guy mode caused a seller last time, I made the effort to go in girl mode this time. I wore the Dorothy Perkins dress that I wore in the photos I posted to Flickr a few weeks ago, which wasn’t ideal for photos as I like to have a different outfit in each pic I post to Flickr. But this was the dress I wanted to wear (it’s very comfortable, fits me really well, and is very flattering), so that’s what I wore. If that means I have 4 photos in a row in my Photostream with me in the same dress then so be it.

I got down to Farnham in good time, although the dual carriageway down near the station was rammed solid as usual. I must try to find an alternative route in future.

The first surprise on arriving was that the Pay & Display machines in the car park are now active on a Saturday and charge £1.30 for an hour, and £1.40 for two hours (rising to £5.40 for all day). I guess that even adding on the 50p admission fee for the Market, this is still not too terrible but is obviously a big jump from last time when parking was free.

The second surprise was that, unlike last time, the Courtyard, Great Hall, the area behind the Great Hall, and another room (whose name I forgot to note), were all closed off and without stalls. This meant that the Market was probably about half the size of June’s, which was rather a disappointment.

Art Nouveau earrings

Art Nouveau earrings

I had a good browse, and talked to several stall holders. I don’t know if it’s a case of me being more relaxed and talkative when in girl mode, or the way people (especially women) react to other women, but people seem a lot more friendly and chatty to me when I’m in girl mode. People even smile at me.

My first purchase was a lovely pair of earrings in an Art Nouveau style. The seller wanted £30 for them and wouldn’t budge on price, pointing out that the stones were topaz and amethyst. It was more than I wanted to pay for a pair of earrings; in fact I think it is the most I have ever paid for a pair of earrings. But I thought they were really special so I reluctantly agreed.

My second purchase was a figure of a lady, around 10″ in height. The age and provenance are unknown, and it feels like resin. It’s stamped Annie Rowe on the base of the casting, and on the underside of the plinth it says “The Leonardo Collection”.

Leonardo / Annie Rowe figurine

Leonardo / Annie Rowe figurine

The seller was asking £15 and reduced that to £13 when I asked if it was her best price.

Back home again

Back home again

Some research on google once I got home has suggested that, as I suspected, there isn’t much age on this and it is of this century. eBay suggests that I paid pretty much the going rate. So that’s fine.

Finally I was all done – there was nothing else that I desperately wanted so I left.

When I got home, I changed into my shorter wig as I was a bit hot and bothered, and when I looked in the mirror I liked the look it gave me, so I took another selfie.

I didn’t really do much for the rest of the day – just lounged around taking it easy and watching telly.

 

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Farnham Maltings

On Saturday I popped over to The Maltings in Farnham for their monthly Maltings Market. I’ve not been to one of these before, despite Farnham not being too far away for me. But a recent advert in a magazine mentioned that it has around 200 stalls of arts, crafts, jewellery, antiques, collectables and memorabilia, and that sounded like it was right up my street.

It was a quick and easy journey and after a bit of searching I managed to find a car parking space – the car park was pretty full.

There were some sellers with trestle tables out in the car park and immediately outside the Maltings, and I started to browse them when I suddenly realised that I had come out without my wallet.

A quick search on google revealed that there was a branch of my bank nearby within walking distance, so I walked over with a view to trying to get some cash.

So without my card or any identification, and armed only with the knowledge of my account number and sort code, PIN number, telephone banking password, internet banking password, inside leg measurement, and with my mobile phone in my possession (and whose number they have on file and could ring), I asked to withdraw money from my account. The cashier said that all she needed was my signature. Which, it turned out, they did not have on file, despite me banking with them for 25 years, because they had recently gone digital and hadn’t digitised their paper records. D’Oh.

All my passwords etc. were no good to them – all they would accept was my signature which they didn’t have on file. It was all rather Last Century and it initially looked like I was out of luck. Fortunately when the manager was called, she had the good sense to ask me various questions about my account activity which I was able to answer, including recent transactions, where my monthly salary payments came from, and eventually was satisfied I was who I said I was and authorised the cashier to let me withdraw the £50 I wanted.

The fact that I was in guy mode probably helped enormously in this case as it would have complicated matters enormously otherwise, as I would have had to explain why a woman with no identification was trying to access a bank account whose account holder had a male name. I think that if I had been in girl mode I simply wouldn’t have bothered and would just have gone home.

Anyway, I walked back to The Maltings and tried again.

Once I’d browsed the outside stalls, I headed inside and discovered that The Maltings is an absolute rabbit warren. It has several halls, on several levels, and also has a large courtyard and also several side rooms. All of these were full of stalls. Some were selling the usual Antiques and Collectors Fair stuff (and, indeed, there were some familiar faces from other fairs), some were local artists selling jewellery and art that they themselves had made, there was one stall with handmade leather goods, there was vintage clothing, new clothing, art, postcards, ephemera, cakes, jams, and all sorts. And being in many different rooms and halls meant that there was quite a bit of exploration and wondering if you had found everything. I loved it and will definitely go again.

Dragonfly earrings

Dragonfly earrings

One seller had some dragonfly drop earrings which I liked. She saw me looking at them and said that she makes them herself, and without really thinking I said that I love dragonflies and butterflies, and drew her attention to the little silver butterfly stud earring I was wearing.
“So, um, are these something you’d wear then?” she asked, slightly surprised. Rather than be embarrassed or flustered at the fact that I had said something out-of-gender, I simply smiled and replied “Well, not dressed like this. I’m disguised as a guy today. But when I’m dressed in girl mode then definitely”. She didn’t seem overly bothered by this, and merely asked if I had both ears pierced to which I said I did, and she just shrugged in a sort of “fair enough” kind of way and I bought them for £9.

Another seller was selling older stuff, and was playing 1930’s music on a period gramophone. It surprised me just how much volume it was managing to kick out, despite appearing to be purely mechanical.

Necklace

Necklace

Amongst the stuff he was selling was a necklace which caught my eye (pictured). It was unusual not just because of the shape and decoration, but because it was the same on both sides. Usually necklaces have a show side and a back side, so if they turn themselves round whilst you’re wearing them then they don’t display properly.

I asked the price, and he said £25 and that the chain alone was worth that. I asked if he’d take £20 and he said that he couldn’t budge at all on price. And he didn’t – I couldn’t get him to drop even a penny, which is quite unusual as you can usually get something off. But I decided to buy it anyway.

I had a good wander round all the stalls and whilst there was some nice stuff, there was nothing else I wanted to buy, and eventually I headed home.

I will definitely visit the Maltings Market again next month and this time I will make sure I don’t go out of the house without my purse or wallet (delete as appropriate).

 

 

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Project Reorganise: Dressing Table

Project Reorganise has slowed down a little of late, but I have managed to get to a milestone on the Dressing Table.

I’ve been holding off posting about it until I had found the right mirror for it, which I found at a Big Surrey Fair at the Tolworth Recreation Centre on the A3 a few weeks ago. It’s in a lovely Art Nouveau style and complements the picture frame that I bought last month (which you can see in the picture).

Dressing table

Dressing table

When I saw the mirror, the seller was busy in conversation so I spent time having a really good look at it and then moved on, returning when I saw that she was free again. She said she’d seen me looking at it and would I like a price on it, to which I said I would. She said that she could come down from the sticker price of £38 to £32. I asked if she’d accept £30 and she said she would. She also remarked that she’d told herself that if it didn’t sell today then she’d probably have kept it.

I mentioned to her that I hadn’t wanted to interrupt her conversation earlier and she said that she wished I had as the guy was a bit of a bore. Oops. 😀

Small picture frame

Small picture frame

A week or so later I was at another fair, this time in Hartley Wintney, which is nice and local to me. I happened to come across a little double picture frame that had almost exactly the same design as the mirror (or, certainly, incredibly similar), which I managed to buy for £5. I haven’t yet decided what pictures to put in it or where to put it – whether to have it right next to the mirror or to have it elsewhere so that someone looking at it might go “oh! Isn’t that the same design as…?”

I’m not yet sure if this will be the final configuration of my Dressing Table, as when I have put on my make-up at it I have felt that the mirror is a little small and also that there is not enough light in that corner of the room, so I may have to revisit this. But it will do for now and it certainly looks nice.

 

 
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Posted by on April 26, 2015 in Diary, Home furnishing

 

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Project Reorganise: Necklace rack

I buy too many necklaces and am starting to have trouble storing them. I have a table-standing necklace rack but it’s getting pretty full and also I find it looks a little messy.

I’ve seen a product for sale that is a full length mirror that is actually a shallow jewellery cabinet, but the quality is very poor and I didn’t much care for it. So I came up with my own idea.

12mm cup hooks

12mm cup hooks

First off was a purchase of 50 small (12mm) square shouldered cup hooks from eBay for the grand total of £3.50 inc P&P.

The plan was to attach these to the inner side of the two doors of one of my fitted wardrobes. The wardrobes are built in and are just made from white Conti board / furniture board, so I didn’t feel too bad about doing this.

I laid down some masking tape so that I could mark it all out without marking the wood (I wish whoever made it had done the same!), and then used a metal Combination Square to ensure a straight & level line and then marked out two rows of regular 2cm spacing on one of the doors. Then I used a spring-loaded centre punch to mark out where each hook was to go, and removed the masking tape. Then I used a small 2mm drill bit to pre-drill a hole into each mark made by the centre punch so that each hook would easily go in without damaging the wood. The hooks then screwed in easily.

The end result didn’t look too bad at all.

2cm spacing

2cm spacing

After hanging some necklaces on it, I realised that I needed much wider spacing for some of my necklaces. So, since I still had 12 hooks left, on the other door I did a much wider spacing of 8cm and then, for the last 2 hooks, a really wide one specifically for my large butterfly necklace. If I need even more space, then more hooks are a cheap purchase and I have 4 more doors in my fitted wardrobe set. And I can always add additional rows to these two doors as well. It’ll be a long time before I run out of space.

Wider spacing

Wider spacing

 

All in all, I think that came out pretty well. I’ll be putting my table-standing necklace rack up for sale on eBay I think – I have no further need for it.

(Note: These aren’t all my necklaces. Whilst I was doing this project I took the opportunity to have a sort out and ditch about 6 or 7 necklaces that were some of my earliest and cheapest, and I know that I will never wear again.)

 

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Off to the Races

On Monday I took the day off in order to go to a big Antiques & Collectors Fair at Newbury Racecourse. It’s something I have wanted to do for a while, as week-day events tend to be bigger and are often more trade-focussed.

Pricing was such that 8am to 10am was £10, and 10am onwards was £5. Although there was a real risk of some of the best stuff having been sold by 10am, I elected to aim for that time especially as it would allow me to set off a little later and therefore miss the worst of the traffic.

My journey up to Newbury wasn’t too bad, but as soon as I got into Newbury itself I remembered why I tend not to go there if I can help it, and why the Newbury Bypass was so desperately needed. Traffic got progressively worse until the final mile or two, which was then solid. It turned out that there were roadworks with temporary 3-way traffic lights right slap bang outside the entrance to the Race Course!

Once parked up, I made my way on-site. I’m not really sure what I was expecting – something like some of the shows I have seen on Bargain Hunt, I guess – namely an Exhibition Centre with loads of indoor stalls selling jewellery, pottery, ceramics, art, etc., and a large outdoor area with loads of furniture and the like. I was half right – it was *all* outdoor and seemed to be a cross between a Car Boot Sale, an Outdoor Market, and a Rugby scrum. It was laid out along a tarmac apron in front of the main Grandstand, then continued on to another smaller tarmacked area, then onto grass and hardcore, and finally onto an area adjacent to a building site that was grass with a hardcore path. It went on for quite a way.

Open & shut case

Open & shut case

There was certainly an eclectic mix on offer, covering all sorts of ages from new to very old, and from very good condition to shockingly poor, and everything in between. However, I really struggled to find things that I wanted to buy. It was very interesting looking at everything though.

I don't even know what this is

I don’t even know what this is

Mein boxen

Mein boxen

There were sellers from all over the country, and indeed the continent. I overheard one seller saying he was over from Holland, and many of the sellers’ vans and cars had European number plates.

One seller had a stack of wooden ammo boxes with German writing on them (pictured). Googling for what was written on them showed they were for German DM-31 and DM-11 land mines, and DM-56 fuses, which are modern ordnance. The boxes certainly looked pretty new. I couldn’t really see any value in them for myself, but they were interesting.

They weren’t the only Militaria there – there was quite a lot of military surplus including some very recent-looking British Army kit. And, of course, the usual array of swords, bayonets, muskets, medals, uniforms, and the like. One seller had what looked like a WW1 Lewis Gun, which is not something I have seen before; the usual machine gun you see for sale is the WW2 Bren.
It was a bit of a oddity though as it was lacking its cooling shroud, but it had a bipod and a flared end on the barrel, and also had a stock. It also looked rather black and shiny like it had a coat of enamel on it. Certainly didn’t look right.

Another thing to catch my eye was a rather “used” hard hat diving helmet (pictured).

One diver's helmet. Slightly used.

One diver’s helmet. Slightly used.

I didn’t even ask what the price was as it didn’t really hold any interest to me. I did wonder what the story behind it was though.

Assorted shells

Assorted shells

I was starting to get concerned that I would even make a purchase by this point. But then I came upon a stall selling sea shells, geological stones, and other whimsy, which was exactly what I was looking for in order to accessorise the driftwood shelf in the downstairs cloakroom.

I managed to bag an unpolished geode for £7 and a collection of shells for £10, all of which I photographed when I got home (pictured).

Geode

Geode

I think I did ok on price, because some of the shells were individually priced at around £4 each, although others didn’t have prices, and the geode was priced at £10 until I haggled a little, so £17 for everything seemed fair. I’m really pleased with them.

I finally got to the far end of the stalls, and started walking back. Up until now the weather had been lovely – brisk, but clear with nice sunshine (as you can see from some of the earlier pictures). However, the weather was starting to close in by now and rain was definitely in the air.

Sign of the times

Sign of the times

I’d spied a collection of railway signs on my way down the line of stalls, so on my way back I looked out for them again and enquired as to the price on one I liked (pictured). The seller wanted £25 for it, and I asked if he’d take £20. He said he could sell them all day long for £25 but he would split the difference at £22.50 which I accepted. So I got out my purse, pulled out a £20 note, and then looked in the coin area, eventually tipping it all out into my hand, and it was clear that there was less than £2.50 there. There was a £1 coin, a few 20p pieces, and some other loose change. The seller said that he’d take all the shrapnel plus the £20 note, which seemed fair to me. He then wished me well carrying it as it was heavy. He wasn’t kidding! When I got it home and weighed it, it turned out to be 6kg! That’s around 13lb in old money.

Tiffany-stylee

Tiffany-stylee

I decided that this was probably a good time to return to the car. But I then passed a stall selling a variety of lamps and shades, and I spied a Tiffany-style hanging pendant lamp with chain and brass fittings (pictured). It didn’t look that old and there was a small crack on one of the panes, but I asked the seller what his best price was. “£10 if you like it, and £15 if you don’t” he replied, so I laughed and said that I liked it and gave him a tenner. Again, I photographed this one when I got home.

There were spits of rain coming down by now, and I decided I had given the place a very thorough sweep and also the cast iron railway sign was starting to feel more like 12kg than 6kg, so it was time to go.

Walking back to the car park I immediately saw, with dismay, that it was absolutely grid-locked with cars trying to get out. I got back to the car, loaded up, and eased myself into the flow. Well, I say flow, but I didn’t move an inch for the first 10 mins and it was a good 40 mins before I made it the 100 metres or so to the exit from where I was parked. The problem was the 3-way temporary traffic lights that I mentioned earlier, which were only letting a few cars out each time. And, also, cars from all parts of the car park trying to join the queue to get out was adding to the gridlock, as they were blocking cars from trying to enter, which was in turn preventing cars from flowing through the traffic lights properly. Classic definition of gridlock and an absolute nightmare. They should have turned off the traffic lights and had people directing traffic by hand I think.

Then, after I’d got out of there and joined the main roads, I very quickly ran into another awful queue of traffic, this time due to a car having broken down on the entrance to a roundabout causing two lanes to merge into one to try to get round them. Again, traffic chaos. In the end it was over an hour between getting into the car and finally getting out of Newbury. I don’t think I will be going back there for a while.

Newbury is only 10 miles or so from Hungerford, which has many Antiques and Collectables shops and I have visited several times in the past. It’s notable for the Hungerford Arcade, which has featured on Bargain Hunt several times and is well worth a visit.

Now that's more like it.

Now that’s more like it.

It was around 1.45pm by the time I got there and I was starving, having not eaten all day, so the first thing I did was to head up to the Rafters Café in the rafters (funny, that) of the Hungerford Arcade. In marked contrast to my previous report on a Full English Breakfast, this one was far more like it – two decent sausages, two good rashers of bacon, two eggs, mushrooms, decent beans, nice toast, and an actual pot of tea.

It was then time for a really good root round the Arcade. If you’re not familiar with it, then it is a large collection of stores / booths / areas owned by different vendors; some manned but in most cases unmanned and being sold with the vendor in absentia by the front desk. Some areas are locked and you can get the key from the front desk, others have locked cabinets and you must enquire at the front desk and a member of staff will come with you to unlock, and others are open and browsable.

House of Erté / Franklin Mint 'Ocelot' Porcelain Figurine

House of Erté / Franklin Mint ‘Ocelot’ Porcelain Figurine

Last time I was there, which was mid-January, I saw a really lovely Art Deco style figurine but it was £50 and had damage to the hand. It was also in a locked cabinet. I very nearly asked to see it but passed in the end, feeling it overpriced for what I thought it was. I’ve thought about it many times since though.

I was delighted to find that it was still there (pictured), and also this time the cabinet was unlocked with a sign saying you were free to take stuff out and have a look. I considered this a sign of sorts (well, duh), so I very carefully took the figurine out to look. It was “Ocelot” by Franklin Mint / House of Erté – a hand-painted, limited edition, individually numbered, porcelain figure (with 24K gold paint and silver chain, I have since found out from research). This made it significantly more valuable than I had first thought.

Talk to the hand

Talk to the hand

The damage to the hand (pictured) was a great shame – her thumb, and her index and middle finger, are all missing on her right hand. But other than that there was no damage and her earrings and necklace were not broken or missing (they are chain, rather than moulded).

I took it to the front desk and asked if the seller was prepared to negotiate on price, and the very polite young man on the front desk said that the seller had indicated that they would offer a 10% discount if pressed (i.e., £45). I looked unconvinced, and he said that he would be happy to ring the seller if I had a price in mind. I said that in light of the damage to the hand, and the lack of a Certificate of Authenticity, the best I could go to was £40. In my head I also knew that if it had been unsold for at least 2½ months then the seller might be amenable. He couldn’t get an answer on the phone immediately, so said to leave it with him.

Small, so doesn't take up mushroom

Small, so doesn’t take up mushroom

I continued to browse and quickly came across a small mushroom-shaped brass and frosted glass lamp shade (pictured) that I thought would be ideal for the downstairs cloakroom. It was only small, and there wasn’t much age on it, but the £13 price label reflected that. I’ll need to buy a brass ceiling rose, a brass bulb holder, and some period flex to complete it, which will easily be the same again in money, but I think it will look lovely.

I also found some small polished nodules (which are like geodes but not hollow) so picked two small ones at £4 and £5 respectively to add to the collection of things to go on the driftwood shelf.

By now the seller had phoned back, and accepted my offer of £40, which I was overjoyed about. I asked if there was any movement on any of the other items, and he said that that the label on the lamp shade indicated the seller would knock no more than £1 off, so it would be £12, and that the stones were on their money (which I agreed with – I wasn’t going to haggle on those anyway). So it just remained to get the figurine very carefully wrapped up to avoid any further damage to it. And pay, of course.

I took everything straight back to the car, and then continued to browse the shops because, as I mentioned, there are loads of Antiques & Collectables shops in Hungerford which is why I like going there.

Sadly, despite a really good look, I didn’t find anything else that I wanted to buy although I really enjoyed the browsing.

It was about 4.30pm by now, so I headed on home.

When I got home, the first thing I did was to mount the railway sign to the side gate (which can’t been seen from the road, so I’m not overly worried about theft). It fitted perfectly and I am so pleased with it!

Please close the gate

Please close the gate

I did a little research online and it seems that although this sign isn’t that rare (there are a number for sale on eBay both current and recently sold), it looks like I did get a good price on it as the going rate seems to be around £40 – £60. So that was a nice bonus.

I also carefully unwrapped the Ocelot figurine and put it on the shelf, and then photographed it. I really like how this photograph has come out – the composition and lighting especially.

“Ocelot” by Franklin Mint / House of Erté

And that was my day. I was absolutely knackered, so I had a quiet evening and a nice soak in the bath.

This Easter Weekend sees a whole load of shows on Friday, Sunday and Monday, with Easter Monday being particularly busy with several shows within driving distance of each other. So hopefully I will find some more bargains then too.

 
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Posted by on April 1, 2015 in Diary, Out & About, Photos, Shopping

 

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