Tuesday, 26 October 2010

This 'n That

One of my favourite chores of the day is the opening and unpacking of all the parcels of stock which arrive like clockwork at 10.35 every morning. Our wonderfully cheery postman who would shame even Postman Pat, bounces through the door with a cheeky grin and a look that says, 'I know something you don't.' baring a stack of parcels, some of which require signing for and others which are merely dropped off. I usually make a big cup of tea then in the studio, take my time over opening each one, checking the contents and appraising their condition. This used to take place in the breaks in the staff room at HSW with an audience of teacher, colleagues and friends oohing and ahhing over the unusual and lovely objects that used to emerge. Nowadays, its just me but I quite like my guilty pleasure of enjoying the thrill of an unopened package, it's like Christmas every day.

This week however, my usual morning ritual was shattered by not one, not two but three nasty surprises... BREAKAGES!!!!!

Exhibit one

A beautiful Art Deco Japanese tea set suffered a casualty, a cup was shattered.

Exhibit two

Two cups of this gorgeous full Kutani tea set were crushed! Grrrrrrrrrr.......


.......my all time favourite Break Highlight of the week........

Exhibit Three
Only a little rude wouldn't you say? Poor Bambi suffered utter annihilation on one bookend and an 'unfortunate' break on the other...booh!

These were the first serious breaks for a while and three in one week?!! Clearly somebody at the PO depot is taking out their frustration on the innocent china.

So what else is news? Well our new government, in their 'wisdom' has declared that the boom was wrong, the bust was inevitable and the austerity cuts are what is going to save us all. This is all well and good, and Lord knows we were all guilty of riding the boom but what about us little businesses, struggling to establish ourselves in this incredibly tough economic environment post recession? Our customers tell us the government has got them running scared? They like everything but shop as if they have old grumpy chops David Cameron himself, hanging over their shoulder saying "do you really need that? Wouldn't it be better to save it in case I choose to make you and your job obsolete?..." Grrrrrr. Thanks Mr C.

On a lighter note; some delicious new stock came in this week that would melt even the Scroogiest of Scrooge hearts. Take a look;

As mentioned this lovely Geisha set from Japan circa 1920. Just look how paper thin the cups are.

The Geisha is carved into the base of every cup. It is called a lithophane. Quite beautiful.

Some more lovely mix 'n match Cath Kidston fabric cushions made by my lovely interior designer supplier in Dorset.

Two scrummy Plant Tuscan Art Deco tea sets circa 1930.

and my piece de resistance a gorgeous antique brass knobbed French day bed/cot which now houses the Bunnies and union Jack cushions.

A fantastic find were also these beautiful Lloyd Loom pieces - a blanket Box, laundry hamper and chair covered in vintage fabrics.

This wonderful French antique Aubusson wall tapestry which came all the way from the South of France.

Several new Union Jack cushions.

A tray of lovely vintage Monet and Trifari brooches and other bits of vintage jewellery....

which I catch Steve trying on every now and then.... for quality control...so he says (and yes, they do pinch)

A selection of vintage jelly moulds

and this antique, life size baby Jesus from a church nativity scene complete with glass eyes.... a bit spooky but quite sweet too. Am not sure exactly where this will end up but I had to rescue it from the obscurity of the market stall and give it a better home.

A lovely shabby chic chair

and this absolutely gorgeous Victorian Peacock cane chair. Isn't it simply marvelous?

We said goodbye to the lovely fifties dresser which left us with a conundrum of what to do with all the spare China. Luckily we sold quite a bit of it the day it was being delivered to the new owners.

The French arcopal set went to a lovely lady who used to drink tea out of the exact set at her grandparents when she was little.
The vintage enamel ware is proving popular.

and Shirley Temple is still pulling in the crowds.

Steve spent a morning producing a zillion of these while I got on with a class.

Meanwhile the last of the current course lessons occurred and we have now broken for half term.

Finally, our postcard goes out this week for national antiques week offering 10% off for the month of November. Thanks Talitha. What a fab job you did.

On the home front....

We awoke last week to the sound of diggers, cement mixers and blaring radios. To our amazement, our front garden has finally had the face lift we have desired for many years. Take a look;

for DAD
An unbelievable amount of steak found its way into our basket at the market on Sunday. (Dad, cry your eyes out). We found ourselves being seduced by the huge scale and slick, miked up butcher man on the largest, shiniest Mercedes articulated lorry- truck- thing this side of Christmas! I found myself elbowing my way to the front and jumping up and down, hand in air like the stupid kid who finally knows the answer to a question. £20 got me some serious cow! I will repent for my deadly sin later.

Well lovely people it is very late and I feel I have tortured you enough for one week with N&S carrying ons. All that is left to say is Don't let Mr. C get to you. Go out and spend! and if you have to make savings please don't cut out the small independents. We need you all more than ever.


Monday, 11 October 2010

The Bourne Identity...

Four years ago, on a sunny autumn afternoon, my boyfriend (now husband) went online and found an antique center in Farnham which he thought he might take his weary and stressed, teacher girlfriend (me) for a lazy Sunday visit. At the time, we needed a garden studio and we found one at Bourne buildings, the business directly adjacent to the Bourne Mill Antique Centre. Our purchase was followed by a tea at this quirky antique centre.

Little did we know that four years later, we would have our very own little attic room in this thousand year old building complete with dusty hidden treasures, attic cobwebs and a proper ghost! A week ago we moved in.

As we only had three weeks notice, we had very little time to prepare for our move. We had put our name down for a space nearly two years ago, and quite frankly after moving in at the Packhouse a year ago, and opening our shop, we had completely forgotten about it. That is, until a few weekends ago, when we had a call to say we were at the top of a list of twenty four people awaiting a space at the Bourne Mill. In a well established antique centre, which has run for over 50 years, spaces like this do not come along often so, in spite of the fact that we had barely opened our shop eight weeks ago, we made the decision that we would go for it!

We began by painting up this beautiful antique pine dresser. As our space is in the rafters, it was quite a challenge getting up the narrow steps and through and windy corridors but we persevered and were quite happy with the effect. We dressed it with a beautiful Crinoline Lady, 1940s tea set which my friend, Collette had found at a recent fair for us and with my latest cake stand creations.

We made use of bunting to soften the eaves and to warn shoppers so they don't bump their heads.

A lovely sky light breaths life and light into our nook and makes our space feel quite airy.

So, we have established our 'Bourne Identity'...onwards to the Bourne Supremacy!

Meanwhile, back in Wimbledon...


A gorgeous Royal Doulton set is put up for sale

Our stunning swallow tea set flies off to Paris.....

and shopping fit for an a-lister

Part of the N&S service is that we offer a sourcing service. This is often a challenge but can also be rewarding when clients ask us for the impossible, we go hunting, we find it,we deliver it and everyone is happy. However, there are those who think it quite acceptable to ask for something then change their minds, even though they were adamant that they must have it. We have therefore had to introduce a deposit system which we are hoping will dissuade time wasters and also protect us and our very precious cash flow. This week for example, we bought in a very large tea set for a client who insisted she have it before half term (next week) On Wednesday, she surprisingly popped her head around the door to say; "Don't worry about the tea set, my husband will kill me if I bring home any more china." I tried explaining to her that it wasn't really fair but she shrugged it off as a minor inconvenience for us and said she was sure we would find another buyer and that " I tell you what, I will pop in next month and if any of it is left I might buy some." Sadly, this is not the first time this has happened and it is at this juncture that my my old school shop keeping mantra usually kicks in - ' THE CUSTOMER IS ALWAYS RIGHT ' but is there an argument that this out-moded, one sided relationship between shopper and shop keeper has run its course. It has become increasingly clear to me why shop keepers can be grumpy, unhelpful and often mistrusting of their clients but I refuse to become one of these. So after a brief sulk and a moan , I put the beautiful tea set in question out and am hopeful that any day now it will sell...oh and introduced the deposit scheme.

Our most exciting news of the week was the sale of no less than seven of our loveliest tea sets to the fabulous A-lister whom I really cannot name but who is possibly the most influential fashion designer of our time! All sets were beautifully packaged in our new tea set hatboxes and couriered to Paris overnight. You might remember the swallow tea set I spoke of last week, well it was one of the seven and has migrated to Paris. It still seems incredibly lucky that anything like this should or could happen to us but it has and in eight weeks we have become suppliers of fine china to no less than two of the world's top designers.....Ai chi chi!

and now, on to the drum wars. Steve spent the better part of a morning building flat pack boxes for our tea sets. Last week he tortured me with a small drum. On returning to the shop this is what I discovered...a rather larger version.

It is amusing living with a 'comedian' and there is never a dull moment but this really tickled me.
Little did we know that just a day later most of them would be winging their way to Paris.

As we enjoy a little bit of an Indian summer, I am reminded of the day, exactly five years ago that I first moved to this little part of London, and how much I have come to love my village. Although many changes are coming to this area, and the buzz of how West Wimbledon is on the 'up' is making news, I hope it never loses the simple charm and the spirit of independence it has become known for.