Tuesday, 30 August 2011

True Blue and Wight

As promised a quick blog about my new found love affair with blue and white china. Last weekend we packed up our dog and a bag and raced off to Portsmouth to catch a car ferry to the Isle of Wight for a surprise overnight stay for Steve's birthday.

We stayed at Brightstone holiday camp in a fabulous 1950s Mayflower caravan owned by the fabulous
Vintage Vacations. Mabel was home away from home. What fun we had staying in a camping site that time forgot about.

We were perched on the top of a cliff top with a gorgeous fossil beach which we had lovely walks along.

With no telly we settled in for a night of proper ginger beer and a rather competitive round of "The Merry Game of Floundering"

We drifted off to sleep dreaming strange dreams of aran knits. Hmmmm??

The next day we packed up our goods and headed off to explore a little bit of the island. We discovered a cove called Steephill Cove. If ever I felt I was one of the five in Enid Blyton's Famous bunch it was here.

I had been told about a curious carboot sale that happened every Monday Afternoon at 5pm. Apparently a good pair of elbows were required. Thinking I was quite a seasoned booter I thought I would have no problems. I should have known it would be a bun fight by the fact that the queue began two hours before the fair! There were around 1000 in the queue by the time it opened.

When the gates opened it was every man for himself. I felt like a rabbit in the headlights. I headed straight for a quieter far corner of the sale and bumped straight into a large box which made a sound I am very familiar with. The sound of chinking china. I lifted the lid and there, in stack upon stacks, of beauty lay dozens of lovely blue and white china plates, each in pristine condition, some patterns I recognized, some not but what I did know was, I had to have the box whatever the cost. After a chat the gentleman explained he had recently sold an antique furniture shop and had used the plates to add colour to the sale room. We came to an arrangement and the plates were mine.

The sale was crazy and although I did manage to find a few more lovelies, the plates were my find of the day. Once we got back to London I gave them a good wash and we set about turning them into cake stands. Although my real soft spot is for the pretty pinks and pastels, I am smitten by the fresh and striking nature of the blues. They remind me of china my granny used to serve homemade chicken soup in when we were kids.

I love  how the willow patterns and Cornishware work so well together. Somewhere deep in each of our memories lies a pattern in blue and white and nothing to me speaks more of pure nostalgia then grannie's china.

I then looked around the shop and realised quite a few blue bits have been creeping in without me noticing.

So here's to the blues. Long may they continue to bring a splash of colour and nostalgia to any kitchen.
Today in their first day in the shop we found homes for three blue and white cake stands. One a wedding gift, one going off to Australia and another for a brand new kitchen which has just been refitted. Another has been reserved for a birthday gift so I think it is fair to say, the blue china is a hit.

A few other bits we found on the Isle Of Wight

Our very happy weekend was a great escape. We will definitely be returning to a little corner of England that feels truly unspoilt, a slice of paradise to us.


Sunday, 28 August 2011

Happy Birthday to us....

A first birthday passes most humans by without them even realising it. It's more about the parents   celebrating that they have survived the first year of parenthood and are still sane? (semi-sane will do) The first birthday of a shop is no different. Remarkably our first birthday occurred on 7th August 2011. It has been a year of late nights, sleepless nights, early mornings, many changes, headaches, teething problems and lots of readjusting to living a life that revolves around the newest arrival in one's life. We are a year older, a year wiser and a year into this adventure.

It therefore seemed fit to reflect on all that we have achieved. Most things are the same. Steve still hauls large bits of furniture around our neighbourhood on impossibly tiny sack barrows, this time it was the turn of my much loved (dare I say it?) Ikea dresser. It had served its purpose and so I made the brave decision to exchange it with a teeny tiny but tasty little vintage dresser from the shop.

It has been a fantastic addition to the shop and I could have sold it twenty times over... doh! But, I have decided it is a great display item and so for now it will stay with us.

Meanwhile, at home I have had the terrible task of downsizing my china collection. You might remember my dismay at the prospect a few months ago in my blog. We are trying to adopt the one in; one out rule but lately even that has been challenged as we have been using a one in, ten out sort of ratio in order to simplify our lives at home.

That said, I still have managed to shoe horn as much of my china as possible into this teeny tiny dresser.

One day I will live in a big farm house and we will have space for all my beauties to breathe but for now, in our little Victorian garden flat in London, this will have to do.

The shop still has a decidedly 'pink' feel about it although lately I have been enjoying the blue and whites again (more about this in a later blog).
Our new line of vintage children's clothing has been widely admired.

There is a greater presence of silver plated goods which I love and make fabulous wedding, christening and special occassion gifts.

The Upcycled glass has been a brilliant and very popular addition to our stock.

Small 50's pieces are more popular than ever.

Vintage Textiles have definitely enjoyed a revival and more and more people are favouring upcycled pieces over new designs.

Victoriana is enjoying a revival too
Upcycled Lloyd Loom pieces are very desirable.

Basically, nostalgia is in! Hallelujah!

We are grateful to everyone who has supported us in our first year, those who have kept our spirits up from both near and afar, those who have supported us with their custom, the surprise pop- ins from friends who we know are busy juggling busy lives but always find time for a cuppa and a catch up.

We are mindful of how blessed we are to have a business in difficult times, a business that has held its own and hopefully will continue to do so. Our lives will never be the same and at times it's hard to remember just how tough our lives were before we left it behind to follow a dream. There are definitely rough waters ahead and we hope we will make it through.
 A year ago our shop was a brown unloved empty property.

Today, it is full of life, it is a community, a hub, a place were a warm welcome and cup of tea are always on offer.

 We may never become millionaires doing what we do but we love it all the same. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts to everyone who has been a friend to Nicholas &Steele. Here's to a great second year!

Holly and Steven xx