Thursday, August 30, 2012

Gardens, Doors, Fences, & Gates

Just returning home from the North Carolina coastal area where I went to visit my sister.  She had surgery recently and I went to help out for awhile.  Her gardens had been calling out for attention.  I spent 3 full days just weeding and trimming shrubs.  Somehow weeding can be so satisfying; however, my back and knees do not necessarily agree.  But I do love to see a clean and tidy garden.  As I worked my mind raced back and forth about my new property in South Carolina.  Most of my property is pasture and my cottage will require a different style of gardening that my last two homes.  One was French and one was Georgian and both had formal gardens.  On my buying trips to England and France I always take time to look at gardens, front door entrances, gates, and fences.   I thought I would share some pictures that I have taken. Hopefully others may find some inspiring ideas to use.  After all, it is time to start thinking about our fall gardens and designs.

                                                 (photo by me)

                                                  (photo by me)

                                                       (photo by me) 

                                                       (photo by me)

(photo by me)
                                                    (photo by me)
This door was so beautiful!  Just will not work for my cottage....maybe I need a townhouse in town.   Below is a closer view of the trim 

(photo by me)

     And finally one more beautiful set of doors.  I love double doors and did do two large double front doors for my cottage.

                                                  (photo by me)


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Antique Buying in England & France

A Favorite Shop

A peak inside (photo by me)

I would like to mention one of my favorite shops at Portobello, Henry Gregory.  The shop is owned by Henry and Camy Gregory.  They have a wonderful selection of luggage, trunks, sporting items, silver service items, and boxes.  Great selection of antique silver trophy cups, desk items,  champagne buckets….I could go on and on.  The selection and condition of the items is always top notch.  Go early on Saturday  to be sure you have time to see everything since the shop can get quite crowded.  But then, what shop owner doesn’t love a busy shop? Cami always greets shoppers with a smile; I always enjoy my visits with her and always come away with some unique items.

A great find last year; thread holder in the form of a grand father's clock

Another great find;  Georgian Era Barrister's Wig...not sure how they could wear these for any length of time.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Antique buying in England & France

Call me obsessed, infatuated, or captivated by antiques. When it comes to shopping for them obsessed is a good descriptive word.   I look forward to my shopping trips abroad and am always eager to see what finds each trip will bring. I often visit small towns and villages while in France and of course, there is Paris.  Who can resist shopping in Paris? Not I.  And I will press on against all odds to get there.

Several years ago I had plans to meet my youngest daughter in Paris while I was on a buying trip.  I would be shopping during the day and we would meet some evenings for dinner.  She was staying with friends in Neuilly Sur Seine on the outskirts of Paris.  Three days before I was to leave I was jumping my horse and one of my stirrups broke over the fence.  I was fine except for one knee that hit a wooden pole.  The next morning I thought not so bad…a little more ice… a little more aspirin…and all would be well.  That was until I fell down the stairs at our house rushing to get ready to go.  The knee began to look like a small watermelon by that night.  More ice, more aspirin.  The next morning, I was packed, dressed, and ready to go.  Go yes; however, not very fast.  I could not bend the knee at all and had to walk with a straight leg.  But go to Paris I did.  How could I not go?  There were antiques waiting in Paris and I needed to go see what was there.  There were auctions to preview and shops to visit.  I had to get in cabs and slide backwards across the seat since my knee would not bend; however, the Parisian taxi drivers were very patient (yes, I said patient).  I was a bit slower getting around the Paris Markets.

The trip was a success and I went on to England for another eight days of buying and was left with great memories of Paris.  The cherry trees were in bloom and they were glorious!     I was able to meet up with my daughter on several occasions for dinner including one of her most memorable meals in Paris, a Mushroom Risotto that we have yet to be able to re-create.  We were so obsessed with the most beautiful dog that was keeping his owner company across from us; we never took time to beg for the secret to the cream Risotto.  There is always next time……

                               Trees in bloom; Spring in Paris.  My photo

                                          Who can resist?   My photo

                                         Shopping in Paris; my photo

         A beautiful set of 12 silver knife rests found on that buying trip

Monday, August 13, 2012

Shopping Portbello Road Market for Antiques

Getting to Portobello Road Market

By London tube; follow directions for your location or hotel to Notting Hill Gate station.  When exiting look for signs to direct you to Portobello Rd Market or if you go on a Saturday morning just follow the other eager shoppers.   It is best to arrive early if you are a serious shopper.  If you just want to browse and do not mind the crowds, then you could sleep in and still enjoy yourself arriving later.  A large section of Portobello Road is closed to traffic most of the day which then becomes a pedestrian pathway. 

    Turn right onto Pembridge and then make a left on Portobello Rd

By Taxi; most mornings when I go early and am shopping alone; I will take a taxi.  I find it easier to have the taxi take me to the corner of Portobello Road and Westbourne Grove.  This corner is also a good spot for catching a taxi at the end of the day especially if you find that you have bought more than you expected.  Trust me; it could happen! 

A few tips about how to fund your day of shopping
--Obviously cash is king when it comes to buying antiques. You will want to explore the best method that works best for you if you are going to carry cash.  Consider putting some in a pocket, some in a purse, and some in your cell phone holder.
--If you decide on cash just use caution and do not draw too much attention to yourself.
ATM’s may or may not be available; I have read that they are working to fix the situation at the market.  But, lines are usually long.
--If you do run out of cash and really find something you just have to have then ask about using credit card.  Some dealers will take credit cards; they normally add an extra fee and often the small dealers inside a building (where there are multiple dealers) have to use the management’s credit card processor.  Almost without exception they will ask you to follow them to the front of the store where they will process the transaction. 
--If you are there to buy large amounts or are a dealer; you can work with a shipper/broker and they will handle the costs for you up to an amount you deposit with them thereby avoiding carrying cash around. 
--There are several good shippers available at the Market and the turn around time is very good depending on the shipping method you choose.  You can package and send small items home.  Some of the post offices have boxes available and there are “small packing shops” that carry packing supplies also.  I usually leave home with several small shipping boxes that I place in the bottom of my suitcase (unfolded).  I also save room in my suitcase for scissors, tape, and labels so that I am ready for the first day of buying.

    Saturday mornings by 11am the street and sidewalks are crowded

Enjoy some of the gardens you will pass on the way to the Market


Saturday, August 11, 2012

Cottages & Creatures

Yes, you can survive building a home.  Headaches, insomnia, second guessing and doubt may try to become your new friends.  Sometimes, when you are in the process it is helpful to see that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.  So I have added a few pictures from our experience.  For me personally, I loved the process of building.  My spouse….well…let’s just say he is glad it is over.  After years of remodeling older homes; I was ready to build so that we could create the home that would meet our needs.  It was time to downsize (yes that applied to even my antique collection) now that our children were grown.  So the idea of a cottage was born!  That would leave more time to ride, travel, and spend time with family.  Though the cottage will be forever in the process of fine tuning; it is at last finished. Okay, maybe ready for occupants….homes are never really finished. 

Hard to believe a little wooden stake could command so much time and attention!  It was moved a few inches this way and a few inches that way before the right spot was found.

Six months later it was hard to believe that we had come this far!  Time to turn our attention to the property and make decisions on fencing and gardens.

Our sweet Black Lab Traveler didn't really care where the front door was located.   His main concern was where his food bowl would be located.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Antique buying in England & France

Rainy day…no riding this morning.   I am sure my horse is napping after being turned out all night and he will not mind the day off.   I decided to start planning my next antique buying trip to England and France.  Naturally my thoughts turned to my last trip and of course I got sidetracked looking at pictures from that trip.  What is it about rainy days that make it so hard to stay focused?  I will share a few  photos and then I need to get back to planning.    
 Shopping for antique silver in France then a day in Epernay to taste some champagne before starting my journey to England.  I always end my visit to England at Portobello Road Market.