Sunday, February 15, 2009

Breaking buying resolutions at the Pamiers flea market.

Because the shelf over the sink is jammed with them from one end to the other. Because the kitchen cupboards and the sideboard are crammed with tottering piles of mismatched crockery. Because I really should know when to stop. I've placed an embargo on buying any more quaint old tins or one-of-a-kind plates or saucers. However attractive they are.
    But...we are on the lookout for plenty of other stuff. A carved something-or-other for the post at the bottom of the staircase (an oversized hazelnut or walnut would be ideal). Vintage bedside tables. Something to stand in the bathroom to hold bottles and jars. And, as they say in the advertising business, "much, much more."
   All of which was a reasonable excuse to head off to Pamiers on a glorious Sunday morning when the frost lay on the fields and the Pyrenees looked sculpted out of solid ice. 
    Once, some months ago, we found that the usual flea market had been pre-empted by a troupe of majorettes. But not today. By ten o'clock, when we arrived, the main square was already packed with buyers, sellers, dogs and an inquisitive ferret on a leash. Good karma flowed. You just knew this was going to be a successful rooting through the cast-offs of others. 
    Our first find was an old wooden shuttle (that's the thing that looks like a miniature canoe), a remnant of the textile industry that used to flourish in this region. The woman who sold it to us said some people use them to hold pens and pencils. In a moment of lunacy, I'd envisaged it holding a row of tea-lights until Peter pointed out that, being made of wood, the shuttle might go up in flames. 
    In a box under the same stall, I came on a rolling pin. Not sure if you can make out the words inscribed on it but they translate as "reserved for domestic quarrels." What I initially thought were red wine stains may be blood. I couldn't resist two small plates with a stencilled pattern of oranges. Only a euro each. 
    Major finds often hide in the cartons under each stall. Seeing me dithering over a pile of saucers, their owner smartly picked out the ones I'd been looking at--one with blue flowers, six with red daisies--and offered them to me for a euro the lot. This was after she'd sold me a tin of buttons for the same price. 
    In yet another box, this time filled with books, I came on Middleton's All the Year Round Gardening Guide (another one euro purchase). Reading through it later, I've discovered it was written during the war as an aid to digging for victory.
    Meanwhile Peter picked up a rather splendid vase, a souvenir of Mirepoix, a steal at 1.20 euros. And that was it. Apart from two pairs of gloves and a kilo of walnuts.


Susan Pritchard said...

I would also have happily strayed from the path to simplicity.

Anonymous said...

I have bookshelves filled with tin boxes. Old chocolate boxes, Japanese cracker boxes, boxes with the Titanic...what is the fascination with old boxes.
Enjoying your adventures, Angela.