Flea market finds

September 7, 2010

Last weekend my vintage-geek friends and I put on our flattest most comfortable pumps, grabbed our swag bags and hopped on the speedy Eurostar for our annual pilgrimage to Lille in France for La Braderie – the mama of all flea markets. The vintage shopping was better than ever, and we haggled for some brilliant bargains at the stalls…

I loved these vintage milk churns (sadly too heavy and bulky to carry home) and spent a lot of time leafing through old books and magazines. I’ve never seen so many broken but GORGEOUS old alarm clocks – perfect for styling purposes, but purely ornamental!

I couldn’t resist this little bird vase – such pretty colours.

If you have a craving for a vintage tin, there are about six billion to choose from on the cobbled streets!

I had to be dragged away from this very cool vintage Louis Vuitton suitcase complete with lovely luggage labels and stickers. SIGH. At 300 Euros (presumably because it’s a genuine LV) it was a bit out of my price range sadly, but I can always get the look with the Cavallini reproduction luggage sticker set from Papernation!

There was so much beautiful brocante, I thought I would burst with joy!

Needless to say, we sampled the moules frites and vin blanc at lunchtime and watched the piles of shells start to grow…

I picked up a few gems along the way. One of my favourite finds was this huge metre-long 1950s French school biology poster about ‘les insectivores’. I am still trying to explain science-lab-chic to the boyfriend, but I framed this and put it up on the wall last night and he didn’t seem to notice it. So far, so good. It was only four Euros!

I also picked up a massive two metre university biology wall hanging – hand painted and very cool. I thought it was possibly coral. But then I got my dictionary out and found out it’s a bacteria of some sort! It’s going to hang in our dining room eventually:

I love the way it’s been so painstakingly labelled using stencils and ink, then somebody at a later date has just scribbled out one of the words and amended it in marker pen!

I also bought this cute china ‘Confiture’ jar, which I will fill next time I make jam, then give to somebody at Christmas. All in all, I left Lille feeling as though I could quite happily spend a week mooching around, bartering in Fr-anglais, admiring tat. In a day we probably only covered a quarter of the rues we intended to! But we kept getting distracted by vintage treasure! – Ellie

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Bethan and I have just got back from a fantastic trip to Lille in France, where we spent many happy hours browsing La Braderie – a massive, annual flea market. We were lucky enough to be practically teleported from London to Lille in just over an hour on the wonderful Eurostar – one minute, we were enjoying breakfast at St Pancras – the next moment we found ourselves standing in Lille town centre, clutching a map and some shopping bags ready for loot.

la braderie1To begin with, I confess, we had a few map issues. Both of us are a bit ‘geographically challenged’, so we spent a while aimlessly wandering through the outskirts of the market, searching in vain for bric-a-brac. This area of the market was NOT very vintage – think pan pipe CDs, dodgy trainers, manky old nail varnishes, racks of velour tracksuits, smelly hot dog vans etc. Finally, we scraped together enough French (ish) to communicate with a local and were soon directed to the heart of the Braderie. We found ourselves surrounded by beautiful Brocante, and realised we were in Flea Market Heaven.

la braderie2We kicked off proceedings in the ancient Citadelle, which was full of vintage books, magazines and postcards. I bought a pretty French novel for styling purposes only (my A-Level French is a dim and distant memory!) and Bethan stocked up on gorgeous postcards covered in elegant handwriting. We spent ages admiring some printers’ blocks and found some wicked old hairdressing chairs.

la braderie3There were so many hundreds of wonderful things, it’s impossible to record, or even remember, them all! There was a lot of taxidermy – interesting, but gross – and we saw lots of lovely rustic wooden wine carriers and old metal watering cans. A gigantic chemist’s chest of drawers caught our eye, and we wished we had a van to transport a lovely cast iron bath back to the UK!

la braderie4

la braderie6Lunch at La Braderie is a civilised affair – all the restaurants serve moules frites, then collect the shells in massive piles on the pavements and compete to see who has sold the most. We had a delicious meal, a cheeky glass of wine each, admired our purchases, and then headed back into the throng for more bargaining.

la braderie5We each found some real gems. Bethan had her eyes peeled for a vintage, white bird cage – luckily, she struck gold and found the perfect one. I bought a galvanised wire log basket, and a 1930s clock. But the best buys of the day were two funky 1950s French learn-to-spell school tableaus, with retro lettering.

tableau1They were a pair, so we negotiated a deal with the stall holder and bought one each for 10 Euros. Bargainacious. By the time we were back on the luxurious Eurostar, we were completely shattered, but happily laden with vintage treasures. We’re already planning next September’s trip…  – Ellie

THREE tea towel projects

September 4, 2009

We were chatting in the office the other day about the two types of tea towel in the world. (Oh dear.) The first kind is the manky, tea-stained, torn, faded, bought-in-IKEA-a-million-years-ago kind – the sort you use for drying up, washing the cat, wiping up mud, milk, sick etc. The second kind is the ‘decorative’ type – the colourful, stylish, gorgeous, never-used, never-washed, beautifully-made designer tea towel – possibly from the likes of Jme, To Dry For, or Cath Kidston – which is displayed at all times and is there to be admired. It is ironed. Cared for. Loved. Sometimes it is moved from one hook to another, but it is never, ever, EVER used. And woe betide any poor soul who attempts to use it.

an apple a dayIn my house, the concept of a purely ornamental tea towel is lost on certain folk – namely, the boyfriend, my visiting mother, and the naughty cats – so keeping a lovely tea towel in pristine condition is something of a challenge. That’s why the crafty tea towel makes from the October issue of Ideal Home magazine are so cool – by turning your favourite tea towel into wall art, a knitting needle case, or a cushion, you can preserve it much more easily. This ‘An Apple A Day’ one looks fab in a simple IKEA Ribba frame, while polka dot tea towels from Dotcomgiftshop make fantastic knitting needle holders.

knitting-needle-holderI like these cushions made from pretty tea towels bought at John Lewis. This idea would work well with Penguin Classics book cover tea towels, or vintage tea towels from holiday resorts, too.

tea-towel-cushionsIt’s the weekend, and I’m excited because Bethan and I are treating ourselves to a Eurostar day trip to Lille in France for La Braderie, Europe’s biggest flea market. We’re going to do some serious bargain-hunting, and we’ll take lots of photos and write a nice big post all about it on Monday. Just before I sign off, check out this gorgeous photo of Lisa Stickley‘s scrapbook:

lisa stickley scrapbookI always think that blogging is a bit like having an online scrapbook – but there’s nothing quite like the real thing. More on scrapbooking next week! Have a lovely weekend. – Ellie