The above photo shows Malvern in the sun. Believe me, Malvern showground did NOT look like this yesterday, or feel remotely like the warm sunny summer day when I took this photo!!! We set off at 5 a.m. and it was cold here. The forecast had shown a couple of wee clouds over Wales, and then clear skies later and there was mention of it warming up and a couple of rain showers. Hmmm, Had we known it was going to be BITTERLY cold all day, and picking with snow all the way there, we might well have stayed in bed!!
I don't enjoy driving for the best part of 3 hours in total darkness for starters, but it is necessary for winter forays to Malvern. Concentration levels were high, driving into the snow showers - just tiny snow pips - when we stopped briefly, it was hardly anything - but driving into it was quite distracting.
We made good time though and got there just as the gates had opened and were walking round the first stalls before it was even properly light. Because of the light levels, we made an expensive mistake buying something which which purported to be something it turned out NOT to be. Dodgy dealers all look the same in the half light . . . A lesson learned and hopefully we can get it away at not too large a loss. However, this was made up for later when we bought another thing which - if it is verified as being what we think it is from our research - will have been an excellent purchase. Swings and roundabouts - no-one knows everything, no-one can possibly be an expert in everything, and sometimes you have to take a chance.
But my golly gosh, was it COLD there. Crisp with a hard frost underfoot, and because the showground is in a natural ampthitheatre, the cold stayed all the time we were there. The only warm place was the Avon Hall, where we lingered to try and thaw out a little. Folk were starting to pack up around 11 a.m. because of the cold, and not many buyers about (who can blame them?) In the unheated sheds, the cold was intense, what with the concrete floors and doors open. I had felt shaky when we first got up around 4 a.m., and having slept SO badly for two nights in a row (less than 5 hours sleep each night), it took a good while to feel half-human. The cold was penetrating, and I could literally feel the marrow in my bones chilling as we walked around. I couldn't feel my feet either, and was glad after the first round of the Fleamarket, to get back to the car and have hot tea. We always get a big sausage roll from the excellent baker who has a stall there each time, and I felt it wouldn't be amiss to have a Hereford Bun to follow it down - imagine a Chelsea Bun stuffed with fruit, apple and cinnamon and a little Hereford Cider too. Scrummy! I've not had one for months because of trying to avoid temptations, but a chilled body calls for sustenance.
Thus fortified, and a change of footwear from walking trainers to walking boots (this time with wool socks), we went round again, and made a couple of small purchases. One of these will probably go no further than me, or at any rate, I shall enjoy it for a little while.
We spotted this on the stall of our friend Simon and I was absolutely drawn to it. When you think of the trench art which is normally on offer at fairs, it is usually of the ashtray, brass vase variety. Pretty enough with a pattern chased into the brass, but I have NEVER (nor has Simon) seen anything which cried so loudly "HOME". I can imagine the chap who made this, thinking of the fireside in his childhood or family home - the simplicity of this fireplace suggests a home of fairly humble origins in a city. He must have felt a strong connection with home when he made this, and I hope it brought him comfort, rather than a desperate homesickness. The recipient would have been his mum, or his sweetheart or his mother. Simon called this a "Sweetheart piece". As I said, this little piece drew me to it, but even so I was quite unprepared for what happened when I picked it up . . .
I have written before about being - well, let's call it a bit "fey". I have had experiences with objects before. I am empathic, and I pick up on emotions. This had emotions by the bucketful and the moment I picked it up I was overwhelmed with sadness and my eyes filled with tears. In fact, I had to turn away so no-one noticed my face crumpling! I put it down, and we discussed price. I picked it up again, with the same emotional result. It just had to come home with me. As I said, when I saw it originally I was thinking what a wonderful example of social history, and thinking of selling it on at an Antiques Fair. Now I will just enjoy it for a while. I don't know who made it, only when. I can make up a story behind it, but I do have a feeling that the young man who made it never made it home and was killed in the horrors of WW1.
Now to cheer us up, a photo of the ridiculous purchase (Keith said: What on earth possessed you to buy THAT?")
I just couldn't resist this tatty half-bald and much-loved little toy dawgy. His tail is nearly off - just a few huge coarse stitches keeping it in place, but his glass eyes give him a slightly leary look and he is a poppet. Someone will fall for him I'm sure. I need to do some running repairs on him this afternoon.
Right, time to be off as we are going to our original Unit to start dismantling it as we are pulling out of there at the end of the month. Sales have been going downhill for the last 6 months so we have called it a day there.
P.S. I very nearly forgot. We decided to come home via a village where there is a property for sale which would suit us down to the ground (half a dozen miles from Hereford). Well, driving through the village, we couldn't see it at all. Then, just a couple of miles out of the village, I spotted it. Set back from the road, and in the most marvellous setting. Two more ticks . . . We'll not go to view until the next viewing has taken place. Pointless getting excited over nothing . . .