Ads for Domestic Staff Still Publicised

I subscribe to some lovely magazines, one is more of a social headliner, aimed at the more affluent section of the female community.  It’s been going as an independent for almost 200 years and is the publication to have if one employs staff of any kind.  I just love looking in the classified ads at the back of the magazine.  All sorts of tempting positions are available – housekeeper, couple to run housekeeping, gardening and chauffering.  I was amazed at the fantastic salaries that are quoted – admittedly most in those ads placed by recruitment agencies.    Gone are the one liners – lovely sunny room over garage available for the right lady – who has to be a gromm, jockey, jumper, mucker outer and general dogs body around the home of usually a very genteel old biddy.  Some of the salaries are indeed eye watering.  up around mid £30K, most applicants need to speak an additional language or two, all have to drive and most of those would be expected to provide their own car now.   That’s rather a shame as one regular feature on ads was “car provided as is horse box” !

Taking a Chance On A Listed Buy

There was a time when the only folk able to buy and live in an ancient antique filled home were the upper classes.  Or those in the middle section who took a risk, and sometimes won, but very often did not!  The buying of any property is an exciting but nerve shredding time – buying into history is quite another ball game.   The age of the property will make a huge difference to the build type and how easy it’s going to be to get a mortgage on it.  There are some trading times around the world when buying ancient is not as popular amongst the lenders as it might otherwise be.    Mortgage lenders want to know that their funds will be safely making money once they hand it to you, you hand it over for the cutsie little chocolate box cottage.  Very often the properties are listede, which causes a whole heap of conditions regarding the upkeep and maintenance of the home.  A ‘listed’ owner has to be very careful not to carry out any structural alterations without getting the ok from the local planning officer.  The onus is always on the owner of the place to ensure they meet every criteria.  But once every hoop has been sailed through, every i dotted and t crossed, and the wind in favourable position . . .  living in a gorgeous old cottage will be fantastic and worth all the aggrevation !

Antique Or Authentic – Village Properties Need Both

I travel to the mediterranean twice a year to stay with my best chum.  Her village is up in the hills & still has many old village houses – traditional stone built hovels with one large room housing a fire place/cooking area;  a separated off section for food preparation, and a very much still outside toilet.  Bathrooms were not considered necessary for thounsand years or more!   The villagers who own these houses, have now realised the potential of their old family homes – they themselves now live in smart houses with all mod cons in the nearest towns.  The village homes are rapdily being refurbished, expanded and sometimes rebuilt, to bring them up to date.  Nothing changes about the front verandahs – they have to remain looking like a village house.    Holiday makers and tourists flock to these upgraded houses to rent for a few spartan days rest and recuperation.  The supply and demand of the village house is parallel to that of the apropriate antique furniture that is needed to complete the authenticity.


Turning The Clock Back To Olden Days

Golly gosh did I see a lot of shabby chic and faux antique furniture and homeware products this last week.  I visited an area  in the Midlands – not my usual stomping ground.   I saw stalls holding sales of millions of christmas effects, spray painted in glorious metallic shades.  It’s amazing just how many pine cones one can cram into a kilner jar!  There were also some famililar household effects that had been repurposed and made to look more vintage than they might be.  Coat hangers newly adorned with little lace borders and peg bags with frilly aprons and pleated kilt effect fronts.   Families just love going out to local craft fayres and exhibitions.  After such a devastating year with lockdowns and lots of restrictions on activity, there seems to be a genuine desire to get back to old fashioned ways.  Rather like trying to turn the clock back to our childhood or maybe our grandparents’ era.   I have seen a great deal of faux victoriana – heavily adorned trinkets and small pieces of furniture made to reflect the comfortable family parlour setting.

Sourcing Replacement Antiques Now Easier

I was visiting a local heritage property the other week.  We had the joy of touring parts not usually open to the public, including the family chapel and other rooms used for the current generation.  What was most interesting was it being housed in the oldest area – the original monastery on that site.  The cloister roof was unmistakably medievil and it felt remarkably calming and restful.  The wooden furniture was newer – definitely not the original oak testers or kneelers but still of quite impressive age.  It turned out that after a fire in the last century much of the seriously old furniture had been destroyed so the owners had scoured the country for the nearest style and age of replacements.  There were not the reclaimation yards or online auction sites back then and they had to trust their agent to find the appropriate goods.  We are so lucky these days to be able to source exactly what we seek in the way of antiques and old furniture – whatever it is, there will be someone able to supply it.

Craftsmen Made Furniture Are Heirloom Pieces

I was watching a programme recently on the skills of true British craftsmen within companies that have been making furniture historically renowned for quality and excellence.  There must be companies in other countries but the one I’m alluding to still sells very well known settees.  I can’t recall them mentioning any other type of chairs but they make very deep set leather sofas.  We watched the whole process from the customer deciding on colour and spec, to the workshop selecting the materials and starting off the framework.  Each sofa was handled with such pride by one muscular chap – the love of the product was almost overwhelming at times as they demonstrated to camera each stageof their task.   It takes about 21 days to complete one of those sofas and needless to say their price tag reflects the hand made quality.  The firm are so proud of their worldwide status that they don’t need to apologise for the cost.  There are queues of well heeled families waiting for a famous heirloom sofa of their own.

Gentle Care For The Oldest Furnishings

It must be a wonderful feeling to own a specific make of chair or table.  One of those manufactured in England from oak in a previus century would be even better.  Knowing how to appreciate and love such old pieces of furniture is well known now but over the centuries, these every day pieces of wooden furniure were never viewed as likely to be of value – famiies hung on to hand me downs of every type simply because they didn’t expect to be able to get anything else in their lifetime.    Family furniture is probably still doing its rounds today but it has to stay in good woring cleaning and polishing the wrong way can do irrepairable harm.  Just a gentle wipe with a clean duster to remove the surface dust will be sufficient.  Once or twice a year an light application of wax polish will keep it fed and help stop the drying effects of central heating from making the wood brittle.   The smell of that wax polish is a treat to the nostrils too!

DIY Emporiums Offer Thrilling Trips Out

We will all be truly chuffed when the current movement and socialising restrictions are lifted during the next few months.   To be able to just go out and get into the car and drive somewhere without having to plan and have a good reason for going will be fantastic.  As much as we respect the government and their need to contain the virus, the need for families to start getting used to freedoms again is overwhelming.  Oh to be able to visit a ‘non essential’ store, such as a decorating and diy emporium to choose a completely fresh colour change for the house – seeing the same old walls and furniture for many months at a time calls for a radial rework when this new found freedom does arrive!  Just the thought of being able to look and see a change of room design is almost too exciting to contemplate!  I like the way the bigger out of town diy places have real room settings so you can invisage a similar theme for your own home.  Although online stores are so quik and convenient, now and again, seeing the real thing in person does take some beating!

Antique & Farm Shop Combo Truly Wins

I had the most glorious day out a while back – catching up with some old colleagues, we decided to meet up at a mid point.  I’d no been to this particular emporium before but it’s one that almost everyone seemed to have heard of.  What appears to be a busy family farm shop and giftwarehas greatly expanded into a truly phenomenal homeware, antique and furnishing enterprise.  There is the original barn housing the most incredible displays of vgetables, almost all from the farm with exceptions that can’t grow here.  Then further along is the bakery department with an amazing selection of breads, pastries and cakes of every shape, size and flavour.  I’d been there an hour before reaching the antique department.  It was huge, with a wonderful vintage section upstairs, with clothes, smaller furniture and ’50s toys and memorabilia.  Fortunately most of these inspiring outlets have reached the 21st century and have an online presence which allows us to wallow in our delight and order when it suits!

Antique Village Pumps Disappearing Fast

I was staying in a remote village some forty kilometres above a lovely mediterranean town recently.    When I first visited, these shy folk would keep to their little village dwellings and come out to their verandah to look over the English tourists and sometimes we might exchange the nearest to a civil ‘hello’.  I’ve got to know the locals gradually over many years of staying with the same family.   Watching them improve their lot, turning something not unlike a cattle shed into a full blown 4 bedroomed mansion has been fascinating.  Out goes the basic sink plus the rotten old draining board and mismatched cupboards – often made up of fruit picking crates, left over from a havest many moons ago.   In come sleek ceramic or steel sinks, fully runing water . . .  The antique water pumps in the yard, fed by spring water or wells and under which everyone used to wash themselves have long since ceased to be needed and if not sold to budding antique dealers, are sold on as reclaims.  Changes  are sad but necessary to keep up with modern needs.