Hot, hot, hot

The other antiques shop stood at the outskirts of the village, its wide, glazed frontage incongruous on a rural lane. The forecourt was empty and the front door locked.  A small sign requested that we phone.  Over the garden wall came the splashes and squeals of children in a pool.  Shortly, a man padded towards the door, a trail of wet footprints behind him on the concrete floor.  He’d slipped on a shirt, a medallion shining against his bronzed chest…..  He stood back to let us in. “Piscine,” was all he said, explaining his minimal attire and nodding back towards the pool.  A man of few words. We wandered, touched, pondered whilst he stood to one side observing us.  A pretty desk on cabriole legs with drawers on both sides caught my eye, and a pair of petit point chairs.  His gruffness warmed and he suggested that I might also like this, or that, and that the price could be marvellously interesting – I fell prey to a good sales pitch and came away with a pair of Henri II style chairs of vast dimensions! We were extremely glad to get back to the Domaine, park Nelly as far in the shade of the fig tree as possible, and have a swim ourselves. 

It’s always good to explore different area of France and we took a trip to the select Ile de Ré with its pastel coloured houses and pretty lanes lined with hollyhocks.  We had a rendezvous with a very nice woman who slewed up in a battered orange moke.  The interior offered an airy, elegant, seasidey atmosphere as we walked around.  Bleached table tops, white chairs and summer furniture in faded blue had much appeal to her privileged clientele.  A pale yellow distressed coffer was loaded into Nelly after a chat and a handshake.

Having left Cognac next day, heading for the house of a friend two hours away, we arrived poached in the intense heat.  I was barely coherent until I’d downed two glasses of Badoit!  Wasps frenzied around the plum tree by the kitchen door.  We stayed in the cool of a serene house filled with antiques and squidgy sofas. 

When we ventured out again it was to a depot in Bellac.  A large place, with carefully tended arrangements of furniture and bibelots (the smaller items) and a café.  Some ceramics and a small picture were chosen before we took a coffee to sit in early morning shade.  Salavaged boards still showing the distinctive blue background of a Dubonnet advert (usually seen fading away on the sides of buildings) had been fixed up, and astroturf laid down.  A cricket had found a green place to perch.

On to Confolens with its pretty bridge and a couple of places to visit.  I often prefer the picturesque nature of a complete jumble of stuff in wabi sabi splendour, rather than a highly manicured and lacquered showroom.  Here we found a hangar with barely space to put one’s feet and rows and rows of ceramics outside.  A visual feast and one lovely little jug found.

Later on I met Cyril who had opened a pizzeria alongside his brocante shop.  As I was rummaging happily I spotted a mouse shooting into the corner of the room.  I mentioned it to Cyril and he smiled, “She is perhaps more afraid of you…..”  As he packed a box with a few small pieces he asked if I knew Yannick who had a large depot half an hour away.  “You will need to spend two or three hours there,” he said.

The gates were open at Yannick’s and a black dog wandered over, tail wagging.  The yard around the tall corrugated building was full of metal, stone and pottery.  Yannick came out of his house and showed me into the hangar.  A runway of an aisle stood in front of me and that was just the beginning.  “I have clients who come to spend the entire day here,” he grinned.  “Touch everything you like and the dust is free!”  He showed me a little bell to push if I needed any assistance and left me to it.  “Ah, I will give you some music,” he said as he wound up a music box with a ballerina on top and tinny Swan Lake started up.  “I do not have a license for the radio…..” he grinned again.  I rolled up my sleeves and set to work.

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