Our first stop was an antiques fair at Briquebec.


Our first stop was an antiques fair at Briquebec, a pretty town with ruined castle and the quintessentially French, ivy covered hotel with red awnings nearby. Fairs offer not only the chance to browse all under one roof, but also to meet new dealers and those I had already visited. Madame Lannaud is a delightful dealer, a beaming woman, with an unquenchable enthusiasm for antiques. We adoringly cooed over and stroked an XVIII chest of drawers – the form! the quality! the colour! – but I resisted, the price tag was extremely high. Nevertheless I bought two elegantly legged walnut writing tables from a dealer I’d not met before. We chatted as Rene helped me load them in the van. He commented I’d probably be interested to visit his son. Two hours drive away he had barns piled up to the ceiling with pieces of furniture “dans leur jus”! A great contact that was to become a regular port of call for me.

Elizabeth meanwhile was either basking, in her little sun hat, or dozing in the van –thoroughly enjoying her French tour. The next morning I am completely awake at 4.30am. I realise I feel rather like a child on Christmas morning, waiting for it to be time to get up. Half an hour later I open the blind as the first bright rays of sunlight are pouring onto a landscape of white ground mist. There are strange lumps in the fields – these emerge from the mist as the cows. This spectacle must be captured! As I grab my camera, Elizabeth stirs in her bed. “Too much light, too much enthusiasm!!” is her only comment. I left her to slumber on.

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