A while since I visited the Hungerford Antiques Arcade; wandering around the town in bitterly cold wind has not raised great enthusiasm in me over the last few wintery weeks. But this week I combined a visit with lunch with a dear friend who lives in the town, which turned an ordinary Tuesday into a Sacred Ordinary day. Here are a couple of the things that I discovered and reconfirmed;
1. Things are not just inanimate items, but have a whole history of their own - they carry other humans' history within them. I have collected textiles for forty years, at one time sewing myself everything that I wore, and at another time pursuing the City and Guilds courses in embroidery, both pursuits from which I learned - the hard way - that a beautiful end product usually only comes with much toil before hand.
It was with that understanding that I carried back these three Elizabeth Bradley needlepoint pictures - beautifully framed - for a bargain price. I know that the needlepoint kits now sell for £130.00; that the frames would probably have cost £40.00 each; yet I purchased each framed and finished picture for £8.00. But the biggest understanding was of the many, many hours put in by the unknown stitcher who made them; to that person, I nod in respect and admiration. Your pictures now have an appreciative home with me.
2. How I love books! They are without doubt, a lifelong addiction for me. I think the addiction stems from the fact that I grew up in a home with virtually no books; I can count those I remember there on two hands. As I have grown older, I have accumulated thousand upon thousand, providing me with access to all that I desire - information, escape, understanding and inspiration.
My own good fortune is to have had access to books at pittance prices from Martin Smith, the book dealer that I have known for twenty years, also based in the Hungerford Arcade.
Martin has been my downfall, space wise - it is his fault that we often clamber over piles of books here at the cottage... but it is also (partially) thanks to Martin that I was enabled to venture, in another life, into dealing in antique books and prints. It is also thanks to him that I acquired some antique, handwritten journals which led me on a continuing voyage of investigation and exploration to the beloved city of Venice - an adventure which is not yet ended.
Look at the feast of knowledge and information between board covers which I brought home with me this week - all for the total sum of £10.00; tell me what else you can get for that amount that will explode your mind as much as these magical tomes? One life is not enough….