01 May A Country Brocante
So, after a necessary break from blogging while we attended to our day jobs (Jo has been busy commissioning and editing books and Mandy has been interior designing), we decided to take a day out and visit a country brocante at the absolutely charming Fair in the Square event in Midhurst, West Sussex. It’s organised by Lucy Haywood of The Country Brocante shop, where several independent vintage traders are housed under one roof.
Usually when we set out on a Very English jaunt there’s a brief conflab over digital or paper navigation. Neither of us possess a great sense of direction and we both tend to press buttons repeatedly and swear quite a lot when Google maps is involved in anything. Similarly the Satnav offers many opportunities for swearyness and a debate about the beauty of simply being able to trace a finger along a well-worn map.
Mandy is famous for not being able to drive anywhere within a 10-mile radius of home without actually starting from her house. And on at least one occasion we arrived at a museum in hysterical tears of laughter over the fact it took three of us, one Satnav and Google maps the sum total of 45 minutes to reach our destination – that was 10 minutes away from where we set off.
Thankfully, Midhurst is pretty much a straight line away for us, so we did manage to reach the Brocante not long after it had opened and still speaking to one another.
With our market baskets at the ready we were delighted to find the square packed to the gunnels with stallholders and shoppers, many of whom have a penchant for a spot of crushed linen attire and each displaying impeccable taste. We came across all of the following: Fresh roses? Yes. Repurposed marmalade pots? Of course.
Vintage textiles? Absolutely.
Lots of distressed painted surfaces and enamelware? For sure. All our idea of heaven actually.
At the lovely Nicholas & Steele Vintage stall Mandy picked up some great apothecary bottles (“Keep Away From Children” of course).
And we enjoyed browsing the charming selection of retro shop labels and vintage clock faces. Alongside these were hand-decorated galvanised buckets and wooden objects, complete with quotes from the English poets.
And there were old books aplenty…
We were delighted to run into my old publishing chum Jess Walton and her husband Simon Webb of Fabulous Vintage Finds in London. They are regulars in The Country Brocante Store and also run an open house from their home in Herne Hill, London featuring artists’ work and their lovely vintage pieces. The next one is on 13 and 14 May.
At the Fair in the Square, most of the stallholders are based in The Country Brocante itself or outside the church,
but there are also some pop-up venues around town. Once we’d had an initial browse, and suitably refulled by avocado and bacon sarnies, we wandered up to The Old Library, where more gorgeous stalls full of vintage textiles, metal etagères and plants were out to woo us.
Here I picked up a fantastic French vintage bird cage from Suitably Vintage (What household doesn’t need one?). Ooh la la.
The Fair on the Square is a compact version of the larger Summer Fair in June, taking place at Cowdray Ruins on 23 and 24 June. Perhaps for this event we’ll take an old-fashioned Ordnance Survey map with us, gently aged in tea to suit our surroundings. We may even arrive on time. See you there?