Oh what a treat, truly, this afternoon was. A blessing in so many ways. I met a wonderful dance mom this winter and we drove together we drove up to the home of two local antiques dealers. We were greeted in the drive by several of their peacocks. Soon after we were discovered by their owner who gave us a tour of the grounds, a former rectory. He left us to mill around and peek into barns and drawing rooms while he attended to a window installer. You see, he and his wife live here among all these incredible old things. And most, save for sentimental pieces are for sale.
They open their home and welcome folks in. When you've had a look around, if you are lucky enough to finish up around tea time, he fires up the teapot and you have a good chat around a table laden with silver candlesticks and cake stands. That was just our good fortune.
Even after some years of living in Europe I have never failed to thrill at running my hands along intricately carved wood and carpets woven by hand. Sitting in a chair that is older than my own country just astounds me still. Europeans have a different understanding of antiquity and I am not sure my awe will ever wear off. It is so like touching time.
In a basket on the table were the tiniest of silver bits and bobs. The owner's wife sorted through and explained them to us. The wee owls, the size of a thumb, were snuff holders. There were impossibly small silver stamp cases and needle holders. Needles were "quite dear" she says. Elaborately carved sewing scissors sat with little fairy chairs. All created and carried by hands long gone from this world.
And clocks. The clocks. Majestic grandfather clocks are a special collection for them. We were there when they chimed and learned that the gentleman can identify his clocks by their chime. British clocks are made with "bell metal" the same as church bells so they have an angelic tone as they ring out the hour.
He announced it was tea time for the birds as well so we wandered out to watch them gather for feeding time. A funny thing happened as we were talking about the peacocks. Shots were firing off in the distance regularly as he described the birds flying free range during the day and returning at night. When I asked if his neighbors ever shot them he laughed and pointed over our shoulders to the field. That is a pigeon cannon he said. It is on a timer and fires off periodically to keep them moving on. This was funny because for the past 9 mo. we have only walked so far down one of the farm roads because we thought hunters were in the fields. Guess not : )
We left with a lot of information and many pictures. I totally understand how they have cultivated such a loyal following locally. This was not a shopping trip, it was a cultural experience. They feel the same way as they have learned about foods and customs from their customers from around the world. We noticed the same at a local restaurant last month. There is a great interest in sharing customs and history everywhere we go and we are just soaking every bit of that up.