It is officially half term, and for the first time in over a year, we’re actually not going to Germany. Indeed, it does feel a little odd to not now be rummaging through mountains of tat on our first port of call in some German town. Instead I am ensconced in a rather beautiful barn conversion in the middle of the countryside, about two miles away from Totnes. After one evening, I already smell like a log fire and I’m typing this looking out onto a beautiful courtyard; the sun casting speckled, mottled shadows through autumnal leaves.
We woke up yesterday bright and early, ready for our long drive down South. Several stop-offs had been planned, and more were added over the course of the day. After finally getting the rest of the luggage packed (honestly, you’d think we were moving, not just holidaying for a week), our first stop was the Post Office depot to pick up a parcel. After then realising the engine oil was low, we returned home where I discovered two things: firstly, my gorgeous Monsoon dress I’d bought from Ebay was new with its tags and it also had a small bug nesting in the package, causing me to get covered in brown bug juice and necessitating a trip indoors to wash my hands. This then prompted the second discovery: that we’d left the lights on, so it’s a good job we went back.
Our second stop was in Stoke to deliver this:
Nestled amidst the detritus of our holiday-making, this Scheurich was destined for an estate in Stoke. After delivering the pot to its new owners, we then called at the local Post Office to post the last batch of parcels from Wednesday’s Ebay sales. The Post Office (and the town itself) felt a little bit like the Land That Time Forgot. The Post Office even had its old sign still painted above the new one:
We had a little wander around the small high street, visited a couple of charity shops and a church sale. Despite the retroness of the area, pickings were slim in the charity shops. There were a couple of very retro dresses and jumpsuits in one, which as Aidan pointed out, were so retro they looked like fancy dress. The only things we bought were a pair of 1950s reindeer Christmas decorations and two homemade cakes from the church sale, costing the grand total of 50p.
On the motorway, we passed a very boring looking Vauxhall Corsa at one point that contained three elderly gentlemen inside it, all wearing different hats. One had a baseball cap, the other a flat cap and the third a trilby. Honestly, he looked just like Little Richard, same ‘tache and everything. We were convinced that they should have been in a Cadillac or something: not just a bog-standard car. Every time we caught up with them again, we were peering in and making up stories of what they could have been doing. Another stop off at my parents’ house in Stafford, admired the house and my mum’s beautifully displayed West German pottery, a drive past Walsall and a mental wave to Vintage Vix in Walsall, then we continued on to Gloucester Antiques Centre at the Historic Docks.
We’d been there previously, but a few years ago. What a change! All newly regenerated and the Antiques Centre seemingly much reduced in size:
The ground floor appeared to be filled with over-priced jewellery, but the other two floors were much more interesting. I found two ‘Glamour’ magazines from the late 1950s and, more excitingly, there were some amazing displays of West German pottery. Before being told that I wasn’t allowed to take any pictures, I managed to sneak in a few shots of the units.
They also had some fantastic glass and other retro pieces alongside the WGP:
Around the corner from this unit was an even larger and more stunning display. Unfortunately I only managed to get one photograph before I got told off for taking pictures…
Eventually we found a card for the proprietor, identifying it as Green Haze Retro. My pictures do not do the displays justice: they really were extremely well merchandised. And… we spotted stuff of ours. Literally ours! We began to recognise a couple of pieces that Aidan had sold in the last few months via Ebay, dismissed it as ‘they’re mass-produced so there’s bound to be some the same’ then Aidan spotted a metal dish and it had the same sticker on the bottom as the one he’d sold. Hey presto! Identified and uber-excited by this development. If you happen to spot this post, Mr Green Haze Retro, get in touch. We’d love to do some more business and help spread the West German Pottery world even further. You can visit the Gloucester Antiques Centre here and actually buy a few pieces online. Definitely worth a look as there were some gorgeous one: a giant Steuler and U-Keramik, vibrant, bright yellow Kreutz and a whole myriad of very high-quality pieces.
This was a separate unit. Green Haze Retro had very cleverly divided their goods into two decades: Fifties and Sixties. Apart from the gorgeousness of the displays, what also pleased me was the number of people who were lingering on these displays. I had to do some patient waiting around this one to get a picture without other people in shot. I was very tempted by the Dallas Simpson print you can just see on the floor here, but Aidan wasn’t too keen. I’ll just have to wait until we’re in our new house, then I can begin my own Montage of Misery wall.
After this very successful and enjoyable stop, our next stop was – finally – the cottage. It’s a beautiful place. Located behind some kind of stately home that’s been converted into flats, it has its own private courtyard, a large open living and dining space with the obligatory log fire. Since our last visit here, the kitchen, bathroom and bedrooms have been renovated and now it’s a beautiful space. Many pieces of quirky yet somehow country artwork and prints adorn the walls, and even dangle from the ceilings. It’s lovely. And I plan to spend a much time in front of the fire as is humanly possible…