I can now declare the best place for junketeering in Southern England. Hastings and St Leonards, where I live, are pretty good, but Lewes about forty minutes west is stellar.
My daughter was doing an audition afternoon to get onto a ballet ‘extension’ course, which will bring her on faster than her current five hours a week, not far from Lewes.
So as we wanted to check the ballet school out, we made it a family outing, with my husband and I having a kind of date day, while she skipped about in a leotard for five hours.
I’ve been to Lewes a few times, but never feel I’ve explored it properly because I always get sucked into the antique warehouse vortex at the bottom of the High Street (the bit called Cliffe High Street) and before I know it, it’s time to head home again.
Happened again today.
I briefly browsed one emporium which had a brilliant selection of chunky old necklaces, but my phone rang and I had to go outside to take the call before I’d even got to the back of it.
Then I was distracted by some interesting looking light fittings in a shop opposite and before my brain had made a decision my feet had crossed the road and gone in. Lewes Antiques Centre, it’s called.
Five floors of it. Going a long way back. I think it must have been some old grain store or something, it was huge – and it had so much good stuff.
I was looking for something specific for a Christmas present for my best mate (can’t say what, in case she looks at this…), but my eyes were dancing about and falling on so many choice items of all different kinds – Lewis tweed jackets, gilt mirrors, tables covered in blue and white china, an orange velvet 1920s opera cloak – I was practically hyperventilating.
The thing that made me really gasp, though, was this chest of drawers printed with a map or Asia, featuring the whole of Russia. TSome London dealer needs to pick it up pronto. It was £350 which isn’t crazy for something so original. I wish I had somewhere for it.
But I don’t, so I carried on and found a really brilliant Christmas present for my daughter – which will be revealed in 23 or so days time.
Then I headed upstairs and found these shoes.
My size. £10. They’re a little bit tight but a really nice girl saw me posing in them and made appropriately appreciative noises – then when I mentioned that I was deeply in love, but they nipped a bit, she said:
‘But those are the kind of shoes you only need to wear for two hours and then you can get someone to carry you home.’
It was like meeting a character from one of my books. (And I set one of them near Lewes, Cents and Sensibility, so maybe she was.)
I thanked her for being my shoe shopping enabler, picked them up and carried on browsing. After drifting to the back of that floor and nearly having a conniption at a whole glass case of willow pattern china, I stumbled on the perfect present for my bestie. Not what I’d set out to find for her, something much better.
Then I found my curtain.
I have one curtainless room at the moment. It’s the small bedroom (small, because I stole a third of it to be my walk-in closet, ahem…) which used to be my daughter’s room.
She’s moved into a full-size bedroom and the small one is now a single spare room, combined with being my boudoir, containing my Louis Fooey 1960s dressing table and painted the same colour as my foundation. You can see a post on choosing that colour, here https://maggiealdersonstylenotes.wordpress.com/category/decorating/
The bed in there has a headboard covered in blue toile de jouy and that’s a very tricky fabric to put anything else with apart from more blue toile. The only choices are blue and white stripes, or blue and white checkers and I didn’t want either. Too neat.
So I stopped in my tracks when I spotted this curtain in an amazing massive scale wavy blue and white print. It looks a bit like a Matisse cut out. The label said it was a 1960s Heal’s design and I think it might be a Barbara Brown.
There was only one curtain, but I could see it would be big enough for the window in my boudoir and it will actually work better pulled back to one side, as there’s no space on the far edge (due to aforementioned closet-making, room-stealing activity).
Down I went with my purchases, not even allowing myself to look at the other three floors… three!
But there are still those very appealing mid-century small-scale chandeliers (pictured at the top of the post) that I first spotted to consider.
They’d be great in my bathroom.