Dear Friends, Fellow-travellers and Plaisancier-Fanciers
It was hailed as the summer of the century. A four month long heatwave with the occasional coup de foudre to snap us out of our stupor as we trundled along the Burgundy canals. At the start of our journey there was - as predicted - quite a lot of shouting, but the throaty roar of our trusty engine, Mr Perkins, soon put paid to that. Privately, during the first week, we both wondered what in the name of God we were thinking, buying a boat sight unseen and embarking on a three month journey, the practical details of which we were totally ignorant. Geoff discovered that Waiheke drove less like an Audi and more like a supermarket trolley with one wheel sticking out sideways and after a lifetime of believing that I was respectably tall, I discovered that I was in fact a half hitch short of a bollard – a condition that seriously impacted on my rope handling skills.
However, three months later we had the boat and ourselves under some semblance of control and were completely in thrall to the life and the lovely people on the canals. Buying Waiheke was the best thing we’ve ever done and we can’t wait to get back to her.
We visited a few brocantes en route but by then we’d developed a strange preoccupation with things like old barometers and binoculars and screws and stools for short people - we did remember to buy a few things for our customers – quilts old and new, and shams, whatever copper we could find and some interesting little collectables.
Our guests at the Priory in September made up for our neglect in the shopping department - what a wonderful group of dedicated brocante buyers they were. After declaring that she didn’t want any more clutter in her house, Annie amassed a respectable collection of antique Chinoiserie and Chris made everyone envious by snaffling a superb bust of a child for a song. Cathy was dedicated in her pursuit of old linen and beautiful fabric and Nicky doggedly rootled out anything that was old and French and beautiful. The brocanteurs of the Loire are probably still smiling.
We were happy to discover that Yves, owner and architect of a vast and truly insane collection of brocante had not, as he had threatened the previous year, set fire to the lot and retired. However he swears that he is getting rid of everything by Christmas. He will be missed – chaotic yards like his, piled with years of accumulated treasure were once fairly common in France but now they are few and far between. To make up for the loss of Yves and his amazing yard, we spent part of our final week in France checking out several new brocante-buying opportunities for next year.
The dates for next year’s tour will be from the 2nd to the 9th of September. If you are interested in joining us, send us an email or give us a ring - or better yet, come and visit us. We’d love to see you.
Geoff and Jennifer.