I am about to embark on my third event with the Bath Decorative Antiques Fair. Events that I find so inspiring that they have completely changed my perception of the antiques industry. In the past when I thought about antiques I would conjure up images of dark, musty shops, crammed with brown furniture that would be oppressive and out of my price range. But since I started working with the Bath Decorative Antiques Fair two years ago, my perceptions have been completely changed and I see the world of antiques as an exciting, fresh and dynamic industry full of passion and amazing objects that new furniture from the high street (and that well-known blue warehouse) simply can’t compete against. Why? Because they have no story. I know it seems fairly obvious to say that every item you see in an antique shop or fair has history, but its so much more than that – every scratch or worn patch paints a picture of its past – the story of a previous owner or owners, it’s provenance and the current affairs of the day. At a time when high streets are becoming sterile and cloned and consumers are constantly craving new technology and fast, disposable style, then owning objects that have a past can keep us grounded and help us to remember that there has been a time before and it should be treasured.
I inherited a collection of old books from my father which range in date from the mid 1800’s to the 1960’s. Knowing that he picked up every one of those books and turned it in his hands creates a personal story for me, but there is more to them – inside some of the covers there are handwritten notes – a gift passed from one person to another, a token of friendship, of love. Suddenly the book takes on an incredible new meaning and I try to picture what the world was like at the time, who was the lucky recipient and how did they feel.
But going back to my original musings of dark musty rooms – well it’s simply not the case at the Bath Fair, it isn’t a sea of brown as I once imagined – though there are dealers who specialise in brown furniture (that is actually the technical term). And who wouldn’t love a beautiful, Georgian, walnut chest of drawers in a Modern/Georgian mash-up? (If that’s your style, we’ll be learning more about interior mash-ups at the event in March). But there is so, so much more, from dealers who specialise in luxe Hollywood Regency characterised by bold colours and metallic or glass accents signifying both opulence and comfort.
To those who have mid-century furniture so that you can create a modern, retro feel…
And it’s not just furniture; one of my favourite traders is 20th Century Glamour who always has an exquisite collection of vintage designer costume jewellery and accessories and is not to be bypassed.
With the wide variety of products on offer and the consumer’s desire for provenance and story, there is no surprise that perceptions towards antiques are changing. The industry itself is also working hard to change attitudes and breath new life into the antiques world through the Antiques Young Gun programme. Founded by three of the industry’s most connected and influential individuals – Mark Hill, George Johnson and Gail Mcloud the Young Guns supports and celebrates young traders…
“Many think the antiques world is dry, dusty and staid and certainly not a place for career driven, intelligent and entrepreneurial young people. Not so! In fact, there are many more than you’d think – and as well as being the future of the trade, they’re thriving! We wanted to create something that celebrated, supported and promoted them, they after all are the future of the industry.” Gail Mcloud
It’s all very well reading about my experiences and perceptions, but if you really want to understand more about this fascinating industry you have to see it for yourselves. The Bath Decorative Antiques Fair runs from the 3rd t0 5th March from 11am to 5pm. 4pm on Sunday at The Pavilion and you can grab yourself a free ticket here. But if you want a fully immersive experience of the fair with industry experts hunting out their top picks and giving us the story then join us on the Martini Mum Tour, where Young Gun, Edd Thomas from EddintheClouds will be our personal antiques guru for the day.
If you live in Bath and you haven’t spent a Sunday afternoon pottering around the Bath Vintage and Antiques market then you can’t call yourself a Bathonian. It is packed to the Victorian rafters with beautiful vintage clothes, art deco brooches, retro crockery, mid-century furniture and salvaged pieces.
I chatted to Naomi Knight, founder of the market, who is also a graphic-designer, mother and all round wonder-woman….
Naomi, why did you start the market?
I started the market in June 2011 as I really thought that there should be a vintage and antiques market in Bath, vintage was of the moment so I decided to go for it. Having a great passion for mid-century modern furniture, studying design at Goldsmiths University and as a child been taken to antique markets (although in those days I was always reluctant to go!) by my parents in France and the UK, I felt that I knew what would make a good market. I’m also a graphic designer so knew that I had the skills to promote the market … Oh and my son Eli was born in 2010 and needed something I could do with a small child on my hip!
What are the challenges?
The constant challenges as an organiser of an event such as the Bath vintage and antiques market is to come up with creative ways of telling the market’s story and promoting what’s there and when. Unbelievably some local people still ask me where Green Park Station is, I’m always amazed by this as it’s such a magnificent, historical and central building and should be used for so much more. I strongly believe that like me the people of Bath and surrounding areas really wanted a vintage market and thats why it has worked. In a way it has shaped itself.
Do you buy something at every market?
I used to buy a lot from the market but I now manage to exercise some self control, or if I do buy I have to smuggle it into the house without my husband noticing. I now am more focused on buying and selling a few choice items, on the odd occasion my husband has come home and has found the rug or a table gone .. because I sold it!
What’s the etiquette with haggling?
I make a policy of not haggling as I know how hard the traders work and that often they are offering their best prices.
What’s the future for the Market?
The market in Bath is going from strength to strength and long may it continue. But there are more exciting times, we are about to launch a second market ‘Vintage Vauxhall’ at The Workshop on Albert Embankment, the former fire engine workshops of the London Fire Brigade. The first market is on the 12th March.
For more information about the market visit vintageandantiques.co.uk
Following from our first City Kids feature on how to entertain your little ones in the Big Smoke, here’s our brief guide to the places, activities and food they’re sure to enjoy in Manchester.
If you’re not from the area, Manchester may seem an unlikely choice for a family trip or weekend away; but we think it offers an abundance of cultural excitement that can provide enough adventure for any family.
Whether they support Manchester United or not, football fans will be more than happy with a visit to the National Football Museum, where they can learn more about the beautiful game and take part in a range of fun activities. With a Discovery Zone and soft play area for little ones, and FootballPlus+ simulations for those aged 7 and over, everyone in the family should find something to do; and better yet, entry is free.
Thrill-seeking families are well catered for in Manchester, from skateparks such as the Beast Rampz Skatepark or Projekts Indoor Skatepark, to the Airkix indoor skydiving centre based just four miles from the city centre. Prices for the latter start from £29.99 for a two-flight beginner’s package, so it’s not a cheap option – but it’s certainly one that they’ll never forget.
If that all sounds a bit too active for you then pay a visit to the Manchester Art Gallery, where as well as soaking up some classical artwork the kids will have plenty of opportunities to create a masterpiece of their own.
Who among us can say they wouldn’t like to see a real-life T-Rex skeleton? Well, the University of Manchester Museum is home to the 65-70 million-year-old Stan, who happens to be the second most complete T-Rex ever to be found – a great bragging story for all dino-loving kids to tell their friends.
Named after the artist L.S Lowry, The Lowry Centre is a real cultural hub in the city. For families, it offers a range of child-friendly events that those aged 5 and under will particularly enjoy, from weekly dance and art workshops to a regularly-changing programme of theatre productions – we like the look of The Wind In The Willows, scheduled for Thu 27 October – Sun 6 November. There are also some decent eateries, such as The Terrace Bar which offers great views over The Quays and is a perfect spot for lunch.
And after a busy day of sight-seeing and culture, kids and adults alike will love going to see Jurassic World at the IMAX screen in the city centre’s Odeon complex – perfect if you’ve just been to see Stan!
The city offers a number of family-friendly independent restaurants, such as the gourmet pizzeria Croma – which happens to have been voted ‘Most Family-Friendly Restaurant’ at the Manchester Food & Drink Awards for three years in a row. The children’s ‘Pizzatini’ menu is great value, offering a choice of salad or dough balls, followed by pizza or pasta and then ice cream or chocolate cake for just £5.50.
If it’s choice you’re after then head to Manchester’s creative district, the Northern Quarter, where you’ll find nearly every cuisine you can think of. Teacup Kitchen is a great choice for breakfast, lunch, or just an afternoon tea and cake break – kids will go nuts (excuse the pun) for the peanut butter & cookie dough brownie, or the brightly-coloured Rainbow Cake.
Those with slightly older children will have a fun time at Luck Lust Liquor Burn; not the most family-friendly name we’re sure you’ll agree (and the menu may feature the odd expletive), but the bold interior, leather banquettes and ‘Vegas-to-Mexico’ inspired menu – filled with nachos, street tacos and burritos – is sure to please. We also hear they do a mean cocktail for mum and dad.
Do you have any other top tips for having fun with the kids in Manchester?
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As cities go, Bristol is pretty great at catering for children and families. From the rolling Clifton downs to the super modern Millennium Square (complete with play fountains in the summer), there is so much to see and do in this diverse, fascinating city. Here, we take a look at some of the best places the city has to offer younger visitors.
There’s so much culture in Bristol that if you’re visiting for a short amount of time, it’s almost impossible to fit everything in. Stimulate your children’s minds with a visit to the @Bristol science centre, where they can get inside a giant bubble, walk through a tornado, create their own TV show and see a real human brain! There’s also an amazing planetarium where you can all sit back and discover the universe, and a pretty decent cafe to boot.
With its regularly changing calendar of events, The M Shed gallery, just across the harbour, is also worth a visit; it;s a great place for kids and grown-ups a-like to learn about the cultural heritage of the city .
Animal lovers are well-catered for at Bristol Zoo Gardens in Clifton is home to lions, monkeys, red pandas, hippos, crocodiles, a reptile house and more. Particular highlights are the Gorilla Island and the Seal and Penguin Coasts, where you can walk beneath the water and watch them swim overhead.
For something a little different, take younger children to St Werberghs City Farm, a community small holding where they can feed the animals and learn more about where their food comes from. There’s also a quirky, hobbit-style cafe serving (you guessed it) local produce, as well as a natural wooden play area.
Bristol is such an interesting place to wander around and get lost. For older kids and teenagers, why not go on a Banksy Walking Tour to see more of the city? You’ll discover some of the elusive artist’s most famous works, from the Grim Reaper to the Masked Gorilla.
You can also get a great dose of history here, either at Brunel’s SS Great Britain (kids will love walking underneath the ship!) or at the City Museum, where you can see Egyptian mummies, rare taxidermy and a tonne of other curiosities, all for free.
The Clifton Suspension Bridge is also well worth a visit, offering stunning views over the Avon Gorge. While you’re there, take a picnic and a stroll through the nearby Leigh Woods and (if you can get away with it) visit the cafes and boutiques in Clifton village.
The city centre has a range of family-friendly chains, from Giraffe in Cabot Circus to Jamie’s Italian on Park Street. But it would almost be a crime to miss out on the independent eateries the city has to offer, as this is where Bristol truly comes into its own. Grab a pizza at Stable by the harbour-side (we recommend the ‘West Country Porker’) or the River Cottage Canteen, where you can dine on three small plates for just £10 and get a true taste of local fare.
A short walk from the centre is the quirky area of Stokes Croft, which offers a range of casual food choices, from a sourdough bap at The Social to pie and mash at local favourite, Pieminister. The area is also a great place to stop for tea and cake in one of its many cafes – try Patisserie Leila for a hot chocolate and an excellent macaron.
Do you have any child-friendly favourites in Bristol?