issuing a Beach Cottage Ramble Alert – somehow this old chair in Australia led to a restaurant in the South of France, napkins and England. Go grab a cup of Darjeeling and strap yourself in ;-)
I have always loved old things, long before I liked it in a bit of beach decor – but really they weren’t a big part of my life up until I was married to Mr Beach Cottage and surrounded by a couple of babies. Hobbies and old things, and stuff like that weren’t encouraged by those around me before I met Mr BC.
I remember though loving and talking to older people, I loved anything to do with lofts and vintage things, though for sure I didn’t know that was ‘vintage’ (and indeed I am more and more beginning to go off that term these days) and finding things that had a story.
Once I started to find my own style, throw out chocolate brown and embrace my inner-vintage loving sister, finally everything fell into place….and I began to start a serious love affair with the hunting down of the vintage.
It all started with vintage linens really – I had been on holiday deep down to the South of France, touching on Spain, and we had taken lunch in a tiny little bar-cum-restaurant at the top of a mountain…the restaurant was basic, good basic – it was actually part of a vineyard, but on the edge of a mountain-top village – well a village with about 20 occupants I think, and 17 of them were old women sitting outside, on indoor chairs, leaning on a stick, dressed all in black ;-)
It was stinking hot.
We were British.
That means we were out in the sun at mid-day, with babies, and no hats, wearing holiday clothes.
…and this place, a find for sure….we’d found it by way of the pin board at the accommodation we were staying – a dog-eared business card had been tacked to the board and on it was scrawled ‘very very good’ or something of a similar ilk…
…the tables were battered, the floor was dusty and dry, and all looked just simply, so very very good.
I have no idea what was on the menu, nor what we ate, all I remember was the setting, the blue sky, the white buildings, the French characters and of course, the decor ;-)
On the tables were little dull terracotta jugs full of iced water with condensation running down the sides, old tablecloths pressed to within an inch of their lives, battered old cutlery and highly decorated colourful blue and yellow plates.
Now on each of these plates sat a napkin. But, napkin is perhaps not the right word, for these pieces of linen and been constructed into what may only be described as art….each one starched and pressed and working for its living and perhaps giving the Eiffel Tower a run for its money.
We eyed these napkins, so at odds with the vibe around us, ordered, got the babies in the shade, gulped the water and as only the British holiday-maker can do when escaped from the Old Country in the months of June to August, sat in the heat of the mid-day Continental sun, sloshed in the wine, sat back and thought of England.
The food came and we were faced with the tortuous decision as to what to do with the napkins…we touched them gingerly, scary old wrinkly French waitress glared at us a bit…we discussed these fabric towers and laughed and laughed.
And then, I took the plunge, picked mine up by it’s highest point, flicked it out beside me and waited for the world to end.
Brought it to my lips and oh my!
Engulfed by all sorts of wondrous things, memories that weren’t mine, days gone by, a thousand flowers moving in the breeze…
I will never forget those napkins that day and how the starch, the pressing, the construction all melted away with one flick and a buttery softness stroked the skin…
oh vintage linen! oh I heart you!
Without all the pomp & ceremony of their construction, these humble pieces of linen were the softest of soft only years of use can bring – fabric from the old days, marked by age, lovingly stitched, beautifully made and then washed under the hands of a different time…
They were like a wine, full of hints of other things, of lavender, of soil and of sunshine.
I gushed to Mr Beach Cottage at these faded deep but light blue napkins from on high.
He looked at me with eyebrows.
But, somewhere deep down in the back of my soul, tinted with a little speckle of rose ;-) a part of me moved – I wanted some of this in my life, to me it said the good life and I definitely wasn’t going to get that through family history and the passing down of loved things but I wanted these loved and worn and faded things from other times.
And so when I got home I decided I would make a history of my own and there began a love affair with little squares of soft fabric designed to sit on the table when you eat.
When I first started the hunting out of these old things, I did not know where to begin – I had not stepped foot much in a charity (op-shop / thrift store) in my little life, but for sure there was no shortage of them in the nearest town to where I lived, indeed if in those days there was anything that England was good at, charity shops was it.
And oh how I embraced them on the hunt for linens… I would plan trips around not having any children with me and go off in search of vintage South of France, sprinkled-with-lavender-and-years-of-love linens..
In I would enter, to this world of the vintage treasure hunter, enveloped in that secret thrifters sensation that is the indescribable thrill of the hunt, oft followed by the Thrifter Jig.
There I would do the stalk, drop and grab – stalk out the vintage linens, drop to the floor and grab the ones I loved…
I must say in those days a charity shop, vintage treasure hunting, thrifting virgin there was no sniffing of the linens for that elusive whiff of that Eiffel Tower like construction that had greeted us on that table on that warm day right down deep in the depths of the bottom of France – no I was far too much of a Thrifting Virgin for anything like that.
And I never have quite found those South of France, filled with softness & life napkins.
But, these days though, I have very much made my own memories, not of the South of France and linens from someone else’s life but very much of mine.
We now have our own ‘vintage’ Beach Cottage linens, bought by be, travelled with us on to our new life, impregnated with the love, touched by ups and downs, and just saying life to those who now grace this old Australian cottage…
But Beach Cottage ladies, of course, there is much more to life than linen and when one does not find oneself able to find a vintage linen to tickle one’s fancy, one must up one’s game and move onto vintage chairs…
And that is where you find me here today at…. I hope you like it
Do you have memories wrapped up in things?…of lunches in the South of France, of old chairs, of linens and towers?
Do you frequent vintage treasure hunting stores in search of precious things? Do you sprinkle rose-tinted colours on old linens…
I’d love to know
p.s. did you know Barley is a Chick Magnet? Well he blogged it at his blog here
p.p.s. a few close-ups of this leather-seated, in-my-tatty cottage, thrifting-is-King chair, below, click to scroll x
p.p.p.s. errrrm just forgotten what I was going to type, oooops
p.p.p.s. (a bit later) oh yeah this chair was in the region of twenty bucks… bargain you think? or not?
p.p.p.p.s. you don’t have to be spendy to have a ‘nice’ (what is that???) house you know, case in point this chair
p.p.p.p.p.s you may not think it is nice anyway, but I do just sayin
p.p.p.p.p.p.s. this will chair will not be going white
p.p.p.p.p.p.p.s it will be getting a new look, a spruce up, a bit of BC lurve. Baby
p.p.p.p.p.p.p.p.s over and outPin It