A country walk isn’t a country walk without a tea stop and, hopefully, a spot of antiquing. And so it was that we rolled into Bampton, having marched gamely through Somerset fields and byways, with the Jack Russell (November’s cover star) in tow.
Outside Chattels on Castle Street was a butler's sink, a couple of rusty watering cans and lots of other bits that could only be politely described as junk – so we knew we’d come to the right place. But the door was locked and there was no one at home, though the view through the window was tantalising.
Off to the Toucan coffee shop for refreshment and a bit of fact-finding, where we discovered a certain Bruce was the owner. If we went back, they said, he might be there.
We went back – a van had pulled up and there was a man inside having a tussle with a rack of ladies’ black lace dresses. ‘Are you Bruce?’ we asked. ‘No,’ came the answer but he did unlock the shop doors and we piled in. Like a troupe of starving sumo wrestlers at an all-you-can-eat buffet, we stormed the premises, picking up bits and pieces for non-Bruce to price for us.
Non-Bruce had an unusual sales technique that went something along the lines of us asking, “How much is that?” and him replying, “You don’t want that, it’s utter rubbish.”
But when pushed, he offered three prices: £1, £2 and £5. And so it was that we walked away with:
• a pair of antlers (£5 each)
• a small, framed Butterworth & Heath engraving of The Bull (£5)
• a glass cake dome (£1)
• an elegant lady’s umbrella (£2)
• a frame (£2)
• a silver-plate cover (£5)
• a Lloyd Loom (arguably) laundry bin (£5)
• a jar (£0 – non-Bruce said it was such old rubbish, he couldn’t possibly charge us for it)
On returning to our accommodation with our treasures, our host looked at us knowingly and said, “Aah, so you’ve met Bruce then.”