“It’s a little bit…busy in here, don’t you think?”
My Mother’s been openly critical of my home during her last few visits – she thinks that I need to put some of my things in storage.
I spend quite a bit of my time at home, that’s why I’ve populated it with dozens of trinkets, bric-a-brac and ornaments. It’s not as if I spend all my time wandering around my house like it’s a museum exhibit, I’ve just got used to a certain lifestyle and that lifestyle involves numerous tightly arranged items gazing at me from mantelpieces and shelves all around the house. The faces of miniature glass deer stare out vacantly from their carefully positioned crannies in the kitchen. Finely crafted crystal hangs suspended from the ceiling, vases crowd shelves and souvenir crystal balls perch precariously on dressers.
Yes: It’s a lot of dusting. No: It doesn’t ever get done.
Perhaps it’s the dusting workload that my Mother finds troubling. Don’t forget, all that time spent inside attempting to dust novelty ornaments is time that I’m not spending out in the ‘real world’ meeting potential husbands.
Regardless of her motives, when a sexagenarian starts hinting that you have a hoarding problem, it’s probably time to start packing a few things into storage.
I rent a lock-up off one of Mother’s friends, just around the corner from my home – it’s a 3×6 metre space that is slowly starting to resemble that warehouse from the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Unlike my rather ramshackle home I’ve kept my little storage space pretty well ordered. One simply constructed metal shelf runs down the centre of the space and both walls on either side have been fitted with similar shelf brackets, that are starting to get a little full.
When I started storing things in here I thought I’d never fill the space. Over the years though, my buying habits grew more extravagant, until I found myself sneaking around the corner to the garage every other month or so. I began with plastic boxes, thinking that I’d only be holding onto certain items for a few weeks at most, but soon I found that I was in need of even more space. The plastic boxes gave way to wooden packing crates, then the crates started multiplying until I’d reached the aforementioned Area 51-style warehouse situation that I’m in now.
Once more the shelves have been cleared in every room of the house, with only a handful of my favourites being left behind in strategically placed positions. The glass deer have been slyly shifted into less conspicuous positions, the (rather dangerous) hanging crystal has been carefully packed away and I’m now happy to say that the dusting has gotten to be a lot more manageable.
My Mother recognised the effort that I’d made as soon as she came in. Her eyebrows arched and there was a perceptible nod of approval.
“That cubby-hole of yours must be getting pretty full now.”
You’re not wrong, Mum. You are not wrong.
When it comes to breakable objects, none are more iconic than the vase.
Although I much prefer smaller glass items, I still have a number of vases in my collection.
Once I acquired my taste for glass objects, I found it very difficult to stop myself purchasing them and vases were often the most common items to find in the charity shops and boot sales that I frequented every weekend as a student. Much like my Grandmother before me, I’d developed a keen eye for a bargain and the thrill of the hunt often had me searching high and low at all kinds of hours.
Whether it’s in James Bond movies or newspaper comic strips, the vase is the epitome of fragility. How many comedy scenes can you think of where characters are desperately trying to avoid breaking a glass vase? And how many times do those efforts often lead to the destruction of the aforementioned vase? I’m thankful to say that I’ve not broken any of my vases (yet!) but it’s a wonder that they’re still intact, especially considering the precarious plinths that I leave them on…
One of my favourite items (just behind my much cherished Glass Slipper, in fact) is a particularly elegant glass vase that I found whilst trawling through the excellent selection of charity shops in Bexhill.
If you’ve got good shopping instincts, like me, then Bexhill is a must-visit destination. This quaint seaside town is famed for the wide variety of charity shops it has. After noticing the increase in tourism as a response to the amount of bargain hunters coming to town, the local council decided to offer discounts on rent to charities looking to open stores in town, offering up to 80% off for some.
Despite local businesses complaining that they’re being priced out by this scheme, the trend of more charity shops opening has continued unabated. There are now in excess of 20 charity shops in Bexhill – making it Britain’s High Street Thrift capital.
I first visited there with University friends around 10 years ago. At this time there were about half as many shops there, but this didn’t stop me from coming back with my arms full of some great stuff – including my much treasured Dartington Crystal Glass Vase.
Dartington Crystal is a company that has been creating gorgeously retro pieces since their factory opened in 1967 – the business came about after local governing body Dartington Hall Trust, were looking for ways to bring more economic power to the area. After consulting with local pottery designer Frank Thrower, a team of Scandinavian glass-blowers (with Eskil Vilehmson at the helm) were hired to start producing the first pieces of Dartington Glass.
Demand soon outstripped supply and competitors Wedgwood invested in the Torrington based company so that they could successfully expand and offer a wider range of products – one of which rests in pride of place on a precarious plinth in my living room.