Wednesday, 26 October 2011


Where does the time go? It's nearly Halloween and time for all those little kiddies to come round dressed in their mothers' black tights and little leotards wearing skull masks while they ask for sweets (or when I lived in London, £5 notes). I do not have children so I can only imagine the stress that fancy dress must cause parents at this time of year - first ghouls, then the dreaded Nativity only weeks later. It must be a relief if your child gets to play one of the Shepherds at the school play because at least you can use the old sheet they wore as Caspar the friendly ghost for trick or treating and turn it into something holy with a teatowel round their head.

Anyway this weekend is going to be full of all kinds of freakishness but all kinds of events too, like Love Food's special Halloween fair at Paintworks in Bristol. Lorna who organises it does a majestic job of creating family friendly events with a very cool edge, so this weekend she's booked spooky arts and crafts face painting, pumpkin carving and a fancy dress competition as well as all the usual delicious food. I was at the Bath Love Food at the beginning of the month at Green Park - here are some pictures from it. It's nice to see Green Park being used properly and full of life on a day other than the Farmer's Market.

Love Food Festival in Bath, October 9th
The lovely Ally came along too, check out her blog, Of Cake and Science
Dick Willow's Cider Bar. I did not get to sample it but it looks GOOD

I didn't spend the whole day working my stall at Love Food that day though. Mr Stokes came down and gave me some time off to go and have a look at the Blind Lemon Vintage Fair at the Guildhall organised by the dapper Edwin Dyson (below). He's a Nottingham lad and I like that because that is where I went to University.

Edwin Dyson organises Blind Lemon Fairs
Gotta get one of these signs for  It's darling! Vintage & Designer-Makers' Fair

The amazing chandeliers in the upstairs room at The Guildhall
And here come the traders:

 Cock-A-Doodle Vintage:

A dressing up dream

Cock-A-Doodle Vintage will be at the Bath VA this weekend (30th October) as will I. And don't forget to put the 19th and 20th November in your diary for the Christmas It's darling! Vintage & Designer-Makers' Fair at the Guildhall (but not in the room with those gorgeous chandeliers)

Tuesday, 27 September 2011


After a great night in watching the tears and the tantrums of X-factor with Mr Stokes, whom I felt I'd been badly neglecting in the name of crockery, it was up early on Sunday for my first time selling china at the Bath Vintage and Antiques Market, organised by the lovely Naomi Knight. I'd had a tearoom there for the first two month's but a lack of resources (mainly easily reachable water source and tables) meant it was too tricky for me to do and best left to a catering company with all the gear. 

The Concourse at Green Park Station busy with Bath VA traders - I'll be in on here for October

 I shuffled up, bleary eyed, about 8am to find the whole place (Green Park Station) busy with stallholders unloading transit vans full of oak wardrobes, old telephones, vintage clothes and to my amazement (and disappointment?) loads and loads of vintage china. It seems everyone has gone crazy for selling it.

Still all the business books say competition is good so I set up my stall and felt pleased that I managed to make it look presentable. The good thing about having a market stall is that you can create a new shop display each time you unpack. The bad thing is that you have to unpack. And when you are unpacking china that means hundreds of separate bubble-wrapped precious items one after the other. How I envy textile makers who can throw things in bags and baskets and they look so wholesome.

My stall at the Bath VA with my mum's handmade bunting

I'm taking another stall there on the 30th October and hopefully in November and December too as I'm making it my regular Bath outlet, along with selling sets in The Canary Cafe in Queen Street. My October calendar is a bit bare for fairs though so if anyone knows of good ones, please let me know.


Vintage Telephones -

Saturday, 24 September 2011


When I moved to the South West just over a year ago, there were very few vintage/handcraft fairs, especially not in Bath. Everyone I met there talked wistfully of the old Saturday antiques market at the Tramshed as if Bath had once had a heyday, never to be repeated. The only fair that anyone talked about was  The Original Vintage and Handmade Fair in Chipping Sodbury, which I visited once and which was very busy, chock full of amazing stalls and a lot of ladies fighting over fabric.

My friend Becky and I wanted somewhere we could sell our products (she makes teacup candles). We couldn't get stalls at Chipping Sodbury so we decided to start our own fair, the It's darling! fair, a mix of vintage and handmade sellers in the Bath Guildhall. We loved doing it although it was extremely hardwork, but the traders we met are wonderful and each fair (we've had four over a year and a half) has been a success, certainly in terms of its awareness.

This year we're delighted to see that there are so many more events spring up, all with different creative twists.

Today, for example, I had a stall at Miss B's Pop Up Boutique and Vintage Tea Party at the Selwyn Hall in Box, just outside Bath. I have no idea who Miss B is, I suspect she might be ficticious.
Miss B's flyer
It was organised by a group of ladies I'm just getting to know, who meet informally for a knitting group each week and who all have their own busy careers, but who fancied putting together a kind of clothes swap with a difference. They asked their friends to buy a rail and to sell their cast-offs, plus invited stallholders like myself to participate too.

I love what they did with the hall, which on a hot day, could have been very oppressive with its blood-red walls. However, Joanna, one of the organisers, made the  most fantastic bunting - all in one long length - that criss-crossed the entire hall and gave it a wonderful, festive, extremely English feel.

Selwyn Hall, Box with Joanna's one-length bunting

Joanna is obviously very talented because as well as being a one-woman bunting machine, she has also started making/upcycling upright lamps which are beautiful. I want one! She was selling them for £95 each which I think is such a bargain.

Wish I was this clever!
The main focus of the day was the clothes but I didn't get much of a chance to have a rummage. It looked like everyone was having fun looking for a bargain though and I thought it was a good idea for an event, as it gave it a homely, wholesome feel, a cross between a jumble-sale and a swish.

Bagging a bargain

I was lucky enough to have quite a lot of space as someone next to me didn't turn up so I made full use of it and tried out using my 1970's magazine rack as way of alternating the height of the china displayed on the table.

My stall at Miss B's

The lighting in the hall combined with my flash has made these pictures look really 1960s/1970s!

I wasn't the only non-clothes-rail seller though. Some others that were there were:

Debbie from Jumble Jelly, her haberdashery in Bradford on Avon

Kaz Lammie (left) and her original prints

Flower headbands from Fairyglass
Kay Tanna  and her handmade brocade from Something Different
I was also really happy to see my friends The Pop Up Parlour there, the vintage makeover stylists who work with me when I run vintage tea parties, The Secret Tea Party.

Eleanor from Pop Up Parlour


I give 'em 10/10

Monday, 18 April 2011

This weekend in Bristol

I've been having a good old think about how best to take the world of Mrs Stokes this year. I started off with a street stall in Union Street in the centre of Bath, which I had to pay for everyday and which demands 6 day a week attention. I really enjoyed it, but it was very hard work and the figures didn't really add up to me becoming a millionaire any time soon so Mr Stokes wondered if I'd be better off using my time to promote and and of course I'm still thinking about trying Union Street again though, now that the weather is drier and warmer, the city is flooded with tourists and now that I have a van!

My stall at the show - loved the larger size, so liberating! I had some non-vintage things there too, like novelty watering cans (right of pic) as it was a Garden Show and I didn't come across any vintage equipment

For the next few months I'm going to try selling at various fairs instead and try and boost my website which has been sadly neglected over recent months. My first fair was this weekend in Bristol in Broadmead, called The Garden Life Show.

Now, I have to admit I did have cold feet about this one, as it was quite expensive to do and it slowly dawned on me that actually it wasn't really a fair or a show at all, but street trading in Bristol's forgotten high street (everyone goes to Cabot Circus now). And I was right, in a way, because no-one who came to my stall seemed to realise that there was anything special going on at all - they all kept asking what was happening. So it was quite disappointing that the organisers (Bristol Evening Post) hadn't really spread the word, although being one of the organisers of the  It's darling! fair, I can sympathise. Sometimes you can go really heavy on promotion and still people don't seem to know about it.

The main event - Mrs Stokes' China Teasets

It wasn't all bad though. The people who did come through were really lovely, bought things (always good), took my card and seemed geniunely interested in what I was doing. For me one of the best things about the show, though, was that I had a huge space (10ft x 10ft) which when you usually sell on a 6ft by 2ft table was just genius. I also managed to persuade the guy from Lazy Lawns, an artificial lawn company, to give me an off cut of lawn to make it look like my stall was on grass in the middle of the city. 

Check the artifical lawn

These Red Riding Hood picnic baskets were really popular

Monday, 31 January 2011

Under Construction for now!

Mrs Stokes Vintage China blog is having a makeover and will be back with a brand new look very soon!