Wednesday, 7 April 2010

The Shop of Dreams

A further instalment in an occasional series of posts about shops I daren't go into, unless I am happy to spend some money (see  here and here for previous instalments in the series).

It's also probably about time I confessed to my bric a brac habit ....

When we lived on the Northside of Edinburgh, this shop, Duncan & Reid was at the end of our road. C and I nicknamed this shop our 'Shop of Dreams' because we both love it. Every week we would walk past it and get a little thrill from looking in the window and seeing what new treasures had appeared. Practically every Christmas, birthday and anniversary present during our 3 years living nearby came from this shop.  Maybe it's just that the owner has similar tastes to me. Every time I look in the window there's something that I love. It stimulates a rather shameful kind of acquisitiveness in me.

The shop sells books, jewellery, pottery and glass and what I suppose you would call collectibles or curios. It's not a really posh antique shop - not one of those that just has half a dozen monumental pieces of furniture on display, along with a copy of Millers Antique Guide and beeswax furniture polish. Yet it's not merely bric a brac. It's better than that. It is however very reasonable in terms of price. Which just adds to my acquisitiveness. Whilst I wouldn't spend hundreds of pounds, or even a hundred pounds, on a little gewgaw or trinket for myself, I might well spend £20 or £30. It's only when you add up all these little amounts that the truth of your habit dawns .....

My bric a brac habit isn't totally out of control - I don't haunt car boot sales or ebay, snapping up weekly bargains. Months can go by without me buying anything. It  is however totally inexcusable, given the amount of clutter and stuff we have clogging up our flat. It is especially unforgivable given the amount of time I spend complaining about C's hoarding habit. We are in the process of getting rid of a store we have in Cumbria, which means finally consigning to charity or the tip all those boxes of unwanted things labelled optimistically 'car boot sale'. Our large dining table is currently covered with random household goods - everything from a yoghurt maker to inherited tea sets to part sets of wine glasses - all waiting to be bundled up and dispatched.

Clearly then, it would be madness to buy more things from my favourite shop ..... but last week I happened to be in the area so I indulged myself in a little window shopping. Well, not just window shopping ........

The McVitie & Price display cabinet always has jewellery in it. Lots of late 19th and early 20th century costume jewellery. I have too many items from this case than I care to admit.

A special display of tea things for Easter.

I've had my eye on the glass comporte on the right for a while.

And look at this extraordinary parrot design tea set! But, for a woman who does not drink tea, I have too many tea sets already ......

This is the effervescent Jo - one of the people who works in the shop. We had an animated conversation about all the quirky and gorgeous things in the shop. She is a graduate from Edinburgh Art School, but said she had lost interest in her painting during her studies (a great advert for art college then!). 10 years later, she says that working in the shop has rekindled her desire to paint, because she has started painting still life studies, inspired by the objects in the shop. She had a fascinating way of describing her work. She said that painting objects  she owns or loves is like painting self-portraits, but without having to be in the picture. I thought that was rather cool. She hasn't got a website, yet, but she very kindly showed me a photo on her phone of a work in progress. It was very blue, and very fetching, and managed successfully to juxtapose a teapot and lacy knickers, which is quite original!

This was last Thursday's haul:

This was actually an Easter present for C. A little jam pot. It's 'Hancock's Ivory Ware'. See how I managed to photograph it showing off the chip on the lid. Clever that.

A spotty sugar bowl, to go with my spotty tablecloth. Royal Winton. Very 1950s chintz. I don't take sugar, but never mind.

I fell in love with these champagne glasses. They supposedly date from the 1920s. They are just so plain and elegant. This is for my imaginary life when I lounge about drinking champagne and no doubt smoking a cigarette in a long holder, a la Audrey Hepburn - rather than slumping on the sofa in my pinny with a mug of coffee. I can dream.

Erm, does anyone want a yoghurt maker? I need to make some space .....


  1. I hardly dare comment, having a 'habit' myself...however- there are worse things in life than buying and appreciating small pretty objects. I love the spotty sugar bowl and would have bought it in an instant. I don't take sugar either...

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  3. It's a good job it's out of my shopping distance..we have far too many teapots already but the Parrot set is just my cup of tea (so to speak)
    Love the jam pot!

  4. As a tea drinker ( out of large mugs , but that could change ) I would have struggled to leave that tea set behind ...
    Who am I kidding ! I never leave anything behind .
    Sonata ( but Smitonius might also recognise herself in this )

  5. I want that teapot!! With a parrot on the lid, you'd just have to have tea and seedcake, wouldn't you?

  6. No, they can't have the parrot teaset - I want it!!

  7. I just stumbled upon your blog and am intrigued by the 'half-finished-life'. Why? (I'm posting this from a campsite in the beautiful Somerset Levels, some way from home, and amazed to have wifi access, and time to dabble and blog -and of course you mentioned Betty's in York, though I think I prefer Harrogate. I'll catch up with your earlier posts when I return home.

  8. damn! should have read this before I went to Edinburgh then I could've bought the parrot tea set!

  9. A very dangerous looking place indeed!! xxx