The Candy Files: Flea Market School Special

What's hot, what's not and what's what at my place. This week:

House Candy = Flea Market Wins

You may have noticed I've been bossing my flea market game of late? In actual fact it's been a few year's in the making, this finely tuned skill I have developed, whereby I can loot a second hand market in 15 minutes flat, returning with *mostly* covetable house candy.

Drawers, pink vase and mirrors are just a few of my "vintage" flea market trophies.

Drawers, pink vase and mirrors are just a few of my "vintage" flea market trophies.

I am in fact a self made Flea Market Pro and I don't mind sharing a few tips with you right here. 

1) Go with as much cash as you are willing to spend and nothing else. Do not be tempted to take a debit card and draw out more from the nearby cash machine. If you can't afford it, walk away. 

2) Go with an open mind. If you are looking for an old butler's sink, I can promise you that you will find everything BUT the kitchen sink come market day. Three week's later when you've sourced one near enough to the one you want on Ebay and travelled to Berwick on Tweed for it, that's when the exact mother f**ker - the sink of your freakin' vintage dreams will turn up at the local market.  So to avoid this disappointment and the associated expletives, be open to whatever treasures fate has put in your way that particular day. This week it was peacocks.

That day Peacocks were trending at the flea market

That day Peacocks were trending at the flea market

3) Don't lose out over a quid. Ok so this kind of contradicts point one above, but I have seen it happen where a trader wants £6 for a lovely old vase that has quite clearly delighted a punter. The potential buyer caresses it, they turn it upside down, frown a bit for effect and offer £4 because, of course, most market shoppers come to barter.

"Best I can do is £5", says the trader who incidentally has been there since 6am and is just trying to make a living by way of a dirty, smelly house clearance.

"Pah! says the punter, you're having a laugh!" And walks away.

And yet no one is laughing, least of all me, who has mild anxiety and promptly offers full price for the beautiful vintage vase, which SURELY will bring six quids worth of joy?

On the other hand, traders aren't dumb. When they look you up and down before giving you a price that's above what's worth arguing over, barter the hell out of 'em. That's not playing nice. See point 4) below.

4) Go in your scruffs. Look poor as a beggar boy/girl if you can and drop the posh accent. Mind your ps and qs tho. There's no excuse for bad manners is there? 

5) Pack your bags. There is no worse feeling than skipping home with the 1950s coffee jug you've been watching on Ebay and getting it home to find the lid got cracked in transit. A good market trader will wrap valuable breakables in newspaper but those sturdy supermarket shopping bags with a flat bottom?... they are arm candy for the savvy salvage hunter.

Above all, when it comes to vintage/flea market shopping, remember what my mentor Sarah Moore off of Money For Nothing just tweeted after congratulating me on the sofa scoop below. Sarah says (and Sarah knows); "You only get one chance with a one off vintage find. Don't let it get away."

Find a brief rundown of some great places for a rummage at the end of this post.

Fine and Candy = Flea Market Snobbery

The room flea market snobs love to hate

The room flea market snobs love to hate

Some people wouldn't be seen dead at a flea market; like my husband for example. I get that. My advice? stay well away. You won't like it any more than you thought you would. If you haven't got the bug already it's unlikely you'll catch it, but you may well catch something a lot more unpleasant while you're there. That said, you can always go and get a good steaming hot cuppa and watch everyone else buy someone else's dirty rotten cast offs. Some days I think it could turn into a sport.

Candy Pandy = Flea Market Fleas

It's always a concern that you get more than you bargain for with a flea market scoop. I prefer my loot to be free of any life forms and whole heartedly recommend the Bissell product range for removing stains and odours from soft furnishings. This bad boy is fast becoming my best friend.

Bought any absolute beauties at the flea market recently? I'm still plugging away with the #myhousecandy hashtag on Instagram because it would be so cool to share each other's vintage wins don't you think? Please, follow me over there, where I promise I will show you mine, if you will show me yours. Which b.t.w is generally how the vintage community jams ;-)

Happy house candy hunting all. What do you think of my scoops? I'd love to know your thoughts. Please drop me a comment here, on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Thank you to one lovely reader who asked for some recommendations on flea markets in our local area of West Yorkshire.

In Huddersfield we have a second hand market twice a week on Tuesday's and Thursdays. It's a mixed bag of house clearances and more specialist vintage-ish stalls but always very fairly priced. Check out the outdoor market in your own area for similar and don't forget to give the local car boot sales and charity shops a once over too.

Our local household recycling site has initiated a genius outlet for salvageable homewares where all proceeds are donated to charity. They basically loot the skips so you don't have to. Even I have my limits and aside from saving me the humiliation of diving in the tip after a wonky lampshade, it feels doubly good to know you are reducing land fill and at the same time donating cash to a good cause.  

Of course, if you'd prefer to get your vintage scoops pre-sourced and also all shiny and cleaned up by someone who actually knows what they're doing, specialist vintage markets are the place to go.

Check out these sites for some hot beds of pre-loved, swoon worthy house candy near you.

Claire xx

The crazy lady with the nice jugs

The really cool thing about buying vintage* House Candy is that each piece comes with its own unique story.  More often than not, this is House Candy that finds you, rather than you finding it, like this pretty yellow jug I bought on one of those idyllic Sunday afternoon family canal walks.

My closest friends know all about "the walk". It's the one my kids really didn't want to go on, it being the middle of the Euros and all. The one, despite the uneven ground and recent heavy rains, they insisted on bringing scooters on. The one that involved me threatening to leave home if I had to ease the boys' boredom by playing one more game of Guess Which Footballer I'm Thinking Of... That walk.

But whilst out on "The Walk", at round about the time my dog produced a sloppy poo and just before my husband threatened to throw the Godforsaken scooters in the canal, we came across a crazy canal boat dweller who had decided to have a clear out.

She had set up a stall outside the canal boat a bit like the ones my sister and I created outside our house in the school summer holidays. It was a table laden with unwashed tat from the houseboat. 

Among the crazy lady's treasures were a broken sound system, some scenic coasters and a dirty, ink stained jug previously used to hold biros. Everything was 50p because she "needed to make some space before the boat was advertised on Airbnb".. True fact.

Now it was either a canny sales tactic or a tragic sob story, but upon showing an interest in her wares (and therefore avoiding another round of guess the frikkin' footballer) Crazy Lady told me how loathed she was to part with any of these precious artefacts; particularly the lovely yellow, slightly chipped, very ink stained, old jug-come-pen-pot that I was now holding in my hand.

The sight of a shiny 50p did nothing to ease the pain - quite the opposite in fact. Instead my keenness to pay appeared to evoke more happy memories of blissful pen storage and happy letter writing on the lovely old (but overcrowded) house boat. It wasn't until my husband suggested she keep the change from a one pound coin and I promised to give the the jug a loving family home, that the crazy house boat lady agreed to a sale and the yellow jug finally got new owners.

I wasn't lying to the crazy house boat lady. I do, actually, love this jug almost as much as she did. I love it because it is the most fabulous shade of vintage yellow that is difficult to replicate on new ceramics.

I love it because a handful of cheap supermarket flowers and garden picked blooms look amazing just plonked straight in it without all that faff of fancy arranging.

And most of all I love it because it reminds me of The Walk that started badly and ended beautifully.  Ending - since I know you are so desperate to hear the moral of this story - with us all:

a) Realising that there are actual human beings out there who haven't even heard of the Euros and know nothing of the pressures of rushing through quality family time in order to get back in front of the telly before kick off.

b) Feeling blessed that we don't live all alone, going slightly crazy on the Leeds to Liverpool canal. But have each other for family walks (however painful they may be) and endless games of Guess the Footballer.

c) Understanding that House Candy doesn't have to be about full height Crittal windows or reclaimed Moroccan tiles. Sometimes it can be about a 30 year old chipped yellow milk jug, which during its time has proven to be equally good at holding pens and peonies.

Happy weekend all, hope you get to enjoy some family time and perhaps a little bit of House Candy.

Claire xx

*vintage meaning stuff off of someone else


How to handle the candle situation

I do enjoy a candle.

Vintage giant candlestick

Vintage giant candlestick

I like the romantic ambience they create, the forgiving light they project, the luxurious smell they (can) produce. Candles of course are not just for Christmas, but for making any occasion instantly special. Like kebab night for example, which in our house is always a candle-lit occassion.     

But when it comes to candles, things can go spectacularly wrong. If you’ve ever made the mistake of going to a high-pressure-purchase candle party you’ll know the kind of thing I’m talking about. I have only one piece of advice when it comes to buying candles and it is this: Like a cheesy Christmas song; the old ones are the best.

Some candles can cause naffness on a grand scale. Others add class and sophistication to an experience. The easiest mistake to make is thinking that the best candles are the expensive, designer branded variety. I mean, I am totally guilty of falling into the trap of scented candle snobbery (Diptyque being a particularly swoon-worthy example) But in fact my favourite candle-lit scenes - and the one I’m staging for my family Christmas dinner - cost just a few quid to create. I’m talking about these: 

Vintage cut glass jars create pretty tea light holders for a party table

Vintage cut glass jars create pretty tea light holders for a party table

I buy old cut glass jars whenever I see them. Why? Because they can be got from charity shops for pennies and a prettier tea light holder I am yet to find. Tall, short, fat, thin - the more mis-matched the better as far as I’m concerned. I don't even mind if they’re a bit chipped.  I just love getting them home and giving them a boiling hot wash in fairy liquid. My Christmas dinner table will be loaded with these lovelies next week, no light bulbs allowed.

On the mantlepiece I’m lighting up a variety of vintage candlesticks of all shapes and sizes. Mostly glass with the odd bit of brass works for me. All of these were picked up for peanuts at market stalls, charity shops or car boot sales. 

Like the look but no time for rummaging? I’ve got just the website for you. know how to switch on the vintage glamour alright. Their ever changing selection of unique and vintage candlesticks currently includes this tall glass number which pretty much nails the vibe don't you think?

Glass candlestick £14.95

Glass candlestick £14.95

All this talk of romantic room settings has got me feeling all emosh. In fact, whilst the lights are down and you can’t see me blushing, I’d like to tell you how amazing you all are and thank you hugely for your support this year. My first 12 months as a bonafide blogger been so much fun and yet not without its frustrations. To all of you who have read, liked and shared or commented, please know that you keep me going.

May your homes be filled with love, happiness and house candy this Christmas.



Only the brave

My Interior Ups and Downs. This week...

House Candy = Brave Decisions

The rugby world cup is on and pass me the muscle rub 'cos I’m feeling fierce.

I’m blaming a sudden surge of testosterone in the atmosphere for my recent bout of brave decision making. Take my house renovations for example. I’ve been dilly dallying over what to do with my dark and dingy hallway for five years. This week I gave the builder the go ahead to cause some serious damage.

Walls are coming down and full height crittall windows are going in. It’s bold, it’s brave but it will be worth the pain. Stick with me for one very messy makeover.

Fine and Candy = Brave patterns

Delicate florals and whimsical prints have been sent for an early shower. I’m making some manly textile substitutions, starting with this slightly spooky velvet from my fave pattern house, Blackpop. Their unique Reader fabric is soon to transform this old cane chair.

The Reader velvet fabric £120 per m .uk

The Reader velvet fabric £120 per m

Awarded best new product at Decorex International for Elizabeth - part of their amazing Tudor range currently featuring in a fab window display at Liberty of London - this cookily individual wallpaper and fabric brand knows it’s good to be oval in a round shaped world. 

Candy Pandy = Brave Face

I didn’t make the shortlist in the Interior Blog Awads Best Newcomer Category and I have this to say about it:

Whilst I’m nursing a badly bruised ego, I’m not ready to bow out of the blogging world yet.  Why not tell me how to improve my game below and I promise to take it like a man. 

Have a great weekend all, Claire xx