Friday, 19 June 2009

Bitten by the bug: Budleigh's Flea Market

[Part-time stallholder Sue Chapman muses on an absorbing passion and on the friendly atmosphere generated by buyers and sellers alike on Thursday mornings in the Public Hall]
Left: Budleigh Salterton’s Public Hall, ideally located for the weekly flea-market
As a child in Melbourne, I remember the excitement of monthly Chuck Out Day when items too big to be taken by the bin men were placed on the nature strip at the front of each house. My Dad and I slipped out at sunset to cruise the streets and a plump, carved chair and a gilt frame became family heirlooms. Mum chose to ignore this predilection.

Right: Newton Poppleford-based Liz Sharples - “everyone knows me as busy Lizzie” - with some of her produce, made and grown by local artists and farmers
Later, after regular trawls through trash and treasure markets and opportunity shops (such encouraging names), the interest travelled with me. My employment in a York psychiatric hospital soon made it apparent that meaningful occupation would be helpful to those patients about to face the world, so what better than a hospital-based charity shop?

Left: Antiquarian and secondhand bookseller Michael Welch, who with his wife Elizabeth runs Gulliver’s Books in Budleigh
The project was a success and so was the one based in Dubai to raise funds for a school for handicapped children. All those highly mobile, extravagant expatriates were a wonderful source of goodies.

Right: Marion Bruce, with her grand-daughter Pippa. A Budleigh resident, she sells jewellery and silver at the flea-market
Imagine my delight at coming to live in a place as delightful as Budleigh Salterton by the sea, a self contained township, lots of clubs, societies and a weekly Flea Market!
Initially, I was a regular buyer and on Thursdays, waited patiently till 10.00 am to peruse the stalls. I found many treasures: curtains from the lovingly tended fabric stall, a book of old Devon pathways, handcrafted cards, a beautiful bracelet, farm fresh produce.

Left: Sheila Hyson, from Hittesleigh, sells antique garden ornaments and tools, as well as running Hyson Fairs
However, it was the cheerful chat of stallholders, obviously enjoying their weekly pitch in the comfortable Town Hall, rain or shine, that convinced me. Decluttering, in line with the trend towards beige and space, seemed an obvious way to start a stall, so with some trepidation I contacted Hyson Fairs and four weeks on I am hooked.

Right: Graham Ashton comes all the way from Dawlish to sell his china at Budleigh’s flea market
The problem is that you cannot go to a Flea Market each week and sustain interest in the same items, so jumble sales, car boots and charity shops hold magnetic fascination for me. My concern is that with Kirstie Allsop's Home Made Home TV programme, the rest of the world will realize what gems are to be found and the competition will be on.

Left: Denis Meacock runs Chudleigh-based West Country Cheese, and is a familiar face at local Farmers’ Markets
It's just as well that Budleigh Salterton has charity shops, antiques and collectibles businesses, an auction house and a nearby recycling centre for those people interested in creative shopping at our Flea market.

Right: Topsham-based horticulturalist and plant marketeer Caradoc Doy is an authority on the 18th and 19th century Veitch Nurseries of Exeter and Chelsea. The olive plants that he is holding are locally grown and flourish in the mild West Country climate.
Thank you Kirsty, my home, full of colour and interest is happier too and my certainty that one person's junk is another's gem is confirmed.

Right: Budleigh resident and author Sue Chapman with her clothes stall in the Public Hall
Due to Public Hall Bookings the Flea Market, usually every Thursday 10.00 am -1.00 pm, all year round, in the Town Hall is NOT in Budleigh Salterton on the following dates in 2009. 30 July, 6 August, 20 August, 27 August.
Text: © Sue Chapman

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