Monday, 12 April 2010

Textiles and Costume ... With a Little Help from My Friends ...

Well, what a day ... what an amazing day ... the weather I ordered back in November obliged, although a rather chilly wind got up in the afternoon ... but over all it was a day to remember.

This was the scene on Saturday afternoon, just prior to closing up for the day ...

... and this was the beautiful sunrise (through a rather dirty windscreen) as I set off along the A303 at 6.30 am!

Within minutes of my arrival, all the stallholders had arrived and there was a flurry of activity for the next 2 hours with trestle tables being erected, bunting tied as high as possible, and the inevitable bursts of chatter interspersed with quiet as everyone made their individual spots look as inviting as possible. (Not a difficult task considering all the fabulous items piling out of cars, bags, boxes, cases etc.)

Cars were moved, bollards put in place to avoid any nasty accidents, and people started to arrive. Soon after 9.00 am (advertised to start at 10.00!) the first customers were brandishing purses and wallets and plenty of squeals of delight were to be heard ... until I had to make the annoucement that gorgeous Guy, the man with the Silver Coffee Machine, wouldn't be coming. He phoned to say his van had died. Quite a serious death as it happened. He began to reverse out of his drive with his little van all beautifully washed and polished for the event, fully stocked with tea, coffee, chocolate and traybakes, and the engine cut out. In fact, the engine mounting collapsed and nothing can be done until a replacement has been delivered and, hopefully, he finds that there is no additional damage to the engine. Such a shame for him ... especially as he travels the local industrial estates and business parks 5 days a week.

Luckily Gillie (I think you all know of her by now) had already arrived to start preparing lunches for the stallholders, and she and Mr Washerwoman hot-footed it to Tescos for supplies so that we could still have our tea, coffee and cake. What a stalwart she is ... and before long another friend had arrived, simply to enjoy the event, but as I knew she and Gillie would get on exceedingly well (being of like-mind and quite mad), I introduced them and before I knew it Cathryn and Gillie were running the kitchen and keeping everyone supplied with drinks. About an hour later I was aware that another lady was dispensing coffees ... Cathryn had phoned one of her friends, asked her to bring plenty of trays and then, once Gill had arrived, coerced her into staying for most of the day as a 'runner'. What marvellous friends ... a real Dunkirk spirit, all mucking in together and ensuring that everyone was looked after. The day could so easily have been marred because of Guy's misfortune, but these 3 wonderful ladies were marvellous.

I took a lot of photos early on, before the crowds, and meant to take more later, hoping to give a real feel of the event.

Looking at them now I realise that I didn't take the photos I thought I had ... like the queues either side of the doorway with people trying to get both in and out; people elbowing their way through to get to other rooms within Dairy House; up to 10 people at a time looking through my drawers of fabric and Sally stuck up a stepladder fighting off customers, wondering if she would ever get out of her room alive ... Still, you get the picture, even if you can't physically see it!!

Maybe the photo of the cars parked up and down the road will give an indication of numbers. Bear in mind that these are the cars that couldn't get onto the estate to park. We shall know for another time to dress Mr Washerwoman in a hi-viz jacket for his own safety!

This is Justine, one of our regular Dairy House customers. She makes gorgeous bags, and often pops in to stock up with fabrics! Today she was in her element!

Here's Debbie! She's one of our dealers and she has the little room on the first floor where I began my Dairy House life nearly 5 years ago.

A mix of regular Dairy House customers and new faces deep in conversation on the top floor which Lizzie and I share.

Tamsyn spent the day with her buttons on the top floor, demonstrating how to make necklaces, hearts and lots of other goodies. Tamsyn has a lovely shop in Gillingham, just a few miles from Dairy House.

And finally Liz looking quite serious at this point. She did sterling work at the desk for most of the day, taking money, answering questions, being bombarded but, most of all, having a lovely time!!!

A few of us have discussed numbers, and we think that over the day we must have had between 500 and 700 visitors ... a fabulous response to all the advertising and promotion of the event. All the stallholders were busy for most of the day, with a slight breather a lunchtime to eat their ploughmans, recharge their batteries and tidy up their stalls ready for the second wave which came, without quite the frenzy of the morning rush, but with determination nevertheless.

Whilst we were planning the event I had visions of Dairy House full of customers to the extent that we could barely move, and thought how fabulous it would be if that really was the case ... and it was! It really was!! Visitors came from far and wide. I'm not sure who had the longest journey, but one travelled from Wales, one from Ramsgate, others from Totnes, Cornwall, the Midlands, Ludlow, Bournemouth, Sussex, London ... the list goes on. Many trade buyers came who hadn't been to Dairy House before and who, I'm pleased to say, are coming back when it's less crowded!! It was good to see that as well as the visiting sellers having a good day, a considerable amount of Dairy House furniture sold, too.

So here is the Oscar speech I prepared earlier to record my thanks for the rather larger than little help from My Friends ...

Thank you to everyone for making the day so successful. Thank you to the 'behind the scenes' Dairy House males who didn't feel they could cope with a shop full of ladies (I shall show them all the photos of men!) but who worked tirelessly clearing a space for Gillie to make lunch, shifting furniture, cleaning windows, fixing lights etc. Thank you to the Dairy House dealers who came on the day to sell and to assist with the normal Dairy House Sunday trade. Thank you to all the visiting dealers, all of whom I think of as friends who, despite their disappointment at not meeting Guy, were more than happy to accept mugs of tea and coffee from Gillie, Cathryn and Gill without complaint. I hope you all enjoyed the day as much as we did - judging by your comments I think you did. Thanks, too, to Mr Washerwoman, Mr Nostalgia and Mr EleganceMaison for your unstinting help on the day. Naturally a huge thank you from everyone involved to all those wonderful customers who made our day complete. And finally thanks to Mrs Washerwoman who helped me get the whole thing off the ground, and to my dear friends Gillie and Cathryn without whose help the day would have been nowhere near as relaxed and stress-free. If I've missed anyone it is simply because I'm still a wee bit tired, and I apologise. As soon as I remember you I shall edit this post!!

There WILL be another Vintage Textiles and Costume Day @ Dairy House. The provisional date is 26 September, but there will need to be a few tweaks to the arrangements for next time, so I shall put on my thinking cap, chat with the Dairy House dealers, and see what we can come up with.



  1. It looks like a divine day! Wish I could have been there!!!

  2. It was so lovely to meet you and you should be very proud - it was a great event. See you again soon!

  3. Aw - what a lovely post, and speech! Mr EM has gone all coy at his mention as he admitted he was feeling guilty at driving off at the end without helping to put the tables away again. But I have to tell you why - as I was packing up I must have pulled a muscle as I suddenly found I couldn't bend to pick up bags and cases and worse still, couldn't lift anything without severe sharp pain through my hip. It was sort of OK if I stood up and moved slowly. He was so concerned he just wanted to get me home asap - and so he did, by which time I collapsed onto the sofa with a hot water bottle against the affected part. A medicinal glass of wine also helped! But it was SO worth it - a terrific day, thanks again Sue! Cx

  4. Well, it certainly was a huge success, Sue. I so wish I could have been there. I shall look forward to looking at all the other bloggers' photos of the day too.
    Ruth xx

  5. wow looks like a brilliant day :o)

  6. Great photos Sue, some of which I don't recognize! That is probably because I was "trapped" on the top floor for most of the day, so never got to see the Cheese room all set up for business. I did also wonder where those lovely ladies appeared from who were dishing out tea, coffee & cake. It was a fab occasion and both Mr W and I cannot wait to "do it all again" xxx

  7. Glad it was such a fantastic day for you - wish I could have been there!

  8. Well done Sue, you should be so proud of yourself, it was a wonderful event for both the visitors and stallholders. Gillie and Cathryn were complete stars keeping us plied with warming teas and coffees and the whole day was great fun.

  9. Oh I sooo wanted to be there!
    Sounds like it was a terrific day for all concerned.
    Thanks for organising and sharing the day!

    Sandie xx

  10. aaah what a fab post :) and a wonderful speech. So glad it was a success after all the hard work :) It was fantastic to be there. Thanks for putting on such a great event X ...and expect the next one to be even busier now people know what they missed lol

  11. Wow what a wonderful day you had! I wish I could have been there. Will mark the next one in my diary!

  12. Sue, a well earned success, cant wait for the next one!

  13. "Oh, Didn't we have a loveleee time, the day we went to Semley..."

    A brilliant post Sue...I don't think you forgot to mention a thing!
    Thanks again for including me in your line up, it really was a fab day - well done.

    Love Niki (and Mr.Nostalgia!)

  14. I could die and be happy there. :) What a lovely lovely show. xo Lidy

  15. Oh I am weeping, weeping, weeping. I was in Cornwall that weekend on our hols, so couldn't make it... and I am now weeping at the sight of it all. ARRGGhhhh .. when's the next one???!!! xxx

  16. Hi Sue - just to let you know that I have belatedly(!) reported the event on my blog. It is added to my Seaside Special post of 23 April. I had to borrow one of your pics as I don't have any of my own. But have included a link to Dairy House. Still reliving that lovely day and looking forward to news of the next event!Cx

  17. I studied all the photos and loved everything. Very exciting and chock full of beautiful textiles and so much more.

    I will be in Britain on September 26th, so I'll keep checking up on the tentative plans.

    Thanks so much!

    Sharon Lovejoy Writes from Sunflower House and a Little Green Island