I’m quite partial to a good market. The more flea-ridden the better. I’ve travelled in search of some, sought out others, and just happened across ones like the one in Káptalantóti called Liliomkert. [And no, it had nothing to do with the fact that I can’t follow a blue arrow on a GPS or that I couldn’t find my way out of a paper bag on a good day – I prefer to think that the gods were smiling benevolently on us!]
Acres of wooden stalls with everything from a blacksmith’s forge to homemade steak seasoning, from linen tea towels to English-language novels, from wooden coat-hangers to fresh goat’s milk – it had it all. And in between the stalls were the rest areas – places to eat the bountiful food on offer or taste the different local wines on sale. A veritable mecca when it comes to markets.
I came away with a multipurpose knife thingey that promises to do wonders for my veg chopping; a cornhusk pillow that I’m hoping will guarantee that I sleep through my next trans-Atlantic crossing; and the requisite Christmas tree ornament. I left behind four fabulous wooden coat-hangers with brass knobs, a lovely black lace scarf, and a five-litre container of carrot juice. Damage could have been done had sense not prevailed. But I’d go back there again to spend an hour or two rummaging. It’s markets like these that make Hungary such a great place to live – you never really know what you’re going to come across next.
The previous day, just up the road near Tapolca, we’d passed what looked like a sizeable antique barn but nothing prepared us for how big it really is. Massive. Over 2200 square metres of space crammed with everything from oil paintings to china dolls, from Herend porcelain to pictures of the Sacred Heart. An Aladdin’s cave that literally tugged on the purse strings once you took that first step in side. I soooooooooooo wanted to spend some money. [And if the marketing lads could discover why – I’m convinced it’s the smell of these places that kick starts some endorphin or other – they’d be on to a winner.]
I’m in the market for some Art Deco dining chairs and while there were hundreds here, none quite suited. I’m also in the market for some china – a dinner and tea service in the same pattern – but again, nothing quite suited both taste AND pocket. Yet I was quite happy to spend the time searching for what I needed and wished, not for the first time, that I was a tall, svelte, skinny woman who could do justice to the wardrobes of vintage clothing on offer.
While I might have carried off the mink stoles, I doubt I could have squeezed a wrist, let alone a bicep through the sleeves of some of those dresses. And to think that someone actually has the job of finding this stuff! Now, there’s a career change in the offing. The place takes up three floors and has two outdoor barns as well as myriad other nooks and crannies scattered on the grounds. I could have spent all day there – and while I didn’t quite find what I was looking for, I am already a little regretful that I didn’t bag those wrought iron floor lamps – they’d have gone well in my hallway.
Pigs in china shops came to mind as I paid close attention to what my handbag was doing. One swing in the wrong direction could have proved rather expensive and seen me in the bankruptcy court. The whole experience put the longing on me to renovate again. Just give me some space and a budget and let me ferret through these types of places, mixing and matching and finding the perfect piece for a particular corner. Something that looks at home the minute you put it there. Forgive the whimsy, but that reminds me somewhat of life and relationships and that search for the perfect mate (mind you, I’m no longer convinced that such perfection ever existed in a person – as the saying goes: nobody’s perfect, but who wants to be a nobody?). Yet some people just fit better than others in our lives – despite their wear and tear and the patina that is either shining or dulled by experience. There’s that similar ‘aha’ moment when that sense of belonging, the fit, is recognised, when you find what you’ve been looking for. But as with these antique shops and their treasures, all too often the mistake we make is walking away, leaving the gem behind – thinking it might be there tomorrow or that we might find something better. Inevitably, we rarely do. I know … I’m still hankering after a pair of captain’s chairs that I walked away from in the BAV two years ago. I won’t make that mistake again… but hey, I did… those bloody floor lamps. When will I learn?