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2016 Grateful 7

It’s hard to go back, they say. Things never quite live up to how you remember them. If they were great, they’ll be not so great. If the place was gorgeous, it’ll be a little less gorgeous. If your time there was miserable, it’ll be even more miserable.

Sure, I’ve gone to places and loved them and then gone back years later to find it had all changed, or it was smaller, grubbier, not nearly as nice as I remembered it. It could well have been, of course, that the company was different, or my mood had changed, and the place was still exactly the same. I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about it; I simply move on.

That said, when I go back somewhere and it’s even better than I remember, that’s bonus. Something to be grateful for.

A number of years and a lifetime ago, I was driving down by the Balaton on a Sunday morning and happened across an outdoor market in the village of Káptalantóti called Liliomkert. I remember being impressed at the time and thought that if I were down that way again, I’d definitely drop by.

Fast forward three years or so, and the same market came up in conversation with a friend whose mum lives in the village. Down by the Kis Balaton, this time, on a Sunday, we decided to take as spin over and check it out. It was a bank holiday weekend, so all the vendor stalls were taken. The place was heaving. The weather was cooperating and the sun was shining. It was a glorious day.

I came, I saw, and I spent my money. Three times, I got so carried away with being able to hold a semblance of a conversation in Hungarian, that I walked away without paying. Three times they called be back, looking for money. But such is life in the countryside that no one was all that bothered. They’d have caught up with me sooner or later.

I’m going through a phase at the minute, a painted phase. I’m quite taken with painted wood, something I wouldn’t have thanked you for eight years ago when I was doing up the flat in Budapest.  I was quite chuffed with this bench, a market find for the upstairs balcony. Come summer, I plan on taking my morning coffee sitting on it while looking down over the fields to the lake I know is behind the trees. Right now, it’s too bloody cold, although with the leaves gone, we can actually see the lake.

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And ever since I came across the idea of vertical bookshelves on a trip to San Francisco, I can’t get enough plant stands. As this is the only part of the house that has a wealth vibe (in Feng Shui terms), I needed something that would take a lot of very specific colours and a money plant to channel that chi. And ya gotta love the whole shabby chic thing… a great excuse not to sand and paint – just leave it. Peeling paint is all the rage.

Not quite sure what to do with a large white wall in a big kitchen space that will be redone (once the plant stand in the wealth corner starts producing money), I had a root through some carpets and kilims. And I scored this pair – hand-woven in Poland, with the original labels still attached. It adds some warmth, reduces the echo, and ties in nicely with some pieces I want to work on.

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There are few things I like more than a good market. Add the open air, some sunshine, and a little patience, and I am guaranteed a great day out. There was food, music, wine, coffee, pálinka, and lots to laugh about. Lots to be thankful for there. A must, if you’re in the neighbourhood.

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Made for Sunday mornings

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!]

IMG_4481 (800x600)IMG_4489 (800x578)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.

IMG_4491 (600x800)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.

IMG_4499 (800x590)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.]

IMG_4501 (800x600)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.

IMG_4507 (600x800)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.

IMG_4509 (600x800)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?

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