Steptoe's Yard for those of you not in the know, is an extraordinary emporium of second-hand items so overflowing and chaotic that it has outgrown the original building, filled several others, filled many shipping containers and spilled out into the surrounding gardens. Items may be found gently rusting or decomposing in piles, fully open to the elements, with barely discernible paths between these piles. The sheds are so full, that what were once corridors have long since been blocked, and one feels that items at the back must have been quite lost to humanity for a few decades.
For everyone, the first visit to Steptoe's is an assault on the senses and one's sense of order. It is almost impossible for the human brain to take in even a small proportion of what is for sale. For those who like order, the resulting distress might forbear a second visit. For those who delight in the ephemera of yesteryear, and for those who like exploring to find that obscure useful item or rummaging to come across an unexpected object of delight, Steptoe's is paradise.
As the restoration of Balintore Castle is an exercise in bringing life back to an old building, and gathering appropriate period fittings and fixtures, I naturally fall into the second camp, and my reply to Gregor was "Yes of course, but how far away is it?". In fact, the drive there is only 5 minutes. I never knew so I had missed many previous opportunities to do the Steptoe's and Taylor's double bill.
Anyhow at Steptoe's, Gregor and I quickly spotted 4 matching 4-paneled doors which were obviously "Balintore pieces". Normally, I reject doors below 3' wide as this is the smallest standard door at Balintore. However, there are a number of smaller doors required for odd spots (e.g. WC's and cupboards) so these doors at 2'9" wide and, most importantly, at just £20 each :-) were not to be sneezed at. Sure, they had areas of damage, but after minimal repair, they would be in quite serviceable condition. The doors were grained to look like oak like many of those at Balintore and have the correct dark brown hue, so the look was perfect.
Today Gregor and I picked up the doors using his trailer. As we were entering the rear of the big shed, I spotted another matching door but this one was narrower: just 25". Gregor mentioned it was the right width for a servant's corridor door opening we had been trying to find a door for. We reckon the original castle door was around 24" wide, but unfortunately we had not taken a measurement of the height of the opening and to both of us, the narrow Steptoe door seemed rather too high. I thought for £20 we could take the gamble: we could cut down the height of the door a little but any more than a couple of inches would destroy the structure of the door.
Anyhow, when we got back to the castle , Gregor placed the narrow door in the narrow door frame. Et voila, almost a perfect fit! The original scouting trip to Steptoe's had been serendipitous, and the resulting pick-up trip had also been serendipitous. The outcome is that we managed to solve a long-standing restoration problem, without even trying to solve it!
I am intrigued by the machinations of fate that steer objects into our path. I would not call it "cosmic ordering", and you may cynically call it just "commerce", but I think it is more about being open to the universe and the people around us with common interests.
|the door fits !|