One of my hobbies at present is to look within a 5 mile radius for antique items to furnish the castle. Thanks eBay!
It is rare for suitable "collection only" pieces to come up, but sometimes it happens. Last night I spotted a beautifully carved oak table (1880) with figurative carvings, including 6 lion heads, 4 sea-horses, and 4 bunches of grapes. There was no indecision - it was a Balintore piece to the very core. This evening I picked it up. The seller was a lovely lady called Greta - a former antiques dealer who is now funding a trip to Australia by selling items cluttering up her small retirement flat in the nearby village of East Hanney.
The table was not that heavy, but there was no way I could manoeuvre it out the flat on my own. Greta had just started a bad bout of sciatica and could barely stand. What to do? The "Black Horse" pub was across the road, so I barged in and offered the assembled patrons a free drink for a hand with a table! :-) The look on the barman's face communicated how clearly he thought I was a loony.
A obliging chap called Cliff came along - the table proved almost impossible to extract from the flat. In fact, we were on the verge of giving up several times, but by standing the table on end and adjusting the orientation and angle carefully, we got it through two tricky internal doors.
Cliff more than deserved the glass of merlot I bought him. I got his wife Mary a glass of sauvignon. During our conversation, it emerged that two of Cliff's hips were not his own, as well as one of his knees!
Anyhow, we shared drinks and a good natter, and my faith in human nature was more than restored: Cliff had helped even though 3 of his major joints had been replaced! :-)
When I returned to the pub to buy the drinks, the expression on the barman's face was even more condemning. You see, Greta has given me a bed warming pan with which to decorate the castle, and it was armed with this formidable weapon of brass, copper and mahogany that I strode, for a second time, into his establishment.