Back to Reality

Posted: 11/09/18 (7:42am)

We're flying home tonight. One final day of sunshine and all inclusive pampering before our lovely holiday is over. From what I've seen of the news, we're heading home to chilly, rainy weather with a chance of snow in October. That's early even for Scotland. This morning I also saw photos of a recent and rare snow fall in South Africa.  It was bizarre seeing elephants and giraffes plodding through snow. Seems winter is in a hurry this year.

I'm going to have to hit the ground running when we get back. I'll have a day to package and despatch recent sales, then on Thursday I'm leaving on a 4 day, 700 mile round trip. Hopefully to buy stock. I also have several deliveries in progress, some of which I hope will have arrived already and one from Canada that has been in transit for a month already. If those swords don't arrive soon I'll have to chase them up, especially as the tracking information has not been updated since the 21st August. I'm assuming they're on a cargo vessel so I'm not unduly concerned yet.

Ok, that's enough from me. I'm off to join Sue et al by the pool☺

Busy Doing Nothing

Posted: 06/09/18 (8:23am)

I haven't much to report. Our holiday is wonderful, we're eating too much, drinking too much, sunbathing, swimming, laughing and relaxing. We've  visited a couple of excellent fortresses, both over 1000 years old.
It's all a holiday should be. Every day is sunny and in the low 30's with just a slight breeze to rustle the palms. Need I say more?

I have uploaded a couple of pre-prepared stock listings, written this blog and a few admin emails and that's as close as I've come to anything even remotely work related😊

Sword Collection Minus 1 and falling...

Posted: 30/08/18 (9:31am)

How frustrating! Only a matter of hours before boarding a plane I got a call offering me a collection of swords. The caller emailed me photos and I agreed to buy the collection on my return.
Shortly after, I found out that despite our agreement, the seller is advertising the collection in a number of places and is selling them one by one.
What was the point of contacting me, much less agreeing to sell them to me if they were going to do this? There were 3 swords in particular that I wanted and the rest are all commonly encountered military patterns from the late 19th Century. I was willing to make a 680 mile round trip to buy the collection, but if the 3 main swords have been sold by the time I return from holiday, I probably won't bother making the journey. The remaining swords can be found at auctions much closer to home on a regular basis.

On a brighter note, Sue and I are having a great time. The weather couldn't be better. It's currently 29 degrees with a cloudless blue sky and gentle breeze. Sue is sunbathing while I add stock, reply to messages and write this blog. I'll be joining her for a dip in the pool shortly.
Before that, I am meeting a guy to arrange a day on the sea, game fishing for me and sunbathing on deck for Sue. 

Before I go, a quick update. I have just listed the 18th Century Cavalry Sabre I mentioned in a previous blog. The engraving on the blade is the Spanish motto, that translates, as I thought, to read,
"Don't draw me without reason. Don't sheath me without honour."
More soon...

Sword Canes and Sunshine

Posted: 27/08/18 (19:24pm)

Another week has flown by and Sue and I are about to fly off. We're heading to the sun for a relaxing all inclusive holiday. Sue has loaded her tablet up with quizzes, cross words and other fun games, I've loaded mine with articles on swords, photos and stock descriptions (so that I can list new items while abroad) and a few books I've been wanting to read for some time. I'm half-way through Mary Beard's History of Rome and am looking forward to finishing it while lazing on the beach or by the pool with a gin and tonic in hand.

This last week has been quite hectic, finishing customer restorations and of course sourcing new stock. I drove to Blackpool last Monday and came home with a couple of nice swords and three sword canes. I have just listed one of them and will be adding the others over the next week or two (they're on my tablet).
The weekend was spent working but we did find time to attend a local horticultural show on Saturday afternoon as Sue had a couple of entries in the curiously named "Industrial" class. Sue won first prize for her felt flower and I am very proud of her. 
We were both amazed at the flowers and vegetable classes. The vegetables were huge and perfect in every way (I bet they'll taste great too) and I must confess to feeling a little onion envy. Whenever I grow some they struggle to get as big as a tennis ball and I have yet to grow a decent carrot.

The flowers were incredible. They looked so perfect that they didn't look real and the colours were jaw dropping. 

On Sunday morning I helped run a car boot for the "Friends of Mangu" charity (of which I am a trustee). The charity has built and equipped a secondary school for the Mangu community in the north of Ghana, West Africa, and have also provided bore holes and pumps to bring water to the neediest areas.
It was a successful morning and the funds raised will go towards sinking another bore hole and buying a pump.

All in all, it has been a busy and satisfying week.

Rare Swords and Rare Steak

Posted: 20/08/18 (12:24pm)

What a wonderful last couple of weeks! The weather has taken a slight turn for the worse, but that just means we're now experiencing typical Scottish weather and it certainly hasn't dampened our enjoyment of this summer.
Sue and I spent the last two weekends touring around the antique shops in the Borders and Edinburgh and we struck pointy gold in the form of a very rare 1896 Mountain Artillery sabre. More on that later...

I also attended a couple of auctions last week. The first was on Wednesday in Edinburgh where a number of Scottish basket hilted swords were up for auction. The day was interesting but, I have to admit, very frustrating. I was outbid on all my lots and came home with nothing. It happens; but it is hard not to view it as a wasted day and to bemoan the financial cost of attending the auction too. A day away means a day not working on restoration projects and a near 100 mile round trip plus parking adds insult to injury. Oh well, it wasn't the first time and it certainly won't be the last.

I had much better success on Friday near Liverpool. I bought a nice 1796 Light Cavalry sabre with an engraved blade and a rare 1788 Bavarian Heavy Cavalry sabre, the curved blade engraved with a motto that I have yet to translate. I have a feeling that it may turn out to be something akin to "Neither draw me without reason, nor sheath me without honour." I'll keep you posted.

I also bought two other swords which I am equally pleased with. One, an ivory hilted George III 1803 flank officer's sabre complete with gilded brass mounted scabbard (although the leather is in poor condition) and a very nice William IV 1822 pattern infantry sabre with a pipe back blade, quill point and raised yelman, complete with its brass scabbard.

These are all pretty special but I have a real soft spot for the British Mountain Artillery sabre. It is the rarest of British regulation swords. There were two patterns of Mountain Artillery sword. One for Indian issue and one for British issue. The Indian pattern has a brass stirrup guard while the British pattern has a steel D-guard and is much rarer. Robert Mole of Birmingham was commissioned to make 450 of these sabres on the 9th September 1896. My sabre was made in July 1897 and is in near mint condition with matching scabbard. I have already listed it on the website. It is one of those swords that I will be both happy and sad to sell.

It hasn't been all work though. Sue and I stayed in Edinburgh on Saturday night to enjoy the buzz of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. It really is an exciting time to be in the city! We were also spoiled by Sue's parents who took us out for a lovely dinner.
A week of wonderful swords rounded off with tiger prawns and rare fillet steak. The locally distilled rhubarb and ginger gin is pretty special too.
What more could a man ask for? 

Iron Maiden to Shakespeare with an auction in between.

Posted: 09/08/18 (14:31pm)

I had an amazing night at the Iron Maiden gig in Newcastle. It had been 30 years since I last saw Iron Maiden play and they didn't disappoint. After queuing from 2 in the afternoon I raced to the front and stood the closest I have ever been to the stage (my ears were still ringing 3 days later!). The stage sets were amazing and the raw energy of Bruce Dickinson et al was just as impressive. At 60, the band could run rings around most 30 year olds.
In emulation of my childhood heroes I leapt about, screamed and yelled and sang (to the best of my ability) at the top of my lungs. I felt like I was 18 again.
Unfortunately, the next morning I felt more like I was 80! My shoulders and neck ached, my feet hurt and my throat was raw. Ah well, it was worth it!

At the completely opposite end of the scale, Sue and I spent the weekend down in Cambridgeshire with my parents and on Saturday evening we watched an excellent production of Shakespeare's "Merchant of Venice" at the Tolethorpe Hall open air theatre in Stamford. We arrived early in order to enjoy a leisurely picnic on the lawn, as did most of the audience - it's something of a tradition. 

On the Friday, I visited an auction in Derbyshire and picked up some quite rare bayonets. I bought two No.5 Mk II Jungle Carbine bayonets (one of which I listed on Monday) and a No.7 Land Service bayonet. I also bought a No.9 bayonet and the Imperial German Army M1890 Dove Head sword that I have just listed on the website. In the evening, I visited a friend in Peterborough. I hadn't seen him in about 20 years and we have only recently made contact again. The years melted away as soon as we started chatting - the sign of a true friendship. I look forward to catching up with him again soon. From 1991 until 2012 I spent most of the time working abroad and lost touch with all my childhood friends. It's nice to be finding them again.

On Saturday morning Sue and I met with a long time customer and friend in Ely to deliver five of his recent purchases. We enjoyed a coffee together and it was a real pleasure spending time with him. All in all, it was a wonderful weekend, a mix of work and play and all of it a pleasure.
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