As we wandered along a street lined with cafes , Smitonius was heard to murmur , "To moules or not to moules ....". Since , by this stage , we'd eaten our own weight in Moules Frites all weekend .... when we weren't eating yards of baguette stuffed with ham .... we rather fancied something else . So couscous it was .
Smitonius and partner , Friend and I had met in Lille last weekend for the Braderie , so in need were we yet more delightful vintage knick-knacks to decorate our houses . Actually we were all fairly restrained , though I seem inadvertently to have bought four 1950's Femmes d'Aujourd'hui
a 1939 programme of the Carnaval de Nice
a little recipe book for Le Tip ( a sort of post-war margarine , I think )
and a modern fish cookbook .
I can't comment on the others' impulse buys ..... but at least we didn't need those awful tartan shopping trolleys that the true afficionados were busy knee-capping everyone else with .
If you're after Shabby Chic , Lille is just the place for you . I'm always amazed by how much 1920s and '30s stuff still exists , not to mention odd , sometimes very odd , 1950s bits . I can't think how this was used ... little plates of very flat nibbles at cheese and wine parties , perhaps?
Later in the week , once back in Holland , I found myself in a tiny museum in Utrecht , De Volksbuurt Museum which is housed in a little old school in a formerly very poor neighbourhood , Wijk C . They'd filled it with minute , though actually life-size , mockups of homes and shops . At the turn of the last century families were often crammed into one tiny room with no lighting , running water or ventilation . Hardly anyone earned the bare weekly wage deemed neccessary then to sustain a family and scrabbled for money where they could . The shoemender earned a bit extra by going round at dawn waking those fortunate to have a job to go to , up , mothers bought pot herbs at the central market and sold them door to door , someone sold buckets of hot water on washday , someone else hired out a mangle .
Seeing all this made Lille's Shabby Chic look positively luxurious . Though I would happily have bought these anywhere....