When is a bargain no longer a bargain?

Those of you who know me will know that I have uttered, countless times in the past, that we absolutely can not buy any more ‘stuff’ because we simply have nowhere left to put it (despite having a rather large four bedroomed house and separate detached barn). In fact, we have been making concerted efforts to give some items away in recent months.

Cue a recent, lovely long lunch one Friday at the Tables du Bistrot with my husband and then a slow (an hour and a half) trawl around our favourite Trocadero in Limoges. We deliberately made our journey in the Honda S2000, not only so that we could fully appreciate the sunshine and fresh air on our little jaunt out but also with the cunning plan that it would prevent us from buying anything bigger than a shoebox, which would actually work if you are not going to completely cheat and return the very next day with the Peugeot 308 Estate to collect your purchases!

So, one solid wood wardrobe, circa 1930’s and a 100 x 128cm tapestry later……dum de dum de dum.

To be fair, we’ve had a requirement for a wardrobe for our guest room for some time, to provide our guests somewhere to hang their finery during their visits to us and who couldn’t have resisted this bargain, a snip at just €20 euros as you will gather from the rather subtle  price tag.


Though our savvy bargain soon became entirely pointless when, following the uncomfortable embarrassment of the labour involved by the guys who work at the Troc to excavate the €20 euro wardrobe from its far corner plot in their warehouse and manoeuvre it through the veritable assault course of hundreds of other items of furniture, several hundred metres to the exit and our waiting car, we felt slightly shamed into buying something else, even though it was, of course, the shop staff who placed the significantly low-value price tag on the wardrobe that was buried amongst an army of other wardrobes, in what can only be described as the very farthest corner away from the loading area. Nevertheless, we still felt a little awkward following the kerfuffle so I suspect we massively overpaid, to the tune of €89 euros, for a tapestry that has seen better days, despite that we both liked it, for rather lovely though it is, complete with a pheasant, a hunting dog, a pair of squirrels, a parrot, a water feature and a Chateau in the background, it is somewhat faded with an overall beige tinge to it which is probably a result of years and years of nicotine abuse.  I must admit, however, that I do quite like the muted colours and beige, as my friends know, has always been a firm favourite of mine. So we now have two new pieces for our home for a total of €109 euros plus two round trips to Limoges (a total of 240kms), oh and then spending the rest of the weekend re-organising other furniture and making minor modifications to accommodate them.

First, we (the royal ‘we’ that is, which in actual fact solely refers to my husband) had to remove the wardrobe door and make some minor repairs to it, where it had started to bow and had sprung from its frame in places. With the reparations complete in his workshop, we (the real we) then had to manhandle the wardrobe into the house. Unfortunately, unlike most other wardrobes we have owned, this one does not come apart into more manageable pieces, e.g. sides, back, top and base. The pair of us managed to wrestle the complete unit to the top of the first flight of stairs and balance it precariously on the very edge of one step whilst trying to decide how best to continue. We lifted, turned and tilted it this way and that, with many trappings of fingers and scraping of knuckles against walls but eventually had to concede that it absolutely was not going to go through the awkward turn at the top of the stairs into either doorway to the left or the right. It was about a gnat’s cock too big, so back down the stairs we went and outside into the front garden to formulate a plan B, all of this in our not very ‘health and safety’ approved flip flops of course. We decided the only other option available to us, apart from smashing it up into pieces which obviously was not much of an option for such a priceless piece of furniture, was to take it through the bedroom window. This would mean getting it up a ladder somehow. Two minutes later the ladder had been fetched from the barn and erected at the front of the house and what followed was five minutes of lots of swearing ‘stupid, effing this’ and ‘awkward bloody that’ and several mentions of ‘firewood’ whilst my husband did his best to push the wardrobe up the ladder, whilst I did my very best to stand inside the guest bedroom and lean farther out of the open window than was truly comfortable or very sensible and reach and pull the wardrobe in through the opening. Amazingly it worked…..hurrah!

After a very brief rest, we shifted the wardrobe into position into a corner that we had previously cleared. It fit….just but it also meant that the sideboard would have to be relocated further along the wall, resulting in the accompanying mirror also would need to be moved and rehung, a wall light fitting may need moving and some sockets would need to be permanently relocated due to the new furniture placement. Not quite a five-minute job then.  Thank goodness for a husband who is a qualified electrician and also used to run his own business doing DIY and house renovations for clients.

During the course of the next day and a half, the sockets were duly relocated to new positions, holes were filled, sanded and paint touch ups required, the mirror was moved and the holes from its previous location some 12 inches to the left were also filled, sanded and repainted, the wall light thankfully escaped titivation, the room was thoroughly vacuumed, tidied and various ornaments and adornments were returned to their rightful place.

All in all, it was a bit of an involved affair and the room looks, well, almost exactly the same as before except with an extra piece of furniture shoe-horned into the corner. A piece of furniture that might get used once or twice a year for a few days.

In our guest room, we have opted for a travel theme, using safari prints, old luggage, an eclectic mix of ornaments and objects from around the world and we even have some Orient Express ephemera……I do draw the line at a Corby trouser press and a hospitality tray though!

Also for our guest’s comfort, this room has escaped any taxidermy friends because we know that not everyone has a love of sharing their sleeping space with old, dead, carcasses. In fact, the newly made over guest room will be welcoming its first guests next weekend, and then more the following weekend.


Onto the Tapestry, which was intended to go on a wall in our bedroom (in fact the only wall with any space left on it, in our entire house) but on offering it up it just didn’t look right, it was too dark on that wall to make a feature of the tapestry. What followed was a process of carrying it around the house and looking to see where else it might be better homed instead. We decided that the sitting room was the only other possible place for it, which would mean losing an existing framed picture, a copy of the 1893 painting by John William Waterhouse ‘La Belle Dame sans Merci’ (inspired by the 1819 ballad by English poet John Keats). We will have to rehome this picture on a future occasion because at this point my self-diagnosed OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) had kicked in and I just couldn’t have handled yet another ‘change’ in the home.

Here is our tapestry………Eve finally has her garden!

Thank you for reading, until my next high-octane instalment  (I bet you can hardly contain your excitement!) Adieu.

The Virtual Recluse


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