Mrs S had become hooked - I might almost say addicted - to browsing through the numerous junk shops in France. Some of these are almost magical places, labyrinths full to overflowing with 1930s plates (usually chipped), kitchen fittings from the 1960s in garish plastic, rusty tools that had been found in ancient barns, 1950s records (probably scratched and completely un-playable), top hats, dented saucepans and all sorts of other odds and ends. This all started because we wanted an old chair.
I had, in my younger days, worked for a bank and one of the branches at which I worked was to be refurbished. This meant that the writing table in the interview room was surplus to requirements and was about to be scrapped. I was looking for something to use as a desk at home and this table was exactly right. After a few years, the table was relegated to the garden shed and was cruelly misused. It occurred to us that, suitably renovated, this table would be ideal in the living room in Les Lavandes and I spent many hours during the summer stripping off the old varnish and applying coat after coat of beeswax polish as well as cleaning and refitting the leather insert. It looked pretty good after I had finished, but it did need a suitable chair. Hence the search of French junk shops.
Over time we found numerous knick-knacks: an old bar stool with a heavy wooden seat, now in use as a side-table in the hall; an enamel coffee pot which now sits on the bar stool; ornaments in a variety of shapes, sizes and colours; a brass lamp to go on the writing table; a cart wheel to hang on the outside wall; a chair for the writing table; and a light fitting to replace the one in the upstairs bedroom.
This was another job to be done while the three old codgers were there, a job which would require Chris's knowledge of electrical wiring, mine being almost non-existent.