Friday, 27 February 2009

Tynemouth Flea Market

Bill and I went to the Tynemouth Flea Market the other day. Before I start showing it to you, I shall tell you that 'flea markets' began back in the days of the Black Plague, which is of course carried from an animal host, in those days usually a rat, to humans by fleas. Cities and towns had walls for defense. When the plague was about, the town officials wouldn't let itinerant sellers into town for fear they would bring it in with them, so sellers set up their market stalls just outside, along the town walls.

Tynemouth Flea Market is in the Victorian Metro station. I've not seen any rats or fleas there, though there are plenty of pigeons (that the former mayor of London once called 'flying rats') and a fat black and white cat that hangs out there. [During plagues, people bought cats to kill rats, hoping this would help. Ironically, fleas flea a dead host all the faster. Also, cats are quite susceptible to plague and when they have the pneumonic form, it is easily transmitted to a person who cuddles the kitty].

Once a rail station, the brick buildings now house offices, shops and cafes, but at the weekend there is the market. This market is actually responsible for my having bought a house at the coast rather than in Newcastle. I had looked around Newcastle for 8-9 months but didn't find much that I really wanted in my price range.

I often went to the flea market on Sundays to buy paperback books, as the library was shut. Then one day it dawned on me that I could bear a 30 minute commute on the Metro and I started looking around here. A friend called my attention to a house that was for sale; she had taken piano lessons from one of the spinsters who lived here.

We used to go to the flea market a lot more often than we do now; we might make it 2 or 3 times a year these days. We mainly went this time because I needed some batteries put in a couple of watches. I've put it off a long time as I rarely wear watches any more, but having so many of Rita's and mine around I thought I should at least try to enjoy wearing them occasionally.

I could just about live out of the market -- we did for quite a while. I bought dishes, pots and pans there when waiting for my things to come over from America. White Pyrex plates for 35p is one of the best bargains I've ever seen and one of those pots is still my favourite for making popcorn. I used to buy things like toast racks and coffee mugs with the Queen's picture on to take back to friends in the US. Several of Mom's oil paintings, my needlework projects, Bill's ancestor's sampler; they were framed by the man at the corner stall. Furniture, sewing supplies, clothing, light name it, they have it.

Over here when someone dies, there are businesses specialising in house clearance. The contents are sold at auctions and markets, car boot sales, etc; they don't do yard/garage sales here for some reason -- perhaps because not everyone has a yard or a garden? In addition to used stuff, some stalls sell handmade items like these baby dolls which are incredibly life-like.

I thought this doll was rather clever -- aspirational, even.

The bridge over the Metro line has a centre room in which students'

'art' is displayed. This is apparently a glasswork student's work.

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