Growing up, our Sunday night ritual was crumpets in front of the fire and a tv double bill of Antiques Roadshow followed by Lovejoy. Consequently my knowledge of antiques extended to either Chippendale desks fenced to dodgy Russian oil barons by Lovejoy and Tinker or baroque art that someone found in their Granny’s attic and claimed they would never sell until they discovered it was worth £250K. The BBC budget never stretched far enough for Lovejoy to go on a tour of the South of France, so, until I met my mother-in-law age 23 (who has her own homewares business) I thought Brocante was some kind of infectious chest disease rather than a type of distressed vintage. When my husband took me home to his parents house for the first time, I discovered that not all vintage furniture was made of mahogany and that David Dickinson may have missed the memo about natural textures and rustic wood.
Out went my Kurt Cobain and Bob Marley Posters and Ghetto Blaster and in came old soda siphons, enamel street signs and Amish barn stars sourced from collectors markets at Newark, Ardingly and Kempton. Now that I know Brocante is not something that requires you to suck Catarrh Pastilles there is nothing I like more than a weekend trip to somewhere pretty to browse treasures from Belgium, France, Hungary (and to be honest sometimes the warehouse of Durham Pine via a dip in some Annie Sloan chalk paint). The Country Brocante therefore fitted the bill perfectly. Taking over the village square of picture perfect Midhurst it was an Instagram wet dream.
Where we stayed
We (well I mean I) decided to head down the night before after spotting a rather nice and reasonably priced Air BnB in nearby Haslemere.
The plan was for me to drive down with the kids after school on the Friday and Mr Malmo would then join us on the train after work. My previous solo long distance car trip with 3 kids did not go that well after a combination of a lost dummy and grid locked traffic caused the baby to assume a demeanour about as sanguine as Donald Trump at a press conference. Whilst seriously considering dislocating my own arm to reach underneath the backseat and retrieve the dummy a Fiat Punto that looked like it was on route to the scrapyard drove into me. This time we made it around the North Circular without any incidents requiring either the realignment of limbs or an insurance claim. Things started to unravel a little as we approached Guildford but I had a secret weapon in my bag: scotch pancakes aka baby crack.
This quelled a mini backseat rebellion although after a while the baby did start to hurl them at my head. Meaning that when we turned up at our accommodation (which turned out to be in the grounds of a very posh house) I had to get out of the car and converse with the owner with, what I later realised, was a huge lump of scotch pancake nestles behind my left ear. She was remarkably gracious about showing Mrs Twit and her children around her lovely property. Although every mother of boys will recognize the sinking sensation I experienced when I realised that almost every surface in the house was coloured either white, cream or taupe. It seemed that short of tying their arms behind their backs it would be a modern day miracle if we made it through the weekend without a security deposit surrendering handprint on an item of furniture.
Generally speaking I would highly recommend where we stayed. It was about £140 a night bu that meant we had a room with lovely cabin beds for the boys, a fantastic big double bedroom for us with a duvet like a giant marshmallow and a very high standard of kitchen and bathroom with White Company bedding and towels all round. We could easily have paid a lot more for a hotel room the size of a rabbit hutch in comparison.With Mr Malmo arriving to take a turn on “don’t touch that” duties we had a really nice evening before heading to Midhurst the next day.
The Brocante in the Square was organised by the Country Brocante, who have a store in Midhurst and run a number of vintage events across Sussex and beyond. The most notable of which are the big Summer and Winter Brocantes in the stunning venues of Cowdray Park and Daylesford Organic. Within 5 minutes of arriving in Midhurst's beautiful Town Square which was bedecked with bunting & brocante, my phone told me I was out of storage having taken approximately 550 photos of cobbled streets, galvanised zinc planters, old picture frames, garden trugs and white washed shutters. This was Class A Brocante. With the boys in possession of a football in proximity of approximately 2567 breakable things, Mr Malmo took them off to the park ( having been promised the blow job of his life) leaving me to fill my brocante boots with an at that point sleeping baby in the sling.
It was also a chance to meet up with the hilarious @jemmiju. She arrived with her very understanding husband, who had been promised another guy to chat sport with. He instead found himself the 3rd wheel on an interiors blind date full of chat about bare brick walls, industrial luxe interiors and our Instagram style crushes rather than England’s chances in the ashes this summer. The baby obviously stayed asleep for all of about 5 mins and when he woke up I realised the boys had gone off with the bag containing all his food and toys. He therefore set about trying to smear me in the cream from my nearby scone. It is a little hard to concentrate on chatting about interiors when you are acutely aware of small dairy product covered hands on your breasts. Just as he started brandishing a butter knife at Gemma’s husband ( who is in the police but kindly overlooked the possession of an offensive weapon charge) Mr Malmo and the boys reappeared.
We then popped in to say hi to Hellish Designs aka Mr Malmo’s mum from whom I bought some gorgeous old cheese drainers. Having duly funded the retirement of a Breton dairy farmer to the South of France, we went for a walk around Midhurst. The boys were happy to discover an old fashioned sweet shop whilst I got some wisteria hysteria out of my system. Laden down with two new garden trugs ( which Mr Malmo greeted about as enthusiastically as tickets to see Simply Red with a backstage chat with Mick Hucknall thrown in) we headed to the Horseguards Inn Pub in Tillington.
It is in the kind of beautiful little Sussex village that makes my RightMove searching finger itchy. The pub itself has not only got fabulous quirky vintage interiors but also a real treat of a beer garden. For the kids there are chickens to feed/almost accidentally let out of their coop and a lovely wooden playground. Happily for me there was also a gorgeous interiors shop in a cabin at the end of the garden called The King and I. There I added to my credit card bill with a great concrete vase and a rather delicious smelling candle called Kush, which is what I believe the kids are calling weed this days.
Happily it smells less like a teenage boys bedroom and more like a deliciously scented Californian pine forest. Topping the whole happy afternoon off was a sighting of Binky and JP from Made in Chelsea. Cue much moaning from Mr Malmo as I made him to pretend to pose for a photo whilst actualy trying to pap a pic of JP to send my cousin. We then headed home to the North (of London) having somehow managed not to suffer an Ella’s Kitchen sweet potato purree meets natural linen sofa calamity.