Somerset, England - 29th May 2002
We're on TV (again!)The Oldnautibits team braved 60 mph winds last week in order to get their stand to the excellent Carmarthen Antiques Fair - the largest in Wales - which was run on 25 & 26 May. Strong cross winds on the Severn Bridge made for interesting driving with our valuable stock being buffeted behind in our 'Tow-a-Van' trailer. Suffice to say we made it safely over to Pembrokeshire (we are sure it would have looked great were it not for the horizontal rain!) but despite the weather we had a great fair at Carmarthen, which is a new venue for us.
Those of you who did not attend missed something special and our stand certainly caused much interest tucked in-between the ceramics and Welsh country furniture. We again attracted media interest... this time from BBC Wales... and it was 'Pilot Officer Johnny' who took the star role. He was rigged out in the flying clothing of a c1941 Bomber Command aircrew - including an amazing original Irvin flying jacket once the property of Pilot Officer Very. He trained in Canada and won his pilots wings in August 1940 and was subsequently posted to 49 Squadron on Lancs. He used the jacket on 35 operational sorties, and he (and his jacket!) survived the War unscathed. It is rare to have the provenance to go with an Irvin... this one is the exception!
The moment the BBC completed filming we had two customers both interested in the jacket. Negotiations ended with a Welsh collector buying the complete outfit from the helmet down to the 1940 pattern flying boots plus Johnny himself who was not even for sale!! Anyway Mr & Mrs Thomas, if you read this we hope you got him home safely and we are delighted he has gone to live with fellow enthusiasts... but we do feel here at Oldnautibits we have lost an old friend... and even 'Herman' his Luftwaffe 'enemy' is looking a little down this week!
The Welsh Aviation buyers were out in force and even our mint 1940 dated (1941 issued) black 'B' type helmet, soon to be featured on "Bargain Hunt", was snapped up as a present for the buyer's father - we hope he enjoys it as much as we have. During the fair we made many new friends and heard some wonderful first hand reminiscences - as far as we know all unpublished. The best, perhaps, was the RAF Lysander pilot who flew S.O.E. agents into occupied Europe throughout the War. On one mission the welcoming party insisted he join them for a drink before the return flight. They promptly camouflaged the aircraft and went to a 'safe' house for a glass or three (did any one say under the stress of war you can't drink and fly?) of the local Calvados. The party was, however, disturbed by a group of German Officers, who were billeted in the building, and our friend was forced to retreat to the attic where he spent some tingling minutes admiring the cut of the Officers' 3rd Reich field grey caps peering down between the floorboards! The mission ended satisfactorily with a safe return to base - the log book recording a delayed return due to the low cloud base at the 'D.Z.'!
The next Carmarthen fair is on 20 & 21 July when we will again be in attendance and we look forward to welcoming old and new friends to the stand. Whatever Anne Robinson may say (no we are not fans!) the Welsh are a great crowd, and are certainly very friendly towards these English dealers... and appear to have great taste in Marine and Aviation Collectables!
Our next scheduled fair is the D.M.G. event at the Bath and West Showground near Shepton Mallet in Somerset between 21 & 23 June... when we hope to have a somewhat different range of stock on offer.
Good luck with your collecting!
Geoff & Val Pringle