The ‘Antiques Road Trip’ crew visited Carningli Centre last week.

They were filming for a series to be shown in a few months’ time.

It is always fascinating to see film crews at work. They seemed to be under pressure to complete the work quickly – and yet it took several hours to film what will doubtless boil down to a few minutes at most in the final programme.

Beforehand, I was seized by an uncharacteristic urge to clean and tidy the shop – just could not help it. However, that is a real benefit of their visit. I loved our quarry tiled hallway and pretty staircase when we first saw the building. They were definite factors in deciding to move here. We have put time, effort and money into restoring them; undoing unsympathetic ‘modernising’ of previous generations, rebuilding the archway in the hall, painting the panelling and so on. So it does seem a shame that these special features are often covered in piles of stuff. It is not even always saleable stock – and if it is, it is sometimes difficult or impossible to see.

I took a few photos to record a moment that is already, less than a week later, fading into memory.IMG_5244

Easter is a time for art in Carningli Centre. Artists seem to come out of hibernation to appear here with new work for us to display. Every Spring brings unexpected treats.

This time we have a selection of new work by Yvonne Peake-Finn. She makes beautiful collages from Japanese fabrics.

Colin Finn has brought  two new photographic prints of Poppit. Combining his 1960’s camera with modern copying equipment has produced very special images.

Ben Pritchard, a regular visitor to Newport arrived last weekend with three framed original prints featuring the Parrog, Newport to add to the mounted prints we had in stock. The strong, simple, mainly black and white images are well worth seeing.

Over the next month we will also be featuring work by Sheila Horton, Sarah Earl, David Wilson, Graham Brace and other regular artists.

On 15th may we will be setting up a apecial exhibition of photography by Jude Howells to run for the following month. More details on that soon.


Thank you Biddy for the title of this post.

It seems to sum up our shop really well.

We are always short of space. I always have too many books to fit on the shelves. I am always short of local-interest books. I am always ‘just about’ to have a big clear-up. I am always short of interesting railwayana. Customers always comment on the large amount of railwayana. I always struggle to keep the art gallery from becoming just like the rest of the shop. Graham always lacks space for his restoration jobs…….and so on…..always the same.

On the other hand; the shop is always different.

Looking at old photos of our interior reminds me of all the varied objects that have been here and gone on to new owners and how things have changed over the 20 years I have had an antiques shop.

Take chairs – one of my favourite items. At one Newark Antiques Fair, I had a row of unusual Windsor chairs of different varieties. I bought and sold a number during the fair itself. Where are they now, I wonder? Thinking of chairs, what has happened to all the sets of solid Victorian kitchen chairs? They combined sturdiness and restorability with a certain style and variety, sometimes with the bonus of great patina and silkily worn surfaces.

Dairy and farming items seem to have largely vanished too – we have had all sorts of butter churns for instance.The older oak barrel-with-dasher types with their up-and-down churning technique are particularly pleasing. We do have an Irish example at the moment, the only one I have seen for a while. Then there are many sizes of tumble churn, from the small, sideways-barrel tabletop models, designed for the family with one or two cows to enormous two-operator churns on heavy floor stands with large handle on either side. Related items such as scotch hands, decorative butter stamps, skimmers and so on used to be in antique shops and stalls everywhere. Now they are occasional finds.

I could carry on in this vein but it is beginning to be a bit  ‘those were the days’-ish.

After all, there is still too much stuff for the space.

I am delighted by the recent revival of interest in enamel advertising signs. It can make some rather pricey but we do our best to source reasonable examples. Along with that go other vintage advertising materials including tinplate, card, paper and packaging. We are lucky enough to have a small display of 20th Century packaging  at the moment, along with vintage recipe books and related items, all nostalgically fascinating.

Old oil lamps are ever popular, though there are fewer places to buy them nowadays. Prices for decorative Victorian examples are lower they were (say) 10 years ago, which is great for people looking for pretty, brass or glass and cast-iron table lamps. Replacement chimneys and shades are becoming harder to source but so far I am finding plenty.

Again, I could carry on but will finish by mentioning how we have increased the selection of greetings cards in the art gallery in recent years. Hand-made cards by local artists are increasingly popular. They combine being attractive and local with being made in small numbers. Some are unique, such as Biddy Wells’  ‘little originals’ – either original paintings or (my favourites) using vintage paper drinks labels.

Come and look at them soon though – her collection of labels is running low.

Oh well, Iexpect when they are gone there will always be something different.


AN unusual railway carriage board

An unusual railway carriage board

After a bit of a railwayana buying spree, I have been working my way through the new goodies.

Most striking is an 11 foot long carriage board, ‘United States Lines’ in red and white lettering on a blue background, with American eagles on either end. I like carriage boards: they fit well on our beams and make you think of old-fashioned summer holidays, when the stations were packed with holidaymakers waiting to crowd onto long trains to Blackpool or Bournemouth. This one is slightly different though – not painted in standard British Railways colours or referring to a named train like ‘The Royal Wessex,’ currently hanging on another of our beams.

So, I am intrigued, enjoying looking at the ‘United States Lines’ and looking forward to discovering more about its use.

One of the pleasures of having an antiques shop is waking up in the morning not knowing what you will be learning during the day.

Today it is Buckley pottery. When an oval dish came in yesterday I recognised it as slipwear, with its dark terracotta body,treacly brown glaze, simple cream lining around the lip and overall rustic feel. I have posted a photo of it on our Carningli Centre website (it is in the ‘Current Stock’ gallery).

I like pottery but do not have much specialist knowledge, having been drawn more towards railwayana, country furniture, oil lamps etc. The owner vaguely recalled ‘something about Buckley’ and it was a thrill to find that the simplest internet search netted plentiful history, images of the slipwear produced in Buckley over hundreds of years and much more that I did not know but which will linger in my mind next time a similar piece turns up.

Early February is always quiet in Newport. Some years lately the weather has been too cold; this time it is too wet and windy.

The temptation to spend the days dreaming by the wood stove, book in one hand, giant tea mug in the other, is almost irresistible.

At busy times, I always think – ‘No time for that small job now – I’ll do it in Winter’ – so I owe it to my Summer self to catch up on at least some of those tasks. Approaching school Half Terms mean the obvious one is tidying up the shop to make room for visiting families.

Our annual bookshop update is well under way, with plenty of new stock – it just has to make its way off the floor and on to the shelves.

Now I have made a start on the excessively cluttered ‘back shop’ and the Cardigan oak dresser in the ‘front shop’ – its great Welsh oak colour deserves to be seen.

February is never our busiest month. It is a good time for tidying, reorganising coming up with new ideas and so on.

Now that the new website is active, one of my plans is to show a few antiquarian books for sale on it. We don’t have an online shop at the moment but we know from experience that ‘mail order’ can work. I have a number of antique books which do not readily fit into our relaxed style of bookshop.  Some of them will appear on the books page of the website soon and I hope they will prove of interest.

The new Carningli Centre website is online at

I still don’t fully understand how the template system works. In fact the aspects of web design I don’t get far outnumber those that I do. At times my head has felt like a cupboard stuffed so full of random, awkward stuff that the moment you open the doors, it explodes out all over the room.

However,  I have reached a stage of letting it loose on the internet.

Now it includes current items in the shop – only a few so far but more to come – and I know how to delete some and add others.


After a long period of ‘thinking about it, I’ve decided to take the plunge and make a new website for the shop.

Using a template-based service should make it straightforward, shouldn’t it? Well, maybe, relatively but it is looking like a slow job to me – I am in that January mood though – persevering with something new and difficult seems like the right way to go. It is the quiet season in Newport. So many times I have said “I’ll do it in January!”

Watch this space to see whether I finish the task myself – or throw in the towel and call in a professional. 



Autumn is definitely here now. I love Summer, especially when it is a good one like this year’s and so always slightly dread the change of season. Now it’s here, though I have to say it feels pretty good.

August holidaymakers have melted away, giving us time to start a major ‘spring’ clean, spurred on by a 4 week exhibition of paintings by Graham Brace and Clive Gould. The artists arrive with their work tomorrow, with the exhibition running from 13th Sept. to 12th Oct. I am excited to see the work. It is such a long time since we had a special exhibition – now it is happening I can’t think why we left it so long!