A lot of people pass through Bempton. The village, a little to the north of Bridlington and a little inland from Flamborough Head, is the site of the ornithologically famous Bempton cliffs, one of England prime seabird nurseries (particularly gannets). The cliff walk is spectacular, so you’ve be forgiven for not lingering in Bempton itself, except to grab a fortifying pint at the village pub. And so you might never pop your head round the door at Josie’s.
At first sight, the outside of this place looks…..well, let’s be frank: it looks like a bomb recently went off in the yard, and they’re only halfway through clearing up. A random scatter of furniture and fittings, loosely grouped into catagories: rotting cupboards, flaking orange metalwork, glaze-cracked ceramic sinks, monstrous earthenware curiosities. It’s bizarre and not a little intimidating.
You go in the first shed facing the entrance….and it all starts to become clear.
Josie’s is the mother, the grandmother, the supreme Earth goddess of all British odds’n’ends antiques shops. It’s so magically cluttered that it hardly seems real, as if they’re filming the next Harry Potter Diagon Alley scene there soon so would you mind not disturbing anything?
Say you’re moving into a new house, and you need a few bits and pieces to fill the gaps in your domestic inventory. A teapot, perhaps. Some spoons. A cupboard. A platter. If you come here, you’re forced to reassess your priorities: what kind of teapot? Japanese? Edwardian? Hornsea Pottery? Would you like these 20 spoons with the (presumably imitation, but you never know) gold scrollwork, or maybe these bone-handled ones, or even the green glass spoons over here? Will your cupboard be old pine or new pine or pine with dust-impregnated velvet trim, or how about some lovely teak (and look, this folds out, AHA, I presume this is where they keep their garden trowel collection), or mahogany, or…..
And it just keeps going. For ever and ever. It’s all here. Oh, a lot of it needs a damn good wash. The point of this place is variety and width, not glamour.
So you weave your way through this astonishing display of domestic productivity, flirting with tetanus in the gardening tools shed, dodging slithery piles of books and records, past all the mug handles carefully arranged to clutch at you as you pass, through the Manhatten of glasswork in the middle room, down the stairs and into the main hall, itself as big as most antique shops.
I saw a wonderful set of earthenware goblets. I hope they’re still there next time I visit – I couldn’t afford them this time round)….they’d be perfect for a certain Orkney cottage of the future (I’ve still got my sights set on that – Ed.), for mulled wine after a hard day’s rebuilding.
Also, in hunting through the books, I found this.
(The sequel, advertised on the back, is Splendid Yarns For Boys).
It’s true, you know. Sometimes England CAN be like this.