Monday, 14 March 2011

Magpie Monday - A Tale of Two Plates

Me and My Shadow

This week has been more about donating to the charity shops rather than buying from them.

Spring cleaning fever has hit. I have sorted out clothes and games and books - all in excellent condition - all  ready to find new homes.

I did make one small purchase from Oxfam. Not a bargain find but worthy of a mention - my Red Nose ready for Comic Relief on March 18th.

For my contribution this week I will tell you A Tale of Two Plates.

Amongst the purchases of china I made for
Ivy's party was a Weatherby Hanley Gilded Duck decorative plate. I'm not really a 'decorative plate' sort of person. This one just sort of slipped into my basket because I thought it might have some comedy value. To my eyes it was pretty hideous but it did only cost 20p. I had a quick check on ebay to see if it was worth a small fortune - you never know - but with a starting price of £2.99 for one in better condition it didn't seem likely to be the equivalent of a lottery win. I didn't use it at the party and if my dad fails to fall in love with it and give it a good home (he's the only person I know that might) then it will probably go back to the charity shop to continue its journey.

There is another decorative plate, equally hideous and almost certainly without value that I refuse to part with.

The man who was to become my husband was living in Switzerland when we first got together. We managed our long distance relationship with regular budget flights on Easy Jet, phone calls and MSN.

Every night we would talk on MSN, sometimes with the addition of webcam. Our conversations were often romantic and dreamy, sometimes more lustful and urgent, other times practical - planning for our future together.

It was on one such night when we were in planning mode that he sent me details of a house for sale. The house had been occupied by an elderly couple who had moved into sheltered accommodation as they could no longer cope. It was a house desperately in need of modernisation. It needed a new kitchen, new bathroom and redecoration from top to bottom. It would be a massive undertaking if we were to go ahead and buy it but it was well within budget and offered loads of space and the benefit of a big garden. It had huge potential for us as a family home.

The living room walls and ceiling had all been covered with swirling Artex and had very old fashioned window dressings with wooden pelmets painted to match the walls. Atop one of these pelmets, which ran the entire width of the room, was  a plate shelf, proudly displaying a comprehensive collection of decorative and commemorative plates. Quite why the estate agent felt that this was enough of a selling point to photograph and include in the specs was beyond me but it caught the imagination of my eldest daughter and I.

I was in my bedroom on my computer, my daughter was in her bedroom on her laptop, my husband-to-be was in his small Swiss apartment on his laptop. The three of us, through the magic of the internet, engaged in a conversation that saw us all getting very excited about the possibility of this as our future home.

We joked about having to start a decorative plate collection if we were to live there.  Spurred on by my daughter, the joke went as far as placing a bid on an 'ending soon' ebay auction.

It was a stressful time we were going through. A messy and unpleasant separation from my girls' father and the inevitability of having to move had left us all a little ragged. The light relief of a bogus ebay bid went some way towards relieving the stress if only for a few moments.

Minutes ticked by. The auction was coming to an end. I started to get a bit panicky. I didn't really want the bloody plate!!

Then something strange happened.

I am a great believer in fate and letting the Gods decide. The seriousness of my situation hit me. I was leaving the security of a home I loved to live with a man that seemed perfect but can you ever really be sure. Was I gambling with my children's happiness?

I decided that if I won the plate it was a sign that everything was going to be fine, we'd buy this shabby, wreck of a house and turn it into a home.

I won.

We bought our house and have lived here happily for 5 years now. The swirling Artex is gone along with the plate shelf pelmet. My decorative plate hangs in my utility room to remind me that, with a bit of faith, things do have a habit of working out.

I don't remember how much I actually paid for the plate but it was in the region of a couple of pounds.

It was the greatest bargain ever.

For a couple of pounds I bought hope, optimism and a happy ending.


  1. What a lovely story (if not plate!).

    I've long been a believer in the power of ebay, but I didn't realise it had quite such magnitude.

    What a lovely happy ending :0)

  2. Fabulous post, amazing how things just worked out!

  3. I quite like your duck plate to be honest although not the greatest fan of decorative plates generally. Does that make me very sad?!
    Love your other plate story and glad you found a happier place physically and soul-wise.
    Good on you to remind us of Comic Relief and how easy it is to donate via a red nose.
    My finds are themed this week over at

  4. What a lovely story and such a happy ending....makes me feel all warm inside :-) xxx

  5. oooh, that is the MOST romantic story EVER. You should tell ebay (via twitter) I am sure they would be thrilled. They love those kind of stories. I am also a great believer in fate and am always doing things like that. MWAH!

  6. What a Fab story! Im a strong believer in things happening or a were obviously meant to be together. Thanks for sharing your lovely story x

  7. ah thats such a lovely story but got to be honest not liking the plates lol x
    As for spring cleaning and donating thats what ill be doing this week aswell gotta clear out the shed and daughters room so the charity shop should have a few boxes full of stuff :)

  8. Oh what a lovely romantic story! I too am a believer in fate, and always believe what will be, will be. The two plates are priceless, in that they are the stories of your life, and they are irreplaceble! Thank you for your comment on my blog. Bx

  9. What a heartwarming tale, glad it all worked out for you, although I do always ask people that hang plates on the wall, do you eat your dinner off pictures? :)

  10. Great story! And yes to decluttering too, I am off to donate to my local charity shop today (well, it's only fair, considering how much I get from them!)

    ps. I love the way your treasured plate hangs in the utility room. Treasured, but not so anyone can see it too often!

  11. I am so glad that everything worked out for you and your amazing family - I do believe in fate and think that whatever happens, happens for a reason, as your story proves.


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