Thanks so much to Fiona of Made in A Muddle for tipping me off about this new Channel 4 series called Dirty Weekenders in France. I had no idea what it was all about. I hoped it might be about people with weekend homes in France who popped across the channel to demolish walls and rip out kitchens in their quest to create the perfect weekend escape.
No, it wasn't.
It was even better than that.
The programme is presented by Richard E Grant who apparently has spent the past twenty five years popping over to France to buy all manner of french junk. (Wouldn't you love to see inside his home?)
He says, ''I have an insatiable desire for beaten up old stuff. Distressed furniture, rusty light fittings, nostalgic paraphernalia...''
I had no idea men like this existed! Naturally I fell madly in love with him and set about googling in a new tab to see whether or not he was married so that I might abandon my husband and run off into the Provencal sunset with him.
Alas, it wasn't meant to be. Three minutes into the programme he walks straight from a courtyard into his hotel room, flings himself on the bed WITH HIS SHOES ON despite there being an utterly gorgeous white quilted bedspread on the bed.
Uh. It was over between us before it began.
I was quickly distracted from my broken heart as he strolled around french flea markets and brocantes full of french gorgeousness and it was clear he really was in his element. Old wooden chairs and rusty garden furniture filled the streets as Richard E made his merry way.
The programme also featured two other Brits who regularly channel hop on the lookout for architectural salvage, rustic country farmhouse homewares and honest, beaten up old furniture.
Stuart Paterson from London was looking for things to sell at an upcoming fair in Notting Hill. I loved his style. He sought out items to add to collections which he sold in large numbers. Like sixty five plates! He took it as a great compliment when someone described his pitch at the fair as 'pretty-ugly.' He explained that it was too easy to do 'pretty-romantic.' (I think he would love my ugly dresser.)
Matt Black, a furniture dealer from Hastings had to find a mind boggling three hundred 1930's leather club chairs in a two year period for an American client. He was lucky enough to find out about an old factory that was closing down with all of its fixtures and fittings up for grabs. He scored a stunning metal desk with chippy paintwork and some divine pigeon holes. The stuff that dreams are made of.
With a round trip to the south of France costing around £500 in petrol etc, it was fascinating to see what the dealers found, knowing what they could sell their items for in hopes of coming out with a profit.
I thoroughly recommend this series to those second hand shoppers out there who appreciate a bit of rust and patina. The only downside is that you'll be sorely tempted to channel hop with an articulated truck. Forget the van.
You can catch up on 4 od.