Hidden Treasure in Toowoomba

September 26th, 2010 — 7:37am, 7 comments »

When I asked Mel if he would mind me taking some photos of his kitchen shop and writing about it on my blog, he wasn’t a bit surprised.  “Oh yes, lots of people have done stories on me” he said.  “The university even made a movie about my shop a few years ago – for a competition – don’t know how they did with it …”  So, I’m not the first to be taken with Mel Martin’s Kitchen and Gift Shop.   This place is amazing.

Mel has been in kitchenware for 48 years, and what he doesn’t know about bone china, pots and pans, asian steamers, european gadgets, and anything else you can think of for the kitchen, probably isn’t worth knowing.  His shop is a treasure trove filled with vintage, everyday and state of the art cooking ware.  You might have to dig a little, but it’s well worth the effort.  If you’re looking for something specific, this is where you’ll find it and what’s more, Mel’ll know exactly where.

For years my mother bought  pressure cooker valves from Mel to send down to me in Canberra.   When I couldn’t find them anywhere, she said she knew who’d have them.  Sure enough …   Today in his shop, I remembered I needed a lid seal.   Mel described in detail the variations in seals, but I couldn’t even remember the brand of my cooker. I’m going to ring with the details, he said he’ll have it.

Next time you’re in Toowoomba, stop in and visit Mel. His shop is located in Margaret Street but I don’t think you’ll have trouble finding him.  When I asked for a business card, he scribbled his name and number on a bit of paper and said “this is all you need – I’m famous”.  What a treasure!


July 8th, 2010 — 2:55pm, 3 comments »

I was thinking of not sharing this find, but given that we read about it in the Lonely Planet I guess I’m not really spilling the beans.  So, if you ever come to Beijing I can highly recommend you visit the Panjiayuan Antique Market – if you like that sort of thing.  The trouble is figuring out where to start – keep calm and breathe slowly –  and having enough time to browse.  I only had a few hours and it wasn’t nearly enough.   Of course I don’t know much about antiques, unlike others I saw perusing with their magnifiers.  I just like what I like – whatever takes my fancy.

And this did …  I just love the painting!

and I found a real treasure below …

This stall took my fancy …

and so did this …

and this. I also found a very special treasure here …

And of course here I felt a mosaic project coming on, but given my boxes full of broken china at home, I resisted.  (But I don’t have broken antique chinese porcelain …)

If I had had more time, a bigger suitcase and an even bigger house, I think I could have done some serious shopping.  But I’m (almost) glad I didn’t.  Looking is good too.  I felt privileged just to be there.  The next day when we went to the Chinese National Museum, I recognised a number of items I had seen the day before at the market and understood their actual use. 

But I did take a few things home with me …

This old photo album touched my heart.  I couldn’t leave this family behind.  A mother, a sister, chose this beautiful album to keep her loved ones safe. Where are they now?

I decided this beautiful celadon flower shaped bowl wouldn’t take up much room in my suitcase.  I can’t say no to flowers.

I also found this old photo and frame absolutely compelling …

Lastly, a touch of whimsy  – this vintage chinese globe.

My treasures.