Maria and I were at yet another auction last night, at Lundby, one of the less salubrious suburbs of Örebro. We have been trawling the second hand shops and auctions for cheap furniture since we arrived in Sweden 5 weeks ago. It is the cheapest way to furnish a flat, along with Blocket, the internet based second hand market which is a feature of Swedish life. Ebay is not big here, but Blocket is huge, where you can buy everything from houses to condoms (thankfully not everything is second hand!).

Our prizes last night consisted of a kitchen table and four chairs, which cost SEK85 (about $16 Australian), an old desk for SEK40 (about $8) and assorted bits an pieces. Our total spending last night amounted to about $60.

But the fun of auctions is the little treasures. Maria picked up some wonderful plates, hand painted, from the 60s, worth probably $20 each in an antique store, for a few dollars. Six classic Hogenäs coffee mugs for a few dollars (normally $10 each) and a big pile of kitchen utensils for a few more. Her prize acquisition was a game which brought back memories of hours of enjoyment during her childhood – a sort of wooden pool table with short sticks which are used to hit pucks across the smooth wooden surface.

My prize acquisition was a few weeks ago when I picked up some antique wooden skis for $4. No good reason for getting them except that they sparked a memory of a book I read as a child about a Norwegian soldier in WWII who escaped alone on skis from his Nazi pursuers, across the frozen snowfields of northern Norway. Not exactly sure what I will do with an old pair of skis, except maybe I can hang them on the wall to inspire me to learn to ski when winter comes.

The best auctions are the farm clearance auctions in Dalarna. We seem to manage at least one every summer when we are up at the summer house in Orsa. There are wonderful treasures to find up there; there is nothing nicer than milling around with the crowds on a summer weekend, searching the boxes of junk for some little thing, then waiting till it comes up and catching the bidding fever, to finally depart clutching the prize for the day, or filled with regret that that thing which had caught our eye had been won by someone else who was prepared to pay more.


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