My cracking time on Cracking Antiques
Filming Cracking Antiques was such a hoot that I don't know where to start. It was brilliant fun meeting all of the different contributors - I love snooping around people's houses. I'm incredibly nosy - in fact, I always say that was why I became an interior designer.
Mark Hill's my co-presenter and we've been called the TV Newlyweds, which is appropriate as we didn't know each other before the show. I had to go on a round of 'blind dates' (which, even more bizarrely, were filmed) with male antique specialists until I found my Mister Right.
My blind date with Mark was at Spitalfields Market in East London, one of my favourite places to shop. He was there already with the production crew when I arrived, but I would have guessed who he was anyway. He wears the most striking, natty outfits. They're very beatnik, smart tailored suits, like a young Michael Caine - very Alfie!
Unlike a lot of men, he's very at home with soft furnishings, so I knew he was the one for me. We were obviously a match made in vintage heaven as we always turned up on location in matching outfits - there must be a touch of telepathy going on somewhere
With having Mark as my sidekick we're kind of antique Good Cop, Bad Cop, although I'm not saying who's who. We disagree on stuff all the time which makes the show, and life, more interesting.
There was an ongoing joke that as I can't stand "brown furniture" I always wanted to slap a bit of paint on anything that I thought was too "brown". In the end, I would threaten it with practically everything we looked at just to make Mark cross. (I honestly never would tamper with anything beautiful, but if a piece is cheap and cheerful and in need of a bit of TLC then I'm all for it)
He's so brilliant at knowing everything there is to know about old things and I find him endlessly fascinating and entertaining.
The first episode is broadcast on Wednesday April 7 at 8.30pm on BBC Two and is all about how to create a French boudoir, a style very close to my heart having been bitten by the vintage bug whilst living in France.
From my experience, having lived just outside Toulouse, it seemed as though a lot of the French had sold their crumbling farmhouses and were busy filling their new houses with brand spanking new furniture - leaving all their gorgeous antique furniture for collectors like me.
I went back for a holiday last year and things hadn't changed. Unfortunately I had left my rusty old Transit van back at home, otherwise I would have filled it up with stuff. The vide-greniers and brocantes, or French garage sales and flea markets to you and I, were still as exciting as ever.
I was trying to work out how to fit a particularly nice little gilt sofa, that I'd found in a brilliant little junk shop in Castres, into our car (could it fit on the kids' laps...?) but fortunately for all of us, despite numerous trips back, the shop never opened again.
Disheartened I was checking out an online auction site to see if it had been the bargain I thought it was when I spotted a beautiful red gilt sofa for only £120 including delivery. It was delivered the day we got back from holiday, my French sofa, online in England, while away in France!
It came from a brilliant little place just outside Hastings and it seemed the most obvious place to take Rebecca, our first contributor, to find her original Marie Antoinette-style boudoir bed. She was apprehensive about the "fluids and bugs" but it was a great buy and a fun experience.
That's what Mark and I really want to do with the series - we want to drag antiques from their pedestals, blow the dust off them, and open them up to a much wider audience, showing how they can be more affordable, stylish and better made than much of what the high street has to offer.
I really hope you enjoy the show as much as Mark and I enjoyed making it. And remember, as a sage old vintage expert once said, you only regret the ones you didn't buy!
Kathryn Rayward is the co-presenter of Cracking Antiques on BBC Two