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Blue Mountains Tourist : Summer 2008-09
Award for Bygone Beautys Photo: Jessica Lindsay The 2008 Blue Mountains Business Advantage Award for Tourism has been won by Bygone Beautys antique Centre and Tearoom at Leura. Bygone Beautys was also runner-up in the Community Contribution section. The recognition came as no surprise to people who have visited the shop, tried the Devonshire teas and viewed their 3,000 teapots – the largest private collection in the world. It was the result of years of hard work by owners Ronald Hooper and Maurice Cooper. They are fastidious about the business – from everything to personally shopping for the best ingredients to preparing and maintaining the exceptional displays of antiques, jewellery and – of course – teapots. Maurice does the shopping while Ron gets the shop ready for visitors, and when they aren’t doing that, serving customers or selling antiques, they are always on the lookout for yet another teapot. “We have the world’s largest private collection of teapots,” says Maurice. “We have 3,000 on display and another 800 odd within the collection.” They include a 300-year-old cast iron Chinese teapot, an Australian pan teapot, and examples of Art Deco, Staffordshire and items of Wedgwood, one of which dates back to 1792. “Many people visit us specifically to see the collection and every now and then we get a chance to add a treasure.” Maurice tells the story of a particularly good piece picked up from a most unlikely source. “Ron comes in to tell me there’s a gentleman outside with some New Guinea artifacts for sale – would we be interested? ‘What would we do with them,’ I exclaim! ‘Very well,’ says Ron dryly, ‘I’ll send the gentleman away.’ Guilt overcomes me and I consent to go outside in the cold to have a look. “The artifacts, inherited from his grandfather, are on the back seat of a beat up Torana. Most are garage sale stuff at best – however, some of it could be valuable so I offer to give him the name and address of someone who might be interested. “I am about to go back inside and the fellow says: ‘The boot is full, too’ – so I get him to open it up. And there, among a collection of artifacts, many of them phallic, I spot a teapot! ‘Now, I’m interested in that,’ I tell him – pointing to the teapot. ‘It’s Royal Doulton,’ he says. ‘I know, I reply – a pity the lid is missing.’ ‘No, it’s somewhere in the boot,’ he says and after a quick search produces the lid. ‘How much do you want for it?’ I ask. ‘I would not sell it for any less than $...’ he says and named a figure. “I thought it was a little dear if I was reselling – but what the heck – am I a teapot collector or not? ‘Done!’ I said. “We completed the paperwork and the man went away happy with his price, but Ron raised his eyebrows when he heard what I’d paid for it. However, I saw it as a valuable addition to our collection and one whose market value was about twice what I had paid. It’s beautiful – and natural O “I don’t dare tell my wife about this.” wner of Blackheath’s Ravir Boutique, Raelene Allen, hears comments such as this almost every day. “It’s such an affirmation that we’re hitting the mark,” she says. “People love the diversity of clothing and that fact that so much is in natural fibres. “But mature women in particular love us because we manage to find beautiful clothing in gorgeous colours and flattering styles that suit all different shapes. You don’t have to dress badly because of your age.” summer 2008/9 In winter, even the men come in for the bulky hand-knitted Nepalese jumpers and beautiful soft merino knitwear. They also appreciate hemp clothing, such as jeans and shirts, even socks and boxers. There are more exotic fibres as well. Ever heard of soy base layers? They’re so soft you won’t want to take them off. Made for men and women by Gondwana, they are 95% soy fibre. And how about a bamboo top or pants? Bamboo, too, is heaven for those with sensitive skin as it feels even smoother than silk. Another contender is micro-modal, made from Australian beechwood. It makes the most divine under garments. “These alternative fibres all have a low impact on the environment. They’re easy to grow, not too thirsty and don’t require much in the way of chemicals to enhance their growth. “Not surprisingly, the Chinese are way out in front when it comes to producing these more sustainable fibres,” says Raelene. “But Australian regulations on growing hemp for fibre are being eased. That’s good news for the environment.” www.bluemountainstouristnewspaper.com.au 7