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The real deal in Newark
Aden and Nikolo hunt for antiques in Newark / Picture: Sharon Jackson

UK bargain hunters move aside - here come the young Aussies. We'd watched from afar as the television show Bargain Hunt had touted the Newark International Antiques and Collectors Fair as Europe's biggest, and my 10-year-old son Nikolo and I decided we simply had to get there.

We arrived with varying goals: Nikolo wanted a replica ship and was hoping for something different from what he could find at home. Brother Aden, 8, had no idea what he was looking for but thought he'd know when he found it.

The weather was against us, high winds had glassware and silverware flying everywhere but the young Australians wrapped another scarf around their heads and refused to seek sanctuary in the indoor stalls. They knew the biggest bargains were to be had by the brave outside.

The fair was an Aladdin's Cave; I could have filled a container ship three times over such was the amazing quality of the furniture but I was mindful that it would be difficult and costly to get it home.

Nikolo scoured every stall searching for the replica ship and came up with nothing but loads of boats. He wandered into a stall bedecked with armour and knights' helmets and the lovely owner brought less expensive helmets out from his van. Nikolo liked one of these but it would blow his budget and he was determined to find his ship.

And so the search continued.

Aden had spent many years admiring his grandfather's extensive model car collection and at the fair was lost in his own little four-wheeled world.

He searched through box after box before surfacing with an E-Type Jaguar in pristine condition - not bad for two pounds.

The fair's website advised to bargain with the stallholders and the boys did so respectfully, coming out with good deals each time.

But back to the helmet.

It was on its way to Australia, after usually shy Nikolo asked the stall owner if he would knock £10 ($18) off the price. The stallholder thought Nikolo was the most polite boy he had dealt with and I had a proud-mum moment.

There were a lot of stuffed animals and that was quite confronting for the boys.

I enjoyed looking at the Art Deco jewellery and bought a silver candlestick holder and silver serving spoons as well as a gift for a good friend.

Newark is a friendly place, 2 1/2hours north of London, and the fair and the friendly staff at the Best Western Deincourt made the visit extremely worthwhile.

The next Newark International Antiques and Collectors Fair will be held on February 6 and 7. Entry is $36.50 for two days, with under-16s free. iacf.co.uk/newark.