Erm, please someone explain, why might it be immoral…?

… to buy something in a charity shop, then sell it on at a profit?

It’s a discussion I was having with my elder daughter this morning, and have had with others online over the last few years. Once or twice things have got quite heated. Why do some people feel that we are somehow cheating the charity, if we’re paying the price they are asking for an item? Most of them are pretty savvy these days & aren’t likely to sell an original Picasso for the same price as a fake Constable print in a plastic frame. I will only buy stuff in a charity shop (thrift store, to our American cousins) if I actually need it for myself or our home, OR if I’m certain I can at least double my money on it. But that doesn’t actually mean that the charity could have got twice as much for it, and I’m cheating them. Nor does it mean I’m doubling my money with each purchase.

For a start, many of the things I have picked up from them over the years have needed work put into them to achieve the higher price. They’ve needed cleaning, servicing or mending, maybe some parts supplied & fitted. Clothes may have needed a bit of surgery; for example, a 1970s Lurex jumper is actually more valuable without its sleeves at the moment, as the students like to wear them as tunics, with a belt. For another thing, part of my expertise, such as it is, is knowing what my customers are interested in & will buy; charity shops by & large are very general, selling a bit of whatever comes in in saleable condition, but a large proportion of their stock is of no interest to me & my customers whatsoever. You have to hunt quite hard for “treasure” and be prepared to pass by a lot of dross on the way, although one man’s trash is, of course, another man’s treasure. So part of my “mark-up” is because my customers, by & large, don’t have the time to hunt through twenty-odd shops for one piece of genuine 1950s fabric for their vintage caravan renovation project. But they know they will likely find 4 or 5 pieces to choose from on my stall. One or two of those may have been picked up in charity shops, but the rest have come via car boot & jumble sales, house clearances and other contacts, so that’s another reason why I am not just a parasite leaching money away from charities; they would never have seen a penny of the money for those pieces in the first place. And some of my stock is bought from charity shops that have failed to sell it in the time they allow things to be “on the sales floor”; at least they are getting something for it from me, and usually a fair bit more than the ragman would have given them.

I have expenses I need to cover, too. Stalls don’t come free, and people are often shocked when they find out what the stall fees are; yes, it does cost more than a car boot pitch, or a table-top at a school sale. This is because the organisers will have expenses they need to cover too, like staff, proper advertising & rent. I use fuel to find stock and more to get it to where it needs to be. My washing machine uses energy & consumables and I go through coat hangers, safety pins and even price labels at an alarming rate. So it’s not just a matter of buying something for £1 at Oxfam, carting it off and selling it on for £2 at Molly’s Den or Boscombe Vintage Market.

Can someone please explain to me why people get so upset about the idea that I can buy something in one place and sell it on at a profit in a more appropriate place, if there’s a charity involved? I would not take the bread from the mouth of a starving child to sell it, as one slightly hysterical online commentator once accused me of; it doesn’t seem equivalent at all to me, but am I missing some important idea or concept here?

Home again, home again, jiggety-jig…

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Well, sort of. The problem with a wonderful holiday is that sometimes, you’re not quite ready to leave it in your head & get back to reality. It doesn’t help that it’s cold & grey here, and there’s tons of stuff that really needs doing, preferably right now, or before. Usually at the end of a holiday I’m looking forward to getting back to all the things I’d miss about our beautiful & quirky little part of the world, but now I’ve found somewhere equally beautiful & quirky. And warmer… Say no more!

It was very interesting to see how people have lived, and to some extent still live, in a landscape that’s equally as benign as our own, if not more so. I live in a smallish medieval market town just inland from the mild & beautiful South Coast of England, and we stayed in something very much equivalent in the south of France, just where the Pyrenees are sloping down towards the sea. Like here, there are still markets; the bigger ones are partly what we would call “grockle-traps” though we found (and bought!) some excellent, inexpensive regional specialities too. But there’s a tiny weekly market in the village we stayed in, too; just four food stalls selling absolutely top-notch, mouthwatering local produce, that you were encouraged to try before committing yourself to buy. The leftovers are in my fridge or my garlic pot even as I write.

I don’t think I have ever been in such an abundant & beautiful landscape. On closer examination, what looked like acres of verdant wilderness clearly was no such thing. Just about every tree was edible or otherwise useful; down in the villages, fruit trees predominated, with olives, figs, grapes, citrus & cherries everywhere – the area is famous for its cherries, in particular, but the tiny black figs were melt-in-the-mouth, honey-sweet gorgeous too – but higher up the slopes, nuts predominated, with chestnuts, hazels & walnuts dotted amongst the cork oaks. The villages consisted of tall terraced houses (with wooden shutters, all painted in beautiful colours – I do love shutters!) clustered tightly around their town squares, Mairies, little forts or priories, usually with mountain streams running in channels down both sides of the roads. Presumably these were once their main water supplies.

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Outside the villages, usually a little upslope & almost indistinguishable from the forested surroundings, were areas of gardens, possibly allotments, though they seemed much more permanent & not all of them were used just for produce; we saw one which was clearly a family relaxation area, with outdoor oven, swings & an above-ground pool as well as tomatoes, sweetcorn, beans, olives & berry & currant bushes. The water channels ran through these first, with little pipes going into each garden & channels leading the water though to each bed going downwards, all fed by gravity from the river. In the villages, there were lots of little independent shops, which do seem to be well-used by the locals, though there are hypermarkets & estates of villas with pools & sterile gravel gardens springing up nearer the main roads down on the plain. There are ice-pits upslope, where ice was stored (and still could be) each winter, and thermal springs, which the French take very seriously for their health. In short, a landscape that is or has been used to the full, in a beneficial & light-handed way; there seemed to be plenty of wildlife too. It’s a bird & butterfly heaven!

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The coastal towns were delightful; each had its own distinct character and most still seem to have reasons for existing other than as holiday havens or yachtie stopovers. Anchovy warehouses & big local wine domain “outlets” sit alongside the leather goods shops & the soap & candle emporiums; the soaps are a genuine local speciality & our suitcases smelt fantastic on the return trip. I also stocked up on spices as we get through them in much larger quantities than most households, and things like culinary lavender & juniper berries are much cheaper out there.

Needless to say, Elder Daughter & I couldn’t resist a trip to the vide-greniers & marché-aux-puces of Perpignan, the nearest city. And although we couldn’t bring back a lot, as we were flying Ryanair, we did find some irresistible vintage treasures and had a lot of fun, although it almost hurt to leave that beautiful old Kohler industrial treadle unexamined…

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One day, we will drive down & come back with a loaded car… but it’d be touch & go whether it’d be loaded with lovely vintage stock for our stalls, or with edible & potable delights to see us through a grey & dismal British winter! And if ever I persuade my doctor to say that I need to go & live in a warmer climate for the sake of my health, you’ll know where to find me…

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Wayyyyy cool!

You may have guessed that I’ve been a bit busy lately, firstly preparing for, then at the Larmer Tree Festival as part of Boscombe Vintage Market. It was the first time we’ve done anything like this & I don’t think any of us knew what to expect, and by all reports most of us were pretty anxious as well as busy leading up towards it. But it was great, really good fun and well worthwhile. There were some magical moments which I can’t resist sharing with you all, and the whole thing sparked some interesting trains of thought & ideas for next year.

We were in a marquee opposite one of the big “venues” and got to hear some great music. I joined in with a couple of workshops over there, which were huge fun, but spent most of my time on my stall. And so I was there when a couple of early-teenage boys ran into the marquee, probably by accident. They skidded to a halt and looked round in utter amazement, and I mentally braced for trouble. But one gasped, “This place is waayyyyy coooool! Look! Harry Potter Luggage!” at the cabin trunk beside my stall. And off they trotted, admiring our ramshackle treasures quite happily. Then there were the group of bronzed late teenage boys who wandered past, looking somewhat supercilious & uninterested. Until they spotted the bookcase… “Ooooh, books!” And the next ten minutes resembled nothing quite so much as a meeting of the Literary Society as they leafed through the various vintage volumes, made their choices and queued up patiently with their pound coins. The bored husbands-being-towed-behind who suddenly spotted the vinyl records, the young lady who needed a slip to wear beneath her diaphanous Indian draperies, the people doing up vintage caravans who found just the right fabric or trim for their curtains or cushions – I do love making people happy!

Needless to say, there were people – a small minority, luckily – who just came in to sneer. But they weren’t just sneering at us & our vintage bargains, but also at the acts, the beautiful gardens, the peacocks and the other festivalgoers, especially those who were joining in with things. But to my mind, joining in is what it’s all about; festivals are as old as mankind, and aren’t something that can just be consumed, like a film or TV programme, they’re something you have to participate in to get the most out of. There’s always something new to see, a new skill to try, something different to taste, and if you’re too busy looking superior to join in, you’re missing out. It’s not all about buying stuff, although it’s nice when when people do; it’s about celebrating life in all its infinite & glorious variety, and adhering strictly to a narrow view of how people should look & behave doesn’t half get in the way of that!

I loved seeing people express their individuality, both in their clothes (I may have to become a steampunk, if I’m not too old & round) and by spontaneously breaking into dance with total strangers. There’s somehow both something very real & fundamental about festivals, and also something deeply unreal; those of us who went home every night (we didn’t, we camped) spoke of it as going back into the “real” world and there’s undeniably something fantastical, in the truest sense, about the whole festival thing. Life isn’t &  never can be all bubbles & flags, lace, glitter, music & dance, but are shopping malls, traffic jams, utility bills and the 9-5 any more “real” actually? The paradox is that I suspect people can somehow be more their real selves when they are dressing up, and that our brick & mortar habitats, our mobile metal shells & our serious workaday personas are no more real than our festive selves. And I know which I prefer…

One customer told me about her daughter, who was awarded a first-class degree in psychology several years ago. But after two years in a well-paid recruitment job, she retrained as a henna tattooist & nail artist and “works” the summer at festivals, living in a well-insulated van, and picks up whatever work she can in winter; far from worrying about her, her mother was proud of her independence and free spirit & I can understand that.

Anyway, now I have a much better idea of what kind of stock to take along next year, and how much; approximately half of what I took this year! But none of us were to know what would work, and it’s probably different for each one of us, and each year will be different too; the weather was glorious this year, but might not be so good another time. And more ideas on how to lay it out, and how to create & maintain an attractive display. All I need now is a sensible way of keeping track of all these ideas – I may have to sit down & make a book or folder of some kind, after I’ve updated my paperwork… now, that’s a good idea!

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For anyone who doubts…

… that we earn our keep; for all those who think that any fool could buy stuff in & just sell it on at a profit…

There’s knowledge, and judgement, and flair, time and sheer bl**dy elbow grease involved too. In the words of the art critic, I know what I like, and I know the kind of thing my customers are looking for too. I know where best to look for it, and how to spot the things that others have overlooked. I usually have a good idea of when things are worth investing a bit of time & effort in, and also when they really are past reclaiming, although of course, they may now have a use other than what they were originally intended for. I’ll give you an example of something that I picked up this morning in our local market’s car boot section. It had been a small vanity case, originally made in Spain, probably in the 1950s, possibly early 60s, by the styling and by the fact that it had a very brittle & decayed plastic lining. It was utterly filthy, but visibly sturdily made, with a stylish, if dirty, brass handle, hinges & catch, but seemingly forever open now as the catch really didn’t want to engage. What I could see, if I could clean it up a bit, is a jewellery display for my stall, even if the lock never works again. So home it came, as part of a 3-for-£1 job lot, along with a child’s Anna Karenina-style sheepskin hat & some rather decayed War Office flying maps. 33.3p is not a lot to risk, if it all goes wrong.

So, here’s the top after an first experimental swab:

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Evidently this method is going to work – it might have dissolved the covering, or not shifted any of the dirt – but it did. Back & side before:

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And after:

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A bit of WD40, a bit of Brasso, a tweak with some aircraft engineer’s cranked needlenose pliers and hey presto! The outside of my new jewellery display box is clean and the catch is working once more. It’s not pristine, it’s clearly seen a lot of use over the years; I could easily go down to The Range & buy something “vintage-style” that’s never been used, but that’s not authentic, or very interesting, and would probably cost a lot more. The next project is to make a suitable lining, so I need to find a fabric that’s right for the age & style of the box, that will also show off glittery & shiny things to good effect. Not to mention a mirror to fit inside the lid. Give me a few days & see what I come up with!

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Editing to add: on re-reading, I can’t help noticing the tone of sheer indignation in the first paragraph! I should explain; it’s in response to a conversation with a dear friend who I know will never read this. Bless her, it’s apparent that she thinks that it’s a “nice little hobby” she could take up when she retires, and maybe she could, but it’s not quite as simple as trotting round the charity shops, picking up “old things that no-one else would notice” & selling them on Ebay at your leisure, any more!

Awesome…

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A few years back, there was a little shop in our town, in the same row that I tried running a shop in more recently. It was an absolute treasure trove of gorgeous vintage & antique household textiles & haberdashery, and the elderly lady who ran it was friendly, helpful, kindhearted (she often let me have part-skeins of embroidery thread from workboxes for, say, 10 or 20p) and inspirational. It featured in several national magazines as one of those quirky & glorious one-off emporiums that we British can excel at, given half a chance & reasonable business rents & rates. But sadly the rent & rates edged upwards as the proprietor’s health edged downwards, and eventually she had to give up. I always wondered what had happened to her stock… Quoting from elsewhere online:

“I’ve had an unexpected & astonishing weekend. It was our annual Folk Festival, when the population of our little town goes from 5,000 to about 20,000 for two days of colourful, musical mayhem. But I hardly got to see any of the processions, workshops, dances etc. because early on, I stumbled across an absolute treasure trove. There was a small market down one of the back streets, and someone  was selling off some old textiles etc. at very sensible prices. I’m “doing” a major festival as a trader later this summer & have been terrified I don’t have nearly enough good stock; things I’m proud to be rehoming at a profit, if you know what I mean. But I was able to pick up some very nice things at a very decent price, even if we’ll be eating beans for the rest of the month!

I got chatting to the guy selling them & eventually, after a bit of digging, it emerged that it was leftover stock from one of the little shops in town, one of my favourite-shops-of-all-time in fact, that stopped trading a few years ago when the proprietor became too elderly & ill to carry on. The end result is that I shall be talking to him later in the week about the rest of her leftover stock, which sadly has not been well-stored in the interim, but still has value of a kind, even if a fair bit of it isn’t saleable any longer. I actually think I’m very privileged to be handling some of these items; think lace baby bonnets going back to the early 1800s, hand-embroidered Victorian bloomers, 30s crepe-de-chine hankies edged with handmade lace – that sort of thing.”

Some of it is literally shredding in our hands; for example the silk/glazed cotton/lace cushion cover above, which is most likely French (there’s another one, in even worse condition, with Souvenir de France embroidered on it. A good clue as to its origins, I feel!) where the cotton backing & lace are intact but the weft threads of the cover have just gone to dust; the warp threads are all that’s holding that embroidery together. The baby bonnet, which is the piece I recognised from the old shop, is also shredding to dust as it’s handled; several years crumpled into sealed black plastic binliners in a hot loft have not done much for the development of age-stains & mould spots, either. It’s a shame to touch it & hasten its decline and I feel quite inadequate to the task of trying to preserve what’s left in decent condition. But I suspect it would just end up at the Tip otherwise, if unsold. And I know that the old lady, and the untold hundreds of stitchers behind her, stretching back at least as far as 1800, would be far happier to see what remains of their exquisite work being used & admired, even if that means cutting it up to remake into something new, than made into J-cloths & used for wiping sinks.

So now I have a huge task before me; I need to learn as much as possible, in as short a time as possible, about lace, so that I don’t accidentally destroy or flog off for pennies, something wonderful that should remain intact & be properly preserved for posterity… It’s a great opportunity, but also a huge responsibility.

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A point of view…

Went carboot-cruising with DD1 this morning, and came home with a very respectable haul from the bootsale area of our local market, I’m delighted to say, despite the fact that probably more than half of the sellers there are actually regular traders rather than people emptying their attics. But then I went on to another sale elsewhere; I knew it was likely to be more upmarket than the other one because of the “posh” venue, but some of the prices were eyewatering! I’d halfway expected to find people packing up as I was so late, but most of the stalls were still laden. Which isn’t surprising, when one of the vendors was charging £16 for a small rectangle of fabric, just big enough to scrape a cushion out of. Yes, it was nice Sanderson fabric, and probably half of what she’d paid for it new, but that is NOT a boot-sale price. If I want to pay half the new price for posh fabric, I’ll wait for a sale in at our very-good local interior designers & have a choice of fabrics.

And as for the gentleman who happily sold me a lovely ebony glove-stretcher for 50p, a matching ebony & ivory clothes brush also for 50p, and then spoilt it all by asking £5 for a white enamel milk jug with cracks, that someone at some point had filled with orange paint, which was thickly plastered inside & splashed all over the outside, oh dear…

I’m not daft, I know enamel is hot just now. But that poor jug was past it before the paint incident; you might have got some daft banker-on-secondment to pay £5 for it with cracked enamel. But liberally plastered with well-dried-on orange paint, too? I think not… but I’m very happy with the glove-stretcher & the clothes brush anyway. They’re beautiful, if not currently fashionable, and have true & lasting value.

I go out to boot & jumble sales with a change-purse filled with £20 of small change. I may or may not have more money with me, and if I saw something that I knew to be a real bargain – a Timbertops spinning wheel, say – I might dig into other resources. But mostly I manage to keep well within what’s in my purse. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not intending to be mean, and I don’t begrudge a decent price for a decent article, and yes, I do know what it’s like to crawl out of bed on a freezing morning to try to earn a few extra pennies to keep the wolf from the door because I cut my teeth on car boot sales, but if you want to do well at car-booting, don’t charge too much!

I found one of my friends there, and she’d done well & enjoyed herself, by charging between 50p – £2 for good quality, serviceable clothes. The guy selling healthy, well-grown, unusual perennial plants like Saponaria for £1 each had clearly done well too, and deservedly so, and I was happy to add to his profits. And the lady selling delicious home-made fudge deserved every penny of her earnings. But charging nearly as much for everyday things as they cost new, or as much for stuff that really is past its best as you’d pay for top-quality items in an antique shop, is a sure-fire recipe for going home with a car full of unwanted items you brought with you. If you have something of real value to sell, chances are that a car boot sale isn’t the best place to sell it.

Yes, I mostly buy with a view to selling on. But I will have put work into the items that go onto my stall; every handcranked or treadled sewing machine & spinning wheel will have been serviced & supplied with instructions, feet, needles, & bobbins. Fabric, clothing & table linen has usually been washed, mended & starched if appropriate, pressed, trimmed & measured for pricing. Patterns have been checked; some of the older ones have up to 20 fragile pieces to identify & smooth out. Books are checked for defaced & missing pages, and so on & so forth. So if you want the same price as I’m likely to get for it, I’m not going to buy it from you! (Although, of course, someone else may.) And if you want more than I’d get for it, you’re probably not being realistic.

It’ll be a while before I have a chance to do a car-boot sale or something similar myself. But I have a garage full of assorted non-vintage clutter that I need to dispose of; let’s see if I can take my own advice when the time comes & let it go at a price that people are happy to pay!

 

Phew!

I don’t think I’ve ever been so exhausted in my life. But we did it! DS3 is home safe & sound, we’ve celebrated this in style, and somehow we managed to get our stall at Molly’s Den ready for the Grand Opening as well.

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I really didn’t know what to expect; I felt that due to time constraints, we’d only managed to get half of what I’d planned done, sorted out, prepared & over there. But it did look kind of like I wanted it to, sort of slightly olde-worldy farmhousey, cosy & comfortable. And hopefully intriguing… Some of the other stalls are gorgeous, stuff to die for, so I wasn’t really expecting too much to start with, until I’d got it straight. But this was the same stall today, after two visits to tidy up & bring other bits & bobs in…

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The chair has gone. The sewing machine, the little table, the Laura Ashley curtains, some of the kitchenalia, the old saucepans, and a couple of rugs have also gone. I think some books may have trotted off to pastures new too. So I am rather pleased! I have lots more stock, more coming in all the time, and lots of bits I can mend, alter & make anew to try out down there too. Let’s see if I can keep it up…

And now I finally have ten minutes to stop & think, I’m going to have a go at this too: 30 Ways To Save £1 so watch this space for my entry, hopefully very soon!

I’m sitting here, toasty warm…

…snow on the ground, sky thick with nasty needly little flakes that are more like hail. The heating’s on in the background but not blasting away; the conservatory’s wrapped in bubblewrap and the curtains & quilted blinds have stayed shut in the rooms that aren’t in use today. And I’ve been out and about with my camera, in my wonderful secondhand felted-wool coat (best bargain ever! If not exactly cheap…) my long-deceased great-aunt’s sheepskin gloves, my sturdy secondhand North Face boots, my 20p-at-a-jumble-sale handknitted wool jumper in shades of red & pink, and an assortment of other unlikely garments. I probably look like a small round ball of random vintage textiles but I’m warm, dry & happy!

Our local market was open for business this morning; many of the traders had travelled for miles to get here but sadly most of their customers hadn’t bothered, so I scooped up some excellent bargains. Stallholders pay for their stalls in advance, and run the risk of losing advantageous pitches if they don’t turn up; customers don’t run such immediate risks but may find their favourite stallholders have gone away or even gone under if they don’t support their efforts whenever possible. However, it really isn’t a day for driving if you don’t have to; luckily it’s an easy walk for me and my (reclaimed) shopping trolley, given sturdy weatherproof boots. And I do have the space to preserve & store my bargains.

We have enough supplies stashed away to coast through several weeks if necessary, but many people aren’t able to store much food, or even proper clothing for bad weather. A few years back, when I was working in sheltered housing, I was blowing my top about elderly tenants trotting off to the shops in the snow & ice in woefully inadequate clothing – high-heeled boots, thin tights, plastic raincoats, no hats or gloves – when one of them stopped me in my tracks by enquiring, “Where would we keep clothing for weather we hardly ever get? And where could we store extra food so we didn’t have to go out?” It was all too true; their “flats” were glorified bedsits with an alcove for a bedroom, a tiny living room and a kitchenette so small you had to choose between a proper cooker (as opposed to a microwave) or a storage cupboard. Adequate, perhaps, if you  lived a very active & social lifestyle so you didn’t need any room for, say, a sewing machine, or books, or could afford to spend all your winters on the Spanish Costas, as indeed many had envisaged when they moved into them 20 years before, as soon as their kids had flown the nest. Home was just somewhere to sleep, TV would take care of all your entertainment needs if you couldn’t get out, and there was always Meals on Wheels…

I do love the Tiny Houses that you see online, and many of them have roots that go back a long way, to a far more self-reliant & mobile lifestyle; the gypsy caravans, shepherd’s huts & narrowboats, the converted buses & railway carriages. You can make a home and a life almost anywhere, and a good one, without a lot of space, if you’re happy not to put down roots. And it’s very easy to accumulate far too much stuff; stuff that acts as an anchor, so that you can never spread your sails to the winds of Fate without being swamped. But equally, it’s possible to throw the baby out with the bathwater and not have enough space to store the things you really do need, even if you don’t need them all the time. I know I err on the side of having too much (which I’m constantly battling against) and that occasionally, in extreme cases of hoarding, this can prove fatal. But that’s not as likely as crashing your car  as you rush to the supermarket in the snow because you have nothing in to feed the kids, or slipping & breaking a hip on the ice because Meals on Wheels couldn’t get through, and you have no sensible footwear because you have nowhere to keep it…

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Well, I’ve always wanted one of those…

…some days just have a lucky star. It was great to see one of my firm e-friends last night & today; she had to bring one of her offspring down for a university interview, left him with his sister in Southampton & came on down to stay the night and most of today with me. Whilst there were hardly any breaks in the conversation, we did take 10 minutes off from nattering to pop down to the local tip. The manager had saved a tin of buttons for me, bless his cotton socks (buttons are a steady earner for me) and there was a pair of quite astonishingly OTT but splendid red glass beaded chandelier-like ceiling pendant light fittings that simply had to come home with me – irresistible, though I haven’t a clue what I’m going to do with them. They were a little battered so I’ve performed a little delicate surgery to make them look whole again by amalgamating some of the sets of glass droplets. Now all I need is the right setting for them…

But the goodies didn’t end there. There was a nicely-weathered 50’s style green & cream enamel saucepan,  a dinky single egg poacher, an interesting plate, a manicure set which has hundreds of uses (very few of them anything to do with my raggedy fingernails) and, glory of glories, an intact & clean Spong mincer, still with its grating/slicing attachment. A couple of years ago I realised that I needed some kind of manual food mill, and bought a rather elegant tall & slender stainless-steel one half-price in the Lakeland sale. But to be honest, the amount of sheer effort it cost me to grind enough coffee beans for a mug of coffee, or  a handful of oats for a crumble, has meant that it’s spent most of its time with us resting in the cupboard. Then a few weeks back, a battered little old blue Spong appeared down at the dump, which I couldn’t resist rescuing, and in a spirit of idle experimentation, once it was clean I threw a handful of oats into it and turned the handle. Perfect, fine oatmeal, in seconds, with virtually no effort! The only problem was convincing the Other Half and the Offspring that anything that came out of this well-used & somewhat tatty item could possibly be hygienic enough to eat…

So the arrival of this almost-pristine beige one is cause for some celebration on my part. It’s missing one blade, the coarse one, which I can make up from the older blue one, which came with two. There’s a market for these stylish little vintage items, so someone will get a good, working, genuinely-useful bargain at the next Boscombe Vintage Market, and I get to keep the tidier one. As aforementioned, it even has the grater/slicer attachment, with both drums & the pusher. I’d struggle to feed my whole family just with  one of these little gadgets but I do have a bigger, newer mincer that does meat, and this one is lighter & neater for everyday tasks. As well as easier on the eye…

It hasn’t just been a good day, but a good month; I’ve been rescuing things from my mother’s downsizing chuck-out, including a set of battered but still-usable egg-poaching rings – which can, of course, also be used to cut scones & cookies out – and acres of aged, torn sheet-music which has 101 uses in card making, altered art & bookbinding. And I found a few small items in the charity shops local to the vintage market, including a lovely soft yellow flower-printed 70s flannelette sheet which will make a marvellous quilt backing for £1 (in need of a wash, which it’s since had) and a pretty little eggcup which is very much in the style of Susie Cooper, one of my favourite china designers, for just 20p.

There is of course the usual problem – where to store it all? But I’m really lucky; anything that turns out not to be worth the space I’ve allotted to it can be popped onto my stall & sold on. It’s the perfect excuse, and the very best form of “recreational shopping” – I get to enjoy the hunt & spend very little money on items I really do like & want to keep, but if that doesn’t work out, I know I will get my money back at the very least, and usually a little bit more as well. Viva Vintage!

Vintage Finds