Archive for the ‘Charity shops’ Category

A silver lining?

March 3, 2019

I’ve been somewhat subdued this winter for health reasons (full story here should you wish to know more) and not actually able to do the things I’d planned, as my hands, not to mention my poor brain, just wouldn’t – couldn’t – work properly, thanks to peripheral neuropathy. So I was rather glad to have the time to get to grips with yet another simple form of weaving whilst demolishing a large pile of old bedding that had gone beyond reasonable use or otherwise become surplus to requirements.

For a long time I’ve been intrigued by twined weaves, and also by rag rugs; my great-aunt Bet had a wonderful collection of “slip-mats” of one sort or another, so-called because if you jumped on them at just the right angle, you could slip & slide all the way down her highly-polished hallway floor! I loved the textures, the patterns & the colours, and I’m sure some of them were twined, some hooked and some prodded, though no-one now can remember where she got them or indeed, whether she’d made them herself.

Anyway, this was my first effort, woven on a Libbylula twining loom, following instructions found on YouTube, entirely from old bedding torn into 2″ strips, including the warp:


It’s just done with very simple blocks of colour, working from alternate ends inwards. Joins are very random, occurring wherever the previous colour ran out or I just decided to change colours. I’m not sure about the “fringe” but it’s staying put for now.

And for my next trick, I decided to experiment with colour & pattern a bit. But I wasn’t the only one enjoying the simple, manageable rhythms of over, under, twist…


Poppy “helped” every inch of the way! And here she is, staking her claim to the finished article:


It won’t stay in the living room; it’s not the right colours and to be honest, I went overboard with the patterning a bit! But it’s shown me how it works, and what’s pleasing to the eye, and what isn’t, or just doesn’t show up on that scale.

As the pile of our own deceased bedding diminished, I found that one of our local charity shops was very happy to dispose of donated bedding, which they don’t sell, for a better price than the ragman would give them. So I now have an even bigger pile of bedding to rip into strips, but it’s in “better” colours for my purposes. I’m also planning to experiment with 3-D weaving & weaving without a frame, which are also possible with this technique; most willow baskets are woven this way. Not to mention trying out alternative materials; English Bullrushes, packing tape & baler twine spring to mind.

So a period of less-than-perfect health and enforced “leisure” have opened new horizons for me. Every cloud has a silver lining, eh?


Return of the Jumble Sale…

March 8, 2015

40s & 50s dressmaking patterns, on a crochet blanket with added holes…

I am so delighted to see that jumble sales seem to have made a bit of a come-back. For some years, it seemed that they were banished to the far fringes of the rural hinterlands; rumour had it that they were still happening in some remote villages, but never round here, and never anywhere I could reasonably get to. And I missed the mad eclectic muddle of random stuff, all piled up on tables, priced at pennies just to shift it. In amongst that stuff there would always be some treasures, things that I wanted or needed, and things that other people wanted or needed but couldn’t find anywhere. Things that someone else had not seen any kind of value in, and had simply given away. I suspect that lots of people can no longer be bothered to get up at silly o’clock on a Sunday, drive to a muddy field, set up their stall & work to sell their unwanted possessions at a car boot sale; easier by far just to give them to the jumble collectors and feel a little glow of satisfaction that at least you’re contributing something towards a good cause.

We went to one last weekend, and two yesterday. At last week’s, my top “find” was a long black Frank Usher jacket in perfect condition for 20p. It fits me very well; I wore it to a formal occasion during the week & was delighted to be given lots of compliments on it. I would otherwise have had to buy something new to wear, as I had no time to hunt around the charity shops for something that fitted, was warm enough and right for the occasion.

Yesterday’s jumbles produced a mad crop of 1970s clothing, a lovely mirror for the living room, and two elderly but respectable portable typewriters, both working, one of which seems to be very collectable and dates from the 1950s. They will be cleaned up, given new ribbons, tested and sold on. At one sale, one of the helpers suspected I’d turn up, and had collected up some dressmaking patterns for me, which I was thrilled to hand over her full price for; we never haggle at a jumble sale, we just don’t buy if the price isn’t right. We spent a happy few hours last night checking them; they often don’t have all their pieces, may not have any instructions & may have bits of other patterns muddled in with them or be torn beyond reasonable use.

I rarely sell on incomplete patterns; they may have been cut & used, but should have all their pieces, in usable condition. The exception would be if it’s only a small & easily-improvised piece like a tie-belt or patch-pocket that’s missing, or that it’s a multi-garment pattern & there’s enough still usable to make one or more of the garments; in either case it would be clearly marked & sold at a reduced price. That said, I will have to increase my prices soon to reflect the fact that all of ours are checked & usable, as it’s getting harder & more expensive to find them; I pay my teenage daughter to check them, and others are selling unchecked patterns for considerably more then I sell checked ones for.

There are plenty of uses for incomplete patterns. One of my friends is happy to take them on, combine & adapt them for use with her dressmaking students. I myself use pattern pieces and damaged covers in cardmaking & other papercrafts; cheaper than buying mass-market “card toppers” and much more fun! One of these days I’ll learn how to adapt & re-size patterns, too, but that will need some “free” time which I don’t seem to have just now. And oddly, most of the things I’ve made that I actually wear & use have been made without patterns at all, simply cut out around older garments/items & improvised.

Anyway, I’ve a mirror and two typewriters to clean up, an elderly kitchen gadget to test – a hand-held crinkle-cutter, in case you were wondering – a rather splendid red suitcase in need of a good rub-down and a crochet blanket in need of some remedial hook-work… on with the fun!


1950s Hermes Baby Rocket in need of a good clean-up…

A cautionary tale…

January 16, 2015

…copied over from a post I wrote elsewhere:

Earlier this week, I was further down the West Country with Elder Daughter for a couple of days. We’d planned to do some serious walking, but the weather was foul on the first day, so we visited some new-to-her towns instead, and bought some bits & bobs for our respective market stalls/online shop. The first town we visited was one I knew well as a child & teenager, back in the Dark Ages. It used to be very posh & prosperous, with a long twisty high street wending its way down a steep hill; my grandfather’s tailor was at the top and his cobbler/bootmaker halfway down. It’s very different now.

A big modern shopping development has been built alongside the High Street. It has several stories of car parking, topped by two more of big High Street “names” – all the biggies are there, in large, clean modern units. It was hardly bustling but there were plenty of people wandering aimlessly about, a few toting branded bags. And it’s completely sucked the life out of the old High Street; every second little shop was empty, and there were beggars sitting in the doorways, empty hats on the pavement, staring hopelessly out, poor souls. Hardly anyone was passing that way to see them.

Admittedly the big local industry has also withered away and died, but it was very clear that the shopping centre had completely replaced the High Street for day-to-day stuff. So all the money spent in that town is draining away to shareholders in London & further afield, instead of helping local people prosper. If it’s anything like this little town, the advent of the shopping centre will have pushed up the High Street rents beyond anything a genuine local small business start-up can afford, too. Although there were some very good bargains in the two local charity shops we eventually stumbled across, shopping in that town was a depressing & draining experience.

We then visited two smaller towns nearby, also favourite haunts of my youth. The only big name shops were those that had been there for many years, in little eccentric premises with tiled doorways and uneven floors. Both towns were bustling, with people carrying baskets or pulling trolleys, cheerily greeting each other and stopping to chat or go for a cuppa in one of the pretty little independent, reasonably-priced cafes. We found some excellent bargains and enjoyed our time there hugely.

Next day, after a bracing walk on the coastal path, we called in to a little seaside town that has attracted a lot of attention from a TV chef. We found the interesting-looking little shops clustered around the harbour were nearly all branches of big-name clothes shops, exactly the same ones that infest our own small but upmarket town. We were actually looking for a butchers or (sensible) fishmongers, but the lass in the tiny convenience store told us that “the big T&sco up top of the hill” had “done for” anything like that. So most of the money being spent there by the hordes of wealthy tourists who flock to this town is draining straight off upcountry again, and the locals have virtually no choice where to buy their groceries any longer. And their money is also trickling away from their community.

The moral of this story being, if you are lucky enough to still have small family-run shops where you are, please support them, even if things cost a little bit more. That’s your own friends & neighbours you’re supporting.  And if you have any say in these matters, resist the siren voices that tell you that big new shopping centres & supermarkets will attract more business; maybe they will, but only to themselves.


A stormy Cornish dusk…

Synchronicity at work…

March 21, 2014

Wikipedia’s definition of synchronicity:

Synchronicity is the experience of two or more events as meaningfully related, where they are unlikely to be causally related. The subject sees it as a meaningful coincidence, although the events need not be exactly simultaneous in time.”


I often get asked, “Wherever do you get all these treasures? You must spend all your weekends at car boots & jumble sales!” Which I would love to be able to do, but alas, life doesn’t always work out like that; I have lots of other calls on my time, though I do have two jumbles on my “hit list” this weekend. So in order to maintain some kind of flow, some continuity on the stall, from time to time I resort to buying stuff in from the wholesalers. It doesn’t necessarily work out cheaper, and I’m always aware that they will have cherry-picked the really good stuff for their own “headline” stores, so although they are reliably good value, I’m not getting the very best bargains, and am thus not able to pass them on. However sometimes I strike lucky… this little lot arrived today, from the wholesale arm of a well-known charity:


50 magnificent vintage hats, which should keep my stall buzzing all summer long! Provided, that is, that not too many of them end up on my daughters or my trainee-daughter-in-law… This elegant confection has already made its debut on Facebook:


and they are clearly going to provide us with days of entertainment!

I’d already decided to make some major alterations to the layout of the stall at Molly’s Den; books are selling steadily down there, but aren’t very visible from the aisles. And the kitchenalia on the shelves at the back might as well be in Outer Mongolia; despite being clearly visible, things just stay put there, but usually sell within days when I move them forwards towards the aisle. So I thought I’d find some bookshelves, put them along the back with some interesting vintage titles & reasonable prices clearly visible, and possibly some of the more dramatic hats too, and see if that tempts people further in. But no inexpensive bookcases turned up, for weeks on end, on Ebay, Gumtree or Freegle/Freecycle. Reluctantly, I decided to invest a whole £30 in a pair of cheap & cheerful bookcases from that well-known Scandinavian emporium, which I happened to be virtually driving past yesterday. They had 16 in stock when I checked online a couple of days beforehand, but by the time I got there, they were all gone, and they’re not going to have any more in for weeks! So, back to the drawing board… 

Luckily, last night, there was a small pine bookcase, just the right height, for £10 on Gumtree, which I was able to pick up this morning. It was close to Molly’s Den so has gone straight onto the stall, although it’s not yet in its final position and won’t be filled up until after the weekend. And an hour or so later, you could have knocked me down with a feather when I found the following Scandinavian item, marginally damaged but perfectly safe & sturdy, in the wood skip at the Recycling Centre – and look what else was there, too!


Cat not included!

More hats! And all for less than I’d have paid for one new bookcase. If that’s not synchronicity at work, I don’t know what is.

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

November 19, 2013

… 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?

When will I ever learn…?

May 29, 2013

Well. It’s been one of those “when-will-I-ever-learn?” days. I know I have ENOUGH stock to do the festival with now, although there are still things I’d like to have and think would be fun. But I don’t need any more, and I’m struggling to store what I already have. However I developed a nasty case of Ebay finger last weekend and put in a rock-bottom bid on something I would never normally have looked twice at, vis. a bundle of binbags allegedly containing “vintage” clothing. My reasoning was that it was, if not exactly close by, fairly accessible, and there looked to be enough that it was likely there’d be at least a couple of decent pieces in there, which would cover the cost of buying it plus the transport costs of fetching it, and hopefully more. I wouldn’t have gone above the initial bid, though, and I thought there’d probably be dealers closer to it who would swoop at the last minute & drive the price up. They didn’t. I won.

So yesterday I asked for the address to collect from, today being the first day I was free to pick up. And was a little miffed to find that the bags weren’t so easy to reach after all, but 20 miles further on from where Ebay had placed them, well off the beaten track. They were where the seller works, not where he lives. But I girded my loins, allocated more time & went anyway, though by now I’d convinced myself that I was driving a long way – and back again too! – for stuff that was likely to be mostly rubbish, and had lain awake half the night mentally kicking myself. When I arrived, there were at least twice as many bags as had been shown in the picture; luckily I had the larger car with me, the one where all the back seats fold flat to give a load-space not dissimilar to a small van. But it was touch & go; I had to belt several bags into the front passenger seat & drive back without any rear view to speak of, just using my door mirrors. Worryingly, the glimpses I’d got where the bags had split weren’t very promising – bobbly jumpers, greying underwear, lots of socks. However, it was a lovely day (though I’d rather have been outside in it than driving) and Classic FM played some of my favourites, and the road was reasonably clear & free of recklessly competitive idiots, so a smooth & swift journey both ways soothed my soul a little.

When I got back, I had a welcome spot of home-made French Onion soup, then we set to; 3 girls & I spent all afternoon sorting clothes. And phew! Indeed there was some decent stuff, enough to make it well worth my while to have gone; a few high-value items and a reasonable amount of useful stuff that I suspect will be very handy to have & will sell for a pound or two; those pounds add up quite quickly. There are even some things in there that we’re keeping; a brand new pair of comfortable, soft red leather shoes that fit me like a glove, a very warm & practical dark blue wool serapé that’s round my shoulders now, and a lifetime supply of just about brand new, decent nightwear in my size. The shoes alone will have cost more than I paid for the whole lot. But I’ve also taken one full bag of donations (some things still in their original packaging) and three of rags (worth money again now) to a local charity shop, and there are at least 10 full bags waiting to be picked up by our indefatiguable local jumble collector, who appears to have a bottomless garage. And the washing machine has been going full blast cleaning things that will be dismantled for fabric – for example, a large quantity of cotton paisley pyjamas, well past selling on but made from lovely fabric – or felting.

So all in all, I’ve come out of this escapade without too much damage. Actually I think I’ve been very lucky; bidding on something sight unseen, age & quantity unknown, is pretty stupid, really. But all’s well that ends well. Now – where the heck am I going to put it all…?

Ideas, ideas…

February 2, 2013

I’ve spent several happy hours hacking up 99p charity shop shirts over the last few weeks, with another quilt in mind, and will be posting a tutorial soon on how to cut up & re-use a shirt with least possible waste, along with some ideas for the “what-on-Earth-can-I-do-with-this?” bits. But some of the last batch were made from such pretty fabrics that one or two other ideas started to creep into my mind. However I’ll need all the shirts I’ve currently got, and more, to complete the current quilt top, so I went looking for more, but sadly it seems that the gods of charity shopping are not currently viewing this project with favour – there were no 99p rails out anywhere and precious few shirts under £3.99. So I started looking at other potential sources of inexpensive fabric. Not that there are many left now, sadly…

Anyway, most shops still seem to let unmatched pillowcases go for 50p, provided they put them out at all – oddments like that don’t fit with the High Street ethos, really – and some of them, usually the older ones, are made from fairly decent & attractive fabric, even if many are terylene/cotton mixes. So I dismembered a couple to see what I’d got. They are usually cut from one wide strip of sheeting fabric, selvedge to selvedge, overlocked along both long sides. If you’ve ever tried to unpick a 4-thread overlock, you’ll know it takes hours and there isn’t much fabric under there anyway, unlike a stitched seam. So I just cut the seams off, very close to the stitching, and ironed them flat. Then I kind of got to wondering whether there might be enough fabric there to make little pinafores… and the answer is, that provided you don’t mind about matching the pattern, or need them to flare out much, then yes, there is. This is my first effort, yet to be tried out on a real child; I suspect I haven’t made the armhole deep enough but that’s easily rectified next time around. In theory it’ll fit a 3-4 year old, but whether one would be seen dead in it remains to be seen! I will report back once I’ve pressganged a passing child, and if it’s a moderate success, I’ll post a tutorial as I make up the next one! And if that’s of much interest to anyone, I might just make up a few in kit form, and see if anyone would actually buy them…


Let it rain!

October 13, 2012

Because my chickens now have a roof over their heads again… I spent yesterday re-roofing their run. They’ve been paddling in the mud for long enough! And what’s more, thanks to Freecycle and a very kind lady down in Poole, I have two more of them, and I’m getting beautiful multi-coloured eggs again.

When we first started keeping backyard birds, one of my great joys was collecting the deep brown, pink, blue & white eggs from our much-loved Marans, Faverolles, Araucana & Hamburgh chickens. But over the years the laying flock had dwindled down to 3, two Warren-type hybrids laying perfectly pleasant but very ordinary light-brown eggs, and one gigantic Buff Orpington laying “tinted” (pinkish) eggs when she isn’t broody. There are just two Pekins left, also laying little pinkish eggs, but one of them is raising chicks just now. 2-3 (and possibly a half) eggs a day doesn’t go far between 7 of us! I’d meant to do something about it early this summer, but missed the boat; I wanted a couple of “Chalkhill Blue” day-olds, but didn’t have a broody when they were hatching, and when I did, they’d finished hatching for the year, so she had to make do with some Freecycled eggs and now has two Polish X Frizzle chicks, one of which may not be male.

Anyway, a dear friend had to move earlier this summer & gave me her solitary surviving Marans, Mollie, who lays splendid deep-brown eggs; she was the only survivor of a dog attack. Then a couple of days ago there was an advert on Freecycle from someone desperate to rehome her flock as she’s about to have a serious operation & won’t be able to care for them. I didn’t see the advert until 6 hours after it was posted, so didn’t hold out much hope, but to my delight she contacted me the next morning & said I’d be welcome to take on a couple of them, including – a Chalkhill Blue! So that evening I hurtled down to town & collected two baffled chooks – the other one is a White Star – who now rejoice in the names Faye & Bianca. As my separate accomodation is already occupied by the broody, I had to pop them onto the roost with the others; I was expecting trouble next morning, but I didn’t get it. The new girls were a bit shy to start with, and there was a little bit of posturing, but within an hour they were all dustbathing together and by the end of the day I had two light-brown, one pinkish, one blue and one pearly white egg! And they now have a run that should keep the worst of the weather off their feathers, and a shed that’s stopped letting in water now I’ve revamped the roof. Amusingly, the inside is lined with a red vinyl poster announcing “VIP Marquee” courtesy of the Dorset Scrapstore…

Glorious technicolour eggs!

But it can rain with impunity now for other reasons too. I’ve had a couple of influxes of goodies; one from the local charity shop that sells me the craft-related things they have’t been able to move on themselves, and some interesting items from the tip, as well as some lovely 1950s curtains from the 50p house-clearance stall on the market. I’m going to be busy for days next week, sorting things into saleable & usable, washing things & Freecycling the bits I can’t use. And then there was the very successful raid on the charity shops down in the conurbation, where they evidently do still believe in 99p or £1 rails for the stuff that hasn’t sold; I picked up 9 100% cotton striped gents shirts to slice up for quilting & other fabric projects. So I’d be glad to have an excuse to spend some time indoors; I could even possibly use some of the beautiful threads that were muddled up in the “unsaleable” batch from the local charity shop (pictured below) and the wonderful vintage needles (with decent sized eyes!) that came in a box from the Tip… I may be gone for some time!

Even more technicolour threads!

Driving me mad…

September 24, 2012

This post isn’t about recycling. This post is about manners; specifically, about manners on the road. Over the last week or so, I’ve clocked up a fair few miles in the course of business & pleasure, mostly on rural & “A” roads, and I’ve been so upset by the way that some people behave when they get behind the wheel that I have to let off some steam!

Last Sunday I was driving back down from North Dorset when a big silver Audi screamed up behind me and hung so close to my back bumper that I couldn’t see the bonnet of his car. We were on a National Speed Limit road, and I was going well over 50 as I do know the road quite well, but it’s narrow & twisty with high hedges & goes down to one track in places. So as soon as I could, I pulled into a farm gate & let him pass. Within 100 yards a big white BMW had pulled up right on my tail again, and we were into the bit that goes single-track with no place to pull in. And there he stayed for about 15 miles, so close that if I’d had to brake unexpectedly, say for a vehicle coming the other way where’s there’s no passing place, he’d have found himself in my boot; the best braking system in the world can’t stop you within 10 feet at 60MPH. There were plenty of opportunities for him to overtake in the last 5 miles, but he was too close to see past me!

There have been other incidents during the week, culminating in an unpleasant run from Bridport to Dorchester this afternoon. I had a pale green VW far too close behind me from the end of the dual carriageway; at the A37 roundabout he attempted to undertake me, but another car got in his way. Straight up close behind me again, he pulled into the left-turn to Dorchester lane at the next roundabout, signalling left; I was going straight ahead in the A35 lane, breathing a sigh of relief, when I spotted him in my lefthand mirror, having attempted to undertake again. He shook his fist at me when I didn’t slam on my brakes to let him through. At the Kingston Maurward roundabout he shot into the right-hand A35 lane, and careered round the roundabout, still shaking his fist at me, and his elegantly-dressed wife, probably in her early 60s, gave me a V-sign! I watched as they shot up behind the next car in front, kept on edging out to try to overtake despite the oncoming traffic, then caused mayhem weaving in & out of the traffic accelerating up the next stretch of dual carriageway, when there was no need to weave & cause the overtakees to brake, as there was nothing else in the overtaking lane.

Why do people do it? I know I’m not the best or fastest driver on the road, or in the most expensive car, & I recognise that for some people, driving will always be a race because of their competitive nature; they have to be in front, usually driving a car that cost more than a year’s salary for most people. But driving so close that you are putting yourself & other people in mortal danger is lunatic, especially at speed, no matter how good your airbags. Not to mention intimidating; I don’t let it get to me whilst I’m actually driving, and I’m not going to go faster than the limit just because they want to, but nor am I going to slow down deliberately to annoy them because that’s just childish & only likely to cause more problems. I would love a “Back Off!” sign, but I’d also love a “Thank You!” sign for people like the person who was behind me from Dorchester to Wimborne, who kept a sensible distance, or for people who let you out of difficult turnings.

And for the person who boxed me in where I was quite legitimately parked this afternoon; if a Mum with a pushchair, or a wheelchair user, had come down the pavement you were parked half across, they’d have had to go out into the roadway on a blind corner to get past. Luckily one of my friends helped me inch out, but if I’d had to stay put until you returned, you’d have faced the wrath of – well, a very cross middle-aged Mum!

Made crosser still by the fact that some of the charity shops in our area are now charging more for clothes than they cost originally, but that’s another story…

Long time no see…

July 15, 2012

I know it’s been a whole month since I posted, but I’m not referring to that – it’s been a long time since I’ve been able to see quite so much of our floor! I’ve been busy, very busy, decluttering like mad. It’s needed doing for a very long time, and bringing all the shop & market stock back here tipped it from something that really needed doing, to something acute – if I didn’t do it, I was going to go under mentally, or break my neck tripping over a pile of something. There are still a few piles hanging around, waiting for new homes, but I reckon I’ve reduced the rubble by something like three-quarters over the last four weeks. Some things have been sold on, although the last vintage market was cancelled, but most have been given away, either to charity or on Freecycle/Freegle, and some even dumped.

It’s interesting that now the kids are older (youngest now rising 17) the resistance to change has diminished. When they were younger, they’d complain about the mess, but often actively derail my attempts to actually do anything about it. But now, they’re helping me clear & deep-clean, and are full of ideas as to how we might redecorate & reorganise; we may not always see eye-to-eye about this, but it feels like a huge step forwards. I think I’ve been too easily discouraged in the past; there was a point about two weeks ago, when I seemed to have been working flat out for two weeks but it didn’t look any different. At that point, I nearly went under & gave up, but thanks to an inspirational thread over on MSE, and having a bit more time on my hands, I kept going this time and now it’s really beginning to look like the home that I’ve always wanted to live in.

Some of the things I’m parting with I’m very sad to see go, but I have to face the fact that one lifetime is too short to do everything I’d like to do & learn everything I’d like to learn, and one household, shared with 6 other people, isn’t big enough for 2 treadle sewing machines and 9 spinning wheels. And I was spending too much time looking after things, or indeed looking for things, to actually achieve very much at all!

But some of my attempts to reduce my hoards have been blind alleys… this morning, I emptied & cleaned the fridge. I’d decided that some of my beloved cultures had to go, too – one of my “endearing eccentricities” as DD1 calls them, is a belief that we in the West don’t eat or drink nearly enough traditionally-preserved or cultured foods, or a wide enough variety of foodstuffs, for optimum health – but I failed miserably! I’d just about brought myself to the point of pouring the milk-Kefir down the sink when DD1 announced that she loved the stuff & would take over responsibility for it. The Kefir a l’uovo smelt gorgeous, so that got refreshed too, and the ginger-beer Kefir is a household staple, much loved & drunk daily by several of us. The sourdough starter’s in regular use & I have some Kimchi virtually every day; that only left the Kombucha, where I’ve had first my old SCOBY, then a newly-bought one, die on me in short order for no apparent reason. So I’d made up my mind that I’d stop making that, but I came across a bottle at the back of the fridge, and I’d forgotten just how lovely it tastes! Oh dear, there’s no hope for me, is there?! But the small amount of work & space involved in looking after my “fridge-pets” pales into insignificance beside the complex, healthy & above all, delicious tastes they reward me with, for almost no money. However, the four half-empty jars of mayonnaise, several “stubs” of home-made jam and three bottles of tomato ketchup did get rationalised…

One positive thing that has emerged from the chaos; I’d forgotten just how nice some of the things I’d accumulated were, even if it’s no longer appropriate for me to hang onto them. Below is a pic of one little beauty that I rescued, looking very sad & with bits hanging off her, from a street market about 18 months ago. A bit of elbow-grease & know-how returned her to working order & decent appearance quite quickly & she’s on Ebay now. She’s not a practical wheel to spin on for any length of time, unless you have tiny feet & a lot of patience, and want very fine yarn, but isn’t she pretty?!