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Category Archives: Finding things

Campervan thrifting and the inauguration of Betty

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We always owned a VW camper when I was a kid, we’d scamp off from school a bit early and spend the whole summer trekking around Europe, hitting up spots as distant and exotic as Hungry, the Czech Republic and Berlin just after the Wall came down.

Those were the days of seatbelt ambivalence so my sister and I would often stay in bed while my parents drove, or we’d sit around the table in the back threading friendship bracelets or brushing the bright neon locks of our Trolls.

It was also the early days of video cameras and one holiday we borrowed a friend’s and my parents spent every journey  filming straight out of the window in front of them, no speaking, or even people really, just endless scenery.  One memorable clip involves the cap being pushed onto the camera lens and one family member (let’s call him, for the sake of the story, “Dad”) calling out “You have turned that off, yeah?” and the one who put the lens cap on (again, just for the story’s sake, let’s go with “Mum”) saying “Of COURSE, darling!” in a tone that really meant I’m not a complete idiot. The rest of the film is total darkness, the muffled sounds of life happening around it.

Me in my snazzy early 90’s gear. We have either broken down or having a cheap night’s sleep in a European layby

Since arriving in London Tim and I have taken all our holidays by train, with our camping gear and bikes in tow. This got a little bit harder with Ramona but we still enjoyed it. The prospect of doing it with two kids though kind of freaked us out a bit, and we began dreaming of getting back on the camper bandwagon.

Fortunately my folks were up for it too and after several weeks of arduous hunting we found ourselves co-owners of a brilliant 1991 VW Vanagon Westfalia. Although we love the look of a classic bay or splitty, we know the blood, sweat and tears  you have to pour into them so went for a newer and undoubtedly more reliable option. We call her Betty.

Betty at Bognor Regis

We took Betty out for a spin the first weekend we owned her but only got as far as Eltham where we slept in my friend’s driveway on the A21 – it wasn’t exactly fulfilling her potential. This weekend we managed to get to West Sussex where we frolicked in the autumnal vibe. WHAT A DELIGHT! We roamed around Chichester cathedral, slept over on the South Downs, and our Betty even bought the best out of Bognor as we parked up for a spot of lunch. What an incongruous place, a breathtaking, windswept, almost wild beach, and then these humongous eye-sore bouncy castles plopped left right and centre.

Ramona checking out the beautiful view (or wishing she was bouncing on an eye-sore) with her mucky chops and mucky top *wishes I’d photoshopped*

I’m not gonna lie to you, the primary reason we hiked all the way down there for one night  was because of the notoriously amazing car boot sales. So you can only imagine our disappointment when, one after the other, the car boots failed to exist! I had even googled in advance! But we turned up to THREE only to find soggy, empty fields. *sob*

Fortunately we found an afternoon one that redeemed the trip. We managed to spend a tenner and pretty much fill Betty up.

We picked up this set of mustard teacups for £2.50 – I thought they’ be perfect to keep in Betty. We also got a pair of these dining chairs. (Despite already actually being an Official Dining Chair Hospice.) We have about a billion, more than any amount of visitors could ever sit on. And they have a way of finally carking it in crashingly big public moments, providing the unfortunate party-goer with a bit of shame and a sore bum. BUT they were only a POUND and helped us really feel that owning a van was a Good Thing, collaborating with us to get items like this back home.

We got lots of other little things, handy items we needed and bits of gorgeousness we really didn’t but the batch I had to show you was this, from the “Three for £1 table”. I kid you not. . .

Gorgeous china teacups, a vintage set of dominoes and a cut glass vase, 33.3p EACH!

The weekend totally heralded good thrifty times for us and the Betty bomb. Did you have a good one? Thrifted anything amazing lately?

Linking up with Missie Lizzie and those marvelous Magpie Mondays.

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Seasonal rituals – welcoming autumn

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Since becoming a mother I have had a much greater desire to ritualise life. Not in an oppressive, unflexible, establishment kind of a way but as an opportunity to celebrate and add significance to moments that might just pass us by. To give our little family moments to reflect on the subtle shifting of the weather, to welcome change and participate in often ancient customs.

Ramona is an urban baby, the sirens of emergency vehicles have been her lullabies since birth, and her sleep is in rhythm with the hum of the night bus outside our window, but I still see how nature captures her heart. We kick around in the leaves together, chase the squirrels and taste the blackberries. She is fascinated by feathers and conkers and will make a collection of knobbly odds and thistly ends to bring home (and I’ll spend some time convincing her the soggy cigerette buts and manky bottle caps needn’t come home with us too…)

A for autumn, obvs

I remember the first time Ramona came out in the rain with me, it hadn’t really rained for ages so she was about 2 months old. She was in the sling, under an umberalla and I was trying to hush her off to sleep. But she wasn’t having any of it; her eyes wide, her arms flailing out, making these mews that surely meant: WHAT THE HECK IS THIS?!! Transfixed.

There is something good about being in tune with the seasons. To eat with them,  craft of them,  dress for them, and bring a little bit of them inside your home. We pin up strings of the most magnificently coloured leaves and fill vases with spiky chestnuts. A shelf of nature, rusty trinkets with a seasonal theme.

So (a tiny little bit reluctantly maybe!) welcome, Autumn, you blustery, finger chilling, bonfire  instigating spell! Get us ready for Christmas…

PS Have a peep at Juno Magazine’s beeyoootiful Pinterest board, Celebrating Autumn, for loads of autumnal inspiration, decorations and craft.

PPS Are you very good at living seasonally? Do your family have any cool ritual things you do?

Charity Shopping in the Cotswolds

Our second holiday this summer was to the beautiful lands of Gloustershire, where we wiled the days away charity shopping and hiking the hills. Really, truly, my ideal week. The only thing that could have topped it would have been a dash of river swimming- alas it was colder than a cold spell in coldville so it wasn’t to be.

As my contribution to the Charity Shop Blog Hop, I am going to cover a few little gems in this excellent thrifting holiday destination.

In general, most of the shops were fairly astute in their prices, if you like mining piles of jumble in order to find a classic for three pee, this probably isn’t the staycation for you. But without exception every single town or village threw up at least one or two Absolute Proper Bargains, and had a million other lovely things going for it as well.

Wotton – Under-  Edge

This is a gorgeous little village, just one high street, with tons of little cafes and deli’s nestled amongst it’s charity shops. If you enter the high street from the bottom you immediately get to the Cotswolds Care Hospice Shop. It is jammed to the rafters with quirky odds and ends. We bought some particuarly lovely and cheap as chips kids toys- including a vintage abacus for half the price I expected to pay.  As you wander up the high street you find  three others and one tucked around the corner on the left. Have a peep at the map.

Dursley

A tiny little village, surrounded by beautiful walks. The five Charity Shops are well worth visiting, if not just to have a grand old giggle with the stereotype defying ladies in the Oxfam shop who were actually HAPPY and pleased to have customers!!
Oxfam is on the left hand side on the main road in, keep walking up through the pedestianised bit to find the others. Check out the map.

Tewkesbury

Tewkesbury is a larger town with a long high street littered with charity shops. The first three we went to were all next door and suffered from Three-Charity-Shops_Right_Next-To-Each-Other Syndrome and had nothing worthwhile in them at all. But a short hop away are where the bargains begain really flowing! There are other reasons to visit too – a breathtaking Abbey and beautiful countryside strolls to be done just minutes from the High Street. Forgive me – I haven’t done a map as they are all on the main drag, can’t miss ’em!

Nailsworth

Yet another delightful village tucked in the middle of the Cotswolds. A primary feature is the huge bakehouse, sitting next to a stream, filled with buns, biscuits, donuts and every baked good you can imagine! It is worth wandering around this village just to come across the Emmaus charity shop- a lovely one with shelves absolutely bustling with both bargains and vintage classics.  See the map here!

Stroud

Stroud is fabulous town. Totally stunning and with loads of amazing Fair Trade shops and cafes and delectable delis. It is also crammed with charity shops – nine of the bad boys!  Some of them offering old odd bits of crockery for pennies. There are also some lovely antique shops – every antique shop is out of my price range but still well worth an ogle! See the map here.

(Massive shout out to my beloved sister Jo who swung by these and double checked my lazy, hazy holiday memories!)

Right, I showed you mine, now you show me yours!

Charity Shop Blog Hop Link Up below


Can’t wait to stop by and read them.  Do visit the others and leave a comment to say hi –  you might just find some blogs you’ll fall in love with 😀

A butterdish, a bin, books and a brooch

Home from the holidays, and what a cracking time. Ramona and I spent the first week with a friend and her tiddlywinks camping on a farm in Weymouth. The combination of roaming animals, mountains of haybales to climb, eco credentials, a cheap and perfect organic shop and a whole coastline to itself made this a place we will be heading back to every year for the rest our lives I think!

And this last week, all three of us went away with my folks to hike around the Cotswolds. Every single day involved a charity shop trawl/ car boot, a mammoth amount of reading and a ramble through the countryside. Perfect.  My parents are equally as devoted to charity shopping as Tim and I (my Dad actually recently took up collecting vinyl again just so he could keep my Mum company- love, right there, innit?) so needless to say we came back with a car twice as full as going.

Here are a few of the things that made me yelp Hooray…

We have been looking for a new-old butter dish for a while as our current one smashed and 3 kinds of glue have failed to keep it together. They turn up a lot in charity shops and I am always surprised at just how ugly a butter dish can be! But a few months of hunting and I think this one, with it’s delicate flowers, is really delightful.

 

I think probably one of my weirdest small collections are retro bins. (Mwhaha that totally makes me a bin collector.)  We have one in every room but when I saw this one, with it’s Eric Carle style design I knew I’d find a corner for it. Weird, but handy, no?

 

I am so pleased with the stack of ancient hardback books I got from a car boot. They were 70p each and I got them primarily for *whispers* crafting but since getting them I have opened them up, and read their words and felt their pages and now I really truly couldn’t possibly NOT just leave them be.

The cover of the Book of Common Prayer is falling apart but the colours inside are still resplendent.

 

And it has an inscription to a kind old soul for donating coal to the poor from Churchill’s granddad!

 

I am especially in love with my Hans Christian Andersen Fairytales find- the illustrations are so whimsical.

 

 

And one last illustration, because it is after all Monday- and Magpie Monday at that!

 

Today’s final find is this 20p brooch. Awhite bird flying into a blue cloud, or a seagull into the sea, depending which way you pin it. TWENTY PEE! Hoorrayyyyyy!

Of course, we bought about a million other things too but they didn’t begin with B so they didn’t meet the grade today, I’m afraid. But I am sure they’ll turn up one other Monday in some other bizarre grouping.

Did you find any little Holiday Hoorays this summer?

You are joining in with the Charity Shop Blog Hop, yeah? Linking up on Thursday 13th September? Cool. Just checking.

 

 

Our recycled kitchen – a makeover from new to old

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Around this time last year I posted that my dearly beloved had ripped out the kitchen due to us finding a retro cooker that we wanted to install. It just felt rude to bung such a nice nostalgic beast in our existing Nineties kitchen so we decided to let our love of all things old reign supreme.

Another year later and it is about time I did the final update, our makeover from new to old.

The before pictures aren’t terribly good. They never are, eh?  I think this is because there is often nowt to shine, but also because of some deep reluctance to spend too much time peering at it all. Let’s just say there was ALOT of pine cladding.

Left hand side BEFORE

A low hanging ceiling with weird fake beams. Laminate flooring covering up stunning Victorian boards.

A huge pantry – it was an original, ancient cooling sytem but it just took up so much space. A boring tin sink with an ill fitting cabinet.

It was all so very dark and dreary.

*extreme makeover  voice* It took a lot of blood, sweat and tears but here is our new bright and cheery family kitchen….

We ripped out the cupboards. We were lucky to find some exactly matching vintage tiles in the basement of a derelict house round the corner, we popped those up to cover the spaces we’d exposed.

Tim runs a youth club in the place I used to go to Seacadets as a kid- they were chucking out the old benches so we made shelves out of them. The very benches I would have been resting my sorry, freckly young ten year old self.

The enamel tins are our new pantry- we found them in France when we drove 12 hours to a car boot.

And we pulled the excellent bench tops out of someone’s skip (with permission, of course!)

These are old lights from a butchers- we found them on Ebay, £17 for the pair. To find them we didn’t type “vintage” or even “traditional” but “trditional.” Is it terribly wrong to benefit from other people’s mistakes?

Tim found this whole sink for £25 on Gumtree, and got to grips with plumbing to install it. Using some old table tops and doors from an old cabinet he carpentered a unit for it. (Cor, Kiwis are bloody ace. Do marry one, if you can.) The tiles, we  swapped with a local cafe, in exchange for building them some veg beds.

The retro blind is really a sneaky table cloth, and some of our Midwinter crockery sits upon a shelf we found in a bin and painted blue, and you can also spy the hooks I made from vintage spoons.

And here is the star of the show, our beguiling old oven. He was casted off, into the streets, along with these cupboards either side. A good clean, and a lick of paint on the cupboard doors, and they add a cheer from yesteryear to our kitchen.

When our fridge broke we took the opportunity to get one that fitted in with our theme. We had to hire a van to bring it home from the furtherest corner of Essex but we are so glad we did. It isn’t that old so is still efficient (although its huuummmm would tell you otherwise) but hails from the States which is why it looks so different. It has an ice maker much to my husband’s utter joy.

And this little corner adds a little pop of colour – we found it in someone’s garden and snazzied it up with some paint.

We had help with plastering the ceiling, and Tim picked up enough to some other walls, but other places we just exposed the brick. I love the texture of all the rubbly walls, recycled wood and shiny, colourful kitchen paraphernalia.


We spend such a lot of time in the kitchen, cooking, drinking coffee and eating so we are pleased we did this, despite saying we initially wouldn’t bother. I know it isn’t your usual makeover, and loads of you are possibly looking at the BEFORE pictures thinking it looks miles better HAARHA. But we love it’s quirky little self, it gets my heart all a flutter.

What do you reckon on this cornicopia of found objects?

PS The small and superior photos were taken by Jenny Harding during the Pretty Nostalgic shoot. She does a lot of gorgeous vintage style shoots.

PPS I’d love you to enter my giveaway – retro and Cath Kidston fabric, a 1982 Twinkle, a Midwinter tea cup and a glue gun! (An obvious mix!) Come over and say hi!

My Workbench: repairs of any kind undertaken

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One thing I discovered pretty early on about crafting is that if you don’t have a little nook where you can keep your tools and materials accessible, it simply doesn’t happen. That one extra step of getting out your things can completely dissolve your crafting resolve, don’t you find?

We have lived in some tiny dives in the past (yup, especially thinking of the first place we had as a married couple with a CRAZY Hungarian landlord. Our place was basically a box at the bottom of his garden and he would tell us off for having friends over, and for keeping it not quite as tidy as he liked. In fact, once we had handed in our notice he took potential future tenants inside while we were out at work without telling us, and then had the audacity to yell at me about the clothes on the floor, calling it a “f%!*ing brothel!”)

So, we are so stoked to have a big enough place where I can actually have a workbench (okay, I too called it “Craft Corner” but right here and now I am switching to “workbench”. Craft Corner sounds a bit toddlery and I can’t have that. Couldn’t possibly explain to the hospital how Ramona has a perfectly spherical chunk out of her tongue from chewing on my leather punch! )

Anyway, with no further ado, here ’tis…

As you can see, it is pretty much in our main living room, so all the bits and pieces are stuffed in to jars in the draws, in a faint nod towards organisation. Tim found this humongous wooden beast in a skip-  who would dump this?!

I put this little shelf up myself *smug* with like, a level, and drill, and all that.  (I am getting to grips with power tools these days so that Ramona doesn’t grow up thinking some household jobs are daddy ones. Cor, being a feminist is tiring, innit.)

These scissors were a SNIP at £4 from Oxfam in Herne Hill – pinking shears are over £20 in John Lewis. However, er, they are blunt. Any tricks on how to sharpen these? The Google jury is out on the matter.

There are a few papers stuck up there – one is a small yellowed advert for a corset company just round the corner from our house. We found it in the floor boards, have a read, it is quite the funny one…

Home made corsets for Housewives! Repairs of any kind undertaken! A Lady will call with Samples!

I love old tennis rackets, I really, REALLY do and always have. In the house I lived in before I married Tim, I had a whole wall covered in them, and each net had homemade rosettes pinned on. Whenever I see one for under £2 I always snap it up.

And, we have a perfect little gap on the right hand side, normally invisible to the human eye, where all my extra fabrics and things I don’t know what to do with can be stuffed innocuously.

Do you have a workbench or a craft corner? Or just a wild eyed Hungarian pressing his face against your windows?

Linking up with the magnificent Magpies over at Liz and Me and My Shadow.

These are some of the spare shots not used in the Pretty Nostalgic feature. They were shot by Jenny Harding, you should scope out her photography site, it is BEAUT!

And finally, did I mention I’m on FACEBOOK?! *sings* Come on over! Come on over baaaabyyy.

Car Boot Who’s Who

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We made the most of today’s glimpse of sun by getting ourselves to the Hayes Street Farm car boot fair. We weren’t expecting much seeing as it is just out of  the London ‘burbs but it turned out to be one of the biggest booties we’ve ever been to.

While I was scouting out an old set of hooks, trying to work out how to get the best price out of a wheeler dealer who had CLEARLY seen me coming from a mile away, an old know-it-all piped up over my shoulder “Oh yeah, 1950’s designer hooks them.” The seller’s ears perkied and he choked out a price way beyond my humble jumble means. I slunked/slank/slinkied (??) off thinking just how typical those characters were.

We bustled about the rest of the fair, spending only about £13 but coming away with a proper arm full. (Okay, er, boot full.) As we bustled we met the whole cast of car booters, the beloved and the beholdens you inevitably find at every one. See if you know them too. . .

Senior Seen Ya

He’s got a House Clearance van full of rusty relics, old stuff that he doesn’t know much about but he knows some people appreciate. Senior isn’t fooled by my guise of “looking poor” especially for the car boot,  he knows I can’t resist his languishing junk and hikes up the price accordingly.

Expect to hear: This piece, you know, it’s a collectible, like a vintage-retro-antique, yeah? It’s £25. A good deal too, for this piece.”

The WinWins

These are another kind of regular car boot sellers. Often a couple, retired, they fetch an extra bob on the odd vintage treasure but also have a a whole load of Rummaging Crates with a sign sticking out; “All 20p”. Their stock flows freely, they go home unburdened,  you take home a worn pack of Dominoes; everyone is happy!

Do say: “I’m just popping back to the car to get my trolley bag!”

Don’t say: “Shall we call it 15p, rather than 20p?”

60p I paid for these two sets of dominoes! I’ll keep one set and craft with the other.

Knock off Norrie

Norrie here, he’s got the Idops and the Idaps, a select handful on his muddy blue tarpaulin. But people are crowding round, and some are even buying. We saw one guy today pay £20 for a tablet off our Norrie – he never listened to his mum’s wise words-  if it seems to good to be true, it probably is!

Slogan: Less Car Boot and more Boot Leg

Colleen the Collector

Her table is a mecca for tiny porcelain creatures, a swarm of dainty ballerinas, hedgehogs and cats.  Either it is a life time of purposeful collecting, OR she made the mistake once of mentioning to someone how much she liked a miniature china hedgehog and every friend and family member has bought her a small ornament for every occasion since. She is finally liberating herself of her fragile army of porcelain.

Trademark:A slight discomfort at having her goods on display.

I got this rusty tin for 10p. Like I need another rusty tin.

Top Makes Dave

One of the rare sellers which will yell, market like, at the crowds “Top makes, everything a pound” as he tries too off load the giant pyramids of loo roll and new household products stacked up behind him. Dave comes from a long line of market traders and is single handedly taking on Poundland.

Try not to:Autocorrect “Makes” with “Brands”

I can’t refuse a Twinkle, especially for 50p. I got the the frame for 10p and a roll of the gorgeous old navy wallpaper behind for another 10p. (“Hey Big Spender, ba, ba, ba, baaa!”)

The Outdoor Boys

You’ll spot these tanned blokes wearing their polo shirts and cargo trousers – often with sons in tow-  standing behind their rows of swanky fishing rods and associated gear. I normally whizz straight by but not before wondering if they manage to shift any of their pricey equipment in this jumble rumble.

Expect to hear: Bruce Springsteen blaring out of their stereo.

Lara Landrover

Meticulous mum with meticulous piles of well priced toys and quality kids clothes. These mums help me leave with not just frivolous rusty tins but some things I actually NEED for Ramona. And I help pay for the kids Scout Camp I ‘spect.

Do say:I won’t take the princess costume but I’ll have these dungarees, please!”

Don’t say: “I don’t really buy plastic toys for my little one, even if it is Fisher Price.”

The Melancholy-Looms

It is apparent a dear elderly parent has recently passed on, or a dear elderly parent is not quite passed on but is clearing out. The table is bending under the weight of not-quite-heirlooms spanning the spectrum of a lifetime. A beautiful antique dinner set next to a modern toaster, a tray full of VHS’s under a pile of retro curtains; a film of dust and sadness clings to everything.

Try not to: Shamelessly yelp with too much glee when you find the vintage crockery you are in love with.

Tool Time Terry

Nothing. But. Tools. Hundreds of them.

Expect to see: Tools.

*curtain raise*

Would you add any other characters to this cast? Would love to hear them!

Linking up with Liz and those cracking Magpies – I bet there are car boot hauls galore over there.