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Tag Archives: magpie monday

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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A mug for the jubilee?

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PSSST! Over here. So you know this jubilee lark? I may, MAY, be joining in. I know, absurd, isn’t it? Me with my stark raving socialism and hippy love.

Don’t panic- I’ve not turned monarchist; I do think there is something hugely and inherently wrong having such grotesque wealth and extreme poverty side by side in our country. Some just say we’re throwing a bash for a kind old lady who happens to be Queen but I can’t get past the though that Her Maj symbolises a deeply unequal society.

This teatowel was 75p and is the perfect size for the boiler on show in our kitchen

The thing is though yeah, I simply can not spurn the lovely Queen-centric propoganda. The colours, the typeface, the patterns; it all just beguiles my eyeballs.

This ole mug was Wan Pawnd (£1 in her majesty’s tongue) from the car booty

I don’t have much, just two prize items I have picked up in the last wee while for mere pennies. (Oh, how our Elizabeth would be appalled.)

Fortunately for my eyeballs, there is NUFF of this stuff floating around at the moment. But is it possibly unfortunate for us on the whole?

Penny Red wrote scathingly last year of the ridiculousness of these royalist celebrations, of “bunting and retro-imperialism”. The article didn’t really say much (mahaha, as if my blog does even a bit.) I just would have loved her to develop the excellent conclusion more;

“This country does not have to behave like a reclusive elderly person, polishing its relics in darkened rooms, hoarding mementos and paranoid prejudices from a time when the world made sense. This country doesn’t just have a past. It also has a future.”

And I think that future is worth a celebration or two. And, you know what? I think that IS what lies behind most of the jubilee fun. People are stringing up bunting and baking cakes and holding street parties not necessarily in honour of the monarchy but to grab the opportunity to connect with neighbours and to smile about this place we all call HOME. Perhaps these celebrations will provide a chance for people to talk about our future together, to dream of a fairer and happier society, and perhaps add just another layer of the unity that we are badly in need of.

In ancient times the term jubilee referred to the fresh start that happened every 50 years – debts were cancelled and slaves were set free and a more egalitarian society was attempted.

Bring. That. On.

So I am having a little jubilee takeover in my heart. I’ll be celebrating jubilee with all it’s original, historical and radical meaning.

It’s just REALLY lucky that this radical jubilee looks ALOT (I mean, almost IDENTICAL) to the current one. So we are good to wear royal blue and red and put up bunting, yeah.

PS- I’m linking up with Liz and I’m sure they’ll be some other royal memrobilia on show at Magpie Monday!

PPS- Whatever you are up to I hope you have a brilliant bank holiday or two!

A little bit of sunshine in my kitchen

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We have been climbing the heights of DIY in our kitchen of late, let’s face it, with weather like this what else is there to do?

Tim has put in a beautiful sink that we found last year that has been sitting in our garden ever since, we have plastered the ceiling with a little help from some friends, painted and have gutted the chimney. There is still a bit to do to finish, but still, I plunged ahead and added some “finishing touches” today.

If it wasn’t for some of these recent charity shop trinkets shedding their light upon my sill I think this Rainy Sunday, on top of 27 other rainy days, would have driven us round the bend.

The crowning glory here is that retro blind. My Mum picked it up from a West Wickham charity shop last week. It is a gorgeous retro St Michaels table cloth that with a bit of sewing and a few screws was TRANSFORMED! (Jokes, clearly is just a table cloth not on a table. Don’t tell.)

Last week on the Walworth Road I found these tall tins for 75p each. What a DELIGHT they are!!

Check out the funny little tea pot, from a car boot, with his two spouts. “I’m a little teapot short and stout, here is my spout and here is my other spout”  He actually sounds like me trying to sing the songs at playgroup – those words! They ALLUDE me! But I can’t NOT join in, can I?! I probably don’t have to sing the wrong words quite so loudly, but I inherited that from the afore mentioned mum.

I had a trip to Bedford last week for work and had a half an hour wait at the station. I basically had a conniption when I discovered THREE chazza shops right there,  begging me to delve on in. I found this beauty little clock for £2.50. I can never resist wind up alarm clocks like this despite them never revealing the correct time. (In some homes I suppose they’d actually get wound up, right?)

And, last, but by no means least, in the same Bedford haul, I found this.

YES! It is EXACTLY what you think it is! A dead pheasant oven mitt! It even has his beautiful little head curled into his shoulder like he is ready to be plucked. Cute, innit!

Hope you have found some ways to get a little sunshine in your life recently.

Linking up with Liz and the Magpie Mondays! Go and have a gander at their beautiful treasures.

PS – I am so very sorry about the horrendous photos – taking pictures in this grey, cloudy world is a challenge that defeated me.

My new (ancient) Zig-Zag-o-matic sewing machine. Guess what it does?

ZIG ZAG!

For my birthday this year my husband bought me a beautiful retro Singer sewing machine, but we quickly discovered it didn’t do zig zag stitching. I use zig zag alot as it requires less precision  with pesky single stitch you have to follow a line and can easily come away from the fabric, especially if you are talking/ holding the baby/ eating breakfast at the same time. Zig zag is like playing snooker with the cue the wrong way round.

So we have been keeping our eyes peeled for another old machine (it has to be aesthetically pleasing as I don’t want to have to hide it away when not using it) but within zig zag era.

We were in a charity shop in Sevenoaks last week (worth a visit for charity shopping-  5  mostly  overpriced shops but with a good selection of quality wool jumpers, boots and DVD’s) and like some kind of cosmic joke there sat an old sewing machine called the ZIG -ZAG-O-MATIC! It was £50 but when the guy heard our discussion (not intentionally loud, I’d never try and rip off a charity shop. When I say “never” I mostly mean “not that much”, and often rather than trying to bargain down I just don’t buy and then complain about how charity shops are soooo expensive. I know, I know, what a cheapskate) about how we only had a £30 budget he piped up with “How about £30 then?!”  Despite dropping it on the way to the train station it survived the journey home, and here it is, in all it’s glory. Our De Luxe, Grand, Zig-Zag-0-Matic, with it’s little box of extra goodies and quaint manual.

I love that they couldn’t really decide on the name so just called it all three things. You can see that diplomatic outcome taking it’s course in their boardroom, eh.

I really like all these little badges. So styley. More badges please, you people of the current design world!

All the little details, the dials, etc. They don’t make stuff this classy these days, eh.

And, I don’t know if I mentioned this but, this machine, yeah, it does ZIG ZAG.

The manual explains “This machine, by virtur (sic) of it’s design, permits you to do zig zag sewing…” Ummm. As if you could have got to page 35 of the manual without realising this feature.

These were the great days when you could just add “omatic” to everything and create an instant “does what it says on the tin” brand. Now you have to read the back of things to figure out what they do because product names are so cryptic. Ipods: Musicomatic. Easy. Although, it could get a little unweildy. Iphones: everything-you-can-ever-conceive-of -finding-out- or-buying-or-playing-or planning- plus – talking-on-the-phone- omatic.

Hmmm, also imagine what the 50’s would have called tampons.

And here is the little accompanying box, which I probably would have paid £30 for by itself because it is so cute.

Today I am linking up with Miss Lizzie B’s spectacular Magpie Monday where basically people get together to show of their recent bargainous swag. I have since been introduced to the most tenacious charity shopping extraordinaires- I mean, I thought I was obsessed, but some of these vintage-hooked peeps make my efforts look totally feeble. I am in awe.