28 July 2008

Finally Summer and the Beautiful British Car Boot Sale

Coming from a long tradition of yard sale and thrift store mavens, I can easily share with you fond memories of early Saturday mornings with Mom and Grandma. With a copy of the Thrifty Nickel in hand, we combed the streets of suburban Yakima looking for antiques and all sorts of other secondhand treasures. And, long before it became so ├╝berchic, I was digging through the quarter bin at The Plaid Door, the charity shop for the local Episcopal church. And it was there that I found amazing treasures; some of which I still have to this day.

Well, the British also have their own versions - and why shouldn't they? But instead of opening the garage door to display their amassed junk or spreading it across their lawns, they pack it all up and make a pilgrimage to the nearest open field, queue patiently and assume the next available spot in one of many rows of cars. They pop the trunk (the boot) and out comes the trash for cash.

There are some real pros in the lot. They bring wallpapering tables and stand alone clothing racks to display their wares. Like all good secondhand treasure hunts, break out the latex gloves and get ready to dig. But this time, I was on the other side of the fence. (Photo courtesy of Gerry Balding)

While Matthias was away this weekend at an old friend's wedding. Again, I was unable to attend due to still being without a passport. Hopefully I will be able to leave this island soon. So Tim and Henrietta, Matthias' workmate and his wife, picked me up bright and early last Sunday morning to set up and get selling.

I came with three bags of clothes and left with two. Clothing really didn't sell to well, mostly because people really don't want to rummage, but we had a rack and Tim was really good about changing things around and re-merchandising. All in all, I came away with 18 Pounds. I spent three of them on a pair of Teva sandals (which I had been looking for for nearly 10 years but never wanted to pay full price) and an antique knitting needle case that had belonged to someone's granny. It is old, smelly, and the lining is disintegrating, but I think it will make a nice fix-up project. It has some really great old brass hardware that will look stellar after a quick shine up. On the other hand, maybe I should have it appraised. The box is made of balsa wood, so I don't think it is particularly valuable, but who knows.

It was an absolutely glorious day in the English sunshine. Despite multiple applications of SPF 30 sunscreen, my pale, virgin skin burnt around my neckline and on the top of my left foot. The sun doesn't shine often, but when it does, everyone is happy, giddy and loopy. Maybe that explains why so many bought bag loads of crap. There were people there who were simply out to enjoy the weather and chat with a few people. Our neighbors bought more from us than anyone else passing by. At the end of each row, there were vans parked selling greasy gut bombs, ice cream made from vegetable oil (you know what I am talking about) and cold and hot drinks. 

Afterwards, we rewarded ourselves with a tall, frosty cold one from a country pub located in the land of Manchester United player villas. There were lots of wannabes swarming around in their knock-off sunglasses and used Land Rovers. Well, we rolled up in a BMW.... albeit it crammed to the gills with the junk we hadn't managed to pilfer off at the boot sale. It was an amazing day and a required part of my British cultural education.


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