Tuesday 20 March 2012

"There's A Car Boot Sale".

Did you used to listen to Steve Wright in the Afternoon back in the 1990's?  There was one song that he used to play that you used to play in my head for hours.  I think I might have even sung it on the way home from the pub late on a Saturday night or was it morning?  Yeah you're right.  It's the title of this weeks blog post.  If you want to be nostalgic just pop over to good old Youtube and type the title - happy listening!

Any road.  Have you ever been to a carboot sale?  They don't sell em do they?  Car boots that is!  In my book (have you wrote a book Dave?  This is starting to sound like a chat show) My baling string expert and alter-ego makes the above observation that never you can't get a carboot.  You can see the old book on Amazon.  Just type: Baling String Books.

Perhaps one merry morn I will walk along a line of pasteboard tables in the middle of some farmer's field and my eye will notice a well leafed (dog eared - why they never say rabbit?) copy of Archie's tips...?

Where was I?  Yes that's right.  I used to get up at six every Sunday morning and head off to some GIANT car-boot sale.  Car-boot sales are great places to get yourself a bargain or even something THAT DOESN'T work!  Hands up all those people who have handed over twenty pounds of their cheished beer tokens for a vacuum cleaner, to some Spiv with a Errol Flynn moustache, who normally spends his time selling seagulls to tourists off Southend Pier:

"Psst.  Want buy a seagull mate?  Just a pound thanks.  That's yours up in the air."

 (The old one's are always the best).  You take home your new 'Hoover' and plug it in and you notice you have more sparks than a NASA rocket launcher.

Another no, no tip for car boot shoppers!  Never, never (did I say never) take small children with you.  Charlatan car-boot sales sellers will have got up at five and strategically placed TOYS on the ground.  Just at the right height for little Billy or Jill to grab with a octopus grip.

There you are perusing through a wonderful gardening book and your beloved child suddenly turns into a Fascist dictator and starts screaming:

"I want that!"

You shake your weary head and hear yourself say:

"Don't be silly sweetheart.  You don't need ANOTHER Action Man tank!"

Small child is not impressed.  It looks at it's RADA card and decides to show everybody it's Thespian skills, the one it normally plays in the supermarket, at the check-outs, where they keep the TOFFEE'S!

The world and his wife seem to be looking at the side-show and you find yourself looking in a car wing mirror ("You're so vain") and you notice that there your hair in the reflection is now completely grey and you have aged twelve months in the last five minutes.

Well dear reader.  There is only one thing to do in the situation.  Just hand over the rest of your beer tokens and attempt to walk through the biblical multitudes carrying a Barbie doll, Wendy House (why wasn't there a Peter Pan House?) Space Hopper, half a box of Cluedo and a Chopper bike.  Forget about those 'great' gardening books you wanted.  Somebody bought them when 'small child' went ballistic.

Anybody got any Car-Boot tales?


  1. Not any special tales, but i was forced into car boot shopping about 6 years ago, when my wife of 35 years decided she would prefer life without me, and I found myself homeless (she stayed in the house), income-less (I worked from home), moneyless (she milked the joint account), credit card-less (she threw all the bills on the fire) and just about evrything-less.
    But not, unfortunately, debt-less.

    This forced me into a very cold rented cottage in a hamlet miles from anywhere with 2 buses a day. Very nice in summer but not so in winter, I lived and slept in the front room, it had the open fire. With nothing except 5 or 6 black plastic rubbish bags of clothes she threw onto the drive in the rain then phoned me to come and get them.

    So there I was, a living room, kitchen, (the leaving tennant sold me a fridgr-freezer, a cooker and the carpets and curtains and left a small selection of cutlery and crockery) and nothing else.

    Since I had very little money and no immediate prospect of any, immediate requirements were a pan or 2, a couple of sharp knives, a single bed to put in the front room with a duvet and pillow, a table and chair.
    A friend donated a single bed and mattress, and Argos provided some bedding and towels (it's not nice living without towels). Car boots provided just about everthing else, I've still got some of the bits I bought for pennies.

    Since that time I've been a regular at car boots, they've provided lots of days out and all sorts of bargains.

  2. Thanks for that Cumbrian. It sounds like the Idiom: 'The Devil and the deep blue sea'. It must have been awful for you? Glad to know that you got yourself back on your feet and you have had lots of great days out and lots of bargains.

    People could save themselves a fortune if they get up early and get to a car-boot sale. Perhaps there should be a make over programme where the contestants have to equip a house in a fortnight just with car boot stuff? I would end up filling mine with second hand books, CD's and gardening tools.

    Thanks Cumbrian. It's great to know people read the blog!

  3. Yes mate, difficult times, but I lived to tell the tale. And find out how many real friends I had.

    Since then I've adapted (had to adapt) to frugal living, nobody wants anybody over the age of 30-ish any more, and my new wife, sadly, is now house-bound and a wheelchair user, so car boots continue to figure in our days out and shopping quests. Not as often as we'd like, because her back is often too painful to go out anyehere.

    But there's a few good ones not too far distant, Silloth ex-airfield on Sunday is my favourite, but they've started the mercenary bit and wanting 50p to enter. Cockermouth has one Sunday, held indoors at the Mitchells cattle auction, 50p entry. And Penrith on Saturday, a huge outside market and indoor car boot in the Penrith Farmer and Kidds auction place. Free parking and entry.
    Penrith was a booming market, seemed to get bigger every week, all sorts of strange accents, you could buy just about anything, I used to like the auction butchers. Now it's reduced after a series of visits by the authorities in the shape of DHSS, Job Centre and HMRC inspectors. That seemed to reduce the number of stalls dramatically, to the point where it's hardly worth visiting any more. Sad really, it had a fantastic atmosphere.

    My ambition this year is to aquire a sea angling rod, beach caster, my old ones were victims of a destructive ex-wife. and maybe a fixed spool reel, strangely enough I found a good multiplier in a house we moved in to, and it was in Manchester, many miles from the sea. Then I'll be in a position to have a go at the fishing again if I get a chance, be nice to make some potted mackeral I caught myself.

    Furnishing a house fron car boots, I think I could do it, if I was allowed to use freecycle as well for the bigger bits like bed and sofa, and had the use of a van to collect stuff. Wouldn't cost much either, the contestants would have to have a budget.

  4. Excluding the electrical goods - too dangerous! I would say a budget of five hundred pounds. The house would be a two up and down terraced and you would have a month to do it. What do you think?

    You could also have different themes, 1950's, 1960, 1970's, 1980's..?

    I would like to have a 1940's theme complete with Belfast sink, Welsh Dresser, Oilcloth, lots of Copper and Brass and a 'Dig For Victory' vegetable Garden and air-raid shelter.

    Who needs 'Big Brother' with our brilliant idea Cumbrian?

  5. Doubt if I'd need £500.

    Big stuff from freecycle, bed, sofa, wardrobe, table, chairs - just the cost of the diesel.
    Kitchen stuff they just about give away at car boots; pans, cutlery, crockery, utensils, etc, often found in the 10/20p box. OK they won't match, but they'll work. Often tables and chairs as well. Some people seem to replace things annually, getting shot of perfectly good items because they change their colour scheme.
    Small kitchen things, kettle, toaster, microwave, etc from Amazon, Argos or Asda, all cheap. Again, not matching but working.
    I see loads of computer desks & chairs on freecycle, and often even computers. Old and slow, but working OK. We've got a few (freecycle) computer desks, they've got everything on them, we find them really handy, one's got a TV and vcr and cd player, another with the big TV, one with vase of flowers (Mrs loves flowers) and ornaments, one beside Mrs chair with her bits & bobs on, and two with my computer and associated rubbish on.
    Bookshelves we've got several, all freecycle, full of video tapes and 10p books, it's amazng what books (and other things) people give to charity shops.

    Excluding big electrical goods, although there's often fridges / freezers on freecycle, TVs too and video/cd players. The old VHS video tapes are in the charity shops for 10p, Mrs C has built up a large collection of Star Trek videos for 10p each or even less as a job lot box on car boots, some of them still in the plastic wrapper!

    Bedding, towels and curtains from Argos or Wilkos.

    Don't think it would be themed, unless it's "shabby chic", but perfectly functional.

    Although I agree a 40s theme would look good, with a scrubbed wooden table. Belfast sinks are now being installed in modern kitchens, they seem to be experiencing a revival, but not built up on bricks.
    An open fire in the living room as well, nothing like toast done in front of glowing coals, and chestnuts in season.

    Reckon I could have change out of £500.

  6. Wow Cumbrian. Tesco's sell really cheap toasters, sandwich makers and the like. Argos is also good for cutlery and crockery. Wickes used to be really good for tiles and hardware...?

    You certainly know about car boot bargain stuff Mr and Mrs Cumbrian. Think you should write a book or start a magazine about it.

    I used to spend at least £50 a week at the carboot sales and then I would be really skint for the rest of the week. I decided to just go for things that I needed - still spent £50.

    People should throw away their credit cards and live more frugal. They should get down to the car boot sales, charity shops and stores like Argos and Wilkinsons.

    Wish I could get an helicopter to pick my farm up and drop it down in Northern England.

    Time for a Bing Crosby song me thinks:

    "Chestnuts roasting on....."

    Thanks Cumbrian!!

  7. "People should throw away their credit cards and live more frugal"

    Yes, at one time I had 42 credit cards, all active, with a total credit limit approaching £160,000.
    Then I was suddenly left with none, at first a huge shock to the system.
    Now I don't have any, and wouldn't want one even if I could find somebody prepared to let me have one.

    It took me a long time, but I've come to the realisation that the things my ex wife thought were essentials were really of no real value, I'm so much happier without the latest TV, 3-piece suite, fashionable clothes, restaurant meals, chateau-bottled Bordeaux, fast powerful fuel-guzzling motor cars and exotic holidays.
    I also got shot of the 60-80 a day cigarette habit, and the 8 pints of Guinness and a bottle of port when I got home every night habit. Like I miss toothache.

    "Wish I could get an helicopter to pick my farm up and drop it down in Northern England."

    I think you'd like it here, not too dis-similar to rural Ireland I guess.

  8. I have one of those pre-paid cards to buy stuff off the likes of E-Bay and the Book Depository. You don't seem to be able to purchase anything these days without a card.

    42 credit cards is absolutely incredible Cumbrian. I didn't know that somebody could have so many. I wouldn't mind the restaurant meals and exotic holidays either. Glad to hear you are so much happier now living your frugal but enjoyable life.

    Rural Ireland is fantastically peaceful but the silence can be deafening at times. Like yourself Cumbrian I have had to suffer some of life's knocks. Really wish there was a community centre, pub and public transport.

    I think people are cutting themselves off more and more. Only yesterday I heard on the Irish news that somebody had been found dead and they had been lying there since Christmas with the lights and the heating still on.

    Thank God for allotments, small farms, public transport, The Internet (blogs) and car boot sales.

    Your comments are always really appreciated Cumbrian. Thanks!!

  9. Yeah, 42, really, I was just plastic junkie.
    But the card is king now, it't difficult if not impossible to live without some of those little bits of plastic.

    I'm like you, I got pre-paid Mastercards, GBP and Euro cards
    I know they're a bit safer than cash, but can't help thinking about the sinister side to them, they identify you, where you are, how much you spend, what you buy, etc. Big brother knows all, and wants to know even more.
    Or is that me being cynical?

    Silence is a bit deafening here today as well, after the bin-men had been, and the bin-woman, she's the driver but helps with the bins as well.
    Garden busy with visitors today, we had a pair of pheasants, 3 rabbits, woodies, magpies and the usual assortment of blackies, thrush, sparrow, robin, blue tit, yellow hammer, all living in harmony.

    Yes, it's sad, an all-too-common story, I think we've all heard about some elderly person who died and nobody really noticed.
    I don't think we'll ever see a return to the old caring communities, there's no stability left in life any more. No security of employment, income, housing, or very much else; people move about so much, chasing what they believe will be a better life, it's becoming a transient world, nobody seems to put down roots.
    Maybe we could learn something from the garden visitors.

    I've got some ruhbarb seeds, 2 varieties, Victoria and unknown, just about time to set them off I think?
    If you want a few, I can send you some, if I plant them all they'll fill an acre, I reckon 8 - 10 plants will provide enough for us 2, a few pies and a gallon or 2 of wine, so 10 pots with 2 in each will do nicely.
    Just let me know where to send them, I think they'll grow well in your allotment.

  10. Hi Cumbrian, I agree with you about Big Brother watching you. I heard recently of somebody telling their insurance company that they had their car stolen from his garage. The insurance company said that they had looked up the property on Google images and he didn't even have a garage!

    I don't think you're being cynical. You're just stating a fact.

    I have also heard of people living in new housing estates and nobody talks or knows their neighbour. Don't think the churches do enough. Years ago they used to visit every house. Then they wonder why their numbers are dwindling. Or is it just that everybody is going to the car boot sales? Wish I was. There's none round here for miles.

    I grew some Timperley early rhubarb the other year and nobody ate it - except the livestock when they escaped into the veg plot. I reckon you will be able to sell it on a car boot sale though. Many thanks for the very kind offer though.

    Your garden seems to attract a lot of 'all creatures great and small' Cumbrian. They must feel safe and like your environment. We get pheasant, foxes, lots of birds, hares, rabbits, field mice and rats. I used to know somebody who used to put dog food out for a RAT every night. Said it was his pal!

    Thanks Cumbrian.

  11. We also have hedgehogs, never actually seen a live one, but found one dead in the back garden.
    And I'm sure there will be rats, they're everywhere; our cat makes inroads into the mouse population, presents us with a specimen regularly, shows it off then eats the lot, not a thing left.
    foxes as well I'm sure, I know they're in the area.
    And red squirrels occasionally.
    Nwever seen a hare, not in the area.

    Looks like I'll have to learn to make ruhbarb jam.

  12. Hi Cumbrian. They say (the experts) that everybody lives within six feet of a rat. Somebody told me that the most poisonous part of a rat is it's tale. I have read about this and the tail is part of it's ventilation system. They also always nest near water. I have had a few scary moments when they have run over my feet when I was sawing a piece of wood. We are getting a cat tomorrow to live in the farmhouse next to here. I have noticed there are mousedroppings. I once tried Hugh Fearnley Whittingstalls (is that the right spelling?) method of leaving a note to the mice and telling them that we wouldn't do them any harm but could they please leave. It didn't work. I don't think mice can read!

    Have you ever made cider Cumbrian?

  13. Hugh Fairly Witless?
    He must have well-educated mice.
    I believe a well-educated but hungry cat is a better option.

    I don't believe the bit about never being more that 6' of a rat, although I've heard the story, the version I heard was 6 metres.
    I know a lot of them live in the harbour wall here, the really big tides see them scurrying away in droves. They used to live on debris from (and on) the fishing boats, I remember a tale about a guy, trying to keep them off his boat, who was told the wouldn't go near carbolic soap (used by the ton as free issue in the steelworks and everybody had a block of it) so he put a couple of bits on his boat; when they (the bits of carbolic) kept disappearing, he though they'd been swiped, so he nailed a bit down; next day it had rat teeth-marks in what was left of it.

    Cat brought the remnants of a small rabbit this morning.

    Yes I've made cider, turbo-cider to be exact, not from apples, just apple juice. Basicly just pour it into a demi-john with some yeast, fit air-lock, and leave it to ferment, add some sugar if you want it stronger. Put it in the sink, sometimes the initial fermentation is vigorous. Fairly idiot-proof really.

  14. Thanks for the cider making tip Cumbrian. I must have been stupid for writing to some mice. I think a hungry cat will be a much better option.

    Lets hope the small rabbit was road-kill. Surely they can change the speed limits or encourager farmers and landowners to put sheep wire fences up to stop the needless animal carnage on rural roads? It's not even safe for pedestrians to walk the main roads because of the overgrown hedges and no country lane lighting. Why can't they create jobs cutting back vegetation and make paths? At least in town you can get about. Will there never be public transport in the countryside. Here we go again!

    Thanks Cumbrian.

  15. Dear Dave and Cumbrian - i just read all yr exchanges (am such an eavesdropper!). It's funny, I really love the idea of living in the countryside but when you say about how you never get to see anyone...well, I spose I'd miss all the people round my estate (a mid-size council estate that looks exactly like a prison!). True, they're all a bit bonkers but all you have to do is stick yer head outside the front door and there they are! Neighbours are thick on the ground round here; everyone knows what everyone else is up to (or if they don't, they just make it up!). There's plenty of low level crime and the occasionally stabbing (but that's mostly teenager on teenager - sort of modern mods and rockers sort of business).

    I used to live on another council estate, years back and we had a private estate development opposite us. Now, if you went over to the private estate, they didn't have any shops or a pub or a post office and it was always empty - think 'end of the world-scape and tumble-weed!). However, on our crappy estate there were always people about: older folks and dogs, small kids (probably bunking off!), ladies and push chairs. AND the pub (tho' it was as rough as your hat!) was the absolute focal point of the estate - for meeting up, boozing and fighting! I think cos the houses were so tightly crammed together that you simply couldn't avoid getting to know your neighbours.

    It's the same here, today. All I do is go out in my garden (handkerchief-size) and suddenly I've got Brenda leaning over the balcony to say hello and moan about the kids playing football; next thing you know, Brizio comes out and we have a chat about something or the other, and (cos he's Italian) he's always got a spare glass of wine and something excellent to eat. And that's just the start of it.

    Sorry, dunno what I'm really blethering on about, but mebbes we should all live in teeny villages, so we can see each other more. I love the idea of the countryside but I think I'd have to buy a fairly big house, build a pub on the side and instigate a mini-bus service for the punters - plus, I'd simply have to serve Cumbrian's turbo cider!

  16. Thanks for that Carol. I find that so so thought provoking. We live in an age where we write blogs (or comment) more with people hundreds of miles away than we do with or next door neighbours. The countryside is peaceful but like my grandmother used to say:

    "The view will not feed you."

    We are human beings that are supposed to talk to each. We are not dumb animals that just chew grass all day.

    It sounds like you are Cumbrian or me Carol. You will take time to have a conversation. I think people who have to mix gain social skills.

    If you ever do choose to move to the countryside Carol. I would recommend that you either rent somewhere first and also check what infrastructure there is. If you haven't got a pub, allotment, church, community centre, shop or PUBLIC TRANSPORT (my favourite rant) you have got nothing. It sounds like you have some great neighbours and a community Carol. Brizio and Brenda are true friends.

    Think I'll have a go at Cumbrian's turbo cider. Is it that time of day? Or is seven minutes past eight on a Sunday morning too early?

    Thanks for taking the trouble to drop a line or twenty Carol.

  17. Yes Carol,
    Living in the country is wonderful, but it's not for everybody. I live near the Lake District, people come from all over to stay here and explore / admire it.
    Yes, it's awesome, majestic, breath-taking and beautiful.
    The main problem is that most visitors see it at its best, holiday times, in the milder months; and seeing it in the depths of winter can be something entirely different. Still majestic, but in a different way, clad in snow the fells can be a very dangerous place to be.

    And in winter, you can go for weeks and see nobody except maybe the postman, all the milkmen and mobile tradesmen have been killed off by Tesco, Asda & Co.

    Almost the whole population of some villages is made up of people from different areas, commuting to work, or retired with a lot of money. Most of these people do not involve themselves in local affairs, visit the local pub or support local tradesmen. Some of them don't stick it for very long, and disappear back to wherever they came from. There's also quite a lot of holiday homes, occupied in the school holidays only.

    There's no Post Office in the villages any more, and where a village had at least one pub if not 2 or 3, they're closing at an alarming rate. So are churches, often 3 or 4 parishes will share a place of worship. And the resident policeman that lived in every village police house is no more, all the houses sold off years ago, policing is now administerd from afar by remote control.

    And like Dave says, public transport often exists only in the memory of any remaining locals.

    A lot of the old characters have disappeared; the old school of countrymen, poachers, gamekeepers, shepherds, farm labourers, pipe-smokers in the bar in front of the log fire, are mostly only remembered, and then only by locals.

    So it's not all milk and honey, you've got to like your own company a lot of the time, and have a hobby or hobbies that are solitary and absorbing.

    Plus side is the silence and the closeness to nature which some of people like, and the slower (too slow for some) pace of life.

    I like it, but I was born here.

    Like Dave says, if you want to try it, rent somewhere for winter and see if it's as good as you thought in summer.

  18. I totally echo everything Cumbrian just said. The countryside is not very good for the old, infirm, unemployed or even ordinary working class people.

    If I can recommend a great book to read. Get yourself a copy of the Ian Walthew book: A Place In My Country. It's a true account of somebody buying a house in a village (yes they had a pub) in the Cotswolds. I have had a few email conversations with Ian and he's a really nice person. The book is very funny and also incredibly moving. I think it's an excellent book.

    Another book recommendation for you: Out of Your Townie Mind Richard Craze? It's brilliant for anybody who wants to move to the countryside. You can see both books on Amazon.

    Thanks again for making this blog so worthwhile writing with your great comments.


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