Monday 22 April 2013

Car booting and crafting

AT LAST!  Spring is with us, and a green blush is beginning to spread across the land, highlighting the wood margins and hedgerows, and creeping across meadows.  I have millions of tadpoles in both ponds, the Marsh Marigolds have turned the wet woodland to gold, and the Swallows are back.  Not "our" stable ones yet, if they have survived the journey to and from Africa, but other local ones, and it lifts my heart to see them swooping and soaring above the house and farm.

Saturday was a warm sunny day from first light onwards, though it began with a frost and a temperature of minus one.  I know this for a fact, as we dragged ourselves up at 5 a.m. to go down to the big car boot sale in Swansea.  We had a great morning down there, just strolling around the stalls.  We used to go there regularly when the children were younger, but hadn't been down there for years.  Unsurprisingly, it was very busy for it usually is by this time of year.  Sellers have to be there by 6 a.m. at the latest and by mid-summer, I dare say it is an even earlier hour.  Folks used to say if you weren't there by 3 a.m. to sell, don't bother.  Personally, if I had to spend most of the night trying to sleep in my car in a car park to get a pitch,  I would want a guarantee of selling everything I had packed!!!  But we went to buy . . . which is a different matter.

You can easily tell we are living in a recession by what people are selling.  There were a LOT of mums selling childrens' clothes (and toys too).  In fact, there were quite a few dealers selling 2nd hand clothing generally, and I would say a good half of the people walking round were buying clothing.  Heck, even I bought clothing!  Mind you, I was after stuff to "upcycle".  I don't care for that word - "re-use", turn into something else (the rag rug book I bought 2 weeks ago has REALLY got to me!)  I got several pieces - old dresses and skirts - as colourful as possible - for 50p or £1, and they're now washed and I have started unpicking the stitching.  (All I could do yesterday, as I was stapled to the sofa with my brain in another room as I am back on Steroids and anti-biotics for a chest infection, and 3 hours sleep does nothing for the mental processes . . .)

Anyway, as always at such places, there were lots of dealers who just sell new stuff like batteries, nails, cheap tools, garden stuff, bird food and pet food, dog beds - that sort of thing.  Then there are the dealers with the house clearance items - some general with bits of furniture, bedding, curtains and others more rusty old tools and  implements and boxes full of more rusty objet rubbish . . .  These stalls are a magnet for my husband and I usually leave him to ferret around whilst I go on further and normally get drawn in by boxes of old books.

Right in the middle of the boot sale is a burger bar, which has a few chairs for customers to take their ease on.  It looks rather incongruous having patio chairs stuck in the middle of a sea of people, although the view across Swansea Bay on such a day was sublime.  On a clear day, the North Devon coast is clearly visible and I always wish myself there .  .

So, as we wandered round, my husband bought a few old tools, as is his wont, and two really good woodworking (turning) chisels at £2 each were a real bargain.  He is the furniture-mender here, and has turned some junk into gems down the years.  We marvelled at the size and strength of the man who had once wielded a scythe whose handle had been made from the BIG swingle-tree from a cart.  The scythe handle is normally a turned and shaped pole with the length being critical to the height of the person wielding it - imagine having to work all day with something that is just a couple of inches too long or too short.  Your muscles would soon be screaming.  This swingle-tree handle was something else, since it was made from oak! From this stall an old pitchfork came home with us. 

I couldn't resist a couple of cookery books - the Gordon Ramsey "Great Escape" book on Indian cookery - brand new and only TWENTY PENCE!!! and what was probably an unwanted Christmas present from another stall, "Boutique Baking" for a pound, which had some gorgeous looking confections - you never know, I may be called in to do the wedding feasts for my offspring, and then this would come in handy . . .

I found a gorgeous modern collapsible lampshade (new) in a pretty print, for T's new rented house, and an old Victorian jug in a design I've always admired - stag and dalmations (well, spotty dogs anyway), which because the handle had been off at one point and reglued, was only £1.  Once up on my beams, the broken handle isn't noticed. I even bought my first Tomato plant for the season (Moneymaker).  I put my plastic greenhouse up last week and it is full to bulging with seed trays already, so one was all I have room for until I get the other seed stack up in the yard.

A few speculative buys too, and all in all a day well started.  I even got to do the grocery shopping at Sainsburys, which is my preferred supermarket, but the nearest one is at Swansea.  I treated myself to a copy of "Making" magazine.  A real indulgence, but it had some good ideas in, and I tend to keep my craft magazines for years and years (if not forever) so I look on it as an investment . . .

There is still more of my birthday outing to yet report, but hopefully I may get a chance to put up some photos later today.


  1. you have wetted my appetite for the photos now!

  2. You're a car boot sale genius - what fantastic bargains. Lovely to hear your garden has sprung - I wish I could say the same!

  3. I am so envious. A friend who lives higher up the Dale has just been and he said he wished he lived down here as it is blowing a gale and raining where he lives. I look at your marsh marigolds and hear about your tadpoles and I desperately want spring to come - no sign of it here yet - one day and then it is back to cold again., We have two swallows in our barn but that's all so far.