For the Love of Charity… Sort of!

Brad, Leon and I have had one of those legendary fun and sunny weekends that reminds you just how blessed you are. Friday: in the garden most of the day, Leon’s first taste of fresh grass, first sunburn of the year and soil underneath the fingernails. Saturday: Day trip to Worcester, Leon’s first train ride, delicious lunch quiche and inspiring conversation with good old friends. Sunday: CAR BOOT SALE!!! This last one has had me salivating for weeks… In the soon 5 years we’ve lived here, we’ve not been to a single one, and I’d started to become resentful. But then… as his contributory 2 cents to New Generation’s yearly fundraising campaign, Brad suggested we de-clutter the house and go hawk it all at the Hockley Heath car boot sale. Well, he didn’t need to ask twice!

So, Sunday morning at 5:00 am, we loaded the Micra and packed the baby and went off! It was such an fun day! And we got 100 pounds of sales, to go straight to New Generation! Here’s a few samples of the day…

Neat husband, neat lot.

When all other topics of conversation are exhausted, there’s always the war…

Cold porridge is the best kind of porridge.

Oh, we also found some cool bits for la casa!

Cute owl, 10 pence

Excellent mirror, 2 pounds

Fun polaroid, 10 pence (so what if it doesn’t work?!)

Leon catching some zzz.

All in all, the perfect day. //s.

For the Love of Charity: Spindle Bar Stool



This lovely old bar stool was hiding in the rubble of a cluttered Debra charity shop. I usually avoid going into that shop for fear of a nervous breakdown, but having past it several times and seeing the stool was still there, and still a fiver, I gave in!

It was covered in a rusty red when I bought it and the back was rickety. Nothing Super Glue and some paint can’t remediate!

I sanded it down, gave it a coat of white paint and sanded it again to give it that fake, old look. I used Brilliant White floor paint I found in the shed and Brad’s old skirtingboard brush. You’re probably not supposed to, but mend and make do people, mend and make do!

Ta! s.

For the Love of Charity: Sowing Table

Look, look, look what I found!

The perfect table!

Since removing Brad’s coffee table creation (the old wardrobe door) in the lounge, I’ve had my eyes open for something to replace it with (something MUCH smaller, of course). So when I walked into the fantastic British Heart Foundation furniture shop I had a foldable table or perhaps a tray table in mind.

And then I saw this gem. With a sleek 50s design, it was advertised as a phone table. But the sowing savvy girls at assured me it was an old sowing table. They if anyone should know! It’s so cute I couldn’t resist it.

I loaded it up on the pram and practiced on my sell-pitch to convert Brad: “It’s SO versatile; the possibilities are endless…”

Phone table, as advertised

Rest for Very Large bibles

Baby perch

And although not foldable, it’s portable!

People at The Vintage Fair

This past weekend the turn had come to the people of Birmingham to welcome the travelling Vintage Fair into town. So I  gave Leon some time off from myself and headed for the Custard Factory with my girlies. Oh, the FUN!

You knew you were entering vintage/indie/mainstream-fashion-dissident area…the boys clad in flared corduroys in all shades of brown and ragged band shirts, and the girls in generous curves of black eyeliner and craft jewelry. Everybody wearing leather brogues. Oh, and nose piercings.

We paid the 1 pound entrance, got our hands stamped and walked into the massive warehouse and just stood there looking, overwhelmed. So many pretty old things, so little time! Exhausted, we soon found ourselves in the Vintage Glamour Days tearoom, comparing bargains and discussing the event.

Isn’t it ironic?

This group of people is more often than not trying to stick it to the man, reacting against the big clothing chains who regurgitate one another’s fashion again and again and mandate the way we should dress to show the world we’re “in”. But these fashion rebels are savvy. They know well what’s hip at the moment but choose to take their own route, adapting an individual style.

The irony? Just like the flower-smelling hippies of the 60s, they’ve made a point of breaking the unwritten rules of the (fashion) establishment, only to end up creating their own codes and their own this-is-in-at-the-moment fashion. The anti-establishmentists create a new “establishment”… The crux of the matter is that they want to be different, to stick out from the crowd, but still show association with a particular subculture.

Looks like we can’t get away from it; we can’t get away from ourselves. We all want to belong to a group. When Paul Simon sang “I am a rock, I am an island” maybe he too was being ironic…

In their fascinating photo-project Exactitudes (a combination of the words exact and attitude), photographers Versluis and Uyttenbroek provide “an almost scientific, anthropological record of people’s attempts to distinguish themselves from others by assuming a group identity”. Have a peek at the pics here.

The positive side:

What is really attractive about this group though is that creativity and individuality is genuinely rewarded and admired (and copied!). And it’s fine to be bigger than a size 6.

Sipping Darjeeling from a gilded teacup with the girls back at the tearoom, I reminisced:

“When I was in school, the Fashion Dictators decided that ponchos were cool, so everybody and their dog started wearing them. Well, that’s when I stopped wearing mine. Just to protest against that oppression. 6 months later they were unfashionable again, and I could be reconciled with my woolly friend.”

“I guess I just want to be different”, I concluded as I sat toying with my nose ring, taking care not to smudge the black eye make-up.

For the Love of Charity: Shelves of Shoes

– You’re becoming an Imelda Marcos, Mum said.

– No I’m not, I said. She is a bit crazy. Out of touch with reality.

– Well, you’re crazy too, Mum said. Look at this… this shoe extravaganza – rows upon rows! How many do you have?

– Not as many as Imelda, I objected. Not nearly as many.

– How many are there?, Mum said looking around.

– Oh, I dunno… a dozen..?, I interjected quickly.

But Mum was already counting. She ran out of fingers. And toes. Had to use mine. Then, they ran out too.

– …forty-five, forty-six, forty-seven! Forty-seven pairs of shoes!, Mum exclaimed.

– Sandals and flip-flops don’t count! Thirty-nine only, I said triumphantly. And plus! Imelda had close to 3000 pairs! Almost A HUNDRED TIMES more than me, I said in a slightly sad tone.

– You’re obsessed, Mum said.

– No, I’m not, I said emphatically, ushering her away from the shelves lining the walls and leading her out of the Shoe Room.


So here’s a little sample from the collection. To my feeble defense, these are old well-loved shoes, with bits of soles missing, that I’ve salvaged from thrift stores and restored dignity to with a little help from Mr Timpson.

These brown suede puppies I picked up in a Saturday flea market – £2!

I instantly fell in love with the intense colour of these heels! Confession: they’re impossibly high and un-walkable.

Who hasn’t always wanted bright red shoes?! With breathing holes for hot summer days! Hooray!

Wait, there’s more! Oh, I’ll put them in another post.