Sunday, May 18, 2008


That's my garden, that is. I'm not lazy, I've not long moved in and have not had time to really get at it yet. The place had been empty for several months prior to me taking it over and I don't think the previous occupant was too bothered about anything judging by the state of the interior decoration. What happened? I asked of my neighbours. She died, they replied. Besides, the only gardening implements I have to hand are a pair of Sharon's shears and an old pair of small secateurs bought from a boot market last week for 50p. This could be a challenge.

I like boot markets. I went to the boot market this morning, two of them in fact. I went with the intention of maybe purchasing some tools and I really needed a trivet to save the new worktop in the kitchen and some other essential stuff but heavens, someone there had a load of old fishing kit and damn, I'm in like Flynn. Last year I bought an old split cane rod in fantastic condition for a tenner down in Ashford and I've been looking for a decent centre pin reel to go with it. £2? Done! I did actually find a trivet, about which I was quite chuffed. I really had to force myself not to pick up the handset to the second-hand Amstrad E-mailer and yell "For suggesting I put this useless pile of crap out in my name, Jeremy, you're fired" down it.

Boot markets are excellent. There is nothing quite like rummaging through someone else's old tat but every now and again you chance upon something quite trivial and it's like a real blast from the past. This morning I spotted a set of plastic ice-lolly molds. Nothing unusual except they were identical to the ones we used to make lollies with when we were kids 40 years ago. I mentioned this to the stallholder and she said she too could remember using them decades ago and that she'd been clearing out her mother's house and I suppose, when I looked at her we were probably around the same age. Our parents were war children and knew the value of thrift. Nothing gets thrown away unless it's completely outlived its original use, or in my Dad's case, any other supplementary use he can devise for it (which may not be for another 15 35 years). See my previous post about sheds.

I'm probably of the last generation who were exhorted to eat it all up and think of the starving children in India/Africa wherever or if you don't eat it now, you'll get it later for tea. The Sunday roast in my parents' house still extends through until at least Wednesday once a cold collation has been done on Monday, a curry on Tuesday and finally some sort of stew forced out of what's left. I am glad I've inherited some of these traits although I do draw the line at scraping the microscopic bits of butter or spread out of one container and into the next one. When I look around my new house I see very little is new. The furniture is courtesy of what we call locally "The 3 Cs" and a two piece suite, pine bedstead and double mattress all in very good condition cost me all of £15. My table and chairs and most of my kitchen utensils are via Freecycle, a brilliant initiative and to my mind, the Internet at its absolute best. Recycling is so much more than taking cans to the tip once a week. My only regret is that I've been unable to source a decent fridge and cooker and I've had to go new for those. Rest assured, they will not be replaced until they break down irreparably. To go back to my parents, they've been using the same fridge for close on 50 years. It may not be the most efficient anymore but their mindset won't allow them to replace it until it's completely buggered. This is good as the longer an appliance is kept alive it's not using energy being recycled or a new one isn't being manufactured.

Along the same lines, I am not a gadget freak. I will not be coerced into replacing something that is perfectly serviceable on the premise that the newer version has better technology. I can't understand why manufacturers can't get their collective heads around the fact that new technology is baffling to probably 80% of the population at any one time and as such, quite worthless. My mobile phone is used to make calls and text and er...take photos. I don't want to use it to buy bus tickets, surf the interweb, ask my fridge if I've run out of taramasalata or turn my heating on. Technology is not the universal panacea it's made out to be, it's by and large just a marketing device. It doesn't make life better, it makes life more complicated and you still have to plug it in. Now, everyone go and send your Sky boxes back to Rupert and maybe we can all watch the cricket on the BBC where it's meant to be, like good civilised people, through the aerial that's already attached to the roof that can get loads of stuff in that I already have no intention of ever watching because I have a life but is free anyway and doesn't require some idiot nailing a frying pan to your front wall. Go to boot markets and keep our national game alive and our children away from Grand Theft Auto 19! Both of the markets I went to today are held on local cricket pitches ensuring the clubs receive valuable funds to provide proper recreational facilities without having to flog bits of land to developers. Recycling. Good, eh?

8 Vegetable peelings:

Blogger Phil said...

I love boot markets as well! Our local one is also on the village cricket ground.The last one yielded a mint Don henley LP for £1 and - joy of joys, a burger press (complete with half a million waxed discs) for 50p!Richard, You and I were brought up with the same values and habits which I find hard to break, much to my girlfriend's amusement. At least my boys eat 'proper' food!

6:20 am  
Anonymous Steve Dix said...

Freecycle is a good idea.

Over here, people often put out perfectly servicable furniture ready for the binmen. You can often find some good stuff.

I've still got two chairs which I rescued. All they needed was a bit of polish.

7:57 am  
Blogger Dave said...

I trust the wickets were protected.

There is an argument that a 50 year-old fridge is so inefficient that the power it uses up is as damaging in the long term as buying a new machine. But manufacturers would say that, wouldn't they?

7:59 am  
Blogger Richard said...

Phil, half a million burgers? By eliminating those cows you will be reducing greenhouse gases - way to go, as they say.

Steve, I believe it's been a custom in Germany for decades to put perfectly usable stuff out for the less affluent to come and rifle through. Something about a Tuesday every month rings a bell.

Dave, of course the argument works perfectly well in reverse. And they never go anywhere near the square.

11:42 am  
Blogger zoe said...

Car boot sales are great - I even went to one in Liverpewl. Ebay is a gamble although the friends that I was staying with had a mate who put a rapidly deteriorating car up on Ebay hoping for perhaps £200 for it from the spare parts.

He got nearly £2000 for a car that didn't work - nada.

Recycling - great stuff.

10:28 pm  
Blogger happyhippychick said...

My entire house was furnished with secondhand/jumble/car boot and castoffs from family friends back in '91 when I bought it - and I was so proud and happy... no debt, no credit cards, and of course a good dose of recycling appealing to my hippy nature!

I don't really understand this obsession so many people have to buy everything new when it just means they get stressed over being in debt! I know of a pregnant couple who are incredibly hard up but still insist that *everything* for the arrivfving baby be brand new. Daft buggers... long live us secondhand Roses!

PS - please come to Essex on Monday for a car boot sale and buy all my stuff!

7:56 am  
Anonymous Sharon J said...

There's nowt like a good rummage at a car boot sale.

It seems to me that those of our era either continue our parents tradition of thrift and "mend and make do" or rebel and insist on everything being new and preferably expensive and then dumped when a better one comes along. I have a friend who considers offering up her used goods on freecycle or by donating them to charity shops etc as "too much hassle".

As you know, most of what's in my house is second-hand and the things that are new are always 'bargains', like the duvet cover for £5.99 that'll become a pair of curtains and cushion covers. The cheaper I can get something, the prouder I feel :)

8:31 am  
Blogger Murph said...

With the recession starting to bite, we're getting more "Cycle Saddle Bag Sales" round here.

10:50 am  

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