Browsing Tag


Family Travel, Thrifty

Flea Markets in Secondhand Split

7 October, 2013

Ah, yeah. I know what you’re thinking- I needed to find the Flea Market in Split, Croatia, like I needed a punch in the face. We’ve sold a house full of stuff, pared down to just a few belongings for our travels round Europe, why WHY would I need to go thrifting in Croatia?

Welllll… My shoes really broke for the final time after much DIY repairing so I popped them in the bin and was one pair down. Also, we are flying back to England on Tuesday and have to somehow cart all our gear onto the plane… so we are keeping our eyes peeled for a suitcase or massive bag or two… But, really, honestly? I just love rummaging through people’s old stuff.

Especially if there’s a chance it could be retro communisty Iron Curtain style old stuff.

The Green Markets in Split sprawl out from the harbour up to the edge of the Old Town. On a Sunday they are packed with mountains of fruit and veggies and, tucked at the back, as you walk away from the harbour, was a vision of beauty to my eyeballs- a small but perfectly haphazard array of stalls selling old stuff. The ideal mixture – plastic tat, vintage fabrics, clothing, records, filthy things piled in boxes: YES, YES, YES!

We arrived at 11am and it was in full flow, but over by the time we passed again at 1pm. We had a quick mosey but I didn’t torture myself by searching too hard through all the things I couldn’t take back with me. I did score this SWEET pair of treads though, for about £1.20. Are these what you call brothel creepers? I’m sorry to womankind if so… But aren’t they The Business? I promise to be extra feminist whilst wearing them.Flea Market Split

(Communists don’t worry about matching laces.)

We then wandered through the old town and unexpectedly began to love Split. There are some astonishing Roman structures, the magnificence of which rivalling Dubrovnik, but with a massive dose of proper, gritty, city living. 20131007-080135.jpg
Ramona having a snooze on Tim’s back as we bask in the antiquity.

We then, outside the overawing Golden Gate, came across another glorious sight- another market of old stuff! Wheee! Sound the Trumpet of Joy! It was a bit more official, and featured almost solely antique stuff but for fairly good prices and still with the delight of rummaging through boxes and bowls.Flea Markets in Split

Walking past this rocking horse realising it would never be mine was probably the most challenging thing I’ve ever done in my life (possibly rivalled by child birth.)

Secondhand Split, I found you, you stealthy beast, and I loved you.

Linking up for the first time in YONKS with all the secondhand loving beauties over at Me and My Shadow.

Our recycled home

Recycled home- Big Bedroom Makeover

22 July, 2013

Ah, this great big room! It is so beautiful! Well, the 30% of the time that there aren’t piles of clothes and junk we are hiding from visitors all over the floor, it is so beautiful!

When doing this bedroom makeover I wanted to keep it pretty simple and calm, to create a peaceful sleeping environment. It is peaceful, the 30% of the time we are asleep in there, the times we are not diving in and out of the curtains playing hide and seek or raccously bouncing on the bed. (I say “we” out of solidarity for one of my kids.)

Come on in…recycled home- bedroom makeover

Some of my favourite creations are in this room. This art I did in an old window frame  for Tim’s birthday of a native New Zealand bird, the Tui.Tui birds

And this suitcase shelfsuitcase shelf

and book- shelf.

DIY book shelf

Recycled home- bedroom makeover

There is a huge framed print we hung after finding it in Oxfam.recycled home- bedroom makeover

Both the curtains and the bed came from a house clearance. It is our family bed and we love its gargantuan size to fit us all in. We got the headboard from Gumtree, it is equally huge and Tim had to wrangle it home on THREE different buses. The things we do for a bargain, eh? I flung some vintage fabric over it and made some bunting by painting letters onto the pages of an old book.

recycled home- bedroom makeover

We found all these cupboards and drawers in one junk shop after months of searching for the perfect ones to fit in those spaces. We were SO stoked with them all!

We are leaving all of this furniture for the people moving into our home. I’m going to miss it badly, especially our giant bed.

I wanted to squeeze this post in before we move out, so I can look back and nostalgically reflect on how we transformed our whole house through 100% secondhand shenanigans.

So, future-Lucy, these pictures look nice, yeah? But remember it DID NOT look this nice for 70% of the time, okay? This room was basically rubbish nearly always. Stop crying.

PS What a bummer it’d be if you missed a post of mine, eh? Follow through Facebook or Bloglovin or even just enter your email to get them pinged into your inbox. I won’t be spamalot, promise!


Charity Shop Tips from an Industry Insider

2 January, 2013

So, January, eh? Only the biggest month EVER for charity shopping! The shelves are BENDING under the weight of not-quite-right Christmas presents, and the rails are rallying in protest at being crammed with gorgeous clothes as all the New Years Resolution Keepers declutter their wardrobes. (Are you one of them? I wish I was but minimalist is never going to be my bag.)

A few weeks ago I posted my own best Charity Shop Tips and today, as a thrifty treat for you lovelies I am going next level with six MORE tips from an industry insider and charity shop queen. Welcome, Missie Lizzie of the wonderful blog Me and My Shadow who is guest posting below. Not only is Liz a crafty and thifty wizard but she is also one of the nicest people you’ll ever come across, and here she reveals her strategy for nabbing great bargains for toddlers…Tips Charity shopping

I love charity shops. Can’t get enough of them. Every time I go to a new town or visit a new place, I’ll pop in to their charity shops to see what they have on offer. To me you can’t beat the satisfaction of finding a vintage gem, a bargain hand-knit or a budget price designer piece.

In the UK, approximately 1.5 – 2 million tonnes of textile waste is generated each year and of this, around 1.2 million tonnes enter the household waste stream and end up in to landfill. Textiles present particular problems at landfill as synthetic fibres don’t decompose and although woollen garments do eventually rot down, they emit methane gases which contribute towards global warming.

Charity shopping is ethical, cheap and original.

Before I had my daughter, my job for 4 years was in this sector and I managed two charity shops – one the traditional shop selling clothes, books and bric-a-brac, the other selling second-hand furniture. I could tell you plenty of stories, but that’s perhaps for another time.

I’m going to share my top tips for getting a bargain. These are mainly aimed at purchasing kids clothes, but could equally apply to adult clothes or other bits and bobs. For some reason there always seems to be a shortage of kids clothes for the 2-4 age group, and I’ve never figured out why. You can get any number of sleepsuits for babies, or high-fashion outfits for 8 year old girls, but the toddler age group always seems to be thin on the ground. I still however manage to buy quite a few bits for my daughter, and intend to make the most of it before she gets to the ‘I wouldn’t be seen dead in second-hand clothes’ stage! Here are my tips:

Visit regularly.
Most shops have a ‘rotation’ policy – typically around 2 weeks. If an item hasn’t sold within that time it is taken off the shop floor and sent off to another store, usually a ‘sale’ store. You need to call in as often as you can or you’ll miss out on items. When I worked in charity retail, there were a hardcore of people who ‘did the circuit’ popping into every charity shop in town every day. No matter how well we thought we’d integrated fresh stock into the rails, they would seize on it! These people can spot a ‘new’ jumper or jacket at 50 paces. For this reason, the best items don’t hang around long, and if you only go into a charity shop once in a blue moon you are unlikely to find many real gems.

Be friendly.
Most shops are staffed by volunteers who are giving their time freely (although many have a paid manager). Take the time to say hello or good morning. Not only is it nice to be nice, but if you build up a relationship with the staff, they will generally see you right. If there’s something specific you are looking for, then let them know. I often used to keep bits aside for regulars who I knew were looking for a particular item. We referred (privately of course!) to people whose name we didn’t know as ‘teapot lady’; ‘linen lady’; ‘gold lady’ or ‘toy car man’ depending on what their purchasing habits where. We also had a ‘stockings and bra man’ but I won’t go into that.

Dropping donations in is also a great way to build up a good relationships, so have a clearout and take some stuff in to your local shop. While we’re on the subject of being nice, you’ll find a packet of biscuits or a cake never goes amiss with volunteers!

Look outside of your size-range
Most charity shops now will have presentation standards which include size cubing on hangers. These generally go by the label in the clothes, but if there is no size inside the garment, it will be a pure guess. Go by eye – you know what size your child needs. Just like adult clothing where one manufacturer’s size 12 might be smaller than another’s size 10, the same applies with kids clothes. Also, you can often buy completely outside the usual size range. For example my daughter is 2 and a half, but she can happily wear a top for a 5 year old as a dress over jeans or leggings. I also recently found a beautiful needlecord floral print skirt that was for an 11 year old. I cut it in two horizontally, re-elasticated it and got 2 skirts for the price of 1. Easy, a moron can (and did) do it.

Don’t dither
If you see something you like, buy it there and then if you can. Don’t assume it will still be there tomorrow. Of course, unlike regular shops, these items are one-offs – they don’t have an endless supply of similar items out the back! Going back to my earlier point, if you’ve built a relationship with the staff, you may be able to ask them to hold the item for a few days if you don’t have the money on you. My advice would be, if you like it, buy it! Check if the shop has a returns policy, so you can bring it back with a receipt if it’s not right.

Look out for hand-knits
Hand made jumpers look great on kids, however I’m pretty useless with knitting needles. Many shops have knitters who donate beautiful new jumpers, cardigans, hats and scarves etc. I often think they’d be horrified if they saw they were being sold for a couple of quid. Some shop managers have a personal dislike of hand-knitted items (goodness knows why!), so its worth asking if they have any ‘out the back’. And if you’re as naughty as me, once you find a gorgeous hand made Aran jumper, you’ll put in on your child and pass it off as all your own work.

Visit them all!
It is often said that charity shops in more affluent area have better quality of stock. I don’t necessarily agree with this, but they do generally have higher prices! A lot of the national charities’ shops are stocked centrally, with items coming from bag-drops (doorstep collections), and these are usually from outside the area. Only a small percentage of the items on sale within a shop will have come via local people donating directly to the store. Don’t be put off visiting a shop because of the area it is in.

Don’t be put off unduly by imperfections
You may think this controversial, but before an item reaches the shop floor, it will have been sorted and met certain standards. Most shops don’t have laundry facilities, so perfectly good quality clothes which are not clean will often end up being sold on to a rag merchant rather than being sold to customers (so if you’re donating, please please wash the clothes first!). For this reason, you will rarely find an item with a mark or stain on, or a missing button. But if you do, they are well worth considering. I have bought many items at knock down prices because they have pen marks or paint on. Most will come out in the wash or with a bit of stain removal – but it is a gamble so think carefully. Also, haggling in a charity shop is not de rigueur! The price on the ticket will probably already reflect any imperfection with the item.

Those are my ‘insider’ tips, hope you find some of them useful. If you have any of your own, please do share via the comments box, and I’d love to hear about your fab finds.

THANK YOU! And do pop over to Liz’s blog where you will find thrifty and crafty posts galore! 

Finding things, Our recycled home, Thrifty

Vintage Toys and a mother’s second hand strategy

15 April, 2012

As soon as Ramona and I enter a charity shop or a jumble sale I zoom straight to the kids section and pick out the nicest (by nicest I mean oldest/ most wooden/ cheapest) toy or coolest kids book and place it into her hands with an excited exclamation of “LOOK- this is just the ticket!!”  I then move straight away from the kids section, out of danger territory. It may seem a bit mean, or a bit against my “child-as-unique-independant-person” philosophy but I simply CAN’T take home another giant, ugly, fluffy toy circa 1998- and this IS the thing she will choose if left to her own devices.

It is something we have to face, as parents. Kids toys ain’t often pretty – or perhaps often too pretty; pink, beribboned, cuddly. They can take up a lot of space and ruin the aesthetics of a room. I’m sure many of you don’t care, and I wish I didn’t.

But I do. I just dooooo.

Fortunately, the world of second hand provides a mountain of eyeball pleasing kids options. I am always on the look out for retro looking, vintage play things and have found some gorgeous numbers that Ramona loves too.

We have one area where the ugly (by ugly, I really only mean new. Why are new things so damn ugly?) things live, in an ancient deep drawer hidden to the side of the sofa.  And I have just recently launched an Exhibition of Old Children’s Things, on quite a prominent shelf, that all three of us enjoy looking at.

Apart from the Ukeleles, which were gifts,  all of these are second hand. I picked the abacus and clock up from a charity shop in Blackheath a couple of weeks ago for One Squid and found these little playmobil bike riders on that Legendary Farham visit. Eeek, I just love ’em.

I always keep my eyes peeled for little music instruments so that when Ramona’s chums come over we can all have a bash and a sing. We have an immense Salvation Army heritage- all my 3 generations on both sides, my parents, Aunties and Uncles are all ministers in the Barmy Army and Ramona does them proud as she tinkers with this “timbrel” (tambourine) I got for 50p last week at a Bootie.

She is singing “Wind the bobbin up” -which mostly just involves her saying “Pull, Pull” over and over and over. It is her favourite song, she bursts out in it approximately six times an hour but it also sounds a lot like her sound for “Poo” which results is us spending lots of time each day on unnecessary but tuneful potty visits.

And finally, just a couple of weeks ago at my local car boot in East Dulwich I found this pretty ancient skipping rope with a couple of scary mushroom guys for handles.

PS little while ago I posted about some other vintage toys and included some secondhand toy pillaging tips – have a broose. (That’s Scottish for browse.)

PPS Have you found any thing retro for your kids recently?

PPPS I am linking up with the magical Magpie Monday over on Liz’s blog – if you get a chance do go and have a squizz at all their wonderous second hand goodies.

PPPPS Have you noticed my new header? Can you tell me why it is blurry, the blithering, bladdy, blurry &a*t%r&!

PPPPPS If you enjoy reading this old blogaglog of mine, have you had a moment to put me up for a MAD blog award? There are loads of catergories but you could especially vote for me in the “Most Over-Vintaged Up Photo Editing ever” or “Most amount of Made Up Words In a Post In The World”.  No, seriously, I reckon Home/ Thrift/ Craft catergories are possible themes of mine? Muchos Gracias.