Archive for the ‘junk shopping’ Category

Seven Days of Positive – Day 114

In houses, Interiors, junk shopping on February 2, 2015 at 10:32 pm


Every year this makes me happy, the day the daffodils come into the shops.

I know they’re grown in polytunnels in Holland, but they’re coming out by the side of the road now too, such a cheerful sight.

I love the smell of them as well. There’s something so optimistic about it.

My dad always used to bring the first ones home for my mum and it reminds me of him to have them in jugs all around the house. And at £1 a bunch you can make a great splash for the price of one bunch of service station carnations.


I also particularly like this spot in my house, where I always put flowers. It’s at the top of the stairs in the hall, where they go down to the kitchen.

The lamp is one of a pair, a junk shop find when I first moved to Hastings. The cabinet is a post-war Utility furniture shoe cupboard, where we keep our scruff about shoes. Snow boots, trainers, Ugg boots, walking boots, that kind of thing. It cost £10.

The convex starburst mirror another treasure from the wonderful five-floor warehouse of premium junk which has now been made into flats. I furnished most of my house from it, including two velvet-covered Chesterfield sofas, £400 the pair. I will never stop missing that emporium of joy.

The heart-shaped pebbles are from Hastings beach, the Chinese gryphon (or whatever he is) is another junketeering trophy.

The paintings are particularly precious because they were given to me by Australian artist Pat Harry, who I wrote about here

Having those bits and bobs, nothing special or unique (apart from the paintings), just stuff I like, makes me happy every time I go past them.

But I’m not going down to the kitchen tonight again if I can possibly avoid it. I had to make the dinner wearing a puffa jacket and a hat – that’s how cold it is.

So the daffodils might be poking there brave little heads up, but we’ve got a lot more of winter to get through yet.

Seven Days of Positive – Day 92

In Family, junk shopping, salvage on December 20, 2014 at 10:57 pm


This morning got off to a good start when I fired up the computer to find lovely positive responses to yesterday’s post on here and on Twitter.

I’d been nervous about confessing to my cringey little ritual with the pinking shears and the neurotically horded tiny pieces of ribbon – only to find that loads of other people save those ribbons too.

It’s funny how it’s always the posts and columns you think ‘This is a weird one, they’re all going to go right off me now…’ which get the biggest response.

After that I didn’t have long at my screen as we had to leave by 9.30 latest (husband’s orders) to drive to Oxfordshire to meet up with sister, brother and sister-in-law and mother for lunch, so we could then bring my mum back here for Christmas.


We meet at the country branch of Lassco, the amazing architectural salvage yard (they have two amazing sites in London as well), because it’s half way between me and my sister and mother, close to my brother, and two minutes off the motorway.

It’s also the most fabulously atmospheric place, with roaring log fires and you eat your lunch next to a row of elegant claw foot baths.


I love roaming around seeing what rusty treasures I can find. They’re so artlessly clever the way they mix them all up. A tower of industrial metal storage boxes, next to a marble urn, then a huge chandelier next to some beaten up old steamer trunk.


And to let you in on a little secret, it’s one of the places which inspired the setting of my new book…


Seven Days of Positive – Day 81

In Family, junk shopping, Shopping, Vintage on December 8, 2014 at 11:58 pm


Today had a little bit of fairy dust sprinkled on it.

I sat at my computer this morning and went straight on to eBay to see if I could find some vintage decorations to put on the top of my first ever home-made Christmas cake.

Along with an increasing sense of outrage at the profiteering prices – £19 for one old plaster Santa – grew my sense of grief about the tin of cake decorations which my mum gave to a charity shop in a fit of empty nest fury, some years ago.

Me and my sister have never got over it.

The tin itself was a marvel. It had been my grandmother’s and I would date it from about 1910. It had the most lovely purple and gold designs on it and inside…. Oh, inside!

I think I could just about list everything that was in that tin. I used to get it down from my mother’s baking cupboard and play with it all, making little tableaux.

The plaster snowmen, santas and a little cottage-y thing. The wood and plastic fir trees, plastic children on a sledge and some skiers. That was just the Christmas cake area.

All our birthday cakes were there. Ballerinas. Cowboys on horseback and, I think, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. Years of little plastic candle holders. Random candles, which gave the tin a very specific smell of wax and old cake.

What really kills me is that she gave it away before the whole home baking and decorating schtick had taken off and no one had yet been clever enough to invent the term ‘vintage’ for second hand.

I’m sure whoever unpacked my mum’s bag of donations had a look in that tin, saw a load of ‘dirty old’ cake decorations and threw the whole thing in the bin.

Thinking about that got my day off to a grumpy start and I was glad later to have the excuse of posting a letter to get out of the house.

On the way back from the post, I took a wander up Courthouse Street, the best junketeering spot in this junketeering town. I popped in to see my mate Mick, to see if he had a card table. We need one.

He didn’t, but he had a lot of other enticing delights. It felt snow cold today, so clever of Mick to have this Rosebud out.


It’s one of my ambitions to have a bar in my house one day. I just need to get a bigger house first.


Loving this desk.


Mick then suggested I went along to number 17 to see Ollie, at Betty B Vintage, as he thought she might have a card table. This is another shop I love and before I’d even got through the door I’d found the perfect chair for my daughter’s bedroom.


She didn’t have any card tables, but once inside I couldn’t resist having a mooch about. So many treasures.


And when I got round to the far side of the space, I found these…


£2 each. The start of my very own cake decoration tin.

I was so happy I went and bought a lottery ticket.

Seven Days of Positive – Day 75

In homewares, houses, junk shopping, Lewes on December 2, 2014 at 11:52 pm


I can now declare the best place for junketeering in Southern England. Hastings and St Leonards, where I live, are pretty good, but Lewes about forty minutes west is stellar.

My daughter was doing an audition afternoon to get onto a ballet ‘extension’ course, which will bring her on faster than her current five hours a week, not far from Lewes.

So as we wanted to check the ballet school out, we made it a family outing, with my husband and I having a kind of date day, while she skipped about in a leotard for five hours.

I’ve been to Lewes a few times, but never feel I’ve explored it properly because I always get sucked into the antique warehouse vortex at the bottom of the High Street (the bit called Cliffe High Street) and before I know it, it’s time to head home again.

Happened again today.

I briefly browsed one emporium which had a brilliant selection of chunky old necklaces, but my phone rang and I had to go outside to take the call before I’d even got to the back of it.

Then I was distracted by some interesting looking light fittings in a shop opposite and before my brain had made a decision my feet had crossed the road and gone in. Lewes Antiques Centre, it’s called.

Aladdin’s Cave.

Five floors of it. Going a long way back. I think it must have been some old grain store or something, it was huge – and it had so much good stuff.

I was looking for something specific for a Christmas present for my best mate (can’t say what, in case she looks at this…), but my eyes were dancing about and falling on so many choice items of all different kinds – Lewis tweed jackets, gilt mirrors, tables covered in blue and white china, an orange velvet 1920s opera cloak – I was practically hyperventilating.


The thing that made me really gasp, though, was this chest of drawers printed with a map or Asia, featuring the whole of Russia. TSome London dealer needs to pick it up pronto. It was £350 which isn’t crazy for something so original. I wish I had somewhere for it.

But I don’t, so I carried on and found a really brilliant Christmas present for my daughter – which will be revealed in 23 or so days time.

Then I headed upstairs and found these shoes.


My size. £10. They’re a little bit tight but a really nice girl saw me posing in them and made appropriately appreciative noises – then when I mentioned that I was deeply in love, but they nipped a bit, she said:

‘But those are the kind of shoes you only need to wear for two hours and then you can get someone to carry you home.’

It was like meeting a character from one of my books. (And I set one of them near Lewes, Cents and Sensibility, so maybe she was.)

I thanked her for being my shoe shopping enabler, picked them up and carried on browsing. After drifting to the back of that floor and nearly having a conniption at a whole glass case of willow pattern china, I stumbled on the perfect present for my bestie. Not what I’d set out to find for her, something much better.


Then I found my curtain.

I have one curtainless room at the moment. It’s the small bedroom (small, because I stole a third of it to be my walk-in closet, ahem…) which used to be my daughter’s room.

She’s moved into a full-size bedroom and the small one is now a single spare room, combined with being my boudoir, containing my Louis Fooey 1960s dressing table and painted the same colour as my foundation. You can see a post on choosing that colour, here

The bed in there has a headboard covered in blue toile de jouy and that’s a very tricky fabric to put anything else with apart from more blue toile. The only choices are blue and white stripes, or blue and white checkers and I didn’t want either. Too neat.

So I stopped in my tracks when I spotted this curtain in an amazing massive scale wavy blue and white print. It looks a bit like a Matisse cut out. The label said it was a 1960s Heal’s design and I think it might be a Barbara Brown.


There was only one curtain, but I could see it would be big enough for the window in my boudoir and it will actually work better pulled back to one side, as there’s no space on the far edge (due to aforementioned closet-making, room-stealing activity).

Down I went with my purchases, not even allowing myself to look at the other three floors… three!

But there are still those very appealing mid-century small-scale chandeliers (pictured at the top of the post) that I first spotted to consider.

They’d be great in my bathroom.

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