Rain stops play so hold your own bootsale!

Its a a painful time of year as the bootsales that are still going on, face being called off by rain .. Like wot just happened this Sunday!!

So if like me you still have loads of stuff to clear in order to nest for winter.. Hold your own bootsale at home!!

Next Friday I’m opening my home for friends to come and root around, grab a bargain, swap stuff or just enjoy a glass of Halloween beverage!! Just a few of the items I’m hoping others will want and buy can be seen in the photos

It’s the chance to get together informally and have a great catch up and clear out at the same time .. If, like me, you like to constantly change the look of your home then make it a free for all – don’t restrict yourself to certain items – sell anything anyone is interested in

With Christmas just around the corner (sorry to mention the c word) it’s ideal for people looking for quirky or different presents .. Your old Christmas decorations could be a friend’s new ones!

Here”s how to plan it:

** don’t over plan or you will never do it!!!

** set a date and invite everyone you know and ask them to invite everyone they know!

** now you are committed start clearing a room as best you can even if that means just moving furniture to the side of the room

** invest or beg some proper industrial hanging rails ands start filling them with the families unwanted clothing – washed and ironed of course

** make sure men, women’s and children’s clothes are hung together on the rail and consider a set price per item eg £2 per shirt, £1 per child item, £5 per jacket

** if you need more hangers most dry cleaners will give you wire ones for free

** handbags can be hung at either end of the rail

** use tables or decorating tables with sheets as tablecloths to give you more surface space to display – consider putting a table ontop of a table for height and increased appeal

** raid the bathroom as shampoo/toiletries/even half used bottles of perfume will sell – I’ve got half a bottle of Burberry Brit (retail £30 my price £10) and have bought half used bottles of Chanel – if its your scent you don’t care that it’s not full as you are using it yourself  and saving money on the full retail price

** raid the kitchen but save space and maximise your bootsale party by leaving the unwanted kitchen items on the work tops – I cannot get on with Le crueset cookware myself but friends live it and will happily pay £10 for a pan because they cost £60-£80 new

** sticker everything you want to sell so guests are not embarrassed by asking the price of something you are not yet ready to part with!!

** check out the loft! You know you don’t need anything that’s up there from your move three flats ago!!

** get your wine from the meal deal ranges – tesco £10 deal means you get a good bottle of wine and the rest of the meal can be frozen – or depending on your choice and selection cooked and divided into mini portions for your guests – or simply ask your guests to bring their own tipples

** ask your friends if there’s anything in particular they need or want ahead of your home bootsale – then you can source it and make sure it’s on display rather than pulling out everything from the cupboard under the stairs mid party!! Talking of which … Raid and clear the cupboard under the stairs – you know you don’t need anything in there from your move three flats ago!!

** tell your friends to bring some stuff to swap or sell too .. Firstly it adds to the fun and selection of stuff on sake .. Secondly it gets your friends thinking about buying and selling well ahead of their arrival – they will already be in the right frame of mind for a bargain!

Tomorrow .. Clearing your walls to hang a bargain … Selling outside your house… And more tips on your own home bootsale

Car boots cut the cost of children!

Yep we all know they cost a fortune but car boots are a great way to stock up on kids clothes and toys at a fraction of the cost

Up at the crack of dawn for the last few bootsales running this year means a great chance to grab some pre-Christmas bargains

Years ago I used to buy loads of children’s toys from bootsales to keep in a treasure box for my friends children when they came round – it used to drive their parents nuts as everything I had accumulated seemed so much more interesting to the kids than the toys they came with which had cost my friends a fortune!! Here’s my tips:

** whether you have kids or not grab some bootsale toys to have stashed away to entertain friends and relatives’ children when they come round

** take the batteries out of noisy toys! The Noah’s ark was a bargain at £2 versus the £18 retail price but it plays animal noises non stop!!

** look up the toy you are about to buy on your phone first do you can check it’s a bargain – Peppa pig push along car cost £2 versus £15 new

**  keep a list of any particular favourite characters you are collecting so you don’t double up

** check eBay “completed items” to see what toys are rare and keep an eye out for them

** children’s clothes are great bargains – the mamas and papers snowsuit costs £22 but was a bargain at £2

** newborn or 1-3 months clothes for babies are always bargains as they are rarely worn and often have the tags on – great presents for an impending new addition – suits from £1 each

** badges and emblems from craft shops cost a fortune so buy children’s clothes and cut out the shapes and designs to appliqué on other items or frame up to make a unique picture or collage

** bootsales aren’t always children’s play – I couldn’t resist the spinning top which reminded me of the old tin one we had as children – £1 and so far all my friends have been unable to resist having a go!

Books, toys and clothes are great boot sale buys to cut the cost of children – shop all year round for good quality immaculate toys and once your children have finished with them – you can bootsale the lot and get your money back or even more!!


Dumped phones ring in £££s and a duvet set worth £80!

It’s the complete waste that does my head in!! Why take time to build up a collection of more than 50 obsolete phones only to dump them at the tip??

I might not understand what drives people to collect the things they do, but once lovingly acquired I certainly wouldn’t want to simply dump the entire lot in household waste!!

Not all the phones have a value, rarity or even desirability but those that reflect the design of the times or a technological breakthrough do have a value.., the betacom Italia model sums up the 1980s cutting edge, ambitious, Yuppie look – £10 … Then there’s the wine coloured BT Relate at £45 and the Betacom Phoenix at £35 .. You get the picture!!

Design is everything when it comes to prices – an item must reflect the era and preferably be by a good designer to have a value – and if that’s not enough of an indicator – go by the original retail price .. So this week here’s the shockers … Dump this lot at the dump?? Really?? Why would you dump:

** orla kiely (yes I really do mean orla kiely) … Double duvet with matching pillows washed and ironed in perfect condition – retail £60-80 a set!!

** orla kiely double duvet set – yep a se bid different design – retail £60-80 so I make that st least £120 worth of bedding dumped so far!!

** sought after IKEA swivel chair in the style of Arne Jacobson £80

** Habitat napkin set £22

i can’t afford this stuff new, yet here are people happily throwing it all away.. Still it’s been saved – by me!! To sell for charity to YOU!! And do the world goes round !! For me today saving the beautiful Edwardian print “Nearer My God to Thee” was the best

A lovely lady got out of her car and started walking towards household waste with this… Just a few minutes later and it would have been dumped in the household waste container and lost after neigh on 100 years .. Now it’s being cleaned and ready to sell to someone who will love it all over again … And that my friends is why I love my job and I love bringing you tips from the tip!!


More haste less speed – unless it’s a Ferrari, yes, a Ferrari at the Dump!

I’d decided to blog a typical day at the dump for Dump Diaries – a nice little rundown of what cake in etcetc – so bit of a shock when what came in was … A stunning Ferrari!!

The chap driving it really did bring it in with the bonnet (at the front!) loaded with rubbish and garden waste sitting on the front seat!!

unlike most fast car driving Fetrari owning men , this gentleman was so self effacing and down to earth that it was a pleasure chatting to him .. And he was a great sport while the dump ground to a halt for everyone to admire this super fast super machine

More haste less speed might not apply to Ferrsri drivers but it’s a lesson I learnt years ago after a friend at a top London auction house confessed to dropping a Lalique vase worth £13,000 once just through rushing.

i know how to handle anything at the dump – don’t ask me how to handle anything else as I have learnt nothing about handling children, dogs or men!! But my excitement at seeing the largest most stunning terracotta lot we have had in to date got the better of me!

using a spade to manoeuvre it off the rubble and into my hands.. For some weird reason that only the Divine Dump God knows – it slipped out of my hands and smashed to pieces!! I was gutted – the most lovely shaped pot we have had to date, lost in an instant

Worse still that got me to thinking of just how much stuff gets lost when we are not around (it’s impossible to cover two sites open six days a week!) … If this beauty ended up tossed on the rubble.. What else was buried underneath on a daily basis ?? Still it was a good day with discoveries including:

** Venetian folding mirror worth about £60

** stunning picture of portofino signed on the reverse by the artist and if high quality in a. Lovely proper frame – £30 minimum

** egg shaped chair thrown away because it “wobbled” according to its owner – in fact the “wobble” was a swivel it’s supposed to swivel round! £40

** green silver typewriter in case £45

** set of encyclopaedia Britannia from the 1950s in poor condition but idea for reframing the adverts inside

** brand bea pair of converse £30

** fabulous large chrome letters “M” and “r” spelling “mr” or to sell separately and most likely ftom the front of a shop £40

It was s fast and furious day getting stuff in and turning it around but the highlight was definately the Ferrsri .. That will go down in legend.. A bit like the one about the crematorium urn found in the textiles skip, complete with ashes!!

And that’s just a few examples of why you can never be down in the dumps at the dump – who knows what will come in next and let’s hope I don’t break it!!

Today’s bootsale bargains – £50 bag for £1 and Angel wings for £3

Today’s bootsale was cold and damp and about half the usual amount of sellers – but as promised I set out to find bargains and prove that anyone can do the same .. Check out some fab finds:

** my earlier blogs featured the idea of using old adverts or book illustrations for interior design and framing them in frames bought from bootsales – today I bought the 1953 framed Picture Post Pears Soap picture for £1 and it’s a fab image which would be great in a bathroom

** The LOVE sign is gilded metal with crystal detail and about 18inches in height – better and heavier quality than average £3

** who could resist the angel wings at £3 for both – a great present or you could cast them using a basic rubber casting kit from a craft shop and start making your own versions

** the bag is a brand called Alud Aolailud and similar in design to the Troop bag range – unisex, roomy and with the fashionable utility look it’s heavy metal detail reeks quality and sure enough bags from this company cost £40-£50 new so for £1 it’s always worth going with your gut instinct – quality always stands out

** the runner is 4foot X 2 foot so small but makes a lovely detail by the side of the bed or dressing table or laid across a table for colour – £1 ( yes I know I mean really what can you buy today with just £1 – and this is my point about bootsales – you can go mad and get the same thrill shopping without breaking the bank!!)

** the cushion was just £1 and my favourite buy as the entire thing had been crafted re-using all sorts of vintage fabric.. The work itself just have taken hours and reminds me of the sort of handmade crafting my grandmother used to do and anyone could do today with a bit of time

** the flower picture with is 3foot x4 foot appears to be vintage which the crackled glaze and faded flowers complemented by the old gold frame for just £2 but in fact it’s new and had the £50 price tag on the reverse – does it matter if it only looks old rather than being old?? I don’t think so because it’s nicely done and gives that charming vintage shabby chic look at a price you’ll only ever find at bootsales!!

** I couldn’t believe it when I found the stunning large butterfly picture ..  As you will remember I went to the Cambridge art fair this week where a bitterly picture of the same dimensions was available at £550 .. The “art gallery” version was three dimensional with the butterflies cut from differently printed paper… My bootsale version was an old Victorian print but the frame is over 100 years old and of striking quality – frames themselves can be worth a lot of money and are sold at auction in their own right … This picture to me is charming and unique and cost just £1 … As far as I am concerned I’d rather have my £1 version than the £550 version – best bargain of the day!!

Today I spent just £13 which is pretty low for me .. But I found some charming items that would be a great addition to any home and just go to show that absolutely anyone at the most average bootsale can pick out some stunning items … All you have to do is go with an open mind ready to buy anything that appeals to the eye or appeals to the pocket – and as I hope I have proved .. Both are possible at bootsales!!

Dump diaries – rework rubbish into fabulous features!

At the Cambridge Art Fair, Garry Pereina’s “View from the snug through a remained window” was on sale for £950 .. It’s a nice idea and years ago people were reclaiming Edwardian leaded  light stained glass picture windows.. Lighting them from behind and setting them into walls. A great look and a bit cheaper to achieve than £950!

After a week on the Dump being presented with and reclaiming all sorts of things I put my best “lateral thinking” hat on and came up with these:

** A set of four professional bowling balls make great features in the right garden .. Set against the slate geometric steps the complementary shape and colours work

** And the bowling ball softens the sharp edges of the slate chippings under the tree too

** the thumb indent for holding the ball can also be used for a candle in the garden in the evenings

** the cast iron broken circle is past of a broken piece of machinery but set on a wall it frames the landscape and challenges the eye – I’m going to see if it can be chromed as that would make it even more dramatic

** railway sleepers or odd wood cuttings that come in can be used to support your chosen feature like plinth

** random teacups and saucers I’ve seen turned into candle holders or set on canes as bird feeders but this one featuring a Coalport cup and saucer is particularly cute and can now be reused as a pin cushion or simply as an ornament

** and then… Last but not least is the huge shell that came into the dump!!  Yep thank the Lord it was like this and not live ammunition! I’m told a few years ago a gun and live bullet rounds were dropped off at the site! Despite the shells use when first created, it’s a beautiful shape and design which could make a fantastic candleholder, vase or object d’art

tomorrow – a tour of a bootsale direct from the actual event – exciting!! What wil we find?? Who knows but with lateral thinking!! There’s bound to be something!!



Bootsale buys turn into Fine Art @£700 a piece

Bootsales and recycling from the dump might be my pet loves,  but every now and again it’s interesting to see how others perceive my number One hobby

This week saw the Cambridge Art Fair take place which I visited with my artist friend Brian Parker – works if “art” included recycled books at £700 and reused cast metal irons at £545!

So one man”s toot is another man’s Art it seems! Of course such artistic innovation is to be admired – but these pieces whether you like them or not are being exhibited in major galleries and snapped up by collectors at extraordinary prices

i love the fact they all featured recycled items – most of which can be sourced from bootsales – and the dearest of these ranges featuring vintage books reworked and reappreciated

But at such shocking price points the world of ‘Fine Art’ and the value it puts on such items – should further encourage everyone to recycle, rework and resell their own pieces ..

Have confidence! Experiment and give selling your ideas and work a go .. Here’s some very easy examples of what can be achieved but what is also seemed Art:

**the Victorian cast iron reworked by Pamela Lawton as “three men in a boat” £545

** The Old House using a vintage shoe brush as its base £300

** the flowers cut out from the text pages of a book to create a 3-d origami type image with the antiquarian book as its base by Emma Taylor £700

** the use of an old Edwardian school ruler as a canvas on which is painted a naive figure of a child

** the vintage map on which a peacock is beautifully painted

** a cotton bobbin reworked with a miniature house ontop £400

** a full size dog figure made or wool and recycled rope over £1000

** a framed small Salters Book of common prayer book opened with a butterfly painted across its pages by Helen Hunt – price on application! Eek!!

i may not be an artist – and I have the utmost respect for those who are – but I can feel some basic workshops coming on where we:

** go to a bootsale

** buy old bits and bobs

** snap up some paint and brushes

** upcycle and paint whatever we buy however we want

** buy plenty of old pictures, rip out the image to use the frame and glass to reframe our newly created upcycled Art

** list each piece on eBay to see what we can get

better still submit our ‘artworks’ to a gallery and see if any of them will snap up our new found talent .. Represent us.. And start wacking out our pieces at such prices.. Next step – retirement!!



Bootsale Buddha, icons and iconic interiors

I’ve always found religious icons and images inspiring and sometimes terrifying but always evocative – so without making any religious comment I’ve accumulated all sorts of bootsale bargains that have added a Da Vinci like element to my home

Where there’s an element of rebellion and a bit of Bohemia there’s usually an appreciation of religious artefacts. I was thrilled on a trip to the – run down but clearly about the gentrify – Margate. The lanes in the Old Town were full of shops selling the type of amazing and quirky items Brighton Lanes used to be famous for.

The mass of saintly figures stashed on the top of one cupboard in one Margate shop was exactly the type of collection I love – there’s something slightly anarchic about buying any type of religious figure and putting it in a completely different context

We may be less reverential about religion but you’d be amazed how much can be picked up at bootsales and reworked at home – you just need a sense of humour:

** a recent favourite was the Bootsale Buddha which moves it’s head up and down and fans himself st he sane time – £1 and a great bit of kitsch that challenges the somber element of the library

** the silver brand new Buddha and candle combo that just looks nice between the bathroom taps and the bronze version that cost £6 and holds the bedroom door open!

** the Siam wood carving and the juxtaposition of the niave carved cross add a bit of mysticism directly above the spot I sleep in – £3 and 50p respectively

** the wood icon featuring a ceramic depiction of Mary and the Christ child sits opposite  – thinking about it as the “other side of the bed” would be the mans side – it might be a strong message for the case of contraception rather than immaculate conception! But in reality the idea Is to use religious bootsale buys,  as charms above my head when asleep in bed!!

** the wooden primitively carved saint figure breaks up the regimented frames on the wall and cost £8 at the bootsale but there was something about its simplicity that I loved – and one dealer who has seen it believes it’s 16th century – the oldest piece I have purchased from a car boot

** the souvenir Christ on the Cross is most likely from Lourdes or possibly Notre Dame or another Christian tourist destination – potentially depressing as a depiction, aligning it next to the horse brass, makes you think not of the religious context but the beauty of an image that is presented to us from such an early age we stop challenging it or our reaction to it!

so if you are bootsaling this weekend.. See what religious icons you can spot ..  Once you start looking you will be surprised how much you see … And if you don’t fancy using religious icons in your interior .. Forget spirituality and go for commerciality – the figures in the photo from Margate start at £200 a piece!!

tomorrow is an update on my piece on how reusing or upcycle get collectables, old tools and books has been turned into a very lucrative art form – after a fab evening at the Cambrudge Art Fair it’s great to see fabulous old books reworked into art – at £700 a piece you can judge these books by their cover!!

Bootsale swaps save a fortune

You sort, you pack, you unpack and then… You start looking at what your friend’s unpacking and come over all hot and bothered with the idea that another bootsaler is about to bag a bargain from the very stall your mate’s set up!!

Bootsale envy – the lusting after items your bootsale partner -in – crime is about to sell – is similar to auction fever.

Cash in the Attic spent half its life at auction and every time you would see people getting locked into a battle to secure ownership of some coveted item. Losing all sense or reason hardened dealers and novices alike would – time after time – bid way beyond the actual value of the item.

You can’t help it!! The red mist rises and you just “have to have” that piece – no matter what the cost! And with commission and VAT that could be way over the odds!

Bootsales are no different – the idea of someone getting a bargain from under your nose means you are like a cat on a hot tin roof!! Trying to watch your stall but with half an eye on what’s selling next door!!

So a simple solution is to swap!! Steph loved the shoes – we are both size 7 – unbelievably handy!! I loved the tiara… £10 for £10 – no money changes a hands – done deal!!

Steph loved a bright yellow pair of shoes I had and I loved this All Saints top – I was asking £3 for the shoes – she wanted £2 for the top!! Both items were massively underpriced and somehow had been missed by the bargain hunters .. So at the end of the day – with both left over – we swapped  items!!

with the bootsales coming to a close .. There’s no reason why the swapping  and bargain hunting needs to cease.

next month I’m going to run a bootsale from my home!! Hanging rails up.. Friends bring what they like to either sell or swap .. Reinvigorate your home or wardrobe at minimal cost – other than bringing a bottle of wine!! And yes – the wine glasses come from a bootsale too!!

Tales from the tip – telephones and toys… Yes – those types of toys!

One day at the tip on the recycle project can be an unbelievable experience and a tv programme in the making!!

Some days it’s dysons (12 in one day) with the smaller “ball” models particularly sought after while the uprights sell for spare parts .. Other days it’s flat screen televisions complete in their original boxes (2 today brand new both working one of them would have cost £400)


imageimageimageimageBrand new juicers in their boxes pop up and why on earth people buy all this stuff I have no idea as the level of waste and consumerism gobsmacks even me / and I can consume for England!

perfectly good played, cups, bowls etc are thrown into the rubble where I try to retrieve what I can – slate roof tiles today amassed to help form a Victorian style path on an allotment

on the wood dump I pulled a wine rack and a perfectly good cupboard complete with key – both ideal for a good chalk paint job – so watch this space for the end result!

just managed to stop the four better-than-average quality lanterns going in the household waste – which goes to landfill. All they need is a wash or a wipe with a baby wipe – and they will look fab with lighted candies in

so it was a very busy day.. Exhausting but great .. You meet so many different people who still seem chuffed to hear about the project and assume I am making a tv programme!! Which of course I am going to do – just trying to adjust to the fact that I am going to look hot for the wrong reasons, sweaty for the wrong reasons, and very dirty for all the wrong reasons!

partly due to the hits spent sorting out textile bags – a dangerous job as people seem to think nothing of putting electricals, glass and dog poo into the “textile recycle” council issued bags – yes really – I’ll write it again – yes they really do!!

but today was a first – first because I uncovered a Burberry jumper, two kipling bags, a brand new pair of boots and ..  Yep you guessed it …. A rather subtle sex toy! You couldn’t make it up!!

But best of all at the end of the day in came a lovely gentleman who had decided to dump his entire – if dusty- collection of telephones

Apart from being such significant items in our social history and rapid technological growth, there’s a chance some of them are worth money … Find out which ones and watch them brought back to life tomorrow… That’s just the telephones not the sex toy which even I couldn’t bring myself to touch – gloves or not – so the whole bag ended up in household waste

and what a waste – that will go to landfill and at least two – sometimes four – containers a day go to household waste and landfill – and that’s just one tip.. Imagine all the tips in the country and the prospect for our long term environment and landfill sites is quite frightening

next tkne you go to buy anything just think – do I really need this?? Because in a few months or a couple of years, the tip is where the item will end up.. And from their to landfill …and that’s enough to  make anyone feel down in the Dumps!