Thursday, 25 February 2010

Jumble tale

Before we took up boating, out main weekend leisure activity was going to jumble sales. I was introduced to this rewarding passtime in my teens, by my friend Penny, much to my mother's lower middle class horror. Back then I mostly used to buy dreadful clothes for being a teenager in.

Then - must be fifteen or so years ago now - I introduced an equally horrified Jim to the concept and he was immediately hooked. We'd go nearly every weekend, sometimes to two or even three, in the surrounding villages. The quality and quantity of stuff was generally high, and the prices low. A lot of the stuff we bought didn't stay around long - it's in the nature of the activity that if you're not sure about something, you buy it anyway and think about it later - but looking around the house now I can see dozens of things that have become part of the furniture (literally in some cases) that originated for a few pence in a village hall. Pictures, including a number of nice Victorian prints; a lovely piece of needlepoint; a Mamod traction engine (one of Jim's great triumphs, beating a trader - boo hiss - for it), a Whitefriars glass vase, the overmantel in the front room (stripping the paint off that was a job and a half), a beautiful brass and copper coal shovel, my first ever purchase on the adult return to the sport... the list goes on and on... the kitchen scales, the lovely 1960s tableware that we use every day, literally hundreds of books, hand embroidered cushion covers and tablecloths, hand made lace trimmed linen...

In recent years though things have tailed off. Fewer jumble sales take place - partly because of the costs of getting rid of the unsold stuff. There is less stuff to sell, because people can ebay it, or Freecycle, or take it to the charity shop or sell it at a car boot sale, rather than waiting for a local cause to come and collect it. For the first time in ages, I strolled down the road last Saturday to the local Lifeboat jumble sale. We were promised great things, but it was very disappointing; mostly just a load of rubbish and very few clothes, all of which were dreadful. I came away with a (brand new, boxed) Prestige wall-mounted tin opener, an aluminium measuring cup (period piece for the boat), and a set of Tala metal pastry cutters, which I don't need but they were in such good condition. Baz bought a novelty folding clothes brush which is entertaining but totally ineffective, and we clubbed together to stump up two quid for a new multi-storey cage for Aaron's hamster, Beanz. I think that the glory days of jumble are over, but I have some great souvenirs.

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