There are places I remember

Happy belated new year everyone! I’m afraid I have been neglecting the charity shops (and this blog) somewhat recently – mainly because I’ve been spending my spare time getting to grips with my new DSLR that my wonderful boyfriend bought me for Christmas.

I did an AS-Level in photography many many years ago, so it’s been great rekindling my interest in the subject by getting out and relearning about such mysterious terms as f-stops, shutter speeds and ISOs. As you can see my pictures are still a bit amateur, but I plan to improve!

If you want to check out how it’s properly done, check out my friend’s photography blog – he’s a wedding photographer and blogs about the technical aspects of how he creates his shots here.

I have been exploring recently, even if I haven’t been shopping. A few weeks ago I visited Earlsfield, just because it’s a New Place That I Haven’t Been To.

(beautiful old clock in Southfields high street)

They have some lovely cafes and restaurants, and a Fara which I just had to check out. They had a nice selection of things (including a nice old wooden trunk, which I sadly passed on because it was too big too carry). I tried on a couple of almost-new dresses that would be good for work, but they weren’t quite my size so I also passed on them. Still, I’ll definitely pop in again if I’m ever back in the area.

Last week we headed over to Wimbledon Common to enjoy the snow. I spotted an Oxfam bookshop on the way there, but I’m afraid my mind was on other things that day:

(there were so many good snowmen)


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Is November too early to start Christmas shopping?

I certainly don’t think so, if you see something nice for someone you might as well buy it now right? Also it gives you more excuses to scour charity shops (not that I need them…) With that in mind I headed off to my current favourite locals. I saw the loveliest hip flask in Tooting Paws (I think it’s the same as this one here:, a steal at £7, but it was engraved. I don’t think I’d mind too much having something engraved with someone elses’ name (it gives it a nice sense of history), but probably it might be weird to give someone as a present. Anyway, if there’s a couple out there named Katherine and Andrew, and you have a significant date of October 2007, then you should check it out.

I then headed to the Wandsworth Oasis bookshop (my absolute favourite second hand bookshop, all paperbacks are 50p or five for £2. I bought most of my collection of Iain Banks, Kate Atkinson and Christopher Brookmyres from there). They already have some exciting books in their window display, perfect for stocking fillers, but unfortunately the shop was closed early today.

All is all it wasn’t a very successful day. Not to worry, there’s always Oxfam online (I went a bit mad buying things from there last Christmas, and I suspect I shall probably do the same this year).

Since I haven’t posted in a while, I might as well share some previous purchases. Check out this little guy, who we picked up form Wandsworth Oasis (the big one, not the bookshop), for a mere £3:

(sorry about the orange tint, autumn and laziness means I don’t get round to taking photos until after dark)

I love the expression on his face, and the little deer frolicking in the background.

Another bargain was finding this game in Trinity Hospice in Clapham:

It’s another one that the people at boardgamegeeks rate quite highly. Apparently it costs just under £40 new, so at £4 and still in its cellophane wrapper, it was the buy of the day.

Well I’m off to hit the online shops, ta ra for now.

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Folking great

Yesterday we visited a few local charity shops and house clearance outlets to try and find a coffee table for our new lounge. We didn’t have much luck with the table, but I did find this nice blue tshirt for £4, from the Octavia Foundation. My boyfriend described it as native american-style, but I think it’s more nordic folk, what do you think?

Either way, I think it will be good for winter, with my big furry boots.

I also found this dress for £4.99 for Oxfam:

It looks lovely with some big beads, black leggings and boots.

The biggest bargain of the day, however, was this board game that my boyfriend found for £2.99:

According to these folks, it’s “one of the best games about ancient civilizations”, and it looks like old copies go for a bit more that a few quid, so I think this was a good find. I mostly just love the picture on the box – check out the guy wearing a leopard!

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New beginnings

Well it’s been a busy couple of weeks, since we move moved last weekend. Though we didn’t want to leave our old flat initially, our new place is bigger and cheaper and closer to the shops, so I’m super excited. We have a lovely bright front room with lots of windows from which you watch the people going by, and two beautiful old fireplaces (sadly not working, but still pretty), and now that we’ve unpacked all our things and put them away, it feels all cosy like a real home. Here is me being all Nigella in the kitchen:

[Egg cups = a present from my mum from a little shop in Sussex which has now closed down; yellow pot = one of a pair, 30p each from Fara; teacups bought by my mother many years ago for when her father (my grandad) came to tea; fairy lights from Christmas; flowers = offcuts from a gladioli plant which I had to cut down to fit into the vase]

Now that we’ve put everything away, it actually seems a little empty in the flat, so we’re off shopping next weekend. Any ideas for where we can obtain a nice second hand coffee table, linen basket and corner table?

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Bank holiday bargains

I came back from the garage sale weekend laden down with lots of goodies. I bought several records (I’m listening to Disney’s Robin Hood as I type), plenty of books including Nigella’s Endless Summer and a nice David Attenborought hardback, a Monsoon dress for £5 (black and spotty, of course), and, my favourite buy, a dusty set of old kitchen scales with a full set of weights, also for £5.

It wasn’t a particularly profitable weekend though, as I only managed to sell an old red feather fan for 50p…

As well as buying some new old things, I also purloined some things from my parents house, including their old Olympus Trip 35 camera, which I’m planning to have a play with this weekend. It’s going to be weird taking pictures on film – especially only being able to take 36 pictures in one go, and not being able to see the results straight away!

Health-meter anyone?

We also had time to pop over to Seaford for a picnic on the beach, and then visit the fair where I won £2.40 on the donkey derby.

(Left hand picnic hamper acquired from garage sale)

(Me experminenting with close up on my Samsung digital camera)

Hope you all had a lovely break too.

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Whenever I’m down in the dumps I buy a new dress…

… “so that’s where you get them all from”, my boyfriend says.

Well, I wasn’t really down, it was just a rainy day. And it wasn’t the dumps, but Oxfam on Goodge Street during my lunchbreak. Still, any excuse to buy a cheerful dress.

I had another lovely weekend down in Bridport, catching up with friends and family. We visited the pigs and chickens at Washingpool farm shop. They do the best chilli jelly I have tasted, so of course we had to stock up on some, delicious with some Dorset Blue Vinny. The sun was shining and we set off into town for the carnival, with a quick stop at Sue Ryder where I found another new dress (pictures to follow).

I’m excited because next weekend I am going to the grand Henfield-wide garage sale. If you happen to be in the area of West Sussex over the bank holiday, check it out. With dozens of simultaneous sales happening over the weekend, there are bound to be some bargains to be had!

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Walking back to happiness

I didn’t get much opportunity for exploring charity shops at the weekend, as I was away walking the Two Moors Way in Exmoor. We walked about fifty miles in total through glorious scenery, and stayed at some lovely B&Bs and hostels along the way. We got back last night, and I’ve spent today relaxing in the beautiful sunshine resting my poor aching feet, reading one of these books I picked up last week from Fara in Balham:

I’d never heard of the author before, but the books were brand new and I thought – Victorian railway crime, what’s not to like?

I’ve also been enjoying this one:

I was interested to see if Ienjoyed the book as much as the films (check them out here), and I think I do.

I’ve also been having a go at some of the recipes from my new ‘Soup and Beyond’ book. Here is my attempt at Barbados black bean cakes with mango sauce:

[plate part of a set that my mum rescued from being thrown into a skip after a jumble sale last year]

I really enjoyed the mango salsa, but I thought the bean cakes themselves were a bit bland. I probably just didn’t season them properly, as they’d say on Masterchef.

To follow, I had a go at the curried banana soup:

It was quite unusual tasting, but not unpleasant.

Tonight I am going to have a go at spicy aubergine and mozzarella bruschetta from the Abel and Cole cookbook, and spicy sausage meat and mixed wild mushrooms pasta from The Return of the Naked Chef. Bon Appetit!

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