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Saving a sink

Screen Shot 2016-03-04 at 2.42.52 PMAll week during the school run my boys and I have passed this sad little sink basin resting outside a block of houses.  It even survived our local pickup day on Wednesday.  Oddly, I realized I was anxious to see if it would still be there on our afternoon journey after the day’s collection is done.  Truthfully, I have wanted to take it home all week and I’m not exactly sure why.  The boys and I pass cast-offs, in varying degrees of disrepair, on an almost daily basis in our corner of SW London.  I have other thoughts on curb side cast-offs, but that’s for another time.

If I’m honest with myself, the only reason this sink basin isn’t sitting in our back garden (out of view of my more than patient husband) is it was simply too heavy for me to carry all the way home.  Yes, I did pick it up just to check.  This is one of those very few times I sort of wish we had a car.

The basin doesn’t have a single crack in it and with a good wash would be a perfect white with not a single stain or discolouration. All I have been doing is going over projects in my head and pouring over Pinterest for weird and wonderful ideas of what could be done with the poor thing.

At first all I came up with was using it as a planter, especially because it is missing the faucet.  But thanks to Pinterest, my mind was blown by other peoples creativity.

I realized that if I was to find a way to rescue the basin and bring it home, not only would I have so much fun planting something in it but I would have something new to add to my charity shopping list; an old faucet, and it wouldn’t even have to work!

Am I the only one who can’t help but notice those things that others throw away? Have you ever rescued something from the pavement?  I would love to hear from you.

Happy hunting everyone!


Adventures in… Pimlico

Adventures in PimlicoYesterday I was given the gift of some “solo Sarah time” and better still, it didn’t even have a set limit on that time.  Bryan took vacation from work this week for our oldest’s half-term break and was home with the boys with big plans of taking Rosie (our beagle) for a long walk in Wandsworth Common and to “explore”.  I took this opportunity to try a new spot that I have had my eye on for some time; Pimlico.

It’s a great hotspot for charity shops in London because it boasts 6 different charities (but 8 shops) within a two block radius and it is very central.  Pimlico is considered to be a southern extension of Belgravia and is known for its garden squares and Regency architecture.  It is home to over 350 Grade II listed buildings.  I can’t speak to the garden squares but I was able to appreciate the different architecture of the area compared to that of Battersea.
I started my day at Victoria Station and made one stop in the area before venturing into Pimlico.  The British Red Cross charity shop on Buckingham Palace Road is just two blocks from the station and really shouldn’t be passed up if you are in the area.  This was not my first visit and yet again I was not to be disappointed.

Because of my slight detour to visit the Red Cross shop in Victoria I did get momentarily turned around on my way down to the shops in Pimlico.  This wrong turn ended up being a happy accident as I stumbled upon Westminster Cathedral. I didn’t even know it existed and as is often the case in this amazing city, it literally caught me by surprise. It sort of appeared in front of me as I passed a large, grey and rather uninteresting concrete building.

I was able to visit 6 of the 8 charity shops during my visit and will gladly return to the area.  There was limited road traffic (once I left Vauxhall Bridge Road behind) and between Upper Tachbrook Street and Tachbrook Street there is a pedestrian only access area that hosts Tachbrook Street market. The smell from a few of the food vendors was very tempting and I did pause and consider if I should make it my lunch for the day.  Not surprising of course, there were also a number of your regular coffee shop chains and a few local pubs that looked busy enough during the start of lunch hour.

Something that did catch my attention, in the charity shops themselves, was a greater sense of community than I have come across before.  On more than one occasion during a browse, someone would come in and be greeted in a very familiar manner (twice by name) and polite conversation would begin between the shop staff and the visitors.  Sometimes the conversation would revolve around a particular item the visitor was still looking for and sometimes it would be general conversation about the shop or area. But it was always more than general pleasantries and I would say it happened in half, if not more, of the shops I stopped in.  It was lovely to observe these interactions and be reminded that Pimlico, like many other areas, really has it’s own community within the larger city of London.

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5 things you need for a successful charity shop visit

 Screen Shot 2016-02-06 at 3.13.32 PMWhether you are a long time charity shopper like me, or just beginning to be intrigued by the mystique of these high street staples, this list of must haves is for you.  Charity shopping is a lot of fun whether you find a treasure or not, but when you do find that something that you can’t leave (or live) without, you will be so glad you headed out prepared.  


  1. Mindset\attitude

Whether real or perceived, you can’t be in a rush.  You also have to be in the mood for a good browse and happy even if you walk out with nothing.  If you are on the hunt for something you really want, or worse, “need” that day or in the next few, you are not going to enjoy the experience.  You are also likely to let treasures (either for yourself or others) go unnoticed, including that something you’ve been waiting for and hoping would show up in the shops.

It’s also important to be intentional about exhibiting that relaxed and open attitude whilst you are In the shop.  The reason for this is people. First, and perhaps most important, you are in a shop that is open and available for you to enjoy predominantly because of volunteers giving of their time. A friendly greeting and smile goes a long way in making their efforts feel appreciated and their time in the shop enjoyable. I have seen and felt how a shop atmosphere can change to a fun and welcoming space for everyone with a simple gesture and can last long after you have left the shop.

Charity shops are also notoriously small spaces packed full of goodies and often with barely enough space to pass someone between clothing racks; which I admit sometimes adds to the atmosphere I love. It also means that you will be bumping into someone and more than once will be saying ‘excuse me’ to a fellow browser. Doing it with a smile and showing some patience while someone else browses through a section you can’t wait to look through, keeps the whole experience fun for everyone.

  1. Time

Not every trip to the charity shop, or shops, needs to be part of a full “charity shop, day-out extravaganza”.  About a year ago, I popped into a charity shop in Dublin, Ireland right next to a bus stop with my husband and two boys while my in-laws played lookout for our bus.  We were in the shop less than 5 minutes and walked out with two green glass Coca Cola glasses shaped like 350ml cans. They were discovered, wrapped, paid for (in cash, see tip number 4) and in my bag before the bus was in sight. Those glasses are used every morning for my husband’s orange juice; he loves them. It just goes to show, the right place at the right time is one of those charity shop fundamental principles.

If you only have a set amount of time, you would be better served by going into one shop or maybe even limiting yourself to one section, for example just browsing books or bypassing clothing. If you try and rush a browse through an entire charity shop when you really don’t have the time you are most certainly going to miss something but more important you are taking away the fun of the experience. To be honest, rush browsing seems a bit like skim reading a book, neither of which seem appealing or a very good use of my time.

Clothing is often an area that I choose to skip over when I am in a rush. If I was to see an article of clothing that I really liked but didn’t have the time to try it on, one of two scenarios would play out.

  1. I would have to leave it behind, disappointed and thinking about it all day, or worse every time I visited that shop, or
  2. I would take it thinking “I’m sure it will fit” or “it looks like it will be fine” and then it isn’t great and ends up back at the charity shop in a few days when I just can’t justify keeping it.

I am very seldom thrilled with an impulse purchase.

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Out of the comfort zone

Today has been a tough tech day for me blog-wise.  I have so many exciting thoughts and ideas I want to share and I can’t seem to break through my technology barrier. I am trying to focus on the reasons I started this blog in the first place and step away from the screen every so often but it can be deflating.

Pacing our flat, and doing surface tidying, is my default stress reliever and top procrastination technique.  It was also the thing that brought me back to the computer today. Down in the lounge, I found my blue bead necklace from my last “charity shop day” with my mum while she was here over the Christmas holidays.IMG_1970

Costume jewelry especially slightly large and bright has never been my thing.  I really love it on other people, my husband has always said he thinks I would look good in some, and sometimes when I am putting on my necklace that I have worn everyday over the last month, I wish I could just try something a bit more exciting.

It took me the entire length of my browse in the charity shop to decide to buy it but I did. Honestly, who gives that much thought to a piece of jewelry that cost 50 pence (it was half price on jewelry that day). But despite how long it took me to make a decision about the necklace I have worn it twice in the last month and was really pleased with how I felt both times.

I thought about starting this blog on and off for the last year and it certainly does take me beyond my comfort zone.  The necklace did remind me to have hope that although I won’t post something and feel amazing everyday, if my goal is to feel that way a few times in the month that would be a good place to start.  It also reminded me how much I really do love the charity shop and I want to share that here, broken hyperlinks, missing images, error messages and all.

New blog, new(ish) notebook


I’m excited to get started on this blog.  Having a place to share the things that I find wonderful and worthwhile, and could possibly inspire others to give items and ideas a second look is energizing.   But I have run into my first real problem. It isn’t a technical issue, because I have a few of those and it wasn’t lack of ideas to share, because I have notes and ideas written in a million little places all over the house.  Some of brainstorms are even written on the back of my old Ocado receipts.  These are the hurdles I was prepared for and had accepted as the growing pains associated with my new endeavour.  My problem was this post. Where to start? How do I actually choose a topic and write my first post?

It was time to browse for inspiration.  I wasn’t 5 minutes through the door at one of my local charity shop haunts when an actual treasure caught my eye.  A ‘new-to-me’ journal with not a single word written in it, or page torn out.  The fact that it was an Orla Kiely notebook was largely why I noticed it right away and the real icing on the cake. It seemed unfathomable that it was sitting right there in plain view of the three other women in the book section with me (not to mention the countless others that had been in the shop that day or week) and not one person had snatched it up in the rather graceless manner that I had just demonstrated.

When I got home and sat staring at my new notebook I realized two things that were equally true for both the charity shopping experience and for my blog posts yet to be written.

1. An amazing find or treasure to me on the charity shop shelves, is nothing but a trifle to someone else and in the same way, this will be a great blog to read and follow for someone and merely another occupied space in the blogosphere to someone else.

2. Everything and anything imaginable is available in the charity shop and it is always changing. Sometimes the timing is just right to pick up something that can really make you smile and change your whole day.  And if I think of my blog in this way I realize that I just have to start writing.  No single story I have to tell, or idea for a post I want to share will be the perfect first, or next post.  I just have to keep stocking my blog with posts that are worthwhile to me and hope the timing is just right for someone else to pick something up that makes them smile and want to come back.

*I also realized that I really should put all my blog notes in one notebook; the rest of the family fears putting any piece of paper in the recycling.


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