Monday, 10 May 2010
The merits of (charity) shopping
When I was a child and didn't have a big appetite I used to eat off a plate that looked like the above. My mum also had a few other pieces of the set. I have fond memories of the poppy plate because it reminds me of both my mum and my childhood.
As a depressive I find it a bit of a pick me up to have a bit of retail therapy. Fortunately I don't suffer from bipolar disorder and don't get too carried away. It is even more of a thrill when you can say you've bagged an absolute bargain.
Charity shopping is akin to shopping in TK Maxx. You have to be prepared to rummage. Sometimes there will be gems and other times there will absolutely bugger all. It also depends on where your charity shop is. The Oxfam in Cheltenham was fabulous, I bought many a brilliant book from there when on holiday. The charity shops in Stirling were pretty good because they contained a lot of student cast offs and also those of some of the fairly rich folk that lived in the area. I can't imagine anything of the Queen's ended up in them though. In Carlisle I try to buy most things from the shops on Botchergate as items are priced much cheaper than in the ones in the town centre. For example you might get a set of three cups and saucers for £2.50 on Botchergate whereas in the town centre it might cost you upwards of £5. I don't think I will ever find a bargain as good as the coat I bought though - £2.75 which is amazing for a massive winter coat, and astounding once I saw the label inside and saw it was Aquascutum!
On the day I bought the Aquascutum coat (some time in late 2006) I saw a lovely dinner service in the window of a charity shop that had unfortunately closed for the day. It was made in the 60s/70s and had a green and blue bold floral motif in the centre. It was gorgeous and £10. As I'd recently moved from Stirling, and was just setting up home properly after graduating I really wanted a nice set of plates. I wondered how the hell I would get it home as I didn't have a car and didn't really have any friends in the area yet. My mum came up on another shopping trip to Carlisle very soon afterwards and went in the shop but alas someone else had nabbed it! It must have been charity shop karma saying that I couldn't get two such good bargains...
In April 2007 I blogged about trying to find a milk jug in the charity shops and to no avail. I resorted to trusty eBay instead. I saw one with a lovely retro paisley-ish pattern on it and instantly recognised it as being by the same pottery (J & G Meakin) as the poppy plate because of the similarity in colours. I bagged it for a bargainous £4.50 including postage.
Three years on my friend Sara and I have been pottering around the town centre and been for a coffee. We decide to walk home down Botchergate to browse the charity shop windows. They weren't open as it was a Sunday but we noticed a nice cake stand for her as she intends to have a retro tea party stall at Solfest this year. Further down the road there was a part dinner service in exactly the same pattern as my milk jug!
It was priced £20 for the lot. Although the photo above is not of my actual dinner service, it is identical in content. However I only have one jug and no sugar basin. Altogether there were six dinner plates, six lunch plates, seven side plates, two serving dishes with lids, serving platter and one jug. Bargainous! Especially as I came across this site when looking for photographs and you can pay £20 for one piece! The actual pattern of my set is below, called Madrid:
I swithered overnight whether I should bother going back today to buy the set as I have enough plates really. After splitting possessions with Vince I had needed to buy a few more plates and bowls and got a rather lovely set from Wilkinsons. Did I need the plates or the £20 more? Would I kick myself if I didn't buy them? Sara sent me a text message asking if I wanted to go see if they were still there this afternoon as she was bored and wanted to get out of the house for a bit, having no plans for her day off (lucky part timers). I decided that if someone hadn't beat me to it this time it was a sign I should buy them, so they are currently drying on my draining rack!