Tag Archives: cars

If The Boot Fits

I have had a bit of an OCD couple of weeks feeling intent on de-cluttering our house. Trinny and Susannah would have been proud parents watching me scale down my wardrobe with the ‘if I haven’t worn it for a year it shouldn’t be in there’ mantra, unfortunately this did mean that my ‘get rid’ pile was larger than my ‘keep’ pile. Still, it felt good to get rid of my ‘thin’ clothes, there really is no point keeping my favourite skinny jeans worn pre-children if their only purpose is for me to occasionally stroke them fondly. And I have been ruthless with regards to my ‘fat clothes’ too, many bought when pregnant that I have kept due to their ‘comfort factor’, it is not healthy to keep a black 2 sizes too big kaftan just because I can tuck my legs underneath it when vegging on the sofa, it makes me look like Mama Cass and needs to be passed on to a person who needs it.

With a slimmed down wardrobe I moved onto the kids bedrooms. I dropped them off at school and returned home feeling like a baddie from a James Bond film as I set about removing toys and games that were unloved. This is not an easy task as everything you put in the ‘chuck’ pile suddenly conjures up memories of their former pleasure of playing with it. Games that have been left unplayed with for years I suddenly see an educational benefit to them. I ended up with a bin bag containing a couple of McDonalds toys and an Alien game with a broken battery compartment. Hubby noticed my moment of nesting and decided to jump on the bandwagon with a loft clearout. Suddenly we are sat in our living room amongst a stack of baby paraphernalia such as cots, moses baskets and a playpen, or twin cage as it was known which is seriously the best bit of baby kit you need with multiple babies if you want to ever have a wee! With our room full of goods to get rid of, I decide it would be a good idea to try to make some money from our pre-loved wares. After a conversation with my best friend who is in a similar clearout mode of thinking we decide to embark on a boot sale to make some cash.

So last Sunday after a rubbish nights sleep worrying about how to cost up my stock, my alarm went off at the unfeasible time of 5am. After I double checked that I wasn’t still wearing my pyjama bottoms I made my flask of coffee looking out on a darkened street while the rest of my street snoozed away. After joining a convoy with my bestie we headed down to the designated field in the middle of nowhere, feeling like I was going to a rubbish rave where people wore Dayglo jackets and bumbags. We were shown to our plots where we parked our cars up and began the task of unpacking and setting up our stall. Now I like a bargain but we have to remember it is 6am on a Sunday and people are starting to arrive to shop! No sooner had I emerged from the boot of my car with a box full of baby cookery books when I had a torch shone in my face with a man asking me “you got any mobiles?”. I nearly threw the books at him and run in the opposite direction until I realised he was looking to buy a mobile, I quickly answered and unnecessarily told him “no, it’s mainly baby stuff”. He scuttled off to the next plot to interrogate them instead.

Once we were all set up, thankfully the sun had decided to join us too. I had a rough idea of what price I wanted to charge on my stock and had labelled up the bigger items. However, this is pointless as the boot sale is where haggling is born. No matter what price you tell people, they will persuade you to drop it and I’m not talking by a small amount but quite often by half. For instance, one of the twins cots we bought from Mamas and Papas which probably cost us somewhere in the region of few hundred pounds, I was selling it for the bargain price of £20. My first cot customer said “I’ll give you £10”, I politely explained “sorry it is £20”, he persevered “I only want to pay £10”, I negotiate “I can do it for £15?”, “I can pay £10.”, I give in “OK £10 it is”. I am weak, I need to stand my ground but then I don’t want to take the cot home and £10 is better than nothing I suppose.

It is quite funny when you find your inner salesperson though, when you attempt to sell items using any line that people will believe.  For instance, hubby gave me an old pair of salopettes that he used for ski-ing in his younger years. A punter came to my stall (wallpaper pasting table and tarpaulin) and asked me what they were for. He was an older gentleman so I figured he wasn’t looking for skiwear so I suggested “do you ride a motorbike as they are fantastic bike gear or perhaps you’re a fisherman as they’re great for fishing, bit like waders?” He eyed me suspiciously and then walked away. But I did manage to sell my travel cot as an indoor pen for rabbits with its “waterproof base which is perfect for pets”, that was a proud sale and made me think perhaps I should work on a shopping channel with these new-found skills. As lunchtime approached and all that was left was a few unwanted books, an iron headboard and the salopettes, I decided to give up. I had made £150, I had rid my house of unwanted goods and I had experienced what it felt like to be Pete Beale. So let me know if you know anyone in need of salopettes, great for ski-ing, fishing, motorbiking, you name it they cover it.

Get Your Motor Running

A good friend of mine has just purchased a VW Beetle and for the first time in a long time I felt a stab of jealousy over a car. I have never been a car fan, am not easily impressed by the ramblings of Jeremy Clarkson and the other two off of Top Gear and a flash car is not on the top of my wish list in the event of a lottery win. However, I did once love a car more than is healthy with a bit of metal, my  1969 Pink VW Beetle.

Do you remember the days when you took a driving test without the added pressures of a theory test, but instead a question/answer session with your examiner from a well used copy of the Highway Code? I can remember burning the midnight oil studying braking distances in preparation for the test, then he didn’t ask one thing about them, so instead I just casually dropped them into the conversation throughout my test which I sadly failed despite this! I am a 2nd time passer of my driving test and 2nd timers obviously make better drivers as we had that extra tuition and stress! I can remember happily swapping my provisional for a permanent licence, as not only did I now have a licence to drive but also a good form of ID for alcohol purchasing.

My parents had awarded my older brother our old Morris Marina as they had bought a new car so I would have to purchase a car from elsewhere. My parents and I decided that if I can stump up some of the cash for the car they would cover costs such as insurance and tax. So as I was a student and working part-time in an Elvis themed restaurant, I used my hard-earned tips and not so hard-earned wages to fund my car shopping trip.

My parents and I discussed suitable cars and with Fords in a neighbouring town, decided a Fiesta or an Escort would be a sensible choice. Now, I wasn’t a particularly sensible 17-year-old, I studied hard-ish at college, I worked hard-ish, (serving Fajita’s and learning the routine to “All Shook Up” isn’t exactly taxing) but I was quite an impulsive person and still can be in a more diluted manner. So, with the money for my car burning a hole in my money-box and a dear friend of mine looking to sell her VW Beetle I thought it would be a genius decision to buy it from her. We exchanged £500 for the car and the log book and MOT certificate, which if I had bothered to look at would tell me that it had limped through its last service.

I thought that my parents might not warm to the idea straight away but with the fact that the car was over 30 years old they wouldn’t have to pay tax so that should please them surely? My parents are lovely patient people, very reasonable and supportive but as you can imagine were none too pleased when they heard the Sherman tank noise coming down the road and me pulling up in a bright pink beetle along with extended wheel arches to accommodate massive wheels.  The words ‘on your head be it’ I think were used in the resulting conversation, but I was unable to see sense, I was in love!

My Beetle had so many lovable features that any rational person would probably would think of as a negative. The vintage flat windscreen with one faulty windscreen wiper, which used to stick so when it rained my passenger would have to help it move quicker. The horn and windscreen wash were little levers on the dashboard which I often mistook for each other. One day when stuck in traffic I tried to wash my screen and pressed the horn lever by accident, which then jammed so I was stationary with a loud horn on a continuous noise while I tried to shout “my horn is stuck!” out of the window to not very amused drivers around me. The heating was two holes in the back seat which when turned on would burn the ankles of anyone sitting in the back and not reach the people in the front. The wheels were enormous and on my first MOT the mechanic pointed out that one of the tyres was from a van and I should really change it to a car wheel!

But despite its many flaws, it was such a lovely car to drive, I can still hear the chugga chug of its engine and the feeling of safety in its huge interior. However, it wasn’t built for speed and when I used to go on the motorway and it reached 65mph the car would shake and you had to shout to be heard. On one particular journey to Brighton, we stopped to get petrol and as I queued a man in front said to his girlfriend, “look at that bug, it’s eye is falling out”, to which I spun round to see my car’s headlight dangling from one wire!

After a few years of service, my beloved Beetle succumbed to rust and corrosion. I was planning a permanent move to Brighton and after a not very successful campaign to sell it in Loot, we sold it to a scrap dealers for £50. It still brings a lump to throat remembering it being towed down the street feeling like I had let it down through neglect. However, my parents were now happy with the fact I was going to be driving the long-awaited Fiesta they had given me and my brother to share.

Now I drive a “Mum’s car”, a Citroen something or other. I am fond of it as it is roomy and fairly easy to park but it will never replace my old Beetle. And if we ever do win the lottery a 1969 VW Beetle is the car I will purchase, but this time I will study the log book and MOT certificates to make sure it is roadworthy!