Thursday 28 April 2011

Childhood books

I get very nostalgic in my old age (36 in September, some days I feel more like 86) and nothing takes me back to my childhood more than the retro Ladybird books I have been collecting from charity shops.

My obsession started four years ago when a friend invited me and the Princess round for a playdate and I came across two old books which reminded me of growing up. The Magic Porridge Pot and The Enormous Turnip.

I will talk more about the books in my next post (and include pics as I bet you will regress too!) but in this post I wanted to celebrate the memories my charity shop books have given me.

I love the way they take me back to my youth. I loved my childhood, I loved the little safe cul-de-sac we lived in, built on the land of a farmhouse in Somerset (and I remember once unearthing a cow tooth which thrilled me. As much as digging up a dinosaur bone would thrill an archaeologist).

Our houses backed onto fields and I had a really happy time with my brother and sister. Actually that's not strictly true, we often fought like cats and dogs but now we all get on like a dream.

Here we are as youngsters (like butter wouldn't melt!)


This is my favourite family photo ever (below)

And here are the three of us kids more recently!

My dad converted the loft into a playroom when we were young. We used to climb up the ladder into the attic and I would do my homework, my brother would play with his Hornby train set and my little sister would play with her dolls and Speak 'n' Spell (remember that?!)

Sometimes when we were naughty, my brother and I would race down the ladder and remove it so my sister was stuck up there. Poor mite, she was only five or six at the time.

It's funny how a few charity shop books take me back to those times so easily.

Would love to hear from any of you who remember books from your childhood. I can't ever part with these  ones I have - they are worth so much to me. The Princess loves them and the Prince is already showing an interest.

Wednesday 27 April 2011

Work it baby...

I went to a charity shop today (Oxfam) but it was mayhem. Bursting to the brim with shoppers, black binbags piling up by the door. All rather stressful.

I found myself offering to be a very part time volunteer because I would love to give something back to the place I hang out in most. And they look like they really need the help.

I bought a lovely little white chemise style top to wear with jeans for £2.99 (New Look) within five minutes of being there and I also returned a dress I'd bought (Phase Eight £14.99) because the husband's comments didn't exactly thrill me: "Oh, that is striking. Hmmm, those colours. Striking. Very weddingy, isn't it. A dress to wear to a wedding."

Knowing full well I am NOT going to any weddings, other than my sister's on Saturday when I will be the old maid (aka Matron of Honour) and the dress is sorted.

Promptly, I returned it and got my money back. They know too well in Oxfam that I will only spend it in there another time.

So I now have a volunteer form to fill in,  a nice white top and a warm feeling that someone else's husband will LOVE the Phase Eight striking dress that is PERFECT for any female guest to wear to a wedding. Bitter? Moi?!

I visited my friend today who has just had her 4th baby, a baby girl called Ruby. The most gorgeous little dolly. I had an hour and a half of cuddles and then spent the rest of the day doing chores (hoovering flies off the blinds in the conservatory, two loads of washing, hoovering blah blah blah.)

Then we had lunch in the garden. I can't get enough of these sunny days, although it's changing for cooler weather with rain. How typical with the gorgeous weddings this weekend.

And then we released the butterflies William and Kate who have been living with us since they were teeny tiny caterpillars back in February. It's been a really good project for the kids, although I think I probably got into it more than they did.

William and Kate are Painted Lady butterflies and we decided to release them today as they have been butterflies for two whole days. Before that they had turned into a chrysalis. Two weeks before that they were caterpillars. Amazing life cycle.

Here they are above, one has already turned into a beautiful butterfly, these were nearly ready.

Here are the three empty chrysalides above and below 

The above net house was their home

Getting ready to let William and Kate fly

And here they are in all their glory.

Tuesday 26 April 2011

Beside the seaside

We went to the seaside for the weekend, before returning to do all things chocolatey on Sunday afternoon.

We got up really early on Saturday and got a ferry to the Isle of Wight, a place we all love very much. By 11am we were on the beach, the Princess was body boarding, the Prince was scoffing ice cream and the entire picnic we'd brought and it was fab.


It is the most beautiful and perfect place in the world and I even dream of it. Stunning, quiet, a treasure of a place.

The seaside reminds me of one of my favourite charity shop purchases. I picked up the following (not clothes this time!) from Oxfam in Bath several years ago. It was donated by a Cornish artist, from bits of driftwood he came across and cost a mere £60 - it would have cost a fortune, had he not kindly donated his work to a good cause.

It has travelled to every home with us since, but rarely fits in the bathrooms and is too heavy and cumbersome to stick on the wall.

But it brings me back to the beach every time I see it and the artist even made a sweet little toilet roll holder to go with it. Very cute.

Now I always keep my eye out for driftwood and bring it home with me.

Sunday 24 April 2011

Easter weekend

Easter Sunday and what gorgeous sunshine yet again!
Wore my charity shop denim skirt today whilst we did the annual walk through the bluebell woods. I picked up the skirt in Beverley, East Yorkshire, for £2.

I love the charity shops up there. My inlaws moved there last year and the charity shops are bursting with amazing outfits as Beverley is considered a little bit posh. In the shadow of the minster, lies my favourite charity shop and that's where I picked up this skirt.

My dear Princess then gave me this little bunch of wild flowers as an Easter present. What a cutie. Check out the factor 50 sun cream on her forehead!

It has been a pretty chilled out day today. First of all the kids enjoyed an Easter egg hunt in the garden. Blazing sun and chocolate meant that I had to shriek when they were near the chocolate as I didn't want any to melt!

Then I put a leg of lamb in the oven and then we went on our bluebell walk. Lovely family stroll in the Berkshire countryside.

Tuesday 19 April 2011

Not exactly a domestic goddess....

I absolutely love this top, bought from Oxfam in Henley-on-Thames. It is great with jeans and lots of spangly jewellery (loads of silver bracelets etc for a boho look).

It's originally from Monsoon and I got it for £6. It fits beautifully, it drapes where it should (ie not clinging to lumps and bumps, but is a little more fitted around the waist so it flatters nicely).

I always get compliments when I wear this. I rue the day I decided to clean the bathroom while wearing it as got a little bleach down the front. What a fool. Never again, I've learnt my lesson.

I never iron - I'm not proud of it, I just simply don't have the time and it certainly shows in this top. Please don't spend too long looking at the creases and bleach marks. It is still one of my fave tops in the whole wide world.

The in-laws are staying at the moment for a few nights and we are planning a trip to Windsor tomorrow, I can't wait; brilliant charity shops, a stunning castle, a walk through the park, what's not to like?!

Julie @ Thrifty Missus, thanks for your comment. Keep trying to follow your blog and it won't let me. What do I need to do? Want to reply to you and wonder where I am going wrong.

Monday 18 April 2011

Where it all began...

We have been away all weekend at a friend's wedding so I haven't been able to post until now. The wedding was lush, and of course hubby wore his charity shop suit again.

The bride looked stunning in a vintage style gown which she was thrilled to find half price!

Makes me wonder if anyone has ever bought their wedding dress from a charity shop? Wouldn't that be a find?!

The tables were so pretty for the wedding breakfast and everyone got tiddly on all the free flowing wine.

And I got to see my oldest friend in the whole wide world, who is pregnant. Believe me, this is a much wanted baby and the first time I have seen her pregnant was at this wedding so it really was a happy occasion. She is glowing and I have bump envy!

Anyway, moving on from fab weddings, I guess I should have put this Cherry Tree post at the very beginning of my blog, but it only just dawned on me when my first charity shop experience took place.

I was about 14 and still under the impression that charity shops were very uncool, dusty, smelly and full of old men's greying overcoats.

Then one day, one of the "cooler than school" trendy girls from the in-crowd strutted into school wearing what I can only describe as THE finest overcoat I'd ever seen.

It was basically a dove-grey overcoat, with silky paisley lining and I coveted that coat beyond belief. She couldn't remember where she'd bought it from (which translated as "I don't want someone as uncool as you to buy the same coat as me.") and so I took it upon myself to search for it myself. It became an obsession.

I went into Bath and scoured the rails of every single fashion store I came across. I described this trench coat in great detail but no one recognised it. Hours later, I was beginning to flag.

Back at school, I soon discovered why the girl from school was reluctant to tell me where she had bought the coat. She'd found it in a charity shop...of all horrors.

Next time I was shopping, I passed Oxfam in Gay Street and decided it was now or never. I checked that no one recognised me before I darted in and headed straight for the coat section. Nothing.

Mind you, I was surprised to find there was no smell, no dust, just rails of bright, clean clothes waiting patiently for a new owner to re-love them.

I even checked the men's clothing rail but couldn't see the coat anywhere. But I realised there were similar coats so it was then that I started going into every charity shop I passed.

I suddenly had that eureka moment - charity shops had loads of garments that were affordable, fashionable AND some were decent high street labels. There was nothing to be embarrased about in the slightest and I could afford to buy more clothes, some of which looked brand new.

And that is how I came across my love for charity shops. I never did find that coat though in any shop.

One day, when I was talking to my beloved grandparents ,I described the coat to my grandfather who I called Bampy/Bamps.

"So, it's grey, long, with a silk lining....hmmmmm. Come out in the garden with me," he said.

Having no idea what was coming, we walked into his garden, past the duck pond, past the vegetable patch and straight up to his scarecrow. And lo and behold, that old scarecrow was wearing exactly the coat I'd wanted. And it was perfect.

Bamps took it off the scarecrow, we got it dry cleaned and I swished around town LOVING my "new" coat for a long time to come. It saw me through my teenage years, grunge phase, peasant phase, even hippy phase.

Sadly I don't know what came of that coat. I can't find a picture of me wearing it either which is a massive pity, but I did come across this photo of me with the scarecrow when I was about six (he was wearing a different coat, prior to the "cool" one I ended up stealing from him!)

Thursday 14 April 2011

My sugar plum fairy skirt

One of my fave charity shop finds is the most gorgeous, girlie, fluffy, floaty skirt ever. Tiered with sparkles and lace, it drips stylishly and cost me a mere £5.99.

If you look closely, you can see that it is originally from Pink Soda and was a trifle more expensive. That is when I get a total buzz.

Planning to wear it over Christmas I think, which seems a long way off, but it seems the right time to wear it. I think it will look pretty with my pink ruffly shoes or my brown suede knee boots (the latter were a bargain £5 from a charity shop in Bath and are from Sasha). I made a bee line for them straight away but another girl tried to loiter behind me hoping I would put them down. Never!

I don't have time now but will post the boots up later.

Here is the floaty skirt though.

I wonder why someone decided to buy it and then donate it brand new. Well, it's gone to a happy new home, that's the main thing.

Off to a friend's wedding tomorrow, hope the weather will be ok for her. Children will be with my parents so it gives me and the husband a fab day and evening together.

I don't drink any more, it just doesn't agree with me, so I quite like being the only stone cold sober woman on the dance floor, and intend to dance my socks off.

Not that I will actually be wearing socks though to a wedding. Not a good look. I shall be wearing an outfit that cost next to nothing though, although not from a charity shop, sadly.

Wednesday 13 April 2011

My dolly bunting...

Today wasn't terribly productive, sadly, on the charity shop front.

Mainly because we didn't get to as many of the shops as I was planning to because of dawdling seven-year-old girls (yes, I mean a certain Princess) in a total airy fairy world of their own, and a Prince who wanted to stop and talk to every single dog/tree/car/train we passed.

I have no patience left and at 6.22pm, I feel ready to go to bed and read my new library book (so not new, but new to me).

But what I did buy is this:

For a fantastic golden £1 coin!!! I love the Russian Doll bunting and can't believe it wasn't snapped up sooner - it was donated yesterday so I am thrilled. I have shoved it up quickly to take a pic and I love it! Wish I was a little girl again so I could have it in my room.

I didn't buy a single item for myself as nothing caught my eye but my most recent charity shop purchase is this:

Indeed. A stunning, bohemian Morgan skirt for under a fiver. She shoots, she scores.

Can't wait to wear it this summer. It's slightly snug around the belly, but hey after two children and an addiction to chocolate, what isn't?!

Tuesday 12 April 2011

Seven charity shops beckon me tomorrow - HEAVEN!

Eek! (that's a shriek of delight by the way)! I am now off to Reading on the train tomorrow morning with the Princess and Prince, and can therefore fit in three more charity shops before the afternoon ones I am planning to visit.

I need to get the Princess's feet measured for her bridesmaid shoes and then I can get her some cutesy twinkly shoes from John Lewis. This is something I've not been able to find in charity shops unfortunately, although I've kitted myself out with plenty of second hand footwear in the past. More on my charity shop foot fetish another day, there's enough material to fill several pages on that front.

One charity shop I HAVE to visit tomorrow is the Oxfam bookshop. Oh my days, it is fab. When I started rebuilding my Ladybird book collection several years ago, I nipped in there and discovered eight of the ones I needed. Oh it was like a dream. I don't think my husband will ever understand my passion for unearthing treasures like these. You see, finding a perfect item in a charity shop is a treasure to me.

I can't explain the buzz I get from finding clothes or Ladybird books in charity shops. I will upload some photos tomorrow of my favourites and add them to this posting. The Princess has asked if she can be my official blog photographer! Here she is, the cheeky little thing, in our blossom tree.

My blossom fairy

Cheeky girl

Too much ice cream yesterday

This is how silly she can be...

She cried as she thought it was a real cow.

I had to include the Prince, below. He can blow the messiest, dribbliest raspberries ever.
All his clothes are second hand, mostly from charity shops, except the Converse which were kindly donated.

So I shall leave this blog here for now, and see what I can pick up on my cherry tree travels tomorrow. Lush.