Friday 8 April 2011

Mortified as a teenager

Before I reminisce about my lucky charity shop purchases, I need to make a guilty confession. When I was 12, I thought everything around me was uncool (little did I realise that, ahem, actually I was the uncool one).

I used to wince at my mum's sky blue RAF Morris Traveller (similar to the one in this link She would pick me and my siblings up from school in it, we would sit on the little wooden benches in the back and I would cringe with embarrasment.

I recall the burning smell as it overheated (the handbrake also once came off in my mum's hand as we parked on a steep hill - yes, I hated the car back then).

Now of course, I can only dream about owning such an amazing car with its double doors with gleaming lock and stunning wooden panelling. The dear, sweet chug chug of its engine, the familiar petrol smell.

Other uncool things when I was younger, oh yes, I also once ignored my parents and actually shunned them, after seeing them walking out of a charity shop and then bumping into me and my friends.

Mortified wasn't the word. Oxfam was a forbidden word to me and my friends (we were pre-teens), we just didn't want to know about it. I didn't forgive my parents for ages for showing me up.

Yet I never knew back then, the pleasure I would find in rummaging through these charity shops, feeling the fabric of unwanted garments and wondering if I could give them a new lease of life.

Which leads me to my headscarf which I bought from the Salvation Army store in Adelaide, 2000.

It was actually tucked right at the back of a basket of cheap scarves, hats and belts. I was sorting through while killing time before our bus arrived and lo and behold, I found the headscarf that I can now never be parted from.

It is a big square of soft cotton fabric, in the most delicious soft icecream colours. Pale buttercream yellow and marshmallow pink, with flashes of mint blue in a gentle swirling paisley pattern. To anyone else who came across it in the store, it was just a headscarf.  But to me it was stunning. And I paid next to nothing for it. About a pound.

This headscarf was then lovingly washed at the next campsite we reached (we were backpacking around Australia and often ran out of money so camping was a frequent money saver), and worn just about every day after that. It sheltered my shoulders from the bright Outback sun that burned through our skin. It protected my head not just from the sun, but from the rain. I wore it as a belt, as a shawl, as a turban and as a "haven't washed my hair but no one will notice" fashion statement.

There is a photo somewhere of me wearing it while kayaking down the Katherine River. I must find it and post the pic. Every time I see the headscarf in my wardrobe, I can even smell the travels in my memory. I wore it when spying all the fruit bats in the trees above us, when Uluru (Ayers Rock)  sent shivers down my spine, on the stunning beaches, I wore it constantly.

I think you get the picture - my charity shop Cherry Tree headscarf. My trusty friend. Never to be donated or unloved again.

Here are three photos of me wearing the headscarf on my travels. In the hammock pic, you have to squint to see it, but I swear it's there on the top of my dozing head.

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