Welcome!

Welcome to my second-hand tales blog where I attempt to chronicle my adventures in second-hand shopping, and other greenish ventures.

I also post a weekly list of all my Thrifty Finds (see here) ,  The idea is not to just share any secondhand purchases I may have made, but also list those things I have repaired, recycled, donated, re-used – or just decided not to buy. I would love to hear from you as well so please share your Thrifty Finds every Monday

I hope you enjoy reading my random(ish) posts: please leave a comment on any post that interests you – or you could  follow me on facebook , twitter or instagram

 

Thrifty Finds

This week’s Thrifty Finds (19-26 June)

 

This Week's Thrifty Finds via secondhandtales.wordpress.com

How was last week? Have you cooled down since our mini heatwave here in the UK?

Here are some of my Thrifty Finds from last week:

  1. The weather was really hot here! It got up to 30C plus which is hard to live in when you don’t have air conditioning and life has to go on as normal. I located our two portable fans from the loft and we got by on closing windows, drawing curtains and staying inside (our stone cottage stays lovely and cool downstairs; upstairs is a different story though). We also did things differently: at the beginning of the week I took the girls to the play park at 7.30pm because it had only just started to cool down then! I also said ‘no’ to a picnic lunch at work because it was too hot to go out.
  2. When the weather cooled down towards the end of the week I did go out on my lunchbreak for some charity shop browsing, which I hadn’t done in a while. While I resisted a couple of dresses (see my Instagram feed) I bought a pile of books (total £4.60)

second hand books, charity shop books

Two of the books are for my holiday reading pile. I thought this one was particularly prescient, given the recent heatwave (and hottest day since June 1976!)

second hand books, charity shop books

3. These two books were for a friend who had a nasty horseriding accident and has suffered a badly broken leg 😦

Shell be immobile for most of the summer; I thought a couple of good books might help her to get through it. I’m just so relieved the accident wasn’t more serious.

4. Friends came round for a meal on Saturday night and we ended up with some leftover pudding (which they kindly made).

5. We survived to payday with very little food in the house and ended up eating the last of the freezer meals on Sunday. However this past month has been rather chaotic, shopping wise. I usually place one large supermarket order to last the  month, and then top up with regular veg box delivery/trips to the greengrocer in Corsham, plus doorstep milk delivery. This past month, however, I did a smaller online delivery and, as a result, we have been spending a small fortune each week on ‘top up shops’ and have gone way over budget! So it’s back to one large monthly shop for July and if we don’t have it, we don’t buy it (apart from fruit and veg).

By the way if you are a UK reader have you been watching the latest series of Eat Well for Less ? It’s a really informative series that tries to help families who are overspending on, and throwing away, a lot of the food they buy. Every episode I find I am picking up some useful tips (and recipes), even if I think I am quite organised when it comes to meal planning and shopping.

What are your tips when it comes to food shopping? I’d love to hear about all your Thrifty Finds. Please  share them on my facebook page, or use #thriftyfinds on Twitter or instagram

Second-hand shopping in Bristol (Park Street)

I realise it’s been ages since I last posted a Second-hand shopping in.. post, but a recent trip to Park Street, in the centre of Bristol, inspired me to add to the series.

I don’t profess to be an expert in all the locations for second-hand shopping in Bristol, but the centrally located Park Street is a good starting point.

Park Street extends from Bristol Cathedral and College Green uphill towards the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery (free entry and well worth a look). Being Bristol, there is also a Banksy located half way up the street.

Park Street is bustling with lots of coffee shops, cafes and a smattering of art galleries. Although selling first-hand items, The Guild, is well worth a look at for homewares and gifts.

But it’s the second-hand shops that really catch my eye.

Just parallel to Park St, located on Queens Road, is the Cancer Research Shop which is worth a browse.

The two stand out charity shops on Park Street, though, are the Oxfam Bookshop and Sue Ryder shop.

Second hand books, Oxfam

The Oxfam Bookshop (officially on Queen’s Road) is two floors of paperbacks, hardbacks, specialist texts, vinyl and more. It is a book-lover’s paradise and I could easily spend a few hours browsing here! For second-hand bibliophiles there is another Oxfam Bookshop,located  just over a mile away in Clifton.

Further down Park Street, The Sue Ryder shop is crammed with vintage goodies! There is a dedicated retro clothing rail that seems to go on for ever… For an over-organised person like myself I love that it is colour coordinated too!

vintage clothing,secondhand shopping, Sue Ryder charity shop

 

I spotted this Laura Ashley dress on the rail; made in Wales, which automatically dates it to pre 2005 (see this post here)

vintage clothing,secondhand shopping, Sue Ryder charity shop, Laura Ashley vintage

The shop also sells a good range of second-hand vinyl, which can be a little pricey. It also has a wonderful curved shop front which I love!

Sue Ryder, charity shop, shop window, Bristol

Beyond the charity shops, Park Street is also famed for its vintage clothing shops.

Squashed between two bigger stores, the diminutive Uncle Sam’s American Vintage is overflowing with secondhand clothing, imported from the US. It is also Bristol’s longest established vintage store, specialising in outfits from the 1940s to 1980s. Unlike many secondhand clothing stores, it also has a good selection of menswear.

 

Another Park Street favourite, Sobeys also has branches in Exeter and Cardiff. I do like this store but, for me, it’s a little too young. Everytime I step inside they seem to be playing Duran Duran (which I love as an old school Duranie!) but the 80s and 90s themed stock tends to remind me of what I used to wear at the time. Being slightly more mature, ‘vintage’ for me harks back to earlier eras. But they do have an excellent range of dungarees and, once more, cater for male customers too. Similarly, BS8 (not pictured) is a vintage store that caters for a younger market but certainly worth a browse.

If you’re new to Bristol then Park Street is a great place to start your second-hand quest. Other areas such as trendy Stokes Croft and upmarket Clifton are great locations to browse in too, and miles away from the mainstream, High Street stores of Cabot Circus and the out of town mall at Cribbs Causeway.

Thrifty Finds

This week’s Thrifty Finds (12-18 June)

 

This Week's Thrifty Finds via secondhandtales.wordpress.com  I hope you had a good week and, if you’re in the U.K., enjoyed our scorching weekend!

Things feel very strange here at the moment: an unresolved election result which leaves us feeling more uncertain than ever; Brexit negotiations will begin soon and another appalling loss of life with the almost unspeakable tragedy of Grenfell Tower (not to mention this morning’s attack in Finsbury Park)

It feels very small to be writing about my Thrifty Finds but I believe that life has to go on as well….

1. Last week my husband and I took a trip to Bristol and I browsed the charity shops on Park St, although I didn’t buy anything (post to follow soon on second hand shopping on Park St).

Second hand books, Oxfam

 

2. I’m still exploring takeaway coffee spots in Bath. I was pleased to get money off  at one of the independents because I’d bought in my reusable cup 😀

3. I went shopping in Sainsbury’s and made use of the butcher counter. As a result I got the cut of meat I wanted, only wrapped in paper (rather than pre packaged in plastic trays) and a free marinade.

4. My kids picked up some spades for free from a friend who was having a clear out

 

5. Yesterday we were invited to a tea party in our village, as part of the weekend’s The Great Get Together events, to mark and celebrate the life of the MP, Jo Cox, who was murdered last year. In her maiden speech to the House of Parliament, Jo said we had more in common than divides us. It was with this sentiment that her family organised the Great Get Together and, throughout the country, more than 120,000 events were arranged; encouraging neighbours to meet up and get to know each other.

The village event was a small gathering and a chance for people in that road to get to meet each other. Despite having lived in the village for 15 years (and knowing quite a few people), we got to chat to new neighbours. There was plenty of tea and cake on hand as well!

The Great Get Together Wiltshire

The Great Get Together, Wiltshire

Given the terrible events of the past few months (and this morning’s attack on a mosque in London) it seems more important now than ever to get to know each other and celebrate what we have in common.

 

If you live in the UK did you get to attend one of these events?

(You can also share your Thrifty Finds on my facebook page, or use #thriftyfinds on Twitter or instagram)

Thrifty Finds

This week’s Thrifty Finds

 

This Week's Thrifty Finds via secondhandtales.wordpress.com

Last week was a rather strange one, given that it was bisected by the General Election.

1. Pre election I managed to get back into cooking and baking, and using up leftovers. I made soup from some Sunday lunch veg and baked cakes with some brownish bananas (the latter to keep us going on election night).

2. not quite a Thrifty Find but I do need to make a decision as to whether I continue with my veg box. I ended up composting a fair bit of it last week 😦

 

3. On election night I was very good and, at the North Wiltshire count* I avoided the pre-wrapped biscuits and disposable cups and bought my own snacks and reusables.

4. We received a few gifts last week. Friends came to dinner and bought some homemade goodies:

l-r: biscotti, elderflower cordial, chipotle ketchup 

5. And we had a visit from Grandad who gave the girls a new (to them) Wii!!

*my husband stood as Green Party candidate; see my previous post for more.

What were your Thrifty Finds! please share on my facebook page, or use #thriftyfinds on Twitter or instagram

General Election- and what I’ve learned from being a Green Party supporter

So, just in case you hadn’t heard, tomorrow is the General Election here in the UK.

 

If you have followed this blog for a while, you may know that my other half, Phil Chamberlain, stood as a Green Party candidate in both the 2010 and 2015 elections.

We live in North Wiltshire, which has been Tory since the time of the dinosaurs. Our MP, James Gray, is a backbench MP and a keen Brexiteer.

In 2015 he won 57% or 29,000 votes. Even, with all the other parties’ votes combined he cannot be unseated. BUT that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try or, at least, let our voice be heard. In fact, when Phil stood in 2015 his vote nearly quadrupled.

It has been a fascinating experience being part of recent election campaigns and one that I feel very privileged to have experienced.

Here are a few things I have learned over the past seven years from being a spouse of a political candidate:

  • The catering services at the leisure centre, where the vote is counted, have declined.  In 2010 we got sandwiches; in 2015 it was coffee in a thermos and pre-packaged biscuits. (Of course, being a true Green I will bring my own water bottle and a few munchies from home to sustain us into the early hours)
  • On a more serious note, if you don’t have money as a party it is really hard to campaign. For a start you have to find £500 as your deposit* . In 2010 we raised this by asking friends for donations and Phil organised a curry fundraiser. While every political party gets a free postal delivery to every address in the constituency, you have to fund the design and print of the election leaflet.
  • In a rural area it is really hard to reach everyone. Apart from the above maildrop, campaigning relies a lot on going from door to door. However in a rural constituency you need access to transport and the man (and woman) power to get around all the villages and hamlets.
  • People get very passionate. Which is obvious, I know. Election hustings are a great opportunity to see all the candidates (including the local MP) debate on a number of subjects, in front of local constituents. (This is when you realise your local MP is an idiot, but he’ll get voted in anyway because of the party he represents).
  • One of my favourite times of the election cycle, though, is the night of the count where everyone huddles together in their political groups. The Tories and the LibDems hate each other; no one talks to UKIP (their candidate has been suspended anyway for racist tweets); and Labour and the Greens are on the periphery.
  • The people who work really hard on election night, though, are the unsung heroes who count all the votes. They work tirelessly into the night (often having come from their day job). They have to keep focused while representatives from the different parties hover over them, counting the votes themselves and sometimes asking them to re-count. And, if at the end of the night, a recount is called because the vote is too close, it all has to be done again…

So, after you’ve cast your vote in that ballot box tomorrow spare a thought for the process of counting that continues into the small hours…

subliminal message!

If you are at all interested in following us tomorrow night and seeing how Phil gets on you can follow me on Twitter or instagram I’ll be using the hashtags #GE2017 and #NWilts2017

*The £500 deposit is refunded if the candidate receives 5% or more of the total vote; in 2015 Phil got 4.6%

UPDATE: in the end Phil got 1141 votes- half of what he received last time. But he beat UKIP whose vote fell to three figures.The Tory MP’s majority increased but, interestingly, Labour and LibDem were neck and neck: the Corbyn effect maybe?!

Thrifty Finds

This week’s Thrifty Finds

 

This Week's Thrifty Finds via secondhandtales.wordpress.com

I realise it’s been a couple of weeks since I last posted my Thrifty Finds 😦

Things have been busy here with kids off school and my other half is standing as a candidate in Thursday’s election (post to follow).

So, apologies for the lack of posting. I hope you’ve still been able to secure some Thrifty Finds, or looked at different ways of stepping off the consumer treadmill for a while.

  1. Re Game of Thrones. We finished Series Five via the library. Then my husband got a free subscription to NowTV with his phone. So, we are now working our way through Series Six….
  2. I’ve been getting into a new habit of making more use of the health food/bulk store in Bath. I’ve been visiting Harvest on Walcot Street to get filled up with washing up liquid (my bus stop is outside so I can do it on my way home)
  3.   I also try to make use of the health food store in Corsham, Green Ginger. I got very excited when I spotted these washing up brush and scourers – both made from recycled materials. You can buy replacement heads for the brush as well.

4. The big news is that I got a new (to me) mobile phone! My first ever smartphone (yes I know I’m rather slow!). My husband had traded in his old mobile and, with that money, I was able to buy a second-hand iphone 5 from the Games Exchange shop in Bath. I also signed up to a deal on ee which has given me some money back to my Qudico account.

 

5. Finally, we went camping over the Bank Holiday. Every year we camp with my  school friends, and their children, in the New Forest. The weekend is a great opportunity to catch up with good friends, let the children run wild and enjoy some good food (and drink). Apart from camping fees it’s low cost as we all bring food to share. We barely leave the campsite as well – instead we just talk and go for walks.

What did you do over the Bank Holiday weekend? Hope the weather stayed dry for you!

You can also share your Thrifty Finds on my facebook page, or use #thriftyfinds on Twitter or instagram

Thrifty Finds

This week’s Thrifty Finds (8-14 May)

 

This Week's Thrifty Finds via secondhandtales.wordpress.com

 

How has your week been? Did you have any Thrifty Finds last week? 

This is what we managed:

1. I forgot to post this last week but I actually spent some time melting down old candles and re-setting them. This is something I do once in a while to get the maximum use from my candles. I have some gorgeous, and quite expensive, candles and I want to get the most out of them. I melt them in a double burner and then pour the melted wax into a new (heatproof) container and set new wicks in them.  Since I bought my Party Lite  candle last Christmas with its three wicks I decided to add a couple of wicks to one of my candles- this should make them burn more even. My ultimate aim is to just have soy candles in the house, rather than paraffin wax ones.

 

 

2. We are still working our way through ‘Friends’. The downside of buying second hand, though, is that sometimes the right disc isn’t in the box! We ended up with some duplicate episodes, but having searched a couple of charity shops, I came up with the missing disc of four episodes (reduced to 99p as well!).

3. A neighbour was going away for a month so she gave me her Italian basil plant. It smells beautiful and really lifts the kitchen!

 

4. I went along to a community meeting about our Neighbourhood Plan: the ten year plan that will say how we want things to develop in our village i.e. Housing, services, transport. I’m glad I went as many people at the meeting just don’t realise what an expensive village this has become and how there is a real lack of affordable housing. I realise some people don’t want change and how it is important that the right sort of housing is added to our village so that we can maintain our special community character. But if we don’t meet the housing needs of young people and families there will be  no one left….

5. My husband has bought a kettle for his office at work so he should be saving himself a small fortune in takeaways….

 

Don’t forget to share your Thrifty Finds too on my facebook page, or use #thriftyfinds on Twitter or instagram