Sunday 16 August 2015

It's Charity Shop Shopping, but on a Mammoth Scale.

So I finally made it to the sheer madness that is the Sue Ryder Sale at Nettlebed. Of course I forgot my camera *sigh* so you'll have to make do with a couple of crappy shots from my phone - sorry!

Held in the grounds and out buildings of their gorgeous care home in Nettlebed (most lately used in The Imitation Game as the exterior of Bletchley Park, in case it looks familiar)
the Sue Ryder sale is absolutely legendary in the Oxfordshire area.
It happens every 3 weeks for just 2 hours and the rule is to get there early, in the case of the clothes sale, very, very early.
It starts at 10.30am so we got there at about 9.30am and there was already brisk trade going on at the garden bric n brac table, as well as in the book and picture areas.
That queue you can see starting to form in the back of the picture is for the furniture area.
This one is for the clothes room, and it already went on way behind me, snaking past the tea shop and right round the grounds!
This final queue was for the china and glass area. I think you get the picture. People come prepared with huge bags and lots of cash, the queue in an orderly fashion until they are let through in batches, then all hell breaks loose!

I kid you not I was in one of the extremely busy, but tiny rooms, full of chinaware and a very pompous woman tried to snatch something up and barge to the front of the queue, she nearly got lynched, seriously I've never seen anything like the women already waiting to pay when they turned on her, they were savage!

The weary lady serving sighed and said "Every time, she comes to every sale and every single time tries to barge to the front" she then nodded over to the door and said "We have to have security you know" and sure enough there was a brick outhouse of a man dressed from head to toe in black with a walkie talkie and an earpiece!?!, at a charity shop sale - mint!

I'm not entirely sure how much very valuable stuff there is to be had as I imagine they sort the quality stuff out at the donation stage for sale via auction, they are about making the most money they can for charity after all.
They certainly had experts in each area as we found when we asked about donation some stuff to the book and periodical team. I'm sure there are still treasures to be had and you got the impression a lot of the people who got there very early and only to hit a particular area were trade.

It was a gorgeous day so the place was absolutely packed with well over 1000 people, it was hard to get about and you did have to indulge in a certain amount of pushing to get to things you wanted to look at. I'm not sure what happens when it's wet, or in the winter, as the majority of the sale was outside. The furniture and toys were set out in the stable yard for example.
You have to buy a ticket for 50p and show it to get into each area and they were very strict on the opening and closing times and only letting so many people through at a time.

 We finally got to the clothes area at11.40 and STILL had to queue for a while before we got in, even at that late hour.

I have to say the clothes sale was a really poor location for being able to search through and see what you were looking at, it was a small barn of all places with hardly any lighting.
When they shut the doors at 12.15 you were pretty much groping round in the dark! There were rails all round the wall with things like long dresses, coats and trousers but the rest was just piled high, oh so very high, on trestle tables jumble sale stylie.

Anything left at the end is chucked into black sacks which they ask the customers still in the room at 12.30 to help fill and sent off to Africa. It was £3 a coat £1.50 - £2.00 for a dress/suit/trousers and 50p everything else.
Frankly we were a bit overwhelmed by this point and only did a bit of halfhearted rummaging, it was fascinating to see the people on a mission working their way with steady determination through the piles from one side to the other.

We left the room before 12.30 because we had to go and pick up some glasses and a mirror Soo had on reserve. She had bought a box of crystal and cut glass champagne flutes for the princely sum of £2. On later inspection it turned out to be a matching set of 4 glasses, 2 sets of 2 glasses and one odd one so she was very pleased. I did a last minute purchase of a wicker picnic hamper full of crockery for £6 including the hamper. 

Now my Mum had lured me to the sale in the first place with the promise of a "Room full of handbags" I tell you was dreaming of that room full of handbags and panicking 2 hours would not be enough time to go through them all.
Sadly it was all a lie, I was badly mislead and I'm not letting her forget this one either hehe.
I was very disapointed to find just one long table of bags,and all modern and naff ones at that. Bah.

Anyway we retreated a bit battered, very thirsty and piled with treasures. After loading the car we headed to a lovely pub for a much needed drink and well earned lunch. What an experience, it was sheer madness but great fun.

Without further ado some of my treasures included;
An Art Deco-ish jug and sugar bowl for £1
The £6 china tea set minus it's hamper.
A huge bunny cotton wool holder £1 plus a quirky little plate for 50p (not pictured)
and various brooches. The stone one at the top left cost me £6 the rest were £10 in total, there was another cat but it sadly got decapitated in transit!

I also bought a book on Pilates for £1 and couple of huge pyjama tops with a quirky dog print for cutting up and making into something else.
A sage green checked shirt, a red 60's sleeveless top and a long brocade 60's dress, but didn't get round to taking pictures of them before they hit the washing basket and or the ironing mountain.

Not a bad haul for less than £30. We will definitely go again at some point, just not every 3 weeks! 



Wednesday 5 August 2015

Fashion on the Ration and a Baby Rhino Called Ian

Last week we had to have a huge planning meeting at work that started at 9am and instead of ending at 4pm as advertised overran by an hour and a half. We were all losing the will to live by lunch time so by the time I was finaly released to get the train home I was practically speaking in tongues.

This was swiftly followed by a Team Building Day!

As luck would have it this took place at The Cotswold Wildlife Park because that was what won all the votes.

It was great fun and some of us who hadn't been there for many many years got a bit excitable to say the least.(yes that would be me.)
 The weather was gorgeous, there were amazing animals to see, with a few babies including the star of the day, a baby rhino who went the magnificent name of Ian. 

I can only imagine they did a competition to name the rhino and someone picked a name from the hat to *big drum roll*“ AND THE NAME IS………Ian!!”
Yaaaay! wait what? did you say Ian? The rhino is going to be called Ian?? Oh!

Anyway personally I think Ian is a great name for a rhino and he was just the cutest thing, especially when he decided to wake up and gallop about a bit.

All in all a far more successful day than the one before. Even if I did manage to mistake a pigeon for a penguin. Unsurprisingly I didn't have my glasses on at the time.

This excitement was followed by another day off work to head to London with Soo to visit the Imperial War Museum’s exhibition Fashion on the Ration.
The exhibition has timed tickets and we were booked onto the 12.30 entry.
We got there a little early and whilst walking through the peace garden at the side we spotted an ice cream van. 
Well that didn’t take much deciding, we were quick to justify it by the fact it would stave off the hunger pangs whilst we browsed the exhibition, very sound reasoning as I'm sure you will agree.
The guy was very apologetic and said he had only just filled the machine so it might be a bit soft and then proceeded to make the most mammoth 99 by way of the apology (to those not in the ice cream know, a 99 is a soft whip ice cream cone with a chocolate flake stuck in it)     
You really can’t beat sitting outside on a sunny day eating an ice cream.

I will never get too old to eat ice cream.

From there we ambled into the museum and as we still had about 40 minutes we thought we would take a look at the Holocaust exhibition. It’s on the 4th floor so we took the stairs to work off a few of those ice cream calories, which also really reminded me we had done a lot of leg exercises at pilates the night before.......owwww.

As far as the Holocaust exhibition goes and on the whole for what I saw of it, it looked an excellent exhibition. We didn’t really have enough time to look round it all though.
The thing I had a problem with was the audio. I absolutely hated the propaganda broadcasts and film reels of nazi speeches. 
They were just too loud, like really invasively so, and as they were on constant loop you couldn't get away from it, I found I couldn’t concentrate on what I was trying to read due to Joseph Goebbels ranting about the master race over and over and over again.
I ended up scooting through to slightly quieter part of the exhibition, frankly I couldn’t get away fast enough.

Before we got all the way round it was 12.30 so we took the quick exit and headed down to level 3.
As we walked towards the entrance I was busy rooting in my bag for the e-ticket when the man on the door greeted me with
“Ms Collins, you can go straight in but no photography”
Me taken completely by surprise “Er yes, what?, right, umm, how did you know who I am?”
Man on the door completely deadpan and without missing a beat
“ You have the air of a Collins about you”
That did make me laugh but I was honestly so completely wrong footed I went straight in without asking how he actually DID know who I was! 

Himself said I should have turned and looked at the people around us pointed at myself and gone “See I’m important me” then waltzed in.
We surmised we much have either been the only 12.30 booking, or we were the last 12.30 booking to arrive. Or maybe it's just that I really AM that important ;-)
What a total joy Fashion on the Ration is. No photos allowed inside (Boo) so I have none to share with you but I cannot talk more highly of this exhibition, it’s just fantastic.
You find yourself completely immersed in the life that was uniforms, rationing, Make Do and Mend and CC41 utility clothing.  

I only have one little niggle, and that is that there were many fascinating hand written letters included in the exhibition, but often the handwriting was very difficult to read. It would have been nice to have a typed transcription of the letter next to the original. Other than that I would have to say this was one of the best exhibitions I have been to in a while. It’s well curated and wonderfully engaging.

I have always been interested in the social history of war so this exhibition really ticked all the boxes for me. It was fascinating to see the letters from one lady who was almost delighted when rationing first began because she had 'masses of clothes that could be made over' and would be good for new things to wear for years to come. Right through to her weary letters from the late 40's wondering if rationing would ever end because her outfits had been made over so many times they were literally disintegrating and falling off her in rags, and that at this rate 'we will all be walking round naked'

Or the beautiful wedding dress made from fabric meant for petticoats that was knocked up in a few days for a speedy wedding then loaned to another 14 girls for their special day too.
I know it’s not on for much longer but I highly recommend a visit if you can fit it in before the end of the month.

Oh and whilst I bought a tiny wee lemur at the wildlife park (called Mahjong after the Eltham Palace lemur!) I didn't buy ANYTHING in London. 

This is getting a tad worrying people.