boot sale We’ve been having a big clearout in Chez Funnell as we have a lot of renovations going on this year. I’ve been quite ruthless, getting rid of stuff in the loft and in cupboards. My motto (which often gets ignored) is, if you haven’t used it for 2-3 years, get rid of it!

Looking at the huge pile of boxes and bags in the hall and conservatory, I knew I had to face the fact that we needed to get up early and do a Car Boot Sale. Luckily the weather was nice on Saturday morning, so we loaded up Hubby John’s van and drove a few miles away, where we set up our tables in the field.

The first visitors are always the dealers, who rush from car to car, looking for bargains that they can re-sell. Most of them are regulars, and know each other, but it does pay to keep all your doors locked, except the one where you’re unloading. Load up your biggest objects last, so you can unload them first, and hopefully sell them first while you unpack the rest!

Trade was steady, and it was well worth the effort of getting up, travelling there, loading and unloading, etc.One problem; I love boot fairs and I can’t resist walking round and buying things. Hubby John glared at me every time I came back, carrying my bargains!

We left the van loaded overnight and got up at 5.30 on Sunday, and drove to Rainbow Farm at East Hoathly. Rainbow’s been run by Jim and Shirley Vinall for about 20 years. It’s definitely our favourite car boot site. Space isn’t restricted, the field is well-drained, and they pride themselves on their clean loos! The one drawback is the early start; it opens at 6am. But some sellers arrive a lot later than that.

Again, we sold a lot of our unwanted rubbish, and made some welcome money. But again, I bought some great bargains, including a tray of strawberries from the fruit & veg man, who I’ve known for years. He let me have them for a much lower price, as they wouldn’t be any good for selling the following day. So yesterday afternoon, I made two gallons of strawberry wine for Christmas, and I’ve got loads left to make some cakes.

I’ve washed them and tossed them in sugar, so now they’ll last for a few days. If you’ve never done a car boot sale before, you really should try it! It only lasts a few hours, so it’s worth the effort. We’re doing one more next week, then giving the rest to a charity.

Here are a few tips for you, Dear Readers, if you’ve just landed from Planet Zog and you don’t know about boot sales:

If you’re uncertain of the value of something, you can ask at your local Auctioneer’s before you go. They’re knowledgeable about absolutely everything.

At the boot sale, always ask more than you expect to get, because almost everyone will try to knock your price down. If you plan for this, you’ll end up getting the price that you originally wanted! And don’t be bullied into taking a lot less than you wanted.

If you’re still uncertain about the price you should charge, ask a few of the dealers. They’ll be happy to tell you what an object is, where it originated, and what you’ll get for it.

Cover your tables with a cloth. It makes such a difference to the appearance.

Take a bag for the money with a float of about £20-30 in change, and never, never leave it unattended!

Be prepared for gusts of wind, especially in an exposed field. Take string, pegs for the cloth, and a large selection of clothes! I changed about five times yesterday! It was cold, and wet underfoot at first, then evolved into a hot August day.

And of course, this is England. A plastic cover to throw over your stock if it suddenly rains is always a good idea, plus plastic bags to stand cardboard boxes, etc on while the grass is wet.

Do pack a picnic. I don’t know why, but we’re always hungrier than usual when we do a boot sale. And why use some of your profits to buy food when you can take your own?

You can buy food and drinks if you finish yours. There’s always a burger van, selling food and hot drinks, and the ice-cream man will turn up later on.

I don’t understand why people complain about the cost of living in this country. I reckon I could have completely furnished a whole house yesterday for around £200, and that includes the curtains, saucepans, crockery, etc!

I wanted a wok and a new cheese-grater, and I found them both on one stall, for £2.50. And I bought an immaculate doll’s house, with some furniture in it for £10!

Then I walked to the next row, and bought a doll’s house book for £1, then walked on and bought two packs of doll’s house furniture, and some assembled bits. £2.50 for the lot!

Now I intend to work on the house, decorating it and making tiny rugs, etc. And of course, buying bits for it at car boot sales.

Even if you don’t fancy actually having a stall at a boot sale, I strongly suggest that you visit them before they pack up for the Winter. (The number of boot sales they’re allowed to hold per year is strictly controlled on farmland.)

You can buy fresh produce there, like eggs, plants, and fruit and vegetables at prices way below the supermarket prices. And they’ve all come from just a few miles away, so they taste much better.

A lot of pensioners now do boot sales regularly. They might make jam and chutneys or grow a few things in their garden – anything to eke out their pensions, and of course, to have a hobby and meet people!

I’m sure that nobody’s too snobby to go to a car boot sale any more. They’re great fun, and you never see the same things twice.

Treasures can still be found, so you never know; you might find that old Rolex watch in a box of mixed items, or a Ming vase sitting on a table between an old pair of shoes and Ginger Spice’s autobiography. It happens, and more often than you realise!