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The Car Boot Sale – That Grand Old British Institution

Updated on December 10, 2017
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Sally has been a prolific writer of wet felting tutorials for several years with the occasional foray into literature and much more...

The Car Boot Addict

I am a car boot sale junkie. There now, I have said it! Every year, this grand old British Institution, times its’ arrival to coincide with the warmer weather. It signals a time for me to shut my front door behind me in favor of finding some outdoor pleasure. It is a time to enjoy the sunshine and a time to take in the sights and sounds of some of the local car boots held all over Norfolk.

Not for sale. The Car Boot! Taking It Quite Literally!
Not for sale. The Car Boot! Taking It Quite Literally! | Source

Arminghall Car Boot


The Late One' Car Boot


Bringing People Together

The car coot is one of our best loved national pastimes and draws people from all over, young or old, mothers, fathers, children, grannies or grandpa’s, single people, people of different color, people of different faith, the rich and the poor, no matter, everyone is looking for a bargain. Here they will find things aplenty - both to enjoy and to delight in. In these poor economic times, the Car Boot is such a blessing! Here too, you will find school or casual clothing for adults and children, even branded items, which children especially crave these days. The clothes which they buy, may never have been worn. You will find books, puzzles, toys, bicycles and items of every description, something reasonable for everyone to enjoy, a prize for all, to take home without having to rob the bank.

Arminghall Car Boot Norwich


The Late One Car Boot Sale, Aylsham, Norfolk


The Late One Car Boot Sale, Aylsham, Norfolk


Glorious Junk or Is It Treasure?


Participation as a Seller and a Buyer

Being an addict means that I do turn up regularly, rain or sunshine. It does not mean that I buy everything in sight! I always go with a plan and occasionally I even change my guise and become a Car Boot Seller instead of just a Car Boot Buyer. Participation as a Seller can be just entertaining as is hunting for bargains!

I go to Car Boots to look for things I need but don’t wish to purchase brand new. It seems such a waste of money to buy new things when you know you can get all of them at a fraction of their cost at a Car Boot. Sale. I like to think of Car Boots as being this huge recycling plant where glorious junk (or treasure) arrives in an assortment of motor vehicles and at the end of the day the items go back home with their new owners - in different cars and vans. Somewhere in-between there will be an exchange of cash which will be channeled back into the community in the form of additional revenue for the town or village. That can’t be half bad can it?

All Lined up Ready to Go!


Negotiating a Deal

I like seeing a child negotiate a purchase on his or her own. I like the way a Car Boot encourages our children to become the wheeler dealers of the future. I love hearing their delight when a seller generously gives them two items for the price of one (Just because they are children!) and they still get to choose which two items they get to take home!

The British Weather

I especially love mixing with the people at car boots. Here you will find a glorious mix of race and nationalities.. I love hearing the different accents and I love watching the people as they walk around together, every one with the same purpose in mind, that is of course, to find a bargain. I love listening to the regular traders and I like to catch little snippets of their conversation spoken in local dialect. I love to look at their weathered faces and hear them speak of the weather! In England, the weather welds all people together and will bring forth an immediate response. If you can discuss the weather, you will never be short of a conversation!

The Late One Car Boot Sale, Aylsham

The late one car boot sale, aylsham
The late one car boot sale, aylsham | Source

In Praise of Car Boots

I sometimes tell my family abroad that one could easily furnish a three bedroom house with the bargains found at a car boot. Thank goodness for car boots - without them things would be a lot tougher for many people.

Getting it all together


Such a Curious Kind of Etiquette at Car Boots!

There does seem does seem to be a curious form of etiquette attached to car boots! Why is it that a person asks a seller for the price of an item and then they walk away without saying another word? If the price is low, they will beat the person right down to next to nothing while at the end of the day when everyone is packing up to go home, folk cannot even be persuaded to take the goods home for free! quite bizarre!

A Living Doll With Teeth!

A living doll with teeth
A living doll with teeth | Source

Big Mouth Billy Bass

The Curious Tale of Big Mouth Billy Bass and a Strange Living Doll with Teeth

My own buying strategy can vary but I always try to have a wish list in the top of my head. I do try to walk systematically up and down the rows of tables looking for specific things. I do find that by doing this, I am far less likely to be distracted by things which I like but don’t necessarily need! Sometimes I will see that an item may have the potential to give me a good return on e-Bay and I will buy it (like the singing fish plaque I bought recently for two quid. I felt so horribly ashamed to carry my catch back to the car minus a carry bag because it was so embarrassingly awful. . Did I not have any taste! I did find out later that it was a collectors item just as I thought and it did turn me a profit on e-Bay. Somehow, talking about a profit is a so much easier to do than having to admit, that you actually bought that embarrassing fish for two quid.

Then there was the strange little doll I bought with teeth - she's a cutie to be sure - so perfectly formed and a such great little character but my guess. I still have to learn to love her otherwise she may still may become an e-Bay item too!!

I do try not to get distracted from my purpose - which is to buy only those items which I originally set out to find, not those which I must have because they seem like a bargain! It is so easy to fill your home with clutter because you think it is a bargain!

Up-Cycle or Re-Sell on E-Bay!

Summer brings with it my opportunity to replenish my craft box with items which I need for my hobbies from the Car Boot. It is also a time for me to explore the possibility of finding items which I can re-sell on e-Bay during the dark days and nights during Winter.

Victorian, Vintage Crochet, Tatting or Lace!

Last week I went searching for some vintage crochet tatting or lace. These I intend to use in a future wet felting project. Seen below are just a few of the items I found.

Beautiful Lace and Macrame

Beautiful lace, crochet, macrame
Beautiful lace, crochet, macrame | Source

Textures in Cream and White Cotton

Fabric has always been one of my weaknesses! I have been sewing or doing some type of craft using fabric ever since I can remember. Many women can’t walk past a beautiful piece of fabric without wanting to put out their hands to touch it. I am one of those. I am just drawn to it. I love everything about it. I love the feel of it and the colors. I love the different textures. These days I don't buy fabric new as it is tends to be really expensive in UK shops. I buy most things I need from car boots. I like the concept of being able to recycle beautiful pieces of fabric, either from older items of clothing or curtains. You will often find pieces of brand new fabric too, once purchased by someone and never used. The car boot can be a rich source of fabric, lace and crochet, especially for those wishing to be creative with cloth, Here you will also find buttons and zips, and even sewing threads, sewing machines and sewing patterns. Watch out for vintage fabric and beautiful lawn tablecloths!

Lace, Crochet, Tatting and Macramé.

Tatted Cushion Cover
Tatted Cushion Cover | Source

A Lace Handkerchief

Lace handkerchief
Lace handkerchief | Source

Textures in Cotton and Lace

Textures in cotton and lace
Textures in cotton and lace | Source


Textures in cotton and lace
Textures in cotton and lace | Source


Crochet | Source


Crochet | Source


Tatting | Source

Car Boot Spoils

Two visits to two separate car boots recently have rewarded me with some ‘wonderful texture’ for my next Felting project I have amassed some beautiful pieces of Victorian Lace, Tatting, crochet and macramé to work with. The ones I don’t use I shall put on e-Bay. This incredible array of Lace, Crochet, Macramé and Tatting were bought for less than just £20. Some of the pieces are Victorian some are Vintage, all of them are very beautiful. A few carry a little history with them, such as carefully monogrammed initials in one corner. One is a fine Victorian cotton lace handkerchief. This would have been used as a ‘Wedding Handkerchief’. I can see it being used again for that very purpose 'something old, something new'. The lace is beautiful and the fabric is so very fine and delicate. I have seen a similar one sell on e-Bay recently for £39! How lovely it is to think that these little works of art still survive and can still be found useful. . Two pairs of skilled hands would once have worked this lace. Each lace pattern must have been chosen by an individual according to their skill or their personality! Some of the worked patterns are so very complex! I am amazed at the skill they show. Many of these items now considered old fashioned. . I think they still deserve to be saved. Some can be recycled or used to up-cycle an item. I love the tatting. Some of the items probably came from a deceased estate, probably from a home where they were once treasured by an elderly person, now sold off as a job lot to a car boot trader - who neither cares nor appreciates the work which went into it's creation.

Up-Cycling With Vintage Lace Doillies

Some Ideas for Up-Cycling Doilies?

Your doilies can be up-cycled to create so many beautiful items:-

  • Make a lampshade from doilies. These can be glued together over a balloon and once the lampshade has dried, the balloon can be extracted to form a beautiful light fitting.
  • Make a modern necklace using a doily folded in half and covering a half moon shape of leather. Add a few embellishments and a silver fixing with which to attach it.
  • A vintage theme wedding dress can be made from doilies using crochet tablecloths
  • A plain neutral cream cloth handbag can be up-cycled with some beautiful lace and ribbons
  • A book of doilies can be presented to a loved one with some favorite photos inserted into it.
  • A doily can be dipped into wallpaper glue and turned into a starched fruit bowl.
  • A dream catcher made using several simple embroidery hoops and a few feathers.
  • A low old fashioned upholstered chair can be covered with crochet doilies.
  • Try adding a lace collar to an item of clothing
  • Several doilies or some tatting can be used to up-cycle a pair of wedge high heel shoes
  • Make some cushion covers as gifts
  • Make a beautiful pincushion as a gift
  • Cover a diary with lace and crochet work.

Who knows you may even find some of these beautiful items on e-Bay when you next look!

© 2013 Sally Gulbrandsen


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