Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Captain's Blog - star date 17/6/14

Week Four - Jumble Sales, Skips, Tips and Vide Greniers

For our last week of treasure finding tactics I'd like to talk about jumble sales, Vide Greniers and skips. These beauties are not your common or garden shopping experiences and be warned they do require some commitment and/or stamina.

So let's start with the easiest one - jumble sales.
Most people remember jumble sales from being at school and selling off your old toys and football boots and to some extent they are still the same type of thing. But the real joy is finding something amazing for a rock bottom, ridonculous price; like the jug I got for £1 and found out it was worth £80?! Totes amaze, etc.

Most jumble sales are on a Saturday morning and start at around 10/11am. Get there at least twenty minutes early to get a good spot in the queue. It will be handbags at dawn when you get in there so be prepared for a scrum. Jumble sales make the busy times at a car boot look like a gentle tea at the Ritz. It's ruthless and you'll need to get those elbows ready to dig through the mass of bodies and mobility vehicles.

Prices are low, low, low. Expect to pick things up for between 10p and £1. You'll rarely see anything cost more than that unless it furniture or newer electrically. It really is the most barginous place to be.

Check out school fetes as well as they usually have a jumble table. I once found a bag of Clinique products on sale for £1.50!?

My second top tip this week is skip or tip diving. Go to your local auction house and you will find a skip somewhere on site. If you ask them nicely they will often let you take whatever you want from it. Best time to dive in is the day after an auction when they throw away anything that doesn't sell and is not wanted back by the owner.

If that's a step too far for you then go to your local tip or recycling centre and find out if they have an area for items for sale. People throw away the best stuff and usually there's nothing wrong with it. They won't sell you electrical items but you could get pieces of furniture, DVDs, games, bathroom suites, bicycles - the list is endless. I found a three piece folding screen for my bedroom for just £5 at our local tip, plus some 1960's egg chairs for £10 the pair!

My final recommendation is for the serious bargain hunter who wants a taste of the continent. Vide Greniers are held every summer in most french towns and villages. Roughly translated it means attic sale. The villagers literally empty their houses out into the street and have a party selling to friends and neighbours.
The more remote the village usually the better the finds. I've picked up crocheted bedspread for a couple of euros, a giant tapestry for €15 and Louis XIV chairs for not much more. If you love shabby chic these are the places to go. There's something far more romantic about a French attic find than a uk one somehow, n'est ce pas?

So there it is. The Captain's speedy guide to bargain hunting, wombling and says to get rich (not so) quick. I hope you've enjoyed reading my ramblings and I look forward to hearing about your finds. Mail me and share your successes!

xx The Captain

Friday, 23 May 2014

Captain's Blog - Star Date 24/5/13

Week Three - Deal or No Deal

If you've been reading these posts you'll be up to date with my affection for collection of all things vintage, secondhand, recycled or whatever you want to call them.

Last time we talked about what you can find for free, this week I'm going to talk about how one mans rubbish can be another mans treasure.

Now if you've been to a car boot in this country you'll have noticed the large amount of early birds trying to clamber into the boot of your car or generally rummaging through unpacked boxes before you have a chance to exhale. These are mostly dealers, people who scavenge for a living, searching for gold and silver, antiques and collectables.

My advice if you are selling at a car boot is keep your prices high early morning because these guys know what something is worth and will try and knock you down big time. So start high and then drop to the real price that you want to sell at.

I've seen dealers pick up solid silver teapots, antique boxes and vintage toys for less than a fiver. They would end up re-selling in their hundreds. If you fancy yourself as a bit of a Del Boy dealer then figure out what specifically you are interested, buy some books on the subject (you can't beat books when it comes to antiques) and research, research, research!

You'll be amazed at what the everyday folk leave behind.

xx The Captain

Next week - Vide Greniers and French Markets

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Captain's Blog - Star Date 14/5/14

Week Two - Recycling

I'm a huge supporter of recycling, up cycling, even cycling (but only on my rainbow bike with heart seat and handlebar Pom Poms) and many a Clareways collectible has been found or foraged from someone else's rubbish.

First stop is Freecycle - for those who don't know what this is its a nationwide website designed to give people a place to post items that they don't want anymore for other people to ask for them and pick them up...wait for it...for...FREE!?!

It's unreal. It's choc full of friendly, kind souls and if you're a good Freecycler you will give away as much as you get so the goodness just keeps flowing.

Last year I was gifted a Dyson vacuum cleaner, a book binding machine, a brass up lighter, feather filled sofa seat pads, a sewing machine and a shoe rack. All in great condition from kindly folk who didn't need them anymore.

There's no excuse to throw away perfectly good items that can continue to be loved and used again and again.

The next recycling gold mine is your local tip or household waste area. Most tips these days let the guys working there save anything that looks in decent condition and put into a 'sales' area. The guys then split the profits between their team. So double bubble on the goodness scale because when you get a bonus bargain they get a bonus too! Win, win, chin, chin.

My top treasures found at the tip are; two art nouveau vases; a pair of 1960's egg chairs; a brand new john lewis cot; a full length gold wrought iron mirror; wall lights; a ten pin bowling lane (yes, really!); a wooden Victorian style towel rail.

Most things were a couple of pounds each, with the exception of the chairs which were a whole five pounds each. It's truly mega so find yours today and rescue something wonderful from the land of fill.

xxThe Captain

Monday, 5 May 2014

Captain's Blog - Star Date 5/5/14

Hello you beautiful being. How are you today? Feeling lucky? Adventurous? Excited? I know that I am. Every day is a wonderful adventure in which to learn something new. And so on to my next post...

I am what some might call a collector. Other, less polite beings, say hoarder - the brutes! So stuffed with booty is Clareways Towers that is often described as being like a museum and I like to think of this as a huge compliment!

Most of my pieces have been collected from around the globe, on my many adventures with the first mates. But some have been carefully scavenged from recycling, car boots, shop windows and the like, and over the next few weeks I'm going to give you my top tips for bargain home style on a budget of mere pennies.

Week One - Window Swag

In the Clareways lounge there is a mosaic heart shaped table, with heart shaped legs, which I just adore. This was procured from a Miss Selfridge shop window. The heart top was originally a hanging display but by using some mdf, a jigsaw and some glitter paint it soon became the best table ever!

Big chains of shops always over order on window displays and nearly always throw away the used ones from the stores.

Keep your eyes out for interesting props or graphics that you can re-use or turn into something exciting. Phone the store, email head office or go in and speak to the shop manager. Get your name down quickly before anyone else nabs the booty.

Most will give the stuff for free but some, like Monsoon, just ask for a small donation to charity.

No point trying Showcase cinemas - they send all of their stuff back...boo. But I had some luck with Disney by emailing their head office.

Top tips:-

Try Next for Christmas displays which are always excellent quality.

Find out where the 'flagship' stores are, as they tend to have bigger window displays with more props.

Next week get the down low on up-cycling!

xxThe Captain

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Star date: 05/04/14
HOW TO....make bath bombs!
Let's kick off the blogging ball with a quick 'how to' on how to make yourself some bath bombs. No need to pay extortionate amounts of money for these bad boy bombs, using these simple steps you can have loads whipped up in minutes. 
You will need; Bicarbonate of soda; Citric acid; Water sprayer - like an old pump action hair spray bottle (rinse clean first!); Essential oil of your choice; Metal bowl; Silicone ice tray, cupcake moulds or proper bath bomb moulds; rubber gloves (wear throughout)
Optional extras; Shea butter; Natural dye or food colouring; Glitter (make sure it's suitable for use in the bath); Rose petals/lavender
IN THE metal bowl measure out two cups of bicarbonate of soda. To this add one cup of citric acid. Mix. If using a colour add a few drops depending on how deep you'd like the hue. Mix.
At this point if you like you can add Rose petals, glitter or another dried flower to your bath bomb recipe. Just add a tablespoon at a time and mix through throughly.
NOW ADD your essential oil. You'll only need a couple of drops for this amount of mixture. I like to use two drops of Otto Rose and two drops of Geranium, but have a play around with what you fancy. Tip - you can always test the oil scents together in a little pot or saucer before adding to the bicarbonate mixture. Once oils are added mix thoroughly.
Now for the fun bit! With your water sprayer spray two squirts of water into the mixture in the bowl. You should start to hear a low fizzing sound, this is the soda and acid starting to react to the water. Mix through with your hands.
REPEAT THE process of spraying water and mixing until you can squeeze a handful of the mixture in your fist and when you release your fingers the mixture remains compact in the ball of your fist. If it crumbles a lot it needs another burst of water. On average I'd say I usually give my mixture two or three rounds of water sprays. When you're happy with the consistency take your moulds and pack them tight with the bath bomb mixture. Smooth off the top of any flat moulds with your fingers.
Leave to dry for one hour. Carefully peel back moulds and there you have it, your very own homemade bath bombs. All you need now is to run a bath and pop one in the water!
If you'd like a silky smooth feel to your bath bombs then add some Shea butter to the mix just before you add the water. You'll need to mix it with your fingers until you have an almost crumble feeling consistency. Use however much you like but usually a tablespoon sized ball is enough.
Layering two different coloured mixtures gives you a stripy finished effect.
HAVE FUN! xx The Captain
WELCOME friends to the official Captain Clareways blogging page! And if you' like what you see here then you will definitely want to check out The Captain's website which is www.captainclareways.co.uk  
There you will find Kitsch Kitchenware, Fabulous Fashions and mondo, mondo more amazing products to buy and love like you've never loved before! So go on...get clicking.
But until then back to these pages, where you'll be amused, astounded and amazed with wit and wisdom from around the globe. There will be guest writers, how-to guides on loads of cool stuff and general ramblings from me, The Captain.
But first of all I have prepared a small Awards-ceremony-style speech to say thank you to a few really good people.
If you'd like to say thanks to someone for something or just for being fabulous then please send in your message (see the Contact Me page on the website) and I will be happy to post them right here in the Captain's Blog.
So humongously big THANK YOU yodels out to:-
  • The Grunters, Spam and Spanna for the comedy - and the spinach from 1984
  • Samantha Hunter for being an amazing friend and a genius of the highest proportion
  • Mike Widdess for being the Yoda to my errr...Ewok?
  • Jordan, Kim and Christine for the you know what
  • Karen and Andrew for being the best neighbours EVER
  • Vicki, Maisie, Freddie and Sienna for their vocal chords
  • Sarah Brownrigg at http://www.thebrandowl.co.uk
  • Man for recommending Sarah Brownrigg at The Brand Owl
  • Dill pickles for being so green and delicious
  • Roger and Evelyn for their love. Happy dreams.
And to the rest of the friends, family near and far, and future friends of Captain Clareways I thank you all. You're awfully nice.
xx The Captain