The Old Man has had a whole week off on annual leave. As we managed to get some very dull chores done - like clean out the pantry and re-organise the linen cupboard, he decided to reward me with the promise of a WHOLE DAY'S chazzing. Whoopee, my idea of heaven...mooching the streets, hand in hand, small person safely tucked away at school, a leisurely lunch and a meander through the bric-a-brac and book shelves.
As the world was my oyster I selected Hitchin to visit. I haven't been for a while and have always had rich picking there. Partly for some perverse delayed gratification, partly to give me an incentive to get through the mind-numbingly boring household chores, but mainly because of the planned vintage market, I chose Friday for the magnificent day, hoping I'd be in for double-bubble.
Fortified with a bacon sarnie and a strong coffee, we arrived in Hitchin town at 10am. First stop the Salvation Army which seems to have arbitrary and highly erratic opening hours. Almost every time I come it is shut and I find myself forlornly peering through the window at the wondrous vintage treasures.
This time it was open - result! Heart-rate quickening we walked through the door. There was a customer at the till about to pay for about a thousand ink pads and stamps which were tumbling from her arms onto the counter. I eventually found the box these had come from and sure enough, she had cleared it our - leaving only the most obscure greetings and sentiments behind. Pipped at the post again.
Wondering around, nothing caught my eye, but I picked up a very practical packet of sewing needles for 50p.
Onwards and upwards. The expectation and excitement was still buzzing, but as we entered and exited numerous shops empty handed, our mooch became more of a disappointed plod.
We popped into our favourite cafe for lunch, only to find it heaving, so we headed off and did a few more (fruitless) charity shops before returning. Still there were no seats to be had, so we had to make do with a second rate sandwich and coffee at an alternative.
Never have I had such a rubbish return from an entire town's charity shops. This time of year, most of them seem to abandon their regular customers, swipe clear the bric-a-brac shelves and replace vintage tea cups and kitchenalia with cheap plastic Christmas goods. Entire linen rails make way for the dreaded 'party wear' consisting mainly of shoulder-padded Etam sequined jackets and 1980's Laura Ashley velvet sweetheart dresses. Jewellery cabinets are robbed of all sparkliness and stuffed with multi packs of Christmas cards.
Is this what we have to look forward to for the next 6 weeks? Charity shops, I implore you - don't do it. Don't force me to eBay. I may not come back.
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