Monday, 9 November 2009

serendipity, charity (thrift) shop bargain

One of the gods must have been distracted as he/she was running a bath the other day. I know this because whichever god it was allowed the water to run too long.

The water overflowed the heavenly bath, and cascaded down upon me as I walked home from uni last Wednesday. I was wearing canvas trainers, and a light jacket. The sun had been shining in a clear blue sky when I'd caught the bus early that morning.

I was soon uncomfortably damp. Well, actually, my feet were positively squelching as I walked! I called into the local charity (thrift) book shop to shelter from the worst of it, and looked at a few books - I've bought many books there over the last few years, and taken a few back, too! It was thanks to a poster in their window that I became a founder member of the Ashton Book Group - another good thing:)

I then set off again, but, since I'd been in the book shop, I thought I might as well take a look in the non-book shop of the same charity further down the road. I'm very pleased that I did.

For a few weeks now, since the autumn clothes have started to blossom on the rails, I've been looking for a raincoat. Not a shower-proof coat, not a cagoule, I have at least one of each of those, but a raincoat. A coat that would go down to my knees and keep me dry. Not one did I see.

However, on the "expensive" rail at the back of the charity (thrift) shop, I spotted a few coats. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, as they say, so I wandered over to have a look, carefully avoiding the feet of a smoky grey cat prowling amongst the jungle of rails.

My eye was taken by a stone coloured trench-coat, with hard plastic, mock leather buttons - I know, it's a weird description, but that's what they are!! The coat had a detachable thin acrylic check lining to add a tiny amount of additional warmth, in shades of red and black and brown on the stone background. Very neutral, therefore very useful.

I tried it on over my fleece jacket, and it fit! It boasted a £55 price tag from BHS at the neck, and another cardboard tag saying "Petite fitting" dangled from the sleeve. The original receipt from BHS was in one pocket, and in the other a small plastic bag containing a spare button and a scrap of fabric for necessary repairs. The receipt is badly faded, but it looks as if the year of purchase is 1992!!!!!

The fabric tag inside the coat proudly states that it is a raincoat. I bought it for the £5 they were asking, and carried on walking home, immensely pleased with my purchase.

Serendipity is all around us. Had it not rained, I wouldn't have broken my journey in the shops, but would have simply walked on home. Thanks to the rain and a soaking, I found what I've been looking for:-)

When I reached home I got changed out of my wet clothes and shoes, and thought about cleaning the coat. I'm happy to buy things from charity/thrift shops, provided I can wash them. I know people who insist that they couldn't possible buy second-hand clothing, because you don't know who owned it before you. Those same people will stay in a hotel and sleep in a bed which has been slept in by complete strangers. Not only that, they will dry all parts of their bodies with a towel previously used by goodness knows who.

That's different, they cry, the sheets and towels are washed!!!! I know it may be hard to believe, but I wash the things I buy from charity shops. So where's the difference?

Drat, I digressed!!

So, I looked at cleaning the coat. The label says "dry clean only" - no, not going to do that! The collar was grubby from being tried on, but the coat was clearly unworn, with its cardboard tags still attached. I sprayed the grubby collar with pre-wash spray, left it for a few minutes, then rinsed it off. I squirted on a little liquid soap and rubbed it in, then rinsed that, too.

I left the coat over the sink and went to set the washing machine to a gentle, cool wash, and put some liquid in the dispensing drawer. I picked up the coat, and whoosh, I was covered in cold water, and so was the floor. The water I had used to clean the collar had stayed between the lining and the coat fabric, instead of draining in to the sink. The outer fabric had held it like a bucket, and my lifting it was its clue to soak me for the second time that afternoon!!

After the shock, I was delighted!!! I know, how could I be delighted when I'd just got soaked? Easy. If the water stayed between the outer fabric and the lining, that was a pretty good indication as to how waterproof my new coat was - i.e. very :-)

The coat survived the washing machine, and I've worn it a few times now. It's kept me lovely and dry, and also warm, as there is ample room for a decent fleece jacket to be worn under it.

So there you are, serendipity in action, the charity/thrift shop made a fiver, and I'm one happy Christine :-) What's your favourite bargain buy?


  1. Now, that would make me so happy too! I love a good bargain like that. I'm not sure what my favorite was, but I did buy a fantastic purple dress with this awesome, tacky fur/fringe-type or ornamentation on it...back in 1998. I wore it for Halloween. Later I was able to use it as a costume in a play, and I dug it out for Halloween again this year. It was a wonderful thrift shop find that is still serving me well 11 years later! (Photo here.)

    Anyway, I'm the one digressing now. I wanted to let you know you've won yet another One-Minute Writing of the Day award. Congrats! :)

  2. Above, should be "fur/fringe type OF ornamentation." Not "OR ornamentation."

  3. cool photos, C Beth, and adorable children:)


Sadly, I've turned on comment moderation as I recieived a pornographic advert from another country. Unless your comment is particularly unpleasant, rest assured, it will appear on the blog!

Thank you for your understanding :)