Pinch and a punch…..

Getting started…..


Welcome! To a new month and a new blog ūüôā

September is one of my favourite months. A time of new beginnings, starting afresh and making some resolutions for the new term. I’ve always enjoyed the back to school feeling, even more so now I have Lily, and it’s often a time when I start a new project.

This blog has been quite a while in the making. I often find myself composing tales in my head of little adventures or experiences but never really getting much further, so hopefully that’s all about to change! Through this blog I’m hoping to share my love of bargain hunting and the feeling of excitement when finding something interesting.  I love the thrill of the chase – be it a charity shop,  jumble sale or car boot – it’s all good fun to me.  I hope you enjoy sharing the ride!


Bring and buy

For the last few years (about 15 to be precise!) I’ve been a member of Hexagon Quilters. While not a charity as such, it is a non-profit group aimed at bringing Quilters together and promoting the art. January is always AGM month and the committee have come up with a great formula of “An evening of a little business and much pleasure”. As last night’s was the 25th AGM they must be doing something right!

One of the highlights is the annual Bring and Buy table where members bring quilting and sewing items they no longer need and sell them. The group takes a small percentage of the profits so to me it’s a kind of pop-up charity shop! There’s always a wide range of items on sale, reflecting the diverse backgrounds, tastes and interests of the roughly 150 group members.

I didn’t pick up too much last night, but I did pick up a couple of retro style Moda fat quarters, some bag handles (always handy!), a larger piece of vintage floral fabric and a fab 1960s apron pattern! I just love these old dressmaking patterns! I have a few now and I hardly ever actually use them, but I love looking at the pictures!!

Charity Supported


  • 1960s dress pattern, cost 60p, value approx ¬£10 on ebay
  • 3m fabric, cost ¬£3.40, value about ¬£15
  • Bag handles, cost ¬£2, value ¬£15 (John Lewis)
  • Total haul cost ¬£6, value around ¬£40

Dahl-lightful Lego!

Time to hand over for my first guest post. My resident AFOL often joins in my charity shop adventures, but usually with a very specific haul in mind.

A bargain LEGO bag

Hi, guest blog from “Big” the Charityshophauler’s other half! As has already been mentioned I’m a LEGO fan, having escaped my dark ages a few years ago I have gathered loads of my childhood stash from my parents loft as well as adding plenty of the latest sets to the LEGO room. But I also like the thrill of the charity shop hunt for plastic blocky goodness.

Most people know that LEGO is an expensive toy, especially the licensed sets from TV and films. This means that charity shop or car boot sale finds are always thin on the ground or ridiculously overpriced. So when I do spot a set or even a bag of parts I tend to snap it up to add to my ever growing collection. 

Following our family trip to the Roald Dahl museum in Great Missenden late last year we headed off to explore the only charity shop in the village, a Barnado’s Shop. First port of call is always the toy section, tucked behind a battered Kerplunk and a tatty teddy was a small bag of bricks. It didn’t look like much at first glance, but was only marked ¬£2 so I grabbed it ready to head to the till. As I waited for Small to choose her headphones I squished the bag about to check out what might be inside. There were lots of medium blue bricks and some wheels, at first glance it looked like Harry Potter’s Ford Anglia. There were also some large dark tan plates and red panels with stickers on. Moving them around I spied a Joker minifigure. It looked promising.

Back home we tipped the parts out on a tray, there must have been around 200 pieces, at an average of 10p/piece for most sets there was at least ¬£20 of assorted pieces. Using Brickset.com, a website that details every set made and the parts included, as well as having instructions I was able to dust all the pieces and rebuild the car, adding a couple of missing parts from my stash and making the car from the Monster Fighters set 9466. EBay had a couple of them listed for around ¬£25. The second pile of pieces turned into 80% of the Batman set, Dynamic Duo Funhouse. Missing the train tracks and the top of the towers its would take a few pounds of parts to complete it. Again eBay has part completed version for sale from ¬£25, the Joker minifigure is worth around ¬£5. So my ¬£2 has turned into at least ¬£50.

After completing the car I used a website called Bricklink.com to purchase the missing minifigures to drive the car and man the weaponry and it was ready to add to one of the many display shelves in the LEGO room. The Funhouse has been broken down with some pieces already incorporated into other builds. The hunt continues for the next haul.

Charity Supported


  • Bag of assorted LEGO containing the car from set 9466 and 80% from set 6857, plus Joker minifigure, cost ¬£2, cost new about ¬£50

Something from nothing, part 1

Sometimes a new haul doesn’t give immediate gratification, but needs time and thought to enable it to reach its full potential. This is particularly the case with the various craft stashes I’ve accumulated over the years. Often I find inspiration will strike at inopportune moments, but wherever possible I try to run with it.

Not exactly a charity shop in the usual sense, but last year I was lucky enough to visit the National Needlework Archive based in the Old Chapel on the former Greenham Common Airbase site near Newbury. The building itself is rather fascinating, as are its contents. The Old Chapel Textile Centre houses a collection and database of textiles from all over the UK, particularly those in community settings, for research and also to promote the historical and artistic value of these items. The building provides space for exhibitions and conferences, as well as sales of donated textiles and haberdashery, which was the reason for my visit!

The sale proved pretty fruitful, adding to my growing stash of vintage fabrics and trimmings, so I knew which bag to rummage in when Small requested a new bag for her gym kit.

First, choose your fabrics…..

A couple of modern ones and a very pretty retro (I’m guessing 1980s!) floral in the foreground.

I tend to be a little “free form” with my sewing, so I trimmed the pieces to roughly equal sizes with pinking shears then sewed them together in pairs on my machine to make two sides of the bag. I placed the sides right sides together then stitched round on 3 sides to make the bag shape, stopping just short of the top on both sides to leave a gap for the drawstring. I clipped the corners then turned the bag through and pressed thoroughly. To make the drawstring casing I folded the top edge down about 1 inch all round (leaving that little gap I’d left in the seams to make a hole on each side) then top stitched ¬†all the way round to make a channel. I made a couple of drawstrings from scrap strips of fabric by folding two sides over to the middle and zigzag stitching in place. Finally I threaded the drawstrings through the casing and knotted them to keep them in place.

I was pretty pleased with the finished product!

As was Small, and her gym teacher!

Charity Supported


  • Fabric and haberdashery, cost approx ¬£5
  • Value after work….I only used a tiny amount of the fabric for this project and I’ve seen similar bespoke items for sale on Etsy for ¬£10- ¬£15 or more!

Pretty dresses for a pretty girl, and a bag of tricks

One of the things I really enjoy about visiting a new town is the opportunity to visit a new charity shop or two! A summer day out to Bekonscot gave us the opportunity to explore not only the model village but the real village of Beaconsfield as well. As usual my attention turned to charity shops and, after something of a false start involving some overpriced Lego, I managed to find my haul! 

Here’s Small showing off her pretty Sugar Pink dress!

And here she is with her jersey Next dress. She adores this one – it’s so pretty and comfortable. Oh yes and that is Phill Jupitus right there in the pic #namedropper!

Just as I was about to land my items on the counter to pay, my eye was drawn to a familiar little dog in amongst the bags. A quick rummage revealed a little Radley bag in need of a new loving home. It was in a bit of a sorry grubby state but for ¬£4 I thought it was worth a gamble. Unfortunately I didn’t manage to get a “before” shot, but this is how it looked after a run through the washing machine! It was something of a tense half hour (something akin to being an expectant father, I imagine!) but it all went OK and my baby was safely delivered in a reasonable condition!

Charity Supported


  • Sugar Pink dress – cost ¬£1, cost new about ¬£12
  • Next dress – cost ¬£1, cost new about ¬£10
  • Radley bag – cost ¬£4, cost new about ¬£100 (although probably not worth quite that much in its current condition!)
  • Total cost ¬£6, total new price up to ¬£122


I’ve got to confess….these days the suggestion of a day out anywhere usually has me tapping away on my phone to check out two things: Geocaches and charity shops! This Saturday’s excursion was no different. As a family we’ve been feeling the love for Roald Dahl during his centenary year so we decided to round it off with a trip to Great Missenden and the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre.

We had a great time and Small learned a lot! But, more importantly, I had my customary research to do. A sad lack of Geocaches appeared to be available to us and at first glance it seemed like a charity shop free zone too! However I was unconvinced so once the museum was all done we went for a wander. Great Missenden is a lovely little place with some great little nick nack shops and a there is a brilliant trail available touring round a number of locations familiar to Dahl fans. After we passed the Post Office and the library that inspired Matilda I noticed a Barnardo’s shop!

Not too much in the way of pickings for me but did manage to fulfil a promise to Small to get her own set of headphones…

Oh yeah and of course Big got some Lego!! But that’s another story……

Charity Supported


  • Headphones, cost ¬£1.99, cost new about ¬£10

The Kindness of Strangers

A couple of years ago I discovered freecycle. I’ve always been a fan of re-using and recycling, and freecycle is the Internet embodiment of that. The freecycle motto is “Changing the world one gift at a time” which really appeals to me. One girl’s trash is another’s treasure and all that. I’ve been amazed by the grateful thanks with which some of my gifts have been received (particularly Small’s old toddler bed, about which I had several emails of thanks!) and even more so the generosity of people I’ve received gifts from. 

The latest came from a fortuitiously timed lunchtime browse of the site.  I saw a recently posted advert for a box of embroidery threads located fairly close to my work so I sent a little (politely worded as always!) message in response and waited…. Within the hour there was a reply.  The box was still available if I’d like to drop in on my way home. 

I was expecting something the size of a shoe box, so when the man came to his door with a cubic metre box stuffed full of all sorts of different types of thread I was pretty taken aback! They had belonged to his mother who had passed away and he just wanted them to go to a good home where they would be used.  I was more than happy to oblige! It was an amazingly unexpectedly generous gift so I feel a sense of obligation to carry on what this lady started and give her threads the good home I promised.


  • Total cost ¬£0, cost new is tricky to calculate but must run into ¬£hundreds!

Unexpected delights

Some of the best charity shop hunting often comes on from unexpected and unplanned trips. I had a random midweek day off work last week to do a few errands and have a bit of a recharge. My peace was shattered by a call from my bank letting me know my card had been cloned! Helpfully my card was blocked so needed a trip to my local branch to sort a few things out. 

Fortunately, my local bank branch is collocated with a number of charity shops so it seemed a good opportunity for an impromptu rummage. Only managed a small haul this time but it did include two Christmas presents for the small and a lovely autumn coloured Seasalt dress for me!

Charities supported:


  • Seasalt dress – cost ¬£6, new price about ¬£60
  • Girl’s M&S Autograph tunic – cost ¬£2.50, new price about ¬£15
  • Brain Box game – cost ¬£1.99, new price ¬£9.99
  • Total cost ¬£10.49, total new price about ¬£85