Sunday, 8 August 2010

Clutter be gone! I now need a blimmin' rest.

Well that'll teach me to be more careful with my money and all the stuff that comes into our home from impulse buys and random gifts.

My arms feel like they're ready to drop off.  My feet detached themselves hours ago and my back is distinctively telling me that it is still there.  And it is never pleasant when one's back muscles begin to heckle!

Today was the day that the big event finally arrived.  The Big Huge Summer Declutter organised by BBC Radio Suffolk and EACH's Treehouse Appeal to raise money for a new children's hospice.  My goal was to turn up alongside 600 other participants to lay out my pitch at the biggest car boot sale that I've ever experienced.

I know many people love car boots sales, but personally I have never particularly warmed to them.  It's the early starts and bargaining over 10p here and 5p there that truly test my patience.  So today really had to be worth the effort, which is why I pledged to donate all the proceeds of our pitch to the Treehouse Appeal.

Of course I could have just donated our unwanted stuff to the charity shop.  That would have been much easier than getting up at the crack of dawn and sitting in a traffic jam in Ipswich, before being rained on and sunburnt within a matter of hours.  But that wouldn't have given me the lesson that I very much needed today, which was the kick up the backside in discovering the real value of  the stuff with which I - along with the help of others - have been cluttering up our home over the last decade.

And yes, it's no coincidence that the amount of clutter we've accumulated is in direct relation to having had two young children. Most parents will recognise the routine:  birthdays; rainy days; hobbies; keep them happy days; boring days; cheer-up days; keep-up-with-the-Jones days; guilty days and Christmas.Then there's all the stuff they make at schools and clubs.  But the more one acquires, the harder it is to keep on top of, especially when the kids really love their belongings or you don't want to offend someone by selling or giving away an unwanted present, or if you've paid a huge amount of money for something that is no longer needed or wanted.  Then there's the case of not having time to keep on top of your stuff until it begins to cripple your free space and your sanity!

Although many might regard car boot sales as a celebration of reuse, I can't help see them as a cathedral to discards and obsolescence.  The setting is perfect for the average buyer, as there are plenty of bargains galore with the opportunity to snap up essentials and luxuries for great prices.  However, for the seller, it's a wake-up call to see something that once cost £25 -  and which remains in perfect condition and still in trend - disappear into the distance for just 50p.

Don't get me wrong, I've not got any gripes over such transactions.  It's certainly not the buyer's fault that I was daft enough to pay through the nose for something I've hardly used and I really quite like seeing people enjoy their bargains.  If I was that bothered about recovering the cost I'd opt for eBay. And it has to be said, that convenience-wise, if you're missing the organisation gene like me, the advantage of car-boot sales is that a whole load of stuff can be taken off your hands within a matter of hours without the effort of nipping backwards and forwards to the post office.

No, the lesson from today was to continue to be mindful of the impact of every acquisition that comes into our home, whether it's bought brand-new or as cheap bargains, or even gifted or donated.  Even if something is free, it can still  remain under-used and unappreciated and left to age in a drawer waiting to be dealt with.  In such instances, I'd be better off overcoming my clutter bug nature and declining freebies, letting others put them to good use instead.  Likewise, with clothes and books being my particular weakness, it's perhaps time to reconsider what I really do actually need.

However, with all that said, I'm pretty pleased that all those presents we've bought ourselves or have been given to us by friends and family, were today converted into the princely sum of £75, which will help EACH build its much needed hospice.  If I'd just donated the items to the charity shop, I'd have no idea of their worth and their contribution to the fundraising goal, but at least now I know we have helped to pay for a few more bricks or some furniture. 

So for someone who doesn't normally do boot sales, this was a real worthwhile day indeed.  And even better, they'll get more cash from the remaining stuff that hadn't sold, which we left at their collection point on the way home. 

Now that's what I call a useful car boot sale!

And the satisfaction of leaving with a virtually empty boot.  Now that is totally priceless.

Huge thanks to my very own King of Declutter, Mr A, and our two helpful children today.  It's thanks to their contribution that we were able to make this happen.

Friday, 6 August 2010

Getting ready for the Big Summer Declutter!

At last - permission to get rid of old toys

I've just spent the last three hours immersed in a job that I've been avoiding for months, the task of decluttering Little T's bedroom.   Oh the joys of negotiating with a 6 year old over which toys can be extracted from the floor and offered to a new home, let alone tidying away lots of annoying little bits and pieces that have become separated from each other over the years that have gone by.

But at last we've got a box full of kids' stuff to sell at the Radio Suffolk's Big Summer Declutter car boot sale that's taking place on Sunday for EACH's Treehouse Appeal which is raising £3,000,000 for a new children's hospice in Ipswich.

I'm really looking forward to this event and have already got a fine collection of stuff that I pulled together when I started to declutter the house at the beginning of the year.  My pitch has been booked for months and I can't wait to get down to Ipswich on Sunday and see how much I can raise from the proceeds, all of which I'm planning to donate to the Treehouse Appeal. It's my choice to donate the funds, it's not an actual requirement of the car boot sale.  However I'm not sure if I can convince the kids to do the same, parting with their stuff will be tough enough!

Anyway the declutter's not over yet.  I haven't even ventured into the loft yet but can't wait to get the loft ladder down.  Can you tell I'm starting to really enjoy this process?

So, if you're in Suffolk and looking for a fun event on Sunday, do pop along to the Big Summer Declutter and come and say hello.  It would be great if you end up booking a pitch yourself.  Set up is at 6.30am, with sales starting at 7am and going on until 3pm.  During the course of the day, there promises to be lots of entertainment too,  BBC Radio Suffolk will  be broadcasting live and auctioning off the Ashes to Ashes script that I managed to acquire from the production company and Nik Kershaw will be on-hand to officially open the event.  It will be brilliant if EACH manages to break through the £1,000,000 milestone as a result of the day!

So, please pray for good weather and if you fancy coming along, more information can be found at the BBC Radio Suffolk website.

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