Written by Helen Linehan



Equally well-stocked with wonders and weirdos, the local car boot sale holds no fear for intrepid bargain hunter Helen Linehan. In this episode there’s police involvement and a renovated wall.

I’m having a clear out today. Ha ha, not really. I’m off to Arminghall Car Boot Sale, Norfolk.
I’ve had to bring the dog who has already plopped out a runny number two near the stall of potatoes, setting the tone to this grey, drizzly day.

The weather has not deterred the car booters; it’s only 9am and some cheeky early birds are already heading back to their cars with their new stuff. I try not to eyeball their purchases in case I get jealous.

There are a lot of boring stalls today: stationery; rolls of bubble wrap; Sellotape; dog treats and toys. Businesses that have gone balls up.

The wildlings from beyond the wall have wandered over to sell knock-off e-cigs. I doubt they’ll be here long, as there’s a police presence – thank gawd, because look what I’ve spotted…

How delightful.

Having screwed my eyeballs back into their sockets I go in for a closer look. “Have you seen what’s written on this?” I challenge the seller, who has loads of random items: bundles of cutlery; stacks of magazines; cups and saucers; blankets.

“I have no idea. It’s a house clearance”

He goes back to staring at his iPhone. Inside the box are reels and reels of super 8 developed film, but they’re too small to figure out what’s on them.

“I don’t think you should have this here.” He sighs and idly moves the box to one side with his foot. I try again. “That’s a swastika! It’s very offensive!”. What a total knob.

“Did you buy it?!” My brother, my husband, my kids, and my friends all ask later when I share my traumatic experience.

You’ll be glad to know, readers, that in fact I told the policeman on duty. He probably bought it.

I’m a bit rattled after that. Whinging kids are not helping the atmos. Protesting to get out of their prams and stomp all over the chipped crockery laid out on the grass to get at the filthy, recently evicted Teletubbies.

There’s a grand, eccentric-looking lady selling a lot of interesting stuff. She’s incredibly well mannered, with long straggly grey hair and thick dirt under her nails. A glimpse at the inside of her car reveals utter chaos with a generous helping of dog hair. She says her mother is dying and she needs to sell their stuff to afford her care. She either works for M&C Saatchi or her tale is true. I feel I should help her out and scan what’s on offer.

Victorian scales, a couple of old chairs, a clock, framed maps, a tile…

We recently moved house. The garden wall features a ridiculous Green Man that looks like some idiot drew it with their finger while the concrete was still wet. I hate it. But this tile has given me an idea.

When I return home my search begins. Like the dad from Finding Nemo (except I’m looking for antique tiles and not my fish son), I scour the antique and reclamation yards of Norwich and eBay to find more interesting tiles: Victorian; Edwardian; Minton; Dutch Delft. Some are 150 years old. Ask me anything about tiles and I can tell you. Go on!

Oh, and check out my wall now.

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Written by Helen Linehan

I am Helen Linehan. I am forty years old. Mother & wife. No journalistic experience whatsoever. Four more words...DONE!