The TV is full of programmes on thrifting, upcycling and the virtues of vintage. The American Storage Wars is a personal guilty pleasure, watching hidden treasures (plus loads of random stuff) being unearthed and sold on. One man’s trash and all that.

I’m all for recycling, reusing and reducing waste. I will explore charity shops and though I have yet to invest in any vintage clothes, Channel 4’s ‘This Old Thing’ has made me think I just might.

All of this has left me wondering, what the distinction is between charity shop and a vintage shop. Window dressing? Air fresheners? Price? Because in my experience, there are many vintage items to be found amongst the shelves of most charity shops. Last week, in my newly discovered favourite Nottinghamshire town Southwell, I happily spent £5 on several glass items. They have now become a fruit bowl, decorative cotton centrepiece, candle holder and the decanter is awaiting an appropriate alcohol.


I’m convinced in the right setting, teamed with the appropriate accessories and labelled as vintage, each of these items would have cost much more. I also thought that the glass bowls in particular would make the perfect base for a beautiful gift, and could be filled with anything at all.

On holiday I continued my quest in Welsh charity shops. One volunteer insisted on speaking to me entirely in Welsh, which I thought was fair enough, being in Wales and all, and she wasn’t put off by the fact I replied exclusively in English. Another lady rushed out to her car, charmed by the dog’s bandanas and desperate to supply them with treats from her stash.


In Caernarfon I bought 5 items, 2 bowls which match one purchased at Southwell, and 3 coloured glasses. I’m fairly sure the glasses are cheap yet cheerful (3 for £1 in my case) but they match some my grandma used to have, and which I’m hoping are stashed away somewhere in the cellar.


At the front is a shot/liqueur glass with embellished with a pirate and bought solely for it’s seaside kitsch value.

I also bought 2 old (vintage) baby pillow cases, which were so inexpensive I wouldn’t mind cutting them up for a possible future quilting project I have in mind as a gift. I also bought a little vase. Again I went for appeal rather than inherent value, and paid £1. Only later was it pointed out to me that the vase was cracked, all the way around, water gradually seeping out. For this reason, and after much debate and disappointment, I left the vase behind along with rest of the glass recycling. I know I will live to regret it.