Graham Carter - the voice of age and experience

I AM thinking of getting one of those stickers that you see on vans. You know the type: ‘No valuables are left in this vehicle overnight.’ My wife and I need it for our car booting project.


Last Sunday saw our first ever experience of selling at a car boot sale, and it felt like such a landmark in our lives that we found ourselves referring to it as ‘losing our booting virginity’.

We’ve been to lots of car boot sales before, of course, but only as buyers, on account of I will buy any old rubbish and I hate to get rid of anything.

For this reason, along with unwanted presents, the kids growing out of toys and the house not being the size of an aircraft hangar, we just could not put off selling off some of this stuff for any longer.

Besides, you also make a few quid into the bargain.

So we chose Sunday morning at the Abbey Stadium, but were warned you need be at the starting gate early, so as to get one of the best pitches.

How early? By 7am at the latest.


Unwilling to load the car so early in the morning, we did it on Saturday evening instead, even though it seemed a bit risky to leave it on the drive all night, full of treasure.

Did I say ‘treasure’?

‘Treasure’ may be a slight exaggeration, although when we arrived nervously to claim our pitch, we were instantly the target of several of what I call ‘professional’ car booters, who were anxious to check out what we had to offer.

We had barely unloaded the folding tables and started displaying our wares before they were hovering around to see if we had brought something that might end up on The Antiques Roadshow.

First they homed in on a box of what could loosely be called ‘jewellery’, but which was really no more valuable than the box it was in.

Surely - or so we reasoned - anybody with potentially valuable jewellery to flog wouldn’t take it to a car boot sale.

Then even more vultures spotted and swooped in on a tiny silver trinket box, smaller than a matchbox, that was up for grabs.

They all picked it up and turned it over, checking to see whether it was silver or just silver-coloured, but it wasn’t fooling anyone, even after I had removed the ‘Made in China’ sticker off the back.

The treasure-seekers buzzed in and out and then disappeared like wasps, and we never quite worked out whether they were dealers, stallholders looking to ‘recycle’ our stuff on their own stalls, or eager buyers, just trying to get first dabs on it.

Five hours later, only about a quarter of our stuff had sold, but at least the bulkier items were gone, and we had a boxful of decent stuff left over to donate to the Prospect Hospice volunteers who were collecting items that sellers really didn’t want to take home again.

For our trouble we took home a minor suntan each, on account of the beautiful weather, and had some money in our pockets, the counting of which we decided to leave until we got home.

After deducting the £8 fee for our pitch, we found we were richer to the tune of more than £30.

Frankly, we expected to hate the whole experience, but while ‘enjoyment’ would also be going too far, we’ve had worse Sunday mornings.

Which is just as well because there is plenty more rubbish where all that came from, so we’ll be back.

And the silver-coloured trinket box can still be yours for a pound, if you are interested.