THE bluebells are blooming, the daffs are out, and young men’s fancies are turning to love. Spring has sprung.

But there is an even surer sign that the long, dark days of winter are behind us: it’s the car boot season again. All over the Swindon area people are collecting together their junk so they can stand around in fields or car parks, trying to flog it like dead horses.

Out come thousands of plastic toys, baby clothes, ashtrays, Barbara Taylor Bradford novels and redundant Jengas, but advanced booters like me are on the lookout for something more interesting.

There is a defective gene in our family that gives us a terrible impulse to buy anything we see that is wacky, as long as it’s cheap, with the sure knowledge that it will be the greatest ever buy and probably the most useful, just as soon as we can get it home and think of something to do with it.

Previous purchases include an anatomical model, a gas meter, a tailor’s dummy, a housing developer’s scale model of an unidentified area of West Swindon and the infamous ‘rusty buckets’ that live at the bottom of the garden.

Car boot sales were made for people like me, and for those people who are not the outdoor type, there’s eBay.

As well as being blood-related to fellow scrap hunters, I also have the honour of being connected by marriage to somebody who puts even my offbeat purchases in the shade.

It’s my niece’s husband, Matthew, who recently added to his collection of curios by purchasing three tiny plastic strips, each of which holds six apparently real teeth, presumably once part of a display or kit for someone engaged in making false teeth. Not even I would buy somebody else’s teeth.

I am particularly intrigued by another project he has begun, which will eventually provide him with something money can’t buy: a complete badger’s skeleton. After spotting a dead badger by the roadside, he put on his gloves and carried it to his in-laws’ house, where he put it in a plastic compost bin to protect it from scavenging animals.

Unfortunately, he didn’t tell his father-in-law, and one thing you don’t expect to find when you go out to do some composting is a badger in the bin.

After picking himself off the floor he quickly replaced the lid, thinking the badger might be asleep, and unsure of how nasty they get when cornered. Only then was he told of the plan to bury the badger and wait for the day when it has decomposed enough for the bones to be dug up and wired together.

I have already been warned by my wife that if the finished model ends up on eBay, I am not allowed to bid for it.

But who needs badgers when you have already begun the car boot season on a high?

I turned up at Blunsdon on a day so miserable that only a dozen booters braved the weather. I soon conceded there were no interesting items to buy, but I was rewarded for my efforts after moving on to the covered market.

There a man was selling a box full of postcard-sized fabric flags in the colours of just about every nation. It’s a complete one-off, the like of which you are unlikely to see again, even if you go to two car boot sales every weekend for the rest of your life.

I got them for just £20, although there are about a thousand flags altogether. There must be a thousand uses for them too – although I can’t think of any, just at the moment.