Postcards From Beach Cottage Treasure Hunting

Tue 8th, Feb, 2011

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(vintage white/purple ribbon)

G’day.  How are you lovelies?

Well we have cooled down here in Sydney and so I no longer have to speak to you only in lists.

So, in the midst of that heat last week, while buying balloons, I found myself inexplicably drawn to some vintage treasure hunting.

(warning: this is a BC ramble)

Ask me why I felt the need, I do not know…after spending, as you know, a whole lot of my time lately de-crappifying this place and making over the study (pics coming very soon, just awaiting one thing before I show you) I feel there was room for a few new vintagey things…I mean sometimes a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do right?

I think, along with the thrill of the vintage chase, it is the ritualistic element of it all with almost a therapy side thrown in at the same time, that I like


(old sea-green linen with hand lace)

…and of course you don’t need me to inform you of the existence or joys of regular retail therapy…but this is different to shopping regular retail…for me shopping…at malls….for school shoes, or sports equipment or paint or groceries, or these days even clothes, well that ain’t therapy baby, but with treasure hunting, oh the unadulterated joy of finding a vintage thing cannot even be compared…

…you see firstly the whole thing won’t be replicated…the chance that you walked into that shop, at that time, the chance that someone else donated it, the chance that you spied it first and the chance that no-one else snatched it up in glee before you.

…all of that is what makes it special…


I must tell you though, I that haven’t always been one who peruses the ailses of thrift stores, fills my basket with lovely battered old things, takes them home and hides them, and then a year later donates them back again…all in the name of mental health…no…until about ten years ago there was probably more chance of finding me climbing into the back seat of a rocket, destination the moon, than in a thrift store.  I would like to tell you here and fill your head with romantic notions of my childhood spent skipping along through the stalls of some deeply trendy middle-class London market, my mother trading in antiques, but sadly that couldn’t be further from the truth.

No, this vintage hunting affair began, as more and more I felt disillusioned with commercialization, with my friends and I all having the same things, and the same old same old, churned out by the dozens in the shops and the same old same old stores, no matter what high street or mall I was on.  And so I started hunting around for old stuff, for stuff with a life…I wanted battered and lived-in and faded…I needed to find me some old-fashioned charm.


(thick old linen tea towels)

And quickly I became addicted in this looking for all things old.

It was my little secret…I told no-one of my devious plundering around in charity shops looking for old linen, squatting on the floor going through piles of vintage china, or my visits to boot sales hunting for nostalgia.

I brought it home, stacked it up, stashed it away and when no-one was looking, stole back and stroked it.

Back in those days the BC Crew were very little and so my underground vintage treasure hunting missions were normally quick snatches of time when I was alone or relegated to how long I could get away with a toddler strapped in a buggy with an apple and how long I could make a packet of chocolate buttons last…yep I admit it, I fed my children chocolate to feed my habit..


In those early treasure hunting days, living back in old Blighty I had so much to discover at my fingertips and I saw old working towns, shabby around the edges because of the new-fangled out-of-town ‘retail and leisure destinations’ in a new light.

These old places around Kent were absolutely spilling with history and had, along with wonderful old buildings, a river or two and a plethora of old pubs, a glut of vintage shops….a delight for a new vintage treasure hunter.


And so began my adventures…and I moved from the world of highly-sanitized shopping in perfectly styled environments to the discovery of a world with dusty shelves, strange arrangements, stacks of treasures and more, wonderful unique things…


(love!  vintage steam pudding basin)

And the characters I came across only fueled my newly found hobby…never will you find more interesting life than while on these hunts for vintage things…crazy old ladies, ladies in wigs, made up ladies from the olden days, ladies in gay hats, perfumed ladies, ladies with stories, ladies who write ‘retro’, guys who are grumpy, guys who stink, guys with an eye, guys who whistle, guys who stomp.


(huge old canning jar)

I noticed too how in these places there was no rushing, no up-tight shoulders and rising stress levels, but rather a slow ambling…full-on therapy ambling…the picking up and putting down of unusual things, the slow moving between the aisles, the browsing and the cursory examining…


And now, a million miles from those shabby old market towns, I found myself down here, in the heat…

ambling…and loving it even more, but now, mostly, alone and without the need for chocolate buttons and no longer doing it in secret though for sure still stashing and stroking.


Adios my friends

I will see you soon

Hope you liked my finds, and there’s more…many more ;-)…boy did I get a haul but not enough time to show them to you all right now but I’ll just say…divine old beaten up wooden box, lovely old towel rail..and some super old vintage milkshake containers…

don’t forget the Beach Cottage Blog Hop on Wednesday!


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39 Responses to “Postcards From Beach Cottage Treasure Hunting”

  1. Laura says:

    Love this post… I was dragged around antique shops and markets by my step-father as a kid… rebelled in my 20′s and succumbed to modern gleaming stores, then moved to the States and yearned for the old and familiar… much to my step-fathers delight… now he has someone to pass all his treasures onto! Lx

  2. marylou says:

    This is one of my fave blogs of yours Sarah, you shared so much, gave us a peek into the real BC Sarah and her crew…..what a lovely story and I have a feeling you have only just begun ((*_*))


  3. Bec says:

    oh you write so beautifully about a past time I too adore. I figured it was because I had little history, and am a bit of a cheapskate. But it is finding precious things that other people have loved, and appreciating them rather than speedy crazy spending. Thanks again I am a little in love with your blog – I would happily have you redecorate our house, even though we are 2 horus from the beach!! :)

  4. Michelle says:

    What a sweet post , love the pics.

  5. Alice says:

    Sarah, you summed it up nicely for me, only I started with furniture then moved on to linen etc.

    My favourite and first finds were 2 arm chairs abandoned by the side of the road. Painted the wood frame white and found some stripy almost candy like in colurs (but not quite) fabric and my hubby and I had our first lesson in upholstering. Bought some new foam for the seats, sewed (again first lesson with sewing machine) them matching covers. They look great in my tiny living space/corridor. I have a friend who already has claimed them for herself if I should ever change my mind. They are individual pieces with my personal touch(had to fight the hubby about choice of fabric- he caved in).

    I then found your blog last year and thought you were a kindered spirit. I also lurk the Centsational girl blog, she too is a girl after my very own heart so to speak.

    I am going to read this great post to my hubby so he can understand this type of “therapy”a bit better… Sigh, back to the baby and toddler…

  6. Maria says:

    Lovely! Just lovely! I couldn’t agree more with loving things with a history, a story, over the sterile and mass produced. I feel the same way about people. I love passing that characteristic on to my two young boys – an appreciation for old things – both animate and inanimate.

  7. michelle says:

    Sarah I love this post! This so describes my life right, down to the description of the people you see in the thrift shops! ;-) It is almost an addiction which makes me happy that I have a shop to sell my goods in, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to walk into my home, LOL! I think my parents instilled this in me, they always love antiques, garage sales and thrift shops, so I just grew up with a passion for it.

  8. Lisa says:

    When the thrift hunt bug bites, it bites hard. I’m a long time addict. I love finding things I remember from when I was little. Especially at the right price. If they aren’t I stand there staring (stroking) and reminscing, before I saunter off to find something in my price range.

    Lisa x

  9. Dream Mom says:

    Oh, it is so much fun to find some vintage things. I love the fact that they are one of kind, have a history to them and are often so much prettier than the stuff in the regular home furnishings stores and yet, these are only a fraction of a price! I am working on making over my apartment kitchen now (reveal in about a month) and I’ve picked up some pretty vintage things to make it homey along with ordering some glass knobs for the cabinets (they are new but look old, lol). For me, I always feel a sort of connection with the women of the past, and how the item was used and imagining them cooking in their kitchen.

    Speaking of donations, I just got rid of some tablescaping stuff this week and it will go off to the Goodwill tomorrow, lol. I love the cycle of things.

  10. Kimberly says:

    *Sigh!* I want to go treasuring hunting with you!



  11. Kelly Ash says:

    What a find! I’ve often thought that it is incredible that what someone else doesn’t want, can always find a new home! And I think the stories behind the piece – whether it be the the history or how you came to your purchase – always makes things sweeter!


  12. Angie says:

    “no rushing, no up-tight shoulders and rising stress levels, but rather a slow ambling…full-on therapy ambling…the picking up and putting down of unusual things, the slow moving between the aisles, the browsing and the cursory examining…”
    Exactly what I love !

    So many of my friends do not understand !

  13. pamq says:

    Lately when I walk around a flea market all by myself, I notice that I am humming.

    Out loud.

    Am I becoming a flea market character??

    Absolutely love your rolls of ribbon……….

  14. Amazing pictures. I miss antiquing with my momma.

  15. Maureen says:

    Beautiful photo’s Sarah

  16. susy beaty says:

    oh my you sound just like me. i started this “fetish”, im calling it now. that just popped into my head… buying, cleaning,and stashing. hehe then taking it out when no one was around. the emporium got me going on this. and another place called suzees. cheap….. well suzees is gone. i feel lost. anyway, my fetish just decided about a year ago it was time to come out of the closet. specially since i was running out of places to put my stash. and i just couldnt handle not being able to appreciate my things like i wanted to. but anyway, to the old lady part you were talking about. the old lady who works at the emporium so busted me sitting on the floor of a store sunday figuring out what seeds i wanted. {spring fever} she got quite the laugh out of me doing that. guess she thought that i wouldnt do something like that in a real store. grow up sue you r 55 yrs old. anyway…id still trade you the whites honey. ill go buy dry ice to pack the other “white”. glad youre not in scorch mode anymore. ok its 2 a.m. good night all. have a beautiful day. 7* tomorrow. yuk

  17. What great photography, I love the way you have photographed all your treasures. The glass jar is my favorite!

  18. a beautiful post sarah….

    it’s almost car-boot season here- the snow drops have just appeared in the garden….we are waiting…anticipating that first early sunday morning….

    lovely haul sweetie!

    melissa x

  19. Shawn says:

    Love your treasures, beautiful, and the “hunt” is so much fun!!

  20. Love all of your finds! You pictures are gorgeous :)

  21. Hi Sarah…lovely bunch of “stuff” you brought home! Hmmm…milkshake sounds good to me for breakfast!

  22. indiansummer says:

    I especially like the part about moving slowly through the aisles, checking things out. I hate how everyone is always rushing, and then they insist on rushing YOU, LOL! Great post, Sarah.

  23. This is such a great post Sarah!! I just went junking yesterday with my hubby and I found some things, clutched them to my chest, looked at him and said, “They HAVE to go home with me.” He smiled and said, “Of course they do!”

    Lordy I love that man……

    I found a gorgeous cutwork lace tablecloth, white with pale blue embroidery. And a child size bibbed apron with morning glories embroidered all over it. Both of them SO BEAUTIFUL!!!

    I can hardly wait til spring when the garage sales, and estate sales start up again.

    God bless!

  24. Oh my Sarah! Love all your treasures. I love that you told your story of your start in all things vintage. I started as a young girl, even working in a flea market. The BUG bit me and I haven’t turned back. You are right, it is a different kind of therapy and a lot less cheap than a head doctor.

  25. Hi Sarah
    This is just such a beautiful post really…and your photography is just getting more and more fascinating.
    I love the way in which you captured the ribbon. It’s so simple, yet such a powerful image.
    So enjoying your blog

  26. Lisa says:

    Hi again Sarah,
    I wanted to say also, I really like the title of this post. Just lovely, and just right for the photography.

    Lisa x

  27. Sarah says:

    That is such a great use for an old canning jar! I have so many and can’t believe I never came up with it! Thanks for sharing!! xoxo


  28. Inga says:

    I love this, Sarah. I experienced this exact scenario this weekend. After mulling around in the predictable, over-priced stores, I decided to check out antiques in my city; and lo, and behold, I found Antique heaven. Store after store, aisle after aisle, I found things that I can easily repurpose for my home. I have go to admit, though, I was so unprepared. I was not ready to find such interesting items. I have an idea of what I want to get on my next antique adventure…and possibly bring a camera with me as well. :)

    Thank you so much for your inspiration.

  29. HRH Sarah says:

    I just love a good amble through the antiques jungle… You never know when you’ll spot something that you’ve wanted all your life, and didn’t even know it! Such a relaxing activity, and such a nice change of pace from over-lit stores selling cheap over-packaged junk!

  30. Brenda Kula says:

    Sarah, I remember when you found that big old trunk. It had such a story to it. What could compare to that? Your words are so beautiful, so breezy. I shall be back later for your Wednesday party!

  31. Barefoot Liz says:

    The towel rail has my interest. Pics please! I have a weird affinity for rails and hooks. And doorknobs/pulls.

  32. Desiree says:

    I have a valentines give away running and another really exciting one next week! Come over and play ;)


  33. katie says:

    i am amazed by this word we live in…because only here could we find kindred spirits who live a whole world away. there is nothing better than finding treasure…and bringing it home to love. thanks for the great inspiration.

  34. Krista says:

    Therapy ambling – I love that. :-) I just returned from three weeks in your beautiful Oz and oh, how I loved it. :-) One of my favorite days was spent with a friend perusing Opp Shops in Warwick, Queensland. :-) We had a BALL and found so many treasures. :-) Now I’m working through immigration, preparing for my move to Australia. I can’t wait to go back. :-)

  35. tiffaney says:

    Ah treasure hunting. Is there anything it can’t mend? We just moved to a new city and there is a junk shop right down the road that is calling my name. I can’t hold out much longer!

  36. I love this post! It explains why many of us thrift store junkies wander the aisles hunting for that dusty vintage treasure. Not only is the thrill of the hunt addicting and exciting but finding a true “Treasure” (even if it is in your eyes only) at a more than reasonable price is enough to leap your heart. I’ve been told I am an old soul because I love decorating with vintage finds, love old movies and music from the 30′s and 40′s. The biggest attraction to vintage is the character and history each item holds. Every piece has a story to tell.
    Bravo on this wonderful post!

  37. Katherine says:

    I know the feeling Sarah! Thrifting is ONE of the BEST things, isn’t it!

    And often when I am browsing along, I see something & think of you – “oh, Sarah would love this!”

    With you on this one!

    Yours in thrifting & all things old,

    Katherine ; )

  38. Katy harpum says:

    Oh my goodness I am completely new to this amazing blog! I have been ‘into’ charity shop shopping for years but it used to be mainly for clothes. I have now had enough of all the clinical same old same old furniture etc there is nothing better than a good old rummage and coming across an absolute treasure whether it be a piece of material an old palate or something funky to wear that someone has, for some unknown reason decided they don’t want anymore. One mans rubbish is another’s treasure! X

  39. Tracy Fowler says:

    Sarah, you captured the hunt, the thrill, the respect for these objects beautifully. Your blog is truly inspiring, and fresh. I have noticed my tastes changing over the years, and my need – and I mean need – to find the old, the tattered, and the storied grow. Thank you for honouring that pleasure and need for me. I am glad to have found so many others here – far away – that spend their moments the same.