we car-booted it

I love a detox, I do. I love the feeling of shedding things: weight, toxins, sweat, habits, possessions, even people. If it’s baggage, if it doesn’t make you happy, if it doesn’t benefit your life: it can go.

Obviously this isn’t always achievable, especially when it comes to people. But where I can cull, I’ll cull.

Unfortunately, I’m also prone to acquisition, which is a habit I’m working hard to break in this, my 41st year. But it’s easy to overlook just how much you acquire when you’re ridding yourself of things in drib and drabs. It’s like weight, I guess: a week of big meals and excessive drinking here, the odd pound there .. you don’t just gain 2 stone overnight, do you? I can see why people talk about their weight ‘just creeping up.’ It’s the same for me and, well, mostly clothes and books. A few in, a few more in, a few out, a few more in.

When we had our loft conversion done at the end of last year, we gained a gorgeous bedroom with a fab view, yes. But we also lost a whole lotta storage space. Time indeed for a cull.

As I said, getting rid of things in random trips to charity shops, recycling bins, the tip and the post office (I just can’t face eBay anymore, personally) doesn’t give you a real sense of the enormity of your hoard. Seeing it all in one place at the one time, at a car boot sale, was an education, and actually a rather humbling one. I’m going to try to be far less acquisitive in future (although I know, yes yes I know, full well that I’ve said this before)

And – on a completely self-indulgent and not at all earnest nor humble note – it was also very gratifying to see the extent to which people swooped delightedly upon my cast-off clothes. Good grief, can you imagine – bad enough to be guilt-ridden about how much stuff you’ve bought over the last year or so – even worse to think that it was all tasteless crap that no one liked!

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she enclosed the gift receipt

It’s the oddest thing, but on my recent birthday, I received bags of various descriptions from no fewer than 4 of the women in my immediate and extended family. Odder still, because I am fairly pernickety about sartorial matters, and nailing anyone’s taste is no easy undertaking (which is why vouchers, preferably from Selfridges or Liberty, are always welcomed).

In any case: whether I liked the bags or not, there were just too many of them. Only one, however, came with a gift receipt: it had been bought at Fenwick in Newcastle and so to the Bond Street store I headed.

Fenwick is wonderful. Just so lovely and peaceful and unfrazzled. I adore Selfridges but you can barely make a dent in it in the space of a whole day, and there’s just so much to be had, or even just cooed over, that it can be a little overwhelming. I’m sure I would miss any sales bargains on offer in the melting pot of all that’s on view.

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Not so at Fenwick, where I tried on, in a leisurely fashion, a handful of designer items, all heavily marked down. And then I saw this Joseph sweater. So thick and cosy, with its cabling and blackberry stitch panel, made from a blend of wool and cashmere. And the colour! Vibrant yet deep, cheerful yet cold-weather appropriate. It was marked down from £385 to far, far less than that, leaving me with just £37 to pay on top of the value of the gift certificate from the returned bag.

That bag may just have turned out to be my best birthday present of all.