charity shop finds

Maid­stone

The other day I had to go to Maid­stone. I really can’t think of any other word to describe the place rather than dull. It has the usual chain shops if you want to buy some things, and a pretty town hall and museum, (and a pris­on with huge stone walls slap bang in the centre) but that’s about it. It’s the sort of place you go to run errands, no other reas­on. It’s not horrible, but not partic­u­larly inter­est­ing either.When I was at school I some­times went to gigs at the student bar there, but it was such a pain to get back in the even­ings I didn’t both­er too often unless I knew someone who was driv­ing. When I was really little I used to go to see the Sooty Show and panto­mimes at the theatre, and that was the high point of Maid­stone in my estim­a­tions.

I bought some boring black tights and socks that I desper­ately needed, and had a poke around the char­ity shops and a nice second hand shop called Trash and Treas­ure. There was anoth­er second hand clothes shop that seemed to be 80% (real) fur coats. As a long-term veget­ari­an I found going in there really creepy, espe­cially as it’s the only vintage clothes shop I’ve encountered that doesn’t play any music, and the owner barely speaks. Just silence and dead things. I couldn’t get out quick enough. I had good luck with the other shops though, I got some nice things for very little money.

charity shop haul 15 feb 13

Some checked culottes. I don’t normally wear culottes or shorts,  but maybe it’s the time to try. If it turns out I don’t really like them, well it’s not like I wasted more than £2. The purple stripy t-shirt and blue glit­ter tights are from the H&M sale rack. H&M make the best tights, they last forever.The stripy wooly tank top was also second hand, as was the Puffin book, and the checked corduroy fabric. I’m not quite sure if the fabric is thin furnish­ing fabric, or thick dress­mak­ing fabric. I supposed I could make both a cush­ion and a dress, and hide on the sofa. That’s the dream. I have a few of these Puffin annu­als from the 60s. They have really great illus­tra­tion inside.

While I was there I also went to the local museum, which is in a rick­ety old Tudor manor house with a very strange layout. I love small town museums that have a bit of everything in them. I used to go to Maid­stone Museum quite a lot when I was a kid for their summer activ­it­ies. They’ve had a refit, so some of the things have moved round. They used to have an unwrapped mummy  in the same room as the taxi­derm­ied anim­als, I suppose on the grounds that they were all preserved. The mummy rests in the chapel these days, with a sign with her name from the sarco­phag­us, which I think is a nice touch. They still have the dino­saur exhib­it in the fake cave with the balcony, and the gallery full of stuffed ducks, and the incred­ibly claus­tro­phobic gallery with Egyp­tian things on one side, and Victori­an toys on the other, but the fake Japan­ese tea garden with the fake river is sadly gone. I brought my camera with me, but real­ised I’d forgot­ten to put any batter­ies in once I tried to use it, which was a real pity.

I discovered some other galler­ies I didn’t remem­ber, which I really enjoyed. There was one of the history of costume, with lots of beau­ti­ful outfits and very good descrip­tions, and curi­os­it­ies like a Regency preg­nancy corset. There was also a gallery dedic­ated to the collec­tion of a local Victori­an explorer called Juli­us Brench­ley. He trav­elled all over the world, but seemed to partic­u­larly like the Pacific Islands. His diar­ies were surpris­ingly open-minded for the times (or at least the extracts the museum chose to print were), he seemed to admire a lot of the cultures that he came into contact with, and the exhib­i­tion had all kinds of inter­est­ing stor­ies, like the time he fell into an active volcano in Hawaii, and every­one thought he was dead, but the locals managed to fish him out, and invited him to their feast as a guest of honour. Maybe he just came across as more like­able than Augus­tus Pitt-Rivers, which really isn’t all that diffi­cult.

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