Newest Review: ... needed out of the boot (or trunk for those on the other side of the Atlantic) of their cars. Hence boot fairs or boot sales. Over time the ... more
A very enjoyable approach to recycling
Holcot Car Boot & Farmers' Market (Northants)
Member Name: koshkha
Holcot Car Boot & Farmers' Market (Northants)
Advantages: Lots of bargains, a rather civilised boot fair compared to most
Disadvantages: If you don't live nearby you won't want to travel too far
Boot sales or boot fairs have been a popular weekend activity across Britain for as long as I can remember. Whilst in times past going to church was the most popular Sunday activity, I suspect that it's fallen behind getting up much too early to pick over the remnants of the lives of other people in a muddy field in the half-light. These days with most people a little more cost conscious than they used to be, boot fairs are getting ever more popular.
My husband and I used to be fervent boot fair attendees when we lived in Suffolk. On Sunday mornings we'd get up at 6 am, drive through the dark to the village of Woolpit and search for bargains. In those days we used to do a lot of eBay trading and had stalls at local antiques fairs where a lot of our boot sale bounty found new owners. We generally raised enough to pay for a holiday most years.
Then we moved to Northamptonshire and the boot sales stopped. There are several in the area but most are held quite irregularly. There are village boot sales in Creaton and Spratton that we like but they happen infrequently and it's hard to know when they will be. There are enormous sales near Sixfields in Northampton and near to Wellingborough but my husband works alternate weekends and they never fall right for his shifts and also take place early in the morning. So for us, the king of the local boot sales is Holcot.
Whilst most members of dooyoo are Brits or know the British culture well, it's certainly not the case for all and there's a possibility that some people are now scratching their heads and wondering what on earth I'm talking about. Boot sales originated from people gathering together to sell things they no longer needed out of the boot (or trunk for those on the other side of the Atlantic) of their cars. Hence boot fairs or boot sales. Over time the role of the physical car boot reduced as people placed their goods on tables - usually rather flimsy ones designed for pasting wallpaper, some of which collapse with devastating but often amusing consequences when laden with the accumulated tat of a lifetime's hoarding. Many people became semi-professional booters, buying new goods to trade, typically things like electrical batteries, stationery and cheap new clothes. Boot fairs became at times a sort of twilight zone of stolen goods and tax evasion with the odd genuine family cleaning out the attic or the garage.
~Where's Holcot? ~
Holcot is a pretty little village to the north east of Northampton, best approached from Northampton along the A43 - or rather it's true to say, best approached from the A43 at any time except on a Saturday morning or early afternoon. The Car Boot clogs the road that links Holcot to the A43 without fail every week in the summer. There's not much to Holcot but it more than pulls its weight in terms of contributing to the area and holds a number of events such as steam engine rallies throughout the year. It's also home to one of the best roads signs I've seen - a hand painted 'Slow Down, Ducks' sign with silhouetted ducks painted below. The site of the boot fair is a field just outside the village on Sywell Road.
~How it's supposed to be and how it actually is ~
The boot sale is held on Saturdays and is supposed to start at noon. I say 'supposed to' because it never does. The sellers arrive early in hope of getting the best spots and in no time at all they are clogging up the road and the organisers have to give in and open the gates. We spoke to a couple yesterday who were in the very last row of stands who told us they'd arrived at 11.15 and if they'd been a few minutes later they'd have not been able to get in at all. Buyers start arriving almost as early as the sellers and park up in a large field next to the one where the sellers are assembling their tables and laying out their goods. To have a chance at the early bargains you'll need to be there early, have sharp elbows and a lot of cheek. These early buyers can be a scary lot, ripping things out of your hands, trying to get into the boxes before you've opened them and generally being a real nuisance. We have lost our killer instincts and frankly don't care enough to bother with all that any more.
We generally roll up at about 12.30pm or even later when the first wave of locust-like buyers are already heading home to get out their reference books and find out what bargains they've snaffled. We have more possessions than two people could use in a life-time so we're not looking to buy much, just a few second hand books, maybe some DVDs and CDs (but only if they are genuine) and the odd thing that catches our eyes. A couple of weeks ago I bought an exquisite Arts and Crafts wooden cake or plant-stand for £15 which has replaced my old bed-side table which always got too cluttered, and recently I brought home a beautiful Victorian hand-painted jug for a pound which will look lovely as a flower vase. We also picked up an old glass light-fitting (one of the ones that electricians call 'fly catchers') for £2 which will be getting pride of place in the second bedroom very shortly. All of these things were picked up without a fight in the later hours of the sale.
Whilst you can never be sure what you'll find, Holcot boot sale can almost certainly offer tonnes of books, music, DVDs and videos, children's toys and clothes and plenty of surprises. Household goods such as kitchen equipment are available very cheaply and ideal for new home owners looking to kit out their kitchen for a song. At this time of year you'll also be able to pick up lots of bedding plants for your garden and the farmers market offers fresh vegetables, fruit and flowers and you can pick up home-baked cakes as well (although they often seem very over-priced).
Entrance to the sale is £1 per car for buyers and around the £5-8 mark for sellers, with those who have larger vans or trucks being charged a little bit more. The sale theoretically takes place every week throughout the year but during the winter months the fields can get waterlogged and muddy and it's best to check if the sale is open as poor ground conditions can shut it for weeks at a time. If it rains on the Saturday morning or the night before the chances are that nobody will show up and if it looks like it might rain later, get there quickly before everyone packs up and goes home.
As someone who's dragged themself round boot sales good and bad, I'd have to say that this is a very nice one - it's not so aggressive as many, there are plenty of genuine people clearing out their garages and you don't tend to see the same old stuff week after week. It starts at a civilised hour, doesn't cost a fortune to get into as a buyer or a seller and it's very well staffed with plenty of people directing the parking and keeping things in order. I wouldn't recommend you drive a long way to get to Holcot (especially if the weather's looking at all iffy) but if you live in the area or find yourself nearby, give it a go.
Summary: We really enjoy our visits to Holcot.
More reviews in the field of Other UK / Ireland topic
- Reading festival - Worth the money?
- Support a donkey and help a child
- Wear the little monkeys out while you have a coffee.
- Blackburn Vue Cinema- Brilliant
- Comrie quick to visit
- A curry workshop that is nearly perfect!
- Mullion Holiday Park - Cornwall.....BEAUTIFUL!
- An expensive 5 minutes
- Make A Splash!
- Can't even throw in a few toilet rolls!