Cor Kirstie, that's really free!

So who else has been watching Kirstie Allsopp's Fill Your House for Free series on Channel 4?

"Kirstie and her team will demonstrate how to upcycle and restore old furniture, as well as showing viewers where to go and how to salvage their own treasures while spending as little as possible on doing up their homes."

The programme is right up our street as we've been freecycling, flea marketing, car booting and house clearing for years and have all the free, cheap and stylish (we think!) stuff to prove it! When we lived in Germany, householders used to leave unwanted items out on a specified day every month so that people could help themselves to 'treasures' before they were cleared by the council for recycling. Compare that to stories of  individuals in the UK being fined for 'stealing' stuff destined for, or actually deposited in, skips and council tips!

Since we are planning to downsize in the fairly near future, we have already started selling and giving away some of our surplus items, which is proving quite therapeutic and has the added benefit of  helping someone else out who needs what is taking up space in our home. Our recent giveaways have included a vintage Sega megadrive with games which went to a family with five foster children, two sofas and a TV / video combo with freeview box which was snapped up in minutes after posting on the local freegle group.

We have also enjoyed some fantastic freebies over the years, including an Apple Mac computer (the model with the innards on show!), which Kirstin Frocker used for her designs, and 'Christine', one of our frockery mannequins who was looking for a new home when her owner moved away after finishing her art degree.

christine frocker

As some readers already know, the chief frocker used to work in a previous life for a Member of the Scottish Parliament, during which time she enjoyed responsibility for the waste portfolio as well as education and children (the two complemented each other remarkably well!)  One local charity we had regular contact with then, and of which Johnny Frocker is currently a director, is the Tayside Re-Use Centre (formerly Tayside Recyclers) which occupies a  large former jute mill building and collects, repairs and re-homes all sorts of goods, from bric a brac, clothing and soft furnishings to small electricals, domestic and office furniture and white goods. The Emporium is well worth a visit if you are ever in the Dundee area and the Skill Share project, which is also based there, provides a myriad of learning opportunities to support and enable more sustainable living.

tayside reuse centre

 tayside reuse centre

tayside reuse centre

There isn't a lot of spare money around in most households these days, so it makes sound financial and sustainable sense to source and re-use items that might otherwise end up in landfill. What you no longer need or want will undoubtedly enjoy a new lease of life with another owner, and take it from us, giving stuff away is entirely painless; indeed it engenders a positive feelgood factor!

Just as vintage clothing used to be sneered at by fussy fashionistas who have since begun to embrace it enthusiastically, second hand furniture, fittings and household eclectica have had an entirely undeserved Cinderella-like image for far too long. Having never really understood the appeal of  'brand new', our own house is crammed full of vintage finds, antique pieces and other hand-me-downs that we have acquired over the years - and we also have far too many vintage tea sets and kitchenalia stuffed into too many drawers and cupboards! It's just as well that older  furniture is generously sized to accommodate the acquistive tendencies of the frockers, who are unashamed hoarders of old crockery, cameras, clothes and collectables (various).

So it's full marks to Kirstie for championing the recycling and upcycling cause and bringing it to more mainstream attention. We're sure that really free and nearly free stuff is going to catch on in a big way, and not before time.