Sarah Todd: There’s nothing like a good clear-out to stir a few distant memories

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OUR house seems strangely empty after a trip out to a car boot sale.

For months everybody’s unwanted stuff had been dumped at the bottom of the stairs with the vague pledge that something would get done about it.

Finally, it was taken to the charity shop. It couldn’t cope with any more donations, so the bin bags were carted back.

Rather than bring it all inside again the decision was taken to drive off in the early hours of the next morning to a car boot sale.

The children got in on the act and turned up more bits and pieces. Their father neatly sidestepped the occasion.

The first thing we had to deal with was all the vultures that descended, prying open boxes as we carried them from the boot.

It was somewhat disconcerting that none of them found what they were looking for.

They all walked off as quickly as they’d arrived.

The Daughter has hated her bike for at least three years, falling out of love with it not long after Father Christmas about gave himself a hernia getting it down the chimney.

She just never seemed lucky with it, struggling to change gears and losing the chain.

She’s left it behind hedges, outside shops and has always declared herself disappointed that it’s never been a) run over or b) stolen.

So she was thrilled to get it sold. At just short of £20 it’s not going to buy her a new one, but it’s a step in the right direction.

“I’ve never worked out what I’d done wrong to get that bike from Father Christmas,” she reflected, adding: “I hope he’s not too mad with me for selling it …”

Her brother has been sulking about a build-your-own wooden lorry kit that he bought only to find it had 40 pieces rather than the 50 advertised on the front of the box. Serves him right for selling the Operation game with the dodgy battery.

Nostalgia has been left in the wake of the big clear out. Some old school exercise books were turned up.

They were especially interesting – to me only (nobody would even indulge me by pretending to want to hear the stories) – as they were written at the age of 10, the same age that our daughter is now.

They were full of going off, riding down the road by myself, meeting up with friends from the far end of the village, den-making in the woods. You name it and we were riving about playing it. Inventing rafts out of old oil drums and pallets and test driving go-karts down the middle of a road.

Although we promised not to come back from the car boot sale with any more rubbish, there’s part of me couldn’t resist a look at some old pram wheels …

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