Before we began “The Good Life” I was more a Margot than a Barbara and Himself a definite Jerry.  We both had good jobs, company cars and quite a bit of disposable income.

I liked the “antique” look but I preferred it to be new and it would never have occurred to us to buy something second hand.  Charity shops were just for donating our not-so-old clothes.

So when we downshifted to our smallholding and made a drastic change in our career paths we had to learn to live on a vastly reduced scale.

Our Freecycled suite
Our Freecycled suite

Our croft, far from being the picture perfect cottage with beams and character, was tired and dated throughout, with overall bland circa 70’s (that’s 1970’s) decor.  We had bought the property outright from the proceeds of the sale of our house in Hampshire and as we had no money left for renovations we lived in it as it was.  The avocado bathroom suite was ghastly but usable, although the broken shower and wall tiles that often joined you in the bath were less acceptable.

It soon occurred to us that we couldn’t really afford to do any major renovations so we started looking for cheaper ways to make improvements and second hand stuff from recycling yards was an option.  Then on one of many forums I frequent I found a reference to Freecycle.  I investigated further and discovered it was an online recycling group.  There was one in our area which I quickly joined.  At first I was unsure how it all worked and thought I had to offer an item to get something in return, rather like a swap shop.  Gradually I realised that people offered things they no longer wanted and anyone could have them for nothing.  Well, it was a bit of a revelation and working on my PC most of the day, I spotted the new offers as soon as they were posted.  Things didn’t hang around for long, especially if they were worth having, so you had to be quick.  One downside was that local Freecycle groups can encompass huge areas so you have to check their location as it’s really not worth driving 50 miles for a cushion.

I started replying to the ads.  I wasn’t sure what to say so I politely offered to take the item off the person’s hands as it would be of great use to me.  Mostly I was too slow and the item(s) in question had been snapped up but one day I saw an ad for a pine table (needed some work doing to it) with 4 chairs and it was nearby.  I jumped on it and got it.

We went to collect it and although it was well used and a bit on the orange side, it was perfect.  We took it home, sanded it down, waxed it and it has been our treasured kitchen table ever since.  The unexpected bonus was that the people giving it away were lovely and we had a bit of a chat.

Over the years we have had many things from fellow Freecyclers, another solid wood pine table with 4 chairs,  a round one this time.  We use it in the craft room.  A small wood burning stove that will be fitted one day somewhere.  A Victorian airer that now hangs above my Rayburn and I use to dry pasta, herbs and chillies.  Two dressers one without a top, both of them serve as units in my kitchen.  A leather reclining chair that proved great for my bad back.  My prized rocking chair, essential if one of us has to stay up all night cradling an orphan lamb that needs to be kept warm.  An ancient mangle for squeezing the water from our washed fleece.  A huge larder, a smoothie maker used to process my homemade brown sauce, a 3 piece leather Chesterfield style suite, a pressure cooker, a butchers block, a solid wood desk that had us throwing out the black ash MDF, a sideboard, a small pine crafting table, a tall boy,  enough solid wood cupboard doors to fill a kitchen twice the size of ours, a 21″ TV, a bike for Himself that is our only means of transport when the car dies, a safe, a knitting machine complete with cones of wool which I must confess I have not yet mastered, a double duvet, curtains, a wig for a fancy dress party and last but not least, a pickled egg jar!

Dresser base for my kitchen
Dresser base for my kitchen

We also asked for a received a push chair which we fashioned into a cart for our beloved dog who was suffering from CDRM and losing the use of his back legs.

As I mentioned, everything is gratis for the taker but I usually give a dozen or so eggs from our free range birds as a small thank you.

But it’s not all been take, we have given away a 2 leather sofas,  a slow cooker, a toaster, gazebo, a juicer, bar stools, a microwave oven, collars and leads, a whole fleece and some amorous drakes.

All the things we have been lucky enough to acquire are much appreciated and most are in daily use.  The people we have met along the way have been wonderful, quirky and full of interesting tales.

I dare say that some people take advantage of Freecycle and snap up things to sell on but my opinion is that if I don’t want something and someone else does, they can do whatever they want with it.  At least it keeps it out of landfill.

As the saying goes “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure“.

Long live Freecycle.