The Usual Shop has, as you’ve probably guessed, been away on holiday. Almost unbelievably, I have returned with no secondhand souvenirs whatsoever from my travels – indeed, without any newly-gathered items at all, beyond a sale-cheap pair of new blue suede loafers and a striped top from the Zara sale at Madrid airport (long stopover on the way back. Had to relieve the boredom).
I foraged in the fleamarkets of San Telmo, Buenos Aires, marvelled at the prices in some of the boutiques in that city’s Palermo district, got down to rummaging with the locals at some smaller street markets in country towns, but nada. Nothing I wanted badly enough to carry around in a backpack for the next two months, anyway. And in my final stop, Montevideo, the Feria de Tristan Narvaja, said (by one of my guidebooks) to be one of the best flea markets in Latin America, was shut (like the whole city) for the New Year holiday.
However, my family has been collecting for me in my absence, so no fear. I have come home to a strange selection of car boot sale finds from my mother: a set of earthenware cups and saucers; a metal basket to go on the front of a bike; yet another striped top (Esprit); a tightly-fitting denim pencil skirt (Next); a black fringed poncho (‘cos I couldn’t have found one in South America…); an appliqued ethnic shoulder bag (ditto); a crocheted grey H&M beret; and a black peaked cap. Plus a length of tartan material from my granny, hemmed into a sort of scarf-shape. Good job I didn’t make any New Year’s resolutions about decluttering, then.