Posted by: roamingolivia | April 2, 2012

Charity shop kitchen challenge (CSKC) 1: Kensal Rise

I like challenges, particularly pointless ones that I make up entirely by myself for almost no reason and then stick to with superhuman dedication. For example, late last summer, I gave up sugar entirely – I did not have it in bread or yoghurt or sauces or condiments. I did this for 2 weeks, mostly because when I tried it the first day, it was really hard. That seemed like a problem, so I stuck with it. A similar attitude may be the reason I was a vegetarian for almost 3 years.

I’ve always shared a flat with someone else. The only time I didn’t was when I lived in my boyfriend’s flat when he was out of the country. This means that I own almost nothing. I own a lot of books (the number roughly doubles each year), some clothes (not as much as a “normal” woman because I hate shopping and move to other countries fairly often), and almost nothing else.

I especially do not own anything for a kitchen. When I thought about furnishing my kitchen, I thought back to all the serendipitous finds I had made in charity shops (thrift stores, in American) and antique markets. I decided then that I did not want to furnish my kitchen with anything new*. Why would I? There are amazing, weird things in the world, and I like them more than plain plates and cups.

From there, I developed the challenge to be: I want to buy something for my kitchen (or perhaps more generally for the flat) from a charity shop, antique shop or market in each of London’s 32 boroughs. This is, as you can imagine, not a short-term project, and I’m giving myself time – perhaps a lifetime – to fulfill this challenge. But I am going to do it.

So far I’ve been to Brent (2 parts of it – Kensal Rise and Willesden Green), Westminster (Marylebone), Greenwich and Lambeth (Clapham). The project is sort of evolving because I really desperately need dinner plates and cutlery before I move. (If anyone has ideas of markets or shops that have a lot of this, I’d appreciate suggestions – I have seen it in Hastings and Norfolk but not so much in London.) But actually I don’t eat anything off a plate (I really like soup and salad), so cutlery is more important.

Anyway: I’ll gradually update the blog with my progress – a charity shop and the item(s) purchased there.

We’re starting today with Brent, Part 1: Kensal Rise. Kensal Rise has some really nice antique shops that are really expensive but have amazing furniture, and one single charity shop.

It’s called the Peaceful Solutions shop, I think, and it has a lot of good stuff. I also bought The God of Small Things there, which I already read but no longer had a copy of.

Besides that, I bought these glasses (they’re not blue in real life – they’re clear):


… these bowls (which are grey):


… and these sweet but essentially useless dessert dishes:

(One of the problems with this plan is that most of the good stuff is actually totally useless, but oh well.)


* There are a few exceptions to this, especially pots & pans and knives. Appliances are also allowed to be new.



  1. Do garage sales exist in some form over there? 🙂

  2. Do you really double your books every year? That seems impossible.

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