We discovered why one of Nottinghamshire's most loved car boot sales is so popular

By Penny Stretton

There's something about a wander around a good old car boot sale that really brings a smile to the face.

Whether you're looking for something in particular or you're just happy for a little gem to catch your eye, chances are you'll be going home with something safely stashed under your arm.

That's why we were excited to check out the Hucknall Car Boot Sale and see what we could find.

It's got a host of amazing online reviews and sits on a great site, with plenty of easy parking for punters.

The great thing about this particular spot is it's on twice a week, opening up on a Thursday and a Sunday morning.

The sun was shining and the sellers were out in force, offering the most intriguing array of items from kids' toys to furniture, bric-a-brac and even vegetables.

The bustling car boot sale in Hucknall is full of things to discover. (Nottingham Post/Marie Wilson)

With countless stalls on a Thursday and even more on Sundays, there was so much to rummage through and plenty of bargain hunters on the prowl. As we arrived, one lady bagged herself a haul of Christmas baubles and decorations for £2.50 and another was snapping up a handful of new children's bouncy balls for stocking fillers.

But when it comes to thinking about what makes a great boot sale, if the weather is the first thing that makes or breaks it, the second has to be the sellers.

We were mostly welcomed by a host of happy stall holders all with the gift of the gab and that spark of old-fashioned market stall charm which helps to reel in the buyers and clear their lots the quickest.

It was hard to know where to look first. Many of the stalls were packed with really useful household goods like tea towels and everyday items, alongside sparkly boots, Halloween costumes, brand new kid's balls and an array of vases, teapots and farmed pictures.

But the first stall that really captured us was that of Italian born Italio Pedroncelli from Long Eaton.

Italio Pedroncelli has been selling at Hucknall for a year. (Nottingham Post/Marie Wilson)

Alongside his bric-a-brac and second-hand house clearance goods, plus a selection of tools, Italio was selling the carrots and grapes from his allotment.

He said: "I've been coming here about a year now - now and again when I get a good bit of stuff to sell. It's a good way to recycle things instead of dumping it. We bring it here and hopefully make a few quid.

"I like bringing my carrots, they go down well. People like to see them like this - not perfectly straight like they are in supermarkets."

After a good giggle with Italio, we bag our bargain carrots and make our way to a car boot filled with toys as the sun starts to break through and the site gets busier.

The sale is a popular family-owned one that's been going for thirty years and has a reputation for being friendly and well run. There's a big smile at the gate and the boot sale has a host of five-star reviews online from sellers and buyers.

One post says: "First time selling there - very nice atmosphere. Can't wait to go again next week. Great for good vintage finds and random bargains."

With another adding: "Great atmosphere, everyone is friendly and if you haven't been before, I would strongly recommend you give it a go."

Andro Fowlke has the nickname 'Arthur Daley' and lights up his stall at the Hucknall Car Boot Sale. (Nottingham Post/Marie Wilson)

While some sellers are happy to sit back and hope the buyers come to them, others are helping themselves stand out from the crowd.

As we make our way around we suddenly become aware of a real hotspot in a sunny corner of the site. Buyers are crowded around one stall in particular and we wonder if Del Boy himself has made an appearance.

It turns out it's not a David Jason wannabe but that we were along the right lines when we meet long-time Hucknall seller Andro "Andy" Fowlke - who tells us his nickname is "Arthur Daley".

And it's easy to see why.

Andy's car boot, which he's running with fellow sellers Adele and Wendy, is packed and is by far the busiest spot. Within a minute of chatting to him he's flogged a rug - he asked for a fiver and got £3 - a cute ornament and a complicated-looking electrical item which he assured the buyer he'd "easily make on".

Andy Fowlke, Wendy Woolley and Adele Thornhill are a rainbow of colour and fun amid the hustle and bustle of the goings-on, happy to showcase their wares and barter with buyers.

"I've been doing this for almost 40 years," says Wendy.

"We used to go all over, Colwick and Calverton, but this one is closer to home. We sell anything and everything we can get. Most of our customers say 'we come back for you'."

Andy adds: "We love having a bit of fun and a laugh - you can't take life seriously

"It's been slow for the last two Thursdays but today has been better."

Far from the car boot being all about buying and selling, Andy, Wendy and Adele give us a great insight into just what makes car booting so special and why so many people keep coming back.

"We've made lots of friends over the years," says Wendy. "It's always lovely to see the same faces coming back and if we don't see them, we miss them and wonder if they're OK."

"It's sad sometimes when we ask after someone and find out they've passed away or they're poorly," adds Andy.

What's great to hear about is all the different reasons people have to come along to the sale and the sorts of things they're looking for.

One lady is gathering up home furnishings - a rug and a large bean-bag style stool to help furnish a young person's new flat - and we chat to a regular car-booter who picks up a giant soft toy panda for just a quid.

A car-booter nabs the 'find of the day' with a £1 Panda. (Nottingham Post/Marie Wilson)

The buyer tells us that she often picks up really good quality soft toys at this boot sale, which then go into raffles to raise money for an animal rehoming charity. This one is a particularly good find and we're actually a bit jealous she pipped us to the post - but it's all for a good cause.

The atmosphere is really positive, at a time when both buyers and sellers feel it's needed. During the pandemic, those who enjoy the social aspect of the boot sales really suffered and Wendy says it's been hard for people to feel they can safely get out and about again.

"The pandemic made people wary," she says "And now they're not so used to being and out and being sociable so it's taking some people longer than others to feel OK to be here again."

"A lot of regular faces pop up out of the blue - it's lovely to see," adds Andy.

Buyers and sellers at the Thursday morning Hucknall Car Boot Sale gather for a day of bargain hunting. (Nottingham Post/Marie Wilson)

Many of the things we considered to be "quintessentially British" pastimes and habits took a hit as a result of the pandemic.

But being here and having this connection while hunting out a bargain makes you feel that it's our traditions and ways of day-to-day life that will be the key to binding us all back together again.

The season for selling from your boot might be close to being over for this year. But it could just be that getting out to a really great car boot sale could play a small, enjoyable part in us getting over the social exclusion the pandemic has saddled us all with.

And of course, you really do never know if you'll be the one to find that extra special bit of car boot loot. This time next year Rodney...

Hucknall Car Boot Sale is at Hucknall Carnival Site A611, Hucknall Ln, Longford Cres, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, NG6 8AA. Check the event's Facebook page for more information.

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