Boot Tales

Strange stories from Christchurch Lions car boot sales. . . .

Sunday 9th July.  Driving to Stanpit at about 06.15 it was one of those "good to be alive" summer mornings.  Arrived at Stanpit still feeling good and squeezed the car and trailer in front of the queue of insomniacs.  It was then that  we realised that the keys to the gate had gone walkabout . . .and suddenly the day didn't seem so fine!  A long delay whilst we activated Plan B - having first having to work out what Plan B was - and, eventually, everyone was parked by 8.00 am which, coincidentally, is our official opening time.  Apologies to everyone who had to queue - the guilty Lion is now looking very sweet in sackcloth and ashes!

To lighten the mood we were very pleased to welcome Curley the Busker, who entertained everyone with his repertoire of old standards raising funds for our charities account.  Next month we'll try to put him in a prime position so that you can't miss him and his donation bucket!

Sunday 11th June.  It was one of those days. . .Firstly we had someone trying to sell an air rifle and had visions of armed police deploying all over Stanpit based on reports of somebody with a gun!  Then we had the elderly couple on a tandem disability scooter (really!) who were abusive when we pointed out that they were about to go out through the gate reserved for incoming vehicles. Finally, we have always welcomed car booters who bring their dogs with them but we had to draw the line here. . . 

car boot snake

Sunday 11th September.  So it's 1.00 pm, all the cars have gone home except one left in the corner of the buyers parking area.  No sign of the driver so we leave a note under the windscreen wiper with a contact number of our keyholder and head off to the pub.  About 5.30pm we get a 'phone call from the owner whose tale was a new one on us.  She had driven to the sale alone and her husband had come down later in his car with aged mother.  They enjoyed the car boot sale "en famille" and then, after the kerfuffle of putting mother back in the car, our lady got in alongside her husband and they went home!  Realisation that her car was missing came some 4 hours later.  Our keyholder gamely returned to Stanpit to let her out and gratefully accepted a £5 donation to Lions funds for his trouble.  The lady was so apologetic and so nice that it was a pleasure to be able to help her.

Most car booters are very friendly and accommodating but there are occasional exceptions. . . a buyer drove in and parked in the wrong place and was asked very politely if she would mind moving.  Her reply was " I pay my (expletive deleted) taxes so I'm going to park where I (expletive deleted) like." Truly, it takes all sorts! 

Sunday 7th August.  We arrived shortly before 6.30 am to set up the field to find the usual queue of early risers waiting for us.  We're used to that and most of them understand that they are going to have to wait until we're ready to open the field.  One "gentleman" however, chose to berate one of our volunteersbecausewe weren't open at 6.30He was pointed towards the sign that says we open to sellers at 7.30 and even then didn't have the good grace to apologise.  Perhaps if he'd stayed in bed for another hourhe wouldn't have been so rude and grumpy!

Sunday 8th May.  A very big thank you to the car booter who left us the present of a dirty nappy to dispose of.  Sir, or Madam, you really were taking liberties and pushing our goodwill to the limit!

Sunday 11th October. The last sale of 2015! Nothing very eventful to report. People are still arriving very early to 'get a good pitch'. They are all good pitches! One lady seller arrived and asked us where the 'Disabled Seller's Area' was. That caused a few puzzled looks for a moment, and then Bernard shepherded her down to a site next to the catering and toilets. A satisfied customer. A couple of flat batteries and we were away by 1 o'clock. A Sunday lie-in for a few months!

Sunday 9th August.  An interesting car boot sharing the field with the Park & Ride for the RNLI Fun Day, and traffic management was a challenge!  It was slightly slower than usual getting on and off the field and thanks to everyone for their patience. Hopefully, next year's Fun Day won't coincide with our Car Boot sale.

Some silly stories, as usual. By 6:45am we had most of the barriers and signs up, and had queued the first 30 or so cars on the cycle track, but the cars in the road were queuing in both directions on Stanpit. I was putting the signs up on the road outside the gate, when a chap got out of his car to harangue me about letting everyone onto the site immediately as we were blocking the road. I asked him if he could read, which stopped his swearing whilst he thought about the answer. I pointed out that he was standing right next to our car boot sign, which clearly stated 7:30 start time. I told him that our Council licence restricted us to allow cars on the field only from 7:30am, not 6:45. However, in order to reduce traffic problems we would let cars in, but next time for him to be here at 7:30. I later spoke to a seller who had been queuing on the road just behind him. She complimented me for dealing so politely with such a rude man, and then told me that he had been a buyer, not a seller. He had driven in with the other cars and been parked in the sellers area. He realized at once and had to maneuver to get out, swearing again at one of our lady marshals, and then drove over to the buyers parking area where he once again had a go at another marshal. Should have stayed in bed!

One seller's car ran out of petrol on the cycle path on the way in. The wife was very clear on what she thought of her husband. Two Lions pushed the car into the sellers area, and the husband sloped off to the petrol station with a can. He won't run out again!

Once again we had the buyers parking in rows of 3 cars, nose to tail, with the chap in the middle not very happy, as usual. I really do not know what these people are thinking of. Should they be allowed out on their own? I would love to hear from one of them to find out.

Sunday 14th June. No real stories to tell, everyone very well behaved. A couple of impatient drivers trying to get in caused some traffic blockages, and a few walkers objected to cars on the cycle path, but otherwise all good.

Sunday 10th May.  As usual, we arrived on site at about 06.15 when there were already several cars queuing at the gate, with the queue getting longer by the minute.  Now it takes us at least 45 minutes to stake out the field and put up the signage, which is why we publicise the opening time to sellers as 7.30 and buyers as 8.00.  However, if people want to sit in their cars for up to an hour, and, incidentally, cause a traffic-management problem for us, that’s their choice. We do think it unreasonable, though, for one of the drivers in the queue, to accuse us at 6.45 of not being able to run a “p*** up in a blank blank brewery”  

Later in the morning, one of the Lions was approached by an elderly gentleman who had lost his car keys and had no idea where they might have been dropped.  Fortunately, he still had his house keys so our Lion drove the man back to his house in Southbourne, collected his spare key and brought him back to Stanpit.  The result?  One happy car booter, a happy Lion who had done someone a very good deed, and a donation to our Lions Charity account.

Sometimes we get a brief, very brief, coffee break. One of our Lions was standing in the queue at the Scouts catering tent when a lady came up to her and said:  "another great Car Boot.  Always so well organised and one of the best in the area." Lady, you made our day! 

Everyone will be aware that the Main Entrance to Stanpit Marsh is only just wide enough to allow incoming and outgoing vehicles to pass side by side.  We work hard to manage the traffic flow to avoid inconveniencing other road users and to keep cars moving on and off site. We have large signs asking drivers to keep left.  We have marshalls in fluorescent yellow jackets at both gates onto the field and one brave soul is required to stand in the middle of the car park to act as a human traffic island directing incoming and exiting traffic through the main gate.  It’s hard to believe, then, that two or three drivers chose to ignore the signs, drive on the wrong side of our hero in the middle (far too close for comfort) and took up all the available space in going through the main gate.  Were they just being perverse or should they be going to Specsavers?

We were all closed up and ready to go to the pub, sorry, home when, not for the first time we found we had one vehicle left and that had it's bonnet up!  Out came our trusty jump leads and our last car booter went on his way smiling. This happens so often that it could become a useful source of additional income for our charity account. . . .

April 2015. We get a variety of lost items handed in. This time we had a purse (containing about £20), a Nissan car key, mobile Phone, ladies black handbag, and a very nice pair of sunglasses. All but the sunglasses were reclaimed! Moral of this story - look after your possessions, but if you can't, go and see the Lions at the Lions gazebo.

The car parking continues to provide lots of material for the Boot Tales. Please be aware that we are only doing our best to ensure that you are safe and do not cause an accident or obstruction. Despite this we still get sworn at, shouted at, and have fists shaken at us. The large white van that came into the field, and when asked to park a little further away from the entrance point told our marshal in no uncertain terms that he could park wherever he wanted to, and did. The large black van that came onto the field, and immediately turned into the disabled parking area to park. Should he be driving if his eyesight is that bad? The buyer who drove in the wrong way and parked next to the Scouts catering tent, and when told he should not park there stated 'Well, I made a mistake.' and quickly walked away. The lady in the little white car who insisted on driving around a van in the outer car park whilst I was explaining that cars were still coming in and he should keep to the left at the gate. The list is endless.

March 2015. Our regulars will know that, at the entrance to Stanpit Marsh, there is an overhead barrier that we open whilst the sales are taking place.  One walker in a camper van managed to sneak in without us seeing him and we failed to notice his vehicle as we locked up (it was only a small campervan!)  Our keyholder duly drove our trailer back to it's store in Highcliffe, drove from Highcliffe to his home in Bransgore, fortunately rejecting the temptation of a well-earned beer on the way, only to be summonsed back to Stanpit to unlock the barrier for the man and his van.  If this story has a moral it should perhaps be: "should have gone to Specsavers." 

We are having a few problems with pilfering. At the last event a group of 4 young men were working the site, two distracting the seller whilst the others removed items. One lady lost 4 pairs of designer jeans. Please be aware that this is going on. If you have any problems let the Lions know at once. We have Lions patrolling the site, and at the white Lions gazebo, all with radios. If we catch them they will be dealt with!

Traffic has grown to be our biggest problem. When we arrive on site at 6:30am there are already 5 or 6 sellers waiting for us to set up the site, which takes at least 45 minutes! The queue to get onto the site can back up as far as the Purewell roundabout, and cars entering the site from the other direction (queue jumping?) cause people to get upset. Please be patient. We WILL get everyone on the site, as quickly as possible. We WILL direct you where to park, but if you have a strong preference we WILL listen to you.  Please help yourselves by not arriving too early.  

Exiting the site is also a problem. We direct people off the field out of the gate into the centre of the car park, and then out of the car park exit into the road. This involves the incoming and outgoing traffic streams crossing over, and we have marshals stationed there to stop/start the traffic and ensure safety at all times. They wear large yellow tabards so you cannot mistake them! The exit barrier onto the road is narrow, and people coming in through the gate are driving at 30mph on the road, and can come in very fast. When you are leaving, and the marshal tells you to keep to the extreme left (unfortunately just where the potholes are) it is to avoid incoming cars, not just to be awkward. The barrier IS wide enough for 2 cars, but only just!

We had a Colombian gentleman in his little racing car come in through the car park entrance at 50mph, park in the middle of the car park, decide that he wanted to be closer to the car boot sale, back up and zoom along the roadway to the buyer parking. At least 4 marshals told him to slow down, but he knew much better than them. Exactly the same on his exit. Beware of idiots!

We are now using the entry onto the grass at the corner of the road, instead of the entry 30 feet further on round the corner - it gives everyone better sight lines and is much safer. Or so you would think! The field is eroded where it meets the road, and people have to slow down and drive carefully. That is, except for the few that attempt it at 30mph. One chap complained that he might have damaged his car! If he cannot read the "10 MPH" signs that we put up along the roadway perhaps he should not be driving at all.

We still have several buyers each time who park their cars in rows of three, nose to tail, blocking the chap in the middle between 2 cars so he cannot get out. The Lion marshalls know to look for it now, so please be aware you will be asked to move your car if we catch you in time.

Everyone drove in via the tarmacked road as usual, and at the end the signs directed them left (Sellers) or right (Buyers), with Lions marshalling them to park up in organised lines as previously. This time one buyer decided that he would follow the car in front, and drove into the sellers area where he was parked up in a line of sellers, who immediately began to unpack their goods. He got out of his car, looked around in confusion, realised that there was no way he could get his car out now, and quickly walked off to avoid any further embarrassment. Perhaps next time he will look where he is going more carefully.

This time once again we had the 3 car row being formed. Luckily there was a Lion marshalling traffic not very far away, and he rushed over to stop more cars following like sheep, and only 4 cars had made the 3rd row. We kept a marshal by the cars until people started to return to them, and managed to carefully manoeuvre the middle cars out. Luckily the ones in the middle recognised the funny side of it. Only one of the drivers in the 3rd row, blocking in the middle row, was not amused and left the site muttering about us being unreasonable.

Did you know that cyclists had a death wish? We put up traffic cones and signs on the tarmacked roadway where we bring the cars onto the field, just after the roadway turns a sharp, blind corner. We also have a marshal standing there to suggest that walkers and cyclist use the field to avoid the traffic. Cyclists, however, know their rights! They are allowed to ride on the roadway, at great speed, and we have no authority to direct them otherwise. They are of course quite correct, but the cyclist who told us this in no uncertain terms, and then cycled around the corner head on into an oncoming car may take a bit more care next time. Luckily they both managed to avoid each other.

 Today, Sunday 6th October, at 8:30am we received a telephone call on the 0845 833 9826 number from a chap who was at Stanpit wondering why there was no car boot sale. He was in front of the poster so he could read the telephone number, but obviously could not read the large date sticker that stated 'Sunday 17th October'. Strange!

 We continue to have problems with peoples' driving skills! As soon as people drive onto the site they seem to lose all understanding of how to drive their car. There are pedestrians, dog walkers, cyclist, and most importantly Lions using the site as well as the cars. We have spent loads of money on signs that say 'Caution', '10 MPH', 'Way Out', etc, but some people either cannot see them or just chose to ignore them completely. We have had a number of near-misses with drivers doing 30+ MPH on the site - one Lions was brushed aside by a car on the roadway by a driver coming in, and several drivers on the damp field slide all over the place. PLEASE - DRIVE SLOWLY!

If you have been to one of our car boot sales you will know that we park the buyers cars in rows of 2 cars nose to nose, a gap, another row of 2 cars, a gap, and so on. This is obviously too complicated for some people. A chap came to the Lions tent with steam coming out of his ears! He had been the car in the middle of a 3 car row. He stated clearly, loudly and repeatedly that this was not the fault of the Lions, but some idiot who should not be allowed out on his own. We calmed him down, apologised profusely, and when he was calm he drove out. Please remember when parking your car to be considerate of others! 

A lady buyer drove into the field and asked one of the Lions where the disabled parking was located. The Lion pointed to the signs clearly stating 'Disabled Parking'. The lady asked again, and the Lions pointed them out again. The lady then said 'I can't see, that's why I need the disabled parking'. The Lion stood well to one side whilst the lady drove towards the disabled parking area! 

A lady came to the boot sale, and carefully unpacked her treasures, each one wrapped in different coloured papers. At 12 noon people started packing up, and by 12:30 there were only a few people left as the Lions cleared up the litter on the field. This lady was by now carefully re-wrapping her treasures, searching for the correct coloured paper for each one. By 1:00 o'clock everyone else had gone, the Lions barriers, tent, signs, etc were all packed up in the trailer, the Sommerford Scouts had packed up and gone, just this one lady slowly packing her items away. We offered to help her pack up, as we wanted to lock up and go ourselves, but no, she wanted to do it herself as we would not use the correct wrapping paper. After another 30 minutes, and several more offers of help rejected, she finally got everything put away and left at 1:30pm, when we locked the gate and went to the Rising Sun for a well earned drink! 

You will have noticed that we are now using the Emergency gate and roadway to bring people into the site. This roadway is also used by pedestrians and cyclists. Despite the '10 MPH' signs cars are driving too fast, and one lady dog walker nearly had her dog crushed under a car, and another walker was brushed out of the way by the wing mirror on a passing car. Please drive slowly and carefully on the site, and give consideration to other people using the field. Cyclists particularly ride like the wind and are a major hazard. 

A man drove down the incoming lane as far as the end of the 2 lane section. He turned sharp right and parked his car immediately, right across the entrance to the outgoing car lane. The 'EXIT' sign was right next to his drivers window. He then walked off quickly. Luckily a Lion was nearby, and shouted to him to please move his car, he could not park there as he was obstructing the traffic and no-one could get out. He argued that he was disabled, and therefore could park anywhere. After some persuasion he moved his car into the disabled parking area, grumbling loudly all the while. 

A couple drove onto the site and asked where they should go, as they had never sold at a car boot sale before. Lion Lorraine told them to drive over to Lion Colin who was directing sellers into position on the left side of the field. The lady immediately said 'I want to park just there!'. Lorraine insisted that they should drive over to Colin who would point out where they could park. The lady insisted that she wanted to park JUST THERE! They eventually drove over to Colin, complaining that the organisation of the boot sale was a shambles. 

A couple drove in, were directed to Colin and asked for a sunny spot to sell from. Colin pointed to the sky and said 'We've arranged for the sun to move across the sky from there to there. You will be perfectly sited just over there.' They parked up and thanked Colin profusely for making these arrangements. 

A lady had finished her buying at the event, and returned to her car to drive out. Despite being told by the marshal to drive out along the clearly signed exit lane, she stated 'I drove in this way, that must be the way out' and she drove out along the incoming lane. Unfortunately several cars were coming in. She managed to manouvre past the first 6 or 7 of these, but as the lane narrowed as she got closer to the gate, she eventaully had about 10 cars stacked up in front of her, getting more and more impatient. Finally she reversed (at speed) all the way back along the incoming lane, swore loudly at the marshalls, and drove out in a fury along the correct lane.


More to come each month . . .


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