Wednesday, 5.45 am and I hit the road. It’s not yet busy-busy but far from empty as people start their commute earlier and earlier to avoid the rush hour (or should that be the slow hour?) I make good time, arriving at Beachlands, Hayling Island just after 6.30. I pay my pitch money – £8 for my size vehicle – and another guy indicates which line of vehicles to join. Oh good, I’m on hard standing! (The car boot stretches out onto the beach and there the sand gets everywhere. Plus the nearer you are to the sea, the colder it tends to be.) He signals that I need to pull forward. “There’s more room in my bed than we get here,” I hear one woman complain. Certainly there’s not a lot of room between rows: some people with especially wide or posh vehicles guard against the paintwork being scratched by covering the passenger side of the car with a blanket or duvet.
I lock the car and use the facilities. Some traders are chatting over coffee or full English – the cafe does a popular all-day breakfast for £3.80 or an even larger version for around £6.00. I have a “quick wander” and buy a job lot of sewing items for a fiver. There’s quite a few Sylko reels in there, not the old wooden reels but with some age and I’m excited to see that there’s a few that I haven’t come across before. (Sylko labels have a D number together with a description of the colour and I’m putting together a list of them.)
I return to my pitch and set out my stall.
Despite the early hour, there are customers already. But the car boot really gets going once the first bus arrives. I see many of my regulars, including a couple of ladies who also go to Ford. One of my online customers arrives to collect her order. During the summer – when there are even more stallholders – a changing influx of holidaymakers adds to the throng.
The sun gets stronger and off comes the bodywarmer and eventually the jacket. But I’m still thankful for the thick tights beneath my jeans. This is the south of England, not the south of France!
The crowds thin at around midday. I take my lead about when to start packing from the stallholders behind me in the line since it’s difficult to get out before they do. I lock the car and make for the fruit and veg stall – it’s good quality and much cheaper than the supermarket.
On the way home, I fill up at one of the petrol stations on the island which tend to be 3-5p cheaper than most others on the A27. Sometimes I make a day of it and go to nearby Gunwharf Quays but today I go straight home where I arrive at 1.30.
How to get to Beachlands Hayling Island car boot:
Postcode for the satnav is PO11 0AG. If travelling East to West on the A27, look out for the Emsworth exit and take the next exit which is soon after for Hayling Island and Havant. Follow the signs to Hayling Island, take the right fork for Manor Road and follow the signs to Beachlands. If selling, go straight on at the mini roundabout. If buying, park at the adjacent car park.
The car boot is held on Wednesday mornings throughout the year.