One mother’s clutter is another aunt’s treasure

The shelves in Trish's mum's garage are much tidier now. ANL-140310-105237001
The shelves in Trish's mum's garage are much tidier now. ANL-140310-105237001
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Blogger Trish Burgess writes for the Free Press

‘Maybe you should come up another weekend? You don’t want to waste a lovely weekend sorting out my garage.”

I could tell my mother was procrastinating. Dougie and I had suggested we spend a weekend up in Newcastle de­cluttering her garage in an effort to make it safer for her to move around in there.

Truth be told, she wasn’t looking forward to it, scared we would chuck away all her treasures.

She rang me back soon after this conversation, to admit she was being silly and that, of course, she would love to see us. I promised we wouldn’t throw out everything.

It was a mammoth task and quite extraordinary to discover how much stuff my mother had managed to keep in a double garage whilst not having room in it to park her car.

As well as garden furniture, old toys and a wheelchair, we found a whole shelf full of light bulbs, purchased in bulk when old­style fittings were being phased out; tons of Tupperware (bases with no lids and lids with no bases) and an astonishing number of baking tins, enough to start her own catering business.

“Mum?” I asked, counting the increasing number of muffin tins. “How many times have you made muffins?”

“Once” she admitted.

We uncovered quite a collection of gadgets, purchased during a short but intense relationship with TV shopping channels during the harsh winter of 2010. There was a fondue set, a potato ricer and, my favourite of all, a battery-­operated illuminated cocktail fountain with an enticing ‘cut glass effect design’.

This was sitting on a shelf next to something which looked like a mixer, called, mysteriously, ‘Mister Choc’.

As Dougie emptied boxes, Mum and I decided what to keep and what to throw away. Mum was keen, as always, to share her finds with us.

“Do you need a wrench?” she asked Dougie.

“No, I’ve got one, thanks,” he replied.

“How about a rubber mallet?”

“No, thanks.”

This continued for some time until, exasperated by her need to palm off all her worldly goods onto us, Dougie instructed me to make her a cup of tea and keep her out of the way until he’d finished.

By this time he had already sliced his fingers twice; once on a mixer blade and once on a hedge trimmer, so he was not in the best of moods. By the end of the day the garage was tidier, the floor clear and the items that were staying were at least better organised. There was a large mound of rubbish to be taken to the tip, including a cot with no base and a non­working telescope.

The next day my Aunty Pat arrived and began to root through the discarded pile to find some treasures for her own garage. “Are you throwing away that rubber mallet? I’ll have that!”

You can follow Trish on Twitter @mumsgoneto and read her blog at