Monday, 01 October 2012 00:00

On first looking into Ebay and PayPal – with apologies to John Keats

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Much have I travelled through the Internet

And many Google sites and pages seen;

Through many searches have I been

For likely purchases I need to vet.

Oft of two sites I’d heard but yet  

On EBay I had never been

Nor PayPal used in this demesne

‘Til antique tiles I had to get.

Then felt I like some watcher of the skies

When a new world comes into her ken,

With reclamation yards and private buys

As far afield as York and Penn

Who yield their goods, to my surprise,

More swift and cheap than shop-based men.


So now I’m charged with power and might

To buy and sell at my own will

It really is an awesome thrill

This new world order seems so right!

A pallet firm I’ve found on site

Called Speedshift, and for a small bill

Your order they will more than fill

They’ll even do it overnight.

So now I’ve also sold, yippee,

Old tiles and borders I don’t need.

Buying power it seems to me

S’been shifted, I hope we’re all agreed,

By EBay, PayPal - and they’re free!……………….. well almost.


Don’t worry. There will not be much - if any - more poetry in this blog going forwards. I have even surprised myself.

I’ve never looked into Chapman’s Homer but I’ve always loved Keats and when something different, special and liberating happens to you sometimes poetry seems more apt than prose to express one’s feelings about it and that's what happened.

I have been redesigning my front garden recently. It’s not really a garden but a gated path, a doorstep and threshold, a 2.5m x 0.5 m North facing bed by the railing and a small area in front of the bay window which, amongst other things, has to hold the very unattractive black, Lambeth council issued, wheely bin. Everyone in the street has a privet hedge but I am going to buck the trend. I am embarrassed to show you these but this is what it used to look like.


Note the old tiles, cement doorstep, hole to the cellar, cracked gatestone, old wall, ancient Privet hedge and variegated Laurel, appaling cement base and misplaced rope edging.

I have decided to keep the path and stones Victorian, to swap the concrete for light coloured gravel, to lose the hedge for a plant bed and build a new small wall under the railings. I hope I can grow things that don’t need direct sun but will thrive in North facing, open light shade.

I have bought a new York stone doorstep and gatestone, new black and white Victorian style tiles for the path and threshold, metres of old Victorian rope edging tiles, Victorian terracotta coping tiles for the rebuilt wall and of course new plants. I was left with a path load of old Victorian black and white tiles and rope edging tiles I couldn’t use. I sold them all successfully on Ebay.

All this was precipitated by my builder suddenly saying late on a Friday evening, “We need the edging tiles and coping stones next week”. I knew I didn’t have time to trawl reclamation yards in London or wait for things to become available online around London at some unspecified date. I had to find them now, wherever in the country they were.

My first online search was for Victorian rope edging tiles. I obviously had some but the new layout required more – and they have to be the same don’t they? There were none to be had in London online, “not even for ready money”, but I found perfect ones on Ebay in a yard just outside Glasgow. The gentleman who sold them to me also introduced me to Speedshift, the pallet delivery company, which I have used many times since because they are so reliable and reasonable.

Somehow, knowing I had a pallet delivering company I could trust, totally changed my attitude to online buying of heavy and bulky materials. I felt liberated to buy from anyone, anywhere in the UK. In Keats' words, “Then felt I like some watcher of the skies when a new planet swims into his ken; or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes he stared at the Pacific—and all his men looked at each other with a wild surmise— silent, upon a peak in Darien”. That’s how I felt. It’s simply the best way to describe it.

Obviously it helps if you know who “stout” Cortez was and where Darien is but even if you don’t (and I can only vaguely remember that he was an explorer on the top of some mountain in South America) it doesn’t really matter. The way it’s written means the discovery must have been momentus. So my poor attempt at an ode in honour is really a travesty.

Since then I have received 12 beautiful, Victorian terracotta coping tiles from a little place north east of York, gravel, a water butt and plants from all over the UK – all ordered, arranged and paid for from my kitchen in SW London. And I have sold my old Victorian black and white tile path and black roped edging borders to people who really wanted them. Each sale and purchase has been a true moment of gratifying fulfilment for each party because it entails something someone no longer needs which has real value to someone else. And it also means these things are not being wasted and going to landfill which they might easily do otherwise.

This is the new order and a real and exciting market. I am loving being part of. It is my “new world” and the whole ebay/paypal/speedshift thing is my latest epiphany....and this is what it looks like now. Very happy making.

Read 53439 times Last modified on Wednesday, 01 October 2014 09:24