How to declutter and still stay happy

Just some of my junk, and yes this is all part of my five year plan!

We are in the middle of a downsizing frenzy at the moment, as we’ve just put the house we’ve lived and played in for the last twenty years and the big question is… how have I still got spices in my cupboard dating back to the last century?????

Poetry railings – just one of the things I’ll miss!

I do clear out sometimes, I promise, not that it feels much like it at the moment. I’ve had lots of useful advice from friends who have been through the same thing:

  1. Take photos of objects that have meaning but won’t be staying with you
  2. Go slowly
  3. And of course, via Maria Kondo, ask yourself – does this spark joy?

The problem has been with the things that do bring me joy but also bring a sense of responsibility because somewhere along the line I’ve been entrusted with them. But, surprisingly, another act of joy has come into play – finding the right new home for them. Freecycle has been my friend, but some things require more thought.

Take these cups and saucers. They were ceremonially given to me years ago by my granny Hereford, and with a story. My dad was a very young soldier during WW2 and when it finished, he bought his mum a fine china tea service with his demob money. Like the ‘parlour’ in the front of their house, it was too special to be used everyday and only came out on noteworthy occasions. (Imagine a whole room officially deemed ‘too good to use’!)

That wasn’t to say this tea service didn’t mean anything though – even now I could almost put my hand over these cups and feel a vibration of both pride and filial affection. And the truth is that they have been treasured as much by me as they were by my granny.

However, the cups and saucers have travelled with me now through several house moves and two countries and have still rarely been used. Did I want to take them to yet another home?

Having checked that no one else in my family wanted them, I had a brainwave. We have a gorgeous cafe in Tunbridge Wells, Juliets, that uses vintage cups and saucers. Did the lovely Juliet want them? Yes, she did.

Here are my cups making new friends in the window of Juliets!

So now I can go visit my cups and saucers as many times as I want and see them being used at last.

A toppling pile of memories here… I love it.

Just as they should have been all along. I like to imagine the secrets spilled over them, the laughter, the news, and all the friendships. Best still, my dad, when he was alive, loved Juliets – he couldn’t believe just how beautiful all the yummy mummies he saw there were. My granny would have tut-tutted, of course. But I think she secretly loved tut-tutting, that well-known song of grannies everywhere…

Published by

Sarah Salway

Author of three novels, a collection of short stories and two poetry collections. Find out more at

One thought on “How to declutter and still stay happy”

  1. Hi Sarah… I was in T Wells for lunch yesterday near Juliets, and while waiting for our table slot, was admiring the China in their window! Amazing to know the lovely things were many of yours, and the story behind them. A terrific writing prompt methinks but more than that, what pleasure these cups will give to so many customers! Well done you. Happy decluttering (although I hate to call these lovely things clutter…) Vx

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