Regular visitors to Library of Things will instantly recognise Mirela Grubesic. She’s not only one of our most loyal volunteers, working in the shop every week and helping out at workshops and events, Mirela’s also our number one borrower!

Since joining the team in September last year (although she first became of member when LoT was based in West Norwood library) she’s lost count of the number of items she’s taken home and temporarily shared with her husband Viktor, daughter Ena, 11, and son Danny, 8. Here she tells fellow volunteer Chris Twomey about a few of their favourite borrowing hits!

Bex has described you as Library of Things Number One borrower, so obviously you take advantage of your volunteer status to try things out…

Yeah, I’m working my way through the whole stock!

What was the very first thing you borrowed?

A waffle maker. I don’t like kitchen gadgets, I don’t have any in my house – not even a microwave – so a waffle maker is not something I’d buy because I’d hate it to sit somewhere in the back of my cupboard…but I wanted to have some fun with my kids making waffles! We had waffles every single day for a week and after that I was really happy to return the item, not to have to keep it at home.

What have you had the most fun with so far?

The big Bosch jet washer. I borrowed it to wash my patio which was very dirty. The jet washer was so good that it started removing bits of my exterior wall…anything that wasn’t solid. We then had a buy a filler and fill in the holes! Over time my patio had turned black, but once I’d done it with the jet washer it became light green. I don’t think I would have been able to clean it with anything else.

Apparently, you also spent a week making ice cream….

You don’t have to be healthy every day! I borrowed the ice cream maker and started by making a basic vanilla ice cream. I’d never made it before, in fact I could never see the point of making an ice cream because you can just go to the shop and buy some. But I suddenly thought “let’s try to make some homemade ice cream and see if there’s any difference.”

And was there?

Yes, definitely. It feels healthier because you know what you put in it, and you can also play with your ingredients – we started to experiment with passion fruit and other flavours which were delicious. My kids said it was the best ice cream they’d ever had.

Tell me about your day out at the Streatham Common Kite Festival in May

I read about it in a local paper so we borrowed the new LoT kite and went along…and it was amazing. I couldn’t believe I’d never heard of it before. There seemed to be hundreds of kites of all shapes and sizes and we all took turns in joining in. When it was Danny’s turn to fly the kite he let the string out all the way to the end so it went up really, really high…actually the higher it goes the easier it is to fly because it’s very unlikely to fall down. Danny absolutely loved it. At one point he was just lying on the grass holding on to it…and then he said to me afterwards “mummy, this is one of the best days of my life!”

How many items have you borrowed altogether?

I’ve lost count. I’ve borrowed the steam cleaner, the carpet cleaner, jet washer, ice cream maker, waffle maker, a hammer, a drill, a Stanley knife, the skipping rope – that was one of my favourites. Another of my favourites was the litter picking set.

Ha, ha! Why did you borrow that?

Because my kids would not tidy up after themselves and the house was getting really messy. When I got home I said to the kids, “you’re not allowed to touch this – this is mine.” Guess what happened? Within minutes they got the litter pickers out and started putting their toys away, picking up their clothes and other things off the floor and putting them in the right place. Tidying up the house suddenly became a game to them.

You’ve just given a lot of parents a very good idea! You’re obviously a very happy LoT customer but what’s been your experience as a volunteer overall?

It’s been great. I’ve made lots of friends, I think we have a lovely team. I’ve chatted to many people who came to visit LoT and heard people’s stories, found out more and more about them like what they’re up to, why they’re borrowing things, the jobs they’re doing. I’ve also learned lots of practical skills. It’s increased my confidence because now I believe I can actually do things myself. Before volunteering I was one of these people who’d never attempt to put up a shelf, but I see people coming in to borrow tools and I think “if they can do it I can do it as well.” It’s been a brilliant experience.

We love Mirela!!
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