An Eclectic Mix


Lest you should think I'm only capable of talking Le Cresuet pots and pans, Riedel Wine glasses and Demeyere cookware, I thought this week we'd have a change, which has resulted in an eclectic mix of product, which have barely any connection with each other...or, in other words I went down into the shop and picked up just what I fancied....

Which reminds me (and this brings a huge smile to my face) that some people think (does this included you?) that my emails are worked out to the nearest millimetre and that this all assembled according to some dastardly marketing plan, designed subliminally to trick you into spending all your spare cash with us. And of course for all you know this last line could just be a part of it... but in reality "no it isn’t".

So, having cleared that one up I'm going to get stuck straight into product.


Tala Cooks Dry measure:

This product is older than me by quite a margin (it first hit the shops in 1934 and I’m reliably informed was called a “Treasure Measure”) and yet it is still a popular way of measuring the following, Rolled Oats, Breadcrumbs, Desiccated Coconut, Cornflower, Cocoa, Almonds, Shredded Suet (does anyone use Shredded Suet?) Sugar, Rice, Haricots, Lentils, Barley, Sultanas, Tapioca (really, does anyone still use Tapioca?) Ground Rice, Currants (what's the difference between Sultanas and Currants I wonder?) Semolina (surely no one uses Semolina anymore, I was made to eat it as a pudding at school, always though it rather resembled baby’s vomit) Raisins (I’m beginning to think that the difference between raisins, currants and sultanas must have passed me by...) Custard Powder (SURELY no none uses that anymore!) Flour, Milk, Icing Sugar, English Cup Measures, American Cup Measures and finally Millilitres. (I know all this because it’s listed on the inside).  Wow what a list, all that for just 10 quid!

A brilliant product, not withstanding it occasionally shows its age!


Cole & Masons Saunderton Shaker

I have given you my opinion on this ugly, naff looking product before, and having amused myself again by re reading what I wrote in my January 29th email this year (if you want to read it in full it’s here), I thought I’d just take the last paragraph or so from it to save having to think it all up again. Setting the scene, at the end of last year when it was introduced, I said a firm no to it. Here’s the last paragraph of what I said…

“I suppose I’d allowed the looks of the thing [to] rule my commercial heart. So, instead of seeing its practical uses, such as storing your dried herbs or spices or sprinkles in one place, where you can easily see what you've got (rather than scattered hither and thither in the depths of some cupboard), I’d only seen its looks and not taken into account that for this type of thing, it doesn’t really matter what it looks like, because you are not going to leave it out on the side in the kitchen to show off to your friends (are you?). You are instead going to keep it in a cupboard to bring out when you need it and put it quickly away again after use (aren’t you?).

So to finish, the Saunderton Shaker comes in three guises.

·        Filled with Spices - £25.00

·        Filled with Herbs - £25.00

·        Empty - £20.00

And apparently it’s just what you need……🙂”


Kikkerland “Whale” Beech(wood) Phone Stand

This is a very nice little chunk of Beech, machined to look like a Whale (there is also one that looks like a Bird and another, an Elephant!) that holds, in my case, an iPhone 13 Mini (but it will hold phones of all sizes, of course). And in fact, this sample that I’ve just brought up to my office is, I think, unlikely to see the shop again. It’s a simple elegant design and does exactly what it’s supposed to do, well. It’s £10.00.

Cole & Mason Ceramic Oil & Vinegar Pourer

I chose this simply for its looks. It is, to my eye, just a very pleasing shape, with very subtle curves, quite feminine in fact (he said trusting this won’t be taken the wrong way) and so yes, easy on the eye, topped with a contrasting Cork Stopper, and it’s only £6.95. Lovely. How the same company can produce the Saunderton Shaker (see above)? Quite baffles me.

Zeal Self Sealing Lids

The sad demise of Viancin Lids being imported over here has meant we’ve needed to resource them, which wasn’t difficult, because Country Kitchenware Supplies, owned by Humphrey and Jenny Bartlett, started bringing these in quite some years ago. They, the Bartletts must be one of our oldest suppliers, as I recall going round a trade exhibition with my Dad at some point in the early eighties and meeting Humphrey on a stand that was covered in stock….just dripping  with it…a bit like one of our shops!

Anyway, back to their version of the lids. The principle is a lid made of silicon with a polished / shiny underside that seals against any smooth lipped container such as bowls, saucepans, frying pans, mugs, etc. etc. They are heat proof (even on a frying pan or saucepan or in the oven) meaning you can safely put them on a frying pan to act as a splash guard and they’ll come to no harm. They are also good for covering bowls of food that you’re putting in the fridge and they are very useful in the summer, for eating outside as you can cover bowls of salad and the polished underside seals against the side of the bowl. Which, at home, we tell ourselves attracts less insects, as no aromas escape!  They come in five sizes.

  • 10cm (4”) Typically used to cover a mug of tea or coffee, to stop it getting cold so quickly. Would also act as a lid for a small bowl in the fridge for example. £6.99 for a pair.
  • 15cm (6”) For bowls up to 13cm diameter and small saucepans £8.99 each
  • 20cm (8”) For bowls up to 18cm diameter and most saucepans
  • 23cm (9”) For covering medium salad bowls, small frying pans, most diameter of saucepan. £14.99 each
  • 28cm (11”) for larger serving bowls, Frying pans up to 26cm diameter. £19.00 each

And it’s just worth saying that the seal on many bowls will be so good that you would be able pick up the whole bowl by the lid knob! They really are quite remarkable in how they seal. A very good product, which has a lot uses and cuts back on your use of foil or cling film. Therefore, quite ecological.


Stretch-ii Lids

Here, I’ve chosen what has become an old favourite, after a number of years stocking them. The Stretch-ii lid is the alternative way of covering bowls and jars, and may be stretched directly over, say, half an apple, or a lemon, or melon etc. It requires two hands to do this and so is not as easy as the Self Sealing  Lids, but once on, they are more secure.
They come in a variety of pretty colours, 6 sizes, starting at 4cm and going up to 20cm.

Prices range from £1.99 to £13.99.

Another effective way of preserving food and using less foil or clingfilm. Very ecological.

Kilo Scrubby Sponge

I did a piece on the Kilos Scrubby Sponge only a few weeks ago, but in case you missed it, I’m regurgitating here, as there was a strong reaction, that’s to say we sold a lot! In it I’m comparing it to the basic Scrubby (which I don’t like nearly as much)…

“called a ‘Scrubby Sponge’ and this is a rather different kettle of fish. Somewhat finer in texture, it has three layers (unlike the single layer of the Scrubby) with the two abrasive layers surrounding a sponge. Now this is the one I use at home, because it holds water, and soap easily, is sufficiently abrasive to do the job and is much more flexible (than the Scrubby), as well. A really good little cleaning product. Good for not only kitchen use, but also bathroom and even in the garden, for cleaning, say, garden furniture. To clean it you can put it in the washing machine, although they do say not with delicate items.”

A great cleaning aid for £4.00.  


George East (now Dayes) Tala Kettle Descaler

Rather like the product I started with; this one has been around for decades. It’s the humble Kettle Descaler. This is a slightly misleading name actually, because it doesn’t descale the kettle, it just attracts a lot of the Limescale present in the water onto itself, so reducing the amount of scale and so reduces the frequency with which you need to descale your kettle.

Simple little product. £1.99.

That’s it for this week, so I’ll leave the last word to A J Cronin. “Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow; it only saps today of its strength.”

I hope you have a peaceful, pleasant and worry free weekend.

Kind regards, 


Andrew Bluett-Duncan 



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