Push The Boat Out and Have a Rest

I'd just dropped my car off at Holmesdale garage, on Tuesday this week and as I strode down London Road towards the tunnel (the one that goes under the castle Grounds), my phone rang and it was Simon Walter (he of Reigate Architects....best architects for miles around?*), who was making some interesting observations on last week’s email. I hope you can still recall that I had mentioned my beloved Dualit Toaster, that we've had for the last 22 years. In his opinion I didn’t need to say any more. "22 years" he said.... “Says it all”. He went on to observe that there is a growing swell of interest in buying only once, which also put me in mind of Le Creuset's Cast iron range (no non-stick to wear out), Demeyere cookware (no non-stick to wear out), Netherton Iron pans (no non-stick to wear out), and this made me think….!

Lesley Gort-Barten is a larger-than-life character, who likes the sound of his own voice, reputedly earns loads of dosh, and obviously has a sharp commercial mind, but with the emotional intelligence of a fly. On my thankfully brief acquaintance with him, I would say that he is not someone that I warmed to. He and his son Alex however own and run Dualit the manufacturer of my toaster, that I so love. This gives me a bit of a problem, because I prefer to deal with people that I like and respect, and that can’t be said for the former (liking) and it’s grudgingly given for the latter (respect) and then only for some of their products.

In fact, we used to have a direct account with them some years ago, but their customer service attitude is so poor that eventually we closed it, and instead decided to buy a reduced range of  Dualit through Beam, our principle electrical wholesaler, who are the polar opposite and a delight to deal with. The result, to reassure you (if considering a Dualit purchase), is that now, if we have a problem with their product, (which is rare because we have cut out most of their Chinese made lines)**,  it is easily and quickly resolved with them, rather than haggling with the manufacturer who are just mean minded.

Shame, because what I think people who are of this mindset forget (or perhaps more accurately, never realised) is that chasing every last penny of profit is to be on a hiding to nothing. The design of the Classic toaster is really quite brilliant, and is obviously driven by a desire to create the best possible experience for the end user that the designer could muster. And I don’t know who created it, might well have been the man himself. The difference between what he produces and his attitude humanly, is stark. Now, to be fair to the bloke, I only met him once so this is not an empirical study of him or his organisation, my comments are driven out of my experience of meeting him, of a broken promise, that rankled and utter frustration in resolving product problems whenever they occurred. But none of these concerned the toaster I’m referring to now.           

Anyway, let’s now concentrate on what is good in the Dualit, or rather their 4 Slot Classic Toaster, and here I’m referring to the one we have at home which is 4 slot with polished ends, much the same can said for the coloured ended ones as well.

  • Well, it’s biggish, about 13” x 8” (33cm x 20cm) but that also means it’ll take most sizes of loaf (not Gail’s Sourdough though).
  • It’s beautiful to look at. Dualit seem to have produced a design here that seems timeless and in fact I think most would say it’s now an icon
  • It toasts well. It’s admittedly not so even as the Enfinigy I talked about last week, but I’ve really no grumbles about the way it does its job. And I can still burn the toast if I get the timer setting wrong!
  • The build quality is just superb. They are hand built, originally just off the Old Kent Road, but now just down the road in Crawley, and everything about them oozes quality and is just very solid. The polishing on the hallmark Ends of the toaster are lovely as is the stainless centre section.
  • There’s an adjustable foot on one corner that means you never have to put up with a wobbly toaster
  • Removable crumb tray
  • Lift for the toast (not Sexy…its manual, unlike the Kitchenaid)
  • And one of the genius aspects of the design, is the elements. For 20 plus years they have been encasing them in a clear Silica (I think that’s the correct term?) that means two things. If you’re tempted to put your knife down into the toaster (no don’t deny it..) to release a recalcitrant piece of toast, then this reduces the likelihood of being electrocuted  and, it prevents you damaging the element, and so having to replace it.
  • And on this last point you can, of course, replace any of the elements, or any other part of the toaster for that matter, for they were originally designed for the hotel and commercial kitchen market, and are built to last (all parts are available as spares).
  • In short, a toaster that you will not need to replace, maybe just repair from time to time.

So, the offer this week is that its current RRP is (I think £220?) in any case the price we have them at is £199.00. For this weekend I’m offering you a reduced price of £179.00. If shopping online then use code EMOTIONAL20. Or tell us who you are if coming into the shops.

* Simon’s work is beautifully thought through and can be a bit off the wall, if that's what you want. Is he the best in the area...I don’t really know because I don’t actually know any other architects, but I find his view of the world refreshing, original and very practical. Full disclosure he is also a friend.

** To be clear, this is not a criticism of Chinese manufacturing generally, just my memory of Dualit products not made in the UK and therefore probably made in China.

NEW Le Creuset Spoon Rests

About three, or maybe four, years ago Babette and I went to Andover to meet Philippa, Le Creuset’s Sales controller and whilst there had a wander around their shop, which, amongst other things, sells lines that Le Creuset are thinking of retailing in the UK, but haven’t yet introduced to the market. And we spied several lines that we’d like to be stocking. One of them was their new Spoon Rest, which also doubles as a stand for their new Gravy Boat.

Not to be hurried, she noted our request and 3 or 4 years later, they have added them to their core range***. This means we now have the spoon rests in stock in 9 or 10 colours and the gravy boat in 3. Babette bought a Teal Spoon Rest back then and it’s been in use ever since. It is true that we are Le Creuset nuts at home with nearly all our cookware being either Demeyere, Le Creuset or Netherton, so am I predisposed to find them attractive? Yes. You might quite reasonably think “we are just talking about a Spoon Rest here! Just how excited can you get about one of these things?” Well, actually, sad git that I am, VERY. They are just lovely, and at only £15 they’re a steal. If you find that just too much excitement for one day, then stop reading now.

NEW Le Creuset Gravy Boat

Because, at the same time they’ve introduced their Gravy Boat in three colours. Arguably not quite so exciting but it does fit very neatly on the spoon rest which has just become a multi-function item. Spoon Rest & Gravy Boat Stand. The gravy boat looks a bit like an Aladdin’s lamp, but perhaps none the worse for that and retails for £25.00. So, for the princely sum of £40 you could be the proud owner of the two of them.

This weekend we’re offering 20% off spoon rests and gravy boats, and if by chance you have already bought one at full price, pop in or ring up and well refund you the difference


*** A little unfair of me to say this… as during Lockdown Le Creuset product was in such demand that all further product development was put on hold for 2 years…so really, they only took 2 years to do as we’d asked, and who knows, our request may have had no influence at all in their decision in any case!

Ok, well that’s enough excitement for one email, I think. I’ll wish you a pleasant and peaceful weekend. But I will leave you with another thought, lent me by Bob, a customer of long standing…

"It's unwise to pay too much...but it's worse to pay too little. When you pay too much, you lose a little money - that is all. When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do.

John Ruskin.

 “And that includes toasters”.



Kind regards 




Andrew Bluett-Duncan 


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