Tag Archives: Lakeland

Onion Goggles, Lemon Holders and the Joy of Specialisation

One of my oldest friends – we’ve known each other since we were nine – is hearing impaired. When we were children, she had a machine in her bedroom called an ‘S’ indicator.

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Its purpose was to help her to articulate the letter ‘S’. Basically, you hissed into it and a dial moved to show how ess-ish your S was.

I really like the fact that this machine existed – something designed to do one small task and to do it properly.

I have an automatic mistrust of objects intended to do lots of different things.

Shampoo and conditioner in one? No! I don’t want to wash and go! I want one thing that is really good at cleaning my hair and another thing that is good at making it silky soft. (Not that that I’ve ever discovered the latter – as anyone with very curly hair will appreciate.)

Sofa beds? No! They make really rubbish beds and really rubbish sofas.

And what about those restaurants that offer you a choice of pizza, burritos, chow mein, chicken korma and toad-in-the-hole? How much faith do you have that any of those items is going to be cooked to perfection?

In 2005, Anthony my husband and I visited the Lake District with our 4-month-old baby. We went into a local bookshop and said ‘Do you have any books that might help us work out where we can go walking with an all-terrain pushchair?’

‘This might do the job,’ replied the bookseller, and handed us a book called:

All Terrain Pushchair Walks, South Lakeland

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I found this immensely satisfying – even more so in the knowledge that if we were to visit the north of the Lake District in future, we’d be able to buy All Terrain Pushchair Walks, North Lakeland.

And speaking of ‘Lakeland’, the pleasure I take in objects designed for one purpose helps to explain the fact that my favourite shop bears this name. For the uninitiated, Lakeland is a kitchen and household shop that specialises in the most extraordinary range of kitchen gadgets. My own kitchen is crammed with its strawberry hullers, apple corers, banana bags, tuna can drainers and more. Much, much more.

Here, you can see me modelling my onion goggles – cleverly designed to stop you ‘crying’ when you chop onions.

Image copyright © Isaac Reuben 2015

Image copyright © Isaac Reuben 2015

They have the added benefit of making me look sexy, too. At least, when I forgot to take them off before answering the door to the Tesco delivery man, I think that was the effect they had.

Anthony has inherited from his German grandma a fork which is intended, exclusively, to hold hot new potatoes so that you can peel them.

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Many is the time it has saved me from that well-known menace of burned fingers caused by hot-new-potato peeling.

And yet, some of my most valued kitchen possessions are – unaccountably – mocked by visitors to our house. One example is this set of containers designed to store left-over halves of – respectively – tomatoes, lemons, onions and peppers.

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No longer do I find mouldering bits of fruit or vegetable wrapped in clingfilm and forgotten at the bottom of the fridge drawer. It surely goes without saying that no household should be without them.

Which is why, when I opened my container for storing half a lemon a while ago, and found that Anthony had put half a lime in it, it was a very difficult time for me.

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Our marriage has survived after some counselling, but it was touch and go for a while.

So, what objects do you appreciate for their highly-focused purpose… either at home, or in your professional life?

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The author apologises for the repeated references to lemons in her posts, and would like to assure you that she will attempt to give equal precedence to other fruits in future.

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What does your wedding invitation say about you?

Rachel Knickmeyer: knickmeyer.net

Rachel Knickmeyer: knickmeyer.net

One summer we had two wedding invitations displayed side-by-side on our mantlepiece.

The first was to a wedding of wealthy friends. It arrived in an envelope sealed with stamped wax. The invitation itself was made of thickly textured card with gold engraved type. It was surrounded by a band of lace, secured by an artificial rose.

The second was to a Quaker wedding. The invitation was on a sheet of typed A4 paper (recycled).

The first wedding directed us to a wedding list registered at one of the major department stores. The second had a note saying that if anyone would like to buy a gift, the couple would very much appreciate the following… There was then a list of items which included (without any reference to branding) a cheese grater, a sieve and a wooden spoon. I don’t remember, but I strongly suspect there was also a suggestion to contribute to a chosen charity, as well or instead of giving a present.

The weddings themselves were the embodiment of their invitations. At the first wedding, the bride wore Pronovias. Waiters in black tie circulated with champagne cocktails and intricately-constructed canapés, after which the guests sat down to a 5-course meal in an elegant hall. Each table had a flower display worthy of a design award.

At the second wedding, the bride wore a purple dress that could be used again in future. The guests carried the vases of flowers from the Meeting House to the party venue. There was a delicious vegetarian buffet after which we danced outside on the grass (it was a warm evening). At the end, we waved the bride and groom off as they cycled away on a tandem. It was perfectly clear that the couple would have embraced these choices however much money they happened to have in the bank.

So what to make of this? Both weddings featured a loving couple who wanted their friends and family to celebrate their union with them. I don’t think one was morally superior to the other.

It must be said that our own wedding was much closer to the first than the second – far less showy and less opulent it’s true, but it still had all those trappings on a more modest scale. Yet I admire the anti-materialistic impulse. I like the purity of it – the way it gets you away from the surface of things to focus on what really matters.

The problem is, I really like pretty stuff. And kitchen gadgets. And Apple products. I could definitely forsake most wordly things so long as I could still shop at Lakeland. And my Cath Kidston handbag is going to need replacing soon. And I’d need to keep my iPhone, iPad and iMac…

Maybe I don’t have a Quaker soul.

If I get fed up with Judaism and can’t become a Quaker, I might consider Sikhism. They really have the right idea, the way every service ends in a shared meal. Yes, I think I will become a Sikh. I don’t know what their weddings are like, though…

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specialinvite.ru

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