Deck Chair

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As the Summer swelter continues, up goes an impassioned plea “Lead me to my deck chair!!”.

The humble deck chair ….Perhaps? Or the well travelled ship’s “deck chair” – if this linen and teak could talk imagine the gossip it holds – from a Golden Era of luxury transatlantic ocean liner travel. Or the End of The Pier, seagull serenaded, fish and chips frying, spearmint rock munching of Brighton, Cromer or Southend – the World’s longest.

Called a Lawn Chair in the US, the Deck Chair has an illustrious history. It was the victim of some on board snobbery. Around the turn of the 20th century, first class passengers would typically enjoy the padded loveliness of a “Steamer” deck chair -Port Out Starboard Home – their legs raised and clad in a woolen rug, invariably sipping broth, if the climate demanded, whilst more lowly passengers would enjoy their trip on a slung hammock canvas and teak deck chair that could be positioned to follow the sun around the deck and be folded for easy stowage.

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The origins of the folding chair has its history in Ancient Greece, Rome and Egypt. More recently, patents were obtained in the 1880’s in the US and UK for the classic steamer chair. R Holman & Co of Boston (Mass) were the manufactures of the Steamer Deck Chairs that graced the deck of the SS Titanic. Of the 600 supplied only six survived – below is a shot of one.

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There is some debate as to the precise origins of the more rudimentary wooden framed version. Primarily it comprises two rectangualar wooden frames, hinged, with an adjustable back piece and a single length of canvas forming the seat and backrest. Some sources  attribute it to a British inventor, Atkins, in the late 19th Century whereas others credit its design to being similar to “The Yankee Hammock Chair” as advertised in 1882.  The name “Brighton Beach Chair” also seems to predate our currently understood use of “Deck Chair”.

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In my Grandmother’s house in Hertfordshire – I think it was 1976 – she had a row of Edwardian faded green canvas chairs which not only had arms and a footrest but also a large sun canopy that flapped in whatever pathetic excuse for a breeze we had that summer. I recall that the covers perished quite frequently and the local nurseryman supplied rolls of 18” wide canvass to restring your chair. The look was completed by a white parasol, two Lloyd Loom chairs – see our previous post here – Lloyd Loom Chairs – and a bentwood table covered in a circular linen tablecloth with a jug of iced lemonade and tall glasses covered in weighted net – to avoid the flies.

Similar products are still made today by people such as Southsea Deckchairs Southsea Deckchairs

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Images used with grateful thanks – Southsea Dechairs and The V&A Museum

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Mike Hawthorn – 1958 Formula One World Champion

 

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At the weekend, with a couple of my kids, I visited the Brooklands Museum – see the Museums website here  – Brooklands Museum in Weybridge Surrey the home of British Aviation and early Motor Racing. My late father had been an early Trustee of the Museum assisting it to secure substantial support from Shell, his former employer. I am told there is a plaque to his memory on site but, sadly, we couldn’t locate it.

My father was a very keen follower of Motor Racing, he ran part of Shell’s  commitment to sport and visited tracks all over the world in the 1970’s and 80’s. As kids we even lived in the village of Silverstone.

Prior his early years in the Army and then in commerce in Africa and elsewhere, my Dad was schooled at Ardingly College in West Sussex. A rather typical English Boarding School which produced well rounded chaps in the 1940’s. His close friends and contemporaries included Bill Cotton (the son of the 1940’s Band Leader, “Billy Cotton”, who became the head of BBC TV) and John Michael (“Mike”) Hawthorn, who because of his hair coloring, was nicknamed “Snowball”. See our previous post mentioning Mike Hawthorn here – Morgan Cars

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Born in Yorkshire on 10th April 1929 this blond and debonair young man was an iconic British racing driver and the very essence of what made motoracing glamourous. He drove a Ferrari and his penchant for racing in a bow tie did much to concrete his reputation as a gentleman racer of the finest tradition. Behind his steely blue eyes lay a depth of grit and ambition that would see him secure the Formula One World Championship alongside a host of other trophies.

Mike Hawthorn’s biography “Challenge Me The Race” carries the line “The first motor races I ever saw were at Brooklands. I was only a very small boy, but to me it was heaven to watch the cars thundering round those towering cliffs of concrete where the banking curved under the Members’ Bridge, to wander along the lines of brightly coloured cars in their stalls in the paddock, to jump as an exhaust snarled suddenly and to sniff the aroma of castor oil.”

Leslie, Mike’s father had relocated from Doncaster to Farnham, Surrey – opening The Tourist Trophy Garage in 1931 – to be nearer Brooklands. His father is said to have driven a young Mike in a Riley 2.0 litre around the legendary track thus sealing his ambition to race. This must have been a fascinating era with the Sunbeam, Napier Railtons and Bentleys battling on the banked curves of the Brooklands circuit.

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Mike started racing bikes in 1947 and after a period in Formual Two driving a Cooper Bristol and being courted by the Jaguar team – managed by Lofty England –  he joined the Ferrari Team in 1953. He suffered burns following a crash in 1954 in Syracuse (Italy) and whilst  hospitalized his father was tragically killed in a car accident. Mike joined Jaguar in 1955 as team leader, replacing Stirling Moss. After a tragic Le Mans in 1955 and a week Jaguar performance at the same race in 1956 – which led to Jaguars retirement from racing – in 1957 Hawthorn rejoined Ferrari.

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On 19th October 1958 – nearly 60 years ago – driving for Scuderia Ferrari, Mike failed to win the Moroccan Grand Prix at the newly built Ain-Diab Circuit. He was beaten into second place by Stirling Moss driving a Vanwall. Despite his position, Hawthorn secured, by a single point (total 42 points), the 1958 Formula One World Championship, the first British driver to do so. Moss came second with 41 points. Anoraks will be amused to note that Bernie Ecclestone competed in the same race – one of only two starts ever by Bernie in a Formula One – the second being the same year at Silverstone.

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Immediately following the race Hawthorn announced his retirement from motoracing after eight amazing years. Sadly, the 29 year old champ was unwell following the loss of his friend Peter Collins and a recurrent, and, many have said probably terminal, kidney complaint.

Sadly on 22nd January 1959 Mike was killed in a British Racing Green, Mark 1 3.4 litre Jaguar – Reg VDU 881 – that had been loaned to him by the Jaguar team, that crashed on the Guilford by-pass. Whilst the circumstances are unclear it seems that on the wet surface with a witness attesting to seeing his car traveling at around 100 mph, he may have been racing Mercedes Team’s Rob Walker, who was driving a gull-winged doored Mercedes 300 SL.

See this dated Pathe newsreel announcing in its staccato voice over the sad news of Mike’s death  Mike Hawthorn Killed

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Image credits – used with grateful thanks Brooklands Museum, Pathe News and Motor Sports Magazine

Brompton Bicycles

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I really like to cycle. There’s a “wind in your hair” moment – obviously beneath your safety helmet – when you appreciate the liberty of your pace but also the penny drops that you are actually doing yourself some good. Stamina and a general feeling of wellbeing improve immensely from bike riding.

If you are a City commuter then the idea of riding to work may be somewhat daunting. Aside from the perils of other road users, including the crazy antics of cycle messengers/couriers – who are very time poor – and the inconsideration often shown to pedal power by motorists there are distinct health and wealth benefits. Provided the weather holds, many Cities now have dedicated bike routes offering the cyclists a reasonably direct line between home, through parks and tunnels to emerge close to their work place.

Once you arrive at work – what on earth do you do with your prized bike? You can park it in a designated cycle rack with all manner of heavy “U” locks or chains seeking to prevent theft or why not carry it and place it under your desk!

Yes, armed with an engineering degree from Cambridge University and a somewhat thwarted career in computer science, Andrew Richie’s City Analysist father introduced him to those seeking to commercialize the Bickerton Bike. A patented model of collapseable bike produced entirely from aluminum profiles with no welding and reasonably light.

After extensive modification of the earlier idea to ensure that the dirtiest parts of the bike – primarily the chain – were central to the folded vehicle and named after the Brompton Oratory that could be seen from his flat, in Egerton Gardens, where he developed the first prototypes, James filed his second patent in 1979 for his folding bike. The Patent was granted on the 30th May 1984.

I am very relieved to hear that James Ritchie appears to be in that rare group of perhaps eccentric British inventors, that would logically include James Dyson and Clive Sinclair and Trevor Baylis, that are truely obsessed by their design and live and breath the prospect for their invention. Mr Richie certainly believed in his invention and spent an inordinate amount of time bringing it to market. He readily admits to being a perfectionist for whom all the design and manufacturing details needed to be just right. His belief has proved to be correct.

The Brompton is an iconic and memorable site on the street of London, New York and San Francisco.

His modesty as to his design talents is disarming. He quite rightly notes that he combined the elements of a bicycle that have been around since the Victorian era. He credits Alex Moulton – who we first heard of in relation to his design work on the suspension of Sir Alec Issigonnis’ Mini – see our pervious post here – Mini – the best selling car in Britain  who popularized the smaller wheeled bicycle and without this Mr Richie believes that he would not have conceived the idea of the Brompton.

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It appears that a favourite pastime for the legions of fans of the Brompton folding bike – aside from selecting your preferred vehicle from the company’s wide range of options, alternative parts and accessories that may be tailored to your individual needs – is to add a Brooks saddle, perhaps giving the bike a slightly more noble look. We have celebrated the iconic saddles made by Brooks in Smethwick (West Midlands) – please see our earlier post here – Brooks bicycle saddle

The cleaver team at Brompton based at their production facility in West London have devised and recently launched a Brompton bike that is powered by human and battery! See their video here Brompton’s First Electric Bike

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Can I interest you in a Brompton? The ever popular M6L model is available in either blue or black – please click on the Amazon link below the image of each bike

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BROMPTON M6L 2017 Tempest Blue Folding Bike

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BROMPTON M6L 2017 Black Folding Bike

Or perhaps you’d prefer the same look in a lighter Brompton bike – the H6L – please click the link below the image

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Brompton H6L Superlight 2017 Folding Bike Black Titanium

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The Independent, one of the UK’s more objective newspapers, in June 2018, carried a very well reasoned piece concerning electric bikes – including Brompton’s very own version. Read the piece By David Phelan here Best Electric Bikes

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Image Credits – with grateful thanks Brompton Bicycles and James Richie

Aestheticons’ Lady’s Guide To Perfect Gifts for Men

Xmas Men

Ladies, OK, I admit it – we men are not easy to buy for. So Aestheticons has done some of the leg work for you. Our recent affiliation with AMAZON allows us to offer you a carefully selected range of gifts for Men – as you’d expect from us they are all great looking, iconic and design classics. We can assure you that they will be perfect to show the men in your life just how well you know them and their impeccable tastes…….Please enjoy! PS. You’ll need to do the wrapping!

Oh….and there’s nothing stopping Men buying for themselves or other Men!

After each image there’s a link to the Aestheticons post – if one already exists – which is then followed by the AMAZON link for ease of purchase.

Clothes

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Levis 501Levi 501’s

Levi’s 501 Original Fit Men’s Jeans, Blue (Stonewash), 34W x 32L

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RM Williams boots – RM Williams “Craftsman Boot”

R.M. Williams Craftsman chocolate/suede, Größen:45

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Woolrich Shirt –Woolrich shirt –

Woolrich Men’s Sportsman Chamois Long Button Down Shirt, Dark Navy Heather, XXXL

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Bass weejuns – Bass Weejuns Penny Loafers

Bass Larson Mens Leather Loafers Wine – 9 UK

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Dr Martens – Dr. Martens

Dr. Marten’s 1460 Original, Men’s Boots, Aztec, 10 UK

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Vilebrequin shorts Vilebrequin swim shorts

Vilebrequin Danse du Feu Swim shorts – Men – turmeric – XL

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Lacoste Pique Lacoste Shirt

Lacoste Men’s L1212 Original Polo Shirt, Blanc (Blanc), Medium

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Ralph Polo – Ralph Lauren Polo Shirt

Ralph Lauren Polo Shirt Men’s Classic Fit Solid Mesh (M, Bright Yellow)

Car T shirts 

Porsche T sh

Porsche 911 Targa Porsche 911 Targa Evolution of Man to Porche 911 T shirt

Mens Evolution of Man to PORSCHE 911 TURBO T-Shirt S – 5XL (Large, Black)

Alfa T shirt

Alfa Romeo Spider T shirt Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spider

Men’s Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spider T-Shirt Indigo Blue, Large

VW KG

Karmann Ghia VW T Shirts  Volkswagen Karmann Ghia

VOLKSWAGEN KARMANN GHIA 1970 STENCIL MENS T SHIRT CLASSIC CAR (LARGE(42-44), CHARCOAL)

Dino T shirt

Ferrari Dino – Ferrari Dino T shirt

Ferrari Dino Classic T-shirt L

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Classic & Sports Car Magazine Subscription – Sunbeam Alpine – Bond’s first car

Classic & Sports Car

hunters-boots

Hunter Wellingtons Hunter Green Wellington Boots

Hunter Men’s Original Tall Wellington Boots

Le Chameau

Le Chameau Boots The Country Is Calling – Be Prepared!

Le Chameau Chasseur Heritage Kevlar Mens Wellington Boots Green – 42 EU

barbour-jacket

Barbour Waxed Jacket Barbour Jacket

BARBOUR CPS0819 MWX Jacket Men XL

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Converse High Tops Converse – Chuck Taylor All Star

Converse Unisex-Adult Chuck Taylor All Star Hi-Top Trainers, Black- 8 UK

rab-jacket

Rab Jacket Rab Down Jackets

Men’s Microlight Alpine Down Jacket

guernesey-jumpers

Guernsey Jumper – Guernsey sweater

Traditional and Genuine Guernsey Jumper – Navy (46)

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Gloverall duffle coat Duffle Coat – by Gloverall

Gloverall Men’s Classic Duffle Coat, Grey (Grey),44 UK (54 EU )

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Hackett’s Moleskin Trousers – Hackett’s moleskin trousers

Hackett Men’s Slim Fit Moleskin Chinos 36 Regular Navy

CK Briefs

Calvin Klein

Calvin Klein Men’s Basics Button Front Boxer Briefs, Black, Medium

PS Socks

Paul Smith Socks

PAUL SMITH Mens Cotton Socks Maroon Red Pink Polka Dots One Size

FOTL T Shirt

Fruit of the Loom T Shirts – Fruit of the Loom – T shirts

Fruit of the Loom Men’s Heavy T-Shirt Pack of 5, Heather Grey, X-Large

Tools

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Opinel Knives – Opinel Knives

Opinel Trekking Knife No.8 with Leather Thong

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Swiss Army Knives Victorinox SwissChamp

Victorinox Swiss Champ Pocket Knife – Red, Medium

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Leatherman Wave Leatherman “Wave”

Leatherman Wave LT650 Pocket Tool

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Maglite – Maglite D3 cell torch

Maglite ST3D016 3D Cell LED Torch – Black

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Wahl clippers – Wahl Clippers

Wahl Super Taper Hair Clipper

Stuff

chanel-egoiste

Chanel Egoiste – Chanel Egoiste

Chanel Egoiste Eau de Toilette – 100 ml

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Go Pro Camera – Go Pro Hero 4 camera

GoPro HERO5 Session Camera – Black

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Zippo Lighter – Zippo lighter

Zippo Armor Lighter – Brushed Brass

Oculus 1

Oculus Rift – Oculus Rift – a future classic?

Oculus Rift + Oculus Touch Controller

Casio Calc 2

Casio MS-8 Calculator – Casio MS-8 calculator

Casio MS-80VERII 8 Digit Currency Desk Calculator

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Eastpack backpack – Eastpak backpack

Eastpak Padded Pak’R Backpack – 24 L, Traditional Navy

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Rayban’s Wayfarers Ray-Ban Wayfarers

Ray-Ban 2132 New Wayfarer

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Apple 9.7 inch IPAD New 9.7″ iPad

Apple iPad Pro 9.7″ 128GB Wi-Fi – Space Grey

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Weber Grill – Weber Grill

Weber Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Barbecue 57 cm Black

B&W Zepplin 1

B&W Zeppelin – Bowers & Wilkins – Zeppelin

Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin Wireless Speaker – Black

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Roberts Radio – Roberts Radio

Roberts Revival iStream2 DAB/DAB+/FM Internet Radio – Duck Egg

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Anglepoise lamp – Anglepoise Lamp

Anglepoise Original 1227 Brass Desk Lamp – Deep Slate

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Brooks Saddle – Brooks bicycle saddles

B17 STANDARD HONEY

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Artemide Tizio lamp – Artemide – Tizio lamp

Tizio 50 Desk Light Black

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Mont Blanc Rollerball – Mont Blanc Rollerball pen

MontBlanc Meisterstuck Platinum Line Ballpoint Pen – Black

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Amazon Kindle Fire – Amazon Kindle Fire

All-New Fire HD 8 Tablet with Alexa, 8″ HD Display, 16 GB, Black — with Special Offers

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Moleskine Diary – Moleskine Notebook

2018 Moleskine Large Weekly Notebook Diary 18 Months Hard

Billingham 2

Billingham 225 Camera Bag – Billingham 225 Camera Bag

Billingham 225 Canvas Camera Bag With Tan Leather Trim – Khaki

Le Creu 5

Le Creuset Casserole – Le Creuset – Flame Kitchenwear

Le Creuset Signature Cast Iron Oval Casserole, 29 cm – Satin Black

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BOSE QuietComfort 35 – BOSE – Future Design Classics

Bose QuietComfort 35 Wireless Bluetooth Noise Cancelling Headphones – Black

Soundlink-Revolve

BOSE Soundlink Revolve – BOSE – Future Design Classics

Bose SoundLink Revolve Bluetooth Speaker – Triple Black

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Duralex Provence and Picardie Glasses – Duralex Provence  and Duralex Glass – Picardie

Duralex Super Strong Provence Tumblers Tumbler Glasses 8.8oz / 250ml (Box of 6) – Height 98mm

Duralex Picardie water glass 360ml, without filling mark, 6 Glasses

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IMPERIA Pasta Maker – Imperia pasta machine

Imperia Italian Pasta Gift Set

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A Dualit Toaster and a hamper of great holiday treats….. Holiday Breakfast

Dualit Combi 2+2 Toaster 42174 – Polished

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Images all courtesy of manufacturers

Holiday Breakfast

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Late last week we escaped to the City for a few days in London. Extraordinarily beautiful at most times of the year but at Christmastime London is awash with street lights – Regent Street’s were particularly stunning – the slight hint of wine flavoured with cinnamon and a warm uplifting spirit.

Regent St Angels

Whilst family time was precious and the opportunity for a little lazing about minimal, as major retail therapy was required, the best start to any day – a good breakfast – was essential. The kitchen was particularly well stocked but a visit to the wonderful Paul’s bakery in South Kensington for fresh croissants was vital.

A brief dip into Aestheticons and we will guide you in the ways of carefully combining and judiciously using a number of  iconic items to make the perfect Holiday Breakfast.

Pretty much any bread, however “day-old”, can be improved by toasting. A Dualit toaster – please see our earlier posts here Dualit Toaster is brilliantly controllable, sturdy and iconic design. Mine over twenty years old but is still fully functioning.

Why not get your own Dualit by clicking this AMAZON link for a 2 plus Combi toaster Dualit Combi 2+2 Toaster 42174 – Polished

A Four Slice Toaster DUALIT 4 Slice Vario AWS Toaster Polished Stainless Steel 40378

Or a Six slice toaster Dualit 6 Slice Toaster 60144 – Polished

Of course you can boil water in all manner of ways but none is more stylish than an Alessi kettle – Please see our earlier post here Alessi Bollitore kettle An Alessi Bollitore Kettle is an icon of design and practicality as vibrant today as when first designed in 1983 Officina Alessi Hob Kettle with Steel Bottom, Silver

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Mornings are for Coffee and Afternoon’s are for tea….

One of the very best quick coffees comes courtesy of Nescafe Original Decaffeinated – Nescafe Decaffeinated Instant Coffee 100g If time is not pressing, then freshly brewed coffee cannot be beaten. If coffee is not your thing then I cannot more highly recommend an amazing tea Fortnum & Mason’s Assam Superb – please see our earlier post here Fortnum & Mason’s Assam Superb

Using a Bialetti Moka coffee pot – please see our post here Bialetti Moka Coffee Pot make perfect coffee when combining with Lavazza’s Decaffeinato Coffee – please see our post here Lavazza Caffè Decaffeinato By clicking here you could add a Bialetti Moka Express Espresso Maker, 6 Cup to your kitchen. Please try this beautiful coffee – Isn’t “Lavazza” Italian for coffee? Lavazza Caffe Decaffeinato Ground Coffee 250g

Serving coffee or tea in a perfect cup is very important. A Falcon enamel mug is both beautiful and practical – please see our earlier post here Falcon Enamelware  Get your own Falcon enamel mug – or two – by clicking this link 1 x Falcon Enamelware Mug, Heavy Gauge (White with blue rim). 9cm

Aside from salt free butter, the perfect spread for your toast has to be Bonne Maman Blackcurrent preserve – please see our earlier post here Bonne Maman Jam Bonne Maman Blackcurrant Conserve Jam, 370g

For those of you who prefer salty to sweet then on top of cool butter Marmite is simply perfect – please see our earlier post here Marmite A big jar of Marmite should always be in your kitchen cupboard – get one here Marmite Yeast Extract Paste in a Glass Jar , 500g

Do you know what, if its a weekend and you are feeling a little indulgent why not order and make a perfect Bloody Mary –  please see our post  Lea & Perrins – the vital ingredient in a Bloody Mary which contains both the recipe for the best Bloody Mary ever it also gives you all the links to enable you to gift a Bloody Mary pack to a deserving friend, colleague or other half!

Go on, enjoy …. and make the most of those chilly holiday mornings….

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Images courtesy of Dualit, Alessi, Fortnum & Masons, Bialetti, Lavazza, Falcon Enamelwear, Bonne Maman and Marmite.

Falcon Enamelware

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The essence of great design is often best characterised by the “less is more” concept. Simplicity and function are, for me, the overriding tenets. Quoting Simon Alderson, the co-author of the amazing “Phaidon Design Classics”, “A ‘design classic’ is an industrially manufactured object with timeless aesthetic value.”

Strip away the marketing, the spin and the product placement and Falcon Enamelware’s blue and white enamel mugs are not only aesthetically very pleasing, they are a joy to own and use.

Falcon logo

Whether you first met this iconic product on a camping trip in the 1970’s – when I regret to say a large mug was used to see home wooden tent pegs in place of a mallet – with remarkably little damage – on the shelves of design-led stores like Selfridges (where I first met Mrs W), Heals or Liberty (all in London W1), Unison (in the US) or on the desk of the presenters of the First series of Amazon’s “Grand Tour”, the Falcon enamel mug has a timeless elegance.

Like Mlle. Chanel’s “Little Black Dress” there is pretty much nowhere that a Falcon mug would be out of place.

Falcon Enamelware was established in 1920 in an area of the Midlands (UK) around Birmingham known as “the Black Country” – which gained its name in the mid nineteenth century due to the smoke from thousands of ironworking foundries, forges and a shallow coal seam – by local entrepreneur, Joe Kleiner.

And here’s the science bit…enamelling is an ancient technique of fusing glass onto metal. Its uses are many and varied including some of the most beautiful jewellery think Faberge Eggs, Cartier watch mounts and Rene Lalique’s ornaments.

Lalique enamel 1

Falcon fuse porcelain at very high temperatures – enough to cause the porcelain to liquify – onto heavy-gauge steel to make a whole range of drinking, cooking and baking ware. Because of its manufacturing process Falcon’s enamelware is, of course, dishwasher and oven safe up to 530F / 270C. It is gas and electric hob-safe, resistant to chemicals and can’t be burned.

One word of caution, Falcon’s enamelware, is highly versatile, but please don’t use it in a microwave – its metal based after all!

Sadly Joe Kleiner & Sons collapsed into liquidation in 1994. Creative directors Kam and Emma Young (from the Kiwi & Pom Design Agency) took over the creative direction of the brand and now guide the redevelopment of the Falcon range.

In 2011, in collaboration with Hugh Morse (brand identity specialist) and, businessman, Peter Hames, Falcon’s range was refreshed with the addition of colourful and strengthening additives to the enamelling process to create new colours and to improve durability. If you drop a piece of Falconware, after all it’s glass based, it won’t break but may well chip.

Falcon 2

If you would like to add some piece from the Falcon Enamelware range to your kitchen cabinet – or picnic hamper – please click the following AMAZON links:

Set of 4 Falcon White Enamel Tea Coffee Mug Cup Camping Picnic Travel

Falcon Enamelware Bake Set White and Blue Rim

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Images courtesy of Falcon Enamelware

Duralex Provence

Duralex Provo 1

In cafes, bars and coffee shops world-wide the iconic Duralex glass is never far from the zinc, glass or wooden bar top – a great example is Bar Italia in Soho (Frith Street, London). See here Bar Italia – Frith Street, London, W1

I long loved and have praised the Duralex range – known as “Picardie” – in our previous posts Duralex Glass – Picardie but I also wanted to share with you their wonderful and iconic range called “Provence”.

Duralex Costa

The Duralex Provence is a range of glasses that are smaller than the typical Picardie glasses. They range from the shot sized 9cl – perfect for a Jägermeister – rising through the 16cl, 22cl and 25cl with the middle two being perfect for juice, coffee or wine to the larger size – which is an attractive table water tumbler or a glass for a larger serving of wine!

For those who have spent time in parts of Europe they will know it is very usual for an expresso or cortado coffee – possibly made with Lavazza’s fine beans including their Decaffeinated version – a personal favourite – Lavazza Caffè Decaffeinato – to be served in a tempered glass, often a Duralex as they are resistant to joining water. For those who haven’t tried this quaint and delicious custom – please do.

Duralex’ construction adds a massive advantage to these charming glasses with a great hold feel, as they are virtually smash proof. Hurling them at speed with vigour at a tiled floor may well result in a chip – or worse – but I have knocked over many in the process of serving or cleaning theses glasses and they virtually bounce.

How do you know that your glass is a genuine Duralex? By draining your favourite beverage from one of Duralex’s glasses you will see the following logo appear at the bottom of your glass. For our older readers, I can assure that the sight of this familiar logo will heighten their nostalgic senses as this iconic French company also made the form of glass cup and saucers that were often used in coffee shops, and “greasy spoons cafes” BS – Before Starbucks!

Duralex logo

Images courtesy of Duralex International SAS

Click the photo to buy from AMAZON – Duralex “Provence” 16 cl Tumber

Click the photo to buy from AMAZON – Duralex “Provence” 22 cl Tumbler

Click the photo to buy from AMAZON – Duralex “Picardie” 36 cl Water glass

Click the photo to buy from AMAZON – Duralex “Picardie” 50 cl Beer glass

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Dualit Toaster

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In the early 1990’s I needed a new toaster after burning through two in as many years. One Saturday, I strayed into the basement of Peter Jones – the well known John Lewis’ Partnership department store on the corner of London’s King’s Road and Sloane Square – to be entranced by a display of sleek shaped, heavy-duty and aluminium Dualit toasters.

Of course, I had seen these spectacular machines before but in a different context. Virtually every Central London’s sandwich bar, where the hungry faithful queued daily for a toasted ham and cheese or a BLT, had a Dualit toaster or two – but it was invariably a six slice models. It was comparatively rare to have one of these machines at home but this was the start of an era where more industrial looking objects were increasingly being used in the home.

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I thought my needs would be largely catered for by a two slice plus one slightly wider toasted sandwich compartment version of this iconic toaster – as in our featured image – how wrong was I!

Dualit was founded in 1945 by German-born inventor Max Gort-Barten CBE (1914–2003) – pictured below – its name deriving from an early product –  an electric heater named “Dual-Lite”.

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By 1952 Max had designed a commercial six-slot, manual ejector, toaster – which was a commercial success. In 1954, the Dualit factory in Picton Street, Camberwell (South East, London) – as shown below – was subject to a compulsory-purchased order – usually as a result of a railway or road expansion – which funded a new factory in Bermondsey (also South East, London) an Thames -side area that had been extensively flattened during World War II.

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In 2003, Dualit now under the control of Leslie, Max’s son and an experienced engineer, who joined the business in 1972 – moved to it’s current premises in Crawley (West Sussex) where the toasters and other items in the Dualit range – including a number of catering orientated products and coffee machines are produced. The toasters are still built by hand.

In 1999 Dualit obtained a patent for its upgraded ProHeat elements – basically a thin slab of mica with heating elements wound around it – that are protectively mounted within their toasters. Also in 1999 the company received a Millennium Award for its upgrade ProHeat element which features a more dense covering of heating wire and is entirely coated with a protective layer of mica – allowing more efficient heating and protection against knife damage when a piece of toast gets lodged in the element.

The Dualit toaster’s construction allows for very easy access for maintenance and on several occasions I have needed to re-buy the heating elements which even for a DIY-phobe like me are really easy to install.

What about my earlier purchase did I regret? Dualit are so good, they go on forever! Within a couple of years of my purchase – and then for the last twenty plus years – two slices have never been enough for a family breakfast! Time to buy a six slice perhaps?

Why not join me and add a Dualit to your essential kitchen kit! Click the following AMAZON link to buy the two slice and toaster combi, four or six slice version:

Dualit Combi 2+2 Toaster 42174 – Polished

DUALIT 4 Slice Vario AWS Toaster Polished Stainless Steel 40378

Dualit 6 Slice Toaster 60144 – Polished

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Images courtesy of Dualit

The Hovercraft

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Seldom do we seen such a dramatic shift away from one established technology with the arrival of a competing and, often, better new technology or solution – this is described by the cruelly true word of “obsolesce”.

A classic example is the Kodiak 35mm film or the Polaroid camera – see our earlier piece here on the Polaroid Camera – when confronted with the dawn of mass digital photography and the ever increasing pixels of the cameras incorporated into mobile phones demand for these former market leaders collapsed.

The powered or manual ribbon typewriter was rendered redundant by the arrival its victor, the word processor/computer.

An equally dramatic commercial market shift can be seen in the impact that the opening of the Channel Tunnel, in May 1994 and the commencing of its passenger services in November 1994, had on the transport links typified by ferry boats and today’s iconic design, The Hovercraft.

On many occasions from the mid 1970’s to late 1980’s I used the Hovercraft services that ploughed between the Kent coasts and Northern France. Akin to flying, rising up then skuttling across the waves on its air inflated “skirt”, the ride was fabulous – if a little noisy – for the sea-sick prone, like me, who could resemble an emerald before a traditional ferry boat had left the harbour!

Not entirely without predecessors, the Hovercraft is regarded as a British invention of  the late 1950’s when mechanical engineer Christopher Cockerell’s and his colleagues developed an annular ring of air for maintaining the cushion and providing lift under the vehicle, combined with a successful “skirt”, resulted in the first practical vehicular use of the concept.

Initially, until no military use was shown, Cockerell’s work and design were Classified. However, it was later Declassified and in 1958 Cockerell obtained funding for a full scale model. Launching in June 1959, it crossed the English Channel on 25 July 1959.

By 1968 a car and passenger cross-channel ferry service was offered by Hoverlloyd from the Kent coast to Calais and Boulogne (France) and, later, by Seaspeed – a joint venture with British Rail and the French equivalent SNCF. In 1981 the two businesses merged to become “Hoverspeed” – whose majestic craft is our featured image.

Hoverspeed Brochure

The Hoverspeed services ceased in 2000 and were replaced by Seacat catamarans until 2005. The reason, often cited for their closure was the impact of the opening of the Channel Tunnel.

I’d also suggest the routes suffered from a decline in so-called “Booze Cruises”, when us Brits, would fill up our cars with lowly taxed beers, wines and spirits in Northern France.

Hoverspeed Booze

Although the Hovercraft continues to enjoy a role, both in the military and civilian services around the world, and production still taking place on the Isle of White – the  home of its design and testing – perhaps like Concorde – see our earlier post here – Concorde by Dominic Baker in years to come and market forces identify demand there will be a revival in the fortunes of the Cross Channel Hovercraft services, I would be a keen supporter.

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Photo credits – Hover Speed And MarkusHerzig.com

 

 

 

 

Heinz Tomato Ketchup – v – HP Sauce

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Our house is probably no different to most, particularly in the UK, where aside from salt and pepper, breakfast table condiments can cause clear division. I am talking about the Clash of the Titans of iconic breakfast sauces. Heinz Tomato Ketchup -v- HP Sauce!

If you wonder down London’s Fulham Road upon ordering a takeaway sausage or bacon sandwich at recently refurbished “The Cherry on the Top Cafe” – or any similar “greasy spoon” – you’ll be asked simply “Red or Brown sauce?”. “The Red” referred to is, usually, Heinz Tomato Ketchup – my son’s favourite and “The Brown” is almost always HP Sauce – my favourite.

The original recipe for HP Sauce was invented and developed in 1899 by Frederick Gibson Garton, a grocer from Nottingham. It is understood that he used “HP” – standing for Houses of Parliament – a building which appears on the HP bottle’s logo to this day. It’s rumoured that the sauce was used at the turn of the 20th century in a restaurant at the Houses of Parliament.

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HP Sauce’s uniquely distinctive taste come from the combination of a malt vinegar base, blended with tomato, dates, tamarind extract and spices. Garton sold the recipe to Edwin Samson Moore for £150 in settlement of a debt. Moore, was the founder of the Midlands Vinegar Company (the forerunner of HP Foods) and launched his HP Sauce in 1903.

Until 2007 production was at the HP factory in Aston, Birmingham. One of the giant logos from the top of the tower – a local landmark – is now in the collection of Birmingham Museums & Art Gallery.

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Quintessentially a British product – at heart if not now of manufacture – its place in the national psyche is fixed – and annual sales in excess of 28 million bottles attests to this icon’s popularity. Even John Betjeman wrote of the product in his poem “Lake District” – “I pledge her in non-alcoholic wine / And give the HP Sauce another shake.”

The HP brand was transferred from the Midlands Vinegar Company to Smedley HP Foods Limited, and then sold to the French Groupe Danone SA in 1988 for £199m. In June 2005, Heinz purchased HP Foods from Danone and in October 2005 the UK Office of Fair Trading referred the takeover to the Competition Commission which approved the £440m acquisition in April 2006.

In May 2006, Heinz (now KraftHeinz) announced – to great controversy – its plans to switch production of HP Sauce from Aston to its European sauces facility in Elst, Netherlands. The factory at Aston ceased production on 16 March 2007.

Although its available in many different varieties the glass HP bottle is still readily available – and iconic. Above all it’s well worth the wait, however frustrating, for the viscous and delicious blown sauce to descend from the neck of the upturned open bottle. You can always opt for the soft and squeeze bottle!

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And in the Red corner…

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Introduced in 1876, Heinz Tomato Ketchup is produced by H.J. Heinz Company and is one of the world’s  best selling ketchup brands and heinz has for many years used the slogan “America’s Favorite Ketchup”.

In 1907, Heinz started producing 12 million bottles of ketchup per year, exporting all over the world. The packaging of Heinz Ketchup is perhaps as iconic as the contents and the wide variety of bottles used over the years mirrors the very similar brand development of Coca-Cola.

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Now I get this condiment’s tomato/vinegar/spice combination works well on many foods it’s particularly good with chips and hot dogs – with added mustard – see here our previous post on the wonderful Maille Dijon Mustard – Maille Dijon mustard.

Heinz Tomato Ketchup is clearly very popular. As of 2012, there are more than 650 million bottles of Heinz Tomato Ketchup being sold every year throughout the world.

Heinz introduced its iconic octagonal glass bottle in 1889 and the bottle was patented in 1890. The octagonal glass bottle is still in use today. Like HP Sauce, the ketchup has high viscosity so dispensing from glass bottles can be difficult. Tapping the glass bottle seems to aid pouring. On its website, Heinz suggests that the best place to tap the bottle is on the “57” mark.

Many other varieties of packaging of Heinz Tomato Ketchup are available including the “upside-down”squeezable bottle. Like HP Sauce, Heinz has tested an sold many different variation of the basic ketchup including organic and lower salt versions.

Where does the name “Ketchup” come from? The origins date from 17th century where a Chinese pickled fish and spice concoction was called “kôe-chiap”. By the early 18th century in the Malaysia/Singapore the word for the sauce had become kecap (pronounced “kay-chap”) and became corrupted to “Ketchup” by keen English colonials who eventually took the product to the Americas.

In March 2015 KraftHeinz cause a slight ripple of frenzy on social media was asked to vote in the Red vs. Brown after the votes were counted it was reported that first place had been taken by Heinz Tomato Ketchup securing 51% of the vote. So Red sells more and won by 1%. Still not good enough to change my alliegiance!

I guess the only real winner in this contest is KraftHeinz as they own both brands along with many other family favourite sauces. For guests with diverse tastes perhaps the only way is to serve both!

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Why not fill your larder with these essential supplies – Please click the link below the image to oreder on AMAZON

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Heinz HP The Original Brown Sauce 285 g (Pack of 8)

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Heinz Tomato Squeezy Ketchup 342 g (Pack of 10)

Pick your colours!

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Founding Member Brown Sauce Appreciation Society T-Shirt Men’s Cotton Daddies HP

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I Put Ketchup on my Ketchup Red T-Shirt – Mens Red, Medium

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Photo from KraftHeinz and The Birmingham Post