jeudi 16 septembre 2010

I is for illuminated salt and pepper pots (and other everyday essentials)

C’est simple comme bonjour — it’s as easy as ABC

How can you not love a country where you can buy illuminated salt and pepper pots and chocolate-flavoured postage stamps?

The big question, though, is why anyone would want illuminated salt and pepper pots. (For the technically minded among you, they are conventional salt and pepper mills that incorporate a torch.) Worried about seasoning your salad during a power cut? Concerned about putting pepper on your dessert during a candlelit dinner? Sadly, they’re not on my list of ‘must haves’, but I am pretty taken with a smart wooden box — complete with stylish knife — where you can store your dried saucisson.

The stamps really do smell of chocolate. And if that’s not good enough for you, we saw an offer where you could get stamps printed with your own picture on— ideal to pop on envelopes destined for friends and family. Pull a glum face and you could use them when paying bills.

Every few weeks a large white lorry comes to our Sunday market. A few days before its arrival a catalogue arrives showing all the goodies you can buy there. It has things I never knew existed — and I am a big fan of the Ideal Home Show and the Lakeland Ltd catalogue.

One essential is a device that apparently consists of a piece of string and two bulldog clips. It’s for holding your serviette in place around your neck (possibly aimed at people without illuminated salt and pepper pots). The use of this contraption is illustrated by a girl of about 10 who, in picture one, looks absolutely devastated that she has spilt bolognese sauce down her t-shirt. In picture two, duly kitted out with this nifty contraption, she is all smiles. Unfortunately, there is no picture three showing her expression when her friends come round unexpectedly and catch her thus attired. But here’s a tip that will save you 2 Euros 99. If you want one, make your own with a piece of string and two bulldog clips… Now where’s that application form for Dragons’ Den?

You can also buy electronic mole scarers from the van. Not very exciting, I know, but in the UK when we needed one, we found it very difficult to obtain. A garden centre advised us to try Argos. So I typed ‘mole scarer’ into their search box, and it gave me a page of Barbie doll bed accessories. In the spirit of true investigative journalism, I tried again the other day to see what Argos offered to scare away moles. This time it came up with a game called ‘Whac a Mole’, which is more or less understandable, and also a Denby 12-piece breakfast set (in blue). Anyway, we bought a scarer from the van, just in case.

I’m saving my centimes, though, for something that I’m sure will be really useful: my own personal, portable sauna that can be used in any room of the house. Costing just 99,99 Euros, it looks like a cross between a blue tent and an igloo; it will improve my skin, get rid of toxins and help me lose weight. I simply have to get into it, making sure my head pokes out the top, and voila, I’m ready for my sauna. I’m just a little worried about plugging it in with me inside it…

A new mail-order catalogue has just been delivered, full of really useful stuff. It’s addressed to Mme Poter Doreem, but I’m sure they’ll accept my order for a pair of ‘chaussons a polir’. These are mop heads that you wear like slippers, so you can polish the floors while gliding (or sliding) around the room. They’re reduced from 12,99 Euros to 6,49 Euros (but only come in women’s sizes!). Who needs a Wii-fit when you can buy these so much cheaper?

Then there are things that you are really tempted to buy here that would never have crossed your horizon in the UK. Yesterday we saw a wicker trolley that is designed specifically for carrying your firewood from wherever you store it to the fire. I did think of buying Gavin one for Christmas, but at 54 Euros, thought it a bit expensive when he already has a wheelbarrow. It was very smart, though.

If anyone thinks I’m not taking these inventions seriously, let me say that I find the clip-on extensions to the car’s sun visors very useful. Just put them in place and (a) if the sun is very low and (b) you are quite short, you won’t get blinded as you drive along. I’ve recommended them to all my (short) friends. Honestly.

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