Charity Vintage: Carr biscuit tin

April 12th, 2014

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vintage Carr biscuit tin being sold on eBay for Charity by & in support of Isabel Hospice(ends 15 Apr, 2014 09:05:55 BST)

This vintage Carr biscuit tin is being sold on eBay for Charity by & in support of Isabel Hospice*. It looks as if it’s been through the wars. Lots of scratches and other wear and what looks to be a large, sticky black area on the top where there was once a label.

But it’s so pretty; such a lovely illustration… and it’s only £5! The good news is that rubbing it gently all over with a bit of Brasso wadding should get rid of much of the ancient dirt and sticky black stuff (this is one of our little restoration secrets!).

*Isabel Hospice is a charity needing to raise nearly £4 million per annum to provide their free services to the people of eastern Hertfordshire. Their ethos is that they treat the whole person, not simply the illness. They offer a complete hospice service through their team of Community Nurse Specialists, a 16-bed, in-patient hospice, a day hospice, outreach day hospices, hospice at home and a family support and bereavement service.

Gimme Five! Coal scuttles

April 11th, 2014

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selection of 5 coal scuttles | H is for Home

We had the new fire in our kitchen refitted today. Two months short of 2 years after our house were flooded… and just in time for summer too!

We’re ecstatic and relieved too. Building regulations have changed since the waterlogged fire was fitted. So the new one couldn’t be installed without a flue liner being fed down the chimney – all 40 feet of it!

One of the other casualties of the flood was our coal scuttle. It was a beautiful, vintage Mallod bentwood coal scuttle that was ruined when it was submerged in water. Now that the fire’s in, we’re in search of a new coal scuttle. There are lovely antique copper ones, brand new galvanised steel ones. Ones shaped like buckets, ones shaped like cones… even one shaped like a shell!

  1. Antique coal scuttle: £44.99, HomesDirect 365
  2. Buckley coal hod – black/pewter – 540: £48, The Fireside Shop
  3. Fireside coal bucket with brass handle: £24.98, Amazon
  4. Hamlett coal scuttle: £74.99-£129.99, Black Country Metalworks
  5. Vintage German folk art hand painted coal scuttle: £55.07, Etsy

Cakes & Bakes: Baked Banana Cheesecake

April 10th, 2014

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Baked banana cheesecake | H is for Home

Our favourite dessert to make for a dinner party is a freshly-baked, light & airy vanilla cheesecake. The recipe we posted, one of Gordon Ramsay‘s, is by far the most popular of our Cakes & Bakes series.

This week, I suggested to Justin that I’d make a baked banana cheesecake for a change. Being a traditionalist, he wasn’t as enthusiastic about the idea as I was. I went ahead and made it anyway – I thought that if it was put in front of him, he’d eat it anyway. And so he did!

The secret to a light & airy banana cheesecake is to whisk the mixture to within an inch of its life. Using an electric food mixer makes the job a lot less laborious. However, doing it by hand with a balloon whisk will burn off a lot more calories and tone up the bingo wings! :-)

Cakes & Bakes: Baked Banana Cheesecake

Cook Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Yield: makes 6-8 slices

Cakes & Bakes: Baked Banana Cheesecake


  • for the base
  • 150g/5oz ginger nut biscuits
  • 50g/2oz butter
  • 25g/1oz Demerara sugar
  • for the cake
  • 400g/14oz cream cheese
  • 125g/4½oz low fat plain yoghurt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1tsp vanilla essence
  • 2 medium-sized, very ripe bananas
  • 180g/6½oz caster sugar


  1. Preheat the oven to 160ºC/325ºF/Gas mark 3
  2. Grease a 20cm/8in deep, spring-form cake tin
  3. In a food processor, grind the ginger nut biscuits making sure there are no lumps
  4. In a medium-sized saucepan on a low heat, add the butter & Demerara sugar and stir until the butter is melted and sugar has dissolved
  5. Remove from the heat, add the ground ginger nuts and mix
  6. Put the mixture into the cake tin and press firmly & evenly into the base using the back of a spoon
  7. Put the tin into the fridge while you make the cake mixture
  8. In a food mixer, using the balloon whisk attachment, mix the cream cheese and yoghurt on a high speed setting for 3 minutes until aerated
  9. In the food processor that was used for grinding the ginger nuts (no need to clean it out between the two stages), puree the bananas
  10. Add the banana puree to the cheese & yoghurt mixture and whisk on a low speed for a minute
  11. In a measuring jug, whisk the eggs before adding it to the cake mixture in 2 stages, whisking after each addition
  12. Add the vanilla essence to the mix then add the caster sugar and whisk until well blended, light & airy
  13. Remove the cake tin from the fridge and cover the bottom & sides with a double layer of tin foil
  14. Pour the cake mixture into the tin, over the ginger nut base and place the tin into a deepish baking tray
  15. Add water to the tray, to a level about 1.5cm below the rim
  16. Carefully put the tray containing the cake tin into the oven and bake for 75 minutes
  17. Remove from the oven, take the cake tin out of the water bath and allow to cool for 10 minutes
  18. Remove the cake from the tin, allow to cool for a further 20 minutes before chilling in the fridge for a couple of hours or overnight.

World Dolls Series Books

April 9th, 2014

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collection of vintage World Dolls Series books | H is for Home

We recently blogged about the Holland edition in this vintage World Dolls Series of books.  So taken were we with the illustrations in that first book we acquired, that we’ve been on the hunt for further examples – and have got a nice little collection now.

countries featured in the vintage World Dolls Series of books | H is for Home

They were written by Irene Dark and produced by Pergamon Press Limited in the 1960s  – various illustrators from the Birmingham School of Design took part. Each book deserves its own spotlight so we’ve decided to do a mini blog series featuring the various countries. As we live in England, we’ll start this new series with that one next week.

Allotment Diary: Our first day

April 8th, 2014

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Daffodils in flower with Fudge on his bed in the background on our allotment

This is the first, proper entry into our new, virtual Allotment Diary.

Celandine in flower on our allotment

Surveying the plot, we were feeling slightly overwhelmed – there was so much work to do, where do we start?! We didn’t want to just rip out all the plants that were already there. Daffodils and celandine are in abundance – they look so bright & cheery.

old plastic water butts and garden chairs on our allotment

We began by having a general tidy up, moving all the strewn plastic chairs, bins and empty, abandoned plant pots over to a far corner.

old plastic plant pots on our allotment

We didn’t want to throw any of this away just yet, we want to reuse as much of it as possible.

vintage bricks and slates on our allotment

There were lots of red bricks and terracotta roof tiles lying around that we stacked up and put into piles. We already have some plans for these!

vintage bricks on our allotment

Many of the bricks are impressed with ‘Newhey’ or ‘Coptrod’, both former brickworks in Rochdale.

old metal pergola on our allotment

There was even a discarded metal arch that we’re planning on running some flowers (or cucumbers!) up.

leaf mould heap on our allotment

I began to tackle the thick carpet of leaves, forming the beginnings of a leaf mould heap in a shady, north-facing corner.

swept path on our allotment

There was some evidence of paths once some of the leaves were gone. Still very overgrown though.

old metal baths on our allotment

And how about transforming this pair of old baths into salad or herb beds?

brick foundations of a derelict greenhouse on our allotment

There are remains of a lower half of a dilapidated greenhouse in a sunny part of the plot. We’re considering what to do with it. We have lots of options available, lots of decisions to make. But there’s no need to rush in and try to do it all at once – one thing at a time – we’re just enjoying the journey!