Price Points: Home cinema sound systems

Home cinema sound systems | H is for Home

We always begin our annual hibernation right about now – around the time Strictly Come Dancing hits its stride! When given the choice between going out to socialise on a cold, dark wet evening or staying in with a bottle of wine, chuffing wood-burner and a Scandi drama we almost always choose the latter… you’d almost have to physically drag us out of the house kicking and screaming!

We always read user/buyer/expert reviews and recommendations to get a handle on electronic and tech products. These are the three home cinema sound systems we’ve short-listed…

We start with the Canton DM55. It has had the highest review on the Which? website to date (84% – 1 percent higher than the Sonos Playbar). According to their expert:

The DM55 is easy to use, and sounds great, with a strong dynamic range and convincing surround-sound effect… While it’s pricey, it’s also the best sound base we’ve tested, and gives Canton another Best Buy to add to it’s collection.

Coming in at a hefty thousand pounds (down from £1,400), the BOSE SoundTouch 130 is a system that not only includes a soundbar but also an Acoustimass module and control console.

We’ll be saving up to get ourselves the Sonos Playbar. Not only can we enjoy using it to watch live and recorded TV, we can also listen to music and digital radio through it via Spotify. We  already have a couple of Sonos Play:1s and a Play:3 – the sound they emit is amazing and connecting Sonos speakers to the wi-fi network and Spotify is a complete doddle.

  1. Canton DM55 2.1 virtual surround system – black glass: £329.00, Amazon (4.2 out of 5 – 35 reviews)
  2. Sonos Playbar: £599.00, Sonos (4.5 out of 5 – 710 reviews)
  3. BOSE SoundTouch 130 wireless home cinema system: £999.95, Currys (9.7 out of 10 – 18 reviews)

Cakes & Bakes: Date and walnut loaf

Home-made date and walnut loaf | H is for Home

This date and walnut loaf is outstanding as an afternoon tea cake. It’s like a cross between malt loaf, a Yorkshire tea loaf and sticky toffee pudding.

Date and walnut loaf tins | H is for Home

Justin can never get enough of teatime loaf cakes, so this was made with him in mind.

Date and walnut loaf tins | H is for Home

So, if you’ve got a packet of dates lurking at the back of your food cupboard (perhaps from Christmas) this is the perfect way to use them all up.

Date and walnut loaf
Yields 2
Write a review
Cook Time
1 hr
Cook Time
1 hr
  1. 450g/1lb stoned dates
  2. 1½tsp bicarbonate of soda
  3. 280ml/½pt boiling water or black tea
  4. 60g/2oz butter, softened
  5. 300g/12oz demerara sugar
  6. 2tbsp black treacle
  7. 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  8. 450g/1lb plain flour
  9. pinch of salt
  10. 60g/2oz chopped walnuts
  12. Home-made date and walnut loaf ingredients
  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas mark 4
  2. Line two loaf tins with parchment paper
  3. Mix the bicarbonate of soda into the boiling water/black tea and pour over the dates making sure they're all covered. Leave until it goes cold
  4. Beat together the butter and sugar
  5. Add the beaten eggs
  6. Gradually add the flour, salt and chopped nuts
  7. Add the dates and the liquid they were soaking in. Combine thoroughly
  8. Divide the mixture between the two lined loaf tins
  9. Bake in the middle of the oven for an hour. Check on them after 45 minutes to make sure that their tops aren't cooking too quickly. If they start appearing too brown, cover the tops over with tin foil for the final 15 minutes cooking time
  10. Allow to cool on a wire rack
  11. To eat, slice and spread with butter
Adapted from Yorkshire W. I. Recipe book
Adapted from Yorkshire W. I. Recipe book
H is for Home Harbinger

Get their look: Melbourne mid century modern

Melbourne mid century modern sitting roomcredit

Although Australia is way over on the other side of the world, it’s a goldmine when it comes to sourcing great Scandinavian mid century modern designs.

This striking Melbourne mid century modern home is furnished with lots of classic pieces of furniture from the era, alongside mid-century inspired items such as the tabletop mobile and pebble patterned cushion.

  1. Vitra Noguchi coffee table, walnut
  2. Arched floor lamp
  3. Eames lounge chair & ottoman
  4. Original Danish design side table
  5. Vintage floral eiderdown quilt
  6. Custom metal table stabile: The Alexander
  7. Vintage teak sideboard

Get their look: Melbourne mid century modern | H is for Home

You are my Sunshine!

Yellow vintage Cathrineholm kettle | H is for Home

We bought this yellow Cathrineholm kettle with a view to it going into our webshop, but as soon as Adelle saw it emerge from its brown paper packaging, she went all Gollum from Lord of the Rings on us. “Come to me, my precious!”, she exclaimed. The chances of it ever being re-sold slid away rapidly as the golden enamel glow filled her eyes!

Gollum holding the ring from Lord of the Rings

It was added to our shelves of vintage Scandinavian loveliness – high up so it couldn’t easily be removed!

Yellow vintage Cathrineholm kettle with cup & saucer | H is for Home

Another design we’ve been waiting to get hold of for a while is this Op Art crockery by Seltmann Weiden. We had it in stock previously and sold it all. This time we’ll sell some, but keep a piece or two. By coincidence, they appeared in the same week. They work very well together don’t they? The perfect combination for a bright and cheery afternoon tea we think.

Designer Desire: Anita Nylund

Mosaic of Anita Nylund designs | H is for Home

Born in 1931, Anita Nylund is the daughter of the late Gunnar Nylund, Artistic Director of Rörstrand. Her grandfather Felix was a Finnish painter and sculptor, so she’s from a great artistic pedigree.

She studied at Otte Skölds Målarskola in Stockholm and then on to Paris and Florence. On her return to Sweden, she began working as a ceramic designer at Jie Gantofta where she produced a plethora of often folk-inspired designs.

The patterns included ‘Vår lilla stad’ (Our small town), ‘Familjen Pepparsson’ (Pepper family), ‘Prisma’ (Prism), ‘Cookie’ and ‘Janssons frestelse’ (Jansson’s temptation). They decorate plates, platters and serving dishes, salt & pepper shakers, salt pigs, butter dishes and all manner and size of storage jars.

Examples can be found readily on eBay and are still fairly affordable for the time being. Definitely one to watch!

Portrait of Anita Nylundcredit

Image credits:

Auctionet | Etsy | Tradera

Price Points: Preserve starter kits

Preserving starter kits | H is for Home

  1. Kitchen Craft preserving starter set, 4 pieces: £10, hobbycraft
  2. VonShef 9L Maslin pan jam preserving starter set bundle: £32.99, Amazon
  3. 5-Pieces preserve starter set by Kilner: £69.99, Wayfair

One of the things I love about the start of autumn is making jams, jellies, pickles, chutneys and all manner of other preserves. I made a batch of apple and chilli jelly this week… the first of the season.

Late summer is spent foraging for fruit such as wild raspberries, elderberries and blackberries. They’re added to the redcurrants that were harvested from our allotment in and are made into mixed fruit jelly.

You really should try it – it’s really easy, satisfying and far superior to most shop bought stuff. Get yourself one of these preserve starter kits and you’ll be quickly on your way to making your own.

Each has its own merits however, I’ve chosen #2 as the best of the preserve starter kits for a number of reasons. The most important component is the jam/maslin pan. It needs to be large, sturdy and made of the right material. It needs to be made of a non-reactive material such as stainless steel. Reactive metals such as aluminium and untreated cast iron can give a metallic taste to the food and can also cause discolouration. The pan also needs to be a good conductor of heat, for example, copper so that it achieves the high temperatures necessary in jam-making.

The next most important component is the thermometer. It’s not absolutely essential but, if you’re not entirely confident with using the cold saucer method, a thermometer is the foolproof way of knowing that the magic 105ºC/220ºF temperature has been reached.

A jam funnel is very useful if you’ve got shaky hands like mine, however buying the other components are less necessary. I have a huge store of different sized & shaped jars – I never put the finished jars of honey, mayonnaise, pesto etc into the recycling. With a little pre-planning, you shouldn’t need to buy jars specially for preserving. Just make sure ones you’re reusing have no chips or cracks and have their original airtight lids.

Having said all that – yes, both #2 and #3 come with jars as part of their kits. The former has the edge over the latter as the single 1-litre jar is much less practical than 6 smaller ones. If you store a litre of jam, jelly, chutney etc in a single jar you’ll have to eat all the contents within a couple of weeks of opening or it will go off. Also, you should store your preserves in the fridge once they’ve been opened. I usually have too much other stuff in the fridge to accommodate a litre-sized pot of jam.

In the years I’ve been preserving, I’ve never used a jar lifter (I use a pair of kitchen tongs), a jar wrench (just twist a dinner knife between the space between the lid and the jar) or a magnetic stick (again, I use kitchen tongs). So that’s 3 of the 4 Kitchen Craft items that would be neglected at the back of the cupboard. You could buy each preserve making component you think you’ll need singly – but it’s often cheaper to buy them as a bundle.