Cassiefairy – My Thrifty Life

Cassiefairy's thrifty lifestyle blog – Saving money every day with DIY crafts, sewing projets, low-cost recipes & shppping tips


Picquot Ware – The Coffee Percolator

Ever since I first wrote about my ‘lucky find’ of a Picquot Ware tea set last year I’ve been inundated with comments, emails and information about the brand. It’s been amazing to learn more about this British company and to read everyone’s stories about their own Picquot Ware collections. Who knew that so many people were fans? The comments section on the original post is packed full of information from knowledgeable readers and I’ve since posted a second article about the Picquot Ware guarantee and instructions, after Lesley kindly emailed me a copy of the original documents. Be sure to check that out as it shows the complete collection of Picquot Ware designs available.Picquot ware coffee pot percolator magnalium-2After publishing this second article, another Picquot Ware collector got in touch with me to share photos of their rare find – a coffee percolator. In the original tea set there is a tall pot that many people mistake for a coffee pot. This pot was more likely to be used for extra hot water to add to the teapot – it is a tea set after all! But on this occasion the pot in question actually IS a coffee pot, and is a particularly rare example. Robyn kindly sent over some snaps of the coffee percolator and told me the story behind it:Picquot ware coffee pot percolator magnalium-5“I bought it as a set about four years ago, on the Gold Coast in Australia. I thought it was from the 70s because of the coffee percolator so I did some research and realized the coffee pot was quite rare. I have not been able to find a picture of another one so thought it would be nice to share these photos. Picquot Ware is still quite affordable and available here in New Zealand so I’ve since bought another set, which I use regularly at our holiday house, and a few of my friends have also bought sets too.” Picquot ware coffee pot percolator magnalium-6Sounds like I need to go on a Picquot Ware hunting trip to New Zealand then, eh?! It’s so kind of Robyn to email these photos of the percolator so that we can all see it and admire the design. A regular contributor to the original blog post, Peter, tells us that only 300 percolators were made before production was discontinued. Picquot Ware discovered that manufacturing them was a “production nightmare” and put a stop to this design. So if you find one, hang on to it!Picquot ware coffee pot percolator magnalium-3 Picquot ware coffee pot percolator magnaliumIf anyone else has further information on Picquot Ware or would like to send in photos of their collection please do email me or leave a comment below. Thanks!


UK Blog Awards 2016 Most Innovative Blog – And the winner is…

For the first time in almost 10 years of blogging I don’t know what to write. I finally understand what people mean when they say they are speechless – but I am wordless. I’ve never sat in front of a blank page and not known what to write. But today is different. Today I should be writing something important, meaningful and… well, I don’t know. But, so far, words escape me. I’m thrilled, chuffed and living in a dream. I literally woke up this morning and couldn’t be sure if it all really happened. But all the wonderful messages of congratulations that I scrolled through on twitter this morning confirmed it. I had won!uk blog award winner 2016 most innovative cassiefairy-3 uk blog awards ceremony 2016-29You see, yesterday was the UK Blog Awards 2016 and (after a long day at work) hubby and I had driven to London to attend the glitziest of awards ceremonies. Sponsored by Odeon cinemas and held in the ultra-swish Park Plaza hotel in Westminster, it was the most amazing event I’d ever been to. Themed around the magical story of The BFG by Roald Dahl, the venue was beautifully dressed with blossom trees and jars full of dreams. The BFG himself was even wandering around the venue, photo-bombing bloggers wherever he went. It honestly felt like I’d stepped into a dream, and that’s probably why I find it so hard to believe that my dream became a reality last blog awards ceremony 2016-14 uk blog awards ceremony 2016-11 uk blog awards ceremony 2016-8 uk blog awards ceremony 2016-6 Having already chosen ‘my winners’ for each category in the awards, I knew that I was up against the stiffest of competition and most inspirational of blogs. I knew I didn’t stand a chance of scooping an award so I was simply there to soak up the atmosphere, meet some of the wonderful women that I’d been collaborating with over the past year and to seek out some of my blogging inspirations. So you can understand my wordlessness when the opposite happened and judge Sandra Donskyte – my business hero – announced me as the winner of Most Innovative Blog. I was hoisted from my comfy “I’ll just sit here and watch” seat and gently encouraged onto the stage by my husband, where I whimpered (and probably swore!) my way through collecting the award. Thank goodness Sandra and Kate Russell were there to hold me up!uk blog awards ceremony 2016-18uk blog awards ceremony 2016-20 uk blog awards ceremony 2016-21 uk blog awards ceremony 2016-26There is no word to describe that moment. Nor any moment since. I guess that word hasn’t been invented yet because I can’t seem to find any word even remotely suitable in my vocabulary to tell you how I felt. So, in the absence of words (I honestly thought this blog post was going to be blank when I sat down to write a few minutes ago!) I’m going to have to let our photographs do the talking.

My swishy dress & red handbag are from Boden, my pretty (and all-night-long comfy!) pink shoes are from Hotter and my make-up is from

I met SO many wonderful bloggers last night and I had the chance to chat ‘in real life’ to many of the folk I email on an almost weekly basis. It was the chance to meet face-to-face that really made the night special and I loved every minute. I’m hoping to collaborate with many of the bloggers I met, so I’ll be sure to introduce them to you soon. Even now I keep asking my husband whether I did actually win; I’m worried that I went up on stage and collected someone else’s award! But no, it DOES have my name printed on it, so (as long as I keep it nearby so I can continue checking) I’ll start to believe it blog award winner 2016 most innovative cassiefairy uk blog awards ceremony 2016-19 uk blog award winner 2016 most innovative cassiefairy-2 uk blog awards ceremony 2016-29Thank you all so much for the years of support, for reading my blog, for sticking with me, for commenting, for tweeting and for being my friends. You guys rock!


1950s Picquot Ware & my tips for polishing metal

I thought that today’s blog post was just going to be about polishing up silverware and that I would be able to share a straightforward set of tips on how to bring your old teapot back to life. However, while I was polishing my pots, I turned them over and found a name stamped into the base – Picquot Ware. I was intrigued and after buffing up my DIY polishing project I headed indoors to investigate.

*** Update – new post just published containing the original Picquot Ware instructions, range & guarantee ***

*** Update – new photos of the rare Picquot Ware Coffee Percolator are now on the blog ***

DIY polishing midcentury modern silvertea set picquot ware teapotMy husband found these kitchenalia items at a recent carboot sale and I loved the shape as soon as I saw them. I adored the curvy design and I imagined it to be the kind of tea set that might have been used to serve passengers on the Titanic or on a Mallard steam train journey in the 1940s. Continue reading “1950s Picquot Ware & my tips for polishing metal” »

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My favourite childhood Christmas memory ~ TV guides

Specifically, the Radio Times. I’m sure that many of you will have had a similar experience to me while you were growing up, of getting hold of the Christmas TV guide as soon as it came out and circling all of the programmes and films that you wanted to watch during the festive period. For me, this is one of my clearest childhood memories and, even now, buying a copy of the Radio Times gets me all excited about Christmas. When that TV guide hits the newsagents’ shelves, it’s officially the start of Christmas!christmas tradition radio times_It even happened this year, when a little squeal of excitement was squeaked while waiting in a queue at the village shop. Yes, there it was… the Christmas Radio Times. A quick check of the dates “20 Dec – 2 Jan” confirmed that it was indeed the hallowed festive TV guide and it was swiftly snapped up and brought home. The coloured pens came out and a whole lot of circling commenced!

Continue reading “My favourite childhood Christmas memory ~ TV guides” »

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Stunning shire horse sculpture in the Suffolk countryside

I recently visited a sculpture that I’ve never see before. That’s not to say that I’ve never been to the location before – I have been to Snape Maltings many times (only last month : see my blog post on the Henry Moore sculpture here) – and that’s not to say that it’s a new addition to their art collection. This public artwork has been standing in position for years and it’s not as if it’s easy to miss: Perceval is a life-sized bronze sculpture of a Shire horse pulling a cart carrying two giant concrete marrows (which looked like massive peanuts to me before I found out what they were). The piece is almost to the scale of a real Shire horse at 2.3 metres tall by 4 metres long including the cart. So how did I miss it before?

snape maltings Sarah Lucas public art Perceval bronze horse 2006

I guess I’ve just never walked that way around the reed beds before. I must have always stopped short of going into that field. Maybe the grass or reeds had grown so high that they had masked the sculpture in the past? Whatever it was, it meant that I was experiencing this artwork for the first time and I loved it. At first I couldn’t believe what I was looking at across the field –  a full-size version of the classic ornament that I’d seen on many mantelpieces over the years – and I sped up as I approached it. I literally skipped towards this massive monument. And that’s because I actually owned one of these china ornaments as a horse-crazy youngster. Quite an unusual choice for a 10 year-old’s bedroom I know but I was SO into horses that I loved it just as much as all the My Little Ponies on my shelves and my Horse Sense magazine collection. Back then I never could have imagined that I would one day stand beside a full-size version!

Perceval scupture by Sarah Lucas

The sculpture is by British artist Sarah Lucas, now a Suffolk local living in Aldeburgh. The piece I visited is one of 5 massive versions of the china horse made in 2006, which reflects Lucas’s fondness for British culture. Lucas regularly examines everyday objects in her artwork and I found this particular sculpture both amusing and heart-warming. Perceval is the artist’s first and only piece of public art and she claims that the idea came about when Damien Hirst saw the small version of the knick-knack at Lucas’s home and said, “You really ought to make that big”.

sarah lucas british artist sculpture 2006 perceval at snape maltings suffolk


It was quite surreal walking around the scaled-up ornament. Had I shrunk..? Or had my childhood china horse really grown?! I even patted the horse as if it was real – that’s how lifelike the size of it is. I thought I’d got away with doing this in secret but it turned out that hubby had captured the moment on camera.

sarah lucas perceval scupture

Perceval has been received with great affection and it’s nice to see a familiar item in a suitably rural landscape. If you get a chance to have a look at this sculpture, please do – it’s behind Snape Maltings Concert Hall in Suffolk. The concert hall itself is a fab venue to experience orchestral music (I’ve even seen comedian Tim Minchin perform there during the proms – read my review here) and The Pearl Fishers ENO production by the English National Opera is another performance not to be missed!

Another second Perceval owned by Damien Hirst was displayed near the southeast entrance to Central Park in New York and another is installed in Aspire Park, Doha, Qatar. There are 2 more Percevals out there, but I’ve not been able track them down – and now I know just how lucky I am to have seen this rare piece of art, and I can’t believe it was at a place that I’ve visited often before!


Time for a Cuppa ~ Britain’s Tea Break Tradition

As a reader of this little lifestyle blog, I’m sure that you’ll know how much I love tea. I can’t get through the day with quite a few tasty cuppas and you can read about my nightmare day when my kettle died here. So today, I thought we’d discuss the tradition of the tea break and how important the great British cuppa is to all of us!

Though the coffee market has grown in Britain, with global espresso chains springing up on nearly every corner, tea remains the country’s drink of choice. As a nation, we consume 78 million mugs of tea every day and over half of us still prefer it over coffee in the morning. In offices across the UK, the ‘tea break’ plays a vital role in the daily routine. How did this ritual begin? Does it add value to our lives? Here’s a brief guide to the tea break tradition:

Cup of tea and a broken kettle

History of Tea in Britain
Tea may be the nation’s favourite drink today, but it was once a luxury item enjoyed only by the wealthy. The tea-drinking trend began among the aristocracy after Queen Catherine of Braganza, King Charles II’s wife, brought the tradition to Britain from her native Portugal.

It’s interesting to note that up until the 17th century, tea was always green when brewed, following the natural colour of the leaves. However, the process of oxidising the leaves preserved them better for exporting from China to Europe, also turning the leaves black. Today of course, green tea is nearly as popular in this country as black tea, along with many other herbal varieties.

But it was only in the late 18th-century that tea became affordable for the masses. In 1785, the British government cut the tax on tea in order to abolish the growing illegal tea smuggling trade. As tea prices fell, more and more Britons were able to enjoy the beverage on a routine basis. Employers began offering free tea to their workers as an incentive – and thus the tradition of a workday ‘tea break’ began.

Tes-Gro Cup of Tea image by Kanko 53310292_30bf6ac4aa_z

Image by Kanko, used under Creative Comms license

More or Less Productive?
The average cup of black tea contains 14-61 mg of caffeine, providing the ideal boost of energy during a long work day. However, with the average adult spending 24 minutes a day fetching colleagues teas and coffees and costing their employer £400 a year, it begs the question: is the tea break good or bad for productivity?

Well, despite absorbing so much of our time, the ritual tea break is most certainly a positive influence on productivity. The importance of rest and social engagement during the workday cannot be overstated. Time and again researchers have discovered that regular rest breaks help people recharge and work more efficiently.

Oh Crumbs!
Most good things come with some element of risk, and you might be surprised just how risky a tea break can be. As the Telegraph reported in 2010, approximately 25 million adults have sustained an injury during a tea or coffee break. Most of the injuries were a result of dangerous dunking techniques – with a third of those surveyed admitting they’ve burnt themselves trying to retrieve a fallen biscuit from the scalding liquid.

Despite these tales of tea trauma, the UK’s tea break tradition does not appear to be going anywhere any time soon. A ritual steeped in history, the ‘cuppa’ remains the hottest item in Britain’s beverage culture.


A beautiful rainbow over a rural landscape

I really don’t think there’s anything better in nature than a beautiful rainbow. It’s a mini-miracle in the sky and it happens so rarely that you really have to stop and stare when then sun breaks through the clouds on a drizzly day. I love rainbows (and not only because they definitely have a pot of gold at the end) and am always amazed by their beauty, but I find it really hard to capture the magic of a rainbow in a photograph. Skies in general are hard to photograph and I find that the resulting image is nowhere near as good as the scene you’ve seen with your own eyes.  So I’m very happy that these photos came out looking so pretty. Enjoy!

beautiful rainbow photo over field landscape


It’s all over… The London 20120 Olympics closing ceremony & fireworks video

I’m sad to say that the London 2012 Olympics are all over. This has been an amazing 16 days since the opening ceremony and I enjoyed the game more than I ever thought possible. As the least sporty person you’d ever meet, and as the kind of person who turns over the TV if a sport is on, I even surprised myself at how much I enjoyed the Olympics. Was it just because it was held in the UK? I’ll have to watch Rio and find out. Was it just because Team GB were achieving amazing medals in practically every event? Maybe, because I certainly got into the whole ‘shouting-at-the-telly’ excitement of a GB athlete crossing the finishing line. 

Whatever it was, I was gripped throughout the whole Olympic Games and the closing ceremony was bittersweet. I enjoyed the performances (Spice Girls come back!) but had a tear in my eye at more than one point throughout the ceremony. I did not want that Olympic flame to be extinguished! But I couldn’t stop it, and as the London 2012 Olympics raced to a close, I felt proud and a little smug that (in my eyes at least) our Olympics had been the best yet.

Here’s the explosive fireworks at the end of the closing ceremony – and if you haven’t seen the whole event yet, do check it out on iPlayer because it was amazing! And bring on the Paralympics!

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Summer Holiday update – lovely seaside snaps

Here’s a few snapshots of my lovely staycation holiday in sunny East Anglia:

We had a great time walking the coast, photographing beach huts, playing in cheesy seaside arcades, bowling and eating lots of lovely treats! And we were very lucky that the sun shone and that hubby won at Bingo! Great fun and our staycation will definitely be repeated soon 🙂

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