There is a long tradition of baskets in our family (not to be confused with basket-cases). From as young as I can remember anything wicker was a ‘good thing’; we had wicker pots for plants, wicker containers in the bathroom and most memorable of all, a French market style basket that sat next to the back door ready to be used at a moments notice for shopping and the like. A practical bag that looked stylish at the same time equalled winner in the Rowe family.
My mum and auntie (pictured below) have always used their wicker basket on trips to our local beach at West Mersea (in Essex). I can picture it now; the two of them sitting on their carefully lain towels with their basket perched to one side, typically housing a magazine, tube of sun cream and scarf (always a necessity on a windy beach in the southeast). A blissful scene.
As children we would forage around in the basket for snacks and were often sorely disappointed to find the usual thick cut soggy cheese and tomato sandwich and an apple. I was overjoyed to discover a Tracker bar on one occasion!
These faithful baskets lasted for years and years, slowing absorbing the smell of the salty sea and grains of sand until they finally gave up the ghost and it was time to hunt for a new one.
Pictured; Two basket cases helping out with the garden These happy memories have always given baskets a positive association for me but they are wonderful in so many other ways too. They are natural, sturdy, durable, versatile and timeless. Baskets are one of the few products in this day and age that are (mostly) still made by hand using traditional techniques.
Our baskets are handwoven from sustainable reed or palm leaf and are made by small groups in different villages in Morocco; from the weavers in the Atlas Mountains to the ladies who sew the leather handles and trim near Casablanca. This group of ladies is a family of four sisters and a mother-in-law who all live in the village where the baskets are stored. The ladies work at home, enabling them to earn money while caring for their families (something many of us can feel an affinity towards).
Baskets are a unifying symbol; having been used across the world for thousands of years for all sorts of things; transporting goods, shopping and picnicking to the storage of food, firewood and magazines, to name but a few.
Did you know that they were originally intended for carrying loose items so that they could be easily transported? The remains of well preserved baskets have been discovered from possibly as early as 5000 BC.
We now stock a wide variety of the market-style baskets; here is a short guide to each type of basket and how we think you might like to use it;
Short Handled Shopper – Your Faithful Friend Our short handled shopper is a nice, neat size with short rolled leather handles in a variety of colours. It is great for short runs to the village or school; I use it to carry my orders to the post office and to pick up provisions. It also slots into my bike basket, an added bonus!
Long Handled Shopper – Your Funky Friend Our new long handled shopper is bigger than its short handled sibling. It has a long leather handle available in 3 funky shades. It fits over your shoulder so that you can walk along gracefully. This basket is great for festivals, trips to the beach, swimming pool or park. This would make the perfect holiday companion and can be taken as hand luggage on a plane journey.
Fabric Lined Shopping Basket – Your Posh Friend Our long handled shopper comes in a neat size with a pretty cotton lining for those that like a soft bottom(?) to their basket. As with the short handled basket, this is great for shopping and short jaunts. Excellent for the beach as you can shake out any excess sand.
PomPom Basket – Your ShowBiz Friend The French-market style basket has had a fashion makeover in the form of pompoms! This basket is blowsy, large and perfect for the warmer weather when you might want to hit the park, beach or pool. You’ll get some envious looks when you sport this on your hols.
Large Beach Basket – Your Hardworking Friend Our bestselling beach basket is HUGE! It is perfect for chucking in everything you might need when heading out with your family. I use mine for all of our swimming towels and accessories and it gets lugged around all over the place and was even crushed into the overhead lockers on a plane on our last holiday. A glutton for punishment this one, you’ll wonder how you lived without it.
We are delighted to be the UK’s first stockist of Bee’s Wrap, an eco-friendly, reusable alternative to modern food wrap such as clingfilm and foil. Bee’s Wrap is made from an organic muslin cloth that has been steeped in beeswax, jojoba oil and tree resin. It comes in a variety of sizes and can be used to cover bowls and wrap a wide range of foodstuffs; from sandwiches and onion halves to lumps of cheese and half eaten fruit and vegetables (it can currently be found housing an avocado in my fridge).
Bee’s Wrap has all of the plusses of plastic wrap; it is malleable, water resistant and airtight with the added bonus of keeping food fresh due to the antibacterial properties of the natural oils.
Most fantastic of all, you can avoid all of the downsides of using plastic wrap; the chemicals used to make the plastic soft, the fact that clingfilm is inherently non-recyclable and non-renewable, not to mention the problem clingfilm poses to wildlife if not disposed of properly. You can also save yourself a pretty penny as Bee’s Wrap products can be re-used for up to one year.
Bee’s Wrap is the mastermind of Sarah Kaeck, a mum-of-three living in Vermont, USA. Kaeck lives the ‘good life’, growing her own vegetables and rearing chicken, pigs and goats. In line with this organic lifestyle she wanted to find a sustainable and toxic free alternative to plastic wrap for storing her half eaten fruit and vegetables. To have a nose at her gorgeous homestead (and find out more) you can watch this video of her;
Since its launch Bee’s Wrap has taken off spectacularly in the USA and is now sold in over a dozen states. This has created a small industry for Kaeck who now employs a group of local women to help with production. Bee’s wrap is also now sold in over 12 countries internationally.
Customer Testimonial: ‘I just wanted to let you know how much I LOVE my Bee's Wrap set! I use it almost daily and it is so great. I do not miss using plastic wrap at all. Keep up the great work!’
At The Wise House. we are initially stocking three of the Bee’s Wrap products; the new Sandwich Wrap, Assorted 3-pack S,M,L and the Bread Wrap. I am currently using both the Sandwich Wrap and the Bread Wrap. I’m suitably impressed with how well it works. It definitely keeps food fresher, something I’ve noticed in particular with the bread as it used to on the dry side by day 2. The smell is gorgeous, fairly strong at first but gradually fades with use. I'm delighted not to have to get the clingfilm roll out every day!
The Sandwich Wrap is really useful for my son’s lunchbox and can be used for a sandwich, wrap or pitta. It even survived the explosion of an entire strawberry yoghurt over it the other day! I like the string and toggle which gives it some extra security.
Questions & Answer Session
How do you use Bee’s Wrap? The warmth and pressure of the hands moulds the wrap to the food or bowl that is being covered, keeping it secure and airtight. When the wax cools (almost immediately) a seal is created. The Sandwich Wrap has the added bonus of string and a wooden toggle fastening, making it even easier to secure and perfect for lunchboxes.
What can you wrap? The Bee’s Wrap can be used to wrap cheese, vegetables, bread, and baked goods. The Sandwich Wrap can be used for pitta bread, wraps and rolls as well as sandwiches. The Assorted Pack contains a small, medium and large wrap sheets for use across all foodstuff and bowls. The Bread Wrap is extra large and suitable for loaves as well as cakes.
It is not recommeneded for meat as it can't be washed at a high temperature.
How do you clean the wrap? Once you have finished with the food within, shake excess crumbs into the bin and wipe down with a damp cloth using cool water. You can use mild dish soap. Hang out flat and it will dry very quickly.
"The beeswax and jojoba oil have antibacterial qualities," explains Kaeck. ‘This keeps the wrap fresh and aroma free.’
We'd love for you to give Bee's Wrap a try. We can all do our bit for the environment and save a few pennies in the process...#hellobeeswrapgoodbyeclingfilm