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.
Parisienne Basket – Your Humble Friend
A French market classic with a short leather handle. This basket needs no adornment or explanation; just basketry at its most humble and beautiful.