Monthly Archives: October 2011

Snow Boots

My very best snow boots were bought when I was fourteen from a ski shop in Kensington, London.  In preparation for a school ski-ing holiday to Caspoggio in Italy. I forget the make of them, but they served me for about twenty years (my feet didn’t seem to grow again til I got pregnant). I do remember that they were Canadian, made of leather, lined in sheepskin and with an extremely thick, rubber sole that seemed to stick to sheet ice. Eventually, they fell apart.

I don’t have snowboots as such now. I wear my neoprene wellingtons, my sheepskin boots or my Ecco Voyages, which are brilliant (best buy!). But living in the country, we feel the winter more keenly than we did in London.

Raindrops is where I buy my children’s snowboots. Every year I ring them up (excellent service) and trying to get them to work out what size I should buy, because I try to eek out two winters’ wear out of them.

The eskimo boots, £42, look like they’d be the best boot of all, but for my eldest I bought the Molo boot (the design has changed this year, it used to be nicer: these ones, which they still do for £20 but in limited sizes), which is plenty warm and practical enough for a Suffolk winter.

Last year, for my youngest (who was a size two then), I bought her these baby snowboots, £32, which were utterly brilliant. The baby snowboots have a tight ankle, so they’re quite a struggle to get in to, so go larger if need be, whereas I think the Molo and the limited stock ones come up quite big.

To help you with sizing, my youngest is a size 4G in StartRite and I got her a six in the baby snowboots – they are huge, but she can walk fine in them and there’s a hope they’ll still fit in February. Maybe even next year. My youngest is an 11.5F or G in StartRite and I got her a 12 in the Molos and they are big, but I’m not sure I’d go smaller. Thick socks and all that. Both these styles can go in the washing machine and I really rate them.

In fact I’m selling last year’s baby snowboots in grey, size 3 if anyone is interested: email me annalisa dot barbieri at mac dot com.

Big pants for a small child

As soon as a child is out of nappies, the question of what to put them in next arises. And let me tell you, finding pants, knickers, for a small girl-child that are not

have stupid logos on
or writing on saying things like ‘love’ or ‘princess’
or tiny

is not easy. I loathe logo-ed knickers.  Really, passionately hate them. And I believe, have always believed, that pants should be big and cover your kidneys because I have a Napolitan mother who told me these things (still tells me these things).

I’m also really fernickety about good quality stuff. This is why my house is full of Miele kitchen appliances. I searched very high and very low for simple, plain, not small, white knickers. I’m not stranger to finding things, having once been Dear Annie and having written a few consumer/shopping columns. But it was an impossible ask.

John Lewis did not let me down with plain white childrens’ knickers. But they weren’t BIG enough and after a few washes, I’m afraid to say, they just looked crap.

Then I remembered.

As a child, my French uncle, who was (is) impossibly glamorous and designed plane engines, and his wife, my Parisian aunt and Godmother, Josette, had bought me a pair of knickers once, when I was a child, that were my absolute favourite pants. And I remembered they had a little boat as a symbol, on the label.

Petit Bateau.

So I went in search of them here in the UK and lo, here was a company that made simple, big, white pants.

Let me tell you a few things about Petit Bateau childrens’ underwear:

  • the quality is superb. After two years of daily wear and 60 degree washes, they still look like new.
  • the fit is superb
  • they are beautifully plain, although you can also get coloured ones (which I do buy occasionally) and this year they’ve introduced ones with writing on which is a big, big no-no for me.
  • they are expensive
  • PB also makes thermal underwear for children which is unsurpassed in looks, comfort and quality. It’s made of wool and silk/cotton but constructed so that only cotton fibres are next to the skin.

The last time I made a purchase of PB pants and vests was when my eldest was six. Since then I’ve thought “can I really justify paying £4 for a pair of pants when for that price you can get at four pairs  (and, I know, in some places even cheaper). So last time we were in Johnny Loulous being measured for shoes, I bought a pack of four for £6.

And the quality is crap. After a few washes (40 degrees as they’re coloured, but at least just stripes and stuff and no logos).

So back I went to PB, braving the nearly always surly staff to stock up. I really can’t recommend the make highly enough and if you’ve got more than one child, such as I have, to pass down to, it makes them even better value and in price per wear, they can’t be beaten because they last so long.

The plain white ones are code 66637 00110 and called Lot de 2 Culottes (be careful cos the ones with writing on are packaged so you can’t see the writing) and cost £8.50 for two. Matching vests (thin straps) are 6663100110 and called 2 Chemises a Bretelles and cost £10 for two.

I’ll put a photo up later.

Absent but busy, baker

Anyone visiting this blog probably thinks I gave up on the sourdough.


I bake all our own bread several times a week! I just ordered a new banneton, this time going for the more expensive Matfer one at £26.99 (just saying it made my eyes water), rather than the cheaper one I got last time which has already fallen apart after 18 months use (the other, cheaper ones, are fine still but the 1K round one was the one I used most). Matfer are industrial strength so they should last. I did toy with Vannerie which are hand made but really, that is too much for me.

Am also toying with idea of baking cloche, anyone have one? I feel it’s a bit superfluous as my oven is a great oven which makes lovely sourdough, and next year we’re building a wood fired oven in the garden. But I did wonder if anyone had one, and if so what they thought of it?

I did mean to do a post over the summer, as I had so many enquiries about ‘what to do with my starter when I go on holiday’. Honestly people. You just put it in the fridge, enjoy your holiday, and refresh * the starter when you get back. One friend even thought he had to bring the starter with him on holiday. I’d have loved to have seen customs deal with that.

*take out half of it, refresh with 125g strong white bread flour, 100g cold water, stir and leave for about 12 hours before using it to make dough.