The Utterly Inessential Shopping List: Pictish gin, Cotswolds veg, and the mice you want in your kitchen

Victoria Marston is your guide to this week's immaculate collection of things that you really, really don't need.

Puzzled? You will be

I find that puzzles are like Marmite — no, not awesome on toast, but people seem to either love them or hate them. Despite saying this, I’m fairly ambivalent, yet still manage to feign great joy each Christmas when presented with one by my mother (my brother and I can now complete one in approximately 24 hours, taken in shifts, all the sooner to get back to the business of competitive chocolate eating).

Anyhow, like walking, puzzles are currently in vogue because there’s naff all else to do. And this 250-piece one is particularly jazzy, if slightly bonkers. It’s like looking at something your dad made on his computer in 1994 when he bought himself a ClipArt CD-ROM.

Priced at £29.95 from Wentworth Wooden Puzzles — see more details.

Nice radishes

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For most people, grocery shopping is a chore at the best of times (not for me, mind you. I love supermarkets — I used to be chubby and now, rather than eating them, I like to just gaze adoringly at doughnuts. Yet another pastime lost to Covid). These are not the best of times and, as a result, many of us have gone online to source our five day (as well as the accompanying protein. And wine).

If this is you, rejoice, for the five seasonal, organic items contained in this Market Garden Veg Box, direct from the Daylesford farm in the Cotswolds, are as delicious and nutritious as they come. Obviously there are other companies doing this, too, but this one allows you to say, ‘You really can taste the difference,’ during (Zoom) dinner parties. Oh, hang on — is that tagline already taken?

Priced at £15 from Daylesford — see more details.

Gin with the ghosts of ancient warriors at no extra charge


This Scottish gin is, apparently, ‘powered by the spirit of the Picts’. So, in addition to being delicious and coming in particularly gorgeous packaging, you may even witness the ghost of an ancient tribe into the bargain. But probably not. Depending on how much of it you drink.

Priced at £45 from Greenwood — see more details.

You’re a basket case. Go with it.

As we must all know by now, plastic bags are very bad things. Hessian carriers are not bad, but neither are they terribly chic. This Bolga Shopping Basket, however, ‘handwoven with love’ in Ghana and finished with sustainable leather handles, is very chic indeed. Farmers’ market chic, as opposed to Nile Rodgers Chic.

Priced at £65 from Lola & Mawu — see more details.

Welcoming rodents into food preparation zones since 2020

Generally speaking, mice in the kitchen are not a good thing. But here, ladies and gentlemen, is the exception to the rule! The engraving is done by hand, so they’re all slightly different, and you can get matching wooden spoons, rolling pins and coasters if you’re working towards some kind of mouse or general woodland theme.

Priced at £45 from West Country Designs — see more details.