The Utterly Inessential Shopping List: Personalised picnic baskets, an extraordinary lamb gift box and the mystery of the Country Life peacock revealed

How much claret is too much claret?

After we let last week’s list run away with us, we return to our normal round up of all the things which nobody needs, but everyone needs to look at.

Why is a peacock like a writing desk?


After a ‘quick’ whip around the office determined that none of us know why our logo here at Country Life is a peacock, as well as taking up a portion of time I probably couldn’t afford to lose given the number of Bank Holidays coming up (bless them, they do make one rather busy), I’ve decided to give up my quest.

Although the mystery of our peacock has not been revealed today, one cannot help but call it a fitting emblem; Roy Strong compared our magazine to parkland in his book The English Arcadia, describing it as one ‘in which to go for a walk’. This comparison is good enough reason for me, although if one of our dedicated readers happens to know the answer, I’m all ears.

Peacock candle, £18, English Heritage, or

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For once the weather settles


I love picnic baskets, specifically because as the second-youngest of five and most decidedly the shortest, I never have to carry them. Family business Amberley Hampers is celebrating its 30th anniversary with a new personalisation service; perfect to keep your basket safe from insidious clutches on the 4th June or Founder’s Day.

Emboss luggage labels (£25) or initials in bold on the top (£20). Hampers from £145,

A splash of colour…

BLUE WAISTCOAT show front and back _283006892_510835331

…Is always charming, but as our Luxury Editor says, ‘a gent should wear his subtly’. I once knew a gent with a perfectly-respectable pearly-grey three-piece which, once the jacket was removed, revealed a bright-teal waistcoat back. The softly muted Indian ikat fabrics of Jayjee’s silk reverses are perhaps less surprising, but nevertheless offer a fun change of pace for when wedding dance floors begin to heat up this summer.

Heera double-breasted waistcoat, £170,

Spoiler alert: It’s unisex

I would like to shake the hand of the person who a) buys this and b) wears it outside of their home, without a hint of irony.

Tarantara Red silk shirt, £290, Kitty Arden,

For those post-Easter cravings


Farmison & Co. can vouch for the yumminess of the lamb, I can vouch for the claret.

The F&Co Extra Ordinary Lamb Rack Box, £45, Farmison & Co,

For when one claret is just not enough…


Harry Eyres, our wine columnist, swears that every claret lover needs a bottle of this exceptional vintage. The Domaine de Chevalier 2018 (right, est £325–£390 per six IB; has beautiful, fresh elegance and completeness, with layer upon layer of pure fruit.

Domaine de Chevalier 2018, est £325–£390 per six IB,

If you purchased our entire shopping list you would have spent £1,083 and might I compliment your good taste. Join us next Thursday for more Utterly Inessential goods and services.