Country houses for sale

What sort of polish do I use on antique furniture?

Dear Mrs Danvers, I have some fine antique furniture in walnut, mahogany and oak. What sort of polish do you recommend?

Purists make their own from a mixture of beeswax and turpentine (artists’ turpentine, not white spirit). You should melt the beeswax in a tin in a cool oven and add the same amount of turpentine. Let both melt, and then mix them together. Pour into a polish tin which is wide and shallow so you can get a duster in easily. If, when set, the consistency is too hard (it should be quite firm), melt it again and add a bit more turpentine. I would suggest you use this a few times on furniture that has had little polish over the years to get the patina back. After that, an ordinary furniture polish of beeswax will do, but make sure that it is intended for antiques and doesn’t contain silicon which can be damaging.

Dear Mrs Danvers, British walnuts usually lack sun therefore, are short of oil and tend to shrivel when dried. They can, however, be preserved in a moist, fresh state (without drying) for four to five months, in the following way:

Take a plastic dustbin with a well-fitting lid. Collect the nuts and allow all the green husk to fall off. Make a mixture of equal volumes of table salt and fine sawdust from a joiner’s shop. As you collect the nuts, lay them in the dustbin, cover each layer lightly with the salt/sawdust mixture. Keep the lid on the dustbin at all times to prevent the salt from attracting atmospheric moisture.

The nuts may be eaten at any time and develop a delicious taste, far better than ordinary dried nuts. To eat, brush off the salt/sawdust and crack in the normal way. I have used this method here for the past 45 years, having learnt it from my grandfather. The nuts eventually become strong tasting, but can remain good until the next Easter.