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23 December 2012

It forcibly occurred to me the other week just how often surplus items are another person’s treasure. Back in 1978 I purchased my first home. It was a two-bedroomed cottage a block from the local beach and as partt of the purchase deal it was partly furnished. I moved in and discovered that three of the items I’d taken over were pretty but empty tea caddies. I shrugged, I could use them for loose tea, tea bags, and coffee, and I placed them in a line on top of the fridge where they sat for 10 years, being used for exactly that. What I hadn’t anticipated was that having three caddies would lead friends and acquaintances to assume that I collected tea caddies. From then on every so often I was given another. Some pretty but empty, some full. I didn’t mind having them, I just didn’t actually need twenty tea caddies.

I sold that house in 1988, moved to my farm, and occasionally I was still gifted with another caddy – twenty-seven by now. Then I saw an ad in our newspaper. It advertised a new Tea Museum and Art Gallery and asked for donations of suitable items. I phoned and offered some of the tea caddies. The owner’s very pleasant brother arrived and left with two bags full of tea caddies. I’m happily down to seven now – just the right number for loose tea, tea bags, coffee sachets, and a collection of small items I use on the farm and in the house – and the Tea Museum has had its display of tea caddies substantially expanded. (The museum is in Stratford in Hawkes bay, and if you’re passing I recommend a stopover for an hour or two there.) The nice thing is that I can see the caddies again any time that I wish by simply accessing the Tea Museum’s website at

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