Waste of time getting out of bed…

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Our bin men are excellent. They always call very early in the morning, they are never late and their bin lorry never wakes us up.

No matter how early I rise on ‘bin day’ they have always been and gone. This is terrific, but it leaves no room for manoeuvre. Last week after a tiring day, a hot bath and two chapters of The Fall of Giants (a very good book I have just finished), I switched the light off, turned over and was dozing in that wonderful ‘just before sleep’ state, when I heard my wife’s sleepy tones asking “have you put the bin out?” What!!! The bin?? What bin?! On no! It’s bin night!

Half awake, freezing cold, partly dressed, I trudged outside. Feeling sorry for myself in the pouring rain, I positioned the bin by the gate and surveyed the road to see if anyone else had forgotten. The road was completely devoid of bins! Not a bin in sight!

Now I was wide awake, rather wet and, to be honest, fairly cross. It wasn’t bin night at all!

Calming down as I pulled the bin back inside I began to mull over its contents. The saddest was a tureen from our dinner service which I had dropped on our stone floor earlier in the week.

Tureens were introduced in the early 18th century, reflecting the French fashion for serving stews, soups and sauces.

It is said that the tureen was named after the 17th-century Vicomte de Turenne, who ate his soup from his upturned helmet. In fact, the term derives from the French ‘terrine’.

The tureen became associated with a show of wealth and was often the most richly ornamented and expensive piece in a dinner service.

Soup tureens were introduced c.1720 but examples pre-dating 1750 are very rare today. Generally circular or oval and of heavy-gauge silver, they were set on four cast scroll, hoof or ball and claw feet with cast scroll, ring or drop handles at the sides and a domed cover. Some of the early tureens designed in the 1730s and 1740s by famous French silversmiths are among the most magnificent pieces of Rococo silver and worth many thousands of pounds.

Tureens from the late 18th century are generally oval on a single pedestal foot, influenced by architects such as Robert Adam who was producing designs to match the dining room furnishings and examples could be found not just in silver but in Sheffield Plate too.

The early 19th-century Regency tureens, in contrast, were massive and made of heavy-gauge silver again and were very richly decorated with lion masks and Classical ornaments. However, fewer of these tureens were made due to the increasing popularity of ceramic dinner services in this period.