Let me guide you through my stash.
My oldest surviving tea towel was a wedding present from Nanny Ivy which means it's clocked up almost 23 years of service. I think it came with a wooden tray which we still use. Nanny Ivy's stitching of our names is still as intact as our marriage, albeit a little frayed around the edges. Sadly, Nanny Ivy is no longer with us - she lived to almost 90 years.
Other tea towels in the stash were bought as mementos and also to help with fundraising when our children were at nursery. Memories of tiny squidgy messy hands and precocious self-portraits (gifted and talented, surely) still melt my heart.
Some tea towels reveal my all too frequent weakness for purchasing 'something' at a gift shop. Our first visit to the Eden Project in Cornwall is an example. It was our first family holiday of many to Far West Cornwall and we stayed in the lovely village of Mousehole. All the memories of that summer holiday are woven into this tea towel - fauna, fun, fatigue.
More recent tea towel purchases have been made at another favourite haunt, Yorkshire Sculpture Park. Last time we were there the only thing we purchased was a wonderful meal of chips and gravy from the cafe but previous visits resulted in buying a Miro cotton tea towel and this whimsical one from artist Rob Ryan.
My tea towels are a mismatched array with no particular colour theme or style. A few classic stripes, some utilitarian grey and a nod to shabby chic thrown in for good measure. My single Cath Kidston and solitary Emma Bridgewater are fading beautifully with time. They somehow look better aged than all pristine and they wear their stains and scuffs with pride.
It's been several years now since I last bought some new tea towels so when I was contacted by All Tea Towels to review 2 of their products I was excited to see what they had to offer. I must say I was tempted by their William Morris and retro designs but after deliberation I chose a simple 't' design and this 'If You Can't Stand The Heat' design from their extensive range. I'm delighted with the design and quality of these organic unbleached cotton tea towels. They were dispatched quickly along with a friendly note reassuring me of their free returns policy. Thank you.
I think my attachment to tea towels is partly tied up with the simple pleasure of washing up and drying by hand. I say pleasure not chore because, in my opinion, there is sensory pleasure to be found in bubbles and soft cotton towels and also satisfaction in getting a job done. Dishwashers are great but they do break down and if left to my desultory teenagers to stack and empty more work can result. With washing and drying by hand you live in the moment, get stuck into the work meanwhile indulging in the flow of the task, deep thought or, if you are lucky enough to have a washing up partner, then a little conversation over the suds.
Of course I've had a little declutter recycling a few very stained tea towels to make room for my 2 new ones. Currently I store them hidden away in a drawer ironed into thirds and then folded in half ready to hang over the oven door. They get quite a lot of attention my tea towels. Tell me, do you have any tea towel tales? I'd love to hear.