The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Spoils from the annual village fête


Photo: Vintage Thermos vacuum vessel

Photo: Vintage Thermos vacuum vessel

Yesterday was the Cheveley village fête. Held in aid of St Mary’s church and celebrating the 750th anniversary of the church.

To link in with this the organisers had given the fête a medieval theme and many of the organisers and stallholders wore medieval costumes. Danny was serving at the bar and claimed that his everyday clothes were so old that they were almost medieval.

Usually I serve on the bar too but this year I visited as a guest – which was great fun. Watching the Molly dancers and the falconry display and catching up with people who I hadn’t seen for ages.

The highlight of the church fête is poking through the plant stall, book stall and the White Elephant stall. Last year’s top bargain was the old Eltex greenhouse heater that kept things snug last winter and was much cheaper to run than my modern Eltex heater.

I have been drooling over the Shuttle Chef for months. If you want to save money on power one of these is a great piece of kit – they can even bakes cakes and bread. The flip side is that they are expensive. Having researched the Shuttle Chef in depth, I knew exactly how useful a giant thermos could be for slow cooked meals.

When I spotted this Thermos vacuum vessel in amongst the sports equipment my heart leapt. It was squeaky clean inside and looked in full working order. Unlike the Shuttle Chef this Thermos had sturdy clips on the lid so it could be transported easily. Its heavy weigh indicated that it would hold the heat for hours.

“How much do you want for this?” I asked the medieval king who was running the stand.
“How about a pound?”
I was thrilled. Even if it didn’t work I’d only gambled a pound. I lugged it quickly back to the cottage – it’s huge with a gallon capacity. There is very little information on early Thermos flasks on the internet. Ours was probably was made in the 1930’s as the ones from the 1950’s have plastic lids.

Yesterday a heavy shower bought me in from the garden and I decided to test out the Thermos. I filled it with boiling water and measured the temperature with my jam thermometer. At 12.20pm it was 194f/90c degrees and over seven hours later I unclipped the lid with some trepidation. At 19.45pm it was 158f/70c degrees! 22 hours later the temperature of the water is 45c. I’m really impressed.

Perhaps next year I’ll find the Kelly Kettle that I’ve always wanted…

  Leave a reply


  1. I love that you have this posted! I found on years ago and my wife wanted to place it in a yard sale. That just wont do! I have looked everywhere for info on the thermos, but no luck. I have only to containers, but can tell that it should have three. Do you have any containers in yours? Have you found any info on the amazing Thermos?

    Thank you so much for your post!


  2. veronica

    ohhh! That Kelly kettle looks like the perfect present for my husband! I want 🙂

  3. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Cookie Girl

    I love vintage stuff too. Generally it seems to be much better made.

    Hi Paula

    That’s a neat idea using the thermos for hot oats.

    A solar oven/cold frame appeals to me – can’t wait to see how you make it!

    Hello Eleanor The Great

    Thank you for the brilliant hot water tip. I’m so pleased with this find.

    Hi Diane

    Yummy. I hadn’t thought of yoghurt. Thanks.

    Hello Gillian

    I was planning to use one at home as the electric kettle seems to be on almost constantly and over time we could save a lot on electricity. Apparently they heat up in just a few minutes.

    Hi Eleanor The Great

    Thanks for posting the link.

    Hi Casalba

    What a great idea for a stand! Health and Safety are a pain in the butt.

  4. casalba

    “… I asked the medieval king who was running the stand,” 🙂 Love it! Love it all, but then, you know I’m a huge fan of CS.

    In my early teens, I used to run the “win your own breakfast stand” at our village fete – some whole and some empty eggs half-buried in sawdust. If you picked a whole one you could keep it and be given a packet of bacon. (I imagine Health & Safety doesn’t allow that sort of thing any more.)

  5. Eleanor the Great

    Per Diane, I think I’ve heard of people making yogurt in them before. Good idea!

    Gillian, a hurricane kettle might also be one that heats itself, too, such as can be found on this site:

    I’ve heard them called hurricane kettles, too, like hurricane lanterns. And I want one of these for camping something FIERCE. 😉

  6. gillian

    Oh you’ve solved a mystery that’s been bothering me for years! We used to shop at a funny little hardware store run by a very old gentleman who once told me that every Sunday his family would take a picnic to the beach and make tea with a Hurricane Kettle. He told me how they worked but much as I’ve tried, I’ve never been able to figure out what they were. A Kelly Kettle! Add that to my wish list as well please!

  7. Diane

    It would probably be a good yogurt maker too. I’d use Eleanor’s method to temper it and then add the warmed milk and starter. Leave up to 24 hours to incubate.

  8. Eleanor the Great

    Hello, Fiona & Danny! Great buy. 🙂 I have a Thermos brand coffee thermos. They are probably the second best brand you can buy in the US (Stanley is slightly better for durability, but Thermos is very close, and might hold heat better). They are excellent tools.

    Quick suggestion for you, when using your thermos for hot items especially: Fill it with hot hot water and let it sit for five minute and warm up before filling it with what you want to keep in it. It will hold its heat MUCH better/longer this way. 🙂

    Enjoy the new toy!

  9. Paula

    I love a bargain! My husband found me a apple presser and chunker combination for $45 at a garage sale around the corner from us (which I got for $40, because I asked her if she’d take $40).

    Back when we were eating grains, I’d set up the wide-mouth thermos (which for some reason is also known as a mug bottle) with oatmeal and a pinch of salt, and then pour boiling water in it at bedtime. After capping it, I’d wrap it in tea towels and hot pads, and the next morning we’d have hot oatmeal, ready to go.

    For energy saving, this summer I’m going to try building a solar oven. I’m thinking about how I could use the same device for a solar oven in the summer, and a cold frame in winter….and I think I have an idea, but need to think about it some more.

    Congrats on your find!

  10. Cookie Girl

    Excellent ! I love finding a bargain myself and I particularly like vintage cooking items. It looks lovely, and I will be interested to hear what you cook in it.

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