Butterflies and Brexton
Earlier in April, I was sitting at my desk. The house was awaiting the arrival of ‘the boys’ home from school. I had quiet for about 20 more minutes and used it to look up information about a picnic basket I found at an estate sale over a year ago. I never much
thought about the bright red basket, actually a picnic box, labeled Brexton come complete with service for four. The box was bargain though it was missing the thermoses. Over the year, I found suitable replacements in the same red at the local Good Samaritans thrift shop, also a bargain. I purchased the picnic box on a whim because it matched the bright red interior of my favorite car – my father’s 1925 Model T Ford pickup truck.
Brexton picnic hampers uniquely capture the picnic pleasures of a by-gone era. They are elegant and sturdy, constructed of nothing but the highest quality materials, and considered today vintage. Manufactured by a company called Brookes and Sexton under the trade name of Brexton in the United Kingdom in the early 1950s, Brexton picnic hampers came with two, four, six, or eight, cups, saucers, and plates. They also included the appropriate number of forks, knives, and spoons. Nested beakers, thermos flasks, topped glass bottles, melamine or metal food boxes, were some of the variety of additional items found in a Brexton picnic set.
The hampers, always square or rectangular, resemble small suitcases with their lids opening upward. My set made approximately 1953 is of red Rexine, a coated cloth material made to look like leather. Brexton hampers were such a distinctive product they were occasionally designed to commemorate special events such as the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.
As you know, I love to travel. You can take me anywhere without regard for whether it is around the corner or across the globe, but today I think this picnic hamper and I are going o
n a short trip to our backyard with the boys to find butterflies. Our region experienced a second year of drought causing our local lake levels to plummet anywhere from 12 to 20 feet. Some lakes were so dry you could walk miles across a lake, shore to shore, without getting your feet wet. The only ones to benefit from the drought were treasure hunters armed with metal detectors and anglers looking for lost tackle. The winter past was out of the ordinary too. Warmer than usual at an average of 50 degrees for the most part combined with no snow encouraged an enormous population of caterpillars this spring.
Our picnic was perfect and the boys found several critters – funnel spiders, red ants, frogs, butterflies, (I found flowers). The boys rolled their eyes and thought mom was nuts at first, but I got big hugs for being spontaneous.