~ Village Life ~ The village where I live has two great attractions that draw in the visitors though admittedly not in great numbers. The first is the oldest Saxon church in Europe which occasionally opens its doors to visitors if the vicar is in the mood and the other is our fantastic recycling shop - Ace Reuse. Northampton council - or whoever it is that runs the local 'civic amenity sites' (or what we used to call 'rubbish tips') have sub-contracted the recycling of electrical items, furniture and other goodies to a handful of small shops in the area and we're lucky enough to have one of them nearby. If you're the kind of person who buys a new toaster because you're bored with the old one or you've redecorated your kitchen and the old one doesn't 'fit' anymore, you can take your old electricals round to Ace or drop them in the 'reuse' area of one of the local tips and they'll check they work, carry out any little repairs, PAT test them and then sell them on. Impressive huh? And great for guilt reduction if you've bought an appliance you didn't REALLY need - you can tell yourself you recycled the old one. Most impressive of all is that they sell them on for ridiculously small prices. We've had two fabulous DAB digital radios and two toasters - one of which is this lovely Tefal Avanti two slice toaster which hubby picked up for less than a fiver last summer. ~Necessity is the mother of getting a new toaster~ I have a flat where I live during the working week and where I had a cheap £5 supermarket toaster. Luckily for me, it blew up when my husband used it so he felt he had to replace it. Our home toaster therefore moved up to the flat and he went in search of a 'new to us' one to fill the gap. He came back with a rather nice one and then just a week or two later spotted this, loved the way it looked, and brought that one home too. So in our garage we are now raring to go with a spare 'standby' toaster for the next time we have visitors or the next time the toaster self-destructs. How's that for organised? The Tefal Avanti is an attractive toaster - if you are capable of finding toasters attractive - and at just £4 or £5 it was a lot cheaper than the really fancy one I bought my sister last Christmas. It's a bit of a man's toaster with lots of brushed metal, knobs and levers and best of all it's a fantastic toaster for people who like crumpets - which of course we do - for reasons I'll explain later. If you don't have the benefit of a great cheap source of toasters, one like this will set you back around £40 although the original manufacturers price is over £60. ~Tell me about the Tefal?~ Obviously I don't have an instruction book so I don't know as much about what the toaster is 'supposed' to do as I would if I'd bought it new and boxed. Consequently what I can say is based almost entirely on my experience of using it. The toaster has a black cool-wall body and a brushed metal front. Brushed metal definitely beats shiny metal hands down as it doesn't pick up fingerprints and need wiping every time you touch it. The toaster has a great 'angled' design. What that means is that rather than putting things in at the top and having them drop straight down, it's set at an angle so you put things in slightly from the side and they slide in diagonally when you push the lever on the left hand side. I don't know if you've ever tried to toast a crumpet in a cheap toaster that doesn't have a 'lift' function but if you have you'll understand why it's important to have a lifter. If you don't then you've probably taken your life in your hands poking knives in to try to jiggle things out. With the Avanti there's a handy lever on the right side which lifts all the gubbins of the toaster up and pokes your crumpet or other small item out the top so that it's easy to grab. The toaster has a 1200 watt 'engine' and toasts really quickly. Control comes from a large dial on the front which can be altered according to how brown or burned you like your toast and to allow for different thicknesses of bread. For thicker bread set the number lower than for thin sliced. If you get nervous half way through and want to check how your bread is doing, there's a handy button to cancel the cycle. Talking of thick bread, the slots are very wide which means you can use the toaster for a wide variety of bread thicknesses. When you put the bread in and push the lowering slot, it grasps the bread and lowers it in carefully. There's a pitifully tiny crumb tray which holds next to nothing. After I filled the kitchen with smoke at lunch time one day I had a good look and realised that there were rather a lot of bits of burnt stuff in the bottom of the toaster that weren't making it to the tray. I did what all practical folk do - unplugged it, took it outside and gave it a damned good shake. So that's sorted for a few weeks. If you're one of those people who freezes bread and forgets to defrost it before you are inspired by the thought of having some toast, there's a button to push for toasting frozen bread. There's a second button which I've never used but which - by process of deduction - seems to be for reheating bread that you have already toasted. Now I know what it's for I shall give it a go since I'm a demon for letting my toast go cold in the toaster. ~ HIGHLY recommended~ If I had paid £40 for this toaster I wouldn't be complaining. I thought our old toaster was good until I got this one and I'm very impressed by both its speed, its degree of controllability and it's suave good looks. I'm certainly persuaded that it's worth buying a good name when getting a toaster and not just picking up the cheapest supermarket toaster and trying not to electrocute yourself every time something gets stuck. I think we'll be keeping this one until it blows up. Or until my husband goes flirting with another toaster round at the recycling shop.
Extra wide slots so no more burnt fingers / Short name: Tefal TT704115