Potty about salt and pepper

Betty's favourite pair - the sunflowers''w110512  Picture: Ceri Oakes
Betty's favourite pair - the sunflowers''w110512 Picture: Ceri Oakes
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WHAT do a pair of motorbikes, Cypriot frogs, Batman and Robin and some windmills have in common?

They are part of a 500 strong collection of salt and pepper pots taking pride of place in a Lealholm bakery.

The rows and rows of salt and pepper pots - some over 30 years old - at the Lealholm bakery''w110512  Picture: Ceri Oakes

The rows and rows of salt and pepper pots - some over 30 years old - at the Lealholm bakery''w110512 Picture: Ceri Oakes

The Pearson family have been collecting them for 30 years now and the tradition has been passed from one generation to the next.

It started when someone bought Betty Pearson a salt and pepper London Beefeater set after a trip to the capital and she started collecting them ever since with the help of friends who have brought pots back from their trips and travels.

When she died her daughter, also called Betty who runs the Stepping Stones Bakery, carried on the collection.

There are rows and rows of shelves stacked with the pots which are treated more like ornaments than kitchen utensils.

Betty with some of her collection''w110512  Picture: Ceri Oakes

Betty with some of her collection''w110512 Picture: Ceri Oakes

There are also a pair of hens, post box and telephone box, some badgers, robins owls and a couple of cactus.

The family have never paid more than a tenner for a set and actually using any of them is a big no no.

Betty said: “She started collecting in the late 1970’s when somebody went to London and she has been collecting ever since. She passed them on to my daughter Donna and she has about 220 in her house.

“I don’t eat salt and pepper and I bet I didn’t have a salt and pepper pot in my house until a year ago when I took over here. They are basic, boring ones and they are shoved away in this cupboard.

The London Beefeaters which were the very first in the collection''w110512  Picture: Ceri Oakes

The London Beefeaters which were the very first in the collection''w110512 Picture: Ceri Oakes

“We never use the others - if salt is left inside them they rot so ironically it does actually damage them if you put salt in them.”

Aside from the delicious selection of cakes at the bakery the salt and pepper pots are a hit with customers who too have their own favourites.

Betty said: “My favourite ones are the sunflowers because they always seem so happy. There are some from Africa which I think are horrendous but the amount of people that come in and like them because they have been hand-made. To me they are scary but a lot of workmanship went into them.”

Cleaning and dusting the collection is a never-ending job for Donna who washes sections of them every day.

Betty says she couldn’t put a monetary value on the collection but it isn’t about the money - the pots are part of the family history and in their own way tell a little story.

“The blue cats - I knew I was going to get them for my mum’s birthday and I don’t know why I did it but I gave them to her before.

“She never made it to her birthday and they were the last pair she ever received.

“My sister had been going out with someone for 20 years but split up and they both separately both bought my mum the same set which were robins. It’s strange when you think of the stories that go with them.”