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The Independent Culture
ILL-ORGANISED or last-minute hosts no longer have to resort to shoving white wine in the freezer or clogging the sink with ice-cubes and salt. Rapid Ice, a silver jacket that lives in the freezer until needed, slips over the bottle and chills your wine while you lay out the nibbles. The label's claim to chill a bottle from room temperature in five minutes perhaps stretches the truth a little, but after 10 minutes the wine reaches an acceptable temperature and after 15 is perfect. pounds 6.99 from Sainsbury's, Boots, Tesco, John Lewis, Safeway, House of Fraser, Oddbins, Majestic Wines, Augustus Barnett, Selfridges, and independent stockists.

THIS baby's basket is made, using traditional methods, by Countrywide Workshops, a charity which helps disabled craft workers find outlets for their goods. Because it is made of willow, its sturdiness should guarantee it future heirloom status. It measures 28 in by 14 in and costs pounds 86.50 with stand and mattress, pounds 43.50 on its own, and is made by The Royal Dundee Institute for the Blind. Countrywide's new catalogue also includes traditional brushes and broom heads. For catalogue and mail order details, contact Countrywide Workshops, 47 Fisherton Street, Salisbury, Wiltshire SP2 7SU, tel: 0722 326886.

TWO Christmas present suggestions for pet lovers. For the cat, a Bob Martin's Natural Flea Repellant Collar ( pounds 2.99 from Sainsbury's and pet shops). Instead of powerful insecticides, it uses age-old herbal repellants - pennyroyal, cedarwood, rue, citronella and eucalyptus - and certainly smells much nicer than chemical collars. And for the dog, a Glow Dog, an illuminated lead. Red bulbs along its length flash on and off, operated by a battery in the handle. Available from Harrods at pounds 19.95 or by mail order from Marketing Matters, 2a Alderville Road, London SW6 3RJ, tel: 071-736 2111; add pounds 1.50 p&p (last orders for Christmas by 14 December).

GROW your own olive tree with a kit from Fines Herbes, who also provide encouragement in the form of a bottle of extra virgin oil. Initially the olive tree, which comes in a terracotta planter, is 7-12 in tall, but if planted out and well cared for it can reach 20 ft. (It will remain considerably smaller if confined to a container, explains the company reassuringly.) Each kit comes with exhaustive pruning, transplanting and care instructions - but if, despite your efforts, your plant dies, Fines Herbes will replace it. Olive Enthusiast's Kit pounds 25 each (plus post and packing) by mail order from Fines Herbes, 4 Stafford Mansions, London SW11 4QG, tel: 071-228 9672.

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