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How much should you pay ...

to keep the rain off your garden party

It is June - the garden looks great, the evenings are long, so why not have that long overdue party? Much easier than squashing everyone into one room. Then, panic. What if it rains? We checked out how much it would cost to keep your guests dry.

Marquees are not just for flower shows and grand weddings. Simple structures can be fixed next to a house in the style of a vast awning, with sides that can be opened or closed. Flooring, fabric linings, lighting and heating will generally cost more. Prices will vary according to the size and position of the area under canvas and the distance a supplier has to travel.

SOMERSET Yeo Paull of Martock (01935 824391): does Hampton Court Flower Show but thinks small as well. A tubular pavilion - aluminium framework, no poles or guy ropes - can butt up against house. This starts from 10ft widths and just about any length and will cost not less than pounds 200. The company also does a Walu, which is shaped liked a witch's hat, with wall curtains. The smallest is nearly 10ft square and would cost a minimum of pounds 250.

HAMPSHIRE Alresford Marquees (01962 734073): A basic tent of 15ft by 15ft with sides that roll up, can seat about 20 people. It is also an affordable cover for the food and drink tables - the guests can shelter under the trees. Prices start from pounds 139.

HEREFORDSHIRE Burgoynes (Lyonshall) Ltd of Kington (01544 340283): A 20ft by 20ft annexe room off the house, with white canvas roof including coloured lining for the walls, coconut mat flooring and lighting. The whole package costs pounds 300.

GUILDFORD: Antony Scott Marquee Hire (0181 341 3373): 20 by 20ft free- standing marquee, with coloured lining and option of window walls. From pounds 250.

Electronic cafetiere, pounds 29.95

A neat idea this. Or so I though until the handle came off. The cafetiere sits on a heated pad. Not so hot that it burns through the floor if you use it upside down, but warm enough to keep your second cup toasty warm. In fact it will keep it warm for as long you like, but after a few hours the coffee may acquire something of a bitter taste. All things considered, this is a useful device and a big improvement on the standard percolator. From Innovations (IA25001) on 01793 514666.

Barking Dog Alarm, pounds 17.95

A home security device whose bark is worse than its bite. Hang Robodog, as the unimaginatively named gizmo might have been called, from a door handle, and he'll yap heartily if shaken by an intruder. Unfortunately - the prototype must have been a country hound - he's also sent wild by loud traffic. The bark is more K9 than canine, tinny, repetitive as a drum machine, and distant, as if you'd locked your pet in the cellar. Still, it might raise a laugh with friends. From Innovations (ICI16728).

Asprey, London W1

First impressions A pillastered, serious shopfront filled with unpriced wares laid out like fruits. A glittering temple to wealth with added doorman.

Stock Flabbergasting. Everything from a silver twist-action toothpick (pounds 30) to a pair of life-sized silver panthers (pounds 450,000). A leather bookmark with logo is pounds 25; you have to apply for the price of the white gold Princess Diamond egg, invisibly set with 220 .21 carat diamonds

Staff Vary by sex. Women help and are charming even if they don't anticipate a big commission. The men give the impression that they expect you to pop a bauble in your pocket at any moment.

Customers American women with young clothes and old skin. They feel safe there.

Reasons to go Wedding presents for people who don't need toasters. Enamelled boxes, Herend cache-pots, Baccarat vases and photo frames are all under pounds 60. Great for last-minute Christmas gifts; they have a jazz band on 24 December.

Reasons not to go You have less than pounds 30 on you.

Don't buy this

Buy that

Ordinary peanut

butter, 99p

Smucker's Goober, pounds 1.25

Why buy two jars when one will do? Even some flavour-fearful Brits like jam with their peanut butter. In the States, it is "massive". Smucker's Goober (above right) is an ingenious answer to two-jar grief: strawberry jam and peanut butter piped into one jar in stripes - looking rather like toothpaste. Americans have been eating it since 1968 and kids there spread pounds 6m of it on sandwiches last year.

Manufactured by J M Smucker Inc, of Orrville, Ohio, who happen to own Elsenham traditional preserves, it is now in Asda shops for a 4th of July promotion. Rush along and buy. It may not be to you taste, but it looks great.

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