Where can you buy a zip? A simple enough request, which is surprisingly difficult to answer. Haberdashers really are a dying breed: we dig out some of the remaining few.

John Lewis, Oxford St, London W1 (017l 629 7711)

John Lewis became London's mecca for sewing paraphernalia when other stores decided to do away with their haberdashery departments.

MacCulloch & Wallis Ltd, 25 Dering St, London Wl (0171 629 0311)

This old-fashioned shopdispenses haberdashery items to trade as well as the general public. You can buy anything from cotton to corset-boning.

The Button Queen, 19 Marylebone Lane, London W1 (0171 935 1505)

With over 300 varieties of pearl button alone, prices range from a few pence to hundreds of pounds. Send fabric swatches in with details of quantity, size and style and they will be happy to put together three or four samples.

Duttons for Buttons, 32 Coppergate, York (01904 632042); also at Ilkley, Harrogate and Keighley.

This very useful small chain sells everything from zips, ribbons, lace, braids and trims to cotton. And, of course, buttons from 6p-pounds 13.

Buttons'n'Bows, Knight's Court, 70 Causeway Head, Penzance, Cornwall.

They stock fabric and metal clasps to make nurse's belts, through to suspenders, needles, pins, tape, patchwork pieces, cotton and buttons.

The Button Box 211 Shield's Road, Byker, Newcastle (0191 2760785)

This relatively new shop stocks all haberdashery requirements from lace to wool braids, fringes, ribbons and buttons.

Good thing

Waggers Dri-Bags, pounds 11.95 - pounds 27.95

If you find that your car always suffers when you and your four-legged friend have been for a turn in the park, then zipping the soggy beast into a towelling bag may well hold great appeal for you. The bag not only dries the dog off but, thus restrained, it prevents it from roaming around on the back seat leaving muddy trails and hairs everywhere. And as if that isn't enough, the nasty pong of wet dog is kept at bay. Of course, your dog may object to being stuffed into a towelling bag, preferring a muddy struggle instead, in which case you may come off worse than the back seats of your car ever did.

Comfey Pet & People Products, 2-4 Parsonage Street, Bradninch, Nr Exeter, Devon EX5 4NW (01392 881 285)

Mad thing A potting-shed for townies, pounds 198

Hortus Ornamenti's 'Ultimate Collection' contains all that's needed to tend the window boxes and patio tubs which pass as gardens for most city dwellers. The kit comprises three hand-made tools (replicas of Victorian gardening gear), 45 'swing' and 30 'T-tag' copper plant-labels, a ball of jute string and a pair of gardening-scissors. Two slots at one end of the box provide space for packets of seeds, while bulbs can be stashed away in the main compartment alongside the tools. It's enough to make even the most reluctant gardener consider finding a few tubs for their bare window sills.