Gardening: Tool Box: Where there's muck there's brass

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A FAMOUS photograph of Isambard Kingdom Brunel by Robert Howlett looks down on my desk. My admiration for the great Victorian engineer explains why I prefer traditional materials to modern plastics.

Predictably, I have nothing but praise for the Solo sprayer with its polished wooden handles and brass lances, which extend the reach to almost 5ft.

The feeder tube is plastic, but even that ends in a brass filter whose gauze prevents muck being pumped up from the bucket containing whatever you are spraying.

The Solo recalls the fishing rods my grandfather used. It looks and feels wonderful, is easy to assemble - my first attempt took 15 seconds - and is a paragon of operational efficiency.

I also admire it for having stood the test of time. What appears to be an exercise in nostalgia is, in fact, essentially the same sprayer that Solo has been making since just after the First World War, when it cost the equivalent of pounds 1.40.

Today's pounds 25.24 (including postage) is an astonishing bargain when seven decades of inflation are taken into account. The even better news is that the price has been reduced to only pounds 18.99 for Tool Box readers.

Solo Sprayers Ltd, 4 Brunel Road, Leigh-on-Sea, Essex SS9 5JN (0702 525740).