The short answer was, "No", but to expand on this brevity.... we are a small, family business and when you call you deal directly with us. You can talk directly to Neil, the creative genius and founder of Netherton Foundry, father of my children and all round superhuman and you can talk to me.
We do not have reps and agents schlepping around drumming up business for us - that's not how we do things.
When Neil created the first Netherton Foundry, made in Britain product - our slow cooker - there was nothing else for it than for me to fill my "little blue van" and tour the length and breadth of the country, hammering on shop doors
Not being a natural front of house/sales person, with a lifetime of back room jobs behind me I found this new role, shall we say, challenging. However, with no-one else to do it, I simply had to get on with it - what doesn't kill you makes you stronger!!
To start with, I was quite frankly terrified and rubbish. But as the trips and the miles accumulated, so did my confidence, market knowledge, sales and "technique".
I covered a lot of ground, quite literally, and met many people.
Of the rude, arrogant, ignorant and hostile, the less said the better.
Of the inspirational, imaginative, supportive, kind, tea offering and friendly majority, no praise is high enough and my thanks to all of you are implicit here.... you know who you are.
I learned a lot of valuable lessons and have a store of anecdotes, with which I occasionally bore anyone who will listen.
My personal armour, donned to protect me, in part, from the aforementioned hostile crowd, and polished to bolster my confidence, was double skinned; my passion for what we had started and personal knowledge of the product.
I simply refused to sell anything we hadn't tried and tested ourselves.
Cliché it may be, but I spoke from the heart.
For example, before the milkpan was made available to you lot, one came home with me. Its first run was a batch of porridge, and when it had been successfully and easily cleaned out, it had to face a helping of scrambled egg followed by a pint of custard. Product testing can be hard at times, imagine having to eat a pint of creamy, home made custard and call it work!
Incidentally, that's how the milkpan ended up with 2 pouring spouts - our son is left handed and accused us of right hand prejudice when he tried out the pan.
The latest Netherton Foundry equivalent of a "shiny new thing", which naturally isn't shiny at all, is our cake tin and this was tested with the same ruthlessness as everything else.
No paper lining and the stickiest substance in the cupboard were the starting point.
And this is what happened................. this was not a special tin, nothing extra had been done to it, it came out of the seasoning oven, had its brass rivet added and was unceremoniously bundled onto the front seat of my slightly newer little blue van.
Honey, date, walnut and lavender cake.
50g broken walnuts
70g chopped, pitted dates
170g sr flour
2 lavender heads, chopped (optional and you can substitute fresh thyme if you prefer)
3 teaspoons runny honey.
Pre-heat the oven to 170ºC.
Grease your cake tin - as my mother before me, I use the wrapper from a pack of butter, and dust with flour. Tip out any excess flour.
Put the honey, butter, dates and walnuts into a pan, our milk pan is ideal.
Warm over a gentle heat until the butter has melted.
Leave to cool while you whisk the eggs in a large mixing bowl until light and fluffy.
Pour the butter mix into the eggs and whisk again.
Fold in the flour and lavender/thyme (if using)
Pour the batter into the greased and floured cake tin.
It looks like porridge at this stage - don't worry!
Place in the oven for 20 - 25 minutes, you can tell it's cooked if a skewer inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean
Drizzle top with 3 tsp runny honey while still warm.
Allow to cool in tin and then turn out carefully. You will get sticky hands, but hey, what's the problem with that? Lick your fingers.
This can be served plain with a cup of coffee or dressed up with, say, caramelised or puréed apple and a dollop of Mascarpone.
© Netherton Foundry 2017