Bowled Over! My Life in Bowls

Last week I wrote about ‘cheery receptacles’ and their role in my childhood Christmases. Later, in the bath, it struck me that ‘receptacles’ made it sound as though my home was a depository for redundant kidney dishes and medical waste.

It’s not.

But I am a big fan of a bowl.

Lying in the bath (the cheeriest of receptacles, surely?) I mentally totted up the bowls currently in use around the house.

There are lots. And their uses are many and varied.

Currently I have antique soup bowls (the ones with handles) dotted about the place containing Quality Street and chocolate coins.

A vintage bowl allows you to put out cheap chocolate under the auspices of style – check out those jewel-coloured foil wraps glinting under the lights! And I’m all about styling out cheap, after all.

A lovely friend of mine who travels regularly to Morocco was in the habit of bringing me back pretty glass or marble shallow dishes. I’ve put loo rolls in them. They’re officially Loo Roll Bowls. So much easier to access!

In the kitchen beside the fruit bowl sits a very large bowl created by my friend’s father in his studio in Portugal.

He probably imagined it properly exhibited so you could see the gilt decoration on the inside.

I have filled it with gloves, socks, woolly hats, boot warmers and dog treats. It’s the Dog Walking Bowl.

In my bedroom, I have an aluminium bowl full of costume jewellery.

In my bathroom, porcelain bowls are filled with make-up items, hand cream and a trillion travel size body lotions and shampoos purloined from hotels.

And then there is the giant, enamel Bowl of General Crap. It houses things like the children’s milk teeth, an electric razor as recommended by Victor Kiam, receipts, paint brushes, inner soles, hand cream, sunglasses which have fallen out of favour and condoms from the neolithic era.

The bowl of General Crap is a near cousin of The Drawer.

I’m pretty sure everybody has a Drawer. Usually in the kitchen, it’s where you store stuff you think you may use again one day (you won’t), things which have no obvious other home or things which need to be hidden from view at short notice because you have guests coming round.

It’s where the tape measure lives. And the worming pills you forgot to give the dog. And batteries that may or may not have some power left. And more hand cream. And the contents of a thousand Christmas crackers.

But the Bowl of General Crap is better than The Drawer because you can just drop things into it. You don’t have to open it. You don’t have to worry about stuff cascading into the base unit below and getting lost or chipping some of the good crockery stored there.

I just bloody love bowls.

Bowls have played bit parts throughout the epic performance that is my life.

Here are my top three bowls:

1986: French Exchange, Normandy.

I am the first down to petit dejeuner. There is a bowl sitting by a flask of hot chocolate. Should I pour the hot chocolate into the bowl? It has no handles, so it’ll be tricky to drink but I have seen this sort of thing in my text book, ‘Actualites Francais.’ But then, if I pour the hot chocolate into the bowl, where will I put the Rice Krispies if they make an appearance?

I go back to my room, overwhelmed with anxiety. I’ll wait ’til lunch.

1987: Richard’s Room, Leamington Spa.

I have been at university for a week. I have gone out drinking with a young man I know slightly from back home. I have mixed grape and grain. Having vomited copiously into every vessel in his kitchen, I pass out. I awake the following morning in my underwear. On the floor beside the bed is Richard. Under the bed is a mixing bowl. Full of sick. I am too embarrassed ever to see him again.

1990: Luis Botha Airport (as was), South Africa.

My summer vacation is spent working as Ground Crew for South African Airways. I greet a cheerful, familiar-looking, African woman as she steps off a flight in from Johannesburg. We walk to the terminal. The arrivals lounge is full of people dancing around with bowls of fire. Just as I go to alert my colleagues to the arsonists about to set fire to the airport, I spot a sign in the crowd. ‘Welcome Winnie Mandela.’  It is literally a reception party complete with home made pyrotechnics. I wonder how I can incorporate bowls of fire into my daily life.

Have a bowl this Christmas!

You may also like


  1. I’ve never really taken much notice of the bowls in our house. However, we do have several “crap drawers” – in fact, I think nearly all of them are full of crap. The smallest items of crap find themselves being put into the BBC Radio Solent mug sitting next to my computer.

  2. Spare a thought too for those whose seasonal alcoholic excesses will cause them to genuflect before The Great White Bowl in the smallest room whilst mumbling “Never again!” We’ve all been there . . .

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *