Seldom is there anything more pleasing than uncorking a bottle of wine and feeling that you are doing something lovely for your offspring at the same time. Sin and virtue irresistibly combined.  I’ve been conscientiously setting aside corks with the vague notion of making boats for Harry’s bath, and this week my small stash was boosted by an enormous sack of corks contributed by colleagues, who seemingly rival Oscar Wilde in their affection for the grape.  The intriguing odour of slightly stale red wine corks now permeates Maison Kate and the ambience is none the worse for that.

Scraps of gift wrap, cocktail picks and pennies were all we needed to knock up these buoyant beauties; if you tire of attempting to saw the corks in half (don’t do this after drinking the wine…), just glue three together for a galleon-like raft (below). We used drinking straws to create gusty winds, seething whirlpools and ultimately as a means to a refreshing drink from the pretend sea itself – urging a 2yr old to blow not suck is a comedic exercise in futility, I have learned.

Once our flotilla was complete, I used the residual corks to make these jaunty clippers (below), which will float in bowls on the table tomorrow night when friends descend for dinner, bearing menu details and various dares and challenges for the guests to complete.  They’ll doubtless be dive-bombed by olives and tested for buoyancy with such rigour that they are unlikely to survive the main course, but first impressions are everything and they add a splash of nautical colour to the room.

We’ll leave Harry and his armada bobbing in the tub – a man’s bath is his kingdom after all, and no place for cameras – but suffice to say that these boats are phoenix-like in their ability to rise again after complete immersion and apparent destruction; dry out the cocktail pick, mount a new sail and away you float, into the brave new world of another day…

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