“And since it is beautiful, it is truly useful.”

A darling friend gave me a farewell present this weekend: a set of two coffee cups and saucers, from the Gien France “The Little Prince” collection. They are beautiful – delicate, bone china, and featuring illustrations from “The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. They show the Prince, the sheep, the planets, the fox, the flowers, and the stars.

I love “The Little Prince”. I have at least four copies (an old, French, hardback from my childhood; a French paperback from my adulthood, purchased on the banks of the Seine; an English paperback with a beautiful inscription from a friend – this is the first edition I actually read; and a collectors edition in a slipcase and blue covering, purchased by my mother for her future grandchildren). All are presently in storage boxes on two sides of the world. When I first read “The Little Prince” at the age of 24, I felt like I hadn’t lived a coherent life before. With language like “All the stars are a riot of flowers”, I felt protected, and wrapped up, and like I had arrived home – a form of security that only a truly wonderful book can provide. And now I have these beautiful cups!

For reasons only my friend and I really understand, this present was particularly thoughtful. These cups made me look towards the future with a great deal more peace, hope, and faith.

They will make the perfect start to every day, for the rest of my future. A bucket-load of thanks to my beautiful friend for these truly special little joys. I am very lucky.

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The perfect weekend.

It was a weekend of little joys. Nothing big: no travels; no life changes; just lots of small, familiar, quietly contented things. 

On Friday night, I de-frosted some tomato & lentil soup, poured a glass of champagne, bundled myself into my pyjamas, and switched on An Affair to Remember. Oh, My. What a perfect Friday night.

I haven’t seen this movie in years. It was a childhood favourite, but watching it as an adult was a completely novel experience. When I was young, I liked what I saw as Pretty Gowns and Big Love and Melodrama. I still appreciate the gowns, but I now can see the love and melodrama through a whole new kaleidoscope: I can relate, in a way that I never could when I was younger, to the sacrifices, and grief, and sense of protection, and deep-seated care, between the characters. This is true both of the central love affair, but also of the relationships with the supporting characters: the grandmother, the former partners; every relationship in the film seems to be one of great nuance.

For the first time, I also appreciated that whilst Carey Grant and Deborah Kerr were both stunningly beautiful, neither they, nor their characters of Nickie Ferrante and Terry McCall were exactly young. In fact, Grant was in his 50s when An Affair to Remember was released. The gravitas of the relationship struck me. Ferrante and McCall were coming to their new love with old experiences, regrets, and lessons learned. They were doing their best to negotiate a new course, realising fully the magnitude of it.

I loved the witty language, the understated physicality (the first kiss between Ferrante and McCall is so stunning in its privacy), and the beauty of the scenery and props. It made me long for people to make movies like this again.

And then it was Saturday. Some yoga, cups of tea, finishing my book, and then a wander into town. A note: in just a few weeks, I must pack my European life into boxes and move it back across seas. I’m not, therefore, meant to be purchasing much.

So, small things. I bought some thimbles. I plan to put them on display in a printing drawer, along with other small curious from my last few years living in Europe. And I bought some handmade lace doilies, for a planned project (a quilt which features lace from across Europe):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So far, so good; only teensy purchases. Then it got tricky, with 50% off at my favourite clothing store, and a couple of little pretty purchases, like this one.

And then it got ridiculous, when I thought that this required a loving home:

But I couldn’t leave it in the shop. It is too beautiful, and it is handpainted in Italy. It must be wrapped in bubble-wrap and sent back home with me.

And then it was time for some Saturday afternoon baking: cupcakes for the girls, who came over later that evening.

There is nothing like a cupcake to make a Saturday more joyous.

And on Sunday? a brunch of quesadillas with home-made guacomole (after being inspired by this post in Ill Seen, Ill Said)

and leftover cupcakes; a facial/ massage; a new book being started; several cups of fresh mint tea; and going to see the incredible Pina at the cinema.

Perfect. Restorative. Joyful.

Rainy Sunday

The weather is unpredictable at the moment: sunshiney blue-skied patches, followed by days (like today) when the heavens open and gales whistle around my little apartment. These days make me long to hibernate. I lose all energy for anything other than watching The West Wing boxset and drinking cups of tea. Today I am taken by the idea of making a Lemon Curd and Blueberry Cake; but that would involve leaving the house to get flour and icing sugar, and baby, it’s cold outside.

But some days like this, I like to revel in the rain. Last week there was a day that was truly tempest-like. There was more rain in that one day, than fell in the entirety of July and August last year. The winds were gale force. Trees fell across tram-tracks. And I put on these little joys:

and I went puddle-jumping.

I bought these in Edinburgh about a year ago; I was smitten as soon as I saw the chickens.

I imagine myself in years to come, trampling around in the mud, feeding my chooks and using their eggs for a new variation of a Lemon Curd and Blueberry Cake, still wearing these Gumboots. But on Tempest Day 2011, I instead waited until I finished work for the day, and then channelled my inner-child for jumping into large puddles of rain.

It made me incredibly happy. It made me feel free. And it made me feel grateful for the rain, which so often I look at as an inconvenience. I might put on my Chicken Gumboots now and go to the supermarket for that flour and make that cake.