I miss the city today. I shouldn’t, because I was woken by the cockerel proudly announcing a bewitchingly beautiful morning at our clematis-draped cottage; sunbeams throwing dappled shadows across the floorboards, a cacophony of birdsong and the odd squawk of a hen in the yard. I brushed my teeth with my head stuck out of the skylight in the bathroom where there is just a sea of frothy blossom spreading out as far as the eye can see, coinciding at last with blue sky, and then walked through the garden, down through the churchyard, and up the lane to the village shop to buy croissants and coffee. I met no-one; the world around me was that taut silence that I have come to know here, and so still, but for banks of poetically-nodding daffodils that I felt irritably annoyed with for no reason. The quiet makes me fidgety; having spent so much time in London lately, I find myself on edge without the constant distraction of the metropolis happening around me, the noise, the grime and bustle, the anonymity and rapidity, the demanding, get-sh*t-done-fast mentality of city dwellers, the constant mushrooming of new apartment blocks completed in a third of the time it takes to grow a Christmas tree. I miss the flood of strange faces and the recurrent promise of pavements, the endless municipal grey and the glimmer of glass lobbies. Sleepy village life in large doses somehow disrupts my productivity, all the space and fresh air makes me feel claustrophobic and uptight. Oxfordshire is so tame, so Farrow & Ball-picket-fence pretty it sometimes makes me want to scream - just a little bit - occasionally.
But if you are even a little bit like me, you'll know that one needs something to be disatisfied about to stay sane; utopia is where motivation and creativity go to die. So, the merits of the city vs the country are my current preoccupation. But it is only an indulgence; and not the only one; other pressing matters on my mind today include whether or not I am coming down with a cold, whether to add corn to the seafood chowder I am cooking for dinner tonight, and where I left my car keys, while also periodically wishing I were a red-head. Hardly third-world problems.
While blogging I can also report that I have recently been 'clogging'.
[Sorry. I couldn't resist.]
Bryr clogs are hand-made in San Francisco using European wood bases and butter-soft American leather and are deliciously comfortable. They are also battleship grey and just the right height to be elegant but still practical enough to wear for work. I love the 'cloggy' sound they make on the workshop floor and that they inhabit the neither-sandal-nor-boot category that is just right for this helter-skelter spring weather. I seem to have assumed a work-uniform of clogs and linen aprons, which elicits a fair few uncomprehending glances on the streets of East Oxford. A couple of days ago I plaited my hair, which was a step too far, and looked as though I might be auditioning as the lead in an amateur production of 'Heidi Grows Up'. In future I shall resist the plait-clog combo unless I am off to one of those Swiss milkmaid fancy-dress parties that I so regularly attend.
These are my second ever pair of clogs. When I was six or seven, my father bought me some in a funny little shop in Lymington, a pretty Georgian town that we sometimes visited in the summer for a beachy day out on the Hampshire coast. They were the more traditional closed-toe style in navy blue and I wanted them so badly that I insisted we buy them even though I knew they did not fit me as well as they ought. Oddly, I remember that specific day well; I remember the shop's seaside-y interior, and that afterwards we walked down a cobbled hill to buy ice-cream and watch the yachts on the Solent and the crisp, brine-y smell of seaweed drying in the sun on the quay.
After a couple of very flowery weeks of project work, this week has, by necessity, been coffee-fuelled admin time. We are working on a few exciting plans for later in the year, and hope to have some substantial new elements of the website ready to share with you soon.
Meanwhile, Oxford is replete with bounteous blossom - radiant magnolia, cherry, pear, camellia - and, for some reason, Morris dancers. As some of you will know, I have a positively anaphylactic phobia of Morris dancers - I find them inexplicably creepy. (Useful information only in the event that we are walking down the same street and I turn and run, as it will no doubt be due to the stick and handkerchief wielding prance-y blokes up ahead.)*
Spring is a funny time of the year. All is winter-bleak and dreary and then suddenly, something detonates, and every tree and bush is effervescent with petals.
For a florist, it is heaven and hell in equal measure; I am having to restrain my clippers every moment of every day.
AESME is finally equipped now for the kind of event work that we want to cater for, which has taken a while to come together and involved a great deal of planning and research and tweaking, from prop sourcing to plumbing (thank you, Dad), to transportation and beyond. I can’t wait to be able to roll this out and create our leafy alchemy for clients without being hampered or limited by space or lack of kit and resources. There is nothing in this world more dreamy than a table laden to trembling with food and flowers and it is the latter which we are now dedicated to sharing, whether it be humble jam-jars of grape hyacinth and mint or Bacchanalian urn-fuls of pear blossom - and every sumptuous, blowsy bloom we can lay our hands on in between.
We have also reached the commitment stage of talking about the future for AESME and where we want to take her (assuming she’s a Lady business, which I think it’s safe to say she is). I am learning a lot about myself throughout this process, my strengths and my weaknesses. I have noticed that I tend to get mired down in the minutiae, and Jesse helps me to re-center and then widen my focus.
It is when I zoom out that I can appreciate what an exhilarating and generative stage in our lives this will be. And is.