But still the clever north wind was not satisfied. It spoke to Vianne of towns yet to be visited, friends in need yet to be discovered, battles yet to be fought... ~ Chocolat
We’re in that peculiar state at the moment that precipitates a move; a strange kind of limbo-land. Everything is a mess, mentally and physically. Everything is on hold. It’s been a long time coming; we’ve been building up to it for probably two or three years now, and it’s been quite a process from those initial ‘blue sky/bigger picture’ conversations over wine and cheese to get to this point, but we’re still not there yet, not quite.
Moving is exciting, and adventurous, and incredibly dislocating. We’ve been talking a lot lately about how we both love and loath change. We come from a fairly nomadic family; we moved around a lot as kids, our family home changed location regularly within London, then out to the country, on to the Georgian city of Bath, circuitously to Oxford via the Kenyan bush. We should be good at it, by now; I have moved home every couple of years since I was seventeen, Jess the same. For brief spells I’ve lived in spaces of all shapes and sizes, in the city, in the English country-side, in the eaves of a Georgian town house, the stable-block of an old rectory, a mews house, a Victorian conversion, a 1970s block, and now an idyllic picture-postcard cottage covered in clematis and climbing roses.
Every now and then I like to dislodge myself. I think that’s good for you. Moving is a time to question and to start over. To slim down, shed un-necessities, and then to rebuild. There is nothing that I love more than being on the road. It makes for a longer life, in a way. Clearing out some drawers the other evening I found hundreds of old photos that I hadn’t looked at in years (taken back in the day when we still had photos developed, and you went to collect them excited, not knowing what you were going to get). Spread out across the living floor, I was presented with my life in its snapshot entirety, glossy photographs and polaroids over thirty years - friends, birthday parties, sailing holidays, school trips, safaris, pubs (a lot of pubs), boyfriends. The people and objects that are constants, those that fell away with time, people that loved you and changed you, helped you and hurt you.
Change, and specifically moving - not only house but city, and not only home but business too - is also a time (and quite a long time in our case) of self-induced chaos, of self-imposed risk. A major course-change. For a while, nothing is mundane or safe or usual. Everything is thrown upside down. It becomes an excuse to postpone life. I’m guilty of this a lot, I think, allowing periods of uncertainty, the unforeseeable, to unbalance me so that I prevaricate with the everyday stuff, the chores, the things that need to be done relentlessly, no matter what. ‘When we are settled’, I say, a lot. I get sentimental, I think of all the goodbyes, all the ‘lasts’. But I am simultaneously aware and exhilarated by this period of being less tied down, this period of weightless-ness, when ‘stuff’ doesn’t seem to matter much, when you realise that all you really need are the people you love, a backpack, a change of clothes.
While ‘now’ is a strange, slow, uncertain time (the calm before the storm, perhaps), we’ve been working on planning prep for projects ahead this summer and autumn, and completing concept boards for brides, which are just the kind of uplifting and advancing tasks we need to keep us going at the moment.
Aren’t Jess’s illustrations perfect in this board? I really love these quick sketches she does - they are very characterful, full of movement and atmosphere. It’s such a romantic way to indicate to brides how their arrangements will look, how their table decorations will be arranged, with little whimsical lines and dabs of watercolour. Jess created the more detailed pencil drawing on the left as a bespoke design for the couple - she's developing this style of 'floral heraldry' for wedding crests and personal illustrations, entwining floral and botanical elements in coat-of-arms like designs, all completed in intricate detail using graphite pencils. For this spring wedding she included tulips, blossom and ranunculus - all flowers we will be using in the arrangements on the day.
March has been a funny one. Quiet on the flower front. A lot of sitting behind the laptop/drawing board working up design briefs and collating reference images of abundant summer borders, which makes me quite literally itch for flowers. We bought some tree peonies, which I'm going to be watching like a hawk till they bloom. Spent a few days in the city. Rotavated beds in Hampshire. Consumed an alarming quantity of gouda (me). Rediscovered Lily Allen. Embarked upon an obscure new prop obsession that we really can't afford right now. Spring is beginning to happen.
Summer. Where will we be, what will it look like? We are collaborating and working with so many wonderful people this year. We are growing our own flowers, working on some dream events, continuing to meet and learn from new suppliers. It’s going to involve a lot of unknowns. A lot of driving. But that was the dream, wasn’t it - driving around with tubs of flowers and plants, growing and cutting, buying and selling. Getting back on the road. Following the North wind. Drifting to pastures new.
It was a pleasure recently to see one of our photographs from last summer in Homes & Gardens, used as the colour inspiration for a spring mood board.
Thank you to Homes & Gardens for featuring us in the March issue!