Cloudy with slight drizzle warming to sunny periods later
Wake at six to write as I am getting behind on my vow to write every day. The discipline of waking, making tea, sniffing the morning with the dog through the back door and then heading back to bed with the laptop is a daily rigour to which I have well adapted and look forward to.
Awaken OH at seven thirty and we are away and heading off into the new day by eight, with the suns rays glancing off the windscreen and the heat of our bodies misting up the glass. The motorway is clear until we approach the capital city. The GPS recommends coming off at that point but OH wisely decides to carry onto the next exit. Looking over at the A roads, they are crammed. We finally come off and have to look for a bar. Travelling with a man of a certain age is reminiscent of journeys with the boys when they were little. When they had to go, they had to go. I text the clients and say very sorry, we are running a little late and have a coffee whilst OH is otherwise engaged.
20 minutes later we arrive in the town and wait in front of the nattily appointed Tivoli Hotel. Built in the early 20th century it is a solid, rectangular building with a matt pink facade. The bedroom balconies have beautiful metal basket guard rails and the roof is angular and decorated with intricate metalwork.
‘What is the guy’s name’? asks OH
‘Mica’ comes the reply, over my shoulder.
We turn and see a man as tall and pale as a silver birch, with fine blond hair and baby blue eyes. He is smiling nervously and is casually dressed. Mica (name changed) wife emerged from their Russian car. She was also slight and pale with shoulder length wavy chestnut hair but more eye level for me and shook hands shyly. She was wearing a floaty Indian top with shiny inserts and open toed sandals and many crystal bangles.
I like to dress according to the client and it also gives me confidence. However, I don’t always get it right. When getting dressed this morning, I had channeled my inner Russian and was wearing black and grey striped trousers, subtly shiny Per Una Blouse, bright yellow belt sporting one or two metal west highland terriers, shrimp pink scarf and sage green woollen jacket. I was somewhat off the mark.
We were stunned that they were in their own car and asked how long they had taken to get here ‘three days’ was the response. They had left home where it was -5 and had driven through Russia, Estonia, Latvia, Germany and France. ‘it was an adventurous’ they smiled. We all then got back into our respective cars and went to see the property.
Typical of the region, the buildings are laid out around a large central courtyard which has been planted with herbs and roses and is where the owners do breakfast and afternoon teas. The house is rectangular and has a low pitched orange tiled roof. The facade is faced with river stone pebbles taken from the large rivers which run through the department. Behind the courtyard, the land extends for acres towards the far trees and is dotted with the beautiful cream and fluffy creatures that give the house its name. They come over to see us and their nostrils flare and suck in the air that carries our scent.
OH stays in the kitchen and talks to the owners and I commence the visit. This is a property which is a delight to visit but even so, I have never had such appreciative clients. As each door opened and the room was revealed, they emitted gasps of wonderment. ‘it is so beautiful’ ‘it is much better than even photos’. The lady owner then comes to show us the bed and breakfast part and then her workshop. She spins and dies the wool from her animals and is also a knitwear designer.
For a passionate crafter like myself, going to this property is not work. The wool is ranged over a long series of shelves and is of many hues. The dies are taken from materials that are foraged over the local area and over the seasons. There are creams, pale sage greens, berry red and purple, fern and cinnamon tones. I stroke them and think, if I sell the property, would she be prepared to give me a good price. This type of wool is astonishingly expensive to buy normally and to have enough to make a shawl, would be quite an investment.
We then go to see the livestock and the animal housing. The boys come up to see us and submit to stroking. Their wool is dense and soft as a shag pile carpet. They are tall, close up, and they look down at me, their faces surprisingly small compared to the thickness of their necks
At one point I am surrounded and the owners says ‘dont get behind them – just push your way through’.
Two hours later and we are back at the Tivoli and have a long talk. I ask them what their plans are, now that they have arrived, and they say that they just came to see this house and are now heading back home to speak to their children. At the car, they give us presents – a bottle of spiced rum and a pretty dish bearing the name of their town. At the last minute, the lady (who is a reiki teacher) presses a rose quartz crystal into my hand. We go and have a McDonald’s and reflect that there are good and lovely people out there and we have just been fortunate enough to spend a morning in their company.
Tonight is the GBSB Final and it is the rank outsider who wins, largely because the other two contenders, who have been stronger all the way through, had a rush of blood to the head and made utterly bizarre garments which were ugly and unstylish.
Lorna made what was a beautiful dress with long overskirt but then put on enough purple tulle to satisfy a Transylvanian transvestite. Neil presented a never before seen garment to the world for the alteration challenge – it is not wearable said the judge, sniffily. He then made a dogs dinner of a dress which didnt fit well and was of a number of materials which didnt sew together well. It was as if they had thrown away the chance to win.
Matt’s winning dress was truly avant guard – so much in fact that his very petite wife had trouble walking over to the judging. It was however beautifully executed and stylish.