Birthday week chez Friko and Beloved's,
and this is the card Beloved gave me. Inside he wrote "we get more alike as the years go on, or is that just cataracts?" What do I do with a man like that?
Presents are usually not of great concern in our house. We give each other - and other people - books, CDs, food and drink, small items of dress like scarves etc. (never socks or other sensible clothing); I've had jewellery for special occasions, expensive meals, the odd weekend away perhaps. Nothing terribly extravagant but always given with thought.
One long ago birthday present Beloved gave me still ranks amongst my favourites: a swing, an ordinary swing made from a piece of oak with two holes in it and suspended from a beech tree by stout rope.
When I was a little girl I always wanted a swing in a cherry tree; a friend had one and I loved to eat cherries. I told Beloved and for my next birthday he took me into the garden and showed me what he had done. He said : " I can't grow you a cherry tree fast enough but will a swing in a beech tree do?"
I still have the swing, the seat is now covered in lichen and mosses, but it still works.
We had an equally wonderful present between the two of us this week. Gardener has been dragging his feet over stripping and repainting an old Singer sowing machine with a sheet of marble on the top, which we use as a table on the terrace by the kitchen, and a municipal park bench we brought back from France many years ago. Both were seriously rusty and in need of attention for some time.
I mentioned this to our good friend Jay, who paints pet portraits; "I'll do it", she said instantly, "it can be your birthday present. I love doing intricate, complicated work". The intricacy of the job was exactly the reason why gardener didn't want to do it.
This bench has never looked as good as this even in its glory days in a
Municipal Park in France.
Tomorrow it will go back in its place against a very old wall where the evening sun
warms the ancient stonework; our favourite place for indulging in pre-dinner drinks.