Blackberries and tea


For my Mum.

“I can’t understand why it’s so hard to find tea cosies, or tea caddies for that matter” I said to M, as we meandered through the streets of Oxfordshire in search of either.

Our first stop was the local hardware store. “You might find something in here” M said, as the ding ding of the door sounded.

I’ve always loved a hardware store. The utilitarian nature of the ambiance – to say nothing of the products is deeply appealing.  Bygone weekly Saturday morning trips to one of the most interesting shops in small town Ireland may be partly responsible.  I’d cycle in, eagerly anticipating what I would find there.  My trusty Dawes bicycle left to lean up against the shopfront window, I’d open the door to wood-infused scents, the steel of nails and screws, drawers and aisles of everything you could possibly need to do and fix with under a ceiling that seemed endless.

My favourite part was at the front of the store.  After a long walk to the bottom, chatting to my favourite of the brothers who ran the place, I would return to the small record and tape collection by the door. A bit of a maverick touch, one of the McCann family had undoubtedly thought it a good idea to include it; the nearest place being Dublin to purchase anything approaching vinyl.  Whoever it was also clearly liked country music: Dolly Parton, John Denver, Glen Campbell and various other folk made up the selection but, as the years rolled by and the taste of the county grew more informed, Abba and Michael Jackson joined them.

Fast forward to this Saturday morning – years later in Oxfordshire: M indulged my love of Champions, as she indulges many things I love. We looked at pretty laptrays, juicers and the like.  I bought a ceramic hob scraper. But no tea cosy.

“Well I tell you where you might get one – I think there’s a craft fair on today. You never know” M said.  “It may not still be open – but we can see on the way to the carpark.”

As we entered, there on the stand facing the door was the cutest wool tea cosy disguised as a blackberry.
“I’m not sure that will fit the teapot I gave you” said M.
“Yes it will – I think it’s the perfect size and it’s even more perfect because we’ve found it together” I replied giving her a squeeze.
“Just make sure you like it – I don’t want to be returning it for you” came her whispered warning.

Back in London I pulled the knitted fruit over my multicoloured pot: Knobbly textured and soft, with a green stalk hat, its rich berry colour hugged the decade old housewarming present from my Mum close, securely insulating the warmth.



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