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From Mud to a lot More Mud and Flowers in Between

I’m not much of a writer, in fact I always saw it as a chore but recently I’ve collected little scribbles of things I want to remember, questions I’m asked, recipes I’ve found or interesting objects I’ve discovered, I thought where better to collect my scribbles than here. This will be a little chaotic or garbled, it won’t be refined writing but you’re welcome to read along whilst I write.

Yes, flowers are my world now but that’s not where it began for me. This is something people ask me a lot, how did you start, where did you start and most importantly, why.

I suppose it’s time to tell you how I began...

It's Sunday, my favourite day, I'm sat at the breakfast table with Alex, a pot of coffee and marmalade croissants, he's reading and munching. I think this is always how I'll write this.

We recently moved house and I've discovered lovely old pictures of my childhood. I’ve always adored ‘femme’, completely in love with summer dresses, ribbons, decorations of all kinds, sparkles and sequins, afternoons of teacups and that lovely carried away chatter that girls do.

I love beautiful things, always have, always will. But the beauty of imperfection, the pristine I could never grasp. I was that little girl, in a pretty little dress with muddy scraped knees and lovely bows in my knotty hair. I have two sisters, my best friends, we're a family of girls, 'your poor father', people say. I’ve grown up in a world of girls and I love it that way! There are very few men in my life but the ones that are, are the most important and the complete loves of my life!

It was inevitable really. I’ll start at the beginning and give you all of the in between…

I sat as a scruffy fifteen year old girl in the academy hall of my school in Bath, taking an incredibly dull test on the prospects of my future career choices, and the results….. F L O R I S T !

At the time I took no notice.

I grew up, fell in love, learnt to paint and cook, spent summers on Greek islands and Christmases in our cottage, went to art school by the sea and university in London, remained in love, getting better at cooking and worse at painting, until my final show.

I loved being at university, I made the greatest friends, friends for life but I learnt rather little. I never, ever understood what my university teachers wanted from me. I haven’t got a conceptual brain it seems. Apparently illustration isn’t drawing anymore. Anyway, I managed to get myself into a predicament before my final show, they asked me to make a film about rotting whales and other animals.

Sometimes I found it painful to even have a conversation with these people.

My choice was, make a film on rotting whales and ‘do well’ or remember what I love, to make beautiful things that people will enjoy.

It wasn’t a hard decision and thank goodness I did, I sold half of my paintings and got a commission with random house to contribute illustrations to Haruki Murakami’s book, The Strange Library. It was a lovely moment.

BUT with that came a serious knock in confidence. So much so, I went back to my little village outside of Bath to spend the summer, I was asked to work at a little boutique in Bath as a summer job and I just couldn’t. I thought I was useless. Even the painting selling or the commission didn’t encourage my lack of confidence. I suppose 3 years of knocks was a little too many.

So I took some time out. Spent the summer at our family cottage, painting in the potting shed, cooking again, family suppers around the table in the garden, spending long summer days with Lex (having spent 4 years apart) and gaining the courage to work in that boutique, making new friends and squirrelling ideas away for our travel plans.

In the autumn, Alex and I spent two months exploring the hills of Nepal, admiring Kathmandu’s colourful flags and pretty little door knockers and getting stuck in the clouds, we then spent a month in India, with all the colours, decorative archways, some bizarre characters, beautiful fabrics and every spice you can think of, followed by a final stop in Sri Lanka with an added explorer, my sister Tildy. We drove from the city to the hills, visited old England where our father travelled at our age, cuddled elephants, stayed in beach shacks with the best prawn curry, held baby turtles and got home just in time for the end of the Autumn and the most exciting build up to Christmas.

The greatest of travels, I’ll never forget.

January came and at this point, the nostalgia of being home had worn off. My sisters had gone back to London and the house was quiet. Too quiet.

For months, I applied for jobs. Anything. I had no idea what I wanted to do. I applied for everything. Everyone said no. Until, my only reply. From the greatest girls at O&S who I’m so grateful to now.

I met Chikae at a cafe in Sloane Square, horribly intimidated by what I’d got myself in for. I immediately explained that I had no idea what I was doing. I didn’t know anything about flowers, no latin names, and definitely no idea how to make anything. She said, that was irrelevant, I had a good eye and that was the only thing that mattered to her. They taught me everything!

On my first day I had that lightbulb moment, the eureka!

That was nearly 4 years ago now...


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