Sunday, 23 December 2012

From Paper Birds to Tin Men

“I can make a paper bird” you said; ” I’m rather good at making paper birds.” That was nineteen years ago. I hardly knew you, but true to your word, you reached for a piece of paper and with the skill of an origami expert, created a little bird; a swan. Crisp, sharp and precise, the white bird sat on the desk between us.  You picked up a pen and drew a love heart on one of the wings and gave it to me. “For you.” I’d so hoped you’d give me the bird. I’ve still got it all these years later; in a memory box preserved for safe keeping.

Paper birds will always make me think of you.  For our first wedding anniversary, the theme was paper.  I racked my brains for weeks wondering what I could buy you, a thoughtful token, in keeping with the theme, to mark the occasion.  In a flash of inspiration, I looked back to the start and presented you with a book; ‘Bugs and Birds in Origami.‘  

Last Christmas you made lots of birds using brightly coloured papers.  We hung them from cotton threads in the conservatory.  I was so pleased with them.  “ They look wonderful.” I enthused, “Next year we will use gold and silver and glitter.”  Our new baby has meant we haven’t had time, but it doesn’t matter, because last years are still there, faded slightly from a year of sunlight, but still bright, cheerful birds. I feel happy when I see them.

This week we celebrated our ten year anniversary. We’ve passed the markers of cotton, iron, copper and wood and each time have honoured tradition with a themed gift. Never anything ostentatious, just a token, exchanged each year at the same small, candlelit Soho restaurant. This year the theme was tin, symbolic of flexibility.  Are we flexible? I like to think so.

Finding a tin themed gift was a challenge.  A baked bean can wasn’t going to cut it. I tried to take inspiration from the Wizard of Oz, but, somehow, tenuous links to the Tin Man didn’t seem quite right.  Thankfully you seemed pleased with your cufflinks made with tin sourced from an old Cornish tin mine. Thank goodness for your many double cuffed shirts, otherwise I wouldn’t have known what to choose for you. Even if I say so myself, the Cornish pasty design was inspired. After so many years of playing violin to your sob story of how as a student you were once so poor you couldn’t even afford a pasty, well; they seemed fitting and symbolic.

You are always so thoughtful when it comes to presents.  I thought you might struggle this year, but as ever, you came up trumps. What could be better for a woman with a serious cake habit and a penchant for pattern, than a set of designer cake tins?  Beautifully packaged, five Orla Kiely tins nestled one inside the other, each a different style. I love them. 

Exemplifying flexibility, we forsook our usual bijou enchanting restaurant and instead had lunch down by the Thames whilst Pip was at pre-school.  The air was fresh, the sky was blue, seagulls cawed ( how odd there were so many.). We sat looking out on the river from the glass fronted restaurant and EB slept peacefully the whole time.  The restaurant had a charming exhibition of prints depicting collective nouns. You know how I love a good collective noun, looking at them added to the specialness of the occasion.  If we want to be correct we should make your next set of birds in white paper. Then we truly would have a ‘whiteness of swans”.

Afterwards we walked home by the side of the river. The tow path was deserted. Just you, me and EB. We took some portrait snaps of each other, and joked about our additional crows feet and grey hair ten years on; the fact we’re shadows of our former youthful selves.  Everything seemed so still, so calm, the only sound the odd seagull or water lapping at the shore. Walking by your side always feels good.  Peace, happiness, love and some new cake tins. It was a perfect day. x


  1. That was lovely - a very belated happy wedding anniversary, and I love the way you celebrate with your meaningful gifts. Your marriage sounds in a very good place - a solid place - that's lovely. I hope you are all enjoying a wonderful Christmas! XXX.

  2. Ah, thank you. I do like trying to find a meaningful gift on the traditional theme each year, if nothing else it represents a challenge! Hope you're having a lovely Xmas too. x

  3. What a lovely post. And congratulations on your new arrival. I have been off the laptop for a while and missed the news but have read back through your blog and caught up. Well done on being able to write such beautiful posts in the throws of getting used to having a new baby around. Sounds like you are doing a wonderful job. xx

  4. Thank you. Will pop over and visit you and see what you've been up to. Hope you are well.x