My favorite painting, a gift from my friend Mary Rayner
Mary's studio ~ so much light! Happy Muse energy!
I should, of course tell you that I spent a night in Mary Rayner's house. Mary Rayner is the magnificently talented author/painter/illustrator who also happens to be the Mother of my beautiful and equally talented friend Sarah Rayner.
About a year ago, I fell madly in love with one of Mary's paintings on her website and before I could say 'tea time' it appeared all wrapped up with my name on it at my front door ~ a gift from Mary. I could have cried with joy but instead I started cheering.
And not just because it was so blessedly beautiful in a most haunting way I could quite put my finger on, but because I was convinced it represented love for me and me alone. This is the kind of thing I tend to convince myself when strange and beautiful coincidences occur.
You see, at the exact moment the painting arrived at my door, I was watching this film and in particular I was watching a scene where the very handsome man takes a very beautiful girl up the hill to see some very lovely ruins of a castle just so she will miss her train. Because he is in love with her and wants to spend more time with her ~ not have her get on a train and fade away entirely out of his life without even so much as a kiss.
Anyway. Because the hill he dragged her up looked so very much like the mystical hill in the painting Mary gifted me, I caught myself thinking that this painting was a sign. You know. A sign that, ahem, perhaps a love might be on his way for me soon.
It was a particularly good sign I told myself.
So! Imagine, just imagine, my complete thrill when Sarah mentioned we would be staying at her mother's house for a whole night. Sarah and I were heading to London for a Picador Publishing party as Sarah was reading a short story there with a fabulous line up of authors, and we had a whole night to spare before the soiree.
This beautiful photo is a snapshot of the bedside table in the room I stayed in Mary's house. Mary wrote 'Mr and Mrs Pig's Evening out' which was a massive hit and I read it as a bedtime story to myself that very night and ADORED it. Her illustrations had me laughing out loud. (I am very fond of pigs as it so happens)
One of my favorite things about Mary's house is her secret garden. It had me so enraptured! Look at this Olive Tree climbing up the walls! I have a penchant for chatting with trees and I found myself sharing bits of poetry with the beauty when no one was looking. I really adore that photo of Mary looking up her tree. This was after a lovely french press coffee and almond croissant we enjoyed together over breakfast.
Mary is incredibly fascinating to talk with ~ we share a love for India and she is so expressive and passionate and funny too. I felt so at home hanging out with Sarah and Mary in this beautiful house. The selection above is from my instagram shots and includes her kitchen windowsill, some lovely apples from her garden, a sneaky peek in her biscuit cupboard and the sweet milk bottle by the back door waiting for the milkman.
I do have plans however to visit Sarah and Mary next Summer when I return to England. Oh Somerset, you are such a captivating and free spirit. You have won my heart to say the very least.