Last weekend I travelled across the stormy waters (to Melbourne) to visit my gorgeous friend M and her husband J. The weekend was heaven (my idea of heaven, anyway): shopping for hot pink sequined cardigans, geranium-rose scented handwash, and mod apple-print napkins (oh, and M found the last copy of Sumptuous magazine!); eating éclair de fraise and sipping fortifying earl grey before the afternoon assault on the shops; being equally inspired by the breath-taking, transformative beauty of Monet’s waterlilies and the detailed, quirky interiors of many, many cafes.
I hadn’t realised how starved I was of beauty, of new sensations and pleasures: of the sweet conundrum of choosing between a pecan macaron or hazelnut ice cream (I went with the ice cream; M had a salted caramel macaron). Of marveling wide eyed at one café’s spot-on balance of industrial grunge and elegance, mixing uplit yellow bouquets with street-sign stools (no doubt inspired by Rosalie Gascoigne, one of my favourite artists). Of touching soft cashmere sweaters and nubbly linen throws, enjoying champagne and pizza with friends, trying (and buying) glamourous hats, and wafting thru scented department store floors.
Probably much to M’s embarrassment, I enjoyed myself so much and was so eager to absorb everything that I talked non-stop to the sales assistants. Are these bowls hand thrown? Where did you get that lipstick from? How exactly did you make those little cakes? I felt a little like the country hick visiting her glamourous big city cousins. So much to see, do and learn; so little time.
My mind is still remembering and processing details and snatched glimpses to somehow replicate at home. Some are easy: the stemless wine glasses used for tea, the Zero teapots that appeared everywhere. I’ve previously resisted their streamlined charms, but now I realise such resistance is futile. I want a crackled one. Or maybe the dark burgundy colour. Or the rose. Or...
Others – I shall make my own toasted granola, but maybe not as fantastically good as the one I had for Sunday brunch. I shall buy flaky croissants to make weekend breakfasts special, and pull out the good china more often, a la M&J. And I shall attempt the little light-as-air passionfruit and orange drizzle cake – no butter, but nine eggs! – the recipe for which I miraculously drew out from the generous, talented chef (as scribbled on the back of the cafe card; above).
As my friend S said, it’s good to ‘get off the island’ for some recharging. To step outside your normal life for a moment, to experience and dream of lovely things and moments, and hopefully translate it into your own real world when you return.