Monday, November 21, 2011


This tile hangs on our bathroom wall. I'm very fond of it. This is partly perhaps because I would like to live in a house with those elements: a geranium (got one), a cat (got two) and an uninterrupted view of hills (alas, no). And sunshine (we get that sometimes - or perhaps it's the moon). I quite like the spotty curtains as well. Don't you think life would be so nice and simple if you lived in that house among the hills?

We bought this tile over thirty-two years ago. I know this because I was very pregnant with Daughter 1 at the time and so it was one of our last outings as a childless couple. I think I was very aware of this fact, but like most prospective parents had no understanding at all how totally and permanently our lives were about to change. But this is another reason why I'm fond of the tile - I associate it with the joy of young motherhood.

Also I just like the look of it. We bought it at Traquair (pronounced tra-kwayr to rhyme with prayer) House, which is in the Border country, some way south of Edinburgh. The house's origins date back to 1109, though most of the current building is only about four hundred years old. It was once a hunting lodge for the kings and queens of Scotland. There's a story that the gates at the top of the main avenue, installed in 1738, were closed after a visit from Bonnie Prince Charlie (the grandson of the deposed Stuart king, James VII and II), with the vow that they would never be reopened until a Stuart king was back on the throne of Scotland. Thus they remain shut.

Anyway, in summer 1979 Mr Life and I had a happy day at Traquair and visited various craft workshops in the grounds, at one of which I bought the tile. I have no idea who made it - presumably I knew at the time - and have never seen anything quite like it.

Jane kindly told me who wrote the book I was asking about the other day (it was "The Gauntlet" by Ronald Welsh). I suppose it's a bit unlikely that the maker of the tile is reading this - but if he or she is...