In early September, my family whisked me away to a delightful cottage (a one time Calvinist chapel) in the heart of the beautiful Sussex countryside. This was my ‘big’ birthday getaway, plotted and planned with great secrecy.
With stunning views all around, we ate breakfast on the roof patio, took walks in the surrounding woods and fields and visited the quaint and historic towns of Battle (site of the 1066 Battle of Hastings) and Rye.
I didn’t do a thing: the kids cooked, cleaned up, arranged some meals out and eldest son’s girlfriend made a divine birthday sponge cake of lemon and blueberry with lemon-curd butter icing. They also kept me topped up with bubbly. They know their mum well, obviously.
With cards, gifts and a video slideshow of family pics put to a few of my favourite songs, I struggled to keep a dry eye.
But best of all, my adult children gave me their gift of time in days filled with love, laughter, silliness and joy.
And this: a hand engraved ink bottle with ‘Stories Yet to be Written’ inscribed on the front, their personal message on the back…
They knew of my euphoria when I finished my memoir before this milestone birthday, but not of the strange lull that followed. They couldn’t have known how a few simple words so lovingly considered and etched on an ink bottle would lift me.
The power of the written word…
‘Get it out there, be like Nike Girl’, a friend recently urged me. ‘Just Do It!’ Not so out of reach, but the beginning of a new chapter.
The message behind the message my family commissioned for me, like the gift itself, is priceless. Not only because of their love, but for the philosophy of the person who crafted it…
Andy Poplar, founder of ‘Vinegar & Brown Paper‘, tells it like this on his website:
‘Advertising creative gets burnt out by the industry. Quits. Becomes stay at home dad. Has an idea about etching words onto glass.Sets out to mend his head with [vinegar & brown paper]. As [vinegar & brown paper], I’ve spent the last 7 years taking vintage or iconic items of glassware and bringing them to life with the tools of typography, wit, wordplay and a slightly askew way of looking at the world. From the humble British milk bottle to beautiful laboratory glass, nostalgic filled sweet jars to vintage mirrors, each item is individually etched in my studio in the North of England and it never fails to amaze me, that you can now find pieces of [vinegar & brown paper] on bookshelves everywhere, from York to New York. Andy Poplar
Ideas etched in glass’
Holly Tucker MBE (Founder of Holly & Co , champion of small businesses,) interviews Andy on her ‘Conversations of Inspiration’ podcast: ‘The Healing Power of Becoming an Artisan ‘. Andy talks about leaving his city job, his struggles with mental health and his recovery through the fulfillment of his creative dreams.
My heart is full of love and gratitude for my family.
And I would like to tell Andy that my treasured ink bottle sits in pride of place on my desk in Somerset, inspiring the flow of words for Stories Yet To Be Written.