December 03 2012
I have an early meeting on St James’s with one of our clients, a Japanese drinks brand, with which we’re working on a packaging project. The meeting goes well and the designs are finally signed off via a video conference with Tokyo. Now we can take our plans back to the workshop for the sample making to begin.
It’s a bright day, and I’m feeling quite Friday-ish; it’s my wife Susie’s birthday tomorrow and a lot of our friends are coming to stay in Somerset for the weekend. So I relish my journey down to south Devon to meet with furnituremaker ShawStephens, which is completing the joinery on a library we have designed. It’s four hours in the car, with BBC Radio 4 and my two dogs for company. I do love a road trip.
After being inspired by that beautiful craftsmanship, I head to our country home to light fires and await everyone’s arrival. As usual, Friday night is a wine and whisky-fuelled catch-up into the small hours. Saturday is thus spent coping with a mild headache, not to mention the inconvenience of the Aga breaking down. It’s not ideal for my cooking plans, so I have to light my outside oven (which I constructed from a dismantled wood-burning kiln) and get it quickly up to temperature for the eight-hour shoulder of venison feast I have planned for tonight’s celebrations. We enjoy a pub lunch at The Three Horseshoes Inn, before returning to further coax and nurture the oven until the deliciousness is ready for the table, and the festivities can begin.
Ian Henderson, a handy old friend, and I manage to find time in the afternoon to try out my untested wood lathe. We make Susie a candlestick from an old mahogany table leg, wrap it and present it to her, alongside her other gifts. Some highly successful pottering, we think. I have been nervous of that machine for so long, but with my newfound confidence I can see a few afternoons ahead spent making useless objects, as a good alternative to bad weekend telly.
Sunday morning is sunny. I run in the woods with Ian, then get back to the house in time for a full English and the papers. Afterwards we all trek up to King Alfred’s Tower through muddy fields, before returning to the pub for a pint, and then home for lunch. My game soup, which has been simmering for hours, is wolfed down with some great bread from At The Chapel bakery and cheese from Westcombe Dairy, which makes the finest Cheddar in the country (according to the Radio Four Food Programme’s Food and Farming Awards). A great weekend.