Posted by Tania Kindersley.
I think I have talked before of the joys of extended family living. (Here on the compound I have: mother, stepfather, sister, brother-in-law, nieces, older niece's other half; then, three miles up the road, step-nephew and niece, two step-great-nieces and great-nephew, who was christened on Sunday, and very splendid he looked in his ancient lace dress.) One of the particular delights is an informal kind of bartering system, which naturally fell into place over the years. I take my mum bunches of mint from my garden, because she does not yet have any, and she sends me old periodicals in return, so that I do not have to take out a separate subscription; that kind of thing. It is oddly satisfying.
Lately, I had been feeling sad about my vast collection of terracotta pots, which would never quite stand upright on my gravel, and kept falling over and chipping and making a general mess. I had vaguely thought about some kind of bench or table, and had looked about on the internet, but everything was ugly and expensive and not at all what I wanted. So I averted my eyes from the pot carnage outside the front door and pretended it wasn't happening, since I could see no good solution.
Then, a couple of hours ago, my sister called.
'Do you want a table?' she said. She is in high clearing-out mode, just at the moment.
'Do you mean a lovely big weathered outside table, by any chance?' I said.
'That is exactly what I mean,' she said.
I could hardly believe it. It was as if she had read my mind. I told her of my sadness over the pots, and how all I had been longing for was a table.
'Can I give you something in return?' I said.
'Oh,' she sighed. 'I'll just settle for the Love.'
For some reason that made us laugh quite a lot.
'Love and a table,' I said. 'It's all we need.'
Ten minutes later, my kind brother-in-law roared up with the table on a trailer, along with three wooden chairs, which were, as an outrageous bonus, covered in lichen, my favourite thing. I ran out of superlatives.
'You are a scholar and a gentleman,' I said.
'I know,' he said.
I am so excited that I could not wait until tomorrow to show you.
'I expect this will go on the blog,' said my brother-in-law.
'You betcha, ' I said.
Bonus lichen chair:
I really do feel outrageously lucky. Love and table, what more could anyone ask?