Embroidered IFL monogram

IFL monogram (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

A floral monogram for a little girl born in the States a year ago, granddaughter to old American friends. The family, parents and three daughters had lived in the UK for a time 30 years ago. That both of us had daughters named Allegra, after Lord Byron’s little known and short-lived daughter, initiated our friendship which has survived over the years in spite of  us being an ocean and most of a continent apart for many of those years. I usually meet up with them once every couple of years when they bring groups to London to visit the art galleries and museums and we have long lunches and teas in lovely places, talking like billyo to catch up, sentences cut short by interjections one to the other in a sort of conversational shorthand which you can only ever have with people you know really well.

Detail of IFL monogram (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

Our American friends were due to come to London this summer – unsurprisingly that was cancelled. But then again, we have socialised with no one since we were in York at the end of February  and only with family twice in all that time. Gloriously, 10 days ago, just before infection rates took off again, friends from London stopped over in Cheltenham on their way to a short break to Portmeirion. To celebrate, they took us to our favourite pre-Covid eating place, The Ivy, in the wonderful Montpellier Rotunda. Built in 1809 as a place to take the spa waters, the building’s central domed space is modelled on the Pantheon in Rome, with almost identical proportions, though overall  much smaller. When we first came to Cheltenham, the building had long ceased to be somewhere to take the spa waters or even to be sociable as somewhat incongruously it then housed a branch of Lloyd’s Bank with cash points and cashiers booths  around the perimeter of the rotunda where in the Pantheon there are tombs of famous men, painters, Raphael and Annibale Carracci and the composer Corelli!  We love it that once more not only does the building look terrific but that has a social function reminiscent of its historic past. Our visitors love it too and go away impressed by a town often lampooned as dying and boring.

Detail of IFL monogram (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

It looks as if socially distanced life will continue for another 6 months or more. We have been fortunate as, once we accepted we wouldn’t be seeing much of family, we have found our life with just the two of us very easy and even enjoyable. Being able to pursue an interest uninterruptedly is pure luxury and time to yourself is one of those things we spent much of our previous life wishing we had. (Beware, more begets the desire for more and I’ve caught myself feeling impatient, resenting time spent doing mundane things like getting the clothes washing dealt with or washing the dishes or cleaning. Coming out of our Covid cocoon may call for some re-education!) But we are the lucky ones, pity families with financial uncertainties and those who rely upon grandparent support for childcare and also the elderly who are confined to their own homes and with no one to share a meal with, have a chat to or even to watch the TV with.

Detail of IFL monogram (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

The weather has forced us into premature confinement that can only get worse as autumn turns to winter. Overcast days followed by lots of rain have even forced my husband inside from his preferred garden work station. Yesterday, we braved the wet conditions to get flu jabs, our GP having taken over a local church hall for the afternoon – all done very efficiently with a certain amount of give in the system so that even if people (mostly very old and doddery) arrived ten or twenty minutes early for their appointment, they went straight in, got jabbed and out the other side without having to hang about in the rain. On the way home, I dropped into the local independent bookshop, The Suffolk Anthology  to order Tracey Chevalier’s A Single Thread which comes out in paperback in the UK on the 15th. The shop, is small but brilliantly stocked and I was delighted to come away with a couple more books which I was on the verge of getting from Amazon – and not doing that always makes me feel good.  I’ve also enjoyed listening to a dramatising of  Elena Ferrante’s My Brilliant Friend  (and the other 3 novels) on iPlayer. I had bought the book some time ago but couldn’t really get into it. Having it read to me while I sewed was just perfect and – shocking admission coming up – enabled me to enjoy it in a way I wouldn’t have if I’d had to plough on on my own.

Sketch for IFL monogram (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

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6 Comments

  1. Posted October 5, 2020 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

    If we are properly confined again, hive.co.uk is an online bookseller which also gives commission to a local bookshop of your choice, thus combining safe remote ordering with not going to Amazon.

    I love the layers of pattern in the monogram!

    • Mary Addison
      Posted October 5, 2020 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for this Rachel, that’s useful to know. As the bookshop is only 10 minutes away and as there is a brilliant charity bookshop 10 minutes the other way, my aim is never to need to order any book online – and it’s extraordinary how what I have on my list can suddenly appear out of the blue in one shop or the other. Unless that is we are completely confined to the home and all but food shops have to close…

      • Posted October 17, 2020 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

        We are not so fortunate, so Hive has just delivered “Reynard” by Anne Louise Avery, “Egyptologists Notebooks” by Chris Naunton, “She Wolves” by Helen Castor, and “Queens of the Conquest” by Alison Weir. I am now ready for the next lockdown!

        • Mary Addison
          Posted October 17, 2020 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

          Well that sounds as if it should keep you going for a week or two!
          Are you actually in lockdown proper now?

  2. Robina
    Posted October 13, 2020 at 5:31 am | Permalink

    I absolutely love, love, love this – the joyous colours, the checks, the curves…it all just sings…

    • Mary Addison
      Posted October 13, 2020 at 9:47 am | Permalink

      Thank you Robina, I absolutely love, love, love that you’ve told me this!

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