I didn’t want a lot for Christmas (which was fortunate … joke), but one of my favourite gifts was an olive set with board made by Margaret L Glackin and bought from Fabrication in Leeds.
Fabrication can be found at The Light in Leeds, and it’s a large and airy, bright and fascinating shop run by a collective of totally talented designer-makers, from dressmakers and jewellers to print and ceramic artists and artisans. There is also space in there for workshops run by the group. Classes include lampshade making, furniture restoration, perfume making, crystal tiaras and print making. There’s been a summer school in historical clothing run by Leeds-based specialists Ages of Elegance, another of the designer-makers (and a top tip if you want to find something unusual with a retro twist to wear) plus workshops for children and even hen parties, for those who fancy a step away from the fairy wings and vodka cocktails that seem to pass for pre-nuptial celebrations in many parts of the UK.
I confess, I haven’t used the olive set actually for olives as yet (roll on the summer). Instead I have put salt in the small dipping bowl and garlic and turmeric in the larger ones, as these are the ingredients I use most when cooking (turmeric is said to be an anti-inflammatory and therefore anti-cancer ingredient, therefore I fling it into pretty much everything I cook, even fry-ups – and yes, before you point it out, it has occurred to me that avoiding fry-ups might, in the long run, be an even more effective cancer avoider … but eh).
Anyway, Margaret is a Yorkshire-based ceramic artist and woodworker, originally from Ireland, and she makes practical items which are also pieces of art including Yarn Bowls, Circle of Life Urns, drinking vessels and so on, designing all items individually and using her own recipe glazes, representing Yorkshire and the coastline of County Antrim.
The board came with a label saying that it is made from elm and has been sealed with three coats of specialist food-safe oil, which I find reassuring. It’s lovely, as is the gorgeous marbled green of the ceramic bowls – I take real pleasure in using it every day, far more than I realised I would, and I guess that’s what is so satisfying and special about using hand-made domestic pieces like this. I pick up a bowl to use and feel somehow that it has been made with real care and consideration, plus a designer’s eye. The set cost £40 and I reckon that’s pretty good for the years and years of pleasure I know I will take from it.
Some of my mostest favouritest gifts this Christmas were from me to me. String lights, fairy lights, call them what you will, but I have long been addicted, and I treat myself and the house and garden to new sets every year. I found compete bargains on a fabulous discount day at Stockeld Park, when everything was about 30 per cent off as the Christmas Adventure attraction came to a close for another year. The results are on my weeping fig in the living room, below.
The rest of my family thinks our house looks like Blackpool illuminations, but what the heck. It’s a gloomy time of year and I reckon we need all the light and magic we can get.