“Like a work of art,” she repeated, looking from her canvas to the drawing-room steps and back again. She must rest for a moment. And, resting, looking from one to the other vaguely, the old question which traversed the sky of the soul perpetually, the vast, the general question which was apt to particularise itself at such moments as these, when she released faculties that had been on the strain, stood over her, paused over her, darkened over her. What is the meaning of life? That was all — a simple question; one that tended to close in on one with years. The great revelation had never come. The great revelation perhaps never did come. Instead there were little daily miracles, illuminations, matches struck unexpectedly in the dark; here was one. This, that, and the other; herself and Charles Tansley and the breaking wave.... In the midst of chaos there was shape; this eternal passing and flowing (she looked at the clouds going and the leaves shaking) was struck into stability. Life stand still here, Mrs Ramsay said."
Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse
These are my matches struck unexpectedly in the dark.
Buckets of fresh flowers from the market // Dreaming of London, cake and tea and time to read by myself, thanks to Jessica on the Benah blog // Of course, at the first sign of sun, I whipped out the sandals // What a dreamy set up at Violet Cakes in London // A cotton canvas candy-cane stripe wrap // I made chocolate mousse with strawberries for impromptu dessert the other day. It was delicious. // I want to live at Violet Cakes // I found a whole heap of postcards from friends this morning. I had packed them up in a paperbag and stashed them at the bottom of my underwear drawer for some reason! How amazing is the Barcelona one? I miss travelling.
It's funny, because it's always going to be about the small things. Always about sitting for hours in a cafe with a slice of something nice and a big newspaper and not thinking about anything. It's never going to be about 15 course degustation meals and bright, blowsy molecular gastronomy. It's Nigella, not Heston. Always. Always. Maybe that's the meaning of life? Finding time to revel in the small stuff? Finding time to sweat it, with shallots and lescure butter and just a pinch of salt, because it is important. Or maybe none of this is important, not at all. Not sandals, not buckets of mixed roses, not cotton canvas candy-cane wraps. But thinking about all of it is kind of the point, isn't it? I remember when I was writing my final essay for English last semester, about whether or not a work of fiction can truly convey the perspective of a non-human other (ie a tree, or a lion, or, in the case of the books we were studying, a Tasmanian Tiger). Delia Falconer, who is an Australian writer and a bloody good one at that, wrote a fantastic article on the subject that sums up so much in so little. The very act of writing from an animal's perspective, and trying to discern what they might be thinking is intensely, immensely human. I think the same about questioning the meaning of life. We may not ever get an answer - or, indeed, we may get hundreds and hundreds and hundreds - but the devil is all in the act of trying to find out. Perhaps, as Lily Briscoe discovered, the great revelation may never really come, but there will be plenty of small miracles daily. I live for those. I live for sunshine on a rainy day and forgotten postcards found at the bottom of underwear drawers.
When I'm in London early next year I'm going to go to every single place mentioned in this guide at least once and Violet Cakes every day. I've been slavishly clicking through the slideshows on their website, feverishly google-searching, saving images, making plans on dog-eared maps, booking morning tea and afternoon tea and tea tea tea dates in already. It's not till February! But I know a good cake when I see it. And I'm looking at one right now. I fear my next London trip is going to be dominated by cake eating, on the back of a Paris fortnight that is going to be characterised by macaron eating. This is definitely not a problem, not a problem at all. Violet Cakes, keep a ginger and molasses cake slice warm for me! (also ping: Nordic Bakery, get those cinnamon buns out).