Quite a number of my friends are celebrating their quarter century birthday over the next few months. Some of them think this sounds terribly grown-up, personally I feel no difference in age since I turned sixteen!
Last Saturday, my oldest and best friend Cheska marked this coming of age with a rich Italian meal at Vicino on London’s Kings Road with a group of friends from all the different stages in her life. Some of the party were nursing hangovers, I had just had a long bike ride and it was a wet, grey November day so the bowls of white carbohydrates were wolfed down with gluttony.
This being a landmark birthday, I wanted to give Cheska something appropriate for the occasion. She is a lady of simple, sophisticated taste and likes everything she owns to be good quality. She already has the beautiful wallet, organiser and accessories she needs, I was in a dilemma. Something personal was the way forward, but what?
When lacking gifting inspiration I usually turn to the Not on the High Street website. Like Amazon, this page brings together a myriad of small, but more importantly unique, retailers who might otherwise not be known, and these guys did not fail me. After some browsing I stumbled upon Ellie and Ellie, a Sussex based company who make accessories from vintage, recycled, upcycled and sustainable materials to “promote a sentimental and responsible lifestyle.” They create watches with faces made of vintage maps according to your location of choice, cufflinks from old six penny pieces and more. After much anguish I decided on a pendant chain necklace requesting they use a vintage map of Kew Gardens which is where we girls met and grew up. It was 50/50, she was either going to think it sweet or cheesy as Gorgonzola left out in the Summer sun.
As you might expect of me, I arrived at the restaurant early but Cheska was not far behind. “Wonderful”, I thought, a personal moment for me to handover my gift. My heart was held in suspense as the ribbon was removed and the lid lifted. There was no doubt, she loved it. In a moment she had removed the necklace she was already wearing and replaced it with the pendant I had just given. Phew! What was really touching was when she declared in front of the whole table gathered that my gift was definitely in the top five gifts and maybe top three she had ever received.
I can see why people enjoy maps, it is not a personal passion, but just the mention of a place can trigger something special in the brain.