Thursday, February 09, 2012

Our Belated but Beautiful Designer Burns Supper (And a Spooky Picture!)

The Rustic Supper Table
We hosted a somewhat belated Burns Supper in our house last weekend. Our friends, John and Brenda Kevan, travelled from their home in the North of England, (although John is very much an Ayr lad) with a car full of tartan throws, cushion covers, and various other textiles, candlesticks, lanterns, and half the greenery in the Lake District. A bit like carrying coals to Newcastle, remarked Brenda, bringing Scots pine to Scotland!
John and Brenda have been wedding photographers for much of their working life so far, but Brenda has always had an interest in antique and vintage interiors and crafts and has a huge talent for interior design. 
This is a skill which I hope and trust she is finally going to begin to exploit in a number of exciting ways. Watch this blog for some interesting links coming towards the end of this year. Brenda brings a little magic to even the smallest of projects. Her Christmas gifts, for example, are invariably wrapped so beautifully that you can hardly bring yourself to open them! But she can also work on a grander scale - as she did here, last week.

Brenda spent all day Friday and most of Saturday transforming this old cottage (built only a few years after the death of Robert Burns, and while Jean Armour was still very much alive) into a rustic idyll - a perfect setting for a Burns Supper. These pictures give only some idea of just how magical it was. One of our guests, a young German visitor, was particularly enchanted. The long dining table (we were hosting some eighteen guests) was adorned with one of my gorgeous old damask tablecloths - I've had this for years and can never bring myself to sell it. I think it came from a country house, since it's enormous and it has deer and pheasants in the weave. Brenda had made a subtle tartan runner, and matching napkins. There were home-made lanterns, with moss and tartan ribbons, as well as rustic wooden candlesticks, miniature pine trees, and tiny pine cones. Hand-made menu holders, with Burns' portrait, and place cards with pictures and manuscript completed the look.

Fireplace trimmed with greenery, roses, feathers. Note spooky 'orbs' on TV set!

For the rest of the house, she mixed red roses (of course) with a variety of greenery and pheasant feathers in a selection of my own large earthenware jugs and vases, as well as a few jars she had brought herself. There was a statue of the poet, a quill pen, piles of old books of his poetry and even a couple of facsimile manuscripts, as well as more lanterns and candles - in short, it was a magical transformation of this cottage. As another friend remarked - you almost expected Rab to show up himself! Well, if you look closely at the middle picture, of the old fireplace, you'll see a profusion of 'orbs' on the right, in front of the television. Of course it could just be the flash from the camera bouncing off the screen, but I have another picture taken from the same spot and with the same flashlight, with nothing showing. So who knows? Maybe he did!

Rab himself with facsimile manuscripts, quill etc