‘As soon as I woke in the early morning I knew that something had happened. The restlessness which I felt in my bones was being shared by the birds in the garden, the wind in the trees, and by the small grey and white scurrying clouds which momentarily obscured the sun’s most rare, but all the more welcome, glory. At last! The coming of Spring! I want to create, to spend myself, to live my live to the full, to shake off the dull listlessness of winter and to get into touch again with the immensity of sea, and air, and earth and sky’
S.P.B Mais 1922
S.P.B Mais (1885 – 1975) was in his day a writer celebrated for his books and articles on the countryside. We have lots of his guides and travelogues in our bookcase including a series he wrote for London Transport in the 1930’s and 1950’s encouraging Londoners to ramble through the villages of Surrey, Kent and Sussex.
When we were opening boxes today, re shelving the bookcase, one of his books fell open at the paragraph above and it seemed particularly apt. I read that Mais had money difficulties throughout his life despite being a prolific author – he published over 200 books – and journalist. This desire to take any job that brought in a wage may have led to the unevenness of his writing. Sometimes he speaks with authority and insight about landscapes, towns and villages he knows and loves but too often there is no spark and you feel he has researched from guidebooks rather than sharing a personal experience of a place.
So the garden is calling but yesterday we stayed indoors and put up an old Edwardian shop cabinet we found in a Hastings junk shop a few years ago. The shelf below (in the place of the original wooden counter) was renovated using chalk paint and wax to look like a passible imitation of a marble slab and there are Victorian legs from the wood recycle yard to renovate and create the finished piece. Underneath we tucked an early Victorian army trunk (pasted inside with copies of The Boy Soldier!) that belonged to a relative long, long ago. We filled the shop cabinet with an eclectic group of treasures – a toy pram, a wood fretwork stand up photograph both from the 1930’s, a dog from TheBigForest, a leather collar box, old books and more. It’s a temporary grouping of objects we haven’t seen or enjoyed for some time.
The window is open, the sun is slightly warmer and, like .SP.B Mais, we are ready ‘to shake off the dull listlessness of winter and get in touch with the immensity of sea, air, earth and sky’.