This is the second post in my series My Friend’s Shelfie – an attempt to make blogging a more sociable affair, and to spread the interior junkie love with my real world friends.
If you missed the first My Friend’s Shelfie featuring my friend Andrea, the idea is that a friend chooses some of their favourite things from around their home and together we style up a shelf, creating a “museum of them” – a display which reveals stories of their life and their passions.
This post features another bestie from school days, Simon, and his partner Mark. Simon and I met in first year of secondary school and were friends throughout school and beyond. Through our 20s and early 30s Simon and I were also travelling buddies. We backpacked through Europe and Asia together, sharing heady adventures, too many of which could not appropriately be shared on a blog that my Mum reads.
Simon met Mark around the same time as I met my Mark (coincidence?) ten years ago and our friendship expanded to a foursome. We all live in Edinburgh and see each other frequently. We even still holiday together sometimes. These days the adventures are a little tamer, but no less fun.
Simon may have mellowed a little over the years (picturing Mark’s skeptical face as I type this) but his wit and humour remain razor sharp. The process of creating Simon and Mark’s shelfie was a little different to the first one I did with Andrea. For a start Simon had read the previous My Friend’s shelfie post, so knew what to expect. Also, while Simon has genuinely been very interested in and supportive of my blogging, he also just can’t help himself but to take the mick a bit. (Three decades of friendship have desensitised me to Simon’s ribbings; in fact I value this element of our friendship – there is no danger I will ever be allowed to take myself too seriously.)
So when I asked Simon to tell me about each of the items he’d chosen for his shelfie, he drawled out his response in an affected supercilious tone, referring to himself in the third person in a sarcasm-laden parody of what I might narrate in this post.
Not all of his babble was true (e.g. “Of course this is very special to me because it was bought on the trip when I proposed to Mark.” Lie! (That happy life event has yet to happen.) However, I know Simon well enough to distinguish fact from pure mince. Ha! So the following is the story of Simon and Mark’s shelfie, as dictated by Simon, edited to remove the fabrications and the worst of the pompous drivel.
Simon and Mark’s Shelfie
Simon is an archaeologist and the large stone on the bottom shelf is a hand axe, found by his uncle in Tanzania and gifted to Simon during his studies. It’s prehistoric (that’s a technical term for very, very, old). There’s a banding pattern on it, making Simon wonder whether this particular stone was chosen for its decorative qualities. Yes, such are the speculative musings involved in Simon’s profession.
Simon’s interests in aesthetics extend beyond his job however. He’s a talented photographer, and more recently has applied his creativity to photo etching, when Mark bought him a course at Edinburgh Printmakers as a gift (check out some of the fabulous print art for sale). This is an art form which combines digital imaging with traditional printing techniques. A photo is developed onto a metal plate so that the image is “eaten” into the metal. The metal plate is inked up and hand printed to paper. The result is something quite ethereal.
The print on the bottom right is an etched print of a photo taken in Bratislava – a trip we took together. You can (and should) pick yourself up one of Simon’s unique and very affordable handmade photo etched prints, which he sells in his Stronart Etsy shop.
Simon has a big family and there’s plenty of evidence of that in his shelfie picks. The box on the top shelf was his Granny’s. She had a collection of boxes which for Simon growing up held an air of mystery and excitement at the anticipation of what might be inside them. (Nothing interesting was the disappointing reality; just one of life’s little disappointments for Simon.). The Poole pottery vase (bottom centre) was a gift from Simon’s Mum and Dad.
Simon’s shelfie would not be complete without a houseplant. Simon’s home has never been without an abundance of plant life. Even in student years and long before the junglalow trend, greenery has (uniquely) brought out Simon’s nurturing tendencies. Simon and Mark’s recent move to a home with a garden has extended the growing opportunities to raised beds which are delivering up a healthy virgin crop.
And in case anyone thinks this is all about Simon (yes, I do mean you, Simon), I can assure you that this shelfie is also full of Mark’s personality and interests. Mark is a fabulous cook and the books at the top right are from his wide range of recipe inspiration. One is about foraging and Mark has had great success with his wild garlic pesto. However “Thrush with drying mushrooms, fresh cucumber, fermented fennel and cottage cheese” (Yes, that’s an actual recipe in Mark’s actual recipe book!) will make for a more memorable dinner party. On much safer culinary ground, Mark is aspiring to feature on the Great British Bake Off, a happy circumstance for those of us who get to sample his practice (wholly professional) bakes.
Simon and Mark’s love of travel, contemporary art and design and music are also reflected in their shelfie. And of course, I would not have been satisfied if the shelfie had not included at least one gift from the exquisite selection of beautiful gifts I’ve chosen for them over the years. There it is – the stunning blue agate bookend (top right).
We packed a lot into two small shelves. I’m pretty pleased with how Simon and Mark’s shelfie turned out. And as usual when I hang out with these best of friends, my afternoon turned out to be full of fun too.
What do your friends’ shelves say about them? Maybe you could style up a shelf with a real world friend. I’d love to see the museums of your friends too.
Over on Instagram it’s theme week on #myhomevibe. Tag your shelfie pics #myshelfievibe too for a chance to be featured on Saturday on my Instagram account and on the accounts of my gorgeous and very cool co hosts @deecampling and @_lisa_dawson_.