I’ve had a delightful two days. After late nights and early mornings listening to the news, it was with some relief that I went to meet three Frenchmen who were over visiting the Isle of Harris Distillery. They were making a short film including a bit of cocktail mixing en plein air, which involved a walk out onto the machair meadow with a little table, a bag of bottles, glasses, spoons and a handful of herbs. The flowers were still blooming, the turquoise sea formed the backdrop and Ceapabhal hill rose rather majestically in the background – it is a glorious spot. I met them the evening before the shoot and showed them a few of the things I’ve been working on. We tasted, chatted and then the photographer asked if he could take some photos of me talking with Max the mixologist.
I dislike having my photo taken, I can never seem to make my face behave, I either over grin or look horribly startled so I was pleased that he just photographed my hands as I mixed various elements to make a single drink. We did this all once and the trio were happy with the results. As I walked home I thought about my hands – the nails are unfiled, the sides of both forefingers ingrained with a mosaic of soil and sap, they are scratched from roses, often stained from berries and generally uncared for. In common with every plantsperson and gardener I know, they are working hands, expected to do the job with little reward.
And then I started to think of all the other working hands: the potters, painters, silversmiths, healthcare and emergency service workers, cooks, distillers, cleaners, dyers, weavers and spinners. I thought about all we expect of our hands over a lifetime and wondered why we lavish so much attention on our faces when we depend on our hands for both our livelihoods and our most gentle, tender gestures.
So for the first time in probably 20 years, I decided to engage in a little extra hand skincare to the usual soap and hand lotion. I washed them with our olive oil soap, made an exfoliator with our Mineral Powder and Cleansing Oil, soaked them in a decoction of our Every Woman Tea, dried them with a towel (rather than the hurried quick dry with whatever comes to hand) and applied the Wild Beauty Balm lavishly. I trimmed the nails and cuticles and applied Facial Serum. Then I went to bed.
The transformation was rather wonderful - soft, hydrated, nourished skin and shiny nails. Still as lovely in the morning as when I went to bed. I won’t pretend that this will happen often, it won’t, but just once in a while it is a marvelous treat.
Later that day I walked with the three Frenchmen and our two dogs up to the machair, I worked out the perfect spot for their little film. The sun was glinting through the clouds and it was an auspicious start…until the wind arrived in full force. The waves crashed on the rocks, the wind swirled around, the flowers were blown horizontal but they persisted and I admired them for that.
The table was secured with a shove into the ground, the bottles placed on the table with the little clear glass and lovely Max went for it. Unaccustomed to the island wind he made the rookie error of attempting to pour from a height, the gin exited the bottle and flew straight onto the plants 6 feet away - the Angel’s share (we clearly have thirsty Angels). It was hilarious. The syrup stayed in the glass but rather than run in a beautiful central stream it stuck to the side of the glass in a honey shaped glob. Still they persisted. My favourite part was the delicate placing of the herbs on the cocktail at the end. The leaf had to be laid on in the direction of the wind and given a judicious shove to keep it there. Marvellous. It needed four takes and at the end of each we were warmed by the cocktail which was absolutely delicious.
In these dreadful political times I recommend going out filming when the wind is blowing a hooley – it does truly take your mind off the grim realities of life. Thank you Max and co, I had a blast (quite literally)