We had not expected our two Dutch friends to arrive with anything. It was enough, more than enough, that they should take time out from their busy lives and work to fly from Amsterdam to visit us here in Budapest over a long weekend just past.
|detail of the daisy [translated into Dutch as 'madeliefje'] vase, a gift from our Dutch friends|
But what excitement and joy when they appeared in the drawing room with two large, mysteriously shaped packages which, we were later to know, had been carefully nursed on laps throughout the flight to ensure a safe arrival.
First, an outer wrapping of pretty papers which, discarded, tantalising resulted in layer upon layer of protective 'bubble' wrap which, in turn, the last shreds eagerly torn away, revealed the most beautiful and thoughtfully chosen cups and saucers and, as though they were insufficient in themselves, a further gift of the most handsome and wonderful 'daisy' vase.
|two exceedingly pretty 'Limoges' cups and saucers of a floral pattern|
|the 'daisy' vase catches the eye displayed on a corner of a bookcase in the Morning Room|
The cups and saucers, of the finest porcelain, herald from Limoges and date from around the 1930s. Roses abound, set upon a grey coloured background upon which there is a further impression of flowers, the whole effect one of lightness and dancing movement. Held to the light the cups become translucent - a further delight. Too precious to be used we shall, on special occasions, as the days darken, in the manner of Jane Austen characters, sip hot chocolate from them on winter nights and think fondly of our friends, absent but present.
|the 'Limoges' cups waiting on a table in the Drawing Room to be filled with hot chocolate!|
And how well they know us. For the vase, perfect in every way for the Morning Room, is exactly our kind of thing. Manufactured in the town of Gouda in the mid-twentieth century by Plateelbakkerij Zuid-Holland [PZH] and marked 'Royal Zuid Holland', the pattern 'Sinia' is rare, making this very much a collectors' item. The trademark, 'little house', stamped on the base, depicts the Gate of Lazarus, the stone doorway of the old leper infirmary of 1609.
|the maker's marks are clearly visible on the base of the Dutch daisy vase|
Today, a wet morning, which matches our sadness at the departure of our friends, the vase's sunshine flowers, against an intense cobalt blue criss-crossed in gold, dispel any gloom and cheer away the clouds.
How fortunate are we.