A good friend is someone who inspires you to be a better version of yourself and this was how I felt standing in Ally Capellino yesterday watching Katherine May demonstrate the process of indigo dye. Katherine is a maker and a researcher - when she speaks about her work, she is a source of warmth, magic, calm, cool and solid groundedness. It is an unusual mix, afforded only by those who take to the direct sensory pleasures of transforming objects by hand as naturally as the intangible cerebral efforts of delving deep into a subject.
Swatches of experiments: a favourite is the narrow band with a pattern formed by bits of grain tied into the fabric.
Canvas bag and Hong Kong underwear t-shirt dyed during the demonstration
Ally Capellino cotton canvas shop bags - hand dyed in indigo by Katherine so each has a stamp of its own - are available in the Calvert Avenue shop where you may pick one that suits your temperament.
On Lower Marsh, Maries Cafe is the place to go for tea, toast, a sit-down and a bit of warmth. If you feel like something more substantial, there is fry-up, in the English (egg, bacon, sausage, chips, beans...) or Thai (pad Thai!) varieties.
I have no idea who Marie is; the lady behind the counter is Sue. The first time I saw her, I thought she reminded me of someone I used to know but I can't think of who that may be. And then I realise that Sue is one of those people whom you meet and instantly like. Instantly feel an affinity for, hence the familiarity. But why? Sue was just doing her thing - taking orders, making tea, making toast, engaging in brief conversations with regulars, cashing up orders - doing what you may expect of someone behind the counter at a place like Maries, with a bit of cheer. She was neither demonstrative nor distant. Neither fervent nor lackadaisical. Not hot. Not cold. Ah! Sue is just right. She is comfortable and it is comfortable to be around her. She doesn't even have to try.