Many years ago now, when I was working in the second library I had ever worked in, and the one I was to stay with for longest, I worked with a lovely, lovely lady called Angela. Angela is tall and willowy with curly hair and an innate sense of style, who ate bread and honey and understood. One day, when I had had a bad week - nothing was really wrong, but I was just quite blue, she left an envelope on my desk. Inside was a Winnie the Pooh card, the original illustrations, not the Disney version, of a scene of Piglet picking violets. The caption was 'Piglet Picking Violets'.
We decided that some days, you just want to pick violets. It was a kind of recognition that some days you just have to be gentle to yourself, throw over your usual routine, and pick violets instead.
I suspected today was going to be a Violet Picking Day, so I arranged to go home early in the afternoon, after a team meeting. It has been a drizzly Wednesday, and it has been lovely hugging that early finish to myself all day. The violet picking started with lunch in the tea shop with the same lovely Angela who first gave me the card - it was heavenly to catch up, and linger over a pot of tea.
At our team meeting, I had to bite my lip at one point, because the announcement was made that I am leaving the Cabinet Office. In a week and a half. This is one of the winds of change that has been blowing through my life lately. The maternity leave contract I was covering is coming to an end, and I have been lucky enough to secure a post until the end of March as a team leader in Business Support. There is a big part of me that is going to be very sad to leave a job I adore, and colleagues I have become close to, but I am also looking forward to new challenges, and will be keeping an eye out for jobs in the Cabinet Office in the future.
But even so, I was still sad to hear my leaving formally announced. I was pleased to be able slip away afterwards, and go home. I got home around half past three, and did one of my favourite things in the world - took an afternoon bath by candlelight. To my mind it is the perfect Picking-Violet-Day activity. Laying in the hot water reading by candlelight and sipping tea, I felt my mind start to relax and the tension slip away.
I changed into my nightie and cardigan combination, and slipped into the kitchen to cook dinner. My favourite kind of cooking, simple ingredients from scratch, therapeutic stirring and simmering. I made a lentil dahl and flatbreads - I just adore making flatbreads at the moment. They are so simple, and yet delicious, and it feels so satisfying to have made them. The magic secret to them is to sprinkle black onion seeds into the flour before adding the water and oil.
I was lucky enough to pass the evening with Midori Green, who is teaching me a gloves routine she has choreographed herself, and from that we went on to burlesque class, where we are learning another gloves routine. It is slow with lots of stretching, and I am really enjoying it.
And now, back home, eyes heavy with sleep. Smiling sleepily, glad I broke my normal routine, and came home early to pick some violets - it is the kind of tonic that makes me smile for days afterwards.