Sunflowers, Swanky Parties and the Great British Summer

So what’s it really like having lovely flowers delivered by Freddie every week? Writer, mother, former LA actress and now London-dweller Misti Traya tells all in her exclusive monthly Flower Diary…

 

My daughter, Helena, might be a dual citizen but her heart is all British. On the 4th of July, a day I usually commemorate by throwing Yorkshire tea into the Thames, I explained America’s Independence to her.  “But why wouldn’t they want a king?” was her reply.

She then refused to wear the sparkly star-spangled tiara I bought for her.  Which shocked me as she has never turned down anything glittery in her life.  I guess fealty to King George III trumped the magic of Mommy’s Colonial Fairy Dust that day.

***

Skies were clear the night of The Spectator Summer Party. Guests milled about the garden sipping Pol Roger. At one point, Henry, my husband, thought he felt a spot of rain. I told him it was probably just plutocrat spittle and indeed, the good weather held. Theresa May was there – not quite yet with the title of Prime Minister but everyone wanted to chat with her and take her photo.

Which is why I decided to leave her be and talk to a louche priest and a gin salesman instead, the latter of whom gifted me with her cocktail when she had to dash, leaving me with two drinks to nurse at the same time. But as my mama always says, “You can’t fly with one wing.”

***

When Serena Williams and Muzza won Wimbledon, there was a huge celebration in our home. Even the arrangement from Freddie’s Flowers seemed to revel in their glory – green fluffy flowers that looked like tennis balls with white and purple snapdragons and stocks. It was incredibly cheery and the flat was filled with the sweetest perfume.

Wimbledon flowers

In the evenings, I made sure to open every window and the balcony doors so we’d get a cross breeze to swirl around that heavenly scent.

***

Helena’s sports day was the worst ever and not just because it started with tears. After breakfast I asked her what she wanted to wear, leggings or shorts. Her response was “my princess dress.”  Well that didn’t happen, but a summer storm sure did.

Right after the egg and spoon race, rain that would have intimidated Noah began to pour from the sky. We raced home as fast as we could without slipping and brewed a pot of tea.  Thankfully, I hadn’t thrown out all the Yorkshire Gold.

***

At the weekend, I tried to recreate the sensorial magic of a Freddie’s arrangement with flowers from my in-laws’ garden. Here is what I used: Sweet peas and roses for fragrance. Foxgloves for a bit of fun. Astrantia for textural variation. Feverfew for cute quotient.  Geraniums because they make me smile. And Russian vines for softness.

bucks bouquet

 

I also baked an orange almond rhubarb crumble cake with rhubarb from my in-laws’ garden (recipe here).  Or as I like to call it, The Garden of Eatin’.

***

That week, even my wardrobe was inspired by Freddie’s arrangement – green and purple florals, but on black. Ageing is funny. Because even though I dress rather like June Cleaver from Leave It To Beaver these days, that doesn’t mean I still don’t have Dr. Dre and Snoop on a loop in my head. Especially whilst grocery shopping in wedge sandals.

June Cleaver

***

Have you ever wondered where all those parents are that you haven’t seen throughout the school year? The ones you met at orientation in September but never saw again? Well I recently ran into them 15 minutes before school let out last Thursday. It was the end of year school picnic and every last one of us were buying up all the cold booze available in the village.  Snacks for the children too, obviously.

That afternoon, the heath became a sea of tartan rugs and sausage rolls and the children ran riot in fancy dress, fuelled by cheese, chocolate, and friends. It was a wonderful time and we all saw the world through rosé-colored glasses. That is, until Helena was at the bottom of a dogpile with her friends unknowingly rolling in poo.

Oh, the tears! You would have thought it was the death scene in Camille.

***

Upon returning home and having a long bath, Helena checked on her sunflower seeds we planted. They had grown! A minute later, the doorbell rang. It was Freddie’s with a box of sunflowers.

misti sunflowers

Goodbye grey skies, hello blue! British summer is here, I feel it on my skin and I see it with the flowers delivered to our flat.


 

at Coworth Park

Misti Traya fell in love with an Englishman and moved from Los Angeles to London in 2009.  After her daughter was born, she began a blog called Chagrinnamon Toast that won the writing category at the 2014 Young British Foodies. She was also named runner-up for the Shiva Naipaul Prize. She has written for Gawker, Jezebel, Look, Mslexia, The Pool, The Spectator, and Stella Magazine.