Our bed is a private island in a sea of activity, unmatched socks, appointments, disappointments, ideas and books. Everyday life washes around us but the haven we make of our bed enfolds and holds us. This soft cave of linen and wool is a place to be unguarded and free, to curl up, give and receive, exhale and rest. Our rudimentary arrangement of three mattresses pressed together on wooden palettes is big enough for all six of us to inhabit. It’s a place for ordinary pleasures, unadorned and welcoming – a soft platform on bare floor boards of linen sheets brought in from the washing line and a pile of woven blankets at our feet.
Like any small island, ours has its own customs. Colour is confined to book spines and green plants. Light is dim enough to soften distraction and invite the mystery of shadows. Curtains are not closed until nightfall. In summer, a window is left open to the sound of rain dripping from eaves and leaves and the crowing call and wing flap of cock pheasants in the wood. On cloudless nights, if the moon is full, we watch it rise over the turf fields opposite and bathe in its stillness and silver light. A chipped vase from my grandmother holds a single sprig or twig from the garden according to the seasons - dried teasel, hawthorn, mock orange or Japanese anemone. Through winter months, we prop ourselves against a bank of pillows and sheepskins to read. Occasionally, we watch a film but try to put screens aside to lie next to each other and talk. Words flow softly and freely in bed. We share stories, make plans, let our dreams unfurl until silence gently washes over us. A candle is always lit on the bedside table - the last light to be extinguished at night. And then we are enveloped in the comforting grey-blue, indigo-black layers of darkness. When morning reaches through the gaps in the curtains, visitors bring occasional gifts. Our daughter arrives with tea. The cat leaves a shrew at the door.
The precious flotsam of our lives collects close to us – shells, a bleached white seal scapula, battered copies of poetry and recipe books, fossils, a black and white post card of Stonehenge, snap shots, a pencil drawing of a nest, oak galls and a barn owl feather from the garden, a pile of Namibian river stones.
Through the blur of days and nights of babyhood and broken sleep, this almost-bed cushioned and comforted us. We held and rocked and dozed. We still do. When the day begins and we are creased with sleep and reluctant to leave our warm cocoon, the children might appear one by one for a kiss, a back scratch, five more minutes of complicity and calm. Now that they haunt their own rooms at night, we retreat to bed earlier than we used to. Tired, husked and happy, we slip bare feet between linen sheets, supple with use, to lie still, belly to back. Outside, dusk breathes and curls through the garden. We listen to sheep call in the field to the south and the gwooihk gwooihk of a Little owl on the telegraph pole outside the window. Our days coalesce in a consultation of limbs and shared thoughts. We stretch out and feel each other’s strength and calm along the length of our bodies, grateful for bed, glad to be held.
Words by Louisa Thomsen Brits
To celebrate our AW16 House & Home Collection, we are launching a Pinterest competition. To enter create your own board called 'A Calm Space', pinning a minimum of 15 inspirational images that represent your ideal calm space or quiet corner. Your board should include at least 1 repinned image from the TOAST | AW16 House & Home Collection board with a comment on why this would inspire a feeling of calm in your own home. Competition ends midnight 5th Sept 2016 when a winner will be picked at random to receive a prize of £200 to spend on the current House & Home Collection. Please see T&C's for details.