Last weekend I had one of those rare 'adult' moments when all my sprogs were elsewhere and I and a friend were sitting having lunch in an adult-friendly space. Apart from the odd designer baby (the must-have accessory for those who can't afford a handbag dog) it was mercifully child-free. Sometimes I just want to do child-free. Sometimes I want to dress up in nice clothes, eat nice food, have a real conversation with someone close and just relax and pretend to be that other sophisticated me - if only for a while.
The space in question is known locally as The Round Building at Hathersage. It is an award-winning design by Sir Michael Hopkins for David Mellor. Although the David Mellor kitchen shop in Sloane Square, which opened in 1969, has attracted those who favour good design for many years, it is the Round Building in the High Peak which really sets it all in context.
David Mellor was born in Sheffield and originally trained as a silversmith before becoming a designer. The Round Building is off the road to Sheffield here in the Peak District, and is the purpose built cutlery factory making superb modern cutlery and kitchen knives which sell in the two shops - here in the Peak District and in Sloane Square.
Passing by, you would hardly know it was there, hidden surreptitiously in a clump of trees on the site of the old gasworks. (The Round Building echoing the old gasometer on whose site it is built). It is worth a pilgrimage (if you're coming to this area) alone for the Design Museum, and the factory is open for viewing on weekdays - so you can see your kitchen knives being made.
Sitting in the cafe by the Museum watching a huge traffic light change colour ( David Mellor was responsible for the design of the national traffic signal system), I turn over the menu to find a lengthy scroll of names - a kind of who's who of those with good taste- and there, half way down the list, a certain Nigel Slater.
I turn to your diary to remind myself of something I read recently. And here it is: March 7th - 'For some time now I have been curious about glass and why some is more beautiful to look at, and look through, than others. Windows made from old 'crown' glass have soft waves and little bubbles, like tiny seeds to catch the light, while drinking glasses that are uneven in the hand, with ripples and furrows, make the water within sparkle. Small things, but they matter to me. I like drinking water from a hand-made tumbler with dimples and folds.'
I come away with another couple of little chopping boards designed by Corin Mellor because they are just the right shape and weight and using them gives me pleasure. Nowhere could that oft used quote by William Morris be more apt than here: 'Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.' (A little over-used, perhaps, but pertinent.)