This is a small delicate brooch made of 18ct gold with two real pearls.  I bought it from a shop tucked up a side street in London.  I would make a detour to have a look in the window and sometimes pop in.  Gradually I got to know the staff, in particular Stephen whose knowledge and expertise on antique jewellery was mind boggling.  Over time, with Stephen’s careful guidance I bought a number of antique and more modern brooches.

Sadly times changed, Stephen retired; the shop just wasn’t the same.  The world has moved on and I have found new shops, auctions, dealers and designers but I learnt a great deal from my visits and miss popping in to see what was new and gleaning interesting snippets of jewellery information.

In South America they make a type of tea drink called Mate using a species of Holly.  It is prepared by steeping the dried leaves in hot water and drinking it from a shared hollow calabash gourd and drinking it through a metal straw called a bombilla (Spanish), a bomba (Portuguese), and a bombija or a masassa (Arabic).

The ancient Romans believed holly would ward off lightning strikes.  I have two holly bushes in my garden.  A few years ago there was a particularly ferocious storm, thunder, lighting, the full works.  The school which backs on to our garden was struck by lightning, there was fire and the power in the local area was blown.  So maybe there is something in this, a few metres further and it could have been our house.