The phone rang one day and I'm told it had that distinct, 'this is a really important call' tone to it. The one where you just know you need to answer it in a manner that says you're serious, professional, and (above all) competent. I say 'I'm told' because I'm entirely deaf to the subtle nuances of the ringing of phones - it was Wendy who enlightened me later.
My other - and far better - half had said she might ring to let me know what shopping I needed to do in Supervalu before setting off home from Clifden. Fully expecting it to be her, I deeply intoned into the receiver, "Ben's Sanatorium for the Incurably Bewildered". The silence that followed told me everything.
Thus, however, began a long and happy collaboration with Andrew Dunne, of Andrew Christopher Garden Design. He had been commissioned to design an outdoor space for a client in Skerries, the lovely seaside town just north of the capital, Dublin. The client was looking for a wall sculpture with a seaside theme and Andrew had seen some of our work online.
The triptych that ensued was later hung in the client's outdoor space, in the barbecue area of the beautiful garden Andrew had designed for them. It featured an impression of the Skerries sea front and some of the striking buildings (one owned by the client) it possesses.
Delivering the glass personally meant that I was able to get a glimpse of Andrew's project, but not knowing its location we initially met up on Skerries sea front. I recognised Andrew's car (the 'Andrew Christopher Garden Design' logo was a bit of a clue) and began striding towards him purposefully in the hope of convincing him I was not one of the 'Incurably Bewildered'. A few steps later, Andrew shouted to me, "Ah, you must be Ben. You've the look of a creative!" Of course, he probably meant just 'poor'...
Escorting me to the location of the as yet unfinished project, I was immediately struck by the quality of Andrew's design and of the workmanship that had executed it. I was surrounded by luscious, fragrant, cedar wood panelling and vivid, sparkling-white marble surfaces. Every part of this quite small, open space had been planned to perfection.
An opulent three-metre long gas flame fire would warm its occupants on chilly late-summer evenings while they sat around a huge glass-topped marble centre table. Beneath the glass of the table there was to be a 'garden by the sea' tableau, into which would be nestling one of our large, red glass poppy bowls.
Planting had barely begun, but you could already see how luxurious this whole project was to be when completed. Scented blossoms would hang seductively from raised planters and you would brush against perfumed fronds as you walked. The finished garden would be a complete sensory experience.
In this context our brash, bright summer-coloured glass might have seemed slightly out of place... but Andrew's design brought all the colours and textures together and I'm pleased to say they fitted in very well. More importantly, his clients were pleased, too!
See more photos of Andrew's 'Blue' garden here https://www.acdesigns.ie/blue