A Day In The Life Of.. Mairead Curtain

Tell us about your home and who you share it with?

I live in Chiswick, West London with my partner and cat.  Home is where I have lived for 25 years. My children have moved out and live nearby.  I love where I live – it’s near the river and Kew Gardens and Chiswick house are walking distance.  Chiswick is not as groovy as Hackney but I don’t do a lot of clubbing these days!  We decorated the kitchen during the lockdown and I love it.  I sit at the kitchen table, and watch the birds and the obese squirrel on the birdfeeder in the garden.



What is the one thing that keeps you up at night?

I am a florist and I own Rebel Rebel with my business partner and friend Athena Duncan. We have had a shop in Hackney for over 15 years.  The best part of the job is the flowers – the fact that they change as the seasons change and every year is a little bit different.  The thing that keeps me up at night is the worry that I won’t wake up.  4am start is the norm.  But right now it is a bit more relaxed with no weddings, events or parties.  Valentine’s day was super busy for deliveries though and we rather expect that Mother’s day will be too.

Name one luxury item that money can't buy.

The one luxury that money can’t buy is usually time – Athena and I long for an extra day in the week, to do all the things we can’t do the rest of the time.  But, right now we have all the time in the world, just nothing to do with it!  Obviously we should be filling it with writing books and sorting images and designing vases, and planting gardens but instead I’m filling time staring out the window at squirrels.  Right now the vital everyday object I can’t do without is a corkscrew!


Name your favourite scent..

I love so many scents it is difficult to choose – the joy of being a florist is all the fabulous smells -lily of the valley, sweet peas, roses, even the humble daffodil has its own special scent.  Right now all the blossom is coming in and we have Ribes (Blackcurrant) branches.  I adore that smell and it takes me straight back to blackcurrant picking in my aunt’s garden in Ireland. 

What are your favourite 'bad smells?'

My favourite ‘bad’ smells are wet dog and sweaty horse.  My friend got a perfume making kit for Christmas and I asked him to make me one that smelled like that, forgetting that I might like the smell, but I don’t actually want to smell like that myself!

What are some of the sustainable actions you have done recently?

We stopped using floral foam (oasis), which is horribly damaging to the seas, two years ago, and wished we’d done it much sooner,  It is difficult not to use some plastic in floristry – there is a lot of water involved.  We tried a while ago to use biodegradable cellophane for our bouquet bags, but it just leaked.  But we think the technology might have come on since then so we are going to try again.  If anybody knows a good product do let me know!

Tips for London visitors?

They should travel along the embankment at dawn and go over some bridges – the light glinting on the houses of parliament on the way back from the Flower Market in Vauxhall is one of the things which make the day for me.  In my neighbourhood Chiswick House gardens have been my lockdown salvation.  Following the seasons through from Camellia to Wisteria to Autumn leaves, watching the wildlife in the pond whilst catching a flash of kingfisher, or parakeet is a total joy.

Further afield?...

Then, if we are ever allowed out of this place, I would recommend Barga - our little part of Italy, where we have a house and cutting garden, in the hills above Lucca in Tuscany.

Hope that’s enough – my life is really not terribly exciting!