My English Rose

Happy Mother’s Day!! To all my American friends frantically scanning their calendars, do not stress. The Brits celebrate their superhuman mums on a different day. However, I think we can all agree mothers deserve to be honored everyday, my mum especially 🙂

Although I like to think of myself as a fiercely independent woman, a trait my mum wears perfectly, there was a time in my life when I was entirely too dependent on a tiny little quilt, the covers of which were sown together by my mum and grandmother.

I dragged that quilt through airports, parking lots and meadows for almost nine years until we settled into our new house in Marlow, New Hampshire. After we unpacked all our things, I declared, a little sadly, that I was ready to move on. My mum packed it away in a special spot in our linen closet where it still remains.

The most special thing about that quilt, and the reason I clung onto it for so long, was its smell. It had the most gorgeous smell, like an English rose after a light drizzle, mixed with the scent of tropical shampoo. No matter how dirty it got or how many days I clutched it close to my chest until Mum sneakily washed it, it never lost its perfect scent, which I always associated with my mother. I think that’s why I was so attached to that quilt while we lived overseas. No matter how strange or foreign the next destination was, Mum was always with me. The new worlds we found ourselves in always smelled sweet and comforting because of her.    

As you well know, a Fay’s love for traveling is genetically-encoded, so I am now living abroad, far away from Mum and the rest of the Fay clan. Many have asked over the months if I am in fact close to my family because living far away from them on my own seems to suggest otherwise. That question sometimes incites a pang of guilt coupled with concern: I hope my mum, dad, and brother, my three best friends that I happen to be related to, never doubt how much I love them and how supremely cool I think they are for letting me travel far away on my own without a comforting quilt dragging behind.  

And I hope my mum knows that she makes motherhood, arguably the hardest profession in this world, look effortless. Because of her childhood had a gorgeous smell, and everything that was startling and foreign combated fear of the unknown with the promise of a marvelous new beginning.

The woman who sheltered and protected me was the first one to push me outside of my quilt-wrapped safety zone in a loving and oh-so-British way, knowing how much I would love the world once I had the courage to truly get to know it.

Because of Mum, I know the hard-to-explain excitement of being locked in a Thai temple, our only exit a “lady of the night” itching to sell her last few postcards.

We’ve gone on wild paddle boat rides in Budapest, built a rock wall in our garden ten years ago (still standing, might I add) and have come across the most wonderfully-weird strangers drawn into conversation by Mum’s sparkling energy.

The fiercely independent woman I call Mum has faced aggressive scam artists on almost every continent and has avoided about a dozen speeding tickets with her undeniable British charm and wit.

And while she may not be the best driver, she is the best mum. Her penchant for adventure (and slight mischief) coupled with her endless compassion, unmatched intellect and belly-laugh-inducing humor makes for one lucky and thankful daughter.

I love you lots, MumBots!

Honor your mother,



  1. Mark Sartori

    Love this post, Anna…you know I was born on Mother’s Day…The American version of it, however (in May) so I have a special fondness for it. Love to read all your posts…this one especially warmed my heart. Happy Mother’s Day to all the British mums!!

    your friend,


  2. Mum

    Awww thanks Anna that reduced me to tears. I am the luckiest Mum in the world and I feel closer to you than ever, your words always eliminate the miles between us and thanks for the lovely flowers. Luv Mum xxx


  3. Leaugeay

    Very lovely! Such a nice testament to Mum’s allover, but most of all to your Mum J. Sharing special memories and knowing how some of those memories are associated with special smells makes one smile.
    Anna, thank you again, much appreciated for you sharing your wonderful talents!


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