Are you old enough to remember the TV advert where some youthful-looking fingers applied hand-cream to an autumnal leaf? If so, you'll recall how the miracle of the lotion was then demonstrated by a hand scrunching the moisturised leaf into its palm. The cream had kept the leaf so supple and soft that it immediately sprang back to its original state when let go - the presumption being that it would do the same for ageing hands; brilliant.
The crazy idea of moisturising leaves came back to me last week when I wanted the children to try some simple sewing. We had collected a huge pile of beautiful leaves on our Hampstead Heath walk here. I wanted to make autumn garlands with them, but I knew the leaves would turn brittle and crispy before we'd get round to our sewing session.
So that evening I lovingly applied some (out-of-date and cheap) moisturising cream to the leaves. The next day I set them out along with our blunt plastic needles and some embroidery thread for my children to choose leaves and make garlands.
They really enjoyed threading the colourful leaves onto the silky yarn and although they were still quite delicate, the cream had added plenty of moisture. It was a satisfying and easy activity for my two little needlework novices.
I had envisaged the garlands being hung vertically at a window, the sun shining through them, but the children had a different idea.
As you can see, they wanted their garlands to be hung along the edges of their beds. There, of course, they only survived a couple of days; they were repeatedly knocked and tugged and eventually pulled down altogether as the children clambered in and out of bed. But they looked so great while they lasted, and we got to experience the ephemeral beauty of nature for just a bit longer than usual - with a little helping of hand-cream.