In 1948, a schoolgirl in Folkstone was assigned a Swedish penpal. That summer, an exchange took place: in July, a group of Swedish girls visited Folkstone for a month. When they returned home, their English hosts joined them on the ferry to Gothenburg, spending the rest of the summer in Sweden. One of those English girls was my grandmother. Journeying back to England, she carried with her a small family of traditional handcarved, painted wooden horses- Dala horses. She also had a friendship that would last her a lifetime- she and her pen friend remain close to this day, 56 years later.
As a child, the little horses were very familiar to me and I loved to play with them, to feel their smoothness beneath my hands. I very much wished that I myself could have a Dala horse. Now, when we visit my grandparents, my own children seek out those same figures, taking them down from the window sill and carrying them about, enacting stories.
So when I noticed this blue painted horse at a local jumble sale, I knew exactly what it was, picking it up quickly and offering my twenty pence piece in exchange. It sits now, on a shelf above my desk, next to a pile of Kinfolk magazines and a Diana camera. A reminder, a treasure, a talisman.