Column: Janey Lee Grace goes bright red and zigzaggy
PUBLISHED: 14:08 24 July 2010 | UPDATED: 15:14 20 February 2013
Hertfordshire Life columnist Janey Lee Grace finds herself on a Turkish carpet ride in her quest for natural flooring
'DON'T end up buying a carpet', several colleagues said when they heard I was off to Turkey for a retreat holiday. I smiled sweetly but thought how very clichd and such an old style thing to say.
There was in truth little chance of me coming back with anything, not even a suntan, as we were staying at a remote spa resort high in the mountains. Don't get me wrong about the suntan, it was beautifully hot and sunny but I'd run out of natural sunscreen so decided to opt for that film star look - in my dreams - and stay in the shade wearing huge sunglasses and floppy hats.
One day I decided to while away a few hours in the enchanting harbour town of Gocek. It was rather like I imagined Puerto Banus in Spain would have been 40 years ago before the money and designer labels rolled in. My friend and I pottered around little jewellery shops, bought some Turkish delight (I noticed later it was packaged in Wimbledon) and chose some trinkets for the kids. Several charming but rather leery guys outside the obligatory stalls selling rugs called us inside but we smiled and strolled on by. We turned a corner and it was then I saw it... a huge really vibrant red stripey thing of beauty in the window of a shop called 'Yurdan Carpets'.
Back home we had been in the process of searching the internet for the perfect kalim antique rug for our lounge. My friend read my mind, 'You aren't seriously thinking of looking at carpets are you?' but, undeterred, I went in and the very charming Riduan laid out a succession of incredible carpets until my head was spinning and I wondered if he genuinely was Ali Baba and it was all a dream.
I must explain. My thought process was thus: my third book Imperfectly Natural Home is just out and as I'd researched the topic of furniture and furnishings sprayed with nasty chemicals I was shocked to find how many of those very common and allegedly safe chemicals can cause respiratory problems, asthma, eczema, headaches and fatigue.
If you've read any of my books you'll know I'm passionate about natural alternatives for skincare, cleaning products and even clothing, but with this book I really extended my awareness to the known carcinogens in our polluted homes. They do reckon the average home is more polluted than a busy street corner, and while there are some things we can't avoid, we can at least exercise choice when it comes to which new toxic concoctions we introduce in the form of chemicals, paints, new carpets and new mattresses, all of which can release carcinogenic 'volatile organic compounds' into your home environment. In this instance the word organic certainly doesn't mean pure and natural.
For our lounge we'd been looking at sustainable natural flooring options such as jute, sea grass and marmoleum. It's no mean feat as some of these floorings are hardwearing but hopeless when it comes to removing stains and with four young children, stains are inevitable.
Well here it was looking at me, bright red and zigzaggy. The proud shop owner Riduan explained it was a tribal rug and had been hand woven with untreated wool. He seemed to know a great deal about customers with allergies who choose these natural carpets. He assured me it would outlive us and even wear
well enough to be passed down to
I bought it and today I'm eagerly awaiting the DHL van to appear at my door. My four-year-old had heard me reassuring my husband that Riduan was not the 'fly-by-night' type, but being four and only hearing the words 'fly' and 'carpet' he is now eagerly convinced that Mummy's new magic carpet will indeed come flying over the Hertfordshire clouds with Ali himself sitting astride, so I hope he won't be too disappointed when a yellow truck drives up the street.
I haven't seen any of the colleagues who jested about me falling for the 'carpet sales pitch' but so much for not pandering to clichs - I went to Turkey and actually bought a carpet!