Magic wands

They were just too special.

But, a year after I was given them, I have finally plucked up the courage to use my two Chinese paint brushes.

They were bought from a tiny little shop called Oriental Arts, which is tucked out of the way in a residential corner of Brighton. I stumbled on the place by accident, but when I walked in, I was instantly transported to the magic wand scene in Harry Potter.

The shop was packed from floor to ceiling with absolutely beautiful and intriguing art supplies.

The Chinese take their traditional arts very seriously, and they treat their tools and materials with an almost spiritual reverence. The grinding of the paint pigment, the way you handle and care for your tools – all of these tasks are carried out with mindful, thoughtful ritual.

The owner of the shop had me 'test' out countless brushes on a sheet of scrap paper, until she felt I had been matched with two brushes that were perfect for me. And on Christmas morning, they appeared under the tree with my name on them.

Since then, they've been waiting patiently among my other brushes - because I was afraid of not using them correctly.

But this weekend I thought, maybe they'd be happy for me to use them in my way? And so I got them down from the shelf, dipped them in paint... and I love them. They have so much character and sensitivity in them – they have instantly been elevated to my two favourites.

Perhaps the moral of this little story is... don't be afraid to enjoy special things.