Kate McQuaid is a lover of lakes, oceans, sky, bright sun and strong atmospheres. Her wish is for everyone to be tender, compassionate and patient, though she is totally comfortable with not being in control of any of that.

She moved to London from her native Toronto, whereupon she first met Barbara and Lydia for dinner at Barbara's lovely flat, on the occasion of a visit from their shared friend Rachael. None wanted the evening ever to end, so they stayed friends.

Kate works at Faber & Faber, one of the world's last great independent publishing houses, and muses aloud one might read Seamus Heaney, Lorrie Moore, Jean Rhys or Alan Warner, if one hasn't already. 

She's our first official contributor, our first minimalist, and we love her purist packing ethic. We think you will too...

Minimalist or maximalist?

Minimalist, which is a concept I admire and aim to apply in all areas of my life.

When you last packed to move, what was the thing or collection of things you couldn’t leave without? 

When I moved to London from Toronto in 2013, I brought one suitcase and one handbag. I had enjoyed the experience of editing my life, playfully imagining I would never return. It provided a great excuse to shed the jewellery I had made or been given over the years which bore no relation to my taste. Laden with a sense of obligation and forgotten significance, I had pots of the stuff. I only brought my very favourite pieces.

Please tell us more about those favourites!

My great-grandmother Ivy France was given this brooch at Christmas in 1946 to celebrate the end of the war. Five of my great aunts and uncles, including my grandmother, bought it for her together. I notice that there's a picture of Wallis Simpson in the National Portrait Gallery wearing an almost identical pin, so it must have been a popular style at the time. 

Clearly it needs to be restored as it is an unwearable mess. I've gone so far as to locate a hopefully suitable jeweller and should drop it off some time.

The second item is a small porcelain elephant with its trunk up, a symbol of good luck. This was my grandmother's, and it makes me feel tender when I look at it. She had a large collection of ceramic animals, and I must have selected this as one of my favourites when she died. I don't remember receiving it.

My move to the UK has been enabled by the ancestry visa I obtained by my grandmother being born in Brixton, although our family moved to Canada in 1924. Living here now I feel especially close and grateful to her.