The atmosphere is powerful, the air is clear, and the silence is absolute. Nicola Benedetti and Nelson Mandela are huddled on the peak of Cairn Gorm. Their hands are wrapped tightly round the gentle curves of their silver mugs, as they heat themselves up with a warm pot of dark, gloopy hot chocolate.
Nicola doesn't drink hot chocolate too often, in case she begins to take its chocolate flavours in liquid form for granted. She saves this comforting indulgence for cold weather or good company. Now she is enjoying both of these at once, although she and Nelson are both savouring the silence that has not yet been broken. Good company does not always necessitate words. When she is performing or touring, however, Nicola is alone the majority of the time, so she is glad now of the opportunity to speak to this amazing man.
When they have taken the edge off their cold, they begin to talk, and the warmth of the conversation between the young musician and the elderly statesman has almost as much effect as the hot chocolate. They talk about art - Nicola's favourite piece of Scottish art is an E.A.Hornel painting of five girls playing in a woodland countryside, which she has loved since she was a little girl, when she would imagine herself included in the mischief and fun of the girls in the painting. They discuss music, and Nicola's admiration for the Scottish composer James McMillan. They consider what it is about their own countries that most inspires them. Nicola finds the view from her home overlooking the Isle of Arran, Kyles of Bute and Mull of Kintyre along the West Coast of Scotland hugely inspiring. This coastline, with its truly exotic sunsets, never fails to impress her when she returns home. Besides the visual impact of this Scottish landscape, she finds the air and atmosphere there equal to none.
The conversation turns to lighter subjects. Nicola confides that despite having tried to like tomato juice many times, she has finally succeeded in officially disliking it forever. They refill their mugs from the stylish silver jug...hot chocolate on the other hand! Nicola's most memorable drink to date was a hot chocolate served in a café bar on a ski slope on the Dolomites of Northern Italy. Topped with cream and piping hot, it was a memorable sensation of such contrast and satisfaction. As she blows on her drink to cool it down and smiles at Nelson Mandela, she knows that her memorable drink has just been outclassed.
Nicola is a classical violinist born in Scotland in 1987, who began violin lessons at the age of 5. In May 2004, she won the prestigious title of "BBC Young Musician of the Year 2004". She has subsequently played with orchestras around the world and won several awards for her playing.
Nicola's chosen charity is The Ayrshire Hospice
In his design for Nicola's hot chocolate pot, Roger was asked to include a subtle reference to music. He got so immersed in the design process that he produced five different designs for her to select. The final result was a beautiful pot and a pair of mugs, made by seaming the metal and spinning it. The insulating bars between the body and handle of the pot and mugs make this piece as practical as it is stunning, thanks to the flair of the design, and Nicola's exuberant signature.
Materials: sterling silver
Pot Height: 27 cms
Pot Weight: 1.081 kgs
Silver Photography © Shannon Tofts
Stars & Artists Photography © Alistair Devine
Alexander McQueen Photography © Derrick Santini