Change brings discovery

by Rowena Howie April 21, 2022

I took some time over the public holiday to unwind and enjoy the sunshine. Sitting in a friends garden, sipping some vino. I tried to do some painting (a new found hobby that is meant to quiet my overactive brain!).

 

A garden with light spilling through tree branches on to the flower bed below

 

My mind, however, was crowded. Thoughts of past, present and future finally ordered themselves in to some sort of sense though. Some of them, I discovered, are worth sharing because although the past couple of years seem to have divided in to 'things i can do' and 'things i can’t do', all the "can nots" are turning back in to can do's. The world seems full of possibilities again

 

 

 

I began to take stock of the things i realise I now "love". Whether the pandemic brought about that change or whether I look forward to rediscovering old favourites, its a bit of a mix. At any rate. here is my top ten tips for your inspiration and delight.

 

  1. Hidcote Gardens in Summer

 

garden scene at hidcote manor, flower beds in front and topiary behind

 

I love visiting English gardens such as National Trust properties and Hidcote in the Cotswolds is my favourite. In the first lockdown we were barely allowed to go outside for exercise let alone head to the countryside but now as travel everywhere is possible I’m keen to get back to the spaces and places that have a fond place in my heart. A visit to beautiful Hidcote is one of my top recommendations.

 

  1. Canopy Beer

 

canopy beer

 

During the summer of 2021 I was living south of the river for the first time in my life and explorations heralded a find that I will, for now, describe as "my favourite beer". Canopy Sunray Pale Ale closely followed by the Snapper Session IPA I would now gladly buy by the crate load. If you like American style pale ales with their hoppy, fruity, lively, taste then I recommend.

 

  1. Light

 

small pink flower captured in the light

 

The way the light moves, particularly through trees and flowers can capture my imagination and bring a smile to my face whether it's watching the scene outside my window, walking by a body of water or looking at the flora in a garden/park/side of the road. It doesn't cost a thing and there is beauty to be found absoloutly everywhere. My phone is filled with snapshots where something has captured my imagination. Maybe I'll find a project from this but for not I'm just taking simple pleasure in looking, stopping and noticing. 

 

 4. Arts and Culture

the cast courts at V&A museum London

 

 

It's not until something is taken away that you begin to realise it's value. Living in London I feel so incredibly lucky to have so many world class institutions on my doorstep but it wasn't until they were forced to close and then when there was questions of how or even if they might reopen that I realised i was a) taking them for granted and b) not even using them. I also realised that when I do it's usually only to see a special exhibition not even exploring the wealth of main collections that are free to all. Not everyone reading this will live in London but the reminder here is to make good use of what's available to you. I'm still amused that I lived in Oxford for five years and managed never to go punting once!

 

  1. couch to 5k

 

Woman smiling does high kick

 

I can’t run. That’s me – my whole life. From the horror of cross country at school being laughed at by my class mates to age 44 and so unfit I can barely run for the bus. The lethargy and inaction of restrictions and too much time worrying and being negative, I decided to get out of the door and out of my own head. I’m proud to say I turned “I can’t” in to “I can” run. During the ten week programme the first time I ran for three minutes consecutively I was amazed at myself and it’s astonishing that I’m now headed for 30 minutes consecutively!

 

  1. Great bras

 

 

Harlow and Fox Lingerie set bra and knicker

 

 

Linked to number five on this list the discovery of sports bras has been life changing. I really mean that. There things did not exist when I was at school, big, awkward and hating every single shameful P.E. lesson. This revelation led me to review all my bras and moving house getting things out of storage I rediscovered some of my favourite lingerie. There is one set I purchased in 2014 from Harlow & Fox that is so beautiful it boosts my confidence making me feel more attractive when I wear it and it fits me perfectly providing true comfort. Worth investing when you can.

 

  1. Intermission Coffee

 

Interior of Intermission Coffee West Hampstead. Design by Fieldwork Facility

 

Another wonderful introduction, one that came to me via my brother Robin. Their mission is to put people and planet first… and change the coffee industry for good. Intermission coffees are amazing and produced ensuring everyone in the supply chain is treated and paid fairly, also in store in West Hampstead barista prepared coffees are done with oat milk as standard at no extra cost. It’s little things like that which give us the understanding and incentive to make small changes to our own lives for the benefit of the planet. I love it when small businesses come up with simple and effective innovations like this which change the world for the better. It has instigated a personal change in all my dairy consumption. I am now beginning to swap out my milk intake for oat alternative, starting with 50/50, as one small personal change in habit that will lower my everyday greenhouse gas emissions.

 

8. Where you shop matters

 

greengrocers tomato selection

 

This is not a new one from me but it is interesting watching how the pandemic has affected my behaviour. As a single person with no dependents living in an urban area it is easy for me to almost completely exclude home deliveries. Not everyone can do this but many people can consider their 'convenience shopping' and ask themselves if they could make a more meaningful choice. I frequent supermarkets but I choose not to buy my veg there because I have a really fantastic greengrocer 20 minute walk away. I enjoy my weekend ritual of grabbing my bags and heading up the road to peruse the produce and select my preferences. Even better, lots of single use plastic is eliminated because everything at the greengrocer is displayed, weighed and put in to my tote with barely a paper bag to keep the mushrooms together. It's a choice that is available to me, I like that i can support a small independent not turn over my entire weekly shop to a global corporation, it means the money i spend is going back in to the local economy, I'm getting better quality and as I love my greengrocer and want it to still exist a year from now I'm making sure I use it. I feel good about my choice to keep shopping locally and I've turned it into an enjoyable weekly ritual that involves fresh air and exercise.

 

9. Listening to music

Oh my gosh I feel like i watched the entirety of Netflix during the lockdowns! As the weather improves and summer beckons I am trying to remind myself to reduce my screen time and get back to something I enjoy, listening to music. It's been harder than i thought it would be, just simply remembering, not reverting to my automatic default. It's not new but it is still amazing; my most played in 2021 was Alabama Shakes album Sound & Colour. Finally, next month I hope to attend a rescheduled Michael Kiwanuka gig that i originally booked in January 2020. I'm also trying to change up my listening by putting on a podcast, for instance Dare to Lead with Brené Brown (i just listened to the two part interview with America Ferrera which was great).

 

10. A change of scene

 

deckchairs on the beach

 

 

I've been very stuck (in my own head) recently and I've found the most effective way to change that has been to get out and go somewhere different. Not just walking in to a different room in my brain but physically leaving my flat, my neighbourhood, my city and even my country. International holidays may not always be possible or desirable but I am going to try to at least do regular day trips to somewhere an hour or two out of London. It's not just places either, it's people. I haven't seen certain friends and family and I need to stop hiding/staying home and become more sociable again. I used to be the most sociable person I know, how have I let these reclusive tendencies take hold? I'm going to begin making plans for the future again and making them happen.

 

 

These are ten things I discovered in the past year that have brought positive change for me personally. As I think of summer ahead these are the ideas and inspiration that I am going to try to keep as important parts of my life over the coming months.

 

If you found one thing amongst this list that helps you in some way then it was worthwhile me sharing. I am happy to do so and wish you a wonderful Summer 22.


Rowena Howie

Author

Lover of beautiful things and amazing people. Explorer and Entrepreneur. This is my independent shop, whether you visit our London boutique or browse our online offering it is my vision that our wonderful team is working hard to bring to life.


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