August - the height of summer. School's out, the tourists arrive in Bridport and we give ourselves permission to slow down just a bit, slack off the housework and make the most of the english summer before it slips away from us.
There are so many beautiful places nearby that even a day trip around the corner can feel like a holiday. But what about those days when the roads are choked with traffic and your favourite destinations burst at the seams with holiday makers; when all you crave is some time outside in peace and quiet? Consider creating an ‘outdoor room’ - your very own haven to escape into.
We all need fresh air and a little nature every day, whatever the weather. Getting outside is increasingly important not least due to the amount of time we spend indoors, often staring at screens. Remembering to relax, to slow down and breathe deeply, reduces stress levels, allowing ourselves time to remember what is important in life. If you have a yard or garden you can retreat to, make the most of it - lavish some tender loving care on an area and make it special for the sake of your health and wellbeing. If you don't trust yourself to get round to it alone, invite friends and family over to help, giving you a deadline to adhere to.
How can you make your patch stand out? Consider things you wouldn't normally think of having outside. By challenging ingrained tradition you can transform an environment from plain to stunning. Look to other cultures for inspiration, blending english style with an eclectic bohemian twist. Think about your favorite places and how you can add the essence of them to your own space.
A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to spend a day joining forces with Zanna Hoskins of Champernhayes Flowers. We wanted to experiment with my often neglected garden and have fun styling the yard, accentuating the natural beauty of its old brick and crumbling stone. We added furniture, candles and solar lighting, and Zanna’s beautiful collection of british flowers complimented the wild foxgloves and roses. Ultimately, we celebrated our accomplishments with a tea party for our families. I thoroughly recommend embarking on such a positive adventure.
Outdoor accessories are available everywhere from furniture and cooking equipment to sun shades, solar powered lighting and lanterns. You can even buy outdoor waterproof and mould resistant fabric, allowing more freedom to add comfort to our gardens without worrying about unreliable weather. Make your garden an extension of your home by blurring the boundaries and taking the inside out. Admittedly there will be certain things you will have to bring in on miserable days, but taking time to add the unusual will make your place unique. Think outside the box, try to avoid the chain stores and go to the local market, the charity and independent shops, to find that special something that only you will possess. My favourites are a vintage sunlounger, a collection of rugs and cushions and an old battered green camping table, things that have been around for a while.
If you create a covered area, you can really go to town. Consider hanging pictures, mirrors or a collection of coloured lampshades with lights in them. You could restore an old armchair with outdoor fabric, mix patterns, texture and colour. Have fun with your ideas without restricting them. If you have a boring wall space, hang fabric over it, or decorate it with flowers or even paint a mural. Alternatively, give the kids a box full of chalks and let them take over. This is what makes the difference, an outdoor space that catches the eye and invites people in.
If your garden is tiny or you have no time at all, a jug loaded with locally sourced flowers works well sat on an outside table come rain or shine, alongside a chair with your favourite cushion. Anything that gives you pleasure. Blend items amongst the flowers and greenery and invite nature back in. Birds will enjoy nest boxes, baths and feeders, and the flora will attract bees and butterflies. After all this creativity, you can sit back, relax, and enjoy the restorative power of your comfy new outdoor space.
By entertaining all possibilities, the ideas will start rolling in as you become increasingly in tune with your surroundings. Once you get your eye in there will be no stopping you, and everything you need will be right at home in your backyard. Except for the screens, abandoned by the back door. Happy Summer!
Photography - Matt Hayden
Styling - Molly Bruce and Zanna Hoskins
Published in the August 2018 edition of Bridport Times magazine: bridporttimes.co.uk