I feel like now is the right time to share a guilty secret with you, something you may not know about me.
I think enough time has passed and this is a safe space, free of judgement.
Back in the first lockdown, when we were all confined to our homes and could only go out once a day, I got really into spotting birds in my garden.
What else are you going to do?
I’ve NEVER been interested before, but I even went as far as joining a Facebook group called “The self-isolating bird club”.
And actually, before you judge me (or quickly look it up yourselves) take a moment and think about how much more time we’re all spending with nature nowadays.
The pandemic has changed us, everybody has a new-found appreciation for the freedom we get from being outdoors. We’re all used to pulling on our woollies and wellies and getting out in the fresh air regardless, because we know it’s good for us.
It improves our mood, reduces feelings of stress and helps us to be more active.
So how about we seize this new appreciation and take it one step further.
If you’re a regular on my blog, you’ll know I’ve enjoyed some wonderful wines at home during lockdown.
But I think we can all agree, enough is enough now - we’re desperate to get back to our favourite pubs and restaurants.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had some brilliant zoom parties, in fact some of them have been more raucous than the pre-lockdown parties – family birthdays can get out of hand.
But you can’t recreate the feeling of being served your favourite special beverage, in a cold glass, eating great food with your best friends.
Currently, we still have the caveat of everything being outdoors, and the hospitality industry has gone above and beyond (even if I do say so myself) to create warm and inviting outdoor spaces for us to enjoy.
But whilst we’re making little changes in order to enjoy our pubs and restaurants - could this ‘temporary’ outdoor adjustment instigate a permanent change in our culture?
If you look at Nordic countries, they’ve always had a real passion for being outdoors even in the coldest of conditions.
Scandinavians call it ‘friluftsliv’ (pronounced free-loofts-liv). Which literally translates as “open-air living” it was originally used to describe the value of spending time in remote locations for spiritual and physical wellbeing.
When we go over to Stockholm or Norway, we don’t think twice about wrapping up in a blanket and enjoying a drink in an outdoor bar, it seems quirky and a bit of a holiday experience. We’d never think of sitting in a pub garden during a UK winter.
In Norway there’s a saying “There is no such thing as bad weather only bad clothing”.
And it’s very true, let’s face it, none of us are surprised by our weather, we talk enough about it! If we were better equipped – then we could all bring a bit of friluftsliv into our lives!
Here are my tips for embracing the great outdoors and making the most of the al fresco evenings.
1. Wear a hat. Especially if you’re bald like me! Apparently, it’s a myth that you lose the majority of your body heat from the top of your head, I beg to differ - but whether it is or isn’t – it makes sense that putting a hat on will keep you warm. An ‘emergency hat’ doesn’t take up any room in your pocket either!
2. It’s not a fancy-dress party – so there’s no need to impersonate the Michelin Man with bulky coats and jackets. Layer-up. The more the better, t-shirt, sweatshirt or jumper and a lightweight jacket – these will all trap air between the layers and keep you insulated throughout the evening.
3. Reserve the table near the outdoor heater! It sounds obvious. Most places are well aware of the need for more patio heaters, but there’s no harm in phoning up and seeing if you can reserve your spot.
4. Take a blanket with you. There’s no shame in being prepared and being comfortable - and a nice woolly blanket could you make you really cosy. Some places already provide these but if not, bring your own!
I hope you’ve all been able to meet up with friends and family again, and if you’ve not yet ventured out, hopefully these tips will encourage you and keep you toasty regardless of the temperature.
Let me know if you have any of your own tips to share, let’s embrace the Nordic way!