23 May 2016

Letting Go // Creative Living

When we grow up, we grow out of play, and into tight spaces in our minds. There is no room for play, and no room for imagination. But when we really get into the moments with our children - and I mean really - then we find our inner child, which opens up a whole world of possibility. We learn and grow creatively through play, and develop our skills in problem solving and social skills - just like our children do. Our adult lives are put on pause and for those blissful moments or days, we are free.

So I challenge you to truly live creatively this week. Lay in the leaves - try and catch one falling! Stomp in the mud and get dirty - who cares about the washing, it will be worth it. Wade in the river like you did when you were a child. Run down a hilly meadow - and laugh hard. Try a new skill, and feel liberated. And reconnect with nature, with new eyes...

This is something we are trying to embrace more of all the time, and reaping the benefits mentally, emotionally and physically as well as creatively. It's good for the soul.

Photo sources (all our own): Laying in leaves at Sherwood Forest, Stomping in mud at Wyre Forest, Wading in the river at The Knapp & Papermill Nature Reserve, Hill running at Croome Court, Archery class with Really Rural, Robin feeding at Puzzlewood.

16 May 2016

Specialised Evolution // In the Studio

While watching the film ‘Life of Pi’ recently, a thought struck me. Well, lot’s of thoughts struck me - it is quite a thought-provoking movie after all, but this one thought in particular was less about the film, and more about business.

A young man, known as ‘Pi’, ends up on a boat floating in the middle of the ocean, and his only companion at sea is a fully grown Bengal Tiger, called Richard Parker. It struck me that the tiger - such a well adapted hunter on land - becomes a sitting duck when removed from his natural habitat, and placed at sea.

I first thought about how important it is to specialise - about sticking to what you know best. To be a real specialist is how you make your name, and build a reputation for excellence. Personally, I really dislike it when a company offers a really eclectic mix of services or products. They risk coming across as a jack of all trades, and a master of none. They may offer adequate products or services, but without ever excelling. It’s not something you’d want to put in your marketing materials for sure.

It’s interesting to see how some large companies have developed though, especially those selling products - they appear to be doing the opposite of specialising. You only have to look at supermarkets such as Tesco, or online marketplaces like Amazon, and it’s not too difficult to envisage a future where there are only a handful of places that sell products, as each one stocks just about everything you could ever need. If I think of a product now that isn’t an everyday item, I often think ‘where on earth can I buy that from?’, and 99 times out of 100 I’d check Amazon first, for ease.

But looking more closely, this isn’t an example of these companies not being specialists. Selling a huge range of products isn’t really the same thing as being a jack of all trades - it’s just doing more of something you already specialise in. Individual products would be manufactured by different companies, in different parts of the world, and then sold. They are just a centralised platform for selling, and that is their speciality - selling.

Having said how crucial it is for businesses to specialise, it’s just as important for them to be able to evolve, in order to avoid extinction. Evolving doesn’t mean offering multiple new services at random, just because there is a boom. Businesses should look at their strongest areas outside of what they already specialise in, and select the one that offers the most potential for growth. This way a business would grow organically, evolving into this new area naturally over time, helping the business to become stronger, and more resistant to change.

The tiger, for example, would be better suited to moving from the forests in India to the rolling countryside of the UK, rather than to a life at sea - there are far more transferable skills for a life in the UK, compared to that at sea. At sea, despite the abundance of food, the tiger would not survive.

So, just as for the tiger, it’s best to selectively evolve your business over time, rather than be lost at sea having made a sudden change of direction.

09 May 2016

Perfect Vegan Pancakes // Good Food

We enjoy this breakfast at least once a week - it's vegan, super healthy, fun and delicious. The perfect family-orientated breakfast to set you up for a great day of adventure...

Ingredients (serves 3)

150g rolled oats
2 Medjool dates
500ml (approx) oat milk
2 bananas
80g plain wholemeal flour
Coconut oil (for cooking in)
Berries (of your choice)
Maple syrup (for drizzling)


Pit and crush the dates until a paste-like consistency (or use a blender!). Peel the bananas and crush into the dates to combine at the same time. Combine date / banana mix with with the oats, flour and milk and mix well to form a gloopy, pourable batter. Stand for 10 minutes before cooking - meanwhile heat frying pan over a medium-low heat and add coconut oil when you're ready to start cooking.

Spoon the mixture into the frying pan - we usually fit around 4 pancakes in the pan each time. When the mixture appears to set on top, that's when you flip them - around 4-5 minutes on the first side, and around another 2-3 minutes once flipped.

Serve hot, with your choice of berries and a drizzle of maple syrup - here we used strawberries, raspberries and pineapple. Sometimes we make a compote instead, using blueberries and lemon, or even rhubarb. Get creative!

02 May 2016

Natural Playground, Croome // Inspiring the Small

Come rain or shine (but preferably shine) our small is never happier, or more free-spirited than when he is outdoors, immersed in nature. At our local National Trust property - Croome Court - as well as the obligatory man-made playground, they also have a natural playground. Having spent near enough every day of his walking life playing outside within nature, C naturally gravitates to the natural playground, to explore his imagination.

Exploring logs, branches, tree stumps and twigs, there is endless opportunity for testing his boundaries in balancing, jumping, climbing, lifting, carrying and building, as well as role play - the tepee for example, became our house, which he decorated with ivy and built a 'fire' outside of.

We are true believers in the importance of nurturing our relationship with nature, which inspires our small, and forms the basis of a life-long bond with natural spaces.
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