Animals, Current Issues, Lotti, Wildlife

How much attention do you pay to your windshield when you’re zipping down the M40 on your way to work? Probably not a lot – most of us are too busy watching what’s happening on the road in front of us. Next time you go on a long car journey, keep an eye out and see if you notice one of the biggest signs that Britain’s insects are in decline: the lack of squashed bugs on the glass. When I was a kid, we used to take long journeys down to Cornwall a few times a year. I remember, distinctly, the mess of bugs splattered on the glass. In fact, even a shorter journey would result in a filthy windscreen and a lot of complaining from my Dad. The lack of bugs isn’t something I noticed until I read about it online – and once I had noticed, I couldn’t stop noticing.

Of course, squashing bugs with your car isn’t a good thing, but this realisation – called The Windscreen Phenomenon (and, yes, that’s what entomologists call it) – is just one small indicator that Britain’s bugs are in trouble. In the UK, insects are currently struggling to survive (as are lots of animals, plants and birds) against increased urbanisation, use of stronger pesticides in farms and gardens and the ongoing effects of climate change. The State of Nature Report suggested a 59% decline in insects in the UK since the 70s, but how many of us noticed, and how many of us cared?

Often, insects and invertebrate have a bad reputation with the general public as people dismiss them for being ugly, boring or scary. Endangered mammals like dormice are popular thanks to their cuteness, and at-risk birds like the cuckoo are iconic and enduring. People often dismiss British insects for their more exciting overseas cousins – huge iridescent beetles in Africa or giant spiders in Australia. Aside from butterflies and (occasionally) bees, bugs in the UK just don’t get the best press when compared to their cuddly counterparts.

When you think of British bugs, you probably imagine the humble ladybird or the friendly bumble bee. Some of us might immediately think of the not-so-fearsome house spider or the spindly daddy long legs with his long, wispy limbs. What a lot of people don’t realise is that the UK is host to a whole range of exciting and interesting insects and invertebrate hiding right under our feet! We’ve put together a list of some interesting and unusual British bugs to demonstrate how diverse these creatures can be.

Warning: If you don’t like insects and spiders, you might not want to continue scrolling!

The Ladybird Spider

Ladybird spider
Eresus Sandaliatus Hoge Veluwe (1) by Viridiflavus is licensed under CC BY 2.0

This tiny, brightly-coloured spider was thought to be completely extinct in the UK until a small population was found in Dorset in the 1980s. Female ladybird spiders can reach up to 16mm long and the males only 9mm, the males boasting distinctive red and black colouring which gives them their adorable-sounding name. It’s easy to see why this little spider could be confused for the more common ladybird with its striking red abdomen and dark black spots. After a push to support dwindling Ladybird Spider numbers in Dorset, there are now eight wild populations in the heathlands, but in order to really keep it safe at least 20 populations need to be established.

The Lobster Moth

Lobster moth
Stauropus fagi larva by Wilhelm Helmut is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Lobster Moth is an interesting addition to this list because the moth itself is particularly interesting – while being significantly fluffier than a standard house moth, its mottled grey form isn’t going to catch anyone’s eye. The caterpillar, however, is probably the most unusual bug you’re likely to come across in the UK. With a round, alien-like head, a large ‘tail’ and long legs, it looks very similar to the crustacean from which it gets its name. As it matures, it develops “bumps” along its body and darkens, resembling a dead leaf, which makes it quite hard to spot in the wild. These unusual creatures are found all over Europe but in the UK are mostly found in Southern woodlands.

Stag Beetles

stag beetle

Stag beetles are probably one of the most famous beetles in the world, known for their fierce looking pincers, dark wing-cases and long legs. You’ve probably seen stag beetles on TV or maybe at a zoo or animal park and they get their name from their distinctive, antler-like mandibles. In Japan, these beetles are often popular pets and can be found in pet shops and even department stores! It might surprise you to learn, then, that these impressive beetles are actually a native UK species. Often seen flying around at dusk in the summer months as they search for a mate, these giant insects prefer warmer temperatures and low rainfall so are most common in the south, but can be found all over the country.

Stag beetles can spend a staggering seven years in their larval form hidden deep underground or amongst rotting wood before eventually emerging as an adult to mate. Despite their sharp-looking mandibles, Stag Beetles are not harmful and the adults cannot eat solid food, instead drinking sap. Stag Beetles are currently one of Britain’s rarest beetles due to the devastating effect of deforestation as there simply isn’t enough rotting wood for larvae to hatch in and feed on. If you’ve seen a stag beetle in the wild, please take part in the People’s Trust for Endangered Species survey to help researchers track wild populations in the UK.

Elephant Hawk Moth

Deilephila elpenor caterpillar
Deilephila elpenor caterpillar by Richerman is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Unlike the Lobster Moth, the Elephant Hawk Moth is a fascinating caterpillar and a truly striking adult as well. You might have seen the caterpillars making their way across your garden – in fact, at a whopping 85mm long they’re very hard to miss. These giant caterpillars are really a sight to behold, and when you see one of them slowly making its way across your deck you’d be forgiven for assuming that a Pokémon had just appeared in your garden as it looks up at you with those big eyes. In fact, those “eyes” are a clever kind of camouflage, and the round “head” is a decoy which conceals a much smaller head which extends outwards as the caterpillar searches for food. When it feels threatened, the caterpillar retracts its real head, expanding the decoy head to make the “eyes” look bigger and scaring away potential predators as the tasty caterpillar appears to transform into a much less tasty snake.

Deilephila elpenor
Deilephila Elpenor 04 by Entomolo is licensed under CC BY 2.0

When fully grown, the caterpillar pupates and transforms into a beautiful Elephant Hawk Moth, a striking insect with bright olive and pink wings. Their 60mm wingspan makes them larger than your standard British moth and they tend to eat tubular flowers such as honeysuckle. These moths are common across all of the British Isles and can occupy all kinds of habitats, so unlike a lot of insects on this list they aren’t endangered at all.

Rosemary Beetle & Tansy Beetle

In the UK, we often imagine our beetles to be drab little things with dark brown or black cases in matte shades. In fact, we’ve got a wide array of gorgeous shimmery beetles right under our noses – so many that we’ve had to pick just two to write about.

Rosemary Beetle

Rosemary Beetle
Rosemary Beetle by Robin Sanders is licensed under CC BY 2.0

These striking beetles are a relatively new species to the UK, and were first discovered wild in 1994. Found mostly in the South-East, these little shiny bugs are drawn to aromatic plants and herbs like lavender, sage, and of course rosemary. Quickly earning themselves the label of “pests”, Rosemary beetles are particularly hardy and are often unaffected by pesticides, much to the chagrin of gardeners. While these beetles are only around 7mm long, their shiny, striped cases make them easy to spot nestled among the pastel purple lavender.

Tansy Beetle

Tansy beetle
Tansy Beetle 2 by Geoff Oxford is licensed under CC BY 2.0

These iridescent beetles were once widespread across the UK, but today are one of our most endangered insects. In fact, they’re so rare that they are currently only found on a stretch of the banks of the River Ouse around York. Despite their limited spread, in 2016 the number of recorded Tansy Beetles nearly doubled, showing that there might be hope for these bugs yet. Tansy Beetles are famous for the popular myth that their dazzling cases were so attractive to the Victorians that they were used for jewellery and fashion, attached to collars in place of sequins. While it’s hard to tell just how true this myth is, it’s a known fact that actress Ellen Terry wore a gown adorned with individual beetle cases in the 1880s during a production of Macbeth, so beetles certainly played a part in fashion at the time.

Cockchafers

maybug

Depending on where you live in the UK, these scarab-style bugs are either a regular pest or a complete mystery. They’re known by a number of names across the country: Doodlebugs, Maybugs or Cockchafers (stop giggling at the back, there). Once, these bugs were widespread: in 1911 in an only 18km2 area of forest, over 20 million Cockchafers were collected. These bugs had a devastating effect on harvest as there was no effective way of stopping them. In one bizarre tale from 1320 England, Cockchafers were brought into a courtroom where they were ordered to withdraw their presence within three days or risk being outlawed. The bugs, of course, failed to comply with this sentence so were consequently collected and killed en mass.

After modern farming techniques became popular and the invention of chemical pesticides, Cockchafer numbers finally began to fall, which saved the crops but brought the insects to near-extinction. In the recent move away from chemical pesticides, Cockchafers once again are slowly increasing in numbers.

These bizarre-looking bugs are known for the “leaves” which adorn their antennae; males have seven and females six. They measure about 30mm which doesn’t make them the smallest bug on our list – but does make them the scariest when they decide to fly at you.

Protecting British Bugs

So what can we do to look after our British bugs? Allowing a patch of long grass in your garden is a good start, as well as encouraging the growth of wildflowers or flowers which attract insects such as lavender, foxglove or honeysuckle. For the more dedicated, you can install a bug barn to give insects a place to eat, rest and breed or a bee hive for solitary bees to help support pollinators. For gardens with children, bug hotels are a great way to help support the bugs in your garden while teaching children about all the creepy crawlies they may find. Generally, a bug hotel is built around a base of recycled wooden pallets and can then be filled with all kinds of materials: old wood, hay, bamboo or even sand and old planters. The diverse materials will tempt a wider array of weird and wonderful minibeasts to your garden, perfect for budding entomologists.

Jenny at PrimroseLotti works with the Primrose Product Loading team, creating product descriptions and newsletter headers.

When not writing, Lotti enjoys watching (and over-analyzing) indie movies with a pint from the local craft brewery or cosplaying at London Comic Con.

Lotti is learning to roller skate, with limited success.

See all of Lotti’s posts.

Current Issues, How To, Lighting, Lotti, Make over

Snoezelen Room

Sensory rooms, also known as “Snoezelen” (a compound of the Dutch words ‘snuffelen’, to snuggle, and ‘doezelen’, to doze) or, more scientifically, a “controlled multisensory environment” is a kind of whole-room therapy for children and adults with developmental disabilities, autism, dementia or other brain injuries. Developed in the 1970s in the Netherlands specifically to treat disabilities and injuries, sensory rooms are now a popular feature of nurseries, schools and residential care homes across the world. Sensory rooms can be beneficial for anyone, from the smallest babies to OAPs, from students to CEOs.

Unlike other forms of therapy, Snoezelen is designed not to have a measurable outcome or goal but to encourage the client to gain as much enjoyment as they can from the activity. Users of sensory rooms often report feeling more relaxed or “sleepy” and suffering less from the effects of depression and anxiety. This kind of therapy can also improve pro-social behaviour and encourage users to relate better to each other. Some research has even shown that sensory room therapy can decrease your heart rate!

It’s clear, then, that Snoezelen therapy is a great way to support both children and adults with developmental disabilities or brain injuries as well as toddlers, babies and those who are suffering from stress, anxiety or depression. However, setting up a sensory room – especially in your own home – can be a difficult and time consuming project, especially when searching for specialist equipment.

But have no fear! We’ve put together a list of affordable resources that are quick and easy to buy to set up your very own sensory room. These items are by no means an exhaustive list but are a great place to start when looking for a way to support someone’s sensory needs.

Bubble Features

One of the most popular features of a sensory room is a bubble tube or wall. In fact, they’ve inspired this whole list! Bubble walls combine colour and the gentle (yet hypnotic) movement of bubbles to create a mesmerising effect which really grabs the attention of both children and adults alike. With integrated LED lights and a remote control, it’s possible to choose from a range of colours as well as strobe and fade effects. In Snoezelen therapy, the client is given control over the remote so they can decide what colour the wall is and which light effects are turned on at any time. Bubble walls are a great way to relax as the user watches the gentle flow of bubbles which shine in the light. You can also adjust the bubble speed, allowing for quick, small bubbles or larger, slower ones.

bubble wall

Bubble tubes are another great water feature for your sensory room. Bubble tubes are particularly engaging as they are wide enough to be able to put plastic fish inside, where you can watch them gently “swim” up and down the length of the tube as they get carried along by the bubbles. This sort of engagement is great for people who can have difficulty concentrating, and the changing colour of the feature keeps it feeling novel.

Mirrors

A sensory room can be easily enhanced with the use of mirrors. Placing a bubble tube in the corner of a room with two full-wall mirrors on either wall reflects the movement of the bubbles and creates the impression that there are more features than there really are. Large acrylic mirrors are usually the most suitable for sensory rooms as they are stronger than glass while being significantly lighter, making them easy to move around and safer for rooms with children. Acrylic mirrors are also available in a variety of colours, making them perfect for sensory exploration as they transform the room and the things they reflect. Small babies and toddlers can particularly benefit from playing with mirrors as they learn to recognise facial features and expressions. A sturdy acrylic mirror placed on the floor is also a great way to play and explore, from looking at yourself from different angles to drawing or painting on the surface and watching the reflection beneath. You can even cover a mirror in something fine like sand, chickpeas or flour and let users trace pictures using their fingers, marvelling as the mirror is revealed beneath.

Beanbags

It’s important to make sure there’s lots of space to relax in a sensory room. There’s no limits in a sensory room so users can sit, recline or even lie on the floor if that’s what they want to do! Placing a few beanbag slabs on the floor of a room provides a soft, malleable surface for users to sit and lie on, as well as being interesting to touch, scrunch and cuddle. Beanbag slabs have wipe-clean polyester covers which can also be removed for more thorough machine washing.

Hammocks

Lots of sensory rooms feature swings and hammocks to provide their users with a relaxing, weightless feeling. Hanging swing seats and cacoon hammocks are a great way to help users chill out as they gently swing back and forth. Cacoon hammocks are particularly effective as they provide a dark, enclosed space which can help people feel more safe and at ease. They also have fewer exposed ropes, making them great for children. Cacoon hammocks need to be attached to a sturdy ceiling beam or hung from a tripod stand. For extra safety, you can put a few cushions, bean bags or soft shapes beneath the hammock or cacoon just in case. For an extra sensory experience, you can fill the cacoon with soft cushions or even a furry rug and decorate it with lights.

cacoon chair

Lights

Typically, sensory rooms have very low lighting, often using fibre optic string or cable lights. Low lighting creates a more relaxed environment which can benefit children who struggle to keep calm. String lighting, especially coloured lights, can enhance the relaxed atmosphere as well as bringing more colour to a room. Being able to touch and manipulate light is important during Snoezelen therapy, so make sure that users can hold the lights themselves (with proper supervision). Battery operated lights are great for this, as they can be picked up, manipulated and even worn! Solar powered lights have fewer running costs and can be charged outside (or on a windowsill) when not in use, so are better for the environment. For sensory rooms designed for children, solar lights can also teach them about science and sustainability.

sensory lights

Spinners and Hanging Decorations

Another way to add sparkling colour and movement to a sensory room is through the use of hanging spinners. Hung around a room at different heights, these spinners twist and dance as they spin, creating stunning visual effects which are almost hypnotic to watch. Spinners should be hung low enough that users of the sensory room can touch and spin them themselves, and small children can be helped to reach them so they can watch the direct effect of their actions on the world around them. Lots of spinners come with integrated crystals, which when hung in a window or near a light source can beautifully refract the light in rainbows around the room.

Refracted light

Making a sensory room doesn’t have to be a huge project – in fact, it can often be beneficial to have just a few items which are brought out and set up as a treat. Larger features like bubble walls are a great way to start and can also be just as effective when set up in a bedroom or living room where everyone can enjoy it. So let’s turn down the lights, put away our phones, turn off the TV and instead turn to the bubble wall for an evening of rest and relaxation!

Jenny at PrimroseLotti works with the Primrose Product Loading team, creating product descriptions and newsletter headers.

When not writing, Lotti enjoys watching (and over-analyzing) indie movies with a pint from the local craft brewery or cosplaying at London Comic Con.

Lotti is learning to roller skate, with limited success.

See all of Lotti’s posts.

Current Issues, Gardening, Lotti, Wildlife

wild space in garden

The State of Nature Report

In 2013 over 50 British wildlife organisations worked together to release the State of Nature report, the first report of its kind which set out to undertake a “health check” of nature in the UK. The results were, to say the least, troubling. All around the UK, all kinds of wildlife was suffering – there were declines in populations of insects and butterflies, in birds and mammals and even in plants.

The UK is not left wanting when it comes to green space as over half of the total urban area in England is made of green space: parks, gardens and allotments as well as grassy verges take up a significant amount of room. The demand for houses with gardens is still very high but the shrinking amount of land available means these gardens are getting smaller and smaller. The urbanisation of formally wild spaces can even increase the impact of invasive species on local wildlife populations as they usually arrive via human transport routes.

In non-urbanised patches or arible or farm land, the trend continues. The report showed that since the 1970s there has been a rapid decline in farmland bird populations which showed no indication of improving any time soon. There were similar results when looking at farmland moths and beetles, with 64% of moths and 70% of beetles in decline.

A further report taken in 2016 held similarly worrying results, showing that 56% of species in the UK were in decline and 165 species were considered critically endangered – that’s one in ten species across the UK. One in six animal, bird, plant, insect and fish species had been lost altogether. While between 2013 and 2016 more steps were being taken to combat these problems, researchers could find no statistically significant improvements between the two reports that showed long-term change for the good.

The reports picked up on two trends which could be most closely linked with the continued drop in numbers of local birds, animals and insects. These were the lack of wild, uncultivated spaces and the use of pesticides, particularly agricultural ones.

Britain is, thankfully, a nation of nature-lovers. We’re birders and badger-watchers: where else would Springwatch reach as many people? The two State of Nature reports demonstrated this, as hundreds of volunteers popped up all over the country (and in Britain’s overseas territories) to count, track and observe the plants, animals and insects that the reports were focusing on. England loves its wild spaces – loves its moors and mountains, loves its beaches and brooks.

But do we love our gardens more?

The English Garden

It’s no coincidence that the word “paradise” stems from the ancient Hebrew word “pardes”, meaning “park” or “garden”. If a man’s home is his castle, then his garden is his estate. The garden is an important motif in popular culture; from the romantic gardens in which the heroine and hero walk in regency novels to the biblical Garden of Eden. The garden is the backdrop to scandalous love affairs, secret meetings and grand denouements.

English garden

The lawn – that big patch of green space you’ll probably find at the back (and front, if you’re lucky) of your house – has been a staple of Western homes for hundreds of years. The garden how we imagine it today has a carefully curated image which has evolved over time to become what we know today – a couple of flower beds, a vegetable patch hidden near the back, maybe a some patio furniture and, most importantly, a lot of grass. The lawn is as far from a “wild space” as it’s possible to get. Considering its popularity, then, what kind of impact is the British garden having on local wildlife?

Homeowners’ love of open spaces, trimmed lawns and pesticides is making it harder and harder for our favourite species to continue to survive. Bugs which would breed in long grass have nowhere to go, making it harder for garden birds to find reliable sources of food. Butterflies and bumblebees, which are integral for pollination, have fewer wildflowers to feast on and often find pesticides in maintained flower beds. Wild mammals such as hedgehogs, badgers and rabbits have nowhere to hide, breed and hibernate and the changing climate often means that those animals who do hibernate are waking up far too early.

What Can I Do To Help?

By making room for a wild space in your garden, you can start to support British wildlife in a real, active way. You don’t need to transform your whole garden into a meadow, but something is always better than nothing. Take a few square meters of space at the back of your lawn, overturn an unused vegetable patch or repurpose some beds and borders and allow the space to return to nature. By letting grass grow out and planting wildflowers (which often take a full season to come in), you can encourage more insects to land and breed, in turn feeding your garden birds. Long grass and flowers give small mammals more places to hide and you can combine your wild space with a compost heap or log pile to provide hedgehogs with a safe space to hibernate in the winter.

wild hedgehog in garden

Stop your endless battle against the weeds and simply let them grow – and put that bottle of weedkiller down! A weed is just a flower that’s grown in the wrong place: start viewing it as a flower that’s grown in the right place. Plant more self-seeding flowers (or make an effort to seed your own flowers) which not only saves you money but also encourages plants to grow just as nature intended: wherever they land! Replace traditional fence panels (which can often trap animals) with hedges which allow them to pass from garden to garden, as well as providing a safe place for birds to nest.

If you’re keen on growing your own food, step away from pesticides and try using garlic water instead. If you’re still worried about slugs, encourage nature to solve the problem for you – a pond will attract frogs and toads, and they’ll eat the slugs. A garden pond with sloping sides (or an exit ramp) will also give garden birds and wild mammals a safe place to drink and bathe.

A wild garden is, invariably, a messy garden. For hundreds of years we’ve taken pride in our perfectly manicured, well-curated gardens with neat flower beds and horizontally-striped lawns. But in 2018, we have to ask ourselves a question: what do we value more – our perfect lawns or the beautiful, natural world which is struggling to thrive around us?

Jenny at PrimroseLotti works with the Primrose Product Loading team, creating product descriptions and newsletter headers.

When not writing, Lotti enjoys watching (and over-analyzing) indie movies with a pint from the local craft brewery or cosplaying at London Comic Con.

Lotti is learning to roller skate, with limited success.

See all of Lotti’s posts.

Current Issues, Gardening Year, Lotti, Wildlife

friluftsliv

In the lonely mountain farm, My abundant catch I take. There is a hearth, and table, And friluftsliv for my thoughts.

– Henrik Ibsen

According to The World Happiness Report, Norway is the happiest country in the world. There’s a huge number of reasons for this, from their supportive welfare system to their high average income, but when you ask Norwegians why their country appears to be so content, there’s a very consistent answer: friluftsliv.

Friluftsliv (literally, “free air life” or “open air living”, and pronounced free-loofts-liv) is one of those scandinavian words which which is so unique to a language and culture that it becomes hard to describe in English. Like its Swedish predecessor Hygge (pronounced hoo-ga), friluftsliv encompasses an idea which is both familiar yet near-impossible to put into words.

In short, friluftsliv describes a connection to nature, a strong desire to spend time outside and connect with the world around you. To describe Norway’s infatuation with the outdoors as a “way of life” is, really, disingenuous to the real meaning of Friluftsliv. Friluftsliv is a feeling, a sense of self. It goes far beyond a mere life choice and becomes more like a cultural identity.

free land

In 1957, Norway officially introduced Allemannsretten (the ‘all man’s right’) with the passing of the Outdoor Recreation Act. This right to roam means that in Norway you can go on skis or foot wherever you want provided you are within unfenced land – this means all land that isn’t privately owned (like a garden) or cultivated land being used to grow crops or rear animals. In the winter months, when Norway is transformed into a white blanket of snow, Allemannsretten is extended to fields and meadows. Not only can you go wherever you please, you can also set up camp and sleep everywhere except in lay-bys or cultivated fields so long as you remain over 150 meters from the nearest house. If you want to stay another night, you need to ask permission from the owner of the land (unless you’re in a remote area).

It’s well researched that spending more time outside is better for your overall mental and physical health, yet in the UK, lots of people avoid going outside unless they have to. Going outside is part of a chore, of a larger pattern. You need to walk to work, you need to take the dog out, you need to bike to the train station to visit your family. This isn’t friluftsliv – friluftsliv means going outside because you want to, because nature calls to you, not because you need to.

In the UK there are fewer wild spaces than ever, and it can often be difficult to “get lost” in nature in quite the same way as our Scandinavian neighbours. In the UK, where our population is fifteen times that of the Norway’s and our land mass smaller, there simply isn’t the space for rolling wilderness. If you’re very lucky, you might live near a patch of National Trust land which (save for the odd sheep) will be left as nature intended. So, if you don’t feel like emigrating to Norway, you’ll have to start looking for nature a little closer to home.

lake

There’s a surprising number of wild spaces in the UK if you just know where to look – the lofty peak district, the rambling chilterns or the Cornish Heritage Coastline. There’s something very atmospheric about finding yourself alone in nature – be it the middle of a deep wood, atop a mountain doused in clouds or perched on a cliff watching the sea beat at the rock. Finding land which is completely untouched by humans can be difficult in the UK: you can see the annals of human history spelled out before you in the land itself in ancient stone circles or crumbling tin mines. Sometimes, despite our best intentions to run away from the effect of people on the world around us, it has an unerring way of following us. It shows us that humans have, for thousands of years, been wanderers. This doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing.

On my way to work I used to travel through a strange patch of wilderness on the outskirts of Wokingham; partly a dirt track through fields and partly through an actual wood. When you grow up in a busy town with only man-made outdoor spaces (which tend to be flat, grassy affairs), finding a wood feels almost like a miracle. On the way home after one particularly stressful day, I thought to myself there’ll always be another bus, and let myself get lost. At first I followed the little dirt paths and then I decided to forego the paths entirely and just wander whichever direction I felt like.

Wandering through the woods was freeing. I was there for no reason other than that I wanted to be there, crunching through the leaves and running my hands along trees older than my great-grandparents. I followed a robin hopping from branch to branch and spent a good ten minutes chasing down a strange noise which turned out to be an angry squirrel – something I’d never heard before. I walked past the same group of ramblers three or four times, who’d at first looked at me (dressed in my work clothes and unsensible shoes) like I’d gone mad, and then started to greet me with the rambler’s head nod. This is what friluftsliv feels like.

fjord

There’s a sense of freedom synonymous with Friluftsliv which is what makes it so appealing. A sense of disconnection from the rest of the world and contentment with being at one with nature. Our lives are driven by purpose – we have to do this, we must do that – and so when that falls away and the only purpose is to simply exist, it’s a lot easier to feel content.

No one’s asking that we all suddenly rise from our desks, leave our jobs and run away to live in the woods. Sure, it sounds like a great idea now, but soon enough the last phone will run out of battery and then we’ll all be stuck with nowhere to watch Game of Thrones. Whether you live in the middle of London or in the concrete jungle of Milton Keynes, there’s always a place to find a bit of nature. Every town or city will have a park somewhere, even if it’s just a small patch of land in between office blocks and rows of terraced houses. The thought of going outside and standing in the garden in the middle of winter doesn’t necessarily fill people with inspiration, but finding and supporting local wild spaces is easier than it seems.

In the harsh winter months it can be tempting to stay indoors and avoid the chilly bite of the cold air. But in Norway, where the temperature regular dips into the minus digits (currently standing at a brisk -7°C), spending time outside is simply the done thing. As the Norwegians say – there’s no bad weather, just bad clothing. So it’s time to swap those jeans for a pair of practical waterproof hiking trousers, the slippers for a sturdy pair of boots and get outside to get back in touch with nature.

Jenny at PrimroseLotti works with the Primrose Product Loading team, creating product descriptions and newsletter headers.

When not writing, Lotti enjoys watching (and over-analyzing) indie movies with a pint from the local craft brewery or cosplaying at London Comic Con.

Lotti is learning to roller skate, with limited success.

See all of Lotti’s posts.

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