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Experiencing intimacy with the outdoors

Many people who spend a lot of time outside will tell you their favourite outdoor memories are those when the elements took charge. Those wet to the skin, fell in a bog, blown over by the wind moments stay with us because they have an immediate and very physical impact.

It could be argued it is the sense of adventure resulting from these experiences that makes them memorable but I think our response has an even deeper meaning than this. When the weather or circumstances take charge, we experience an intimacy with the outdoors that we don’t necessarily feel during a sunny walk.

This intimacy can also come from more planned experiences. Outdoor swimming is a good example. With minimal clothing and full immersion, swimmers have intimate contact with the element of water. Sleeping under the stars (or clouds) in a bivvy bag has a similar effect. Drops of rain on your face, the instant visual impact of the night sky, or even slugs up the nose all bring us into contact with nature in a personal and almost visceral way.

So do we need this intimacy? Does it contribute to our wellbeing? I think so. You only have to watch young children play outdoors to see how much joy puddle splashes, rolling down a hill, or throwing water around bring. As adults, we have perhaps lost some of this joy. Maybe its time we all sought to get it back again.

Gardening and freelance writing… a match made in heaven?

I’ve always been an eager gardener but I know I’m not the only one who’s found renewed interest in all things horticultural since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. My particular gardening focus has been growing my own food (I do sometimes share the bounty with the family). This includes vegetables, fruit and some rather unusual edible flowers.

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Staycation or vacation? What exactly is the new travel normal?

Don’t judge me but it’s time to confess I find the current shake-up in the travel industry interesting. It is no surprise this year’s vacation has been replaced to a large degree by the staycation.

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Working from home. Is our new normal good for us?

I’ve been working from home as a freelance copywriter for five years now. I’m a big fan of the home office (and indeed the camper van office) but was fascinated to see how the rest of the world would take to it when the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown hit us back in March. RBS has recently told 50,000 employees to stick with home working until 2021. It seems likely that many big employers will take the same approach.

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Walking routes online are hot this summer; here’s how to write a great one.

Including walking routes as part of your online marketing strategy has never been a better idea. Across the UK, walking is enjoying a surge in popularity and governmental support, boosted by reaction to the Covid-19 lockdown, advice to avoid public transport and a spell of great spring weather. People who have never walked for leisure before have started doing so, and it won’t be long before they’re all looking for gear and skills to support their new hobby. As far as outdoor writing ideas go, online walking routes appear to be a relatively simple outdoor writing activity but, as someone who has written plenty of rural and urban walking routes, I can tell you that it takes a bit of practice.

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Britain’s fabulous outdoor recreation industry… how will it bounce back?

If you have ever worked with outdoor professionals you’ll know that they’re an innovative bunch with a good sense of humour and the type of attitude that is used to adjusting plans to make the most of difficult times. Across the UK there are instructors, activity specialists, accommodation providers, retail organisations and recreation locations who are currently feeling the weight of what will surely one day be called the corona effect.

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How to start a blog in 2020

There can be no denying it, 2020 has turned out to be a very strange year for businesses, bosses and employees alike. Most of us have seen significant changes in our work circumstances, and many of us will be contemplating an unpredictable future. Here at Fi Darby Freelance we are still writing for clients and offering advice and help where we can. One question we’ve been asked many times over the last few weeks is, ‘How do I start a blog?’

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Fiona’s Corona Diaries (27th April)

With the current changes in employment arrangements, I am considering rewriting my copywriting bio. The outdoor writer part of it will go something like this:

“Fi is an outdoor writer based in Devon and specialising in the streets of Torquay. Her particular areas of interest include the greenhouse, circuitous routes to the beach and vegetable box number four. Fi loves showering in her waterproofs, watching TV from her bivvy bag and playing the piano wearing a rucksack. She has absolutely no idea how to pitch a very large tent in a very small garden.”

Corona diary updates

  • Mr Darby and YouTube have been fixing our downstairs toilet
  • Apparently there is a website called ‘fix the bog’
  • It isn’t this one (that’s a different kind of bog)
  • I would really like to see a field
  • An actual farmer’s field
  • But then the farmer would probably really like to see the sea
  • I need to go and buy some more compost
  • I realised this while I scraped compost out of my nails back into the bag
  • Shopping at the moment feels a bit like a lottery
  • Last week we walked to the shops and came back with a cauliflower, some baking parchment and some Simple soap
  • We accidentally walked past an open ice-cream kiosk
  • I had an enormous cornet
  • So did Mr Darby

Conversation of the day

Upon entering Mr Darby’s home office (previously known as the spare room)

Me: What were you doing just then it sounded like fun

Mr D: I was having a Zoom meeting

Me: I haven’t Zoomed yet

Word of the day – daggy

Whether you are antipodean or not, daggy is not a good thing to be. If you are a sheep you will have lumps of poo hanging from your backside. If you are a person, you will be wearing unattractive clothing, allowing your hair to do what it wants to and cutting right back on the showering.

I have to confess to a recent touch of daggism (I blame the lack of Zooming). I have made amends today and even smell nice.

Mr D. noticed.

Which was nice.

Fiona’s Corona Diaries (24th April)

Yesterday I felt as flat as an apple cake

Not a term I would use often but as my apple cake had just turned out like a nutmeg flavoured custard frittata, it seemed apt. I am not very good with recipes, either for baking or for life. If there were instructions for life somewhere, I must have lost them along the way. This isn’t really a problem because any set of instructions that included something as bizarre as coronavirus lockdown would take up far too much room in a cupboard (we didn’t have databases when I was born).

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Fiona’s Corona Diaries (22nd April)

On the topic of lockdown health

A recent survey by the Institute of Employment Studies suggested that during the initial fortnight of lockdown a third of people in the UK were eating more and exercising less than they usually do. This does not appear to have been the case in our house. Despite regular biscuit bakes and outdoor sausage sizzles, we have been suffering from mysterious (but welcome) weight loss.

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