The importance of recharging in nature with Chloe from Wild Goose Camping

 Camping in the beautiful South West of Western Australia with Wild Goose Camping and Winterwares

Camping is one of the best ways to reconnect with nature and benefit from the perspective and feeling of wellbeing that spending time outdoors can bring.

Chloe Sparkes and Clint Collins know this all too well, they’re the couple behind Wild Goose Glamping, a luxury camping experience in the Margaret River region. They frequently camped the coastlines of the Atlantic and the Indian Ocean in the UK and Western Australia. After receiving compliments and questions about their canvas bell tent, they decided that everyone could benefit from spending a bit more time outdoors too.

We chat to Chloe and Clint about the rising popularity of Glamping, how nature helps us heal, and their habits they created to spend more time outdoors.

We love the concept of prioritising more time outdoors and recharging in nature. Can you tell us a little bit about the philosophy and vision behind Wild Goose Camping?

The philosophy behind Wild Goose Camping is to make it easy for people to get into the outdoors and to be able to do it in a space that adds to the beauty of their surrounds. There seems to be a growing disconnect between people and the natural environment and each other. We aim to provide the space for people to easily immerse themselves in nature. Being in such a different and relaxing environment and the fact that everyone is staying in the same space, helps increase our connection with ourselves and the people we’re camping with. We see Wild Goose Glamping as a tonic for the busy, distracted, and constantly connected world we live in. We’re try to offer more than just holiday accommodation, by really helping people change their state from one of ‘busy-ness’ and stress to feeling more relaxed, connected, and ready to take on the world again.

Family breakfast in the forest

Can you share a bit about your story/concept and what inspired you to open up Wild Goose Camping?

We brought our first bell tent when we lived in Cornwall, UK. We loved camping and wanted a tent that was made from natural materials, was sturdy enough to hold up to the UK weather, and was a beautiful space to be in and around. The Canvas Bell tent ticked all of these boxes for us and made it easier to camp and be comfortable on the rugged Atlantic coast around Cornwall.

When we returned to Western Australia where Clint grew up we brought our Bell tent with us. We swapped camping in the South West of England for camping in the South West of WA. Initially living in Perth, camping in the Margaret River region was our escape into the outdoors to relax and reconnect with each other.

We got a lot of comments and interest in our tent while we were camping. This coupled with knowing the effort involved in going away camping and that people don’t always have the gear, gave us the motivation to start Wild Goose Glamping and make the valuable experience of comfort in the outdoors, available to everyone.

 

What do you think it is it about nature that allows us to unwind and recharge like nothing else?

There are more studies emerging that confirm being outdoors reduces symptoms of stress and depression, along with increasing our creativity, feelings of connection and wellbeing.

We think it comes back to beauty and space. There’s so much to look at and appreciate when you’re outdoors that you can’t help but bring your focus away from your internal experience, onto something which is external, bigger then yourself, and has the power to make you go ‘wow.’ It’s almost like nature forces a type of meditation and mindfulness onto us. We really believe in the cathartic power of nature.

This experience of being drawn outside of yourself also has the effect of changing our relationship with how we perceive time — away from the over structured busy surface time we all run around in trying to get things done by deadlines and toward a slower, meandering peaceful pace. Outside, our creativity, meaningful conversations and connections with others (and ourselves), really has a chance to flourish.

Walking through the forest

Glamping has become really popular in recent years. Why do you think more people are showing interest in this style of accommodation over hotels and holiday houses?

More people than ever are looking for experiences that give them a change of state and memories that last. Staying in a hotel is not that different from being at home because you still have four walls around you. Also we think that with technology being so pervasive in society these days, people are naturally looking for ways that bring them back in contact with the natural world.

Camping in the beautiful South West of Western Australia with Wild Goose Camping and Winterwares

What feedback do you receive from your guests about their experience hanging out in nature for the weekend?

People say our tents are a beautiful space to spend time in and that they feel refreshed and ready to go back into the busyness of life after their stay. Other have thanked us for making their time carefree and easy to get outdoors, giving them the ability to take their kids camping. Couples love that it’s romantic, comfortable and cosy is a really special experience.

Camping in the beautiful South West of Western Australia with Wild Goose Camping and Winterwares

Lastly, have you guys always been outdoorsy people or was it a conscious choice? Either way, how has opening a business with this focus and philosophy shaped your life differently (if at all)?

Clint grew up in the Brookton Valley two doors down from the bush. So grew up spending a lot of time playing in the bush. With a keen interest in surfing and MTBing he has always had a strong connection to nature.

Chloe’s father was big into camping and rock climbing in the UK. This rubbed off on to Chloe growing up.

In Cornwall we lived on and renovated wooden boats for 6 years. Living on the water brings you close to the elements and nature, when the wind blows the boat rocks and you are always on deck enjoying being outside.

Clint being a shipwright/ carpenter and Chloe having an Arts Degree has given us a good partnership to create interesting spaces, first on-board the boats and now creating our own furniture and designing lovely spaces for people to enjoy the outdoors in.

Running a business has meant we have to be in front of a computer more than we would like, with less available time than we had in the past. To offset this, we make a habit of having micro adventures in the outdoors with our four boys. They normally consist of jumping off bridges into the river somewhere or packing the Webber to breakfast or dine at a beach, going off the beaten track somewhere, or maybe just rock hopping down the beach. We have noticed how just a few hours of fresh air can give us all a pick up and get us through. We are aiming for more time to get out under the stars ourselves and really recharge!

Wild Goose Camping wedding in the forest, Clint and Chloe

 

 

Gift wrapping with fabric – using the Japanese Furoshiki technique

There is so much joy in gift giving. When I have the time to really think about what a friend will love, I so enjoy choosing them a thoughtful gift and lovingly wrapping it. Giving a beautifully wrapped present to someone and watching them delight in opening it is often more exciting than getting a gift myself.

The whole process is a joy. I find it therapeutic to lay out a sheet of paper, fold it gently around a shape, creasing the paper as I go and wrapping it with twine to finish. I think it’s a natural progression from my obsession with stationery, paper and washi tape. I’ve a whole Pinterest board dedicated to gift wrapping ideas! I used to print my own gift-wrap with stamps on brown paper, but it was disheartening to know that the lovely paper is used only once and then thrown away after the present is opened.  Have you had that feeling on Christmas morning when the living room is piled with scrunched up balls of paper after the frenzy of opening presents is over? It’s feels so wasteful. I’ve discovered a much more sustainable way to wrap and it’s now my go-to way of wrapping objects. It’s the traditional Japanese art of cloth wrapping, called furoshiki.

Furoshiki cloth wrapping in Kyoto

I experienced the art of furoshiki when visiting Kyoto this year. I had a hands on class in a quiet, ancient wooden townhouse. I learned to wrap all kinds of objects in particular ways from wine bottles to apples to chocolate boxes. There’s a preferred method to suit the type of object you’re wrapping. Coming home I find I use the simple method of tying two bows across the box. Watch the video below for a quick tutorial on a simple cloth wrapping technique.

For wrapping my Winterwares pieces I use calico, I love the simplicity of it. For your Christmas gifts you can find beautiful patterned scarves in op-shops. One of my favorite places to find fabric for furoshiki is at Lush Cosmetics, they often have a box of beautiful vintage scarves behind the counter they sell for the purpose of wrapping. I find that oversized square pieces of fabric are the easiest to use. The most commonly-used in Japan are squares measuring 70cm or 90cm wide.

The fabric becomes a gorgeous part of the gift that can be used for lots of things. I bought myself one piece of furoshiki fabric in the mountains, in the south of Japan and I carry it with me everywhere I go. When I forget to take a bag to the shops I can use it to carry my groceries. If I’m at the park it’s big enough to lay out a little picnic on. I use it as a scarf and to tie my hair back. There are so many fabulous uses for it. Next time you give a gift, try furoshiki, I’m sure you’ll see the delight in your friends who get to unwrap them.

furoshiki cloth wrapping

Photographs by Stevie Elle & Rae Fallon

Winterwares chai latté

How to brew the perfect chai

One of my favourite ways to slow the morning is to have as few plans as possible. To spend the time brewing chai and enjoying it with no place to be but home. I’m an introvert at heart and I really like quiet times in solitude, baking, snuggling under blankets on the couch and generally doing things that feel cosy. There’s nothing cosier than sipping a freshly made chai in bed.

If you’ve been to one of my workshops recently you’ll have been treated to a delicious cup of chai. Not just any chai, my absolute favorite – Prana Chai, made by hand in Melbourne by founders Vincent, Koray & Mario. I brew mine slowly with soy milk (Bonsoy is my go to). It doesn’t take long for the aroma of cinnamon, cardamon and star anise to gently fill the air and the experience of the perfect chai begins, even before you’ve had the first taste.

I spoke to Mario, one of the founders of Prana Chai about how he got to be creating their winning version of authentic masala tea.

Tell us some background on who you are, and how you got to be doing what you’re doing

I first got into hospitality when I started my apprenticeship as a chef after I left school at 16. I eventually moved to front of house and later running my own cafes with my best friend and partner Vincent. At one of these cafés we made chai ourselves for our customers and eventually we started supplying other cafes in the area. After Koray joined our team and many years of hard work, that side business has grown into what is now Prana Chai

What does mindful eating mean to you?

For me personally I practice intermittent fasting and try to eat whole foods and avoid eating too many processed carbohydrates.

Can you share a daily ritual you have that brings you joy?

I can’t go without a bowl of berries with coconut yoghurt, coconut milk, a bottle of yakult, cinnamon and a sprinkling of “the wild” gluten free muesli. Its so delicious and I can’t see myself ever getting sick of it.

What are your tips for brewing the perfect chai?

My best tip is to brew it slowly and to use a spoon to taste the chai every so often until it tastes right. The trick is to catch it before it is over brewed.

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Prana Chai and Winterwares

Perfectly brewed chai

Lessons on living well, inspired by the Danish concept of hygge.

Afternoon tea with pistachio and nectarine cake

Chances are you’ve heard of hygge (pronounced hue-gah) – the Danish art of living well. Woven into the fabric of daily life in Denmark, hygge is a way of being that gives you a feeling of comfort and connection. Even if you haven’t heard of it, you’ve certainly experienced it. Sitting on the sofa, snuggled in layers of blankets reading your favourite book. Picking up a conversation with a dear friend you haven’t seen for months and chatting like no time has passed. The flickering glow of a candle in your dining room. A bowl of deliciously sweet strawberries. Sitting in the kitchen, the benches covered in flour, eating leftover cookie dough with your children. Savouring the delicious aroma of a spicy, hot cup of chai in the evening. These are all examples of hygge. Hygge moments are unique to all of us, if something makes you pause long enough to think, “I can’t think of anywhere else I want to be right now”, that is hygge.

Essential elements of hygge

To create a feeling of hygge in your home think about what feels warm and cosy, an environment where you feel safe, comfortable and content. A well loved armchair and layered, natural textures like knitted blankets and jumpers where you’d happily spend hours curled up with a hot chocolate. A hygge home should feel comfortable, without clutter or fussiness. When choosing items for your home, choose objects that are beautifully made, from natural materials. Textures like wood, handmade ceramic, linen and wool will make your ordinary objects feel extraordinary when you use them. We have a connection to things handmade that can’t be replicated by similar items mass produced. You can’t have hygge without the right lighting, overhead fluro bulbs are a no-no, candlelight is perfect to create a cosy atmosphere as does a string of lightbulbs in the garden.

 

To create your own feelings of hygge at home, start by slowing down enough to be present.

To have a feeling of hygge we need to be able to be still. Having the thought that there’s so much to do will ruin the joy to be found in the present. If you’re too distracted to be in the moment, no amount of woollen throws and tea light candles will bring you a lasting feeling of contentedness. Carve space into the day to do things well, one at a time. Too many demands will cause you to feel scattered and distracted. Slow down and guard your time well. Turn off your phone at dinner and make it a rule to not check your work emails outside of work.

“It must be emphasised that hygge entails commitment to the present moment and a readiness to set distractions aside” ~ Judith Freidman Hanson

If you’re time poor and your to-do list is the first thing on your mind when you wake up, you’re probably thinking, ‘I don’t have time to slow down!’ Start small by creating one new habit to be in the moment each day. Think of one daily ritual that you can create for yourself that will slow you down. It only has to be ten minutes. Try turning your phone to airplane mode, and put it out of reach. Make a cup of tea (or coffee, or chai) and don’t do anything else while it’s brewing. Bring your awareness to the enticing smell and close your eyes when you take your first sip. Something else you could try is before reaching for your phone in the morning, read a few pages of a book you’re enjoying before you get out of bed. It prolongs that feeling of being cosy and warm under the blankets.

Invite your friends over.

While it’s perfectly lovely to hygge alone, when it’s raining and cold outside it’s tempting to retreat indoors and sit on the couch bingeing on netflix with a bowl of popcorn, a key element of the concept of hygge is to be in the company of others. To delight in gathering around the table to share hot soup and break fresh bread together. It can be as simple as a plate of fruit and cheese and an afternoon of playing cards. It doesn’t have to be complicated and take hours to prepare and set up for. Hygge is about appreciating simple, honest moments and not letting the beauty of our ordinary days pass us by. 

Our winter workshops are inspired by the Hygge philosophy. We’ll be enjoying a cosy day of playing with clay at the Winterwares studio in Fremantle. You’ll create a few hand-crafted ceramics that will bring a feeling of warmth and comfort to your home, including a handmade mug. To find out more and book your place visit our workshops page.

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Ten tips for creating a calm space

Fiddle Leaf Fig at WInterwares

 

People often describe Winterwares as a tranquil place; one they want to linger in and stay for a cup of tea. Creating a relaxing and beautiful space is easy; it only takes a few intentional adjustments to completely transform how you feel, work, and live. Here are 10 ideas we use for creating a calm space to recharge in:

Greenery

Indoor plants have been found to benefit our emotional and physical life. They lower blood pressure, removing toxins from the air and improve our general feeling of wellbeing. Succulents are a low maintenance option and look beautiful in any space from the bathroom, bedroom, courtyard, or studio.

Winterwares handmade pot

Natural light

Introducing natural light into the room improves our mood and reduces energy consumption. It looks beautiful, as the sun pours in from the skylight at Winterwares. If you don’t have a skylight, swapping heavy fabrics for sheer white curtains lets the perfect amount of light in.

The five elements

In Fung Shui philosophy, the universe is made up of five elements: fire, earth, metal, water, and wood. Incorporating organic materials into a space has a calming effect, especially when compared to clinical and man-made interiors. Candles, wooden furniture, a vase of flowers, pot plants, and metal ornaments, are all examples of this concept that help to balance and improve any space. 

Aromatherapy

Diffusers with a gentle mist or a candle scented with oils, do more than simply smell good. Lavender and rose geranium are two scents that are proven to calm the nervous system. The smell of eucalyptus from our Woodland Candle nearly always burns in the studio. It helps to clear the air and add to the calming atmosphere.

Minimalism

While there’s a place for collecting cherished items — too much hoarding can create a feeling of chaos. Keeping a space minimal, helps to keep the atmosphere easy-going. Minimalism can be achieved in a space with clean lines and a consistent colour palette, but be careful to incorporate warm light, warm neutrals and cosy textures to avoid it looking too clinical.

Neutral colours

In the same vein as above, the Winterwares studio was designed intentionally with neutral tones, to give the space a relaxed feeling. We intentionally leave out colours that are over stimulating like bright reds or yellows. Sometimes, it’s what we leave out that has the greatest impact. The colours at Winterwares mostly white and grey, with the exception of some pastels and greenery. Light blue, white, and cream are examples of colours that are proven to calm the mind.

A clean space

It’s that age-old cliché that stands true; a clean space equals a clear mind. The popular book ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up’ is a great manifesto for this.

Create hygge

The Danish word ‘hygge’ describes the quality of cosiness and wellbeing that can be intentionally created in a space, or occur spontaneously. There’s many ways to create hygge. Our favourite is with cups of hot tea throughout the day and a candle burning. For our workshop, we create hygge with beautiful textures; like linen napkins during lunch. We also find it spontaneously with the feeling of clay between our hands. This wonderful book by Meik Wiking describes the word beautifully and includes endless suggestions for creating more ‘hygge’ moments in everyday life.

Relaxing music

Music is a powerful tool and it can create chaos or calm. Choosing music deliberately is a wonderful way to set the pace and mood in the studio. If we’re lagging a little energy, upbeat instrumental music from classical to contemporary is a great mood booster. The long-standing staple though has got to be old-world jazz like Ella Fitzgerald and a little bit of blues.

Slow down

No matter how calm a space is, it’s useless unless we’re peaceful on the inside too. During workshops or workdays, we encourage the practice of slowing down and bringing mindful awareness to the moment. On days where thoughts won’t stop racing, a few deep breaths, some music and a conversation are usually enough to come back to the moment.

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