Hello there, how are you all doing! Once again apologies it’s been so long but there has been a lot going on, again (when isn’t there?), but all good stuff and we decided to take a last-minute holiday in the UK too.
And this is what today’s Blog post is all about, because as with our Cornwall coastal holiday last Summer, this trip has been equally inspiring, and I’ve come back buzzing with ideas!
From my previous Blogs, you will know that I see having as many experiences as possible is such an important factor in the creative process, for me and many others I’ve connected with. It’s easy to get sucked into the doing, doing, doing, especially if say your creative business takes off and you have commissions or orders coming in a lot, BUT I’ve also seen many a creative burn out in this way and slowly lose that creative spark, which is what they loved about the whole thing in the first place and they feel like they are losing their mojo.
So, the lesson here is to NOT feel guilty about taking time off, going out to not only experience great memories with family and friends, but to also absorb what’s going on around you, especially in new environments and let that open up some new channels in your creative brain!
The saying goes, you can’t pour from an empty cup, and I’d say this is especially important for creatives who put their heart and soul into their work.
Your creations come from your very essence, call it your life force, and so that needs to be in a happy and excited place, not one that is lacking in energy or ideas because you haven’t cared for it or fed it. We use up a lot of energy when we plan and make new things, and so it’s important to look after yourself, think of it like a pet if it helps, that needs some love and attention and regular food! Mine would be a rabbit for sure, and if you’ve read my recent Instagram post, you will realise why… I think I’ll call mine Clover.
So, before I digress too far down a rabbit hole (sorry! Haha) this brings me to our trip, very last minute which made us think a little more out of the box on where to go with what was available (i.e. not a lot!). We ended up going to Moreton-in-Marsh in the Cotswolds, then a quick stop in Windsor (for the kids to go to Thorpe Park), and then had the following week in Brighton.
Now talk about contrast, I don’t think we could have picked two more different places for our holiday! Surprisingly, it was our first time to both places.
The Cotswolds was stunning, with beautiful, sleepy villages down twisty lanes and felt like taking a step back in time. Before we checked in, we walked around Blenheim Palace, and the food festival that was on that day. We then visited Chipping Camden, Broughton-on-the-water, the quaint houses of Arlington Row (which features on red passports, who knew?), the Cotswolds water park, Chipping Norton, Cirencester and Stratford Upon Avon over the following days, so we certainly packed a lot in!
We did walks, cake stops, paddle boarding, kayaking, the inflatable water course, country pub lunches and delicious dinners. One of the highlights was calling into the Diddly Squat Farm Shop, after we’ve been watching Clarkson’s Farm! Just as we pulled in, Caleb and Jeremy Clarkson himself were ‘tractoring’ in the opposite field. They then drove down the lane just outside the shop and stopped to wave at everyone and let people take pictures. It was such fluky timing, and funny to see him in his giant tractor!
I loved paddle boarding, something I’d wanted to try for ages, so I was happy I managed it and didn’t fall off! Much to the kid’s disappointment!
When we got to Brighton & Hove, I was surprised by how huge it was! We were staying more towards Hove, in a lovely ground floor apartment, not far from the Promenade to then walk into Brighton, or the back streets that held every restaurant, café, and bakery imaginable!
There was so much to take in in Brighton, I’d say it’s a place where anything goes, and the vibe felt electric and eclectic! From this giant poodle, happily posing in an open top car, to the skaters and bladers, volleyball, basketball and tennis games going on, mini drag queen shows, people just randomly dancing in the bandstand over-looking the sea, swimmers, and runners, to the homeless people not being avoided, but chatted at length to, more integrated into their community rather than being ignored. There were also the friendliest waiters and shop owners happy to tell their stories. Oh, and the fashion! Well, I’d say the brighter the better!
Brighton felt like a very physical and visceral place, where you absorbed the energy and soaked in the rainbow / neon colours and lights through your veins.
That’s not to say it was pristine though, and it wouldn’t be for everybody, the promenade walk was spotless and was being regenerated further along towards the Marina too, with plans for skate parks and more privacy for the naturist beach, but back up on the main front-facing street, as well as tall rows upon rows of white, cream and custard yellow Georgian Houses which were stunning to look at, there were also neglected down-beaten hotels, tired student accommodation, less attractive graffiti and some odd sights in windows (one had a set of manikin hands which freaked me out a little!).
But peel another layer back, into the cool streets of Hove, The Lanes and Kemp town and again it’s a different story, full to the brim with small, quirky shops, vegan cafes, unique restaurants, vintage collection, and antique shops, literally so much to see you easily get lost (as we did!).
We walked, and walked until our feet were numb, racking up an average of around 20k steps a day. However, we also ate a hell of a lot to make up for it, in the many gorgeous eateries.
I loved visiting these small businesses and chatting to the owners about how they started. The first I visited was @unlimitedshopuk and wow I was just blown away, if I owned a shop, this is what I would want, absolutely full of colour, art prints, ceramics, bags, T-shirts, hanging mobiles, stationery, jewellery, and all beautifully set out. I could have literally bought everything in it.
On the last day I got chatting to @finnhop who owns @brightonphotographygallery, also on the promenade and again was completely wowed by his photographic talent, including many of the collapsed West pier. All week I had been wondering about that pier, because at first, I questioned why it was still there, ‘Why on earth would they keep is collapsed metal structure in the sea that seemed quite an eyesore?’ But you know what, throughout the days I found it growing on me, and that actually it’s iconic structure features on the designs in these shops and in a weird way was quite beautiful.
Finn told me the story of it, how it was built in the 1800s left to ruin in the 70s and then they were about to invest in it and twice it was set on fire. It’s since collapsed further in storms, yet in 1918-19 it attracted 2 million visitors. These days you can swim around it to get closer, or as Finn does, take iconic photos of it, check out his account and you’ll see. He also takes pictures from the sea, an unusual and beautiful view.
And finally, me and the kids chatted to the owner of @artistanonuk who does the coolest clothing and built the business from his kitchen table! He created his own Brighton logo, as shown on his clothing designs, a man after my own heart.
Whilst browsing in The Lanes I also came across Lucy & Yak, a brand I’ve always admired, I mean just look at the front of their shop above and I remember their interview with @hollytucker on Conversations of Inspiration. Their dungarees and T-shirts are gorgeous.
It’s seeing so many of these cool local businesses in action that really warms my heart and fires up my creative energy, I’ve always enjoyed shopping, but seeing these unique shops puts fire in my belly! There was even an entire shop just full of rubber ducks called @theduckhousebrighton and I’ve just seen that they’ve launched ‘Friends’ duck characters! I want one!
We also visited Beachy Head one morning, about a 40 minute drive away. These stunning sheer white cliffs are the highest of their kind in England, making the lighthouse look like a toy in the sea. It created some amazing views and photography opportunities.
And so, I’ve come back with aching feet, but armed with inspiration and new ideas for the next direction I want to go in. And this is what I mean about making sure that you allow time for exploration and discovery.
For me it’s a real sensory experience that I’m after on these trips, this is what I find works best for me. It was the sensory reboot I needed, and this is what I found, So Clover may now have grown into a Hare:
See: From the rugged walls and picture-perfect thatched cottages and the stretching green fields of the Cotswolds to the bright painted walls, graffiti, shop windows, interior décor, rows of vintage motorcycles and cruising old cars, the upside-down house giving a whole new perspective and the neon flashing pier, everywhere you looked there was something to take in.
Hear: The Cotswolds was calm and peaceful, with bird song, flowing rivers, and gentle chatting as people ate their dinner. Brighton was somewhat brash in comparison, loud cheers, music, the beep of the promenade train, dogs barking, people talking in loud multiple accents or kids squealing on rides.
Taste: Hearty country lunches, steaming hot china teapots and wedges of homemade cake found in quaint teashops in the Cotswolds, whilst in Brighton sugary tiers of rainbow cake, flavoursome curries, iced coffees, boats of Sushi, Steak, and vegan nachos. For my top recommended restaurants, check out my instagram post on this, here.
Smell: The salt edged breeze, fresh baked pastries, bike engines, candyfloss and joss sticks scented the air in Brighton, in the Cotswolds the aromas of fresh cut grass, manure on farms and roast dinners.
Touch: In the Cotswolds it was the rough feel of the ground on walks and nettle stings and the heat radiating from thick ancient walls on sunny days. Brighton brought the hard pebbles of the beach that strangely felt soft when you laid on them and they moulded to your body, and the throng of too-close crowds, jostling for paths in The Lanes.
Since returning and speaking to friends who have been away, we are making it a pact to go on more of these adventures, not only as a ‘treat’ but as an absolute necessity to top up our creative balance.
I think we have all tentatively stepped out of the stay-at-home bubble that Covid required, and now we are feeling more and more the desire to explore, and reclaim our wanderlust and the magic of new experiences, new sights, and sounds.
So, if you are feeling somewhat exhausted from the summer holidays, and all that brings for parents and putting others first as often we do, I highly recommend booking some regular ‘creative’ enrichment days in and go out on a mini adventure with friends, or even on your own, I know I will be doing monthly at least!
Until next time, please share in the comments how you plan on topping up your creative mojo, I’d love to know!
Juliet, The Curious Creative x
Ps I now have a couple of spaces in my Friday Creative Writing Club, which normally runs on a Friday evening at 6pm, but I might be changing it to the afternoon instead, if this is something that you would be interested in, please click on the link for more information and testimonials, thank you.
PPs We are also opening up the doors again for WOW Wednesday Accountability Membership – the nurturing accountability helping you to focus on your goals and grow. The first session is always free, so if you want to find out more and access a free session, please click here.
PPPs Just thought I’d pop this in there for avid fiction readers, the new Lisa Jewell book is out and each year I save this for my Summer holidays as a real reading treat because I always know how good it will be, and each year she just gets better and better. I’m 3/4 through this one and absolutely gripped!