Award-winning blogger and journalist, Patricia Carswell, shares her latest rowing adventures in her exclusive British Rowing blog – Life on the river
The clocks have changed, it’s blowing a hooley, the rowing club and leisure centre are closed again and the river’s flowing too fast to swim. Small wonder life feels a little dark.
This winter promises to be a challenging one, so I’ve decided that if I’m to get through it in one piece, I’m going to have to take active steps to keep my head above water. Instead of waiting around for despair to set in, I’m putting strategies in place to inject a little light into my life.
Which is where hygge comes in. Remember that Danish concept of comfort, companionship and cosiness that launched a thousand furry blankets? It may have become an Instagram cliché, but right now it’s exactly what we need. But what does it mean for a rower missing her river fix?
First of all, let’s be clear that hygge isn’t about stuff. You don’t need a pair of cashmere socks to get the hygge feels (though if anyone’s buying, I do have a birthday coming up). It’s about the small things – good friends and happy moments that, for the most part, don’t cost a penny.
“We can’t cosy up together in a wooden cabin, Scandi-style, this year, but we can still enjoy the companionship that’s at the heart of hygge”
Hygge in training
There are loads of ways you can import a little hygge into your training regime, even if you’re not able to row on the water.
- Wear your loveliest and cosiest kit instead of saving it for best. Take a few moments to choose that pair of leggings that make you feel instantly better about life (or at least about how your bum looks), or your most snuggly, spirit-lifting hoodie to sling on after an outdoor run.
- If you’re walking by the river, make a point of noticing the glint of light on the water, the wind rustling in the trees, the birds flitting overhead or the fish jumping. If this year has taught us anything, it’s not to take these things for granted.
- On a chilly day, bring a flask of hot ribena or tea with you, or plan a soak in the bath afterwards.
“Make a display of your best rowing moments that will give you a smile every time you look at them and remember the good times”
Hygge with friends
So we can’t cosy up together in a wooden cabin, Scandi-style, this year, but we can still enjoy the companionship that’s at the heart of hygge.
- Arrange a walk with some mates – you’ll feel better for the fresh air and life will feel gloriously normal for a while.
- If, like us in Wales, socialising even outdoors is out of the question, go full 2020 and have Zoom drinks with your squad (pub quiz and banana bread optional). I know it’s not the same as the real thing, but it’s way more fun than flicking through Netflix again.
Hygge at home
Home is at the heart of hygge, but you don’t have to spend a fortune on décor to get the hygge vibe.
- This is a great time to get your rowing pics framed (it’s surely not just me that has a pile of unframed photos in a box). Make a display of your best rowing moments that will give you a smile every time you look at them and remember the good times.
- Organise your pots and medals and put the ones you’re most proud of on display (admittedly this doesn’t take long in my case, but even I have a drawer with some medals languishing in it).
- Catch up with those rowing films you’ve never got around to watching or revisit some old favourites (I watched True Blue for the first time last week – a total, self-indulgent pleasure for a child of the 80s).
Whether that’s all strictly hygge by Danish standards (and let’s not split hairs here), spending a little time making life as enjoyable as it can be in difficult times is well worth the effort.
And after all that, if you’re still feeling down, come and have a chat on social media and I’ll do my level best to cheer you up.
Photos: Patricia Carswell and Elaine Theaker