Base Camp. Usually, a home away from home. At the moment though, base camp is the kitchen table, the living room, the garden. Your new base of operations.
While we hunker down to wait out the storm, we've been catching up with our community. This week we checked in with long-time friends of the brand James Bowden and Hannah Stocks (and their little girl Billie), to find out what they've been up to in their Backyard Base Camp.
What’s keeping you inspired, and what is the current source of that inspiration?
Nature, quite simply; and watching the relationship between our little girl, Billie, and the natural world around her, flourish. Her fascination with birds, bugs, mud and flowers. The excitement of just meandering around the garden after her, picking flowers or rolling around in the grass. Seemingly small things but probably the best use of time ever!
Digging weeds, clearing bed space for planting and general garden maintenance has become one of my favourite things. My appreciation for where we live and being able to walk to the sea especially at this time, has never been greater. A secluded little beach just a short walk away, perfect for swims and dipping little toes. I think I’ve felt my breath more in the last 6 weeks then ever before and my yoga practice has taken on a new form, slower, more nourishing. A recent trip to Portugal (prior to lockdown) and the camera films that proceeded it are keeping the ache to travel and surf at bay.
I’ve been spending time going back through my archives, re-editing and scanning photos from some of the trips and projects I’ve been lucky to be part of. It’s given me the inspiration to write again, and to try and be a better story teller. It’s been equal amounts difficult, enjoyable and rewarding.
I’ve also got a project on the go with Noah and Mike, which has had to be put on ice for a while while we can’t travel, so I’ve had time to really look at where it’s headed and what comes next, i was gutted we had to stop but actually it’s made me more focussed and excited about what’s to come.
What’s been occupying your time? Is it projects, fitness, or just prep and planning for after lockdown?
Running, gardening, yoga, playing with Billie. I also set myself the goal of writing everyday - so far so good!
Walking. Long lingering walks with Billie, in the woods behind our house. Not being in a rush is such a gift and so refreshing - time to see and hear so much more, time to think and time to reflect.
We’re so lucky where we live, that the coast is just a short walk away, so I’ve been able to get in the sea a lot. The waves have been small, so I made a new handplane and it’s reignited my passion for bodysurfing again. Also, cooking is taking up a lot of my time. I’ve always loved it, but having more time to experiment and finding ways to not waste anything has been really fun, and obviously rewarding.
What has been the toughest moment of lockdown so far for you?
My work dried up instantly, as soon as things started becoming real in this country, so that has been really tough to adjust to. As a freelancer you are constantly balancing the years budget to make it all work, and with the future still so uncertain and a small family to support, it’s been a worrying time. I don’t really know what this is going to mean for us photographers in the long run. Things can’t go back to normal, but what is normal anyway?! We’ll definitely have to adapt and things will be a bit different, but it will probably be good for us.
Both our families are based in Bournemouth, so as to when we might see them again has weighed heavy, a tough thing to think about with so much restriction on travel. Billies at an age where she's changing rapidly and I know our parents especially are aching to be able to give her a cuddle and watch her develop.
Like everybody else we have been missing physical touch, not being close with friends and family feels so unnatural - can’t wait to hug them again.
And what has been the best moment so far?
When everything around here ground to a halt, so did the human noise. The road near our house was suddenly empty and its been so peaceful. It seemed like nature had a chance to sing louder. Or at least we had a chance to hear it clearer!
Using daily exercise time to cycle around the village, delivering little packages on friends doorsteps; cake, cookies, flowers, cocktails. That's brought a lot of joy. There are less people everywhere, it's pretty good for social anxiety and introverted qualities. Also the weather! We were blessed with good weather throughout this crazy time. Without that, darker days would linger a lot longer.
What are you reading? And what should we be reading?
I loved 'The Salt Path', a beautiful story of love and resilience, a catastrophic chain of events which change a couples path forever, the courage, determination and humour is infectious and that its based close to home makes it.
I’m just finishing 'Not forgetting the Whale' by John Ironmonger. It’s about an impending apocalypse set in west Cornwall… It starts with a fin whale beaching in a small village in Cornwall (which happened) and then potential collapse of society from a flu virus… ermmm. It’s a bit freakish!
What music have you been listening to?
Burgs by Mt Wolf - heard it for the first time when I was pregnant and it just made sense, feels very relevant for right now. The music is beautiful and the narration speaks volumes.
Just generally listening to a lot of music from all walks of life at the moment, teaming up nostalgia with current loves.
Ted Lucas has been on repeat a lot. It’s like a warm hug for the ears.
Have there been any particularly funny moments you guys have enjoyed?
Our little girl Billie has been the one that kept me laughing on a daily basis. Honestly, every day she makes me laugh and having this much time to spend with her each day has been such a gift… Watching her ‘relationship’ with our dog Dillon is hilarious. He tolerates the torture in return for constant food she feeds him!
It has to be being fed G&Ts from our neighbours over the wall mid hacking back a massive bush of brambles in our garden. I think he felt sorry for me!
What adventures do you have planned for when we can finally travel again?
I’m really looking forward to being able to travel in the van again with the family. We’ve had some amazing adventures around Europe in the last few years, but it’s taken a new dimension with our little girl Billie. So I’m more excited than ever to pack the van again and hit the road for an extended trip through Europe.
I’ve started thinking about and slowly putting plans together for a little bike trip with a couple of girlfriends; cycling, camping, swimming, that kind of thing. A few days to connect and to challenge ourselves, to appreciate slow movement to places we’ve all been to many times, but to see it from a new perspective. To roll out of our doorsteps straight into a mini adventure... It will be my first time away from Billie too, so I’m sure they’ll be a few wobbles along the way!