A Colsie Moment with Adventurer Katy Who: Life, Travel & Slow Living

 colsie (kol-zee) / origin: Old Scots for ‘cosy’

1. The habit of embracing winter darkness and finding comfort and warmth in life’s simple pleasures. 2. The feeling that comes with being present, inviting closeness, and appreciating the things that last. 3. The act of slow living and making time for the people and things that soothe our souls.

 Welcome to A Colsie Moment, our blog series that features questions and answers with inspiring people about what slow living can look like in all aspects of life. From career to family to cooking to designing to mental health, we're dedicated to exploring what it means to live an intentional life.

Let us introduce you to Katy, a Lancashire Lass with a wanderlust heart, who travels around the UK in her converted white van that she now calls "home". We caught up with Katy to chat about what she loves about exploring Scotland (and beyond), how she practices Colsie while on the road, and some helpful travelling tips. Read on to be inspired by this adventurous soul!

All photography by Katy Who

Katy is wearing the Recycled Wool Blanket in Buchanan Autumn Tartan. Woven from recycled wool and mixed fibres saved from landfill, and perfect for keeping cosy in colder climates.

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A Colsie Moment with Katy Who

    Tell us a little about yourself!

    Hello! My name is Katy and I’m a writer from Lancashire in the northwest of England. I live with my boyfriend Arron in our chunky, self-converted van that allows us to travel the UK for work (and play!). I am an avid chaser of whimsy, a writer of imaginative and mystical tales and a huge adventure seeker. 

    I am from a small village in Lancashire, half-way between the city and the countryside. I grew up climbing trees and running ragged over the Pennine moors with my dog, and any time not spent outside was spent curled up in the corner of my bedroom, on the windowsill above the radiator, lost in the pages of novels and fairy tales. 

    My childhood inspired my love for storytelling and for exploring new places. My life with my boyfriend now consists of constant travelling, seeking out inspiration in the wild landscapes of the UK and beyond. 

    My boyfriend owned a small van when we met that I moved into a few weeks into our relationship. We soon realised that we’d need a bigger space for the both of us to live in, so we saved up and purchased a bigger van which was a complete empty shell. We spent a solid month in the depths of midwinter converting it from echoey shell to a cosy home-on-wheels. Aside from spending time at my parents house, who kindly let us use showers and the washing machine, our home is that van and we couldn’t love it, and the freedom it provides us, any more. “Home” now is the van and more often than not, the Lake District.

    What are some ways in which you practice colsie (slow living)?

    Sometimes practising colsie can be as simple as giving myself an hour before bed to switch off phones and screens and curl up with a book. Other days, our life is accidentally colsie. We wake up in the middle of nowhere, open the sliding door of the van, grind coffee beans and pop a pot of coffee on the stove, before sitting and watching the sun rise over the fells. Taking that time in the morning to manually grind coffee beans, wait for the coffee to brew and then sitting and listening to a quiet podcast is the most restorative and positive way to start the day and gives me a real love for the calm, stillness of life in those moments.

    How do you practice colsie while travelling?

    A walk anywhere new with a camera really helps me to slow down and really experience the place I’m in. I focus on the little details; plants, flowers, shop windows, waymarkers, and walk slowly through the landscape capturing those details. It helps to shut out the noise of daily life and lets me get into a relaxed, creative mindset. I also love to find the cutest tearoom in the area (bonus points if it’s dog friendly!) and sit with a mug of tea and a slice of cake and a book, just to take some time to find a comfortable headspace. New places can be scary and intimidating, so that slow, deliberate me-time can be super beneficial.

    What does a perfect day look like for you?

    My perfect day would be waking up somewhere pretty, perhaps by a mist-shrouded lake or up in the fells. We’d have a slow, hearty breakfast and then we’d head out to do something fun and outdoorsy - a hill-walk, a run through the mountains and forests or a morning bouldering in a hidden, quiet spot away from people. In the afternoon, we’d find somewhere secret to park the van and I’d curl up either with a favourite book or my laptop to work on my own novel, and I’d spend several hours lost in another world while Arron bakes fresh bread in the kitchen (one of his most comforting, lovely habits! There’s nothing quite like the smell of freshly baked bread.) In the evening, we’d pack an open canoe with everything we’d need for a night under the stars and paddle across the lake until we found a beautiful and suitable place to pitch up our tent or hammocks. We’d have a little campfire and get an early night, watching as the stars flicker through the canopy above us.

    All photography by Katy Who

    You and are insanely talented creative where do you find inspiration?

    Thank you so much! I find my inspiration in such a variety of places. I have always been inspired by nature, so wild landscapes hold a lot of much magic for me. I also find it within art and photography; sometimes a poem practically writes itself out of one of my photographs! I am besotted with folklore and fairy tales and my bookshelf is overflowing with tattered old copies of books. Their dog-eared pages contain inspiration in abundance, whether it comes from a long-forgotten mythical creature, a description of a landscape or a haunting, tragic tale, my brain will be buzzing and fizzing with ideas for my own creative writing and photography.

    What’s your favourite TBCo. product?

    I have recently been wrapping myself up in the recycled wool blanket in Antique Buchanan Tartan. Super cosy, gorgeous colours and environmentally conscious - I love it!

    What inspires your travels most?

    I love beautiful, soul-stirring places, so I tend to seek out those as a priority when travelling. I’m also a bit of a recluse, so I always head for the places where there’s going to be the least amount of people! I’ve never really been one for busy, bustling places. I specifically look for interesting walks and runs, hidden climbing crags and little villages with big histories. I am also a stickler for visiting places that feature in books, films and TV shows that I love, I think it adds an extra layer of enjoyment and imagination to a place!

    How do you always find such good spots? They always seem to be “off the beaten path.” Any tips?

    Honestly, I mostly just google underrated places in an area that I’m planning to visit, and more often than not, since Arron and I do so much driving, we’ll see something of interest and just pull over to have a look. Most of the places I photograph and write about finds us, rather than us actively looking for them. There really is something to be said for aimlessness and spontaneity. Overplanning can take the magic out of a place if you’re not careful!

    Where are some of you favourite places you been to?

    I loved the Isle of Skye, the Cornish coast, the whole of the West Coast of Scotland, Jotunheimen National Park in Norway, Bergen (also in Norway!), Malaysian Borneo (wild orangutans are more magical than I could have ever imagined), Mongolia and Yosemite National Park in California.

    What advice do you have for someone wanting to plan their own trip? Especially if they haven’t done much travelling in the past?

    Follow your heart, not what you see on Instagram. Visit the places that matter to you! Plan enough so you’re able to comfortably travel without much anxiety (planning is really important for me to keep my anxiety in check) but allow yourself the flexibility to be spontaneous!

    All photography by Katy Who

    And just a few questions we love to ask- any current recommendations?

    Book- His Dark Materials (trilogy) and The Ruby in the Smoke by Philip Pullman, The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden, The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey, Chocolat by Joanne Harris, A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E Schwab,
    The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater, The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller, Anne of Green Gables by L.M Montgomery, Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen, The Conquerer’s Saga (trilogy) by Kiersten White, The Girl Who Drank The Moon by Kelly Barnhill. Oh and of course, all of the Harry Potter books. I could honestly go on forever!
    Song-  Anything by: Hozier, Kate Rusby, The Staves, Gregory Alan Isakov, Lunasa, The Oh Hellos, Aurora, Bear’s Den, Agnes Obel, etc. I also just love period drama soundtracks and that’s pretty much all I listen to when I’m working! 
    Podcast- The Dirtbag Diaries, Dan Snow’s History Hit, No Such Thing As A Fish, Desert Island Discs, The Guilty Feminist.
    QuoteWe don’t need a list of rights and wrongs, tables of dos and don’ts: we need books, time, and silence. Thou shalt not is soon forgotten, but once upon a time lasts forever.” - Philip Pullman
    Website-  Pinterest is an inexhaustible source of inspiration for me: all of my novels (both current and future) have mood boards dedicated to them on Pinterest so that when I’m having a bit of a creative wobble, I can immerse myself in the atmosphere I want to create with my words. I also use Goodreads an awful lot, and often find all of the books I want to read via that website.
    Recipe- Mary Berry’s Lemon Drizzle Cake is a fail-safe, always perfect cake recipe for days that need a touch of brightening. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Summer Veg Curry is a great, all-year-round warmer that can be easily adapted with whatever veg is available and in season. Also, my mum’s hotpot is a solid winner for me; there really is nothing more comforting or homely than a big bowl of hotpot and a hunk of crusty bread.
    App-  Downdog for yoga practice, Trello for organisation, BBC Good Food for at-your-fingers recipes, Forest for staying focused, Borrowbox for free audiobook loans (honestly a lifesaver!).

      To keep up-to-date with Katy Who's adventures, you can check out her Instagram and Blog!

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