Living Beautifully the Scottish Way with Beth Pearson, author of The Coorie Home

 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, happy life using the simple magic that already surrounds us.

Let us introduce you to Beth Pearson, an art school graduate and author the recently book, The Coorie Home: Beautiful Scottish Living, which features TBCo. She's an absolute authority on what slow living looks like the Scottish way (which you already know we're all about), and she's written an entire book that explores concept beautifully.  We caught up with her for a deep dive into her new book and some helpful tips on being Coorie.

A Colsie Moment with Beth Pearson

    Tell us a little about yourself!

    I’m Beth Pearson, a twenty something Art School graduate who is passionate about sussing out what it means to belong somewhere.

    I am a wannabe Glaswegian (my family is fae Glasgow but I was born in London and grew up in North Berwick, East Lothian.) I moved to Leith, Edinburgh in 2017 to make my commute to Outlander less painful and have loved being here ever since.

    What are some of the things you love about Scotland?

    I love the Scottish honesty that is part of our national identity. Especially in older generations where they have a "no-holds-barred" honesty. Small talk is not my favourite thing (perhaps because I'm not very good at it), so getting down to a real, deep conversation is what I aim to do. I think this allows us to form good connections and friendships that stand the test of time. I find that Leith is a very honest place, and because of this, differs from many other parts of Edinburgh.

    Another thing I love about Scotland is the visual diversity of its landscapes and environments. From beaches to glens to some fantastic examples of historic and contemporary architecture - we basically have it all. I also rate how these greatly influence the colours, shapes and textures we bring into our homes.

    Photography by Ciara Menzies

    What would your perfect day in Scotland look like?

    Ideally, I’d start with a coffee and a podcast, sitting on my wee balcony watching the early morning walkers ascend Arthurs Seat. After completing something from my to-do list, I would hopefully find myself wandering through an area like Bruntsfield in Edinburgh or the West End of Glasgow, enjoying the unique details of the buildings and homes. If time and resources were no bounds I would then take a road trip up to Skye, rent a house and have a girls weekend with Fizz, board games and cosy spaces to enjoy the views from the inside despite the probably dreary weather. Otherwise, I would visit my pals at Custom Lane in their studios (Leith) then enjoy a drink somewhere on The Shore while the sunsets. 

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

    In life? Weekly scheduled times to try and make a difference in the local community. 

    At home? Making a mixture of turmeric, lemon, black pepper and honey to zing me in the morning so I can appreciate the day but not get too hooked on caffeine. 

    While you travel? I enjoy traversing new places. Walking around as much as possible to understand and learn about where I am without relying on my phone to navigate me. I think this is called being Flâneur - a man who saunters around observing society.

    Photography by Ciara Menzies

    So, you wrote a book! That's a pretty huge deal! How did you get started on such a huge task? What inspired it?

    Haha, yes I  still can’t quite believe it! Through my visual art practice, for the last six years or so I think I have been trying to explore and expand my knowledge on a range of topics that could come under the umbrella of landscape and identity; linking who we are to where we are. This made a great foundation to start writing a book, which became a reality when I signed a contract with Black and White Publishing! I started writing by creating the contents page, which was especially helpful for structuring the book. Photographer Ciara Menzies came on board and helped the progress of the book by being able to see things visually.

    Can you tell us more about the concept of Coorie? How to define it, and its similarities to Colsie?

    Quote from the book:

    For me, Coorie encompasses the Scottish inclination to welcome all. This welcoming approach is evident in how many trademarks of Scotland are fusions of cultures and origins, such as the Glaswegian accent, bagpipes and woollen clothing. Coorie is not a concept dependent on class or wealth; it is a lived experience available to everyone who would like to adopt it as their own. I love how the word ‘coorie’ feels easy for natives and non-natives to pronounce, both sounding pleasingly Scottish when doing so. 

    Coorie also reflects the Scottish tendency to need to keep busy while at the same time finding a quiet moment to sit with a cup of tea; it can be a way to be cosy and ambitious within the same space. I also think the idea of coorie living favours the indoors and the outdoors equally, ultimately seeking to make the most of what comes from Scotland and aiming to be satisfied, too, with what is around you. 

     I think it is very similar to Colsie in that it is more than a singular action. They both speak to a deeper connection with materials such as wool, and with the natural resources available in Scotland. They also both recognise something that I love within the Scottish Identity, of  making the most of what you have/ of what is available to you. I know that the thriftiness of my Grandparents generation for example really influence the book with that make do and mend approach. 

    Photography by Ciara Menzies

    What's your favourite thing you experienced while writing it?

    I really enjoyed learning the history of Scottish homes. Like how in Skara Brae, a Neolithic Settlement on Orkney, archaeology proves that Scots even 5000 years ago displayed things of aesthetic and sentimental on mantelpiece like shelves in their homes. 

    I also found connecting with charities and social enterprises such as Cranhill Development Trust truly fantastic as they are great examples of what is being done to uplift Scots in need. 

    Where are some of your favourite places you visited while writing the book?

    Ciara and I travelled up to Perthshire in March for research, which was fantastic. As Ciara is from Kenmore, she was able to share her favourite spots in the area such as The Grandtully Hotel, part of the Ballintaggart Family, that are absolute joys to visit. During our trip, I had the opportunity to ask an archaeologist at The Scottish Crannog Centre about what we can learn from those who originally settled on Loch Tay. His number one tip would be to try living and eating seasonally as this is best for our bodies and the environment. I thought this was a good, colsie idea.

    Photography by Ciara Menzies

    How do you end up finding such good spots, brands, and people to include? They always seem to be “off the beaten path.” Any tips?

    I made an active effort to gather a diverse range of people’s suggestions, otherwise, it would have just been a book of what I like rather than a true depiction. For example, the Edinburgh based design studio Izat Arundell was helpful in pointing me in the right direction for bespoke craftsmen working in Scotland. Travelling to Inverness and beyond was key for the book in order to get an equal representation of folks all over Scotland. 

    My tips would be to Insta message any creative types you enjoy following, as they are likely to have a similar taste to yourself but with some fresh suggestions. Independent shops and initiatives such as Life Story in the Edinburgh New Town and Custom Lane in Leith will also be doorways into a whole host of upcoming and cutting edge talent.

    What advice do you have for someone wanting to bring Coorie into their own life?

    The thing I want to stress the most is that it really isn’t about buying more stuff. Unless it is something that is going to last a long time, you won’t be doing yourselves any good. Instead, be intentional! Invest in quality goods when you can, and if you are on a budget, places like the Edinburgh Remakery and Zero, the pop-up shop on Ferry Road, Edinburgh are treasure troves for furniture and decor that would otherwise cost you a heck of a lot more.

    Also, have your friends around! Enjoy doing community-based activities where you live. See if there is a way you could contribute to your local area whether it be through a street clear up or buying the old lady in your neighbourhood shopping for her if she is ill.

    Photography by Ciara Menzies

    What's your favourite TBCo. product?

    Any of your recycled wool blankets! A few weeks ago I was attending a wedding at Dalkeith Country Park, and for those chatting in the Orangery, there was a whole box of these blankets to enjoy and keep warm!

    Any recommendations?

    Book- A Scots dictionary of Nature by Amanda Thomson
    Song- A Hazy Shade of Winter by Simon and Garfunkel
    Podcast- 99% Invisible


    To keep up-to-date with Beth, you can check out her Instagram.
    You can purchase her book The Coorie Home: Beautiful Scottish Living here.
    And you can purchase first in the series,The Art of Coorie: How to Live Happy the Scottish Way, here.