You don’t need to travel a great distance to discover the beauty of nature. Whether it's your local park where you can watch the leaves change from season to season, or the sandy beaches that are just a hop, skip and a jump away from your own doorstep. Rediscovering these pockets of nature is one of the many ways you can live the Barbour Way of Life.
To celebrate this as we move into a new season, we spoke to two friends of Barbour about how they’ve rediscovered nature in their local areas. Julius Roberts is a cook, farmer and gardener who left London to start his journey towards self-efficiency. Claire Ratinon is the author of How To Grow Your Dinner Without Leaving The House, an organic food grower and a self-confessed nature worshiper. Learn more about their stories as they discover the rolling moors and picturesque seaside of their hometowns, while they show us how it could only be, the Barbour Way of Life.
Julius, what made you want to move away from London to the countryside?
I was working in a really high-pressured London restaurant kitchen at the time, and on the path to total burnout. I knew I needed to change my life - to find a way to reconnect with nature and live a more sustainable, and sustaining, existence and I can definitely say I haven’t looked back.
What do you enjoy most about the area you live in?
Ah, so many things. But I often think what’s special is the combination of deep countryside and seaside.
Claire, what was it that got you into organic growing?
I got into growing food organically completely by chance. Back when I lived in NYC, I was walking down a street and stumbled upon a sign pointing to a rooftop farm - and that was the day that changed my life. I was working in documentary production at the time but after many Saturdays spent volunteering to water, weed and pick crops there, I realised that working with plants was what I was called to do.
Why do you think it’s important for people to grow their own food?
For me, coming to know what it takes to take a plant from seed to harvest has been both humbling and transformative. It’s offered me an insight into how we’re all beings of nature and has offered me a sense of connection to other beings - plants, creatures etc.
Where will you both be heading to discover the beauty in nature?
Julius: My doorstep!
Claire: I’m so fortunate that I now live a short walk from nearby woodlands where I get to see buzzards hovering overhead and hear the sound of woodpeckers drumming their beaks against tree trunks. I’m also a short way away from the coast so I try to head down at low tide to watch the wading birds feeding near the water.
What are some of your take-aways from getting closer to nature?
Julius: Just take time to observe. You don’t need to be in the countryside to find nature. It’s everywhere - and it’s for everyone.
Claire: I’ve been really enjoying taking it slow when I’m exploring. I’ve taken to walking along the same paths at different times of the day and in different weathers, trying to pause often, retrace my steps, while paying attention to what I would miss if I was in a hurry.
The Barbour Way of Life is all about slowing down and taking time to reflect in nature. How do you feel that your local area lets you do this?
Julius: Nature reminds me of my place in the world - and the need for me to look after it - never more so than when my chickens and goats need feeding and my veg patch needs tending to. It demands my attention and is endlessly rewarding.
Claire: The grass and wildflowers in the field behind where I live are left to grow for most of the summer and it is a riot of butterflies, solitary bees and other insects. So, on a warm day, only a few steps from where my vegetables are growing, there’s a symphony of buzzing and humming. It just goes to show how many living things rely on us not mowing or using chemicals to have the habitat they need to flourish.
Do you have any tips for people who are wanting to live a similar lifestyle to you?
Julius: Just start. If you don’t have a green space of your own, find a community garden to volunteer at. There’s so much out there if you just open your eyes to it.
Claire: I lived in London and New York for years before noticing the nature that surrounded me. So, my suggestion would be to rediscover the spaces that feel familiar, seek out the green right where you are.
Why do you think it’s important to take the path less trodden?
Claire: For most of my life, I felt disconnected from the natural world so for me, anytime I spend rekindling a sense of kinship with the plants and creatures around me is taking the path less trodden. I feel more whole and more at ease when I take time to nurture my relationship with the natural world.
Do you have any favourite Barbour pieces that you like to wear while exploring nature?
Julius: The Herron Jacket is lightweight, but given the inconsistent British weather, it’s great to have whilst exploring nature. I love the lightweight t-shirts and on cold mornings on the farm, the Ashby Wax Jacket is really great.
Claire: Whenever I’m wearing reliable and comfortable waterproof clothing, I feel like the weather isn’t a hindrance for me getting out into the garden. My Barbour Knivestone jacket which is comfortably lightweight and ideal for showers.
My partner has had a Barbour wax jacket for about a decade and his dad has had one for even longer.
SHOP JULIUS' LOOK
SHOP CLAIRE'S LOOK