1 month ago

Coping With Cabin Fever: Shopping, Sound Baths and Scenic Routes

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Síomha Connolly, digital editor

Reading … The events over the past week or so have brought a heightened awareness to issues around race and equality. With protesters around the world up in arms over the death of George Floyd, people began taking to social media to share tools and resources to help us all live a more actively anti-racist life. Some which I’ve found helpful include lists of literature written by black authors. While I regularly read novels by black authors, I’ll be adding some more non-fiction to my reading list this summer, including Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People about Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge and Don’t Touch My Hair by Irish woman Emma Dabiri. In terms of fiction, I recently read Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo and greatly enjoyed it and have just downloaded Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams. While reading won’t solve the world’s problems, educating yourself in the issues surrounding structural and systemic racism is vitally important and it’s not a bad place to start. If ordering books try to buy from independent shops and sellers or put your name down on your local library waiting list, many of which will begin operating an order and collect service soon.

Image via Pandora Sykes on Instagram

Shopping … Among the deluge of information shared on social media this past week, there has been a wealth of posts sharing black-owned fashion labels to support and shop from, now and going forward. One of these posts led me to discover Tove Studio (pictured above), a slow fashion label by London-based duo Camille Perry and Holly Wright. The silk blouses and dresses are magnificent in their simplicity and are really special pieces you’d have and wear forever. Stocked online at www.tove-studio.com and on www.net-a-porter.com. I also loved Sindiso Khumalo, whose beautiful sustainable dresses are perfect for summer and Mateo New York’s beautiful, simple gold jewellery.

Penny McCormick, deputy editor

Reading … James & Nora A Portrait of a Marriage (Weidenfeld & Nicolson) by Edna O’Brien, which is published on June 11. Though this is a miniature book, I’ve taken my time to savour each and every word as O’Brien paints an intense portrait of Joyce as an idealist, insurgent and loner. In Nora Barnacle, whom he met on June 10 on Nassau Street, Dublin, he was to find an accomplice and muse and their life together was one of wandering, poverty and emotional upheaval. O’Brien has immersed herself so fully in Joyce’s writing that her language and turn of phrase echoes that of the writer himself, hence the need for concentration. I’ll be tuning into RTÉ Radio 1 next Saturday, June 13 at 6.30pm, when O’Brien will be giving a reading from this, her latest masterpiece. 

Participating in … a sound bath, no that’s not a long soak to a soundtrack of Sade, but a relaxation technique and meditative experience whereby participants “bathe” in the sound waves produced by the human voice as well as instruments such as chimes, gongs, drums and singing bowls. In case you think I’ve gone completely hippy dippy during lockdown, research by institutions including the Royal Marsden Foundation Trust has found that ultrasound therapy can in some instances relieve pain in patients whose cancers have spread to the bone. The virtual session I attended was led by Denise Leicester, founder of organic skincare brand ila.(I’m a fan of ila’s Digital Face Mist). She conducted the session in the magical 432MHz frequency from her soon-to-open Maison ila near Carcassonne, France. This bijou property dedicated to wellness will have a yoga and sound healing space and gardens. When the travel ban is finally lifted I hope to explore this region of France further. As for the bath, bar a few technical glitches, the session was surprisingly relaxing and good for clearing the head. www.ilaspa.com

Going on …The Bronte Homeland trail. Now that we can travel a bit further afield, I went on this drive on Bank Holiday Monday which follows Patrick Brontë (the father of the Brontë sisters) and his family through surviving buildings. It starts at Drumballyroney Church and school near Rathfriland, Co Down, where Patrick first preached and the schoolhouse where he taught (he was a noted humanitarian). On the trail is also his birthplace cottage, as well as the ruins of his mother’s (Alice McClory) cottage. The setting in a fairy glen was idyllic, as was the Brontë Homeland picnic site, in Knockiveagh on ruins of a former shebeen (or illicit drinking den). With the Mourne Mountains providing a scenic backdrop, and no one around but a flock of sheep, what I enjoyed most a chance to reread some memorable poetry and unpack a picnic. 

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