How to find inner calm in a Plankbridge hut

For this week’s blog we talk to ‘Slow Coach’ and Children’s Mindfulness expert Louise Barkas about a minimalist life, reconnecting with Nature and why the Lodge is her favourite Plankbridge hut. Scrolling through her beautiful Instagram page @Calmfolk is enough to soothe the most frazzled of nerves… 

A little birdie tells us you’re a big fan of Plankbridge. What is it about huts that appeals to you? 

Huge fan! I adore all the Plankbridge huts, but if I had to choose a favourite, I’d say the Lodge. I love its simplicity but also its style. For me it’s the perfect size. There’s something about living in a small space I find really comforting and cosy – the ultimate Hggye. I know it’s typically used as holiday accommodation or for extra space when guests come to stay, but I could live in a Plankbridge Lodge full-time. I’d hibernate now and not come out till Spring!  

Plankbridge Lodge kitchen

Why is Nature and the seasons so important to you? 

A while back I moved to a remote village in Northumberland – a tiny hamlet in the middle of nowhere – and had no choice but to follow Nature’s lead. Regular power cuts in winter meant I had to stock up in autumn; springtime was met with the dawn chorus, and I’d be awake at 4.30am every day. I learned how to flow with the rhythm of life, instead of against it.

Louise at home in Northumberland
The first signs of spring

You’re a great advocate of minimalist living. Can you tell us about that? 

About seven years ago I stumbled across the documentary Minimalism by The Minimalists and was moved by their message that ‘less is best’. For as long as I can remember I have always found it difficult to be around clutter, but before minimalism I would hide items in cupboards and drawers out of sight. After I’d decluttered my entire wardrobe, I felt an overwhelming sense of peace – having fewer clothes meant fewer choices. But minimalism is more than just decluttering your space, it’s about being mindful of the choices you make day-to-day. It values simplicity and rejects mass consumerism, and for me that’s the only way to live now. 

Plankbridge Lodge

What are your top tips for bringing calm into your life? 

First and foremost, accept that a little bit of chaos is the natural order of life – we’re not meant to be Zen-like Buddhists all the time – but there are simple things you can do to create a state of calm.

Check in with yourself – relaxing the body, even momentarily, is enough to bring a sense of calm. Unclench the jaw, lower shoulders, place your hand on your tummy and take five slow breaths. 

Create a small sanctuary within the home – light a candle, play relaxing music. Make time for emptiness. 

Connect with Nature. A short walk in a forest or a green space can really restore balance and soothe the nervous system. 

Wake up 15 minutes earlier to liberate yourself from the busyness of the day ahead. Sit in silence with your first cup of tea and listen to nature. Preferably from the steps of your shepherd’s hut…

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