The Beautiful Allotment Summer Pop-Up in Hoxton

Always on the hunt for slow places to explore in London? The next place to add to your list this summer is Beautiful Allotment at The Geffrye Museum in Hoxton. This English country garden-style drinking and eating space has been brought to us by Bourne & Hollingsworth, the creative lifestyle company who work hard to create unique pop-ups and interiors-led social spaces.

Beautiful Allotment Geffrye Museum, Hoxton

Set in the beautiful courtyard of the Geffrye Museum, this planty pop-up is a serene escape from busy Shoreditch around the corner. Place your drinks order at the wooden pottings sheds. Then, choose from sofas, day beds, poly tunnels, deck chairs, and even a treehouse, to sip on their botanical-inspired cocktails and tuck into their locally-sourced BBQ food.  You can spend the afternoon nestled amongst vegetable patches and hay bales, watching volunteer gardeners slowly make their way around the gardens, tending to the tomatoes and rainbow chard. It’s rustic with an informal atmosphere, perfect for a relaxed get-together with friends.

Geffrye Museum Pop-Up Garden in Hoxton

Botanical Cocktails at Beautiful Allotment

What You Need To Know:

  • Address: Geffrye Museum, 136 Kingsland Road, London, E2 8EA
  • Nearest Station: Hoxton
  • When? 25th July – 26th August, Wednesday to Sunday
  • Card or Cash? Card only
  • Is Booking Required? No, but advised for groups
  • Is There an Entry Price? Beautiful Allotment is free to enter


Digital Detox and Slow Tech: Finding Downtime in the Digital Era

Offline is the new luxury quote

Our days are dominated by screens.

Deloitte’s 2017 Global Mobile Consumer Survey highlights that 34% of UK adults check their phones within five minutes of waking up.

It shares how 53% of 16-75-year olds use phones while walking and 11% even keep scrolling as they cross the road. 

And, at the end of the day, it suggests that 78% of us use our phones in the hour before going to bed, risking our sleep quality from blue light exposure.

The stinging sensation in our eyes after a long day at work, followed by smartphone scrolling, suggests it’s not healthy to look at screens for this long, both physiologically as well as psychologically. 38% of the respondents in the above survey would agree, stating that they think they use their phones too much. It’s baffling that a small rectangle of microchips can steal so much of our lives. The endless memes and videos, the perfect influencers on Instagram, the constant connection to work – it’s non-stop.

Of course, it’s a choice. We could all become neo-luddites and disappear to some remote island (we’ve probably all considered it), but it’s not practical. And tech isn’t the bad guy. Moderate social media use, for example, has been linked to higher wellbeing in children. So, it’s our not-so-moderate relationship with tech that’s concerning.

Reassessing Our Relationship with Tech

Tanya Goodin, founder of digital detox specialists Time To Log Off and author of Stop Staring at Screens likens our relationship to devices to that of junk food – it’s addictive.

“Our smartphones are useful for so many aspects of our lives and there’s no doubt they save us time and make us more efficient and flexible in many ways,” she tells me, “but so much of the time we spend online is that kind of mindless screen scrolling that’s a bit like grazing on junk food without really thinking about it. We need to cut down on the digital junk and use our screens in a way that’s healthy.”

What’s the answer? We’re clearly not ready to throw our phones in the Thames. So, how can we find balance? Tanya recommends periods of disconnectedness, or digital detoxes, to encourage important downtime for our minds (and those tired eyes and aching backs). She notes how switching off from technology from time to time can help us reconnect with ourselves and those around us.

Tanya explains, “Putting our phones down and giving our attention unreservedly to the present moment pays so many dividends: it deepens and strengths our relationships and it makes us more mindful of, and appreciative of, what’s going on in our real lives. Making time to be off screen also helps us reconnect with ourselves, without screens to hide behind and escape into. Just a short period every day is all that’s needed to start reaping the benefits.”

Embracing Digital Downtime through Slow Tech

As well as the benefits Tanya mentions, ultimately a digital detox teaches you a lot about your relationship with technology.

Perhaps you’ll realise that you waste too much time scrolling, that your sleep is interrupted by your phone use, or that you haven’t read an entire book in months. Or, maybe, you’ll notice that you normally only half-listen to your family members or other half because you always have your phone in hand. Maybe, when you switch your phone back on, you’ll realise that your FOMO (fear of missing out) was unwarranted and you didn’t miss anything by disconnecting for a while.

If you choose to act on these learnings, whatever they may be, you’re joining the slow tech movement. You’re consciously making a decision to say no to the idea of being always ‘on’ and the notion that technology makes us infinitely more productive and efficient. Slow tech, part of the wider slow living movement, means to reassess how we use technology and notice when it’s interrupting natural tendencies, such as creativity.

There are many small swaps we can make to limit tech damaging natural tendencies. For example, if you normally have your phone out at dinner, put it away. Or, consider whether an analogue alternative to productivity in place of your smartphone, such as a bullet journal, may actually bring you more benefit.

Ready to find some downtime in the digital era? Switch off your phone, try a digital detox and see what slow tech learnings you discover.

How to Start a Bullet Journal and Reasons Why You Should

I’d heard of bullet journals. They were the beautifully illustrated (and impossibly neat) spreads of dotted paper filling my Pinterest and Instagram feeds. They appealed to my inner-notebook junkie – if you have a pile of notebooks you’re scared of starting – you’ll know what I mean. Plus, the process seemed like a good ‘slow’, creative activity.

So, at first glance, starting a bullet journal looked little more than filling a blank notebook with a few to-do lists, some doodles and a whole lot of washi tape. Easy, right? Not quite. When I typed ‘how to start a bullet journal’ into Google, I was met with very lengthy guides about logs, spreads, trackers and symbols. Huh? And the images showed journals completely different to what I’d seen on Instagram. There were no doodles! But, there are rules and quite a few, apparently. If you’re still scratching your head about how to start a bullet journal, I’ve created a simplified guide to help you learn what a bujo really is, how to get going and why it makes the perfect slow companion in our digital world.

How to start a bullet journal: oranges monthly spread

What is a Bullet Journal?

We owe #bujo hysteria to Ryder Carroll, a digital product designer from the Big Apple. He invented the bullet journal system and dubbed it the “analogue system for the digital age.” Is it a journal, a to-do list, or a planner? It’s everything! It’s a bullet-point focused system that helps you reflect, embrace today and set goals for the future.

The bullet journal system acknowledges that keeping a traditional journal takes time and quite frankly, many of us would probably struggle with the commitment. Instead, it relies upon a ‘language’ called Rapid Logging. This consists of topics, bullets, page numbers and short sentences (more about this below). In other words, Rapid Logging is a way to record what’s going on in your life as quickly as possible. Though, of course, many people have now turned decorating their bullet journal into a hobby.

What’s So Good About Bullet Journals?

The analogueness involved in getting pen to paper has a real draw. Quoted in The Guardian, bujo inventer Carroll says, “As much as technology helps us look outward, it comes at the expense of our ability to look inward.” The ability to reflect on tasks and events in the past and look to the future gives us a chance to live more intentionally. As Carroll puts it, bullet journaling is a “practice of living with your thoughts, not just writing stuff down and walking away from it.” 

Plus, it’s not just the act of revisiting thoughts that has its benefits. In a recent post about the glorifcation of busy, I mentioned that one of the biggest losers in our FOMO, tech-dominated culture is our creativity. Studies have found that people have fresh ideas in the shower because they let their minds wander without interruption. In this sense, there’s more to the elaborate bullet journal doodles and designs we see on Instagram. They’re the result of tech-free mindful time that many of us might not enjoy enough of.

How to Start a Bullet Journal

Get your hands on the basics:

  • A dotted notebook (Leuchtturm1917 in A5 is a popular choice due to its numbered pages and index page)
  • A black fineliner pen (or, a set with colours)

Setting Up Your Bullet Journal

Once you’ve got your hands on your materials, it’s time to learn how to start a bullet journal. It’s all in the set-up! Firstly, it’s good to know that all bullet journal pages are numbered and referenced in an index. And.. all pages have a topic and this is normally written (like a title) at the top of each page. So far, so good?

Bullet journals are made up of these core elements:

  • Index – The first two page spread in your bullet journal
  • Future Log – To plan out the next few months (or any future period of time) to make note of events and goals
  • Monthly Log – To display the next calendar month and a fresh to-do list
  • Daily Log – To record goals for a single day, what you actually did and how you felt about it

Rapid Logging uses the following ‘language’:


A dot (•) is used to describe a task in a bullet journal. And here’s how you make sense of it:

  • X = Task Complete
  • > = Task Migrated
  • < = Task Scheduled

These are useful for those tasks you just haven’t got around to ticking off your list. This way, you can move them to the next monthly log.


An O is used to describe an event. This can be an event coming up in the future, or something you want to record that’s already happened.


A dash (-) is used to make notes. These are ideas and thoughts that you can’t immeadiately act upon, unlike tasks.

Adding More Context with Signifers

In addition to the symbols above, you can add more context to your bullets by using signifiers. For example, an asterisk (*) is often used to symbolise priortiy, an exclamation point (!) is used to symbolise inspriation and great ideas and an eye symbol represents an idea that needs exploring in more depth. But, really, you can choose your own signifiers and add a key in the index.

Making Your Bullet Journal Your Own

So, now you know the ‘rules’ of the system, it’s time to get creative. One of the best things about keeping a bullet journal is that you can personalise it. You don’t just need to stick to traditional monthly and daily calendars. You can also include ‘trackers’ that fit with your own goal-setting and lifestyle. If you search Pinterest, you’ll find an endless supply of ideas. For example, a gym/work-out tracker, a mood tracker, a savings tracker, a plant-watering tracker or even an amount-of-water-drunk tracker.

And that’s it!

A Slow Day Spent at Hitchin Lavender Farm

Bunch of dried lavender

Have you ever realised how living in London or another big city changes your perception of distance? You type in where you’re going in Citymapper and off you go – even if it’s over an hour away by tube and bus, you’re likely to go the distance as a Londoner. 50 minutes for a drink with a friend? Doable. But before moving to the capital, travelling 50 minutes for a casual drink in the evening would have felt ridiculous. Sound familiar? This probably means that your perceptions of day trips have also changed. Travel for an hour and you can swap city for countryside? Great idea. 

Fields of Lavender, Hitchin

If you’re searching for day trips from London that provide real escapism, the beautiful British lavender fields that have been popping up on Instagram over the past few years should top your list. Bonus if you live in North London, Hitchin Lavender Farm in Hertfordshire is practically on your doorstep. Here’s why it makes a great slow escape from the city.

Stop and Smell the… Lavender

Hitchin Lavender is an assault on the senses. First, you stand in awe of the swathes of purple trailing down the hill as you queue to pay. Then, as you’re given your scissors and bag and eagerly enter the cutting field, the aroma hits you. It’s intensified every time you push past the sprawling bushes. After a while spent taking photos and taking in the view, you quietly make your way up to the top of the field, snipping as you go. After a while you’ll slowly begin to hear a deep hum as thousands of friendly bees dance around the bushes. 

Picking Lavender
Walking through Hitchin Lavender

Although Hitchin Lavender can be busy, the experience is relaxing, encouraging a little spontaneous mindfulness even. After all, to fill one of their bags to the brim takes quite a lot of snipping. Once the obligatory photos are out of the way, all you’re thinking is: “how can I fit more lavender in my bag?” and “what can I make with my lavender?” When you’re done picturing yourself in a farmhouse kitchen making lavender biscuits, there are sunflowers to visit. 

As well as taking home your carefully picked stems, there is a rustic shop with flower-infused gifts. It’s beautifully presented in a 17th-century barn, alongside the cafe which has indoor and outdoor seating. The lavender raspberry jam is delicious.

This family-run farm is nothing short of Country Living-chic. In fact, there are signs advertising out-of-hours events, such as yoga, meditation and a sundown cinema. Sounds like bliss, right? And in case you were wondering, yes, they do weddings.

Field of sunflowers in summer

Lavender Logistics

Prices: £6 per adult, £3 for 5-14 year-olds and free for under 5s. This includes filling a bag full of lavender with their borrowed scissors. When the sunflowers are ready to be cut, they’re priced at 50p a stem. Check their social feeds for sunflower news.

Opening Times: 10am to 5pm everyday until the end of August with late openings on Tuesday and Friday.

Getting There: There’s ample parking and it’s not far from the A1M. If you’re getting the train, they recommend Kings Cross or St Pancras to Hitchin and then taking an Uber or taxi, though do keep an eye out for any buses or coaches as this is a popular destination.

In short, Hitchin Lavender is a perfect rural escape from London. It’s great for all ages, it’s good value and uplifting. If you feel that your £6 bag of lavender isn’t quite enough and your boot is begging to be filled to the brim, extra bags are £4. After all, what could be better than being surrounded by flowers? This slow activity really doesn’t finish when you leave the farm; there are so many ways to use your cut flowers. Lavender is also a natural sleep aid making a great addition to your own calming bedtime ritual.

The Problem with The Glorification of Busy

Cactus on windowsill

Does being burnt out equate to being successful? Does answering ‘busy’ every time someone asks you how you are make you more important? It’s time to talk about stress and the glorification of busy.

Stress and the City

Thrive Global, among others, likens the glorification of busy to wearing a badge of honour. You’re keen to parade it and prove just how stressed you are and how little time you have. According to AXA’s 2017 UK Stress Index, 38% of us are stressed about work. 55% of respondents claimed to check emails outside of office hours and 49% expressed concern over our ‘always-on’ culture. 85% of Londoners are stressed some of the time (just below the 86% high recorded in Cardiff, Belfast and Sheffield) and 10% of capital-dwellers claim to be stressed all of the time. And, 47% say that work is one of the main causes of stress.

But, what does this really mean? According to TUC, it means that in 2016 we racked up £33.6 billion in unpaid overtime. For 5.6 million of us, that equated to working an extra 7.7 hours a week – almost a sixth working day. In London, the average per week was 8.2 hours. When you think about it like that, it seems bizarre that we’re boasting about not having enough time for ourselves. Of course, we can’t always clock off at 5.30pm, head to the pub and ignore impending deadlines. But, losing 7-8 hours every week seems like a poor trade-off for the occasional hard-working compliment from someone who is most likely also polishing a gleaming badge of honour.

An ‘Always-On’ Culture

We all know too much stress isn’t a good thing. However, the glorification of busy also exists when we design jam-packed social schedules around already saturated working weeks. Maybe it’s due to FOMO (the fear of missing out), but there’s also a certain perceived pressure to be young, fun and making the most of city life.

And, when we’re not working or socialising? Our always-on culture – our dependence on digital devices and their ability to keep us feeling ‘on’ or ‘plugged in’ at all times – means we’re constantly connected to work and hundreds of friends and mere acquaintances through social media. Let’s be honest, it’s a constant information overload.

So, what happens when we’re busy at work, busy with friends and our minds are ‘busy’ when they’re supposed to be relaxing?

The Forgotten Problem with Being Too Busy

“You can’t continue to regenerate creatively unless you have time to daydream, relax and do nothing” – Lisa Congdon, artist – Flow Magazine

Stress and tiredness probably take the limelight when you’re thinking about the impact of being overly busy. But, this quote reminds us that there’s another loser; creativity. It’s confirmation from someone who is creative for a living that maintaining creativity isn’t possible if your schedule and mind are always full.

Studies have also come to the same conclusion. Cognitive scientist Scott Barry Kaufman contributed to a study for Hansgrohe that found that 72% of recipients experienced creative ideas in the shower. He explained, “the relaxing, solitary, and non-judgmental shower environment may afford creative thinking by allowing the mind to wander freely, and causing people to be more open to their inner stream of consciousness and daydreams.” The shower is one of the few places we’re free from digital distractions, so it’s no surprise we experience eureka moments here. The same arguably goes when spending time off-grid and disconnected from our normal day-to-day lives.

In the race to wear a badge of honour, are we actually just designing creative blockers that take longer to overcome as we’re professionally and socially at saturation point? There are many issues with the glorification of busy, but if you agree that ‘daydream’ time always loses out and our creativity suffers as a result, it seems more illogical than ever. After all, you don’t need to be an artist to merit the importance of creativity at work.