Sara McKee, Evermore Founder, reflects on her summer holidays in Northumberland, the importance of family and enjoying the natural rhythms of life.
This image by Tove Jansson – author of the Moomins series – certainly encapsulates my holiday in Northumberland over the last two weeks. It’s involved plenty of laziness, good books and naturally a few glasses of wine!
Nine of us (plus two hounds) retreated to a large farmhouse in the hamlet of Rock. It’s just a few miles off the North-East coast by a vast expanse of beach that runs from Newton-by-the-Sea all the way to Dunstanburgh Castle and beyond. Imagine, the height of British summer and hardly a soul on the beach….and yes, it was sunny! This must be one of the most undiscovered landscapes in the UK and selfishly, long may it continue. I’ve certainly achieved more consistent exercise than over previous months this year.
Many aspects of holidays are special, but I think the bit that stands out for me is TIME.
Because there’s no rush to start each day, to get anywhere by a particular time (although it was useful to keep an eye on the tides when we visited The Holy Island of Lindisfarene) or to have regimented mealtimes. We literally could go with the flow and each individual could do his own thing or in the company of others.
I’ve spent more time than ever with my sister. We discussed our anxiety of living in this troubled world, how we should try to really live in and enjoy the present moment. We went to church by the sea where we learnt it is a waste of time to fear the future. Mindful moments are everywhere.
And then we got together every day to eat, sharing the cooking and having a lively discussion on everything from politics to the technical aspects of the airplanes the grown-up boys were designing and flying.
It was like a living experiment of an Evermore household with nine occupants. The only difference being we had three generations under one roof – the youngest was 22 and the oldest nudging 83*. What was remarkable was that we all moved to the same seat at the table every mealtime. No one had decided who sat where, but we naturally returned to the same position each time. It reinforced for me the importance of everyone having their own seat at the table; an ethos we’ve believed in from the start at Evermore.
Inevitably, mealtimes extended well beyond the consuming of food and drink as conversations developed and got quite noisy and full of laughter at times. Everyone felt included. Everyone had the opportunity to participate. Everyone did what they could to make the time together special. No one had to be asked to join in.
There was also plenty of time to be quiet, to read, to snooze or to be alone in our own space. The Chairman and I always like to sneak in an afternoon nap on our holiday if we can, and that was fine. We could all revert to our natural rhythms – if only for two weeks.
It’s got me thinking how important it is for all of us to be part of a ‘family’ environment and to create a flow that suits our rhythms. That’s why I’m even more determined to abolish outdated approaches to residential care; to end institutional, regimented routines that help neither staff nor residents to flourish; and to keep trying to bring Evermore Households to life.
As I heard on the radio just recently: “a good idea attempted is better than a bad idea perfected.” – Don Letts @OfficialDonLetts
Let’s stop perfecting the stuff nobody wants and try out new ideas. We might just learn something.
Sara McKee, Evermore Founder and Director of Market Innovation
Follow Sara on Twitter@SaraMcKeeFRSA
* perhaps intergenerational is a natural progression for Evermore to encourage thriving at any age!