A conversation with muse Julia Bird
We spent a wonderfully relaxing and inspiring day with Julia Bird, a woman with such a warm spirit and generous heart. We nourished ourselves in conversation about her deep affinity to the sea and how wild swimming is the ultimate tonic for mind, body and soul. She also kindly shared her deeply nourishing seaweed bath rituals which we explore more here.
Do you know your skin type? Has it changed in your adult life and if so, how?
I’m guessing my skin is between dry and normal, and it has become more ‘normal’ in recent years. I am blessed with good skin that I may have inherited from my parents, but I still believe it depends on a good diet - nurturing from within - and minimal interference with beauty products. I have almost never worn make-up, except in my teen years…then it was the works - it was art!!
During most of my adult life I have been a firm believer in a splash of cold water and a little soap to waken my face every morning, followed by a little facial oil or balm. That’s it.
Do you have any skin-care rituals that ground, nourish or energise you?
Well, wild swimming is my tonic, my therapy, my sanity. I cannot describe how instant and complete the effect it has on a failing mood. I can clear my head from troubling thoughts, or get inspired for a new idea. Very often it is just finding peace with myself and celebrating the beauty of nature around me. I always come back home feeling happier and more positive.
Sometimes I will bring home a bucket of seaweed and treat myself to a long, hot seaweed soak. The smell is amazing, and the effect on your skin is incredible too. A wonderful thing to do, especially during the winter months and it is too stormy to swim. The used seaweed is then used to nourish my garden.
What is beauty to you?
Nature… all things in their most natural state, including us! I rejoice in the seasonality of nature - new life emerging in the spring, full summer bloom followed by autumn fruitfulness and then the quiet and rest of winter. I feel it is really important that we celebrate the seasonality within ourselves and embrace our bodies as they age. I feel we would all be a lot healthier if we remained in touch with the flow of the seasons in the same way nature does, making the most of the long light summer days and resting and reflecting more during the shorter days of winter.
Do you have a creative discipline or passion which you dedicate your time to? How does it impact your health and wellbeing?
My passion is being outdoors, celebrating nature. I am never happier that heading off to the coast for a swim and the inevitable forage for seaweed. I feel so lucky to live in the most beautiful part of the UK and to have set up a business which somehow embraces all my passions! Collecting seaweed to make art, together with a very dear friend, is such a daily treat. I feel totally nourished by it. Sharing a business with a likeminded person is a joy - and I can honestly say stress- free. We go at our pace and share difficult decisions.
When do you feel your most radiant self?
When the sun is shining (I need my fix of sunshine) and I’m headed off to the coast to share sun, sea and a flask with close friends or family - I love nothing better! I am equally quite happy with my own company and know that my black Labrador, Isla, will always be a willing and enthusiastic companion.
How do you re-connect when you’re feeling out of touch with yourself?
A swim, or a spell in the garden - another love of mine is messing about in my garden, which is more fields than garden - it is in constant need of a little taming! I am forever curbing back the brambles, but just love the way hours can go by, immersed in birdsong, filling my wheelbarrow until it is far too full…with the company of Isla and my cat.
I am prone to feeling gloomy, especially when the weather is grey. I find that doing something active outside is the most effective way to transform my mood, which might then inspire me to pick up the phone and reconnect with an old friend. That always does the trick.
Another thing I do, which is never planned but always when I happen to have the house to myself for the day, is I will begin by doing a thorough job of washing and drying up in the kitchen and that will then lead to sorting out the whole house as I tidy the family mess, clean and make beautiful. I love rearranging my nature collections and creating an inspiring space to be in. Always followed with a glass of wine, music and an open fire at the end of a very productive day!
How do you embrace your own sense of womanhood?
Well, it has taken me some years, but I have finally come to accept myself for who I am. A lack of self-confidence used to have a very negative effect on my life, but as I get older, I find I care less about what others might think and more about what makes me tick. Trusting and feeling at one with yourself is the most empowering thing of all.