I love driving: it’s a very useful skill, and I have been fortunate enough not to be without a car since I passed my test in the first year at college. Since 1987, then.
And, for the most part, the cars I’ve had have been well-loved, cared for and kept until really their usefulness is outweighed by the cost of keeping them on the road. I’ve had a little blue Clio now for 14 years, and she has been a great drive, until teh last couple of years when age crept in, and the services grew longer, more complicated and more expensive. Like an old and faithful Highland servant, she started complaining in the mornings and finally, about three weeks ago, admitted she had no get up and go.
Reader, I retired her yesterday, with a few tears and a final kiss and wave of the hand. Today I am car-free and tomorrow I collect the next in my short cycle of cars. Meet T Swizzle.
Named by the Daughter, because she’s Red, like a Taylor Swift album. It suits her, I think. I always name cars. I’ve had Veronica, Arthur, Bob, Goofy, Rocky, Cleo and now T Swift/Swizzle. I collect her on Thursday, just after lunch, and today seems like a good time to think about how, and why, I can turn her into a mobile sanctuary, a moveable spa, since she will have been valeted to an inch of her life, be completely clean, clear and empty. What, then, do I want to achieve with her?
Well, my car is my third home after my house and my office. It’s a place I enjoy being alone or with company because I like the act of driving, I find it mindful. You cannot think about, worry about, react to anything else while driving (not without it being dangerous, at least) and it’s a good discipline to be able to clear one’s mind before setting off, especially on days when you feel worked up, anxious, overwrought. When I sit in it, I want to feel relaxed, peaceful and ready to ride. Creating a calming car takes a little thought and a lot of common sense. Here, then, are my top tips on it.
- Keep the car clean and definitely keep it clear. Empty it after every trip, take in your rubbish, and if you do keep useful stuff in the car, keep it in the boot or out of sight. I’ve bought a new boot liner for T Swizzle, so that the bottles, cloths, packets and more I usually have in the boot are contained.
- Use a scent in car and change it seasonally. I have used plain cotton wool with essential oils dabbed on, but T Swizzle is experimenting with clip on air diffusers, available with felt pads I intend to change seasonally, and a floral essential oil mix for the Spring/Summer. I’m planning on a fresh ocean breeze oil for the height of summer, moving into sandalwood, spices and warm scents for Autumn and Winter.
- Have a comfort basket for the car. Use a small pouch or tin, and put in it the emergency supplies that usually get missed out of packs sold by Halfords: lip balm, an aromatherapy roll-on scent stick (choose the one you need most: relaxation or migraine relief), hand cream or balm, a small box of mints* or a small bar of chocolate, tissues, a pad and pen and sanitary products if needed.
- A box of tissues handy to grab is always a good idea, especially if you’re likely to have hayfever or post-covid sniffles. Although my heart leans towards Crabtree and Evelyn’s Cup holder convenient packs, my pocket book is leaning towards a discount store bargain box instead.
- Line up relaxing listening for the journey. My new car has Bluetooth connection, so all my playlists and favourite artists are available to me now. I’ll be spending some time trying to collect favourite tracks onto an Amazon or Spotify playlist and enjoying them on a loop. Creating a playlist or assembling a cd collection of artists you enjoy listening to can make a big difference to a journey, as can having podcasts or audio books to listen to.
- Create a shrine or at least have something in the car that grounds you. I like having a keyring or a religious medal or symbol hanging from the rear view mirror. Currently, I have a Goddess keyring together with a set of anglican rosary beads, although I also have a small Christmas gnome that I’ll be adding from tomorrow.
- I also have a small rock collected on a day out with the Husband and a plastic Joe Cool Snoopy toy that came with a happy meal. They’re small and insignificant to anyone but me. Joe Cool? That’s my alter ego. And Snoopy always remind sme to be happy.
- The rock is very tactile already, but I have a fleece blanket to hand on the back seat, and will, if I feel the need, return a couple of cushions to the back seat or parcel shelf. Keeping something soft to cuddle makes sense to me.
Making the car into a sanctuary is about making sure your senses are smoothed by time spent in the car. If you eat, keep the windows open and don’t allow the smell to sink in. If you shop, take the shopping in straightaway, and return empty bags to the boot ready for the next time. Apply the same principles to you car as you do to your home: declutter often, keep it clean, keep it sensual. And say hello to your car, tell it well done after a long journey and, at the end of your time together, say goodbye to it with love and gratitude for the service it renders you. Yes, it means you spend an evening crying because you’ve lost a well-loved friend, but grief is the price you pay for love.
*Small box of mints seems such an easy idea, until you look into them. Do you want a vintage style tin, a designer tin, a purely functional but has the taste you like style tin, or will you pick up a cheap generic pack from the local supermarket? I went for the liquorice mints in the end, because I like liquorice. Seriously, you can find anything on a mint tin. I also picked up a set of six empty mint tins, because I have a hankering to make a few miniature fairy tale worlds inside them…
How to Hygge the British Way is my gift to the world. I don’t get paid for writing it, I’m not in it for the kudos, financial rewards, to become an influencer, work with brands or otherwise make any money from the blog. That’s why there are no ads, and any products I mention and recommend have either been gifted to me or bought by me with my everyday wages or donations from supporters. Every book I review has been bought and read by me, unless stated otherwise.
I do get a couple of pennies each time someone buys from the Amazon links on my page, as an Amazon Affiliate, but otherwise if you’d like to support me, I like to give something back in return. That’s why I write books. It always feels good if you get a book back in return for some money. You can find a full list of my books at my Author’s Page on Amazon, but especially recommended for this time of year are:
Cosy Happy Hygge: Setting up a rhythm to life and rituals to enjoy it to make for a more balanced life that handles waves and storms better. Lent is a season of rituals and resets. The book has small and easy ways to make your life flow with grace and happiness, which lead to more hygge.
Happier: Probably my most personal book, it’s the story of how I used hygge and the little things in life to help boost my happiness. I still go back and reread to remind myself what I need to do to be a happy human. And it’s always the little things.
Planning ahead, early, is How to Hygge Your Summer. It has ideas for taking your hygge with you out of winter and to any place you go in the summer… the beach, the park, your holidays. Hygge is an all-year feeling, so start preparing and let’s hygge the heck out of summer this year!
If you’d like to support me, but don’t want to buy a book, I have a Paypal.Me account as Hygge Jem. Every little helps, so even a few pence goes towards the books, goods and courses I use and recommend on the site. I’m grateful for every little bit that brings me closer to my dream of full-time writing, and I know I couldn’t still be writing if it weren’t for the support of many readers and friends out there. Thank you all for every little bit of support, emotional, physical and financial, you give me.
If you’ve enjoyed this article, don’t forget to share it or save it so others can enjoy reading, thinking about and living hygge as well.
The regular photo I’m currently using between text and my book promotions is a photo by Pascal Debrunner on Unsplash. It’s sunflowers, in honour of Ukraine, since war is crazy and horrible and about as uhygge as you can get. If you’d like to donate to help the refugees fleeing, please give to the emergency appeal in your country. In the UK I’m giving to the DEC Ukrainian appeal. And my header is by averie woodard on Unsplash. It kind of sums up the freedom I feel when driving, although my common sense side says I would never actually be stupid enough to drive with a head and hand stuck outside of the window, the idea of being free to drive through mountains, valleys and more is less about actually being tehre and more about feeling it.