Over the years, I’ve embraced just about every geographical lifestyle trend imaginable. Hygge – the Danish art of cosiness and contentment: on it. Lagom – the Swedish philosophy of ‘not too little, not too much, just right’: yep, count me in. Ikigai – the Japanese secret to a long and happy life: been there, done that, bought the t-shirt (okay, everything except the t-shirt part).
You get the picture: if there’s a new lifestyle trend on offer, I’m likely to be in the background, ready and willing to jump on the bandwagon as soon as it rolls in.
This winter, though, I discovered the pièce de résistance, as far as geographical lifestyle trends go. Or at least, one that fits perfectly with my own way of thinking, as well as my location in the UK’s most northerly mainland county – also known as beautiful Caithness.
A manifesto for life that requires very little effort, because to all intents and purposes, I’m already living it.
What is this wondrous thing I speak of?
So, what is Coorie? And more to the point, how can it help us cope with winter in Caithness?
According to Gabriella Bennett’s The Art of Coorie (the go-to guide on all things coorie), coorie is defined as ‘the Scottish art of deriving comfort, wellbeing and energy from wild landscapes and convivial interiors.’ In other words, it’s the perfect ying/yang blending of pairing the outside and in. This sense of finding contentment in the outdoors, juxtaposed with a cosy indoor experience will appeal to many Caithnesians (as well as visitors to the far north), and indeed anyone who finds themselves in locations where weather conditions might be described as ‘challenging.’ Think wind-battered walks along the beach followed by hot chocolate and card games. Mornings spent out wild swimming, followed by warm baths and stacks of well-thumbed books. Dog walks in the rain, followed by a visit to a local dog friendly cafe. All great examples of the coorie lifestyle.
A day in bed going nowhere and watching all four seasons of The Crown back-to-back on Netflix? Not quite coorie – but still fine, if that’s the way you roll.
EMBRACING COORIE (AND CAITHNESS)
Coorie isn’t just limited, though, to enjoying life outside and inside. It’s also about lifestyle choices and adding as many home-spun elements as possible to the mix. Buying local wherever possible, and supporting home-grown enterprise. Being mindful about our food choices and purchasing locally-sourced ingredients where we can. Foraging on walks for craft materials, and then going home to make something pretty with your treasure trove. Here in Caithness, a great example of a family coorie activity might be a hunt for Groatie Buckies – the tiny, revered cowrie shells that wash up along the Caithness coast.
Caithness also abounds with businesses embracing the coorie ethos – whether consciously or by happy accident. Local eateries like Stacks Deli & Bakery embrace a sense of community – as well as an opportunity for wind-blown customers to ‘coorie in’ with steaming mugs of coffee near their log-fuelled stove. At Forse of Nature near Latheron, visitors can curl up in one of the peaceful lounges and watch a blanket of haar roll in over the 24-acre gardens. For art lovers, local creators like Lisa Poulsen and Lisa Weller offer artwork inspired by untamed local landscapes, while local maker Lindsey Gallacher offers bespoke jewellery-making workshops and design inspired by Caithness stone. Accommodation providers like the Highland Haven near Mey blend stunning location and design to create authentic travel experiences for visitors. And if you feel the need of a full-on retreat devoted to coorie, mindfulness or yoga, you’ll find a range of themed residential retreats (plus much more), available through Vitality, based in Wick, throughout the year.
Not so long ago, someone jokingly asked me why anyone in their right mind would want to live in Caithness. ‘The weather’s bad, and it’s dark all the time in winter,’ they argued. It’s certainly not the first time in my 40-odd years I’ve encountered this viewpoint, and I’m reasonably sure it won’t be the last. True, our weather isn’t always favourable, and we do only get about 6 hours of daily light in winter. But for many of us, there’s beauty to be found in those unforgiving moments – in the sound of the wind howling around the windows or the raw power of the waves as they lash against the shore. It’s there in the cliffs that rear up like ancient, waiting warriors, and the sky that explodes into a fiery winter sunrise.
All things that make Caithness the perfect place for coorie.
Just bring your sense of adventure, a positive mindset – and a coat.
* This post is not affiliated with or sponsored by any of the businesses mentioned.
Thank you so much! 🙂
Aww Caithness is the place to coorie. I do love that word x
It’s a lovely word isn’t it, Susan? Rolls really nicely off the tongue. 😊x
Great article Gail x
Thanks Lindsey! X
Just saw 2 Coorie books in local shop this afternoon. Which came first, Hygge or Coorie? Coorie is a word I’ve used since I was peedie (Orkney) but somebody seems to have given it a whole new meaning.
I think as a ‘cosy trend’, Coorie is a bit more recent, Barbara, but as you say the word itself is much older. I believe its origins are in the word ‘cower,’ and relate to cuddling or nestling into someone – is that how you interpret it over there? To be honest it’s not a word I remember being used often growing up in Caithness, but we do have many of our own nuances here when it comes to language. I’m very happy to embrace it now though – both as a word and in terms of its cosy connotations. A perfect antidote to the darker winter months. 😊
Yes, we would coorie doon under the dyke for shelter or under a blanket for warmth, usually with someone. Haven’t heard it used for a while though. It’s probably Scots rather than Orcadian. I think I’ll be using it in my writing soon.
Thanks – a great read and lovely coastal photos 🌿
Oh thankyou! I’m so glad you enjoyed. 😊
Definitely embracing coorie! Even after autocorrect has corrected this to cookie three times 😂
Haha, yes, I don’t think auto correct has quite mastered old Scots words! 😉 x
How can anyone ask you that? I’m always so inspired by your pictures of a perfect coastline, winter woollies and stunning skylines. What’s not to love? I know that nowhere is perfect 100% of the time but you’re obviously making the most of it 🙂 Love the sound of Coorie, perfect for you and your family. xx
Thanks Suzanne, yes, living where we do is definitely not for everyone, but I couldn’t imagine another place being home now. There’s something quite comforting about having a name like ‘coorie’ to describe the sort of lifestyle we already embrace. xx
I think you have summed up everything that is so splendid about Caithness, it is wild and raw, but so beautiful it will always pull me back.
Thankyou Linda. I hope you get to come back and experience it again soon. <3 x