Snowdonia, May 2018 (wearing my FINDRA merino baselayer
Hey Jane, great to meet you! Tell us, what are your favourite ways to get outside?
Every way I can! I’m a huge nature enthusiast, so I love to combine my love of flora and fauna with my favourite ways of exercising. Hiking, cycling and occasional outdoor/wild swimming are my main loves, but I recently discovered sea kayaking when down in Cornwall which I’d love to do more of – hopefully on our next trip to the West Coast of Scotland!
As a working mother of young-ish children, the reality is I do a lot more hiking in my head than happens on a day-to-day basis, and my bike rides are usually short and tame as our part of Lincolnshire is pretty flat. Therefore my daily dog walks with our Border Terrier are my most frequent outdoor fix.
How long has the outdoors been a part of your life?
Since I was a small child. Setting up assault courses in the garden, den making in the woods, borrowing neighbours’ dogs, asking my parents if we could go out for walk (yes, the wrong way round I know!), usually taking the long way round if I was on foot or bike. We didn’t have a car as a child living in the suburbs, so walking was our transport.
What's been your favourite trip or adventure?
Iceland in 2017 was pretty incredible, and I was awed by my first visit to the Cairngorms last year (Rannoch Moor – what a place to walk!). The Alps are always a favourite - in no small part because of Kuchen around every corner. However, as the children are now getting older we did some great hikes in North Wales last year, including my first time scrambling up and down the Glyders, which has really stayed with me.
Is there anyone who inspired your love of the outdoors?
My husband (farmer and hillwalker) and also the wildlife artist Elaine Franks, whose book of illustrations on ‘The Undercliff’ on the Dorset/Devon coast remains one of my all-time favourites. There are too many nature writers to name, but Robert Macfarlane is one of my favourites. For completeness, the young Cowans voted for Helen Skelton (ex Blue Peter) and Levison Wood.
Do you find that being outside has a positive impact on your wellbeing and mental health?
It’s not only positive, but essential for me. Years ago a job in a window-less office made me realise that I was more distressed at the lack of natural light and fresh air than the dying pot plant on my desk! There’s so much information and research out there now to back up what us outdoor enthusiasts have known for years. I make sure I spend at least an hour outside everyday and more at the weekends.
Do you wear your FINDRA when you're not outdoors?
Yes. For years now Findra has been my go-to for pilates and yoga and often it’s what I pull on at the weekends. I’d wear it in the workshop too (I’m a stone carver) but it would get destroyed too quickly and it’s too precious for that!
When did you discover FINDRA and what's your favourite piece?
I found it on-line years ago, long before the shop, when there were only a handful of pieces in the line. I loved the fact that it was merino wool, designed to be long enough (I’m 5’8” and have always been frustrated how short clothes can be on me) and there were not a pink or pastel colour in sight!! My absolute favourite is the Caddon merino cowl neck – my bag is never packed for a trip away without two of these in.