Pottering Around

Author: Naomi Liddell

As the weather turns cold and the nights draw in, there is an astronomical increase in the mention of Danish lifestyle concept Hygge. It seems to have been adopted worldwide and become synonymous with the colder months. (However, I have a sneaking suspicion that it’s only made its way into our online vocabulary… I doubt it’s being used, as the Danes do, in general conversation.)  A while back, I was chatting with Lauren about cultural lifestyle concepts and how we seem to be enamoured by anything that embodies a type of foreign romanticism. And especially with words that convey something we don’t seem to have a word for in the English language. But we were wondering if the UK had anything to offer and what wellness concept we could perhaps claim for our own.

Firstly, a round-up of a few popular international wellness crazes (other than the beloved Hygge):


Lagom – Swedish
Loosely translated as ‘in moderation’ or ‘just the right amount’.


Wabi Sabi – Japanese
The acceptance and celebration of transience and imperfection.


Friluftsliv – Norwegian
Translated as ‘open-air life’, it’s the embracing of nature and time spent outdoors.


Kalsarikanni – Finnish
Pantsdrunk… Drinking at home, alone, in your underwear.


And whilst I love this multicultural borrowing of concepts that may improve our lives, I feel like we also have something to bring to the table. A while back, I was in conversation with a German friend who delighted in my use of the word ‘pottering’. She asked me what it meant and the best I could come up with was ‘spending time leisurely doing lots of little unimportant but fulfilling tasks’. It is also called ‘puttering about’ and ‘piddling about’, but the concept is the same and I think it’s glorious.


Pottering is my favourite pastime.  


The distinctly weird thing about pottering is that to anyone looking on, it appears that you are merely wasting time. But to the potterer… It feels like you are being super productive, attending to the sometimes microscopic things that have been pulling on your psyche… Watering the plants, oiling door hinges, filing some paperwork, making tea, feeding the birds… Whatever takes your fancy in the moment. It is often unencumbered and almost always without structure or a todo list. It’s time to just attend to whatever takes your attention as you amble around your house. No deadlines, no that-will-have-to-wait, the perfect way to while away a rainy UK day. And I would argue that a good dose of casual pottering is beneficial for your mental health.


Are you a lover of pottering? 

What are your thoughts on lifestyle/wellness concepts?
Gimmicks to sell books or lovely ways of viewing the world through the eyes of another culture?

Naomi loves daytime baths, learning things and rock music.
(Oh and her kids. She loves them too)
Follow Naomi on Instagram @naomiliddell
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12 thoughts on “Pottering Around

  1. Love this post Naomi!

    Pottering is one of my favourite pastimes too. I even mentioned it on insta yesterday, I’m so on brand 😂 x

  2. Yes! Absolutely agree, pottering is so good for the soul! I would also use the word ‘pottering’ to describe a day spent exploring somewhere new, if you’re just popping in and out of shops and cafes, looking at nice buildings and obviously gramming. It’s basically my favourite thing to do if I’m on holiday in the UK or in a European city.

  3. Pottering is wonderful – doing all the iddy bits that just don’t get done when you are on a mission.

    I refer to outdoors pottering as pootling about – and that really is the best was to discover somewhere new 😀

  4. Ahh I love this post, Naomi! I am totally in love with words that are untranslatable in English. My best friend is writing a collection of poems based around them. One of my favourites is; Madrugada (n, Spanish) – the early hours of the morning, the hazy space between 1am and 4am.
    Sorry slightly off topic, but any opportunity to talk about interesting words! x

    1. Totally on topic Alice! I love that… Madrugada.
      Similarly, there’s a word in Irish that doesn’t translate: Ragaireacht – it means either late night wandering or sitting with a friend talking into the early hours of the morning with complete disregard for the time ❤️

  5. I love a good potter. I had last Friday off work and although I felt like I was busy all day it seemed like I hadn’t done that much. It was the relaxing jobs that you listed like feeding the birds, walking the dog and folding laundry, while listening to an audiobook that took up my time and it was a stress free, lovely day. I need to convince my husband to look at dining tables in the Black Friday sale tomorrow – I might introduce him to a potter around John Lewis…

  6. I love this Naomi!! And really pottering is very productive as you get so many little things done but it’s fun/relaxing at the same time, winner! Love Ragaireacht, how would you pronounce it? Lx

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