Other Stuff, a cabinet of curiosities, a fusion of science and ancient wisdom about life, happiness and wellbeing by 8 in the Universe including random musings about living life, being happier, fulfilled and all things to nourish our wellbeing.

Other Stuff

Random musings and interesting things we find, research, stumble across and want to share.


Prospect Cottage, Derek Jarman’s home.in Dungeness

I am starting this meander at The Garden Museum within St Mary’s at Lambeth, one of the oldest structures by the River Thames, which holds records of 950 years of local life. The museum collection celebrates British Gardens and Gardening and stages occasional exhibitions. It is a delightful place which I find really interesting, even though I don’t have a garden and struggle to keep a pot plant alive. This Summer’s exhibition is ‘My Garden’s boundaries are the horizon’ the story of Derek Jarman’s Garden at Prospect cottage, Dungeness.

Florilegium by Adriaen Collaert, 1593

The Garden Museum – its history alongside the River Thames

The Church is the burial place of John Tradescant the Elder and younger both 17th century plant hunters and gardeners. They created a collection of rare and unusual objects that became The Tradescants Ark, the first museum open to the public in England. The Collection was given in the late 17th Century, by Elias Ashmole to the University of Oxford and became The Ashmolean Museum. A place I am very fond of but don’t seem to get to visit as often as I would like. Both Tradescants were gardeners to Charles I and Henrietta Maria.

Head of a Woman by Orazio Gentileschi, 1636

Orazio Gentileschi was court painter to Queen Henrietta Maria  and was commissioned to paint a ceiling at the Queen’s House in Greenwich, during the commission he became unwell, it is thought that his daughter Artemisia came to help him complete the commission. Artemisia was already an established artist and had patrons including the Medici in Florence, and the papal court in Rome.

The Great hall ceiling, within the queen’s house is part of the royal museums Greenwich, where the majestic buildings and the artwork within is always worth a trip on the DLR or a walkthrough the foot Tunnel. 

The Royal Collection Trust – an allegory of peace and the arts.

Virtual Tour of the Old Royal Naval College at Greenwich.

Judith beheading Holofernes by Artemisia Gentileschi 1612-1613

There is an Artemisia Gentileschi exhibition currently at the National Gallery, which is a National treasure I often wander into, when I’m around Covent Garden. The Gallery is open again, but for the time being, I won’t be able to spontaneously pop in for a little inspiration from some fine frocks or spend a few minutes bathed in the blue and gold of The Wilton Diptych, right now all entries require booking a time slot. 

Madame Moitessier by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, 1856.
Wilton Diptych 1395-1399 by unknown Artist.

Which brings me to Kettle’s yard a delightful house containing the lifelong collection of art acquired by Jim and Helen Ede, now part of The University of Cambridge 

I recently discovered that Jim Ede the creator of Kettle’s yard briefly worked curating photography at the National Gallery, tenuous link, I hear you say, yes true but I really wanted to include the Ede’s, home Kettle’s Yard, which is a small corner of loveliness in the already handsome city of Cambridge. The house and its contents are a continuous display of interesting work, I especially like the work of Henri Gaudier Brzeska and this image of Ezra Pound. 

Tour of Kettle’s Yard

Ezra Pound by Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, 1914

So, Gaudier Brzeska to the garden museum is a bit of a stretch, less of a meander and more of an obstacle race, I’m sure if I tried hard enough I could link them, but I’m going to take an easy way out with something from Ezra Pound. 

“What thou lovest well remains

the rest is dross

What thou lov’st well shall not be reft from thee

What thou lov’st well is thy true heritage”

― Ezra Pound, The Pisan Cantos

I love many of the places in my mind’s meanderings, they feed many peoples curiosity and soul, mine included, I hope they remain for many lifetimes to come. 



By Marian Connor at 8 in the Universe, August 2020

Header Image – Prospect Cottage, Derek Jarman’s home, Dungeness.

2nd Image – Florilegium by Adriaen Collaert, 1593. 

3rd Image – Head of a Woman by Orazio Gentileschi, 1636

4th Image – Judith beheading Holofernes by Artemisia Gentileschi 1612-1613

5th Image – Madame Moitessier by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, 1856. 

6th Image – Wilton Diptych 1395-1399 by unknown Artist.

7th Image – Ezra Pound by Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, 1914.

Meandering - Part 2

THIS week’s meander begins at the Wellcome Collection, which is a regular haunt of mine, either visiting the latest exhibition or to spend time working in the reading room. During lockdown I have been reading some interesting articles on their website one of which is… 

The Healing Sun by Linda Geddes for the Wellcome Collection.

We are all aware of the precautions we need to take to protect ourselves from the damage that over exposure to the sun’s rays can cause, but we shouldn’t overlook its benefit to our physical and psychological wellbeing.

Exposure to sunlight is one contributing factor to health and happiness and for me so is exposure to art. In my first meander I visited The Dulwich Picture Gallery which has an interesting article on its website about…

Aesthetics and Human Happiness – The Art of Wellbeing by Ben Channon

It mentions the benefits we gain to our wellbeing from looking at nature. Which leads me to the small but delightful Chelsea Physic Garden on the Chelsea embankment, a horticultural oasis exploring how we nourish our wellbeing through the beauty of nature and how we benefit from its products.

“Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.”

Henry David Thoreau

The Chelsea Physic Garden – Florilegium Society

‘The Art and Healing Power of Plants’ discusses the connection between the plants depicted in botanic art and their medicinal properties. The use of organic chemistry and the development of drugs is displayed at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society in East Smithfield which has a small museum dedicated to the subject. 

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society – Plants – Drug Preparation and Extraction

Going back to nature and art, The Fitzwilliam in Cambridge always deserves a visit and presently the website has a series of films teaming paintings with music and guided relaxation, a perfect relaxing interlude in your day. 

YouTube – Objects in Focus, Relax, Look and Imagine – The Fitzwilliam Museum.

Let’s finish this meander by linking The Fitzwilliam back to the Wellcome Collection, it has benefited like many other institutions from the donation of numerous objects from the original vast collection created by Henry Wellcome.

“…and then, I have nature and art and poetry and if that is not enough, what is enough?” Vincent Van Gogh 

Hope you enjoy your own meandering.

Take care out there. 


By Marian Connor, July 2020

Header Image – Sun Tarot Card, source unknown

2nd Image – Blue Monochrome by Yves Klein, 1961.

3rd Image – Floral illustration from the book, Codex Seraphinianus by Luigi Serafini

4th Image – Medicine Man, source unknown

5th Image – The Gust of Wind by Pierre Auguste Renoir, 1872 



In order to stay sane, I need to walk, and I need to look at interesting things. 

Lockdown has allowed the walking part but the ‘interesting stuff’ needed to be explored in books or online, all very well but I’m looking forward to actually experiencing stuff in person.

I have begun to plan my release from capture by thinking about the small but perfectly formed museums and galleries that make me happy. This set my mind meandering, which then morphed into something resembling a version of 6 degrees of separation. 

Paul Klee said, “Drawing was taking a line for a walk”, in this case I took a thought for a walk.


I’m setting off with The Wallace Collection where last summer I spent a very happy afternoon wandering amidst Manolo Blahnik’s beautiful confections in the exhibition ‘An inquiring Mind.’ 

Manolo Blahnik at the Wallace Collection leaflet poster.

The Wallace is home to The Lady with a Fan by Velazquez, which sent me over to The Fan Museum in Greenwich, where amongst an array of historical fans, is one painted by Sickert, depicting a version of Dot Hetherington at The Old Bedford.

From the Fan Museum: The Sickert Fan by Rachel Holdsworth, at the Londonist.

Which reminded me of Sickert’s wonderful paintings of Venice, which I had seen in an exhibition at The Dulwich Picture Gallery. 

Another landmark in Venice is Harry’s Bar, home of The Bellini cocktail.

Here’s a lesson in cocktail making, admittedly not a Bellini, but a Martini, which may well have been imbibed by James Bond in Venice, in Moonraker or Casino Royale.

There are some places that feel they would create very good cocktails and the bar at the Folies Bergère as painted by Manet feels like one such establishment. This can be found in The Courtauld Collection which is another little gem on my list.

Watch Videos from The Courtauld Gallery Collection.

and fortunately, I can walk from there to The Wallace, happy days.

Stay safe.

Be well.

By Marian Connor at 8 in the Universe


Header Image – Shoe illustration by Manolo Blahnik from the book, Manolo Blahnik and the tale of The Elves and the Shoemaker, 2011.

2nd Image – The Lady with a Fan by Diego Velazquez, created from 1638-39

3rd Image – St Mark’s, Venice by Walter Sickert 1896

4th Image – A bar at the Folies-Bergère by Édouard Manet 1882

YouTube – Manolo Blahnik special exhibition at the Wallace Collection in London.

YouTube – An introduction of the Sickert in Venice exhibition by Ian Dejardin, Director of Dulwich Picture Gallery.

YouTube – Stanley Tucci & James Corden Make a Martini.

Life in the Time of Corona - Part 9

WHEN you were young did you play that game, things to do if I have a million pounds? Admittedly that magic million would facilitate a whole lot less today, compared to when I was at school. The latest version of that feels like ‘things to do after lockdown.’ What would we consider riches now?  I don’t know about you, but my list feels a bit Julie Andrews ‘favourite things’, compared to the acquisition fest I once enjoyed. Now, I want to be with people, people I am happy to laugh and cry with, the people who have felt like helping hands, lifting me up through difficult times. 

How Social Support Contributes to Psychological Health by Kendra Cherry, verywellmind.

20 Little Things that Make us Happy by Annabel Rivkin and Emilie McMeekan, The Telegraph.

Now, I am desperate to spend an afternoon at the V&A, followed by any gallery that will let me in, I am mighty grateful for the virtual tours and videos that museums and galleries have made available, but oh my, there is nothing to compare to being amongst all that wonderful stuff . 

Now, I want to make things. We are all wired for some form of creativity, and I am reminded of the life affirming pleasure of making things, whatever your choice, knitting, woodwork, sewing, it requires us to be present, enjoying the process, appreciate the end product, maybe share those results.

What if we Stopped Buying Stuff and Started Making it? BBC Sounds.

Maybe I’m just a cheap date, happy to hang out with people I like, perhaps in a gallery and then gifting them, less than perfect craftwork , that they probably don’t want,  but I will be making memories and sharing the love. 

What does your post Corona million look like? 

Whatever it is enjoy, but remember………..

Stay safe.

Be well. 

By Marian Connor, June 2020

Header Image – Photograph of Marilyn Monroe with dollar bills, photographer unknown.

YouTube – An Introduction to the V&A by the Victoria and Albert Museum.

YouTube – Inside Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty at the V&A Museum by British Vogue.

YouTube – Time Walker: Wonderful Things by the V&A Museum.

YouTube – Hill Street Blues – Let’s be careful out there.

Life in the Time of Corona - Part 8

Dappled light shown in the painting, Sewing the Sail by Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida

“the late afternoon sunlight, warm as oil, sweet as childhood …” Stephen King

Don’t you just love dappled light? 

I know I do and there is a lot of it about right now.

Perhaps it’s because I’m not rushing anywhere at the moment, I can take time to ponder, or there are less people around disturbing the vista. 

Perhaps it’s because I don’t usually get to take long walks at such varied times of day and maybe miss some of the best times for shadows, either way I now experience the play of light when it’s in its most shadowy glory.

“From wonder into wonder existence opens.” Lao Tzu 

Dappled Lightseen in the painting, Birch Grove by Isaac Levitan

Perhaps I find this light so enchanting because it is the elements of Yin & Yang, Yin dark and Feminine, Yang light and Masculine made manifest, a visible representation of Wu Wei where opposites complement each other and create harmony.

Eastern Philosophy: Wu Wei by The School of Life

cat and dappled light photograph by Ferdinando Scianna

The Dream of Life by Alan Watts


“Our deepest fear is not that we are weak. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world … As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” Marianne Williamson, from her book, A Return to Love

Dappled Light

Stay safe.

Be well. 

By Marian Connor, May 2020


Header Image – Sewing the Sail by Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida 

2nd Painting – Birch Grove by Isaac Levitan

Photograph by Ferdinando Scianna 

Photograph by Ferdinando Scianna 

Photograph by Lee Friedlander 


Life in the Time of Corona - Part 7

It’s that time again, Peonies are in season, one of my favourite flowers, I love them, big pink blousy stems of loveliness that make me smile. 

I don’t know if they are named after Paeon the Greek physician to the Gods or linked to the Nymph Peonia, who got the glad eye from Apollo, but it matters not. Who wouldn’t love flowers with varieties such as Shirley Temple, Kelway’s Gorgeous and Sarah Bernhardt?  They are a thing of beauty and now, more than ever, bring floral joy into my lockdown home. 

Peony Flowers – Meanings, Symbolism, Varieties and Care Tips by Interflora

The Language of Flowers. Floriography: Exploring the Victorian Meaning of Flowers by Margherita Cole, My Modern Met.


My favourite Peonies are pink, we know that colour is a powerful form of communication, which has psychological and physiological affects on us, this has been used for millennia as a tool for wellbeing and there is much current, scientific research that agrees.

YouTube – Disney’s Color Psychology.

You might like to use this to enjoy some colour. 

“The little boy nodded at the peony and the peony seemed to nod back. The little boy was neat, clean and pretty. The peony was unchaste, dishevelled as peonies must be, and at the height of its beauty. Every hour is filled with such moments, big with significance for someone.” 

Robertson Davies

Stay safe.

Be well. 

By Marian Connor, May 2020

Header Image – FLORA by Nick Knight  

2nd image – Peonies by @peony_addict       

3rd image – Peonies by @eduardorecife_     

Life in the Time of Corona - Part 6

It’s a strange one isn’t it, how the new way we are living impacts on every aspect of our lives, particularly on our perception of our surroundings and our sensory experience. 

Whilst we are deprived of certain everyday sounds and smells, others are increased or enhanced. 

Less traffic noise more birdsong.

Less cacophony from public transport, more silence. 

Less variety of aromas from cafes, restaurants and shops, more control over the aromas we bring into our homes, to affect our mood. 

A little olfactory history. 

How People fought Disease in the Past: a Top 10 of the Most Potent Smells by Futurist Scents.

As society adapts, we will hopefully become more emotionally aware and as a result the sense of smell may become more important.

Your Sense of Smell controls what you Spend and who you Love by Georgia Frances King, Quartz.

The World is definitely a quieter place, according to Mathias Basner this is no bad thing and something we should try to continue for our wellbeing in the future.

Why noise is bad for your health – and what you can do about it by TEDMED.

Our brainwaves will entrain to the sounds we hear, particular wavelengths aid our relaxation and sense of wellbeing, so I thought I would leave you with some Singing bowls and a bit of Mozart to do just that. 

Stay safe.

Be well. 

By Marian Connor at 8 in the Universe, May 2020

Header Image –  Lady at a Masked Ball with two roses in her dress, NYC. Photograph by Diane Arbus, 1967.

2nd image – Woman in Mask, street art photographed in Brick Lane on a daily walk.

3rd image – The Horses by artist Robert Montgomery photographed in Brick Lane on a daily walk.

Life in the Time of Corona - Part 5

Life is Fragile. 

If we didn’t know it before. 

We certainly do now.

In life ‘before Corona’, that knowledge could be the impetus we needed to galvanise us into action and may well be again, ‘after Corona’ but I would like a little help to allay the anxiety of our fragility, now. Maybe that’s why the philosophy of the Stoics is so popular today, encouraging us to separate the things we can control over those we cannot. 

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedom – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” Viktor Frankl 

The Philosophy of Stoicism by Massimo Pigliucci, via TED Ed

This Quillette article by Roy Wayne Meredith III looks at Sickness and Stoicism in this time of Corona.

Why you should define your fears instead of your goals by Tim Ferriss.

Just because I like it

Esperanza Spalding and Herbie Hancock – Fragile – Sting.

“We are each of us stronger than we think.” Marcus Aurelius 

Here’s hoping. 

Stay safe. 

Be well. 

Header Image by Marina Abramovic 2012

123 Photograph of Bethnal Green Road collage by Marian Connor

By Marian Connor at 8 in the Universe, April 2020

Life in the Time of Corona - Part 4

“The only way we’ll know where we’re going is to look at the past and to remember who we were through ceremonies and rituals.”

Laura Esquivel

The important role rituals play in our lives has been illustrated throughout time by the way humans have devised and performed rituals for all aspects of the human condition. Many if not directly religious, still display vestiges of religious ceremonies performed over many centuries, with the intention of connecting the outside world to our inner world. Coming of age, plighting our troth, marriage, giving birth, naming babies, death, remembrance. Sadly, communal ceremonies are something many people cannot participate in or derive comfort from at the present moment. 

Rituals by The School of Life, YouTube

Rituals satisfy a need to evoke and express emotion, often at times when we lack words. They are symbolic acts that speak to our subconscious, whilst helping us come to terms with the shifting rhythms of nature and life, keeping memories alive and giving thanks for them.

The Restorative Power of Ritual by Scott Berinato, Harvard Business Review.

At this moment in time I believe we could all benefit from creating our own rituals or reviving an old family tradition, to help add structure to our lives and allow us to connect to ourselves or take part in a shared experience. 

You may wish to involve music in your ritual and find you require a little inspiration, maybe this will remind you of an old favourite or discover new music that speaks to you 

How to Find New Music You’ll Actually Like by Nick Douglas, Lifehacker.

Both photographs, Paper Drop and La Palma, are by Wolfgang Tillmans, 2014 


Stay safe.

Be well. 


By Marian Connor at 8 in the Universe


Life in the Time of Corona - Part 3


Hands up,

I admit it,

I need Art,

In all its shapes and guises. 

Experiencing art can change the shape of a moment or a day and influence your mood and sense of wellbeing. 

The School of Life have a really interesting library of videos including ‘What is art for?’

“Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” Pablo Picasso 

If you, like me are needing assistance with an art fix, fear not, help is at hand, virtual exploration of art can be a very satisfying substitute, Time Out lists virtual tours of museums and galleries. 

An article in The Times last week by Laura Freeman suggested some armchair tours of beautiful spaces and galleries.

The Sistine Chapel and Vatican Museum.

Sainte-Chapelle, Paris .

Solomon R Guggenheim Museum New York 

Image above Portrait of a Lady 1510-40 by Lucas Cranach the Elder at Compton Verney 

Do you have a favourite museum or gallery that you will head out to as soon as possible? Personally, my little legs will be out that door in the direction of the V&A to revisit so many of my favourite things and immerse myself in loveliness. 

Stay Safe.

Be well.

By Marian Connor at 8 in the Universe, April 2020.


Life in the Time of Corona - Part 2

Self Portrait by Takashi Murakami depicting sadness and grief that reflects 'Life in the Time of Corona' by 8 in the Universe

I keep forgetting, 

I’m engrossed in something, then I look up and think, looks nice out there, I’ll go out for a walk in a minute, get a coffee in the park, wonder if ????? is free and wants to join me? 

Then I remember, 

park’s closed, 

cafe’s closed, social interaction prohibited, 

and I’m sad. 

You know that feeling, when just for a moment, you forget, that someone you love has died

………….then it hits you.

What I feel is grief, grief for life, as we know it. 

That Discomfort You’re Feeling is Grief by Scott Berinato, Harvard Business Review.

“Hope and fear cannot occupy the same space. Invite one to stay.”  Maya Angelou

YouTube – Before You Catch the Virus – Watch This (2020) by Prince Ea.

Coping with Fatigue, Fear, and Panic During a Crisis by Tony Schwartz and Emily Pines, Harvard Business Review.

They say that Chicken soup is good for inflammation and boosts the immune system. I think the same could be said of Sandi Toksvig, here is her ‘Who invented Chicken Soup?’ chat, one of a series she is posting on YouTube. 

Finally, a bit of loveliness, Timo Helgert imagining ‘The Return of Nature.’ 

Take care. 

Stay well.

Header Image: Self Portrait by Takashi Murakami  

By Marian Connor at 8 in the Universe, April 2020.



Life in the Time of Corona - with apologies to Gabriel Garcia Marquez



A bit of health.

A bit of art. 

A bit of randomness.


‘The Virus’ in its extreme can have a devastating effect on our lungs and inhibit our ability to breath. Breathing is so fundamental to our lives that we usually pay it little or no thought. Perhaps now whilst we are blessed with good health we could benefit from giving our breathing some attention, appreciate how wonderful it is and how we have the ability to use it to encourage relaxation of body and mind whilst calming our stress response. 

I Now Suspect the Vagus Nerve is the Key to Wellbeing by Edith Zimmerman, The Cut.

The Surprising Reason you Feel Awful when You’re Sick by Marco A. Sotomayor, TEDEd

Take a deep breath by Calm.  Thanks to Echo, economy of hours, for sharing this.

How to Stay Sane While Social Distancing by Sarah Fecht, Columbia University.

This 2016 advert from Bose has become a reality.

Although I won’t be dancing in the streets, well not for a little while, methinks, this week I’m going to try The Shim Sham at home, maybe you would like to join me.

Take care.

Stay well. 

Header image by unknown photographer.

By Marian Connor, at 8 in the Universe, March 2020.

We May As Well Dance.

The Human Body
consists of 206
adult bones
& 650 named skeletal muscles.

This fabulous conglomeration work together, to facilitate movement, in all the wonderful ways we choose to live and express ourselves.

The basis of our structure and alignment is the ingenious framework that is our skeleton made up of bones, connected by ligaments overlaid with muscles, tendons, fascia, fat and skin, embedded with networks to deliver nourishment, clear waste and facilitate nerve impulses. These miraculously come together to create the myriad varieties of the human form.

No standard model here we are a smorgasbord of humanity, our stance in life is affected by our cultural heritage, physical and emotional wellbeing.

The wonder that is our skeleton is created from bones that come in a gallimaufry of shapes, sizes and density. They are articulated by many joints, facilitating a vast range of movement which is created by a dazzling array of musculature – if you get the feeling bodies impress me, your right.

We often take our bodies and our movement for granted, sometimes we need a little reminder of the beautiful way they can move, we need to give them more respect and attention.

We cannot all match the achievements of athletes and ballet dancers, but we can all improve our posture and the quality of our movement.

We should allow our bodies to move freely without the constraints of bad habits and bad mood. We want to be upright but not uptight. With some effort to strengthen and stretch muscles and a little attention we can all be stronger and limber.

Life may not be the party we hoped for, but while we’re here, we may as well dance. Unknown

The limber loveliness of Misty Copeland & Sergei Polunin enjoying the party.

Spend a little time and effort to be informed and treat your body well. I guarantee it will love you right back.


Photograph: The Art of Correct Posture, 1936, unknown photographer

YouTube: Under Armour – Misty Copeland – I Will What I Want.

YouTube: Sergei Polunin, “Take Me To Church’ by Hozier, Directed by David LeChapelle.

By Marian Connor at 8 in the Universe, March 2020

Not Just a Walk in the Park

Photograph of two boys playing on a oak tree in Hyde Park, London, 1950s by R. S. Magowan


“I have been walking about London for thirty years and find something fresh in it every day.”  Sir Walter Besant

Just 20 minutes walking outside each day will boost energy levels, lift your mood and make the rest of your day more productive, a little exploration of your Town or City for open spaces, regardless of size will definitely reap rewards. Here in London we know there is nothing to compare to the beauty of rolling hills, wild beaches, meandering streams and ancient forests but if you’re willing to get out there London has untold opportunities for getting just enough green to make you feel good.

There are pathways beside the Thames, networks of canal towpaths and nature reserves (the London Wildlife Trust manages 40 of these across the capital). Historical pockets of green in the City of London and new pockets planned into recent developments. There are council run parks, city farms, the open spaces of commons, heath, garden squares, the fee paying gardens of Kew and Hampton Court as well as 8 Royal Parks.

There is so much open space, you begin to wonder how 9 million of us squeeze ourselves in.

Whether you are walking the dog or jogging, adding to your 10,000 daily steps or interval training, picnicking or learning how to juggle, practising Tai Chi or Parkour. Viewing Peregrines atop Tate Modern or butterflies in Abney Park Cemetery, taking a speed boat ride or sitting in meditation. Yomping over Hampstead Health or reading seated in a deck chair in St James Park, catching fish in Redbridge or avoiding deer in Richmond – London has a space for you.

Lace up those shoes, point your feet out of the door and go discover some nature on your doorstep.


Photograph: Hyde Park, London, 1950s by R. S. Magowan

How London Parks got their Names by Matt Brown for the Londonist.

Content by Marian Connor, March 2020


Painting by Qu Leilei 2014 of a pair of hands which symbolise a sense of gratitude, thankfulness, a positive mindset towards wellbeing, an attititude that embraces all the emotions and nurtures happiness.

“Happiness is a habit,
cultivate it.”
Elbert Hubbard

We should to try to appreciate the little things in our lives, the more things we can take pleasure in, the more pleasurable our life becomes and develop strategies, that allow us to acknowledge the transience of all things, good and bad.


This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honourably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.


Translated by Coleman Barks.

Image by Qu Leilei, 2014.

By Marian Connor, March 2020

CONTRIBUTE a Celtic Blessing


We are closing February with Contribute and a blessing from John O’Donohue. Dodgy film, beautiful poetry, great delivery.



On the day when
the weight deadens
on your shoulders
and you stumble,
may the clay dance
to balance you.

And when your eyes
freeze behind
the grey window
and the ghost of loss
gets into you,
may a flock of colours,
indigo, red, green
and azure blue,
come to awaken in you
a meadow of delight.

When the canvas frays
in the currach of thought
and a stain of ocean
blackens beneath you,
may there come across the waters
a path of yellow moonlight
to bring you safely home.

May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
may the clarity of light be yours,
may the fluency of the ocean be yours,
may the protection of the ancestors be yours.

And so may a slow
wind work these words
of love around you,
an invisible cloak
to mind your life.

By John O’Donohue. For Josie, my mother from Echoes of Memory (Transworld Publishing, 2010) reproduced by permission of the author’s Estate.

Photograph: So long for this Moment 2012, Boundary Ranges, Alaska by Marc Adamus.

By Marian Connor, February 2020.

GRATITUDE for Pebbles

Photograph of a Pebbles Sculpture by Andy Goldsworthy for short article on Gratitude by 8 in the Universe



“Find beauty

not only in the thing itself

but in the patterns of shadows,

the light and dark which that provides.”

Junichiro Tanizaki

When people manifest their care for us in tangible ways, it contributes towards our wellbeing. When we acknowledge gratitude for those tokens of caring, we experience the energy once again. Win, Win.

“A man was diagnosed with late stage cancer, his prognosis was not very hopeful. He didn’t lack money or possessions, but he recognised his friends wanted to give him something as a symbol of their love. ‘Find a small pebble, one that touches your heart, send it to me. I know it will touch my heart too. Pebbles came every day. Soon he had a wonderful collection of many shades and sizes, each time he caressed their smooth surfaces he felt calmed and loved. For many years he appreciated the healing love of his friends, symbolised by the potent pebbles.”

Taken from ‘A Year of Creativity’ by Brenda Mallon

Photograph: Pebbles Sculpture by Andy Goldsworthy

Content by MAC, February 2020.

8 in the Universe is created on a foundation of ‘8 Elements’. Nourish, Move, Rest, Love, Laugh, Learn, Gratitude, Contribute. Each stand alone but we believe together they create Alchemy, they become more than the sum of their parts, on which to build strategies for your own unique actions towards improved Health & Wellbeing.

LOVE Books.

Just like Mary Poppins, at 8 in the Universe, we too are fond of Raindrops on Roses and Whiskers on Kittens, but perhaps not as much as our penchant for reading and nowhere near as much as our love for books and where they reside, how about you? 

Here are some others who feel the same.

YouTube – Bookstores and Libraries – The Most Wonderful Places on Earth – film montage compiled by Luis Azevedo

By MAC, February 2020

Never Too Young, Never Too Old to LEARN

What Makes it Tick? You are never too young or too old to learn.

It’s always
a good time
for learning.

Acquiring knowledge and mastering new skills is achievable throughout our lives. Never be deterred by thinking we are ‘Too Young or Too Old’ learning can and should take place at every stage of our lives.

John Stuart Mill mastered Greek by 7 years of age.
Vicki Van Meter was youngest female pilot to cross America in 1993 aged 11.
Harriette Thompson began running aged 76, she became the oldest woman to run a marathon in 2015 aged 92.
2010 James Collins Warren obtained a pilot’s license aged 87.
2011 Leo Plass received degree from Eastern Oregon University aged 99.

Why not explore a little more of whatever it is that tickles your fancy.
Could open up a whole new world.


Image: What Makes It Tick? (The Watchmaker) by Norman Rockwell 1948.

Content by MAC, February 2020.

REST a while.

Why not pause and take a well deserved 3 minute rest with Deepak Chopra. Oh go on, you know it makes sense.

YouTube – Deepak Chopra’s 3-minute Meditation.

By MAC, February 2020.

MOVE it.

The opportunities we have to move and the variety of activities available to us are endless, here are a few examples of moving as food for thought.


YouTube –  Pina (2011) – Official Trailer 

YouTube – Tai Chi Chuan Master: Stunning Form on Top of Mountain.

YouTube – Lucky Hofmaier walks on his hands from Rosenberg to Rome.

YouTube  – Victoria Woods – Step Aerobics. 

By MAC, February 2020

Nourish Your Senses


When we see
we are reminded.
When we smell
we are transported

We may feel tempted to customise our own body creams and bath oils, but for most of us the abundance of essential oils available, can be a little overwhelming.

Do these oils work together? How many drops do I use? Not to mention base notes and top notes, so we have asked Micha Christmann our advisor on all things complementary, to make some suggestions for those of us just starting out.

Here are two of our favourite oils that just happen to be base notes, a perfect foundation for further experimentation.

Boswellia carterii

“It strengthen the wit and understanding.” Avicenna

Considered precious throughout history used in perfumes and cosmetics as well as being burnt at rituals. It is soothing and centring as well as mood enhancing.


Styrax Benzoin

Elizabeth I of England carried a pomander of Ambergris and Benzoin, because, she said it “Comfort the brain by its grateful smell.”

Benzoin can be calming and elevating, creating a feeling of peace, whilst remaining alert.

Whatever your choice of fragrance here are Micha’s guidelines for creating blends for Adults and Children.

Nourish Your Senses with Essential Oils, Guidelines for their use by 8 in the Universe on their website page, Other Stuff.

Why not further explore essential oils, introducing varieties of aroma into your life to add pleasure to everyday living and contribute to our overall wellbeing.


Content and Image by MAC, February 2020


8 in the Universe is created on a foundation of ‘8 Elements’, Nourish, Move, Rest, Learn, Love, Laugh, Gratitude and Contribute. Each stand alone but we believe together they create Alchemy, they become more than the sum of their parts, on which to build strategies for your own unique actions towards improved Health & Wellbeing.

Contribute, the eighth of 8 Elements created by 8 in the Universe that form the foundation upon which 8 in the Universe deliver strategies to improve health and wellbeing.

As beneficial
to you
as to the recipient.

The vagus nerve has an effect on many organs within our body, including the heart, lungs and digestive system.

Stimulating the vagus nerve, releases the neurotransmitter Acetylcholine which aids relaxation, helps reduce inflammation and stress levels.

The vagus is sometimes referred to as the ‘nerve of compassion’, because when activated it can improve. our mood and create feelings of gratitude.

The Vagus nerve can be activated in numerous ways, among them, keeping a healthy gut microbiome, meditation and humming, but also, it has been shown, through acts of kindness and contribution.

“I choose to live, so that which came to me as a blossom, goes on as a fruit.” Dawna Markova

Image and content by MAC, January 2020.

Everyday Gratitude

If you have 5 minutes to spare, here is a reminder of the plethora of things life presents us with, for which we could feel gratitude for.

YouTube – This Film Shaped Everyone Matters: GRATITUDE by Louie Schwartzberg 

 MAC, January 2020


8 in the Universe is created on a foundation of ‘8 Elements’, Nourish, Move, Rest, Learn, Love, Laugh, Gratitude and Contribute. Each stand alone but we believe together they create Alchemy, they become more than the sum of their parts, on which to build strategies for your own unique actions towards improved Health & Wellbeing.

Gratitude, the seventh of 8 Elements created by 8 in the Universe that form the foundation upon which 8 in the Universe deliver strategies to improve health and wellbeing.

you will never know the value of a moment
until it becomes a memory.”
Dr Seuss 

Research shows people who are grateful and express that gratitude enjoy a better quality of life.

To be honest some days we can be hard pushed to find something to be grateful for, but many people are still able to see positives in difficult situations, even in the face of great sadness. I remember listening to Jason Manford talking about his admiration for Stephen Sutton, a young man he knew, living with cancer, who was active in raising funds for the Teenage Cancer Trust.

Stephen had said he wasn’t angry about dying, he was just happy he had been invited to the party.
But had to leave early.
Stephen died in 2014, aged 19.

What can we choose to be grateful for?
Any day could be a fresh invite to your own party.


Content and Image by MAC, January 2020



8 in the Universe is created on a foundation of ‘8 Elements’, Nourish, Move, Rest, Learn, Love, Laugh, Gratitude and Contribute. Each stand alone but we believe together they create Alchemy, they become more than the sum of their parts, on which to build strategies for your own unique actions towards improved Health & Wellbeing.

Love, the sixth of 8 Elements created by 8 in the Universe that form the foundation upon which 8 in the Universe deliver strategies to improve health and wellbeing.


Life can be tough, 

a sense of humour 

is a very useful skill.

We know that laughter can be very contagious, it is an entertaining form of communication. With that in mind we thought you might like to take a minute.

Laughter makes us breathe deeper we inhale more oxygen which assists brain function and can lift our mood. 

Blood vessels expand which facilities blood flow and can lower blood pressure.

Boosts endorphin production leading to a decline in stress hormones. 

Laughter implies happiness but in order to be truly happy we need to acknowledge opposite emotions such as sadness. It is important not to deny negative feelings, but to recognise and acknowledge them, allow them to walk alongside us and to inform us, helping to eventually create actions towards more positive feelings and emotions.

“To truly laugh, you must be able to take your pain and play with it.” Charlie Chaplin

YouTube – Buzz and the Dandelions – Tom Fletcher.

Image and content by MAC, January 2020.

Love After Love

Love After Love

The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

Derek Walcott

YouTube video – Derek Walcott tribute: Linton Kwesi Johnson reads Love After Love on BBC Newsnight 2017.

8 in the Universe, January 2020.


8 in the Universe is created on a foundation of ‘8 Elements’, Nourish, Move, Rest, Learn, Love, Laugh, Gratitude and Contribute. Each stand alone but we believe together they create Alchemy, they become more than the sum of their parts, on which to build strategies for your own unique actions towards improved Health & Wellbeing.

Love, the fifth of 8 Elements created by Marian Connor that form the foundation upon which 8 in the Universe deliver strategies to improve health and wellbeing.

in many

The human experience is created from within. We are continually constructing our reality, which is greatly affected by the conversations we have with ourselves and the language we use, which in turn, affects our psychoneurological system, if we aren’t feeling the love and keep telling ourselves we are inadequate or ‘less than’, sure enough your body will believe you and behave accordingly, physically and psychologically.

If Love is the opposite of fear, it also encompasses Dignity, Honesty, Kindness and Forgiveness for everyone, including ourselves. When we struggle to show these considerations to ourselves it’s not exactly easy to genuinely share them with others.

One way to contribute to that nurturing of ourselves is by identifying some of our strengths, listen to that voice within, reminding you of the things you love to do, be it singing or crafting, gardening or juggling, then spend time with them and wherever possible, do more of it.

“Everyone should carefully observe which way his heart draws him and then, choose that way, with all his strength.”  Hasidic saying

Image and content by MAC, January 2020.



8 in the Universe is created on a foundation of ‘8 Elements’, Nourish, Move, Rest, Learn, Love, Laugh, Gratitude and Contribute. Each stand alone but we believe together they create Alchemy, they become more than the sum of their parts, on which to build strategies for your own unique actions towards  improved Health & Wellbeing.

Learn, the fourth of 8 Elements created by Marian Connor that form the foundation upon which 8 in the Universe deliver strategies to improve health and wellbeing.

Life is a learning experience
which means
Its never too late to learn

Staying curious and continuing to discover the world and all those wonders it has to offer, has numerous benefits for our Health and Wellbeing.

Naturally we like to do the things we are practised at and competent in, but we can achieve a level of expertise in many new skills, let’s not forget almost all our skills were a novelty once, we weren’t born speaking and walking, cooking and driving, well at least I wasn’t.

Learning definitely requires effort, but when we focus on complex tasks and specific goals, that effort also creates neural pathways, assisting cognition and recall.

Maybe think about learning a new skill that has been on your ‘To Do’ list.
Or revisit something you enjoyed in the past but have lost along the way.

As a child I yearned for whistling skills, but try as he might, my poor patient Father never quite succeeded in teaching me, if you like me still hanker to whistle up a storm, this might help.


YouTube – On this video Brett McKay shows you ‘How to Whistle with Your Fingers.’ 

Image and content by MAC, January 2020.


8 in the Universe is created on a foundation of ‘8 Elements’, Nourish, Move, Rest, Learn, Love, Laugh, Gratitude and Contribute. Each stand alone but we believe together they create Alchemy, they become more than the sum of their parts, on which to build strategies for your own unique actions towards  improved Health & Wellbeing.

Rest, the third of 8 Elements created by Marian Connor that form the foundation upon which 8 in the Universe deliver strategies to improve health and wellbeing.

The constant
taking place within our bodies
make it extremely important to pause.

When we sleep our bodies repair and regenerate cells, it affects endocrine function and the production of HGH which effects immune function.

Sleep allows us to subconsciously make sense of our day.

Doesn’t have to be long periods of sleep though to reap rewards, Our Mind and Body will benefit from restful interludes in the day, a short afternoon snooze was greatly favoured by Leonardo da Vinci, Einstein and Dali, I see the appeal and I think if it was good enough for them, who am I to argue.

Make space for mindful practises which can include meditation, which slows the heart rate, deepens our breath and increases oxygen uptake.

Mindful rest slows brain wave frequency and promotes Serotonin production which can help alleviate feelings of stress and anxiety.

This is not about turning your brain OFF If anything it allows your mind space to breath, greater opportunity to actually be present, to be ON.

We could all benefit by reminding ourselves to pause in the spaces between.

If you feel you could benefit from better quality REST. Get in contact. 

Content and Image by MAC, January 2020.



8 in the Universe is created on a foundation of ‘8 Elements’, Nourish, Move, Rest, Learn, Love, Laugh, Gratitude and Contribute. Each stand alone but we believe together they create Alchemy, they become more than the sum of their parts, on which to build strategies for your own unique actions towards  improved Health & Wellbeing.

Move, the second of 8 Elements created by Marian Connor that form the foundation upon which 8 in the Universe deliver strategies to improve health and wellbeing.


Life is movement

a daily requirement for us

Physically and Mentally.

We experience linear movement through time, as we live life from birth to death.

Physically we move through the world, allowing us to function and survive, whilst answering our bodies ongoing need to be active.

Internal movement as our bodies perform a multitude of functions, including, muscular activity, for heart and lung function. Through cellular breakdown and renewal within bone, skin, muscular tissue, lymph and blood cells.

We move psychologically, if we endeavour to embrace the ongoing changes in our life, we can use them as a vehicle to help us through transitions at different stages of life.

Spiritually as life experience requires us to shift perceptions and seek our own truths.

Socially as we move outside our own world to look at other people’s stories and myths to recognise our universal humanity.

If we are going to be moving anyway, may as well discover how you can make it best work for you.

We can help with that. 

Content and Image by MAC, January 2020



8 in the Universe is created on a foundation of ‘8 Elements’, Nourish, Move, Rest, Learn, Love, Laugh, Gratitude and Contribute. Each stand alone but we believe together they create Alchemy, they become more than the sum of their parts, on which to build strategies for your own unique actions towards  improved Health & Wellbeing.

Nourish, the first of 8 Elements created by Marian Connor that form the foundation upon which 8 in the Universe deliver strategies to improve health and wellbeing.


through your senses,

colour, perfume, sound, texture.

Surround yourself with things you consider beautiful.

Enjoy a rich variety of food and liquid refreshments

NOURISH usually brings to mind things we consume, particularly at this time of year, when we often take draconian measures to rectify seasonal indulgences. Unfortunately, they rarely succeed.

January is not the most uplifting time of year to begin with, add to that, depriving yourself of pleasurable foods, feels like a recipe for disaster.

Perhaps it’s better to think about nourishing through addition or alternative choices rather than omission, through foods that nurture wellbeing, because we deserve it, rather than meagre calories to punish ourselves.

Foods that still allow us to socialise rather than creating a sad plate we wouldn’t want to inflict on dining companions.

Perhaps investigate healthier alternatives we might enjoy rather than the things we know can be damaging in excess.

And when we fall off the ‘New year, New you.’ wagon, and we will, be kind, you wouldn’t shout FAILURE at a friend, give yourself a break, you might be pleasantly surprised.

8 in the Universe take a playful approach to the business of life. What we do.

Content and image by MAC, January 2020.