I love things. Old things. Mysterious things. Quirky thing. Created things. Things I can buy. Things I can fiddle with. Things I can touch and poke and heft and try on. Things that have a story. Things that are baffling. Things I can compare, and ask for advice around, and show a mate to check if it makes my skin look pasty.

As we seesaw out of COVID restrictions and lock-downs, I leap merrily into one of my favourite pastimes: retail therapy, market ramblings and random adventures. It’s not just about what I buy (although I am embarrassingly materialistic), it’s about the experience of seeing new things in new combinations and displays. It’s about having a chit chat to a mate about this, or that, or pondering what the story is behind that rusty piece of bric-a-brac.

I am blessed with an array of beautiful people in my life who are keen to check out festivals, and markets and events, and shows, and galleries and second hand-stores. I can spend hours poking and touching and pondering as we window-shop. This is not passive observation. This fires up my sense of wonder, my curiosity and my imagination as I wonder about the journey, intention, purpose or potential future of items or the story behind a piece of art or a relic.

Getting out to new places, exploring new things, venturing into rural and remote areas, into small towns and communities… it all provides a rich tapestry to immerse one’s self in. So many people and stories and ways of being! So many things to listen to, taste, talk about and explore. I live in a truly blessed part of the world, at a truly blessed time in human history.

Some of my favourite places to refresh my creative energy and fire up my curious mind are:

1. Markets. Especially tiny, country markets I haven’t been to before. I love to look at the things and chat to the stall-holders. So many passionate, creative people with such interesting stories.

2. Art galleries. These can be big ones in your city, or smaller ones out in the community. So many stories in and behind the work! What does the piece mean to the artist? What does it evoke in me? How does it strike my mate differently? What’s their perspective? What are other people in the room doing and saying?

3. Museums. There are so many stories in our past, in the distant past and the story of how we came to where we stand today. I love immersing myself in information. General exhibits are great, but the occasional special exhibit blows my mind!

4. Shopping! I love fashion and jewellery and how they come together. I love mixing colours and textures and seeing how it looks. I enjoy sniffing candles and oils and fooling about with homewares. I especially like shops that have a lot of interesting craft-items. It’s not about buying, it’s about looking and touching and wondering.

5. Second-hand stores. Especially ones that have a lot of obscure historical items. How fascinating to fiddle with things that were functional and useful, even essential, in other times in history. I love to imagine what other hand held that item, the story of how it was made and who first treasured it, pondering the journey that brought it to this dusty shelf now.

6. Exotic food and drinks. I love sampling new things, new taste experiences. I especially like trying new cocktails. We live in a gloriously multicultural society. Never have humans had the same access to herbs, spices, techniques, foods and ideas. Now that our community reopens, the ambience, smiles of the staff and menus have never been more special.

7. Wildcards. Sometimes we need to do something completely outside our box. Something outside our hobbies, routines, preferences and usual groove. Check out local events, workshops, meeting groups, functions… Is it time to spice things up with something random?

How do you invite new things into your world?

How do you exercise your curiosity?

First published on my website 15 April 2021

Nicole writes short stories and novel length speculative fiction and a weekly blog https://nicolewalshauthor.com/ or www.facebook.com/nicolewalshauthor