As I watched DJ D-NICE spin to a crowd of 100K+ people and grow from 200K followers to over a 2 million thanks to his Club Quarantine live set on Instagram (@dnice), it made me think of the common thread that keeps us going in times of uncertainty. It’s passion.

By sharing our passions with others, we can make this time of social distancing a little less abnormal. It can make us at home feel a little more useful, like we are doing something– not just burning through Netflix series in our PJs. It can help lift us up by offering support and inspire us to try something new.

Passions give us joy. They give us an irresistible energy that can set off a smile. It’s often effortless hard work and for DJ D-NICE, it’s keeping the dance party going at all hours of the night.

At the end of Feb, I went on a short trip to Stratford-Upon-Avon, UK as a guest of Hotel Indigo to check out their “Clues to the Neighborhood” launch. This would be my last trip before the pandemic spread across the world, resulting in the non-essential worldwide travel bans. Arriving at the beautiful boutique Tudor hotel in Shakespeare’s hometown, I found that the “Clues to the Neighborhood” helped celebrate the passions of local experts.

During my stay, I had the pleasure of meeting two of Stratford-Upon-Avon’s finest artisans: Rebecca Tracey and Mike Robinson. While meeting these two enthusiastic creatives in person is now a luxury, both have still maintained connections with their respective audiences during this pandemic time to share their personal passions.

Rebecca Tracey, first spent time in the kitchen with her mother concocting healthy food in Toronto, Canada. It was her experience using raw ingredients that led her to start her first restaurant in Marbella Spain, called Terra Sana or “Healthy Earth”. Yet, it was Rebecca’s time in Provence, France with friend and collaborator Nicholas Jennings where she honed her craft using natural essential oils. Enjoying the process of creating bespoke scents Rebecca started her own self-titled perfume workshops out of Bonds Lifestyle, a Lifestyle shop in Stratford-Upon-Avon. 

While working with The Royal Shakespeare Company, Blenheim Palace and hosting her own perfume workshops had to be put on hold, Rebecca has managed to share her perfumery talents with a captive audience online.  As the very nature of her business is sensorial, Rebecca helps connect the mind, body and spirit through her use of essential oils. She recently created a candle named “Florence” (Named after Florence Nightingale the founder of modern Nursing and often depicted with a lamp in her hand tending to the ill. It also means blossom or to flourish) with positive uplifting notes of tangerine, grapefruit, bergamot, rosewood, rosemary and neroli. With partial proceeds of each candle going towards the hardworking frontline of the National Health Service (NHS), this candle helps spread some light and is the perfect antidote during these unprecedented times. 

On the last day of the trip, I sat down to an elaborate traditional English feast (in the Feasting Room nevertheless) curated by Executive Chef of The Woodsman, Mike Robinson. The Woodsman takes a field-to-fork approach, using inspiration from the English countryside. Not a stranger to award winning food, Mike is also the co-owner of the only Michelin starred pub in London, the Harwood Arms. His accolades do not stop there however; he is the author of two cookbooks and the host of several TV series for both for UK and international markets, including ITV1’s primetime series Countrywise Kitchen (2010-2012). While perfecting his latest restaurant at Hotel Indigo’s stunning new Bath property, The Elder, Mike Robinson, still has time for his passion, being a sustainable food expert. 

As stay-at-home/shelter in place/social distancing orders have spread across the world to keep us safe, Mike has used his social media platform to reach those interested in learning more about hunting and gathering. The expert gamekeeper, (@gamemeatmike) shares thoughtful recipes and lessons on butchery. Mike Robinson’s online lessons are a welcomed distraction during this unprecedented time.  If you are in need of some game meat to trial a recipe, you can purchase a Wild Venison box from Mike’s local Robinson Wild Foods which helps manage deer on land in The Cotswolds, Warwickshire, Berkshire and Oxfordshire. 

Both Rebecca Tracey and Mike Robinson have learned to adapt their strategy to both reach their audience and inspire new ones. Whether it’s supporting those at home or hospitals, both these artisans have shown how productive their passions can be. Currently, we are unable to sit down to a workshop by Rebecca or share a meal at one of Mike’s restaurants, but in the meantime we can be inspired by them to fuel our own passions in different ways from the comfort of our own homes.