Lee Scarratt is a former first response police officer turned social media manager and travel blogger from Greenwich, London. In October 2021, he and his wife Tran, an insights manager at Red Bull, swapped their busy London lives for three days at Margo, our cabin in Herefordshire. With no sirens, motorbikes and beeping horns, light sleeper Lee slept soundly for the first time in years. Here, he shares how a heady mix of reading and stargazing helped him sink into a perfect slumber.
Unplugged: Why did you book a digital detox?
Lee: Being a social media manager, I’m on my phone or laptop 24/7 and I just needed a break. As soon as I saw Unplugged, I thought it looked super unique. The cabin itself really appealed to me – the black timber frame, the solar panels on the top, the little fire pit, and the picnic bench. It's like going back to basics. The main attraction was the huge glass window and being able to lie in that bed and look out to the trees…
Did you go with a goal in mind?
One habit I really wanted to break out of was waking up and automatically going on my phone. I think that's the worst. I do it mainly to turn my alarm off. But as soon as I've turned it off, I jump onto my notifications. I think it's important to let yourself wake up naturally. Own the first hour of the day and avoid your phone.
How would you describe your first impressions of the cabin?
Our first impressions were, “Wow.” Coming from my content creator mind, I thought, I can get some awesome photos and drone footage here. My creative mind was thinking about different angles, shots, stands, and poses. Flying my drone around and getting cool aerial shots of the cabin itself. I was excited to put my phone into the box and get stuck in.
What did you get up to during your stay?
I had a Stephen King book and polished off quite a few chapters. I love to read – I'm a self-professed bibliophile! My wife had a puzzle which she finished in the three days. We went to local pubs and walked through the country. We drank mugs of tea and toasted marshmallows on the fire. We listened to the rock band ‘The Police’ – which I hadn't done since I was a kid. We were just chilling, doing our own thing, and decompressing from the outside world.
Did anything surprise you about being away from the city?
How dark it was at night! The sky was inky black and there were so many stars. You don’t get that in London because of all the light pollution. We lit the fire and did some stargazing. It was mesmerising and not a bad way to fall asleep either.
How did you sleep in the cabin?
I usually sleep with earplugs because of the sirens, cars and horns in the city. Being in the countryside, I found it a lot easier to sleep and didn’t use my earplugs at all. The bed was super comfortable, with thick duvets and fluffy pillows. It was nice to naturally wake up to the sound of birds chirping and a few deer walking around outside. Not having your phone by your bedside table stops you from reaching for it before you go to sleep and once you wake up.
As a former police officer, you know first-hand what it’s like to be on call. What would you say to your old colleagues about switching off?
As a police officer, you eat, live and breathe it 24/7. It is hard to detach yourself because you can be called in at a moment's notice. You are always attached to your phone but for different reasons. But during time off, I’d say 100% do it; leave work at the police station and be with your family.
Why is it important to take time offline?
For your mental health. Social media has perks, but it also has a bit more of a sinister side. It's making sure you take that time out to decompress and not be staring at your screen all the time. I feel like people get lost in their phones, but there's so much more going on in the world around you. I always tell people, especially in London, to look up. You see so many incredible things – like all these little hidden gargoyles and architectural pieces that people miss because they're looking down.
Are there any digital habits you would like to maintain after your stay?
Mainly that we want to go back in 2022. We're going to take the idea of locking away your phone while we're away – even if it's just a few hours a day and just having a shutdown period of two or three hours. Just being together, without our phones and in the moment. It makes all the difference.
Lee Scarratt was gifted a stay by Unplugged.
Interview by Harriet Osborne // @harrietosborne
Featuring Lee Scarratt // @explorewithlee
Photography by Lee Scarratt // @explorewithlee