Q&A: My Muswell Hill

PUBLISHED: 17:00 09 February 2018


As an independent celebrant Rosalie Kuyvenhoven creates and conducts inclusive ceremonies for weddings, funerals and other life-events. She also regularly hosts Death Cafes in St. Mary’s Tower, Hornsey.

What brought you to Muswell Hill?

Five years ago, my husband Ron, myself and our two children moved from Amsterdam to London. We settled in North London because of the good reputation of schools in the area, the creative buzz and all the nature that can be found here. We lived in Crouch End for three years and when our tenancy agreement ended we found a new place at the bottom of Muswell Hill.

What makes Muswell Hill unique?

It has a rural feel (especially the street where we live) yet close to everything that London has to offer. It’s a vibrant place with many independent shops and creative entrepreneurs. People from all walks of life live, work and play here which is very inspirational.

You have a day off to spend in Muswell Hill. What do you do?

I would start the day with a coffee at The Grove, followed by a view on London from Ally Pally. Then I would browse books, clothes and hats in charity and vintage shops followed by a lunch at Aleion. In the afternoon I would go for a walk in Queens Wood. I would buy some fresh fish at Walter Purkis and cook a nice dinner for myself and my family. Having arranged a babysitter Ron and I would go to the Everyman cinema, finishing off the day with a cocktail at The Victoria Stakes.

If you were editor of the Ham and High, what issues would you

focus on?

We live in a fast, furious and individualistic world, and we tend to forget to care about what really matters, for ourselves and others. I believe that we can change the world by being kind; by doing good and creative things with people around us; by talking about the things that really matter: life, love, death. I would focus on people that make a difference and on events and topics that help people live more meaningful lives. The Death Cafes I host, for example, break taboos around something that affect us all: our mortality. There is so much fear around the subject and mainly because we are so detached from it. But when people start talking about death within the safe space of the Death Café, they realise how much it defines their lives here and now. Many participants are positively surprised by the uplifting and liberating experience.

Who is the most inspiring person you’ve met?

My children. Every day, they surprise me with their curiosity, their wonder, and their wisdom. They learn and play with children from all over the world. Their view on the world is so different from what we see in politics these days. There’s so much to worry about but they make me believe that the paradigm shift we need is on its way.

What are your goals for the year?

As a celebrant, I help people express their love and grief in a way that feels right for them whatever their beliefs, sexual identity, background and abilities. A funeral does not have to be a pre-scripted, sad event only. When created with care, taking into account the needs and wishes of the people involved, it can be a positive and healing event.

Many people don’t know what a celebrant is and what they offer. My aim for this year is to help increase awareness around the choices that people have to create meaningful experiences around life and death. I do this by conducting wedding, baby-naming and funeral

ceremonies, but also by hosting Death Cafes, facilitating training and workshops, for example in schools, by writing articles and spreading good practice examples via social media.

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