By way of a bit of an introduction I thought I would try and work out where on earth this love of the outdoors came from. It certainly hasn’t always been there and my motivations for it have, at times in the past, been questionable!
I was born and learnt to walk, two pretty key events that will happen in anyone’s outdoor journey. I lived in the countryside but my predominant memory is a love of pink lego and terrorising my sister, mainly indoors.
Things were definitely a bit more outdoorsy. Family holidays had taken the form of a fortnights camping complete with brisk walks whatever the weather as a form of entertainment. I remember in particular one false start into the outdoors as a late afternoon trip up to Stickle Tarn in Langdale. I was small with small legs and I can recall being amazed that I’d walked all the way to the top of the waterfall, I recall having a nice time at this point. I then recall one of my parents common ideas of ‘just seeing what’s over this hill’. After this I remember a lot of mist, being very cold, rationing of biscuits and the phrase “It’s ok we can spend the night out here if we have to” – terrifying words for a 9 year old who is cold and has only eaten one currant slice since breakfast. Needless to say when in later years I have looked at a map of this area I realised that navigating to the Cumbria Way path was not at all challenging and that my dad was either joking or his navigational skills were not quite up to scratch…
I was very lucky that my school participated in the Duke of Edinburgh’s award scheme. Ultimately I signed up as it seemed to be a good way to hang out with boys that I fancied. With hindsight it might go some way to explain why I would place most of my time on Duke of Edinburgh expeditions into the category type 2 fun. It was rare that an expedition passed without some form of injury. On one I developed blisters so bad that my socks had to be soaked from my feet and I was reduced to wearing clogs for a month. On another I was so involved in navigating that I tripped over on a rock and proceeded to split my lip open on a compass so that it was hanging like a curtain, much to the horror of the rest of the group and the lady who ever so kindly drove a friend and I to the nearest A&E 30 miles away.
University would have been the ideal time to get involved in the outdoors with student union funded clubs a plenty. Instead I put all my energies into becoming a connoisseur of the alcopop/shot combo and occasionally dragging unwilling friends to the countryside in my 1L Vauxhall Corsa. This wasn’t ever a particular success and on one occasion involved being overtaken by a tractor while returning from the Peak District over Snake Pass. However the fact that I wanted to get the countryside in the first place was a sign of things to come…
After starting work suddenly my free time became a precious thing that had be used productively to recover from the working week. Working in the NHS, often on long shifts, with sick patients made me acutely aware of the concept of health. How easily good health could be taken away and how poor health choices could result in life long morbidity. I became much more determined to look after my own health and enjoy the freedom that good health gave me. I started to commute by bike, I started to go walking, then running and then I decided to move to possibly the greatest outdoor country on the planet – New Zealand.
Suddenly the outdoors was everywhere, having been living in London for the prior two years having the outdoors on my doorstep was a revelation. I adored every minute of the 18 months I spent there and was adamant that on returning to the UK I would do everything in my power to continue to get outdoors at every available opportunity. It is those opportunities and adventures that I hope to share with you all on this blog.
Thanks for reading,