When your expecting a baby a lot of people, particularly the guys, will half jokingly tell you how your life is over! Behind the smug grins is a sadness of stuff they loved doing that they have resigned to the past. I've found there is an element of truth in it. My life has undeniably changed forever and I can't do stuff outdoors quite as easily as before (harder still for a lot of adventure mums of course). Maybe it's stubbornness but I've been actively trying to find ways to tie in adventuring with parenting. I'm beginning to discover that the potential is limitless and rather than the adventures being over I'm actually just getting started!
If you want some extreme inspiration on adventuring with your kids check out Mike Libecki, National Geographic Adventurer, who took his intrepid 10 year old daughter skiing with penguins in Antartica!
Our little one isn't even 4 months old yet so I'm starting small!
I went for a short run today with the dog and the baby strapped in and rugged up in the adventure pram. The logistics make wilderness expeditions look easy but I find it is not too dissimilar. Enough kit to keep warm, dry, fed and kit for the what ifs; nappies, pram wheel punctures, toy distractions etc.
I wanted to use the cot attachment because I heard you shouldn't use the car seat. I couldn't remember why you shouldn't use it though and I figured if the car seat can handle the bumps in a car it was probably better for the trail than her rolling around in the cot. I put the cover over the top for shelter and to keep the sun off her face. It felt springlike today but I figured it would still be nippy sitting static so the little one had her fleece all-in-one, a hat, a thin blanket then my Mountain Hardwear Micro Ratio down jacket loosely over the top. You have to be quite careful not to overheat babies as well but I figured the down is super breathable and I just stopped regularly to check her temperature (and reassure myself that she was still breathing!). This seemed to work well today with temperatures of about 9 deg (warmer in sun), occasional gusts of 20kph.
We headed down to the Mineral Trails at Bissoe. Starting from Bike Chain we headed South towards Devoran. The trails used to have rail lines to carry precious minerals down the valley. This makes for great flattish ground for the pram. It is a fairly short run, maybe 5 miles, but ideal for our purposes. It might not be the ultimate fitness workout but it is better than nothing, the dog gets a run, and the baby gets a sleep in the fresh air. There are a few things I want to tweak for next time, such as remembering that in addition to the copious baby and dog equipment, I also need to look after myself and bring some water. Not a massive problem today though as I undid most of the fitness benefits at the cafe!!
Excited for the adventures to come :)
I think of running as a solitary activity. I don't mind running socially but I find beating the trail alone is my meditation; my solace. The truth is though I am rarely alone. I have the ultimate running partner. Always motivated, she will push me to run faster and longer and yet will wait for me when I fall behind. No matter what the weather I can never turn down her call to run. This short film is dedicated to the ultimate running partner. Tilly the Adventure Dog!
The shorter the days get, the easier long exposure landscapes become. After a quick burn on the bike around the Blue route at Cardinham Woods near Bodmin (collecting footage for a short film on the excellent mountain biking here) we finished off with a nice walk. The mist hanging in the trees and waning light gave a great ambience to the shots. Neutral density filters fitted, I could ramp the exposure up to 4 seconds, providing an interesting blurred out effect on the water. This effect has pretty much become a photography cliche these days but I still like it, and in this case I was doing product shots and wanted the focus to be on the item, free of distractions, such as the turbulent water.
I'm very excited to be a Brand Ambassador for Mountain Hardwear for this year's #FindingWinter programme! A lovely great big box of goodies has arrived and I'm psyched to get out and try them out this Winter.
I'll be posting regularly on how I'm getting on with the gear and generally sharing some great stuff you can do outdoors in the cold. The shot above is from tonight's photoshoot on the beautiful North Cornish coast. Lots of photography and video to come, lets go find winter!
Completed a new bouldering problem at Holywell today. North end of the beach when the tide is out. Start low on the right as seen in the photo then traverse left up into a small cave. Feels UK 4b possibly 4c but I'll have to get someone to repeat it to know for sure.
I've just got back from Scotland having run a winter mountaineering skills trip with some of my sixth formers. It's a full on course, particularly when the 14hr minibus drive is taken into account, 6am jog and dip in the Loch, full days, indoor ice climbing in evening etc.
What was particularly challenging on this trip though was the marginal snow conditions causing some serious avalanche risk questions. On the way up on Thursday we heard another 3 climbers had been killed in an avalanche in the Cairngorms. It is always tragic of course but the recent deaths have not been weekend warriors getting out of their depth but seasoned mountaineers who were unlucky or didn't quite get the assessment quite right. I.e. it could have been any of use. Being in charge of a group of young people this was a strong reminder of the real risks and the constant rolling assessment we had to perform on the hill took its toll. To cut a long story short we opted to camp in tents rather than snow hole. We were worried this would be a disappointment to the group and the temptation to make it happen was playing on our minds.
As it happened with injuries and so forth camping at the foot of Creag Meagaidh was perfect. I had barely got my tent up before the students had started to make a snow wall, snow balls, snow angels and a great escape style snow tunnel!
A first for me was tasting freshly made ice cream from friend and colleague, Jenny. Using her Science teacher skills before we knew it she was mixing the ingredients in one freezer bag whilst dropping the temperature of the ice with salt in another. After about 20mins of mixing when I emerged from the snow tunnel, hey presto, soft scoop ice cream!!
Went to the Reel Rock climbing film festival last night in Plymouth. Awe inspiring films! Conrad Anker's passion and drive for the Sharks Fin on Meru Peak despite the odds stacked against was humbling and made me feel pretty lame for my best endeavours on a wet Dewerstone during the day!
Dura Dura was again almost painful to watch with Adam Ondra's total commitment to the route and incredible primal screams as it eluded him. Whole audience was silently willing him on during the concluding ascent. Loved how they made fun of Chris Sharma being so cool but seriously the guy has a dog that can use a skateboard!
Thought I might be over the Wide Boyz by now having been bombarded with magazine articles on their endeavours over the past few months. Can't help but like and admire these guys though. Great sense of humour to the film and impossible not to love the fact that they trained in their cellar endlessly on DIY off width mock ups popped over to the States and against all the odds systematically ticked off all the great off width sends then the icing on the cake, Century Crack a varst ceiling crack going at 5.14!
Undoubtedly my favourite of the night though had to be Honnold 3.0. Alex Honnold climbing the Yosemite triple ie Mt Watkins, El Cap (the nose at night!) and Half Dome. Done in 19hrs his speed was largely due to soloing 95% of the routes! He is plain not normal but totally inspirational at the same time. The tension was palpible and I'm pretty sure I stopped breathing a few times. Even his 'training' on 'boulders' was terrifying. Loosely termed a high ball challenge with 25 bouldering mats beneath it was basically the height that in the UK we would just call a crag and be done with it. Definite legend of his time!
Trailer for the films can be found at:
Fridge Raider Uni Stir Fry
So not exactly what I set this blog up for but going to University is definitely an adventure and at times can be a survival challenge! This one is for Liam
This isn't so much a recipe as a cooking system. When you're on a budget you need to go with what you have available and quite often have to keep the ingredients basic. That doesn't mean it has to be boring or not nutritious however. The rigours you put your body through engaging in sports & filling your head with knowledge (yeah okay and the endless drinking and all nighters) need to be fueled just as your body requires on an expedition.
Some of the best types of recipes to look at are those that come traditionally from poorer rural backgrounds such as Far Eastern stir fries, Indo-Asiasn Curries, Mediterranean pasta dishes and European stews. If you have to use more than 2 pots or a casserole dish you're over complicating things and losing out on valuable drinking time. Save the souffles for post-grad level. Once you know the basic structure you can start experimenting with different ingredients :-)
I paddled the River Fowey today, with friend Stuart, from Lostwithiel to Fowey and back. Those river paddlers out there may be puzzled by the "..and back.." but there in-lies the joys of the Cornish Southern flooded Rias. It can't happen that often but today was one of those days that the tides were such that we could get in at the top paddle with the tide going out, have some lunch as the tide turned and paddle back up to the car.
There are a lot of good things to be said about the Fowey. The first is perhaps the get-in. In the town of Lostwithiel one needs to negotiate the one-way streets to get to the Parade by the 12 Century bridge (photo above). Providing you can get a parking spot (not many but we were lucky) you then have a lovely little picnic spot with insitu BBQ stands and benches next to a gravel beach. We were pushing our luck a bit with the tide as high was at 8am and we were edging towards 10! That didn't make us lose sight of the priorities however and I busied myself looking deranged to onlookers as I practiced poling between the arches (poling is a traditional canoe skill where you stand in the boat and use a long pole to punt your way often upstream against the flow) whilst Stuart popped into the nearest bakery to ensure that we were well provided with second breakfast and pasties for lunch (this is a Cornish expedition after all!).
The first section, because we faffed, was pretty low. In fact neither of us had paddled it so low and it was looking dubious as to whether we would make it past the mud flats. Much as I enjoy Stuarts company I don't think either of us fancied sitting on a mud flat for 6 hours til the tide came back in! As it happened with steady paddling, a few grounding moments, judicious use of the pole and at one point stopping in the middle of a drained river bed to ask directions from a Cockler (Google it!) we made it through. From Lostwithiel and past St Winnow the Fowey meanders and is very picturesque with wooded vistas that could lead you to think your boat had taken you to Canada if it weren't for the occasional quaint church spires.
Down towards the tributary from Lerryn the channel widens considerably although that was no use to us on the way down as it was mostly mud. On other occasions I've paddled up to Lerryn and rate it highly, particularly with the convenient pub. You do need a high tide for this though.
Passing Golant the River starts to show more and more signs of being linked to the sea. With the tide nearly out now we passed a few folk making use of the exposed sand bars to do maintenance on the many boats moored here and other digging about for shell fish.
It also shows signs of industrial heritage with the train line to carry clay to the ships. The clay ships are proper beasts, particularly when you're in a 16 foot canoe but there were none here today. Taking our chances crossing behind the Bodinnick ferry we stopped at busy Fowey. Some thoughtful fellow had provided an ideal landing spot with ladder to the pub. And so as a mark of respect to this public spirit we availed ourselves of a pint and bag of crisps from the establishment and surveyed the hubbub from our handy vantage point.
With a bit of time spare until the tide turned and not feeling we could quite claim to have paddled to the sea yet we traveled on to St Catherine's Bay. There we brewed up with the help of Kelly (Kettle) to wash down the pasties.
Got out on my first proper run last night post expedition season. I'd managed to make a whole world of excuses up til then. Gave myself a strong talking to though and drew up a new plan on Adidas MiCoach. Figured (foolishly) that I may as well really go for it so set it for the max level. As a result my break myself in gently turned into a 50minute run through the sand dunes. It felt hard but being back in Cornwall with my trusty pace setter Tilly (photo above) more than compensated. I nearly changed the voice coaching to Jessica Ennis after her recent successes but loyalty won over and I've stuck with Vicky P, we've been through too much to quit now! Running full tilt down a hill looking out on rolling hills and the Atlantic Ocean is just plain awesome!
I have a habit of finding adventure just about anywhere. Here I share some of them with you dear readers...