I’ve always loved spending time outdoors.
As a child, the summers seemed to be one long adventure going on picnics with my sisters and cousins or swimming in the rivers with all the other kids in the village where we lived. We lived in an area safe enough that when I wanted some time out, I just wandered off on my own to my favourite places by the river or woodland.
At secondary school, I can remember gazing out of the classroom at the moors beyond the town, wishing I was out there instead of stuck in school. I lost a few years to partying when I was in my late teens/early 20’s but then my love of the outdoors crept back in when I discovered mountain biking, camping and climbing.
I’ve never thought of myself as someone who would use the weather as an excuse to stay inside. I struggled to understand friends who cancelled a walk or camping trip because of rain.
I’ve stood underneath Stanage Edge in the Peak District in drizzle and fog with a friend optimistically saying that it would clear soon – we ended up climbing a couple of easy routes in the wet before grabbing a hot chocolate at the cafe to dry off.
I’ve climbed on gritstone in freezing conditions with snow on the ground, crying and laughing at the same time with the pain that comes from the hot aches when your fingers start to warm through the numbness at the top of a climb.
I’ve come back from mountain bike rides thoroughly covered from head to toe in mud, loving every minute of it.
I’ve layered up and got outside walking despite anything the weather was throwing at me.
I’ve camped in thunderstorms, freezing cold winter conditions, blazing hot sunshine and gale force winds.
All this was while my alter ego spent Monday to Friday in professional office clothing, sitting in front of a computer screen, waiting – just waiting – until I could escape to my next outdoor adventure and do the things which made me feel truly alive.
In the last year or so, I took the plunge and left the stability of a 9-5 office job to begin creating a lifestyle for myself where I could spend more time outdoors and earn an income while doing it.
This winter has been my first one working freelance and I now have more opportunity than ever before in my life to get outside during the dark, cold winter days. It’s been a massive surprise that suddenly, the excuses have stacked up in my mind keeping me indoors more so than previous winters – it’s too cold, it’s too windy, it’s too wet…..
I can only put it down to the fact that when my outdoor fix was limited to 2 specific days in the week, I had no option but to suck it up and get out there. Now, I can make the choice to wait until the next day when conditions will hopefully be more perfect – except tomorrow turns into the day after tomorrow and so on.
My last real adventure, when my head and heart were fully engaged was a solo wild camp in early December, nearly 2 months ago.
Since then, I seem to have packed up my proverbial outdoor spirit and kept it tucked away in a nice cotton wool casing by the fire to keep warm until winter is over.
Sure I’ve been out walking and mountain biking, but only with massive effort and always with an internal dialogue of whinging about my fingers being freezing cold or the gale force winds irritating the hell out of me!
Looking back over the years, it’s clear that winter has never really been my season. Maybe it’s my rest time, my off-season.
However, spending time outdoors is in my DNA, it’s something which makes life sweeter.
So with the arrival of February, it can no longer be a question of whether the weather matters. It’s time to get outside and have some adventures!