How did I get into the outdoors and adventure?
To start to answer that question I have to go a long way back. I was fortunate growing up that my parents liked going for walks as a family in the countryside. My sisters and I were allowed to explore as children, we climbed trees and played in rivers. My mum encourage us to do plenty of after school activities, during my education I had regular swimming lessons and then at various times tried tennis, horse ridding, netball, hockey, football, sailing, I was in the sea scouts for a while and yoga.
When in Junior school we used to love playing cowboys and indians or cops and robbers with our next door neighbour. This would involve two of us running off and hiding in the close that we lived in and the other two having to search them out. A common hiding place were a huge pine tree (huge to a ten year old), we would climb up untill we were above the roof of the garage. If we were sure our parents weren't watching we would climb down on to the garage roof, then if we were spotted we could then climb down onto the wall behind it and run away.
When I was seven or eight my mum took up dinghy sailing and not long after starting she got me lessons to. I remember it felt like very early mornings, being woken up, getting dressed quickly and a swift breakfast then loaded into the car for an hours drive to where the lessons were held on a saturday morning. I don't remember all of my earlier sailing lessons, from what I can remember it was definetly a cold time of year but there is one lesson in particular I will never forget.
It was windy and cold, I remember being in my little optomist sailing about and during the lesson the wind got stronger and stronger. I was either having to release the sail or lean right over the side of the boat so that I didn't get pitched into the freezing lake water. There was a lot of waves on the lake and a fair bit was coming into the boat at times. The instructor came along side me in the powerboat, he had already started to tow in some of the other students, he said to me 'I will give you a marsbar if you can sail the boat all the way to the jetty'. I have always liked a challenge so off I went. I don't remember how far it was, but it was down wind. I going soo fast as I headed to the jetty, the waves were coming in over the front of the boat and I had to sit right at the back, I leant back with all my might to keep the boat up at the front so it wouldn't swamp. At some point I had to totally release the sail as I couldn't hold the power any more and the jetty was getting closer. As I reached the jetty the boat must have been nearly one third full of lake water and there was no way I could hold the front up with my wieght at the back, I held the course though and the boat had enough momentum for me to steer it along side the jetty. I leapt from the boat and as I did so the boat pretty much filled with water and settled on the bottom of the lake, it wasn't deep because most of the mast was still out of the water. I had done it though, I was exhilirated by the experience and my triumph! The rush of pride was amazing, out of all the students I was the only one to make it to shore without assistance. Totally buzzing I rushed to find my mum and tell her what had happened and also to claim my prize, one marsbar from the instructor.
Sailing was a big part of my adventures as I was growing up and although I don't do anywhere near as much of it any more, every time I step into the boat the memories and thankfully skills come flooding back. I might have to write a whole blog post just on sailing at some point. When I was learning I would always give my instructors a run for their money, I wanted to go faster and further. Sailing is where my passion for instructing began, I just wanted everyone to experience the same thrill and accomplishment I did when out on the water.
Duke of Endinburgh was another big thing for me! I had always wanted to go away on the scout camping trips but they were always in the school holidays when my mum would want us to go away as a family. I managed to go on one and I remember enjoying it. So when my school started to offer D of E I jumped at the chance. It sounded great, walk around the countryside with my friends and sleep in a tent together where we could stay up late and tell stories and have a joke. I don't think there was a part of my D of E that I didn't enjoy, yes every expedition had its challenges and doing all the extra physical, skill and commutity parts were time consuming when you put them along side GCSE''s and A level.
The great memories more than make up for it, like my friend walking up what we thought was a big pile of dry mud only to sink up to her knees in it at the top. The number of times we would debate if the cows in this field were friendly or should we do a massive de-tour to avoid them. At one campsite we were allowed to build a fire in the fire-pit on site and the owner of the campsite gave us marshmellows to toast on the flames. On one expedition one of my friends hurt her ankle but she was so determined to finish the expedition she wouldn't let us tell any one. We strapped it up and put her sock over it, she couldn't walk very fast anymore so we compensated for it by leaving camp really early so we wouldn't be late to camp the next day. I will never forget on our first ever expedition my friend picking up a stick much much bigger than her and slamming it in to the ground shouting 'You shall not pass'. Yes, we liked lord of the rings. We called it the Gandalf stick.
D of E started to give me a feel for independant adventure and I wanted more....
So I went out and started looking for more.