This is a reflective look back at the last 12 months, I will try my upmost not to get too deeply reflective on it all, but forgive me if I do..
When I started this year I was a very different person in many ways. Having a young family you pump yourself into family life, which obviously is amazing, but you change both mentally and physically.. I put on at least 2 stone, fell into the couch potato mode after a busy day at work and getting the kids to bed..
I heard about microadventures in the Autumn of 2014, reading Al Humphrey’s blog posts and starting to look into microadventures more. It took me back to adventures I has when I was young, to times in the Air Cadets when we were out under a tarp in the midst of a wet night, the times as a Civilian Instructor with the Air Training Corps teaching others how to live outside, to be comfortable and make the best of your situation. They were good memories…
I added Al’s book to my Christmas list and low and behold there it was on Christmas day, I read it, read again and started to think about how I could start my year of microadventures. Chatting to a friend we thought it would be a good thing to have a go at..
My Friend and accomplice, Mark, had never spent a night outside without a tent, I had a spare bivi bag, which along with a couple of sleeping bags would see him though the cold January night on the edge of a woods. (Theres a video and blog about all the microadventures through the year)
I started to get back into being outside, we set a date for a 2nd night out, that came along quickly and was once again an adventure and also a learning experience. This was where it became clear that planning, or at least having a plan was a good thing to do!
We did more planning, never normally more than a month or two ahead, we stated to get better at working out where to go, reading the map more and speaking to people who knew the ground we were heading to.. Some months microadventures presented themselves, in March we joined a few guys from the Oxfordshire Facebook group, in April we headed to a friends farm and walked out into the wilds from there, and then there was July…
July was the microadventure of the year for me, it brought together the adventure of being outside with the aim of completing an adventure bigger than heading out to a hill for the night. We formulated a basic plan, a few months before, and over the weeks leading up to it I made a concerted effort to get out on the mountain bike to prepare. We planned on cycling back from Westbury along the nearby kennet and Avon canal.. it was around 45 miles home.. We then got more confident in ourselves and wanted to push it a little more. The route eventually ended up being 75miles from the River Avon at Bath, along the entire length of the canal, meeting the River Thames at Reading.. The whole trip was challenging but hugely enjoyable. Reaching the Thames was a huge achievement.. It had been an adventure, it had also still been micro, lasting just over 24hours, but that 24 in the outdoors was superb. We saw brilliant places, drank unique beers and ciders and also felt like we were 12 again as we explored the british countryside!
We have been lucky enough to have permission to use some woodland not too far from home. It’s great to head out to a location you know you can get a little more comfortable, have a small fire and settle in.. Opposite to that its also great to wing it and see where you end up! As Al Humphreys points out… there are no axe murderers roaming the countryside, or angry farmers with shot guns (we did get spotted by a farmer in the wilds of Wiltshire… we chatted for a few mins and he wished us a comfortable night) A little respect goes a long way!
Microadventures can be as simple or as elaborate as you wish, its only limited by your own confidence and lacklustre willingness to take a little risk. Risk seems to be drummed out of us through the latter part of our childhood, and into becoming an adult.. put some risk back in to your life.. you will enjoy it!
I head into 2016 with a real drive. A drive to push myself again, to seek some risk and adventure. I’ll be 4o in August, I still feel like I’m in my 20’s! Enjoy life, cherish the moments and opportunities you have..