This whole GetOutside Champion thing is already proving to be a pretty fun and awesome project to be involved in. I mean, the other day I had a comment on facebook from an old School friend who said “I’ve just had an email from OS Leisure advertising their yearly subscription thingy, with a pic of you and a blurb about #OneHourOutside!” – how cool; thanks Laura!
Natural smiles with Kerry Meek at the GetOutside New Forest walk. Photo courtesy OS.
I warned you I may mention GetOutside a few times this year (maybe a few hundred), and I seem to have written a rambling blog post about the launch event I went to a couple of weeks ago down in the New Forest. I’ll intersperse it with a few photographs so hopefully hide how wordy it is…
A GetOutside Gathering
Here’s the thing. I was SO nervous on the way to Southampton, and I got myself into a bit of a state when I was trying to find a space in the ridiculously busy and higgledy-piggledy hotel carpark. I felt like I was some kind of imposter, that everyone else there would point me out as being too ordinary or too unfit to be a member of the gang. I was intimidated and worried I might be walking into a sea of egos that I would feel uncomfortable around. I was concerned I would look like a goofy idiot in my photo shoot, that I would be looking the wrong way in the group shot, and that I would forget how to talk when people asked me about how I loved to spend my time outdoors.
Proof I was in the New Forest. Love it here.
I pulled myself together and headed inside, dutifully put on my name badge and held onto my little goodie bag containing my branded coat and polo shirt. I didn’t take them out of the bag, I was too scared they wouldn’t fit, I waited until lunch time for that (and of course they were fine). I tried to make tea with the coffee pot, grabbed a handful of jelly sweets from the sideboard, and found a friendly face in Kate who I’ve met once before. I also spotted a few other familiar faces (social media really is a wonderful thing for an introvert!), and we chatted and welcomed each other. When instructed, I took my seat and started to look at the paperwork – on top of each information pack was a postcard that said the following:
Getting outside doesn’t mean you have to brave the wilds of Scotland in winter, climb Everest, or run the length of Britain. Maybe you’ll take a walk, cycle to work or camp out under the stars?
Yes. This is it. Exactly. I sat in that fancy hotel looking at the people around me, and wow were there some impressive adventurers there. All amazing. But I read that postcard, chatted to a few incredibly genuine people, and a weight was lifted off my shoulders. Yes, there are some big personalities in the team, and there may be another blog post on this idea of feeling inferior coming sometime, but here, in this gang of people, the anxiety disappeared. Win.
My photo on the wall. Must be official.
That paragraph on the postcard is the whole point of GetOutside. It’s the reason we’ve all been chosen, in all our variety. There are individuals, couples, friends, families, men, women, kids, professional adventurers, ultra-runners, environmentalists, mountaineers, campers, celebrities, people with full time jobs, hikers, and me. And I fit. We all fit. The outside is for us all. We can all get out and have our own kind of fun in the British countryside. And we should. That’s why we have all been chosen – to show you that life is better when more of it is spent outside.
All the GetOutside Champions. And I’m looking the right way! Photo courtesy of OS.
I came away from my two days in the New Forest feeling hyped and motivated. I want to live and do and have fun and live up to the task of being a “Champion”. I sat on my bed in the middle of the night having spent the whole day soaking up all the talks and ideas and random conversations I had and lengthened my bucket list by about fifty items. As I slept I dreamt of going on adventures, riding my motorbike to the North Pole (don’t laugh, I know it’s crazy), hiking the West Highland Way, sitting in remote places and enjoying a private view of the world. I know I’m supposed to be the one inspiring you to GetOutside, but right now I’m the one feeling inspired.
New friends and a redwood tree in the New Forest. Photo courtesy of Ordnance Survey.
I admit I wish I had been more confident. I wanted to share my One Hour Outside campaign with everyone in the room, but I didn’t quite manage that. I did have a lovely conversation with Ben Fogle who seemed genuine when he said it was a great idea, and took some advice from Sean Conway on how to best prepare for the West Highland Way later in the year, so I at least made a start. It’s strange isn’t it? I would have happily presented to the whole room, but introducing myself person by person was beyond me. Since then I’ve been featured on the Ordnance Survey blog and my little campaign has reached thousands of people as many of you have shared it and joined in. Thanks 🙂 And I know there will be lots of opportunities this year to chat to and meet up with the team and inspire each other still more. My nan would say: “What fun!”.
Walking in the New Forest.
Five Extra Years
I’ve wittered on a lot, but I want to finish by sharing this video. We were shown it at the start of the meet and despite being a few years old now, it has a very important message presented in an excellent way. Watch…
Today’s kids are the first generation with a shorter life expectancy than their parents. By five years. Wow. And the stats suggest that this is partly down to things (or the lack of things) directly associated with the GetOutside project; getting natural light and fresh air, de-stressing in nature, exercising both gently and rigorously, caring for the environment.
I absolutely want to encourage you to GetOutside more this year. That is the only point to me being involved in this , and the reason I have been chosen. I will be using my blog and social media channels to hopefully present the benefits (and the views), and hope that this helps inspire you in the same way that I have been inspired.
Let’s begin with a couple of questions. 1) What’s your favourite way to “get outside”? and 2) Is there anything I can do to help you do that more? Comment below and let me know.
And if you like photos of nice views and outdoorsy things, make sure you’re following me on instagram.