I’m a few days late with my weekly blog again. My excuse this time? I’ve been busy having fun… I was away in Somerset at the weekend, and the last two nights I’ve been out for dinner after work which has been instead of my writing time.
Yes, I’m one of those people who booked meals out this week in advance of lock down two hitting England on Thursday, don’t judge me too harshly. I’ve got a big birthday in this next lock down period and while my celebration plans had already been thwarted by pandemic restrictions (no trip to a bucket list country, of course), the limited plans I did make including a trip across country to see my family and a stay in a nice hotel have all been cancelled. So, a couple of meals out this week seemed very reasonable.
My One Hour Outside Challenge Begins!
We might be heading back into lock down later this week, but my One Hour Outside Challenge has kicked off. It’s day four already; how is it going for you?
I saw a report that the Conservatives are being asked to call November “National Inside Month”, amongst other things. I say no way to that! The outdoors is still open. It might be a little more difficult than it was last year to keep your One Hour Outsides varied, thanks to lots of things being closed to us, but please (please), get yourself outside at least once a day – you need it.
You don’t have to see this as a challenge of endurance. You don’t even have to move far or fast. A walk around the block, visiting a local park to see how it changes as the frosts start, trying out Couch to 5k if you’re feeling you need something structured, doing a spot of gardening, sitting on a bench and watching the world go by, it all counts and is all worth it.
In the midst of all the politics, pandemic, natural disasters, and everything else, getting your One Hour Outside can be the thing that keeps you level. Try it. Find out more here.
Love at First Sight in the Quantocks
The Quantock Hills is 12-mile long area of designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in Somerset, England. It is actually Britain’s first AONB, and I spent this last weekend there with the intention of seeing as much of it as possible.
Of course, as seems to be my particular skill, I chose a day when a named storm hit the UK. Storm Aiden brought heavy rain and strong winds, due to hit the South West in the morning. Local National Trust properties closed for the day due to the forecast, but with only a limited number of hiking days left in 2020, I donned waterproofs from head to toe, and headed out anyway.
I’ll be honest, I chose the Quantocks for two very boring reasons. Firstly, they’re only a couple of hours from home, and I wanted to do my little trip within a weekend. And secondly, I don’t remember ever hiking there before. In fairness, the inspiration came because I receive that scratch map from Maps International in the mail (see last week’s weekly blog), and I wanted to use my coin again. Sad, I know.
Despite my sad and boring reasons for going, and the weather meaning I didn’t actually do the marathon length long-distance route I’d planned and prepared for, I absolutely fell in love with the Quantocks. What an utterly gorgeous place to walk. Ancient woodland, open and rugged heathland, views of the sea, like some sort of strange puzzle of mismatched scenery that comes together in an absolutely perfect photograph. I loved it.
The area received its protected status in back in 1956 thanks to it being an ancient place with distinct cultural and spiritual heritage. There are cairns that date back to the Bronze Age, forts from the Iron Age, and undated stone wells. I haven’t hiked anywhere that has felt this, well, good for a long time. And it’s not even that far away from home. You can be sure I’ll be back for more as soon as I can.
If I get my act together you’ll have a couple of related posts coming your way in the not-too-distant future, one featuring the two hikes I did, as I think you should do them too, and the other talking about that fabulous scratch map that gave me the inspiration to go somewhere new-to-me. Maybe lock down two is my catch-up time?!
In the Mail
One Hour Outside Stickers
I’ve been running One Hour Outside for about six years now, but this is the first time I’ve been given actual merch… Okay so I don’t really have merch, I have some stickers, thanks to Sticker It, who offered to produce some of my logo recently. And I think they look great!
The stickers are great quality and good for outdoor use and so I’ve added one to my motorcycle top box as well as my water bottle, flask and phone case. Want one? Let me know and I’ll think of a good way to get one to you…
Isobaa Long Sleeved Crew
I’ve also had a surprise addition to my Isobaa Merino collection, and received the long sleeve crew in the post (this one in the petrol blue stripe). It’s really very nice indeed, and will be good for every day wear as well as winter hiking.
Made from 180gm merino wool, it’s soft to the touch and is naturally odour resistant… take of that what you will. I am already a big fan of Isobaa and already know this will become a staple for me this season, and for years to come. Thanks Isobaa!
Baking and Dancing
Okay, I admit I’ve given in to reality television recently… in fact, two different reality tv programmes have made it onto my weekly viewing list. It must be autumn! I don’t know what it is about the Great British Bake Off and Strictly Come Dancing, but they are such easy watching, feel good programmes, I can’t resist. I don’t watch either live (and so no spoilers on last night’s Bake Off, I haven’t seen it yet), but I am a regular viewer of both.
I like to think that I fill my life with wholesome things as much as I can, and so a bit of trash here and there is okay! No predictions from me, I’m not invested enough for that, but I do hope that Bill Bailey does himself proud as I think he’s an amazingly talented comedian and musician and he makes me smile. Are you watching either this year?
This is the Way
The other series that I’m very pleased has started again is The Mandalorian. The first episode of season two premiered on Disney+ on Friday, and it was a good one. Described as an American Space Western (what a great genre title!), it’s part of the Star Wars franchise and there are a whole host of nods to its feature length cousins.
You don’t need to be a Star Wars fan to enjoy The Mandalorian, an enjoyment of action and Americanised good versus evil will suffice, but those that are will certainly find something a bit extra woven in just for you. There are monsters, gadgets, guns, and, well, parenting. I binged the previous series after being a bit late to the party, but this time I’m ready for some weekly gun-slinging action.
Also new to Disney+, Onward is the latest animated offering by Pixar. Featuring two elf brothers on a quest to find a specific gem stone to bring back their dead father for one day, it’s kind of Lord of the Rings, Dungeons and Dragons, and Merlin all rolled into one. I enjoyed all the intertextuality carefully woven in, I mean, the van is called Guinevere, and we even have a guest appearance by the Gelatinous Cube (Dungeons and Dragons, in case you hadn’t realised).
The problem with animated movies is they always have a habit of making me feel a bit, well, sad. This time the message is that technology has taken over our lives and our creative spark can be lost within the mundane, simple routines of modern life, and I totally hear that. I’m off to find my drawing pencils…
Get Your Free Ticket to the National Outdoor Expo
I’m very pleased to be an Ambassador for The National Outdoor Expo, which is taking place in Birmingham in Spring 2021. The show aims to empower people to get outside and get active, which fits in perfectly with my desire to encourage you to spend a little bit of time outside every day.
Built around six key areas – walking, climbing, running, camping, eating outdoors, and excursions – I’m promised the Expo will be something of a utopia for outdoor enthusiasts, providing inspiration along with kit, tech, nutrition and advice.
Scheduled to take place on 27 and 28 March 2021 at the NEC in Birmingham (pandemic allowing), it should be a good place to inspire and motivate anyone who’s looking for their next outdoor adventure.
Part of being an Ambassador for the show means I have free tickets to give to my friends and followers. Booking tickets to events is a bit risky at the moment, given the continued effects of the coronavirus pandemic, but this one is free when you use my code, so you might as well… Use ZHOMES to get your ticket and I hope to see you there!
As always, I would really love to hear from you in the comments below. Let me know what your favourite thing about the last seven days has been, and don’t forget to get your One Hour Outside today…
If you enjoyed reading this episode of my weekly blog, and if you think my weekly blog series is a fun thing to read regularly, and especially if you got to the end of this one(!), I’d love to hear from you in the comments below. Come on by next Sunday evening for the next in the series.