I’ve been weekly blogging for over a year now, and while the premise of the series remains as it was when I thought I’d begin (read Weekly Blog Episode 1), I can’t help but feel a little disappointed at how boring and mundane the things I talk about here are.
As I mentioned last week (read Weekly Blog Episode 53), it’s fair to say that I’m feeling rather overwhelmed at the moment. The weight of, well, everything and the distinct lack of anything that is normal is taking over all my thoughts. The seemingly never-ending lockdown, being confined to my home for the vast majority of the day, along with the constant tap tap tapping of the reasons behind the restrictions being incredibly worrying and out of control.
But with that said, it’s not been a bad week. Not at all. I’ve done a much better job of seeing the good in things for what they are. And don’t feel like I’ve wasted my week on laziness and lack of productivity. My mood has been helped a great deal by some conversations with good friends, an inspiring evening at the Alpkit webinar, and a fabulously wonderful dumping of snow today. Let me tell you more about those nice things in Episode 54 of my weekly blog…
Some New Habits?
At the end of last weekend, when I realised I’d spent much of my time moping in unproductive thoughts of bucket list dreams and unhelpful thoughts, I made a conscious decision to form two new-to-me habits that promised to help. And while I certainly can’t call these things habits yet, it’s only been a handful of days, the individual practices are certainly giving me some focus.
The first is to stretch my body, properly, every day. Okay, so I need to move more as well, my fitness is shocking at the moment. But this is all about taking one step at a time, and this particular step is to stretch.
I found an utterly glorious 15-minute stretch routine to music on YouTube, which I’ve done every day this week, and it is just lovely. I’ve been using as my end-of-work-day marker, it takes no time at all really, and puts me in an excellent headspace. Here…
I will need to find some other routines to complement this, I’m sure, but at the moment I am enjoying learning the different positions in this video, allowing my body to lean into those stretches, and use it as an opportunity to breathe deeply and concentrate on my muscles. It’s all about working on my flexibility, mobility and relaxation, physically and mentally.
The second is to actually start with my goal of learning Spanish. Watching the occasional ten phrases you need to know video on YouTube just isn’t cutting it, and I am not prepared to pay a whole bunch of money for a tutor when I’ve got no real reason for learning the language other than I think it might be fun and handy. Instead, I’ve taken the advice of two good friends The Urban Wanderer and Katyish) and downloaded Duolingo.
I’m only on day four or so, so this is very early days, but I quite like the routine of checking in for just ten minutes a day and letting the app take me through some exercises. I am not aiming to be fluent here, it’s for personal pleasure and expanding my brain capacity, but you never know. I like how it teaches vocabulary (at the moment a combination of apples, milk, bread and water along with man, boy, woman and girl) with grammar (I eat, she eats, he eats), so it all goes in at the same time. I hope it works!
What I didn’t realise until I downloaded Duolingo is that it is actually free to learn a language on there, and it works on the computer as well as on my phone/iPad. You get served an ad every now and again (for their own products), but I’ve not found that to be invasive so far. If you have never tried it and would like to, if you use my link I get a week ad-free.
These are honestly such tiny things to add into my day-to-day life, combined they take less than half an hour. I’m not yet sure how much they will add to the joy of living, but I’m hoping they both stick, and that I can look back in a month or two and see some progress that makes me glad I decided to give them both a try.
We’ve been promised snow in the forecast all week and I was so pleased to wake up this morning to a proper dumping here in Gloucestershire. And it was a proper dumping; the snow was falling thick and fast, settling thickly on everything, it made me feel all giddy inside and immediately want to get my boots on and go outside.
We headed up our local hill for a walk, of course we did, and just as we managed when we had our last proper snowfall between Christmas and New Year (read Weekly Blog Episode 51), we easily avoided the crowds by heading up some of the steep paths to the top and across the plateau away from the obvious sledge-friendly areas.
It was a different scene to the last time we had snow on the hill, it was more patchy, especially high up, with deep drifts (up to my knees in places…), and already icy in places. I don’t think it was quite as photogenic this time, but I still loved being out in it. As I write this weekly blog the snow is pretty much all melted, and I don’t think we’re due an more this week, so I’m even more pleased we made the effort to get out in it this morning.
Alpkit Night In
On Wednesday evening I joined 1,000 other outdoors lovers from across the UK and all over the world for one of Alpkit’s night in webinars. Alpkit, a fine maker of outdoor gear (including my sleeping mat of choice, the Alpkit Dirtbag), have run events at their stores for a long time. But, not living in the Lakes or Peaks, I’ve never been able to go. But this week they ran the event, which featured Al Humphreys, Athena Mellor and Chris Townsend, online – and for free.
It was only an hour, but that hour was jam packed full of stories and tips and some surprising facts. The one most of us couldn’t get beyond was how Chris had to carry 23 days’ worth of food on his back on one occasion, at a kilo a day… 23 kilos just on food… hard core.
Being a Highly Sensitive Person (read Weekly Blog Episode 25), I do always come away from this kind of event wishing things were different for me in some ways, wondering what would have been if I’d found travel and long distance hiking a bit earlier in life. But the overwhelming feeling after spending an hour with Al, Athena, Chris and the Alpkit team, was one of inspiration, encouragement, and most of all, motivation to get out. When we can, of course.
If you missed out, Alpkit have uploaded the session to their YouTube Channel, and you can watch it here:
I’ll be looking out for more events like this from Alpkit and others; if you’ve seen any advertised please let me know, I’m very interested in using my time at the moment to feel inspired for the future rather than miserable about the current situation.
Life of a Mountain, Helvellyn
Terry Abraham is such a talented film maker. His previous two Life of a Mountain documentaries, focusing on Scafell Pike and Blencathra, are favourite viewing of mine when I’m in need of some outdoors at home, and so I knew I was going to enjoy this final documentary in the trilogy: Helvellyn. I finally got hold of the DVD this week and settled down to watch it on my (really should get a bigger) telly this weekend.
The thing I like most about Terry’s film making is how he combines utterly breath-taking stunning scenes of the Lakes, with interviews and stories of the people who live in and lives touched by those scenes. It also felt really good to see some friends and fellow Ordnance Survey GetOutside Champions appear on the screen, too, which always fills me with joy.
As you know I’m still yet to hike Helvellyn (read Weekly Blog Episode 33), but it remains so high on my bucket list. I genuinely hope that 2021 is the year that both the pandemic restrictions and the weather allow me to get up on that mountain and see those views for myself.
If you want to see it, there’s an abridged version on BBC Four on Tuesday 26 January at 9pm. And if you like that, I highly recommend adding the trilogy to your DVD collection; available from Striding Edge and also from Amazon (or you can buy just the Helvellyn DVD if you already have the other two).
A New Blog Header
Have you noticed? Do you like it? This weekend I created and implemented a new blog header. I decided to move away from the calm waters of Turkey (that was a great trip!), and feature a recent photograph of me walking on my local hill. I wanted something a bit more “me-in-2021”, a better depiction of what I’m doing here in my little corner of the internet.
I also changed my main blog font family to the one I’ve been using in images for a couple of years, about time. Oh, and at the same time I installed AMP for WordPress, which means that if you’re reading Splodz Blogz on a mobile phone you will be moved into reader mode. This should mean my posts are super accessible to you and will work seamlessly with any reading preferences you have set up on your device.
I just felt like it was time for a bit of a spruce up of the old blog theme. And while I couldn’t commit to choosing, installing and customising a whole new theme (which has been on my projects list for months), I did really want to give Splodz Blogz an update. I hope you like the refreshed look.
Buy Me a Cuppa?
I’ve been persuaded to sign up to Kofi, which means that if you fancy supporting me and my mini adventures, you can “buy me a coffee” (or a tea, naturally). If you want to, and only if you want to, head over to https://ko-fi.com/splodz to find out more.