Happy Sunday! We made it! How has your week been? Had a good one? Before you read on… why not head down to the comments and let me know what your favourite thing has been about this week? Then come right back and continue on.
It’s been another reasonable week, here, but it’s a good job I decided to go with the Q&A as I really don’t have much to report. I’ve been rather sedentary, not doing my health or fitness any favours. I did get a new hiking post published, which I hope some of you find interesting (and useful for route planning if you’re coming to this area), and some organising so I’m in a good place to catch up a bit on posts I’ve been wanting to write for a while.
And there have been no adventures to speak of this weekend. We spent Saturday doing lots (and lots) of paperwork ready for our Iceland trip – bike insurance, travel insurance, ordering my Green Card, booking in for new tyres, you know, all that stuff.
But anyway, as mentioned in my last weekly blog (read episode 74 if you haven’t already), this week’s episode is in the form of a Q&A. I received a handful of nice questions over on my Instagram stories (thanks to those who engage with me over there), and I will attempt to answer some of them now…
What’s on your to do list for your Iceland trip?
Ah excellent, straight in with the holiday talk. My favourite! The short answer… many things. As I mentioned on Instagram, the paperwork needed to travel abroad by motorbike is always the most boring part of it for me. Mainly insurance. I hate insurance! But most of that is sorted now, which is good.
We’re going guided so we don’t have to plan routes or overnight stays this time (I wrote this about the benefits of going guided years ago, but it’s still relevant), but there are still plenty of things to prepare.
First up is some new shoes for my bike. I currently ride on the Metzler Karoo Streets, which have served me very well indeed for on and off-road riding for a while. They’re a 70/30 tyre which I trust immensely – they’ve done some fire tracks and gravel roads, the Wales 500 (which you can read about here), and some Spanish desert riding, for example. But for Iceland I’m going a bit more knobbly with the 60/40-50/50-ish Karoo 3. I’m getting them put on next week as we have some off-road training booked as a refresher next month, they’ll last me Iceland, and I’ll go back to my Karoo Streets when I get home.
My bike will also need a service, I need to sort out my luggage, and of course pack. Oh, and get that second coronavirus vaccination, which is booked for late July but hopefully will be brought forward given the acceleration here.
I also really need to buy some new base layers as my (very) old and trusted Oldo set are now rather holey… and maybe a new puffy coat – mine’s got a hood which makes it a right pain to wear under my bike jacket. The latter is a bit of a nice-to-have, though, but the base layers will be a must.
Did you take part in no-mow-May?
Nearly… The weather in May meant that most of us took part in no-mow-May by default – it was just too wet to mow the lawn. But we have since mown our lawn (I say nearly because the lawn mower actually came out on the last day of May as it seemed like a good day for some gardening).
I love wildflower lawns, but they don’t provide outside sitting space – I do have some space for wildflowers in my garden, and lots of bee-friendly plants, but my lawn does get its haircut semi-regularly.
What is your best/favourite plastic free tip?
I’m by no means a plastic-free expert, and I’m a long way from being a perfect example. But I do believe we should all be doing our bit to reduce our plastic consumption as much as we are able, so as not to add to the already massive problem facing our environment thanks to our reliance on single use plastic.
I think the best things are the small things, the things we can control at home. Pick something made of plastic you buy a lot of, and see how you can reduce that specific thing. Choose shampoo bars, bars of soap, toothpaste in tablet form, canned drinks, a soda stream for fizzy water, condiments in glass jars and bottles, loose fresh fruit and vegetables, meat from your local butcher, grow your own herbs, use a flask for coffee, buying second-hand clothes and equipment, that sort of thing.
And while we are doing our best not to add any more plastic to the pile, there is a lot to be said for getting involved in cleaning up the problem in our local areas too, by leaving places we visit a little bit cleaner than we found them. Maybe one day the rest of the community will catch on?
Which book changed/influenced you the most? What did you discover about yourself?
I think my favourite novel of all time is Alice in Wonderland. A real classic, aimed at children, but one that I have read and re-read many times over the years.
In my early years it was probably because of the basic level of the story; Alice went on an adventure chasing a white rabbit through a strange land. I would imagine I was her, daydreaming my life away, having conversations with random creatures, and (genuinely) always looking for a white rabbit with a pocket watch wherever we went. It made me want to travel, to climb up hills to discover uncharted lands, to follow random signposts and markings on maps, to notice all the little things around me, and to make the most of my journey.
And as an adult; Lewis Carroll’s story provides just the right amount of craziness and normality to remind me that escaping into my dreams is still perfectly acceptable, and not something that only children should experience. And, of course, that our imaginations are wonderful places to explore.
As for what it made me discover about myself… I don’t know. Maybe I could be Alice, an adventurer, a storyteller, a curious soul. But one thing I know – I will follow the white rabbit if I spot him.
What is your top “must do/see” before I die” bucket list activity?
I honestly always go straight to the same thing when I get asked this question, which as someone who goes on about having a monster of a bucket list, seems to get asked quite a lot. And that is, “visit the North Pole and the South Pole, but not necessarily on the same day” (read about that silly idea here). Quickly followed up by this strange desire to overland from North Cape Norway to South Cape South Africa in one amazing road trip.
But these are big. Really big. And while they are right up there on my dreams list (I said I was rather like Alice), I’m also not completely naïve and know that you need an awful lot of money, time, fitness and support to make these things happen. Our ten-week road trip in North America back in 2016 certainly proved that; I’m very fortunate to have done that.
So, in reality, I don’t think I have an answer to this question. Yes, there are countries I really want to visit, roads I want to ride and drive, adventures I want to go on, views I want to see for myself, and things I want to experience first-hand. But other than enjoying life in technicolour, making the most of the journey, and never forgetting my inner Alice, I don’t think I can pinpoint anything that I absolutely 100% must do before I die.
Which, given that I do have a massive bucket list, and how much I enjoy trying new things and going to new places, might make me a bit of a fraud. I don’t know. You decide.
And finally, to make it a nice handful of five questions answered, and as I had two questions on this topic…
What’s your favourite piece of music? / If you could only listen to one piece of music for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Can I have two choices, seeing as this is actually two questions?
First, the film score from Pirates of the Caribbean (the original one). One of John Williams’ best works, in my opinion, with everything I want from a great piece of music. Full of drama, melody, drive, and (most importantly), a great trombone part. And the score is nice and long, giving me plenty of variety if it’s the only thing I can listen to from now on!
Second, Pure Imagination, the song from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Back to Alice again, aren’t I? Gets me every time.
As always, I would really love to hear from you in the comments below. What have been the highlights of your week? 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… whatever day you happen to be reading this on!
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