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WEEKLY BLOG EPISODE 78 | A VERY BRITISH HEATWAVE

Splodz Blogz | Wild Night Out at YHA Wye Valley

How has your week been? Oh wait, let me ask that properly, seeing as it’s been nearly two weeks since my last weekly blog… How has the last couple of weeks been for you? What’s been good? What’s been not so good? What stories have you got to tell?

After the week off I spoke about in Weekly Blog Episode 77, I’ve been a busy bee with (very) long lists at home and at work, doing my best to find time for some fun and relaxation in between. I didn’t write last weekend because I was out enjoying a short camping trip for Wild Night Out, and given the temperatures here this week have not particularly wanted to spend any more time than absolutely necessary in my home office with a computer that kicks out all the heat.

But it’s a little cooler this evening, there’s a strong breeze through the house, so I’m back with Weekly Blog Episode 78. This week I will be chatting about the heatwave, my new love of salad, camping in the Wye Valley, and sharing a couple of short book reviews.

A Very British Heatwave

I can’t write this weekly blog without mentioning the heat. Oh my, how hot it’s been! Anyone else struggled to sleep, struggled to concentrate, struggled to do any meaningful exercise for the last week or more? We’ve been inside the Met Office’s first ever Extreme Heat Warning here in Gloucestershire, and I can assure you, it’s been hot. Temperatures of 28 to 30-degrees every day with wind speeds that have hardly registered for a week are pretty much unheard of. It’s been stifling.

I do dearly love the sunshine, and the warmth, but the unusual heat coupled with the humidity has not been pleasant at all. I’m a Brit and so I’m predisposed to moan about the weather, whatever it is doing, so please forgive me!

My super insulated house is wonderful most of the time, but this week it’s been impossible to cool it down. That ceiling fan we fitted in the bedroom during the first lockdown has helped a little, but I don’t mind admitting I could have done with air conditioning. We’re just not set up for the heat here in Britain, are we? I’ve seen those online from warmer climates laughing at our lack of ability to cope… I guess it’s just the same as when we get a bit of snow and can’t deal with that either. Brits and the weather is the stuff comedy is made of.

I was fortunate to be camping at the weekend. Tents can be stifling in the sunshine, but my Robens Green Cone has some great ground level vents which cooled things right down at night and meant I had some of the best sleep I’ve had for weeks over at YHA Wye Valley (more on that below…). Maybe I should have put it up in the garden this week, rather than persevering inside, but I didn’t think of that until last night and now we’re expecting rain again.

It’s been so warm I even wore shorts. Actual, real, shorts. They were gifted by Isobaa (these Merino 200 Shorts, mine are the Navy), and they are very comfortable. I’m hugely self-conscious about my legs, particularly the back of my knees, and so I rarely get them out in public. But it had to be done. Merino is the perfect material for the hot weather, as it is naturally moisture wicking and odour resistant. Inspired by my good friend Chelsea, who spoke about showing more normal bodies in photos online, here’s a snap of me in my Isobaa duo taken on Coppet Hill at the weekend.

Inspired to Eat Salad

In last week’s weekly blog (read Episode 77) I mentioned that we were fed at the Adventure Bike Training. Part of that feeding included the most excellent salads; tangy with dressing, colourful with veg, and delicious. And given the heatwave coming at the same time, I have been inspired to make and eat bowls of colour for my lunches. It’s something I used to do all the time, but just got out of the habit of having a variety of salady bits and bobs in my fridge.

I’ve been varying up the leaves (all kinds), tomatoes (not my own yet but I have a few green ones so not long now), sweet peppers, feta cheese, Poacher cheese, leftover roast chicken, cold cooked white or sweet potato, crispy onion, seeds, cashew nuts, cucumbers (loving baby cucumber at the moment), beetroot, carrot, red cabbage, grapes, blueberries, strawberries, pomegranate seeds, and whatever else looks fresh and colourful. Not all at once, of course, but I like variety.

Dressing wise, I’m a Ranch or Caesar kind of girl by choice, but the Pizza Express one we picked up recently is quite nice. Or I might just put a load of beetroot salad on top and let the vinegar from that do its thing over the rest of the bowl. Mmmm, making me hungry.

Have you turned to the good old salad during the heatwave? What’s in your favourite salad bowl?

Camping in the Wye Valley

As I mentioned a few paragraphs above, I spend the weekend camping over at YHA Wye Valley for the Wild Night Out – and you can read my post about that event here. It was only about an hour away, maybe less even, but it was so good to get away, put the tent up, and enjoy some uninterrupted outdoors time. Even in the heatwave!

It really was an excellent weekend. It provided the time for me to relax outdoors, as well as the setting to encourage and inspire me to get out on more adventures – big and small. My first experience of camping at a Youth Hostel was a good one; I’m hoping that others are as good, as we’re intending to use a few when we hike the UK Coast to Coast in the autumn.

I arrived home from my little trip away to find my new motorcycle roll pack had arrived ready for our trip to Iceland next month (have you still got everything crossed for me?!). I ordered another Lomo holdall style roll top dry bag, to match one we already own (so we have one each) – although I went for the black instead of yellow this time. That bag has been through all sorts with us, all weathers and all temperatures, and is just a great piece of kit that also comes with good value. It’ll be good for strapping to my bike but also for chucking in and out of the car or van when we’re not on the motorbikes.

Do you do test packs when you go on adventures? My husband did a test pack for Iceland this weekend which I dismissed as being kind of unnecessary considering how many times we’ve packed for motorcycle trips now. But, seeing how much his kit list changed in the hour or two it took him to do has made me think I should probably set aside an evening to do similar. Or I could just wait until the night before…

That’s Entertainment

My weekly blog has become the place where I share books, television programmes, films and other things I’ve found particularly entertaining. And this week I have two mini book reviews to share with you.

His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman

My audio book of choice this week has been the first volume in Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy – The Northern Lights.

Following the story of Lyra, a child living in the prestigious Jordan College in Oxford, The Northern Lights is about adventure and will power and magic and trust. I like Lyra; she’s adventurous, and naughty, easily bored, with a keen sense of curiosity which gets her into trouble. When children start going missing, the Gobblers are blamed and Lyra is determined to go north to find out who they are and what they are doing.

This is a wonderful tale that took me into the magical world of Lyra and witches and dust and the paranormal. It’s like a fairy tale, taking things that seem real and combining them with things that are far from it, and taking me along for the ride.

I’ve already downloaded the second volume – The Subtle Knife – which continues the story, and am looking forward to hearing what Lyra gets up to next.

The Impulsive Explorer, Karen Espley

It’s taken a little while, but I finally found time to sit and finish The Impulsive Explorer by Karen Espley this week (I started it back in Weekly Blog Episode 74!). Not because it’s a hard read or anything like that, but just because I’m not a sit-and-read kind of person, audio books are definitely more accessible for me. I should probably just have downloaded it from Audible, but you know, I had a signed copy sent to me by the publisher (thanks!), and I wanted to read that!

This book is about Karen’s experiences in the corporate world of the 90s, with a very particular and unusual experience of a once-in-a-lifetime business research trip to the world’s southern-most continent, the Antarctic. I always imagined that any trip to the Antarctic would be life-changing, and this tale confirms that for me.

It’s an entertaining read, written in a talkative and relatable style, full of tales of adventure, bravery and silly stories that made me smile. There’s tales of the confined living situation, the incredible wildlife, the vodka fuelled parties, the ridiculous weather, and, naturally, the voyage of self-discovery that ensues.

I’d say this is exactly the book to read if you need a pick-me-up from the grind of business life. Karen’s descriptions of living on a Russian base in the Antarctic (and her dealings with smelly penguins and angry sea lions) probably aren’t going to have you signing up to a research tour at the South Pole, but it may well inspire you to do something different. Well worth adding to your adventure book list this summer.

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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