In this weekly blog episode, I’m taking you back a couple of weeks to the really wonderful time I had at this year’s Comms Unplugged event, and telling a story about a very old and special teaspoon.
I’m still very tired, and that shows in how terribly I seem to be managing the little things this week. For example, the whole world seemed to end when I lost my wallet on Tuesday. I did eventually find it (having driven to work and finding it on the floor under my desk), but the couple of hours during which it was nowhere to be seen sent me into a spiral of panic and upset I don’t have the energy to repeat anytime soon (anyone got recommendations for nice Air Tag compatible wallets?!). Then yesterday it took me over 90-minutes to get to work, and when I did arrive, I was soaking wet – cue me needing to take five minutes to compose myself before I could deal with people!
We all have weeks like this, right?! I’m just putting it down to needing a holiday – and thankfully I have one coming up very soon indeed. I’ll start there…
Excited for Morocco
I can very happily confirm, that our ride to the Sahara Desert and back is definitely on. After my musings on riding where the recent earthquake hit in my last weekly blog, we heard from our friends at Globebusters again a few days ago to confirm they’ve spoken with all their Moroccan partners, and except for perhaps one day which may need to be changed, the trip will be going ahead as planned. Woohoo!
That day, during which we hope to ride over the Atlas Mountains, will be evaluated nearer the time, to make sure we are not going through places where we might get in the way of any aid work. Destroyed homes and impacted people are not a tourist attraction. But we have been completely assured by a number of sources (Globebusters and others), that our presence in Morocco will be welcome.
The team has issued a statement on Facebook, which makes public some of the things they’ve told us. We are excited to go and explore this incredible-looking country by motorbike!
Excitingly, we also received our information packs and route notes for the trip. My Scenic App is loaded up with the maps, we have purchased the required travel sickness pills ready for the ferry, and the pile of stuff to pack has been started.
Oh, and I bought a new battery for my old GoPro Hero (the one I was gifted for this adventure and used regularly until I realised I really didn’t have time to make vlogs) – so hopefully there will be some footage of this overland adventure to share. No idea what format that might take, probably short clips rather than a feature length documentary, but I’ll try.
Comms Unplugged is my yearly opportunity to allow my personal and professional life to collide. A conference and retreat combined, it provides interesting speakers, interactive workshops, and different ways to learn a bunch of useful stuff – for my work and for me.
The best bit, in my opinion, is that it takes place in a field in rural Dorset. This means I get to take my Robens Green Cone and enjoy some quality time outdoors at the same time. We’re based at Burnbake Forest Lodges and Campsite, surrounded by woodland and right on the edge of the beautiful Purbeck Heaths National Nature Reserve, and just three miles from Studland beach. I’d highly recommend the site anyone looking for a base to explore Purbeck and the surrounding area.
It’s my fourth time at this screen and internet-free event. Us comms people spend our lives formulating and sharing information, predominantly online, and this is our space to do none of that and to concentrate on ourselves, our learning, and our wellbeing. Speakers present without PowerPoint, there’s no tip tapping on laptops during sessions or checking phone messages. Cameras are allowed, but most people choose to only use those outside the workshop sessions – I did get a few snaps which is what you’re seeing dotted through this weekly blog episode.
During my three days in the field I learnt about using comms to instigate behavioural change and develop habits, discussed the age-old play between brand and culture, heard examples of how the power of community can work wonders, considered digital transformation and the use of AI in comms, and listened to stories of when comms has gone wrong. I have a bunch of notes and hope to find time to continue to learn about at least a couple of those topics over the next few months.
On the personal wellbeing side, I chose to spend an hour at a Forest Bathing workshop, and took part in a movement-to-music class (a bit of yoga, bit of Pilates, and some other stuff). Honestly, all work conferences and training courses should include some kind of wellbeing activity like these – taking an hour each day to quieten the heart and mind genuinely does help reduce the potential information-overload of an event like this. It all goes in much easier!
A Passion for Moths
The Saturday morning at Comms Unplugged is set aside as an opportunity to take part in a fun outdoor activity, getting delegates closer to nature before we all pack up and head home.
This year, we had an introduction to moth identification with Nigel from Dorset Butterfly Conservation. The evening before, the team put up a moth trap at the event site, and on Saturday morning we worked at counting and identifying all the moths we’d caught (and then releasing them into the woods, of course).
It was absolutely fascinating, and Nigel’s knowledge and passion really got us interested. There is something truly wonderful about listening to someone with true passion talk about their hobby. Did you know, there are over 2,000 species of moth in the UK? And only 60 species of butterfly? We found loads of them – including some very pretty ones (and a bright red skinny parasitic wasp!), although didn’t catch any of the really big hawk moths this time.
I don’t think I’ll be taking up moth identification as my hobby, but it was a truly delightful way to spend One Hour Outside, and a very fitting end to this year’s Comms Unplugged event.
Another Dorset Trig Pillar
Before heading home from Dorset I decided I needed one more One Hour Outside… and this time I fancied a hill with a view of the sea.
Swyre Head is the highest point of the Purbeck Hills, and the car park was a 15-minute drive from where I’d been camping. It was suggested by my friends at Comms Unplugged because of the views – you can see a lot of Dorset’s Jurassic Coast including St Aldhelm’s Head and Chapmans Pool to the east, Clavell Tower, Kimmeridge, Portland and Weymouth Bay to the west, and Corfe Castle and Poole Harbour to the north.
What a spot! And another trig bagged – it might have only been at 203m above sea level, but it gave all the return. It was a little hazy given the combination of very high temperature and humidity, but it was oh so beautiful. I had the place to myself (also probably due to the 30 degree heat – everyone else was at the beach!). Well worth the effort before I drove home.
I’d actually plotted a seven-mile loop from here down to Chapman’s Pool (and a backup six-miler to Kimmeridge), but as I was melting before I started, I decided to stick to a slow two miles instead.
Want more Dorset content? Here’s a post about sea swimming in Dorset, and here are two short walks I’ve enjoyed. You know I’ll be back for more soon – hopefully before Comms Unplugged next year (which is, of course, in the diary)!
I shared this over on my Instagram feed the other day, but felt it deserved a spot in my weekly blog episode.
Some things seem to last forever…
This teaspoon, engraved with my initials by my dad, has been on (most of) my camping trips since I was eight, maybe nine. I was given the personalised but basic cutlery set for my first Brownie pack holiday. The memories of that weekend come flooding back every time I use it (which is every time I go camping…!).
We stayed in some village-hall type building – one large space with a kitchen off to the side. Our little camping cots were spaced evenly around the outside of the room on three walls, and one wall was taken up with a long trestle table set-up for mealtimes. Each Brownie had to take a plate, bowl, cup, cutlery set, and (homemade) placemat.
For my placemat, I drew and coloured in Winnie the Pooh characters on an A4 piece of paper, and my dad covered both sides in sticky back plastic. It worked, and I was quite proud of my art.
And, as you can see, for my cutlery set, my dad permanently affixed my initials to a set from home. I also still have the matching dessert spoon and knife, but sadly have no idea where the fork is these days.
I don’t remember too much about what we actually did on the pack holiday, apart from the fact the weather was bad, so we spent our days playing games in the hall. One core memory is of me trying to teach everyone a game we had played once in School courtesy of a substitute teacher, and getting in a complete mess and muddle with the rules and everything else. It didn’t end well (for me), and could well be the moment I decided I would rather let others lead and teach.
It’s strange what triggers memories – and then how those memories trigger other memories.
This might also be a lesson in only having to buy some things once…!
Audiobook: Unlost, Gail Muller
I thoroughly enjoyed Unlost: A Journey of Self-Discovery and the Healing Power of the Wild Outdoors, Gail Muller’s Appalachian Trail memoir. More than just documenting the trail, Gail, who has a fascinating (and somewhat traumatic) back story, opens her heart, and shares some deep inner thoughts.
Told she would be in a wheelchair by the time she was 40, this book tells the true story of how the power, joy and resilience that nature can mend body and mind. The story is honest and down-to-earth, and while this isn’t going to help you plane your own AT hike, it’ll inspire and motivate you to get out and do it! And encourage you to have fun and take side adventures along the way…
This book is a lesson to hikers – and everyone – how no matter the pain, the cold, the rocks or the incline, you can do it.
See You Next Time…
Don’t forget, it’s National GetOutside Day on Sunday (24 September). Themed ‘precious places’, this year we are invited to mark the day by spending time in an outdoor place that is precious to us. Why not use GetOutside Day as an excuse to visit your favourite outdoor place – or maybe to discover a new favourite place. I’d really love to hear how you are spending time outside on Sunday; let me know in the comments below where you visit, or tag me in your photos on Instagram.
Have a really great week – and I’ll see you in my next weekly blog episode.
Buy Me a Cuppa?
If you enjoyed this weekly blog episode and fancy supporting me and my mini adventures this year, you can “buy me a coffee” for £3 (well, a cup of tea, if that’s okay?). Head over to Ko-fi to find out more. Thank you.