Well what a month! I meant to write to you on my train journey back from Scotland. But my quiet, evening stint from London to Devon turned into something far less relaxing. We had to make and extra stop because of a cancelled service. Got delayed, then stuck behind another delayed train and then spent 2 hours sitting at Totnes, waiting for the police to find and detain trespassers on the line. I got home at midnight, but I feel sorry for everyone trying to reach Cornwall that night.
Anyway, here I am now instead. I’m cooking pasta and, to stop myself snacking on everything else in the kitchen while I wait, let’s chat instead.
I’ve spent pretty much the past month up north in the mountains. I spent a week in the Lake District with lots of friends, then headed up to the highlands with fewer friends. The snow was a bit meh in the Lakes, but as we all said: it was winter, we were having days in the mountains and the company was quality. So not many winter QMDs got south of the border, but great fun had all round.
To top it off, on our last day, we caught a bus to Travellers’ Rest and walked the entire Helvellyn ridge south to north. The snow was decent, the weather was stunning sunshine. We walked all the way back to Keswick, into the fish and chip shop, picked up the full group order and nabbed a lift back to the bunkhouse. A fantastic end to the week.
From there, we headed north to Glen Coe, staying in Blackwater Hostel for a few days. Then Fort William and finally across to the Cairngorms. My winter mountain leader training was booked in for the first week of March and I wanted to get as much practice in beforehand. You know, so I showed up as a vaguely competent mountaineer, not some girl from Devon who doesn’t know what snow is…
We had some classic west coast weather. A very memorable day on the Ben: gorgeous on the CMD arete and complete white out on top. Although no one ever wants to get into a bad situation, it’s always nice to have a challenging nav situation and prove to yourself that you can do it. We were spot on.
Then my first ever day in the Cairngorms… honestly, we could have been in the Alps. Great snow, blue skies and the sun was hot. What?!? In Scotland? There’s me wondering why I’d been suffering on the west coast all my life. And then the next day it was abominably windy.
Then I met up with my lovely friend Phoebe (who paints mountains) to do our WMLT. We’d had this planned for years (Thanks Covid) and now it was finally happening. We were at Glenmore Lodge with Sam and Ross instructing. I’ll be writing all about this on the blog but basically, it was awesome. I was getting an absolute beasting and that’s exactly what I wanted. I’ve got into winter just by learning from friends and it was great to find out all the bad habits I'd picked up too. Then swiftly and efficiently remove them.
And then mid-week, Phoebe tested positive for Covid. I tested negative (and have continued too, somehow) but they asked us both to leave because we were sharing. And so… I'll be back up in Scotland next year to finish it off. Not the best ending to an otherwise fantastic trip.
You’ll have (hopefully) noticed that I'm back to posting on the blog pretty much twice a week. I really want to get back to the Monday and Thursday 7pm UK time schedule I used to have a couple of years ago. Especially because, at the rate I’m going this year, I've got plenty to talk about.
since my last email (checks notes) this year, I’ve written as many blogs as the whole of last year.
There’s my 2021 Highlights in Pictures that I love writing. Highly recommend a read if you’re wondering where the hell I disappeared to last year.
An interview about my Spanish 3000s world record expedition that I did with UKH but they never published.
A “this is what I’m hoping for this year” sort of post including some projects and vague adventure plans for 2022 (let’s not be hasty)
A very belated Kendal Mountain Festival round up. It was my first time last year.
What I Put in my First Aid Kit since it’s been so requested. It’s certainly not all standard issue… 🍦
The Book Project We’re Not Talking About because enough people asked me if I was writing another book that I felt I had to explain myself (“Yes, BUT…”)
A first month report on my project for this year: trying to switch my default from inside, in front of a computer, to outside.
And another of this year’s projects: This Year I am a Running Person
A blog I wrote in my head while I couldn’t sleep in a tent one night (wild camping tips)
And my thoughts on the mysterious advice to Find Your Passion and what to do instead.
In the rest of the interwebs, I’ve not had anything published recently. Or rather, I've written a few things that haven’t been published yet. So that can hang on until next time. I was very pleased to be made sub-editor of Sidetracked Magazine and worked on their most recent volume. Sidetracked has made a name for itself as a very luxury adventure publication (in terms of quality, I mean) and know this. But I was still impressed when I took my copy out of the envelope. It very interesting for me as well because Sidetracked is so photography focused but I saw almost none of the images while I was proof reading. Opening it up was a bit like seeing the film adaptation of a novel you’ve just read.
Aaand how is the book writing going? Well, slowly. (Read: I’ve done 2 pages in a month 😨) I optimistically brought it with me on my mountaineering romp but got almost nothing done. I’m at the very start of Draft 4 - I write books weirdly - which is when I have to finally start at the beginning and work chronologically. The book also gained 2 chapters in the last draft (affectionately known as 5A and 12A, since you asked). Which means I really need to knuckle down and put in the hours to get it written. Rather than get distracted by things like buying washing machines, FINALLY getting a sofa and going off on adventures.
Not much more to report here. We did go off on one at the start about Lakes/Scotland. Although I see I haven’t actually emailed since November (Odd. I could have sworn I wrote a January one.) Sorry 😬 I don’t know where these months go!
In January, I went to Shropshire and ran a section of the Shropshire Way. Yep, I said it… ran. By which I mean I carried not much, wore trainers and jogged sometimes. I shall be telling the full story soon on the blog. Including why I ran it in the first place - never mind why Shropshire of all places!
And I’ll tell you a secret that I haven’t told the rest of the internet yet: I’m doing the OMM this year. Yes, me the not-runner. Because somebody asked me and I never thought anyone would, so I had to say yes. So here’s to me becoming a runner in the next six months (!).
In the coming months, I may have some cycling coming up - which will make a nice change. And we’ll see exactly what the summer has in store.
This is already a hefty long email, so I’ll keep it short with the most interesting thing that’s happened to me this week. (Other highlights include finally having sofas and a washing machine.)
When my new sofa chairs arrived, I thought I’d better clean the radiator they were next to. Because when I moved in it wasn’t vacant possession, it was home to a colony of clothes moths. So in case there were any moth eggs still lurking about, I got stuck into a very dirty radiator.
What I discovered was more like archaeology. Turns out that there were a stack of Christmas and birthday cards stuck behind one rather small radiator. Looks like they’d been falling down for years and getting trapped because of the skirting board. A couple of them had a date inside. Here is the record.
So, reader poll in the comments: does anyone actually clean behind their radiators? Or is it just me and my mum? 😅
Speak to you soon (-er than last time, promise),