When I was a girl we lived in a house. It was a compact terraced house situated on the fringes of Station Town in County Durham. The station – actually located in the adjoining village of Wingate – was no longer there (although my father could remember it) and was built to serve the local mining villages surrounding it. The line was no longer there either, ultimately a victim of Beeching in the 1960’s although declining before then, but evidence of its existence was all around us. Not only in the place names, but also in the miles of reclaimed railway lines now bridleways that cross cross their way through the villages to the coast.
When I lived there, Station Town was in the middle of the countryside in the middle of the 1970’s. Woodchip paper adorned the walls of our little house. The window frames were rotten enough to remove and climb through if you had forgotten your keys (true story) and the lino on the passageway floors was bumpy and cold to a bare foot. Heating and hot water were provided courtesy of a coal fire, chilblains were a real threat and if the wind was blowing the right way (thanks to a broken vent) it would snow on you in the bath. Life up North could be grim.
Nevertheless, there is a certain kind of being ‘alive’ when you have to embrace the seasons without the buffer of mod cons. And it wasn’t all bad. Being in the countryside as a child was a blessing. It provided places to explore and fish and hills perfect for sledging. A glorious freedom where we could stay out all night and watch the stars with an innocence not yet coloured by life.
My childhood experiences left me with a preference for cooler temperatures, a desire for exploration and a constant love of nature in all its forms. Living an adventurous life becomes much harder when you become an adult. Burdens such as responsibility, lack of time and lack of money hang around the neck of freedom. And the biggest burden of all, fear.
As a child, although cautious and risk averse, I was also reasonable fearless when it came to adventure. Not afraid of making difficult decisions, my life has taken many twists and turns over the years. But the older I get (and the increased comfort that comes with financial security) the more I seem to have to fear.
And I don’t like it.
There are many roads in life I would love to travel down. One of those is reducing the cocoon of modern life in order to experience the elemental wonders this planet has to offer. I’m talking about being in the weather, in wilderness, travelling without mod cons and allowing my body to feel, to be without the five star support. Well, realistically it’s more like three star, tea but no biscuits kind of support but you get my drift.
I want to feel alive rather than comfortably numb.
Our first micro adventures have already been completed. We loved throwing ourselves in Bude sea pool in November and the Atlantic on New Years Day. They have given us a little taste of the possibilities. So G and I have reviewed the things that are currently stopping us from seeking adventure and we’ve started to dismantle those barriers. Our next slightly bigger challenge is to wild camp. It’s been a hearts desire for a long time and now we live close enough to Dartmoor – where it’s legally permitted – its eminently doable. As soon as these bloody storms stop, we’re out there.