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Make 2016 Your Year of Microadventure

 

Would you like to live more adventurously in 2016?

  • To experience the wild and escape from the rushed, mundane real world.
  • To do something new, fun and different.
  • To spend memorable time with your friends, family or by yourself.
  • To challenge yourself, surprise yourself, and achieve something to be proud of.
  • To put into practise the fun stuff you’ve seen in the best-selling Microadventures book.

I bet you can think of other reasons why you’d like to do have a more adventurous year. You may even be intending to make this the year when you really do get out “there” as much as you dream of doing.

But real life often gets in the way and good intentions fade.

So why not commit, today, to a challenge? It’s easy enough to be achievable, but will be really rewarding to complete.

A Year of Microadventure

12 months. 12 overnight microadventures. 1 adventurous year.

Are you in? Good!

This is the second year I have run the Year of Microadventure Challenge. 2015 was a great start, so I hope you enjoy it too. If you did it in 2015 – Welcome Back for another exciting year!

Read on to find out more…

Why a Year of Microadventure?

Over the last few years I’ve run annual solstice microadventure challenges. Go sleep on a hill, have fun, take a photo. It’s been a great success and a nice way for both novice and experienced folk to prod themselves into action and go do the sort of thing they often dream of but rarely get round to.

This is an extension of the idea. It’s a monthly prod. A way to live more adventurously amongst the busy constraints of real life. A chance to explore your country or county. An opportunity to introduce your friends or family to the great outdoors. To spend more time with your mates, or a bit of time by yourself.

Each month the challenge is to spend one night out in the wild. I have scheduled all the dates in advance (scroll down if you want to skip to them). (They may be out by a day or two as I scheduled it for 2015, but that really doesn’t matter. Plus or minus a few days doesn’t matter to us all!) This is for two reasons:

  1. If it’s in your diary, it’s more likely to actually happen. (Download the dates for your calendar from here or as a public Google calendar. Here is the calendar if you’d like to print it / add it to your blog / send to mates.)
  2. If the whole online community of people doing this are out on the same night, it provides a real encouragement and inspiration not to be left behind watching telly and feeling like a massive loser!

Of course, there might be occasions you are not available on these dates. It might be lashing down with rain. In which case, you can just do it some other time. It doesn’t matter. The challenge is flexible – it is designed for busy lives, for a range of ages and experience, and for terrible weather when the sensible thing to do is stay at home and watch telly. You can do what you want, when you want.

Only one thing is non-negotiable:

Each month, you must make yourself get out and have one microadventure.

(I know some people may genuinely not be able to do this. Modify the challenge to suit you – perhaps one microadventure each season would work for you? Rules are for the guidance of wise men; for the obedience of fools.)

Let’s get the Excuses out of the Way…

Anything requiring commitment, a little organisation and a bit of effort comes up against obstacles. I’ll try to pre-empt a few of your concerns and help you show that this challenge is achievable (and remind you that it will be worth the effort).

And, whenever you find yourself saying “I can’t” – I can’t afford it, I can’t spare the time, I can’t climb a hill – just try replacing the word “can’t” with “choose not to”… It is a very powerful way of getting to the bottom of whether a problem is genuine or just an excuse – I choose not to afford it, I choose not to spare the time, I choose not to climb a hill.

I don’t have enough time…

The standard British worker has 112 days off each year. If you work super hard and are too busy to contemplate 12 evenings out on a hilltop, I may be so bold as to suggest that you are exactly the person who would benefit from watching a few sunrises and sunsets…
Screen Shot 2014-12-10 at 14.47.01

I realise I am asking you to commit to 12 “5 to 9” microadventures – that’s 192 hours of your time. Just bear in mind that the standard British worker has 6736 hours each year when they are not at work…

Screen Shot 2014-12-10 at 14.49.18

I am truly not trying to belittle the difficult, juggling lives of busy people. Microadventures are aimed at exactly people like you. It’s just worth bearing in mind that we’ll all be dead soon (calculate the day of your death here – I’m scheduled in for September 8th, 2050, and I’ve added it to my calendar. Nothing prompts action like a deadline, and that’s THE dead line!), and nobody on their deathbed would regret a few hours taken out for sunrises, sunsets and swims in the sea.

It’s cold outside!

It certainly is not ideal for this challenge to begin in January! The first two microadventures will be the darkest and coldest of the whole year. That’s why for January I suggest starting very, very small. It will be so easy in January to wimp out of the challenge and that would be the end of the whole year of fun. So, yes, for the first couple of months of the year, you’ll need to pack plenty of warm kit. But the information here will ensure that you can stay warm and dry and happy.

I’m too late in the year…

No, you’re not! Start now, whatever month it is, and run the challenge for 12 months. If it’s not January when you’re reading this, it’s actually easier to begin as the weather will be kinder.

I can’t afford it…

You really do not need much gear for this year. Here is the kit list. You probably own, or can borrow, many of these things already. Even if you had to buy everything, you could manage it for £100. That’s pretty good for a year of fun, I reckon. If you genuinely can’t afford a one-off payment of £100, I’ll be happy to lend you the money – contact me here. I would hate a lack of money to stop anyone experiencing this year.

I don’t know what to do…

Then you are exactly the sort of person I hope will rise to this challenge. It might seem daunting in advance, but I promise you that once you’ve done a couple, you will know everything you ever need to know. In the meantime, the information here will tell you what you need to pack, where you need to go, and what to do when you get there. It’s easy, I promise! If you are in doubt, please just try it once. You will learn so much. Just start. Start rubbish, get good!

Screen Shot 2014-12-10 at 14.54.11

I’m Still Keen. What’s the Plan?!

Each month you will go do a microadventure on the chosen date (or, if not on that date, sometime in the month – that’s up to you). Print out the schedule and put it on your fridge. If you don’t print it out you will probably not get round to doing these things. Sign up for the newsletter if you’d like a monthly reminder of the plan.

You can do whatever you want each month. I have prepared a list of suggestions that you may like to try to tick off over the course of the year. Each microadventure must involve a night outdoors, and use a bivvy bag not a tent (unless you have a very good reason!) There are masses of ideas here too.

Take a photograph on each microadventure and stick it online, using the #microadventure hashtag. Stick it on the Microadventures Facebook page too, if you use Facebook. It’s important to put it online as a way to encourage other people, and as a great way to see what the rest of the community are up to. Click here, for example, to see an excellent collection of real-time #microadventure updates.

Print out your photo too (here’s an easy way to print your photo from your phone instantly – the best way to make sure you actually bother to do it.) Stick it onto your year’s Microadventure Challenge schedule on your fridge – it will develop into a super year of memories.

At the end of the year, you’ll have had 12 fantastic adventures. I hope that is reward enough! However, I’m also going to try to work out a way to offer a reward to those who complete the year. I haven’t succeeded at this yet, but I am trying!

  1. January: the crunch month. It’s cold and dark. It would be easy to fail before you even begin. So we’re going to keep it very easy this month. Sleep outdoors one night, any time you like. Sleep in your garden (groundsheet, sleeping mat, duvet, pillow). A snowy or frosty night is perfect for this.
  2. February: Valentine’s Day. February 14th. Escape the unbearable embarrassment of sitting in a restaurant full of couples mumbling quietly to each other! Climb a hill, watch shooting stars, see the sunrise blaze across the sky. That’s a hell of a lot more romantic! Or, if you are duty bound to do the restaurant thing on February 14th, get out on one of the other nights of that weekend.
  3. March: Equinox. March 20th. One of the best things of microadventures is reminding you of the wild universe out there beyond your house, office and commute. Especially if you live in a city. The equinox is the day when the hours of daylight and darkness are exactly equal. There is a spring equinox and an autumn equinox. The days are lengthening now – towards the summer solstice (the longest day), after which they will dwindle towards the winter solstice. These four dates – equinoxes and solstices [solstii??] – are key components of our challenge. To appreciate the way the world changes and feels over the course of the year, I suggest that you go for your microadventure in the very same spot for each of these dates. See how different it feels in spring, summer, autumn and winter. Do it with the same friends each time; do it with different people each time; do it by yourself – whatever you wish. It also makes the planning and organising of this project much easier when you realise that four out of the 12 outings are to the same spot.
  4. April: Easter. April 5th.
  5. May: Bank Holiday weekends. May 2,3,4 or 23,24,25. A little flexibility this month to try to squeeze in time for a night away.
  6. June: Solstice. June 21st. The longest day of the year. A really special night to be outdoors. Take an eye mask unless you want to wake up very early with the sunrise! Same location as March.
  7. July: Blue Moon. July 31st. A rare event, and a beautiful time to sleep without a roof: the night of the blue moon. Perhaps a chance to take a sceptical friend who claims they’d only do something like this “once in a blue moon…”? Full moons are brilliant microadventure accessories.
  8. August: Meteor Shower. August 13th. The annual Perseid meteor shower is a highlight of the year. You’ll see up to 80 shooting stars per hour, and this year the moon is new so the night will be perfectly dark. Perhaps a good night to take kids on their first microadventure?
  9. September: Equinox. September 23rd. Same spot as March.
  10. October: Clocks go back. October 24th. An extra hour in bed. On a hill. Luxury!
  11. November: Black Friday. November 27th. Seeing as Black Friday seems set to become “a thing” in the UK, here is a chance for minimalism and simplicity, to escape from the undignified fighting in shops to buy a bigger telly for £20 cheaper than it will be tomorrow. Don’t forget Bonfire Night (the 5th), too as a great excuse for a microadventure with fireworks.
  12. December: Solstice. December 22nd. Same spot as March, June and September. A chance to think how different those four experiences were. And a time to celebrate completing the challenge, perhaps with a mince pie or two. Congratulations! Santa hats compulsory.

 I’m still Keen. But what do I actually have to Do?

You can do whatever you like on a microadventure. All I’d suggest is that you hang it on this loose framework:

  • Sleep outdoors. Don’t use a tent. Pack light. Plan simple. Seek wildness. Challenge yourself.

Over the course of the year you could try to tick things off this list of ideas to try. Those with an asterisk are likely to be deemed most-important if when I sort out some kind of reward system. If you have any good ideas to add to the list please let me know.

  • Sleep in your garden*
  • Swim wild – in a river, lake or sea*
  • Go solo*
  • Go with a friend
  • Go with a family member
  • Tick off some themes: river, hill, mountain, beach, wood…*
  • Take someone on their first microadventure*
  • Take a child for their first microadventure*
  • Do one on a work night*
  • Make a cup of tea on a stove you have made yourself*
  • Sleep by the sea (nobody in the UK lives more than 70 miles from the sea – video here)
  • Sleep under a full moon
  • Spot a shooting star
  • Sleep out below 0 degrees Celsius*
  • Put your own spin on the 12×12 challenge: 12 beaches, 12 Munros, 12 rude place names, 12 counties, 12 different friends…
  • Get there by bike
  • Get there on foot
  • Paddle a river – by canoe or tractor inner tube
  • Learn to identify a new bird or new tree each month
  • Forage for your food, or at least pick some blackberries
  • Do one on Mothers’ Day / Fathers’ Day
  • Go on your birthday
  • Go with some random people you meet online via #microadventure. (Bristol, for example, have their own Microadventure Facebook Group.)
  • Take a novice friend on their birthday
  • Sleep out on a snowy night
  • Sleep somewhere local but new to you
  • Do something that is challenging to you but achievable today (e.g. a ride or walk to a bivvy spot which is hard but do-able right now)
  • Something that requires you to plan, train or put some effort in in some way
  • Lots more ideas for you here.

 I’m still Keen. What do I have to do Right Now?

Fill Your Year with Stories…

Your Year of Microadventure
Welcome on board…

Any questions – pop them in the comments section below and I’ll do my best to answer them.

I’d also love to hear of any ways you think I could improve this to make it more workable for a wider spread of people.

If you’re looking for microadventure ideas watch a few videos of my microadventures or -best of all- buy a signed copy of the best-selling Microadventures book!

microadventures book

 

Read Comments

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Comments

  1. Miranda Posted

    I’m preparing to cycle around the world from next year- so 12 months of microadventures and some not so micro will hopefully be a helpful experience! Fantastic idea- I can’t wait until my first one planned for January 16th.

    Reply
  2. Hi Alistair – just a heads up – the links to the calendar (Google and such) do not lead to a 2016 but 2015 calendar.

    Reply
  3. Hey Alastair,

    Thanks to your microadventure book that I’ve read in Jan 2015, I’ve been going on microadventures ever since then! 2016 isn’t going to be any different except for the microadventures getting bolder. It has even given me a title of ” adventure illustrator” because of my diary illustrations that got featured on an adventure website. So thanks Alastair for the spark!

    Serene
    Serenekitchenadventures.tumblr.com

    Reply
  4. I am looking to build a “stealth” campervan.

    A van that has the following attributes :-

    – Stealth – looks like a nondescript commercial van from the outside so can park anywhere overnight
    – Bed, stove, toilet
    – Desk and seating for mobile office
    – Mobile internet, solar power etc
    – Fits in a standard parking space
    – Some level of off-road ability (perhaps raised 2wd with diff locker as 4wd vans are rare)

    Plenty of videos on youtube of people doing this. Its a wonderful thing to have a mobile home.
    To be able to travel to all kinds of locations and spend the night anywhere really without booking or paying money.

    This looks like a great van (although not really stealth)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YtM_ZILTZe4

    Reply
  5. Hi Alastair

    I discovered you when I was looking around for advice on bivvies/bivvying. Have bought a Macpac Bush Cocoon and am engaging in a year of ‘Minimalist Stealth Camping’ around my home city of Adelaide Australia, and hopefully a bit wider out if time and finances afford. I am documenting the experience every day and uploading to my Youtube account ‘Convenience Is A Killer’ (the name may yet change). I wanted to start no matter my video/editing skills and quality of camera. The videos thus far are rough, but since the channel is about learning, I wanted to document it from the beginning.

    Chris

    Reply
  6. Brian Jardine Posted

    Hi Alastair – Average overnight temps here in Ontario are around -10 C. One option I’m thinking about for my January micro is to do an overnight hike of a local 30 mile trail, which depending on snow conditions could easily take me 15 hrs to complete. My thinking is that I’ll be out all night, but might survive to see my February micro. Slight bend of the ‘rules’ that could spark an idea for others who live in the frigid north. Cheers.

    Reply
    • Alastair Posted

      “Rules are for the guidance of wise men and the obedience of fools…”
      😉
      Good luck!

      Reply
      • Love that quote!! “Rules are for the guidance…”

        Seriously considering the back yard micro adventure… slightly concerned about being investigated by cats and snails during the night though!

        Reply
  7. Just a quick question Alistair, the Easter microadventure on April 5th? That date was correct for last year, but this year Easter is March 27th! Is there another communal theme/date maybe?

    Reply
    • Alastair Posted

      Sorry – these are last year’s dates and I need to fix it!

      Reply
      • For April, may I suggest:

        April 22 – Full Moon. The Moon will be located on the opposite side of the Earth as the Sun and its face will be will be fully illuminated. This phase occurs at 05:24 UTC. This full moon was known by early Native American tribes as the Full Pink Moon because it marked the appearance of the moss pink, or wild ground phlox, which is one of the first spring flowers. This moon has also been known as the Sprouting Grass Moon, the Growing Moon, and the Egg Moon. Many coastal tribes called it the Full Fish Moon because this was the time that the shad swam upstream to spawn.

        April 22, 23 – Lyrids Meteor Shower. The Lyrids is an average shower, usually producing about 20 meteors per hour at its peak. It is produced by dust particles left behind by comet C/1861 G1 Thatcher, which was discovered in 1861. The shower runs annually from April 16-25. It peaks this year on the night of the night of the 22nd and morning of the 23rd. These meteors can sometimes produce bright dust trails that last for several seconds. Unfortunately this year the glare from the full moon will block out all but the brightest meteors. If you are patient, you should still be able to catch a few good ones. Best viewing will be from a dark location after midnight. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Lyra, but can appear anywhere in the sky.

        via: http://www.seasky.org/astronomy/astronomy-calendar-2016.html

        Reply
  8. I used to do these a lot – it kept me sane through stressful work. Often a wild camp in a wood chosen from the local OS map, cycling distance but away from buildings or roads, or beaches. I also had a tradition of having a campfire dinner in a new wood every Friday evening with a friend starting in March on his birthday. We didn’t stay overnight, but we had a fire just big enough to cook on, and stayed till til late then cycled home. I have a 4 y old now and as a mainly single parent, am looking forward to the time when we can do some of this together (or I get a night off and am brave enough to camp alone). I did plenty of wild camping alone in Western Scotland but it does not feel quite the same in Snowdonia, I’m sure once I start it’ll be fine again…and there’s plenty of wild water to swim in!

    Reply

 
 

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