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My Summer Solstice Microadventure Challenge

And a midsummer wedding

Here are a few issues that I have:

  • I am too busy to live as adventurously as I would like
  • When I’m documenting an adventure I get so obsessed that I sometimes forget to enjoy the experience itself
  • I am a bit addicted to fancy gadgets, the internet, and instant gratification
  • I don’t spend enough time with my adventurous friends

A solution:

  • Make the effort to get to a friend’s wedding even though it was a gazillion miles from my house
  • Factor in a microadventure for the weekend
  • Drag along a friend for his first microadventure so I could spend some decent time with him
  • Document the weekend with a disposable camera, thereby rationing myself to just 36 photos for the weekend so that all the rest of the time I could just enjoy it
  • Wait a few days before picking up my photos from Boots

The outcome:

  • One of the most enjoyable, happy weddings I have ever been to
  • One of the best overnight microadventures I have ever done
  • My own entry into the Summer Solstice Microadventure Challenge
  • Some really crap but fun photographs

I was singing for my supper, giving a talk, until about 10pm on Friday night. So it was dusk by the time my friend Marin and I hit the road in search of a bed for the night. Marin skippered the boat I rowed the Atlantic with three years ago. Typical blokes, we hadn’t quite got round to seeing each other again in all that time. He was over from Slovenia for Steve’s wedding – another of our ocean rowing quartet who we hadn’t seen since finishing the row. We laughed and laughed at our differing memories of that crazy trip, but my enthusiasm for the night out was dwindling fast.

Our plan was to sleep in an abandoned castle. Sounded fun. The abandoned castle was on an island. Sounded even more fun! But the island is in a Scottish loch, and stripping off to swim out into a loch at 11pm sounded cold and silly.

This is when having a friend to accompany you on a microadventure helps. Alone, I may well have wimped out. But egged on by that powerful cocktail of peer pressure, Type 2 fun, and a sense of the ridiculous, we decided to go for it.

Sleeping on an island in a loch with Marin

Bivvy bags make excellent flotation devices. We bunged all our stuff into a bivvy bag, twist-tied the end, then jumped into the loch. (Does it still count as skinny dipping if you’re wearing a woolly hat?)

There was much squealing and laughter.

We made it out to the island in the loch and climbed up into the ruined castle. For one night only, we were the kings of the castle.

Warming up in our sleeping bags, we enjoyed a midnight feast that actually was at midnight, rather than just 10 minutes after bedtime as I remember from childhood.

Sleeping on an island in a loch with Marin

The kind folk from Windswept Brewing had given me a couple of bottles of their excellent beer at my talk earlier which were a bonus addition to the Knockando whisky in my hip flask.

We slept well.

Sleeping on an island in a loch with Marin


Here is what happens if you entrust Marin with the critical task of early-morning-camp-photo-from-atop-the-castle-walls:

Sleeping on an island in a loch with Marin

Thankfully I retook control of the hi-tech camera as we explored our kingdom and procrastinated the moment when we’d need to get back in the water again.

Sleeping on an island in a loch with Marin

Sleeping on an island in a loch with Marin

More swimming, more squealing, more stylish woolly hat action…

Sleeping on an island in a loch with Marin

Back on dry land, and time to make ourselves beautiful for the wedding. The old wedding technique of hurry-up-we’re-late-let’s-change-by-the-road never fails.

Steve and Sal Wedding Loch Insh

When we rowed the Atlantic we all exerted significant efforts trying to persuade Steve to propose to his lovely girlfriend, Sal, when we reached Barbados. He didn’t take our advice. Better late than never, and it was wonderful to watch them exchange rings on the beach beside a loch in a lovely midsummer’s wedding.

Steve and Sal Wedding Loch Insh

The newly-weds left the service in a rowing boat, and all the guests followed to the reception in a happy little flotilla.

Steve and Sal Wedding Loch Insh

This was only the second time Marin had ever worn a tie in his life and I had to tie it for him. He doesn’t even own a tie so had asked me to bring one along for him. “I don’t care what sort of tie,” he told me, “so long as it’s not pink.”

Steve and Sal Wedding Loch Insh

Steve and Sal Wedding Loch Insh

Steve and Sal Wedding Loch Insh

Time then for a great meal, a wild ceilidh and a sneaky chance to steal a quick kiss from the beautiful bride.

Steve and Sal Wedding Loch Insh

Steve and Sal Wedding Loch Insh

Here’s what I learned:

  • A great microadventure does not require a lot of time, effort or money
  • I should make more effort to spend time with my friends
  • Using an instant camera is brilliant fun (though a Canon 5D Mkii plus Lightroom results in better photos!)
  • Steve has punched massively above his weight.

What do you think? Like the ideal of simplifying your adventures? Tempted by a disposable camera or sticking with your phone camera? Let us know in the comments below…


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  1. What a lovely wee post, Sal and I were so pleased you guys could join us for the special day (especially after all the great you lot gave me on the row about proposing).

    I love the idea of the disposable camera to insure time to enjoy the moment, I also find myself running around to try and get a good photo of a sunset or Tillie (our dog) out along the beach rather than just enjoying it.

    Thanks Al and see you again soon.

    Steve & Sal Bowens 🙂

  2. I don’t care what sort of tie,” he told me, “so long as it’s not pink.”


  3. What a fab adventure! I especially like the idea of using a simple film camera sometimes instead of digital (I did this too recently), it’s fun and it stops you from spending loads of time trying to get ‘perfect’ photos.

  4. Peter S Posted

    Absolutely great idea…my wedding and stag seems so boring now. Weekends will be very different from now on. We live 40km from the sea in Tokyo, we will never use the train/car to get there from now on, we will also never use a hotel unless really necessary. Life changing concept

  5. Excellent post, thanks for sharing. I love the idea and you’ve got me thinking about where we could go / what could we do.

    All the best,


  6. Wow, I never thought of using a bivvy bag as a drybag / flotation device before. Nice tip.

    I camped at Loch en Eilein in April in a hammock and there’s a similar looking castle on an island there.



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