The single biggest obstacle that gets between people and the adventures they dream of is a lack of time. Microadventures have always been about making the best of what is available, squeezing in small bursts of adventure into a busy calendar, rather than just lamenting how busy you are.
This weekend was pretty busy for me. It involved 14 hours on a train, an evening speaking event, a Christening, and not a lot of time for the sort of mucking about I enjoy. But I was speaking in Scotland, and any visit to Scotland feels like an opportunity to do something fun in the outdoors…
It might be a very cool station, but I’d still rather not be here on the weekend.
Still, at least I could be very grown-up and diligent and knuckle down to seven concerted hours of book-writing.
This went well for a while. Until I got so very bored that I resorted to taking photographs of my computer instead.
Another time-filler on a train is gazing out the window and looking for cool spots to sleep wild for a night. Then you pin the location in Google Maps on your phone and save it for when you happen to be back in this part of the world and in need of somewhere free to lay your head.
As a very professional motivational speaker, I was sure to arrive at the venue very early. This allows plenty of time for what is known, in the trade, as “faffing about with your slides”. Swapping one picture of a desert for a slightly different one is – you feel – the key to giving a cracking talk.
Time for a spot of Dutch Courage before the audience arrive. Makes my jokes funnier (at least to me).
Time, at last, to give my talk.
I spoke at length about microadventures, about the joys of sleeping on hills and making the most of whatever opportunities come your way.
Time then for me to practise what I preached. I headed off into the evening to find a hill.
But first, serious expeditions require serious nutrition. This is the glamorous world of the itinerant speaker – long hours on trains and snatching crap food when the chance arises.
The long, light summer evenings are perfect for climbing hills. The air was warm though wet with drizzle. It felt like a fine night to be high above a city and enjoying the dusk.
And so to bed. I slept well until about 7am when I was woken by the bellowing of a too-close stag which slightly scared the crap out of me, but successfully ensured I did not oversleep.
If it’s raining hard and you are in a bivvy bag it is always worth finding a wood to sleep in. The rain rattled on the tree canopy but I was dry and sheltered down beneath it.
I woke to this view:
I enjoy the odd feeling when I am removed from the rest of the world, but still close enough to be connected.
I also enjoy being in situations where small pleasures become all that I need in life.
A shaded bench, sheltered from the rain, to eat my breakfast apple and enjoy the view…
And now, to church! I had a Christening to attend and didn’t want to be late. I set off walking east.
It was such a pleasant feeling to have nothing to do but walk. I wish more of my mornings began in this way. On the road I saw a very good lesson for life for me: to slow down.
The rain was quite heavy but the landscape was beautiful and I was in an uncommonly good mood. An elderly man walking his dog passed me. “Not so good this morning.” he said, briefly. Weather observations are the glue that holds together most British social interactions. The correct technique for my response would be to agree, briefly, and carry on. Something like “Indeed!” or “haha!” or even a smile and a nod.
But I was feeling wild and reckless and the rain smelled great and I loved the shining beads of water on the cow parsley and gorse. So I contradicted him, “Not at all! It’s a wonderful morning!” and carried striding on. The poor gentleman is probably penning a shocked letter to The Telegraph as we speak.
Shortly before I reached the church I ducked into a small wood. I extracted my suit from my rucksack, smoothed it down as best I could, and hung it in a tree to try to get rid of a few creases.
Then I stripped to my boxer shorts and attempted to turn myself into a respectable-looking gentleman on his way to church.
Suit plus rucksack. Always a strong look.
I made it to the church on time. In fact, I was the first to arrive. You don’t want to be late for the Christening of your first godchild. I’m supposed to be setting a good moral example here!
And then it was back on the train, back down south, but with even less book-writing than before. Trains are brilliant for looking at the world and wishing you were out in it, making the most of it and exploring.
What plans do you have to squeeze some microadventure into your busy life?
Thank you to the many people who have kindly “bought me a coffee” for just £2.50 as encouragement to keep this blog going.
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