My Instagram feed is full of amazing pictures, stunning places, exciting adventures. Be it trail running in Bhutan, climbing in the Faroe Islands, fast packing across Norway, or canoeing down the Yukon River, these images, and the accompanying stories contrast abruptly to my day job, and my children’s school days. While these images inspire me, fill me with awe, motivate me to plan my own adventures, the reality is rather different.
Let me explain. These incredible, extraordinary adventures seem unobtainable to an ordinary person like me, and in the end, the inspiration and motivation leads to very little actual adventuring. Selling up and moving to the Dolomites will always be just a dream. With bills to pay, children to school, pensions to build, guinea pigs to feed and clean out, school holiday child care to provide, family holidays to pay for, its never going to be easy to escape for an expedition or a solo trip away. Those will remain the preserve of the professional adventurers and athletes, the explorers, the journalist, the young, and those with few ties.
This might explain why I see very few adventures with children across my social media, or on TV. It seems, very few have a family focus. Okay, it might just be that I’m following the wrong people, so if you have any recommendations, let me have them. On the other hand, it might just be that there aren’t many family adventurers out there. Of course, there are some families that have taken a year out to travel, others who have sold up to live the dream, but it all seems a bit all or nothing.
We’ve made a conscious decision to work out how to make some of the weekend an adventure. Not every weekend mind you, some weekends have to be spend doing laundry and cleaning. A few hours on the local heath squelching through bogs, walks out on Dartmoor, bike rides, canoeing trips; these adventures feel limited, but in fact gift us excitement and memories. The excitement of slippery granite; the memories of boots full of swamp water; ‘taming’ wild ponies (well, stroking them); finding letterboxes tucked away in unexpected places. These adventure mean that when we return to the 9-5, we have memories that make us smile, new ambitions to plan more.
On one hand, it would be easy to be an armchair adventurer, vicariously enjoying friends’, acquaintances’ and strangers’ expeditions, and, not do very much about it, for whatever reason (I think I’ve probably used them all). On the other hand, we could thoughtfully reframe the sporadic adventures we do have, and make a commitment to have more.
And that is indeed a the plan for 2018.
We have some great ideas in the planning for 2018, sea canoe trips and wild beach camping (being members of the local canoeing club actually puts this in reach), some overnight camps, exploring further afield, dark skies photography and so on. And, I will do my best to write about them here, and in doing so, hopefully demonstrate to other ‘normal’ families that while there are obstacles to getting out there with your children, those obstacles can be overcome.