When I met my husband 13 years ago in a sleepy little village in North Yorkshire, little did I know that I would move into a local farm with him when I finished studying for my degree in the city of York. The farmhouse had bags of character and it's potential was palpable, however it had been left to diminish when a marriage broke down and the family moved out. I like to think that we helped bring it back to life when we moved into an unused part of the farmhouse and reminded the farmer what it was like to have people around. But perhaps I should think of it as the moment my love of the outdoors was awakened.
I grew up in a small town on the outskirts of Leeds and my hobbies included shopping, boys and music. I did not consider myself to be 'outdoorsy.' I didn't venture into the countryside apart from family camping holidays and music festivals. I have fond memories of sleeping under canvas and being dragged along country footpaths by my parents, yet I never imagined I'd be doing the same thing as a parent myself.
Yet, here I am at the grand old age of 33 with 2 young boys who love nothing more than to be outside come rain or shine. My eldest spent the first week of his life cooped up in hospital, but once we took him home, he came on daily dog walks and endless walks in the pram or sling as being outside seemed to settle him. When he was 3 months old, we took him camping to the Lake District and I breastfed him at the top of Blencathra.
Similarly, we drove down to Looe from County Durham for a week's camping holiday when my youngest was 6 months old. We'd had weeks of a heatwave, but during our first night camping, we endured a yellow weather warning for gale force winds and torrential rain!
My Granny has since revealed that my Grandpa thought it was fantastic that we spent so much time outdoors with the boys from such a young age, yet we didn't think anything of it. It is (apparently!) second nature to us. So when the pandemic hit last year, the thing that kept us relatively sane was our allotted time for daily exercise. I tried to time our walks just right; early enough before my youngest's post lunch nap but not too late that we were already stir crazy from being cooped up indoors.
I can't pinpoint it exactly, but there is something incredibly powerful about the Great Outdoors. Just 5 minutes into our daily walks and I could literally feel the stress and worry melt away. The tension in my neck and shoulders would ease and my children would cease arguing; their imaginations running as wild as they were.
I still don't particularly class myself as an outdoorsy person; I don't like being out in the rain, I hate mud and I am definitely a fair-weather camper (although, I think it has only been sunny for 1 camping trip in the past 8 years!) However, I am addicted to how being outdoors makes me FEEL, and if I have to tolerate bad weather in order to be happy, pass me the brolly!