I arrived at university in 1998 with a selection of knitted patterned jumpers.
In my minds’ eye I looked outdoorsy and rugged.
I should probably mention that I had also dyed my hair straw-blonde which perhaps did not help build that image. At 18 you make some odd choices.
The jumpers had been pass-me-downs and though their functionality as a device to create warmth remained second-to-none it transpired that they did not form part of the fashion of 1998. They were relegated to work wear back home for log chopping and bonfires at which they excelled.
It is therefore with some bemusement that I found myself in Chile examining a selection of fine patterned woolly jumpers that in 1998 could possibly have led to social exclusion.
In the end I overcame temptation on the basis that I own quite a few jumpers already and do not have space in our travel bags for duplication, but I did emerge as the owner of a poncho. The moment I slipped it over my head I knew the sale was sealed. A masterpiece in design and function.
I doubt that jumpers or ponchos create an outdoorsy or rugged look, and 20 years on from I’ve learned of course that it does not actually matter.
I do know that I am looking forwards to cold evenings with a fire in the garden and a cigar and cognac in hand, friends around me, and my poncho over my head. And that does matter.
If you don’t already have one, get one and come round.
I want to write about leaving your baby behind and getting some mum and dad “couple” time.
When babies arrive (spoiler for those without kids: there is no stork involved) your life changes irrevocably. The wonderful parts speak for themselves and I won’t list them here. Kids are an amazing gift.
Conversely, time as a couple becomes scarce, sleep deprivation leaves you broken (unless you are in the lucky minority with babies who sleep effortlessly), and other hobbies and aspirations are placed on hold or turned off permanently.
We had the privilege of being able to travel extensively whilst Bertrand was between 6 and 10 months, determined to keep our passion for travel and the outdoors alive and perhaps to instil a taste for mountains, fresh air and international adventure into his little spirit.
Travel with a baby is tough. Waking every hour whilst our little one teethed in Patagonia was harder than any work stress I have experienced. His process of unlearning the sleep-training we had painfully introduced sapped our will. His yelling at 3am with paper-thin hotel room walls left us slightly shame-faced as we entered each morning for breakfast, wondering who else had suffered a night of no sleep.
But travel with a baby is also so rewarding. His excitement every time we see a dog (every few minutes in Argentina). His laughs and squeals at my pain and exertion as we trekked up mountains. Cuddles wrapped-up in a poncho by a fire after dinner watching the sun setting, nestled in with an arm round my neck as he dropped off to sleep. If you have the opportunity to travel with your young one, don’t over-think it, just do it and you’ll work the rest out as you go.
“Every-man’s right” has a nice ring to it. In UK law it is the right to roam freely across most moorlands, hills and heaths for the purpose of exercise, even if they are privately owned. The rich and famous don’t get exceptions. Even without this the UK is blessed with a superb network of footpaths and excellent Ordinance Survey maps.
I like to try and get out for a run in each place I visit.