Tag Archives: adventure

7 Ideas For Awesome Quests

The best thing about going on a quest for me, is all the awesome adventures you have along the way.  When you throw yourself wholeheartedly into your quest, you will come back with so much more than you set out to achieve.

Sometimes, when you finally reach the goal, place or object you were seeking, it is better than you ever could have imagined.  Other times you may be disappointed, or fail on your mission.  But when you look back on a quest, it is often the journey to accomplishing your goal that is the most memorable and satisfying part.

On the road in Bolivia.

Having said that, the feeling of pursuing a grand quest is what makes the journey so exciting.  You can build an epic adventure around any quest, whether it is something extremely silly, or wild and extreme.  Here are some ideas to get us started…

1.  Reach a high point of a city, country, or the world.

I recently travelled to Dubai because it is home to the Burj Khalifa, which was the tallest building in the world when I visited the observation deck at the top.  Someone may have built something taller by the time you are reading this, and I will probably be planning to scale that too!  Although going to the top of the Burj Khalifa was the main goal of my Dubai trip, the other experiences I had in that crazy city far outweighed those few moments of bliss stepping out onto the 1/2 km high viewing platform.

View from the top of the Burj Khalifa, Dubai.

Reaching Annapurna Base Camp in Nepal was another significant moment, which was part of a far more amazing trek through the Himalayas.  But you don’t have to travel to the other side of the world to reach a high point.  Find the tallest building in your city, or make it your mission to climb all the hills in your area.  It can be as simple or elaborate a quest as you desire.

Annapurna Base Camp, Nepal

2.  Go celebrity hunting.

First of all with this one, it doesn’t have to be a celebrity you have any real interest in.  It’s about the thrill of the chase!  When we discovered a certain B-list celebrity lived near our parents houses, my friends and I had a great time climbing trees and running through muddy fields trying to catch a glimpse of him.  None of us were fans (not that I’m aware of anyway!), but we still had fun with our binoculars trying to see into the blacked out windows of his passing car.  Don’t judge me for this until you try it!

Climbing a tree to get a better view of a local celebrity’s house!

It is best done with friends as a purely recreational activity, otherwise you are just a weird stalker.  Don’t take it too far and get arrested, or develop some kind of crazy celebrity obsession.  If this happens, begin a new quest ASAP!

3.  Learn a new skill.

Learning to scuba dive was the main purpose, and BY FAR the best thing about my trip to Indonesia a few years ago.  However, the gorgeous beaches, stunning scenery, amazing temples and beautiful boat trips were a massive bonus!

Ubud, Bali

My quest to learn basic conversational Spanish while in South America was (almost) fulfilled when I found myself chatting to a local in a bar in Cusco, Peru after a few drinks.  Words were just flowing out of my mouth.  The grammar was all wrong, but we managed a semi conversation.

Long bus journeys passed by in the blink of an eye, while my head was buried in my Spanish book.  It was also a great excuse to relax and watch TV with subtitles, picking up many new words and phrases.  If you make learning something new your quest, I guarantee it will bring enjoyable experiences into your life.

3.  Follow a river all the way to another town.

This is something I’ve wanted to do for a while.  Mainly because I have a terrible sense of direction and it’s hard to get lost while walking alongside a river!  There is something so appealing about the idea of arriving in a new or familiar place the same way as the river.  Plus being next to water is always so relaxing.

You could take this to the extreme and follow a river all the way to its source, or all the way out to sea.  Or you could embark upon a quest to walk its entire length.

4.  Find the oldest tree or building in your area, or further afield.

This one may involve a bit of research, but that’s all part of the quest!  I am planning to visit a really old tree with a friend soon, and it got me thinking, I wonder where the top 10 oldest trees in the UK are?  I could find out with a quick google search, but then I would probably end up on a whole new quest that I don’t currently have time for!

Amazing tree in Monteverde, Costa Rica

Going on a quest to find the oldest buildings wherever you are can be fun, even if you’re not into history.  Plus you might learn something!  Once you’ve ticked off the oldest buildings in your home country, you can go on a quest further afield to discover some amazing places.  When you approach it in this way, you may find that you are more interested in history than you first thought!

Bristol, UK

5.  Give yourself a time limit.

Not all quests need to have time limits, but it can make things more exciting!  I remember going on a quest to find an indoor rollercoaster in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.  A fellow traveller and I gave ourselves an hour to get there.  We had no idea where it was, and we ended up running through the city like maniacs.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

When we eventually found it, we realised that it was far too expensive to be worth the money for us poor backpackers, and we didn’t even go on!  But we had a really fun time and an epic mini adventure.  We saw parts of the city and spoke to people we never would have otherwise.

6.  Food quests are the best.

I won’t write too much about this one, or I will make myself hungry.  I’m always hungry, and earning enough money to satisfy my gigantic appetite is a constant struggle!  If you love food, food quests are probably something you undertake pretty frequently anyway.  Just make sure you have an emergency snack with you, or the quest could turn into a hangry rampage pretty quickly.

7.  Turn a goal into a quest.

Want to save up money for your next adventure, further your studies, or start a new career path?  Whatever your goal, life is an adventure, so completing your mission should feel like a quest, not a chore.  Think about WHY you want to achieve this goal.  What aspect of it makes you feel excited and alive?

Start to re-frame your goal in a way that makes it feel like an adventure.  Dedicate a notebook to your quest, and jot down any helpful words or images that come to mind.  What will life look like when you succeed on your quest?  Focus on that, and ENJOY THE JOURNEY.  Remember that being on the quest is as much the purpose as reaching the goal.

You can never have too many exciting quest ideas… please share yours with me in the comments below!

 

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Learning To Love The Rain In Slovenia

There’s a reason Slovenia is so green.

slovenia3

 

The land glistens and twinkles with freshly fallen rain drops.

Vintgar gorge

Vintgar gorge

Emerald green rivers tumble down through lush tree-lined gorges.

slovenia

 

Waterfalls appear to emerge from nowhere, like fountains, gushing out of the hillside.

waterfall slovenia

 

It was hard to tell the thick mist of spray at the base of one waterfall from the nearly constant heavy rain we’d become so used to.

The lovely staff at the hostel where we were staying kindly lent me a giant rainbow umbrella.  The bright spectrum of colours surrounded and sheltered me, filling my mind with happy thoughts, so that only the beauty filtered through.

giant rainbow umbrella, slovenia

 

Shrouded in cloud and mist, the scenery of the country was somewhat elusive.  But when the clouds parted, the magical views were all the more special.

Bovec, Slovenia

Bovec, Slovenia

Fairytale Lake Bled took on an eerie grey hue to match the sky, adding to its mysterious appeal.

Lake Bled

Lake Bled

Any traces of resistance to the weather we’d been experiencing were well and truly washed away for me when we reached the vast Soca river.

Soca river

Soca river

Unstoppable, peaceful and so powerful.  I cried out with joy as I stood on the river bank, breathing it in, letting it carry my troubles swiftly away with its dynamic yet oh so soothing flow.

soca river slovenia

 

Far from the clear turquoise water we’d seen in pictures, the sediment churned up from the heavy rainfall gave the river a very pale opaque appearance.  I found this striking colour to be just as beautiful as the amazing emerald green of the Radovna river in the Vintgar gorge.

Vintgar gorge, Slovenia

Vintgar gorge, Slovenia

Winding our way down through the ethereal gorge, we became more and more enchanted with every step.

slovenia - vintgar5

 

As we rounded each corner, a new spellbinding view opened up before us, enticing us further and further along the path.

vintgar gorge slovenia

 

The hypnotic sounds, colours and shimmer of the water soothed and energized me.  The gorge seemed to contain the swirling magic of the river, allowing us to soak up more and more of it as we followed its course.

slovenia vintgar gorge2

 

After so thoroughly appreciating all of its consequences, how could I ever complain about the incessant rain again in this beautiful country again?!

lake bled heart

 

Have you been to Slovenia?  Did it rain the entire time when you were there, or were we just lucky/unlucky?!  I would also love to hear about any times you have found the beauty in something that you’ve previously disliked.  Leave me a comment 🙂

 

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The Spirit Of Adventure

I am an adventurer at heart, and probably always will be.  I’m writing this post because for a really long time I’ve had an internal battle of ‘home’ vs ‘wanderlust’ going on, and it’s been driving me a bit crazy.  I’ve felt like I should ‘grow up’ and ‘settle down’, do the sensible thing, prioritize safety and comfort, and stay close to the people who already know and love me.

Doing this has been great for a while, and 100% what I have needed.  But home isn’t just a place, it’s a state of mind.  One that I only seem to be able to access when I am being true to myself and my desires.  When I think about what I want long term, the only thing I can feel genuinely inspired by is a life of adventure.

Flying high over the desert in Peru.

Flying high over the desert in Peru.

I love that feeling of home, familiar faces and places, and the warm glow that surrounds me.  But when I deny my need for adventure, I cut myself off from this connection with the world around me.  Ironically, forcing myself to stay home for too long can be the very thing that prevents me from feeling ‘at home’.

Flowers in the garden on a sunny day - that beautiful feeling of home.

Flowers in the garden on a sunny day – that beautiful feeling of home.

It makes me feel sad sometimes that I’m not motivated by the same things as most of the people around me.  I actually find the hard work, persistence and determination of friends that have saved enough money to buy a house, or weathered the tough times in long term employment in order to raise a family, incredibly inspiring.  I know that they must really want it.

People that follow an unconventional path often project their own feelings onto those that choose to find peace and contentment in a more ‘ordinary’ life.  Obviously there are exceptions, and there certainly are people that are dissatisfied with their boring job, partner and/or miserable existence.  But that’s not what I see.  For the most part, I see people that go through ups and downs, but are committed to their future, and get enough joy from their day to day lives to know that it’s worth it.

Adventure for most people is a fun interlude during an otherwise comfortable life.  I know people that come home from an action packed holiday and are actually glad to get back to their normal routine and familiar surroundings.  They have amazing memories of the experience, they may learn and grow from it, and it will enrich their lives.  This is awesome.  But it is not me.

Amazon jungle adventures

Amazon jungle adventures

I need more.  I want longer adventures.  I need to go deeper in the jungle.  I’m no Ranulph Fiennes, but I am intent on pushing my own boundaries further than I can even imagine right now.  This doesn’t mean I’m going to take crazy risks (I’m actually incredibly safety conscious these days!), but it does mean I will chase my crazy dreams.

I often wish my dreams were more aligned with those of my friends and family… a beautiful house in the countryside, some happy children, fabulous holidays, or a creative project that fits nicely into life at home in the UK.  But what I really want is to belong, and I only feel this sense of belonging when I am following my own dreams, not someone else’s.

I first knew adventure was more to me than just the occasional holiday or adventurous hobby when, nearing the end of a 5 month long trip around South America, I imagined not having to go home.  I glimpsed a freedom greater than anything I had ever dared to dream of.

A condor soaring through the vast Colca Canyon, Peru.

A condor soaring through the vast Colca Canyon, Peru.

Many years, and many adventures later, the call towards freedom had become stronger than ever.  Every time I experienced the wild beauty of life, I knew this was where I belonged.  Not in any one particular place, but in that place within me that was unconstrained, limitless and free.

Halong Bay, Vietnam

Halong Bay, Vietnam

My passion for exploration and adventure is so all-consuming that when I am not adventuring (which has been too often during the last couple of years), the weirdest things give me wanderlust.  I was in a cafe a few weeks ago with a friend, and the smelly toilet actually made me yearn to be far from home in a warm country with inferior plumbing, where all the toilets smell like that.

That was a turning point for me.  I knew I needed to take action.  I am now pouring my overwhelming passion for adventure into planning and saving for a looonnnng trip to Costa Rica this winter.  For the last couple of years I have been channeling my adventurous spirit into my businesses and creative projects, which I hope to continue overseas.

The main challenge has been developing the confidence to rely on myself to earn money, and to ride out the highs and lows.  It’s still a challenge every single day, but it’s getting easier.  I have a little adventurousness left over now, so it’s time to wander again… to Costa Rica and beyond!

What does the spirit of adventure mean to you?  Is your wanderlust in balance with your life, satisfied by regular adventures?  Or is it raging out of control, to the point where even eating at a Chinese, Indian, Italian etc. restaurant brings you close to tears with the overwhelming desire to BE THERE?!  Leave me a comment with your thoughts 

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Nature Meditation

Some places are so spectacularly beautiful that we are effortlessly drawn into their magic.

Halong Bay, Vietnam

Halong Bay, Vietnam

Time seems to slow down and we feel a profound inner stillness.

Lake Titicaca, Bolivia

Lake Titicaca, Bolivia

A view can seem so surreal that it brings us a fresh perspective on life.  The whole world somehow feels more alive, and more strange!

Machu Picchu, Peru

Machu Picchu, Peru

Our surroundings interact with us and remind us that we are part of this extraordinary vision.  Contemplating a magnificent ocean view is a full sensory immersion.  The endless gentle roar of the waves, the feel of the salty sea air on the skin, and the unmistakeable smell, are so powerfully soothing.

Big Sur, California

Big Sur, California

Interacting with nature in a more dynamic way can also bring about feelings of deep peace.  The full body co-ordination involved with outdoor activities such as rock climbing, paddle boarding, skiing and surfing (along with countless others!), can really force us into a state of calm concentration and aliveness.

The adrenaline of a bungee jump or a sky dive, combined with the rushing air and amazing views can only be compared to the feeling of being the hero of a real-life computer game!  These were among the most intense natural highs I have ever experienced.

sky dive

 

Meditation was rarely my intention with these out-of-this-world experiences; but they did open a doorway for me to experience the immense beauty of the present moment.  Seen with fresh eyes, beauty appeared in details I had previously missed.  The world became so vivid to me, and I had much more appreciation for the subtle charm of ordinary things.

I realized that peace was accessible to me anywhere, any time.

Autumn leaves

A tiny patch of land where nature is allowed to flourish, 2 minutes from my home in the UK.

If  we make it our intention to deepen our sense of peace and connection to the world around us, a walk in a local park can be as magical as visiting a more dramatically beautiful place.  It may not have such a powerful impact, but if we allow its gentle beauty to permeate our being, the effect can be just as profound.

If you open your heart to the beauty of the present moment, you will be rewarded.

Whether you’re taking a peaceful stroll in nature, sitting quietly in your garden, or swimming in the ocean, consciously connecting with the magic of your surroundings will deepen the feeling of peace you experience.  The benefits will continue throughout your day, and beyond.

So my challenge for you today is to become one with the subtle magic of the present moment.  Give yourself a minimum of 5 minutes to deepen your bond with a natural environment or a particular aspect of nature.  It could be as simple as contemplating a beautiful flower or leaf, or gazing up at the vast open sky.  Or if you have more time, climb a hill or follow the path of a river.  There are endless possibilities.

beautiful flowers

 

Just remember that your intention is the most important thing.  When you combine a strong intention to nurture your bond with nature and feel peace in your heart, with a simple action that is in alignment with the intention, you will find that you create a new magic all of your own.

How do you connect with nature?  What magical moments have inspired you?  Leave me a comment below and share your wisdom 🙂

 

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10 Affirmations To Assist You During An Adventure

An adventure for you might be as simple as getting up early to go to the gym, or going to a party where you don’t know anyone.  Or it might be climbing a mountain or doing a bungee jump.  We all have our comfort zones.  Some days simply venturing outside feels like an adventure to me, yet at other times traveling solo through remote areas of foreign countries where I don’t speak a word of the language has felt like a walk in the park.

Hot air ballooning in Cappadocia, Turkey.

Hot air ballooning in Cappadocia, Turkey.

Whatever your current adventure threshold is, affirmations can really help to focus your mind when taking on challenges.  Try using these, take bits that feel empowering, discard bits that don’t, or make up some of your own!

1.  I am infinite.

One of my top affirmations for just about anything.  It’s simple and straight to the point.  Most of the rest of this list is saying the same thing in different words.  In fact, much of what I write on this blog relates to this powerful idea.  For some ‘infin-spiration’ read my recent post ‘You Are Infinite’.

Me being Tarzan in the Venezuelan jungle!

Me being Tarzan in the Venezuelan jungle!

2.  I am an eternal being journeying through time and space.  I can do anything.

This one puts things into perspective!  When I’m afraid, remembering this really helps.

3.  Adventure brings me expansion into peace.

When we do something that takes us out of our comfort zone, we see that we can cope with a lot more than we think we can.  This brings a greater sense of peace in day to day life.

Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

4.  The earth is my friend and gives me infinite love and support.

Having the mindset that our environment is friendly rather than hostile can drastically change the way we interact with it.  When I got lost in Kuala Lumpur, late at night and carrying a heavy backpack, I panicked.  I was in very little physical danger as I was in a central part of town with plenty of people around.  But it had been a long journey and I was tired, hungry and not thinking straight.  I saw friendly people who tried to help and give me directions as a threat, and I strode off in the opposite direction from my hostel, determined to find my own way there!

I got there in the end but I was very sweaty, exhausted and annoyed!  In contrast, when I got lost in the middle of nowhere in Cappadocia, with no water left and in the blazing heat, I was ridiculously calm.  I was still exhausted and very hot, but the beauty and silence of my surroundings put me at complete ease.  I continued walking happily and found my way back quickly.  I’m sure I’d still be there now if I had decided the desolate landscape with crumbly rocks and thistles was out to get me!

Rose Valley, Cappadocia

Rose Valley, Cappadocia

5.  I am strong and calm.

This one speaks for itself really.  Desirable qualities for any adventurer!

6.  This experience is helping me tap into my infinite source of inner strength.

When we’re struggling, telling ourselves we’re infinite sometimes seems unbelievable.  This is when getting a bit creative with the wording can do wonders.  We may not feel infinite at that moment, but we know we have felt much more capable than this in the past.  So remembering that this strength exists, and our experience is helping us to find it, can be an excellent stepping stone.

White water rafting in Peru, just before we flipped over and smashed my face on the rock! I wouldn't want to experience it again, but surviving it made me feel strong.

White water rafting in Peru, just before we flipped over and smashed my face on the rock! I wouldn’t want to experience it again, but surviving it made me feel strong.

7.  I am one with my surroundings.

Similar to number 4.  When we experience something that challenges us, it is easy to fall into the trap of feeling separate and isolated.  At the end of the day, adventure is something to be enjoyed, not endured.  This affirmation can remind us of why we’re here, and to become totally immersed in the experience.

Poon Hill in the Himalayas, Nepal.

Poon Hill in the Himalayas, Nepal.

8.  I am growing into my limitless self.

For the times when enjoying it just doesn’t seem feasible!  We grow from every experience and that is an amazing thing in itself.

9.  I am infinitely capable and can deal with any situation with ease.

Feeling tired, hungry, scared, lost or alone can trigger feelings of insecurity which can fool us into believing we are much less capable than we are.  We suddenly become like a vulnerable small child again.  Remind yourself that you are infinitely capable and that you can not only deal with this, but you can deal with it easily.

10.  I am a super magical goddess/god/being/creature!

If all else fails call upon your magical powers!  When we’re challenging ourselves, it can seem like we need superhuman powers to succeed.  So give it a try, and use this super magical affirmation!

necklaces pigeon pose instagram

 

I hope you enjoyed reading these and found some of them useful.  Affirmations and visualizations work best for me when I play around and have fun with them, so feel free to mix them up into your own special blend.  I’d love to hear from you with your top affirmations, or any new ideas these have inspired.  Happy adventuring!  ❤ ❤ ❤

 

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Citizens Of The World

I am inspired by visions of beauty all over the world,  from striking real life Indian goddesses amidst stunning temples,

Vittala temple complex, Hampi, India

to prayer flags lining paths through remote villages in Nepal.

On the way to the start of the Annapurna Base Camp trek in Nepal.

On the way to the start of the Annapurna Base Camp trek in Nepal.

I am inspired by the love of life and welcoming attitude of people everywhere I go, from the kindness of countless strangers across the globe, who have cooked me delicious meals, performed impromptu traditional dances, and shared the joy of singing and playing music together…

Men dancing in Amed, Bali.

Men dancing in Amed, Bali.

… to the lovingly cultivated celebration of nature that is my parents garden.

roses in garden

 

I am reassured to find that wherever I travel in the world, despite the cultural differences, people all have the same underlying appreciation for, and desire to celebrate and honour, this precious life.  From elaborate man made religious buildings with a hint of nature…

Ubud, Bali

Ubud, Bali

to the more subtle yet absolutely awe inspiring Gergeti Trinity Church, Georgia, dwarfed by the dramatic landscape that surrounds it.

Gergeti Trinity Church, Kazbegi, Georgia

Gergeti Trinity Church, Kazbegi, Georgia

I take pieces of these people, places and things with me and weave them into the wonderland of my imagination.  I hope that the things I create will inspire joy in those around me, just like the things that inspire me touch my own heart.

Necklaces from my Etsy shop.

Necklaces from my Etsy shop.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Most Important Lesson Travel Has Taught Me

I’ve learned so much about the world while travelling, it’s impossible not to.  But for now I just want to tell you about the number one thing that has been reinforced, again and again, by every meaningful travel experience I have had.

When you spend an extended period of time outside of your normal routine, exploring, taking in wondrous sights, and discovering the astonishing variety of life that exists on our planet, it shifts your perspective on things.  You realise that there is so much more out there.

The view from Poon Hill, Nepal

The view from Poon Hill, Nepal

It isn’t just the endless physical possibilities you now know exist.  More significantly, it is the depth of peace and the overwhelming feeling of aliveness you discover.  The world becomes a so much more enchanting place, and you have a much deeper appreciation for all of it.

Monkeys in Hampi

Monkeys in Hampi

It can be difficult to balance this new found sense of wonder with day to day life in a 9 to 5 job back home.  I struggled with it several times after returning from long trips abroad.  I needed the money, (mainly so I could go off and have more spectacular adventures!) but, more that that, I needed to slow down and enjoy the small pleasures in life.

I could no longer deny the importance of my day to day experience in the hope of experiencing more peace in the future.

I unequivocally had to live for the now.

This brought with it a whole heap of challenges, but my shift in priorities also led me to discover so many wonderful things that I wasn’t open to before.  I got into yoga in a big way, I became a qualified massage therapist, I started making my own jewellery, I picked up my guitar again after years of neglecting it, and I even began writing songs.

I've now turned my jewellery making hobby into a business.

I’ve now turned my jewellery making hobby into a business.

Now that I knew how much peace and beauty was available to be experienced in this world, I had to find a way to ‘live it’.  To only have access to this seemingly magical realm when I was on holiday from real life was an impossible thought to bear.  I experimented, failed more times that I could ever manage to relay to you, and gradually found more and more of this peace that I had been looking for, exactly where I was.

Someone tweeted the other day, and I forget who it was or the exact words, something about creativity being a “scavenger hunt for the soul”.  Those 5 words really stuck with me.  It certainly does feel that way sometimes, but my god it is worth it!!!!

Finding the treasure at the end of the rainbow!  Photo:  Iguacu Falls, South America

Finding the treasure at the end of the rainbow!  Photo: Iguacu Falls, South America

When it was just the shortest moments of peace, following so much of the absolute opposite, I feared I had chosen the wrong path.  However, I must have known somehow that things would get better, because I kept trying.  The more I learned how to get my monkey mind to cooperate and tune into my heart’s longings, and the better I became at expressing myself creatively, the more profound and longer lasting the feeling of inner peace was.

So I continue on my journey, collecting pieces of myself along the way.  But now instead of desperately searching, I go wide-eyed in wonder on my quest, knowing that really, all of it is me.  I have learned to live in the moment, content with where I am, amazed at where I have been, and excited for where I am about to go.

Ushuaia, the 'southern-most city in the world'.

Ushuaia, the ‘southern-most city in the world’.

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The Only Time I’ve Ever Really Enjoyed Swimming In FREEZING Cold Water

I LOVE water.  I can honestly think of nothing better than being outdoors, fully immersed in water.  A lot of the time I love it too much to even swim, and prefer to just gently bob up and down basking head to toe in the perfection of it.  I like to take my time, allowing the motion of the waves or current to wash over me and bring me back to the present moment in the most easeful way possible.

Crane Beach, Barbados - now that's what I call water!

Crane Beach, Barbados – now that’s what I call water!

I’ve been lured in by icy cold rivers, lakes and oceans (OK maybe not icy, but definitely chilly) on more than one occasion.  I’ve always felt refreshed and enlivened afterwards, but have very very rarely enjoyed the actual time in the water.  Colder temperatures just don’t really suit my preferred style of bathing!  However, there was one exception.

One summer’s day a group of friends and I took a trip to the forest in south Wales to visit some beautiful waterfalls.  We walked up the steep path alongside the river which winds and cascades down between the trees.

"Sgŵd Uchaf Clyn Glyn - geograph.org.uk - 70655" by Nigel Davies. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sg%C5%B5d_Uchaf_Clyn_Glyn_-_geograph.org.uk_-_70655.jpg#/media/File:Sg%C5%B5d_Uchaf_Clyn_Glyn_-_geograph.org.uk_-_70655.jpg

“Sgŵd Uchaf Clyn Glyn – geograph.org.uk – 70655” by Nigel Davies. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sg%C5%B5d_Uchaf_Clyn_Glyn_-_geograph.org.uk_-_70655.jpg#/media/File:Sg%C5%B5d_Uchaf_Clyn_Glyn_-_geograph.org.uk_-_70655.jpg

The area is actually known as ‘Waterfall Country’ due to their abundance here.  From the high impressive curtains of water that you can walk behind, to the smaller but equally magical falls that tumble into crystal clear pools throughout the rocky gorge, there was no shortage of inspiration for every water lover!

I knew the water would be cold.  It had been a glorious summer and I’d been fortunate enough to swim in some beautiful outdoor spots in the UK a few times already that year.  On the hottest day, in much slower moving water on lower ground, I had found it pleasantly cool.

I thought back to my first outdoor swim of the year.  It was a blazing hot day, and we’d gone to a popular swimming spot at Claverton, near bath.  It was during the week and most people were in work, so we were delighted to find that we practically had it to ourselves!

The beautiful river at Claverton, on a slightly busier sunny day.

The beautiful river at Claverton, on a slightly busier sunny day.

The water was deep, dark and murky, but the lush green plants that surrounded us provided a strange sort of comfort.  It was impossible to feel in any way uneasy about what lurked in the muddy depths of the river whilst we were in the loving embrace of the verdant life that flourished there.

Birds sang, insects hummed, and the river washed over us.  It was an alien situation, and yet it felt so familiar.  The aliveness of the habitat I found myself in resonated deeply within my body, waking up a part of me that slept during the time I spent in the clean modern artificial world.

The water at this idyllic spot in Claverton wasn’t warm, but it was in a completely different league to the piercing cold of the Welsh waterfalls.

"Neath Waterfall". Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Neath_Waterfall.jpg#/media/File:Neath_Waterfall.jpg

“Neath Waterfall”. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Neath_Waterfall.jpg#/media/File:Neath_Waterfall.jpg

I was excited to plunge into the deep pool that had been carved out by the gushing torrent of white water, but I was expecting it to be fairly unpleasant!  I hurriedly tip-toed across the mossy rock – I was partly anticipating the exhilarating thrill, and partly eager for it to be over!

The waterfall was a modest size, but its power was undeniable.  As I got closer excitement took over.  It must have been the way the water hurled itself over the edge of the rock without hesitation that encouraged my unusually wholehearted approach to the experience.

I launched myself in without a second thought.  I was vaguely aware of a slightly painful tingling sensation in my skin, but the sheer joy of being engulfed in this bubbling cauldron far outweighed any discomfort I felt.  It was like being in a huge, natural, extremely vigorous jacuzzi!

By Ulybug from London, UK (Flickr) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Ulybug from London, UK (Flickr) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

My friend went and stood directly under the roaring torrent of water.  I wouldn’t have thought it possible to withstand that kind of force, but he seemed fine so I joined him!  It was a crazy kind of power shower that left me gasping for breath and laughing hysterically.

A very quick dip is all I usually manage in colder water, but this lively waterfall pool lured me back in for more.  I happily soaked up its invigorating energy, my senses fully absorbed and my whole body buzzing.

I realised that I was ENJOYING myself, and the novelty of this fact made me even happier.  It was a bizarre experience for me to be in freezing cold water and ecstatically happy at the same time.  Eventually I did have to drag myself out of there before I lost all feeling in my limbs.  I felt amazing, fully charged by the waterfall’s power, if a little battered about!  That was one swim I wouldn’t be forgetting in a hurry!

After such an intense start, I floated through the rest of the day in the Welsh woodlands with a warm inner glow, matching the outer warmth of the golden sunlight that filtered down through the trees.  We lay on the grass, did handstands against tree trunks, laughed, chatted, strolled and ate.  It was marvellous.

Are you a mermaid/merman too?  Have you had any unusual outdoor swimming experiences?  Leave me a comment below, I’d love to hear your stories!

 

 

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From Heavenly Heights To Troglodyte Life in Cappadocia, Turkey

Suspended high in the air over the ‘fairy chimney’ rock formations and magnificent valleys of Cappadocia, everything was still.  The soft light of sunrise sprinkled its magic across the land, and we stood in the basket of the hot air balloon, packed in like sardines, in silent awe.  It was my first hot air balloon ride, and although I’d been paragliding before, and taken more flights than I care to remember, the splendour of rising up into the sky in this way was truly unique.

Cappadocia, Turkey

 

It was every bit as glorious as I’d imagined it would be, with an added element of fear that I’d not expected.  Our pilot skillfully guided the balloon perilously close to the weird and wonderful rocky peaks, skimming the basket past them with what felt like just millimeters to spare.  The landing site was interesting too, a tiny flat grassy area surrounded by sloping terrain and rocks.  We all breathed a sigh of relief when we touched down safely.

The relief was short lived though, as we began to float up into the air again without our pilot who had already hopped over the side of the basket!  I was ready to jump out, but quickly realized we were securely tethered and breathed a second sigh of relief.  Once we’d actually landed I stamped my feet on the earth a few times just to make sure!

Rose Valley

Rose Valley

With my new found appreciation for the ground beneath my feet, I enjoyed a long trek through the valley, keen to explore the territory in greater detail.  I set off with plenty of water, legs full of energy and a heart full of excitement.  I wanted to find the most impressive collection of fairy chimneys, but instead of checking a guide book I confidently marched off down a track which seemed to go in the right general direction.

I ended up, several hours later, exhausted, lost and very hot.  I’d run out of water and had shoes full of thorns, but I felt so happy!  I had no idea how I was going to find my way back, but I knew that I would.  My calmness amazed me.  I put it down to the silence of the valley and the steadiness of the pale golden rocks that seemed to watch over me.

The next day I stumbled upon the particular collection of fairy chimneys I’d been searching for, having absolutely no idea how I’d managed to miss them!

Fairy Chimneys, Cappadocia

 

Despite there being quite a few other people wandering around, taking photos and soaking up the scenery, it felt eerily quiet.  There were plenty of times when I found myself completely alone amidst the staggering rock formations.  It was like being in a Bond movie, but instead of an enemy stepping out from behind a pillar to shoot me with a gun, it was a tourist with a camera!

I’d come from the sprawling mega-city of Istanbul to the sleepy town of Goreme in Cappadocia, and it had taken me a little while to adjust to the change of pace.  I thought back to the day I’d arrived there and had hiked up out of town to a viewpoint to watch the sunset with some fellow travellers who’d been on the road for a really long time.

Goreme, Cappadocia

 

My companions were so relaxed and content, quietly absorbing the last few rays of warm light as the sun slowly disappeared behind the horizon.  I smiled to myself at the memory, realizing I was now in that same mode, inevitably harmonized by my immersion in this wonderful landscape.

Goreme, Cappadocia

 

Even in the town it was impossible to feel disconnected from the land, as many of the buildings are carved into the rock.   The guest house I stayed in was a ‘cave’ house.  It was more basic than some of the ‘cave hotels’ you might see pictures of, but you still got the full troglodyte experience!  I got a great night’s sleep there every night due to the silence and dark offered by my cave room, and it even had a pool to lounge by, for when I eventually emerged into the light.

I don’t think I could take to the cave life on a permanent basis, although it does have a certain appeal…

Cave house, Goreme

 

… But my time in the fairyland of Cappadocia certainly left me recharged, relaxed and ready for my next Turkish adventure!

Thank you for reading.  I would love to hear about your experiences of Cappadocia, or any other fantastic natural wonders of this world.  Or just leave me a comment to say hello, it’s wonderful to meet fellow travel/nature lovers.

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Why I Travel

Travelling brings me a sense of wonder, awe and enchantment.

Varanasi, India

Varanasi, India

When my only objective is to explore, I am in the present moment and everything feels ALIVE. I slow down and absorb every detail of my surroundings; the colours, the smells, the sounds and the FEEL.

Scene from window of train just outside Cairo, Egypt.

View from window of train just outside Cairo, Egypt.

With fresh eyes I see beauty in everyday scenes that, in familiar surroundings, I would likely pass by without a second look.  I am mesmerized by the most ordinary aspects of life in a foreign land.

Travelling teaches me to find contentment in the here and now; not waiting for anything, just living fully and completely.

As well as the magic experienced in the simple things, there is the profound impact of experiencing nature in all of its immense glory.

Iguacu Falls on the border of Brazil and Argentina.

Iguacu Falls on the border of Brazil and Argentina.

There have been moments I will remember forever, and places that stir up ancient memories that surface from deep within.  Memories that don’t belong to this life, but to a time when a connection with nature was ever present.  Now, during precious moments in a contrasting age of separation, the beauty of this bond can be perceived.

Often when I’m travelling, unexpected situations lead to the most wonderful experiences.  When the stifling heat in Marrakech forced us out of our bedroom to sleep on the roof of our hotel, I had no idea it would be so nourishing and inspiring.  Calls to prayer reverberated around us from all over the city, coming together with the dark night sky and thick warm air, to form a protective blanket around us.  Magic was quite literally in the air.  I woke up with the sun, a new person, with clarity about my path in life.  I knew what I valued and vowed to live more in harmony with this great force of peace.

Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

I have shared so many extraordinary experiences with special friends, old and new, knowing that we felt the same joy.  Travelling with good friends, spending 24 hours a day with them, dissolves all social boundaries and leads to spectacular amounts of fun.  These times have brought me so much happiness, and to begin to describe them here would turn this short post into a novel.

Along with this peace, wonder, contentment and connection with nature, travel provides the opportunity for something that is even more valuable to me.  Adventure.

I sometimes suffer from quite debilitating anxiety.  If it weren’t for my love of adventure, my mental state could be a LOT worse than it is now.  I still have my struggles, but knowing all the crazy things I have done (and survived!) really helps when I’m having a crisis of confidence.

I’m not what you might call a dare devil.  I have a healthy amount of caution, but my desire to experience new and exciting things has put me in some pretty hairy situations on more than one occasion.  I could do without adventures like being stuck halfway up multi-pitch rock climbs, or escaping The Great Fire Of 2012 in Laos; but they have taught me how much I can actually cope with.  I’ve overcome my fears sky diving and bungee jumping, and survived many a minor accident while testing my boundaries white water rafting, handstanding in inappropriate places and riding mopeds on potholed roads.

White water rafting in Peru, just before we flipped over and smashed my face on the rock!

White water rafting in Peru, just before we flipped over and smashed my face on the rock!

These things are all great learning experiences (some more fun than others!), but it’s the feeling of limitless possibility that being out of my comfort zone brings me that keeps me coming back for more.  Whether I’m looking out over a new city from a tall building or viewpoint (one of my favourite activities), trekking through beautiful unknown landscapes, or pushing my physical and mental limits, adventure to me is about possibility.  That is what I find so exciting.

When I do something out of the ordinary, I experience a feeling of expansiveness, and I know that there is so much more to explore and do.  I know that I am capable of so much more than I thought I was, and my heart longs for the next adventure.

View from the Baiyoke Sky Hotel, Bangkok

View from the Baiyoke Sky Hotel, Bangkok

 

 

 

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