Who am I and how did I come to be doing this….

A nearly 40 year old woman from London who loves being outdoors and is a nightmare when bored or without plan or routine.  I might need to get a friend or two to write something for this blog because in looking back at past notebooks for content I have also learned that I am not terribly consistent at writing in my notebooks – although I do love a good notebook! My friends, I think, will tell you that I am a fiercely loyal, honest, generous and driven person.  I am open and will generally talk about most things with most people although writing something like this about myself to share with a wider group is proving oddly intimidating!

Until recently a lot of people would have defined me by my job.  I am a qualified lawyer and for the past 14 years had helped to build a company up from its beginnings to becoming a leader in its field (which is exchange traded products for anyone who knows what they are).

As I said, I am a nightmare when I get bored and there is a correlation across my career between getting a bored of my role and going on “adventures”.  When I started work in the city 16 years ago all I could focus on was building a life and a career there.  Getting my training contract completed and starting my path to partnership. Outside of that and my family and friends there was not much room for anything else.  18 hr days were not uncommon and neither were 6 or 7 day weeks.  It was all about getting to that next step and then the next and then the one after that. 

I was constantly tired but also constantly engaged and learning.  Each new project brought whole new areas of knowledge and means of analysis and development.  There was travel and dinners and drinks.  I was “going somewhere”.  Then it got a bit boring.  The learning stopped, the work became easier and routine and the challenges fewer and more easily surmounted.  So enjoyment had to be found elsewhere – the outdoors started to creep in.  The odd day or weekend here and there, the 3 peaks challenge, some time on holiday (actually having holiday!).  I had spent a lot of time in the outdoors growing up but there had been no role or time for it since I had actually become a “grown up”.

Time in New York added some interest to life for a time but also showed me what it was like not to work all the hours in the day.  For 5 years my friends outside of law or the City had told me to “get a life” and I never really knew what that meant but my time in New York showed me what that meant.  But, I knew wasn’t done with the City yet.  There was still more to be learned just not where I was.  So, after 7 years, off in-house it was.  Better hours, interesting work, dedicated people working towards a goal in a business I had seen grow and had been supporting from the outside since its inception.  The challenges were back, the learning was back, the interest was back… but, the outdoors stayed. 

The hours were not as long and weekends and holidays became focussed on outdoors.  In the 9 years I have been there outdoors has moved from a thing I do in my spare time to the place I am always trying to get and an important part of who I am.  The fix I need to get me through.  In that time I have climbed Kilimanjaro, hiked the Inca Trail via Salcantay, kayaked the coast of Turkey, learnt to cross country ski, completed polar expedition training, walked the South Downs Way, walked a couple of marathon distance hikes, hut to hut walked in the Dolomites, hut to hut ski toured in the Haardangervida, done a couple of 100km walks in 20 hrs each, trekked up Welsh Peaks, trekked up many peaks, learnt how to kite-ski and how to damage myself kite-skiing (that is a whole blog in itself) and somewhere along the way decided to go to Antarctica. 

I am cross between a gym bunny and a weekend warrior and my happy places (other than with my husband, friends or family) are moving heavy things around the gym with the trainer I have worked with for 9 years or walking anywhere there is a wind in my face, ideally on hills or mountains.  When I can’t be out of the city doing that I read books about other people doing it.  Over time more and more of those books were about treks to the South Pole.  A trip to South Pole has played on my mind for a long time for a few reasons:

  • It is the next logical step from trekking- – ok, I get that is quite a weird statement but it seems logical to me…..
  • I am intrigued by the mix of mental and physical challenge – testing myself (see above re boredom)
  • Fascination with an environment that can be both beautiful and harsh, silent and noise, lonely but intense – at least that is my perception, I have never been there so please don’t treat me as an expert on polar life!
  • Life is just too short not to fill it with as many experiences as possible – it sounds like such a cliché but my recent experiences watching one of my dearest friends going through inflammatory breast cancer has really brought this message home and driven me on even more.

But then there are the undefinable reasons – it’s a simple as really just wanting to! I realised all of this back in 2015 during a work stint in Australia (I was sent to work there to stop me getting bored in London) and have worked towards a South Pole trip pretty much non-stop since then.  It has not been the most straight forward of journeys to this point, the plan has varied over time and my personal circumstances have dramatically changed but not the fundamental desire to get there. Much like my ability to write in notebooks, I can’t promise to write something to post here regularly but I hope you find my random thoughts interesting at least. 

If you do and want to support my trip then please please please visit the charity page and give generously.  As I said, watching a dear friend go through the hideousness that is inflammatory breast cancer has been a large motivator for keeping pushing forward with this trip – please help me raise vital funds and awareness to help prevent others having to go through this!