Almost four months on a cosy 28-foot boat with the love of your life, dealing with temperamental weather and an ocean as changeable as a teenager’s mood swings is one of those experiences that make you look at life and your place in it.
I don’t know if I’d go as far to say I’m stronger or that it was a transformational experience – during the sail I often compared to my 3,000km (1,864 miles) walk down the length of New Zealand, which really did change me as a person – but the sailing challenge made me sit up.
If there was one word to describe the realisation that I had been in an emotionally abusive relationship, that word would be shame.
It would quickly be followed by the word weakness.
How did I not realise I was in an emotionally abusive relationship? How weak was I to get into this sort of relationship and to stay so long? What does that say about me? What will other people think?
For several years, those two words have hung around me like a bad smell.
I no longer want to give them power, which is why I’m talking about it now and why, during our upcoming sail around Great Britain, my current (and amazing) partner Mark and I are fundraising for the UK charity SafeLives, which works to end domestic abuse. You can donate here.
A couple of weeks ago, I trod the Hadrian’s Wall Path in northern England from the east coast to the west coast. All 135km (84 miles) of it, walked in six days, passing through two cities, Newcastle and Carlisle, and following sections of ancient wall that had been built some 2,000 years ago to keep the marauding northerners out. It’s a walk I’ve wanted to do since I first arrived in the UK 15 years ago so to finally get round to doing it was pretty incredible.
I went to the dentist on Monday. Over the weekend I went clothes shopping for the boyfriend and filled a skip with junk. I drank gin and tonics on Saturday night and the other week I voted in the European Parliament elections.
You can’t get much more normal (or dull) than that.
Life in South London is a world away from walking the Te Araroa trail in New Zealand.
I’ve been asked so many times (that I’ve lost count) what it’s like to be back. My answer is the same – it’s all a little surreal. Continue reading →
I don’t need a bully. That nasty someone to belittle me, call me names, tell me I’m no good, that I’m stupid and ugly. Nope, I don’t need a bully – and yet I’m bullied every day.
That’s because I’m my own bully; I’m my own worst enemy.
Since my school days, I’ve barraged myself with negativity, put downs and self-doubt – you’re so uncool, you’re boring, you’re stupid, you’re not attractive, I would tell myself. I’d question what I thought and what I did. I’d tell myself other people were better than me, that I should be more like them, but that I could never be because I wasn’t good enough. Continue reading →
It was certainly a bit scary turning up at the pub for the first time, having to talk to random people who used outdoor lingo like munros, cams, hexes, and benighted. It was perhaps even scarier going on the first outdoor meet where I worried about my fitness levels, my lack of climbing ability and having to sleep in a room with 10 snoring strangers. But the doubts subsided when everyone was enjoying the breath-taking views and then later, in front of a roaring fire, when we were having a drunken laugh and scoffing cheese and crackers.
So, if you have a yearning to get outside more or have toyed with the idea of joining a club but haven’t made the plunge yet, here are my five reasons why you should bite the bullet and join up. Continue reading →
“Let’s do this cool gully,” said Richard, discussing the Sunday adventure plans in the Lake District, while sizing up his crampons and ice axes.
We were still in the cosy confines of the hut, nursing hangovers and savouring strong coffee, yet I was absolutely terrified of climbing a wall of ice with just some spikey bits of metal being all that would stop me from falling down the mountainside.
Even before setting eyes on the beast, just the thought of my first ice climb was making my hangover worse. I felt positively bilious.
All the usual doubts rose up and crashed down on me like a tidal wave: I’ve never been ice climbing before, how was I going to cope? I’m not good enough yet so how can I possibly do an ice climb? I don’t have the right kit with me. I don’t want to let the others down. What if I freak out and get stuck? Or worse, what if I fall off the mountain?
To be honest, that last thought wasn’t the one that concerned me most. It was the others – the ones that were like neon signs pointing out that I just wasn’t good enough. Continue reading →