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Diary, Hackney, high tech high nature, walks, wild walks -

This evening I walked home from Kings Cross along a canal. There were ducks and coots. It was cool but not cold. There were many lush plants and grassy areas and some great smells. Also lots of nice people left curtains open and lights on so I could indulge a favourite pastime of checking out their living rooms. My phone was nearly out of power so I neither listened to music, called anyone nor took photos for Instagram...

It was a little over three miles, and because I went slowly I saw things I wouldn't normally notice.

I got home feeling great. 

I then had tea and thought I'd check Twitter. And Facebook. And post a couple of articles I think interesting on my two facebook pages. Oh and Instagram. And then best check personal email accounts. And just one scoot through Instagram. 

Whilst I did see some interesting stuff - especially the research on why America vilifies mum's that leave children alone for a few minutes (scheduled to appear on Outdoor People's Facebook page in the morning) - did it make me FEEL good?

No.

I feel like it undid the peace and quiet of that lovely walk. I wish I'd gone to sleep early instead.  And yet I felt compelled to write it down.  Because this is why I campaign to get kids outdoors.

High tech high nature is a phrase coined by The Wild Network. I might not have noticed how edgy I felt after an hour of skimming social media without that hour of wandering to compare it too.  I love social media. But I love not being engaged too. 

How to balance the two?  Best leave it there and turn off the phone!

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#OutdoorPeople, adventure, Diary, snowdon, Wild, Wildtime -

Busyness. Life. Zen. Living in East London I, like many others, live what I often think of as a madly busy life. We are surrounded by the constant noise of traffic, shops, people. Competing imagery, sounds, smells, sensations.  And that's before the usual human noise of friendships, relationships, maybe children, parents, family, work colleagues and the aquantance who suddenly tells you how her life is going down the toilet. Constantly watchful. Always worrying. And often simply worrying we are worrying too much. I'll take a wild stabbing guess that this holds true - maybe with some substitutions - for most folks most places. And of course that is life in all its rich, varied messiness. But it can take concentration and effort to be calm and ordered. And especially if one of the magic pillars of our lives - family, home, work - gets damaged. Well I just saw Wild - the film about Cheryl Strayed who ran away from her life, and found herself along a three month hike.

This is a beautiful film. Quite literally beautiful as she walks through some of the most gorgeous landscapes and wild places. But also emotionally beautiful as she figuratively picks up her overloaded life and then quietly sheds it and learns to use it properly over the following three months. She had some really big issues to deal with, but on the human scale this reminds us of the power of wild. When reviewing the Hackney Wild Walks one statement from every participant was loud and clear. That simply having a walk through the park, along the canal, a few minutes to smell lavender and see the sky through the trees cleared the mind and lifted the heart. And we all reflected on how important this is on a day to day basis for all children. A few days ago I saw this photo on Facebook: IMG_7277 It made me stop and think. Is it true? Well yes, of course. Cheryl is still Cheryl even when she's walked for eight days on muesli... And I don't become a different person on top of Stac Pollaidh, or walking in the park. But the space. It just makes it easier to strip away the noise. To feel more in control. To reconnect with our spaces inside. And every time we go wild - whether for five mutes or five months - we can help bring that back into our daily lives. These are some of my favourite wild places, places I want to get back to, places I think of when my head starts spinning, places I can go to by closing my eyes. And walking out my front door. [caption id="attachment_1680" align="aligncenter" width="665"]Snowdonia Snowdonia (credit Richard Outram)[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1676" align="aligncenter" width="640"]Achiltibuie, NW Highlands Achiltibuie, NW Highlands (Credit Jim Downie, Achiltibuie Appreciation Society)[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1673" align="aligncenter" width="640"]Stac Pollaidh Stac Pollaidh (credit Jim Downie, Achiltibuie Appreciation Society)[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1674" align="aligncenter" width="640"]Chapel Porth, Cornwall Chapel Porth, Cornwall (credit Cath Prisk)[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1677" align="aligncenter" width="640"]London Fields, Hackney London Fields, Hackney[/caption] We bring our zen with us, but sometimes we need to walk a spell to find it right here... I'd love to hear about your wild spaces. Where do you go and why? *Thanks to the Achiltibuie Appreciation Society and to Richard Outran Welsh Landscapes (both links Fb groups) from whom I borrowed the Scottish and Welsh images. And to Charlie and his friends for endlessly modelling in London Fields, my nearest bit of 'wild' if not really actually wilderness!

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#OutdoorPeople, Christmas, Diary, Exhale, newsletter, Online Shop, Shop, snowdon, sustainability -

Phew. What a  year 2014 was. I can't believe Outdoor People is now over seven months old! I must admit on stepping down from Play England back in March, and leaving the NCB in May, setting up my own company was a very scary step to take. And to try to build it as a 'social enterprise' an even scarier one. Most people don't even know what a social enterprise is, and frankly even those that do have many different definitions! Could I cope with the drastic change in income? Could my husband? Could I cope without a great team around me? Where on earth would I get stuff to sell and could I cope with not just giving stuff away??? How could I keep ensuring what I do benefits children? So anyway  after a very blustery launch in May I set out with a clear mission:

To Make the Outdoors Easy - especially for families and children
IMG_0618 And with a lot of hard work, building on existing networks and backing from friends and family, and the many fabulous customers, it does indeed seem to be working! So I want to use this first blog of 2015 to say Thank you To so many folks...
  • Everyone we've worked with over the last year:
    • The lovely people who have commissioned work from us;
    • all the wonderful customers and folks that have come to the stall;
    • the folks behind Exhale festival;
    • and most definitely the families that came camping!
Big thanks too to the great folks at the Tornado Boiler Company (the Storm Kettles), Kairaasi (the tiffins), Cake Club Clothing (the hats) and Whitby & Co (who distribute Klean Kanteen and Niteize) for being the first to back the rather weird idea of a high-end design-led outdoor gear market stall! So what next? The Board of the 'social' bit of the 'Social Enterprise has just expanded and I'll be introducing you to the new board members soon. Fingers crossed we'll have some projects to make a practical difference locally and further afield soon. Nationally I'll continue to be supporting The Wild Network as a board member, to lobby, campaign and shout about the critical importance of kids being outdoors, not just for their own sake (and the sanity of their parents/teachers/families!) but for the future of the planet... I'll also be doing what I can to support the London wide campaign to get us named 'Greater London National Park', as well as continuing to help other locally based organisations that get kids outdoors. We've just completed the first phase of Hackney Wild Walks and I'll be discussing with the new board - and the council - where to next on that. And what about the 'Shop'? IMG_6047 I'll be spending part of the next four weeks revamping the website a bit and thinking about where the 'shop' will go as the seriously 'enterprise' bit of the social enterprise. We'll be back in the Schoolyard of Broadway Market on Saturday January 17th, and folks can order online, first post out will be Monday 5th. The 'shop' has really done as well as I could have hoped - and far, far better than my mum expected!! - so what next?? Do I just consolidate and build up the stall and online? Or do I look for a concession or a shop? Or do some pop up shops? Thoughts from you as Outdoor Peeps are very welcome! So here's wishing you many fantastic Outdoors Adventures for 2015, and hoping they are good ones!
Happy New Year 2015 original
Happy Outdoors New Year 2015!

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Charlie, Coal Tits, Diary, London Fields, park -

Yesterday I set off for usual morning dog walk and with an agenda. I was to check emails, write a tweet, post an Instagram and check on visitors to the online shop. Oh and write a 'to do' list. Then my phone died. My flask of coffee was full, the sun was shining and the dog as ever full of beans. But I...

couldn't work!!!
Horror. So I looked up. I breathed in. I listened. And thought I saw some starlings. But on closer examination found it was a group of tits. Coal tits I think - I'm not v good at names! They were so pretty and busy and sweet sounding. And I went home and worked twice as hard having had a good break. And thought, there is a lesson in that - must stop telling everyone else how important #wildtime is and then be overwhelmed by need to be busy myself! Have a lovely outdoors day! PS no photos for obvious reasons that the phone died, and thanks to The British Birds for the lovely featured image!

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black friday, Diary, newsletter, Shop, social enterprise -

Just write "MakeBlackFridayGoOutdoors" at the checkout and for this weekend only you can get a whopping 15% discount... Click on through to the online shop Even if you aren't looking to buy anything just now I'd really appreciate feedback - the shop is an integral foundation for the social enterprise, and a great way to connect with folk about the message. But it only works if it works!! So constructive feedback on any aspect very welcomed. Not everything is up yet, but rest assured it's built on a trusted platform - Shopify - and trusted customers have fully tested all the integral 'shop' bits so payment etc is all sorted. I've a pile of recycled brown paper, string and recycled Jiffy bags for postage, and biodegradable bubble wrap on the way... Keeping it green and as sustainable as I can isn't cheap, but not much point being a social enterprise and undermining my principles in the postage! And as an added incentive - and to help me practise! - I'll gift wrap your parcels if you ask me to and say you saw it on the blog, Fb, Insta or Twitter! Make it easy to get outdoors, and lay down some memories this weekend! IMG_5794.JPG

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