The reason I was going over old ground was that I was looking at this time last year to see what I was up to in terms of getting outdoors, fundraising and with life in general. You see, I see this blog like an online diary – with the really personal stuff kept away from public consumption of course. Although in saying that, my recent posts have been quite personal and from the heart and I’m not ashamed of that. In fact, if I had the guts I would post entries that included all aspects of my life, warts and all... but I don’t have the guts, so I won’t. Occasionally though, if you look close enough you’ll find that kind of stuff.
I was reminded that this time last year I was outdoors more than I seem to have been of late. But that’s probably because there was an end goal, a target to aim for. This year... I’ve been in the outdoors simply because I love it. This kinda irks me a little though as I’d like to be out a lot more. I’m really missing being up the hills. You see there aren’t many folks around this way to go out with. I’ve not been back out or near the mountaineering club since I came back from Nepal. That is through choice. I decided a ‘club’ wasn’t what I was after. Sure there were nice people there and yes they do go outdoors a lot. But there was also a competitive edge that I never really liked nor signed up for. I tried, it wasn’t for me.
I re-read the blog post about my first weekend away with the club and found I had written something that on a re-reading was quite funny. The snow had fallen during the night; the sky was the bluest I’d seen in a while with the sun shining and no wind – perfect wintery conditions. But I was still miserable that day on the hill. I loved being out there but something was just off about it. Then it dawned on me that yes you can become part of a ‘club’ but you’ll never really be part of their well established team, and that’s what I didn’t like. I felt there was no account taken for newbie’s like me. Yes I’m pretty fit (but not a machine); I’d only walked up a few mountains then and yet there were still members of the group who marched on up the hill away ahead like there was something to prove. I didn’t like that much. I on the other hand was as quiet as a mouse, keeping a steady pace and trying to think of a way to make this as enjoyable as I could for myself. It put the dampers on an otherwise great time in the outdoors. The vistas that opened up with each heavy footed snow trodden step certainly played its part.
That night back at the hostel I phoned my dad and begged him to come and pick me up there and then or at worst the next morning. He refused of course. So I was checking out the train times from Fort William and decided that’s what I’d do, I’d get a train the next morning, although how on earth I was going to get to Fort William was anybody’s guess! In the end it was decided that I would get a run down the road from another member who’d decided not to do a second days walking on the Sunday and thankfully I was back in the house by 1pm on the Sunday afternoon. Now if you go back and read the post you might not pick up on the feelings that I’m now writing here purely because if anyone connected to the club had read it I would have been mortified. So why write this now? Well I suppose I’m writing this post as a means to describe why I love getting outdoors. As with everything in life, hindsight is a wonderful thing.
So of late I haven’t been out that much. Yes there are the usual walks up Dumyat or mid-week after-work walks but I’ve stopped writing about those as they may become too repetitive. I hope to change this soon. For me being outdoors is about escaping the usual things in life, getting away from a computer screen, getting away from the noise and hubub of day to day life, but it also means seeing new places, going somewhere that normally I would only see in the photies my mum and dad bring back from their holidays up North and letting the wind, rain, hail, snow and even sunshine bounce off your back as you wander along soaking in all that is great about the outdoors. Ah... brilliant!
Colour! We all love colour don't we? I have a dilemma over a new bit of kit for the outdoors. I'd seen an item in a photie and thought it looked nice. After a few weeks deliberation and pouring over websites to find alternatives I decided on the Montane Anti-Freeze Vest in Cherry Red. (The alternatives being same vest in Black or Steel Grey OR a PHD Minimus Vest in Drishell Red). So I ordered the Cherry Red delight and couldn't wait for it to be delivered. And then it was with much disappointment that I received an email from the website I ordered it from saying that (even though they'd charged my card!) the said item was not in stock in Cherry Red and wouldn't be until 'next season'!! Now there was no indication on the website of low stocks or anything in fact quite the opposite, they appear to still have all colour combo's in all sizes available - funny that eh!
So that brings me to the dilemma of do I just order the black or steel grey or do I pay the extra bucks for a custom size XS one from PHD that is non-returnable!? You can see my dilemma eh?
Then a question came up. Does colour really matter?
My knee-jerk reaction response is of course it does! Colour is great in outdoor gear - apart from the lazy marketing from some companies who think that to turn something a yuck shade of burgundy or ocean green and then expect that all women will buy it. No! I want what the guys have got but cut for women, surely that wouldn't be hard and they'd save money cos they wouldn't need to buy more materials in different colours!! We're not all girly girls who like to dress in pastel pink or light blue. We want canary yellow, grass green, strawberry red - none of this mulberry malarkey. Given the choice I’d rather wear a snazzy pair of green trousers and a red jacket or vice versa. It might not suit all and I can see that it may not be a big seller but go on manufacturers, and indeed stockists, give it a try!! You tend to only find these colours in skiing gear which by the way tends to be a lot more expensive too which is a pity.
Given the choice last year when Santa brought me a Rab Neutrino down jacket I asked him for the RED flavour. The other colours were Black (of course) and a dark berry colour. Men, well they got black, red, blue or a nice orange. Why is this I wonder...?
When choosing my Suunto Core watch I chose the black with the big yellow bezel ring. And you know what; most times I wear it I’ll always get someone asking about it. Now if it was in all black I’m not sure they would give it a second glance. Mind you it's giant when sitting on my wrist so you can't really miss it.
Don't get me wrong. I do have black or darker bits of kit. Heck I wear black trousers to work most days. But the black kit I have has wee flashes of colour on it somewhere so it’s not altogether 'dark'.
Now accessories. These should always be in bright colours. I have a bag full on Exped dry bags in various sizes and colour ways and they are ace. Not only are they functional they brighten up a dreary day on the hill anytime. And my water bottles are a like a 10p mix-up bag full of sweeties colours.
But back to gear, clothes, for wearing in the outdoors. I would love to see lovely bright colours out there in the mountains. I would love for manufacturers to ask the women who actually go out into the mountains which colours they'd like in the gear. Give us bright bold colours like the boys get. In fact maybe the boys would like more choice too. I mean do trousers need to come in black and grey or worse in 'summer' colours of dune beige! (yuck!) Or khaki (double yuck!). What would be so wrong with a pair of nice red or green soft-shell trousers for the winter? I'd love that! Some may not choose bright colours, some may like to wear dark colours and like I said before I do have black jackets and tops but every now and again a wee flash of brightness would be good. That's all I'm saying really. Don't get me wrong i'm not saying the most important thing about gear is the colours but come on if we're paying top dollars for items surely more choice of colours would be good.
Oh aye... so back to the question, should I get the womens Montane Anti-Freeze vest in black or steel grey OR... should I get the unisex PHD Minimus Down vest in black or red? You see these are the important decisions that I need to make just now. Cos soon the question will be which ice axe to buy and then I'll be stuck in a right big puddle of confusion!!??!! :o)