I can’t quite believe that a whole year has passed since I started the Adventure with Adam blog. This feels like a good time to take a look back to the beginning of 2017.
For months, I had wanted to start my own blog. After reading the likes of Alistair Humphreys, Tom Allen and Dave Cornthwaites blogs, I was inspired to make a go of it myself. But then came the self-doubt.
I am too old to be starting a blog. It’s 2017, I’m far too late to start blogging. These guys have done much cooler stuff than me. I’m just an imposter. What if my mates see it and take the piss? What if my boss sees it? Balls to this.
And so on. These thoughts lingered for months before I confronted the doubt, paid for the domain name and created this blog from scratch. Even when I first hit the publish button on my first posts, the doubt remained. It turns out the doubt doesn’t go away completely. You just learn to live with it.
Why start a blog?
The main reason I started the blog was that at the time I was pretty bored and fed up with my job (sound like a familiar story?) At the time, I was working in a role where I recruited Officers for the British Army. My job was to travel around the UK and give talks at universities and schools to convince people to be like me and join the Army. Every other day I would talk about how awesome my job was and about all of the cool and exciting things I have done. The rest of the time I would sit at home in my pants and play Battlefield on the PlayStation.
No longer was I actually doing the cool stuff I had joined the Army to do. In the Army, the more senior you get, the more time you spend sat behind a computer. This is fine for many people but at 29 years old, this wasn’t what I wanted.
Using adventure and travel to create change
To keep some excitement in my life I had started heading off on my own expeditions.
I received some great responses from my recruitment presentations. It appeared that people enjoyed what I had to say and (as far as I could see) they looked entertained and more interested in my journey. Slowly it dawned on me that maybe I’m not an imposter. What if I started to write down the cool and exciting things I did? What is the worst that could happen?
When I started writing, I didn’t really have a clear direction of where I wanted it to go. I still don’t if I am being honest. I wanted to talk about travel and my adventures but why would anybody want to read about that? Creating my own personal space on the interweb to write and express my thoughts and opinions was extremely daunting and scary. I sold the Playstation and made this blog my place to spend my spare time.
Can a blog change your life?
Over the last 12 months, I have developed and changed more than I would ever have anticipated. Creating this blog was just one of the contributing factors to the changes in my life. By putting my writing into the world, I have met some amazing people. So far this blog has created opportunities that I never envisaged. It is still a work in progress and hopefully, it is improving with each passing month.
My initial aim was to publish at least one post a week, something I am happy to have achieved. I am proud to say that this is my 60th post.
Over the last year, I have travelled to 11 countries, moved from the UK to Cyprus and decided to hand my notice in at work. In just under a year, I will no longer be employed by the British Army but I am still determined to continue to do cool and exciting things.
This blog alone hasn’t changed my life but it has certainly helped me to make some pretty big decisions that will change my path forever.
Here is a look back at my adventures of 2017.
After recovering from Decembers 220-mile walk through England, I welcomed the year with a group of great friends in Cornwall. Coastal walks with the dog and beers in country pubs. A perfect start to 2017.
Later in the month, I went skiing in Val d’Isère for the first time on an actual mountain. Just one of the many perks of being in the Army is being able to go skiing in the Alps for a week for less than £150. I wrote one of my first posts about the ski trip.
I attended the Adventure Travel show in London for the first time and got to meet the awesome Dave Cornthwaite. I had a really interesting conversation with him and was inspired to make a real effort with the blog. If you are reading this before Jan 20th 2018, you can attend this years adventure travel show too. I would highly recommend it. Here is a link to the website: http://www.adventureshow.com
Work took me across the whole of the UK giving presentations. The highlight was spending a fair amount of time at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. It was the first time I had been back there for years. It was strange to be a Captain, walking around without having to march and eating in the officer’s mess and not the students dining area. I had a great time training here in 2010-2011 but there is possibly an element of looking back with rose-tinted spectacles.
After a STAG do in Wales I went for a wander on the Brecon Beacons alone for the first time. Again, it was the first time I had been back here since my days on the Platoon Commanders Battle Course. Brecon is much nicer when you’re not carrying 50kg+ of equipment of the steepest hills on a race against the other Platoons.
Work took me to Northern Ireland, where I gave a load of presentations (including one at Rory McIlroy’s old school). I took the opportunity to visit a load of Game of Thrones filming locations. Castle Black is pretty cool in real life.
March was a month of spending time with good friends. I was the master of ceremonies at a friend’s wedding and watched another pal win in a blue-collar boxing fight in Hull. I often forget how much I enjoy being in the UK, especially in Yorkshire.
This was also a month of making new friends. I attended my first Yes Tribe wild camp on the outskirts of London after meeting Dave Cornthwaite a few weeks earlier. Here I met a number of awesome people such as Pip Stewart, George Beasley, Sarah Lister and Laura Maisey. These guys have done some awesome expeditions between them and their positivity is infectious. Spending time with these guys had such a positive influence over my direction for the coming year.
This was a crazy busy month. On the first weekend, I set off back to the Brecon Beacons but this time with Lucia and the pooch for a wild camp. We had glorious weather without the slightest hint of rain. Even with the perfect conditions, I failed in my duty as an adventurer extraordinaire to start a fire. Lucia was equally annoyed but at the same time slightly pleased that should take the piss out of my lack of fire making ability. I blamed the wet wood and sheepishly poured us some wine that I had carried up the mountain. Cleo, my dog, had a great night snuggled between us in the two-man tent.
I was lucky to get to go skiing again with the Army, this time in Val Thorens. This time I thought I was pretty much a professional and attacked the red and black routes with gusto. Quickly I was brought back to reality when I ventured off-piste into some deep powder. Que a massive crash, a solitary ski making its way down the mountain alone and I was left stranded in the deep snow.
At the end of the month, I set off on what was possibly the best trip of the year to Nepal on a trekking expedition to the Dolpa region of the Himalaya. I have written a fairly detailed account of my time there in these blog posts.
The majority of my time in Nepal was during this month. I made a video of the expedition that you can watch here.
I arrived back in the UK in time for another good friend’s wedding in the beautiful surrounding of North Yorkshire. Some of my favourite highlights have been spending time with friends in the UK. As fun as the travels is, there is no place quite like home.
Another solo wild camping trip with my dog Cleo, this time to the South West coast at Swanage. Here is Cleo enjoying the sea views.
I spent a week working in Germany with their Mortar specialists. Seeing the 120mm Mortar in action was pretty epic. The longest day of the year is in June and this year I was on exercise as an instructor on the British Army Mortar course. There is nothing quite like dropping Mortar bombs on a summers day.
This was also the month I made the decision to accept a job offer in Cyprus. A big change but a familiar one after living there from 2013-2015.
More dog walks in the UK before the big move to Cyprus at the end of the month. I lived in Wiltshire with Lucia for a year and we tried to make the most of the countryside at every opportunity.
One of the best weekends of the year was spent on canoes on the River Wye. Cleo joined us for some paddling. She had a whale of a time, jumping out at the bank and chasing the ducks.
I finished my final course as a Mortar instructor and moved out to Cyprus early to take over our new house. As a welcome to Cyprus, I entered a 1.9km open water race. Before this, the longest I had swum in the sea was around 100 metres. I was happy to finish the race and didn’t finish last which was a result.
After quickly settling in at Cyprus, I showed my new workmates the old cliff jumping spots I used to go to in 2013. Being back in Cyprus was initially strange. So much was the same but there were lots of new faces. The things that will never change in Cyprus is the epic weather and food.
Lucia joined me in Cyprus (after I had unpacked all of our possessions). We had some time off from work so we spent days learning to stand up paddle board in the sea. Living on a Mediterranean Island is awesome for almost all sports.
With little notice, I decided to set myself the challenge of cycling around the coast of Cyprus. I left my house in the south of the Island and made my way around the Island in 5 days. Cyprus is a fascinating country, particularly due to it being split by the Turkish occupation to the North. This adventure rekindled my love of cycle touring. I have aspirations to complete another long-distance cycle tour in the future. Watch this space.
Cyprus is famous for its wine so it would be rude not to go to the famous Limassol wine festival.
After saving for months, I decided to invest in a new camera for my travels. My compact camera was great but it had limitations. I have always enjoyed taking photographs, particularly whilst travelling. Nothing quite beats an epic landscape vista. Armed with a new camera, Lucia, Cleo and I visited the waterfalls in the Troodos Mountains in Cyprus. This was when @adventurewithcleo created an account on Instagram. Cleo must have got really good on the phone as she posts pictures of her adventures and most of them are better than mine.
Just when I thought my days of soldiering were over, I was nominated to represent the company as the patrol commander in a 48-hour military skills competition. It involved navigating over arduous terrain to a number of stands where we would go through scenarios such as a strike operation, medical evacuation, a chemical attack and a raid. The team performed fantastically. It reminded me of why I joined the Army. It wasn’t to sit at a computer all day. It was to lead soldiers in the most challenging of environments.
I dusted the old rugby boots off for my first game in well over a year. I was aching for a good 24 hours after the game.
Over October and November, I was back in the UK on a course. As always, I made the most of this opportunity. First by booking tickets over one of the weekends to visit Poland with an old friend. Krakow is a fabulous city to visit. I would recommend it to everybody.
Auschwitz has always been a place that I have wanted to visit. I strongly believe that we must not forget the past atrocities that humans carried out. If we do, we are doomed to repeat them. Some reports would suggest that there are actions being carried out by states and actors in modern times that are comparable to the Holocaust. Two things struck me about Auschwitz. It’s proximity to the local town and its sheer size. It is huge! The scale of the operation the Nazi’s had here is almost unthinkable if it wasn’t still there today to act as a reminder.
Being in the UK, I had the opportunity to attend the Royal Geographical Society explore weekend. This is such a fantastic event, one I would recommend that anyone with an adventurous spirit must attend. I met some amazing people and made some quality friendships. To say I was inspired doesn’t even come close.
I had already booked a long weekend off with work as I arrived back in Cyprus. This time I was making the most of the cheap flights to Israel. At £19 return, it would be almost criminal not to go. A quick dash to Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and the Dead Sea completed what was a brilliantly busy month.
After returning from the UK, I had made the decision that I was going to leave the Army. I had been considering it for months and the time felt right. To leave, you have to give 12 months notice so I handed it in.
As I finished work for the year, I booked a ticket to Georgia (the country). My aim was to travel slowly and take some landscape photographs. Georgia was an absolute gem of a surprise. Epic mountains, cheap beer and great food.
I spent Christmas with family in Yorkshire before heading to Iceland with Lucia for New Years. Another photography trip, Iceland definitely doesn’t disappoint.
A year of change
2017 has been a year of change for me. At the beginning of 2017, I would never have expected to be in the place where I am now. These changes have come about through meeting new people, being inspired and pushing myself to try new things. I have made a huge decision to quit my job. It wasn’t one I made lightly. Luckily, I have amazing support from my wife, friends and family.
By leaving the Army I aim to bring more stability and control into my life. I can now live where I choose and spend more time with the people that mean the most to me. 2018 will be another year of surprises, that is for sure. There is one thing I can guarantee: It won’t be boring.