Find a balance between our natural and digital worlds

Journal

Interview: Ivan Kilroe
 
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Ivan Kilroe is an avid adventurer with his primary form of transport being his bicycle. In 2016 he was chosen by Blackburn Design to be part of their ranger programme. "The ranger programme hosted by Blackburn, chooses 6 individuals and sends them out on a series of adventure cycling routes.... My route was the 4228.5miles coast-to-coast route known as the Transamerica trail."  

I came across Ivan via Instagram and took great joy in following his expeditions and loved his candid, mostly film, photography of life on the road.  I was keen to hear more about why he started documenting his journey and what he hoped others would learn from it so we chatted and this was our conversation...

Q: Can you start off by telling me a little bit about what you do and how you came to be doing it?

A: I guess first and foremost I'm an outdoor enthusiast, passionate about the environment, photography and immersing myself in outdoor life.  

These days I'm just happy to be outside doing whatever I can, but I guess it all started when I got into mountain biking. My favourite holidays as a youngster were always skiing, I loved the sensation of speed and just being in the mountains. Mountain biking seemed the logical equivalent living in the UK.

I and a few friends got our first ‘proper’ mountain bikes in primary school and persuaded our parents to do the same (so they could take us). Soon they were almost as keen as we were, and from then on we were up in the Lake District most weekends rain or shine, and regularly venturing off on camping trips to Scotland and Wales.

Looking back we were very fortunate to have had such supportive parents, that actively encouraged our interests.

These early experiences were the foundation for my interest in the outdoors, and although I didn't realise it back then and occasionally followed other pursuits I always returned with new eyes and an eagerness to rekindle the flame.

It’s amazing looking back at the evolutionary process of what I valued back then to what inspires and motivates me now, and how the tool (the bicycle) has remained the same. When I was in my teens it was all about going the fastest jumping the furthest and developing a high skill level. Although this is still very much a part of the enjoyment, I'm much more motivated to be exploring new places, seeking out new experiences and chasing the thrill of the unknown.

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Q: Your website is called www.theeasypeeler.com. Where did that name come from?

A: I knew I wanted to start a blog, but I really wasn’t sure where I was going with it or what to call it: ‘theeasypeeler’ just happened to be in my head at the time and it just had an appealing laid back feel (excuse the pun) without any real connections or connotations associated with the outdoors. Which I think gives it an attractive degree of ambiguity.

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Q: What is it you love most about the great outdoors?

A: Although seemingly a bit of a cliche, it is a form of escape. I feel a sense of freedom in the slower and seemingly simpler existence that comes with being outside. With no distractions, I can find myself present in the activity: the mere goal of getting to somewhere, discovering new places, and waking up outside. Even the enjoyment of often mundane activities like eating and drinking gain an increased intrinsic value and appreciation. 

It’s also where I feel the most alive, the senses feel engaged, in tune with the surroundings and the changing conditions. I find this to be particularly emphasised whenever I find myself vulnerable or at the mercy of the weather; feeling the wind in your face, the bite of a cold frost, or even just listening to the rain tap away at your tent. It all culminates to an unusual combination of addiction and therapy.

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Q: If you had to spend the rest of your life in one place, where would it be?

A: That's a tough one. There are still so many destinations I have yet to visit, but if I had to choose one off the bat, i’d probably say Scotland? There’s a wealth of land to be explored up there and although the weather can be less than than ideal at times, there’s something about that, that makes you appreciate and respect the landscape. I can’t quite put my finger on why, but it always leaves me wanting more.

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Q: You were recently selected to be one of 6 rangers by Blackburn Design (congratulations!) and were tasked with cycling the Trans-america trail. What did it feel like to be chosen for this incredible opportunity?

A: It was amazing! I felt very fortunate to have been chosen for such an opportunity, and it came at the perfect time:  I’d been gaining some momentum with some smaller trips, and I just felt ready to take on something longer and more challenging. I really just wanted to throw myself into a range of new experiences that would take me out of my comfort zone and leave me with memories for life.

The U.S has always enticed me as an outdoor destination, and to get the chance to ride across was the perfect way to see it. Being able to represent Blackburn and a host of other brands, equipped with, and testing some of the best gear in the business was an added bonus.

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Q: Had you ever cycled that kind of distance before?

A: Not even close. I'd done plenty of overnighters in the Lake District and my longest trip consisted of riding around the Isle of Man for a week. I think I'd only been camping on my own on four separate occasions before this, so the prospect of riding for 4 months alone spanning the width of the U.S was a little daunting.

It felt like a big step in that respect. I wasn't even sure how I’d cope with potentially long periods alone, or whether I’d actually make it. But these unknowns were part of the challenge I was looking for, and why I wanted to do it. Fortunately, I wasn't alone for the whole time and I was able to meet and ride with some great people along the way.

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Q. It’s great that you’ve started a blog. Why did you decide to start documenting your journeys? 

A: I had really been warming to the idea for a while and it just seemed like the right time: I was doing things I wanted to share/document, getting more into photography and not really doing much with it. I never even realised I liked writing until I actually wrote about something I was interested in: Whilst everyone at university was complaining about their dissertations it dawned on me that I was secretly enjoying mine. I found the whole process: researching, learning and making it all fit together to be, although stressful at times, an enjoyable and rewarding experience. Sadly, I never wrote anything after that, and I guess it just took me a while to find something I wanted to write about again.

It’s been a great way to reflect, to remember how I felt in a particular moment and the details that usually get left behind with time. I’m really looking forward to using this project as a reason to push myself, experiment, ask questions, and try new things. Whilst also serving as a record of trips and experiences that I’ll be able to look back on with fondness for time well spent.

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Q. How do you think technology influences our connection to nature?

A: This could definitely warrant a considerable essay but I’ll try to keep it brief.

On the one hand it is easy to see the negative influences of technology on our connection to nature. It’s ingrained in all aspects of our lives now, it’s addictive, it’s distracting, and its almost become an extension of ourselves. So much is quite literally available at our fingertips.

It seems that a knowledge and fluency of a range of technological devices is as necessary for survival in the modern world as a knowledge of our natural environments was for our ancestors.

Just thinking back to my childhood my grandad would always make a conscious effort to teach me about the local environment: identifying birds, trees, and plant life etc. Perhaps it was just because he lived off the land that his knowledge was so bountiful, but I feel that this kind of knowledge was a lot more common in previous generations. Whereas now, even though I take an interest I still know very little in the grand scheme of things. I can identify but a few trees, and plant species and with the advent of year round food I have but a basic understanding of seasonal produce.

With more and more people now living in cities, this kind of understanding of natural systems seems alien relegated to tv shows and a minority, who remain in rural industries or actively cultivate a specific interest.

And yet, if I wanted to begin for example: growing myself a vegetable patch (and one day I will) the internet would be a great place to start. These days you can pretty much find out the practical information on what, and how to do anything. Books are a great source, but you can’t ask a book a question, connect with a community, or watch a detailed video of someone teaching you how to correctly prune your Bonsai...

I think visual media in general and places like Instagram are a great example of where technology and the digital world actively encourages you to get out and connect with nature. It's a constant source of inspiration. The amount of bloggers, storytellers, photographers, filmmakers, and environmental campaigners that can reach a wider audience through the internet and our handheld devices is asstounding. They can educate and inspire at the click of a button, or the touch of a screen. Imagine having to go to an exhibition or buy an outdoor specific publication to see news and photos of the natural world. I mean we still do these things, but just imagining not having that digital version so readily available, on the bus, the train, wherever. Seems kind of crazy now.

I think it’s especially powerful when you see an image of one of your friends ‘out there’ doing something, and ‘you're like hey, if they can do it...’ I think that makes it all the more attainable and encouraging. I mean just a few weeks ago my friend said he’d just booked a flight out to the U.S because he’d been following my ride.

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Q. What are the items you take on every adventure/trip that you couldn’t do without?

A: Aside from the essentials for survival, I always try and take my camera despite having to forgo its sometimes awkward obtrusiveness. Whether I use it or not my harmonica is so small that it always finds its way into a bag, and good coffee is always a ‘necessary unnecessary’. If i’m just off for a few days I’ll usually be equipped with some whisky and dark chocolate, especially in the colder months when you need something to warm the soul.

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Q. What is it you hope others will learn from your work?

A: I hope that this project will not only be a space to share a passion, make connections and log some great memories, but also provide some useful information, stories, ideas and inspiration for others. Some of the most beautiful and profound moments I’ve had have been outside, and if I can share what inspires and motivates me perhaps this can encourage others in a similar way.

I think just spending time in the great outdoors is a valuable first step toward forging that much needed connection with nature. Now more than ever it is becoming increasingly important for us to establish a respectful and coexistent future with the natural world.

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A huge thank you to Ivan for taking the time to talk about his work and adventures. 
You can follow Ivan over on his blog: The Peel
You can also find him on Instagram: @ivankilroe

 
New year: Living more ethically in 2018
 
Photograph: Ben Heath

Photograph: Ben Heath

I've never really been one for setting New Year's resolutions but last year that changed. Over the past few years I have been making an effort to live more simply and ethically and at the end of 2016 I had one resolution; to stop shopping at supermarkets. Read last year's post. 

I will admit I wasn't starting from scratch which made things easier–I was already buying all my food from local stores and farmers markets–but it wasn't a simple transition either. It is remarkably easy to forget how many different things we use in our daily lives and that each of these products has to be manufactured, potentially harming our planet, our communities and ourselves. 

Initially, I thought finding household items like washing up cloths, bin liners and cleaning products that were effective, and were ethical/natural, would be difficult but I was surprised at how many options there are available. 

Throughout the year varying challenges presented themselves and forced me to think outside the box. And, I must admit I didn't manage the whole year without stepping foot inside a supermarket but the visits I did make were always the very last resort. This year I intend to push myself further and think consciously about absolutely everything I buy. I have already made a start and am keen to prove to myself and others that living consciously, kindly and sustainably does not have to be expensive or depriving. 

After a year of consciously making decisions about where I shop the most important thing I learnt was living ethically is not just about finding ethical replacements for the products we're used to using. Living ethically is about a state of mind and it's often about putting the environment, your local community and your personal health before a fleeting want for something you could live without. Sometimes living ethically is just about going without and realising that you are just as happy. 

In 2018 there are many things that I would like to achieve, I would probably call these goals rather than resolutions, but one resolution I do have is to continue to find ways to live more consciously whilst inspiring others to make small changes in their daily lives that have positive impact not just zero impact.  

If you have questions about where to find ethical products please feel free to email me at katherine@wildgreyskies.co.uk or leave a comment below. 

HAPPY NEW YEAR

 

 

 
The importance of creativity and nature for your health with Ben Heath
 
Photograph: Ryan Sheppeck

Photograph: Ryan Sheppeck

Ben Heath is a poker player turned photographer. He also happens to be my brother. What he does for a living can be tough and I found it interesting to hear that he has turned back to creativity and the natural world as a way to improve his health and be happier. 

Thanks to technology we live in a world where anyone can sit at a computer and earn a living without ever having to leave the house. Sounds great, doesn't it? But this lifestyle comes with it's downfalls too. It means shutting ourselves always from everything that comes naturally to us and staring at a screen for hours on end. It can mean staying awake until the early hours of the morning, and then struggling to sleep, it can mean not seeing sunlight for days on end and it can mean high levels of stress caused by biological imbalances. There are some careers that can take quite a toll on our general wellbeing if we’re not careful and one of those careers is poker. (I know poker has been around for a long time but technology has made it accessible to a whole new demographic who, like the rest of the world, are starting to care more about their health.)

Ben is a professional poker player and knows first-hand about the consequences of living a mentally, and physically, demanding lifestyle. When he first started playing I knew little about the poker world, even now I don't know a lot. But, what I do know is that the lifestyle can be tough, the emotional strain it can put on you can be intense and the the fact that most people just think you play a game for a living, or don't work as much as they do, is frustrating. 

  1. However, despite the criticism and funny looks Ben has worked extremely hard and had great success with poker. But, after a few years of late night tournaments online, flying to beautiful countries but only seeing the inside of a casino and a diet consisting largely of Red Bull the chosen route became significantly less appealing. And, over the last year or two Ben has changed his lifestyle dramatically. He still plays but less frequently, he makes time to explore the outdoors in countries he visits, he has completely altered his diet and has taken up bouldering and photography. 

It's incredible how nature plays such a large part in our lives. Even when we try to shut it out it will find its way back in, and you'll be glad it did. 

I wanted to dig a little deeper and show you the side of a poker player you don't often see so here are a few questions I asked Ben to answer plus some of his beautiful photography.   

Q: How long have you been playing poker?

A: I’ve been playing poker professionally for about 3 and a half years now but played as a hobby for a few years before that during my time at University.

Q: When did you realise you could make a living from playing poker?

A: I think I was aware that there were people out there who made a living from it when I was at University, but I didn’t really understand much about it then. After University I started talking to people in a Skype chat and learning a bit more. I realised that there were a lot of people out there making a good living from poker, this was late 2013 I guess.

Q: What is there about the life of a poker player that people don’t know?

A: It’s maybe not something that people don’t already know about but something that not many appreciate until they have done it and that is the fact that the highs and lows can really get to you. I’ve had a lot of people tell me things like ‘it must be nice playing a game for a living’, and sure, it is great and I love it, but it’s also got its drawbacks. Having no fixed income and sometimes playing long hours every day for months just to come out at a big loss can be tough to deal with. The big wins come a lot less often than it appears from the outside, and we don’t so readily advertise our big losses. I got a lot better at detaching my emotions from the results, or maybe just reducing my emotions, but it was hard to do at times without reducing them in other aspects of life which isn’t something I want to happen. I’ve found bringing back some creative outlets into my life has started to reverse that trend.

Q: What strains does the lifestyle put on you?
A: The travelling can get very tiring. Earlier this year I had to fly Melbourne to LA, LA to San Jose, San Francisco to Vegas, Vegas to Panama, Panama to Vegas and then Vegas to the UK over a 6 week period. It sounds great on the surface, but the majority of the time in these places is spent inside casinos.

The swings can also have an effect. Although you learn to put it aside and not think about the money whilst playing, it still takes its toll sometimes. Especially when you’re winning/losing such large amounts every trip and don’t know which it will be. I think a lot of players feel the strain from the lack of financial security especially at the beginning. 

Q: You’ve recently taken up photography. Does photography help you to switch off?

I’ve recently started spending more time on it, yeah. At first it was because I wanted to have memories of the poker trips which had a tendency to all blur together in my mind and phone photos weren’t really cutting it, but quite quickly I realised that I loved it just for the act of photography itself. I find it quite hard to shut my mind off to the things going on with poker and other work and I find when I’m taking photos I just forget about all that and focus on the world I can see through the lens. It’s invaluable to me now and along with climbing the best way for me to switch off for a bit.

Q: You travel to some incredible places with poker, which is your favourite so far?  

A: I have been really lucky in that respect. Tournament poker can make you travel a lot and the games are often in great places. I think my favourite is actually Las Vegas. Before I went I didn’t think I’d like it at all, I thought it would be a bit like what you see on TV and in films like The Hangover, but after spending some time there I started to really love it. Of course, it’s like the films if you want it to be, but there’s a whole other side to it, the climbing gyms are some of the best I’ve been to, there’s endless hiking 30 mins drive away in all directions in places like Red Rock and Mt. Charleston, and the food is crazy good (and healthy). 

Q: A lot of your Instagram shots are landscapes. Do you find getting out into nature helps take your mind off poker for a bit?

Before photography I used to really enjoy hiking when I found time during the summers in Vegas because it would completely take my mind off poker. I find it really easy to forget how many distractions we have these days and how much noise there is everywhere, it’s incredibly relaxing to just go out into the wilderness into the silence and walk for a few hours. Plus, the photography is pushing me to do it more and more since a lot of great places to shoot tend to be a little bit off the beaten track, which is an added bonus for me.

Q: As someone who earns a living from technology what value does nature hold for you?

A: I think for a while at the start of my poker career nature was not an important part of my life at all, I was spending so many hours playing online and it was very easy to let everything else take a back seat. Now that I’ve started to bring it back to the forefront I’ve realised how important it is to me and how well it compliments poker and my other interests which are very much tech based. I’m looking for ways to integrate it into my day-to-day life now and really think I couldn’t go back, it makes me way too happy.

"I find it really easy to forget how many distractions we have these days and how much noise there is everywhere, it’s incredibly relaxing to just go out into the wilderness into the silence" - Ben Heath 

It's easy for all of us to forget how much we have going on around us and how unnatural it is to be constantly switched on. It's important for our physical and mental health that we learn to slow down and appreciate the world in which we live. Our bodies are thousands, if not millions of years behind our minds and they know what we need all we need to do is listen. 

Follow Ben on Instagram: @ben__heath

 
Reverse advent calendar
 
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It's that time of year again! The time of year we excessively buy things we don't need. This year, it's time for a change. 

Over the past week I have felt bombarded with adverts for advent calendars. Advent calendars that contain chocolate produced in unethical ways, that are wrapped in plastic that can't be disposed of and are from companies that, whilst promoting the joy of Christmas, do very little to bring joy to their employees and suppliers. (rant over) 

Luckily I follow a brilliant band of people on Twitter and the term Reverse Advent Calendar started popping up in my feed. I was intrigued and read into it a little further. I found that a number of charities were encouraging people to join in with what is a selfless twist on the original advent calendar. 

So, how do they work? 

  1. Find a charity you would like to donate to and find out what they need most
  2. Grab a cardboard box (decorate it if you're feeling creative/have the time)
  3. Add one item to the box each day for 24 days (maybe add in something special for 25th too)
  4. On 24th deliver you box to a local charity/organisation that will be able to give it to someone in need

I found a number of charities that encourage you to fill your box with 1 item a day until 24th December and then take it to your nearest collection point. But, others were insisting you started this at some point during November so collections could be made early (understandable). I didn't get a chance to begin in November and nor will anyone who has only found about this today so here are a list of charities in the UK that are offering a collection on 24th December or that could always use general donations. 

One Can Trust
Changing Lives  
Trussel Trust

If there are no collection points near you then I suggest contacting a local charity/organisation in your area and asking what they need and when you can deliver your box. These things are not always easy but that's not the point so make an effort to find the charity that needs your help, there will be one. 

This time of year, whilst joyful for a lot of us, can be the most depressing for others. Let's turn that around together and help those less fortunate. 

I really look forward to seeing everyone's progress so remember to let me know how you're getting on by tagging @wildgreyskies on Instagram or Twitter. Thank you. 

Happy 1st December everyone! 

 

 
Shopping via Instagram but, not in the way you might expect
 
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I am an advocate for doing the food shopping at the local farmers market and browsing little independent, near-by stores for gifts, but, I have also discovered the magic of Instagram when it comes to finding something unique and personal. 

I have always found joy in finding gifts for people, there’s something so rewarding, and yet challenging, about choosing something they will cherish forever. This doesn’t always mean buying them either. I have made a lot of Christmas and birthday cards over the years and have put together boxes of memorabilia, printed out photographs and organised surprises. 

When it got to Mother’s Day this year (I know it was a while ago now) I was determined to find something original, something personal. My mind went blank. But this time, unexpectedly, it was Instagram that came to my rescue. I wasn’t lured in by ads or sponsored posts and I didn’t even try searching for #uniquegifts (we know that won’t work). To be honest I wasn’t even thinking about Mother’s Day at the time. I was simply browsing through my ‘explore’ feed when I came across @bloomsbury ‘s magical work.

Ava Zulal, owner of Bloomsbery Designs, paints and sells beautiful watercolour bookmarks and her designs usually include a short quote in black ink that adds a little extra something to her already unique creations. My mum reads a lot so it was the perfect fit. After sending a private message to Ava I heard back straight away and we got chatting about how the whole process works – I was keen for Ava to design something completely bespoke if possible and she was more than happy to do so. It felt great to be part of the design process and to come away with something so personal. I chose the colours I liked and the quote to go on the bookmark and Ava created this for me...

Ava Zulal - @bloomsbery

Ava Zulal - @bloomsbery

I was over the moon with my first find but wanted something else to go with it. I continued my search and luckily came across the talented Agnes Becker who owns We Are Stardust. Agnes paints beautiful cards and prints and I got in contact to ask, again, if she would be willing to create something bespoke. Again, my request was met with a quick response and a “yes of course”! We discussed details and settled on a simple, yet delicate tea plant painting. Agnes kept me up to date via Instagram throughout the process and was kind enough to then send the painting quickly for the day I needed it. 

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Agnes Becker - @wearestarduskuk

Agnes Becker - @wearestarduskuk

I have since discovered a whole world of unique shop owners and creative businesses who display their work on Instagram in such wonderful ways and who genuinely care about their customers. It makes such a difference purchasing a gift in this way. It eliminates the need for shopping malls or giant online providers like Amazon and helps to support small businesses. 

If you're looking for the perfect Christmas gift this year here are just a few of many lovely accounts I would like to share with you who might just have what you've been looking for. 

I would love to hear if you make any purchases or if you find any makers that you think I'd like so do leave a comment below to let me know. 

 
Oceans 7 The Film: An inspiring journey of body and mind
 
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Setting ourselves challenges is what drives us forward. Without purpose, as humans, we often struggle to remain healthy and maintain a positive outlook on life. But, more often than not, it's the unexpected challenges, challenges that we have had no time to prepare for, that open our eyes to our true limits. It is also the challenges that cannot be seen by the outside world that can test us the most, the battles in our minds, that only we can fight. 

Oceans 7 is a new independent, feature documentary by the EMMY/BAFTA-nominated filmmaking team Stefan Stuckert and Nick Read. The project started life as an adventure film following ultra-marathon, open-sea swimmer Beth French as she attempted to swim Oceans Seven. Oceans Seven is made up of the seven most dangerous sea-channels in the world–for extreme swimmers it is the ultimate challenge and is the sea-based equivalent of climbing the Seven Summits in mountaineering. Only a handful of people have completed the challenge and Beth set out to be the first person to conquer all seven in one year. But, when the adventure took an unexpected turn the film developed into an emotional portrayal of perseverance, strength and selflessness that now connects with its audience on many different levels.

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LIFE LESSONS

"normally they get scoured out of the depths of your soul on channel crossings" - Beth French

Strength is not always about pushing forward, sometimes it's about knowing when to let go, when to say stop and when to put others before yourself. 

Beth said that she "found grace in the water" that day which gave her the courage she needed to make one of the most difficult decisions of her life. For me this is one of nature's finest qualities. Its ability to make us feel so small and insignificant can actually provide us with the clarity and logic needed to make what can feel like impossible life choices. 

It was a pleasure to be invited to the Oceans 7 crowdfunding launch event last week, held at Finisterre's London store, to raise money for the final stretch of filming. Listening to Beth talk about the challenge she took on, how she got to where she is today and how she dealt with one of the hardest decisions she's ever had to make was incredibly inspiring. Beth has been through life-changing experiences and one of those experiences was developing ME (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis aka Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) and becoming wheelchair bound as a teenager. So, in support of ME and Beth's remarkable achievements, Oceans 7 have teamed up with charity 'Action for ME' and 5% of all donations made will help fund research into the mechanics of this life-changing illness.  

If you'd like to know more about Oceans 7 you can watch the trailer below or visit their website and if you're keen to help the team bring the final scenes to life your donations would be greatly appreciated. (Plus there are some fantastic rewards available) 

You can also... 

- Follow along with the Oceans 7 journey on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and help to spread the word
- Follow Beth's personal journey over on her website - bethfrench.co.uk
- Explore the website of kind sponsors, the water sport and adventure clothing company Finisterre - finisterre.com

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Beautiful jewellery that doesn't cost the earth
 
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You can learn a lot about someone's style, sometimes even their personality, from the jewellery they wear. I think it's because we tend to have those every-day pieces that we feel are uniquely 'us' even when we don't necessarily realise what we're doing. 

I have always been a silver person, I've tried 'going gold' but it's just not me, although occasionally I'll mix and match. But, being a 'silver person', luckily for me, is a lot more affordable. Budget, another issue that will always effect our purchasing decisions.   

To me, buying jewellery is something that cannot be rushed or taken lightly. That may sound ridiculous but I feel the same way about jewellery as I do most things in life. I like to know where it's come from, who has designed/made it and what story it is there to tell. Fashion trends come and go but most of us have a few timeless pieces of much-loved jewellery that we will never let go of and it's those sort of pieces that tend to catch my eye. 

I don't buy jewellery very often as finding ethical jewellery can be time consuming and expensive. But, when I do, I spend time finding pieces I know I will have for a long time and that have come from a sustainable source. 

Just recently I discovered Lines & Current through Instagram. Their elegant yet simple style is very me, I fell in love with their ethos instantly, and they're prices are very reasonable. They make their ethical jewellery from recycled sterling silver and each design is made to last. They also donate 10% of all profits to causes that bring about hope and change in people's lives. 

Jewellery is available everywhere these days and it's cheap too. I often bought random bits and pieces when I was younger and I know the temptation is there but this planet's resources will not last forever. And, do you really want to wear something that goes green in about 3 days anyway? 

If you're looking for something special as a gift, or just because you thoroughly deserve it, have a peak at Lines & Current website... you might find just what you've been looking for. 

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Your limits are further away than you think
 

A few weeks ago I completed my very first olympic triathlon (1.5k swim, 40k cycle and 10k run) and raised £360 for The Noakes Foundation (find out more about their work here: The Noakes Foundation). And, I am actually quite happy to say that I am proud of myself. Voicing that we're proud of ourselves is something the majority of us are not often that good at but this time I'm making an exception!

I am also incredibly proud of my mum for completing her second super sprint triathlon. We're both quite active and I know there are a lot of people out there that would find a triathlon a 'walk in the park' but we definitely had to push ourselves. 

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After taking part in the super sprint triathlon (400m swim, 5km cycle + 2.5km run) with my mum last year I was feeling confident and immediately signed up for the Olympic distance for this year. Christmas came around and I still hadn't started my training. Then summer started creeping closer and I'd only been swimming and running a handful of times. The panic started setting in and I realised that I was actually going to have to start taking this seriously or I'd be crossing the finishing line a few hours, OR DAYS, after everyone else.  I managed to use my time efficiently and squeeze in practice where I could. I ran in my lunch break, I cycled to and from meetings and I swam in the mornings or evenings.

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I started to feel like this might be do-able, at a push, but felt far from prepared. It turns out, most people felt that way. A number of the girls I spoke to in my wave were either first timers like me or had done shorter versions but never the full length. This made me feel a little less terrified but it didn't change the fact that they could easily be 10 times fitter than me. 

I barely slept the night before, I'm not entirely sure why but I guess my brain decided over thinking things instead of sleeping was going to help in some way. It didn't. 

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The morning arrived and I grabbed a quick breakfast, half an avocado with olive oil and balsamic vinegar plus half a protein bar. The worst bit was waiting for it to start. I stood up on the promenade whilst the earlier groups began their races and watched the strong current dragging contestants off course. 

The swim was my biggest worry and the fear made it difficult to maintain steady breathing. We lined up on the edge of the beach, trying to concentrate on what we were being told but all with one eye on that defiant current. All of a sudden, I wasn't ready at all, a horn was blown and we were off. I'd been told horrific stories of people pulling you under the water from behind and swimming straight over the top of you so I made sure I was right out on the edge of the pack. It wasn't a problem for long as I ended up at the back with all the space I needed anyway!

The first 200-300m were the worst. My chest felt tight and I wanted to swim fast to get it over with but I also knew I needed to pace myself. I subsequently realised that the physical part of a triathlon was actually only part of the challenge, being mentally prepared for the endurance was equally as important. This realisation helped strangely, I knew my body could do it and that the more I relaxed the better it would be, so I took it slow, found my rhythm and kept myself going until I reached the shore again. 

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WE DID IT 

Once the swim was over I felt a lot better and focused on completing the rest of the race as fast as my legs would let me. Mum had finished her race and was on the sidelines cheering me on and I couldn't help but smile every time I passed my team of supporters because it made me realise that this was actually happening... and that it would soon be over. 

Joking aside, I will be forever glad that I did it. I spent all year thinking 'I should have signed up for the shorter distance' and 'I'm not prepared for this' but on the day I pushed myself further than I thought I could and actually achieved a time I was happy with. 

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Too often we put limits on our abilities, especially when there's fear of failure lurking at the back of our minds, but if we don't challenge those limits we'll never do anything we're truly proud of. It's not always about competing with the world around you it's about fighting off your own thoughts and worries that stop you from doing things you know, deep down, you want to do. We all have a lot more in us than we give ourselves credit for so next time you're thinking about signing up to something, whether it's a triathlon, a 5k run or even a networking event you're scared to go to, remember that most of our monsters do not warrant the fears we have of them. 

All photography by Ben Heath