Well hey, fellow vagabonds. I hope that you’ve managed to make it through our recent cold snap with a smile on your face.
The unexpected sub-zero temperatures, ice and snow over the past week (even here on the Isle of Wight, where THE SEA ACTUALLY FROZE), have been very much in-keeping with what I’ve been up to over the rest of the winter.
I had a trip up to Scotland to spend Christmas with my family, where I was able to go for long walks along the Angus coast, followed by lounging around in front of the log burning stove in my pyjamas with a selection of Scottish gins to try.
In early January I went to catch Death in the Ice, an excellent exhibition at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, London, presenting the story of the lost Franklin expedition to search for the Northwest Passage. It presented items recovered from the shipwrecks of the Erebus and the Terror, as well as artefacts and testimony detailing Inuit experience of life in the high Arctic, contrasting the European perspective of a bleak and empty landscape with one that is familiar, that provides, that is home.
I managed to fit in a couple of days exploring Cambridge while on a project management training course, where I visited the Polar Museum at the Scott Polar Research Institute. It houses a detailed collection of equipment and artefacts charting the history of polar exploration, including some personal journals kept by expedition crews, both successful and tragically unsuccessful.
Then at the end of the month, I had a few days visiting friends in Cornwall and working on the restoration of their new (more than a hundred years old boat), the Irish Mary. She’s currently lying up in the edge of a saltmarsh in a hidden creek in the River Tamar, near a collection of other traditional wooden boats.
In February I took a day trip off the island to see the Royal Dockyard in Portsmouth, to visit the museum housing the Mary Rose shipwreck, and take a tour of HMS Victory, two of the most famous ships in British history. It’s been a very nautical winter, and it’s starting to look like spring might be very similar.
I’ve been out and about exploring the Isle of Wight over the winter, discovering new walks up on the downs and walking in the footsteps of dinosaurs at Compton Bay.
Another highlight has been meeting up with an awesome group of ladies through the Love her Wild facebook group for a couple of hikes, and to make plans for some wild camping adventures in the spring.
Winter is always a good time to enjoy the pleasures of curling up with a book, film or podcast by the fire while the rain beats against the window. Here’s my current obsessions:
What I read: The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper, as part of a cosy Midwinter Eve read-along on Twitter, prompted by Robert Macfarlane and Julia Bird. Daemon Voices: Essays on Storytelling by Philip Pullman. A collection of essays, talks and articles on the power of a well-told tale by one of my favourite authors.
What I listened to: The Wine and Crime podcast. Three sassy lassies from Minnesota telling tales of drunkeness and cruelty, paired with a fine wine so you can drink along at home.
What I watched: Oran na Mara* (Song of the Sea). We have a Scots Gaelic / Gáidhlig television channel in the UK, which I’ll occasionally watch and pretend I understand far more than I actually do. But this beautiful animation has such a compelling story that language isn’t really necessary. *The original Irish / Gaeilge version is called Amhrán na Mara.
What I played: My cousin introduced us to the board game Pandemic over Christmas, as a variation from our usual Trivial Pursuit obsession. After we worked out the aim is collaboration and not cut-throat competition, we really loved it.
Thank you for bearing with me on These Vagabond Shoes. I’ve had a bit of a faff playing around with the look and feel of this blog, and I hope it will all start to seem worth it over the next few months. You can also keep up to date with my adventures (or meanderings and rambling thoughts as it’s mainly been recently) on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
Here’s to spring and the return of the sun! What have you been up to over the winter? Let me know in the comments below.