I have never thought of myself as a terribly ‘outdoorsy’ type. That is to say that actually, I am someone who has previously thought of myself as very much an indoorsy type. There is nothing that I like more than being curled up under a blanket with a good book. Or in front of a good box set. Or a fire. Or eating round the dinner table. I like that too.
Increasingly however, I have found myself actively enjoying the outdoors. When once I donned my glow-in-the-dark wellies (don’t judge me, it seemed like an actively good idea when I bought them for a weekend ‘off-grid’ glamping), now it’s the Spring, more often or not it’s my flip flops, and they get taken off as soon as I’m on the beach.
Actually the big change hasn’t been from being indoorsy to outdoorsy, the big change has been taking up some new things. Namely hobbies.
Hobbies are a strange thing. Usually when I take up an activity it’s done with an end goal in mind: if I increase my running from nil to sporadic, it’s because I’ve done something stupid like sign up for a 10KM. If you find me singing, it’s in preparation for a concert. I’ve never really done anything just for the hell of doing it. Or with no intention of necessarily improving, but doing it because it makes me happy. A hobby is, according to the dictionary, ‘an activity done regularly in one’s leisure time for pleasure’. Imagine that.
And so, it has come to pass that I have indeed taken up some activities done regularly in my leisure time for pleasure.
First it was the pottery, which I actually have become a bit addicted to, and plan to turn into something more than just a hobby.
In addition to pottery, I found myself embracing the rural and starting to make jams and chutney. This took on a new level of commitment over the weekend when I foraged for elderflowers (including a very graceful hopping over of a gate, I felt all the smug, until I had to get back roadside and the stinging nettles that had been so elegantly vaulted over, were there to greet me and my flip-flopped feet… note to self, do not forage in flip-flops). The cordial is actually lovely. And the gin is in the darkened room ‘maturing’. Next time round, I might even attempt wine… what could POSSIBLY go wrong?!
But the big one, the actual hobby that I sincerely doubt I will ever progress at, and just do for the sheer love of it is surfing. Yes. You read that correctly. I have taken up surfing. With lessons and everything.
The kids are in the half term surf camp, and rather than just sit and wait for them to finish, I took a board out by myself (but within about 2 metres of them, just so that they might notice if I was drowning. They wouldn’t have of course. They were too busy showing me up and catching waves). Had it been rain and cloud, I would not have done this. Had it been raining you would have found me firmly ensconced in Watersplash, hot chocolate steaming, WiFi password entered, looking out through the misted up windows and quietly congratulating myself for not having a hobby that involved me being outside, in the sea, freezing my behind off (I wore TWO WETSUITS for my first lesson. TWO. As if getting one on and off wasn’t enough of a challenge and worthy of some sort of award for ingenuity and achievement). However, this week the weather Gods have been kind. Not only have they been kind, but they have been kind AND it’s half term. And so with my face plastered with factor fifty, one wetsuit firmly on, and the sun shining for two hours, I just had a go. And it was brilliant. My face has turned into one huge freckle, with the exception of the ‘laughter lines’ around my eyes. Which unfortunately were ‘squinting from the sun lines’ for the full two hours. While the rest of my face turned reddy/freckly/brown, the aforementioned squinting acted as an efficient sun block, and now when my face is in neutral, it appears my eyes have spiders legs coming out of them. White rivulets of sunburnt skin. It’s a look, but not the one I was going for.
Today I went out again. The waves were amazing, and kind. And I stood up MORE THAN ONCE. I fell down more times that I can count, and I am exhausted. But going back in tomorrow as well.
So a strange thing has happened. For a not-an-outdoorsy type of person, I appear to be getting more and more, well outdoorsy. I actually think it’s more than that. I’m giving things a go just because. I’ve written before about my forthcoming birthday being my own personal ‘scary’ age, and I’m finding myself emboldened. I’m wearing a bikini under a wetsuit, and when I have to take it off no one is opening recoiling in horror that I dare to wear a two piece. I signed up to Saturday surf club, because really, what’s the worst that can happen? I’m making elderflower cordial because I never have, and I want to see if I can (I can, it’s easy). But more and more, the older I get, the fewer f**ks I seem to give about what anyone thinks of what I’m doing (and, more importantly, I realise that I’m really not that interesting, and people aren’t looking at me, or judging me, they’re too busy cracking on having an actual life of their own). I sound quite bolshily confident in that paragraph, and I’m not, not really. The self doubt is there, it always will be, but with age, the satisfying thing is, I see it in others. I see their self doubt too, not just my own, and for now, I’m opting for the just do it mentality (not in terms of physical activity or active wear, God forbid). The tattoo. I did that. Learning to surf? What’s the worst that can happen (freak riptides aside)? I am finding myself trying things just because I might as well. And all these outdoor pursuits? Pretty liberating actually.
Until that is, it rains again. Whereupon I will be firmly back in the house, slippers on, catching up on season five of House of Cards. What can I say? I’m a fair-weather outdoorsy type. Literally.