I'm not quite sure how or why but I never learned to properly shave. Ever since the first whisspy strands of hair started sprouting from my adolescent upper lip I have always used an electric razor to keep my babyfaced good looks exposed to the world. Looking back I suspect this may because that's what my dad has always done and that's what I was bought but, either way the prospect of scrapping a razor sharp piece of metal all over my face on a daily basis has never made me think about giving it a try.
Fast forward 15 ish years from the bumfluff days and I am faced with the reality of living on a river for 3 months, far away from easily accessible electricity or batteries which for the razor so I am faced with a dilemma of either attempting to grow and sculpt some kind of man beard (something else I've never done) or head to Boots, grab a Mac 3 Turbo and start scraping away.
Of course learning to shave is not a huge hurdle to overcome but it is just one of the countless new skills I'm faced with in preparation for setting off on the 1st of March (I know Kate is learning lots too but maybe not having quite the same facial hair dilemma.)
Paddling the Danube and all the preparation work going on at the moment is a massive learning experience for both of us and, although scary at times is one we are relishing. The obvious main skill we will require is that of being able to paddle our boards but right now, neither of us has a wealth of experience of doing that (about 5 hours board time between us.) Starting this week we will be getting some instruction and practice but with rapids, over 100 locks and 3000km ahead of us there will be plenty more learning to do once we hit the river. Beyond the paddling there have been lots of other new experiences for us as well; for instance, neither of us has ever tried gaining sponsorship and support before but, by giving it a go have been blessed with some awesome companies and individuals who have partnered with us and will make sure we have the best chance of succeeding. More challenges await us in including learning new languages, cooking all our food on a single gas stove night after night, wild camping for more than one night at a time, dealing with maritime boarder checks, documenting the journey through film and photos and even writing entries for this blog.
Lots of people have dreams about going on adventures, taking time off to travel or even join a local sports team but are stopped by their fear of not having the necessary skills to make it happen. As children we are encouraged to learn new skills and try new things on a daily basis but as adults maybe we lose that attitude which results in a wall of resistance being built up to anything which might take us out of our comfort zone.
At this years Adventure Travel Show was lucky enough to finally meet the Meek family. Having heard about this legendary clan for so long it was brilliant to hear more of their adventures, their family life and future plans as they turn away from a traditional domestic existence and focus instead on experiences, quality family time together and learning by doing. The two youngest members Amy & Ella may be young but speak with such passion, enthusiasm and wisdom they seem at least triple their age and, as part of a panel discussion in an auditorium full of hundreds of people, Amy was asked if anything they've done as a family scared her. Far from a simple yes or no response she gave great clarity to explaining that for her anything which they see as a challenge or scary is the motivation to try it, learn how to do it, get good at it and then do it more. Taking each fear or challenge as an opportunity to try something new or gain a new skill.
If as adults we were to continue doing only the things we are good at and know about then our lives would be a much poorer place. When was the last time we broke out of our comfort zone, joined a sports team, rode a bike, learned to swim or even something a simple as grabbing a dusty recipe book and cooking a new meal? Do something new, do anything new and then keep going and your day and life will be richer for it.
Soon Kate & I we will continue our skill learning when we take our new Orign boards out on the Grand Union Canal under the watchful eye of the team at Active360. They have kindly offered their time and expertise to help us develop perfect paddling techniques, to keep us safe on the water and ensure that when we start on the Danube the paddling part of the adventure is not something we will be worried about.
In the mean time i’m off to find a razor and some shaving foam...