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An outdoors birthday weekend of discovery

Written by Fiona May 16 2011

I love a birthday. It doesn’t matter whether it’s mine or anyone else’s. I enjoy the fun, the treats, the surprises and the excuse for a party or celebration. So I’ve never really worried about growing older. My 43rd birthday has been no different, and, indeed, I am happy to have made quite a few discoveries during a long weekend of birthday treats. These are a few of the things that I discovered (in no particular order):

I am as happy sleeping in a tent as I am living it up in a top-quality hotel. Just for different reasons.

I think that the perfect number of Munros in one day is three, not four. But to see the G-Force’s grinning face on the summit of the fourth Munro on Friday in Glen Strathfarrar, knowing that he now only has 14 Munros to go to “compleat” his first round made the hike to the 4th summit through snow and hailstones more than worth the effort.

I used to think that camping was cold and very uncomfortable.  I now love camping because of my super warm GoLite sleeping bag and a comfy yet not too bulky  Thermarest.

I love a day of hill walking in the sun, but I also enjoy the days when it’s cloudy, wet and windy and then all of a sudden a break in the clouds reveals the most amazing panorama of landscape laid out below you.

I am too light for strong winds in the mountains. But I have my very own G-Force to help to keep my feet on the ground!

I can never refuse the offer of a full cooked breakfast, especially when it includes sausages, bacon, egg, beans, black pudding, haggis, grilled tomatoes and the tastiest breakfast mushrooms I’ve ever had. And I never know when to stop eating, even when I’m totally full to the brim! (If you want to better understand why I’d return to Durness just for one particular full breakfast you should check out the wonderfully welcoming Aiden House B&B.)

I’d always imagined that metal roofs would be very noisy in the rain. But they aren’t. Again, check out the extremely cosy Aiden House B&B.

Sleeping in the back of an estate car is nowhere near as uncomfortable as I’d imagined. And it makes for a much easier sleepover the night before a day of  Munro bagging than pitching a tent in the rain at 11.30pm.

I still have no idea how to decide where north and south is according to the placement of the sun in the sky. I found this out while  being interviewed for a programme for the BBC, and I am pretty sure this part will be aired! (Navigation lessons are still on-going!)

Paul Murton, of Timeline Films, and me at a fabulous beach near Durness

I am delighted not to be a woman living in Victorian times. As I found out while being interviewed by Paul Murton for his new TV series, the outdoors environment was considered to be too dangerous and challenging for a Victorian lady. Thank goodness I live in this era and I am free to enjoy the full extent of the outdoors anytime, anywhere, regardless of gender.

I must be a Tomboy even in my 40s because most people still buy me outdoors and fitness gadget gifts. And this now includes my daughter!

Outdoors and fitness gift always make me smile! But so does Champagne (thanks G-Force for both style of gifts!)

Ensuring that my hair was washed and nicely dried and straightened for an interview on a windswept and slightly rainy beach off the coast of Scotland near Durness is totally pointless. Thankfully I realised I don’t really care if my hair is windswept like a Scottish beach.

Walking in the mountains in May can sometimes feel like December!

Drinking port while camped out in a two-man tent with my partner, listening to the rain pelting off the nylon outer layer, chatting and giggling, is delightfully fun and cosy.

The best scones I’ve tasted in decades are sold in Cafe 115 in Fort William.

I‘m not the only one to utterly fall in love with a cycle route via Glen Lyon and up and over Ben Lawyers. The G-Force discovered he loves it just as much as me when we headed there for my birthday bike ride of choice on Sunday.

I can change a punctured inner tube using only one tyre lever – and without becoming grumpy – and now thanks to the smallest but most effective bike pump I’ve ever owned. (Thanks again to the G-Force for another fab birthday gift!)

You don’t have to spend masses of money, or stay in a glamorous hotel, to have a fantastic birthday weekend. It’s about the company and the freedom to explore the outdoors.

And, last but by no means least, I’ve discovered this weekend that becoming 43 is like turning 23 or 33. I don’t feel any different. And I might actually be a bit fitter!

Happy days!

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