Its been a roller coaster of a year for me but I have been SO lucky. I know some pretty amazing people who have helped me and pointed me in directions which have resulted in some pretty thrilling experiences and me doing things that I never thought I would do in such a short space of time. Outdoor instructing has always been a dream of mine, and in 2016 my dreams came true.....
I have been given so many breaks, by so many people but there are four in particular who deserve a big high five. Firstly it has to be Joe Lewis at Forest of Dean Adventure. He took a huge gamble on me back at the beginning of the year and that gamble has resulted in my working as a High Ropes and Archery instructor for him. I never for one moment thought that I would be hanging around in trees, dangling off wires 40 foot in the air and getting paid. Bliss.
Next up would be Viney Hill Christian Outdoor Activity Centre. No, I am not Christian AT ALL, far from it. But this place is special, the team are welcoming, supportive and friendly and there is a great 'centre' feel about the place that took me back to my PGL days. These guys have been incredibly supportive, getting me trained up on lots of activities and giving me experiences that so many trainee instructors would kill for. I have been instructing archery, low ropes, orienteering, bushcraft, team games, geocaching, canoeing, climbing and abseiling - sure can't grumble!
Forest Adventure have been running outdoor activities in the Forest of Dean for years and are one of the original providers, surely they wouldn't be interested in little old, unqualified me?? Well apparently I was wrong! They are a lovely company run my Mark and Maria and I am really proud to be one of their freelancers, they have a great set up and I am reliably informed they do amazing camps and bivvi's. Next year I shall be with them I hope! For now I shall stick to the archery, bridge building and canoeing.
And finally. To the guy who has put me in touch with all these people and for whom I shall be forever indebted. Matt at Apex Outdoors. This guy barely knew me a year ago and when I went to see him, a couple of months after my breakdown and jokingly said 'if you have any work let me know' I never for one moment thought he would not only say yes, but go on to put me in touch with all the people I know freelance for.
Working at Apex is lush. I had forgotten how much I enjoy retail and would love to do more. But for now I am loving helping out when I can and getting to play shop. I mean who wouldn't love to work somewhere where you are surrounded by the most sensational outdoor kit. Also I get to play with one of those huge coffee machines in the café.
Its been a great year, here's to the next where the adventures get more adventurous! Keep an eye on the blog to find out my plans for 2017......