The Not-So Lost Art of Being a Kid

My family and I recently returned from a trip to Ireland.  It was the first time we had undertaken a vacation all together since I was a reckless little boy (although some members of my family would dispute that this has changed). Those carefree times were little Patrick’s glory days, filled predominately with tree climbing, various ill-advised entrepreneurial ventures (i.e. selling sand at the beach), elaborate building projects, and a major obsession of mine for many years, attempting to perform a front flip and land on my feet. You will note the choice of word: attempting. Alas, despite hours spent launching myself head-over-heels into snow banks – the process was significantly more painful in the summer months – I was never able to master the skill (except of course for that one, glorious, time when I set up a series of mattress launch pads and just barely managed it – but that didn’t really count, what can I say, I’m a purist).

Outdoor education poster boy

My mother was particularly intrigued with this unique passion of mine, perhaps because it reminded her of her own youth. Always up for a challenge, she enlisted my expertise in teaching her the lost art of being a kid. We entitled these sessions “Kid Lessons” and I was quite thrilled to have a captive audience to pass on what I did best: living carefree, finding unabashed joy in things that were mundane for adults, and above all, my accumulated wealth of knowledge in the front flip department. Sadly, my mom was also never destined to complete the front flip, despite what I recall now as a fairly impressive attempt or two during a snowy walk through the neighbourhood one evening.

At the time, I loved the attention of being able to instruct an adult in my esoteric interests and was made to feel listened to and important. When I look back now, I can better understand my mom’s desire to see the world through the eyes of a child. While I thought she wanted coaching in various acrobatic manoeuvres, what she really wanted was a bit more abstract: time with her son, a break from grown-up worries, and a reminder to enjoy the simple things.

Like how to stuff your face with beets – in style.

While in Ireland, we happened to be staying in the popular surfing town of Lahinch on the west coast. With the temperature soaring into the mid-teens, the prospect of getting in the water, much less enjoying oneself once in, seemed like a far-off possibility. But while my dad and sister discussed the various circumstances in which they would consider going for a swim (i.e. when hell freezes over), Mom and I caught each others knowing glances and I knew there was no stopping her. My mom has a particular weak spot for swimming in oceans, and, living smack in the middle of Ontario, the opportunity rarely presents itself. Shivering already in my sweater and rain jacket, I knew I was going in as well. It seems my ‘lessons’ had worked.

Not your typical beach weather

We ended up spending two afternoons together enjoying the waves, her on a body board and me surfing (well, trying to surf). Despite the ominous weather, and with the help of wetsuits, we were both pretty convinced that we were actually warmer in the water than out of it in our jackets. Those few hours were by far some of the highlights of the trip, it had been months since I had laughed so much. In a wonderful way, we were able to have another “Kid Lesson” together, both equally sharing in a sense of awe for the ocean as we forgot all about our grown-up worries.

So thanks mom for giving me a “Kid Lesson” of my own!

Packing Procrastination

Nothing clears the mind quite like the realisation that you have a dwindling number of hours in which to cram everything you will need for two weeks into what once seemed to be a gigantic backpack. 

I bet there’s still room for a bottle of wine or three

The OE class’ year-end expedition is finally upon us, you see, and despite beginning preparations (ostensibly…) in September, it is abundantly clear that the last 24 hours before setting off is when the real work gets done.

Packing for any trip can be an illuminating experience. Sifting through your worldly belongings prior to departure, I submit, can be quite existential. In essence, you are finally forced to actually decide things (“ok, Mr. Chocolate Bar and Madam Toilet Paper: this bag’s only big enough for one of you…”). Gone is the time when you can idly plan and think in optimistic generalities; packing time is crunch time, and one must be ruthless in order to succeed.

But the ultimate question for philosophizing travellers, those who ponder every pound and consider every kilogram, is perhaps best summed up by the most basic of concerns, one that has dogged every restless nomad throughout the centuries…

“How many underwear do I bring?”

Too many and you will be mocked by your fellow travellers for being what my proudly-non-outdoorsy sister calls a “glamper,” too few and, well… I think everyone’s mother has warned them about that. Perhaps a bit cruelly, life has dictated that the precise situations in which one would have a paucity of underpants (namely, on an expedition of some sort) are exactly the times when one would be most likely to both soil them during some sort of traumatic event, and then subsequently be found by strangers who would no doubt judge you for your lack of basic hygiene.

But I digress.

Catch you in two weeks!

A month in 7 pictures (and 2 videos)

The unfortunate irony about a blog focused on adventures and travel is that the more these things occur, the less time I have to write about them! So, since it has been a busy month for adventuring (resulting in a quiet month for writing) here is a brief selection of some of the things I have been up to:

Finding romantic caves on Arthur’s Seat 

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First World Problems: Travel Complaints

Travelling, whether to an exotic once-in-a-lifetime destination, or simply as part of a routine commute, often exposes us to uncertainty, adventure, and terrible, disgusting bathrooms.

Luckily for me, (and most certainly for you, the reader) my post today contains no sordid tales of toilet trauma. Rather, it takes a look at the ubiquitous “travel horror story” (providing easy party anecdotes since, um, Noah?).

And then we totally got stuck on top of a mountain! Did I mention the rotting corpses?!

Photo:Wikimedia Commons

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Compasses and Crampons: What Not to Wear in the Lake District.

What’s the best way to spend a weekend after a long, tiring week? For Mitch and I, the answer this Saturday was getting up at 5:50am to catch a train to the Lake District for a little hillwalking.

FUN!

After a McDonald’s Breakfast of Champions, and an unexpected 2km slog uphill to our hostel, we were soon happily ascending the path to Red Tarn, a stunning lake situated at the base of Helvellyn, England’s third highest peak. After seeing the silhouettes of climbers along the Striding Edge leading to the top of the 950 metre mountain, we decided that a little bit of scrambling was definitely in order.   Continue reading