Sunday, 19 March 2017

Hiking Room 101

I'm a huge fan of Room 101 - the TV show, not the Orwellian torture chamber - and I often ponder what I'd put in there.  There are plenty of non hiking things which would go in without a second thought - coat-hangers, umbrellas and anyone who tries to use their mobile phone on the train between Arnside and Carnforth (trust me, I don't care what network you are on, there is NO signal).

But what outdoors/ hiking things deserve to go in there?  Well here are my top five for starters, but do please add your own.

1.  Lying tourist information leaflets

I see no sea eagles
We've been lucky enough to spend the past couple of summers exploring the Scottish coastline and we have loved every second - it is a truly breathtaking part of the world.  We saw stunning lochs, spectacular mountains and long forgotten caves in remote hillsides.  What we didn't see were sea eagles, despite pretty much every scrap of tourist information telling us that the west coast was awash with them.  We paused, we pondered, we scanned the horizon for hours but not one.  If there is a realistic chance of seeing something then tell me what the odds are - don't adorn your leaflets with swooping golden eagles if there's more chance of me seeing Russell Brand joining the priesthood.

2.  Velcro on hoods

No, no, no, no, NO!  It's nice to have a hood that packs away but it's not nice if the collar is covered with velcro.  Look at me - I have a lot of hair.  Admittedly I don't always wear a tiara when I hike (though it was for a good cause!) but that hair gets caught in velcro and throughout the hike the hairs on the back of my neck are removed one by one. It's like slow motion waxing.  We often get offered jackets to try out and review and I always ask the same first question: "Did some sadistic so and so at the factory put velcro on the hood?"  If the answer is yes then I either politely decline or offer to visit the designer armed with a pair of tweezers to help them understand how it feels.

3.  Hot weather

The only good thing about hot weather
How could I possibly put hot weather into Room 101?  Because it is a complete pain in the backside for hiking.  I like clear sunny weather but not hot weather - I did not move to the north of England to endure 30C on the fells.  Last summer, when we were doing the final checks on a couple of walks for our book, it was face meltingly hot.  I clearly remember staggering around the coast from Arnside to Silverdale with only the thought of a cool pint of Wainwright at The Albion keeping me going...

4.  Boring brown hiking boots

Beth & her boots of many colours
Why are hiking boots brown?  Or grey?  Why are they all such boring colours?  Is it so the mud doesn't show up?  Most hikers I meet aren't boring so why is the kit always made in such drab colours?  I like bright colours and it's taken me years to find a nice, colourful, selection of outdoor kit - a bright orange jacket, funky purple socks and, finally, a pair of fabulous funky Aku boots (which you can only get in the UK via Keswick Boot Company)

 5. Kendal Mint Cake

I can hear you shouting at your screen and telling me what a disloyal Cumbrian I am, but I can't help it, I hate the stuff.  As a kid people spoke in hushed tones of the energy giving powers of Kendal Mint Cake and it was always in our emergency ration packs on our Duke of Edinburgh's expeditions.  I can clearly recall the day when, safely home, I tucked into my emergency rations and first encountered the sickly, grainy, sugary overdose.  I can just about cope with it in tiny quantities if it's covered in dark chocolate but, other than that, not a chance.  For the record, my hiking snacks of choice are maltloaf, eccles cakes and Solpadeine Max.


Disagree with my choices?  Or have other things you'd put into Room 101? Tell me all about it!  😀