I’ve been taking an unplanned and unexpected blogging break recently. I don’t really know why or how it happened, because it’s certainly not for a lack of exciting things to blog about – I’ve started several blogs about travelling solo and adventures in Bali, which I can’t wait to share but haven’t been able to motivate myself to finish them. I think it is actually because I now spend a lot of time in work writing articles every day and I can’t face spending my free time writing too. It’s a shame, because blogging is my creative outlet and I’ve always enjoyed it and felt proud of my creations, but I’ve just fallen out of the routine. However, I’ve just been nominated for an exciting House 21 blogging award which came as a wonderful surprise and confidence boost. it has given me back the motivation and drive to do what I love again. I’ve got my blogging mojo back!
Last night, I did something new and different with my friends – the perfect opportunity for a blog. We went to the European Outdoor Film Tour 19/20 in Cardiff Bay. We didn’t really know what to expect, but as an active, outdoorsy bunch, it sounded right up our street. It was a rainy evening, but luckily, the event was indoors, bringing the great outdoors inside to the silver screen. Showcasing the best outdoor and adventure films, the European Outdoor Film Festival was a series of short films about adventures and exploring, each with a poignant and meaningful message at its core.
Return to Earth
The film tour kicked off with a downhill mountain biking story titled Return to Earth, giving a biker’s view of an exhilarating downhill adventure. Filmed on a beautiful Canadian backdrop, Return to Earth shared the message of living in the moment and appreciating life in the here and now. The story raised questions around how modern life is disconnected from the things that really matter, such as how we treat the world we live in. However, it highlighted downhill biking as a way of feeling present, immersing yourself in the moment of the adventure, enjoying your surroundings and appreciating the simplicity of two wheels and gravity. As much as I love cycling, I’ve never tried downhill mountain biking. In fact, it scares me a little as it feels so dangerous and raw. I think I’d lose control of the bike and end up flying over the handlebars and breaking a few bones. But the way this adventure was filmed conveyed a real sense of exhilaration, adrenaline, and energy. It was clear to see that it was created by people with a true love of downhill mountain biking who see it as far more than just an extreme sport.
Le Minimaliste – An Himalayan Adventure
The second film was one of my favourites, depicting the solo adventure of a French man called Eliott as he treks across the Himalayas with just a loyal horse named Robert for company. His aim was to get back to basics and discover how much stuff he really needed to survive, so he took the bare minimum with him and ditched unnecessary items along the way. His adventure took him across barren and uninhabited landscapes, dangerous forbidden lands patrolled by soldiers, snowy mountain passes and icy glaciers and he came across very few villages and even a nomadic tribe. Eliott developed such a wonderful bond with his four-legged companion throughout their journey together and they made a great double act helping each other to get through each day. But they sadly had to part ways when it became too dangerous for Robert to cross the icy glacier and his journey ended with a nomadic farmer who still sends updates to Eliott to this day. Meanwhile, Eliott continued the remainder of his journey alone, meeting incredible local people along the way, learning crafts like basket weaving, and acquiring treasured new items like a goat-skin jacket that kept him warm on the coldest nights. By the end of the trek, he was living a truly minimalist life and pushing the limits, showing us that we don’t need to rely on material possessions to find peace and happiness in our lives.
The next short film was one that really resonated with me, but I found it surprisingly stressful to watch. This one was about climbing, and more specifically bouldering. Bouldering a sheer 15-metre rock face with no ropes! As a fan of climbing, I appreciate the feeling of achievement and accomplishment when you conquer a wall that you didn’t think you could climb. I personally prefer the reassurance of climbing with safety ropes rather than free climbing or bouldering without ropes, but that can be fun and rewarding too. In this particular film, it was highball bouldering in the extreme, scaling a rock that was too high to fall from. Filmed in the Buttermilks in California, Nina – the climber – made several practice attempts at climbing the rock face with ropes to find the best route to the top, before she attempted to scale the wall unaided. She was clinging to the rock’s tiny crevasses, cracks and holds that were barely visible, while hopping from one foot to another mid-climb. The rock looked smooth and impossible to climb I felt anxious and stressed just watching and knowing how risky it was, but what a fantastic feat of human strength and determination when she reached the top! I haven’t climbed for a while, but I certainly want to get back on the climbing walls now.
The final film before the break was about snowboarding – a sport I’ve never tried but wouldn’t say no to giving a go. The film explores how snowboarding has become a full-time career and dream come true for professional snowboarder Elias, alongside questioning the environmental impact of the hobby he loves and how the ecology can be protected. Filmed in Germany, with stunning snowy backdrops, Contradiction conveyed a passion for winter sports and how Elias must be a role model in his industry while conserving life in the mountains for its beautiful and natural simplicity.
After the first four films, we had a short break during which there was a raffle with some pretty good prizes, including an adventure magazine subscription and a great hiking rucksack. Unfortunately, me and my friends didn’t win (I’m not very lucky when it comes to raffles) but that didn’t matter because we were feeling inspired by what we had already seen.
Freedom to Roam
Following the break, the 21st Century Adventurer of the Year 2019 award winner was announced. Sarah McNair-Landry was awarded this accolade for her impressive polar exploration expeditions. She was the youngest person ever to reach both polar ice caps solo and her story was inspirational. Adventure and exploring have been entwined with her everyday lifestyle from a young age and it was clear that she felt most at home and most alive when out in nature with an adrenaline rush. This adventurous life was her normal, every day. It was a well-deserved award!
The next film was based in Rwanda – a country that’s not exactly known for roller skating, but one that is being transformed by the passion of one man. When he arrived in Rwanda, most residents had never seen roller skates before and they were mesmerised by his skill as he swerved along the roads, overtaking cars and performing acrobatic manoeuvres in the streets. Roller skating quickly started to catch on as he gave lessons in skating using his other spare pair of skates. Now, further down the line, he is well known for his impressive skating moves and he teaches people, young and old, to skate. The most inspiring part of his story is that, like Robin Hood, he charges wealthy parents for their children’s skating lessons, which in turn funds lessons for children from poor families too. To top this off, he has even been able to fund some children’s school lessons, turning roller skating into something wonderful in Rwanda.
The Longest Hole
I didn’t expect to think much of the next film about a pair of guys playing golf across Mongolia, but this turned out to be one of my favourite short films of the night. The pair set off with their golf club and cart on an unusual journey across Mongolia, planning to putt a golf ball across thousands of miles before completing ‘the longest hole’ on an international golf course. For me, the adventure was made all the better when they were followed by a stray dog. The dog joined them early in their trek across the vast expanses of Mongolia and loyally stayed with them for the entire adventure. He became quite protective of the pair, growling if anyone approached and triumphantly presenting them with a Marmot that he had just killed in the desert, much to the horror of one of the guys who was vegan! However, the relationship between the men and the dog really made this film, adding an extra layer to their Mongolian adventure. As a dog lover, it was hard not to fall a little bit in love with their canine companion and it was sad at the end when they couldn’t take him home after sharing such a memorable adventure together.
This next film was, in my opinion, the most extreme of all. Lhotse is the mountain that neighbours Everest and it is one of the highest in the world. This is something that attracts many avid adventurers to the region in search of a challenge like no other, but for me, I find it all a little too risky and scary with the low oxygen levels, slippery ice, and cavernous canyons. However, I can see it’s draw – the breathtaking views, the once in a lifetime sunrise, being surrounded by nature and defying all odds to reach the top of the world. For two ski climbers, Lhotse was much more than a mountain to scale. It was their chance to be the first people in history to ski down Lhotse Couloir, over 8,000 meters of pure adrenaline and high-speed skiing. In the film, it was evident to see that the ascent was a challenge, to say the least, but for these extreme skiers, it was all worthwhile when they began their long-awaited descent, pushing the limits to show that with determination and stepping outside your comfort zone, anything is possible.
The final film was the shortest of them all, with a huge floating zeppelin gliding through the snowy Alps, before skiers rappelled the 50-metre descent down from the airship before skiing the untouched slopes in Austria. It looked a lot of fun to be in the midst of the mountains with nobody else in sight, gliding through the snow and carving their own trails.
I’d highly recommend trying something like the European Outdoor Film Tour if you ever get a chance because the whole evening was an adventure and a journey into something new and exciting. It has reignited my passion for the great outdoors and all that the wonderful world we live in has to offer. It has made me want to find new adventures and get back out there. And that is exactly what I now intend to do! It’s time to rediscover adventure…