By: Blonde Two

How time flies when you are a busy Blonde. It seems like long time now since our trip up to the Women in Adventure Exposition (WAEXPO not WAXPOO) in Bristol, I guess that’s what happens when surprise (and very welcome) trips to lovely walking locations like Ireland land themselves on your doorstep.

Needless to say, Blonde One and I had a great time at the WAEXPO, it was our first visit and we enjoyed gathering with other outdoors women (cue collective noun blog post tomorrow) and listening to a wide variety of speakers. I must have known how busy the following days were going to be because I made a few notes as the day went on. Some of them, in true Blonde note-taking style, no longer make any sense, but here are the thoughts I reassembled from the others (in no particular order).

The Adventure Baby

Well done to the adventure mum who brought her baby along with her to WAEXPO. Having had 3 such demanding creatures myself I understand that this would have taken some organising. Mind you, a more beautifully behaved baby I have never met (and she was wearing the cutest of socks).

The Other Babies

I didn’t spot any other babies or young children at WAEXPO, which made me wonder whether there were either excellent creche facilities or lots of mums who felt they couldn’t come. The challenges of being a mum as well as a female adventurer were addressed in a session run by Catherine Edsell, who talked about both ‘but I’ve got kids’ options, i.e. taking them with you and leaving them behind. After having heard from a friend how great Catherine’s session was, I half wish I had gone to listen to her. I certainly enjoyed her TED talk here.

Theories About Knickers

Image copyright WAEXPO 2017

What a relief to find out that other women are as obsessed by underwear as I am. When I first heard Squash Falconer’s, ”If your knickers are right, everything’s right,’ quote, I had forgotten to pack mine and was wearing none. Squash told us a bit about flying (paragliding) off the top of Mt Blanc, which is impressive, but not, to my mind, as impressive as having the organisational skills to pack 60 pair of knickers for a 60 day trip.

Things About Swimming

mage copyright WAEXPO 2017

Alice Gartland has done a fair amount of impressive swimming and I enjoyed her workshop, particularly as I got to opportunity to put my hand up at the question, ‘Who here has swum 10 kilometres’! I did, however, feel a bit like the naughty child during when, during the, ‘What words does outdoor swimming bring to mind?’ session I supplemented other people’s lovely words like, ‘peace’, ‘refreshment’ and ‘exhilaration’ with my own, more practical one, ‘weeing’. Alice surprised me with the news that 1 in 5 women in the UK can’t swim but it was good to hear that, at the other end of the spectrum, women are currently dominating endurance (cold and long) swimming. I always knew there was a good reason for my layer of cuddliness, which was supplemented by the welcome addition of cake to the session.

The Bonkers to Possible Scale

mage copyright WAEXPO 2017

Anna McNuff was my favourite WAEXPO speaker. I was half way through her latest book, ‘The Pants of Perspective’ at the time and loving it (because it contained both Anna and New Zealand). Anna has a very natural way of writing that appeals to my Blonde sense of ‘sensible/silly’ and I was eager to hear her speak. I wasn’t disappointed, Anna talked about her adventures with gusto and humour making them sound both entirely do-able and completely impossible. I particularly loved her, ‘Bonkers to Possible Scale’, which measures potential adventures and states that the best adventures have to have more ‘bonkers’ than ‘possible’ in them.

WAEXPO 2017 was a refreshing look into the world of women’s adventure. It raised all kinds of questions with me about why we adventure and what we do to encourage other people. What I really liked about it was that, although there were women there who had done some incredible adventure things, I wasn’t left feeling that I was any the less for only doing smaller adventure things.

Thanks WAEXPO and thanks ladies!