Friends of FINDRA: Caroline and Alistair

Friends of FINDRA: Caroline and Alistair

Hey, can you tell everybody where are you based and what you do!

Hello, we are Caroline Harvey and Alistair Dow. We live in Innerleithen in the Scottish Borders and have been here 8 years now. We are both originally from Edinburgh but met when we moved separately to the Borders. I currently work as a care worker and work with the elderly and those with learning needs in the local area. Alistair is a retired postman but now works locally a couple of days a week.

How long has the outdoors been a part of your life?

The outdoors has been part of both our lives to varying degrees since we were children. My Mum used to take me walking in the Pentland Hills from a young age. I think I usually complained about it but it obviously set me up in later life for valuing the outdoors. Alistair’s Mum used to Have a hut at Carlops, a small village outside Edinburgh, he used to love escaping the smoke of the big city to adventure in the countryside.

What’s been your favourite trip or adventure?

It’s so hard to choose a favourite adventure. I think every new trip that you do is a favourite as they usually all have great parts that you love at the time and in that moment. My love for adventuring started with an inter railing trip around Europe when I was 20, since then I have been on a 3 month rock climbing trip through France and Spain, I have soloed through the USA and Canada on another climbing trip for a year. Since getting my dog Bodhi I haven’t done much foreign travel but recently my shorter bike packing trips are also among my favourites. We recently bought a new van so every trip in that is also great.

Alistair's favourite trip was when he did the Transmaurienne mountain bike 5 day stage race, but again he also loves every trip we do in our new van.

How do you make find a balance between being active and life’s other responsibilities i.e. work and family?

We don’t have any children so our biggest responsibility is the dog and he comes most places with us. I have to say we usually prioritise our cycling over most things outside of work and things like housework are always at the bottom of my list.

Is there anyone who inspired your love of the outdoors?

There is no one in particular who has inspired our love of the outdoors. I think the outdoors and the people you surround yourself with is inspiration enough. There is nothing better than being out on a nice day running or cycling with like minded people.

Do you find that being outside has a positive impact on your wellbeing and mental health?

Most definitely. Being outside and doing any form of exercise has helped me through some tough times. I used to run a lot with good friends in Edinburgh and it was amazing how many life problems we solved running and chatting. Nowadays we find a good cycle even by yourself can blow those cobwebs of life away and give you a serotonin boost that can lift your mood.

What is it about Cyclocross specifically that you love?

Cyclocross. I had never heard of cyclocross before I met Alistair, but his love for the sport was so infectious that I had to have a go, and now I am hooked. It is such a friendly sport. We have so many good friends that we know just purely from the cross racing. It is a tough sport as you basically race as fast and as hard as you can for (in our age group) 40ish minutes round a course that is usually set up in muddy fields, but at the same time it is so much fun. The cyclocross season runs from about September to January and we race almost every weekend so spend many weekends in our van and with our cyclocross friends. It takes up a lot of our time but we love it so much. It is definitely a sport I would recommend anyone to try.

When did you discover FINDRA?

I discovered Findra when they moved to their premises in Innerleithen and became my next door neighbours.

On writing this blog, what do you feel is the key motivational or inspirational message you would like to highlight to our followers that would inspire them to get outdoors more?

I would say that although equipment and things for many outdoor pursuits are becoming more and more expensive, given the rising cost of living, the basics such as walking are still relatively inexpensive. So if you can start just to explore your local area on foot, its amazing what you will find off the main thoroughfares. Once you have an interest you can explore further afield and you never know where your next adventure might take you. Many of my best adventures have been because good friends have said “let's go and do…” and you nearly always initially think “I can’t do that” but you can. The power of friends has been a big motivation for me over the years and has given me the confidence to then do adventures on my own. Oh, and you’re never too old to try.

Favourite Book?

I love reading and have many favourite books but one that I always keep in my collection and have read many times is Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach. It’s a short and relatively simple story telling us we can be more than we often believe and to embrace the free spirit that we are born with.

Favourite Quote?

I am a Dolly Parton fan. She is so opposite to me but she is a woman who has worked very hard in a male dominated world to become the best she can possibly be and never forgets her roots.

Favourite Song?

Cream "White Room"

Alistair is very much a fan of the 70’s so one of his would be White Room by Cream as he loves the drumming By Ginger Baker.

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