As part of our ongoing series of finding inspiration during lockdown, this week we hear from FINDRA local Ema Perry.
Hey Ema, let's start with you telling us a bit about yourself!
Hi, I'm Emma and I live in Innerleithen, a beautiful little town in the Scottish Borders. I moved up from Reading with my partner Craig (originally an Edinburgh lad) 11 years ago and we've never looked back. We own a small and very busy coffee house called No1 Peebles Road and do a little respite care for a local fostering agency. Both keep us on our toes and make our lives very interesting.
I have always been a water baby at heart – although the water’s a tad colder up here! My early childhood adventures were usually down by the coast of Cornwall and Devon or sailing round the Isle of Wight from Southampton harbour. I used to get fairly seasick but I loved the Ocean and the fun of looking out for dolphins and seals. That love has never changed.
I was a member of the canoe club when I was young however the River Thames is nothing compared to the Scottish waterways and I hope Craig can show me a few more spots to explore. When I lived in London I used to swim in the Hampstead ponds every morning until it got to cold in September. The only people that swam after that were the hardy old ladies that had been doing it for years, I admired their commitment.
The feeling of freedom the outdoors gives cant be replaced by anything else. Being able to let go of the barriers of time is a liberating feeling too. Exploring and getting lost are my favourite pastimes, whether it be on foot, swimming or on my bike.
So what’s been your favourite trip?
One of my favourite trips has to be back in 2012 when Craig took me up to The Lost valley, Glencoe. This would be my first real introduction to the highlands and we wild camped for a few days. It was April but we had amazing weather, pink foxgloves covered the forests and I saw my first Wild Stag! We started the day with a wash in the stream and then I completed my first 3 Munros. The views were incredible and I could see the tops of the mountains over the whole of Scotland.
On the last day we got lost in the forest and spent the whole day making our way down through a huge waterfall and following the waterway to the bottom, holding onto what we could to help us down and swimming the rest. There were little green lagoons perfect for a skinny dip (wink, wink), bouncy green moss, which you could fall onto and not a soul to be seen. Amazing what can happen if you just follow your curiosity. It felt good.
You obviously enjoy the outdoors, what have you done to find a balance during lockdown?
Finding balance . . . it’s a tricky one. Creating a routine, with room for a bit of spontaneity is key for me. This means I make a couple of hours a day free to expel any stresses and feel rewarded. Having that time reboots my energy and any work after that seems less of a chore. Balance comes and goes a lot in my life and I have to work hard on it, I sometimes fail to realise I've lost it. I make the mistake of thinking that if I get everything done first then I can have time for myself. We all know that doesn't always work as you just run out of time.
During lockdown however we have finely tuned our routine. Hopefully I can keep going with some of these good habits we have created together. Starting every day with yoga really anchors you and allows you to start the day with inner strength and calm. That's my new challenge to myself, to keep that up. It's easy now, but wont be so easy at 06:30 in the morning as I'm not an early riser any more.
Can you share with us any individuals who have inspired you?
I am inspired by anyone that chooses to soak up what nature has to offer in whatever form. I don't think anyone inspired my love for the outdoors more than my Mum Cathy though. She was the one who first took me into the sea, the woods and drove miles to the coast so we could explore the outdoors during my childhood. Born in Dun Laoghaire a coastal town of Dublin she grew up next to the sea so its in her blood.
My mum's a keen gardener as well so I’ve always had a love of just the simply spending time in the garden. It has also given me a respect for plants, flowers and trees and you understand their long journeys too. You don't have to go far to enjoy nature and I've always been lucky enough to have it on my doorstep. As an adult I am continuously in awe of my Mum and her adventurous spirit and her love of nature.
I just hope I get to travel as much as she has one day. Our next trip together is totally off grid and I am looking forward to experiencing that with her and going back to basics.
Do you find that the outdoors has a positive affect on your mental health?
My mood and energy is always boosted from being outdoors. Literally walking out the door in the fresh air makes me feel better. Powering up and down the hills on the bike is a super stress reliever and ensures a really good nights sleep!
From about 12-years-old to my late twenties my mental health was very poor and I had quite long periods of not being outside and no exercise. I am very lucky to be where I am now and I know for a fact that it is to do with the surroundings and a healthy lifestyle. The equation of exercise and a good diet can change your life. Obviously there can be a lot of other factors to consider as well, but it's a hell of a good start. If these two are neglected it can be a rapid downhill for me – and I'm only allowing that on the trails these days.
When did you discover FINDRA and what is your favourite piece?
I am fortunate enough to be just down the road from FINDRA in Innerleithen, so I get to pop in and have a mooch quite often. I have quite a few items that make my adventures cosier and more comfortable, but my favourite is the Merino Neck Warmer. It's such a simple thing but has saved me so many times from the cold and I never go out without it round my neck or in my backpack.
And finally, what’s the best piece of advice you have been given?
‘Just be yourself ’.
Thanks Ema and wishing you all the best for our continued journey through lockdown.