Friend of FINDRA Gillian Anderson lives in the Tweed Valley with her wife Terri and has been a positive contributor and member of FINDRA Outdoor Adventures.
Gillian talks about how the outdoors and adventure brought her and Terri together and recalls a memorable ride in Chile across the Atacama Desert to the Pacific Ocean.
Hi Gillian, good to meet you and perhaps we can start by finding out how long the great outdoors has been a part of your life?
I have loved outdoor adventure as far back as the age of three, when my dad used to take me walking most weekends over the hills of the Scottish Borders. Most of our childhood holidays would be spent with my mum and dad wild camping in some remote beauty spot or the Highlands, so my love of the great outdoors, its peacefulness and tranquility, gripped me from a very early age.
What has been your favourite trip or adventure?
In 1994 I was part of a mountain bike team that cycled from the Santa Cecilia mine at 5,640m on Volcano Ollague in Northern Chile, across the Atacama desert to Antofagasta and the Pacific Ocean. At that time, it was possibly the longest ever continuous cycle decent.
The tour was a fabulous mix of bivvying under the stars where I would find myself nestled in my sleeping bag with only the night sky as my canopy or camping in tents on the colder nights. When we were in the mountains on the colder, windier nights (minus 27 degrees) we’d pitch our tents on the rocky mountain sides and look down and across the vast desert wilderness.
We cycled about 16 hours a day most days to maintain our objective and lived on a diet of dried porridge and boiled sweets for energy. Riding through rural communities, villagers greeted us openly, allowed us to see, taste and experience their culture. It was an amazing experience and one I will remember forever.
How do you make find a balance between being active and life’s other responsibilities i.e. work and family?
I met my wife in 2010 after meeting on an online dating site and one of our first connections was we were both reading The Luxury of Time by Jane Tomlinson. We were both in awe of her achievements after she was diagnosed with terminal cancer, and that she took up running and trained for marathons and onto compete in an Iron Man event just before her death in 2007. To this day, we still often talk about her and how inspirational she still is to us both.
We soon realised that outdoor life and adventure was a key thing that would bond us together, although Terri did mention in her dating profile that she didn’t want to participate in anything too extreme or life threatening (I realised I’d have to curtail my plans of adventure until I had her convinced that extreme could actually be fun). Fortunately, Terri quickly came round to my idea of adventure and soon we were planning trips to Iceland, Canada and the USA where we did a mix of walking, mountain biking, kayaking – our own rough guide to holidaying.
In addition we purchased a camper van in 2015 so we could easily get up and go and explore more of our home country by heading off to the highlands or the Islands – or anywhere with our shell on our backs (so to speak).
When did you discover FINDRA?
We’d planned a trip in 2020 to Peru to visit the Amazon River and Rain Forest so prior to that we’d started to look into clothes that would work efficiently in cold, hot and wet climates. Fortunately I had heard a lot about the FINDRA range from Roddy (aka Mr FINDRA), so we visited the Innerleithen shop and never looked back.
Terri was also so inspired by the FINDRA range that it helped motivate her to lose the weight she needed to lose. Unfortunately, like everyone else’s plans for 2020, the trip to Peru has been put on hold, but we are certainly ready for it when the world gets back to some sort of normality.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Don’t sweat the small stuff. I think of this quote often in most aspects of my life, it is a great reminder for me to keep things into perspective.
Thanks Gillian, good to chat and we hope your trip to Peru becomes a reality at some point!
TRAIL OF THE WEEK
Andes & Atacama desert
Gillian mentioned her journey by bike across the Atacama Desert from Volcano Ollague in the Andean Mountains to Antofagasta on the Pacific coast.
This part of Chile is a mecca for cycle tourists seeking wide open spaces with remote roads that go on for miles and another classic route east/west is from San Pedro to Antofagasta. Visit the website of Laura Irwin and Resa Noori for details of the route, amazing pics and other journeys in the region.
BOOK OF THE WEEK
The Luxury of Time by Jane Tomlinson
Gillian and Terri have been inspired by Jane Tomlinson’s story in The Luxury of Time, told with her husband Mike about two ordinary people and the courage to face Jane’s diagnosis of terminal cancer aged 26.
Jane took on three London marathons and a 2,500 mile bicycle journey ‘From Rome to Home’ (amongst other athletic endeavours), raising nearly two million pounds for charity before her death in 2017. An inspiring and moving story in equal parts for sure.
MUSIC OF THE WEEK
John McCusker at Shrewsbury Folk Festival 2016
Gillian is a big fan of Dolly Parton and Scottish folk music. We featured Dolly in last week’s post so here instead is some folk music by John McCusker and his band, recorded live at the Shrewsbury Folk Festival in 2016.
Until relatively recently McCusker lived in the Tweed Valley and would often perform with his band in Peebles when on tour around the UK. So here he is doing what he does best in front of a live audience. Enjoy.