This week we catch up with FINDRA Brand Ambassador Graeme Walker, to discuss his love of the cold, winter sports and regular trips to Chamonix and other high places.
Hi Graeme, thanks for taking the time to chat. To start, can you introduce yourself and tell us where you live and what you do?
Hey guys, I am based in Motherwell, Scotland and I work in the Oil & Gas industry as a technical estimator. I have worked within this industry all my adult life and coming up on 22 years of service.
How long has the great outdoors been a part of your life?
My earliest memory of the outdoors was naturally playing outside as a kid. I would finish school, run home, get changed, slam the door behind me then run back outside to get my friends. Exploring the local woods and playing soldiers in the trees. The fresh air and the willingness to roam and discover new things has never left me. I am still very enthusiastic and inquisitive by nature and so I am always on the look out for new places to see and new activities to conquer.
What has been your favourite trip or adventure?
Chamonix in France is at the top of the pile. It’s an adventure playground with something for everyone. You could keep it as mellow or as extreme as you like. I try to get to Chamonix every year with my friends. It’s my annual “down-time” of switching off from work, from the mundanity of bills, and “real-life” stuff. I also really love winter months and prefer the cold. I’m Scottish, what can I say 😊 For me personally I head to Chamonix for snowboarding as I have been doing that since 2007 and never looked back.
How do you make find a balance between being active and life’s other responsibilities i.e. work and family?
I think its really hard to find a true balance between work & family etc. Naturally your time is always drawn in the direction of what needs you the most but ultimately you need to be able to separate the two and understand that time to yourself or time to pursue your own passions and interests, ultimately benefits everyone in the long run.
I try to be inclusive of my kids and take them to new places as much as I/we can. They are young so it’s important to me they enjoy the outdoors for themselves. By the very nature of my day job, it’s all very technical in the head above the shoulders kind of stuff, so I try and get outside at lunchtime or before dinner just to get some fresh air and “wind down” from the working day. This year has been particularly hard for all of us and with working from home full-time since March, I get a bit of cabin fever and need to get out and about.
Is there anyone who inspired your love of the outdoors?
I think I’ve naturally followed the guidance and opportunities afforded to me by my parents and by that I don’t mean expensive holidays or hobbies. My parents were of the opinion that I would find my own limits as a kid and I most likely tested them often having been taken to hospital several times for thinking I could fly (lol). As I am inquisitive by nature, I am always wanting to see what I am capable of and how something works.
Do you find that being outside has a positive impact on your wellbeing and mental health?
Massively! It’s my church, my therapy, my magic pill (if you want to call it that) and for the most part it’s free. We don’t need any specialist equipment to go a 30 minute walk, but the benefits are huge – and I can 100% say that from my own perspective. It also lets me reset and recalibrate myself to a certain degree, in that when I get back to my desk and work, that I’m ready for it. I’m refreshed and I have taken some deep breaths of fresh air. There’s nothing hippy or soft about these kinds of things, you owe it to yourself to make time for yourself, the rest will always be there.
What is it about winter sports specifically that you love?
I love snowboarding and apart from the fact that I like going fast and the snow, I think it’s because I generally can’t do it all year round. Sure, I could go to a dry slope or the indoor dome but it’s not the same as a top to bottom run on a big mountain that takes you 20-40 mins to get down.
So for me, I long for winter and always eagerly anticipate what the winter is going to be like. I clean and maintain my kit in autumn in anticipation of the first snow. It’s also really relaxing and quiet. Despite being in a resort, whether that be Chamonix, Banff, Whistler etc, on the snow packed mountain, it’s quiet and peaceful. You can hear the snow slide away under your board as you put those turns in and you pay attention to that and leave everything else at home and at work.
When did you discover FINDRA?
Being in the cold and in Scotland we always need a great base layer for those cold days. Something that keeps you warm and wicks the sweat away from you regardless of activity. For me, FINDRA ticked all the right boxes and I was fortunate enough to come on board as a brand Ambassador in 2019.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
“Do the hard stuff first”. It goes back to my University days and relates to procrastination. By nature we generally want to get stuck into the easy stuff first and tick them off – however, the big thing, the real big time consumer ends up all the way down the list.
So, over the years I have actively tried to get the big things out the way first. It’s a great motivator, once you have nailed the difficult stuff, the rest should line up nicely after that.
In this post, 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 think sometimes confidence plays a significant part in what we do as individuals. Confidence comes from competence, so be bad ass at something even if it’s a little thing. That little thing might turn into a big thing and before you know it you’ll be looking back wondering why you never tried that sooner.
I always refer back to a metaphorical adventure bridge. On one side is where we begin, and the other side is the top level adventurers. Each step across the bridge we gain experience and a confidence point. The most important part is that we need to keep crossing the bridge. The great outdoors tends to reward us for our efforts and for that reason alone, its worth taking the time out our day or setting some time aside for a nice walk, a quick run and being able to feel the sun and wind on our face.
Thanks Graeme, good to catch up with you again!
PODCAST OF THE WEEK
Get it After (with Nashy) and The Braw and The Brave
I have a couple of favourite podcasts and they are local Scottish talent Alan Nash (Nashy) and Lisa Kennedy. I have been fortunate enough to have been on both of their podcasts and they highlight a lot of local guests and their passions.
To check them out, follow the podcasts and Instagram links below:
MUSIC OF THE WEEK
Holocene & Wash by Bon Iver
I think because my job is quite demanding both in terms of my time and concentration to work on providing solutions to Oil & Gas customers, I enjoy music that is really mellow and relaxing.
Bon Iver is my go-to stress release when in the mountains or in the car driving towards them. In particular I love Holocene and Wash.
Bon Iver – Holocene
Bon Iver – Wash