Based in the Tweed Valley with her husband and daughter, Friend of FINDRA Nicki Tommlinson is an accomplished MTB champion and has recently launched a range of organic skincare products.
Hi Nicki, thanks for taking the time to chat. To start, can you introduce yourself and tell us where you live and what you do?
Based in the Tweed Valley but grew up in the Lake district. Just launched a new business making natural ethical soap, salves, chamois and balms! called www.naturallittlebee.co.uk. I’m really into holistic organic skincare. For nearly ten years I’ve made my own balms and oils. My daughter had skin irritations and it was really hard to find chemical free products , so I started filtering my own Beeswax and it grew from there.
Before that I have been riding for BTR since I started MTB racing. I love the laid back approach they have and the bikes aren’t half bad either (ha, ha). I remember my first race on the Pinner at the Mac avalanche. Joe was checking it over while I went to get my race time. A chap had told my husband Joe his bike was amazing and when he proceeded to say it’s my wife’s bike he said “huh, I don’t know about that”. Good thing I won that year . . . oh and beat his time – hey!
I have worn and demoed FINDRA clothing for a number of years now. It’s pretty robust stuff taking into account they are worn in winter for training. It kind of goes without saying I’ve had a few tumbles in the merino and it’s still going strong . . . must be the way I fall : )
On a serious note, there’s nothing better than putting on a fresh merino, especially when you’re minutes away from racing and you can see your breath in the camper it’s that cold and icy outside.
How long has the great outdoors been a part of your life?
The outdoors has always been part of growing up. I remember fell running with my dad and travelling all over the world to experience new places, people, culture. South America is a place I would love to return to and take part in a multi-day Enduro when the wee one is a little older.
What has been your favourite trip or adventure?
Climbing the Annapurna with my husband and bike in tow. One of the most challenging experiences I’ve faced (labour not included). Annapurna is a 8,000m plus mountain, and we went over the Thorong La at 5,400m, the highest pass in the world – on bikes!
How do you make find a balance between being active and life’s other responsibilities i.e. work and family?
Having a one year old baby has its challenges, especially when she was new-born. Feeding and adjusting to motherhood was something quite daunting, especially with lockdown. However, I am fortunate enough to live in a place where everything I enjoy is on my doorstep. Including my family and friends. The Tweed Valley allows me to get out into the hills with my baby who loves being outdoors, mainly in the Tout Terrain bike trailer.
Is there anyone who inspired your love of the outdoors?
I certainly feel that if we didn’t live in a place where we can access what we love, life would be tougher. Personally, exercise plays a pivotal role in terms of my mental health. It certainly changes my mood and clears my mind if I go out for a walk, run, hike, climb or bike ride. To show our daughter the outdoors and to see how she reacts to the world in such a positive way reinforces how important adventuring and being active is.
Do you find that being outside has a positive impact on your wellbeing and mental health?
I’ve always loved the outdoors but it wasn’t until I met my best friend and husband Joe when the adventures properly started. We have the same love for the outdoors whether it be mountain biking, scrambling, fell running and ice climbing. We now have a little adventurer who joins our ‘currently mini’ adventures.
What is it about outdoor activity specifically that you love?
I can’t really pin-point what is my favourite adventure sport is. Mountain Biking has been my main passion for eight years until we had our baby daughter. The thrill of speed and adrenalin has always been there from an early age.
Learning how to control the bike (still learning) and achieving a goal at whatever age, ability has been something I have focused on while racing. Winning the Welsh national champs lead to winning the Scottish Enduro series and Mac Avalanche, this spurred me on to race abroad and the Enduro World Series Masters European title, before having my daughter. I believe that you can achieve anything however old/young/fast/slow you are . . . More so now I’m a mum.
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?
Work hard. If negativity comes your way, know it’s because it’s a projection of fear. About 7 years ago I needed surgery on my spine (and was told it was 50:50 if I would walk again), a scary time but a positive and determined attitude meant I was able to run down Ben Nevis 8 weeks later. This operation pushed me to turn from running to biking, which has worked out OK. Writing this didn’t come all that naturally as I’m quite a private person.
Thanks Nicki, great to chat and all the best of luck with Natural Little Bee!
BOOK OF THE WEEK
Touch the Top of the World by Erik Weihenmayer
Erik Weihenmayer is a bestselling author, athlete, adventurer, motivational speaker AND he’s the only blind person to ever have reached the summit of Mount Everest. He has also completed the Seven Summits (highest mountain on each continent), joining 150 mountaineers who have accomplished the feat.
In his book Touch the Top of the World, Weihenmayer tells the extraordinary story of his life with humour, honesty and vivid detail – all with fortitude and enthusiasm that is deeply inspiring.
Koshari is a traditional Egyptian staple made in one pot and usually consists of chickpeas, pasta, fried onion and tomato sauce – served with rice and/or lentil. It’s an extremely tasty and popular street food you can find throughout Egypt with lots of variations, so just Google to find one you might like.
MUSIC OF THE WEEK
Bullrush by Paul Weller
Nicki hasn’t picked a piece of music this week, but having recently listened again to Paul Weller’s first solo album after the Style Council, here’s Bulrush, the 3rd track from the album and is probably one of my top 10 favourite songs.
Here’s a live version recorded in Hyde Park in 2002.
Paul Weller – Bullrush