My First Solo Camping Trip

I stumbled upon the YES Tribe Facebook Group about a month into the pandemic and what a great find it was! As with most people, when the lockdown began in March 2020, my whole life was upended. I am one of the lucky ones who contracted Covid-19 and get to tell my story having survived, but I know many did not and I can only imagine the devastation of friends and families across the country. It was due to some of this loss and a need to adjust to the restrictions of the lock down that I started to look at ways to keep a sense of hope during these trying times. 

I discovered a treasure trove of YouTube videos of people from around the world who were propelled into making the most of their time and surroundings in the wake of the pandemic. The outdoors community became a thing of fascination for me, mostly because I have never been one to set out into the wild or even explore much of my local surroundings. 

My work takes me to many places (I am a manager in healthcare and cover the whole of the South of England) but the most adventurous thing I would do on my long work trips is stay in an Air BnB (as these are cheaper than hotels) and if I happened to be near the South West, South East Coast or Isle of Wight; then I would walk to the beach and fly my drone. The concentration needed to fly my drone and take pictures would help me switch off from work and decompress after heavy meetings. But this was really as far as I would go to explore and enjoy my surroundings.

Fast forward to a month ago, having absorbed many hours of YouTube videos and YES Tribe posts; I felt inspired and confident enough to start planning my first solo camp. I came at this from a total novice, so the first thing I did was watch Paul Messner’s helpful video about the rules and law of camping in the United Kingdom. This was really eye opening and helped me ensure that my inexperience didn’t cause a nuisance for other travellers. I also watched countless videos on camping gear, from the most expensive and extravagant campers to more reasonably priced tents as well as clothes and cooking utensils. I feel almost embarrassed to say that it was like discovering a whole new exciting world!

I had a few doubts and fears so in June, when there were signs of the lock down gradually easing off, I spoke to my friends to see if they would be interested in a small group camping trip. My close friends mostly live in London and I am in Oxford, so it has always been a bit of an effort to match diaries and agree on activities. With the trepidation of the lockdown, agreeing on a date and where we would go became even more difficult. I decided to go it alone with the view that they can always join me next time. 

With my work travel and expenses reducing significantly over the lockdown period, I was able to save a little money and saved this towards getting a:

  1. Comfortable backpack with compass, emergency whistle and enough room to fit my kit
  2. Headlamp with tilt and multiple light setting 
  3. Insect repellent spray
  4. Pair of waterproof hiking boots and some thick socks 
  5. Rain jacket that can be folded down into a palm sized bag
  6. Down jacket (also doable to small size) for cold nights
  7. Inflatable mattress and a foam mat with reflective foil surface to retain heat at night
  8. Inconspicuous tent with good ventilation and ability to withstand strong winds and rain
  9. Range of cooking gear including pot, pan, coffee mug and a gas burner with a lighter
  10. Small cooler bag for water, fresh food, drinks and snacks 

It must have taken me about 2 months to decide what make I would purchase as my criteria was that the above had to be reasonably priced and also received (unsponsored) good reviews. Once I had all I needed, I looked for areas I could go on my first solo camping trip. Naturally North Scotland popped up on my numerous searches and it is my ambition to do the North Coast 500 route one day but I kept reminding myself to take baby steps.

So my first trip was a mere 25 minutes from my home in the Cotswolds in a patch rented out my a lovely farmer and his wife. I was lucky to get a spot near a quiet stream all to myself and used my first night camping out in my adult years to get used to the silence and occasional sounds of animals nearby. I also used the trip to try out setting up my tent which was an easy pop up with enough round for three people. I discovered the tent was way too big for one person and too dark inside (it was a black tent) and very heavy at 4.2 kg so on returning home I sold it and replaced it with a smaller and lighter tent.

Go Solo Camping They Said, It Will Be Fun They Said : )

Having survived my first mini expedition in July, I looked for a place I could camp that was further from home and found a place in Parracombe, North Devon which is situation just off the coast. In August, I found out about a farm which has six vast fields that it rents out to groups. I was lucky and managed to snag a last minute agreement to have one of their vast fields all to myself and an amazing view of the ocean from the vestibule of my tent. The weather also behaved itself with loads of sunshine so I was able to hike from my camping site to the near by village. It rained during the night but by that point, I had cooked and enjoyed the open pit fire before bundling into my down jacket and sleeping back for a good nights kip. I recorded most of this trip and you can view it on my YouTube channel, which I hope will help others feel more confident to go out and explore the great outdoors too because, I can do it then you certainly can too! 

Things I Tell Myself Everyday

In todays ever more regulated and scrutinised healthcare environment, it is very easy to throw our arms up and give up on trying new ideas a.k.a innovation. Here are things I tell myself daily to fight that temptation:

  1. If you always do what you’ve always done, you will always get what you’ve always got.
  2. Everyone has ideas. A few have the audacity to act upon them.
  3. An idea on the ground is worth ten in the head.
  4. If everyone backs your idea at the start, maybe it’s not really there, yet.
  5. If everyone is opposed to your idea after you’ve had your say, maybe it’s not there yet, either.

If you have ever been seized by an idea, you’ll know the unmistakable feeling fluttering in your gut. I have learnt that when I stop asking ‘What If?’ and stop experimenting with new ideas, I lose interest in the people and work around me. So I fight the temptation to automatically go with what’s comfortable or convinient.

It takes a brave mind to enter unchartered waters, it takes a tough heart to stay the course.

The myth of the rational patient


(and the rational doctor).

There is no disputing the fact that the pressure on the open doors of the NHS – primary care, urgent and emergency care – is unmanageable. One recurring cry from GPs and A&E staff is that they are seeing ‘the wrong people’ – that one patient takes up a GP appointment with a ‘trivial problem’ while another fails to get an appointment and becomes an emergency, or at least accesses unscheduled care, as a result. In addition, A&E waiting times are at least in part being affected by the need to triage and see patients who don’t need the specialist services of an emergency department (though this is not the main problem).

Recent NHS England campaigns illustrate the difficulty of trying to modify health-care seeking behaviour that has risk-judgement at its core.

On the one hand we have campaigns such as Choose Well (or as I call…

View original post 3,080 more words

Are health messages ever social?

Clear message

I’m excited about taking part in my first #nhssm chat in quite a long time. On Wednesday 11 March – NHS Change Day – we’ll be talking about how the NHS can use social media to deliver tricky messages to different audiences. The chat starts from 8pm on the #nhssm hashtag.

The messages I have in mind are about sexual health and testing for STIs, but the chat could take us anywhere – smoking, mental health, alcohol. What I’m keen to find out is whether these topics are social at all. Do we, as members of the public, want to be approached online about improving our health, and if so, what are the most effective channels? Are there more private, selective social channels such as WhatsApp, that can help the NHS be part of an existing conversation?

In particular, I’m interested in how we reachLGBT, BME and teen audiences.

My interest has been…

View original post 63 more words

My NHS Christmas

Big Up the NHS


Christmas is a very special time of year for the NHS.

imagesEJCSRXM1There are poignant juxtapositions of celebration and sadness, pleasure and pain, excitement and fear. The staff who work over the holiday period may miss out on a family Christmas but they try to bring a little of the party to work. The patients do the same if they can. There is a palpable sense of celebration tempered by professionalism and respectful care for those too ill to appreciate the season. In the NHS life goes on – 365 days a year – but Christmas day is different.

The NHS has taken a bit of a battering lately. Unjustified negative press, swinging financial cutbacks and the threat of privatisation have all conspired to undermine and destabalise the NHS. The pressure on the staff has never been greater and morale has suffered.

A sad NHS is a bad NHS, so…

View original post 471 more words

The Guide to the Future of Medicine: Technology AND The Human Touch


I see enormous technological changes heading our way. If they hit us unprepared, which we are now, they will wash away the medical system we know and leave it a purely technology–based service without personal interaction. Such a complicated system should not be washed away. Rather, it should be consciously and purposefully redesigned piece by piece. If we are unprepared for the future, then we lose this opportunity. I think we are still in time and it is still possible if an easily digestible and practical guide becomes available.

KONYVBORITO_online final s 350

I wrote a book “The Guide to the Future of Medicine: Technology AND The Human Touch” to prepare everyone for the coming waves of change, to be a guide for the future of medicine that anyone can use. It describes 22 trends and technologies that will shape the future including Augmented Reality, Surgical and Humanoid Robots, Genomics, Body Sensors, The Medical Tricorder, 3D Printing, Exoskeletons…

View original post 197 more words

Why The Death Of The Office Can’t Come Too Soon

Paul Taylor

“We literally followed people around all day and timed every event [that happened in the office], to the second.

That meant telephone calls, working on documents, typing e-mails, or interacting with someone.

What we found is that the average amount of time that people spent on any single event before being interrupted

was about three minutes.” – Gloria Mark, Professor in the Department of Informatics at the University of California


If you are working in an office today you will be interrupted – or you will interrupt yourself – every 3 minutes.

And what’s worse is it will take many of you up to 23 minutes to recover from that distraction.

If your boss lets you – go home. It’s the most productive decision you’ll make this year.

Here are four reasons why the office should have died by now:

  1. UK workers spend a year of their lives in meetings…

View original post 695 more words