Reality Checks and Countryside Cravings

By Hati Whiteley

After six months in Fontainebleau and six weeks in the South of France, I still wasn't ready to face reality.

Unfortunately I didn't have much choice in the matter. My return date was fast approaching and at the end of June I'd be heading back to the UK to be a proper grown up.

The idea of returning to my homeland filled me with a strange combination of excitement and apprehension. On one hand I would be returning to the bucolic landscape of the Peak District, chocolate hobnobs, and gritstone, but on the other hand returning would mean embracing the dreaded 9-5: meetings about meetings, traffic jams, and office politics. Hmm… maybe I'd just stay in France.

Growing up in Buxton I'd always had an appreciation for nature: family walks out on the moors were a weekend staple, splashing about in the rivers of the Goyt Valley was a favourite pastime, and scrambling around the rocky landscape of The Roaches was a mini-adventure.

Oddly enough, it wasn't until I left the peak for the city lights that my love of climbing really took hold. A visit to a climbing wall near my university and my ambitions and priorities changed. From that point my motivation for a 'real job' began to wane.

After graduating I stayed in Liverpool and worked at the climbing wall where I'd discovered my passion, looking forward to every opportunity to venture out into the hills. Liverpool is a vibrant and friendly city, but a two hour commute to Wales, the Peak District, or the Lakes was too long for me. Craving the countryside, when the opportunity work as an au pair in Fontainebleau arose I seized it without a second thought.

Six months of climbing and running in a bouldering wonderland later, I moved to the South of France where I freelanced as a writer, climbed in the Alpilles, and got a tan for the first time since I can remember. I knew that I wanted to write about outdoor pursuits and sport, but everyone I'd spoken to was fairly sure that such a job was too good to be true.

Good quality, affordable kit produced by a friendly and fair company isn't going to go unnoticed for long. As a result, Alpkit was always well-known in climbing circles and I tended to keep an eye on what they were up to. Scrolling through my Facebook feed, I clapped eyes on a job for life that didn't fill me with dread, in fact it filled me with excitement. Alpkit were looking for a 'Wordsmith'. I knew how to smith words.

Instantly I knew that this was the job that I had been looking for and two weeks later I was on the 199 from the airport to Buxton, looking out over the rolling hills and the rugged scenery of the Peak District. An interview and another week later I was looking for somewhere to live.

Alpkit has enabled me to enjoy and embrace the 9-5 - I honestly can't believe that being part of the AlpTeam is called 'work'. Living in Fontainebleau taught me to fit micro-adventures into daily life and my long-term aim is to keep Going Nice Places and Doing Good Things... Forget weekend warrior, it's all about the weekday-evening warrior. No longer two hours from the hills, I'm looking forward whiling away my evenings by running and climbing in the Peak District at the end of each day of wordsmithery. Maybe 'reality' isn't so bad after all...

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