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Frankie Dewar  0:00  
it's Friday,

Frankie Dewar  0:01  
the 28 th of August. We

Frankie Dewar  0:03  
are not in Abergavenny are we were in 

Zoe  0:06  

Frankie Dewar  0:05  
Llanfoist  amazing, on a boat!!! 

Zoe  0:07  
Haha we are! 

Frankie Dewar  0:17  
Hello, and welcome to the extraordinary ordinary womxn podcast sharing life's adventures. My name is Frankie. And this is a podcast where I interview extraordinary ordinary womxn and non binary folx as part of a 3000 kilometer cycle around England, Wales and Scotland. Interview interviewing people older than myself, to show you that you don't just have to do it whilst you're young. You'll hear all about their adventures and what they get up to, as well as the answers to my big life questions. Like what does authenticity mean? Did you have a clear sense of direction though life? And what advice would you give to your younger self? 

Frankie Dewar  1:02  
Hello, and welcome to episode eight, where I talk to the awesome Zoe Langley Wathen, who at 49 has moved on to house boat and quit her full time teaching job to give them more time to pursue a love of the outdoors and creativity. I interviewed Zoe on her boat, and ended up spending the whole day there, drinking tea, eating cake and watching the world pass along the canal. This is such a great episode. But as a content warning, we do talk about weight loss from 15 minutes to 17 minutes. So if you find this content triggering, please feel free to skip past this section. This episode is jam packed with stories from wild camping, river crossing, long distance hiking, and so much more. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Frankie Dewar  2:05  
So for people that don't know you at all, could you give us a snapshot of who you are? and what you do?

Zoe  2:10  
Okay, I Oh, who am I? I'm not sure that I actually know myself right now. I was a teacher. I left perminant contract teaching in 2019. With nothing to go to, but I am. I think I'm an adventure seeker. I'm a blogger. I'm a speaker. I'm a creative, I love to draw. I love to paint. And I just love to encourage people to get out into the outdoors. So I think Yeah, in a nutshell, is that me? I think is 

Frankie Dewar  2:44  
amazing. What things do you do in the outdoors? 

Zoe  2:46  
Walking mainly, but I've discovered I like doing yoga outside. That's, that's become a very new thing for me. I've been doing yoga for a couple of years, just you know, once a week. It's not like a massive practice. But since moving here, I've discovered I don't have a lot of room to do yoga inside. So I've been doing yoga on the towpath. So I should say when I say I've moved here, we moved on to a narrowboat six weeks ago. And yeah, the outdoor Yoga has really pushed me beyond all of my comfort zones. Because as you can see, now we've got people walking up and down the towpath. And I was really conscious of that when I was out there doing my yoga thinking, what people going to think of me Are people going to say things that they're going to laugh at me, you know, all of these strange preconceptions that I had. Of course, they didn't, you know, all I got was the occasional dog that, you know, when I was upside down with my leg straddled, you know, come sniff my nose, when I was upside down. And then we we took a few days away on the Gower of the weekend. And I thought, Okay, this is my chance to try yoga somewhere else. So I did yoga on the beach. In a very, very quiet spot. We had probably two or three different groups of people that walk past in a period of two hours. And again, yeah, just a couple of people saying hi, and one person that thought it was funny to tip himself upside down to say hello to me while I was upside. But is it's just a special feeling to be connected with the outdoors. It's my outdoor medicine. I call it my outdoor medicine.

Frankie Dewar  4:34  
And it must be such a huge, like confidence booster to have been worried about doing it.

Zoe  4:39  
Yes. It's I think I have spent years worrying about what people think of me. I think it's just something that's ingrained into me, you know, from sort of upbringing perhaps. And yeah, I think more and more now I'm starting to learn that actually know what's more important is is how I Want to be? And what I want to do? And you know how my husband and I want to be together and not what other people are thinking about us or about me. So yeah, it's it's taken a while it's taken nearly 50 years. And I would say the first adventures that I did actually set me on that road of not worrying about what people think, why adventures were there. So back in 2011, I set foot on to the southwest coast path for the first time, it taken me 15 years to make that move to do it. Because I was I was I was too scared to do it. Although I probably was, but I think actually more to the point. It was a case of me being afraid that I would fail. So it wasn't. Yeah, I think I think I was just didn't think I was capable of doing it. Alongside all of that was then once I was on the path, other people looking at me and recognizing that I was a fraud, that I shouldn't be there. I'm not an adventurer, I'm not an elite athlete. I'm not this person that is capable of walking 630 miles on her own backpacking all the way because I've never done anything like that before, is like Who do you think you are? These are the strange, subconscious things that were coursing through me. The first time somebody actually stopped and chatted to me. Probably on the first day, you know, they wanted to know where I was going on my own with this big rucksack, which was way too big. By the way, I have to say that was the, the joys of being a novice backpacker, you know, you take all the things that you think you need, but soon realize you don't need them. And, yeah, that that guy that spoke to me the first day, he actually sponsored me as well he thrust a 20 pound note into my hands up there, put that towards your charity, and actually skipped away feeling like Actually, I Yes, I am. bonafide, I should be here, I should be doing this. And I can do this. He actually he believes in Me, and this is a stranger, this is somebody I don't know. And that went on for four to seven days. And it was incredible. When I came back a completely new person faced fears that I never knew I had, I faced fears that I didn't know I had because they were the subjects of my waking dreams and nightmares for months beforehand, you know, when you just get completely all consumed by things that are causing you anxiety or worries about a particular journey. I face them or and and it felt good. I felt much stronger as a result. So coming back, I was not only Zoey, who is now 40 years old, because I did it for my 40th birthday. I was also Zoey, who was more resilient. Zoey, he was able to step forward and say I can do that. And yeah, I mean, even in the school where I worked, you know, I was able to get up in front of the school multiple times to talk to them about the journey. That wasn't so much of a problem. But you know, down to things in day to day life that I had, where perhaps I had to give a presentation to teach teachers get up and speak in briefing in the staff room. You know, these are all things that sort of daily situation. A lot of people may find quite unnerving. And yeah, so he did it filtered into my day to day life. And from there on, I thought, Okay. This could be something that I need to work on and do a bit more of what were some of

Frankie Dewar  9:00  
their fears and challenges that you came across on that trip?

Zoe  9:03  
Crossing rivers, really not keen on Crossing rivers, crossing rivers via stepping stones or bridges, like not bridges, but they they're like these little Causeway bridges that you have on some of those rivers. They were fine. But I'm talking about the rivers where you have to wade and so all of the rivers on the southwest coast path are served by those stepping stones cause ways boats, sometimes even just a man in a rowing boat, you know that will take you across ferries, but there's one the river and I knew I had to cross that and you Only you can only cross it two hours either side of low tide. Wow. And I got there I had met up with some people by that point. And we said we will go over together. So there were four of us but we got there at two o'clock in the afternoon and low tide wasn't until like half 910 o'clock. At night things half nine. So we have a quite a long way on the beach. And you know even that that I mean, I've been I've been worrying about it for months beforehand, but then that long wait on the beach was just excruciating because I could see the slipway on the other side of the SGP that we had to reach and it just seemed a million miles away, half Nyan came and we started to cross. And I had these sandals on actually I took my walking boots off and just attach them to my rucksack so I did have some waterproof shoes to put on. But I was I found myself digging my poles in as I was going across the river. And I felt myself being pulled by the tide as the tide was still receding, and it's still receding quite fast. I know perhaps we hadn't left it long enough to the lowest point, I don't know. But it felt like it was pulling very fast. And I just had this vision of me being swept out to sea. And it wasn't going to happen. But yeah, I, one of the guys that was with us grabbed hold of my shoulder. And he'd already grabbed hold of one of the other chaps that was with us, because he gone out of his depth sort of work probably way too soon. But then I just felt this arm on my shoulder. And I was actually really quite grateful of that. Anyway, we got to the other side. It was dark. By that point. There was about 20 hours at night. But the elation that I felt having done that. Yeah, it was incredible. I knew that I would get wet up to my knees. That was that was the deal. You know, you weighed this river, it's knee deep. And when I got to the other side money because we were so that was how deep it had been. It's either that or I'm just very, very short. I don't know. But I skipped up the hill. I think it goes up to an area called Scopus come in Devon. And we welcome to the top of the hill. But I saw six glowworms as we went up the hill, and I was singing Somewhere over the rainbow. I think by that point because I was I was happy. I was no longer worried. So yeah, that was that was a big fear. But I feel like I could do that again now and I feel like I could probably do it completely solo. And then my other major fear was wild camping on my own.

Frankie Dewar  12:27  
How did that go? 

Zoe  12:29  
Well, itdidn't go until about the 30th day, I've been camping in various different places. And I've stayed in somebody's house on and off as well. And they came and picked me up, drop me off. That wasn't planned. But you know, it just happened, which was nice. But when it finally did happen, it was one of those moments where I thought why does have I done this before? Why? Why did I leave it so long? And I just wanted to kick myself. And I wanted my older self to be able to go back and tell my younger self, why can I you should go and do this is wonderful. So what happened was I was I got into the tent, I pitched my tent between a five bar gate and a kissing gate just in this tiny little bit of scrub land. Because I felt I was safe with that boundary around me. I didn't need to be there. And then in the middle of the night, I needed to get up and go to the loo. And it's like, oh my gosh. And I put it off and I put it off. And whilst I was putting off I kept thinking, well, who's going to be there? And how fast can I run? And how dark is it gonna be all of these things and it just got to the point where it's like, oh god, I'm just gonna have to go. So I unzip the 10 and I gasped because the stars I had never seen so many stars as I saw that night and I was just in complete or complete awe and wonder to guess I had a p with a view and and just realized in that moment that I should never ever pass up the opportunity to walk and wild camp on on my own ever again. I shouldn't have left it so long. So yeah, it was it was quite a revelation really for me and all of these messages I kind of I took away as messages as they are you know that always walk and walk camp if you can on your own and and always cross rivers if you if it's safe to do so and you can on your own. But it's those internal messages as well. Like you are strong enough. You are enough you can do this have belief in yourself. So yeah, it's it's those deeper messages that I think have a bigger impact. And that was really what I wanted to then pass on to other people. Yeah, don't leave it too long. Just go and do it.

Frankie Dewar  14:48  
So then you came back from this trip or what happened next?

Zoe  14:52  
Well, the interesting thing there was I was a size 12 to 14 when I left and When I got back in seven weeks, I realized I dropped a stone and a half in weight. Despite all the cream teas and the ice creams, things have been easy on route. And I've gone down to size eight. That is a big drop. It was a huge drop. And it was a case of when I've got to go back to school in two days, and nothing fits me. And I bought new clothes for the new school year. And they didn't fit me either. And I actually cried. I seem to be crying a lot. But I did. I did have a few tears over that. Because although a lot of people would say, Well, yeah, I've lost laser weight. This is amazing. Actually, I'd lost my identity. You know, because all of those clothes I bought, because I liked how they looked on me. I like the color. I like the fabric. It's part of who you are, isn't it and nothing fitted me. So I then had to kind of re identify with myself and find something new to wear. In two days, I actually ended up going to school, in clothes that my daughter had loaned me my 16 year old daughter. And that was all that fitted me. So that was an interesting start to the new school year. And there were lots of students that would kind of walk past me and look at me, and then do a double take. Oh my gosh, what's happened to Miss Walker? So there was that? And then the there were the comments from people like oh, well done, you know, you did it. You got back then. And so what's next? And oh, well, I didn't think there was a next because it was only supposed to be one walk to mark my 40th birthday. But it did get me thinking. And bit by bit. I started to warm to the idea of doing an annual, an annual backpacking trip. And it came to came to us that was 2012 West Coast path. Yes. So we I attended the opening of the wells coast path with some friends. And we saw one of our other friends come in, she'd run all the way around Wales, Harry. She was the first woman to run around Wales and do office diapers. Well, that's 1047 miles away. I don't know what that is in kilometers. And so over a few beers afterwards, it was agreed that we would go off on the West Coast path that summer. And unfortunately for me, I didn't have enough time to squeeze in doing offers dike as well to go all the way around in one hit. Because my summer holiday wasn't long enough. So I did offers direct the following year. But yeah, so we walked wells case path Mike and Steve did offers diet first picked me up in Chepstow. And then we all went round together, and finished backup at Chester 43 days later. So it was 870 miles that's further than the Southwest case path. But it was a shorter amount of time to walk it. And I think a lot of that was because I was more experienced by there. And I knew I could walk the distance. And it also is slightly easier than the southwest coast path as well. There's Pembrokeshire and Gala. You know, there's a few bits that are hilly, but generally, you know, you've got more flatter areas. So unbeknown to me, we've got to the end and discovered that I was the first woman to Wales case path. Oh, wow. That was That was lovely to have. And then the year after I sort of did office died, and I did that sale, because I wanted to make sure I didn't always do things with other people. I wanted to keep my independence and not lose that resilience that I built up from doing the South West Coast path. Yeah, so that was that was fun. And, and it's just gone on from there really, each year we've done different adventures. Sometimes things have had to tie in depending on family circumstances. You know, with aging parents, it got to the point where I was having to find new things to do that would satisfy my need for the act or medicine. And yeah, I think so I did Pennine Way in 2017 and Hadrian's Wall to depend on way with my husband.

Zoe  19:23  
And Hadrian's Wall. I did solo straight after Penn highway and he just caught the bus because it hurt his leg as well. So it just it worked out. Well. I could do it like that. And then 2018 would that was where that real change came in. Because I could no longer go off on a long trip Perth sort of 3456 weeks because mom and dad needed me there. So I decided to create a new challenge that would still get me into the outdoors and but needing it had to be a challenge. It wasn't just a case of Oh, let's go out for a walk. I seem to thrive on having a focus having a challenge having a goal to work towards. That's just the way, you know, I work. And so I came up with a challenge called 100 mappy days. And it was about walking 100 different walks using a map or map. And each one was different. They could cross over. But they couldn't be identical. And yeah, that year ended up being quite difficult year. And I, I actually want my 50th on New Year's Eve of that year. So I didn't, I didn't get to do 100 in that year. And the 15th we did in memory of my dad, because I lost him just before Christmas by here. And he would have loved you know, we've done this for him. And then I just continued into 2019, then it became all about facing fears as well. So it was not just about walking and challenges it was it was actually about facing things that you feel slightly uncomfortable with or would normally avoid. And that was where 100 scary days came in. So we went from 100 Happy days, I finished 100 Happy Days and move straight into 100 scary days starting to attempt things that weren't necessarily in the outdoors, as well as it was all manner of things that would usually terrify me. So things like climbing a ladder to the second floor of a house under scaffolding, actually stepping off of a ladder onto a scaffolding platform took me to two different occasions to actually get to step out onto that platform because you know the ladder gives up as you're walking up there. There's obviously a knack to doing it. But I did it, riding pillion on a motorbike I was absolutely terrified of riding pillion. But yeah, New Year's Day I did that with my best friend from school. She lives in Leicester. We went on a I don't know what the hills are around Leicester. But anyway, we went on a ride Over the hills and far away and and it was absolutely wonderful. I mean, honestly couldn't wipe the smile off my face. I was it was just plaster for me. It is amazing. Yeah, they were all swimming underwater. That's another one.

Frankie Dewar  22:25  
That is petrifies me.

Frankie Dewar  22:27  
Yeah, I can swim. But I just could not get my head underwater. 

Zoe  22:31  
So you know these little videos and Instagram Stories of me. You know, I even got to the point where I was in the bath. And I got my goggles on and my swimsuit in the bath. And you can see me kind of blowing bubbles in the water under the bath and above water.

Zoe  22:47  
Yeah, so

Zoe  22:50  
yeah, just lots and lots of different activities that just pushed me out of my comfort zone and it felt good. And the final one the 100th I'm still yet to do. What is it? It's a skydive. And I am absolutely terrified of heights. And it is exciting. And it was booked for February. The third let's say it was but it was it was wherever it was storm Kira day. So I got called off because storm carrier blew in. And then I rebooked it for March the eighth which was International Women's Day, and I thought that would be ideal. And then there was another storm. Not quite as big as Kara. But yeah, so it got canceled again. And then COVID happened. Sorry, I wasn't gonna mention the C was

Frankie Dewar  23:41  

Frankie Dewar  23:45  

Frankie Dewar  23:46  
I mean, it shaped everybody's journey. So now

Zoe  23:49  
it really has it really has.

Frankie Dewar  23:51  
And I know you spoke about this earlier before we recorded but what made you go from a house to a boat?

Zoe  23:57  
Yeah, well, the boat has been here for quite some time Mike's had the boat for 1213 years. And as it's always been a man cave, you know, it's been his place to come to when he works up in Abergavenny. And it was very much a sort of very male place, you know, best here and there. And you know, it's definitely needed some female touches. But the reason we decided to come up was because I was I was getting bogged down with work with teaching. I love teaching, don't get me wrong, you know, the actual act of teaching is is definitely inherently part of who I am. But all the planning and the paperwork, the marking the red tape that goes with it. I just I felt like there was more for me out there. And I wanted to slow down and give myself more opportunity to do some of the other things that I love, which is my artwork, writing and being in the outdoors. On top of That I've been traveling up and down to mums. Once a week from Dorset, she lives in North Somerset. And that's a two and a quarter hour drive each way. And so that was quite, you know, taxing as well in terms of energy levels, and I was arriving crabby and grumpy. And then from here where we are on the boat to moms is an hour's drive door to door. It was just a no brainer, really, it was like, okay, we come up here, we can save some money, get the house rented out, that can look after itself. And it will just give us some time to be together more, because Mike was working up here throughout the week. And I was working down in Dorset throughout the week. So we're we're together more, which is lovely. But yeah, more time to think and work on the things that matter to us. So the writing the artwork, the being in the outdoors, and just actually stopping and talking to people, I mean, just seeing the people that walk up and down the towpath every day waving at people, you know, jumping out the boat to go and chat to people and oh, you Okay, and I keep dog biscuits in under the sink. We don't have a dog here. But you know, just so I can go and give a biscuit to a friendly dog and get the excuse to have a couple in the pattern of doggy kiss. It's lovely. So yeah, it's just a completely different way of life. I'm not certain that I'm less busy. I think I'm still as busy as I've ever been. But my focus has changed and it's on things that I want to be doing. In the immediate time that's just gone through is the book. So I just co authored a chapter sorry, co authored a book by writing a chapter in that. That's the biggest book of Yes.

Frankie Dewar  26:53  
And what's your chapter about?

Zoe  26:55  
its the south coast path 

Frankie Dewar  26:57  
is it ?amazing. 

Zoe  26:59  
Yes. And I put out like a poll to my friends and Facebook people and LinkedIn, I did it all over the place. What should I call my chapter. And I had all these choices eventually. The one I chose was actually my friend that I ran and rode pillion with, on the back of a motorbike. It was her suggestion. I absolutely loved it. It's called 630 miles braver. Oh, I love it. Yeah, I loved it too. And it's just, it rang true for me. Because that's, that's what it was. It was I walked a 630 mile path. I became fitter I became slimmer, I became brown in the sun. But I also became braver. And

Frankie Dewar  27:45  
what advice would you give to someone that wanted to do a long walk and had no idea where to start?

Zoe  27:51  
First thing I would say is make a date. So get the date down, research, research the walk, find out you know what to expect, although there is the danger I suppose if you research it too much, if you are of the same ilk as me where I you know, where I was getting fearful of the river, for example, that it might overtake you. But now I still I still think it is good to do the research. So do the research, set the date, and then break it down, break it down into sort of small chunks about what it is you need to do. So do you need to go and get kits Do you need to go and do some walks beforehand. And it is a good idea to do that. I mean, you can walk into a walk like that. And I had to because I was actually poorly when I set off on that walk I was really poorly with a terrible chest infection thing. But it is a good idea to make sure that you know the weight in your pack. It feels right is is balanced properly on your hips and everything in it and it feels good with the boots that you've got on your feet. There's nothing worse than getting out on that walk and finding where everything is uncomfortable and saw and a cane and you got blisters. I found out the hard way and I ended up sending so much stuff home. Things that I didn't need. I took I took frying pan with me Frankie I had a small sort of camping frying pan. And I tell this story a lot. I had a little plastic yellow egg box that held that hold two eggs, because I had this idyllic notion that I was going to go knocking on farmhouse doors and please can I buy two eggs freshly laid from the hand that morning you know, and then go off and you know, cook my my breakfast alekos path and it clearly wasn't happening.

Frankie Dewar  29:46  
Or what was the reality instead? What was your breakfast

Zoe  29:50  
and my breakfast was instant porridge made with water. I can't have milk anyway. So that doesn't matter but I tend to make it with water. Banana buy tea was noodles or tuna, khus khus khus khus. Because good because you don't even have to cook that you just pour hot water over it and it cooks on its own. And, you know, if I needed something meaty in there, I would just get a pack of pre cooked something ham or chicken. So yes, that was the reality and I carry raps with me because you can roll them up and put them in the top of your pack. And that made quite good emergency food as well, you know, if I was, if I found that I was running a bit low on energy, just I just grab a wrap an empty wrap, and just walk along and eat that. And actually, it's amazing how that just brings your energy levels back up again.

Frankie Dewar  30:44  
He said that your first trip was when you were 40

Frankie Dewar  30:47  
had you been quite outdoorsy before that or not, how's the outdoors sort of happen?

Zoe  30:52  
Yeah. That's a really interesting question, because I had been outdoorsy and loved walking, loved hiking, but never on a multi day level. So I you know, I would go off on a 1015 mile hike. But then come back home again and go to bed. Not actually can pay and I was used to camping as well. That wasn't something I'd done with my family when when I was growing up. But I had walked a lot as a teenager. And as a child because mum and dad never had a car dad worked for British Rail. So we went everywhere on the train. But it meant that we were we we had to walk more to get to the places that we wanted to go to one of my earliest memories, not earliest memories, but one of my most significant memories of walking and adventuring is with my brother. When I was about 13 hands, he wanted to go out to find the mass of the river, yo, you know, your Valley yogurt. Yes, like. And so we we went from the village that we lived in, and there's a farm very close by from that farm is a little pathway, very kind of leafy, leafy tunnel. And it's actually I found out in recent years, it's it's a flood defense. So this bank is a bank that is covered in trees and is a leafy tunnel. And we always used to call it the jungalow. And that takes you out to the go. And we followed the video. And we got as far as the M five motorway. And then the river just compresses down into this tiny narrow waterway under the under the motorway. The only way and the footpath stops. And the only way was to either go across the motorway, six lanes of traffic and a central reservation and we're talking now this is in the 80s, the early 80s. So perhaps the motor wasn't as busy as it is now. So it's either going over the top or under the motorway shimmying, shimmying along what I can only think was like a sewer pipe. And partway on the sewer pipe, there's a mesh, a metal wire mesh with spikes on that you have to kind of lean out over the river and then back onto the pipe again. So that was the way we went. Oh. And we got out the mace of the year. And yeah, well, very interesting. But that is like oh my gosh, we've got to go back again. We've got to go back and cross that pipe. But yeah, that was that was one of my first adventure memories that I have. So yeah, I wasn't sporting by any means. I think the love of the outdoors definitely has come from the need to walk places. When I was younger. I'm living in a country village as well. It was a very rural village with a view of the mandates for my bedroom.

Frankie Dewar  34:14  
And you mentioned that you've got a daughter, how was it getting into the outdoors and bring it if you just got the one daughter? Yes,

Zoe  34:20  
well, I've got I've got a daughter and then I've got a stepdaughter from a previous relationship who I just consider as she's as much as my daughter is Lori says Lauren Lara. So and they they treat one another like sisters as well. So they might not see one another very often. But yeah, they they always got along very, very well. So law my daughter, she's 25 now, and Lara must be 23 coming up 23. And, you know, when Laura was young and her dad would be going off, you know playing football cricket depending on whatever season it was. I was three On the baby wrap rucksack and tucking her into that and going off walking. And yeah, so it was always there. I always wanted to get her out into the outdoors. We'd go explore the new forest or the Mendips. Yeah. So there were a lot of places that we would go to and then as she got older, and we have Lara then as well, we will be going off campaign and doing more things. You know, we go to Cumbria. We'd like to Cumbria and Devon to Yeah, there's that has definitely been there. And I hope I hope one day actually, that Laura will look back and I think she I say one day I think she probably has already. She's appreciated those times that we have. I can remember taking her up Helvellyn. We went up to red tan, have you been up Helen, I've know is incredible. It is so incredible, that that particular day that we took the children out there, we didn't do striding edge. We didn't think it was safe enough to I think it was windy that day. So we didn't do striding edge but we went up to the top and at the top. And all the way up. Remember Logan Why do we have to be going up here mighty a guy 13? I mean, any day Yeah, you know, all the usual. whines and grumbles. And then there was just this moment where she got partway, and it was like, oh, wow, look at that. You. And she couldn't have been much older than about eight or nine. I think she's probably about nine. And it was this sudden realization that there was a view, and that she had climbed up to that under her own steam. And she just wanted to take photos there and just revel in it and love it. And yes, it was amazing.

Frankie Dewar  36:53  
That's an amazing feeling.

Zoe  36:54  
Yeah, it was a way to Oh, yes. Yes. It was like, This is what birds see. Yes. Yeah. So yeah, just try to get out as much as possible. How

Frankie Dewar  37:08  
do you think your journey has shaped who you are now?

Zoe  37:10  
I would just say I have become stronger. And more sharing? I think. Yeah, I don't think I want to. I mean, there's all sorts of things I could say there. But I think I think it's stronger within myself. I don't mean physically stronger, but stronger within myself, more aware of who I am. And what I want. And yes, more sharing. And what I mean by more sharing is about sharing my experiences with others, and wanting others to benefit from the things that I've benefited from, but in their own way. So not trying to force things onto them, but just encouraging them to find their own journey.

Frankie Dewar  38:02  
And what's one thing that you know, about yourself now that you wish you'd known earlier?

Zoe  38:08  
That I am enough? Yeah, I, if I knew back in my 30s, even in my late 20s, that I, I am enough, I am good enough to be able to do this, this, this, this and that. I mean, in so many different areas of my life, I think I would have perhaps pushed through to doing some of these things sooner. Even down to using, you know, my skills with arts. You know, there's an I know, my mom would never have meant this in any other way, then, you know, back in 70s he shot you don't you don't want anyone to be hurt or I don't know, there was definitely a cotton wool wrapping people in cotton wool feeling, I think. And I remember saying at one point, I wanted to be an English teacher then that went by, and then it was planned, you know, I think I'm going to be a graphic designer. I just remember the message that I got back was all you have to be really good to be able to get into that. And so okay, well, I won't do that, then I'll try something else. And it didn't occur to me that actually I probably would have been good enough to have done that. So yes, there is that. I have to now relearn that I am enough. And I know Yeah, I gotta say again, I know mom never meant anything from that. It's just probably the messages that she got from her parents, you know, growing up and so on. But it's, it's these messages we pass on to our children, they they can have deep and long lasting effects. And sometimes we've just got to push them to one side and go Actually, I've got to find this my own way and realize that, yeah, I can probably do this.

Frankie Dewar  40:09  
Do you feel like you've always had a clear path through life?And knowing where you're going? 

Zoe  40:13  
Yes and no. And I was kind of thinking back through the different stages. You know, if I look back through my life now, there's different stages. So there was the stage where, you know, I met my first husband, but there were no children. And I haven't been to University at that point. But I think at some point there, I either just had Laura, or just before I had Laura, I realized that there was, there was more I wanted, I wanted more now what that more was, I don't know, I think it was, I want to say, I don't think it was material things, but I think it was in in terms of the way we were living. But I wanted to learn more, I think I, I've always had that curiosity and that need to learn. So soon after, I think Laura's only about two or three, I then went off to get my degree. So then there was a clear path in that I was in a learning journey. And that that continued for four years. But it was that was always directed. I always had an art direction to it. It was always creative. I never knew where it was going to take me. But it was just a creative power. And then I would say the next stage of my journey. When I started working in a school, I became an art technician in a school. That was the best couple of years. And I just got to experience art. I was constantly seeing them progress and seeing the work they were producing and everything wonderful. And I was given quite a lot of responsibility there as well and creativity to kind of organize things. So yeah, in two years, they were they were really cool. But it was in that time, I could see my love of learning was still there. And education was clearly the way I was heading. And I remember speaking to my head of department saying I think I'd like to go down the teaching route, I want to learn to be a teacher. And she said, Well, you know, let's get the ball rolling. And we can probably mentor you here. And we can do it here. And that's that's the long short of it is how it happened. So yes, I think the path that you're talking about, I think I've not always known where I've been going. But my direction has always been guided by that love of learning, and the curiosity. I think as long as you have that curiosity, it doesn't matter if you go from one thing to another. Because you draw you draw from those things that you're learning within that curiosity. I think it's about not not being afraid of what there is around that corner. And trusting and I was that was has been a big thing. Like when I left teaching last year. I didn't know what I was going to. But I had to trust my judgment that though that it would work and it will be okay. And it has been this has been great. But when you've got a mortgage to pay and you know all these responsible things to deal with, it feels like it's it's unmanageable. And I know definitely that there's lots of other people that would feel like that because I've listened to podcasts myself last year where people were talking about Yeah, I made the leap. thinking oh my gosh, I need to do it. But I don't know if I can do it. But really, it's It was so liberating. very empowering, very liberating.

Frankie Dewar  43:58  
I'm not sure if we've actually mentioned it on the recording or not. But what is it that you do now? I think you mentioned it before, but

Zoe  44:04  
yeah, on the regular day, so I, I signed up with a teaching agency to do supply teaching to cover for absent teachers. And, and for the first three weeks of September. We're actually in all fairness last year, for the first two weeks of September, I was away walking during the coast to coast. And then the third week of September, I didn't get anything. And I was in pure panic mode at that point. Because I thought what have I done, I'm not going to get any money. This is this and we're still living in the house. I still had the mortgage to pay. And and, of course what happens is, you know, when when teachers go off on a summer holiday, they recharge, they recuperate, they're, they're just raring to go when they come back. And everybody's Well, generally. And it's not until like the last week is that October when things start to just drift back downhill again, and people get sick. And things happen. So yeah, I started getting work from about the fourth week of September, and then it just didn't stop me.

Frankie Dewar  45:16  
So it's always, within my life, I feel a little bit like I might be going against the grain, is that something that you've ever felt?

Zoe  45:23  
I think actually setting off on that first walk was definitely feeling like it was going against the grain because not only was I going off on a long distance walk for seven weeks, which people didn't do. I was a woman, and I'm going on my own as well. And that that caused a lot of conversation, a lot of debate between family members, friends, and the school community. You know, even parents would stop me and ask me, you know, because they, you know, I'd advertise what I was doing was doing it for charity as well. And you know, it'd be the topic of conversation. I actually stayed in a b&b the first night before, before I actually left. And the lady in the b&b, there was a very old fashioned landlady. And she was actually bordering on almost bordering on being cross with me. For going off, she was very negative. And basically telling me that I was stupid, because I was putting myself and others that day in danger of going off and doing this walk on my own. And, and I did come away from that feeling quiet. But although I have, I can take things personally, sometimes I am quite good at fielding off comments like that from outsiders, even parents evenings. Now, after we talked about their daughter, what? So where do you know? When are you coming off on this walk then? And then what made you want to do any short? Do you feel safe going off to do it? There's always those questions just like Well, yes, I do. I think it's going to be fine. And how do you navigate? Yeah, you just have to push the concerns that other people have to one side, because they're their concerns. All you have to navigate is your own worries. And I had enough of my horse to deal with raging rivers and wild camping alone. But yeah, you have to just if it's family, you just have to reassure them that it's gonna be fine. Yeah, you can't, you can't focus on that. Because it's their worries. And you can be, you know, balancing or juggling their worries along with your worries, because that's just too much. That's too much for any person to hang on to. So yeah, I think it's, it's really just a case of making sure the people that need to be reassured are insured. And then you just continue with navigating your own inner turmoil, and learning how to deal with that, which I did.

Frankie Dewar  48:15  
I've been asking everybody about authenticity, what do you think your authentic self mean?

Zoe  48:22  

Zoe  48:24  
My authentic self, I think is, is about being it's about being honest with who I am, with myself and with others. And not. Not portraying myself as this brave, outdoor adventure seeker that I claim I am, which I am, you know, I do not seek adventures either. But so let them know that I have fears as well. And it's okay to have these. It's normal. So I think I think my authentic self is about being honest. I am a scaredy cat. You know, I am terrified of all sorts of things, more things than I ever thought I was. I actually had a conversation yesterday, with my next door neighbor, she's 84. And I just, you know, just give her a call to make sure she's okay. And that was one of the hardest parts of leaving the house actually was. There's certain people, you know, that you don't want to you feel like you're doing them a disservice by leaving them. And and it was hard for me as well. So anyway, I gave her a call yesterday, and I'm absolutely thrilled to hear that her daughter had bought the book, the biggest book, yes. And that she loaned it to her. And she'd read my chapter and her words were I never realized she was so afraid. I, she said, I always thought you were so strong and so brave. And she said, I just didn't know that. And in fact, my mum read it with me there. And she said, Oh, lots of things in there you never told us about. But you know that, that emotion of fear is never discussed. And I guess I just come across on the outside as being this brave person, I just haven't able to put up a courageous facade. And that's what teaching is all about, you know, you just put up a facade, it doesn't matter what you're feeling that day. If you've had a fight with your partner at home, or you've been really upset by something, you don't bring that into the classroom, you just put up this facade, and you hide it. So everybody thinks that you are very level on this very level playing field all the time that you are brave and courageous, there's quite a long, drawn out way of saying it. But I think yes, my authentic self is now about sharing my fears. And being honest,

Frankie Dewar  51:13  
that's really interesting how it ties into my next question. My next question is, what do you think bravery means?

Zoe  51:20  

Zoe  51:23  
For some people, it might be stepping out into this torrential rain. We've just getting there. I think I think bravery isn't necessarily about throwing yourself out of an airplane on a skydive. I know that's my 100th scary day. But I think bravery is about just pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, into something into an into that area where you feel uncomfortable. So for some one person, it might be paragliding, it might be jumping out of an airplane, it might be skiing down this deepest mountain. But for others, it might be simply setting for out of the door in the morning, or putting their hand up in class to ask a question. Or to say, No, I don't agree with that. So yeah, it's knowing what your comfort zone boundary is, and stepping across. So

Frankie Dewar  52:40  
would you describe yourself as brave?

Zoe  52:45  
Yes, and no, I'm learning to be braver. And yes, I think I actually am. You know, somebody said to me, actually, the other day, you're so strong, you know, for moving here, onto the boat. So I think actually, I am brave, there are aspects of my life where I can see where I have been brave. And I think actually, this this ties in not just with this question, am I am I brave, but also with the last question as well, about what is brave, I think it's about being adaptable. Because if you are accepting in and adaptable enough to cope with the change that might come as a result of whatever it is you're going off to do, then that makes things a whole lot easier. So, you know, leaving work, you know, I had to just trust and be accepting of it. It's gonna work out. Coming here, moving on to the boat, smaller environment, all my belongings, not all my belongings, but you know, 90% of my belongings, not here. How To Get Rid of lots and lots of marks. Am I going to cope with that? And it was just trusting and being accepting that that it would work.

Frankie Dewar  54:09  

Frankie Dewar  54:12  
What do you think happiness feels like?

Zoe  54:15  
Oh, that's so hard. Oh, wow. Um, what does it feel like? Wow, what a wonderful question. See, happiness for me, as it's obviously different for everybody but happiness for me. Is is walking. It's being completely out there. in tune with, like, feet on the ground. knowing everything I've got in my rucksack is just what I need to survive and listening to the birds and watching the sky. I change sunsets and sunrises. Oh My Goodness me. I mean, that just absolutely fills me with is it happiness? Is it? I don't know it is, as a creative, it's an appreciation of colors, and shapes and signs and light. So yeah, I mean being up here and seeing the light changing constantly. I mean, I get so excited by that, that, I suspect is almost like a happiness fix. So that's like an injection of happiness. But happiness, per se, I think is is contentment, and being one with yourself and being contentment is being content with every area of your life. So and what you're doing the direction where you are currently, the decisions that you've made, just Yeah. Oh, that is half and I normally I don't get stumped by questions. But that is such a Corker

Frankie Dewar  56:16  

Frankie Dewar  56:17  
such a cool. So I actually got this from Instagram, I saw I thought I've follow wellbeing explorers and they posted saying, What does happiness feel like to you? Because it feels different to everybody. When we talk about happiness. We're not talking about the same thing. And I was just like, thinking about it. And I was just like, wow, like it's so true is when we're talking about happiness, actually, people are talking about completely different. Yeah,

Zoe  56:47  
feeling. The times I'm happiest is when I'm being creative. When I'm making music when I'm writing when I'm outside when I'm surrounded by light color. Nature. Yeah, I think that's that's some summing up for me. But I just know that I am I'm, I'm walking dancing on air, when I'm out, walking, and we were down on the gas for the weekend walking over climatic Hill. And I remember saying that exact thing is I'm so happy. This is where I need to be. This is lovely. And it's like soul food is absolute soul food. So whatever fills your soul is what makes me happy. 

Frankie Dewar  57:38  
We have a few more questions. So we are getting there. 

Zoe  57:43  
Do you need more cake? I get it. 

Frankie Dewar  57:45  
I might take another one before I get

Zoe  57:48  
a cake always keeps you going.

Frankie Dewar  57:51  
Do you have any female role models?

Zoe  57:55  
Oh, oh, because I listened to podcasts. I mean, I'm listening to lots of different women all the time. There's one or two that I get back to regularly. I mean, Sarah Williams, I would say she's, you know, I follow kind of what she's doing quite a lot. I tell you what I have done recently This is so I set up this group, this Facebook group headline. And I started about six weeks ago, a went on a Wednesday, it was women of the week. And so I'm encouraging the members of the group to post a photograph and a link to the woman that has inspired them that week. Amazing. And we're going to like create, like a Hall of Fame, you know, for this for the women of the week. So, you know, I try and find somebody every week, it's actually making me actively look every week, whereas before it was just like, oh, they're great, and all their great. Oh, wow, look at what they've just done. What I'm doing now is I'm actively seeking out the women who inspire me and the small the stories, the stories of the women who inspire me. So those women could be people who have historical say, like, you know, they're not alive anymore. Maybe they could be on social media, they could be in the news. They could be family, friends, politicians was unlikely. But you know, it there's there's so many different facets of this. And and it's just to encourage everybody to start actually recognizing that there are women out there who can inspire us and do inspire us. And so we've you know, we've had, there was one this week that I posted was Hannah Hawkes. Well. Now she's she died in 2018. And she's not really to do with outdoor adventure, but she back in the 80s She was highlighted as as because she was living on a farm in the Yorkshire Dales on her own running this farm at 35 on her own, with only about 235 pounds a month to live on. Yeah. And she had no running water, no electricity. She used to go and collect her water from a river somewhere. And and they somebody got onto this and they did a documentary about her and then I spotted the book on my mom's bookshelf because I remembered it from years ago. And I thought, oh, gosh, yes, I remember that. And back in 2017. When I walked the Pennine Way, I walked through a meadow. That was Hannah's meadow. And I hadn't realized that it was there. But I knew I knew the connection is things people like that. That just make you go wow, women of the week is wow. Cool. Yes, yes. Yeah. And it's just those people, those women that have really made an impact on other people's lives without realizing it.

Frankie Dewar  1:01:14  
That's so cool. And I really want to check out the Facebook group. Oh, yeah. Yeah.

Frankie Dewar  1:01:20  
How did it start?

Zoe  1:01:23  
So yeah, as a result of being on all of these different journeys, that I thought were just about walking, because people kept saying to me, what's next year, what's happening next. And so each year, I will create a different challenge. I then soon got to realizing that it's not just about the walking, it's actually about me facing my fears and building resilience. And after that, I just really felt that I wanted to share that with other people. And so head right out, it's a blog. It started off just being a blog. And now it's it's developing, and who knows where it's going to go. There's there's all sorts of ideas in the pot. But it's definitely becoming more of more my life now as opposed to just a blog. And I've been doing speaking engagements, I've had a couple of magazine articles that I've been in, not that I've written. And yeah, there's some things that I can't really say too much about at the moment, but some exciting stuff happening towards the end of the year starting in 2021. So, yeah, I just would love people to come along and say hi, and yeah, just ask any questions. And I've had, I've had quite a lot of people that have just messaged me off of the back of seeing one of the magazine articles, or perhaps hearing me on a podcast, they've just gone to the website, and they've messaged me, and they've generally been my sort of age group of women, and they've said, You know, I really don't know what to do, you know, my marriage is great. I don't have a problem with it. But I want to go off on an adventure. And I don't know how to do I don't know how to let my husband know that this is what I want to do on my own because I think he's gonna think that I don't love him anymore. And you know, things like that. So is that's then where the hairdryer out hub came about because I thought, actually, this needs to be a discussion or support group for lots of women together, as opposed to just me telling my story to one person, because it's just my opinion, which is only one opinion. Whereas if we've got a group of women together, you know, the strength is in the number, isn't it? And hopefully that will empower other women to to go out there and try something new.

Frankie Dewar  1:03:48  
And what is one piece of advice that you would give to your younger self?

Zoe  1:03:54  
Oh, yeah, so I had I said something about that earlier. didn't lie. I wish I could go back and tell myself. Yeah, don't wait. If you if you have a dream, don't wait. Just get on and do it. Be brave, you are enough. And it's not going to be half as bad as you think it's going to be. Whatever is

Frankie Dewar  1:04:17  

Frankie Dewar  1:04:19  
is the end of my questions.

Zoe  1:04:23  
I'm going to get you some cake

Frankie Dewar  1:04:28  
I think you're the one that needs the cake.

Frankie Dewar  1:04:33  
Thank you so much for listening. I hope you enjoyed all of zoe's amazing stories as much as I did. If you've enjoyed this episode, please spread the joy and share on with another friend who you think will enjoy it to remember you can find links to the head right out Facebook group, as well as these other social media pages. Over at the show notes. You'll also find information and links to the other episodes. Visit extraordinary ordinary That's extraordinary ordinary forward slash show hyphen nights. We have two episodes left in season one and I can't wait to share them with you. By next time, I will have pedaled my way back to England. To meet Layla. He lives in a caravan in the woods. She will say psychos to roam with her dog rarely in a trailer is not to be missed. Until next time, keep on being extraordinary.

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