The Athabasca Glacier

When Adam and I travelled to Canada we visited the Columbian Icefield Centre along the Icefield Parkway. We were travelling from Banff to Jasper and identified this as a good place to stop for a rest and a cool experience. Our trip to Canada is the only time I’ve needed to pack both my bikini and my hat, scarf and gloves!

The Columbian Icefield is the largest icefield in the Canadian Rockies and spans 25km across the continental divide. The average elevation of the columbian icefields is 3,000 metres and the highest point is Mt Columbia. We visited the Athabasca Glacier, one of the most accessible areas, and it was epic.

I booked our Iconic Glacier Adventure tickets in advance online to benefit from a 20% discount (must be booked at least 48 hours in advance). We booked a combination deal which included the Glacier Skywalk (I’ll write about this in another blog soon) and proved cheaper than booking both experiences separately.

Unfortunately, on the morning we were due to visit the centre it was snowing hard and visibility was extremely poor. Looking up at the glacier it wasn’t clear where the snow met the sky and it was a proper white out!

We were a bit disappointed and worried that we were going to have a below average experience. However, after speaking to staff we found out we could change the date of our trip without any additional cost – yey! It turns out you can just turn up on the day and get tickets but then you wouldn’t benefit from the discount.

A couple of days later we returned to the centre amongst glorious sunshine and clear(ish) blue skies. After a short wait we boarded one of the ice explorer buses, one of only 20ish in the world costing millions of dollars each. These buses had huge great big tyres on them and windows on either side providing epic views all around.

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We enjoyed a slow and steep ascent along the moraine with some funny narration by our driver and eventually arrived on top of the Athabasca Glacier. We were also told some cool facts such as;

  • once, the Athabasca glacier flowed as far north as the town of Jasper
  • the Columbian icefields feed three oceans in the northern hemisphere; the Arctic, Pacific, and Atlantic which makes it unique
  • the glacier is as thick as the Eiffel tower is high…. whaaat????

When we reached the top of the glacier it was vast and the snow was shimmering in the sunlight, we didn’t see much ice due to the heavy snowfall days before.

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Adam spotted climbers at the top of a peak – it didn’t matter how hard I looked I just couldn’t see them!

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Thank goodness for camera zoom!

We had some time wandering on the glacier (in the safely marked zones of course) and then the guides dug a hole through the snow and ice so we could collect some glacial water to drink – ice cold!

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A walk on the Athabasca Glacier is a tourist trip for sure and its not cheap but I think its worth it 🙂

A 30th birthday gift from the sea

It’s my birthday soon – in a matter of weeks. I mentioned this to Adam yesterday, much to his surprise.

Last year we went to Scotland and with it being such a long drive we broke up the journey by camping halfway up at a quiet little spot. On the morning of my birthday Adam made me a tasty breakfast and even let Tilly have a little bit ❤️

When we finally reached Scotland many hours later we had a few drinks

and stayed at the stunning Glengarry Castle which allowed dogs 🙂 and Tilly slept in a proper hotel room!

The place was beautiful, just on the water and we enjoyed taking Tilly for walks and to drink some proper West Highland water!

It was great except it hammered with rain the entire time! Now I’m ok(ish) about it raining when in a hotel but we’d planned to camp for the rest of our trip. I really didn’t fancy camping in the rain especially with it being my 30th birthday. I was pretty annoyed anyway because we were meant to have spent it in Norway hiking and climbing but my broken arm meant we couldn’t go.

A broken arm won’t stop me camping though and a bit of birthday champagne helps!

That said, showering in campsite facilities with an arm in full plaster and nowhere to hang your clothes or put your toiletries is particularly difficult. Especially when there are no seats to sit on and the lights go out automatically if you take too long. It was an experience!

Anyway, I digress. We checked the weather forecast and headed away from the west coast for a night at Loch Lomond and some afternoon tea overlooking the loch and a beautiful rainbow.

The following day we continued our road trip on to Banburgh Castle in Northumberland where the sun was shining!  We hadn’t booked ahead but we had a tent with us and figured we’d find something – which we did 🙂

A great little campsite had a spare pitch for something ridiculous like £7 per night so we booked straight in. Budle Bay – what a cute name!

When we arrived we got some funny comments from a couple of older guys who were staying there, saying that we obviously wanted the ‘posh’ end. We nearly choked on our laughter and then noticed that we were both wearing Hunter wellies and Rab Jackets and probably looked like city kids camping for the first time. What they didn’t know was that these items had all been gifts from family over the years and neither of us ever buy kit or expensive clothing – in fact most of Adam’s clothes he’s made himself!

Our ‘lack of posh’ soon became obvious once we started unpacking the car and putting up our donkey’s years old tiny little two person tent that has been with us all over the place in the last six years. Adam even had to sew the lining together in Sweden after a hole ripped in the mosquito net and ants started crawling in!

We set off to the beach with a bucket and a spade (but not the kind you might be imagining).

Adam fancied a bit of long line fishing so at around 8pm we walked by moonlight down to the mud flats so he could collect some big fat worms for bait.

Tilly and I sat in our little fisherman’s shelter out of the wind and watched!

That night, after we wandered back to camp, Adam put together a ten metre long fishing line which he could carry in his bucket down to the shore in the morning.

Because he was line fishing it was important that we watched the tide go out and come back in so he could scope out where to lay the line and safely make his way back.

It was a sunny day and I had Pringles so I was happy – Tilly had her biscuits and we sat there for hours watching Adam digging for bait and laying his line.

I had his binoculars and watched the kite surfers with awe while Tilly shuffled about in the sand.

It occurred to me that the tide was suddenly coming in pretty quickly and Adam was still out there. The water started coming in between him and us but it was a very shallow and narrow stream and I could see he had spotted it.

Then the stream of water started getting wider and deeper and I wasn’t sure if Adam had noticed and he didn’t have his phone on him for me to call. Eventually he started making his way back towards us and managed to get across with water up to his thighs!

The really funny thing was that the area where Adam laid his line was the last part of the sea bed to cover with water so we named it ‘no fish island’!!!

Later that evening, after the tide went back out, Adam wandered back out to retrieve his line. We didn’t hold out a lot of hope for ‘no fish island’ so I was pleasantly surprised when he arrived back with two big plaice.

Back at our little campsite Adam set about making the most incredible birthday feast.

Tilly and I were instructed to sit by the campfire on a chair with a cosy throw over it and drink our chilled (in the river) prosecco.

Adam went about prepping chips and filleting the fish. He’d bought all the ingredients with him and made lemonade batter for the fish which I was very impressed by. We sat there in the dark with the light from the stove, lamps and head torches while devouring what I can honestly say was the best fish and chips of my life and the best birthday present I could have ever ask for 🙂

The Ravens

The best things in life really are free aren’t they! I think I’ve started to realise that more and more lately.

We were lucky enough to go for a road trip through the Rockies last month and it was beyond our expectations. The mountains were bigger that we could have ever imagined and the vastness of the space was almost overwhelming at times.

Unfortunately, with life the way it is right now we are having to cram our adventures into long weekends or a couple of weeks maximum. As a result, things can seem too scheduled as we want to get from one place to the next. I also wanted us to experience as much of the rockies as we could so we booked into activities and visited everywhere we could squeeze in.

As you’d expect, this was all great fun but quite expensive. Despite all our activities one of my favourite moments of the whole trip came from a chance encounter with a couple of ravens.

We were driving from Sunwapta Falls an hour south along the icefields parkway to the Colombian Icefield Center with the intention of going up onto the Athabasca Glacier (it’s worth noting that they let you reschedule if the visibility is poor or you can’t make it).

Around 20mins into the drive our wet rainy start turned into thick snow (in June – gotta love the Rockies!) and a blanket of white appeared all around us. It literally felt like Christmas!!!

It was so picturesque that we pulled over to take some photos and as we got back in the car, it happened. These beautiful big ravens came and sat on a railing less than a metre from me. They had snowflakes on their faces and a keen look in their eyes – they clearly didn’t mind us being there. I got one of my favourite photographs ever and was so excited about seeing them!

It was a truly memorable moment for both of us and when I think of Canada, it’s the picture that immediately comes to mind. That great experience with the ravens cost us nothing, absolutely nothing. A lesson for me I think….

Bushcraft Romance  

1 year married already…. where has that time gone?

For our first wedding anniversary I set Adam a challenge because I always have to arrange everything; trips, days out, meals etc. So… we agreed some time off and a budget and then it was over to him.

I was thinking he might book us a spa break or something luxury and when he told me to catch the train to Gloucester and meet him there I had no idea what to expect.

He’d booked us a nice hotel and surprised me by having our dog Tilly with him (it’s ok the hotel allowed it at an extra charge) which was the best surprise ever! We spent some time in the pool and spa area and then had a nice dinner. So far, so good.

Over our evening meal he revealed the plans for the next 2 days which were…. canoeing the River Wye and camping overnight. Luckily for Adam I was half expecting something outdoorsy and even luckier I was up for it!

We had a good night’s rest and Tilly made the most of the King/queen size bed


Our trip on the Wye was great, Tilly loved it


and Adam even packed us some prosecco and smoked salmon to have on the river. I was truly impressed as we bobbed away eating, drinking (sensibly!) and chatting, feeling that my husband had done well. I then heard the beginning of what I thought was going to be a heart felt and romantic sentence on our one year wedding anniversary…

“For the rest of my life I want to…….study nature”

Haha what did I really expect?!

We all know I wear the trousers…

Adam and I love skiing. We hadn’t been for a few years and we were so excited for some time in the Alps.
Mountains and forests, what more could he want?


And cheese, chocolate and vin chaud what more could I want?!


Adam had something exciting planned for this trip, he’d made his own trousers out of buckskin and was planning to trial them on the slopes in advance of his upcoming trip to Sweden.


He spent hours upon hours making them, scraping the skins, dressing them, softening them etc etc. Then came the patterns, the cutting and the sewing. At least we have kids I know he can make the Halloween and school play costumes!

Bushcraft instead of Christmas 

Adam and I have always enjoyed Christmas and really he’s the one that made me love it. He always warms lots of mulled wine, and makes the Christmas cake for me to decorate (here is last year’s)


We take an annual walk to collect foliage for our homemade wreath. Last year we did this as you can see below;


We also choose the tree together and spend an evening decorating.  We tend to do the Christmas shopping together.

This year was a little different….

Adam spent ALL of his time on bushcraft. He warmed mulled wine and lit fires and that’s about it. The rest of his time was spent mostly scraping skins (including on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and Boxing Day). I’m so glad we had our kitchen done so that he could soak eggs in a bucket comfortably… 

I ended up making the wreath and had to buy the loop rather than having a home made willow one.


I think I did alright though?


I also made and iced the cake


We spent a lot of time in our cabin with Adam working on various projects and I got on with wrapping ALL the presents that I shopped for ALONE!

I went and chose the tree and decorated it, then he put his home made snow shoes next to it

Fortunately for Adam we had some trips booked to see family so he had to leave the skins for a day. We took our dog for a walk/basket ride (in a basket Adam had made from bark) because she had a bad leg.

And he saved the day by secretly making me these sheepskin slippers with a fox fur ruff and reindeer antler buttons…


Phew… He ‘scraped’ it by the skin of his teeth (no pun intended!)

Next year it’s Adam’s turn to shop for, prepare, and cook Christmas dinner alone. Who knows what we will end up with. Venison I’d guess from all the skins about the place! 😜

Bushcraft at Xmas 

So far our Christmas has consisted of me doing all the present shopping and wrapping and Adam making things for his upcoming trip to Sweden. Such as;

  • Fox fur hat
  • Snow shoes mark 2
  • A canvas tent
  • Tons of other stuff that gets him out of housework…


We’ve been spending loads of time in our log cabin with the woodburner glowing and cups of tea from the fire.


We love a good Xmas film and have been indulging in The Gruffalo’s Child tonight with Adam’s love of the woods and snow.


Bloody annoying though listening to him pointing out that the fox’s prints had the wrong gait! Just shows that you can’t escape bushcraft! X

What he wanted to get married in….

Now I consider myself to be quite a patient and understanding wife to the lovely Adam and I think anyone who knows us (or reads this blog) will agree with that!

However, even I have limits.

Early discussions with Adam about his wedding attire were, shall we say ‘difficult’

He’s not exactly into his fashion or clothing and would happily wear the same clothes for days if it wasn’t for my nagging!

I tried to make it clear from the start that this was the one day I’d like him to look smart 🙂 he accepted this but really wanted to wear a buckskin shirt. I wasn’t so keen. Then he talked about wearing buckskin moccasins which I was more comfortable with (because they wouldn’t be in many photos!).

Eventually though Adam came up with a much better compromise….

Adam: ‘I’ve got an idea about how we can get more bushcraft into the wedding’

Jo thinks: ‘oh great, just what every girl wants!’

Jo says: ‘ok?’

Adam: ‘why don’t we have a manikin dressed in all the clothes and items I’ve made?’

Jo thinks: ‘oh I dunno, maybe cos it’s a wedding and that’s weird!!’

Jo says: ‘hmmm yeah maybe…’

Adam: ‘it could meet people at the entrance, you know almost to show what I would have wanted to wear, my alter ego’

Jo thinks: ‘ah, I see, I need to play this cool. If he has a manikin wearing all the weird stuff that should mean I can have him wearing an actual normal person groom outfit. Seems a small price to pay….’

Jo says: ‘yes, that’s perfect. lets do that :), people will love it!’

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I have to admit, it was slightly more extravagant that I had in mind and included from memory;

  • buckskin hoody
  • wooden (long?) bow
  • a buckskin quiver full of arrows with actual flint or stone tips
  • a knife Adam made to cut the cake and held in a buckskin sheath
  • sheep skin mitts (or something like that?!)
  • a plaited bark belt
  • a bark quiver kind of container
  • an adze (?)
  • a grass skirt
  • a fox skin hat
  • birch bark goggles
  • moccasins
  • snow shoes
  • a moose ear pouch
  • a bark back pack

There were other bits I know, some kind of container and a thingy for when you shoot an arrow to protect your arm, and probably some other bits that I cant remember 🙂

Anyway, you get the point. He really took that opportunity of an understanding and accommodating wife and ran with it!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Natural Confetti

We wanted to have as much nature as possible in our wedding and really didn’t fancy metallic shiny confetti or even paper. We wanted it to be real petals and initially I was going to buy petals from the local florist. However, it is unbelievable what they charge!

So… the next plan, collect our own 🙂

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