Welcome to the first Rebecca's Ramblings. Where I ramble on about anything that has recently inspired me, brought me joy, or I think you might be interested in hearing about!
From the 17-20 December I was in the Lake District for my first ever Kendal Mountain Festival experience.
Honestly, I had no idea what to expect, but I wasn't alone. I'm one of the five founders of Every Body Outdoors, a campaign group for plus size clothing and representation, and it was in that capacity that I'd driven nearly six hours across England to the Lake District. We hadn't all met in person before, so it was a truly emotional few days getting to know each other in a shared cottage in Windermere.
Left to right: Steph, Sara, Rebecca, Emily, Kumbi
It turns out that Kendal Mountain Festival is like the who's who in the outdoors sector! Which is great if you're one of those people who can recognise a face they've only seen on Instagram or in a magazine article. Unfortunately, I am not one of those people. My name and face recall is pretty shite.
What I found even more baffling was when someone came up to ME and asked if I'm Rebecca. Turns out it was the lovely Francesca from TGO Magazine who wanted to say hello to the Every Body Outdoors team - we have been shortlisted for the Open Outdoors category in the annual TGO Reader Awards.... woop woop! (please vote for us here - voting closes on 10th December!).
Left to right: Ella, Sara, Steph, Emily, Rebecca, Kumbi
I've got ahead of myself, but one of the reasons we were there at the festival was to give a free talk on the Cotswold Outdoors stage (pictured above) in the festival Basecamp on the Friday. Our panel discussion, chaired by the wonderful Ella Foote, covered why plus sized outdoorsy folk needed a campaign, why representation matters, what challenges and barriers plus size adventurers face, and what the heck we're doing about it. You can find out more about the campaign here.
On the Saturday we held a plus size community social and kit-try on in Kendal. This was the biggest collection of plus size gear, all in one place, from multiple brands! All the Every Body Outdoors team brought their own outdoor gear, plus the samples that we have been sent to test from various brands, and I brought along the Vampire Outdoors stock of Outdoor Research plus size waterproofs.
Every Body Outdoors social event and kit try-on
Seeing plus size women in outdoor clothes and equipment that finally fitted their bodies was emotional. And to me, just reiterated that our move towards stocking plus size clothing and gear is 100% the right thing to do. It changes people's lives. *slightly emotional Vampire here*.
Left to right: Heather and Emily wearing Outdoor Research Helium rain jackets
And here I have to credit the support from Gregory Packs this weekend. They helped to bring the Every Body Outdoors team together, travelling from across England, Wales and Scotland for several days, taking time off work and away from families.
Gregory's plus size backpacks are frankly, a revelation, and I'm so proud to say that Vampire Outdoors will be one of very few UK stockists next year. I did several pack fittings with plus size women at the social event, and it is incredible how much better they fit compared to a 'normal' backpack. Truly, a game changer.
Sneak peek at some of the plus size Gregory backpacks coming next year! I also fitted in a meeting with the Gregory and Outdoor Research sales team while we were up in Kendal.
It wasn't all campaigning at Kendal though, and I managed to take in a few films and talks. I really enjoyed Jenny Tough's film 'Solo' charting her epic journey to run across six mountain ranges on six continents. I also enjoyed the Rise Up film collection, particularly the film 'Free to run'. You can watch both of these films and many more on the Festival Player.
I also popped over to see my friends Outdoor Provisions for some snacktastic chat. They do make exceptionally good natural energy bars and nut butters. And made new friends with Alex Feechan and her husband from Findra, who make the most gorgeous merino products (totally in love with my new hat!).
Wearing my new Findra beanie hat for wild swimming photography (see below!)
And finally, as a birthday treat for Sara, one of the Every Body Outdoors team, we got up *extremely* early on Sunday morning for a dawn cold water swim in Windermere. I say we, but there was no way I was getting in! So I played team photographer and got some bloody gorgeous shots of the girls, and loads of others, while the sun rose above the lake.
The dawn swimmers at Windermere (lots out of shot!)
It's safe to say that I'll be back at Kendal Mountain Festival next November, and if you've never been, I highly recommend it!
Hope you've enjoyed this first Rambling. I can't guarantee how frequent they will be going forward, but hopefully more than one a year!