The Countryside Code
Respect. Protect. Enjoy
Tim and Kerry Meek are so passionate about getting outside that in 2014 they quit their jobs as teachers, sold their house and took their children out of school to go on a family Ed-Venture.
Tim and Kerry Meek are so passionate about getting outside that in 2014 they quit their jobs as teachers, sold their house and took their children Amy (now 12) and Ella (10) out of school to go on a family Ed-Venture. They’re still touring the UK in a caravan looking for education and as many adventures in the outdoors as possible.
Tim says: “We write books, make short films and share ideas on our website to help parents entice their children into the great outdoors and reconnect with the natural world by balancing their SCREEN time with plenty of GREEN time.”
How does it feel to have been chosen as a #GetOutside Champion?
It's a real privilege to be working with Ordnance Survey to promote getting outside and doing activities that we love. Getting outside is something we feel passionate about and it’s exciting to be associated with like-minded individuals.
What does being a #GetOutside champion mean to you?
Being a #GetOutside champion is a sign of recognition for all the work that we've done to promote the outdoors and family adventures over the last three years. We hope that by working with OS and the #GetOutside campaign we’ll continue to inspire others to get outside as well as finding opportunities to #GetOutside and try new challenges ourselves.
What are the benefits to you of being outside?
Ella: Being outside makes me feel happy and alive.
Amy: I always feel better for getting some fresh air.
Kerry: Being outside is liberating. There are so many health benefits that affect the body and mind in such a positive way.
Tim: It’s unnatural for humans to be indoors and trapped under ceilings, yet the majority of people spend much of their day-to-day lives indoors, and this is proven to be linked to increased instances of mental health, particularly depression.
It’s especially important for children to grow up with a love of the outdoors and an appreciation of the natural world and other living things. Too many children are growing up disconnected with nature, through being too connected with technology. This is not good for nature, and it’s not good for children.
We think adults, children… everyone in fact, should live a life that demonstrates a healthy balance of SCREEN time and GREEN time.
What do you love most enjoy about being outside?
Ella: I love wildlife and look for opportunities to see animals and birds when outside exploring. I’ll often carry my camera with me in the hope of capturing a perfect photo.
Amy: I enjoy exploring new places and appreciate the scenery and environment of being outside.
Kerry: I love the sense of freedom that I get when being outside; seeing and experiencing new places; enjoying the natural world, and the exhilaration of trying something new and challenging.
Tim: Everything. I love the sense of freedom, the noises, the smells, the challenges, the views, the wildlife, the wind, the rain, the snow. I love the feeling of ‘being alive’ that the outdoors gives me. I feel relaxed and happy, and more at home, outside than I do inside.
What’s your favourite terrain to get out in? (Mountain / coast / woodland etc)
Ella: Woodland because of the animals.
Amy: Coast because of the sea air and mountains because of the challenge.
Kerry: Woodland, rivers, hills and waterfalls.
Tim: Mountains – for the challenge of a climb, the exhilaration and the rewards once it’s been achieved.
What’s your best memory of being outside?
Ella: When we reached the top of the last of the Yorkshire Three Peaks as we were coming to the end of a two-day hike. The challenge, which is normally completed in 12 hours, was completed over two days with a bivvy bag sleepover at the bottom of Wernside in between.
Amy: When we spent eight days walking the 100 mile Ayrshire coastal path. We had glorious weather which made the walk even more enjoyable with beautiful views. Most of the family took it in turns to do sections but I feel very proud that I walked the whole distance!
Kerry: People often remember their best childhood memories as outdoor ones... and we've got loads. We discovered bivvy bagging a few years ago. We’ve always loved camping but particularly love the excitement of sleeping out in the open. We’ve been wild camping in various places and some of our best memories are of sleeping on a beach on the North Norfolk coast and walking up to see the Milky Way and shooting stars above our heads. I also loved the time we attempted “family bagging” when we made one big bivvy bag out of a tarpaulin and popped all our sleeping bags inside – there was all four of us plus our dog Sally.
Tim: Climbing Snowdon when Amy was six and Ella was four. OR the Great Glen Canoe Trail we did as a family. On both of these occasions, and many others as well, I’ve seen us all rise to a challenge – to work together as a team on a shared goal; overcoming obstacles and difficulties; sustaining effort and interest in something and seeing it through to the end; and importantly, sharing the feelings of discomfort, pain, happiness, excitement, joy and satisfaction. Coming home feeling closer as a family, stronger as individuals and a sense of fulfilment.
What’s your worst?
Ella: When we were wild camping on a beach in Yorkshire. We’d just finished eating and set up the bivvy bags on the sand ready to settle down for the night when lots of horrible insects leaped up into my face and hair!
Amy: I don’t have a worst memory because I’ve enjoyed all of the outdoor adventures that we’ve done.
Kerry: It’s funny how sometimes the worst memories can turn into the best. I remember lying in a tree tent on my birthday freezing cold, not able to sleep. I hate being cold and lay there wishing I was anywhere else. Looking back on it, it was a brilliant night because of the excitement of sleeping in a tree tent for the first time. I soon forgot about the cold.
Tim: An adventure that we didn’t have. We had arranged to take a family of friends out in the Derbyshire Dales with Mary-Ann Ochota and her mother. The weather forecast the week before predicted heavy rain and miserable conditions. We called off the adventure the day before, not wanting to put off adventure newbies. It turned out to be a beautiful, sunny weekend and we were kicking ourselves for calling it off. We’ve learnt not to listen to the weather forecast any more.
What’s the most unusual thing to have happened to you outside?
It was quite surreal watching Adrian Chiles rowing the girls out in the middle of Carsington reservoir, during an interview he did about a year ago for his Radio Five programme.
What do you like about Great Britain?
Great Britain is a truly beautiful country with such a diverse landscape. When we began our Ed-Venture we wanted to dedicate a year to travelling around the UK and really getting to know the country that we live in. There is such a diverse range of landscapes from mountains to marshland, rivers and streams to dramatic coastlines. You really should explore and appreciate what we have at home before travelling anywhere else.
Where is your favourite place in Great Britain to be outside?
Ella: The Lake District and in particular the National Trust property of Borrowdale. I loved exploring and trail running through the woods.
Amy: We’ve been all over. Scotland is one of my favourite places: the views are staggering and there’s so much space and opportunity for adventures.
Why should people #GetOutside more often?
Ella: Because it gets them off screens, and encourages them to live their life and the moment.Tim: Because life is too short not to.
What would you say to someone who never goes outside to get them outside?
Tim: I’d say, “You really need to get out more!” Seriously, people do need to get outdoors more. As the saying goes, there’s no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothing, so don’t let the weather stop you doing anything. Getting outdoors is so good for you in so many ways: It improves your physical health, your mental health, and your perspective on life. It offers challenges, opportunities and great rewards. It’s character building and life-affirming and life-forming.
Why as a nation are we not getting outside as much as we could?
Ella: Because of technology
Kerry: Modern life is too comfortable. People don't like discomfort and can sometime associate getting outdoors with negative experiences. They think getting outside involves effort.
What are the most important things a person should do or take when they #GetOutside?
A person should always take a compass, map and water if they’re heading out for a walk, climb or camp out. They should always be prepared for different weather conditions. They should also take with them their sense of adventure and sense of humour. Make sure getting outdoors is fun and enjoyable. Get outside with your eyes wide open and enjoy what you see and where you go. Speak to people, stop and read information, deviate from the path if you see something interesting. And make sure you leave the place you’ve visited cleaner than how you found it. We always have a bag with us and we try to pick up litter, bottles and anything else we can to leave the environment better for us being there. If everyone picked up one piece of littler or rubbish they find, as well as not dropping anything in the first place, then the countryside would soon become a cleaner place. We owe this respect to the wildlife and animals that are living in the environments we humans visit.
What tips or pieces of advice would give to someone who wants to get more out of being #Outside?
Go with someone who loves being outside and will take you to and talk to you about great places and things to do. Learn a few tree/plant/animal species and look out for them when you are outside.
What music do you listen to when you get outside / does music inspire you?
Black Eyed Peas - I've Gotta Feeling. We actually changed the lyrics to the song to make them about going on an adventure outside.
For a less energetic / relaxing mood we listen to A Lovely Day.
What are your backpack essentials?
Waterproofs, layers, water and snacks. Everyone is happy if they're warm, dry, hydrated and energised. We often take a stove, pan and some simple ingredients as we like to ‘eat out’ (not in a stuffy pub but on a hill, by a river etc). We have made up a fair few recipes (we are aiming to get to 50) that are ‘one pots’ and these are meals that can be cooked easily but are nutritious and cost around £5 for four people. We call them our 50 Thrifty Meals.
A must-have is a litter bag to make sure we can take all our rubbish away with us after we’ve eaten.
What’s your favourite food when you are outside?
Food always tastes better when you're outside. We regularly cook up a one pot as part of a walk but you can’t beat a snack to keep up the energy.
Visit their website to get more inspiration from the Meek Family