The Meek Family are a tight family unit who live life to its fullest, trying to discover and bond in the outdoors as much as they possibly can. In 2014, parents Tim and Kerry packed in their teaching jobs in order to show their two children, Amy and Ella, the true meaning of life, in a fun and compelling way. We recently sat down with the Meeks to discuss their ethos and welcome them as members of the Blacks Ambassador programme.
B: What does it mean to you to be a Blacks Ambassador?
Tim: We are very proud to be working with Blacks, a company that also promotes a love of the outdoors.
Adventure is out there; you just have to go and find it.
B: Have you always been an adventurous family?
Tim: No we haven't. When the girls came along we prioritised our time so that we made sure we were spending time together in the outdoors. We wanted the girls to feel confident and comfortable and have a close connection with nature. We strongly believe that adventure is not for the stereotypical gnarly, alpha males but can be for anyone and everyone. Adventure is simply pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and therefore making life that little bit more interesting and exciting. We have a catchphrase: “Adventure is out there; you just have to go and find it.” and, many years ago after watching the film UP in which one the main character dies without going on her adventure of a lifetime, we wanted to make sure that we make the most of life and time together.
B: What's your favourite way to spend quality time together?
Ella: We love spending time in the outdoors, going out on long walks, cycle rides, scooter journeys - anything in the outdoors really! We are a close family and love talking and playing games together..
We love to wake up hearing the sounds of nature
B: What's your favourite activity to do as a family?
Ella: Camping. We love going camping whether it's in a tent, hammock or bivvy bag. Sleeping in the outdoors is both relaxing and exhilarating. We love to wake up hearing the sounds of nature.
B: What's been your biggest achievement since starting your adventure?
Amy: My greatest achievement was when my dad and I completed the National 3 Peaks in 24 hours, in May 2016. We hired a car, drove all the way up to Scotland with my mum and sister, and began the challenge at about 6pm, hiking up Ben Nevis in the thick mist. After driving through the night, Scafell was considerable easier (mainly because it spared us of low cloud), and by the time we reached Snowdon I was energised and ready to take on our final peak. Although, most of that buzz was doused by the pouring rain, as we reached the exposed section of the Pyg Track and trekked up onto the summit (which, unsurprisingly, was deserted, as most people with common sense were in the warm café). But, we couldn’t afford to stop, and battled our way down as fast as we could, reaching the car in less than 24 hours since our beginning.
I think that it is easy to forget, unless you’ve done the challenge yourself, that the National 3 Peaks is not only a physical challenge, but also a mental one, as it certainly takes strength to drag yourself up Snowdon and get back down again. I know that that adventure certainly helped me develop me mental strength, as well as my physical, and that’s one of the things that I love about adventure.
B: What's been your scariest experience?
Tim: We all have different fears, whether its heights or cold water but part of an adventure is facing your fears and pushing yourself. Our adventures have always been tailored to the kids so we don't want to put ourselves in dangerous situations or make the activities that we do something not enjoyable but a bit of fear can be exhilarating! One of our scariest moments was when Amy and I were paddling Loch Ness in a kayak in windy conditions that meant the waves were uncomfortably large. Whilst we stuck to the banks as much as possible there were times when we had to paddle nearer to the middle. Capsizing would have meant abandoning the kayak and a cold swim to shore.
B: You travelled far and wide on your 2 year 'edventure' around Great Britain and Europe. How does Great Britain compare to all the places you've been to?
Ella: Before we set off on our EdVenture we used to go abroad for holidays, and escape the country for warmer weather or a different culture. Although going abroad is exciting and so different in terms of culture and landscape, the UK offers so much more than you would think. Dedicating over a year to travelling around the UK has made us realise what a beautiful set of countries we live in. We have some amazing mountains, coastlines, National Parks and historical sites. I feel very proud to live in such a diverse and beautiful place.
Being outdoors not only makes you aware of how beautiful our planet is, but also how, as a race, we’re affecting it.
B: What have you learnt about the outdoors since starting your 'Edventure'?
Tim: We have learnt that the outdoors has so much to offer and shouldn't be underestimated.
B: How important is our (human kind's) relationship with the outdoors?
Amy: Our relationship with nature is so important. I think that it’s very easy in this day and age to have a real disconnect with the natural world, which we rely on so much. Being outdoors not only makes you aware of how beautiful our planet is, but also how, as a race, we’re affecting it. It’s hard not to marvel at the beauty of nature when you’re out walking, cycling, doing whichever outdoor pursuit you take part in, and then to be disgusted at the litter you find dumped after a barbeque or on a mountain trail.
Thousands of years ago, the people that were our ancestors were living in the wild, surviving off the land. As a race, we have, of course, developed hugely since then, but I think that buried deep inside all of us, deeper in some of us than others, is a need to be back in nature. Being outside is proven to be good for us, for our mental well-being, and I think that it’s easy to lose the relationship with nature that we all need.
B: What can we do to make sure that the outdoors is conserved for prosperity?
Amy: We have a small motto as a family, for when we’re out and about – ‘leave no trace’. It’s disgusting to find litter when walking, especially when it’s been dropped by people who have gone to enjoy the outdoors in the first place, and yet still contribute to harming it! When my dad and I were doing the Yorkshire 3 Peaks challenge, we found dozens of bottles (mainly energy drinks) deliberately stuffed down a cattle grid. We tried to pick up as many as we could, but didn’t want to overrun our 12 hour time limit. Really, we shouldn’t have had to collect that litter – it shouldn’t be there in the first place. So I think that if every person who went outdoors not only took their litter home, but also tried to leave a place cleaner than when they found it, that would be a great way to conserve the outdoors and its beauty.
B: Can you describe how the outdoors makes you feel?
Ella: When I’m in the outdoors I feel relaxed and at ease. I find nature fascinating and love looking for wildlife. Being in the outdoors raises awareness of your surroundings and I love spending my time exploring. Kerry – Being in the outdoors makes me feel happy and free. It's a place to escape the trappings and pressures of everyday life. I've read that three-quarters of adults say that their fondest childhood memories are of playing outside and I agree. I hope that our girls have many happy memories of the times we've spent in the outdoors together.
B: What's the one piece of equipment / apparel you never leave home without?
Tim: We always take a re-useable water bottle with us which we can fill up when we're out and about. Other items that often appear in our rucksack include bags and gloves for litter picking and maps.
B: Any parting advice for families hoping to spend more time in the outdoors?
Tim: Don't put it off or find reasons to not go out. Make the effort and you'll enjoy the rewards