Many of us have probably been there already: it’s the morning after, you’re quite sore all over, a few cuts and scrapes, a pulsing headache, you’re nursing your third coffee (at least of the morning) and make an attempt to pick out, in order to share, just a few non-blurred images out of the hundreds of photos of your wild weekend away. Whilst also getting back into the swing of reality and the week ahead.

2017-10-10_13.39.27And you’re not sorry one bit, because your wild weekend was spent in the company of hundreds of positive folk who have ramped up your confidence, inspired you with fresh ideas, stimulated your synapses, and even got your butt moving a bit more to get your endorphins flooding your overworked brain and swamping the system with joy and laughter.

That, is exactly what happens when you head to Bristol for the Womens Adventure Expo weekend.

I can now say weekend, because, on its third event since inauguration it is decidedly a weekender, with opportunities to not only indulge in workshops, talks and networking on the Saturday, but also take on active fitness sessions such as TrailFit with Keen, Packrafting with the Secret Compass, and Indoor Climbing at The Climbing Academy with Anoushé Husain. Throw in some opportunities to explore a little more of Bristol on the Friday, and I’ve quite a collection of colourful and creative imagery and ideas to go forward with.

So, I’m here on a Monday morning nursing what is effecively an over-stimulation hangover, the next job will be to process all the information, make contact with those I’ve been chatting to, hooked up with, been inspired by, and to also explore what I can make of this new and wonderful data for the year ahead, and beyond.

Here’s my quick-ish Top 5 learnings of this weekend’s experiences:

  1. Fotor_150779809389235Go cleaner

    • I’m based in North Wales, and getting to Bristol any which way will be at least a 4-hour trek. Naturally, in the spirit of adventure, I opted for the train. I used trainline (other companies are also available) as I have done for a number of years, always the off-peak open return option to get a good deal. I use their app too so I don’t have to lose my ticket en route, it’s stored on my app. If I have to move because someone’s seat was booked, I am ready to do that, but it hasn’t yet happened.
    • Using the train also meant I’m keeping what I take with me to a minimum, I have a nasty habit of planning for the apocalypse on every journey, but if I have to carry it around myself then it’s likely to be the slimmed-down apocalyptic package.
    • I get to people-watch (people are funny, weird, interesting, different, and so similar). This trip I overheard a conversation between a southern-Irish woman with a thick accent, and an elderly gent from Somerset with an equally broad West Country drawl. He thought she was from Liverpool. She thought he was from Newcastle. And the pair were singing folk songs to each other from their respective parts of the world. It was marvellous to bear witness to.
    • I can take photographs of the journey, read my book, and feel like I’m somehow helping the environment by not contributing to the fuel pollution era.
  2. Fotor_150779569063089Support the YHA

    • The needs of anyone on a city break with a convention and networking event, multiple activities, whilst travelling on foot and spending very little time in your room, is the same. So why go for the £100 hotel suite, when the YHA dorm with either ensuite bathroom or a bathroom next door is perfectly adequate?
    • YHA have great food, comfortable beds, a better shower than I have at home, and there’s as much chance of having a good/disturbed nights’ sleep as there is at home or in a hotel.
    • What the YHA stands for is something I would rather support than for the extra mod-cons of having a tele or a fluffy pillow in my room. They do also offer single-occupancy rooms for those who do need that extra degree of separation.
    • You are likely to meet other convention folk, and equally-interesting people of all ages, nationalities and backgrounds, by sharing some brief conversations around bedtime. Doing this opens up your world just a little more. Surely that’s the spirit of the Womens Adventure Expo too?
  3. Fotor_150779767342711It’s an endurance, not a sprint

    • This is my third event at WAExpo, and I can honestly say it gets better every year. What I have noticed is that year-on-year I have spent more time in Bristol either side of the main event to soak up the atmosphere of such a creative and versatile city, in attempt to reduce the high-impact over-stimulation effect of drop in-drop out, bish bash bosh. Doing just that (my first year’s experience) left me primed for a manic episode, I felt jet-lagged and giddy with inspiration and excitement, and it took me several weeks to calm down.
    • I’ve now learnt to make this event a marathon, not a sprint—because it is high-exhilaration, fuelled with positivity, and the emotional barometer is likely to be swinging from talk to talk, anxiety-flooding to confidence-building drama.
  4. PSX_20171010_151518Learn from someone new

    • WAExpo, held at we the curious, has a plethora of wonderful main event speakers lined up, as well as workshops that take place alongside the main stage. Now, this might sound counter-intuitive because, surely, the mainstage is the prime event, but as a regular, or even someone who is already interested in, and an avid supporter of, many of the ladies giving the main stage talks, I’m also looking to hear from someone I didn’t know of before, or even a new strategy that I could learn from:
    • Having to choose between equally great speakers will likely help you dig deeper into what you’re personally searching for from the event itself.
    • Now here’s the thing, I also stayed on for the Love Her Wild networking event  at the Mud Dock Cafe after the Expo had finished, then I went on to the fundraising Gala Dinner at M-Shed where Mollie Hughes gave her impassioned talk on her second Everest summit attempt. At these two additional events I had the opportunity to speak to more of these very same line-up speakers over food and drinks, so in effect, doubling my opportunity to make the most of the experience and representation from the day’s schedule. Did I mention that the YHA is slap bang in the middle of the we the curious, Mud Dock Cafe and M-Shed sites?
  5. PSX_20171011_144800Pay it Forward

    • The messages that resonated over the weekend were simple to understand, but profound in their meaning: support, encouragement, learning and giving, self-belief, rooting for good causes, and generally being a force for a positive change in the world. Knowing how to do that isn’t straightforward at first glance, but some quotes, specifically from the Adventure with Purpose Panel, might help to start some conversations and thought streams:

“Don’t look at the big picture, look at what you can do (to keep it positive).”

“Don’t do it overnight, make small changes.”

“Just run with it.”

“When one person does it at a time…”

“Rain drops into the sea together.”

“A gentle hug instead of aggressive campaign tactics.”

“Don’t underestimate the impact of grass-roots activism.”

    • By attending the event you never know who you are inspiring over that break-time coffee chat, who will inspire you, what you can learn about yourself and even what you can understand about others. Getting to the event is only one part of the journey, it’s what you take away from it and implement into our only world to make it better for each of us, that is the true power of the Women’s Adventure Expo.

Da iawn Tania, Rebecca, the wonderful volunteers, exhibitors and speakers who made the day special in every, single, way.

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