Six bikes… Five days… four nights… three great friends… two flights… one boat – and much laughter, amazing adventures enjoyed, and many fantastic memories made.
In the last few years there’s been a host of press about the ‘digital detox’ – meaning a period of time during which a person refrains from using electrical devices such as smartphones, regarded as an opportunity to reduce stress or focus on social interaction in the physical world’. Spanning ‘Digital Minimalism’ books that advocate a 30-day plan to take your life back, the introduction of voice recognition and virtual assistants that have been reported to discretely push technology into the background of our lives, to some tech platforms and their bosses acknowledging the potential negative impact of tech on mental well-being – to the point that some have built in features to track over use – I’d say it’s a good time to experiment with what taking a digital detox means for you.
So, in a world that’s ‘always on’, there’s never been a better time to switch off your WiFi, switch to ‘airplane mode’, or simply to switch your phone and other digital devices ‘off’ completely, and be present with where you are, the environment you are in, the people you are with, and to bathe in nature. For me, this meant meeting up with some cycling friends and exploring the Channel Islands.
Going native in the Channel Islands
I’ve travelled fairly extensively over the past 27 years or so, but nothing prepared me for the stunning beauty of the Channel Islands. Not only it is extremely accessible and easy to get to from the UK, a 50-minute flight from Gatwick to be precise, once you get there everything is on your doorstep. From WWII history of Nazi capture, and tunnels and battlements to protect the coastline, to great places to eat locally caught crabs, moules and other seafood, stunning coastal paths to roam, white sandy beaches to walk on, azure seas to swim in – the islander community has a lot to offer people of all ages.
For me it was real solitude peace and quiet; proper dark nights where you see the stars glow and shine; rosy red sunsets that light up the sky and go on for ever; and the opportunity to spend some quality time with some great friends as they showed me around their native Island of Guernsey and surrounds.
In five days and four nights we truly packed in some epic adventures, giggle fuelled fun and relaxing down time from work – this included climbing down the 200 plus steps to swim in St. Martin’s Bay in Guernsey before dining on scallops for dinner; mountain biking around Alderney, stopping to explore Fort Clonque and several other battlements, the light house and other sights en route before sleeping on the boat moored to a buoy in Braye harbour (that was slightly wobbly); mountain biking around Sark having scooted the bikes to shore on the dingy; cycling on our road bikes in France having moored the boat in Guilette to pedal around Lower Normandy and through a gorgeous town called Bricquebec; then boating back to Guernsey via Herm, a tiny yet beautiful island that we walked around whilst eating ice-cream and admiring the sandy, shell covered beaches. Whilst on the open water, with the waves and swell swirling up around, you truly get a feel for how tiny we are in the world, it sets a new perspective.
Creating communities through cycling and sport
At its core, cycling, a keen interest in adventures by bike (and now boat), and a love of nature, it what formed the foundation of my friendship with Jo and Dan. In the past few years we’ve been on four cycling trips together – we’ve pedalled through the French Alps from Gevena to Nice on the Raid Alpine, ridden the Classic Cols of Gran Canaria, cycled up and down Mont Ventoux a couple of times and around the Verdon Gorge in Provence, and enjoyed the 6 ways in 6 days Tenerife Teide Challenge – all with Marmot Tours. This summer we thought we would mix it up a little, introducing boats, walking and swimming with mountain and road bikes.
Delight in a digital detox and tune in with nature
Our world, and our lives – personal, work and social – are increasingly busy and demanding. In that world, we are constantly ‘on-demand’ by bosses, colleagues, partners, children, family, and often times, if we are not ‘on-demand’ ourselves, we want someone else, or something else (think Netflix, on-demand T.V.) to be ‘on-demand’ for us. There is rarely a time when our phones and other digital devices are out of reach, as they buzz with notifications to grab our attention.
Sometimes I feel guilty for wanting to take a ‘digital detox’ to ‘tune in’ – notice I’m saying ‘tune-in not tune-out’ – to what’s really going on around me. To be present with the environment I’m in and the people I am with, so I enjoy every moment, remaining curious and consciously engrossed in captivating conversation. For me tuning in and being in nature is restorative, it enlightens my spirit and is a must have in my life, as is spending quality time with family and friends – they are all fuel for a happier, healthier, motivated mindset.
When was the last time you gave yourself the opportunity to tune in and delight in a digital detox?