The Kendal Mountain Festival 2017 – Films, Floods and Flying Around…

When the call for the Kendal Mountain Festival came, I was up my backside in builders.  Dust had found its way into every crevice and my lungs were a no go area.  My office was piled high with boxes, but somewhere in the morass, I found my computer and typed that dangerous word – Yes.  Of course I was coming…

I’m not sure how to describe where my life is presently.  The building work is done and I’m just getting some sanity into my home life, but my mind is wandering and unable to concentrate.  My body is exhausted and my skin grafts have suffered the alkalinity of plaster dust.  I’m not a happy bunny.  These are the facts.  Thankfully my experience and decision to Surrender to my Speaking, allowed me to breathe deeply, print off the plethora of notes, prepare at least a little and head north to The Lake District.

Less is certainly more when it come to festivals such as Kendal.  We can run around with our backsides on fire, trying to see every speaker, every film and every interview, but there is so much more to the festival than that.  It’s the people who come that make the festival a living creation.  Films can run to empty rooms, but the audiences bring them to life.  The quality this year was as excellent as ever, and Here are three I personally enjoyed…

Stumped – Disability can be a tag that society places upon people, many who do not class themselves as disabled.  I’ve suffered this myself and its hard to convince others that were just people.  Maureen Beck was born with only one hand and climbs harder than most.  She pushes herself hard and rewards herself with cakes – lots of cakes..!  This film made me laugh, cry and hopefully will make the word understand that we all have differences, but please don’t pity, tag or segregate us.  We’re all human beings…

Denali’s Raven – Ok, so I have a soft spot for Alaska, but here is a lovely short film about families and how they can change our lives.  After working as a mountain guide, Leighan Falley starts a family and decides that guiding is not for motherhood, so she becomes a pilot.  Flying allows her to continue her love for the mountains, but also be a mum with the best baby seat in the skies.  Here the film…

My Big White Thighs, and Me – Whats a gem..!  A simply shot film with a story that many people can relate to.  Hannah Maia is unhappy with her body, particularly her thighs, and after a personal tragedy, she decides to take up all season swimming.  The dips are comical, honest and priceless.  The beauty about this film is the many people can relate to her plight, and could follow her example if they’re brave.  The film ends in joy for Hannah and her Husband with a new adventure…

This modern age of multiple cameras, drones and CGI brings many films full of pumping  music, breathtaking scenery and amazing stunts.  Ok, so they make a good film, but what makes a great film..?  Its quite simple really – a story.  All the digital effects in the world cannot overcome a personal story.  This is not Star Wars..!

Besides the films, I joined Andy Kirkpatrick and Rok Rozman for a Secret Session, and hosted Nick Jordon, Aldo Kane and Megan Hine for an excellent session about ‘The Art of Survival’.  It was certainly a mixed bag, and very entertaining.

Thousands of beaming smiles say it all, as regardless of what people’s egos think, its the people who come to the festival the make it special.  I do worry about the fields of brand new down jackets that fill the town though.  I wonder how many people really get into the hills, or just think it’s a fashion parade..?

Flexibility, skill, stamina and problem solving are what many expeditions are about.  We need to take swift decisions, act upon them, work to our strengths, ask for help and work together to be successful.  Presenting at Kendal is no different.  A strong team, all bringing their skills and talents together, open endless events for the public to enjoy.  Like swans, we may look in perfect control above the water, but we’re paddling non stop for the event.  Its exhausting, but always great fun.

I stayed in the lakes a few days, hoping to clear my lungs, catch up on my sleep and move some more stress from my life.  The weather was wet to say the least, with floods closing roads, but I caught up with good friends, managed a quick ascent up Jacks Rake on Pavey Ark (complete with pouring stream), visited a school that I support in Morecambe and gave a couple of presentations along the way.  Surgery beckons, and so, for now, the adventuring must stop.  I’ll be down to one hand again for a while…

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