Blog Map

Meet The Blogger: Kate Stewart

Everest 2017 - Promoting the Extraordinary

Kate Steward rock climbing in preparation for Everest in 2017

This month's Meet The Blogger post is particularly special, as I've known Kate for almost 14 years. We went to secondary school together. It didn't take long for us to become friends, bonding over choir, books (especially Harry Potter), and the fact that we both felt excluded from school sports because we weren't part of the 'popular crowd'. Games lessons soon became something to be dreaded. 

But while I'm still shockingly unfit (hence a number of exercise-related items on my 32 things to do before I'm 30 list), Kate is now something of a fitness wonderwoman, with her eyes set on the highest goal of them all...


Kate Stewart, 25, from Penrith is seeking to summit Everest, the world’s highest mountain (8848m) through two years of fundraising and extreme endurance challenges.  Kate is supporting the National Autistic Society, and has already completed the Lake District 3000ers (Scafell Pike, Scafell, Helvellyn, Skiddaw, linked by 60 miles of cycling) in 19 hours.  On May 16th 2015 she also completed the Fred Whitton cycle sportive (112 miles including all the Lake District passes) in 9 hours 27 minutes.  Her plans for the rest of 2015 and 2016 include an Ironman triathlon, a record attempt for the 3 peaks challenge, and a climb up Aconcagua, the highest peak in South America.

Kate Stewart: Everest 2017

An interview with Kate Stewart: Everest 2017 - Promoting the Extraordinary

Was there a single moment when Everest first reared its head in your imagination? If so, when was it?

Funnily enough, not that I can put my finger on.  Well, I always found physical challenges particularly difficult, but I was more than ordinarily determined to overcome them.  My family went on several skiing holidays as I was growing up, and because of my poor balance and coordination I was always the worst.  I hated the fact that that held me back, when skiing itself was so freeing and gave me an enormous buzz.  I think I’ve always been the kind of person who has to overcome a lot of adversity to feel any sense of achievement. 

There’s a film with Leo Houlding and Conrad Ankre in it, and they free climb the second step of the North face.  “The Wildest Dream”, it’s called.  They go to find George Mallory’s body and for most of the way up they’re wearing hobnail boots and clothes from a century ago.   I’d had a bit of a normal sheltered life up until that point – well alright, my idea of adventurous was maybe walking up Scafell Pike.  I’ve never been able to stand the idea that I’m missing anything, and this got me thinking, wow.  What would it be like to live right out there on the edge, and know you can make it?  Perhaps no dream should be too wild.   

A Bad Blogger's Advice: What Should I Call My Blog?

Advice on choosing a title for your blog - photo from Zadar, Croatia, by Katie @ Second-Hand Hedgehog travel blog

Titles are hard. As in, really really hard.

Naming a blog is like naming a baby: it's tough. And with a blog, you can't even peruse baby naming sites or watch the obscure end of film credits for inspiration.

Just think about it: this is the core of your branding for your blog. 

(A quick aside about branding: ‘branding’ is such a corporate-sounding word, but even if you don’t plan on making your blog a business, and you’re just doing it for fun, it still makes sense to think about branding. Or, if you want to use a different word, identity. It’s about being consistent throughout your site. This helps readers know what to expect and feel like they can get to know you better through the blog, whether those readers are hundreds of thousands of strangers all across the world, or just your mum and the cat. Branding / identity will also help you if you’re ever stuck on what to write or how to say it: you’ll be able to go back to your branding and use it as a means to rethink about the feel and structure of your blog.)

Most, likely, the first interaction that readers have with your blog is seeing what it’s called. Whether you want your blog to be serious and business-like, or dreamy and whimsical, or just a little kooky, your title needs to convey it all. Everything else (visual design, content, tone, images) needs to spiral out from there.

Saturday Beach: Peñíscola

Peñíscola Beach

It isn't for nothing that Mediterranean countries are known for their beaches, and Spain is no exception. This week's Saturday Beach comes from Peñíscola: the town we stayed in on tour as part of St Salvators' Chapel Choir (University of St Andrews). It's also the town where the papal bull was signed in 1413, ratifying the university (hence our visit in 2013: the university's 600th anniversary). Not a bad place to explore!


Saturday Beach is a series of weekly posts celebrating beaches around the world, whether cold and rocky or tropical with white sand. I love water; I love lakes; I love the sea. But most of all I love the edge of it: the boundary between the water and the land; where one thing turns into another. This is my weekly excuse to share that love with you.

32 Things To Do Before I'm 30

A bucket list of things to do before I turn 30 (inspired by thirty things to do before thirty blog posts) - photo by Katie @ Second-Hand Hedgehog travel blog

This started out as a list of 30 things to do before I'm 30 - but since I'm the sort of person who always seems to take on a bit too much and ends up with a ridiculous workload, I've ended up with a list of 32. 

Most people create these lists when they reach a particular milestone (25th and 29th birthdays are understandably the most common), and while I'm still reeling from the slight shock of turning 25, I'm not near a special birthday, or at a particular turning point in my life. At least, not as far as I'm aware. 

But I think that now was the perfect time for me to make this list. As I started to write it, I quickly struggled to think of items to add. Why? I'm floating. Beyond a couple of big ideas, I wasn't sure exactly where I wanted my life to take me. At the moment I'm working week by week, busy Monday to Friday, and then either collapsing at the weekend, or working right back through to Monday again. 

I need to force myself to break that up - that's why I started this blog, after all. I need short-term goals. 

A number of these (the travel ones in particular) are on my Bucket List as well - but not all. Some are features of my lifestyle that I would like to change. Some are simply too small to go on my Bucket List, but are things I would like to achieve all the same. Some are specific to me, but many are goals that anyone could aspire to. 

I hope my 32 things inspire you to create a list of your own. 

32 Things To Do Before I'm 30:

  1. Publish a poetry pamphlet
  2. Write and publish a Mills & Boon style novel (because let's face it - why not?)
  3. Travel to Antarctica
  4. Travel to at least 5 new countries
  5. Visit Lizzie in Barcelona
  6. Visit Jessi in Portland, Oregon
  7. Drive around Iceland's Route 1
  8. Island hopping in the Pacific
  9. Take a solo trip that lasts at least a month
  10. Spend at least a week at the Edinburgh Fringe
  11. Visit Ireland
  12. Road trip the coast of California
  13. Drive a convertible (roof down)
  14. Take a road trip in a camper van
  15. Go on a writing retreat by the sea
  16. Go to a music festival
  17. Order room service
  18. Hold a conversation in Spanish
  19. Climb a mountain
  20. Undertake (and complete) a multi-day walk
  21. Be able to run a mile without collapsing / seizing up / giving up and walking
  22. Do 30 sit-ups in a row
  23. Take a photography course
  24. Bake at least one cake
  25. Knit or crochet something (anything will do)
  26. Make an item of clothing, which is acceptable to wear in public and doesn't fall apart
  27. Own (and have reason to wear) a full length ball gown
  28. Give cards / chocolates / flowers to a stranger / strangers on Valentines Day
  29. Buy a piece of original artwork
  30. Finish reading The Well of Loneliness
  31. Achieve 1000 twitter followers (you can help with this one here)
  32. Glamping
Do you have a list of things to do before you're 30, or 40, or any other significant date? I'd love to see it - share in the comments below! 

Richard III gave battle in... Leicester

White roses at the foot of the statue of King Richard III in Leicester - photo by Katie @ Second-Hand Hedgehog travel blog

When the body of King Richard III was discovered in a car park in Leicester, I (like millions of others the world over) was gripped. 

To begin with, there was the find: the skeleton excavated from the dirt; the faint possibility that this could be Richard; the revelation that, whoever this was, he certainly did have a twisted spine; the realisation of what this monumental discovery might mean.

Then, there was the anxious anticipation, while the forensics ran tests and the skeleton was DNA tested. The world waited with baited breath to see what their findings would reveal. 

What came next was an explosion of excitement: Richard III, perhaps English history's most hotly debated figure, had been found. Some of the questions surrounding him could finally be answered. 

I don't pretend to be an expert on Richard III - far from it, in fact. Most of my knowledge of the king (now affectionately known in Leicester as the 'King in the Car Park') comes from school history lessons and, yes, from Shakespeare. But for those of you not au fait with English history, let me give you a very brief synopsis of the two sides: