On mental health, alcoholism and the power of the Cumbrian fells
November 10, 2021
Harrison Ward, or ’Fell Foodie’ on Instagram wasn’t always running up and down the Cumbrian fells with a stove and the ingredients for a hilltop curry in his rucksack.
Though it’s how he spends most of his days now, it was a tough journey to get there. Harrison tells his story of overcoming years of depression and alcoholism and how eventually, it was the fells that saved him.
Harrison talks about pulling himself out of the depths of darkness and making that first physical and metaphorical step towards recovery. It’s been a good few years since that first Hellvellyn summit and Harrison is passionate about spreading his message and getting more people outdoors. We discuss the power of hillwalking, being outdoors and the joy of cooking in the hills.
Tune in to find out more.
Harrison Ward 0:00
I was suffering sort of depression from quite a young age. And I sort of quite found a lot of solace in alcohol. This really sort of began to snowball at university, to the point where I sort of am was drinking sort of daily in excess of every well at its high novice or 20 pints a day really, I was smoking full time ballooned in weight, a complete life of lethargy.
George Beesley 0:31
Hey, it's George, and welcome to the call to adventure podcast, we are on a mission to help create happier people and a healthier planet. So let's get after it.
Hello, and welcome to another episode of the call to adventure podcast with me, George B. I hope you're all good listeners and watchers. So we're adding lots of 2022 trips, which is very exciting. If you're interested, head over to the site and take a peek. There's loads there. But just to whet your appetite. We've got a week long course in winter mountaineering and the journeys, which I'm going on as well. And I'm super pumped for because that was cancelled last year due to COVID. So we've got three dates for that. Still with a few spaces. We've got some bikepacking in the Peak District that's back for 2022 By popular demand, and we've got a few new trips in the works as well. So if you're keen, head over to the site, sign up to the newsletter, and you'll get booking priority discounts and a chance to win free trips, so head over to call to adventure.uk to sign up that floats your boat. But now on to today's episode, so we'll be chatting with Harrison Ward, aka the Fel foodie is an outdoor cook hiker and mental health advocate. So without further ado, Harrison Welcome to the show. Thanks very much Joe especially having me we've had a few technical difficulties Haven't we making this happen? Few location changes so it's good to finally be here. Now we're live doing it. Absolutely. Yeah, I guess rural issues between these is recorded on the hillside I think
sometimes sometimes should be wandering. Yeah, yeah. Harrison will kick off with a quick fire listener questions. So these are just some favorites that people like just to get the juices flowing. It's quick fire. Just whatever comes into your head. Okay, ready? Got it. What is your favorite cheese? Wednesday though? Why Wensleydale?
Harrison Ward 2:24
I don't know firstly hit on my head in my favor.
George Beesley 2:28
I was on the spot. I really thought I felt way more pressure on them and needed to be denied. There's there's no real rush but what would you go for now if you've got a bit more time to consider?
Harrison Ward 2:37
Oh, I better say something like mass revolution maybe or rock for perhaps? Yes. It felt like Family Fortunes just I think it was a case of I would see it on the screen Yeah, I like cheese. I go with cheese all shoes
George Beesley 2:54
all cheese. Yeah. If you could have any superpower what would it be? Um
Harrison Ward 3:02
George Beesley 3:04
stopping time I don't think we've had that one before what made you go was stopping time
Harrison Ward 3:10
I think so long as I could still move around I mean, Bernard watch was full of mine my year I think it was always fantastic. He could just sort of stop and do what he likes in infinite time and endless Richard back on again. So I'm generally always late to be fair, I suppose that's quite a theme of a of our podcast attempt to so I suppose yeah, stop in time and probably helped me to certain degrees it's yeah, I've already got one superpower of being in touch be able to sleep sleep anywhere and sleep for any sounds but that's a bit of a rubbish one. Really?
George Beesley 3:39
I think that's pretty good superpower to have. I used to have that I remember I fell asleep like standing up on a bus once and afterwards I was just like yeah this is this is a great like superpower to have. I've kind of lost it as I've got older. I don't know why I need I've got some kind of kryptonite around me that doesn't help me sleep anywhere anymore but it's it's a good thing to have right?
Harrison Ward 4:01
I think so. Yeah. Yeah, it's got advantages but it's also got disadvantages well
George Beesley 4:06
yeah when when yeah if you fall asleep too easily Are you are you were sleep through the alarm
Harrison Ward 4:12
absolutely are so few fire alarms Yeah, so that's what I mean it's it's it's been more of a curse than anything it's an even out in the wild in babies have been really cold conditions are still sleeping in the morning. That's fine. You know just That's it just just shuts off or hibernation.
George Beesley 4:28
That's our That's That's it. That's such good power to have. What about in a hammock? If you're Have you ever slept in a hammock and it's like windy and not very warm and the wind is just like on your back? I think they call it something in the hammock can community it's called like ice bomb or something. Right? Would you just go not not bother you? Even if it's like freezing cold, really windy, just straight out to sleep.
Harrison Ward 4:53
It's a very niche scenario. But yeah, I'd imagine that probably would be fine. I mean, the closest coolness Rose is being on the hilltop in the snow I guess that's that's that's a similar I guess you've got the cold the snow on your back already wind as well. Yeah but you haven't got the rocking motion have you so but that made me just answer it that'd be just sort of sleeping baby yeah
George Beesley 5:14
yeah I realized that it sounds very random me choosing that example but that's because that's one of the worst night's sleep I've ever had was in Mexico and I had salmonella for about eight weeks at this point I didn't know that I had it and we had been down at sea level and it was really warm like 30 degrees and then we decided to go into the mountains 1000 meters up maybe a bit higher altitude and then I hadn't really packed accordingly because I'm I'm quite a hot person so I still just had my shorts t shirt and not really a lot of warm clothes and there was sick and I just been really really ill at night puking my guts up and not not good not good times and then got back into the hammock and then it was freezing cold and I just had like a T shirt on and some shorts so I was thinking would you power through this like even a scenario that pad which which is the background to the story
Harrison Ward 6:07
so far is so fun, but I'm hoping we can put the listeners off already at this stage for cheese choices now and now salmonella sickness but it's I mean I suppose if I was cooking I would hope that I wouldn't be suffering from salmonella so I definitely have a bad night at that job. That does sound pretty horrific so I think anyone would struggle to sleep through this
George Beesley 6:25
good could get out Yeah, like that. Okay, last one. Who would you be stranded on a desert island with
Harrison Ward 6:32
oh, that's can't be a quick fire on that and that's going to be going to think of that for a while surely.
George Beesley 6:38
We'll get we'll wait we'll wait
Harrison Ward 6:42
for someone who's very dependent someone who's an expert on the island with Virgin maybe, yeah, yeah. Then we could cook up some nice food and they'd know the threats to hand the fruits and veg off of that island I think would be a good expert to have.
George Beesley 6:57
Yeah, yeah. Nice. Okay, so let's kick off with fel foodie. Where did the now I mean sounds fairly self explanatory for people that know you. But for people that don't how did how did fellow foodie come about Where did the name come from?
Harrison Ward 7:12
So it was all myself. So we dug myself initially, I guess it was it was me creating a bit of a pseudonym, I guess an anonymous entity. I didn't really share who I was my first social channels. So I came up with this name. Basically, I'm I'm a Cumbrian. So in this sort of area we call the hills fells. Again, I don't think it transfers very well. South people just think maybe I've fell over or something that way. But I guess that derives. Usually, I guess the Scandinavian sort of fell into fells in this area and in foodie I went for, just because it's less pretentious term for gastro, though, really. So it's, it sort of summed up the fact that I was from this area. I was enjoying the hiking, and I also looked at food. So the fellow foodie was when I went with,
George Beesley 7:51
is it true? So your real name Harrison Ford know your real names? Not Harrison Ford. Your real name is Harrison ward. So hard not to say that when I was doing the intro. I was like Don't say Harrison Ford. Is it true that you're named after Harrison Ford?
Harrison Ward 8:04
Very true. Yeah, it was my dad's idea. He had plans and maybe a nickname Indy or Indiana at school. Thankfully, that never happened. But yeah, as you've just done then the slipped up a bit of a Freudian slip or maybe a Beasley slip. It's yeah, it's been one of those have been Harrison Harrison Ford has often been a lot of being called that many times. I suppose also having to to surnames most people say as well. They always ask what's your first name when you go and Harrison? First name. But yeah, so it gets it gets you in some conversations anyway. I think it's a good icebreaker.
George Beesley 8:35
Yeah. So what about your journey into the outdoors? Can you give us the the cliff notes on how you went to getting into the outdoors and becoming the fell foodie?
Harrison Ward 8:47
Absolutely. Yeah. So I mean, like I mentioned, I was born born in Cumbria and from this region. So again, quite a rural area. You know, the beautiful Lake District is on the doorstep, I'm just from just outside the latest, it's a bit further north. But really sort of neglected the outdoors growing up didn't really embrace it too much. Just saw them just as fellows didn't really enjoy them didn't sort of go up there quite an active lifestyle growing up, I guess, but but again, still really wasn't embracing that side too much. And moved away for a while to University in New York, and sort of went through a bit of a different sort of life life element there. And without going into too, too deep with the Cliff Notes, all element, I guess I was suffering from depression from quite a young age, few sort of puberty and I sort of quite found a lot of solace in alcohol, and sort of age 18 This really sort of began to snowball at university, to the point where it sort of was drinking sort of daily, in excess of every well at its high novice or 20 pints a day really, I was I was smoking full time I ballooned in weight, a complete life of lethargy, so there was no sort of outdoors in that element. I live like that. So I was about 25. And then sort of got a bit of a bit of an awakening moment, I guess, during the breakdown of relationship. So I came back to Cumbria. I was very honest with what I've gone through. I've kept it a secret for those years. So good sort of maybe 12 years by that points basically announced publicly to all sorts of friends and family on sort of my personal Facebook at the time and what I've gone through with these issues. And while come back to Cumbria and I was inundated with support for many avenues that are very sort of thankful for a lot of people came and sort of basically reached out and tried to take me on different sort of activities that weren't sort of around the drinking sort of culture anymore. So I was taken out and sort of bike rides again, out sort of walks you in about and then one friend said we're going to go for a hike and you don't really know what to expect at the time I didn't really get me I didn't really do a lot of as a kid so I didn't really prepare very well again, I was quite too much money to my name and the kids had sort of drank drank almost sort of money away in those previous years. And yeah, just on the pair of old trainers that had to handle it in a pair swim shorts in the gym probably went down the pub on a Friday night a friend took one look at me said he can't go out like that. So he swung by an outdoor store on the way to the lakes then grabbed me a pair of boots, which was a really can't gesture and really sort of started the journey off and and that was it sort of frogmarched blencathra Two weeks after sort of basically peeling myself off of a bar or probably a floor more likely from York and was marched up to the top was quite a quite a sort of our unhealthy individual pints or for my ex I guess go through all sorts of alcohol withdrawal, you know, stopping smoking and to stand at my feet one foot after the other go into the top. So it wasn't the best introduction, I guess to the outdoors. But it sort of began this whole journey of of a turnaround and a bit of an awakening moment. So yeah, that was the first one got to the top and we've I could even take your breakfast or looks at me and said, Well, we're doing Helvellyn next week, so it was the same again the following week and marched off from the film side, straight to the top of Helvellyn. It was really sort of that moment I think reaching the top of that of that fell that looking across downs Australian edge that obviously, I'm sure people are quite ofay with any listeners here have been select districts. Yeah, really felt like a new addiction was really bought me that day in new love. And I just love that sort of sense of endorphin hit, I got happiness, achievement. And also, I guess, the whole physical manifestation, it sort of felt with my struggle, personally, that had to go through this uphill struggle of headed up the mountainside and pushing on through not knowing what was ahead. But you know, having to push further forward into what was the hardest element rather than backing out and going back down again. So that began it sparked that new love and really went from there. So marched on mountain to mountain, many more mountains in the lake districts snowed and followed Ben Nevis followed. And then yeah, that's sort of the field element started to emerge and this new passion. So I'd always always love food that was recently that's been there from a very young age. And initially, I was taking sort of quite extravagant packed lunches out with me into the Fells as I went, many sort of jealous and onlookers that are having their soggy clingfilm sandwiches. And someone suggested that I get a stove and actually maybe start cooking out there from scratch. It's a bit of a tongue in cheek joke at first, but not to share it and challenge it was exactly what I did. And that love of the felt that love of food merged. And that was that was another the outdoors and, and fell through the beginning.
George Beesley 12:57
Really cool story. That's awesome. What do you think it was that brought you out of the kind of depression? Or what what was it that the the thing that I'm thinking about is a say that like wisdom is where you can learn from other people's experience, right? Where you don't need to go through maybe hitting rock bottom? Or whatever it is? Is there something that you think can bring on the epiphany or the new type of behavior without having either somebody else to help you or to really reach rock bottom?
Harrison Ward 13:32
Difficult one difficult and well, well worded question as well, it's, for me, I think that that for me was that was the only way I could sort of break out the cycle, I was in really hitting that rock bottom phase, I think, especially with the alcohol. So I'd have far fallen with that. I mean, I was a daily drinker, I was really pumped at this stage, it really was my sole focus and control in life that initially I used a sort of a medicine for my mind. But that quickly became a poison and threw me into a deeper hole. I don't think I could have escaped that without hitting rock bottom. And if he had come to that realization, I think there'd been moments before of intervention and stuff. And to me, I was quite stubborn. That was the way I was sort of going through things handling my own mind, I guess. And also just existing, really existing and going through each day. Again, I suppose stopping time, I always stop in time by just drinking my life away, just drink into oblivion. But for rivers, again, I think it's a huge step again, that suffer in silence thing that just not doing that at all. I mean, that's something that I did for years and years, never really reached out to anybody didn't want to be a bird and not wanting to sort of put my thoughts on anyone else to put a downer on. And the minute I've been sort of output from this journey, I've had the opposite experience I've had people just really putting phone support or they're throwing other bits of opportunities and reaching out for help I think is a huge huge thing to do before hitting that rock on stage I'd say but also in that I think just just little steps I think little steps really add up I think you can't get to these you know, can't get to the top of a mountain without making that first ride and again, little steps really added up and I was always someone who, I guess was quite I'm insecure about outside opinions what people would think about stuff for me. Now it's quite overweight. At one point again, when I sort of started running or going to the hills, I didn't want to look into it. I was blown up my house, really. But it was, it was something that I think as time went on, I beckoned down all the sort of Avenue where, you know, those little steps. If I was making those, then at least it's one more step than the person sat at home on the sofa. So for me, I think little steps do add up and not to think that you can't start small. But yeah, it definitely will translate really, because I think, for me, personally, rock bottom was, was the turnaround. I wasn't ready to make that change before I hit that point. Yeah.
George Beesley 15:38
Do you think that because you've, you've been there? Do you think that people need to want to help themselves to be helped? Because it's often something that you hear right you, they say that if somebody is kind of family member or friend is really struggling with something, and they're in trouble, a lot of people will say, Well, you can't help them until they can help themselves. And I don't know that I believe that I think that there are some things that you can do to help nudge people in directions that they maybe wouldn't have gone without you kind of pushing them that way. But I'd be really keen to hear what do you think do you think somebody can be helped to, doesn't really want to be at that point?
Harrison Ward 16:18
I think there's two angles to this one, really, I think I'm thinking of this one from from both the alcoholic angle. And the depression angle. Really, I think those two coincided, maybe one brought the other into our life, but to act quite differently, I think. So in terms of the intervention side with the alcohol side of thing, I firmly believe that the person has to want to make that change. When it comes to activism. I can look back now I didn't really see that at the time, but moments of attempted intervention with me and all it did was pushed me further to the bottle, we resent those people that tried to get in my way, and tried to get between me and my vice. I guess at the time it wasn't wasn't an aggressive thing as such, I'm certainly not physically. But the what I basically do is just to shun it to my head, and just basically go and drink myself further into that pit. I can see that now looking back on those attempts. But at the time, I just saw myself as a heavy drinker, it was just a naysayer, you know, whether it be a family or friend it was going off ba you know, it's just it's just it's not an issue. I don't see it as an issue. So I use it as an issue. The mental health side, I think maybe different. I think there's moments where, you know, people if they're asked how you are, again, it's always the asked why sort of thing? People say No, I'm fine. But you asked twice, perhaps sometimes that guard drops a little bit, and more comes out. And I think certainly you can provide more help. And seeing that you can maybe see some more symptoms. But But once again, we've mental health I mean, we become sort of experts at hiding behind a mask or so putting that mask on putting that front on where you can was quite highly functioning in both avenues as someone suffering from mental illness and from alcoholism, where it might not always be the person you expect. I think sometimes it can come back quite a surprise to the person who's maybe quite extroverted and out there and sort of quite good talk to anybody then perhaps, is suffering from these things in silence themselves when they're back in their own company. But yeah, I'd say that from the both angles, alcoholism, from my experience, I don't think they can make that change that they really wanted to the intervention stage. I get a lot of people asking me these days, you know, maybe movers resumes or partners, asking about the girlfriend or the boyfriend, how they can intervene. And unfortunately, I'm quite honestly that and I think it's got a student's deepest point, I think it has to be someone that inside they have to make that change themselves.
George Beesley 18:26
So the outdoors is is an avenue that a lot of people who we've talked with on the podcast have found as a really good way of a coping mechanism, or just a way to build momentum or self confidence. And you touched on that a little bit before, but what is it that the outdoors does for you? And for people that maybe don't have mates or into the outdoors? How would you recommend that they go and start getting into it? Yeah, it's
Harrison Ward 18:54
a huge part. For me. Now, it's a key part of my lifestyle. It's something that again, in sort of the recent months, we've had sort of the lock downs and various bits through COVID, that it's it almost feels has been stripped back again slightly, and almost losing access to him. And I'm very lucky to be in this sort of area of the lake districts. I'm in no way compare myself to those who've been sort of cooped up in the cities during that time. But it was still also seen as something that you shouldn't be outside too long or again, he had lots of mountain rescue in the area saying he shouldn't be up in the hills in case of injury, which I completely understood and respected. And it almost felt as if he was taken away slightly. So it's something that very much has cemented itself with me as something that's a key part of my life these days. And certainly that is, as you mentioned, a huge coping mechanism for me. And what I see as a vise these days, it's it again, I think a lot of times I think we always look for things that basically we just want to be happy, right? So I think it's whether or not that's true, you know, adrenaline seekers or the outdoors or people might see it for jokes, that short term here or alcohol. It just gets you to that point of just being happy and forgetting your issues in life for a moment. Obviously, there's the unhealthier consequences to some of those over relevance, but the outdoors, for me has been one of those that I found that it's been pretty much a pure sort of relaxation tool and a therapy in a way. I mean, it's all about eco therapy, don't they get out there and sort of thing. And I think it's a huge, huge thing that we've neglected quite a bit. I think in modern life, I think I think we are designed to be out there for you initially, as humans, I think that primal aspect is still there. And just being out in the elements, you know, in the summer, we do get it. So rare occurrence in the north, but you know, we embrace it. We embrace it when it comes. But just being out there again, and the sights and sounds and being aware and backing that sort of natural landscape that we're used to, I think it's, it has a huge, huge effects on physical and mental well being for me, so I can completely understand why others have had similar tales of finding that sort of therapy either in the outdoors. Because ultimately, I think it's just where I'm meant to be.
George Beesley 20:50
Absolutely, I think it's very unnatural, the way that we live. Now. There's lots of great things about modernity and having food in the supermarket and heating and all that good stuff. But it comes at a cost, right, we have to have to keep it balanced.
Harrison Ward 21:03
Absolutely. It's creating that hybrid, isn't it again, as mentioned before, we wouldn't have those, those nice cheeses perhaps on off. Because if I'm conscious I appreciate the the irony of statements that
George Beesley 21:17
Harrison any favorite spots in the UK, or the Lake District anywhere that really holds a special place in your heart that you just absolutely love.
Harrison Ward 21:26
There's been a few people often ask about sort of your favorite sort of mountains or fells and whatnot to head up. And for me, they all come from sort of different different angles, I guess, or different relationships with them at the time, whether it be those initial first steps into that huge life turn around, obviously, they'll always hold a key key part of my life as first three, blencathra, Helvellyn and scaffold pike you know, each one followed each other week by week, but then also it depends on being with at the time there's so much I've had you know, walks with company that has really held a fine fine sort of place in my memory from being there, or very taking a particular sunset at the time. We're having a nice meal on the top that maybe I've cooked or enjoyed with that view. So I find it quite difficult to choose a place based on just its location. But more about actually what the memories hold at the time for there. So lakes wise, I'm still discovering elements I've never lived here you know, five years growing up in Cumbria my life, there's still secret pockets, you just keep discovering these areas. So for me, yeah, I think it's different every time it just depends on the levers differently, the sunsets different. I just yeah, enjoy being out there, wherever it may be.
George Beesley 22:30
Yeah, the lakes is such a good spot, isn't it? It's like being transported to a different world. Especially from I live in structure. And we have kind of little hills and they still nice, like very beautiful, but then you just get there. And it's like, so exciting. I love it such a good spot. Any tips for people who want to try wild camping? So it's kind of a thing that is becoming more and more popular. And we have I think probably caveated wild camping to death. So I don't think we need to labor the point. But for people that want to give it a go. So you're going for your first bivy any top tips?
Harrison Ward 23:04
Yeah, resources. I've done myself hugely for too long. I guess initially, I I found sort of tips from from peers and things on social media initially about how to sort of get involved again, I sort of camps as a kid, I guess, but mainly on the campsite side of things as far as they were rural areas. So it had the element of wilderness I guess to a certain degree but but the walkathon element in the natural mountains, for me, again, that's experienced a lot of I think there's love being out there again, be really at war, being back out there into the stars, again and cooking those nice meals I do as well, which I think really adds adds to the experience. And it heightens that for me I wouldn't be heading up there and sort of enjoying what goes on in the bags or pot noodles personally. But so that's just me. Yeah, I think it's an experience that people should should take in. But also I think likewise there's there's there's responsibility to it, you know, it's something that isn't technically legal in the in sort of this area. And it isn't sort of dark law in the UK. But there's this talk, some of you change that at the moment. But it's something that a blind eye is turned by providing sort of certain rules are sort of followed, if you will. So for me, I think it's the key one there is really leaving no trace, I think if you're out there, or leaving that environment as as you found it, and also respecting others that around you again, you shouldn't be heading up there and pitching a tent in the middle of the Fells in the middle of the day, in a being sort of a big eyesore, especially if you've got one of these, you know, glorious fluorescent tents, that's, you know, bright red or pink in the middle of the hillside. I mean, it's, it's then sort of becoming a blight on that sort of actual view that people are then taken out while they're in the hills. It's not part of the natural landscape. But again, so it's all about sort of pitching up late, leaving no trace and leaving early in the morning again. So again, you don't want to be sort of almost treat it as if you're sort of on the road, I guess you know, and you don't also I don't want to find you in Europe there and you just sort of enjoying the moment and not really wanting to disturb both wildlife, the environment and any any people that might be around so, but I enjoy that aspect of it just it's just that escapism again, just heading out there. And it's so different to again, the sort of modern life that we can experience quite stressful elements sometimes people in the jobs rushing around. For me, it's all about slowing down again and just being out there and be exposed to those bits, you know, and also accepting a little bit of the uncomfortable nature of it as well sometimes where it can be in there with the weather or as you mentioned, if the winds really blowing you back, not sparing you in the tents, if you've got the sort of suitable on there, I've got suitable equipment, but in the Bay region, okay can be sort of, you know, you might not get much sleep out there sort of thing, or you might be sort of packing down in the rain the next morning, but, again, I think that's a good thing to always put yourself in this position sometimes to experience a little bit of uncomfortable this on the roller coaster is really sort of living so but yeah, certainly around recommend to people. But yeah, just just be respectful for the only really respectful for rivers that are out there. Everyone should enjoy it and be able to keep enjoying it.
George Beesley 25:43
Yeah. Well said Leave no traces is what it's all about. People are interested, there is an article. Well, it's a very long one, I think it's something like 8000 words that I wrote everything about, right. I know about wild camping, probably way too many words, but some people might want to read it. It's all in sections, it's well formatted. So if you just want to say a bit about gear, or places to go all that kind of stuff, then that might be of interest to some people. So you
Harrison Ward 26:09
could blow by blow account of each page going into the ground.
George Beesley 26:12
Yeah. But back in a cold winter's more 1989. For my first world night coming, now, I think I've probably cut it down a lot since then, that was the first spew of just everything. And it's got things like kind of mini gear reviews, camping in different places, winter camping, things like that. So I quite like to just have like one resource with everything in that you could just go back to, but it's could probably do. I mean, there's lots of other little shorter ones that we write, like, you know, specifically about gear, so certainly not, it's good, but a bedtime reading. I think you could get through that over over a few days, while I'm
Harrison Ward 26:51
speaking now. Just Just ignore what I said, I think can read that thing. That sounds like a much more extensive description.
George Beesley 26:57
But it's always good to hear people's people's thoughts on it. And I don't think I've got anything in there about fluorescent tents. So they don't take your rave 10? I don't know. Well, we'll have to have a look. We'll add that as well. Okay, that last one. And there's Harrison before we jump into cooking. So why do you think your story has resonated so well with people?
Harrison Ward 27:18
Who else has us the horrors that I mean? That's that's not really for me to say, I don't think it's something that, for me, I just put it out there was was something that I could never imagine doing back when I was in my darkest sort of days really, really big moments where I didn't even want to be here. And he didn't want to be sort of exist anymore. And I often sort of have that realization. Now I think when they're talking about it, whether it's publicly on sort of stages, or through corporate talks, or even just on social media that this is so far removed from something that I did in the past. It's a bit beggars belief, really, but for me, hard, hard to say. But resonating wise, I think because there's there's many people who do suffer from this, I think I think they're alone all the time. So I think sometimes just having an out there, perhaps as a voice for the voiceless to a degree, I think he's something that people sometimes pick up on, and perhaps can see similarities and think, you know, yeah, it's not just me going through that as well. And resonating that degree. But it's always been such way that I share on the purpose of trying to help an event these days, for me, it's if it can help somebody else, go through those struggles, take a step into maybe a more positive Avenue or out that sort of Groundhog Day syndrome that they can be in, then that makes my struggles all the more worthwhile that I've gone through in the past. So again, sometimes I think it can be beating the same drum I've got, you know, as a few friends sort of joke that it's almost, you know, you're you're sort of selling the same story over and over. But it's, to me, I think, again, it's it's not always about those that maybe heard at the one time, it's about the new person who perhaps and that needs to hear it at that particular time that's going through a particularly difficult period. And maybe yeah, just just realizing that they're not alone and not to suffer in silence. And that there is there is hope on the other side. And I could never imagine being here. I didn't didn't think I'd be getting this far in life. There's to this age to this degree. I couldn't see, you know mo about drinking my hand at one point. And you know, the idea of walking into a hillside would have been that last year at the pool. It's really It's so far removed. So it just shows what can happen. And again, for me, it was all quite intense and quite confined into a year. It was it was a huge change from a year from that from that first day. The sixth of June 2016 was the day our vows leave our code behind. I felt like I'd become someone I wasn't you know, I had been unfaithful to someone I loved at the time. And I realized that I wasn't trying to win them back on that initial moment. But I found myself into a world of fitness for the cigarettes in the been tried to lose all this weight I put on and Yeah, little by little again, there's that first little blank Kaffir Hello felons scaffold pipe. By the end of the year. I've been snowed in seven months later and Nevis and 11 months down the line I was lying to for the start of a marathon and Within one year, a complete chameleon change. I mean, those looking from the outside people who've known me for from both sides must have Mr. super bizarre time to see me going through that that particular phase of, but it to me, if you can say anything that shows what is possible to the change, it's never too late to make that change. And that so much can change in that short period of time. So that's why I keep sharing in the hope that somebody else has made me thinks there isn't a way out. can ever see that there is?
George Beesley 30:27
Well, yeah, I think you summarized it beautifully. But the fact that it's never too late is, I think, for me, part of the reason why your story resonates. And then such a quick turnaround thing. It's very inspiring, because it lets us all know that it's very easy to get into living life and associating yourself as being this person. But knowing that you've got that freedom to always reinvent yourself, I think is really inspiring, which is why it's great to share your story. Thank you. So let's get on to cooking. I'm really interested to dig into cooking actually, because I just don't really know, I'm not a great cook got a few few dishes down, like mainly kind of barbecue salmon. And, and not that many more things. My girlfriend's an amazing cook. So she loves to cook so she cooks everything, but how I'm I'm intrigued, I would love to kind of get into it. How did you get into cooking?
Harrison Ward 31:24
So cooking has been sort of the passion that I can recall the longest really, for me, it's been something that while my earliest memories has been sort of, you know, I suppose been around food. Luckily, when my grandmother growing up, I was the oldest of the families of all the cousins, I was first born and was often sort of spent down and basically put to work I guess, being the older, being the older of the of the grandchildren. So always chipping in always helping. But I love the fact that it brought people together and it brought the rounds around the table or be around the barbecue around that campfire feel food just brought people together. And again seen it from different sort of cultures and different avenues as well, that seemed to be always the theme, the fact that it was always a big occasion for whether it be a village with a family or, or friends. Things always revolved around food. So that was a big, big politician and a big initial Kickstarter to the passion. But then also the flavors are things I guess I enjoyed eating the food, too. So that was, that was a nice bit. But those little bits of get to those first initial tastes, just sparked that sort of, I guess, intrigue of what comes next. And what can you pay with this and experimentation. And so I quite quickly began to really become a bit of a scholar to it, I guess I'd watch a lot of cooking programs, even as a child reading cookbooks, I didn't read a lot of sort of fictional books, or even what sort of children's television I was just religiously watching cooking shows and then picking a little bit and, and always wanted to explore different cultures, different ingredients, whether it be the restaurants that we had, sort of in Carlisle, and stuff, which, which wasn't too diverse, on its aspects. And this sort of area, but still embracing that and just seeing what other people maybe grew up with, and what was their sort of childhood meals grown and what they go for. So loving that and experiments sort of further. And just as the years went on, having more access to it, I guess and pick it a little bit more, just constantly researching, and I suppose being a scholar to this degree. So that's where it began a very young age. So and also I worked quite a lot in hospitality trade, too. So I've got my first job in a pub, I think I'm 1212 13 When I got my job there sort of thing. So I've always been quite a large bill, even for my age at that point. So I managed to sort of tell them I was a bit older than I was get the job in their stuff get to work and spend my time why is it wasn't getting put to work by my ground sort of in the kitchen that way sort of a washing up all around the oven, it was now finding work from a young age and instead of pub, so just began sort of pop washing in the back of the kitchens. And again, I wouldn't really say it was any any sort of QC in the place I was in at the time. But even so you pick up little bits from there pick up different recipes and elements. And that progressed into sort of going into wasting arm in slightly older age to behind the bar to little spells of covering kitchen absences and chefs that maybe moved on and job vacancies and also working with many people in the industry and just picking their brains and I was listening I think and just find out different elements from different people. So being the listener rather than always typing in too much. But yeah, that's been a been a big way of how I've got into into food and something that's really became a staple throughout my life.
George Beesley 34:28
Very cool. So you mentioned a few things like becoming kind of a student watching cooking programs, but for people like me who are rubbish at cooking, but would like to get better. What would you recommend as like the few things to do? Do you have any specific books that are really good? Or any specific programs or what do you think? What do you think I should do? What advice would you give me a few like wanting to teach me to cook in a few weeks?
Harrison Ward 34:55
A Crash Course.
George Beesley 34:56
Harrison Ward 34:58
Maybe I should write a late fall. and maybe about about this video kind
George Beesley 35:03
of if we will post it Sure. People will see it. Yeah, let's do
Harrison Ward 35:09
one of those. But it's difficult in terms of, I guess there's no particular one book I'd say to go straight to and pick up. Again, like anything, I think it's a lot of practice. It is like practicing these things, as soon as they come to hand straight away. It can be elements of sort of naturalistic things. But in terms of cooking, I think it's, it's experimenting with flavors and putting things together. It's a bit like chemistry and awareness is where you sort of, you're putting different components together working out what's working with with what reacts for certain bits and bobs started off over with the barbecue, for example, me like that sort of aspect. That's, that's initially was my first foray into sort of outdoor cooking. It's often the bit result and yes, people in the traveling outdoor cooking, so don't go no, no, I haven't. But, you know, we've all had barbecues in that garage or thing again, not not too often in this country, because it can be they don't often have the weather, but it's, it's certainly the we've generally enjoyed and especially maybe more or blokes wise as well. I mean, you're not certainly breaking the stereotypes there. But let me get off and do all the cooking, but it's
George Beesley 36:05
I'm not allowed to do any cooking. Admittedly, because I'm rubbish. But yeah, so
Harrison Ward 36:11
I suppose that you just give it up, you're not you're not giving it a go. You're not sure if I could
George Beesley 36:15
do more. You're right. I, it's kind of hard to think some ways, when you're really really busy, you have to pick the things that you want to do, right. And I have a couple of jobs and then love climbing surfing, I like to do yoga work out and go and see mates and and then go in to do some bike packing mountain biking. So there's only so many things that you can fit in the day, I feel like cooking is something that I'd really like to do when I get a bit older. I mean, it sounds mental at like 32 Doesn't it just like you if you haven't heard, I mean, I can cook a few things. But you know what I mean? Like really delve into it as a as a foray and go like down the rabbit hole. Because I tend to get quite obsessed with things once I get into it. So I can't really do it just a little bit. But cooking. I mean, it's it's something that brings people together everybody loves most people love food all around the world. It's been from like traveling different places has been a great way to connect with people, and they love sharing food with you. And it's like one of the most special things when you meet somebody, even if you can't speak the same language as them. They'll invite you in for dinner, and then you will have some chicken soup and everybody's hunky dory. So it's it's it's got a real magical power food
Harrison Ward 37:30
100% 100%. But I think you touched on it there. And in terms of the whole the time aspect, I think that's a big thing you often hear there's sort of convenience factor of things that it's easy to pick up something on the go or get even in the outdoors, whether it be those sort of dehydrated meal packs and things that again, are not often there, because they no more flavor. So you know, this was the lightweight element to them, which I completely get. And they do have their place, of course in more in big expeditions and things where I think they are essential for for survival and the access to those things. But generally, it's a convenience factor, isn't it? I think it is that time and other people think it's something that they can cut out. Rather than go with. For me, it's always been quite a priority. So I don't like to sort of skimp on my food in any sort of way. I've never been sorted really being a big fast food. It's all other sort of things. I'll always try and produce nicer bits because it tastes nice, and it's more nutritious for us. So I think it's where you put it on your priority list sometimes. But again, if you mentioned you quite busy that sort of way I probably suggest I reckon is is more sort of batch cooking record. Again, rather than sort of spending all that time we've maybe done it as far as ready meals, or if it's just the things you feel if it's
George Beesley 38:37
a meal meals, she's ready meals now allergic to ready meals.
Harrison Ward 38:41
Well, that's good, that's good. That's one step at least, maybe you sort of pre made sort of knew that. So you enter stage two, but it's
George Beesley 38:48
where she makes everything but she's a polish and a mother's an amazing chef. So there's no buying any pre made anything. It's always working everything so that so that's why I also can't really get in on it because it's like a three hour Joby to make pierogi or you know, yeah. But I mean, taste tastes great, but so batch cooking was one thing that you mentioned, but how about any other meal tips? Like if I was going to try some things for myself, what would be a few good dishes for me to try to go and cook a fiver say spending a night out?
Harrison Ward 39:21
Well, usually how I start is by saying you're to serve in the Cook quite often in the kitchen and start there. But that's a bit of a struggle review is just it's you know, I suppose you could start with that sample affiliate you mentioned maybe but then it's not it's a compromise that surely that's just going to go on with quite a quite a paleo diet I guess in a way is it just meet me just they're meeting our plates. Yeah, it's a start. It's a start, but it's for me, Jimmy that's how that's how I would go I'd go I do see it as more as dehydrated sort of element is sort of the one stage or it could be one of those, you know, cup of soup. So even couscous kind of thing that a lot of people do come to and can be good accompaniments to be fair, and a good light with options. multi day, things like that can complement fresh food as they go. But it's taken that stage forever. And I think there's different bits where you can cut corners and little bits where you could be preparing events and packing them out into your head out first. Or you can even be preparing the source at home, or even have the girlfriend prepare the source in your case, and packing that out with you just to reheat when you're out in the outdoors. That's one set, there's one step into sort of fresh food where you just reheating it to a degree but it's still a nice fresh meal rather than a dehydrated sort of element. And you can even throw in bits of that like carry sort of dried passes your dried raisins, which don't have that water weight to them. So you still got a slightly wet element for longer distance. That's initial sort of start as a beginner steps into it. And as you go further along, I guess it will take for me personally, I like to prepare things as much as I can on location. So I sometimes head out just for cook as you move or climb. But I'd head out sort of just to do that to taking maybe the sunset, enjoying that sort of Alfresco experience. I love the primal element to the fact that we initially began cooking over fire, sort of ancestrally. And as that sort of developed and refined divorce, you know, clay ovens and cooking Underground's and more kitchen setups, we have now taken those more refined recipes elements back into their roots, where they came from. So that primal element is what I really that's what I like to see the connection with. At that end of the day, I think it's slowing down and taking in those views and having that sort of quiet mindful experience to have sitting there and just chopping all the bits off and building that dish together slowly but surely whilst out in that environment. But I guess maybe those who don't like cookie, maybe don't don't get that same appreciation for that sort of mindfulness and shopping. I mean, I'm quite happy to sit there prepping away that would be so though yes, there is the the idea that you've got to carry this stuff up there for furnish, which could be obviously hasn't a few more bits to it. For me, I see it as it's, you know, it's more well earned calories. To be fair, I think when I get there, I can eat, I can eat all the food I enjoy at the top because I've been carrying this big heavy pack to the top of the field. So that initial steps I'd say and then I guess if you go right the way through to sort of the final sort of stages in after anything from sort of baking breads out there from scratch to even sort of making my own passes sources from fingers. Wow, even taking things the full way. And we one of the most sort of complex issues I do Kassadin components wise is probably sort of like a katsu curry from scratching the hillside. So again, that was you know, taking all the chicken bread and it all sort of been a wash flour, bread crumbs, shallow frying that again, packing the oil back out, leaving no trace, as always, but also the sort of sticky rice elements, and then the source real bullets are down, refining that to the full element. And then of course, finishing with my garnish, which of course I appreciate a bit of a bit of a first side, but I like to I like to have that aspect of it looking nice for me too. I mean, it's just, I don't know, I
George Beesley 42:40
just, it's amazing. It's like blowing my mind because I've never seen anything like it. Like it's so different to and I love the idea of taking all this stuff in there and going to cook specifically like not prepping as much as you can at home. Like going for a sunset and cooking out there. I can imagine it being like really meditative. And like very stilling just like listening to you chopping carrots like looking out on an amazing view. It sounds really, really cool. I might have to join you on my first one. But
Harrison Ward 43:10
absolutely, yeah. offers to join me join inundated with offers to come but they never offered to carry into the gear but they always enjoy us in the mail. But, but I'm sure we can, we can get you remember, we do a bit of a beginner's guide, maybe it was sort of safe enough to start you off. Maybe you can refine the recipe and you can take that back and impress your girlfriend, so
George Beesley 43:28
that'd be great. Let's definitely do that. Yeah, come up to the legs. And we'll do it. And the last one in it. You mentioned the kind of gear, if somebody's looking to get into it, what gear recommendations do you have? Yeah, so
Harrison Ward 43:40
as you probably gathered already, I'm not the person to ask if you want any lightweight options or not. That's not something that I go through. Generally, for me, if I get it in my backpack, I'll take you up the hillside or take it on the walk. I think it's not, it's not an element for me or skimping on elements whether in the food or be the equipment. So a lot of people that generally packed really small burners and things just sort of boil the water up again, the dehydrated meals. So again, if you're that sort of aspects and you quite stupid, typically guns, you're not really working to branch any further from that, then, you know, I think I'm not really putting much of a case together here. And I understand that's fine, different ways of doing things for different adventures. But for me, I think initially obviously, key component is that heat source whether or not it's a smaller burner, I tried to get some it's got to be a wider flame has replicates more of The Hobbit home, therefore you don't get that quite intense heat spot on the bottom of your pan. bit more of a spread. Again, that's when you get sort of set into it could be a fuel based stove as well. I've even used little control wood burning stoves are great again, I really love that aspect of having the fire out there. Again, it's raised off the ground slightly so you're not again leaving no traces of scorching the earth below it. You have you can scavenge your fuel ignore six pack of fuel out of you to get started. But again, you've then got that lovely aspect of that real fire as well the sights and sounds of that the smells and also again being able to use that fire just to sit around and even keep yourself warm and Usually a bit as nature's television for me at the end. So that's a lovely aspects you don't get with a gas stove. But they're sort of the the initial components, I guess. And on top of that, obviously, a good sturdy sort of pan, there's lots of those now that are quite fold down, the handles fold down a little quite lightweight, the titanium aspects are grand, but there's also really good ones that are almost quite cook grade pans. Now for the outdoors, there's a lot of brands do it, fantastic bits of kit there. And that you don't have to add much more weight to your pack. And you can still use that sort of sort of void fill of the pan to pack things into as well. So it's not taking too much room in the bag, it's not like he's taking the whole pan, that's going to be that big element in the backpack, fingers can go inside there. So we're going to take just the fitness really the outside of the muscles, so heatsource pound and then for me, I guess if you're not prepping the stuff at home, it would be the knife and chopping board would be my essential bits of kit. So stove, Pan, knife with a sheath is always important as well, if you're a foldable knife, it'll be tear in your bag with a knife is thrown in there loosely again, there's also the aspect that you could reach into in and cause injury, lightweight chopping board, I think that my my first bits of kit that you can get a lot of dishes done, more or less one pot dishes, they're sort of like, you know, if you steal the pasta sauce through there, as authors were really well, you could do an asset that just couldn't been stewing there perhaps be fantastic, or even sort of careers and elements in there. So the one pot issues Chili's worked really well with that basic setup, as a startup, that that would be my sort of first bits of kit. And again, it sort of reuse where I can as well reuse recycle or bits. So again, otherwise, I'm not really the lightweight Guru, I suppose I could maybe it's maybe something for the future, I might try and do some more lightweight dishes for the real lightweight consumers there was really a lot about their, the weight of their pack. Yeah, but it's but going forward, I think the what I do do is I sort of I will count things down. So I'm not taking a whole bottle of oil there, for example. And I had no I'm not taking, you know, salt and pepper shakers and, and all the different spices from the COVID aisle to count those down into various bits. So all sort of toiletry bottles can be great or old, sort of miniature alcohol bottles, again, not something I have in the house, which these days being sort of so ramify for years now, but it's a lot of people have access to those. They're great for sort of oils and cereals and vinegars in those. And then other little elements that also pops you can wash out a little bit screw top lids for spices, again, coffees and sugars, taking those to count them down or make those spice mixes about home. It's a nice lightweight option. So I personally think I've got way on top where brand, whether it's Instagram, the little blue pots and in my hand, but they're actually just their own hair gel pots that are just washed out and recycle and just take them up there. But really lightweight option. Again, you're using those elements, reuse, recycle, where you can have a great great tool to sort of take elements and ingredients into the hills without getting them all of your backpack because that's last for you what really is, is all the food in the bottom of the bag is just no good for anyone.
George Beesley 47:49
Yeah, love it top tips. So are there any brands that come to mind for the burners or the pans? Or none in particular?
Harrison Ward 47:58
There's many there's many I mean, I like to think I've got quite an open relationship with stones. So I sort of I don't like to sort of target to any particular one brand at the moment. So I'm quite, I'm quite free on who I sort of go with but I've got quite a few burners now myself. So the first one I started off was a bio light stove is a wood burning stove. Yeah, that yeah grasper where it's gone obviously, little probe inside was charged as a battery. So he actually was you've actually gone adjustable fan. With the real fires, you can adjust a real fire like you would at home at home. quite unique in that aspect. Also got USB charging point built into it. So you can charge your phone while you're out there as well. So it's quite a nifty bit of kit. I've then got a few out kits, those few of those quite a large set at this reset sort of Van life is really quite a big sturdy stove. With big flame head again, I'm usually cooking for multiple people. So again, not probably suitable for someone who's just by themselves. A smaller burner would actually do the job with a smaller pan, but I'm generally cooking sort of maybe four to six people sometimes so larger burner larger pan for that stage. And I've recently got a few of it on the ones that I'm testing out. So I've got an optimist Swinburne at the moment, which is a fantastic bit of kit. And so two burners that run off one canister only weighs about four grams we'll down as well. Really small sort of oblong bit slides in the side of the bag. So that's quite a bit of a game changer that really again you've got curry and rice on the go at the same time. Again the breakfast you've got your coffee pot and you've got your bacon sarnie going on at the same time in the morning so that's a great bit of kit really enjoying that so far quite unique in terms of it on the market to for for its lightweight ability and certainly the fact that it's on a single gas canister and there's quite a few that went off to the jewel burners so there are a couple but there's so many out there and again I mean even your sort of jet board and you brew kit sort of things that are quick quick water boilers that are brilliant for your cup of tea or dehydrated bag in the whales quite lightweight pack down small. They're fantastic for those jobs bits off when it comes to cooking or more refined dishes but still possible. Yeah, I found that quite good for cooking a car based stuff. So great for sort of keeping a rolling boil going for races and potatoes pastors, and perhaps compliment and have a stove Couple of you were to stones, using the boat to create that meal in the evening can be quite a good little extra bit of help. But yeah, I think where there's a will there's a way and there for me, it's hard. It's hard part of that challenge of recreating dishes that you do at home, in the outdoors and seeing what's possible, really. So it's a challenge aspect is really fun for me as well.
George Beesley 50:19
Well, I am definitely excited about giving it a go about trying to cook some stuff outside. So thanks for coming on the show. We're having a chat and inspiring people about getting outdoors and cooking. So if people want to find out a little bit more about you and your story, where's the best place for them to follow you?
Harrison Ward 50:37
Yeah, so I'm on all social platforms. I guess Instagram has been my main one but I'm going across all the mall. You can find me all them at fell foodie. Again, I've got a website to share fell through Dakota, UK, find bits on there. So again, generally sharing all the recipes, my adventures on there, the dishes, I'm cooking up in the Fells, but also still sharing that sort of backstory as well in the sort of tales of the old days battling depression, sort of suicidal thoughts, the alcoholism side that I think is quite important still so and again, how the outdoors is such a great healer for that. And a great heavy, heavy weight therapy, and allows me to sort of keep depression at bay area. Some of that you do here. I think it's something that really you do struggle with from time to time for long term, but the outdoors has certainly been a big healer for me and a huge, huge catalyst for this turnaround.
George Beesley 51:25
Yeah, awesome. Well, thanks again. It's been it's been awesome chats been really, really cool. I'm really glad that we managed to finally connect and make it work. It's, it's, it's really cool to discover something completely new, like cooking outdoors for me, because I've seen, I've seen a lot of stuff in the outdoors. But cooking outdoors is not something that I've really seen that much. So it's really, really cool to open up a new avenue and have something new and exciting. Try. So thanks for sharing the story. Thanks for coming on. And yeah, we'll have to love to connect again sometime soon and go out for a hill walk and some cooking. Absolutely. That's both that sounds good. All right. Well, thanks for coming on Harrison, and thanks, listeners and viewers for tuning in. So until next time, thanks, George. Thanks very much. So that's it for this episode. I hope you enjoyed it, head over to call to adventure that's to call to adventure.uk For show notes and more about this episode. You will also find lots of other free content there. Things like how to guides and gear reviews, everything to get you out on your next adventure. We've also got loads of adventures for you to join us on in the UK and abroad. We've got things like climbing, hiking, mountaineering, surfing, wild swimming, ski touring, and we're adding new ones all the time. So do take a peek. Each booking helps us fund our green mission and all international trips are carbon offset. Please do rate and review the show. If you're enjoying it. It helps get more people engaged with outdoors and onboard with protecting wild places. Thanks for listening. See you next time.