January 15, 2012

Having recently found myself in a position where I can refer to my vocation as being an ‘adventurer,’ I have been quite surprised at how difficult it can be to make time for doing just that – having adventures.

In 2010 I cycled 14,000 miles from New York to Hong Kong. I am now preparing for a 3000 mile journey from Mongolia to Hong Kong, by foot and portable kayak. It will take around 5 months, and since May I have been working full time of the planning and logistics of the expedition.

As I approach the deadline of impending doom (or, departure day as it’s also known) the emails, phone calls and potential disasters have been mounting. It has become increasingly hard to find, peace, quiet and that spark of adventure which I crave. While I would never complain about all of the above it’s nevertheless exhausting, and so as September drew to an end I felt more than ever in need of a creative space to unwind and just spend some time bringing myself back in line again.

Enter Hut 136. People United were exceedingly helpful when I first met with them, and when they mentioned they had a beach hut overlooking the ocean at Herne Bay – a space designed to encourage reflecting, relaxation and creativity – it seems too good to be true. Just the ticket, I thought.

I decided the best way to approach my time in the hut would be to combine it with the things I am passionate about. There’s an intrinsic link between form and content, and if I hoped to be inspired with some great ideas for the filming of my new expedition, it made sense to make my way to the hut in the same spirit. And so, just before lunch on a blue-skied Monday I set off from my home in Canterbury on foot. In my bag I had all the essentials for a day of micro-adventure – some warm clothes, plenty of water, an inflatable kayak, a notebook and some pens, some classic travel literature and a stash of peanut butter sandwiches.

Leon McCarron 5

It took me about 2 hours to walk the length of the Crab and Winkle Way, arriving at the shore in Whitstable clammy and ready to cool down. That was the cue to inflate the ‘packraft’, and begin paddling around the coast. Mercifully, the sea was reasonably calm and the wind weak, and so it was that as the afternoon wound down, I arrived, by packraft, to the shore in front of Hut 136.

Leon McCarron 1

Dragging my boat up to the Hut, I unlocked the door and made myself comfortable in the inimitable armchair that People United have wisely installed. This exact location and position was how I could be found for the rest of the weekday evenings.

Leon McCarron 3

The Hut itself is ideal for the reflecting writer. It is small and cosy, but offers a perfect window to the ocean. It is easy to lose hours watching the sea lap against the pebbles on the shore.

I would generally sit for half an hour and take it all in – listen to the sounds of the people and the water, and watch the occasional passers-by enjoying the calm evenings. Calm and ready, I’d set about writing for a couple of hours. Over the course of the week, I found more inspiration and perspective on the filming style of my new expedition than I did in the whole of the preceding 3 months.

When I’d achieved what seemed reasonable for the day I’d finish with a swim – there is no better way to cleanse the body and mind than by being suspended in the ocean.

I must admit that I didn’t always walk back. Time usually caught up with me and I had to rely on lifts or public transport. However, it meant I felt fresh and ready to start the process all over again the next day.

Leon McCarron 2

I’m now on the final countdown to the expedition start date, and so will be trapped in my office for the next couple of weeks. The time in Hut 136 was invaluable, and has made these final days all the more bearable. I hope that when I return from Hong Kong next year I may be able to visit again, but this time to start work on a book.

Leon McCarron


The beach is available for individuals and community groups to use. Please visit our Beach Hut page for more information.

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