In this latest journal entry for Everyday Adventures, we catch up with Grace, who we met on a bivvy trip and photoshoot for Millican in the late summer in the Peak District. Grace is based in a beautiful part of Derbyshire, which is perfect for her walking and cycling exploits. We hear about her morning coffee ritual outside and she explains how the simplicity of this practice brings joy in so many ways. Sit back, grab a brew, and read on for more on Coffee outside.
Photography & Words by Grace Lambert-Smith | @thisisgrace_
The low cloud licks the hills this morning. It’s the foggiest start I’ve had for months but the Met Office app promised it’ll clear, so I tip toe up the hill out the back of my house.
I’m not naturally an early riser and I’ll think nothing of snoozing my alarm until gone 8am most mornings. Over the course of the last year, I’ve tried to break that habit through the ritual of a sunrise coffee on a nearby hill.
It started with a solitary stomp up Bradwell Edge (my nearest hill with a view) one winter’s day. I ground my coffee beans the night before, picked up a couple of filters, dug out my brewkit and chucked it all in my bag with my warmest jackets and headwear before dashing out into the day’s dawn. I shared a few photos and direct messages with offers of company flew into my inbox punctuated by messages of envy.
Friends began to join me and what started as a benign routine became an institution of its own. Late night messages and screenshots of many weather apps to the group chat rally the troops to the summit every time. Sometimes we’ll bring extras: baked goods, a visiting friend from afar, dogs.
Companions on the trail
Smith the Roll Pack (15L With Pockets) is made for taking life as it comes. This versatile daypack comes with an external front pocket – ideal for daily life on the move. Featuring discreet pockets for your laptop (up to 13") and valuables, this simple pack is honed for short trips, the morning commute and the odd detour.
Witnessing the changing seasons from the same vantage point throughout the year is one of the greatest experiences of life. The footpath improves and deteriorates in line with the equinoxes. The distant call of a lone curlew heralds the warmer months and, well, the earlier alarms. The late spring’s tropical aroma of common gorse fills our lungs as we pause to remove a layer on the ascent. We revel in the excitement of purple, heather-coated hills in September alongside the mourning of the summer now past. Thick coats reflect thicker inversions in winter and become a thrilling phenomena during our winter endeavours.
I’ve learned to dial the routine from slumber to summit and I tailor it to the seasons, too. My backpack is never too far from the front door, so I can throw it all in and smell the fresh air within about ten minutes. I watch as the world still sleeps. As the earth spins like a slow-motion spinning top, the atmosphere illuminates: navy blue, lilac, pink, orange. I pour the steaming water into my coffee, warm my hands on my mug and relax into the show. Any clouds in the sun’s wake dapple and animate the sky as they scurry away.
The purity and ease of this simple tradition is its most attractive trait. Since those humble beginnings, I’ve found a small dale tucked away around the corner from my house perfect for an express espresso when I have an early morning work call. There’s a bench next to a disused mine I can ride to if I prefer a few minutes on the bike before a brew. A rocky stile on the wall of a bridleway I ride makes a very decadent table and chair in the early hours. To describe the joy this practice gives me would be to reveal the magic of some of life’s most basic necessities that I’m so privileged to have: time and friends.
Then one last look at my surroundings. As the community beneath my feet clambers out from under their duvets and into their own little world of routines, I confess I must do the same. I pack up my supplies and I plod back down the hill, turning my head every few steps to my favourite place in the world. I wonder what I’d do if I had more time up there. I wonder when I’ll be able to be there again. I wonder. I wander.