Written by Lynette Vint
Meet WWOOFers Sophie and Ewan, a dynamic unit that shares an amazing connection and, I quote, “work best together”.
They have spent the last decade living a very nomadic lifestyle, pursuing their work guiding guests in a wide array of adventure pursuits from the remote islands of Papua New Guinea, the high Arctic of Norway, and the frigid waters of Antarctica.
Ewan and Sophie are counted amongst the very few, perhaps 10% of us, that have been living their dream without barriers. That is, up until COVID-19 paid a visit to the same globe they’ve been exploring.
A bit of background:
In September 2015 Sophie and Ewan set out on what would be till that point their most exciting adventure together, undertaking a 2 week, self-supported, sea kayaking expedition on the Antarctic Peninsula. With 18 months of meticulous planning and preparations, the result was a work of art called ICEOLATION
Description of the movie: (quoted from the website)
They took this journey as an opportunity to go beyond adrenalin-based desires and the pleasing of engorged ego’s and instead explore as much within themselves as explore the magical, ice-littered waterways of the Antarctic Peninsula. Throughout the narrative, the theme of the film – connection – is woven in, along with an insight into the preparations necessary for an expedition of this magnitude. Together with candid images of the complexities of daily life in this unique environment, this story aims to inspire other adventurous folks to do more than explore just the physical realm of whatever incredible wilderness they next find themselves in. For there really is so much more to explore.
In April of 2016 Sophie entered GODZONE, known as the world’s biggest and toughest expedition race covering 500km of diverse and challenging terrain. It combines an array of transport modes including sea kayak, mountain bike, foot, and inflatable canoe.
Sophie, together with 3 other women, became one of only three all-female teams to have ever competed in this event at that time. While most professional athletes take a full 12 months to train for an event like this, Sophie, who was living and working on a former Russian research ship at the time, had only 3 months to prepare. With both limited room and sparse time for cardio and strength training, and without the necessary nutritionary requirements for such an event available on the ship (on a ship, you eat what everyone else is eating), training conditions were decidedly sub-par. This didn’t deter this strong-willed woman who, along with her teammates, proved her mettle on the course.
After reading their WWOOFing Profile I couldn’t help but reach out to Ewan and Sophie to see how they have been able to turn the global COVID situation into a positive one. Like everything else in life, they’ve met the challenge without compromise, and here is what they had to say:
“We have rarely been in any one place for longer than a few months in the last 10 years, due to our work, but now find ourselves in a slightly different world due to COVID. We are extremely grateful to have ended up back in my homeland of Tasmania.”
“As you can imagine, over the past 10 years, as a couple and together with the different adventure pursuits we have shared, we have always been able to talk about our individual strengths and weakness and reflect both as a couple and as individuals on these aspects of personality. We then work on these so that we grow and can better adapt to any situation. Identifying these limitations within ourselves is something that is hard for anyone to acknowledge, but it is something we should all try to address,” said Ewan.
“When you work day to day in extreme environments, particularly the Antarctic’s dynamic environment and especially with clients who are putting 100% trust in our judgment, as a couple we have worked hard on being able to identify exacting, non-scripted game plans. We are so in sync because we continue addressing those hard topics as a couple and, as partners in life, it really helps us to adjust to anything life throws our way.”
“It has always been a conscious choice that we do not place ourselves into a restricted environment in regard to location, having a mortgage, and a regular 9-5 job”.
So, how have Sophie and Ewan adapted their lifestyle in the past 6 months, and what are they doing now?
“Having moved back with Ewan’s family in March, we knew after a short time that we needed to live on the land and grow our own food as much as possible so, after joining WWOOF and reaching out and talking to various wonderful hosts, we came to the conclusion that we wanted our own space, but also needed to work out how to offset rent”
“We’re not a couple to be halted by adversity, and utilizing Ewan’s previous career as a Consulting Engineer (having a Degree in Civil Engineering), we reached out extensively and found work he could do from a home office.”
“The next step for us was to find a suitable property and, after much researching, we have now taken on a rental property that has a huge vegetable garden needing some tender-loving care. We hope to bring it to a high enough standard that we open up the property as an Airbnb, while I can continue to work from my home office”, said Ewan
“Now, with as much passion as with every project we embark on, we are currently planting seeds given to us by family including Heirloom species, resurrecting existing garden beds and getting ready for our own chickens”.
We will touch base with Ewan and Sophie over the next 6 months and see where their journey takes them, who knows Ewan and Sophie might just end up becoming WWOOF Australia host?
I encourage you all to watch the full-length movie which can be downloaded from this link, it is absolutely amazing! https://vimeo.com/138281310
Together, we bring a true passion for exploration, self-discovery, and living a life that embraces all that we have and all that we are. Our strengths in life and in the outdoors are highly complementary and have seen us build a partnership of solid technical skills and knowledge, sound risk management, and calculated decision-making. Through these shared and combined values, we have worked together and have tackled numerous adventures together in many corners of the globe, always as a solid team, in even the most demanding of scenarios.
Yours in the adventure!
Ewan and Sophie https://ballaghblyth.com