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Life In Base Camp: North East Edition

Base Camp. Usually, a home away from home. At the moment though, base camp is the kitchen table, the living room, the garden. Your new base of operations.
While eagerly awaiting the all-clear to emerge, we've been catching up with our community. This week we checked in with Chris McClean and his family in the North East, to find out what they've been up to in their own Backyard Base Camp.


Chris McClean and family in their Backyard Base Camp

What’s keeping you inspired, and what is the current source of that inspiration?


Music is the big one, I’m always listening to something new. A song has the power to change your mood in an instant. I’ve also been inspired by our local surroundings, we’re super lucky the beach is five minutes from the back door. We live in the mouth of the river Humber and it’s constantly changing - the sand bars, the dunes, the marshland - we’re exploring areas I’ve not been since I was a kid! The variety of birds in the back garden, the fox is back (and she has cubs), we’ve seen mice come nibble on our fallen corns from corn-on-the-cobs.

The rope swing spot is 45 mins ride away and I never knew it existed until a couple of weeks ago it’s incredible how much we have on our doorstep. And the people we live with; we’re incredibly fortunate we all enjoy each others company and this has brought us all much closer, it’s been a gift in so many ways, unfortunately framed by the most tragic and heart breaking times.


It’s an obvious one but the children keep us inspired, they’ve found themselves in such a strange situation but they just adapt and they don’t seem to over-think it like adults can. They seek out little bits of excitement whenever they can; in the garden, or a cupboard, a simple trip out the back door or on to the beach brings new adventures every time. Last night it was how much sand they could get in their shoes!

Rudy and Jesse McClean playing on the ropes swing near their house.

What’s been occupying your time? Is it projects, fitness, or just prep and planning for after lockdown?


With the kids at home time has been condensed, everything is more concentrated. Work hours have been squeezed and it’s meant procrastinating (which I’m pretty skilled at) is no longer an option. Pretty much all my regular paid gigs have vanished so I’ve been writing a bit; Backwash #4 has been designed and pretty much ready to send to the printers, WiFi Waves (a crowd sourced film with the Lockdown Surf Film Festival) is currently being edited. And Translate film plans are being formed, (as all previous plans have been waylaid). I’m also in the process of rebuilding my website and trying to stay surf and bike fit. Luke Steadman has a pretty solid daily workout that I’ve been trying to follow. I’ve learned to make bread and muffins (best muffins ever apparently, according to Rudy). And re-learning chess online. I’m currently locked in battle with CJ Mirra, it’s pretty tense.


I’ve been working from home, attempting to homeschool, doing PE with Joe Wicks (haven’t missed a morning yet!), water fights with the kids, building dens, camping in the garden, baking... What a time, we’ve never been busier!

Chris McClean snd the family at their local beach in the North East

Chris' Kit...

Front of mens black orgainc cotton trousers by Finisterre Front of mens black orgainc cotton trousers by Finisterre

Koerner Trouser

Designed for adventure, the Koerner Trousers are made with our signature attention to detail. Cut in an everyday slim fit, the hardy organic

Front of mens white organic cotton t-shirt by Finisterre Front of mens white organic cotton t-shirt by Finisterre

Harlyn T-Shirt

Our go-to tee in 100% organic cotton. Beautiful, soft fabric in our classic, bespoke fit.

What has been the toughest moment of lockdown so far for you?


The toughest moment for me was not being able to explain fractions to Rudy. I think we both ended up in tears. We laughed about it the next day, but at the time I’ve never felt more utterly useless.


Probably having to tell Jesse that his school trip to PGL had been cancelled.
Although he took it well, I was devastated for him. It's his last year in primary school so he’s missing a lot of time with some friends he won’t see so much of after the summer. Other than that I miss my family, we used to see them most days so that’s been tough.

And what has been the best moment so far?


Our next door neighbour is a DJ, so for VE Day he set up his sound system and we had a street party. He took requests (via text) and it brought everyone out into their front gardens, young and old - even houses streets away texting in requests! We spent a great/bizarre afternoon dancing in our gardens that will forever live in the memory.


We’ve been biking to the sea and jumping in for five minutes, it feels so good and the kids love it. To do that on a semi-regular basis feels so nice.

Paula McClean wearing the in and around her backyard base camp

Paula's Kit...


What are you reading? And what should we be reading?


I’ve had my nose in a couple of books as I’ve been researching Central Asia for a project on the Silk Road. Firstly 'The Silk Roads: A New History of the World' by Peter Frankopan. It wasn’t what I was expecting, I like that in a book. The chapter I’m currently reading is about the birth of Islam, and how it spread throughout Persia competing with other faiths. And the 'Shadow of the Silk Road' by Colin Thubron, a literary travelogue as he travels through Central Asia and China. Paula’s just finished Alice in Wonderland with the kids and I’ve started reading them Call of the Wild by Jack London.


I’ve just finished Margaret Atwood’s 'The Testaments', the sequel to 'The Handmaids Tale', which I read years ago in sixth form. She picks up the story more than fifteen years later with recounts from three central female characters connected to the oppressive state of Gilead. With her trademark themes of power, gender and identity, it really challenges you to think.

Reading and listening material in the McClean household.

What music have you been listening to?


I’m always listening to old and new music and constantly making random playlists. Current favourite tracks/albums include: Frank Ocean - Cayendo, Tom Misch - Festival, Arlo Parks - Eugene. I’ve just come across Brooklyn rapper Ka. His album 'Descendants of Cain' is brilliant, super raw stuff. Hamilton Leithauser has a new album out, 'The Loves of Your Life'. He used to be in The Walkmen and I had no idea he had gone solo - it’s like finding a lost pet every time it goes on, I get a warm fuzzy feeling. After John Prine passed away I revisited a lot of his stuff, he was such an amazing songwriter his lyrics bring a wry smile. Leonard Cohen's posthumous work 'Thanks for the Dance' is played a lot too… I could keep going there’s so much good music around at the moment, but I’ll leave it there.


We normally have BBC Radio Six on in the house. I love Cerys Matthews she’s perfect for a lazy Sunday. We always have a bit of a dance with the boys when Michael Kiwanuka comes on.

Have there been any particularly funny moments you guys have enjoyed?


So many. We nailed the kids in an impromptu water fight, we got them both out of the blue - that was pretty funny!


Jesse’s pretty lyrical so he’s always changing song lyrics. He has us in stitches regularly with his own versions songs like Vossi Bop or Dancing Queen. We’ve also been working our way through the Jurassic Park and Jurassic World films. Rudy is obsessed with dinosaurs, so he has taken it upon himself to attack us at any given time of day as a raptor - you can never be too careful. I’m not sure how they’ll cope with a return to reality...

Jesse and Rudy McClean doing what kids do at the beach...

What adventures do you have planned for when we can finally travel again?


We had planned a Scottish road trip at Easter, so I’d like to do that. Visiting family and friends, hug them all a bit tighter and end up on the Western Isles.


I had so much planned. The reason for picking up the books about the Silk Road was I’ve been planning a trip to that part of the world for a bikepacking trip. I’m hoping that it still might go ahead at some point this year, but right now I’m happy at home cruising with the family. First trip when it feels right will be up the coast to a few favourite haunts.


Words & Images by Chris & Paula McClean

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